Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fevered outpourings on a Sunday morning

Did the Government really give in to public opinion? Was Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death the reason for the change of stance on the Right to Information Act, or was it just happenstance? We would like to think that the pressure of public opinion caused the change, but since I am a cynical old cuss, I have my doubts. In any case, all that the Government has said so far is that they will not push through the amendments without placing them for debate in the House. My fingers are still crossed.

Dilip D’Souza was the first to ask me what I thought about the proposed amendment to the RTI Act. The Government had apparently proposed that notings in files should not be revealed to the inquiring public. This was of course a Humphreyan master-stroke. I can just picture Nigel Hawthorne, eyebrows aquiver with indignation, explaining to Derek Fowlds that his views on transparency were “far from sound”, that revealing the origin of government decisions would herald the end of civilization as he knew it.

I, of course, have no views in the matter. As my friends and colleagues will testify (not!), I am totally faceless, colourless and void of opinions. If, however, I were so indiscreet as to venture an opinion, I might actually chortle with glee now that the proposed amendments have been put on hold. We have always been taught to write “speaking notes” (don’t ask me, it’s one of those phrases, probably a variation of the legal “speaking order”) that clearly explain the reasons for decisions. A lot of us still do that. In other words, what we write in file is meant to stand up to scrutiny. So how does it matter if the general public can see it? In my ‘umble opinion, the only ones who should feel insecure about this provision are the slack, the lazy and the ambiguous. Which would be a good thing, because then we have greater accountability and differentiation. But I’m preaching to the converted, Dilip …

One last thought on this issue. Our Course Director at Mussoorie, a Gujarat cadre officer with a sharp tongue and a firm backbone, held that we in the civil services are paid our salaries (such as they are) for one essential reason – to take the responsibility. To carry the can. To stop the buck. The RTI Act is merely an extension of that reasoning.

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Perhaps we should extend the provisions of the Act to the press. Make it obligatory for them to write sense. What does this – the first sentence in the Times of India today, lead storymean … “The invisible hand that pulls the levers of government has moved once again, preventing a proposed amendment to the Right to Information Act to keep file notings out of the public domain and emasculating the core transparency that was needed.

Forget the horrible mixed metaphor (emasculating transparency?). Excuse the confused jargon (“core competence” morphs into “core transparency”). Overlook the clumsy attempt to punch three sentences into one. (Strunk & White, Strunk & White .. Keep It Short!). They actually lost track of the relation between the subject and the conditional clause, changed “that would have emasculated” to “and emasculating” and thus totally reversed the meaning. As it now stands, the sentence means that the government’s present decision emasculates the Act

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In Mahim and Dadar, thousands rush to drink sewage. The Mithi Creek turns meetha (sweet). Next stop, Surat. Every day in every way the world corroborates my theory that 98% of the human race are morons.

Meanwhile, Barkha Dutt interviews Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan on weighty issues such as infidelity. No, not in their own beautiful relationship (good shot, Joy Orzoon), which has given us hour upon hour of wholesome cinematic rubbish that’s all about boring your family. They’re talking about marital infidelity. By the same reasoning, Anthony Quinn was an explosives expert and Russell Crowe a math wizard.

I must confess I’m not immune to a little infidelity myself. Despite my oft-declared devotion to Mallika Sarabai (NOT Sherawat!) and Salma Hayek, I have on occasion gazed long and lasciviously on Yana Gupta (in the manner of a Colonel Blimp who harrumphs “Fine young filly, eh?”). I am in fact undecided as to whether I should resent Vijay Mallya or Aftab Shivdasani more. At this moment, however, I am totally in love with another. Or rather, in leurrve. Vith Leo-leh Kwotty, Quayne ev Hay-urds, who iz zimbly veunderflll. Vott a vumman, no? I believe Channel V will soon release a “Best of Lola Kutty” package. Ay ken hay-urdlee vayte.

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11 comments:

Bonatellis said...

ref to the TOI article - that's plain pathetic subbing :) ... something they've mastered ...

someone just trying to "show-off" his prowess of the language, i suppose ...

Anand said...

Lola's on Channel V!

Tabula Rasa said...

cool, thanks for the links :-D

panu said...

Vyesh!! Ze's Lyo-leh Kwutty, Ze's ze rial Kwutty, All ze ozer Lwo-leh Kwutty's Zyust immittetting... Svo pliz ze rial Lwo-leh Kwutty... Pliz Stynd yup, Pliz Stynd yup, Pliz Stynd Yup....

And all that.

On another note... I daresay... et tu JAP... On Mallika Sarabhai!!

And I thought I was the only one who loved watching her dance.

Anthony Quinn was soooooo good in Navarone... eh??

and before I get away for another day of whining.... how's your health???

thalassa_mikra said...

Naaaa!! Mallika Sarabhai? Really JAPda, I mean, really? Shameless guttermouth that I am, let me shoot off. I find Mallika Sarabhai to be a pretentious twat, a terrible dancer, awful actress and someone who's basically mooched off the fame of her illustrious parents.

As for her dance dramas, full of kitschy pop-feminism with nary a nuance in sight.

But yeah, if she's being coveted for being a hot bimbo, and she was quite a hottie once upon a time, then all this is completely redundant.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

B'tellis, plain incompetence. What Amit V calls "purplocity".

Anand, thanks, I corrected.

T Rasa, my pleasure.

Panu, much better, thanks.

Swati, you think I mentioned Yana Gupta for her keen analytical mind? Get real!

J.A.P.

Bonatellis said...

T_M: i don't agree - Mallika Sherawat is NOT a bad actress ... i've never seen one Indian actress who can crawl/writhe in bed in the manner she did in black lingerie in MURDER ;-)
... show me one who can emulate that ...

Anonymous said...

Mwahahahahahaha...
Your comments are actually getting funnier by the day!
Bonatellis, T_M was frothing about Mallika SARABHAI and not SHERAWAT.

Well, for once i agree with T_M.

P

Nilu said...

I guess those who comment here do that to put attendance. And only that. So, I am also putting.

Bonatellis said...

P: show my frame of mind ...

eve's lungs said...

Personally I root for Vir Sanghvi - with a monocle in his eye and a bushy moustache to replace the vegetation on his face he'd make a fine Colonel Blimp ( he has the necessary avoirdupois) - I would love to watch him interview Yana Gupta or Mallika Sherawat in this get up with multiple harrumphs thrown in for good measure ... I hope you didnt miss Sanghvi (minus monocle and harrumph )interviewing the lurvely Lawhla Kuddy on the telly some weeks back ?

As for T-M vs Bonatellis , the beauteous once hottie Sarabhai does the writhing also but in a classical manner and on stage ( soory JAP if I've hurt your sentiments !)