Archive for » November, 2009 «

The Case of the Curious Chicken-Part I

The Case of the Curious Chicken – Part I (FICTION)

By J.S.Broca

(In a lighter vein) (No Malice Intended)

I like hearing riddles. I love solving mysteries. The most famous mystery or riddle that has hooked my attention till date, is in the form of a question. It is :“ Why did the chicken cross the road ?” I know you are smiling ! “Mr Broca seems to have lost his head,” you may be prompted to say. No, but I’ve lost plenty of sleep over this simple innocuous question.

Since my retirement from my Bank on the last day of May 2009, I have been busy trying to find an acceptable answer to the above question, (having no other better things to do) but all in vain. May be, after six months from now, I will be in a position to satisfy your curiosity!

Meanwhile, I would like to put forth my view points to whet your appetite and invite you all to join me in my search to that elusive answer to the curious question. A person having even one-tenth of the common sense that I claim (?) to have, will answer the question in a jiffy. The most obvious answer is “ Because it wanted to go to the other side !” Simple ? QED ?

No ! I don’t want a simple answer, since, then, how would I justify the title of this piece ? May be the chicken was curious to find out what lay on the other side of the road ? May be, I am more curious to find out the logical reasons for the chicken’s flight !

I shot the question to some of my friends. Here are some of their responses listed at random:

1. I don’t care why it crossed.

2. To hell with the chicken.

3. I have other more important questions to answer.

4. Haven’t you got some other secret agenda?

5. I am a vegetarian, so don’t ask me.

6. You better ask my wife. She knows the latest gossip.

7. May be some naughty boy was chasing it ?

8. When you find out the answer, do send me an sms. OK ?

9. Well, crossing the road is easier, when there is no traffic .

10. Tell me, was it dressed or undressed ?

You see the diversity and hilarity in the above responses ?

Next, I posed the question to some of my fellow poets on this forum (Muse India). Here’s the response from a few of them:

Dr Mallick : May be it wanted to catch a bus to Hyderabad, to come to our office to personally protest against the editorial board’s policy and partiality and ignoring its species. The poets here talk of love, bees, flowers, nature, etcetera but so far,if my memory serves me right, not a single poem on the subject of chickens has been ever written by any poet/poetess worth his/her salt. As a responsible editor, I pledge to write and post a poem trying to answer the million rupee question posed above, within 24 hours, provided our so called new and robust server and the erratic power supply here, do not let me down.

GSP Rao : Well, that’s an interesting question. I will be attending the All India Conference of Chicken Farm Owners at Chickmagloor on next Sunday. This question is likely to be debated hotly there. So, I’ll let you know the Conference’s unanimous view- point when I am back. OK ? Keep posing such intelligent questions, Mr Broca.

Shernaz Wadia :Well, Jitoo, please first let me know whether you are talking of an Indian chicken or a foreign one ? If it is Indian, I doubt whether it would have the courage to even run out of Mrs. Wadia’s fenced bungalow, what to talk of jumping over the fence or even thinking of crossing the road. Moreover, here in Pune, the road in front of our bungalow, does not have any road dividers, so may be the chicken could easily run across the road to the neighbours on the other side, to gather first hand opinion about the living conditions of other chickens housed in the locality. Alas ! I am still waiting to see my chicken back with its findings. I shall submit my report as soon as possible. Meanwhile,Jitoo, mind your own chickens ! Don’t worry about mine or those of my neighbours. GBU !

Atreya Sarma :Dear Mr Broca, I am really puzzled as to how a person of your stature can stoop down so low to raise such a lowly question. It has been answered umpteen times by many, if you would have just cared to Google it. Anyhow, I am here in USA and am surprisingly conducting a survey about the crossing habits of American Chicks (I am talking of birds, not girls) and when I come back to India, I shall do a comparative study of Indian chickens. I intend to write a long thesis on the subject and may be earn a doctorate like a few of our worthy colleagues on this forum. How nice it would sound, no? Dr Atreya Sarma !. PhD in Chick-o-logy ! Thanks for your inspiration. Keep it up !

Dr Pooja : Jitoo Uncle, I took the liberty of discussing the question with a few of my serious and not-so-serious patients in my hospital and you will be surprised to hear their responses. I confess it has been a real revelation to me. Here are their replies-verbatim. I haven’t changed a word here or there:

1. I don’t believe that a chicken can cross the road without the help of its mother hen. Must be a cheeky chicken !

2. You are a Doctor, dear Pooja. Have you no other better work instead of asking such foolish questions? I am afraid if you keep pestering me to give an answer, I’ll lose my remaining mental balance !

3. That is indeed a debatable question. I remember once when I had visited my uncle’s poultry farm in our village, a chicken had dared to cross the road right in front of my old uncle’s bespectacled eyes. And you know what he did ? He ran after the running chicken at the speed of Milkha Singh and grabbed it by its neck and brought it back. He then put a warning notice outside the cage: “Road Crossing is Strictly Prohibited“. After that the chickens have become well behaved and no more crossing-the-road incidents have been there. Why don’t you interview my uncle ?

4. I think the chicken was afraid of being caught and converted into a tasty chicken-tikka-masala by the friendly neighbourhood dhaba-wala and so obviously, it must have crossed the road to a safer place. Simple. Any more questions? No ? Then let me finish my afternoon nap.

I would love to go on and one, but I am worried if this piece becomes longer, it may not see the light of the day. So, I’ll end this chapter here. Wait for my next chapter on what other poets/poetesses said in reply to the curious question. Till then enjoy your chicken-curry, while I prepare the draft of my next chapter. Cock-a-doodle-doo !!

J.S.BROCA
New Delhi

jsbroca@yahoo.com

27th November 27, 2009

  

Tobin Tax–my letter in F.E.

Following article appeared in F.E.(23rd Nov.2009

Tobin tax is only for textbooks

Ila Patnaik

Saturday, Nov 21, 2009 (Financial Express 23rd Nov 2009)

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has laid to rest speculations about India imposing capital controls in the face of rising capital inflows. In a recent statement, he clearly said that while the government would monitor the inflows, India is not planning to impose restrictions on capital inflows in the near future.
The first question that should be asked before a meaningful discussion on imposing restrictions, is about the magnitude of capital flows to India today. The latest balance of payments data is available for the quarter April-June 2009. Net capital inflows in the quarter were $6.7 billion. This figure is a fraction of the inflows in late 2007 and early 2008 when they reached highs of more than $30 billion per quarter. When we compare foreign inflows today to the two quarters following the financial meltdown, when they were negative, they appear large. But when seen in historical perspective, inflows are, in fact, quite moderate.
Further, if we look at the components of capital flows in April-June 2009, the largest component was foreign direct investment, at $9.4 billion. This was followed by FII investment at $8.2 billion. The usually worrisome factor, loans, have not bounced back. As a consequence, we saw negative numbers for some categories with net loans outflow of $3.3 billion and net banking capital outflow of another $3.3 billion.
In the past, an inflow of capital has been a cause of concern for RBI. One of the main reasons for this was that RBI was trying to prevent rupee appreciation. When the rupee was touching Rs 40 per dollar, there was pressure from exporters to prevent further appreciation. Today RBI’s concerns are quite different. The central bank is faced with the difficult task of trying to boost growth and keep inflationary expectations under control. Were it to raise interest rates, growth could suffer. Were it to lower them, inflationary expectations could flare.
Under such circumstances, rupee appreciation offers an easier path to control inflation. The rupee today, at above 46, still has a long way to go before it becomes a serious lobbying point. Exporter lobbies are not going to be heard particularly seriously at least until it reaches Rs 40 per dollar. Had capital continued flowing out, as it did in the previous couple of quarters, or as it does for loans and banking capital, and had foreign investment not returned, there would have been further rupee depreciation that would have raised inflation rates. RBI might then have been selling dollars in the foreign exchange market to prevent rupee depreciation and rising prices. This would have resulted in further problems such as a contraction of liquidity.

The return of foreign investment is the best solution to the policy dilemma facing RBI and the government. Not only does it encourage a stronger rupee, it brings in funds for investment. In a credit constrained economy where domestic banks are reluctant to lend, where foreign loans have dried up, where the non-banking financial sector has seen one of its worst crises, foreign investment is welcome, and as the finance minister said, much-needed by India.
What could be the other concerns because of which there might have been reasons to restrict capital inflows? One concern that is sometimes cited as a good reason to restrict controls is to reduce buoyancy in the stock market. On this count it is difficult to imagine that the government would, at present, be keen to prick the bubble, even if, like RBI, it believes that there is a bubble.

The stock market is one of the few places where the financial sector is signalling optimism (bank credit has still not picked up). If at this stage the government were to step in with measures such as a tax on foreign portfolio investment, as Brazil has done, it is likely to have an adverse impact on the stock market. In addition to the impact this will have on business sentiment, on a more pragmatic note, this would be bad timing, as the government is planning to raise resources by selling shares of public sector companies to lower its fiscal deficit.

Even if all the above reasons for not imposing restrictions are overruled, such as in the event of the exporter lobby becoming overwhelmingly strong, and the government does decide to impose restrictions on capital inflows, it has been seen in the past that capital controls have not been very effective. They appear to be effective in the short run and in terms of the specific category of capital inflows on which they are imposed, but they are not effective in controlling the total amount of money coming in.

We have seen that in the case of the ban on participatory notes (PNs), which, of course, stopped money coming into India under the head of PNs, but did not bring down net capital inflows or even total foreign investment into India. There are multiple ways of bringing in money and other than creating distortions in the market; there is little that further capital controls can achieve today. Imposing controls that will make a serious dent on net capital inflows or will bring the number below the last quarter’s figure of $6.7 billion, is neither feasible nor desirable.

—The author is professor, NIPFP——————————————————————————I had sent my views on the above article to the Editor,as under :

Dear Sir,
This refers to Ila Patnaik’s article titled :” Tobin Tax is only for text books” in FE of 23rd November 2009.
As rightly advocated by her,this tax,whose name comes from James Tobin, a Nobel laureate economist at Yale University,needs to be kept on hold at the moment,so that FDI continues to flow into the country.
FDI is the need of the hour and imposing such a tax will give wrong signals to the investors.Of course,a token tax on speculative transactions could be thought of with a view to discourage volatile short-term trading which can have a destabilizing effect on our currency.
The inflows can be used by us for funding worthy projects for alleviating human sufferings,by providing the large poor populace with cheaper housing,cheaper modes of conveyance,cheaper food and other basic items,and of course for creating a better unpolluted environment for a healthy living.
Other areas where poilitical willingness and consensus is necessary are : efforts to reduce the ever widening gap between the haves and havenots,generating more job opportunities for the vast rural unemployed populace, “safety nets” for the very old,infirm, elderly and senior uncared for citizens,sustainable development in various areas,fighting growing spectre of global warming and climatic changes and last but not the least, poverty and hunger.
Many local issues and problems like disaster management in times of floods and draughts, health programmes for the rural masses,water and sanitary systems etc also need to be solved and can be solved if the inflows are wisely and judiciously used.

J S BROCA
NEW DELHI——————————————————Here is something extra about Tobin Tax :
TOBIN TAX PRINCIPLES

 

James Tobin

Act to introduce a world-wide solidarity tax: “The Tobin Tax”

Definition:
The Tobin Tax is a tax on currency speculation, once per transaction. The idea and name comes from James Tobin, a Nobel laureate economist at Yale University. The currency market is now over one trillion dollars daily, and the proposed tiny percentage tax (suggestions range from .1% to .5%) would be on speculative transactions only. The purpose is to discourage volatile short-term trading and its destabilizing effect on country currencies, restoring national macroeconomic controls over currency fluctuations. Billions in revenue would be generated, as much as $300 billion to $1 trillion yearly. Part of the revenue would go to an international fund, another part to national budgets.
Features:
The Tobin Tax is a proposed transaction tax on currency speculation. The concept comes from James Tobin, a Nobel laureate economist at Yale University. Here is how it would work: Currency speculators trade at the rate of over one trillion dollars each day. Speculative transactions would be taxed at a tiny percent of volume (.1%-.5%), once per transaction. Non-speculative transactions would be exempt, about 10-15% of the daily volume. The tax would discourage overnight or short-term currency trades, the most volatile, while leaving longer-term investments barely effected. Dangerous currency volatility would thus be reduced, and national macroeconomic autonomy restored. Billions in revenue, potentially as much as $300 – $600 billion per year, could be generated, according to economic studies. Parts of the revenue would go to international trust funds, other parts to national budgets. Both parts could be used to fund worthy projects.

LIST OF PRINCIPLES

Multilateral Cooperation to Tax Currency Speculators

The financial crisis in Asia and elsewhere is adding to human suffering which must be alleviated. When currency is devalued, the purchasing power of citizens plummets, food and other basic items become too expensive, the environment is less protected, and jobs are lost. Further, this crisis exacerbates existing problems, such as the widening gap between rich and poor, the strain on the global environment, and high rates of unemployment.

One of the causes of the financial crisis is the large volume of currency speculation that now occurs on a global basis. The foreign currency exchange has grown recently to over a trillion dollars daily, much larger than all the stock exchanges of the world. This market is so large and volatile that government central banks can no longer adequately protect the currency of their own nations.

The existing institutions that regulate national and international monetary systems have inadequate and sometimes even destructive policies to deal with the crisis. For example, the austerity programs of the International Monetary Fund increase the level of suffering for those with the least “safety nets,” while doing little to prevent destructive volatility. Reform of these institutions is an essential part of any effective solution to the crisis.

Reforms are needed in many aspects, but should include mechanisms to reduce the volume of destabilizing capital flows, through a transaction tax on currency speculation. Commonly but not necessarily called the “Tobin Tax,” after the Nobel economist who originated the concept, this tax would deter short-term or overnight trades, and thus shrink the volume of daily currency trading from its present trillion dollar daily level. Such a shrinkage would restore each nation¹s ability to control its own currency, as well as generate revenue.

To effectively reduce volume, the tax percentage must be large enough to make overnight speculation unprofitable. Proposals range from .1% to .5% per transaction. Longer-term investments occur less often, so would not be adversely affected by this small tax, and the overall remaining volume would be enough to create sizable revenue.

Adoption by the major currency nations of the Tobin Tax mechanism would accomplish the volume-shrinking goal, so the adoption need not be universal to be effective.

Collection and enforcement of the Tobin Tax are considered to be economically and institutionally feasible, and concerns regarding tax avoidance could be dealt with through adoption of regulatory mechanisms.

Since the revenue could be quite large, over one hundred billion by some estimates, baseline criteria for allocation to meet basic needs should be established. Basic human needs and basic environmental needs must be met first, through existing international agreements such as those addressing environmentally sustainable development, climate change, and hunger.

The international portion of the revenue should be set aside in a series of earmarked trust funds for basic needs that are cooperatively administered in an open and democratic fashion. Administering agencies should cooperate with local civil society to provide actual services for basic needs, such as disaster aid and food distribution, small-scale agriculture and reforestation, health clinics and disease prevention, local water systems and pollution control mechanisms.

Such administration should occur within the framework of producing local jobs, while ensuring adequate environmental safeguards, and protection of the rights of workers and other citizens.

Political will is the key to successful adoption, and grassroots support is essential to educate decisionmakers regarding this opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Tobin Tax

Is it economically feasible? There is a healthy debate going on among economists, but within that debate, most economists find it a credible proposal which must be studied and dealt with in great detail.

Is it politically feasible? That will depend on citizens, grassroots organizations, political parties, parliamentarians and congresspeople, and heads of state around the world. The Canadian Parliament has recently become the first to pass a Motion about the Tobin Tax.

What would happen to the revenue? This is where local citizens and grassroots organizations come into the picture. It is essential that guidelines be established and priorities be set, so that this will not be yet another “pork barrel”. We should be demanding international criteria such as earmarking funds for poverty and the environment. And we should be asking our elected representatives to look seriously at this opportunity to reverse global environmental devastation and the disaster of poverty.

The following abridged version of my letter has been published in FE of 27th Nov 2009.:

Letters to the editor

The Financial Express

Friday, Nov 27, 2009

Apropos of the article ‘Tobin tax is only for textbooks’ (FE, Nov 23), FDI is the need of the hour and imposing such a tax will give wrong signals to the investors. Though, a token tax on speculative transactions could be thought of with a view to discouraging volatile short-term trading.

JS Broca, New Delhi

SANT KABIR- In Translation- Part – II

SANT KABIR- In Translation- Part – II

(Presented by J.S.Broca)

Continuing with the earlier posting on the above topic posted on 20th November 2009,I most humbly submit a few more hymns of Kabir Ji from Shri Guru Granth Saheb, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs, alongwith their translation :

1. KABIR,DEEN GAWAYA DUNI SIYO,
DUNI NAA CHAALI SAATH,
PAAYE KUHAADA MAARIYA,
GAFAL APNEY HAATH !

Kabeer, the mortal loses his faith, for the sake of the world, but the world shall not go along with him in the end.
The idiot strikes his own foot with the axe by his own hand.

2. KABIR SANT MUYEY KYA ROYIEY,
JO APNEY GREH JAAYE,
ROVOH SAAKAT BAAPDEY,
JO HAATEY HAAT BIKAAYEY !

Kabeer, why cry at the death of a Saint? He is just going back to his home.
Cry for the wretched, faithless cynic, who is sold from store to store.

3. KABIR CHANDAN KA BIRWAA BHALLA,
BEDIYO DHAAK PLAAS
OYEY BHI CHANDAN HOYEY
BASSEY JO CHANDAN PAAS !

Kabeer, the sandalwood tree is good, even though it is surrounded by weeds.
Those who dwell near the sandalwood tree, become just like the sandalwood tree.

4. KABIR KAAL KARANTEY ABHEY KARR
ABB KARTA SAU TAAL,
PACHCHEY KACHCHU NAA HOYEGA,
JIO SIRR PARR AAVEY KAAL !

Kabeer, that which you have to do tomorrow – do it today instead; and that which you have to do now – do it immediately!
Later on, you will not be able to do anything, when death hangs over your head.

5. KABIR FAL LAAGEY FALLAN
PAAKAN LAAGEY AAMB
JAAYE PAHUNCHEY KHASAM KO
JO BEECH NAA KHAHI KAAMB !

Kabeer, the fruit trees are bearing fruit, and the mangoes are becoming ripe.
They will reach the owner, only if the crows do not eat them first.

6. KABIR SAAKAT SUNGG NAA KIJIYEY
DOOREY JAYIYEY BHAAG
BAASAN KAARO PARSIYEY,
TAU KUCHCH LAAGEY DAAG
!

Kabeer, do not associate with the faithless cynics; run far away from them.
If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot will stick to you.

I hope these beautiful thoughts will make our lives fragrant.

SANT KABIR- In Translation- Part – I

SANT KABIR- In Translation- Part – I

The holy scriptures of the Sikhs-Shri Guru Granth Sahib( SGGS),contains over 500 verses by Sant Kabir.

There are 243 shlokas of Shri Kabir Ji appearing on pages 1364 to 1377 of SGGS.

Kabirji had composed his hymns in 17 ragaas like,Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Sorath, Dhanasri, Tilang, Suhi, Bilawal, Gauri, Ramkali, Maru, Kedara, Bharav, Basant, Sarang , Kanra & Prabhati.

His total compositions in SGGS are 541.The Sikh community refers to Kabirji as a “Bhagat”, while others who hold the Granth Sahib in high reverence,call him a “Guru”.

The major part of Kabirji’s work as a bhagat, was collected by Fifth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Arjun Dev Ji , and it forms a part of Sikh scriptures.

I am humbly reproducing herebelow a few of Sant Kabir’s hymns from SGGS,selected at random,and written in approximately correct English pronunciation from the original in Gurumukhi script followed by its translation,collected from various sources:

1. Kabir,soota kya karey,baitha raho aur jaag,

Jaa ke sang tey beechchda,ta hi key sang laag. Kabir, what are you doing sleeping? Wake up, and sit up.
Attach yourself to the One, from whom you have been separated.

2. Awal Allah noor upaaya,kudrat ke sabb bandey,

Ek noor te sab jugg upjiya,kaun bhaley kaun mandey. First , Allah created the Light ; then, by His Creative Power, He made all mortal beings.
From the One Light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad?

3.Kabir, jiss marney te jagg darrey,merey mann anand,

Marney hee tey paayiey, pooran parmanand. Kabir, the world is afraid of death – that death fills my mind with bliss.
It is only by death that perfect, supreme bliss is obtained.

4.Kabir,manas janam dulambh hai,hoyey naa baaram baar,

Jiyo ban phall paakey bhoin girrey,bahur naa laagey daar. Kabir, it is so difficult to obtain this human body; it does not just come over and over again.
It is like the ripe fruit on the tree; when it falls to the ground, it cannot be re-attached to the branch.

5.Kabir,marta marta jagg muaa,marr bhi naa jaaney koye,

Aisi marni jo marrey,bahur naa marna hoye. Kabir, the world is dying – dying to death, but no one knows how to truly die.
Whoever dies, let him die such a death, that he does not have to die again.

6. Harr hai khaand ret mehn bhikhri,haathee chunni naa jaaye,

Keh Kabir,gur bhali bhujhai, cheenti hoi ke khaaye. The Lord is like sugar, scattered in the sand; the elephant cannot pick it up.
Says Kabir, the Guru has given me this sublime understanding: consume it by turning into an ant.

Dwell on these gems,till I post the next part.

God Bless us all with His Divine Grace !!

A news item in FE…

HDFC forays into education loan biz

Posted: Friday, Nov 13, 2009

( FINANCIAL EXPRESS 14th November 2009 ) New Delhi:

Country’s top mortgage lender HDFC today announced acquisition of 41 per cent stake in education loan provider Credila Financial Services—marking its entry into a specialised market estimated at over Rs 30,000 crore. HDFC is purchasing the 41 per cent equity from DSP Merrill Lynch Capital Ltd, an Indian subsidiary of global financial services major Merrill Lynch.

Commenting on the deal, HDFC’s Senior General Manager (Treasury) V S Rangan said that it was “a very small investment” at less than Rs 10 crore for the company, but marked its entry into a fast-growing market.

“Education loans provide a large business opportunity in the country with more and more people going for higher studies,” Rangan said. “The market for student loans is continuously growing… currently, it is estimated at about Rs 30,000 crore and is growing every year at a rate of 25-30 per cent,” Rangan said. Currently, the market is mostly dominated by the banks, but the requirement for student loans is growing day-by-day, he added. Rangan said the company would disburse loan for studies in India as also overseas. The deal is subject to compliance with applicable regulations, HDFC said.

———————————————————-

My views on above news item :

Dear Sir,

I agree that the market for education loans is growing fast but there are already so many players in the market.

HDFC needs to devise some strategy/system to keep a check on same students availing educational loans from several banks and then creating huge NPAs in this sector.

Another problem in this sector is about keeping track of students who have availed loans for going abroad but keep changing their addresses there without informing the lenders and as a result, number of defaulters arise.

Also there is need to frame two different sets of policies—one for the poorest but bright students and another for students from upper class whose parents have the means to support their children but still avail loans from banks for other obvious reasons.

Quicker disposal of loan applications but with built in monitoring system to ensure their health is very important.

J S BROCA

NEW DELHI

Doodle for Google

Google had initiated a doodle competition for Indian students – they were supposed to design an icon for Google. The response was overwhelming. Hereabove is a slideshow of the final entries by various students. The one which was voted best by Google was Puru Pratap Singh aged 9 from Gurgaon. He is a student of class IV, Amity International, Saket at Delhi. The winning entry appears with the title “My India – Full of life’ in the above slideshow.

Curd Seller Quatrains by Harindranath Chattopadhyay

Curd Seller Quatrains..


You are all aware of my fascination with all things humorous. So I will introduce to you all, a specific genre of poetry for which Harindranath Chattopadhyay was very well known.  


Sometime in the period 1971-1991 or so, I had become a fan of Harindranath Chattopadhyay (Born April 2, 1898 -died June 23, 1990 at Mumbai) and had just loved his unique sense of repartee.


Harinda was a Bengali Indian English poet. He was the brother of Sarojini Naidu.


He is famous as a poet, writer, playwriter and above all, as a character actor of Hindi movies. His most famous acting role I vividly recall, was in the movie Bawarchi (The Chef) which was made sometime in 1972. He had enacted as the role of a strict and regimented patriach of the house, where his sons, daughter in laws and grand children lived in a joint family and still respected and abided by his rules.


He often recited his poem Rail Gaadi on All India Radio (Akashavani). This song was later memorably sung by late Ashok Kumar in the famous Hindi film Aashirwad. His other interests were politics and theatre. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1973. In the second Parliamentary election, he had stood as an independent candidate from Vijayawada constituency and had won by a whopping margin of over a lakh-and-a-half votes. Subsequently he enlivened the Lok Sabha with point-of-order interventions, rendered in his inimitable style derived from the Bengaligenre of the ‘curd-seller’ quatrains. 


In fact, it is said that ministers would dread the moment when Harinda would leap to his feet and say in an electic, whiplash hiss, ”On a point of order, Mr Speaker !..” and out would tumble one of his devastating Curd Seller verses. These ditties of the curdseller, are I believe,  an enduring part of Bengali folklore. They are reportedly sung to the beat of a ring on a mud pot. Harinda used this genre of Bengali poetry as a weapon to hit out at the then Government’s policies and follies. 


I have an old collection of a few of his  famous quatrains in an old diary. I thought of sharing these with my readers. I am sure you will all love them as I have loved them till date…. 


1. After the Railway Budget speech, he rose and said ,“On a point-of-order, Mr Speaker…..”:  


“The Budget on the Railways is very very fair;  


O, the budget on the Railways is very very fair!  


It doesn’t touch the Ministers,  


Who always go by air!’”  


2. Once he made the following observation on an irrigation budget: 


“Our Irrigation budget,  


Keeps shooting like a rocket;


 It doesn’t irrigate the fields,  


It irrigates the pockets!”  


3. He had a great sense of humour and in his characteristic style, this is what he said about our Five Year plans: 


“Our Five-Year-Plan 


Is like a piece of chewing gum; 


We’ll draw it out and draw it out 


For fifty years to come!” 


4. He would call a spade a spade, as is clear from the following quatrain: 


“You do not, perhaps, dear friends ! 


You do not know, perhaps, 


The blacker the black marketeers 


The whiter are their caps “. 


5. This is what he said once about the trend of rising prices: 


Go into any city, 


   Go into any town, 


   You’ll find the prices going up, 


   The people going down.” 


6. Our ancestors were monkeys, it is said. Here is a modern day version of a monkey’s vision:   


A monkey found a mirror 


 And gazed into its glass 


 And said: I certainly belong 


 Unto the ruling class ! “ 


7. He did not resist even at taking a dig on religious matters : 


I would not call the temple priest 


 A parrot in a cage 


 Since that might hurt the parrot’s pride


  And put it in a rage .” 


8. Here is one thought provoking quatrain on God Himself: 


O Iam sure that God above 


 Would cease to feed a fool 


If every temple would become 


A  hospital or a school! “ 


9. Here is an irony, so well expressed: 


 ” An irony of opposites— 


  The greatest and the least. 


 Man would have been such an angel 


 Had he not been such a beast.” 


10. How true was he, when he said this about politics : 


Art has no place in politics 


 Nor politics in art ; 


 Which is as good as saying 


That the wife and husband part.” 


11. An artist’s plight was so cutely expressed by Harinda in the following lines: 


The doctor’s fees are heavy 


   And the lawyer’s fees are high, 


  But the artist—he is just supposed 


 To entertain and die.” 


12. Before I end this piece, here is my favorite quatrain of his on a poet’s condition : 


They starved and killed the poet, 


  And now it makes me laugh 


 To see them bring their bags of gold, 


To buy his autograph.” 


Yes, I will reward you for your patience in reading this piece by giving you the link to  the ” Rail Gaddi ” song mentioned earlier in this posting. Do listen to the complete song:


 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcLrPIE_18o


E..N..J..O…Y…!!


    

All in the name of humour…..

All in the name of humour ! 
 
Sometime back, I had read a series of articles in some news papers on the subject of Humour. I reproduce herebelow the two opposing views expressed by different sources.I however,subscribe to the view that humour,in fact, is a God given gift and blessed he/she truly is,who has this gift !
 
Yes,I don’t wish to create any controversy over the contents of these articles.The puprpose is to know your views.Let me know what you believe in—is humour God’s gift ,or is it an act of aggression ? Your feedback and comments are welcome.
 
1.Humour is God’s gift.
 
Humorist Jaspal Bhatti has said that religion is the greatest enemy of humour.He might have spoken the truth but the problem lies not so much with any religion but with the attitude of self-appointed leaders of different faiths.
  
Of all living creatures, only human beings are gifted with the capacity to laugh. Humour is a special gift of God.Sense of humour is all about tolerance and the capacity to take oneself lightly. But tolerance for fellow human beings and other living creatures is also the first and foremost quality that any religion should aim at to inculcate among its followers. Then, where is the contradiction?



Well, the problem arises when some people take their religion too seriously and humour too lightly.Hindu texts have many references when gods and their followers are shown as targets of humour.

 

Vishnu’s most ardent devotee, Narada, is the butt of so many humourous tales.Listen to any preacher and you will find that they make good use of humour to put across their religious or spiritual message.

Can any religious conviction be true if it is threatened by so innocuous a thing as a laugh? In fact, the pure spirit of a religion is strengthened when someone pokes fun at the unnecessary ritualistic practises that come to be associated with religions.

 

Kabir did it when he said, “Kankar pathar jod ke masjid layee banai. Ta chadh mulla bang dey, kya bahara hua khudaye? (By collecting some stones and rubble a mosque was made from which the mullah gives the call to God as if He were deaf).Nor did he spare the Brahmins. Lampooning them he said, “Pothi padh padh jag mua pandit bhaya na koi, Dhai akshar prem ka padhe so pandit hoi”. (The world died reading tomes of scriptures but no one became a pandit. Pandit is that who internalised the two and half letters of the word love).

 

Those who seek to curb the freedom to laugh should realise that a carefree laughter is one of the most sublime spiritual experiences.

 

2.Humour is an ‘act of aggression’.


The research, which was published in the Journal of Pragmatics, suggest that the role of humour is not to make other people laugh as much as it is to make others know who is in charge. The theory explains why until recently it has been extremely rare for women to tell jokes in front of men, according to Helga Kotthoff of the Frieburg University of Education. 


She said: “Those ‘on top’ are freer to make others laugh. They are also freer to be more aggressive and a lot of what is funny is making jokes at someone else’s expense. “Displaying humour means taking control of the situation from those higher up the hierarchy and this is risky for people of lower status, which before the 1960s meant women rarely made other people laugh – they couldn’t afford to. “Comedy and satire are based on aggressiveness and not being nice,” she said. “Until the 1960s it was seen as unladylike to be funny. But even now women tend to prefer telling jokes at their own expense and men tend to prefer telling jokes at other people’s expense.”


The differences between men and women’s ability to become comedians starts very young, she said. Boys as young as four or five tell more jokes while girls tend to be the ones doing the laughing. But in later age women tend to become funnier because they feel freer to not be seen as ladylike.


She said humour, including teasing, was a mix of ‘bonding and biting’ and women often use humour to form social bonds with their friends while men often use humour to vent frustration. But both sexes use comedy as a means of controlling others.


She said: “For example, doctors sometimes use humour to comfort patients but also to silence them if, for example, the patient displays too much knowledge of a medical condition. “Nurses and midwives tend to tell jokes about patients but not when the doctor is present. And when someone initiates a joke they tend to be ignored if they are in the presence of someone of a higher status.” Until the sexual revolution of the 1960s women rarely became comediennes in public or private because most humour is an act of aggression, she said. “A study in the late 1980s showed that men use sexual jokes as a way of verbally undressing a woman who rebuts his advances; his humour was aggressive in essence.”


3.I would like to close this posting with some comments from an editorial in reaction to above:


a) If humour is a way of venting one’s frustration,its certainly a darn sight more enjoyable than a slanging match or fisticuffs !


b) Next time when you want to lean out from your car and question the genealogical antecedents of the road hog in front of you,perhaps you could just crack a joke about its receding hairline !


c)Next time some one cracks a joke at your expense.don’t lose your shirt.Just come up with a funnier one about him or her. And I say this with a straight face !!


Wishing you all a humorous day


 


  


 









My comments on an article/feature in Business Today :


My comments on an article/feature in Business Today :

 

 
Dear Sir,

 

Your survey on “The Best B Schools” (BT 18th Oct 09)  was a good read.

 

The Top Ten or the next 11-30 institutes are beyond the reach of the ” aam aadmi” seeing to their rigourous admission procedures and high fee structures.

 

As a result,he prefers enrolling his children in the pocket-friendly neighbourhood ”B-Shops” which have proliferated in all major towns looking to the craze for Management degrees/diplomas.

 

Open any newspaper educational supplement and you will find a plethora of ads of “ UGC Approved” and “AICTE Approved” teaching shops offering various courses at very nominal fees.

 

Those who cannot afford to join your elite B Schools,find it convenient to join these institutes which run regular courses throughout the week as well as special week-end courses for the employed youngsters.

 

Most of them do not have required infrastructure,properly designed course content,and lack quality faculty.Moreover,their exams are quite easy to be cleared by average students as their questions are objective type,there is no negative marking system and they do not inculcate the habit of thinking beyond what is provided in the tacky study material. 



AICTE has also been in the news sometime back for its alleged corrupt practices for granting approval to such courses/institutes.left and right,without caring for the quality of education they impart.

 

It is suggested that you do a survey of such local B-Shops first in Delhi, by sending your young journalists posing as students seeking admission and you will see the ” clear ” ” rotten” picture !
 
Will you dare ? The million rupee question for these institutes is to B or not to B in the education market !!  

 
J S BROCA
NEW DELHI

Sat Guru Nanak Pargatiaa..

Dear Readers,
 
Today is GURU NANAK DEV JI’s Birthday.
                                
On this ocassion,I am making a humble effort to post one lovely hymn from our Sikh Scriptures.It was composed by Bhai Gurdas Sahib.
 
Bhai Gurdas (1551-1637) is a much honoured Sikh scholar, missionary, and literary master who is also respected for his Sikh way of life. He was a leading figure in Sikhism who enjoyed the company of Guru Arjun. the fifth Sikh Guru.
 
This hymn is recited with full devotion in all Gurudwaras on this ocassion by the present congregation as well as by the professional  Raggis (singers).
 
The original is in Gurumukhi script.The same has been presented in English with equivalent pronunciation from the original.
 
In order that most of our readers can follow its message,I am also giving its translation below each line.
 
I hope you all will like it. May God have mercy on all of us and enlighten us all to follow the true path in our lives !
 
Satguru Nanak pragatiaa,mitee dhundh jagg chaanan hoaa .
 
(With the emergence of the true Guru Nanak, the mist cleared and the light scattered all around.)

Jiu kar sooraj nikaliaa,taaray chhipay andher paloaa .
 
(As if with the rise of the sun, the stars disappeared and the darkness dispelled.)

Singh bukay miragaavalee bhannee jaai na dheer dharoaa.
 
(With the roar of the lion in the forest the flocks of escaping deer now cannot have endurance.)

Jithey baba pair dharay, poojaa aasanu thaapan soaa.

(Wherever Baba Nanak put his feet, a religious place was erected and established.)

Sidhaasan sabhi jagat day,Nanak aad matay jay koaa.

(All the places named on the names of various siddhas,now have been renamed on the name of Nanak.)

Ghar ghar andar dharamasaal hovai keeratan sadaa visoaa.
 
(Everyhome has become a place of dharma where devotional singing continues.)

Baabay taaray chaar chak nau khand prithavee sachaa dhoaa.

(Baba Nanak liberated all four directions and all nine divisions of this earth.)

Guramukh kal vich paragat hoaa.       ॥27॥

(Gurmukh (Guru Nanak) has emerged in this kaliyug—the dark age.)

Category: Sikhism  6 Comments