Archive for August, 2010

Old order changeth…

Whatever may be the impact of globalization, it has created certain ‘look-alikes’ all over the world, despite the fact that the nations the world over could still be divided into developed and developing and underdeveloped countries. What used to be the monopoly of the rich and the upper middleclass are no longer so. Apart from television and phone, which used to be owned only by the rich and the upper middle class, even the vehicles are owned by the people of all classes… it is no longer bicycles for the ‘rich’ among the poor, motorbikes for the middle class and cars for the rich! On top of this, we have the all-in-one shopping malls which are making their presence felt and giving those who are on a shopping spree an immeasurable delight. They don’t have to prepare a shopping list before stepping into these malls or carry a few bags with them. Their ‘journey’ begins from vegetable stalls and end up in textile cabins or jewellery section. The average person does his job quickly by restricting himself to vegetables and provisions—some of them indulge in window shopping! But, all said and done, there are those who still prefer the retail shops which give them ample opportunities for haggling over each and every item they buy. The owners of the retails shops are smart enough to spot out the ones who bargain and raise the prices two or three times more than the actual rates. Such a customer would ask “how much is this?” “Forty five rupees/buck” the owner would answer casually. “That’s too much. I’ll pay twenty five”, the customer would be emphatic. “You are a regular customer and I don’t mind the loss. Ok, make it thirty”. The customer applies the same strategy for other items as well, much to the delight of the owner. The ones who do not bargain get the same items for a lesser price, but the ones who bargain derive an artificial pleasure from the deal; something you cannot dream of in a shopping mall!

If you happen to visit a wayside restaurant or rather, a tea shop in a small town in India at any time, you get accustomed to certain code words. Even as you sip your coffee or tea, three or four persons enter together, with one of them ordering, “Two by three” or “three by four”. “With or without?” pat comes the question from the tea maker. The customer and the owner speak only Indian languages, but the above said orders and queries are in English. These words have become a part and parcel of their language. “Two by three” means, they need two cups of coffee or tea poured into 3 cups. “With or without?” means weather the customer wants the tea or coffee with or without sugar! If a customer prefers “without” you can take it for granted that he is a diabetic patient.  Incidentally, it is “without” for most of the customers. But still, when prices of Sugar and a few other eatables began to skyrocket, there has been a hue and cry against food inflation and the opposition-sponsored strikes.

There has been a three-fold increase in the price of sugar in India and that is a clear indication that there has been a sharp fall in the production of sugar during this year; but it is just a passing phase.

Sugarcane cultivators would have taken the shortage of sugar as a blessing in disguise and would already have set apart more money and land for sugarcane cultivation in the hope that it will fetch them unprecedented profit. It is a lesson they have learnt from vegetable cultivators who switchover from cabbage to potato, depending on the demand.

So ladies and gentlemen, sugar will be cheaper the next year… Good luck!

Medium of instruction

Speaking at the graduation day function, the other day the vice chancellor of an university in South India emphasized that the medium of instruction should be one’s mother toungue and that alone can “make a man into a good citizen”! Instead, if he had said that it would be easier for a student to understand his lessons if she learns the same in her mother toungue, it would have made some sense. More than his love for his mother toungue, what loomed large was his ire against students opting for English as medium of instruction.

What he fails to understand is that it is not the language of instruction which plays an important role in making a man into a good citizen, but what he learns.  As we all know, we have in India thousands who studied in English medium schools and colleges and have become exemplar citizens. More than anything else, what about those great leaders who were involved in freedom struggle?

A good citizen is he who rises above regionalism and sees this vast country as his motherland and its citizens as his brothers and sisters.

The purpose of some educationalists is to appease certain political leaders who would not rise above petty regionalism and all that goes with it. The younger generation should chant the magic mantra of “Unity in Diversity” and turn a deaf year to the calls of narrow minded politicians and the pseudo intellectuals.

Rain or shine, the caravan has to move on

There is nothing unusual about it. During July-August, the rain reigns supreme, but in a place like Ooty, it is depressing. Unlike the summer rains which come and go, the monsoon rains are on a marathon race. Even if they are tired, at times, they keep the sun at a safe distance. This year it has been a prolonged spell and the chilly weather has not even taken what the TV people would say, “a short commercial break!”. Here are a few tips to overcome this dull situation: 1. Do not sit at home watching the TV all through the day, because it may appear that days are longer. 2. Make sure that you go out for a walk, protecting yourself head to foot. 3. Do not keep on looking at the sky, hoping that it will be bright and sunny soon. 4. Even if the sun appears for a while, do not jump for joy, for that is an indication that it will be soon misty and cloudy. Last but not the least, rain or shine, the caravan has to move on.