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Is it better to be a big frog in a small pond or be a small frog in a big pond?
This is an old question with no conclusive answer. There is an advantage in living in small ponds. Being generally shallow and with very confined waterline, there is very little chance of being drowned. You can always retreat to the safety of the shoreline. But the small pond limits the area for hunting for food and consequently limits the potential for adventurous growth. You may pride yourself as being big in relation to the size of your habitat. But, on the other hand a large pond increases the availability of food which helps to attain your full growth potential. Of course you cannot escape the feeling of being small in the context of the size of the pond. Beyond this ego aspect, you have ample scope for growth. These considerations become relevant for humans as well, as reflected in a recent development.
O, beware, my lord of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on, that cuckold lives in bliss,
Who certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tell he o’er,
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-1616) in Othello.
Cuckolding is an old hat. But there was certain secrecy about love affairs beyond and behind the wives. Now people want to flaunt their extra-marital affairs and even seek legal imprimatur as reflected in a recent case in the Bombay High Court. But, first the facts
Faith, I have been a truant in the law,
And never yet could frame my will to it;
And therefore frame the law unto my will.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-1616) in Henry VI.
On June 11, 2011, four shooters on two motorbikes gunned down crime reporter of Midday, J Dey, in Powai Mumbai. The killing sent shockwaves among journalists and the general public and this crime lingers on in the media because the police have not been able to nab the killers even after 12 days. This killing has eclipsed an earlier incident in which another reporter of Midday was involved. Tarakant Dwivedi aka Akela was arrested last May under the Official Secrets Act for exposing how assault rifles belonging to Government Railway Police (GRP) acquired post-26/11, were placed in a damp room and unlikely to function in an emergency. Akela paid the price for exposing police inaptitude five days in GRP custody and was released only after the intervention of the state government – with Dey playing significant part in the release. The main torturer in Akela’s case and a suspect in Dey’s murder is Assistant Commissioner of Police Anil Mahabole.
Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care,
To stay at home is best.
- Henry Wardsworth Longfellow, US poet and author (1807-1882).
When Longfellow wrote this, he could not have foreseen the development of modern business which is increasingly technology driven. Office and home emerged as two distinct compartments and office working was denoted as 9 to 5. No longer so - as detailed by Mini Joseph Tejaswi in The Times of India (10-3-11). Here are some excerpts.
O, he’s as tedious
As a tir’d horse, a railing wife;
Worse than a smoke house, I had rather live
With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far,
Than feed on cates, and have him talk to me,
In any summer-house in Christendom.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-1616) in Henry IV.
Bores are dime dozen and stick around when you wish them to vanish. As JG Saxe, US humorist and journalist, says:
He says a thousand pleasant things, -
But never says “Adieu”.
Shobhaa De, the biting columnist and author, argues that boredom should be ground for divorce in a column in The Week (19-6-11) under the title Terminal Boredom – as excerpted below:
I wished that this was true when a neighbour phoned me up on June 12 to inform that Pus-Pus, the cat with attractive black and white fur and bushy long tail, had been killed the previous night by some dog or other violent animal which apparently wanted to gobble up four of its freshly delivered kitten in a niche at his residence. His concern was to save the four tiny kitten. Knowing my attachment to Pus-Pus, he asked me if I would look after the lovely kitten?
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord Acton.
It is tempting to offer a parallel dictum: Power begets wealth and wealth begets power. This is a cyclical relationship and it is difficult to determine, as in the egg and chicken analogy, which comes first – wealth or power. But, once you get into the wealth-power orbit, there is no looking back. Apart from the ministers, even MPs and MLAs have power to garner wealth and money to hold on to power. But first the facts.
Writing in The Times of India, Atul Thakur notes that when it comes to increasing wealth, legislative experience, it turns out, beats the best investment planning hollow. An analysis of the assets of recontesting legislators suggests that - with the growth of their assets being more than what investing in gold, mutual funds or fixed deposits would yield.
Great is journalism. Is not every able editor a ruler of the world, being the persuader of it? –Thomas Carlyle, Scottish essayist and philosopher (1795-1881).
This was said at a time when the editor was also owner and might have worked solo. Things have changed dramatically since with publishing becoming industry and separation of ownership from journalistic brigade. In this changed situation, it is difficult to identify the “ruler” in Carlyle’s statement. Currently the owners are suppliants begging the rulers in Delhi to save them from prospective economic ruin. Now the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has gone public with its case through main articles written on the editorial page and release of advertisements. Their case is broadly reflected in the following excerpts from an article titled “Muzzling The Press” by Ravindra Dharival, CEO, Bennet Cpleman & Co Ltd., owner of Times of India Group of publications.
Slut: 1 A dirty slovenly woman. 2 An immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute. – Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
This nowadays rarely used word has been resurrected and given new currency by the feminist brigades round the world in an ongoing bizarre campaign. The background and issues involved are highlighted in an article titled Slut Walk: look at the intent, not the dress by Anil Dharker in Sunday Times of India (26-6-11). Given below are some excerpts.
“The President of India is not required to declare his or her assets to any public authority. However, the Pressident Mre. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has decided to make the assets of her and her family public”. – Rashtrapathi Bhavan spokesperson.
It may be recalled that that in the backdrop of a sries of scams and the agitation for Lokpal, the Prime Minister had written to his ministerial colleagues to file returns of their wealth and business interests – with tapid respose. Similarly, former Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekar had asked higher-level babus to file their returns. More than 600 IAS officers of the 4000-odd in the service have missed the May 31 deadline for declaration of assets. Even among babus, there is distortion in response as noted by Smitha Gupta in an article titled On transparency, IAS will put other services to shame and published in The Hindu (18-6-11) - xcepted below:
People have questioned down the centuries those who preach temperance and control the lifestyle of others. Now the state arrogates to itself the right to control and regulate the drinking lifestyle of the citizens in its misplaced belief that it knows best how its adult citizens should behave. The latest example comes from Maharastra in the form of new laws and rules, as detailed by Sandeep Ashar in The Times of India, as excerpted below:
If you are below 25 you will not be allowed to drink hard liquor anywhere in the state. Fresh restrictions have been imposed on liquor consumption. The legal drinking age for rum, gin, whisky and country-made liquor has been fixed at 25 years. This decision has been taken during state cabinet meeting on June 1, 2011. The legal drinking age for these hard drinks was 21 years previously. The legal drinking age for the consumption of mild beer has similarly been fixed at 21 years. The provisions are part of the government’s new de-addiction policy, which was cleared by the cabinet of ministers.
While ministers and top babus dominate the current corruption scene, members of parliament and state legislators have managed to stay outside the limelight, except on rare occasions like cases of cash for votes and cash for queries in parliament. On the other hand, studies by democracy watchers have recently thrown up the fact that being an elected representative at the centre or in states is the most profitable venture as reflected in the growth of assets during their membership. In the days of old British parliament, Sir Robert Waalpole, English statesman (1676-1745) had famously declared, with reference to British parliamentarians of his day: “I know the price of every man in this house except three”. It is a moot poit today whether the three exceptions were beyond buying or Walpole did not know their price!
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash, ‘tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ‘tis his and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.
William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564-1616) on Othello.
India’s fair name is tarnished abroad not by motiveless malignities who who do not enrich themselves, as Othello notes, but by scheming corrupt who have amassed assets in India and in world’ tax havens. This has robbed India’s fair name, specially among the country’s prospective foreign investors. Though one such, Lord Paul, says that his companies did not bribe, his comments in an interview to N. Ravi Kumar, published in The Hindu (10-6-11) under the title Corruption castes a shadow over India’s growth, reflect the ugly reality.“We have made a lot of progress economically in India but there is a great shadow over our progress — and that is corruption,” India-born British industrialist Lord Paul of Marylebone has said. Corruption was not specific to India.
Civil - of, pertaining to, or consisting of citizens: civil life; civil society…adhering to polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy; marked by benevolence.
Synonyms: respectful, deferential, gracious, suave, affable, urbane, courtly.
Antonyms: Boorish, churlish.
- Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
Keep in mind the above meanings of civil when you read or view the coverage of interactions, or statements issued, between the representative of civil society and government representatives involved in drafting the proposed Lokpal Bill. Now there are questions about the representative character and their locus standi and rationale. One outstanding critique on the subject comes in an article by P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu and a Magasasay Award winner, under the title The discreet charm of civil society, published in The Hindu (17-6-11). Here are some excerpts..
Parliament and state legislatures routinely raise the salaries and perquisites of their members without even having even token discussion. In the recent case of Karnataka, Deccan Herald reported on the subject under the headline “CM, ministers pay packets get fatter”.
The salaries and allowances of the chief minister, ministers, presiding officers and legislators in Karnataka are set to go up substantially as the two Houses of the State legislature passed amendment to the relevant law on June 7,2011 without any discussion.
The Karnataka Ministers Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2011, and the Karnataka Legislature Salaries, Pensions and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2011, were passed in the two Houses just before the “extended” Budget session ended on the fourth day. The two Bills now await governor’s nod before coming into effect. The hikes will cost the state exchequer over Rs 25 crore a year.
As per the amendments, the monthly salaries of the chief minister and cabinet ministers go up by 250 per cent – from Rs 12,000 at present to Rs 30,000 in the case of the chief minister, and from Rs. 10,000 to Rs 25,000 for cabinet ministers.