Indian Presidents are Political

It has become a thing of fancy to say that the President of India is apolitical. But that is plain wrong.

Most people who say apolitical actually mean non-partisan, not knowing the difference.

An apolitical person is one who doesn’t hold any public office, while a non-partisan person is one who doesn’t belong to (or isn’t loyal to) any particular political party or parties.

Every office created or authorized by the constitution is political.

Also, you shouldn’t fall for the “holy book” fallacy. God didn’t write the constitution; God didn’t say “There shall be a President of India” in Article 52.

It was a set of fallible humans, and it’s a fundamental right — nay, duty — of every new generation to question them.

Waze Is Just the Beginning

A bunch of my good friends from Banavasi Balaga, Mr. Suhruta Yajaman taking the lead, went ahead and produced the Kannada version of the Waze app.

First things first. Critics, fence sitters and everyone out there, let’s congratulate the team for attempting a Kannada version of an upcoming app with promise. The speed with which it was brought out is really amazing.

Having said that, there’s a problem. The problem is, the translation team seems to have underestimated the task at hand. In other words, the quality of the transactions doesn’t exactly seem to be superb.

Mr. Hamsanandi, an old critic of the ongoing reforms in Kannada, whose friends are wont to patriotically wonder why the damned app isn’t out in Sanskrit yet (because Akhand Bharat), actually has useful criticism for us, i.e., Kannadigas interested in language planning done right.

He tweeted:

I agree with the substance of his criticism, which is that ‘ದಾರಿ ತೋರಿಸಿ’ is the right way to do it in Kannada, not ‘ದಿಕ್ಕುಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಿರಿ’. I haven’t seen the Waze app, but I’m afraid the problem could be deeper than what we’re seeing in this one screenshot. Here’s what I see in this one screenshot already:

  1. ಬಳಕದ ನುಡಿ seems to be an attempt to use the newly coined word ಬಳಕ (for app), which I don’t exactly like, in at least one sentence (“Look, the word is being used!”). As I think Hamsanandi pointed out in another tweet, ಬಳಕೆಯ ನುಡಿ is there for anyone who isn’t as obsessed with coining new words and wants to prove that it has actually been used.
  2. I’m having a hard time decoding “ನಿಮ್ಮ ಬಳಕದ ನುಡಿ ಹೊಸದಾಗಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಿ”. Really, guys? What the?
  3. What is ಹಿಗ್ಗಿಸುವ ಗಾಜು, and how is anyone supposed to utter the word ಕೆಳ ಎಡ ಮೂಲೆ? And ತಟ್ಟು? Why not ಒತ್ತು? Oh I get it, someone threw the word “tap” at you and you rolled up your shoulders.
  4. ಏರ್ಪಾಡುಗಳಿಂದ is a bad translation of “From Settings”. I don’t like the word ಏರ್ಪಾಡು being used for Setting – if Setting is what it is.
  5. And why is anyone placing an ಅರ್ಕಾವೊತ್ತು after ಆ in the name at the bottom? This is a major goof-up.
  6. ಆರಿಸಿ is the wrong way of saying it. ಆರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಿ would have been better. If a word can be misinterpreted, it must be avoided. You can ಆರಿಸು the entire phone or the light in your room.

So it’s not as if we’re blind to these things. This is just the beginning.

In fact, I even grant that these errors are due to too much focus on words. We shouldn’t act as if words are everything.

For the record, I haven’t exactly had an obsession with new words myself, except maybe in brief spells. In fact, I have taken part in ಪದ ಪದ ಕನ್ನಡ ಪದಾನೇ quite actively, but not without voicing my criticisms. I have always found it a waste of time to coin new words when old words suffice, and when there’s no proof that they’re required to be coined in the first place. The group also has an obsession to create one Kannada word for one English word which results in crazy outcomes. In fact, I don’t think the question “What is the Kannada word for X?” is the right question in the first place. Folks on that group should ask “How do we say X in Kannada?”.

It’s easy to blame Dr. DNS Bhat for this. But those who do (Mr. Hamsanandi included) don’t understand why he’s coining words in Kannada by the minute as if his life depended on it. He’s doing it because he simply wants to show that it’s possible before he’s dead. That proof is required for the Hamsanandis, the Ra Ganeshes of the world, and pretty much everyone who has an interest in Kannada’s future.

Let us not forget that Dr. DNS Bhat is not interested in those words actually getting used. He doesn’t care if society rejects those words; he is only interested in proving his point. And yes, it’s a point worth proving.

I will also grant that initially, some of our Balaga friends didn’t fully grasp Dr. Bhat’s mind. One can’t blame anyone for not doing that: Bhat doesn’t speak his mind very often.

Therefore, for example, a few years ago, some of my friends in the Balaga began to unleash their newfound skill of coining new words in Kannada (gained via Dr. DNS Bhat) on poor Facebook users by way of participating in the Facebook Translation project.

That’s when I stepped in to create Honalu.net with help from the exact same guys. The very idea of Honalu was to channel all that newfound creative energy into something solid without subjecting innocent members of society to an experiment with unspecified goals. You read Honalu if you want to. Facebook Kannada wouldn’t be like that. Why should anyone have to contend with our experimental words before we are ourselves sure that they’re good? Honalu’s purpose was to stop that and act as a wonderful platform for our experimentation.

Today, Honalu has grown beyond all our expectations and even spun off arime.org, another great project for those who are interested – not all Facebook users.

Coming back to Waze, localizing an app, or anything that can potentially be used by every Kannadiga, requires skills over and above the ability to use the correct words (even if they’re all existing words). Every English speaker can’t design the user interface of an iOS or Android app. It’s a separate skill. If we want to do Waze kind of projects, we must acquire that skill. No shortcuts.

So guys, let’s redo the translations in the next version!

I also want to take this opportunity to request Mr. Hamsanandi and other able critics to pitch in. At this stage in the reform movement, we need not just the old thesis (that we can’t coin Kannada words in Kannada) or our new antithesis (that we can coin Kannada words in Kannada) but a synthesis. Let’s work out this synthesis, fellows. It’s possible. We don’t differ as much as it appears. Our critics imagine things in us, and we imagine things in them. Let’s talk, guys, let’s talk.

I am absolutely sure that Mr. Hamsanandi and many of his friends secretly appreciate a good number of the words we’re churning out. If any don’t, it’s time to pick up the ಪದನೆರಕೆ and actually read it a bit.

And yes, I remember Hamsanandi’s request to join PPKP was rejected. But it wasn’t on the grounds that he wouldn’t write for Honalu. It was on the grounds that we didn’t think he’d add value. PPKP requires a sort of obsession with creating new Kannada words which he clearly doesn’t possess. Nor do I do, and I’m also out.

One more thing: I absolutely love the way Ra Ganesh, Hamsanandi, etc., are running their poetry projects. I have some grouses about it (including the use of too much Halagannada and Sanskrit), but I’ve learnt from them like Ekalavya from Drona. I also believe I have something very interesting to show. More on that later. Poetry is one area where the two camps can actually come together and appreciate each others’ work.

This is the thing my Balaga friends should never forget: we need to be careful where and how we introduce new words. Put them down in poetry and people will love it. Put them down in science and people will love it. Put it down in the Waze app and you yourself will hate some of them tomorrow. Let’s not hurry when trying to do good, and let’s be very careful with quality and aesthetics — something our critics have actually demonstrated. We should learn from them, involve them, and make sure we produce quality stuff. If we can’t, the entire reform movement will get a bad name.

Here’s Why Paying Tax to GoI Doesn’t Quite Make Your Money White

What is black money? Money hidden from the government in order to avoid tax.

If you’ve been following any of the debates about black money in India, you probably haven’t paid attention to the fact that by government, everyone means the Government of India here. They’re not referring to State Governments because, as required by the Constitution of India, they aren’t really governments. They’re more like municipalities.

Anyway, the word black notwithstanding, we can call black money bad only if we can prove that paying tax to the government – central, that is – is good.

It’s not any easy proof, I’m afraid. In fact, when you pay tax to the Government of India your money doesn’t exactly become white; it arguably becomes black. I’ll explain.

There are well-known diversity-agnostic reasons why paying tax to the Government of India is not necessarily good. For example, the said government often enriches itself using tax money; it uses the money in a highly inefficient manner; it uses it to do things which aren’t necessarily in the public interest; and so on and so forth.

But making diversity-agnostic arguments don’t suffice for India. We must take diversity and its mishandling also into account. When we do that, the idea that tax paid to the Government of India is good becomes even more difficult to support.

The Government of India as an institution has a distinct Aryan or North Indian hue to it, complete with upper-caste control and official-language status to a language which is foreign to most of India.

It’s not exactly a scientific fact that it’s good for a Kannadiga or a Malayali or a Tamil to pay tax to such a government. It’s only as good as, if not worse than, paying tax to the Government of, say, Bhutan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. For South Indians the last one is, arguably, geographically and culturally closer than North India.

It’s clearly better for Kannadigas, etc., to pay tax to their own State Governments instead of to New Delhi or Colombo. India’s State Governments are the people’s “own” governments in the same way as the Government of France is “own” for the French, the Government of Germany is “own” for the Germans, and so on and so forth.

Consequently, although nobody cares to notice, money which India’s State Governments haven’t had the opportunity to tax is blacker than money which the Government of India hasn’t had the opportunity to tax.

In fact, most of the tax collected by the Government of India is tax revenue lost by the State Governments for no good reason, and that actually makes your white money black.

Who is responsible for making it black? Not you, because you’ve done your part by paying tax, what if to the wrong entity as required by law. The credit for making your white money black goes to the Constitution of India.

Demonetization? Yes, Prime Minister

Demonetization is taking too much time and the news about it a little too serious, so I decided to have a little fun. If you’ve ever seen Yes Minister / Yes Prime Minister, you’ll enjoy this much more than if you haven’t.

L to R: Sir Humphrey Appleby, Prime Minister Jim Hacker, Sec. Bernard Woolley

Prime Minister Jim Hacker: “Humphrey, I have an idea.”

Sir Humphrey Appleby, whispering: “Not again!”

Prime Minister: “Did you say something, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “Not a word, Mr. Prime Minister! I’m all ears.”

Prime Minister: “Last night, when I was in the loo, I got an idea with which to destroy all our political opponents: Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Bannerjee, and what’s his name?”

Humphrey: “Arvind Kejriwal, Mr. Prime Minister”

Prime Minister: “Yes, him. Can you close the door, Bernard?”

Bernard: “Westminster is a safe place for Prime Ministers, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “What was I saying, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “You were in the loo last night, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “Ah yes. Did you miss the point about destroying our political opponents?”

Humphrey: “No, Mr. Prime Minister, In fact, I….”

Prime Minister: “Okay, okay, let’s get to the crux of the matter. We pull the carpet under their feet so that we’re the only ones with carpets under us. Do you get the point, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “I do, Mr. Prime Minister. You want to demonetize 500 and 1000 rupee notes.”

Prime Minister: “Did you peep into my scratchpad when I was in the loo, Humphrey?”

Humphrey: “No, Mr. Prime Minister! I respect individual liberty and I consider it a serious transgression to peep into scratchpads in loos.”

Prime Minister: “No no, I meant… never mind… what do you think of the idea?”

Humphrey: “It’s brilliant except for one small glitch, Mr. Prime Minister.”

Prime Minister: “No, I’m absolutely certain we’ll pull the carpet under every one of those rascals and you know we’ll cover our own arses in time for the grand announcement, don’t you?”

Humphrey: “That’s very thoughtful of you for a change, Mr. Prime Minister, but you’ve forgotten someone.”

Prime Minister: “I insist I haven’t, Humphrey!”

Humphrey: “With respect, I insist you have, Mr. Prime Minister!”

Prime Minister: “Okay, are you going to tell me who?”

Humphrey: “The people, Mr. Prime Minister.”

*Curtains and closing musical score*

Bernard: “I’m afraid there are a few of them.”

Modi’s New 500 and 2000 Rupee Notes Solve the Smaller Problem Temporarily

By smaller problem, I mean the problem of operational corruption. In case you don’t understand this terminology from my book, it’s the corruption in the operations: black money, hidden money, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it’s shady financial activity which governments acknowledge as illegal.

Realize that Modi’s new notes provide only temporary relief from operational corruption. Although the new notes are stone-gray and magenta, there are experts who can turn them into black. It’s just a matter of time before fake-note printing presses and tax evaders catch up. In other words, the new 500 and 2000 rupee notes will eventually be abused in the same way as the old notes.

But forget operational corruption; efficient administrators like Modi can handle it from time to time.

I want to talk about the bigger problem which nobody wants to talk about: primitive corruption. This is the corruption built into the system. It’s the abuse of public power for private gain that happens even when there is no black money, no hidden money, no illegal financial activity whatsoever.

One example of this is the idea that a government sitting in New Delhi, made up of people 95 out of 100 of whom don’t speak our language (Kannada) can legally take away our money by taxing us, write laws for us, and so on and so forth.

Why is this corruption? Well, refer to the definition of corruption and open your eyes and see India’s diversity.

Corruption is defined as abuse of public power for private gain. While most people think of individuals when they hear this, I like to use this definition to talk about groups.

One specific group walks away with private gain by abusing the government of India’s power: Upper-caste Hindi speaking North Indians.

This group controls the government of India and most of the nation’s commerce after having rendered every other group powerless at a time when nobody was looking: during this nation’s inception. It has the audacity to reduce every Indian language other than Hindi to worse than footnotes on banknotes – an audacity which has been amplified in the new notes released by RBI yesterday.

If this group has its way, India’s diversity will be wiped out with the same efficiency with which the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes were wiped off in a nation with 1.3 billion people. Overnight. They have the legal sanction to do this.

The Modis of India can’t solve this, the bigger problem. They don’t want to. It’s the solution they are aiming at by removing stumbling blocks such as black money.

On The Ease of Doing Business

The ease of doing business with someone is directly proportional to how easily he or she can be duped.

It’s easy for me to do business with a child who can’t tell how many rupees I’m giving him/her as change. It’s easy for me to do business with a person who can’t tell if the vegetables I sell him are rotten.

So go ahead, people, celebrate the ease of doing business. Make it the No. 1. factor to measure the worth of nations, states, cities, whatever. The ease of doing business. Yay!

(Psst: Does someone have the numbers for British India? I have a feeling it must have been easy to do business with it. If piece-of-cake were a level of ease, British India was probably right there. Just kick the dogs; they’ll whine but in their heart of hearts, they’re willing to pay a fortune for your stuff – as the numbers show.)

Abolish Govt. Control over All Talaq and All Nikaah

Why should marriage or divorce come under government control? I know, this is not the current topic all over the news, but it’s as good a time as any to talk about it.

Governments might want to get into people’s bedrooms, pants and quarrels to do the right thing, but it’s not exactly required.

I marry or unmarry whoever I want and whenever I want. Who is the government to tell me how or when to do it?

I know what you’re thinking. I create trouble for my spouse and she wants justice.

Still, why should the government – in this case one in which the 65 million people around me have literally no say – provide that justice? What’s wrong if local panchayats decide? Indeed, what’s wrong if she and her parents or whoever actually kill me for my crimes?

I know, you’ll say this is anarchy. But I ask you – do you really prefer law and order over self rule? Have you thought about it? Worked out all the pros and cons?

Who said one sixth of humanity needs one law to prosper? Most human prosperity in the world, I’d argue, happened when there were no obese governments like the Government of India. We wrote the Vedas, composed Ramayana and Mahabharata, developed great languages, created great forms of music, art and sculpture, and what not.

I have to go.

You haven’t heard of Gram Swaraj, have you?

No issues. Go back to your TV, facebook or twitter. You’re all set. Just remember to vote next time.

A Short Note on the 2 Types of Yoga

There are two types of Yoga – political and spiritual. The second form is not taught in India today; only the first. You have a better chance of spotting the second abroad.

How do you recognize Political Yoga? It’s quite simple, actually. Listen to the teacher or his attendants. They drift from talking about asanas and pranayama to talking about “us”. And then come “they”. We are superior, they are inferior. And then, of course, they begin to talk about Bharat, i.e., India, right in the Yoga class.

The moment you hear that word, you know it’s political. Bharat, i.e., India, is not a body part or the name of an asana. Nor is it mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga sutras.

Of course, what I’m saying here applies to spiritual discourse of all types, in general. Heads of Mathas can’t see the lakshmana rekhe when they cross it and begin talking about politics.

Understand The Forces

The army is paid to kill. It kills for the payers. That’s its job.

Stop talking about “demoralizing” it with debate. If it gets demoralized as some think, fire those who are demoralized and hire anew. They must learn to keep emotion aside and do what they’re paid to do.

Stop talking about standing with the army or the forces, too. They must stand by what the people decide after debate. Debate can’t be wished away or even hurried through in a democracy.

The Supreme Court’s Supreme Wisdom in the Kaveri Matter, Explained

The combined population of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is 142 million poeple, but of course, a handful of us know better. We have passed a judgment in our supreme knowledge and authority, and you better behave.

Many states share a river in this world. Dissatisfaction about water sharing is common everywhere. But the issue is almost completely handled by the states in question without a third party poking its nose into the matter.

But India, as Gandhi would have liked to say, is…

A state “like none other in the world”

So we’ve very much got the Third Party. It’s called the Govt. of India and it wants to completely decide the matter. In fact, it would like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to stop having any say.

In fact, the Third Party is not convinced that the people of these two states (or any state for that matter) can behave appropriately. In the interest of world peace, and in order to hasten the process of making thy kingdom come, the Third Party can’t let the barbaric races of the world make decisions.

No wonder, therefore, that the judicial wing of this Third Party, a.k.a. the Supreme Court of India, whose pronouncements continue to be echoes of the colonial whip, had the following to say about the ongoing Kaveri river water protests:

“Behave”

We expect the inhabitants of both states, TN and Karnataka, shall behave and the executives of both states are under the constitutional obligation to see that law and order prevails.

The combined population of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is 142 million poeple, but of course, a handful of us know better. We have passed a judgment in our supreme knowledge and authority, and you better behave.

We know your water. In fact, it’s not your water. We can’t trust behaviorless people with water, so it’s ours.

We have plenty of proof that you aren’t very good at behaving. We’ve been observing it from several millennia. How can you be when you don’t even?

So leave everything to us and learn to behave. We’ll teach you how to do that. In fact, that’s our burden. Only we, with our with superior blood, we who follow the only true religion, know how to behave. So learn from us, or else.

And you two – the executives of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – make sure what we, the Third Party, have ruled, is implemented without any events. If required, get your police (with their toys) to scare all those behaviorless people away, or just give us a call. We’ll be there with our army which, of course, is something for people with behavior.

Hey, who’s that standing in the corner?

Did you see him? I saw him. He’s called Uncle Sam (the Queen’s grandson), and he wants to apply the same logic for river-water sharing between India and Pakistan. He has ample proof that India and Pakistan are much more ill-behaved. And of course, behavior is his middle name. Uncle Behavior Sam.