Learning to be Terse

Aravind Adiga, please sit down.

Posted in Inanity, Politics by Croor Singh on October 21, 2010

Aravind Adiga expresses shock about what has been happening of late in Karnataka’s state assembly. Which is  understandable – the government is being run by proxy, votes in the assembly are openly sold (45 crore rupees is the going rate for a vote, one hears), and behaviour that would shame chimpanzees is on display in the state’s legislature.

The rest of the page-long essay from Sunday’s Times of India is a mess from an Orwellian nightmare where words have no meanings; or if they do, they mean different things to different people. The essay says for instance:

“Your Delhiwallah might associate virtues like modesty, thrift, and hard work with the Madrasi, but in the south we have always thought of Karnataka as the ultimate locus of these values.”

Delhiwallah’? ‘Madrasi’? Do these words mean people from Delhi and Madras? Or do they mean people from North and South India? And Karnataka, which is apparently not indicated when a North-Indian says ‘Madrasi‘, has also always been considered the locus of something or the other. I’m sorry, I must have missed that memo.

Here’s another gem: “Bangalore did not become India’s information technology centre by accident. Companies like Infosys could only have been founded in a place like Karnataka, where culture and education are valued so highly.

‘Information, Culture, Education’… This juxtaposition of words seems to me to be either unwitting or disingenuous. Yes, Kannada has a distinguished history of scholarship, and is considered one of India’s ‘classic’ languages. What, however, that has to do with Infosys – where the average employee is a glorified typist – the author neglects to mention. I’ve heard that among the questions people are asked in campus-interviews where Infosys and TCS hire by the truckload are whether they can sing or dance. Maybe that is what Adiga means.

Here’s one last string of words that at first glance seems to mean something: “Culture, in the south of India, has always been a bulwark against money.” Compare that to ‘Infosys – the corporation that sells software products – could only have been founded in Karnataka’, and you’ll see what I mean when I say the entire essay is dubious.

Having decoupled words from meaning, Adiga proposes a solution to Karnataka’s woes of corruption in politics: Insist as a matter of principle, on talking in Kannada to people who talk to you in Hindi. And pontificate about this in your article for an English newspaper.

But there’s more.

You see, Tamilians and Malayalis, because their loyalties are divided, care about Tamil Nadu and Kerala , and therefore Kannadigas must become more active by joining NGOs – of which there are many and one suitable to you can be found at the click of a button. Oh, and North Indians who migrate to Karnataka should teach their children ‘Kannada culture’, and develop some sense of ‘ownership and belonging’ in Karnataka (I assume owning property doesn’t count). By exclusion, Tamilians and Malayalis don’t have to do this, I guess.

And if ‘Kannadigas’ don’t do all this (once somebody figures out what the heck any of it means), Karnataka will turn into Bihar – where, incidentally, people talk in their language and no other. Not surprisingly, this solution is as devoid of meaning as the rest of the essay.

Aravind Adiga, the Booker prize-winning author, closes by professing to being a Kannadiga. I’m not sure even he knows what on Earth that means.

[hr]

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The test I created is still open. I want enough votes for a statistically significant result. Do take the test!

[End. Fini. Kaputski. Adiga]

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8 Responses

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  1. Trinath said, on October 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Orwellian! I like that. India is a boiling pot of ethnic/linguistic fundamentalism. Talk Hindi to a Marathi fellow he will make you pay extra. Outsider’s tax. It is same in Telangana – Andhra now, where the difference is the dialect not language. How can we forget Tamil Nadu where everything is aligned with Tamil pride. Same with Gujarat. Same with Kerala. Isn’t our lab an example of that? It is a Kerala strong hold.

    It is happening everywhere. These identities are gaining new weight in the information era where ones identity is never under the carpet. Beat your chest that you are a Bengalurian and beat up others.

  2. Croor Singh said, on October 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Yes. It’s like Adiga took a look at Politics and the English Language , and decided to illustrate what Orwell was on about. Somebody should tell him we get enough of this sort of tripe. We don’t need another demonstration.

  3. Porqy said, on October 21, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    What a vague shit by Aravind Adiga if he actually had written so…..I am still not able to believe that he has actually written those lines….

  4. Croor Singh said, on October 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Porqy, have you read The White Tiger? Does it compare in brilliance to this essay? After reading this article, I suddenly want to read that book. I need a good laugh.

  5. anirudh said, on October 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Ravi I thought u like such kind of modern thinking ; all religion is shit ; Indians still have casteism , type authors. Strange u criticize them. Anyways let me try to explain the rational if any behind the adrenal rush :

    1.Delhiwallah Madrasi story is trying to say : It says Madras gets all the credit for being modest but kannada is more modest than that and actually it all started here. ;)

    2.Infy : I do understand they hire “typist- singers and dancers” But trust me the amt of dollars they pull in and the share that goes to its “typists” is huge. Give me any example of an Industry whose employees can be considered RICH filthy RICH. All the TATAS BIRLAS or AMBANIS make huge money which is not shared with their employees.
    The point he s trying to make is ,The modesty and education oriented values made this possible which can happen only by Narayan Murthy kind or in general the typical Mysorean kannadiga. Any other place this wud ve happend it wud be one more richest indian not many rich “typists”

    3. And do I have to tell u anything abt Kannada pride , after all u r from VIJAYA HIGH SCHOOL – Hardcore Kannada fanatics. The story is simple and same as that of Mumbai – The native speakers feel in a strange land with the influx of so many outsiders thats all

  6. Croor Singh said, on October 21, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    ‘Modern thinking’ is a type of author now, is it? Did you read what I said I think about willy-nilly typecasting people?

    By the way, India is still riddled with casteism, and religion in its most benign form is still wishful thinking. But that you say those things doesn’t mean everything else you say will also be right… or that you won’t get called out when you spew nonsense.

    As to your ‘explanation’ of Adiga’s tripe, let’s just hope you were going for humour. Because otherwise, your explanation is, not surprisingly, worse than the original.

  7. strawberrymargaritas said, on October 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    our lab is not an example of any of this. it just happens to have more mallus.

  8. Croor Singh said, on October 22, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Um. I didn’t see this part of Trinath’s comment. I don’t know what it means. I haven’t seen Nair or Vinu do anything that would identify them more as Mallus than as students at IITM. The Mallu of consequence, Sujith, has as even a spread of students from the country as anybody could.


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