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.



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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