Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Honesty

These days, it seems everybody and his/her uncle and aunty are talking about honesty in politics. Almost everybody is agitated about the way our political parties are trying to usurp power, by any means and any cost. Everybody is concerned about horse trading including, probably, the horses. Everybody is talking about the moral degradation of the politicians, how they spend money to ‘buy’ votes before elections and elected persons after the elections, how the elections are becoming so very expensive affair that an ordinary person of modest means has no chance there.

In this situation I saw the following facebook post of Professor BN Neelima, who teaches mass communication in an Andhra Pradesh University and paints in her free time.

“I want that seat for my son in that prestigious college. Rs 50 lakhs? Of course, take it. He needs to settle down well. I got to earn more for that. I need a huge house, cars, jewellery and of course that foreign alliance for my daughter. I need to make more money. Let me see…can I take bribes, manipulate bills, pull the rug under my colleague to get a promotion? Is there a way I can reduce my tax? Any loopholes? I’m working with my auditor on that. That property papers need to show reduced buying price, I could evade tax that way. See that guy is a mere clerk in revenue department…he has made more money than me! I have to catch up! Sell those job positions! Take more bribes. Yay I’m rich. Now generations can live in prosperity! Let me vote for this guy…he is from my caste my religion; he will help me if he comes to power! Help me to make more money! Who is corrupt? Of course the govt. is corrupt! 100 crores for one MLA!! Tch tch … could have given to farmers, poor people; they have no one to help them! What? You ask me if I have ever helped one single farmer in my life? Why should I? What? Not buy those diamond bangles and give the money to farmers!! Are you crazy? That’s not my job.”

She ends her post with a comment: Yatha Praja Tatha Raja! It means people get the rulers they deserve. If we are corrupt, we’ll get corrupt rulers. If we are greedy, we’ll get greedy rulers. We cannot get honest politicians if we are not ready to be honest ourselves.

 

Walking…Talking

Walking, my doctor friend tells me, is the best exercise. It reduces stress. Helps to keep your heart strong. Reduces cholesterol. Helps in digestion. Messages your foot. Improves blood circulation. Strengthens the muscles. It also lets you think.

I fail to understand why most of our cities are so pedestrian-unfriendly! You just cannot walk. Either there is no footpath. And if there is, then it has been occupied by street vendors or heaps of garbage.

People should be encouraged to walk more. It has several plus points. It will keep people fit. If people walk or cycle to their workplace, it will save on fossil fuel and in turn make the environment clean and healthy. In many European countries people are going to their work place by cycle- for health and environmental reasons.

It makes sound economic and environmental sense to keep our cities and towns pedestrian and cycling friendly. Gangtok is one such city, which has marked and barricaded pedestrian pathway. Mysore has managed to keep its footpath fairly congestion free. Bhubaneswar has some roads which has dedicated cycle alley.

More cities should emulate them.

Moving Art
Have you ever noticed the arts and writings painted on the back of trucks and some buses, especially in Northern India? You have not! Please do from now. You’ll find many interesting pieces of traditional and pop art. Besides the ubiquitous ‘Tata Bye Bye, Speed Limit 40, Bure Nazar Wale, Tera munh Kala’, you will find portraits of freedom fighters, village dames, natural scenes and umpteen numbers of paintings of flowers and geometric designs.
This form of art has become a unique tradition in Pakistan. Many trucks and buses in Pakistan are highly customized and decorated by their owners. These adorned vehicles are considered as moving art, or jingle art. Because of their unique decor style, these vehicles are quite distinct in layout from other trucks around the world. Each part of the vehicle is decorated differently, with variations depending on the regional style. Although the decorative process is usually very expensive, it is still practiced throughout Pakistan and a few other countries of Central Asia with great zeal and aesthetic zest.
Tailpiece: Class

Most ‘First Class’ students get technical seats, some become Doctors and some Engineers.

The ‘Second Class’ pass, and then pass MBA, become Administrators and control the ‘First Class’.

The ‘Third Class’ pass, enter politics and become Ministers and control both.

Last, but not the least, The ‘Failures’ join the underworld and control all the above.

Tailpiece: Account Closed

Minister came and planted a tree in morning!

Goat came and ate the plant in afternoon!

Minister came and ate the goat for dinner!

Account closed!

(Courtesy: Email forward)

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Journalist-turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee also writes fiction. English translation of his Odia novel Shakti will be released on 6 June at Kalinga Lit Fest in Bhubaneswar. An anthology of this column published through 2017 will also be released there.

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