Abuse as a fine art
As the 2019 elections is drawing nearer (the coming polls in five states is considered as the semi-finals), all political parties have shifted gear and are on election mode now. Huge rallies are being organized in different states. Leaders of all parties are talking to people. One interesting aspect of all the ‘bhasan’ is that there is hardly any talk about sorting out major problems facing the country or dealing with issues concerning people- just an endless stream of abuse and lies. The leaders should talk about the problems that people are facing and the programmes they have to find answers to it. They should talk about issues. Instead what we are witnessing is flinging abuses and trading insults.
While many are mighty displeased about this, on the brighter side this could be one way to judge the creativity of the political parties. We can pick the leader on the basis of how creatively they trade insults and canards.
There have been umpteen numbers of examples of this practice.
In a place called Katwa a sub-divisional town in West Bengal, where I come from, there is a festival woven around this. It is held during Kartick puja. Called Kartick ladai it sees bards singing self-composed songs with choicest abuses for the high and mighty of the town. In Beneras lanthai kavi samelan is held around Holi. This is a virtual competition for poets who who can use abuse as creatively and innovatively. The poet who can abuse most innovatively is declared winner.
Then, there is a custom among certain tribes of Athabascan Indians in Alaska. The Athabascan people traditionally lived in Interior Alaska, an expansive region that begins south of the Brooks Mountain Range and continues down to the Kenai Peninsula. There are eleven linguistic groups of Athabascans in Alaska. Athabascan people have traditionally lived along five major river ways: the Yukon, the Tanana, the Susitna, the Kuskokwim, and the Copper river drainages. Athabascans migrated seasonally, traveling in small groups to fish, hunt and trap.
They led gentle lives and have several interesting customs including one to settle disputes when two young men compete for the affections of a maiden.
A gathering of the clan takes place where the two young men are required to take part in a contest of trading insults. The insults ascend in a spiral of creativity and imagination as the assembled clan roars with laughter. Finally the clan decides who was better.
Is it time in India to adopat and adapt to a custom like this?
Gradually student elections in colleges and universities across the country are becoming clones of general elections. Money flows. Muscle power is flaunted and used. Voters are enticed with food and gifts- in some places with booze too. The campaign style borders on tamasha. Band parties and professional entertainers are hired. Candidates move around in expensive vehicles or for a change on horseback and promise moon to the voters. Violence erupts at slightest provocation. Mainstream political parties merrily fund and encourage all these activities.
The situation forces people to think: is the future of democracy safe in India? We can blame the political parties for this. We can blame the prevailing social norms for this. But why should students, who should be in the forefront of reform indulge in all this? Why can’t they stand against the prevailing system? I know, there are answers, excuses, even justifications. But at the end of the day- it is the question of the future of this country? Will it remain as a healthy functioning democracy or a sham one?
Here is a photograph of food being distributed during election campaign at a prominent college in Odisha.
Photo: Ashok Panda
Why you should have plants around you?
These days I see more and more institutions are gifting potted plants instead of flower bouquet to their guests. This is a welcome move.
Research shows that interacting with nature in any way has a profound effect on our psyche increasing our sense of well-being and making us happier on a subconscious level.
Research has found that introducing plants into an office environment can up the creativity quotient by a whopping 15 percent! It also reduces stress level.
So, gift potted plant instead of bouquet. And if you happen to get one, please take care of the plant and nurture it. It will do you a world of good.
Tailpiece 1: Savita Reloaded
Wife sent a message to her husband: Don’t forget to buy vegetables on your way back from office, and Savita says hi to you.
Husband: Who is Savita?
Wife: Nothing, I was just making sure that you read my message or not
Twist in the tale…..
Husband: But I’m with savita , which savita are you talking about ?
Wife: Where are you….?
Husband: Near vegetable market
Wife: Wait I will come there …..
After 10 minutes she texts her husband, “where are you”?
Husband:- I am at office, now buy whatever vegetables you need…
Tailpiece 2; Side effects of being a Teacher
A teacher went to a hotel for lunch, he wanted to see the ‘menu’ but forgot what it was called.
He asked the waiter, “Can I see food syllabus please?
The waiter said, “What?”
The teacher replied, Table of contents
The waiter said, No we don’t have such
The teacher, I mean food curriculum
Mrinal Chatterjee journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. He joins Snehasis Sur to compile and edit a book: ‘Gandhi: a Journalist and Editor’ which will be released in mid-October in Kolkata.