If More Politicians Listened To Scientists Would The World Be A Safer Place?

Welcome to the weekly 2 on 1 blog post that Shackman and I write every Friday. Today’s topic has been chosen by Shackman who is more optimistic than I thought him to be on politicians. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

I have no hopes whatsoever of politicians ever doing anything that would make our world a safer place. It simply has not happened ever, nor is it likely to happen ever again. The political class marches to a drum beat that is entirely unique to it and the class is most unsuited to march to any other drum beat.  Politicians by definition cannot think long term.

I am in total agreement with George Carlin and for the purpose of this post, I equate the government to politicians.  I leave it to my readers to decide if we are smart or intelligent.

Media Bias.

And why would some people say this?

“Media includes every broadcasting and narrowcasting medium such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, telephone, fax, and internet.”

My understanding of this activity was that the people involved in the media would report on events as factual representation of them leaving the audience to decide the merits. What however media has become now, is an opinion making institution. Like all other opinion making, here too there are many shades of opinion some strong and some weak and the trend in the recent past has been for the strong to bring out the heavy artillery swamping the weaker ones.

The comic part of this approach of bias has been its abject failure. Let me just take two examples, one from the West and one from the East.

From India, the media was totally against the BJP, the present ruling party in the Center and many States of India. The more that the bias was shown to the public, the more seats that the party won. It now looks as though it is unbeatable for the foreseeable future.

The other example is that of the POTUS. I distinctly remember the strong bias against Trump in the media while the campaigning was going on and the bias continued right up to the results being announced and even after the inauguration. He is still there and at least to his constituency, he seems unbeatable despite there being no let up in the bias against him in the media.

As a very dear friend recently observed, what seems to be happening is that the social media has become more effective in swaying public opinion. The wireless mobile telephony offering access to platforms like facebook and whatsapp,  has unleashed an information sharing method that has had a greater impact than the traditional media channels.

Shackman has suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Perceptions.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

~ Aldous Huxley

It is odd that this topic has come about when I am still mulling over the effects of The Danger Of A Single Story. Another instance of synchronicity! And I am mulling over this topic primarily because the recently held elections in some states of India has thrown up results that are being interpreted in so many ways and I am in separate discussions with three people on three different perceptions about the causes and likely effects of the outcome.

Blind Men and the Elephant

A Poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) 

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

The inspiration for this poem was the Panchatantra as can readily be seen from the beginning verse where the six blind men are said to be from Indosthan, an Anglicised word for Hindustan.

Pravin has suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

Irada.

Two of my favourite actors, Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi act in Irada and that was the sole reason for my deciding to see it.

I am glad that I did.

It is not anything like the other films where these two actors have paired,  It is far more serious.  Arshad tries to bring in some humour without much success as the story does not allow for any humour except of the dark variety like when the Chief Minister’s mother asks her to eat with her mouth closed!

The subject matter is contamination of underground water sources and resultant cancer in one particular geographic area. Collusion between Corporate interests and politicians, murder, hear break, suicide etc all come together in a fast paced presentation to make it a worthwhile experience.

Excellent direction and cinematography makes it technically very sound.  All the other actors produce professional performances  and if you can get to see it, please do not miss the opportunity.

Politics.

“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”

~ Thomas Sowell

As we begin the new year, to me at least, it appears that we are heading to a period of calm after the storm of a year of political turmoil in many parts of the world. We had Brexit, The USA’s Presidential elections, impeachment of the President of South Korea, Italian elections, etc, and in my own backyard, the high decibel politics due to the demonetisation.

While all these things and many more minor political shenanigans took place, what grabbed the maximum attention, naturally due to its global importance is the electioneering, the election and the result of the American President.

Over here in India, the political oneupmanship following the demonetisation continues unabated. Addding spice to the curry as it were are forth coming elections in some crucial states in India for the state legislatures. The cacophony is mind blowing and within my circle of friends, some rifts have taken place due to differing ideologies and loyalties. Politics and religion does that! I am grateful that the latter has not popped up as yet among us!

To conclude on a lighter note, India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls shortly and the dynasty that has been ruling there is facing a palace revolt as it were.  Mulayam Singh Yadav is the patriarch and the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is his son.  The joke is that Mulayam is suffering from Akhilesh’s Heels.

Since I will be otherwise preoccupied tomorrow,  I am publishing this this week’s Friday LBC post a day in advance.  The topic has been chosen by Shackman. Other than him and me, Maria the gaelikaa and Pravin are likely to write on the same topic. Please do drop in at their blogs and see what they have to say about it.

India’s Demonetisation.

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India demonetised its high value currency notes on the stroke of midnight 8/9th November. I am in favour of this decision which will have long reaching impact despite short term inconveniences. I had gone out for a long drive on an errand this morning and did see long queues outside many banks. This phenomenon should cease in the next few days.

The grocer from who we buy almost everything needed for the home accepted high denomination notes on the morning of the 9th inst, and has been deducting our daily purchase costs from the credit that we made with those notes.

Ranjan went to our bank across the road to deposit all the high value currency notes that we had at home and had no problems whatsoever in depositing them into his account. The ATM machines unfortunately were empty and he will have to encash cheques for the next couple of days, which is really no big deal.

I am more or less a stay at home type and except to go to movies or to visit some friends or go with them out for a lunch, I rarely go out. I am however in touch with the aam aadmi.

Since our own 9/11,I have discovered that I don’t have to keep large sums of money at home towards the end of the month to pay our help at the end of each month.

This morning, when I was greeted by the Chaiwallah I asked him if he had a bank account and he confirmed that he had and that he has been saving money in it. I asked him whether he has been having any problems with the demonetisation and he confirmed that he had some small problems but he supported the demonetisation decision.

Our housemaid Mangal confirmed that she has an account with a bank and that it will be perfectly alright for us to arrange to deposit her wages directly into her account. she supported the demonetisation decision.

The same thing was conveyed to me by our gardener cum handyman Yakob.

The same thing was conveyed to me by the dog walker Somnath.

Our presswallah is currently away attending a wedding in his village, but I am sure that on his return he too will confirm that he has a bank account and he will have no problems getting his monthly payment directly into his bank account. And I am sure that he too would support the demonetisation.

Having roots as I do in rural India, I am sure that problems there would be minimal as the economy is by and large based on credit and barter. To confirm this, I rang up a cousin in rural India and was pleasantly surprised that the situation remains the same after all these years and also that there was overwhelming support for the demonetisation process in the village and surrounding areas.  A fellow alumnus Jayant also confirmed the same in a post on facebook.

My whatsapp groups and facebook friends with the odd naysayer,  support the decision and the overwhelming response has been glee at the discomfort of the cash hoarding types, particularly the political class and the bureaucracy with ill gotten lucre, read bribes.