Saturday, March 31, 2007

What people say- and what they really mean.

Phrase/ word Meaning Example
Consultant- Agent -Real estate consultant
unemployed- Freelance consultant
Backward- In namsake- Backward caste
Public interest -My interest- File notings in RTI not disclosed due to public interest
national benefit- Helps votebank- Slum rehabilitation helps nation
Social Justice -Injustice otherwise- Reservations are for social justice
Public servant -who takes tips -Ministers are public servants
Restructuring -Sack people -Corporate restructuring
Rationalisation- Reduce -Rationalisation of taxes. staff
Service charges- Bribes/ Loot- Service charges in hotel bills
Revision -Hike- Revision of tariffs
People -Me -Walmart's entry/ cheap imports affects people Premium Costly Premium quality
Empowerment -for the camera- Companies want to empower their employees
detention: arrest
adult entertainment: porn
mature: old
Abroad, this means the jails Dept!
dental cream: Means paste
Quiz: In foreign text books, means question bank
assessment: Exam

Friday, March 23, 2007

Certain loaded words used often

Open any national daily( apart from the TOI- more on that later) and you invariably see coverage of certain socio-economic- political issues like inflation. poverty, SEZ, reservations, criminalisation of politics, black money etc- this list could fill an whole blog. While the coverage itself is mostly unbiased, what is a burning concern is WORDS. Yes, you read that right.

We read words like "worker", " backward" " small" " justice" " freedom" " poor" all twisted out of context. Who would imagine for example that for BPL purposes, poverty is about Rs 25000/ year, but for creamy layer of OBC reservation- it is Rs 2,50,000/ year.

Similarly, people who have never done a day's honest labour in their lives- like social workers and politicians- claim to represent the working class. My question is- Who is a worker? A daily wage person or an IIT/IIM salaried employee?

Similarly, " social justice" is often used to justify reservations. This misses out the point that not only those who were oppressed by caste system ( like SC's) get reservations, but also those who did not suffer that stigma do so- like ST's/ OBC's etc.

Also, to justify public display of affection/ porn like movies, people say that freedom is must. Yes, "freedom" is OK, as long as it does not affect freedom of other people to have uncontaminated minds.

As far as " small goes'" , the local kiranawala opposes Wal- Mart as he says that they will gobble him up. But so what? These small shop keepers evade income tax, and mostly do not pass on the service tax/ VAT they collect from customers. That is unjust enrichment, which perpetuates the poor-rich divide. Also, the income of these "small" vendors is inflation prone- unlike salaried income.

So, to allow atleast an informed debate on these issues- let us clarify the meaning of words used in a certain context. It would throw up some surprises.

It is a dog's life

Our FM's recent budget gives import subsidy on dog food and has sparked a lot of good natured(and some bad natured) ribaldy that the FM cared more for dogs/cats than for the common man. One of our better known MP's has been quoted to say that 'yeh kutta billi ka budget hai'. The Mumbai HC recently advised societies to adopt a stray dog each- for security reasons!. With this much of news prominence, though this country is not going to the dogs(or cats!) as yet, a dog is still quite lucky.

If it is born to a pet, it is gifted away or sold to happy recipent families. If it is born on the streets, then also it lives. Some members of our nation love to feed our stray canine friends daily- even if there are more pressing matters elsewhere. Many South Mumbai residents consider it a badge of pride to be an 'animal lover', and indulge in armchair criticizm of the dog control measures. They mind paying parking, suffering load shedding and consider themselves above the rest of us, but have no hesitation to condemn their suburban Mumbaikars to a dog's life of barking noise, bite, droppings and fear. Dogs nowadays get moved down less often then people sleeping on the pavements. So, Man's best friend does have it good nowadays.

Unity is strength- but for whom?

This week will see the Bank officers and employees strike as usual, to avail of the long extended weekends/ successive holidays. The Govt will as usual condone it and sanction them bonuses and hike their DA, while the customer watches helplessly.

The power behind these strikes is the union(s) which every now and then need to flex their muscles. After all, their importance is realised then. The unions which were set up for a noble cause of 'promoting worker's unity and cordial employer-employee relationships' have only partly achieved their goal. They have ensured pay-but not performance. Bonus-but not dedication.
Gandhi and other proponents of the unions would surely be turning in their grave if they saw the present state of affairs- where people like Datta Samant use the workers as a cats paw tp achieve their political ends.

Today's DNA has an interesting article on unionisation in Kerala- where even debt collectors and private sector bank employees- have formed their own unions. Closer home, we have the Central Railway SC/ST employeed union!. I can understand organisation based unions but caste based unions!. Anyway, this is why the industries choose to produce/ manufacture in Baddi and Vapi where contract labour relieves their employee headache. Here of course, the loser is the contact labourer who gets underpaid- but then, why would the Mumbai unions care?