Licentious learners

Brevity is the soul of wit, but what is the soul of journalism, which is all about grist? Bravado? Bragging? Breast-beating? Well, I realised I had erred on the side of excess last week, both in terms of words and worthless wisdom, but when an enlightened reader pointed that out in a stinging left-handed compliment, some air did exit this bloated self. Still, his claim that the whole thing could have been said in just 150 words is a tad unfair, even by Manirathnam or Sathyajit Raj standards. I might have as well used an editing software or tweeted or even sent an SMS. I mean, one cannot sacrifice bread and butter for the sake of brevity. Still, it is never late to learn. But habits die hard and slow. Impatient votaries of brevity can therefore just read the version capsuled in parenthesis below every para. Punctuations are not counted while the word tally is and some paras may be stretched to economise on parenthesis!

(I shall strive to be brief henceforth, Mr P — 11 words)

But it appears to be learning time not just for snooty, self-obsessed journos at the bottom of the heap. Many highly placed persons, deemed or self-appointed experts in their chosen fields, also seem to have a lot to learn. Beginning at the top, take the case of M Singh, author of India’s economic miracle of 1991 vintage. A 2011 reality check proves that the miracle is a mirage with the nation set back by a whopping Rs1.76 cr and counting. This was the same eminent economist that many world leaders, clueless on economic problems dogging their nations, had reportedly sought out for advice at a UN meet in the US a few years back. But with 2G scams raging, inflation rising and most economic indices going haywire, all of which could have been averted with his much touted superior sense, whatever happened to all that wisdom and wizardry of Dr MSingh? Another of his virtues is the honesty feather on his turban. Now, will a honest person, despite being neck-deep in a monumental financial scam, seek to save his own head and try to project an image of arm’s length? My foot! The lie and hypocrisy are glaring since the daily court proceedings reveal that Raja had sent a cc to MSingh of every communication vis-a-vis 2G. And will a PM vested with the honourable constitutional duty of guarding the nation’s wealth plead ignorance of its blatant theft, that too after empowering and defending the thieves consistently in order to survive in power? This master of applied economics will have to re-apply to an economics school that also offers courses on value education.

(From International Monetary Fund to India’s Mega Fraud, Manmohanomics has slid a long way down. Now, that’s the honest truth … 22 words)

That brings us to the subject of values, rather, valuations, that the co-author of the economic miracle, PC, specialises in. The jury is still out on his election as MP which allegedly involved a counting sleight of hand. But it is his accounting logic that is most intriguing. Raja has now claimed that PC, besides PM, was a personal witness to the decision to allow spectrum-beneficiary companies to issue additional shares to foreign firms. PC’s argument is that this does not tantamount to selling spectrum and is therefore perfectly legal because there was no bar on additional equity infusion even if it meant change of management and ownership. So ABC P ltd gets spectrum allotted through a dubious procedure at throwaway prices. And then the company is valued on the basis of the market prices of spectrum it holds. Based on this new, real astronomical valuation, ABC P ltd raises equity from investors at huge premiums, a benefit that should have actually accrued to the State. The original promoters become a miniscule minority, the company with all that spectrum having ‘virtually’ passed on to the new investors without exactly being sold. A loophole in the rulebook is invoked to justify this. That this could have been plugged to the benefit of the nation does not figure as a chink in PC’s moral spectrum. So next time you bribe, don’t pay cash on hand but deliver it in a suitcase. If the amount is large, hand over the key to the safe. But remember to keep a duplicate as your symbolic albeit insignificant possession and as a token of not having legally parted with ‘anything’. After all, you have only ‘shared’ a suitcase or a safe, which incidentally, contained cash, a modus operandi that is perfectly safe. That you have kissed the loaded S or S goodbye does not make the offering a bribe! Now, we don’t know how T’valluvar, PC’s favourite savant, would describe this financial jugglery. But here is our own two liner:

(Ten which is actually ten is made to look like one: the hidden nine then comes from behind and, lo, the farcical ‘one’ becomes the real ten again … 30 words)

Government’s public spending procedures are a maze. Reason why it has always been easy for politician-bureaucrats to whet their financial appetites. The C&AG, the final arbiter of all things accounts, is supposed to vet them. So when it announced that the 2G scam blew a crater of Rs 1,76 lakh cr in public coffers, the nation erupted like a volcano. But Minister Sibal doused this in a jiffy by declaring that there was zero loss, without as much as looking at the report. Just yesterday, the same CAG has meticulously detailed the games played by Cong bigwigs on CWG. Sheila Dixit was prompt in declaring that there was no loss. Sibal and Sheila know better because since all the money is gone, it is indeed zero. But it is time the CAG learnt some basic nuances about accounts and audit. For starters, well, they should never start!

(Indians discovered zero: UPA ministers rediscover it in every scam … 12 words)

India must learn from Pak’s ‘Beauty and Beast’ (or vice-versa) diplomacy. First it sends jihadis across the borders to blow up Indians. And then it despatches 30-something pretty young things to floor Indians, media and public included. The trick worked since cute femme facades, though foreign, are any day a far more pleasing visual than bloody, mangled bodies of fellow countrymen. Our 80-yr old Ext Aff Min, SMK, despite his youthful wig, was no match for his Pak counterpart, who played her part to perfection … before the cameras, that is!

(In diplomacy, even hard facts can’t keep pace with a nice face … 14 words)

No doubts there are lessons for lesser mortals like us too: while politicos earn while they learn, we can only yearn!

(We have no chance … 10. That’s less than 100. Now 100)

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Jawahar T R