Reverse Swing: The VC, we see, wants a CV
The nation today needs only those listing to starboard. Those listing to port will need to visit correction or detention centres.
It was a startling experience yesterday. I was checking in at the airport to travel to Mumbai and handed over my ticket and ID at the counter. The guy scanned it and suddenly said, ‘Sir, I need to see your CV!’
I was not the only one felled by this left upper-cut. There were other prospective passengers too around me reeling from the shock. Some were searching their bags, some their wallets, and some their pockets to see if a CV might magically appear there. As some loud protests began, a duty officer materialised behind the counter. Seeing my distraught expression, she quickly stepped in.
‘Sir, are you an Emeritus passenger with our airline?’ she asked politely.
I know Emirates but who, pray, is an Emeritus passenger?
‘Sir, someone who has been flying with us for the longest number of years and the most number of times. Say, at the rate of one up-and-down trip a month, you would have flown with us twenty-four times a year. If you have done this for 15 years, you would have been our passenger 360 times and, this would be our Emeritus passenger.’
I thought that was called being a frequent flyer ‘privilege’ passenger. But, hey, your airline has been in operation only for 13 years.
‘That’s ok, sir. If you have flown with us for eight years, clocked 100 flights and are above 70 years of age, you qualify as an Emeritus passenger and need to produce your CV.’
Now, now, duty officer, what is all this about?
‘You see, sir, we will need to review whether you were actually qualified enough to be flying with us and whether we should be hosting you on further flights.’
I say, that is a bit steep, isn’t it? What would my CV show, considering I have logged in so much mileage anyway?
‘Sir, our research and analysis wing will closely examine whether you frequent the seats left of the aisle or right of the aisle.’
And why, may I ask, would that be germane to the issue?
‘Sir, our undercover department of special and higher intelligence has conducted surveys and found that those who opt for seats right-side of the aisle are the stable, dependable, law-abiding, nation-loving folk. Whereas, those who insist on left-side seats are temperamentally maladjusted. They are the ones who kick up a shindig if they are not given a window seat or if there’s an extra fly in the sandwich. They are constantly pressing the call button for the crew and serially demanding water or napkins or a head massage.’
So why don’t you off-load them the first time itself?
‘No, we give them time to see if, over 100 flights or more, they switch their preference and opt for the right. When we find they, conservatively, stick to the same left side, that’s when we ask for their CV.’
This is so illuminating and such a creative process. Anyway, I am on this side of both 70 and a 100 flights and have not much minded which side I sit, as long as it is an aisle seat.
‘In that case, sir, you are safe. But please don’t create a ruckus if we subject the others to this test or we might have to seize and confiscate your boarding pass.’
So, slowly, it was becoming clear. The call in JNU, for example, by the VC for Emeritus professors to submit a fresh CV seemed like a cv-lized system and certainly, our wonderful professors like Romila Thapar and T.K.Oommen and others should not mind. The books they wrote, the lectures they gave, the awards they got are irrelevant. All they need to provide in their updated CV is a single word – ‘left’ or ‘right’. The nation today needs only those listing to starboard. Those listing to port will need to visit correction or detention centres.
Otherwise, look at the mischief they create. Perfectly fine people like Vernon Gonsalves go about reading ‘War and Peace’, clearly with an intent to destroy peace and create war. On top of it, written by a dangerous Russian chap called Tolstoy, who even managed to corrupt the mind of M.K. Gandhi.
That is certainly emerging as a major contemporary problem in our hoary culture that puts more store by oral transmission – by shruti and smriti. Print culture has put too many new ideas in peoples’ heads and, often, ends up confusing them. It would certainly help to restrain both publishing and reading. It is so much more educative to listen to the distilled wisdom of ‘Man ki Baat’, by someone whose CV boasts of a degree in ‘Entire Political Science’. Perhaps, the frequency of these broadcasts needs to be increased. It would be so educative for our youngsters if they were to hear about their moral duties even from Vladivostok or Biarritz. Like a generous, guiding voice that weans us away from dangerous books and connects us with our inner voice.
Of course, it could lead to a certain knotty problem – of being accused, by the Indian lower judiciary, of going beyond one’s brief. Print journalist Pawan Jaiswal obviously committed a breach of faith when, instead of using pen and paper to report a huge scam in the mid-day meals of school children in UP, he created some damning video evidence of kids being fed rotis with just salt. Whether what is seen in the video is a crime unfolding in front of our eyes is not the issue. The issue is what deep motives and adolescent traumas Mr. Jaiswal might have had, which made him press the video key on his phone rather than the camera key. Surely a master plot of international ramifications to defame the spotless regime of CM, Yogi. The question is, whether the District Magistrate, Anurag Patel, can extend this logic to our PM? Instead of sitting in Delhi and playing Prime Minister, he’s wandering around playing External Affairs Minister one day, Defence Minister on another, and Commerce minister on the third. Could this be called some deep conspiracy or just versatility? A former PM, Vajpayee, wrote poetry. How can that be allowed? Even the Yogi, instead of fulfilling his spiritual duties at the Gorakhnath temple, deviates from what he should be doing, to make political speeches in Kerala and Karnataka. The conscientious DM needs to instantly step in and quell this rot.
What does all this mean, one might be rhetorically tempted to ask. Is there a larger meaning to some of the most absurd events of the past month, coupled with some of the most outlandish statements by high functionaries in the system who have been publicly airing opinions that defy all logic?
Prashant Parikh, in Communication and Content, presents a comprehensive account of meaning based on new versions of situation theory and game theory. The literal and implied meanings of an utterance are derived from first principles assuming little more than the partial rationality of interacting agents. He explores new analyses of several diverse phenomena – a wide notion of ambiguity and content – encompassing phonetics, syntax, semantics, vagueness, conventional meaning, indeterminacy, universality, and the role of truth in communication. He decodes Frege’s puzzle of informative identities and definitions of communication and meaning making. Some of it helps solve our present conundrum.
But, there comes a point at which anticipation is exhausted and naked absence is exposed. We have landed right in the middle of this absence. And the absence that we have subjected Kashmir to for over a month now will have its toll. It is an absence that will be forever present in the CV of every Indian.