G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”
Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)
Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”
Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”
John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."
Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”
विलास सारंग: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Over weekend of April 11-12, 2008 I watched "the Daily Show with Jon Stewart". He ridiculed mercilessly American army general's testimony. Witness umpteen number of hilarious "The Simpsons" episodes. Or delightful famous-last-words-"I'm cumming!" Private Benjamin (1980).
Indians are not that lucky. One is a traitor if he does so.
Therefore, if you are not the one who starts waving Indian national flag on hearing the word military, you should read Praful Bidwai’s “Military overdrive” (Frontline, April 11 2008).
I was growing up when India fought three wars- 1962, 1965 and 1971. My father wrote a Marathi novel – तुम्ही पराक्रमाचे पुत्र (You Valour's Sons)- inspired by the wars of 1962 & 1965 and Erich Maria Remarque's novels.
At our Miraj home, we had a large poster of army recruitment pasted on a wall. I still remember the caps and the shoes from that poster. One of my most favourite figurines was that of an Indian G I.
Bofors scandal changed all that.
And more came by. Most men from military I met- both serving and retired- had many accounts of corruption to tell.
I realized that Indian defence establishment was no different than Indian police. It was just much bigger and richer.
“…military spending will probably turn out to be Rs.140,000 crore or even higher, of the same size as India’s entire combined public spending on health and education.
This is surely unconscionable. A society that spends such a huge proportion of its scarce resources on the military when it cannot even feed all its people or overcome the chronic malnutrition prevalent among half its children is very, very sick. Its pathology is all the more troubling on account of three factors…
… the military typically uses hopelessly inefficient or outdated systems – whether in transportation and personnel management or in weapons procurement and inventory control…
… there is rampant corruption in the armed services. The numerous recently reported scams are probably the tip of the iceberg. Bribes are apparently exchanged for all manner of things – purchase of everything from eggs to airplanes, under-supply of vitally necessary material (for instance, nutritious high-energy meals or snow jackets in Siachen), in the ordering of inappropriate or low-value equipment, and diversion of funds from sanctioned and legitimate activities (for instance, counter-insurgency operations) to unnecessary or questionable procurement (for instance, buying freezers and chapatti-making plants).
Corruption is not unique to the armed forces but thrives in them because of a lack of public oversight and accountability. These factors alone explain why the DRDO gets away, and indeed is rewarded, with a budget of Rs.3,400 crore despite its failure to complete any of its major projects in time; why the Indian Air Force has lost over 200 aircraft in accidents within a decade; why the Army in the 1980s procured supposedly new combat engineering tractors, only to discover that they were second-hand British rejects; and why the Navy went in for the USS Trenton – which the Comptroller and Auditor General says, is a lemon, a 37-year-old ship, which has already outlived its service life – without “proper physical assessment” and technical evaluation of its seaworthiness.
The armed forces and the Defence Ministry are in dire need of reform and accountability. Even minor improvements in their functioning will save the nation tens of thousands of crores. Many years ago, the Arun Singh Committee, appointed to examine the scope for cost-cutting in the Army, reportedly concluded that a 15 per cent reduction was achievable without loss of effectiveness. The government must release its report and have it widely debated so that an independent and objective assessment can be made of what is achievable today.
We simply cannot afford to have unaccountable agencies burning up Rs.140,000 crore of public money year after year. Lack of oversight and proper auditing is not merely undesirable in itself. It is an affront to the spirit of democracy.”
Artist: Richard Decker The New Yorker 7 November 1931