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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, August 15, 2011

I don't mind the Indian independence movement as long as it doesn't have too much greed in it

शंकरराव किर्लोस्कर, मार्च २४ १९६९ :

जुने राज्य गेले, चालीरीती बदलल्या पूर्वीचे स्थैर्यही गेले. आता धावपळीचा काळ आलाआहे. सध्या कुठलेही पत्र उघडा. त्यात हाणामारी, संप हेवेदावे यांना ऊत आलेला दिसतो. अप्रामाणिकपणा नाही असे क्षुल्लकसुद्धा क्षेत्र नाही. आम्ही स्वातंत्र्य मिळवले यात मोठे भूषण समजतो. पण सगळीकडे बोकाळलेला भ्रष्टाचार पाहिल्यावर राष्ट्र या दृष्टीने आपलीउन्नती झाली का अवनती अशा विचारत पडतो.

('एक संपादक... / एक लेखिका...' संपादक डॉ अंजली सोमण, २००९)

(Shankarrao Kirloskar, March 24 1969:

Old regime is gone, ways of life changed and the stability of the past gone. Now is the time of running around. Open any newspaper. There fights, strikes, disputes, wranglings seem to have come to a boil. There is not even a single mundane field where there is no dishonesty. We feel very proud that we achieved independence. But when one looks at the pervasive corruption, one wonders whether as a nation we have progressed or digressed.)


'चिमणी' आपटे-सर ('Sparrow' Apte-sir), whom I liked a lot, taught us history in 9th at Miraj High School, where great Vasuvev-shastri Khare (वासुदेव-शास्त्री खरे) once taught.

Boston Tea Party was in the curriculum.

Learning it was such a thrill.

Some ninety thousand pounds tea powder was poured into Boston Harbor.

Although I didn't drink tea then, it was fun to imagine 'some' tea for bay creatures.

It of course is a political event. As Wiki says: The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and other political protests often refer to it.

My guess is a lot of burning of foreign clothes of 19th/20th century in India was inspired by that.

Caleb Crain
has written a very interesting article on the event in The New Yorker.

Apparently George Washington disapproved of it, and so did Benjamin Franklin! It's like saying Mahtma Gandhi and Vallabhabhai Patel not liking something about the Indian independence movement from 1920 to 1948!

Crain writes:

"...over the past two years the history of America’s first insurgency has taken on a new pertinence, as the Tea Party movement has laid claim to its anti-tax and pro-liberty principles—and has inadvertently reproduced its penchant for conspiracy theory, misinformation, demagoguery, and even threats of violence. Furthermore, in much the way that journalists have begun to ask whether shadowy corporate interests may be sponsoring today’s Tea Party, historians have long speculated that merchants may have instigated early unrest to protect smuggling profits from British regulators..."

Sounds familiar.

Indivar Kamtekar writes in "Fables of Nationalism":

'.... For businessmen in India, the 1940s were a time of unprecedented war profits; for agricultural labourers, they were years of frightening starvation...'

SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR elaborates this thus:

"...Massive inflation was the inevitable outcome, something that did not happen in Britain itself. The food price index (1937=100) shot up to 311 by 1949 in India, against 193 in the US and only 108 in Britain. The data reflect the rationed price of food in India: the black market price was even higher.

Now, inflation is very good for producers and asset owners. All property owners saw property values skyrocket. Rising agricultural prices benefited all landowners, and even small ones got out of debt and bought fresh land. Many new salaried jobs were created by the war, and the problem of the educated unemployed disappeared.

Above all, the business class flourished. The war required unprecedented quantities of every sort of manufacture. Lack of shipping constrained competition from imports. The price of cloth rose five-fold before the colonial state imposed price controls: its top priority was to encourage production, not worry about janata cloth. Business fortunes were made, and new giants like Telco and Hindustan Motors emerged in this period. Tax evasion was widespread and not seriously checked by the authorities. Indeed, some businessmen defended tax evasion as “patriotic” non-cooperation with the Raj!

But the very scarcity that helped the propertied classes hit casual labourers. It also hit pensioners and others on a fixed income. The real wages of factory workers declined 30% between 1939 and 1943. By contrast, British real wages rose 49%, a levelling up.

The rural landless in India were the worst hit. They had neither access to the new urban jobs or rationed urban supplies. Ranging from a quarter of the rural population in Bengal to over half in Madras, they bore the brunt of spiralling prices..."


Artist: Helen E Hokinson, The New Yorker, March 15 1947

There have been many brilliant cartoonists and there will be many more but my life-time won't surely see another Ms. Hokinson (1893–1949) who "specialized in wealthy, plump, and ditsy society women and their foibles, referring to them as 'My Best Girls'...".

Apparently HEH depended on others to write captions to her cartoons. Therefore, if I were to write it for the one above:

"I don't mind the Indian independence movement as long as it doesn't have too much greed in it."

p.s. Return to the quote of the late Mr. Kirloskar at the top of this post. If you add terrorism to his list- which was missing in his days, our bitterness is even more than his.