Thursday, October 1, 2009

Master strategies

Source: Indian Express
Thursday , Aug 27, 2009 at 0530 hrs

Here we are breaking each other’s heads over Partition when the man who presided over it has already assumed responsibility for so much that happened. Here is what we find in Stanley Wolpert’s Shameful Exit, (Oxford University Press, New York, 2006, p. 2):

“When asked how he felt about his Indian viceroyalty eighteen years ago after Partition, Mountbatten himself admitted to BBC’s John Osman, when they sat next to each other at dinner shortly after the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, that he had got things wrong. Osman felt sympathy for the remorseful sixty-five-year-old ex-viceroy and tried to cheer him, but to no avail. Thirty-nine years after the meeting he recalled: ‘Mountbatten was not to be consoled. To this day his own judgment on how he had performed in India rings in my ears and in my memory. As one who dislikes the tasteless use in writing of... ‘vulgar slang’... I shall permit myself an exception this time because it is the only honest way of reporting accurately what the last viceroy of India thought about the way he had done his job: ‘I f***ed it up.’”

Just like us, isn’t it, that we should be expelling each other, and breaking our heads over what others had done!

But that is master strategy!

The Red Queen strategy

“The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, began screaming, ‘Off with her head! Off with her...,’” when Alice couldn’t say who the gardeners she didn’t know, were...

“Off with their heads,” said the Red Queen as she saw the gardeners hastily painting the roses...

“ a very short time,” into the crocquet game, “the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting, ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ about once a minute...”

“Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen any minute, ‘and then,’ thought she, ‘what would become of me?’ They’re dreadfully fond of beheading people here: the great wonder is, that there’s anyone left alive!’”

You see, as we know from Through the Looking Glass, “The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small: ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.....”

That is the way to mete out justice. But in doing so, you must strictly follow the Red Queen in procedure too:

• The sentence must be executed before it is pronounced.

• The sentence must be pronounced before the verdict is settled.

• The verdict must be settled before the arguments are commenced.

• The arguments must be concluded before the evidence is examined.

• The evidence must be examined before it is collected.

And so, “Off with his head!”

The Cheshire Cat strategy

But what when they all lose because of you, and they bay for your head?

“But how have we lost?” you must demand. “We had X. We expected to gain an additional Y. That would have made us X+Y. All that has happened is that, instead of gaining Y, we have come short by Y. We are now X-Y. Our projections turned out correct. Just the sign played mischief. Where is the question of defeat?”

In fact, “The result places us in a position that is even better than in 2004. Then, we were just one of the Opposition parties — the Communists, the SP..... They have all been wiped out. The entire Opposition space is now ours.... And this is the fulfillment of our vision. Thirty years ago, we had set out to end the monopoly of the Congress. With the victory of the Congress, with our not winning, and the defeat of the rest, we have succeeded in creating a bi-polar polity. Where is the question of defeatism?”

Hence, as there has been no defeat, there is no reason for any inquiry-shinquiry into so-called reasons for so-called defeat.

Next: in fact we have already constituted a committee to inquire into the reasons for defeat. But the names are being kept secret.

Next: we have already sent selected persons to seek views of our state units as to the reasons for defeat. And our respected colleague......will collate their observations in a report.

Next: no, he shall not collate their observations. He shall prepare a report on the basis of their observations.

Next: no, he shall not prepare a report on the basis of those observations for they are about the past. He shall prepare a report on “The Way Ahead.”

Next: no, he shall not prepare any report on any “Way Ahead.” He shall prepare a paper listing suggestions that have emerged for “The Way Ahead.”

Next: no, he shall not write the suggestions down at all. To start the discussion, he shall mention a few points — briefly — about “The Way Ahead.”

Hence, no report was tabled. Firstly, there was no report. Secondly, there was no table. What the media are reporting is an imaginary document.

...’How do you like the Queen?’ said the Cat in a low voice.

‘Not at all,’ said Alice: ‘she’s so extremely...’ — just then she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening — so she went on, ‘...likely to win, that it’s hardly worth while finishing the game.’

The Queen smiled and passed on.

‘Who are you talking to?’ said the King, going up to Alice, and looking at the Cat’s head with great curiosity.

‘It’s a friend of mine — a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice: ‘allow me to introduce it.’ [As you remember, this cat was exactly like the report: she could have her head appear, as it did now, without the rest of her body.]

‘I don’t like the look of it at all,’ said the King, ‘however, it may kiss my hand if it likes.’

‘I’d rather not,’ the Cat remarked.

‘Don’t be impertinent,’ said the King, ‘and don’t look at me like that!’ He got behind Alice as he spoke.

‘A cat may look at a king,’ said Alice. ‘I’ve read that in some book, but I don’t remember where.’

‘Well, it must be removed,’ said the King very decidedly, and he called the Queen, who was passing at the moment, ‘My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!’

‘I’ll fetch the executioner myself,’ said the King eagerly, and he hurried off.

Alice thought she might as well go back, and see how the game was going on, as she heard the Queen’s voice in the distance, screaming with passion...

When she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable.

The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard indeed to make out exactly what they said.

The executioner’s argument was, that you couldn’t cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn’t going to begin at his time of life.

The King’s argument was, that anything that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren’t to talk nonsense.

The Queen’s argument was, that if something wasn’t done about it in less than no time she’d have everybody executed, all round. (It was this last remark that had made the whole party look so grave and anxious)...

But what are you to do when the Queen turns on you?

The legal eagle strategy

“But after quoting Jinnah’s singular — ‘We are going to be a secular State’ — speech, did you not say, ‘I believe that this is the ideal that India, Pakistan as well as Bangladesh... should follow’?” the cussed demand. “Did you not yourself write, ‘There are many people who leave an inerasable mark on history. But there are a few who actually create history. Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual.... My respectful homage to that great man.’ How then are you less liable than the one you have executed?”

When faced with such cussedness, field the resident lawyers.

“My Lords, when my client said ‘India’, he did not mean India as we know it. But Akhand Bharat. Now, as my Lords know, Akhand Bharat includes Pakistan. And my Lords, in that expression, ‘includes Pakistan’, the word ‘includes’ is manifestly and intentionally redundant. Hence, my Lords, when my client said ‘India’, he meant ‘includes Pakistan’, and when he said ‘includes Pakistan’ he meant Pakistan. What he said therefore reads, ‘The Qaid-e-Azam’s formulation is an ideal for Pakistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

“But what about paying ‘homage’? Did he not say, ‘My respectful homage to this great man’? Has the noted inquisitor, Karan Thapar, not pointed out that according to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘homage’ means ‘acknowledgement of superiority, dutiful reverence’? Where has the condemned man expressed anything equivalent to ‘dutiful reverence’?”

“That is the problem, my Lords, these people read too much, and too superficially. The cleverness, the tactical strategy, if I may say so, is right there, in that very word, ‘homage’. You see, this cussed assaulter himself has quoted the meaning of ‘homage’ as ‘acknowledgement of superiority’. In paying ‘homage’ my client was not acknowledging the Qaid-e-Azam’s superiority, but his own. Moreover, my Lords, these words were written for purely tactical reasons. They were written to disorient the Pakistanis so that we may vanquish them that much more easily.”

But how can words be twisted like this? How can “India” mean “Pakistan”? How can acknowledging the superiority of the other become affirming one’s own superiority?

Aren’t there 364 unbirthdays in a year, and only one birthday? Humpty Dumpty demands. So, you have 364 days for unbirthday presents in a year,

“And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,’” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

But will the lawyers go so far as to advance such arguments for a client? Will they not worry that doing so may affect their credibility?

When they do so for the Ketan Parekhs day in and day out, and that, far from diminishing their credibility, is what leads people to call them “among the country’s foremost legal brains,” why will they not do so for the higher cause?

Enforce principle, uphold ideology

“The lower down leaders must resign owning moral responsibility for the defeat in their states.”

But on that principle, why should the top leaders not resign?

“Why should we resign when we have already accepted moral responsibility?”

“And be it noted, whether we win or lose elections, we shall never depart from our core ideology of Hindutva.”

But what is Hindutva?

“As the Supreme Court has itself said, it is ‘a way of life.’”

But isn’t Islam also “a way of life”? Isn’t Christianity? Indeed, isn’t the drug addiction of the hippie “a way of life”?

Binding strategy

Your chieftains are at each other? Make them commit a crime collectively. Let them stab one of their own in each other’s presence. Each will know that everyone has seen him drive the knife in. That is what will bind them. And no one will accuse the other, to boot, lest his own deed be brought to light.

After all, events are moving so fast. High time you convert the Mutual Projection Society into the Mutual Protection Society.

The dead horse strategy

The final strategy is spelled out in the latest issue of The Other Side, George Fernandes’ Journal of Socialist Thought and Action, and requires the littlest adaptation for our context — I will transcribe it almost literally. “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse,” the journal reminds us, “the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse.” However, in our political parties more advanced strategies are employed:

1. On the authority of the Gita, declare the horse as “Not dead” — for, does the scripture not teach us?, “What is real is the soul, not the body; and the soul was never born, it never dies.”

2. Buy a stronger whip.

3. Wield it on anyone who says the horse is dead in spite of the Gita — for obviously, he who doubts the Gita has repudiated our core ideology.

4. Declare, firmly, that the horse is not dead, and, therefore, nothing needs to be done.

5. Pressed, announce that a committee shall circumambulate the horse, and, if necessary, suggest potions to revive it; but, so as not to disturb the horse, ensure that the committee remains secret.

6. Launch a study of our ancient scriptures to see how our revered ancestors rode dead horses. Anyone who doubts that they did, has obviously repudiated our core ideology, and, so, for him, the whip as in (3) above.

7. Wait for the next breeze — as it sways the horse’s mane, even the negativists shall see that the horse is alive and well.

8. Harness several dead horses to accelerate the speed.

9. Locate younger jockeys.

10. Coach them that they shall ride the horses, not jockey.

11. He who points out that the younger jockeys also happen to be the heavier ones, is obviously out to discourage the horses, and distract the jockeys. So, for him, the whip as in (3) above.

12. Calculate and show that, as the dead horses do not require any diet, much less geriatric supplements, to energise and motivate them, their net contribution is not just positive, it is incalculable — zero divided by zero, as Aryabhatt would have proven, if only he had been asked, is incalculable, hence infinite.

13. Redefine “running and winning races” — for, obviously, the horse that lies unmoved in the midst of the world’s frenzy and bustle, is the real sthith pragyan, and, as our scriptures have so clearly proclaimed, the sthith pragyan is the real victor.

14. Finally, of course, promote the dead horses to supervisory positions.

15. He who now entertains a doubt about them has not just repudiated our core ideology — for that is reverence for our leaders — he has repudiated our leadership. Hence, for him, not the whip as in (3) above. For him, expulsion.

That is what will prove that the horses are not dead. They can throw a kick.


The writer is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sa

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