Sunday, June 28

Books, Budget and Beyond

If ever my fuddy-duddy credentials need reiteration, a blissful hour at Books & Beyond amidst routine Sunday frenzy today, is on offer. Note that dying weekends usually propel us to action, a last wistful hurrah of sorts (it also means you've procrastinated all Sat)! Nestled in a corner of Spencer's at Mega City on Gurgaon's Mall Mile, this minor merchant establishment is soon to be history, to make way for expansion of its more remunerative music-peddling sibling. A clearance sale (discounts 'up to' 70%) was postscript to this economic progression. My better had been motivating me to this happy destination; she won on its last day!

We found a store plundered by the preceding hordes. An understandably diminished proprietorial interest had done its bit too, leaving much to be desired for the fastidious. Yet, the mess seemed incidental, indeed fostering opportunities to savour pleasures of discovering 'novel' bargains in the melange. We obliged, with the relatively late appearance at the crime-scene being our only remorse, emerging a dozen books richer.

The country's mood is seized of much larger economic catechisms as we speak. Chief of these is the General Budget - an exercise the redoubtable Pranab Mukherjee must find quaintly amusing, coming back to the North Block office after two and a half decades. While it would take a tome to recount the interregnum's cataclysmic upheavals, the weight of expectations is one Pranab da may find strikingly similar. Though he may be the last in the Cabinet to admit, but it is impossible to miss the Nation's collective sigh of relief at the Left's decline in Elections 2009. Indeed it is as historic in political consequences as hysteric in the economic expectations unleashed! In some quarters, Dalal Street for one, the prospect of a government sans Lal Jhandi in Delhi has sent valuations into a tizzy and one wonders if this gravity defying climb is rooted in logic enough.

In a way, the ignominious performance of the Communists is uniquely humbling. The timing is notable - the world is still mourning the demise of unbridled Capitalism. While there may be post-mortem exercises aplenty (hindsight makes every Chaman a Chanakya after all) the sheer absence of even a token such effort by our learned Comrades is most instructive. My sense is that more than the goonda-raj or endemic corruption, it is this arrogance and divorce from reality that has been Left's undoing. Given their penchant for mouthing the mightiest platitudes and doing nothing by way of action, one ought not to be surprised at this mendacious stance of our holier-than-thou Communist brethren. Suffice it to say for now that if things stay unaltered Mamata didi will have her day in Bongland come 2011.

Fact remains that, globally, there is significant public debate and focus on the New World Order. Much of the prognosis appears premature though - one could easily argue that the New Realities are some way off. Hence, it would have helped to get a meaningful contribution from Left of Centre. Not to belabour the point, but Messrs Karat, Yechury & Co remain thoroughly unequal to the ask.

Be that as it may (related to the Budget), one postulate is crucial: to our collective national opinion or governmental policymaking. This is the commonly prescribed dichotomy between growth and inclusiveness; and the presumably disastrous electoral consequences of any agenda founded in economic commonsense. In our sociopolitical discourse it seems one has to side with either Aam Aadmi or Big Business, never both. One wonders if this overly simplistic and potentially deleterious axiom will be challenged by the new dispensation on Raisina Hill. After all, notwithstanding the odd hiccup in government formation (where Kalaignar's family balancing act ensured history was not forgotten too soon), there can be little doubt in the opportunity MMS & Co have to fashion a new dawn!


Anonymous said...

Little about Books', some bit on Budget' and plethora on Beyond': something which is beyond a commoner's understanding.
Are these increasing book store sales prodding people to at last pick up a book.... turning us all bibliophile.... Well, I bought a couple, perhaps, I may never read them: few disastrous fiction and some exotic cook books with outlandish recipes... Eh! Who cares there was a huge discount you see.
Interesting statement read on one of the, not so glossy sheets of our esteemed News Daily, "Experts are saying Pranab has focused on the common man, more in this budget than the industrial sector"... If this is what they believe, then, can these experts please explain that, howcome, in a state where more than 40% population is below poverty line, a moron granted a wretched Woman 1200 odd crs., for planting her grotesque statues. Someone, please!!! tell her, she ain't no Cleopatra'. 1200 crs worth of scary statues, exclusively, for the common man... woohoo!
Does writing about this clan of Hyena not infuriate you???? Jeez! I know so little, yet, a short comprehension has ticked me off.....
...... how about, trying, some melody and some humming in the next one....

Akriti said...

The Book sale purportedly a metaphor to the Left’s demise… interesting angle!

The word “text” has assumed a new vestment with more text readers reading text messages rather than curling with a text… Walter Benjamin would have had to write ‘Work of Art in the era of Mechanical Texting instead of '…age of Mechanical Reproduction'!

Where is the space for Books when a gist found on Google can do the ‘trick’? The ‘chip’ continues to become the ubiquitous replacement for a written lengthy volume of a Book. Is Gutenberg slowly fading into oblivion....just like the Left that was not able to keep itself afloat despite the writings and ideology of the manifestos?

How does one strike a balance? The Book, like the Left needs to withhold its alternative voice... brief text messages...and a strong Right swing. Although personally speaking, the demise of the Book will cause more anguish!

In these times of Sales and Budgets, Books are all we have ‘Left’!

Anonymous said...

Sorry dude, but I read this one after your post Budget piece. Great to see you stay with the reading habit. My own is like my hair, less than I'd want but better than none! Alas, we may be in a minority already in heading for the neighbourhood book shop. We may have our revenge though with some rejigging, like music did with the I Pod. Amen!