Thursday, 13 June 2013

Send me a wire.

Telegrams were always associated with urgency and more often than not, emergency for us during my childhood. My first recollection of anything to do with a telegram when I accompanied my father to Suri Post office from where he sent a #telegram to his office or boss intimating his inability to join work after the sanctioned leave period with a request for extension of leave. Natural , because we had been to our mother's place during my vacation.

Two telegrams are very close to my heart. One sent by my uncle which read - BABLU P 1ST DIV.That was about me clearing Matric board. Naturally again , I was enjoying the summer and the mangoes at my mother's place.

The second one was from #SBI informing my appointment as a PO and directing me to join Alipurduars branch for my first posting. That begun a chain of events leading to my nomadic existence till now.

Well, in those days money was transferred by telegram messages and these were called TT in short. Only authorised officials of the bank, generally not below the rank of Accountant could authorise the TTs under a code which was generated by an instrument resembling a toy with sliding layer of metals with holes on them in rows accompanied by a metal spoke. It used to be kept in the handsafe under the #custody of the designated officer along with a book of codes , which if not maintained properly could wreak havoc. Such was the aura and importance of the TT code and the responsibility ascribed to it that lesser mortals , meaning junior officers avoided it but craved for it internally.

Me ,the eternal fool always treaded the ground which the angels didn't . So naturally , with my uncanny gift of landing into trouble,uncalled for and unnecessary , I found myself gravitating towards Mr Badal Choudhury in the evenings while he affixed the codes to the TTs prepared by the Head Clerk. Mr Choudhury , may God bless him,was the accountant of SBI #CoochBehar Bazaar branch and the most powerful figure at the branch off course after the staff union secrtary. The Branch Manager , poor soul was always kept on the tenterhooks by these two persons, whom he considered villains in his otherwise tranquil life of exile away from the powercenter of #Calcutta.  Actually the BM had confided this to me, in a moment of unguarded anguished moment when he lectured me on his glorious past.

Digression aside, Iet me return to TT . Now BC spotted the eager talent in me thirsting to be fitted on to higher responsibilities. He was at his #avuncular best as he took pains to introduce me to the world of TT messages and its codes. Bursting of self importance I learnt it in no time and within two days,I was able to gain confidence for myself and the accountant. BC stroked his thick bushy beard and congratulated me for being the first person he had met in his service life with such a reservoir of talent. He then went to meet the BM.

After 10 minutes or so , the BM called me and asked me to take temporary charge of the branch# accountant as BC was proceeding on leave for seven days due to sudden illness of his wife. I was flummoxed by this sudden googly. Later I realised why BC was so generous to me. It gave him the opportunity to take sudden leave by passing on the onerous charge of the #branch accountant. And naturally , he always extended his leave , that too ,by a telegram.

Of all the TT codes , two were very common in #foreign #exchange transactions. They were YHACA and YJGUZ. One meant sale of foreign currency and the other purchase.

They have now decided to do away with telegrams. Maybe they are right in doing so. In these days of betting by WhatsApp messages, the poor telegram is a misfit. Like the postcard and the inland letter. I have myself not used any of them maybe for the last 10 years or maybe more than that. Other than reasons  nostalgia and antiquity, they are not relevant in the modern life. 

So after sharing our joys and sorrows by giving us the news of births and deaths , informing us of the imminent arrival of unwanted guests, keeping us posted of important personal milestones and being used to create innumerable dramatic plots for novels and movies, the telegram brings us the news of its own demise. Rest in peace.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The (ir)relevance of LK Advani

The ( ir) relevance of LK Advani.

Writing this caption in the 90s would have been nothing short of blasphemy and surely would have invited derision,castigation and attacks from well meaning educated upwardly mobile middleclass Hindus who had found their messiah in him. I must admit that I myself was one of the persons who saw in him the strong personality we needed to run the country. And I really admired him. Even discounting the strong fanatic and retrograde forces of ultra Hindu philosophy of VHP and Sangh Parivar.

After about two and half decades of the BJP lotus blooming through out the country, the credit of which must go to Advani ji to a large extent, lot of things have happened. Advani ji came within striking distance of being PM but always remained the man who would be PM . As if he was never destined to be the PM. But he kept on being the most important person of BJP after Vajpayee ji as long as he was there and then assumed the mantle of leadership of the party easily and naturally . But after the defeat of NDA nine years ago and exit of Vajpayee ji from the scene it was a mixed fortune for BJP and they have slowly lost ground , unfortunately to a most corrupt and inert Congress led UPA.

This period of powerless inactivity as the premier opposition leader coupled with advanced age and dilution of the culture within the party made him slowly distanced from the people and their aspirations. As an opposition, BJP was not able to provide any hope to the people and as a ruling party in some states the local leaders started getting assertive.

The Central leadership of BJP was always more central and not regional as the leaders owed their position more due to their proximity with the different organisations within the Sangh Parivar. So it was natural that the weakness at the Centre and the strength at regional level was playing its own dynamics and altering the equations quietly at first but then like all irreversible reactions, pretty vigorously afterwards.

Advani ji missed the signs. Or even if he understood then he was not prepared to accept it because his own ambitions and aspirations were still aflame like the molten candle . Maybe he has made himself believe in the make believe of his own destiny as the PM. Meanwhile time has not stopped for him . It has flown its own course . During the last three decades, people like me who firmed the strong supporter base for Advani have greyed and now are in their fifties and sixties . These people are more cynical, more tolerant , more fatalist and more corrupt than what they were in the nineties . They have seen things fail.They have known that their very own Ironman has actually feet of clay. And now they are more or less convinced that nothing will change majorly if the Congress is replaced by BJP. Nothing wrong or strange about it . This is the way of life.

But then the new generation of BJP supporters are a new breed altogether. They are more materialistic , more internet savvy, more impatient and want more of everything. They are not bothered about the means but want the end to be defined. They are in a hurry and they have found their hero in Narendra Modi. The telltale signs of his ascension to the centre of power are visible and right now his popularity in BJP supporters match what Advani had in 92. But then Vajpayee rode the Advani wave . That is a different story.

How times change. Today the news of BJP supporters agitating in front of Advani's house makes me shake my head in disbelief. The comments on twitter and facebook on Advani are so acidic . And these are not by Congress supporters . The people who are spewing venom against Advani are all BJP voters. They just don't want Advani any longer as they are impatient to annoint Modi as their leader. Some of the comments remind me of those which flooded the social media after the demise of ex Maha CM Deshmukh .

Everything and everyone has a shelf life. Advani has ignored this. He is paying the price now. Strangely, even after building his politics on the plank of Hinduism , he seems to have forgotten the last stage of the happy Hindu way of life - Vanaprastha.

All said and done , one must credit BJP for the internal debate on leadership . This upholds democratic traditions. Other parties may jeer them for the perceived disunity but can any other political party in India can claim of such transparency and debate on leadership. This itself puts BJP on a higher notch than the pathetic one (wo) man parties dotting the political canvas and makes them stand out, giving us some hope

P.S. I am not a Modi acolyte and believe that he should remain as the CM of Gujarat. Nothing more than that. Let the Gujaratis enjoy his leadership till eternity and prosper thousand times. But please God, let the country be spared of him as the PM. We would rather remain as we are.