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Committed to committees

Six months ago, out of the blue, the Madras High Court declared our apartment complex to be totally illegal. Stunned by the developments that had happened without our knowledge (the case between the civic authorities and the builder was not known to any of us), we residents were spurred into a tizzy of immediate action.  After all, at stake were the very houses that we were living in. After six months of non-stop activity and brainstorming sessions, I am happy to tell you that we are on the verge of a major legal breakthrough: We are now closer to identifying an advocate.

Yes, it has taken nearly half a year for us to even zero in on a person who, we hope, will take up our legal fight. In the next year or two we hope we will be in a position to actually discuss with him the modalities of the case and the ways to fight it.

This is what happens when you attempt to do things through: Committee.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, become part of committees.

There is no recorded history of any purposeful work having been carried out through a committee. Exhibit A: Parliament.

All of last week was completely lost in Parliament because we have parliamentarians who are individually brilliant, but as part of a group exhibit the intelligence of a window pane. I mean look at the position that they have collectively taken:

The ruling parties: We will allow FDI in retail sector so that we can have a discussion whether to allow FDI in retail sector or not.

The opposition parties: We will totally ban FDI in retail sector so that we can have a discussion whether to allow FDI in retail sector or not.

Eventually the matter will be sent to some standing or sitting committee, which will decide or not to decide or not.

The problem, I think, is in the structuring of the word ‘committee’ itself. Have a hard and impartial look at it. Now ask the question: What are those extra ‘m’, ‘t’, ‘e’ doing in it? Yes, they perform the role of what most members actually perform in a committee: Occupy space and confuse the heck out of others. Committee, in my thinking, is a visual metaphor of what happens in a committee.

Don’t you think ‘committee’ can be pronounced, and taken to precisely mean, ‘committee’ even if it was pared down to a workmanlike: ‘comite’?. But they won’t. For, a committee, by definition, will have to have many non-performing members.

Anyway, rather than me, if a committee of four or five people was in charge of this column, I suppose, this is what will happen before the actual writing takes place:

I Member: This week we should write about the bail granted to Kanimozhi by the Delhi High Court after — wait for this —- the Supreme Court had earlier rejected it. Never heard anything more funny since the last Cabinet reshuffle…

II Member: (interjecting) No, the golden rule in humour writing is never make fun of any system of which P.B. Sawant is a part. I think we should attempt a nice breezy piece on Anna Hazare…

III Member: (interjecting) (But he won’t say anything on his own. His job is to interject and oppose what others say. Yes, there is a Suhel Seth in every committee).

IV Member (interjecting): Hazare? Fighting of corruption is so yesterday. This is the season of The Dirty Picture, where Vidya Balan seems to have brilliantly recreated the smouldering sensuality and outright sexiness of ‘Silk’ Smitha by getting the media write that she is recreating the smouldering sensuality and outright sexiness of ‘Silk’ Smitha. Otherwise, in reality Vidya Balan seems to have the sensuality and sexiness of a paunchy potato whereas whenever you peered into ‘Silk’ Smitha’s eyes you saw: A bedroom.

V Member: (needless to say interjecting) Cricket is the only thing that never goes out of season in India. Look how pathetic a sideshow that this whole attempt at history…

II Member: (rudely interrupting) You can never ridicule HIM. This is the rule for all writers, humorous or otherwise. Remember the last time you slyly mocked HIS picking and choosing ODIs to play, your inbox was flooded with messages that would be flagged even in the Rediff comments section …

As you can see, if this column is sought to be written through a committee, nothing ever will make it to print and we may have to leave the whole space blank.

Of course, a lot many of you would prefer it that way.


  • As Scot Adams says, all committees do take decisions. Especially when everybody’s bladder becomes full. So the best is to wait till you see everyone uncomfortable and then put in your opinion as closure 🙂

    In the committee part you left out one important character. The guy who asks a question when everything has been concluded and ensures we do “modalendu’ beginning. We had one guy in our quality process sessions. One thing the chairman learnt is never to end any session with ‘Any questions?’

  • Anonymous

    Haha.That Scot Adams line is wonderful. Thanks for sharing. Now will try and put to use this idea in one of the inevitable committees that we have to be part of 🙂

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