Also: Sibal wants dictionaries to pre-edit ‘outrageous words’
New Delhi: As the winter air thickens over the country, there is a palpable sense of chilly unease all around over the rapidly declining quality in scandals that the country is justly famous for.
The country that once produced the hall-of-famer Bofors, which steadfastly supplied the primary headline-news to publications for over a decade, is today struggling to come up with scams that can barely last for a few months.
OK, Bofors is from the legends gallery. But even the seemingly lesser controversies from yesteryear like the Harshad Mehta share market swindle were far more sturdy and reliable, lasting for at least a couple of years. But today’s gips are hardly good enough to have a decent run for even few weeks.
The 2G scam, with the booty pegged at Rs.1.76 lakh crore, promised plenty and was expected to keep the nation focussed with its promise of more messy revelations
‘But today who talks of them? Only Subramaniam Swamy does. When something is spoken only by Subramaniam Swamy you know that it has all but reached the extreme stage of being just a stale joke,’ said Jagadesh Rajagopal, who heads the Indian chapter of Society for Controversies And Allied Lies (SCANDAL), an eponymous think-tank.
‘The 2G scam has run out of steam, as it has become sub-judice. In India, when a mater ends up in the court it is as good as it being offered an official retirement,’ he added.
In the last six or seven months, there has not been any dearth of scandals. ‘Thanks to this UPA government, the aam admi is well served on that front. But what we are talking here is the stuff of notoriety of enduring nuisance value. Even V P Singh, in his fleeting career as PM, unleashed the Mandal, the effect of which will be felt across the country for centuries to come,’ opined Fuhel Seth, a professional opinion-giver (an opinion-bot, to use a new-fangled term).
According to experts one of the many reasons for the scams to have little shelf life these days could be the fact that the DMK seems to have gone into a shell.
‘Make no mistake about it, the DMK used to provide plenty of grist to the scandal mill. The Marans in particular were verily the Bradmans of this field. The virtual telecom exchange that was operational at their house is a brilliant primer for all those who intend to take scandals as a life-time avocation,’ pointed Samir Nagpal, a fellow at the hallowed FCUK (Fraudsters & Conmen of Unlimited Kbps), which specializes in telecom scandals. ‘But with Marans seemingly on a sabbatical, scams seem to have reached a dead-end,’ Nagpal added wryly.
Another important aspect that needs to be factored in when you analyse the dilution in the quality of scandals is the clumsy work of people like Digvijay Singh, Kiran Bedi.
‘Digvijay Singh himself is a big scandal. But his scandals are a bagatelle in comparison. They are things worthy of only a few laughs for a few seconds, but not ones that can keep you entertained for years together,’ said Fuhel Seth, who himself is a bit of a stirrer. ‘And what of Kiran Bedi’s contribution? Well, they are just laughable. She is a rank amateur and needs some professional lessons from people like KPS Gill who were past masters in maddeningly muddying the waters, as it were’, Seth said fondly, not bothering to conceal his admiration for a fellow trouble-maker.
But luckily for the nation, there is one man who, within his limited capacity, seems to be constantly at work in providing at least some interesting scandals.
Yes, the irrepressible Union Minister of Communication and Information Technology Kapil Sibal seems to be at it again. A few weeks after talking to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to explore the possibility of ‘pre-screening outrageous content’, the suave and erudite Sibal is now said to be in talks with dictionary companies to try and ‘pre-edit provocative words’.
‘There are many newspaper and publications that carry sentences which contain words that can trigger trouble. I want dictionary companies to check whether they can prevent such misuse of their platform,’ Sibal is reported to have said. ‘As dictionary companies they too have a responsibility in weeding out the offensive stuff,’ he logically explained.
The dictionary companies, for their part, pointed out they cannot take down words as they (words) have a life of their own (in the case of Brits), a variety of spelling (in the case of Americans) and pronunciation of unidentifiable vintage (in the case of Bongs).
‘Also, the problem here was that the Minister’s outrage was triggered by a word that is not technically in any formal lexicon so far,’ the dictionary firms said.
The offensive word, according to highly-placed sources in the government, was: ‘Lokpal’.
(Disclaimer: Whether they manage to get Parliament approve it or not, Anna and Co should get the dictionary-makers include Lokpal, as a synonym for, what else, a long-running scandal).