Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Mani Shankar Aiyar

The views expressed are the author’s very own. They do not in any way reflect the position of the Congress party.

Mani Shankar Aiyar Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu

My middle name, you might say, is controversy. I have been differently described as being witty, sarcastic, unpredictable and sometimes downright nasty. Well, frankly I don’t quite mind these labels. Why, wasn’t it Samuel Johnson who said: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Anyway, to resort to a cliche, Mani is what Mani does and in my moments of solitude (when I’m not on TV) yours truly has come up with some pithy observations which I will record here for posterity. But, before I seek your indulgence, let me invoke the words of Oscar Wilde to justify my actions. Remember, the great Irish writer had spoken thus: “It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.” Having put that on record, let me get down to business post haste. Here goes:

  • If you’re a Stephanian, there is a half chance that you can become a modern day James Joyce or a prototype of his creation Stephen Dedalus. If, by chance, you become both rolled into one, you could be a confused soul or maybe an MP.
  • Please don’t be carried away by English poems about heady summer days. Out here, it’s hot and dusty. So get an AC or a posting in Washington DC.
  • And, yes, if you are desperate to cultivate a propah accent, then Mani suggests you buy some land for starters.
  • ‘Mean value’ actually relates to how nasty or pushy one can be on TV shows.
  • Guess what’s the T20 of political discourse:? Half-hour TV quickies where it’s all about how boisterous you are and how often you can attract the TV anchor’s attention.
  • April, surely, is the cruellest month. In India we know how gruelling it can be, especially if general elections are due in May.
  • A recent AC Nielsen survey showed that for 90 per cent of those polled ‘BPL’ meant a TV brand which they junked in the ’90s. For the remaining 10 per cent, it meant living in poverty.
  • Incidentally, economist Jagdish Bhagwati had nothing to do with a policy paper of the Planning Commission mistaking gram (village) for one-thousandth of a kilogram.
  • No, Pythagoras didn’t design the AICC headquarters. So don’t blame him for the square on the hypotenuse at 24 Akbar Road not equalling the sum of the two squares at 10 Janpath.
  • If you want to lose weight, keep overeating. Finally your doctor will recommend bariatric surgery and you emerge thinner, fitter. (For further enlightenment, please contact BJP president Nitin Gadkari).
  • Finally, wouldn’t it have been cheaper if India had hosted the Commonwealth Games in some other country—Australia or maybe Canada....

PS: The views expressed are the author’s very own. It does not in any way reflect the position of the Congress party.