Breaking Down News: Not Fair, Not Lovely
Faking News is an invaluable member of the endangered species of humour venues, which are dwindling fast in a ridiculously dour, touchy and self-important nation. It is overpopulated with gas balloons and FN does the important job of puncturing them. But this week, it suffered a self-inflicted injury with a joke interview of a fresh Bangladeshi immigrant in the Kolkata suburb of Salt lake, who was desperately hoping for an India-Bangladesh tie in the World Cup semis because he couldn’t decide which side to cheer for. His absorption into India, which had instantly given him ration cards and stuff, had given him an identity crisis.
Personally, I don’t care which nationalities develop hurt sentiments over this interview, written under the pseudonym of Pagla Ghoda. Provocation is not a crime. But ignorance is not an excuse, either. It’s incredible, but no one in Faking News or its owner, Firstpost, seems to have heard of the Tebbit test, which predated the Bangadeshi’s identity crisis by 25 years. It was no joke. It raised such a storm over the UK immigrant question in 1990 that the echoes still linger in political debate.
Some readers may remember Norman Tebbit, a colourful figure who had been a commercial and fighter pilot, IRA bombing victim, secretary of state under Margaret Thatcher, critic of the anti-apartheid movement and Tory party chairman appreciated by intellectual yobs, who abjured long-held homophobic views only under severe peer pressure in the House of Lords. In 1990, Tebbit proposed a “cricket test” to gauge the allegiance of immigrants. Do citizens originally from South Asia and the Caribbean cheer for the English side, or their “home” side? The question was politically problematic then and remains so, and the fake Bangladeshi on Faking News may be excused his dilemma.
In Parliament, in an unrelated celebration of smallness, Sharad Yadav has offered to debate the correlation between geography and the skin tone and poise of women. Is sexist banter growing in India, or is it being caught on camera more often? It’s a twist on the eternal question: are more rapists in the news news because there is more rape, or is rape being reported more freely? The ubiquity of cameras in even the most remote locations is certainly a factor, as the unlucky Varun Gandhi and Abhijit Mukherjee can attest. In the false security of the boonies, the former had threatened Semitic-style dismemberment while the latter had laughed at “dented-painted” urban women. They were outed because some guy with a camera was out there.
But some people get away with it. Digvijay Singh nationalised the obscure central Indian term “tunch maal”. Mulayam Singh Yadav championed the right of glandular youths to make tunch-driven mistakes. Long before them, Sharad Yadav disparaged partaki women, who could never take flight in the lofty tradition of Indian womanhood because they had clipped their wings. They had had haircuts. Maybe bleaches, blushers and Botox, too, but such interventions in the course of nature were so beyond Yadav’s ken that he never thought to flag them.
Pi-day is just past — March 14 was 3.14 in US notation, and if you were awake at 1.59 am, you experienced the definitive pi-moment, 3.14159. That’s the value of pi to five places of decimal. Pi-day is becoming a big deal with geeks, who use Twitter to entertain lesser life forms with PJs — pi-jokes. The best of 2015: “Consider a pizza with radius z and thickness a. Then, its volume is pi*z*z*a in math notation.” More pi-jokes may hit Twitter on June 22 this year. Certain geeks are protesting, quite correctly, that 22/7 is the precise value of pi, while 3.14159 is only an approximation. Will the exacting fractional crowd now wrest pi-day from the dotty decimalists?
Source:: Indian Express