Yard of the Bards – Orwell and the language of politics

It was only the beginning of summer and the day was 2nd April, 2017. Having already experienced a hot March we had to forego our usual meeting spot in Cubbon Park to find a better venue and a better time. Freedom Park, we thought would fit our needs apart from being the metaphorically appropriate venue for the subject we had chosen for discussion – “George Orwell and the language of politics”.  As the sun went down, they walked in one after the other eventually turning into a diverse group of interesting minds.

George Orwell had been a lot of things in his life from imperial police to teacher, but he is remembered the best as a writer, novelist and an essayist. Although Orwell did not live past 1950, his works have continued to influence not only his readers and other writers, but also the political culture of all these years. His creations rendered a new adjective to the language – Orwellian indicating a totalitarian regime and a set of whole new terms which continue to be relevant even in the modern societal and political discourses.

Introductions done and the ice molten, the group began with the reading of an excerpt from Orwell’s 1940 essay – “My Country Right or Left”. The excerpt was about Orwell’s memory of the First World War. That set the context for the first round of discussion which began with a question of “Are we living in an Orwellian world? “.  While some opined we probably are living in a post-Orwellian world which is worse than the Orwellian, there were also others who agreed it could be a reverse Orwellian effect. The discussion took off from there touching on the political scenario in India, in the USA; Gandhi, Hitler and the rewriting of history to suit the narrative of the rulers. The group also quoted examples of Standing Rock of North Dakota and delved a little deeper into the Aadhar scheme in India,

The group then went on to talk about doublethink, thought police, the concept of unpersoning with examples from the story of Nikolai Yezhov and the power of the ruling system as seen in the Tiananmen square massacre. The non-existence of privacy, the idea of alternate truths, winnability vs representation, corruption vs efficiency etc. were discussed too and out came some interesting questions which also drove the discussion. Some of these probably did not have a conclusive answer at the end, nevertheless we want to leave them here for our readers to ponder over.

How much of Orwell has come true today?

Is there a collective “We” who can be represented? Can this collective “Us” be represented at all? If yes, what would be the quality of that representation?

How powerful is the system? Is our view of the system a reductionist view?

Do we have constitution for the people or people for the constitution? Or is it what me make of it?

p.s: Our next event will be held on April 29, 2017 and the title is “Munshi Prem Chand and his Social Realism” . Follow our Facebook page for more updates on the event.

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तैमूर-Timur-Lang-Langda Tyagi और नाम में क्या रक्खा है?

लंगड़ा त्यागी ने अपने लड़के का नाम तैमूर रखा है। इस से ट्विट्टर वालों का मुंह फूल गया है। गुस्से की वजह है – तैमूर का मतलब होता है लोहा। कोई अपने बच्चे का नाम लोहा कैसे रख सकता है? लोहा अली खान पटौडी – कैसा अटपट नाम रख दिया है! जब चाँद, सोना जैसे नाम उपलब्ध थे, तो ये लोहा क्या सोच कर रख दिया ? Continue reading “तैमूर-Timur-Lang-Langda Tyagi और नाम में क्या रक्खा है?”

Bangalore Mirror ran this blurb for its news story. What happened next …

What happened next shall be a lesson for Bangalore Mirror. When the citizens act more mature than the so called conscience keepers of the society, we should not lose hope of a better future for our nation. The story runs like this – Bangalore Mirror reported a crime incident in the city – “A 40-year-old man is fighting for his life in the ICU after being stabbed and robbed behind Mecca Masjid in Austin Town in the wee hours of Sunday. After the robbers left him bleeding on the deserted street, he ran 1.5 km to reach home, and collapsed at the doorstep……”
The man is fighting for his life in ICU and we hope he recovers well. However, men at the social media desk of Bangalore Mirror wanted to get more visitors and shares and likes and follows and what not – so a plain report detailing the incident wasn’t enough. The social media link came with the following blurb while the article didn’t have a single mention of ‘Patna‘-

“Shocking! Is Bengaluru the new Patna?”

Now, how much of the comparison is true/untrue is something I will leave to the sensibilities of the readers. It’s not very difficult to bring up a comparative study of crime rates of Indian cities. However, there is no denying that the introductory note to the article was in utterly poor taste and a vulgar visage of sensationalism. However, many of the readers chose to react to this mockery of journalism in a way that surprised me. While I had expected an unfortunate bickering between Bangaloreans and Patnaites because of Bangalore Mirror’s hara-kiri, I found something that must have made the social media rookies at BM chew their own feet.

Following are a few comments that we have chosen to highlight from the article link on Facebook. We salute these sensible readers for showing such maturity in an age when media is trying its best to disintegrate the society.
Do let us know what you think about all of these –

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Culture Crops – Banning the termites!

“…but how can we ban porn access?” – cried the person in khadi kurta and a squeaky clean white dhoti.

“Why not?” Another person pounded his heavy fist on the desk and stood up in anger. Dressed in khadi kurta and squeaky clean white dhoti, this man additionally had a Gandhi topi (cap) on his head which was gravitating towards the floor in a strange way as if it had life in it and deep down in its cardiac cavity thought that the head that it housed didn’t deserve the place. Continue reading “Culture Crops – Banning the termites!”