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A monumental folly

If Mayawati had built schools, colleges and hospitals and named them after after Kanshi Ram or herself, no one would object, but why statues? asks Khushwant Singh.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2009 02:11 IST

How many times does the Supreme Court have to rap Mayawati’s knuckles before it enters her head that erecting statues of herself and her mentor-companion Kanshi Ram is not acceptable use of public money? Her first response to the strictures passed by the country’s highest judicial body was to take front page advertisements in all national newspapers with her own pictures advertising the wonderful things she has done for the state. So another few lakhs of public money went down the drain in her seemingly endless pursuit of self-glorification. With the same money she could have built a few hospitals, colleges and schools and named them after Kanshi Ram or herself. They would have served the people of her state and no one would have raised the slightest objection.

We had welcomed her emergence as a Dalit leader with great hopes that she would better their lot and help wipe out the curse of caste distinctions from our society. These hopes lie shattered. Her first priority was to load herself with expensive jewellery and acquire vast properties in Delhi and elsewhere. She claimed that all this came from her innumerable admirers. I don’t believe it. She is a headstrong woman who does not listen to any advice unless it is in accordance with her wishes. She suffers from the illusion that she is the sole spokeswoman of the Dalits and resents young men like Rahul Gandhi fraternising with them and taking up their cause. She should know this is a matter which concerns all of us and everyone has the right and the duty to involve ourselves in the Dalits’ fight for equal treatment in all spheres of life.

What bothers me most is that the matter had to be taken to the Supreme Court to curb Mayawati's megalomania. Surely there must be other means of curbing chief ministers’ whims and fancies! What powers do the Governors of states have to veto their idiosyncrasies? Can’t the Central Government step in to prevent scandalous waste of public money by state Governments? I don’t know. Perhaps some legal luminary will enlighten us on the subject.

What a diarist needs

About this time of the year diaries for the year to come are got ready for printing so that people can get them well ahead of New Year’s Day. I have never had to buy one as I get over half-a-dozen from business houses and publishers. I keep one for myself and give away all the others.

As a regular diary-keeper I have strong views on what information is a must for every diary and what is unnecessary. I don’t think diary producers give much thought to the subject and go on printing the same year after year.

Pocket diaries with pencils attached which were once in vogue and most people carried them in the inner pockets of the coats to put in engagements of the day are now passe, hardly anyone uses them today.

Table diaries should not be too large. They should carry only necessary information like national holidays, pin codes, a page on one’s own health with details like weight, blood group, blood pressure etc for ready reference when needed. Most of other stuff in diaries is superfluous.

For many years I have used one diary published by a little-known firm of Punjabi publishers called Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh of Amritsar. Jiwan diary has all I need to know in English, Hindi, Urdu and Gurmukhi. It carries the Roman, Vikrami and Hijri calendars; times of sun rises and sun sets, phases of the moon, and every religious festival of every community, birth and death dates of netas in different regions. There is also plenty of space to note down engagements and activities of the day.

Only I have to remind them much before to let me have it before the New Year begins.

Advani and Sanyas
For salvation in this life, an essential condition
Sanyas is the noblest thing in Indian tradition
Accordingly Advaniji sincerely plans renunciation
And shares with his mentor Swami Vishweshwara Teerath
His noble inclination
But the seer is mortally scared
That if he allowed that
Advani, having failed in his prime-
ministerial plan
Would dethrone him and become the head of his clan.
(Courtesy: Kuldip Salil, Delhi)

Gaining Experience

A bank put an advertisement in the papers inviting applications for branch managers. It mentioned that experience was a necessary qualification.
Santa applied for the job. A few days before he was called for an interview, his friend Banta came to wish him good luck. He found Santa perched up on a mango tree in the garden. Somewhat bewildered, he asked, “Santa what on earth are you doing on the tree?”
Santa replied, “I’m gaining experience as a branch manager. It is a necessary requirement.”

(Contributed by Harjeet Kaur, Delhi)

The views expressed by the author are personal