It should not surprise anyone that Gujarat which had the pride of holding the first place in the number of industrial units of all the states of India has, in a year, dropped to the sixth position while Tamil Nadu, which no one had reckoned with as an industrial state, has risen to the top. The message is as clear as can be: Where there is peace, there is prosperity; where there is unease and turmoil, the chances of development are meagre. A good illustration of this elementary analysis is Punjab.
Punjab shares borders with a hostile neighbour. Three wars were fought along this dividing line. No entrepreneur would invest his savings in setting up an industrial unit here. Amritsar, which was the largest city of the state, remained a place of pilgrimage without being industrialised. Ludhiana, which is at a safer distance from the frontier, grew to become Punjab’s largest and most prosperous city specialising in hosiery products, cycles, scooters and machine parts. When Bhindranwale-inspired Khalistani gangsters went on a rampage extorting money and murdering innocent people, Hindu industrialists moved out to safer places in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Faridabad in Haryana and Parwanoo in the foothills of the Shivaliks in Himachal Pradesh rapidly developed into industrial towns. So while Punjab retained its first place in agriculture (no one takes land away), it languished in industrial development.
Gujarat prospered industrially not because of but despite of Narendra Modi. Gujaratis are good and honest businessmen who have done well wherever they have gone. Modi’s administration does not inspire confidence in them. On the other hand, Jayalalitha, despite her lavishly extravagant style of living, provided peaceful conditions in her state. And so it came on the top.
It should be clear as daylight to everyone that where city streets are periodically blocked by demonstrators shouting slogans, throwing stones and damaging property, shopkeepers shut shop and life comes to a standstill. Bengalis who were congenital processionists have rid themselves of the malaise and next to Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra taken the bronze medal in the race of industrial prosperity.
Some Sunday mornings when there is nothing worth reading in the newspapers, I scan the matrimonial columns to see if their contents have changed over the years. They have, but only marginally. Also the columns are now neatly separated into religion, caste and sub-castes. So selectors of wives and husbands do not have to go through all the columns and just look for Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh castes and sub-castes, gotras and sub-gotras: Sunni, Shia, Khoja, Bohra; Protestant and Roman Catholic; Jat, Khatri, Mazhabi, Gursikh, Khalsa or Mona (at times unwittingly described as cut-surd). Educational qualifications are a must as are incomes of applicants or their parents. The elite of applicants are NRIs because their earnings converted into rupees are music to ears as well as being guarantees of living in comfort in foreign countries. Most girls are described in favourable terms as fair and good looking; most young men tall and handsome. Some archaisms persist. Girls are described as ‘homely’, which in Indian usage means home-loving but in proper English means plain-looking. C&D no bar (meaning caste and dowry no consideration) has become rarer. Photographs are still taboo. They are asked for only after negotiations between parties, and after checking horoscopes asked for.
European and American daily papers do not carry matrimonial advertisements but they do have weekly papers exclusively devoted to the purpose. Everyone carries photographs and physical measurements. More common are ads with pictures placed in some newspapers vends which are also used by prostitutes to entice clients.
In the West quite a few other people no longer look for wives or husbands but for live-in companions who share their interests. Typical of who and what they are looking for I found in my favourite English Weekly Private Eye. Under the heading ‘Eye to Eye’, found some items of interest. One read: “Vital woman seeks uncommon man 65 + London/Manchester.” The second read: “Could you be he? Are you 50-60 and crave a new life? I am a happy, financially independent female. Busy with plenty of friends but need an articulate man to share my life. You will never again get this chance for a fresh start, so send me your phone number and let’s talk.” The third was more downright: “Independent, attracted artist lecturer, 50 something, seeks sympathetic man for the real thing.”
Monu: There is a girl in my college who is really well-endowed.
Sonu : How well endowed ?
Monu: Her boyfriend calls her ‘Mahaabooba’.
Suresh: Rahul Mahajan is embarrassing the BJP. Rahul Bajaj has caused a split in the Congress-NCP alliance and Rahul Gandhi is making things difficult for the Samajwadi Party in UP. What a coincidence.
Mahesh: It is not a coincidence. Please note that President APJ Abdul Kalam has made life miserable for the CPI (M) by returning the Office of Profit Bill. It is, therefore, obviously ‘Rahul Kalam’ time for political parties.
(Contributed by Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi)