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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Of Gandhian budgets and fictional development

The basic rules to be observed when drawing up a budget are to save something after catering for your daily needs and to provide for unforeseen events like accidents or illnesses.

columns Updated: Mar 25, 2012 00:16 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times

The basic rules to be observed when drawing up a budget are to save something after catering for your daily needs and to provide for unforeseen events like accidents or illnesses. Most people abide by this rule. But when it comes to drawing up state budgets, they cast this rule to the winds and provide for large sums of money for defence purposes. Consequently, all states have deficit budgets and are perpetually in the red. I make bold to suggest a Gandhian approach to the feeling of insecurity from our neighbours. Ask them to draw up your defence budgets so that they can sense what it is about their defence preparations that generate a sense of insecurity among their neighbours. It has never been tried before and may work miracles by creating a sense of security without spending another paisa on the purchase of arms. It may sound idealistic and impractical but it is worth trying. It is Gandhian and Bapu Gandhi was well known for performing miracles.

Fact versus fiction
Many long years ago Dr Saiyadain, secretary of the ministry of education, lived in Sujan Singh Park. He dropped in one evening with his 13-year-old daughter, Syeda. She was the only Muslim in Modern School and was having problems adjusting. Neither of my children was in the Modern School, but I readily took on Syeda’s tutelage. Later, she married a Pakistani and migrated to Edmenton, Canada and became a professor of English. There she befriended a handsome mona (clean-shaven) sardar, who also taught English. The relationship ended when the sardar married a younger Sikh girl.

Syeda returned to her ancestral home in Jamia Nagar. We resumed our friendship. I got her a few profitable assignments translating texts from Urdu to English and English to Urdu. Then, Syeda was taken on the Planning Commission. She travelled extensively across the country and had the rare opportunity of seeing the truth about India’s development and the claims made by the government. I prodded her to put her observations on paper. So, we have Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India (Harper Collins) by Syeda and her colleague Gunjan Veda. In some ways, I can claim to have fathered this book. Its title page bears my commendation. The truth about India’s development, as told by those who know it, makes for a compelling read. Every time I see her car flashing a red light on its bonnet, which people of ministerial rank are entitled to, pull up outside my apartment, my heart fills up with pride.

Strange nutrient
A recent issue of Private Eye has a column from the Pakistan Daily Times extolling the nutritional benefits of mixing animal shit with one’s daily diet. It reads: Connoisseurs of tea are always looking for exciting new taste experience, “entrepreneur An Yashi told prospective customers in Changdu, Sichuan province,” “and this is a completely new type of beverage. Pandas eat a lot of leaves, but they have a very poor digestive system, and only absorb about 30% of everything they eat, with the rest just passing through. That means their excrement is rich in fibres and nutrients, and the tea that I make from their droppings has a mature, nutty taste, and a very distinctive rich aroma while it’s brewing. It’s healthy too, because bamboo contains an element that can prevent cancer, just like green tea.

“I have spent the past six months collecting 5.5 tonnes of panda droppings, to make my product. My method is a trade secret, but I assure you that I have found a way to turn manure into treasure, and the first harvest will go on sale in the spring. At £2000 per 500 grams, it will be expensive, but you only need a little to create a delicious panda poo-poo tea with a unique aroma and I am convinced that it will soon become a connoisseur’s favourite.”

Mulayam is so proud of Akhilesh that he wants to rename the state “Puttar Pradesh”... meanwhile Mayawati has sent text to Mulayam... ‘UP yours’.

At a wedding party recently someone yelled, “All married men please stand next to the one person who has made your life worth living.” The bartender was crushed to death.

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi). The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Mar 25, 2012 00:14 IST

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