Mad Cow Disease

47 Comments

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Tharoor has termed economy class in airlines as cattle class. (This reflects) the insensitivity of the minister. This tantamounts to (causing) deep injury to the self-respect and esteem of millions who travel economy class,” Rudy said in a statement here. [Link]

Yes Rudy sahab. Shashi Tharoor definitely deserves to be hung by his udders. But before that is done pahele us aadmi ke sign leke aao who named “second class” in trains as”second class” in the process hurting the self-respect and esteem of billions of people who travel “second class” everyday, people who go home and weep copiously and wonder whether they are “first class” citizens of the country.

In Indian politics, every month is idiot season but this month the moron flu seems to be particularly virulent. Much as I would like to believe that no one in the BJP knows (or cannot find out) that  cattle class is colloquialism for “economy class” and not a neologism invented by Tharoor the elitist, I think that is not the case though considering the geriatrics who run the party (and yes blogging does not make you “with it”) I would not be surprised if it was. What I believe is more likely is that the BJP, with tar dripping from its face after the Jaswant fiasco, is trying to do a Nursery 2 “Nanni Nanni Boo Boo…” to the Congress, engaging in the worst kind of “You suck” behavior which, anywhere outside the sandpit, looks juvenile and idiotic.

But BJP I understand though not necessarily condone. What is beyond the pale is the Congress reaction to this comment made by one of its most qualified and erudite and non-controversial of its ministers. Says Jayanti Natarajan,

The party strongly disapproves of this expression (cattle class). It may be slang or a jargon but we find it unacceptable. Since thousands of Indians travel by economy class…We don’t approve of this articulation,” AICC spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said at a press briefing at the party headquarters here. [Link]

Now in this culture of “competitive intolerance” we have trouble as it is with people getting “offended” by assorted things from Sardar jokes by SMS to the use of the phrase “Apna haath Jagannath” in Kaminey. However to show outrage at a remark at which noone has taken offense, outrage of the kind that even those who incite riots or commit economic crimes  are not subject to is, for the word of a stronger word, ridiculous. I correct myself.  People are offended inside the Congress not so much at the “cattle class” part of the Tweet but (also pointed out by Prem) because of the phrase “holy cows”. Now I do not know whether Mr. Tharoor meant the Queen Mother and the Brave Prince but evidently many people in the Congress think so or are at least falling over themselves to demonstrate that anything that could imply something negative against the overlords will not be tolerated.(The man is being pressurized to resign because of this) In the process of course they prove exactly what they condemn—-that the Congress has “holy cows” against whom any remark  considered remotely snide will be struck down”with great vengeance and with furious anger”

All this however just goes to show that Indian politics, despite its Youngistan garb, isn’t a place for “normal” people with even a very “normal” sense of humor and that democracy in India is merely a garb for the worst kind of feudalism. Parties like the Congress do like capable educated administrators however as long as they “aankhen neeche rakh” know their place, serve silently and keep warm the seats for the consecrated ones. In other words, you can steal and you can kill and be a history-sheeter and no one has any problem with these minor infractions but exercise your right of free speech and make even a cursory remark which may be interpreted as “snide” and then you have to hold your ears and then write on the board 108 times “Gaaye humaare maata hai, humme kuch naheen aata hai”.

Sad.

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47 thoughts on “Mad Cow Disease

  1. To use a limerick –

    If we all must continue using Tweeter,
    Our language, folks, needs to be neater.
    We cannot call people who fly ‘cattle’,
    And expect to not get into battle,
    When some cattle still travel by sleeper.

  2. Yeah … pathetic politics here !!!
    BTW how much are they saving by travelling Cattle Class .. err i mean economy !!!
    What do they expect to change by saving (total number of ministers) * (Diff in the prices) !!

    Request !!! A Post on the century by Tendulkar !!!

  3. seriously! Indian politics needs to be injected with a dose of the elusive “sense of humour”. never thought that the cattle class tweet could have gained such prominence. and all that in the name of an austerity drive for the sake of a drought affected country. huh!

  4. Talking of taking offense, people have objected to the lyrics of the song Dhan Te Tan from Kaminey. Apparently there is a reference to ‘teli ka tel’ and the Teli community is not too happy about it.

  5. “Yes Rudy sahab. Shashi Tharoor deserves to hang by his udders but before that pahele us aadmi ke sign leke aao who called “second class” in trains “second class” in the process hurting the self-respect and esteem of billions of people who travel “second class” everyday, people who go home and weep copiously and wonder whether they are “first class” citizens of the country.”
    Vintage GB! Kono kotha hobe naa ArnaB DA!

  6. This is nothing much but politics as usual and I do not think it is an Indian thing. If you look at the health care debate in USA (death panels), or the birther’s calling obama a kenyan..stupidity and retards know no boundaries..

    Its probably a slow day in the 24 x 7 news cycle that made a big deal out of this. Also the fact that minister is twitting is also a little dumb in my opinion. It will get worse if keeps twitting about this..shut up and let the shit storm pass…

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  8. it wouldn’t be surprising if someone takes a toll at this post :P ..it seems there is somewhere a whole team of people searching stuff that their party or group can be “offended” by …

  9. Oh ya…a minister who tweets, thats what we need next. Just go to his twitter page, ‘Had dinner with Army chief and his wife…’ Like one of my friends mentioned he is like this schoolboy who just wants to show of his latest toys…or like one of the P3 socialite who gossips about who he/she was with last nite.
    C’mon whatever the etymological origins of the word…a minister who uses ‘cattle class’ to denote common man is if not anything, diplomatically challenged. He can put whatever spin on his ‘tweet’ now…but he has shown himself to be insensitive. And all because he was asked to move out of a Rs.1,00,000 suite he was staying in….’n lets not kid who was footing the bill (he might say he payed out of his own expense and shit..but lets not be naive).
    Its surprising a person so unconnected with the realities of this country was even elected…but that’s another discussion.
    And are we truly surprised by the reactions…like someone mentioned this is just not a phenomenon in India…so lets maintain perspective here. One can’t blame the 24/7 new channels in raking this up..while at the same time blogging about it, can we?
    Cheers,
    Rahul

  10. First came ‘headless chicken’ by Ronen Sen, who incidently went on to win a ‘Best of Bengali’ award from a media group and now ‘cattle class’. Not surprisingly, Chief Ministers cutting across partylines have reacted. I dont know why ministers are not supposed to be on Twitter as someone out here has questioned. It’s nice to see that some of them are actually using modern tech-networking the way it is meant to be and not as a pre-election-feeling-the-pulse-of-the-youth attempt. A prominent ‘class identification’ among the middle class about the English speaking netas, it’s not exactly about class.. it is more about the ‘like-mindedness’ which makes me identify more with Miranda House educated Sheila Dixit as compared to, say Didi, if ever Ms. Dixit choose to emulate Didi’s histrionics.

  11. True.

    In the true spirit of competitive intolerance (loved the phrase, let’s get offended by:
    – second class, like you pointed out
    – backward class
    – other backward class (thats gotta be worse)
    – middle class (who’re *you* to place me in mediocrity)
    – have-nots
    – VIP (or lack thereof)

    We’re going nuts. No sense of language, humor, etc. Horrible.

    – Sameer

  12. Methinks a certain green eyed monster has a vital part to play in these over the top reactions to what was essentially a communication between two people. Its not like he said this at a press conference or something. And you are right, I do think some of the sycophant brigade thought that “holy cow” was a reference to a person or persons. Good that Manmohan Singh has seen the humour in it.

  13. ”with great vengeance and with furious anger” :)

    the collective brains of congressmen have been reduced to Pulp and we never get the truth about their lifestyles, just Fiction.

    Well said GB.

    Tharoor: mere paas twitter hai, fan following hai, UN ka experience hai.. tumhare paas kya hai?
    Rahul: mere paas ……..

    on this note sample the same exchange in sanskrit.

    “Mam samipe yanam asti, dhanam asti, bhavanam asti, sarvam asti… bhavatah samipe kim asti?”
    “Mam samipe mata asti.”
    Wah! wah!

  14. Shasi is successful but ignorant guy…he is bound to suffer from superiorty complex when he sees incompetent people in higher posts. anyway he could have donated the money to children and farmers dying of hunger than spending in 5 star hotels …bhaiya yeh india hai …and he is representative of people…

    But he is 1000 times better than the hordes of corrupt, and shameless people … he was seen eating at small restaurant later and he was defensively responding to media guys.

    He has realised his mistake… manmohan may retire in next elections ..pranab is getting old..and BABA may not feel like taking responsibilites…now he has to seek pardon from holy cows!

    Holy Cows…par mazaa aa gaya!!

  15. Guess these people need some classes on basic English. By now i have figured out that these politicians (most of them) are totally oblivious of any worldly shame. No amount of ridicule reach their guarded senses.

  16. GB, 1st 8 lines- stirring stuff!

    English? It is the disgusting habit of politicizing every word that has landed Indian politics in the tailspin it is in today.

    Although this issue is stupid, I must say Mr. Tharoor strikes me as an excessively garrulous man- more prone to making flippant remarks than actually doing his job. The Foreign ministry has at its head a dandy and his protegee whose only concern is about having a gym in his house (oops- hotel) than actively perusing a document containing the B bomb (Baluchistan).

  17. [OFFTOPIC]@GB:Please share your thoughts whether or not BJP turned the toadstool to a mushroom cloud 10 years back and whether the leading scientist had veiled the truth from billions by hailing the fizzle as a full sized TNW.[/OFFTOPIC]

  18. ST should be appreciated for his frankness…. In the west Obama is settling racial issues casually over beer… n here even a casual remark doesn’t go down well with our ‘Holy Cows!’ (Hope I’m not sued for using that remark!!)

  19. Just a thought that Mr Tharoor was once India’s choice for UN’s top job. Wonder if his tweets would have been the same when visiting even poorer nations of the world.
    His role as a MoS in the Government of India (that too in External Affairs) requires him to show some restraint on his freedom of expression(like President Obama risked losing his Blackberry).
    In the end, lip service is most important in Indian politics. Just like words of bringing Mumbai attackers to justice than any concrete action.

  20. Well scripted.

    I don’t admire the diplomat’s hindsight of misjudging the potential communication gap especially when on public domain but I don’t understand the stand of his own party members. On whose behalf was Ms.Natarajan crucifying the Minister, especially since her party head honchos have swiped aside the matter. Was it a personal vendetta or a group conspiracy born out of daze by Dr. Tharoor’s popularity? Whatever…

    The brightside is that Dr. Tharoor has learned his lesson, though in a way he or his fans wouldn’t have liked. Still, I think Dr. Tharoor will now realise that Indian politics is not all bed n roses for the elite and the honest, and perhaps a short dip in those murky waters may give him some much needed experience. just a short dip… ;)

  21. GB, great post.

    @ Rohan: Nice limerick.

    Allow me to add another:

    The reaction of Congress Cows,
    Raised hardly any eyebrows
    When one of the flock’s
    Blasphemy sent waves of shock
    And they erupted in shrieking rows

  22. India is a very chilled out country. Nobody has taken offense to the comment. Nobody. Except, conveniently, the Congress and the BJP. They expect the public to get offended, so they get offended first. It’s like pre-arrest bail.

  23. I dont understand all this hullabaloo about sense of humour, or lack of it. Yes, in the past, we have shown ourselves to over-the-top reactions, but this is no laughing matter! We are not talking about a corporate executive or a college student here, who can tweet/scrap on issues with whatever he feels like, this man is the minister of state for foreign affairs! And that in itself lends a sense of responsiblity to act in a manner which befits the post. You cant just say anything on a public forum, because you are representing the people here, and need to be aware of what you say/write/express. If anything, I am deeply disappointed by this remark, because I always held this guy in high esteem, and this episode has, if anything, showed his naivety and showed us he is a political green-horn. Also, its high time we younger generation stop identifying with someone just because he/she uses the same social networking site as we do, the identification should be with the work he is doing and the principles he espouses, not the external gloss/glamour he/she projects!

    Sayan

  24. Fortunately he could not get the UN top post otherwise he would have to apologise mamy mamy times coming under the hawk eyes of our respected politicians who would have spared no chances to let go the opportunity of pleasing world leaders.

  25. So, you mean to say I am a sometime first sometime “second class” citizen in a “third world country” filled with lowest grade politicians? Hmmmmm

    “Apna haath jagganth” was an unnecessary chaos…May be the usage founded itself in derogatory sense in Kaminey…

    Aajkal to kuch kehne mein hi darr lagta hai…nai ko barber mat bolo, lazy ko malik bolo aur pata nahi kya kya…

  26. I’m from Orissa. Phrases like “apna haath jagannath” aren’t very common here. Very few folk know Hindi. No wonder the people who exercised their right to get offended were those who don’t speak/understand Hindi too well. They interpreted “Jagannath” as their beloved God who resided in the Puri temple. What we’ve got here….is failure…to communicate.

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  28. I thought the whole controversy was over,ever since the prime minister took time to explain to the hoi-polloi that the entire thing was a joke.Besides ever since he Gow Maata and the powers that be having counseled him to twitter responsibly,the minister has been confining himself to harmless platitudes.

  29. Isn’t this the same story again and again – someone makes some comment & a furore is made over it …. ho hum! Isn’t the media also tired reporting on the same thing?!

    The best thing the media can do is to not report such bull crap …. then, our netas will stop making a fuss about it.

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