My earlier post on sense of humour has raised some interesting questions about what happens in India.
India is divided into two classes of people. Those who use English fluently including its nuances, idioms, and adages. Mostly what is used is English in origin but recently Americanism too is beginning to be used extensively.
The other class is either totally lacking in the knowledge of English or only partially knowledgeable about English.
It is not my intention to call one superior and the other inferior, but this situation exists.
The latter however are in the majority and almost all our politicians are in this category. The situation is rather more complicated for having this second category using about twenty different languages. It is not quite the tower of Babel, but I should say, quite close to it.
In this scenario, if someone uses something quite acceptable in English and it is translated into the Indian situation, the results can be comic, and/or tragic, and usually quite expensive to some one and the Indian tax payers who will foot the bill for the expenses incurred by the government and its officials and law makers.
Let us take two such incidents to illustrate. I hope that I do not get involved in litigation, and shall therefore refer to published news items and leave my readers to arrive at their own conclusions.
The first one is from our outgoing Ambassador to the USA Ronen Sen, who used the phrase “chicken with its head cut off.” You can read all about it here. For those who want to delve a little deeper, just google for Ronen Sen and chicken and you will have a delicious list of options laid out before you.
The other is a law in our statutes called The Prevention Of Atrocities Act of 1989. Calling a person who belongs to the Scheduled Caste by his caste name is an offense under this Act.Tamilnadu, one of our states, through its government machinery, once booked a case against former central minister and Janatha Party president Subramaniam Swamy under P.C.R Act when he called the L.T.T.E chief Pirabhakaran as “International Pariah”.
This case is still being fought in the courts. I suppose that if Pirabhakaran had been called an International Terrorist, it would have been alright!
Now, I am told that calling people terrorists is also not quite kosher! Or am I not supposed to say ‘kosher’ either? And, I am not supposed to call the characters who played mayhem in Mumbai, Islamic Terrorists as they were only terrorists who were incidentally Muslims. The BBC refused to call them as such, and kept calling them bombers and militants and so on. The Indians, the original ones, Conrad, were not amused! The BBC incidentally was hauled up for it in the British Parliament.
I grew up with the notion that PC stood for Police Constable. It later changed to Personal Computer. Now Conrad in his comments has clarified that it is now only Politically Correct. Thank you Conrad.
Let me now conclude with this wonderful piece of information that I picked up just earlier this evening. I was commenting about a local dignitary who is standing for an elected post in our local community Association. I called him, to his face, before you get the wrong idea, A TOTAL ASS. My politically correct mutual friend, promptly corrected me and said that the correct description of that worthy is – “He develops a case of RECTAL-ANAL INVERSION.”
No offense meant, but I think that Grannymar has got the right idea. Just take a peek.