Sunday: 2 January 2016
It is strange that both Dr Manmohan Singh and Dr Jagdish Bhagwati are face-readers for whom ‘heart’ does not matter. Dr. Singh had worked to bring about reforms with human face, whereas Dr. Bhagwati is concerned to make the face more agreeable to the people. Dr. Bhagwati wrote in his Defense of Globalization: “…this process [of globalization] has a human face, but we need to make that face more agreeable.” This maddening preoccupation with the lusty face of the Helen of Globalization, made me announce the Appendix to the Postscript VI ( ‘Global Economy: A Deal with the Devil’) of my memoir On the Loom of Time, Portrait of My Life and Times with a quotation from the great Christopher Marlowe whose Doctor Faustus had come out in 1604. Marlowe got the story from a German legend. These lines are from the tragic hero’s speech addressed to the summoned shade of Helen of Troy whose presence he succeeded to have for some fleeting moments only after mortgaging his soul to Lucifer. It portrays, to my mind, the present-day globalists’ tryst with Destiny. That quotation runs as under:
Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!
Her lips suck forth my soul: see, where it flies!
Come, Helen, come give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
The story of Faust became in later times the stuff for the great German play Faust by Goethe said to have come out in 1832. With better insight into the play, one can see the tragedy of modern man portrayed in it. The two dominant driving forces are seen at work: endless desires, and growing hubris!
Now I quote a petal from my old triplet whereon I had written a few lines on the present-day lusty quest at reforms, a non-meaning word in the history of Western political economy for a lot of humans whose blood is sucked with dexterity much more adroit than what Lucifer could do in the legend. Now consider the text I had composed a few years back when Dr. Manmohan Singh was our Prime Minister, and discover how the burden of the song sung by Singh and Bhagwati is the same. You can read this as a petal of the sixteenth triplet that came out on taxindiaonline.com. I am reproducing it from my website that can be accessed at http://shivakantjha.org/openfile.php?filename=triplets/triplets.htm.
‘Reforms with human face’: Manmohan’s mohan raag
Dr. Manmohan Singh let loose a vernal breeze for our delight when he said in his contralto years back that the “21st century needs to be India’s century.” His another shibboleth, repeated time after time since the general election of 2004, is his embellished dictum which to many minds contains both a lollipop and rainbow:
“Reforms are needed, I’ve always said that, but economic reforms with a human face that gives India’s common man a real hope.”
But for a common man the words ‘reforms’ and ‘human face’, as occurring in this enticing mohan mantra , are difficult to comprehend. As a countable noun ‘reform’ means “ the removal of faults or errors, amendment, change for the better; reformation of character.” [SOD]. Some crazy creatures set up the Reform Club in Pall Mall in London’s Clubland in 1836 to promote political ‘reform’, but this theatre turned out a mere glamorous rendezvous for some to twitter, what Hamlet would call, ‘words, words, words’. The word ‘reform’ has continued since its dim past as a hallucinatory word more mysterious than the utterances of the three witches in Macbeth which made Macbeth hear what he wished to hear. ‘Reform’ can mean so many things to so many persons that it stands denuded of all content. It often becomes a mere collocation in the abracadabra of the neo-liberal economists. They have played mischievously well t he Pied Piper of Hamelin whose sweet tunes lured the rats into the Weser River to dance to death by drowning. There are good reasons to think certain words do not mean, but are made to mean. In Alice in Wonderland Alice asked Humpty Dumpty: “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things”. Pat came a reply: “The question is which is to be master — that’s all.” If Philip Wheelwright would have called such words ‘ plurisigns ‘; and William Empson would have felt such words as the illustrations of the eighth type of ambiguity. Such words facilitate the work of the crooks and cranks, knaves and fools, the go-getters and the greed-setters (or suitors). Now to ‘human face’ . Who, still in senses, ever believe not to to know ‘human face .. But, after all, what is there in ‘face’? I do not intend to dilate in this brief leaf on the art and craft of the ‘imperial deception with a smiling face’ dexterously put on by the imperialists, and now no less skillfully worn by the exploiters bred by the present-day Economic Globalization. Jack Prelutsky composed a poem on a crocodile’s smile. He cautions you against the guiles of a smiling, but crafty, crocodile which invites an unwary to “join him in the river Nile and swim with him a little while”. Whilst the persuaders and advertisers are all around to tender such an invitation , it is for us to fall flat for it, or to spurn the damsel of delight as had been done by Lycius to Lamia in Keats’s Lamia . Didn’t Hamlet say in Shakespeare’s Hamlet ‘ one may smile, and smile, and be a villain’? My reader, I assume, must have read about Bottom and Tatania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream . Puck played a practical prank to turn Bottom’s head into a donkey’s whilst in a forest. When Tatania waked up she unhesitatingly planted all sorts of voluptuous kisses on his donkey’s head (perhaps she did so as she saw in him a heart of gold where love over brimmed) So, what is there in a face?
Now I must tell you a little in pedestrian and prosaic way otherwise you may think that this leaf has been penned only after its author got up on the wrong side of the bed. In the modern Czechoslovak history there was a period they metaphorically call the Prague Spring . It flowered under the reformist Slovak Alexander Dubcek who came to power in 1968. His spring lasted only a short while before it was smothered under the Soviet frost. Dubcek strove to liberalize by borrowing western roses. He called his eclectic potpourri ‘socialism with human face’. Either his people understood him too well, or did not understand his mystical magic wand, he was ditched soon, and he slipped out of the annals unsung and unwept. I have referred to the Prague Spring’s motto ‘socialism with human face’ as it recalls how Puck put the donkey’s head on Bottom to hoodwink the vigilant Titania . What mattes, when all is said, is whether one posses ‘human heart’. We know nearer home that our all merciful God Narsimha , one of the avtars of Vishnu , had the head of a loin. But knowing that most of our young readers find delight only in the western borrowings ( like camels of Delhi looking to the west as desert is that side). I would conclude this leaf of the triplet with him with whom the most foolish British monarch James I began his intellectual excreta in his The Law of Free Monarchies. It was Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), the author of Leviathan . Almost with geometrical reasoning Hobbes proved that ‘the human beings are inherently acquisitive, acting solely by self-interest with no thought of love, altruism, or ethics. The allegorical frontispiece of the books shows how a monstrous and incomprehensible body subsumes all institutions and state organs in its his majestic frame, and its python embrace crushes all its preys. His head is good and great having Descartesan facile face, and a Newtonian precision.. Leviathan’s s human face had over it an imperious crown ; and his two hands carried mace and sword to silence all dissent. Leviathan had human face but a monster’s heart. So, after all, what is there in face? We would, like Titania , love to kiss the face of a donkey rather than that of a Leviathan who could smile and smile and yet be a villain. Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations , made, by his alchemy, a new laser beam rush forth from the heart of his capitalist Leviathan which the economists call the ‘Invisible Hand’. I need not tell you anything about the things of horrors it has wrought in these locust-eaten years.. But do not guillotine me for discounting the importance of ‘face’. Again I would take you back to Jack Prelutsky who rightfully paid tribute to the Creator for putting our nose on our face because if He would have ‘sandwiched it between [our] toes, that could not have been a good treat “ for you’d be forced to smell your feet”, ( surely not an agreeable experience) . We eagerly await the coming of the ‘human face’ with ‘human heart’ with milk of human kindness, It appreciates what had been so well said through a rhetorical question in the Song of Solomon: “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor?”. Human heart is all that is needed to decide with the Mahatma’s talisman ever present in consciousness. The talisman is:
“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test:
Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man whom you have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away .”