ALL-THAT-MATTERS Page in The Sunday Times of India
Shashi turns his attention this week to Pakistani writing in English, rather the lack of it while India produced a host of internationally acclaimed English authors. Initial dubitable Pakistani claims to English writing were through two authors, Ahmed Ali and Zulfikar Ghose. The first’s landmark novel ‘Twilight in Delhi’ was set at a time when Pakistan didn’t exist. The second did make a Pakistani peasant the subject matter of his 1967 novel ‘Murder of Aziz Khan’ but never lived in Pakistan himself and publicly distanced himself from that country. Journalists like Muneeza Shamsie have tried hard to gain recognition for Pakistani English literature by claiming for the country what was not its own or preceded its creation. However publication of ‘The Crow Eater’, a comic account of Parsis in Pakistan, by Bapsi Sidhwa in 1980 proved to be a watershed event. It was followed by Ice-Candy Man by the same author and was based on the partition. Things have gained momentum in the recent years and the contributors include Mohammed Hanif who heads BBC’s Urdu service and a 23 year old Harvard graduate Najam Sethi who has received a huge advance for his about-to-be-published novel set in Lahore about a fatherless Pakistani boy. English writing in Pakistan is surely catching up.
In Men & Ideas, Gurcharan Das has titled his column ‘A Winning Merger.’ The author, who has been on the board of Ranbaxy for several years, writes about the recent transfer of CEO’s family stake (Indian Rupees 100 billion) in Ranbaxy to Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo. He was initially dismayed at the acquisition of an Indian company that had itself acquired 18 companies in 30 months. It took him some time to realize the merits of a merger of a drug discoverer (Daiichi) with a generic company. However the synergies can be realized only if Ranbaxy is not gobbled up but left alone as was done by Roche with Genentech. If this happens the new entity will produce value for all stakeholders and the country too. The merger also affirms the maturity of Indian Public and the political class that had blocked Swaraj Paul’s bid for Escorts and DCM in 1980s. The companies went downhill after that and everyone lost including the nation.
Swaminathan’s article is titled ‘Excess Speculation or Excess Money?’ He maintains that there are no shortages in sight. Oil production is rising, mineral and metal production is up, and a record global harvest is expected this year. It is excess global money supply that is responsible for the present crisis. Excess money in the world can originally be traced to Americans spending more than they earned and Central Banks in third world countries buying dollars rather than letting their currencies appreciate. This lifted productivity initially and then, inevitably, prices signaling that growth and consumption needed to be tempered. Politicians did not pay heed to these unpalatable signals. US Fed recently even pumped in billions of dollars to bail out errant financial sector. Other governments have printed excess money to subsidize rising oil prices. Author cites a Merrill Lynch study that show that a fall in real interest rates by 1% raises commodity prices by 17%. Current low interest rates, implying negative real interest rate, and huge money supply then are responsible for the current inflation rather than speculators who have been made a scapegoat by the politicians. Author feels that speculation is self-terminating and doesn’t have strong correlation with prices. For example there is little forward trade in iron ore, yet its prices have risen sharply. And huge forward trading in sugar has left world prices low. Also there is no build up in commodity stocks on account of huge forward trading.
There have been attempts in certain sections to justify the awful conditions in Zimbabwe and the thuggish conduct of Robert Mugabe on the grounds of post-colonial (P-C) trauma and predicament. Swapan Dasgupta in his article ‘Junk P-C Humbug’ under the column Right & Wrong trashes the argument. The fact that different countries have charted different courses after emerging from colonial rule, establishes that it is their own actions or lack thereof that are responsible for their current state.
Bachi in Erratica starts out philosophically about the baggage of DNA that we are born with and are condemned to carry throughout our lives. Then she swiftly moves over to bags carried by air travelers and the annoying wait at the carousel at airports, which serves as leveler for passengers across categories and takes delight in the Biblical dictum of ‘the first shall be the last.’
Jug, having discovered the royal perks offered to cine goers forking out Rs.750/= per ticket for the Gold class, wonders at their adroitness in multi-tasking while watching a movie. They do aerobics in a 180 degree recliner seat, gobble up goodies brought by liveried attendants, control the hyperactive kids, and manage to keep communication lines going using their cellphones. He also notices similar talent amongst other classes like drivers who do a dozen other things while driving, e.g., smoking, talking, gulping gutka et al. Housewives too display the talent in no mean measure. He recommends introducing a multi-tasking event in the Commonwealth games and is confident that all the golds will come to us.
(This summary is published by the author (email@example.com) every week on Shvoong.)