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Thursday, March 5, 2009

There can be humor in distressing times

What I read this morning : Ajit Dayal's article

An interesting news item in Business Standard: the government wants to create a symbol for the Indian currency, the Rupee.
Just like the US dollar has "$"; the pound sterling has "£"; the Euro has "€"; and the Japanese yen has "¥".
Apparently, India wants its own symbol for its currency because of India’s growing influence in the global economy. Also, the present abbreviation of the Indian Rupee is "Rs" and this is shared by those less important countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles. "Which government in their right mind would wish to be associated with these banana countries? Certainly not Incredible India!" is probably the underlying theme emanating from the government here.

In this age of doom and gloom I am glad to know that there is still someone in the halls of power who is thinking long term strategy here.
I mean, why waste time over coming out with a real stimulus package to kick-start the economy and make India stronger? Focusing on a symbol is the really hard work that needs to be done.
Why spend the five minutes it would take to prepare a statement that - even though election contributions in sacks of soiled notes are welcome from the real estate developers - the government has decided to allow the real estate developers to drown in their own overpriced and overbuilt land banks?
Why spend energy on announcing the results of the now-forgotten Raigad referendum against the Reliance SEZ - and admit that the SEZ policy in general was nothing but an act of piracy that would make the famed Somali pirates proud?
Hey, dumbo! India is a growing economic superpower and we need a symbol for our currency to, well, symbolise that. So, loosen up! And let’s get to work!
Symbols ‘symbolise’Symbols represent the ethos and culture of whatever they are supposed to symbolise. Sometimes the true meaning of the symbol only dawns on you much, much later.
For example, the US Dollar has the ‘$’.
For years I wondered what this symbol meant. Today it is crystal clear. The ‘S’ in the ‘$’ represents the "snake" - something you cannot trust. Something slippery. The two vertical lines from top to bottom represent a negation, the cancellation, and a strike off. In case you had faith in a snake, buster, and here are the 2 lines to cancel any trust you had. So the ‘$’ represents a currency you cannot trust!
It took the Chinese 20 years of slave labour to find that out. Now it has dawned on them that the trillions of ‘$’ currency notes they have are not really worth much. Hence, they are busy buying gold, oil, and raw materials with their excessive stash of US currency.
And whatever left over currency they have, they have given it to the Clinton Foundation. They refused to pay the DHL costs to send all those notes across. So Secretary of State Clinton flew down to pick it up. For obvious reasons this did not make the CNN Breaking News. The CNN reporters were too busy telling the world that China is a superpower and Clinton dropped by to beg China to stop bashing the currency - but bashing people was acceptable.
The Indian government, meanwhile, is using its stash of currency to proclaim to the world that we are a superpower. Slumdog won the Oscars. In the real world those who control the media are the true winners. And Bollywood has conquered Hollywood. Never mind that it took a jump into a pile of dunk to win over the hearts of the critics and the audience. Hey, we tried to appeal to the nicer side of humanity with "Gandhi" in 1983 but the world has changed - and we must change with the times.
Goodness is for the textbooks, while "badness" is what real life is all about. Ask those "Bummed-out Billionaires" - the titans of Wall Street and the CEOs. They cleaned out big time with their "badness" - and they get to keep their loot! The Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Indians, Saudis hold monopoly paper - the ‘$’. And we are paying security guards money to guard it.
The Americans are having the last laugh for sure. Their newspapers are full of articles of people losing jobs and money. Actually, this was a conspiracy. The CPI-(M) is about to release an election manifesto based on this: the American capitalists are enjoying a vacation (disguised as unemployment) paid for by the decades of slave labour of the labour class in China. Their Zionist allies in Israel are using rockets on the proletariat in Gaza to celebrate the victory of capitalism.
The Indian symbolBut this is serious stuff now.Bigger than Shilpa Shetty being an icon for cricket.Bigger than Big Brother and Indian Idol combined.
India needs a symbol for its currency.A symbol that typifies India and our "Indian-ness".
The catch in the symbol selection process, though, is that it needs to be replicable on a computer keyboard with a few quick strokes.
So that rules out a sack filled up with soiled notes. Much as that symbolises India, how do you capture that on a computer keyboard? An Indian invented "zero" but we forgot to invent the keyboard with the sack as a stroke-key.
We could choose "B" to show that Big Business dominates India’s economic policy making. But that would give the Birla’s the feeling that the "B" represented their power. And that would be unacceptable to all the other families. (As an aside - ever wonder why the mafia, drug cartels, and governments are all controlled by "families"? They don’t say groups, they say "families". Maybe it is the tradition of passing control from one generation to the next - within the same family. Like in the Congress Party?)
So, if "B" is out. How about "A"? No, then we need to have too many letters to explain which branch of the "A" we are referring to. Complicated, hence disqualified. Just as with "R" - you need to again specify which branch of the "R". You can merge companies and businesses to hide rumoured losses on oil futures but how do you tell one R from another R? Ah, how we yearn for simplicity and transparency.
That emotion ruled out "S" - it is simple but it also stands for Satyam - and we know how that ended up. More silence and more cover ups.
"T" for Tata is not an option because they don’t control anything. They were unable to control a personal desire to buy into a failing global junk car business so where is the question of controlling India?
The CPI-M would nominate "M" for Marxists. But that would then give the impression that the Zionist "M" for Multinational is ruling India. So there is a conflict there because it is the CPI-M that has ensured that India remain backward.
To be fair to them, they had initially suggested "C" to indicate that their masters in China controlled India because of the veto votes of the CPI-M in this exiting UPA coalition. But the Chinese refused - "who wants to be associated with a banana republic?" they asked.
Another option was "O". It is the circle of life - of birth and death and re-birth. It also represents the sum of the sincerity of our politicians which is "zero" and the "O" captures that. The "oh" captures amazement and shock - and India does elicit these emotions. If you add the small "m" after that, we get "Om" the sacred chant. And therein lies the problem.
The BJP had nominated "Om" but the fear of the Muslim back lash and the loss of the Muslim vote resulted in dropping this symbol of "shantih". The fact that the Middle East sent a strongly worded message that they would not sell oil to any country that had its currency as a religious weapon did not help. Remember these were the same folks who had threatened to stop pricing their oil in the snake-like ‘$’. Luckily for them they did not price in Euro - they would have got 20% less for their oil than they are now getting.
So, we are back to square 1 - but not to alphabet "A".
We still need a currency symbol that captures the ethos of India. And can be replicated on a computer keyboard.
And the winner is...So, I nominate "Z".I confess we do own shares in Zee TV for clients but that is not the reason.Z represents the sound of sleeping "zzz".What Indian politicians have done for decades.
Z also represents the emotion that is stirred when we hear our politicians speak. They will tell us what a great country India is and how we must carve out our rightful space in history. Meanwhile, they are carving out their rightful share of some shady deal.
Z also represents the most important agenda item on every politician’s list: how to secure a "Z" level of security assignment for their sacred bodies and for their families.
And Z stands for a person who is unable to stand up for anything. Like an "S" he is crooked, and bends easily.
And Z can also be seen as a palm on top of a table and a palm underneath the table and the diagonal line that connects them is the wire transfer to the UBS Bank account.
On the computer keyboard, the "Z" is near the shift button to show the "shifty" nature of this alphabet.
And Z also represents what can happen to a country if it is run by selfish, tin-pot politicians. We end up like Zimbabwe and a currency like the ZAR. Worthless.
But there is a certain positive finality about "Z".It is the ending of a sequence. It is the sign that enough is enough. We won’t take this nonsense anymore. And come April and May we will show you what we mean. It has boldness to it. A definite response, the last word. So, let’s use it - and use it well.
So, there it is: my vote and nomination is for a ‘Z".
As an aside...The Business Standard article went on to say that "The winning entry for the rupee symbol carries a prize of Rs 2.5 lakh but its designer would have to surrender the copyright to the government."
What will I do with my winning prize money?Invest in the Indian stock market - and in gold.And that is final.Z.

Note: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt Ltd.. Views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and may not be regarded as views of the Quantum Mutual Fund or Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited.


Advait Thakur said...

I think instead of putting the full article on your blog you can paste a link here .Thus you can save a lot of space and time.

Anonymous said...

good idea.