Archive for January, 2008

Objectivity and the European Union

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

My interest in reading brought me to another classic “The Complete - Yes Minister” by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay which I have been re-reading for the past few days. My dad has an amazing collection of “delectable” books. (I know - should be food!! but hey this is “My” Blog and “My Rules”) Since I am crazy for bureaucracy and red-tapeism which my Dad “supposedly” practices daily in Office, I kind of find these books funny and humorous. I remember a time when I was probably in second or third grade that “Yes Minister” used to come in on Doordarshan. Even then I had an enjoyable time pulling Dad’s legs.

Ok. this blog post is about something very interesting I read. I will make the effort of typing it all in full :

Jim Hacker, the Minister in charge of the fictitious Department of Administrative Affairs (DAA) in Her Majesty’s Government says - “We went into the EEC (the old version of the European Union) to strengthen the international brotherhood of free nations”

To this Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Under Secretary to the DAA (the Departmental Head, roughly equivalent to what my Dad is in the State Government) says - “We went in to screw the French by spitting them off from the Germans. The French went in to protect their inefficient farmers from commercial competition. The Germans went in to cleanse themselves of genocide and apply for readmission to the human race.”

Cynical no doubt. But Sir Humprey did make a point here. Of course realities today might be evaluated differently. But this coming in a comic composition almost a generation back (I have a 1997 reprint) has had me thinking. What do you say ?

Cives Romanus

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Not being versed in Latin, I would scarcely be expected to make meaning of this, but I will give it a try.

“civis” is sometimes defined in cheap Latin dictionaries as “city-dweller”. It means “citizen” So Cives Romanus would loosely translate to “Citizen of Rome”. The reason I find this exciting is that during the heydays of the Roman Empire (2000 years ago) a Roman Citizen could walk across the face of the “known” world without fear. As President Bartlet (the protagonist of the West Wing) puts it - “So great was the fear of sure retribution for harm to a Roman Citizen” that nobody would dare hurt him. Would any citizen of any nation have the same feeling today. One might expect that an American Citizen might think so, but I am convinced that with the scourge of terrorism gripping America today, Cives Americanus would be the most insecure citizen. At what cost ? If only a Roman plutocracy could generate such a level of protection, why nothing can be done today ?

The West Wing - An Introduction

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

“The West Wing” is a TV Series that ran from 1999 to 2006 on NBC. My all time favorite for political satire. This will be the beginning of my episode wise comments.

The West Wing is the series that inspired some of the more popular, intelligent drama’s that are having great success today. You owe it to yourself to check it out on DVD if you missed it when first broadcast. You won’t find a better written drama series - that’s a promise!

The series tells the story of a ‘fictional’ American president, ‘Jed’ Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen and his support staff. It cleverly mixes fact (that can surely only have been provided by a White House insider) and fiction to provide gritty, funny and at times intensely moving drama.

West Wing Cast

My personal interest in this show stems from the fact that I believe a strong leader with a dedicated team of advisors can drive a nation. Being a part of a vibrant multi party democracy in India where calls are often made for a Presidential system, the intricate drama played out every season but makes me wonder how it might never possibly work for us. I understand this show is meant more as a satire but as is promised by the real West Wing staffers - this show is as real as it possibly gets in the White House. I wish I ever get to see the real West Wingers (both the on stage and the off stage heroes)



Aalap