Political Numerology

“What has Arithmetic to do with politics?” I couldn’t quite see the connection.


“I say one needs to be really good at numbers and figures to be a politician. If anybody aspires for a career in politics he should really work at his arithmetic,” my friend said as he tossed away the newspaper that he had been engrossed in for nearly an hour.
 “What has Arithmetic to do with politics?” I couldn’t quite see the connection.
 “Everything!” he said. “Politics has become a number game. ‘Leaders’ these days focus on figures!”
 “Oh that!” I grinned and shook my head. “You mean all those sitting legislators who turned out to be sleeping legislators. They sure did focus on figures!”
 “I didn’t mean that!” he said with a scowl, irritated by my frivolity. “Don’t you watch all those live telecasts of proceedings in the Assembly (or the Parliament for that matter), the question hour and all that?”
 I shook my head saying that I guess I have better things to do. The fact is that I prefer to watch politicians only in Hindi movies. At least there the good guy manages to get the better of them ultimately and, what is more even gets away with beating the hell out of them! No reality TV for me, please, when it comes to politicians!
 “Don’t you read the newspapers even?” he was shocked. This particular friend of mine happens to be an avid observer of the political scene and everyday he reads the newspapers as if his very life depends upon them.
 “Well of course I do! What of it?” I still didn’t quite get the thrust of his conversation.
 “So then haven’t you observed that when it comes to politics it’s all about figures? Like for instance no politician worth his salt can afford to be ignorant about what number constitutes majority, what constitutes minority and how many make a nuisance! Or anytime, any issue come up for debate in the assembly or parliament it is statistics that smother the life out of it. For instance, somebody brings up the electricity issue. The concerned Minister takes out a sheaf of papers and starts to reel out numbers and figures. The electricity produced (numbers), used (numbers), pilfered (numbers), deficit (numbers), future plans (numbers) and so on and on and on… By the time you add, subtract, divide, multiply, apply the square root and the logarithm, all those numbers make you quite numb, and anyway it is time by then for some other issue.
 “Check out the political discourse about the Dal Lake. It is a mind-boggling series of numbers. The number of encroachments removed, subtract the number tolerated (you can’t beat them all!), divide by the numbers planned for demolition; multiply by the ones likely to come up again… The figures stretch to infinity and the result is invariably zero (which is a number after all even though it is no number!)”
 He was really warming up to the issue! “The most amazing application of numbers is to human rights – to life and death. Look at this here. Isn’t it beautiful all these bar charts and pictograms and these undulating colorful lines on the graph-paper! They represent numbers… numbers of killings during various periods – no unsavory details, just neat numbers! Look at this pie-chart – only 21 killings as compared to the 35 of this previous time period. 21 and 35 … 35 minus 21, i.e., 14 less. No gory details. How would it be without numbers?! Take these 21… no just take the ‘1’ out of it. It is likely that this particular number had had a name, had walked and talked, loved and hated, smiled and cried, had had dreams and aspirations. May be ‘it’ – this particular number that is – had an aging mother or a young wife dependent upon ‘it’. Numbers are so precise! No unsavory details, as you can see, like whether ‘its’ old father buried ‘it’ or was it his toddler son who threw the dirt into ‘its’ grave. Numbers have no aspirations, don’t bleed and so don’t create a mess either. Numbers don’t stare at you with lifeless eyes in sunken sockets of mutilated faces…”
 His enthusiasm infected me as well. “What are these fractions here?” I asked.
 “I don’t know,” he replied with a shrug. “Maybe they represent children who get killed?” he added as an afterthought.
 “Numbers are so fascinating. And it requires a lot of knowledge, why even genius to deal with them!” He said and added with a triumphant smile, “Now you see why arithmetic is essential for any aspiring politician! Without a sound knowledge of arithmetic one cannot make it in politics, one just can’t!”
Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at snp_ajazbaba@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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