Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How to use the right word?

Even though Indians are regarded world-wide as the best speakers of English outside the, er, English-speaking world, when it comes to the business end, we really are lagging a long way behind.

Take a simple example, one that excites everyone -- corruption. Let us say a businessman goes to a politician a day before tenders are opened and "gifts" a box full of cash. That is corruption.
But then, let us learn from the Americans.
Let us create a fund for the politician called "re-election fund". Let the same businessman now "donates" the box full of cash to this fund. This "donation" is legal, and of course, there is no corruption.

The trick was to use the right word -- "donation" -- instead of the wrong word -- "gifting", and corruption in the country is reduced by leaps and bounds.

Another example: "oppression" of downtrodden castes by the upper castes. When a higher caste man denies a lower caste man food, water and shelter, that is oppression, but when the same man "teaches" the lower caste man how to survive without food, water and shelter, then that is "education".

And to drive home the point, this is what the white man's (er, upper caste man's) burden is all about -- raising the standard of the brown and black (I mean, lower caste) man.

"Hypocrisy"? Wrong again, it is called "discretion".

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