I am not sure if this is a global thing, but the practice of writing stuff down on currency notes is rather widespread in India. If you are reading this post in India, check your wallet right now. I am sure that half the notes would have something scribbled on them.
The most common thing is the count of notes. Usually, when people are making stacks of 100 notes, they mark the count on the topmost note. In my wallet right now, I have 7, 49, 84 and 100 marked on notes. Another common thing is names and/or phone numbers.
But it is a rare note that is blessed by a poetic verse or a shopping list. I got this one as change a couple of days ago:
I didn’t even know there was such a deodorant on the market!
I have edited out the mobile number scribbled on the note. Also check out the serial number – a pretty good hand to hold while playing Liar’s Poker.
Now, what do you have in your wallet right now?
Going by media reports, there seems to have been a series of attacks on Indian students in Australia in recent times. In all probability, this is something that has been going on for a while, but hasn’t received high-profile coverage till now.
Racism, of course, is nothing new. Indians being targets of racism isn’t new either (and they aren’t the only targets, even in the current news cycle). So, yes, there is an element of media hysteria to it. Not that such hysteria itself is new. When news becomes a commodity that has to be sold, it is quite natural for marketing departments to take precedence over jounalism.
However, just because it isn’t new or because media is hyping something up, it doesn’t mean that such incidents have to be ignored. On the contrary, every such incident needs to be taken up with the authorities, and the Government of India must pressurize the Government of Australia to ensure that investigations are seriously pursued. Amitabh Bachchan’s private protest, of course, is entirely his own business.
Such attacks, if allowed to continue without consequences, have the potential for causing long-term damage to the safety and security of Indian community abroad. It not only damages the business interests of Australia, but also has an adverse impact on Indians who are either currently studying/working in Australia, or planning to do so in future.
The fact that Indian students are perhaps less safe in India itself (as Gaurav Sabnis points out) has no bearing whatsoever on such cases. Government of India doesn’t have to “first ensure that students don’t get abused or murdered at home” before taking up these issues with foreign governments. It should do both, but they are different issues and should not be mixed.
Booksellers told The Daily Telegraph that while it is regarded in most countries as a ‘Nazi Bible’, in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese”.
Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.
Several said the surge in sales was due to demand from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration. [Telegraph]
Did you notice something? “Booksellers told”, “according to leading stores”, and “several said”. Where are the authentic sources?
The report does quote two of the six publishers who publish Mein Kampf in India, but no retailers are quoted. Nor are any students who have actually purchased the book. While trying to explain the “trend”, a professor of Philosophy from a university in Nagaland is quoted (who seems to have a political thesis to push) but no professors from business schools are quoted even though their students are the ones who are reportedly causing the apparent “surge in sales”. There aren’t any quotes from professors based in New Delhi either, where more than 10,000 copies of the book were sold in 6 months last year (no publisher would inflate sales numbers for one of its own books, right?).
So there you have it: no quotes from booksellers, no quotes from book-buyers, no quotes from relevant professors, and no authentic data either. Even the anecdotal evidence is unsatisfactory.
This is not to say that the book doesn’t do well in India. I have seen copies on pavement stalls in Delhi for as long as I can remember. Never noticed it in a “leading” store though. If we were to go by shaky anecdotal evidence alone, since that seems to be the standard employed by Telegraph, then the book has always been mildly successful in India: those pavement sellers can’t afford to stock books that don’t do well, can they?
The Overlord Verdict: Fake Trend. There is probably no real “surge” in sales, and the book is not read widely either. In fact, I am yet to meet anyone who claims to have read it, leave alone find it inspiring (this is not to say that such people don’t exist, just that I am yet to run into one). Don’t buy the book, read its Wikipedia entry instead (if you are really curious).