Dhanyawad, Oxford!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Nov 2017 11:24:40


By Biraj Dixit,




AMIDST the raging debate of ‘ease of doing business’ in India, I declare my whole-hearted support to any move that can bring about ease. Though much like the voices from the Government, the Opposition and everybody and anybody debating on the issue, I, too, have a very little idea of what is meant by ‘ease’, but I surely know all about ‘unease’ and hence have come to the conclusion that anything better than unease is ease. And I am all for it. I am charmed by the very thought that somebody is actually trying to make things easy.

Why just me, the entire world seems desperate for having some ease! India’s efforts have forced the World Bank to encourage us by placing us 30 notches above our earlier position in ‘ease of doing business.’ But this is known to all. There are so many other steps being taken all over the world to encourage Indians to feel at ease merely to understand what actually is ‘ease’.

I have learnt reliably that the recent move by the Oxford English Dictionary to include 70 Indian words is all directed with the singular purpose of the ease of doing business. Firstly, it would take care of making Indians comfortable with doing business with the world. Secondly, it would bring ease to the world attempts at doing business with India. Thirdly, it would help the world do business the India way.

By now, the entire world knows about Indian affinity to English. Either we kill English or English kills us. The world wants this war to end. Oxford has declared truce. Ignoring the threatening calories, it has even gone ahead with accepting hot ‘Gulab Jamun’ to break the ice and ‘namkeen’ to sweeten our relationship. Notwithstanding the fate of word ‘pastime’ that has slipped into the ease of doing business in India by alternating itself into ‘timepass’, the Oxford dictionary has accepted the latter so as to maintain the sanctity of the former.

Taking into absolute consideration the world’s need to make Indians comfortable while doing business with the world, they have accepted words like ‘natak’, ‘dadagiri’ and even ‘funda’ whole-heartedly. Besides, there is also the question of their being comfortable while doing business with Indians and words like ‘Anna’ and ‘Abba’ will definitely come handy and may be, sometimes, even an occasional ‘chup.’

Post Brexit, the British, too, have a fair idea of what unease of doing business is. Needless to say, the one country that they can truly look up to for learning methods to navigate through is India. And they seem to have learnt quite a lot. For, they have accepted words like ‘jugaad’, ‘chamcha’ and ‘sevak’.

“Indian speech etiquette features a complex system of kinship terms and terms of address, in which age, gender, status, and family relationships are marked by a highly specific vocabulary with no direct equivalents in English,” said the OED World English Editor.

Had they asked me I would have told them this years ago. I mean ‘Mama’, ‘Chacha’, ‘Kaka’ put in one single category of uncle would have never sufficed the Indian needs. Brother or brother-in-law of your parents can suffice the world but not Indians who are very particular about which line of parentage is responsible for what relationship. For, therein are nuances of our very complex relationships. A ‘Kaka’ can never be a ‘Mama’ and a ‘Mama’ can never hope to be a ‘Kaka.’ For centuries together, it has been these ‘Mamas’, ‘Kakas’ and ‘’Chachas’ who have entertained Indian spirit of entrepreneurship and brought about ease of doing business. They deserve their distinct identity.

And what to say of the omnipresent ‘Didi’! It is indeed the safest mode to address women, though ‘madam’ is extremely likable.
Earlier too, English language has flourished thanks to specific Indian words. They had adopted ‘bazaar’ long ago. But their markets can never complement the Indian bazaar. Someone had told me that they used our ‘bazaar’ to come up with the word ‘bizarre’. I do not know the truth of it but if they are looking for nuances, our bazaars can be truly bizarre and at times ever ‘bezaar.’

Now that these are accepted English words, we need not go into tilting letters using italics to make them sound foreign to English language. They can stand there with honour and dignity. I remember my poor friend’s face when she got up to answer teacher’s query about what do one expects from life. “My funda is clear,” she started but was instantly and rudely cut shot ‘Funda?!?’ With that sort of English all you can achieve is ‘anda’. Now students can explain their life’s funda using many erstwhile aberrations to their teachers of English without hesitation and the teachers will be needed to stay put throughout. A student of English, particularly a poor one like me, derives enormous sense of sadistic satisfaction at the plight of the teachers of English when after years of hard work to mend students’ ways with words and wayward words, they have to accept that not just ‘Hinglish’ they will have to bear with Hindi-lish words also. Remember the affront at the use of words like ‘dramebazi’? Now, they will have to make do with full scale ‘natak’.

When Oxford is being so kind, so accommodative, I may take the liberty of suggesting them new words to assist in the ease-of-doing-business business. “Sir/Madam, there are many crucial, meaningless, very important words in Hindi that world must adopt and adept to. How about ‘hutt’? No, this has nothing to do with the English hut. A hut might have a welcome tone, but our ‘Hutt’ is to make people go away, stop, shut-up. Very useful while doing business, eh!
I remember how wonderful I felt when you included ‘Arre Yaar’ in English lexicon. ‘Arre’ is a very important word. Indians often embark upon conversations with this seemingly meaningless word ‘Arre’. Arre’, however, arrays many complex emotions that carry huge weight at the beginning of conversation.

I can think of words endlessly and would be most willing to keep a list ready for your next edition. But before I do that I want to thank the spirit of extreme accommodation that Oxford English Dictionary has demonstrated. (Wish our teachers of English were as accommodative). Your generosity makes us feel so truly achcha that we pray God bless your udyog. May you find utmost ease in doing business.

Thank you.