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March of the Evil Empires!
English versus the feudal languages!!
Anchor 1
First drafted in 1989. First online edition around 2000
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Part 2 - Delineation of a feudal language nation
5. The Police

Talking of the Police itself, the feudal language has made it a cesspool of feudal mismanagement. Indian Police system consists of three levels. One, the so-called officer* level, known as the IPS*, the second level of junior executive level officials, and the third level of sepoys* (Indian constables) and their immediate seniors. The sepoys are also called constables, but they can never be equated to the constables in an English-speaking country. Their level is, as per the conventions of the department, as that of a servant class of the officers. Yet, they are the musclemen in the department, carrying out the bidding of the officers. In Kerala, the senior officer can address his junior with a secondary level of indicant, or even the lowest level. However the junior can only use the term Saar, for all equivalents of You, He/She, Him/Her when used towards the senior.

This buffoonery goes down to the sepoy level, wherein he can be kept at the lowest indicant level by the huge pyramid of seniors. In many cases, this level may come in direct conflict with the social level of the sepoy, where he may enjoy, at times, a more superior social stature considering his government job, and also his power as a policeman.

Actually, the whole theme is not easy to relate. In the whole pyramid of the department, another hierarchy may also be working in direct conflict with that of the official hierarchy. That is the hierarchy imposed by age. In this same feudal language, age is also a very significant factor that influences the indicants. Juniors in age are supposed to use the higher indicant towards the seniors in age. Also, they have to address them by adding certain suffixes like Elder Brother (chettan), Elder Sister (chechi) etc. to the senior person’s name.

There will be many occasions where the two hierarchies come into conflict with each other. Actually only the official hierarchy will or should prevail. However in many cases, the other one will cause a feeling of unease. More so, when a senior officer with much junior age, has to mingle with the local society, where he has to interact with the other members of a junior’s household. The relations are not as easy as in an English setting. Nothing untoward would happen. However the persons concerned would move and communicate within the parameters of certain intangible limitations. The passage of ideas and information is very different to what would happen if the language was English.

Now the person, a citizen has to interact with, in the Police Station, is the sepoy. The very person kept at the lowest level of indicant by the whole hierarchy by the department. He is in desperate need to find a section of persons over whom he can dominate. Otherwise, he cannot survive the mental subjugation. As far as possible, if he finds a citizen to be without any financial or social clout, he will use only the lowest indicant to him. Persons with some level of dignity in their attributes will not be able to bear it. To put it lucidly, a contact with a policeman in a police station can cause deep mental scars in persons who exist without the appendages of financial and social clout, but with a level of dignified disposition.

But then, who can be on good acquaintance with the policemen? Only those who find entertainment and profit from obsequious attitudes, and can bear the mental subjugation. The tragedy exists that the government function in close association with such elements. What can one expect of such a level of government?

Police Behaviour and Techniques of Investigation

One cannot compare the Indian Police with the British Bobby. The former is as different from the latter as an unwashed swine is from a swan. However it cannot be different. For, the Police also function in the same feudal language. Inside the department itself, the personnel exist on various levels of indicant words. So, for each level, the lower level is that of a level of servants. The lowest in the hierarchy is the constable, who is of the rank of a Sepoy (shipai), which may roughly be translated as peon. Yet, the brutal power of organised, uniformed, crude personnel is an overwhelming one. The only argument by which one may justify their existence is by showing the general lawlessness that would breakout in their absence.

In all criminal investigations, the police force cannot function as one can conceive in an English country. They cannot come and sit together and interact in a free manner to go in for detailed scientific study of crime and take persevering steps to pursue the criminal. For, the whole team functions as a team of master and servants. These servants have the brutal strength to inflict both lower indicant words and also, physical force on the citizens. An inquiring question by a policeman could be a source of great mental agony for a dignified person.

With such a crude team out to investigate, most of the time the only scientific technique the police officials would use would be to catch up a lot of persons, on whom some level of doubts can be imposed and a sound beating given. Many senior officials gloat that it is a very sound and scientific method. For, the results are there. Other more dignified methods cannot be practiced by this crude group.

When the police address a man with the lowest indicant word of You, (in Malaylam Nee, In Hindi Thu), then the words like: You, son of a whore, and such other expletives, come out very easily. Once that level is established, the common man turns very inferior, and like a dog, he can be beaten.

Actually, if uniformed men arrests any man, who they can treat with disdain, then it is 100 percent sure that he will be beaten like a dog. In cases, where his death won’t be a legal problem, he will be thrashed to death, if they are in a mood for killing.

When there is a military coup, and through negotiations, the leader of the siege surrenders; or if a man is charged with a crime, and he tries to hold out from the police, and then surrenders, peacefully, he will be beaten to a pulp without any provocation, once the indicant word about him goes down.

One may remember the scene of the military coup in Bangladesh many years ago. The Military commander tried to take over the power in Bangladesh. In the papers came the photo of his being thrashed by the common low-level soldiers, after he had successfully negotiated surrender. In other words, when negotiating with the feudal language persons, one cannot expect any level of decency once one surrenders to them. The surrendered man’s indicant level is equivalent to that of measly servants. In these languages, a menial servant who does some delinquency will be treated with shocking harshness. Likewise, the surrendered man.

Examples abound in History: Remember that Napoleon did not surrender to any of his Continental European enemies, after his disaster at Waterloo*. He came to a British ship, and surrendered to Admiral Maitland of the Bellerophon. He entrusted himself ‘of his own will’-’not as a prisoner of war’, but as a ‘private person’ To the Regent, his appeal was: I come like Themistocles. (I throw myself upon the hospitality of the British people). I place myself under the protection of your laws. Many persons, who doubtlessly admire Napoleon, for he definitely was a man with exceptional qualities, may blame Britain for imprisoning him. Yet, it may be safely be understood that Napoleon surrendered to an English nation, knowing that he would not be beaten to death, by the common ruffians

It fact, it is my belief that even Hitler would not have committed suicide if it was the British who were going to capture him. However, the possibility of capture by the Russian soldiers could be very, very unnerving. For then, it would have been a surrender to beasts. For if the soldiers are in a feudal language setting, then the surrendered leader is just a piece of shit to them.

Another illustration from History, and that too from the history of the South Asian peninsular region that now consists of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan is about Porus*, the King who fought valiantly against Alexander the Great*. When he surrendered and was brought in front of Alexander, in shackles, he demanded that though defeated he should still be treated as a King, (for his personal qualities and attributes are still of that level and not that of the servants). For, naturally there is a terrible difference in the behaviour and attitudes of others around, when the King is seen as a servant. Very much more than anything that can be envisaged in English.

Fidel Castro•: Once (many years ago) I did read an article by an American (US) lady Journalist. She had gone to Cuba. She took the phone and dialled Fidel Castro’s number. She was most amazed when Castro himself answered the phone. In her article, with this incident as a reference point, she compared her own country, where to get the President directly on the Phone would be not only next to impossible, but also her endeavour would be sequentially blocked by an array of secretaries.

The American journalist is only having a shallow understanding of the social and essentially language software on which the country is running. In India also, the senior Civil and Police officials’ direct numbers are available in the Phone directory. However, which Indian, other than those in significant social or official positions would dare call them directly. How many persons of rectitude would enjoy harping out highly obsequious terms-of-homage in front of others to another human being, whom any intelligent person would perceive only as a Public Servant? The same goes for Cuba also. Even though the President’s phone number is available, I doubt if any sane Cuban would dare to call on the President directly.

Women should not go near the Indian Police. That is the sane understanding of the Indian Government. Male Police will definitely molest them. So Women Police personnel have been posted. Well, does this make the lot of women safer and more dignified? When they get a woman in their trap, these women police are also mighty mean and undignified to the women. They use not only the words from the lowest indicant level, but also more contemptible derivatives of those words, and address them. And no person with understanding can find anything wrong in this. For, in the vernacular, it is not possible to use higher indicants to the trapped women. If the women police personnel do use it, it would seem strange to everybody around them.

It may also be noted that the women police personnel themselves are bearing the brunt of the feudal language from their own superiors, both male as well as female.

Lorry drivers

When debating about the indicant words, and it’s very hideous effects, I need to give one illustration.

For that, let me first give an information about Kerala. Kerala is a state in the southern tip of India. It was formed in 1956, by joining together the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin* State with the Malabar• district of the erstwhile British-ruled Madras Presidency*. Travancore and Cochin were two different independent kingdoms during the British-rule in the South Asian peninsular region. It means that they were under their respective native Kings. These kings were independent, even though they were under the suzerainty• of the British. That is, these places were not under the direct rule of the British.

On the other hand, Madras Presidency was a big state, under the direct rule of the British. Yet, it may be remembered here that the state was administered by an native-blood Chief Minister, and other ministers, along with an elected legislature, since 1909. Though Madras was a Tamil-speaking state, the Malabar district was inhabited by a people who spoke a language, which can be called Malabari.

Thus for the whole ensuing period of British-rule in the subcontinent, the Malayalee people of Travancore-Cochin areas had an entirely different experience from that of the Malabari people of Malabar. The Travancore-Cochin people did not experience any natural social change. They continued with the same feudal set-ups that had continued from time immemorial. The lower castes continued to be severely restricted in their mental and social development. The general culture was that of sycophancy. The prevalent adage was: to achieve one’s aims one should even be ready to prostrate before a donkey.

Read: Travancore State Manual written by V. Nagam Iyya

In Malabar, during the British rule, a lot of social upheaval took place in a most silent manner. There was no need to resort to protest marches and demonstrations. A unique opportunity came out for the dissemination of English to everyone irrespective of caste. Here it must be admitted that this really affected only a minor fraction of the population. Yet, it led to the distribution of public jobs to persons from varying castes; with the senior post being occupied by persons who had quality English education.

Now, let me digress on to the indicants. The Malayalam indicant word of polite interaction, to mean You is Ningal. In Malabar (Malabari language), it continued to be used in that sense for a long time. Actually, till a few years back, it was so. Yet, in Travancore-Cochin areas, this word was found to be unfit, as with the coming of independence a lot of lower caste person developed to hold higher posts. Now, the resultant tension, and also the general feudal and foot-licking philosophy of social climbing, also made the word Ningal an abhorrent word, in ordinary polite interaction, with persons with even slight social advantage. The new word used in this guise was Saar. This word stood for Sir, You, He, She, Him, His, Her, Hers etc.

Now the communication in Travancore area between a bureaucrat and an ordinary individual is like this:

Bureaucrat: What do you (Ningal) want?

Common Man: I came to see Saar (you).

Bureaucrat: I told you (Ningal) to come next week.

Common Man: The other Saar (Him) sitting in that chair over told me to come and meet Saar (You) today.

For a long time, this communication buffoonery used to cause severe problems. Generally, an ordinary person in Kerala is not much travelled, even inside Kerala, which is a very small state. Most of the information and opinions of the people are what the vernacular newspapers imprint on the mind in a most consistent manner. As such, before the Malayalam films and TV networks disseminated this feudal intonation in the language, most Malabar people did not know about the problem the word Ningal had. Actually, they were under the impression that it is a very respectful word, and one, which they gave sparingly to the most respected among them.

The effect of this problem was first experienced by the commercial vehicle drivers after the amalgamation of Malabar with Travancore-Cochin. Yet, being regular drivers, they were aware of the problem. When addressing the police officials, both lower as well as senior, they used to use the word Saar. But at times an odd lorry driver would come to Trivandrum from far North Kerala (Malabar), with say Bananas to be delivered in Nagercovil area of Tamil Nadu. The lower police official would stop the vehicle in some small-time road in Trivandrum. The usual incentive would be to squeeze some hard cash from the driver, who usually would be only too happy to part with it, in order to avoid any other happening that may take place in its absence.

The driver, being a driver, would in all arrogance be addressed by the policeman with a Nee, eda etc. and other lowest indicant words like Avan etc. would be used. And the poor driver with full reverence, yet in complete ignorance of the sinking level of the word Ningal, in the southern area, use it as the word You to the policeman. The poor driver would not even have time to contemplate on what went wrong. For in a wink of an eye a sharp, sound, solid slap would have landed on his weary cheeks. If the policeman can get him to an isolated corner, then the driver had it. It would take the driver a long time to understand what went wrong.

I have seen this happen. Moreover, one of my acquaintances in a uniformed service had recounted to me, how he went mad and was going to beat up a man from Malabar, for a similar faux pas. Just before he pounded the man’s face to pulp, he was told by a colleague of the mistake in understanding a Malabari word in Malayalam. I recount this incident to emphasis the terrible hold indicant words have, over every individual in this feudal society.

A story: This is an actual story, told by a person who retired as a senior police officer, in Kerala. This happened about fifty years back. When he got into the IPS (Indian Police Service), which is the senior most cadre of the Indian Police, he was pretty young. Later, he went for some short training in Great Britain. One day he was sitting in a police station there, as part of his training programme. One woman came in and complained that her cat was missing.

This man, who also heard the complaint, was so shocked, and amused that he admits that he was ready to laugh. However his greater shock was when he saw that this lady was taken seriously. An official sat down with her, and took down the minute details of the cat. She was asked to sit down. A message was sent on the police wireless to the various beat constables in the relevant vicinity. After about half-an- hour, there was a call from some beat constable that he had traced a cat fitting the description, caught in some high structures.

Later the cat was rescued and the story had a happy ending. Yet, the Indian Police official was still in a state of daze. He tried to contemplate what would have happened if an Indian woman had come to a local police station in Kerala, and gave a similar complaint.

Now, before going further, I would like to take up the word ‘Serious’. In the English police station, the issue was taken seriously. Now, in the Kerala police station also, there would be seriousness. The police inspector, (or more possibly the constables), would put on a very stern and stony seriousness, and glare at the woman. He would be insulting, and his words would be markedly derisive. Here, I am imagining an ordinary Indian woman, and not of the higher society, rich or government employee female.

The word for ‘serious’ in Malayalam is ‘Ghavravam’. It is a heavy word, as most such words in Malayalam are. But, the sense of this word is entirely different from the sense the English word gives. For example, if one says: He is a serious man, it more or less signifies the level of seriousness of purpose the man has. Yet, in Malayalam, if one says: ‘He is a ‘Ghavravakkaran’ (serious man)”, the understanding one gets is that this man is not easy to approach, he would don a very pretended demeanour of stony facial expression, and he can easily get angry, or can be rude, if one tries to debate or argue with him.

I have given the above story here to depict the difference in sense and understanding, a Malayalam meaning of an English word can make. The difference in social understanding. Also, the difference of the police in an English world, and that in an Indian feudal-setting.

Apart, from this, I do not know, whether actualities of this story are true or whether this is how a police station in Britain would react, if confronted by such a seemingly silly matter. Anyway, no sane ordinary Indian would dare contemplate on going to the police station, in India, for this thing. For that matter, most would like to give a wide breadth to them, even if there is really something that requires their help, as much as possible.