Bhaskar's Corner

Oh, That Lovely Title: Politics

Bhaskar Parichha debuts his column with a witty collection of quotes that he has picked up with his wide reading, arranged in a way that they take the reader through a series of thought-provoking comments on contemporary issues

Cartoon by Mario Miranda in the November 8th,1987 issue of Illustrated Weekly.
Photo courtesy: Bhaskar Parichha

We, in India, are in the throes of a big political churning right now. No one knows who the victor and who the vanquished will be. But politics — and obviously elections in India — are as multi-hued as they are rancid.

Adore it or loathe it, politics has its own share of quotable quotes. From the funniest quotes to the dumbest one, here is an uplifting list of famous lines said by equally famous people. 

Niccolo Machiavelli, a fifteenth century florentine philospher, has a very pertinent line for the present day politics. He said, “Politics have no relation to morals.” Charles de Gaulle’s take on politicians is so sensible! “In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.” Two other famous literary figures — the Irish George Bernard Shaw and British novelist George Orwell — too were scornful of politicians. Shaw said, “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”

Orwell remarked, “In our age there is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” 

American comedian George Carlin had a terse remark on that country’s politicians: “Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out.”

There is so much of coaxing and wheedling to take part in elections. Plato, the great Greek philosopher, observed, “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Elections in India have become so expensive that ordinary mortals like you and me can’t think of fighting them even in our dreams. Will Rogers said, “Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.” Gore Vidal has a different take on this issue: “Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” 

US President Calvin Coolidge once said, “Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service.”

What New York City writer Christian Nestell Bovee who relished the intimate friendship of Washington Irving, Longfellow, Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes believed politics is interesting: “Political aspirants make too much of the people before election, and, if successful, too much of themselves after it. They use the people when they want to rise, as we treat a spirited horse when we want to mount him; — for a time we pat the animal upon the neck, and speak him softly; but once in the saddle, then come the whip and spur.”

Finding the right candidate in elections is next to impossible. Cartoonist Kin Hubbard too had the same dilemma when he said, “We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” Edmund Burke’s caution on gentlemen despising politics is worth the while. Eighteenth century statesman and thinker Burke said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” NOTA (none of the above) has been added to the preference for voters in the EVMs (electronic voting machines) these elections. American comedian, WC Fields , once said, “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.” 

Why there is widespread abhorrence of politics is easy to fathom. According to radio commentator, political commentator, author, columnist, Cal Thomas, “One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s aim. Election and power are.” Lord Acton’s famous quote hardly needs mention. He said, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It was Henry A. Kissinger who rather pithily observed: “Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.” Groucho Marx , a humorist, opined, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”  

What essentially should a political party have? According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, “If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.”

Winston Churchill’s famous take is worth remembering today ever than before: “Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous … In war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times.”

American Novelist Edgar Watson Howe thought, “If you have sense enough to realize why flies gather around a restaurant, you should be able to appreciate why men run for office.”

According to the former US president Barack Obama, “We’ve come to be consumed by a 24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative ad, bickering, small-minded politics that doesn’t move us forward. Sometimes one side is up and the other side is down. But there’s no sense that they are coming together in a common-sense, practical, nonideological way to solve the problems that we face.”

And, finally, Columnist and Editor Doug Larson has this warning against the political class: “Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.”


Bhaskar Parichha is a journalist and author of No Strings Attached: Writings on Odisha and Biju Patnaik – A Political Biography. He lives in Bhubaneswar and writes bilingually. Besides writing for newspapers, he also reviews books on various media platforms.




The Eyes of Darkness: Was it all predicted?

By Mitali Chakravarty

Title: The Eyes of Darkness

Author: Dean Koontz

Publisher: Pocket Books, USA, 1996

One of the passages from a thriller that has been  circulating the social media circles during COVID 19 is how the Wuhan virus was evolved in a lab in the United States with a  Chinese refugee’s help, one who had defected to US “carrying a diskette record of China’s most important and dangerous biological weapon in a decade.” The book, The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz, is listed as a thriller, mystery, suspense and horror. It has been republished with a few changes in 1996, post-Glasnost and post-Tiananmen incident.

In the novel, the virus, called Wuhan 400, was said to have been developed in a lab in the outskirts of Wuhan. It “afflicted only human beings”. The fictitious virus had an incubation period of less than twenty-four hours. We are told, “It destroys part of the brain that controls the autonomic functions. The victim simply ceases to have a pulse, functioning organs, or any urge to breathe.” People died within a few hours of the infection.

The corona, luckily for mankind, does not affect the brain – only the lungs and most recover with mild flu-like symptoms and some have no symptoms at all.

The Wuhan 400 has been shown to be so infectious that one single panic-ridden, irresponsible, contaminated scientist infected a huge batch of boys and their teachers, who were on a trip that would teach the youngsters survival skills. Ironically, except for one child, the rest die. What gave the child the resilience to survive becomes the source of study for scientists in the middle of a deserted spot in Texas. The story revolves around how the child is rescued by his mother and her boyfriend who fly incognito all the way from Las Vegas to Reno and then into the wilds.

The book has a touch of the paranormal.  The author tells us in an ‘Afterword’: “The Eyes of Darkness was one of my early attempts to write cross- genre novel mixing action, suspense, romance, and a touch of the paranormal.” And the title is based on the paranormal activity. The paranormal activity is a little eerie and the descriptions are just frightening to the right degree.

The Eyes of Darkness had been revised in 1996 and republished. This is the version that is doing the rounds of the social media platforms. The earlier 1981 version was authored by Dan Koontz under the pen name of Leigh Nichols. In the 1981 version, the virus was called Gorki 400 virus and developed in Russia. This was before Mikhail Gorbachev used the terms perestroika(restructuring) and glasnost to indicate an openness in the Soviet Union which was its first step towards democratisation. Then in 1991, Boris Yeltsin moved towards a loose federation of Russian states. In 1989, the terrifying incident of Tiananmen Square killed thousands of innocent protestors.

In the 1996 edition, Dombey, a scientist in the facility which housed the research tell us , “The Russians… they’re now supposed to be our new friends, but they keep developing bacteriological weapons, new and more virulent strains of  viruses, because they are broke, and this is a lot cheaper than other weapons systems…” That the paranoid of weaponists and security experts obviously knows no bounds anywhere in the world is well borne out by the narrative. This has nothing of the conspiracy theories to wipe out the world. It is a thriller like a James Bond! It does not dwell on Machiavellian concepts quoted in Dan Brown’s thriller, Inferno:

“When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove elsewhere, every region being equally crowded and over-peopled, and when human craft and wickedness have reached their highest pitch, it must needs come about that the world will purge herself in one or another of these three ways: floods, plague and famine”

Dan Brown has something similar in Inferno where the world is threatened by a conspiracy to decimate the population based on Machiavellian and Malthusian principles by a villain who is more colourful and dramatic than Koontz’s and weaves the story in the city of Florence.

The story of Inferno, located in Italy, is interesting and perhaps can be the subject of another review. I enjoy a Dan Brown thriller more because it is woven around history and philosophy.

The Eyes of Darkness is simpler lore — with shooting, bars, the glamorous world of casinos, racing from place to place, helicopter and fast car rides, homes getting blown up, strange paranormal activities that wreck a room and bomb blasts from which the protagonists escape. The villain is perhaps a little less colourful than Dan Brown’s or the Joker from Batman — but weird none the less. The plot is intriguing! Take a plunge and see — it is a good and easy read while you wait out the virulence of the real COVID 19! 

Mitali Chakravarty is a writer and the founding editor of