Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sanskrit, German and Owls in Athens

After a long time, India has a right wing nationalist government, that does believe in the supremacy of the ancient Hindu culture. And, just in case you don't know, the ancient Hindu religion was often known as "Arya-Dharma", or the way of life of the Aryans, who used a specific religious symbol, the Swastika, quite frequently. It is said that Adolph Hitler was quite influenced by this religion, and incorporated bits and pieces of it into his Nazi ideology. But, that is where the similarity ends.

Decades before Hitler, a scholar with his head screwed on right (as opposed to Hitler), had come to some startling conclusions about the cultural roots of the ancient Indian tribes, and those of Germania. Max Muller, with his comparative studies of ancient religions, had concluded that the Nordic and Indian concepts of God, could be traced back to abstract descriptions, that were later incarnated into "beings" that became gods. Today, Max Muller is celebrated as a scholar who brought two ancient cultures together, and showed them how similar they were, in more ways than one can imagine.

And today, those two cultures are involved in a very public display of discord.

A few years ago, the Indian government had decided to teach German in a chain of government funded schools. In order to stop the "linguistic indigestion" associated with the instruction of too many languages, they had allowed the children to choose between Sanskrit and German, two languages that Max Muller had shown to be more similar than different.  And, it seemed to be working quite well.

As the new government assumed charge, it decided to enforce its old ideology that things ancient and Indian, were superior to things foreign, and that a thorough cultural grounding was required for all Indian kids.  And so, all instruction of German was to be stopped immediately, and replaced with Sanskrit. This has triggered a nationwide debate over if students can choose a language that improves their prospects of employment in a global world, as opposed to choosing a language that provides them with a strong cultural grounding.

Trust me when I tell you that it is an extremely difficult question to answer. I say this with some authority as I have formally studied both Sanskrit and German, and I personally feel that both had a positive influence on me, during my formative years.

Sanskrit was a compulsory language for my generation, which saw very little of a "non-English" foreign language, taught in schools. When we went to college however, we could study such a language, but it would typically be French or German. And by that time, we would already know all the Sanskrit that we could ever learn -- the Shabd Roop of Deva would still occasionally appear in our nightmares, and German would let us understand what the Nazi general in the war movie was up to, when he addressed his secretary as "Meine Liebchen". Both langauges, it seems had their own use, and they were never in direct conflict with each other.

By allowing the replacement of Sanskrit with German, the previous government made an important statement -- that Sanskrit, was expendable. Depending on what you believe in, it may or may not be. One has to ask if the Germans, whose culture we are so willing to adopt, would so easily allow the instruction of an Indian language in their schools, where most of the curriculum is taught in German. If this reciprocal arrangement is not possible, we have to seriously analyze what our kids gain from letting go of a piece of their heritage, in exchange for a language that was never truly theirs. There is a lot of talk about educational and employment opportunities in Germany, but those can still be pursued if someone takes up German in college.  A short course is all one needs to understand what is being said, when it is Auf Deutsch Gesagt.

So, this debate should not be about Sanskrit or German, but about what the policy makers are going to do about the poor kids, who studied German for a couple of years, and would face significant hardship now, if they had to switch to Sanskrit. This is a delicate matter, that can only be remedied with empathy and lenience. And German could still be offered as an optional foreign language, for those, who would like to learn it.

One of the funniest phrases that I ever learned in German was "Eulen nach Athen tragen". Roughly translated, it means "carrying owls to Athens". Apparently, there was once a time when there were too many owls in Athens, and carrying any to this ancient seat of culture was considered a futile exercise. In some ways, this phrase means the same as our famous Indian equivalent of "Ulte bans Bareily Ko", that I once wrote about. Both phrases, refer to a wasteful expense of time, that no one needs to indulge in.

This entire debate on Sanskrit versus German, has indeed been a wasteful expense of time. Perhaps, it is time for us to move on to things, that are more productive. All an owl needs, is a rat to feed on, it doesn't really need to know if the rat is Indian, or German. And it certainly does not mind, if it is taken all the way to Athens, before it is fed.

Monday, August 11, 2014

First Field Marshal

In my years in the land of the free, whenever the conversation turned to India's freedom movement, my American friends would ask me if Mahatma Gandhi was our "George Washington". My answer would always be an emphatic no.

To me, George Washington was the general on horseback who drove the redcoats to the north. "In the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in the air." Of all the founding fathers of the United States, he is the most revered. His military skills were so valued that it is said that long after he ceased to be president, the reigning president, John Adams wanted to bring him back as a General during the Quasi-war with France -- to "scare the French."

George Washington was the only American leader, who could "scare" a reigning superpower at the time.

And that, always brought me back to our own founding fathers and the empire that they took on. Having read all I have about Bapu, I understand that he worried the British a lot. But scaring was reserved for only one national leader, with the same stature as Gandhi. If the British were truly scared of an Indian independence leader, it was Netaji Subhash, because, he wanted a military end to the freedom struggle. The last thing that the British ever wanted, was another 1857, and so, Netaji scared them -- like no other leader did.

During the second world war, Netaji's INA was charging on India's north-eastern frontier.  For a few months, in a small part of Indian territory, the Indian national flag flew. That part of India (Hind) was made independent (Azad), and Netaji became the Indian general on horseback, who took on the redcoats and drove them out. To me, the leader from India's freedom struggle who was the closest to what General George Washington was to the Americans, is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. No one even comes a close second.

And that brings me to the fresh controversy that is brewing in the air. The newly elected Indian government, wants to honor Netaji Subhash with India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India). And since Netaji has never been honored (posthumously) due to a controversy surrounding his death, the new government feels that it is time to give Netaji his due. The people who oppose this thinking say that Netaji was way above this award, and giving him the award after it has been conferred on "lesser mortals", would tarnish his stature. So, I thought that I would give you Desi Babu's opinion in this regard.  

The only other Indian leader of that stature who has never been given the Bharat Ratna is Mahatma Gandhi, since the father of the nation is "above" the award. It is well known that the person who conferred that title on the Mahatma was Netaji Subhash. In addition, Netaji gave a modern perspective to India's freedom struggle and was known to be responsible for India's state symbol and the state salutation (Jai Hind). The only person in the history of the Indian National Congress that ever took on Mahatma Gandhi (and defeated him) was Netaji.

So, if Netaji has the same stature as Gandhiji, how exactly should we honor him?

One option is to do nothing, like we do in Bapu's case. We do not confer posthumous awards on Bapu, although, we do give out awards in his name. Perhaps, we could do the same for Netaji.
The other option, is to confer a military honor (bold emphasis needed) on Netaji. The highest civilian honor does not quite cut it, but honoring Netaji, who always considered himself a military man, should be a military matter.

In the year 1976, during the American bicentennial, General George Washington, the General on horseback who drove the redcoats to the north, was promoted by a special act of Congress to "General of the Armies" (equivalent to Indian Field Marshal), the highest military rank. Only one serving officer in American military history, received the honor before. This posthumous conferral was unprecedented, but if any American deserved this stature, then it would be Washington.   

So, in Desi Babu's opinion, the government should consult the military top brass and through an act of parliament, create an honorary title of "First Field Marshal". India has two field marshals already, but in the order of precedence, as the first general in command of the army of Azad Hind, Netaji needs to be first.

The Bharat Ratna is an award for civilians. A soldier of Netaji's stature, deserves a military honor of the highest category. And, as the Americans showed two hundred years after their independence,  it is never too late to do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Those Bundles of Papyrus

Recently, I read an intriguing comment on this blog, asking me what my favorite books were.  It has been a while since I have thought about that question.

All my life, I have read a lot of books. I have liked some, but never hated any. Books are the fruits of love and labor, and like you don't scorn someone Else's child, you don't scorn their books either. However, the word "favorite" conjures up a completely different set of emotions. The ones, that come from being awake all night.

I have always divided my books into the ones that can keep me completely oblivious of the need to sleep at night -- and, the ones that don't. One can understand the need to complete the journey, if a voluminous account of an arctic adventure on a sledge through a blizzard, is given in a larger number of pages, than a single night allows to complete. But, the ones that used to keep me awake, were always short stories. Somerset Maugham had a knack for spinning a web around characters, living in the most nondescript islands in the pacific, and keeping me awake till I would find out their fates. One story always ended into another, but the night never did. It was much later, that I got somewhat tired of his stories -- his times suddenly seemed remote, so remote, that I couldn't stretch and touch the characters any more.

The writings of Sir Vidiadhar, have always appealed to me. In spite of the times when he referred to me, and a countless number of my compatriots, as denizens of a land of darkness. I forgave him, for he makes me see the things, that I am otherwise quite blind to.

No other British writer has ever appealed to me, not even the great bard, whose plays, I do like to watch.

Among American writers, Hemingway has always been a favorite. F. Scott Fitzgerald is fun to read, and James Michener, for some reason, makes me reach out to the people across time, that Maugham made too distant to touch.

I have no favorites from the Russian, East European and Latin corners of the world. Not because I don't like reading translations, but because a lot gets lost in translation.

Of all the Indian writers that I have ever read, I have three favorites. R. K. Narayan, though from times that are long gone, stirs the soul. Khushwant Singh, now gone, will forever be the only writer that has scolded me, and made me laugh in the same page. And Ruskin Bond has made me cry -- many times.

Of the new crop of "famous" Indian writers, I don't like any. Some are too bombastic with their choice of words, and some are simply too commercial. Biswanath Ghosh, has great potential, for he writes from his heart, but unlike the great sardar, Mr. Ghosh, seems to have a drink too many, when he writes. He does make me laugh and cry though -- sometimes -- alternately.

One more writer that deserves a special mention, is Shobha De. I have read too many Indian writers who like to impress with what they know. Mrs. De, is quite the opposite -- she lets the reader discover what she already knows. She writes beautifully, and the impact of each word is carefully measured. Her language is deliberately kept simple, something, that the new crop of Indian writers can learn from. Her stories, though sometimes shocking, awake me to some aspects of India, that Sir Vidiadhar was perhaps too reluctant to experience and write about. And, being the gracious writer she is, she always responds to my emails.

Other than Maugham, the only ones that have kept me awake through the night are R. K. Narayan and Ruskin Bond. Both, with their short stories, some of which, have also made me cry.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hark! The Aardvark or the Lark?

Summer holidays in India can be extremely boring.

As a child, I used to get pretty excited in April, about the impending holidays. Around this time of the year, you could still find the red and orange Palash flowers on the hilly trails of Jharkhand. The Lantana bushes would be overgrown and messy, and one would have to wade through them to stay on the beaten track. Then, the summer would quickly arrive. The bushes would become dry and shriveled, and the afternoon sun would be too bright to make a trip outside the house possible. Around an hour after lunch, when everyone would have fallen asleep, a black crow, which used to live in the tree behind the house, would start cawing incessantly. For some reason, it always reminded me of my English teacher.

Right before the school closed for vacation, our English teacher would remind us that at our age, he knew every single word in the English dictionary. And so, inevitably, on most afternoons, after the crow stopped cawing, I would take out my well-worn edition of "The Oxford's English Dictionary", and turn to page one, with the resolve that I too would become the dictionary one day. But it was always the first word, that stopped me dead in my tracks. How in the world, would a snouty ant eater, make it to the most coveted spot in the English dictionary. The Aardvark, I always thought, must have friends in really high places.

Since the two As put the Aardvark in quite an enviable spot in the English dictionary, I always wondered if India's newest political party with national ambitions, had similar objectives, when they chose their name. The Aam Aadmi Party (common man's party), would easily appear at the top of any alphabetical list of political parties in India. Were you to abbreviate it to AAP instead, you still wouldn't be able to dislodge it from the top. In fact, I have had a gnawing suspicion for quite some time, that someone in the AAP, in his or her childhood, had come to envy the Aardvark -- just like me.

Since we are talking politics, and since the largest democracy in the known universe is going through its largest transfer of responsibility and blame, from the huddled masses to a few chosen ones, I thought that I too, should express my opinion by cawing a bit.  And trust me, I would not have. In fact, I was planning to quietly march up to the nearest polling booth on election day, and vote. Simply. And then, came the postman.

The Economist, our favorite family magazine, has decided to usher in the daybreak this week, by playing the Lark. I don't like to beat about the bush, and so, I will just say it -- this week's edition disappointed me.

On the cover, they have put a photograph of a stern looking Mr. Narendra Modi, who has also thrown in a frown -- for good measure. In its editorial, the "newspaper" has expressed its inability to "back" Mr. Modi for India's highest office. First, it acknowledges the fact that Mr. Modi is perhaps better qualified than anyone else, to lead India to better times and deliver the fruits of economic development to the aspirational youth of today. Next, it reaffirms that in spite of the good things that Mr. Modi might have done, he has not yet apologized for the riots of 2002, from which, the judicial system may have exonerated him. And then, it chides Mr. Modi, for not wearing a skullcap in atonement.

While Mr. Modi may have been condemned for being biased, the esteemed "newspaper" cannot claim to be completely free of the same hazardous human infliction. What if I called The Economist a magazine, generally written for, and read by the rich white anglo-saxon man? What if I said that expressing public distrust in the judicial system of an "inferior brown-black" country, shows bias of the kind that cannot be washed down with the choicest of single malts, that the Scottish bureau might dispatch respectfully to the editor, from time to time? And what if, the fact that the editorial staff does not show up for work in turbans, can be construed as utter disrespect for the Sikh community in Britain?

Nonsense, they would say. And so do I.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Philosophical Soliloquy

Often, when Dhanno ki Amma and I fight, I threaten her that I will leave her for the life of a yogi in the Himalayas. She threatens me right back, claiming that I would not last a day without chicken biryani and Scotch. Deep philosophical  thoughts can only feed the soul -- and -- there is a lot of the corporeal material, still left in Desi Babu.

A few days ago, while flipping through random channels, I came across one of the best made serials in the history of Indian television, ever. Bharat - Ek Khoj created by Shyam Benegal, was based on Jawaharlal Nehru's famous book, The Discovery of India. Over the years, I have watched many episodes over and over again, and yet, they never seem to lose the appeal they had for me, when I watched them for the first time, years ago.

Every episode of this serial begins with a chant in Hindi, which goes like this:

Srishti se pehle sat nahin thaa, asat bhee nahin
Antariksh bhee nahin, aakaash bhee nahin thaa.
Chhipaa thaa kyaa, kahaan, kisne dhaka thaa?
Us pal to agam, atal jal bhee kahaan thaa.

There was no truth before creation, and no untruth
There was no space, and no ether.
What was hidden where? And who hid it there?
At that moment, even the bottomless, calm, water didn't exist.

This is Hindu philosophy at its original best, asking questions, and encouraging people to do the same, rather than giving out all the answers. This text, a translation of the first verse of the 129th hymn of the tenth book of the Rig Veda, is in a class of its own, representing that very mind set of our ancestors -- people, who were never afraid to ask. And that recollection, has forced me to ask a few questions of my own, in the last few days -- on life, death, and what comes first.

Last week, my personal hero, Sardar Khushwant Singh, passed away.

Like countless other Indians who are his fans, I had always wished that he lived to be a hundred. According to the books that he recently wrote, it was very clear that he did not want to. Ninety nine, seemed to be where he would end up drawing the line. And a line he did draw.

At first, I did not know what to write about Sardarji. While most of us grew up reading his books and weekly columns, over the last decade or so, we had learned to wean ourselves off from his repertoire. But one thing that had consistently struck a chord with me, was his stand on matters such as politics and religion. Sardarji was a lifelong admirer of the congress party, and an agnostic. Although I am neither, I always admired this trait of him -- knowing where he stood on things, and not being a vagabond of thoughts.

So, when I thought of writing an obituary for Sardarji, I ended up reproducing a poem by Kabir Das verbatim. This fifteenth century pearl of wisdom affirms that while everyone has to die, one should know where they stand on things. And Sardarji knew that quite well.

It must have been very strange for him in the final years. To see that people much younger than him, were dying out. An entire generation of actors, musicians and other people that Sardarji must have written about in his heydays, disappeared before his eyes. While it is not easy to die, it is not easy to live long either. However, when he could write, his work was spirited. Life seemed to appear out of nowhere his sentences, even if they were punctuated with stories of death. Often, reading what he wrote, I was reminded of one of the fundamental tenets of Shaivite philosophy, where Shiva says, "Death itself is the the fire, that begets life."

Based on the various interviews that came out, Sardarji did not lose his sense of humor in his sunset years. To him, the question of life and death must have been like the question of chicken and egg. And nothing beats a plate of fried Punjabi kukkad, smothered in butter, and topped with sliced boiled eggs.

A few weeks ago, I had gone to a restaurant for lunch, and ordered my favorite fare, a plate of chicken biryani. Since I am a regular, the waiters there know what I usually order, and sometimes, double check my food before bringing it out to me. That day, as they were bringing the food out, they kept whispering something to each other, and pointing to the plate. I wouldn't have been surprised if they had chanced upon a lizard in that gargantuan pile of fragrant rice and savory chicken. In a couple of bites, I discovered what they were worried about. Somehow, they had switched orders, and brought out a plate of egg biryani to me. As I pointed out the mistake, about three of the waiters swooped down on my plate, took it away, and brought out a steaming plate of my original order within a minute. If someone has told you that being a good tipper does nothing for you, please ignore them.

After I finished my meal, I remarked jokingly to the waiter that while the world was still unsure about what came first, the chicken or the egg -- I could say with certainty now, that the egg came first. He didn't catch my joke, and as ninety-nine percent of the waiters in India are trained to do, he mentioned rather nervously that he would ask his manager and let me know. In a few minutes, he did reappear to let me know, quite seriously, that no one really knew what came first -- the chicken biryani or the egg biryani. However, he could get me another plate of either, if I so desired.

Now that the great Sardar is gone, I wondered what he would have done in my situation. Unlike me, he was blessed with the pithy wisdom of the fertile land that spans five rivers. I am quite sure that he would have put on a big smile and said, "Dono ke ek ek plate le ao, main pata kar loonga kaun aya tha pehle! (Bring me a plate of each, I will find out what came first.)"

I am sure, that Sardar Khushwant Singh is now sitting in his personal heaven, shaped like a light bulb, surrounded by piles of books and bottles of single malt whiskey. And once in a while, he probably contemplates on deep philosophical questions. Like what came first, the chicken, or the egg.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Goodbye Sardarji. We will miss the malice...


साधो ! ये  मुर्दों  का  गाँव, साधो!

पीर  मरे , पैगम्बर  मरी  हैं
मरी  हैं  ज़िंदा  जोगी |
राजा  मरी  हैं , परजा  मरी  हैं
मरी  हैं  बैद और  रोगी |
चंदा  मरी  हैं , सूरज  मरी  हैं
मरी  हैं  धरनी  अकासा |
चउदह भुवन  के  चौधरी  मरी  हैं
इन  हुन की  का  आसा |
नौहन  मरी  हैं , दस  हुन मरी  हैं
मरी  हैं  सहज  अठासी |
तैतीस  कोटि  देवता  मरी  हैं
बड़ी  काल  की  बाज़ी |
नाम  अनाम  अनंत  रहत है
दूजा  तत्त्व  ना  होई |
कहे  कबीर  सुनो  भई  साधो
भटक  मरो  मत  कोई ||

-- कबीरदास 

Oh Sadhu! This is the village of the dead!

The saints have died, the messengers die,
the life-filled Yogis die too.
The kings die, their subjects die,
the healers and the sick die too. 

The moon dies, the sun dies,
the earth and  the sky die too.
Even the caretakers of the fourteen worlds die,
no hope for me and you.

The nine die, the ten die,
the eighty eight die with ease.
The thirty three crore devatas die,
the march of time does not cease.

The un-named name lives without an end,
there is no other truth.
Says Kabir, listen, oh Sadhu!
 Do not get lost and die. 

-- Kabirdas

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Three Page Obituary

Around this time of the year, every year, I get to catch up on postponed reading.

Things get quite busy at work by the time December is half gone. And then, like many others out there, Dhanno ki Amma and I, go off on our annual break. Then, there are things to catch up on, when the new year begins. Suddenly, around this time of the month, you feel that the year is not new any more -- when someone you forgot, wishes you a happy new year. And that ,somehow, rings a strange bell.

Someone I know, wished me a happy new year today.

And that, reminded me to pick up an old issue of The Economist from December -- to catch up on postponed reading. On the cover, is Mr. Narendra Modi, India's pretentious pretender to the peacock throne, which he will probably bring back, someday. A few months ago, I would have been excited to see him on the cover of my favorite magazine. But now that he is everywhere, all the time -- somewhat like Saddam Hussein in his heyday, or God almighty on a typical day, I was not so excited.

Over years of reading, one develops certain habits. When I was a child, and when my turn to read the newspaper came, I would invariably turn to the sports page first. It was only after I was reassured that my favorite sportsmen were hale and hearty, that I would turn to the front page. Many years later, when I took an interest in politics, the sequence was somehow reversed.

Nowadays, when I open an issue of The Economist, I always turn to the last page, which carries the obituary of a famous person who has recently passed on. I have no idea where I picked up this rather morbid fascination for obituaries -- perhaps, over the years, as one becomes more acutely aware of one's own destiny, one takes an interest in what people are remembered by.

In my opinion, The Economist employs the finest writers in the world, and they really are in their Sunday best, when they write the obituaries. If you don't believe me, you should perhaps read two of my favorites -- those of Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the green revolution and our very own Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. In spite of the fact that these obituaries are top notch, what makes them stand out is that I have never seen them exceed the "standard" page length of one. Perhaps, I have missed an issue or two, when this rule was violated, but then, I tend to remember exceptions quite well.

Imagine my surprise then, when I saw that there was no obituary on the last page of the issue I was reading. And then, when I flipped a page back, I found that the Economist had published a three page obituary. Apparently, one makes an exception, when the departing soul belongs to Nelson Mandela.

Dhanno ki Amma and I still disagree on why Mr. Mandela was given this rare honor. She believes that if anyone deserved a three page obituary, it was him. I still think that what you can say in three pages -- is always said better,  in a single page. However, we both agree, that these obituaries belong right up there, with the Nobel prize, the Oscar -- and the Olympic gold medal.

What makes the economist obituaries more special, is that you never really know, if you will ever know, that you made it to the hallowed last page. Just being exceptional is not going to get you there, you have to be interesting. Now that word itself, deserves closer examination, when the readership consists mostly of economists, who are not famous for being interesting.

If you are an India, trying hard to be on that last page, you have to be someone like Sailen Manna, the famous footballer, or Captain Lakshmi Sehgal of the Indian National Army. Both obituaries, made me tear up the first time I read them. Deep down, in all of us, lies a man or a woman, who would like to be remembered -- not for the wealth or the fame that we earned, but for the things that we stood for, in the life that we lived. When I read these two obituaries for the first time, they made me wonder if the life I was living, was really the life that I would have liked people to remember me by.

Since making it to the last page of the economist is an "award", you have probably guessed by now that I am eventually going to write about which Indian, in my opinion, should get it. And why not, since we are already on that path?!

And this is where I bring in the "two and a half" sardars. God forbid that anything happens to my favorite two-and-a-half, but then, eventually, we all have to go, don't we? So, what's wrong with assessing the "suitability" of my favorite candidates for the hallowed "economist" page?!

I will start with the half sardar -- the angry young man of Indian cinema, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.  I still remember the first movie that I ever saw with Dhanno. She was three months old then, and my wife was having a well deserved nap after handing her over to me. With her on my lap, I turned on the television, and found that the famous dacoit movie, Sholay, was on. I tried explaining to my three month old, why Amitabh Bachchan was the greatest star in Bollywood, and what a great legacy he would leave behind. I remember Dhanno looking at me with her big eyes, and giving me a momentary smile -- many have told me since then, that it was probably gas. And that, brings me to the legacy of Mr. Bachchan. Till recently, he had it going pretty strong, and he would have probably found his way to the last page, but then, I saw an ad on television in which the "angry young man" of Indian cinema was trying to explain what "making charges" are, when you get bangles made for your wife. Now that, Mr. Bachchan, will get you big money, from wealthy jewelry shops. But legacy? ... that is an entirely different ballgame.

The "two-and-a-half" sardars: as Desi Babu would like to remember them.

So, that, leaves me with the two whole sardars -- Milkha Singh and Khushwant Singh. I think both have a real good chance of making it to the hallowed page. I recently saw a very well made movie on the life of the "flying sikh". If nothing else will get Mr. Milkha Singh to the hallowed last page, I am sure that his sobriquet will. And as far as the most malicious sardar in the world goes, I am convinced that Mr. Khushwanth Singh has no equal -- there never was. And if no one lobbies to the Economist editors for a last page tribute to him, I am sure that the beverage industry in Scotland will. 

And then, there is the million dollar question. Will anyone else in this century get the three page obituary, like Nelson Mandela did? Who knows! Look around you, you might just find someone.