1901- just in jest! - Babulog Ki Nayi Desi Boli
For instance, if an officer wants to make a file notation to the effect that `No progress has been made in the matter' a state of affairs that is only too common in the labyrinthine corridors of babudom the handy word-list supplied by the home ministry will make the Hindi equivalent available at the official's fingertips: `Iss maamle mein koi pragati nahin hui hai'.
Similarly, `Please discuss' the stock phrase which adroitly sidesteps the awkward necessity of having to make decisions has been translated into `Kripya charcha kijiye'. Despite its user-friendly format, the mini English-Hindi lexicon might face obstacles in achieving `Antim sahmati', or `Final concurrence', let alone reaching the stage of `Aadesh jaari kar diya jaaye', or `Order may be issued'.
The reason is that the southern states are likely to view this as an example of linguistic chauvinism and another attempt by the Centre to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speakers. As such, the whole matter might conveniently get tangled up in `lal patti', or `red tape', that indispensable part and parcel of all bureaucracy, not just ours.
Standard jargon apart, official dom has been known to devise its own secret argot as shown by the story of the babu who kept three trays on his desk, one marked `In', another marked `Out', and the third marked `LBW', which stood not for `Leg before wicket' but for `Let the blighter wait'.
On occasion, however, babus fail to decode the cryptic annotations used by their peers. Urged by colleagues to refrain from using the plural form of the word `ball', which is a vulgarism denoting disagreement, a veteran file-pusher is said to have substituted the expression with the euphemistic phrase `Round objects'.
Whereupon the papers in question were returned to his desk with the notational query: `Who is Round, and what does he object to?' Which suggests that, no matter how it's phrased, in the gobbledygook of babudom `antim sahmati' will always remain a non-work in progress.