Humko AIDS Maangta!

By Dev Nadkarni

Acronyms are all over the place. It’s amazing how many you can find in newspapers, signs, ads and even everyday speech! Between themselves, two English dailies published from the city mention MP, MLA, AP, VSNL, BSNL, BATATA, VRS and TRP in their news reports on a single day!

“My friend from the FTII told me that the GSD show is at the SSPMS grounds and not at the AFMC premises as you told me when we were eating SBDP on FC Road,” I overheard a friend talking to another on the phone. Look any which way –and you will see acronyms flying thick and fast. Truly, WAANATA (We Are A Nation Addicted To Acronyms).

We have acronyms or what most Indians call “short forms” for everything everywhere: from R. K. Puram in New Delhi through GTB Nagar in Mumbai to NIBM Road in Pune. Along the way, you’ll run into the whole gamut from AASU to TDZ with MSRDC, PCMC, SIDBI and TNTDC in between. We have so many of them that often they lead to hilarious mix-ups.

A few years ago, our cricket fans brimmed with joy when the headlines announced that strict action would be taken against the BCCI. What fun! At least, we’d get a new crop of selectors who’d rise above petty regionalism (AP, MP, UP) when they put a team together. But unfortunately for Indian cricket and its die-hard fans, the BCCI that was brought to book was the famous international bank of the same initials –not the Board of Control for Cricket in India!

Then again, a few days ago there was a report, which said that India still had a huge BPL population. Now that, I thought, was tremendous progress. Imagine such a big population with white goods from BPL –fridges, cell phones, boom boxes, the works! I was quite disappointed, though, when reading between the lines revealed quite the opposite: BPL in this context meant “Below the Poverty Line”! I won’t be surprised if someone was to coin another acronym for the nation’s poverty-stricken floating population: “BPL mobile”!!

And avoid talking about VDIS (Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme) and TDS in the same breath –at least in Pune. While “Tax Deducted at Source” is what the latter stands for in the rest of India, in Pune it stands for the favourite watering hole, which you may head towards after finishing your VDIS paperwork (if you still have some moolah leftover after taxes!).

Acronyms indica, if ever published, would be voluminous. But we desperately need an aid to find our way through the mega-jumble of Indian acronyms. Like AIDS, for instance. All India Directory of Shortforms, that is.