UK visa: the fail­ing gram­mar

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - K. Raveendran

KINGS in an­cient In­dia vied with one an­other to pa­tro­n­ise the most in­tel­li­gent and learned per­son in their court. And they had a sys­tem to de­ter­mine who was wor­thy of as­cend­ing that ex­alted po­si­tion: the vic­tor had to de­feat ev­ery­one else in a de­bate, the sub­ject of which could be any­thing un­der the sun or be­yond. To en­sure that the de­bate was held as per the high­est stan­dards, the par­tic­i­pants had to fol­low a well-cod­i­fied gram­mar of com­mu­ni­ca­tion so that there was no gap in un­der­stand­ing each other's ar­gu­ment. Ev­ery sen­tence used in the ar­gu­ment had to meet cer­tain con­di­tions and be free from cer­tain faults so that the per­son sit­ting on the other side un­der­stood ex­actly what was meant by the per­son speak­ing.

To make that pos­si­ble, ev­ery sen­tence had to sat­isfy 18 con­di­tions, which would make it com­pletely in­tel­li­gi­ble to the lis­tener. These con­di­tions com­prised a set of mer­its and faults: ev­ery ar­gu­ment must have the min­i­mum num­ber of mer­its, such as com­pre­hen­sion, or­der, sub­stan­ti­a­tion, con­clu­sion etc while it should be free from a num­ber of faults, for which an elab­o­rate sys­tem of elim­i­na­tion was pre­scribed. So ev­ery ac­cept­able ar­gu­ment must be free from am­bi­gu­ity, pleonasm and tau­tol­ogy; free from bom­bast, in­con­sis­tency, im­pli­ca­tion and im­per­fec­tion as also free from dif­fi­culty in com­pre­hen­sion. The ac­cept­abil­ity of the ar­gu­ment was de­cided by a process of elim­i­na­tion of faults. If the ar­gu­ment suf­fered from even one fault, it was not ac­cept­able.

The rules were so strict that in the mod­ern con­text if among the lis­ten­ers there hap­pened to be a per­son named McDon­ald and the speaker was re­fer­ring to McDon­ald as stand­ing for a burger, it would fail the gram­mar of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and there­fore could not be ac­cepted in the de­bate; so much so that even if the lis­tener per­fectly un­der­stood the point that was be­ing made, he could cite a bias to be con­fused as a rea­son to re­ject the ar­gu­ment. There was ab­so­lutely no scope for am­bi­gu­ity

Yet in day to day life, peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate in sim­ple ways and do un­der­stand each other. So, when young Emi­ratis are ar­gu­ing in favour of equal visa ap­proval rules be­tween the UAE and UK, they couldn't get more gen­uine. They find it in­com­pre­hen­si­ble that while British na­tion­als vis­it­ing UAE could get visas on ar­rival, UAE na­tion­als seek­ing to visit UK have to ap­ply in ad­vance and wait for a long time to know the out­come, which on many oc­ca­sions could mean re­jec­tion. Some of the British ex­pa­tri­ates liv­ing in the UAE also feel that the UK ap­proach is hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

The British con­sular of­fi­cials have de­nied the ex­is­tence of any such bias against Emi­ratis de­sirous of vis­it­ing UK or seek­ing ad­mis­sion in UK uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges. They have ac­knowl­edged that there have been some changes in the pro­ce­dure re­quired for ap­ply­ing visas for UK, but say British uni­ver­si­ties are con­tin­u­ing to tar­get and at­tract students from the UAE.

The con­text for the pos­tur­ing by prospec­tive Emi­rati students was pro­vided by the two-day visit of British Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron to the UAE, dur­ing which the Premier spoke about the part­ner­ship be­tween the two coun­tries built on re­spect for each other's sovereignty. You can't find fault with the new gen­er­a­tion of Emi­ratis for the man­ner in which they are re­act­ing. Their pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions might per­haps not mind it, for, they could see sense in some of the un­stated parts of the pol­icy, but the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion cer­tainly does not carry any hang­overs from the past and, there­fore, has a le­git­i­mate rea­son to feel up­set.

Sim­i­larly, when the UK au­thor­i­ties in­sist that the change is only pro­ce­dural and not sub­stan­tive in terms.of the over­all ap­proach, it does not fully re­flect the sit­u­a­tion on the ground, par­tic­u­larly the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by UAE na­tion­als in se­cur­ing UK visas.

And this takes us back to the gram­mar of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. To use a com­puter and soft­ware ter­mi­nol­ogy, unin­stalling of a soft­ware pro­gramme re­moves the ex­e­cutable files and their ob­vi­ous parts from the sys­tem, but de­pen­den­cies leave their tracks be­hind, of­ten in­ter­fer­ing with sys­tem in­tegrity and frag­ment­ing mem­ory and the reg­istry. It's amaz­ing how faith­fully the com­puter mim­ics the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.??

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