Saturday, October 11, 2003
R  O O T S

Now words

BHAG means an ambitious or difficult plan or goal. BHAG is an acronym for the phrase ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’ that was given recognition by Stanford professors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras for their book Built to Last, published in October, 1994. Earlier, Jim Collins had used BHAG in an interview with Tom Brown. (On the edge with Jim Collins, Industry Week, October 5, 1992) Collins said, "There are two basic parts of an effective vision: First is a "Guiding Philosophy" — a set of core values and principles like the Declaration of Independence. Second is a bold mission, or what I like to call a BHAG — a big, hairy, audacious goal — like our national goal in the '60s to go to the moon by the end of the decade." If a company says, "Our BHAG is to revolutionise telecommunications technology on the earth" then that company has some way to determine up and down the line whether people are doing things consistent with that vision.

The global epidemic of obesity has given the neologism, globesity, a blend of global and obesity, coined by the World Health Organisation. "Paradoxically coexisting with under nutrition, an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity — "globesity" — is taking over many parts of the world." (Controlling the global obesity epidemic, World Health Organisation, 1998). According to WHO, even with the presence of under nutrition, the earth’s citizens are gaining weight and slowing down, with 750 million overweight adults and 300 million obese people.


Globalisation is not always a happy trend, feels the globophobe, the person who despises or fears it. And, for every globophobe, there will be the globophile, cheering on the globalisation of the world and enjoying it.

Before the world became aware of President Bush’s special phobia, the American press had recognised it and even accepted the neologism applicable to it. "Now that September is here, President Bush can launch his ‘initial public offering’ of stock in his newest product, iraqnophobia," wrote John Roberts (Bush's war talk hides economic woes, letter to the editor, The Tennessean, September 14, 2002). Recent events ensure that iraqnophobia is here to stay, soon to be seen in a dictionary near you, as an unusually strong fear of Iraq, especially its ability to manufacture and use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Iraqnophobia began life as a play on arachnophobia, an unusually strong fear of spiders. It holds the potential to become a politically charged term that becomes a kind of symbol for one side of a debate, used as it has been in 12 different avatars in the media.


Sanskrit emerges as a now language when one looks at the influence it exerts on so many alive and kicking languages. To take an example, look at the word patang, meaning kite, which children launch in the sky. The word comes from Sanskrit where it was not the paper kite people fly in the sky. In Sanskrit, patang came from the base word that meant ‘anything that flies or jumps’ and was consequently used for a bird, the sun, a ball or a balloon. Seen from the perspective of flight, around 1500 AD, when the kite or guddi came to India from the Muslim world, an enterprising language user named it patang. This word is today found in Marathi, Gujarati and Kashmiri as well as in the same sense of kite.