Sir John Sawers, the head of the British intelligence agency MI6, has said that poor pay and less recognition is "putting off" new recruits in the agency and now they are unwilling to risk their lives for the country.
ANI, London, July 24
"The name is Bond, James Bond," he said, as he settled himself at the bar overlooking Copacabana beach. "A vodka martini for you sir, shaken not stirred?" asked the bartender respectfully. "Hell, no, not at these prices, do you have any hooch?" As the astonished barman shook his head, James’ old pal Felix Leiter, the CIA guy, walked up to the bar. "Two beers," said James to the bartender, adding that he hoped Felix would pick up the tab. "It’s got so bad I can’t afford a beer," he explained bitterly. "Yeah, this recession has really hit the spying business," said Felix, adding that the Agency hadn’t paid his booze bills for months. "Last month," said James, "I had a little Kobe beef and a blowfish sashimi for lunch and they said I should have had a sandwich instead." "I haven’t had a raise in the last five years," grumbled Leiter. "They’ve even banned me from entering the casino," moaned Bond.
That was when the phone buzzed. "Message from M. She wants me to go to New Delhi immediately. Something must have happened," said 007. "Take care, James," said Leiter, "don’t do anything rash, you can’t live on a miserly disability pension these days."
Bond made his way to the beach, idly looking at a gorgeous girl in a bikini. "Why, it’s James, isn’t it?" cried the girl and he recognised her clairvoyant eyes, eyes that changed with the light from grey to grey-blue. "Good God, if it isn’t Tiffany Case," said James, ‘I haven’t seen you since Diamonds are Forever." They walked down hand-in-hand to the beach, where they had a glorious time splashing about in the water and sharing reminiscences. "Your room or mine?" said Tiffany, after a bit. "What do you mean, my room," said Bond, "MI6 doesn’t pay me enough to afford a hotel here. I’m staying at a bed and breakfast up in the favelas — the slums, you know. Let’s go to your room." Tiffany looked at him incredulously for a while. "You should have kept some of those diamonds, James," she said, before turning and walking off.
Despondently, James bought some peanuts and hopped on a bus to the airport, from where he caught a low-cost flight to Delhi. At Indira Gandhi International airport, he was greeted by his old friend Q and both of them got in an autorickshaw. "M’s waiting to see you, James," said Q, "she is putting up at a hotel in Paharganj." On the way, James asked Q about his latest gadgets. "Oh, we can’t afford fancy stuff nowadays, but I’ve made a nice poison-tipped spear. And guess what, I’ve developed a bullock cart that can fire arrows."
M met them at the hotel. "James," she said, "I’ll come straight to the point. We’ve decided to outsource your work to India. I’m sorry, but you’ll get a decent severance package. Could you please surrender your 007 badge to Mr Sri…Sri..er…why don’t you meet him." James turned to find a smart young chap wearing a shirt and a veshti, with a poison-tipped spear tucked under his arm. "The name is Srinivasavadivelu, TR Srinivasavadivelu and I take my coffee stirred, not shaken," said the new 007.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. Views expressed by the author are personal.