Me: I see you’ve got a spanking new department, sir.
Babu: Eh? No, no not spanking — it’s a brand new department — the Department of Bans. I’m the government’s Banner-in-chief. They call me Swami Banananda. You see, our ministries simply don’t have expertise in banning. We need a new department whose core competence is bans. Let me show you around.
Me: Thank you, Banana-ji.
Babu: It’s Banananda. This is our Porn division. Folks here work 24X7 surfing the net, looking for porn. They really hate porn. Jose here is the expert on sado-masochism.
Jose: They must be tortured, caned, chained, whipped.
Me: Very impressive.
Babu: And this is Mina. See anything new, Mina?
Mina: There’s a site called IMF, probably stands for Indecent Male Fantasies. And one called UNDP, obviously an initialisation for United Nations Department of Porn.
Babu: Great work, Mina. Let’s move on. This is our films and TV division.
Me: What do they do?
Babu: They look for bannable things, like the BBC’s ‘India’s Daughter’, or TV channels showing anti-national stuff. Also English entertainment channels to ensure they’re bleeping out all the cuss words. Anything new, Rohit?
Rohit: A channel called CNBC keeps talking about the bottom line.
Babu: Ban them. This is the NGOs section. We have a separate group for Greenpeace. As you know, they’re extremely dangerous. If the US had Greenpeace when they were developing, do you think they could have become a great power? Look at what the Greens have done to Japan. The poor chaps have to eat raw fish.
Me: Terrible, terrible.
Babu: Here is our foods section, working hard at banning beef, Maggi, eggs in mid-day meals and alcohol. Even the opposition wants alcohol banned.
Me: Could you leave out single malts please.
Babu: Eh? We’ll see. Shammi is in charge of our books division. Found anything, Shammi?
Shammi: Some weird writing by a guy called, tastelessly, Sheikh Spear. Plays called ‘As You Like It’ and ‘King Leer’. Very suggestive. And there’s one I feel shy to tell you about, sir.
Babu: But you must, in the national interest.
Shammi: It’s called ‘Coriol-anus’, sir. There’s also a dirty book on mobile phones called Mobi Dick. It’s written by a chap calling himself Her Man. Her Man Melville. They say Mobi Dick is a sperm whale.
Babu: Oh my God. Ban it immediately. Our social media banners are currently on study tours abroad — one in Pyongyang, another with the Taliban and a third in Beijing.
Babu (sobbing bitterly): No, no, it’s not wonderful at all. Let’s face it, we are pathetic at banning things. We dither, we make a fool of ourselves. We just aren’t bossy enough.
Me: There, there.
Babu: I must be strong.
Me: Pleasure talking to you, Banana-ji.
Babu: It’s Banananda. My name is actually Banerjee.
Me: Of course. Banerjee from Bangalore?
Banerjee: Of course.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed are personal