The economy is rapidly going downhill. We’re not even the second-fastest growing Asian economy after China any longer. Indonesia and the Philippines grew faster than us in the last quarter. We have one of the highest inflation rates in the world. There’s no coal for power plants. Nobody is investing. Exports are shrinking. Businesses confidence is down, people are losing jobs and farmer suicides are once again making it to the headlines. We are, in short, in the midst of a crisis.
But perhaps I’m being too pessimistic. After all, our leaders have initiated several path-breaking measures to rectify the situation. Here are a few of them:
1. They have reacted swiftly to the Washington Post story calling the prime minister silent and tragic, rightly outraged at this revolting attempt to sabotage the country’s image. The only question is: should they rip the reporter apart and dance frenziedly upon his remains with Nike football boots on a full moon night, or would Adidas be better?
2. They have left no stone unturned to find out the origins of clan Thackeray. Did they come from Bihar or Madhya Pradesh or were they in Maharashtra as far back as the Stone Age? Could they have come in with the Aryan invasions? Were they there when the first humans trekked out of Africa? The nation demands to know.
3. The decision to have quotas for scheduled castes and tribes in promotions is a historic one. We must have quotas in promotions for all castes and sub-castes. Even better, the post of prime minister should be reserved for a member of the Jarawa tribe in the Andamans, as they are the most backward in the country. Their shaman will solve the crisis in a jiffy.
4. Legislators have made the long journey to South America on gruelling study tours. They even climbed up to Machu Picchu to study the ruins of the Inca civilisation and ponder whether India can avoid a similar fate.
5. Some of our leaders have adopted the cunning strategy of going in for a series of scams, in a noble bid to draw international attention away from the collapsing economy.
6. Even in these gloomy times our leaders have not given up their hallowed traditions. Parliamentary rituals such as rushing to the well of the house, exchanging blows and walk-outs have been continued resolutely. True, they haven’t been throwing benches, but you can’t have everything.
7. We must also applaud the blocking of twitter accounts, a heroic deed that saved our society from total collapse.
But I am still troubled. Are these efforts, although admirable, enough? Have we considered the vile problem of dieting, which some eminent leaders have said is responsible for both malnutrition and dengue? Could a virulent combination of dieting, Maoists and the showing of adult movies on television be behind the economic meltdown? The nation needs to debate these things.
Lastly, I have one humble suggestion. Now that everybody knows that auctioning national resources is the way to go, could we please auction all the government land in Delhi? The money will be enough to wipe out the budget deficit many times over and there’ll still be some left over to build a few high-rises to accommodate our leaders. I’m sure they will welcome it, in the national interest.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
(Views expressed by the author are personal)