Chidambaram’s comment that the Indian middle class is willing to splurge on ice-cream and mineral water without fuss, but protests against a small increase in the price of wheat and rice, has raised a tremendous hue and cry. To gauge the mood of the people, I have conducted a nation-wide survey. Here are the results:
Mineral water consumer: Why did Chidambaram single out mineral water? Why not Coke or Pepsi? Was his statement inspired by the shadowy international cola cabal? The Research and Analysis Wing must investigate this.
Fitness expert: I think Chidambaram is absolutely right about us eating too much ice-cream. Do you have any idea of the number of calories they contain? But I’m disappointed he didn’t say anything about healthy alternatives like goat cheese.
Congress worker: Why on earth can’t he keep his mouth shut instead of fanning these controversies? He should learn from Manmohan Singh.
Beauty Queen: He’s absolutely right. We need to protest less and instead soothe ourselves with ice-cream. That way, we’ll get world peace.
English teacher: I’m glad he used the plural personal pronoun, subject case, to imply inclusiveness. I refer, of course, to his use of the word “we”, when he said, “We are prepared to pay R20 for an ice-cream cone”. It’s possible, though, he was either using the royal “We”, or referring, not to him and us, but to himself and God.
Swadeshi kulfi-maker: Trust the home minister to draw attention to an imperialist fad like ice-cream, instead of promoting our swadeshi kulfi.
Psychologist: He’s so insensitive. For example, when they shoot tribals suspected of being Maoist, they should at least kill them sensitively.
Journalist: Why is Chidambaram speaking about the economy? Obviously he wants to become the finance minister. By that one statement, he’s subtly elbowed out Anand Sharma, shoved aside Jairam Ramesh, caught the eye of Manmohan Singh, pushed out Rangarajan and jolted Montek. It’s a masterstroke.
Kolkata resident: Chidambaram mentioned wheat, rice, ice-cream, mineral water, but did he mention fish? Nope. I find this very fishy.
Fashion designer: I resent being lumped with Chidambaram when he says “we”. I would rather be dead than belong to a group that includes him and his terrible dress sense. I mean, that shirt and dhoti, day after day, good God.
Foodie: Which ice-cream was the minister talking about? Was it a chocolate fudge sundae or a lemon-butter-and-coconut ice-cream? Both of these would be a steal for R20.
BJP supporter: Narendra Modi would never have made such a silly statement.
Kirana shop owner: I want to thank the minister for his tip. I’m shutting my kirana shop and getting into the ice-cream and mineral water business.
Tippler: I’m disappointed he said nothing about booze prices. A lot of us get our calories from booze, you know.
Trinamool Congress supporter: This wasn’t Chidambaram. It was the CPI(M) talking through him.
Former history student: Chidambaram takes his place among arch-villains like Marie Antoinette, Voldemort, Darth Vader and TR Shanmugavadivelu. That last guy? He’s my evil boss.
Lalgarh labourer: Who’s Chidambaram? What’s ice-cream? Can I have some?
Manas Chakravarty is consulting editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal