The new Cabinet was sworn in today at a glittering ceremony in the capital attended by some of the best families in the country. Prime Minister Indira the eleventh, who led the party to a resounding victory in the recent elections, looked regal in her zirconium gown as she stepped out of a swanky new space-car.
She had every right to look majestic, for didn’t her family have a lineage stretching back a thousand years? Had she not beaten the Opposition soundly, despite their leader being a Plutonium Man, who lifted weights and campaigned in a sky chariot? Her brilliant tactic in promising free ice-cream to the aam aadmi had won the votes. As she waved to the proles, cries of “Indira the eleventh amar rahe” rent the air.
One by one, other families trickled in. The powerful Pawar family, long an ally of the ruling party and represented by Sharad the twenty third, solemnly took the oath as minister for space. The southern chieftain, Stalin the fifth, was made minister for artificial intelligence. From the north came Farooq the umpteenth, minister for robotics. As is customary, he recited the family’s genealogy before taking the oath. “In the beginning,” he chanted, “was Sheikh Abdullah, who begat
Farooq, who begat Omar…….” and so on and so forth.
Some families represented alliances between political and business empires. The great Deora-Ambani combine was one such and the rumour was that Mukesh the fourteenth had spent a trillion rupees in the election. Detractors pointed to a collateral branch of the family with gas problems that had been exiled, first to Pluto and then to Gurgaon. But that had not diminished Mukesh XIV’s appeal and he won a terrific election battle decimating two cousins, three aunts and a mother-in-law.
Many satraps from Maharashtra were present, including the Deshmukhs, the Chavans and the Shekhawats, the last-named represented by Rajendra the zillionth, descendant of Pratibha the Wise and her son Rajendra the Cherub from the jagir of Amravati. From Andhra came the tenth Jagan the Bold.
The opposition families too were well-represented. The Mundes, Badals, Mahajans and the Scindias were all there. The entire Yadav clan, leaders of the Other Backward Cyborgs, turned up in force, glaring at the upstart Lilawati, who claimed descent from a niece of an obscure ancient chieftain called Mayawati. Looking at these aristocrats, it was easy to forget that it hadn’t always been like this and in prehistoric times ministers were often parvenus, with no family history to speak of. Why, some of them were even journalists! No wonder the country was so badly governed.
Thankfully, all that changed 500 years ago, when India became the world’s first hereditary democracy. Initially there were mixed feelings, with only Kim Il-Sung XIII of North Korea sending congratulations. But the new system was completely in tune with our ancient traditions. Indeed, the hereditary principle was extended to all professions, with the sons of space jockeys, nano-scientists, wrestlers all following their parent’s profession.
Dubbed the Neo-caste System, the new arrangement soon became law. Of course, there are ideological differences, with one faction wanting the eldest son to take over the family profession, while another group roots for the youngest.
In fact, its popularity could easily be seen from the thousands of awestruck proles who had assembled outside the ceremonial hall, their noses pressed against the glass and their mouths gaping open.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal