Speaks and troughs
‘Sell, sell, sell,” shouted a stockbroker, as images of the prime minister speaking in Parliament flashed on his TV screen. “Things must be really bad for Manmohan Singh to start speaking,” he quavered. Manas Chakravarty writes.columns Updated: Aug 31, 2013 22:03 IST
‘Sell, sell, sell,” shouted a stockbroker, as images of the prime minister speaking in Parliament flashed on his TV screen. “Things must be really bad for Manmohan Singh to start speaking,” he quavered. In dealing rooms across the country, traders watched open-mouthed as Dr Singh talked.
Stocks fell, the rupee tottered. Matters took a turn for the worse when the PM became emotional. When he poignantly asked whether there was any country other than India where opposition members shouted “prime minister chor hai,” grown men wiped tears from their eyes. But an Opposition MP couldn’t see what the fuss was about, pointing out, “Obviously they can’t shout that in foreign countries, because they don’t speak Hindi.”
Far away in a planet circling Betelgeuse, an alien android said sadly, “He’s angry. That shows he’s definitely human.” His companion android clucked sympathetically. “Pity,” he said, “I was coming around to the opinion, from watching him closely all these years, that he was one of us.” One by one, they tore down the pin-ups of Manmohan Singh they had lovingly put up on their walls.
After the emotional outburst, things became calmer as the PM said the usual boring stuff about the economy getting better. Later, when the BJP walked out, people realised that things were back to normal and let out a huge sigh of relief. The markets rallied. “I’m so glad the PM has emotions,” said a lady, “I’m looking forward to seeing him on the Oprah show next.”
Meanwhile, politicians were busy analysing the PM’s speech. “I was so proud when the PM asked, rhetorically of course, whether there was any other country where legislators disrupted Parliament so much,” said a beaming legislator. But a SAD lawmaker said parliamentarians in Ukraine had the distinction of hurling eggs, punching people in the face and being carried out on stretchers after fist fights in the legislature. “They even use smoke bombs,” he said admiringly. A Shiv Sena MP said legislators in the South Korean Parliament had attacked each other with hoses, sledgehammers and fire extinguishers. “We are no match for them. The PM was only trying to make us happy,” he said despondently.
“The reference in the PM’s speech to constipative easing was cool. It’s a big problem for some of us,” said a Congress politician. “The point about the narco-economy was awesome,” gushed a DMK chap. “Narco-economy?” queried a sceptic. “Yes,” said the DMK guy, “he talked of maintaining a narco-economic framework friendly to foreign capital inflows”. “Ah. He must be talking of foreign investment in the opium trade,” said the sceptic. “I was reassured by the PM saying the fiscal deficit will be kept at 4.8% of GDP, or Gross Demand for Potatoes” said a politico who had bought his economics degree.
“The problem”, explained an economist, “is that the government will have to attract foreign investment to finance the yawning current account deficit, prune the fiscal deficit while spending tonnes of money on the Right to Food, ensure investment while facing the delays in the Land Acquisition law and get inflation down while having high rural wages, all of them together. It’s a task even God can’t do.” “But Rajnikanth can,” said a fan. “So can Modi,” said a worshipper. “Upon what meat doth this our Modi feed, that he is grown so great?” asked the economist. The worshipper said he was vegetarian, and the economist turned away, deeply disappointed.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal