With ears glued to the FM radio, I listened, transfixed, as reasons were trotted out for being proud of one’s country. It has been impossible to miss the advert on FM while driving, these last few weeks.
Equally compellingly, the advert asks you, as a proud countryman, to register with the National Population Register (NPR), which will become the single source of identity for all. Quite a doable task, as opposed to unrealistic expectations of FM and TV adverts in the past drumming up patriotic fervour either for fighting the enemy on the borders with guns and bullets, or for helping the cause of women in the country by changing our parochial, paternalistic outlook, or even for contributing generously towards flood relief.
Coming in the wake of the volley of messages sent out by the Unique Identity Authority (UIDAI) that has been set-up to collect data on each individual that will form the single source of identity for all, appealing to the patriotic spirit in each individual and asking them to register with UIDAI, the message was particularly compelling.
Now we have not one, but two institutions that will be the only source of identity for all.
This wise use of national resources is expected to give a boost to the sagging economy by generating needless employment for millions. Once the two databases are ready, a third institution will be created to ensure that the earlier two are aligned. A fourth is likely to be created to handle cases of conflict between the two.
But I digress.
Even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.
Even though the present times are not necessarily the darkest, hope has nevertheless surfaced through the unlikely medium of the FM advert alluded to earlier.
This FM advert tells you, among other things, that you should be proud of your identity as a citizen of this country, because, plans for a Moon mission nothwithstanding, we have now planned a mission to Mars.
This message has rekindled the hopes of countless. In every discussion, at every streetcorner or office corridor, the clinching argument often is “so what if we haven’t completed our Moon mission, at least we have been able to plan a mission to Mars”.
Experienced space watchers see this as the dawn of a golden age of space exploration for the country.
The bolder amongst space-watchers have forecast that within twelve months of the announcement of the Mars mission, without reaching Mars or having done anything towards reaching it, we will be ready to announce plans of a new, bolder mission. It is likely to be a mission to Jupiter, the largest planet.
Then, within twelve months of that, without reaching Jupiter or having done anything towards reaching it, we would have planned for yet another newer, and even bolder, mission. A mission to the edge of the Solar System, an area about which little is known.
Thus, in a span of barely three years, the country would have progressed from the insignificance of a planned Moon mission to the exclusivity of a planned mission to the edge of the Solar System.
Richer countries with greater resources have taken almost half a century to go from Moon to Mars.
Reverberations of this startling development can be felt all around.
For one, it has given a boost to the country’s flagging fortunes in many different sports.
The country’s football association, which had made plans of trying to beat one of the neighbouring countries, none of whom with a distinguished record in the sport, and move up from 147 to 145 in world rankings, has announced a bold new plan. Of taking on and defeating Japan and Korea, the two highest ranked Asian countries in the sport, in the Asia Cup.
It is a timely plan as the country is unlikely to qualify to play in the Asia Cup. This will give a further fillip to the game in the country as this will enable the association to soon announce plans of beating Spain, Brazil and Germany, probably the three most consistent performers over the last two years, in the next World Cup. Again, since we know we have not qualified, it keeps options open for a further rapid rise of the game in the country.
From planning to beat neighbouring countries, minnows in the game, we have progressed to planning to beat Spain, Brazil and Germany, possibly the three most powerful teams in the world today. All in the space of a few months.
The Finance Minister, in the meanwhile, under attack for not delivering target growth numbers, is making plans for achieving growth numbers double that of the realistic plan.
General elections being around the corner, all major political parties are busy making plans…