Power corrupts…

It finally happened last week.

The event for which our politicians and administrators had been so carefully and assiduously planning for so long, over the course of almost half a century, was unleashed in grand style. It is a testament to the mettle of the people involved that they have pursued this task regardless of the hardships they faced and the money they may have made in the bargain. It is also a testament to the unity in diversity across political parties who got together in pursuit of a common goal in national interest. Despite frequent changes of government, pursuit of this dream continued unceasingly.

The Northern Power Grid collapsed on a Monday, bringing life to a standstill in most of the northern part of the country. As a result, among other impacts:

  • Over 300 trains were disrupted in the affected states
  • Several hundred coal miners were stranded underground
  • Metro train services in the national capital were shut down which, in turn, caused a gridlock on the roads
  • Income Tax returns could not be submitted on time leading to an extension of the cut-off date and delay in revenue for the government
  • Over 600 million people were affected
  • Holiday declared from 3 PM onwards
  • Water treatment plants were shut down

On account of this stellar performance, the Power Minister has been promoted to the coveted Home Ministry.

His next in line have been demoted to inconsequential roles on account of, among other reasons:

  • Only 300 trains being disrupted in the affected states
  • Only several hundred coal miners stranded underground
  • Only Metro train services in the national capital shut down; why was the rest of the public transportation system not electrified so that it could also have been shut down is a question they could not answer convincingly
  • Only Income Tax returns could not be submitted on time leading to an extension of the cut-off date; why were Sales Tax returns not affected?
  • Only 600 million people affected; in a 1.2 billion country this is an inconsequential number
  • Holiday declared only from 3 PM onwards; in a shocking admission, they admitted to letting people work till 3 PM
  • Water treatment plants shut down; unanswered qustion – why no impact on cooking gas?

Justifying the demotion of the people responsible for this state of affairs, a Power Ministry spokesman said “These people been in their jobs for years and had enough opportunity to ensure that this effort did not turn out to be the half-hearted effort it finally turned out to be, like many other similar attempts of the past, sullying the image of the nation once again. Like successful private companies, we want to hold our people responsible to the highest standards of performance, and take strict action against junior employees as and where those standards are not met.”

In a function held to felicitate him on this landmark achievement, the Power Minister lauded the achievements of his ministry. He said that several thousand villages have been electrified, i.e. provided electric connections and joined to the grid. He said it was one thing to electrify villages when you have power to supply, quite another to do so when you don’t have power to supply. His ministry’s achievements were even greater because they have electrified villages without having any power to supply to them.

The crowd broke out into applause.

He said that some misguided people were trying to experiment with solar power generation and stand in the way of development. “We will not let motivated and unscrupulous elements stand in the way of development”, he stated emphatically. In a firm tone he sent out a clear warning to the miscreants and stated, “We are dealing with the situation as it should be dealt with. We are planning to make solar power generation illegal. We have a bright future ahead of us.”

Admitting that he has had to make sacrifices and endure personal hardship over many years in quest of this noble goal, he broke down. His family had ben most affected, he said. He said that his family, as they have always lived in the VIP areas of the city, have had uninterrupted power supply. They have been deprived of the development unleashed on the rest of the country through frequent power cuts. He feared they will be ill equipped to participate in the economic renaissance sweeping across the nation.

In an emotional speech, he said it has been an uphill task to repeatedly avoid facing the facts, ignore correct data, make incorrect projections and parrot out empty promises. It had taken a huge toll on his health and he was happy that he was being moved to a different role which had greater opportunity for the development and welfare of the nation.

With this, he stepped off the stage to a thundering ovation.

(to be continued…)

State of development

The boom-town on the periphery of the national capital has done it again.

The State High Court has prohibited any future permission for construction till the authorities informed it how and from where it would get water for the city.

In a sea of mediocrity in a forever developing nation, it stands proudly as a beacon of development and growth.

It has, swiftly, scaled the final pedestal of the development scale. It has crossed the final hurdle by successfully consuming and eliminating all fresh water resources in its geographical area. And this milestone has been achieved in record time. To understand the magnitude of the achievement, it should be noted that the record so far was held by a town in a western country where it took over a hundred years for the town to finally consume all available water and end the cycle of renewal that nature, till then, was forcing upon the town. In case of our boom-town, it took barely twenty five years. This record is unlikely to be broken in a hurry.

The Chambers of Commerce and Industry felicitated the Chief Minister of the state for this unique achievement.

In a rousing speech to a huge crowd on this occasion, he said:

This has been the result of the vision of our forefathers, because of which, over the last two decades, despite this being a water deficient region, and despite there being no plans for providing water, merely on the basis of empty promises made by successive governments, this city has emerged as one of the most preferred destinations for investors and house-buyers witnessing massive construction due to the boom in the real estate sector in the region.

He paused while the audience clapped and cheered lustily.

This development would not have been possible without the continuing support of big business, with its endless ability to get around  rules and regulations with impunity, and our policy makers and law enforcers, with their unique ability to act tough where no need exists, like mandatorily extending school summer holidays by a week, and look the other way when there is a need to act, like murders and rapes. With the constant support of these two pillars of a vibrant, democratic society, we have consistently built where we should not have and drawn water where there was little available. The result is this vast, gleaming city of high rises, eight lane highways, shopping malls and restaurants, the yardsticks for progress, to match the best in the world.

He paused while the audience again clapped and cheered wildly. He took a sip of water, bottled over a thousand miles away, in a place that had not yet seen any development, and continued:

All of us know how water was being wasted on frivolous uses. Like drinking. When we should have been drinking water from bottles transported from a thousand miles away. As we have done so successfully in the past, we have gone to the root of the problem to solve it. The problem has now completely been eliminated. If there is no water, there is going to be no wastage. We don’t believe in half-measures.

While our development on the water front (pun unintended, we don’t have a water-front any more, as we have become developed) are in the limelight because of this record, I must remind you that our achievements on the other vectors of development are no less stellar.

Amid thunderous applause he took another sip of water bottled a thousand miles away, said thank you to the crowd, waved goodbye and stepped off the stage.

In an unrelated development later in the day, Chief Ministers of other forever developing states, like the one where the water the Chief Minister was drinking was bottled, met together to discuss how they could emulate boom-town’s record of consistent development. At the end of the meeting, they have agreed to set targets for each of their states for choking off all fresh water supplies, reduction in forest cover, and building eight lane highways, tall buildings and shopping malls, in a time-bound programme.

National Service

Amid the din of rising disenchantment about the government’s inability to tackle the economic woes besetting the country, the cabinet met in secret today to approve the new policy for tackling the economic situation.

In a master-stroke, and through a simple declaration, the government has elevated shopping to the level of “national sport”, ahead of cricket, and hockey, which of course nobody knows about. The doors to the riches that only a few successful sportspersons, particularly of the cricketing variety, could hitherto aspire to, have now been unlocked for the common man. A democratic policy, if ever there was one.

This stroke of genius has taken the opposition by surprise. Everyone may not be able to play cricket, but everyone can shop. The opposition has not been able to call the policy discriminatory and one that panders only to the interests of particular group of society, and not society at large. The only criticism they have been able to come up with, so far, is that the government is blindly aping the West without heed to our culture, where, in many countries, shopping is already the national sport.

The logic is simple. The more shopping you do, the more the economic situation will improve. At least for the seller, if not the buyer. This way, even if half the country benefits, the government would have reduced the economic situation critics to half, from 100% of the population to only 50%. Merely through the act of a declaration.

And, even for the buyer, there is hope. The more he buys, the more he will need to borrow. The more he borrows the more he will contribute as interest income to the banks and financial institutions that are essential services in a modern economy and must be made and kept prosperous at all costs. If not, the government may have to resort to using taxpayer money to prop up these noble institutions. The stronger these institutions are, the more people will be able to borrow from them. Hence, buyers should consider this to be equivalent to a patriotic duty.

Spending more is also expected to have a salubrious impact on the work ethic in the country. The more you spend the more you will borrow. The more you borrow the more rich you will feel. The more rich you feel the more you will borrow to maintain a rich lifestyle. The more you keep borrowing the more interest costs you will need to service. The more interest you service, the harder you will need to keep working, well beyond your normal retirement years. The harder you work the more the work-ethic of the nation improves.

In order to give a further fillip to shopping, the government has also introduced a national reward scheme which is based on incentive points for the amount of shopping done. Weightages have been assigned to various product categories normally shopped for, based on how essential the products bought are to the normal person. All essential items like food will have a NIL weightage. Items like jewellery, fourth car, second house, racehorses, yachts, etc. will be in the highest weightage category. Other items like refrigerators, washing machines, clothes, school textbooks are somewhere in between.

In a rare moment of enlightenment, displaying their complete grasp of the situation and the reality of the modern day shopper, the privileges accorded to shoppers in the national reward scheme will be available even for shopping done online.

The reward scheme will be funded through a new tax that will be levied on shopping done henceforth (the committee disagreed on taxing past shopping), and almost seven percent of the money collected through this tax will be paid back in the form of rewards, after paying for the expenses of the bureaucrats and ministers engaged in administering this scheme, and after purchasing new SUVs for them and their teams, to enable them to smoothly handle this added responsibility.

The opposition has finally been able to find fault with the scheme. They have criticised the government for ignoring the interest of the armed forces, engaged in securing the boundaries of the nation. They have said that the armed forces will not have an equal opportunity of participating in this patriotic programme and contributing to the development of the nation, as they are placed in remote areas. This amounts to discrimination. They have asked that this scheme be placed on par with military service in terms of a patriotism index which they have suggested the government set-up. They have also suggested that all members of the armed forces be given a choice whether they wish to serve the country through risking life and limb in armed combat or doing shopping.