National Anthem

Taking its role of acting as executive, that has not been granted to it by the Constitution, that needs to issue unilateral and unprovoked orders, normally the sacred duty of the elected government as per the Constitution, and not merely being the arbiter of disputes, its duty as enshrined in the Constitution, with an earnestness  unseen in bureaucratic circles of the country,  the Supreme Court has ordered that “all cinema halls in India shall play the national anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem” as a part of their “sacred obligation”.

As is expected of democratic institution in a republic, they have provided a logical explanation for their action, “And this is how it is because we say so.”

The bench added that doors of the halls will remain shut during the anthem so that no disturbance is caused and so that patriotism, and love and affection for the country, can be voluntarily and spontaneously displayed by people. It further decreed that natural calamities like fire and earthquakes be prohibited from striking during the time the doors are shut because of the national anthem being played.

In issuing a statement that cannot be fathomed by anyone, the bench has displayed enviable command over the language, “Time has come for people to realise that the national anthem is a symbol of constitutional patriotism…people must feel they live in a nation and this wallowing individually perceived notion of freedom must go…people must feel this is my country, my motherland. The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instil the feeling within one, a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.”

“And if you don’t feel, we will make you feel”, the bench has clarified.

The court order, in order to ensure complete transparency in implementation and resolution of disputes, does not entail any penalty or punishment for not standing when the national anthem is played and hence everyone will know exactly what is to be done in cases of non-compliance.

During the hearing, the bench observed: “Universalism is alright but little still Bharat is the epitome of culture, knowledge… gyaan and vigyaan…people must feel this is my country…who are you? You are an Indian first. In other countries, you respect their restrictions. In India, why can you not have restrictions in larger good.”

“Moreover, our university education in law and subsequent practice as advocates and judges uniquely positions us to issue unilateral and random directions and decide who is showing love and respect for the motherland and who is not. Besides, it also gives us the right to make a judgment about other countries without any responsibility for its veracity.”

The Opposition is up in arms and has contended that this move is for the benefit of one individual, the popular movie producer Karan Johar, whose latest offering, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) barely managed to hold the audience for 15 seconds. By introducing the national anthem, the audience will stay in the hall for at least a minute.

The Delhi Chief Minister has asked for evidence from the judges of them having sung the national anthem when they were in school.

Taking a cue from the Supreme Court order, a district court in Maharashtra has decreed that the Supreme Court ruling will apply not only to in-cinema screenings but to any movie being watched anywhere by an Indian. Hence, as an example, all airlines carrying Indian passengers must ensure that the Indian national anthem is played each time a passenger starts an in-flight movie. Moreover, the “seat belt” sign should not be switched on so that people can stand when the national anthem is playing. After all, one cannot allow them to stop being Indian wherever they are. This court, like the Supreme Court, has issued these directions out of love and respect for the motherland.

In another court in Allahabad, the honourable judges have mutually decided that the time has come to screen the footage of the final of the 1983 ICC Cricket World Cup before every movie, to instil a deeper sense of pride and patriotism. Moreover, all present for the movie would be obliged to stand during the 7-hour footage to show their patriotism.

Patriots who do not watch movies are up in arms.

A letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoes the sentiments of many similarly disenfranchised:

“Dear Sir, I am thoroughly disheartened by the judgment of the Supreme Court. I do not watch movies. How will I display my love and affection for my country? I have faithfully been urinating on the roadside, jumping queues especially where seniors and children were in line, and using vulgar language in public places. Clearly, in the new world order, that does not cut mustard anymore. I need to do more. I don’t watch movies. Please restore my right to display my patriotism.”

Being a responsive government that works for the common man, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting of the senior cabinet ministers that included Home Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Narendra Modi, at his house late at night to address the situation.

In a remarkable display of having their ear close to the ground, the high-powered team issued a note late at night that requires all banks to play the national anthem in a perpetual “loop”.

Home Minister Narendra Modi, in response to a media query, has clarified, “We have decided this in the interest of the nation. After all, from 9th November, the entire nation has been standing in a line outside banks, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What better place to promote patriotism than at banks?”

To ensure that no individual is left behind in patriotism, the legislative council of the state of Madhya Pradesh has decided that henceforth the national anthem will be played each time a shopper enters a grocery store. “If you are not standing in a bank queue, you perhaps already have money some of which will surely be spent at a grocery store”, they have rightfully surmised.

A body blow has been dealt to the terrorism industry with the Supreme Court mandating the singing of the National Anthem before every movie. In the latest episode of Mann Ki Baat, the PM has shared, “It is widely known that Hindi movies are popular with terrorists. Not being patriots, they will not stand up when the national anthem is being played and can easily be nabbed. He asked patriots to not share this plan with non-patriots.”

Jan, Gan, Man…

Face to Face

ECS (name changed), one of India’s largest IT companies, probably the largest, engineered a coup of sorts a few years back when they setup a female-only BPO unit in a country in the Middle East, well known for its treatment of women.

They engineered another coup when they got the Indian PM, during his recent visit to the country, to visit this Centre.

As we all know, conditions and regulations in a host country need to be respected. Even if you are the PM of a big nation. The Indian PM, full marks to him, has never been known to be non-accommodating, especially where uninterrupted oil supplies are at stake.

Though it was a secretive visit, with no coverage in the media, for obvious reasons, some photos of the PM’s visit to the centre seem to be emerging.  We bring these images to the readers of darkofficehumour for their reading and watching pleasure.

Remember, you saw them here first.

The PM walking in with the CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons, the majority owner of ECS

The PM walking in with the CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons (name changed), the holding company of ECS

PM having High Tea with staff, alongwith serious discussions

PM having High Tea with staff, alongwith serious discussions

A worried CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons wondering how to locate the PM in the crowd

A worried CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons wondering how to locate the PM in the crowd

The PM in the crowd

The PM somewhere in the crowd

 

Moment of alarm as an unidentifiable object sighted in the background; subsequent investigations revealing it to be a male of the species

Moment of alarm as an unidentifiable object sighted in the background; subsequent investigations revealing it to be a male of the species

 

Management team of the Centre standing separate from the staff, like in any self-respecting organisation

Management team of the Centre standing separate from the staff, like in any self-respecting organization. These people are quick learners!

Posing with the PM. Looks like an amateur photographer!

Posing with the PM at the end of the visit. Looks like an amateur photographer!

 

These images underscore the importance of this visit. From the expressions on the faces of the participants it is clear that historical changes are afoot.

Remember, you saw it here first!

Traitors

“Hold your horses woman. You will have us exiled before we can say Singapore. Or Equator. Or any three syllable word for that matter. Or even two. And our patriotism questioned to boot.”

My wife was complaining about the short but harsh winter in Delhi and wondering how nice it would be to be in an equatorial climate like that of Singapore at this time.

I looked around furtively to make sure we were not within earshot of anyone. In a country of 1.3 billion, it can be a task. Even inside your own house.

“Do you think our great leaders think about foreign climes when faced with harsh weather, whether it is the winter of Delhi, monsoon of Mumbai or summer, again of Delhi? Do you think Dr. Ambedkar, the founding father, and mother (I added as an afterthought lest a zealous, nameless, self-appointed guardian of something or the other label me something or the other) of the Indian Constitution, was never faced with harsh weather in his life? Do you think he dreamt of sunny equatorial climes?” I confidently added, knowing fully well that she would have no idea what our great leaders thought but did not express. Neither did I for that matter, not being one of the omniscient, zealous, nameless, self-appointed guardians of something or the other who somehow always know exactly what a great leader of the past, dead long since, thought and meant, even though he, or she, is not known to have ever shared that particular thought.

I was on a roll. Seasoned husbands would understand the rarity of the moment when one gets to pontificate to the better half. I was not about to let go.

“Be gone!

Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,

Pray to the gods to intermit the plague

That needs must light on this ingratitude.”

I would have assailed her with Shakespeare’s lines but discretion got the better of valour, knowing that she was adept at assailing me with many other lines, from Shakespeare to Sachs. I continued with a more sedate “Then what right have you to think? Do you want a bounty on your cheek, with some unit, publicly chided and privately rewarded, of a political party, offering a reward to anyone who slaps you, as has been done for Aamir Khan? Or do you want another political party to book our tickets to a neighbouring country, as, again, has been done for Aamir Khan?”

She kept quiet. Even though the last idea would have sounded tempting, considering our free travel, while looking busy and important, has stopped ever since I stopped working for large corporations.

It could be because the Sheena Bora murder case trial is playing out in the media. It can be a challenge when two issues of national importance occupy your mind.

The second, of course, is the case of Aamir Khan, Bollywood superstar, who, during an interview, when asked about the issue of rising intolerance in India, stated, frankly and honestly it seems, that his wife Kiran Rao had suggested moving out of the country fearing for their children under the conditions the country currently is in.

As it is a matter of national importance, and being everyone’s business to decide what Aamir Khan and family should and should not feel, and say, this comment was not taken lightly by many who targeted the actor for spreading fear instead of thinking about his influential status before speaking. Their unambiguous message to him was, “India is a tolerant country, and you better apologise for what you said. Or else….”

We have always known that wives can get you into trouble.

Anupam Kher, a popular Bollywood actor, took it upon himself to lambast Aamir Khan for his views on intolerance and called him unpatriotic, giving rise to the Kher law of inanity:

Expression of intolerance = Intolerance

Intolerance = Being unpatriotic

Hence, Expression of intolerance = Being unpatriotic

He is understood to be on course for a Nobel Prize.

Kher has been followed by many other actors, supporting one view or the other.

The teeming millions, already on the bandwagon of giving opinions when none are required, are freely taking sides. Some are criticising Aamir. Some are defending him. Some are doing both. And some are doing sometimes one and sometimes the other. Their self-belief is so strong, their courage of conviction so remarkable, that they follow whichever wind is blowing at the moment.

Now, I have never been blamed for being lucid and clear in my thought processes. But this controversy has left me even more thoroughly befuddled.

Is Aamir Khan expressing his views an expression of intolerance? Of what he perceives to be a rising tide of bigoted right-wing views.

Or is that tolerance? Of the national fabric by expressing concerns in a public forum, like a concerned citizen.

Is Anupam Kher lambasting Aamir Khan’s views an expression of intolerance? Of another person’s point of view.

Or is that tolerance? Because he is being intolerant of someone he perceives as being intolerant of the tolerant national fabric.

If the teeming millions criticise Anupam Kher, are they being intolerant? Of the views expressed by another countryman.

Or are they being tolerant? By being intolerant of the intolerance demonstrated by him on the statement of Aamir Khan.

If they support Anupam Kher, are they being intolerant? By being tolerant of the intolerance demonstrated by him on the statement of Aamir Khan.

Or are they being tolerant? By being tolerant of the intolerance demonstrated by him on the perceived intolerance of another to a tolerant national fabric.

Clear?

Meanwhile, as the debate rages on, our world is coming crumbling down around us. Pillars of society, both individuals and institutions, are turning out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have been surrounded by traitors all this while, as is now becoming clear.

Big, public banks, for instance.

A well-known Indian businessman has accused banks of being intolerant. According to him banks have become intolerant of loans not being paid back. This is not the country our founding fathers, and mothers, wanted to create, he has lamented.

The well-known Indian businessman, for instance.

He is thinking of moving overseas to a more tolerant society. Is he so intolerant of the intolerance of banks?

The Indian diaspora, for instance.

They were intolerant of the lack of opportunity and overbearing politicians and chose to make a life elsewhere. It now transpires that the Prime Minister has been wooing an unpatriotic group ever since his party assumed office at the Centre a year and a half back. The PM is in a state of shock. His record-breaking accumulation of air-miles is at risk.

Youngsters trying to bring in change through their efforts, for instance.

Why do they need to bring in change? Are they intolerant of the suffering and misery they see around them?

The government, for instance.

It keeps talking about its intolerance of corruption and black money. Have we voted in the most unpatriotic government ever?

What about Mahatma Gandhi?

Was he intolerant of the opportunity in India, going to South Africa to practice law? What does that make him? What about his intolerance of the British rule?

Of course, many others are chipping in.

Taslima Nasreen, noted Bangladeshi writer, says Aamir Khan should be glad he is living in India and not Pakistan or Bangladesh, which are far less tolerant. Yes, we know. India has a great soccer team because it is ranked above Timor-Leste and Bhutan. And it only narrowly lost to Turkmenistan in the World Cup qualifiers.

“Whatever be the case, don’t be a traitor. Stop thinking. Start obeying”, I concluded, taking advantage of my wife’s silence.

Unemployment – the secret revealed

(…in continuation of the post titled “Death of unemployment” published on 18th November, available on https://darkofficehumour.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/death-of-unemployment/)

The next day, the President reached the Prime Minister’s office a good thirty minutes ahead of schedule, such was his curiosity to know the answers. He was pacing up and down the venue waiting for the Prime Minister (PM) to arrive.

The PM tottered in at the appointed time. Wise beyond his age, ninety-three at that time, a pre-condition for assuming public office in the country, he took one look at the President and smiled. He knew what was bubbling beneath the surface. He had been there before.

“It is a cultural thing”, the PM said, after the usual pleasantries had been concluded, with a faraway look in his eyes, and, without waiting to see the reaction, added, “and it has taken us centuries, nay millennia, to evolve to the present state of being.”

The President blinked and rubbed his eyes, as if he was seeing an apparition. Who was this man? He was already answering the question that he, the President, had not even asked.

“I have to thank my countrymen for what we are today. Not just today’s countrymen, but all those who have been their forebears as well, as they have played an equally important part in our development. We are an ancient civilisation. We know how to respect our ancestors and our elders, except when they become old and dependent on us.”

The PM was speaking very softly. The President drew his chair close. Soundlessly. So as not to disturb the reverie the PM seemed to be in.

“Some people laugh when we talk about our ancient civilisation and culture” the PM said, seemingly with some rancour, “but we do not take offence; we know that they do not know what they do not know.”

The President could sense that he was in the presence of greatness. It was going to be a momentous occasion for him and his countrymen. Brutus’ lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar were playing inside his head:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

He dared not interrupt. He could sense that he was the “we” in “On such a full sea are we now afloat”.

“Tell me”, the PM asked, “in the place you come from, sorry I am not good at remembering names, do people form a queue when faced with a counter which they need service from?”

The President was, by now, in a daze, listening to the soft voice of the PM. He did not respond.

“Do people form a queue when faced with a counter which they need service from?”, the PM repeated, in a slightly louder tone.

“Huh, what, what did you say?” is all he could say.

“Do people form a queue when faced with a counter which they need service from?”, the PM repeated, patiently, even indulgently, if one could be permitted the luxury of being indulgent with the President of the most powerful nation.

The President was now alert. He thought for a bit and said “of course” in a business-like tone.

The PM smiled. That was the answer he had expected. He continued, “in all your travels around the world, other than our country, have you ever seen cars travelling the “wrong way” on a clearly marked one-way street, and honking loudly so that cars coming the right way can get out of the way?”

The President thought for a while. “No” he said after a few moments.

The PM smiled. That was the answer he had expected. He continued, “in your country, if you make a request for which you are given an assurance of service by a certain time, do you get informed by the service-provider in case, for some reason, the service cannot be completed as originally committed?”

Seeing that the question was not clear, the PM was nothing if not perceptive, he repeated, “Say your washing machine is not working and you call the repair service who tell you that the engineer will visit you between 2 and 4 PM the following day. Say something comes up in the morning on the following day and the engineer is unable to visit and needs to reschedule. In such a case, will the service-provider contact you and inform you of the same?”

The President was fully alert now. He immediately responded with a prompt “always” and added with some vehemence, “and he will, in all probability, also apologise for the inconvenience”.

On hearing the response, which was on expected lines, the PM could only smile. “Apologise! Inform!” He inwardly chuckled at the strange world the President lived in. With a straight face, he continued, “in your country, is it common to throw your garbage in front of the neighbour’s house, or roll down the glass and throw trash out of your moving car onto the road?”

The President was fully alert now. He immediately responded with a prompt “never”.

He had warmed to the “quiz” format adopted by the PM. He had been a good quizzer in his student days and had won many accolades for his quizzing exploits. Since becoming President all he had received were brickbats. He saw this as a chance to win some accolades. He even looked around for the “buzzer” in case it was part of the format, but did not find one.

“How about talking loudly on the phone in a cinema immediately after an unambiguous message asking patrons not to, has been played on the screen?”, the PM continued, “does that often happen in your country?”

“Never ever”, the President responded firmly, and added with pride, “others in the hall will lynch them if this happened”.

The PM leaned back in his chair and smiled. Again.

The President smiled back.

The PM smiled once more. “What do you see in these examples? When a person at a traffic signal breaks the queue he is in, and boldly drives forth in the lane meant for oncoming traffic hoping to get through first, effectively and completely blocking traffic on all sides, he is making a statement. Do you know what it is?”

The President’s shoulders drooped. He had confidently answered all questions pertaining to his country and people. But he was out of his depth when confronted with a question about people in another country. His quizzing record would be sullied, he thought.

But the PM did not let that happen. He continued, “he is stating that he is the smartest person on this planet and all others, standing in line on the right side of the road, are fools.”

The President nodded. He felt like Po sitting at the feet of Master Shifu, learning the secrets of kung-fu in order to defeat Tai Lung.

“Similarly, when he is throwing garbage anywhere outside his own house or car, he is demonstrating his love for the land; it is as if it is all his own where he can do as he pleases.”

“And do you know what happens when several hundred million people, each of whom loves the land in the same way, is the smartest on the planet and believes all others are fools, get together and interact?”, the PM quizzed again.

The President was veering towards saying “magic”, “new inventions”, “pushing the frontiers of human development”, and was still searching for the right term when the PM’s voice rang out, “Chaos”.

“Total utter chaos”, he repeated. “And do you know what needs to be done when that happens?”

The President was now out of his depth. He stayed silent.

“Every activity needs to be done again and again because it cannot be completed. You would have spent two hours before realising that the repair engineer is not showing up. You will then call agin, set-up a visit again, and then wait again on the next such occasion. Every interaction needs to be supervised and monitored. For every person manning a counter, we need a dozen guards to manage the melee at the counter, as each person spends five times the effort and time in getting his work done first, as compared to meekly and merely waiting his turn in a queue.”

Even while the PM was speaking the President was turning the incidents around in his head; he was a multi-tasker par excellence; he had not become President by being a single-tasker. And it began to dawn on him. He could see the light. He could see that all the examples given by the PM created a virtuous circle of inefficiency and employment. The less people followed rules and guidelines, the more people will be required to manage processes and situations.

The PM could see the halo around the President’s head. He knew he had got it. To drive home the point that it is not merely the latest fad, but a characteristic that is intertwined with their very identity, he added, “we discovered this secret long ago, and we have to thank our ancestors for faithfully passing on the practice from generation to generation.”

“So this is the secret”, the President thought to himself.

“We don’t sit on our laurels”, the PM continued softly. “It is a process of continuous improvement, as Mr. Welch may have explained to you. Newer generations are upping the ante and rewriting the rules. In keeping with the energy and enthusiasm of their generation, they have started exhibiting advanced patterns of behaviour which is being called bipolar behaviour order (BBO) by scientists. People endowed with BBO will exhibit all the behaviour patterns I have talked about but, at the same time, roundly criticise others for displaying exactly the same behaviour. For example, if you see a short queue and join it to await your turn, and you see someone jumping the queue to get ahead of you, you are likely to launch a vitriolic attack on the absence of manners in that person, the jumper. However, on a different occasion, when you are the jumper, you will provide logical excuses for why you had no other course of action open to you, such as ‘you were in a hurry’. We have no doubt that this recent development will lead us to the next phase of human development”, he completed.

The President drew in his breath. This was becoming too much to handle. He had come seeking a few answers and what he was getting was a whole new way of life.

“Our responsibility to the future generations remains undiminished”, the PM added. “Our adults are showing leadership by inculcating these habits in their children from an early age”.

“But how do you ensure more than a billion people behave in the same manner?” the President could not help asking.

The PM did not immediately respond. This was always a sore point. A black spot on an otherwise immaculate record. He took off his glasses, wiped them on his coat sleeve and put them back on. With his head bowed, as if in shame, he said, “There are still some people who resist. They will stand in line at a counter. Stop at a red light on the road. Call you back on their own even if it is to give the customer bad news. We call them coconuts here. Ever seen a coconut?”

“Yes, yes”, the President said enthusiastically. He had grown-up in some tropical locations and he had happy memories of those places.

“Just as the coconut is brown outside, like our skin colour, and white inside, like the skin colour of  many people living in the western parts of the world, these people, though they look like us, pretend to think like the people in the western part of the world think, which they believe equates to standing in queues, giving way, showing courtesy to old people, etc., hence the nickname ‘coconut’”, the PM explained.

The President complimented the PM on the clever use of the coconut. The rest of the world had only discovered the edible side of coconuts.

“We have tolerated their destabilising tactics with good humour, in view of our culture and ancient civilisation. But it cannot go on forever. We are, and I share this in confidence, in the process of enacting a law to deal effectively with people demonstrating such form of unacceptable behaviour.”

As the time scheduled for the meeting was over, the PM has thanked his countrymen once again for the state of affairs where so many attendants have to be deployed, even for simple interactions, and so many tasks redone. “It is a cultural thing”, he explained to the President, “You guys will take generations to reach this state of self-centredness.”

The President was no more as upbeat as he was the previous day. He had realised that to achieve the same level of employment generation would take a cultural change, which could be difficult to implement and can take time, putting his next presidential campaign in jeopardy. He could see his vision of employed countrymen becoming dimmer.

The PM, seeing the despondent look on the President’s face, wanted to help. He said, “But we can help. We can export people so that you can fast-track the cultural revolution. Though there are reports that our past exports have been corrupted by prolonged exposure to the host environment and not had the impact we would have liked, we assure you that the newer strains of people are more hardy and are guaranteed to deliver the promised results.”