THE STATE OF THE NATION
Vol 1, issue 1
Godhra Fire an Accident.
Following the not-so-surprising revelation that the Godhra fire was an accident and not the perpetration of a 2000-strong mob which had gathered around the coach and actively participated in ensuring that the firemen did not, literally, dampen the entertainment, the Indian Railways has now issued statutory warnings to all passengers.
A senior official with the organization, under conditions of anonymity, explained that the official line would be, “All passengers, irrespective of whether they hold valid tickets or not, should also bring a fire extinguisher along with them. The Railways will not provide for those who may perish in the case of any fire.”
When this enterprising reporter asked him how a twenty-tonne steel crate could catch fire, he gave a long list of items. “Petrol burns quickest,” he said, “Just refer to UC Banerjee Report on Godhra for proof. Of course, diesel and kerosene should be just as inflammable. On the other hand, though, we have discovered that cigarettes and matchsticks can also cause infernos. And our researchers have recently discovered that magnifying glasses can also start fires. But, please tell the public not to panic. We will be banning spectacles on trains shortly.”
When asked about other potential hazards, he replied that a ban on cigarettes was unnecessary since only seven out of ten passengers smoked within coaches.
A suitable escape plan provided by another official from the Patna railway station was to let the livestock travel within the coach while the owners rode on the roof. “There is little danger of electrocution,” he pointed out, “since none of the electricity lines carry any current.”
Govt will not pay salary in February
The Union Government, it is learnt from reliable sources who wish to remain anonymous, may not be in a position to pay its employees their salaries for the month of February. When contacted, an official of the Dept of Expenditure confirmed that they were facing an acute shortage of money at the moment. “It is the result of the economic policies formulated by the previous Government,” he explained, “We have had no time to correct those wrongs.”
In response to a question that it has been over six months since the UPA hobbled to power, he clarified, “Well, we had to spend some time informing PC sir about the state of our finances. Since he was always in conference with comrades from the Left parties, we spent quite a lot of time explaining why we couldn’t issue scholarship grants to naxalites and 99% reservation for backward classes and communists. Jyoti Basu sir especially wanted to be named the Chairman of the Planning Board, but we managed to put him off.”
When it was pointed out that the micromanagement of finances should have been a clerical responsibility, the contact informed us off the record that seven of his superiors are away on long leave. Three more may go off at any moment on maternity, and two more are awaiting their next attacks.
Before we left, we congratulated, on behalf of the media, the man on his rise from a chai-wallah to an LD clerk… but, humble wallah that he was, he attributed it all to Telgi and his magic press.
King Suspends Democracy
It is the opinion in some circles that King Gyanendra should not be blamed for suspending the democratic process in Nepal. “Poor fellow, we really sympathise with him,” said a close confidant of National Security Advisor MK Narayanan. “Everyone was giving orders in Nepal but himself. The Naxals open and close the highways whenever they feel like it, the Chinese chase the Tibetan refugees whenever they are bored, the politicians are always in India for this meeting or that, Myanmarese businessmen run the best – or worst – brothels, ISI walks in and out, and the US satellites keep taking pictures of the King in his privy… can you really blame him?”
However, the same contact added after a moment, “As a democratic country, we really have to speak up for democracy. That way, we can show that we still love Gandhiji and Nehruji, emulate Vajpayeeji, speak like Manmohanji, praise Laluji…”
Another contact at the Research and Analysis Wing, who was brushing up on IB procedures when we reached him, admitted that the suspension of democracy was a bit extreme. He produced a tenth standard history, pre-Joshi, textbook that the agency keeps as a standard of reference, turned to the section on Indian royalty. “Six hundred and fifty seven kingdoms. Just imagine the situation if democracy in India were suspended…”
Dr Hormese Tharakan, recently elevated to the top of RAW, informed us that the agency was monitoring the situation. “However, we cannot reveal our thoughts at this juncture. All traffic on this affair is confidential.”
The US Consul-General in New Delhi was more forthcoming. “We have asked the Indian Government to supply us with two strategic airbases – preferably as far away from Car Nicobar as possible – so that we can be in a position to launch peremptive attacks on Nepal in the shortest possible time. In return, we have promised to outfit all MIG’s of the IAF with state-of-the-art parachutes and bailout manuals.”
When contacted, Dr Tharakan had this to say about a possible invasion. “No comment.”
Musharaff Promises Return to Democracy
Close on the heels of the coup in Nepal, Gen Perverse Musharaff has publicly announced that a new, democratic Constitution and Government will come into existence in Pakistan as early as 2010. “I have initiated discussions with those politicians who are still alive and in Pakistan. However, most have been too inflexible, unfortunately, on the point that there will be only two national parties in Pakistan. At the same time, as the CEO of Pakistan Undercorporated, I cannot accept more than that number of parties.”
Warming up to the topic as the session went on, the General later clarified, “Generally speaking, one party will be called the Pakistan Nationalistic Party. In order to remove corruption and politicising of the pillars of democracy, the retiring Army General will be the Chairman of the Party. I’ve modeled this party on the American Republican Party, which won the election in 2000 running against prosperity, stability and reputation. Bush-bhai has promised me that he will inaugurate the office once we capture Osama-bhai.”
The second party will be called the Musharraf Democratic Party. “In order to ensure that there is never any split in the Army if two Generals led the two parties, I have decided to appoint myself as the life-time chairperson of the party. If, in the instance that one of the numerous attempts on my life is successful, my son – or my closest kin thereafter – will take over the reins of the party.”
On the peace process with India, Musharraf retorted that Pakistan cannot trust India to keep its promises. “Just look at your leaders,” he pointed out. “When have they ever kept promises?”
Gen Musharraf also mooted the idea of a South-Asian currency. “Pakistan is perfectly capable of prinitng the necessary money,” he claimed. “Why, last year, we printed most of it for India.”
The only sign of anger the general showed was when Baluchistan was mentioned. “Why do you keep on bringing it up?” he asked the journalist from the Islamabad Times. “Why don’t you write about Gujarat riots for a change? Besides, we are quite secure in Baluchistan. Only fifteen of our soldiers are killed on any given day. That is nothing compared to what the Americans lose in Iraq or we cost the Indians in Kashmir.”
When the reporter persisted, the General gestured to one of his associates who made the reporter stand up before he shot him. The conference, however, was not perturbed by such usual occurrences.
Towards the end of the interview, the General sneered at some Indian reporters. “Just you wait,” he cautioned, wagging a finger. “We managed to get rid of the Pundits. We’ll get rid of your Sayeeds too.”
Ever since Parrikar removed a minister from his Cabinet for being too corrupt – or allegedly so – the Chief Minister of Goa has been on borrowed time. Although he managed to scrape through in the House, the Governor SC Jamir announced that he had lost his favour, and the Cabinet was dismissed summarily.
Parrikar has promised to vindicate himself within the week. He also showed an inclination to move the Supreme Court, but rumours are that the VHP pressed him to wait until the SC manages to take a concrete stand on the Kanchi mess. Parikkar had this to say about his possibly-illegitimate successor. “He is not just A Rane, he is an Always Ran-e!”
A senior aide to the Governor implied, off the record, that the Governor was merely establishing the Indian trait of loyalty to the hands that once fed him. Other quarters charge him with bending before the Congress party.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for the immediate restoration of democracy in Goa. “The fate of thousands of tourists hangs in the balance,” he expressed, “Any threat to democracy will be met with violence, which might harm those tourists. I urge the Government of India and Mrs.Sonia Gandhi to immediately deport SC Jamir to Iraq and restore the indigenously-elected government back to power.”
On the other hand, Portugal, who ruled Goa for a few centuries, have announced their desire to take their old colony off Indian hands for a few more centuries. When contacted, PM Manmohan Singh had this to say, “We will have a press conference after my meeting with my leader, Smt. Sonia Gandhiji. She will decided whether we give Goa to the people, to the BJP or to Portugal.”
A source at the Italian embassy, however, has informed us that the little state might be leased to Italy by next month at the latest.
*Announcing the return of the kidnapped students, the RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav took a post-poll dig at his opponents. “See! They say the law and order situation is bad. If that was true, the boys would not have returned alive.”
*Vakkom Purushottaman delivered Kerala’s Budget 2005. Others have called it the Joke 2005.
*Minister for External Affairs, Natwar Singh, will visit India sometime next week.
*K Karunakaran to be next Andaman and Nicobar Governor.
*AK Antony to work with Russian Andrei Kalashnikov to invent a new anti-backstabbing device. It will be called AK ME2!
Railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has announced that starting with the fiscal year of 2005, the Railways will begin phasing out its mechanical and electrical engines in exchange for a more “efficient, fuel-conservative and cottage-industrial” method. According to the latest indications, no fewer than seven hundred bullocks have been requested from Britain. Lalu Prasad will provide the fodder out of his own account for the first 100 days.