(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
As we were discussing last week, the members of our federal council of ministers are a barrel of laughs. It’s not that they aim to be such a rich source of hilarity. It’s the only positive outcome of their actions! In fact, the biggest threat to the UPA isn’t any political opponent; it’s dementia and osteoporosis. So let’s go back to reminding ourselves of their greatest hits:
Our fourth contestant is none other than our Law Minister and a man who hasn’t met a sentence on the internet that he didn’t want to censor, Kapil Sibal. Mr Sibal is man of many talents. He showed us his epic skills as a magician when, as the then Telecom minister, he made the notional loss on the allotment of spectrum disappear. It was all a misunderstanding, he declared. A simple mathematical error. All you had to do was carry the one, subtract a trillion and voila, everything would make sense again. What many people don’t know about Mr Sibal is that he is also a writer of science fiction! In fact, last year, he read out an extract out of one of his fantastical stories on the floor of the Rajya Sabha. In his story, he imagined an India which is more liberal than Europe and America. An India in which the government doesn’t act like a nanny and tells its citizens what they cannot watch, read or think. An India in which the government doesn’t spend a significant amount of its resources clumsily trying to stifle dissent. If only Mr Sibal was in a position to make this possible! Anyway, let’s not forget that Mr. Sibal is also an amateur poet. In fact, his poetry is so moving, it inspired us to write a small ditty of our own about this master of many trades:
There was once an old minister,
Whose every intention was sinister,
His need to censor,
Made his eyebrows grow denser,
And he liked to silence protestors using a tear gas canister.
Our next contestant is Home Minister and the first person ever to ask for a red pen of any colour, Sushil Kumar Shinde. Until recently, Shinde was so unknown outside his home state, even his wife thought he was Vilasrao Deshmukh. Shinde took a big dive into public consciousness last year when under his watch, the northern grid failed and cut power from half of the country for almost three days. A more self-aware person would’ve been humbled and might have voluntarily decided to lower his profile for a few months. But this is the UPA council of ministers. There is no rock bottom here! So, naturally, Shinde called a press conference to announce that he would rate his stint as power minister as ‘excellent.’ And as a reward for his belligerence in the face of reality, he was promoted to the Ministry of Home, because, what could go wrong? Turns out, a lot! But Shinde faced every obstacle with the humility of an IIM graduate who just got hired by Goldman Sachs and the grace of an arctic penguin participating in a hurdle race. Shinde’s stint in the home ministry has been so disastrous, his name is now a verb. For eg: “The look of relief on her face when I dropped her off at her house made me realize that I had totally Shinde’d our date.”
Now, there are men who are born to a life of mediocrity. Men who are born to work, eat and wither away. Men who spend their whole lives without being noticed at all. Men who fall by the wayside, never to be heard from again. Then there are those men who are born into greatness. Men who have destinies to fulfil. Men who by the sheer force of their willpower end up changing the world. Men who are the true heroes of our time. Our sixth contestant – the Minister of Rural Development and ‘cousin Itt’ from the Addams family – Jairam Ramesh, is one such hero. Whenever he has been called upon to shower the less knowledgeable with his golden stream of wisdom, he has always delivered. In fact, he has done that even when he hasn’t been called upon to offer his opinion. Hair Force One – as his friends fondly call him – is kind like that. You know what they say – If opinions are like assholes, then Jairam Ramesh has one for every occasion! No matter what the problem, Jairam Ramesh is always on it! Like when he first denied the existence of global warming and then suggested solving it by getting people to stop eating beef. That’s classic Jairam Ramesh! See, now you don’t have to do anything concrete like closing factories or cutting down on carbon emissions. Doesn’t matter that a vegetarian asking other people to not eat beef is like an Eskimo asking people living in tropical climates to not use air conditioners. Once, Jairam even dared to take on a crazy, cultish breed of human beings who believe that a certain bespectacled boy wizard would be their saviour. No, not the Congress party, silly! He took on fans of Harry Potter. He blamed them for the decreasing population of owls, despite their being no actual evidence to support his claim. Look, he doesn’t really need your “comprehensive” research to know things. If he thinks something is true, then it is. This is what separates him from the less knowledgeable. That, and the dense rainforest on his head.
(. . . To be continued)