Off the Record

India Shining


The President of the International Monetary Fund could hardly contain his excitement. Here at last was the vindication of what he had been saying all these years. How foolish all the critics would look. He was particularly annoyed with Amartya Sen. When someone who you considered more or less on the same side started criticizing you, then things were really getting out of hand. He had risked his career on the Structural Adjustment Programme.

It had looked like a bad bet what with all those stupid South American countries going down the drain. But at last, India had bucked the trend. It was doing very well. At least that was what the government was saying. He felt a twinge of apprehension. You could never trust these brown skins….

Well, he had come to see for himself.

A very high-up official from the government of India was accompanying him.

It was none other than Brusque Misshaha himself. As the chauffeur driven car drove off, the President relaxed. Everything was sure to be all right. Through the window, he suddenly saw a group of people squabbling around what looked like a garbage bin. They looked emaciated and had on hardly any clothes. Just like all those pictures the aid agencies used to collect money from the gullible in the west! “What is that?”, he asked in alarm. Brusque hardly glanced at the scene. “Oh,” he said off-handedly, “that is India dining.”

The car stopped at the seven-star hotel where the President was supposed to meet some of the movers and shakers of India. As they were striding into the conference hall, someone tugged at Brusque’s sleeve. It was one of the corporate bigwigs. He wanted Brusque to make a special law to exempt his company from tax. The President was getting jumpy. “What did he want?”, he asked. “Oh, the usual,” replied Brusque, “don’t bother about it, its just India whining.”

The meeting went off well. The President was happy. The mixture of government officials and corporate honchos had shown him various presentations about how well the country was doing. You had to hand it to these Indians. They were really good at computer presentations. They were prepared to do all the tedious programming required to get all those lively pictures. You could hardly get anyone in the USA nowadays to do this kind of work, he mused. “Lets take a walk,” he said to Brusque. He was in good spirits.

They had hardly gone a few steps when he saw a man who was nearly naked getting into what looked suspiciously like a sewage manhole. “What is he doing?” he asked in alarm. Brusque was irritated. This man always seemed to look on the dark side. Just like all the critics of the government. “That’s just India mining,” he said shortly.

Suddenly they were accosted by a group of demonstrators holding placards. They were shouting slogans asking what had happened to the safety net that the government had promised for the unemployed. Before he could be asked, Brusque turned to the President “India pining,” he snapped.

The President was feeling disoriented. Nothing much had shone so far. Suddenly he had a brain wave. “Let’s go and see the Dabhol power plant” he said, “that is sure to be shining.” Brusque was not amused.