Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wrong Views & Stale News

By Charles Chasie

* George of the Bush

President George Bush has been giving off the impression that he has been affected by film characters. It is not clear whether President Bush has been watching “George of the Jungle” but he certainly seems to be aping Tarzan. One or two say that Superman is really his hero. But by and large the consensus view is that although the name may inspire him, Superman really is too polished and sophisticated for Bush.

`Bush’, loosely translated in Hindi is “jungle”. And all agree that President Bush’s behaviour has often been quite “jungli”. Further, wherever he sent his forces, a new Junglisthan emerges which is immediately baptized “Forestville”, and the action explained away in the name of Democracy. Perhaps, because all these names have so much to do with Hindi, Urdu etc., he has also been trying to play Ping Pong with India, not realizing that China could play the game much better.

On the other hand, India, in her infinite wisdom as the only surviving ancient civilization, has been showing off her pride and prestige. There is also the issue of India’s Aryan roots and European (White race?) connections. So, in the true traditions of Chanakya, believing that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, India decided to keep president Bush happy especially because there could be goodies at the end of the day!

To India’s disappointment, President Bush, who comes from the American Conservative South, suffering from Identity Crisis as a result of his continuing delusions of grandeur about his ancestors’, with huge plantations and slaves galore and being “Masta” of everything they surveyed, and not a little peeved about the Confederates having lost the Civil War, Bush stuck to his “jungli” ways! To be fair, the Left Parties in India also played spoil sport. As practitioners of theoretical concepts, the Left parties are always very strong on principles except where Russia and China are involved.

So, sworn ideological enemies that they are, Capitalist Bush and Indian Socialism collaborated magnificently to keep Indo-US relations simmering. And now, with President Bush blaming India for earning more and eating better, the relationship is just about ready to begin its slide downhill.

“Wrong Views & Stale News” was interested about this curious development because “Indo-US Bhai Bhai” has been going on for nearly 10 years, cutting across BJP-Congress ideological lines – no need to remind that Congress banned the BJP as Communalist. A call was made to the White House – many people now call their houses, “White House”. In a rare gesture, the Chief of Staff himself took the call and candidly spoke to our correspondent for a little over an hour.

It would seem that President Bush is having a terrible time about having become a lame-duck president in this election year and especially because the Democratic presidential race has eclipsed everything and everyone, including him, except the free-falling US dollar. President Bush knows he has become a lame-duck president but he just refuses to accept it. The result is that sparks are flying everywhere. The only way he could keep his visibility in public and assure himself that he is still important is to keep raising the stakes all the time.

It appeared that Bush had initially wanted to take on both India and China because they are potential challengers of the only superpower in the world and, therefore, part of the Axis of Evil. But his advisors reminded him that he had already expressed support for the Olympic Games in Beijing – Dalai Lama be damned for being such a pain... And China can potentially break the US economy if it decided to retaliate with a war-like mood, just like Bush, without giving a damn about the consequences to the Chinese and the rest of the world. So India became the `soft’ target and got blamed for the rise in global food prices – Bush later hailed the publicity stunt as a complete success as he made headlines all over the world.

“Why should India have such a huge Middle Class, earning so much more now, and why can’t they remain with modest wants as they did when India was poverty-stricken not so long ago? America was so much more comfortable when India was poor” President Bush was said to have shouted at a top secret meeting. One of those at the meeting mentioned the opinion in the rest of the world that Americans should reduce their wants/demands. He was shouted down. The idea was preposterous and simply unacceptable. How could Bush destroy the famous American Dream and the sacred image of America as the most powerful nation in the world? The thousands of body bags returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is a sacrifice that has to be paid. “Let it not be said that we surrendered our great American Heritage!” Bush thundered after Dick Cheney whispered something to him. An American Indian at the meeting was seen muttering something to himself. Of course, no one heard it.

The Chief of Staff further informed that a revised strategic plan for US world domination has been worked out despite the fact that there might be a Democratic President in the White House before too long. President Bush’s exceptional optimism was roundly applauded by all. Clearly mellowed by all the applause, President Bush invited the White House band to come into the meeting hall and play Hail to the Chief, a thing never done before. But the meeting itself, including the list of people who attended it, were declared State Secrets, to be revealed only after 30 years. The CIA was charged with the responsibility of going out to different countries and asking if anyone knew about the meeting.

“Wrong Views & Stale News” was curious about GoI’s reaction to all these. Our Correspondent was sent to Delhi on the Company’s private jet. Our intrepid Correspondent immediately went to the railway station and interviewed a sweeper, who claimed to have very close relations with those in power. Information carefully gleaned and filtered from bus stations and other public places corroborated the report.

It appeared, the GoI is fully seized of the matter and meetings have been taking place continuously about Bush’s intemperate statements. Quite angry, one minister even referred to President Bush as “Jungli George”. But his colleagues did not like it. One minister felt such language was unbecoming of an ancient civilization like India. Another reminded the meeting that president Bush had spectacularly contributed to India by making the word “terrorism” fashionable. All agreed that as a responsible country, India must carefully consider all possible options. A resolution was taken to set up a GoM committee, but the question of which ministries should be included was left to be decided in the next meeting. The MEA wants foreign relations to be its exclusive domain. But other ministries don’t agree. The Finance Ministry even threatened not to release funds unless it was part of it.

As in Washington, the meeting and whatever transpired therein was declared a national secret. Anyone revealing it would be branded `anti-national’ and `terrorist’. Because of this, “Wrong Views & Stale News” editorial board deliberated the matter for over three hours but, finally, decided to release the report in the larger interest of the public and for the sake of press freedom.

* * *


* Ibobi’s Wild West

Meanwhile, nearer home, there is disturbing news from war-torn Imphal. The reports that Manipur Government plans to arm the civilian public against the `insurgents’, `militants’, `hostiles’, `rebels’ etc has surprised everyone in the State and outside as such a step would put the public in the frontline of the on-going war in the State. It is also a clear admission that the machinery of State has failed and that the Ministry has no moral right to continue in office. Thankfully, there is always the option of President’s Rule in a democratic country like India.

However, reports allegedly emanating from sources very close to the corridors of power in Imphal say that there is no reason for anyone to take such news reports seriously. It seems that the hungama was unnecessarily created by some unidentified anti-national elements for their vested interests. What has lent credence to this vicious propaganda is the fact that chief minister Ibobi Singh has recently been giving the State Library and book stores in Imphal a hard time with his insatiable demand for new cowboy novels and movies.

Last heard, all the Manipur Houses in different cities have been directed to be on the lookout for Western movies, novels etc. that the chief minister has not as yet seen or read and for the chief minister to be immediately notified of any new titles – a 24 hours help-line has been set up in the CM’s office for this. In case of specially exciting titles, the officials have been authorized to charter planes to Imphal and deliver the CDs, films, novels etc. personally to the chief minister so that they do not fall into the hands of anti-national elements or delay delivery by possible lightning road blockades on National Highway 39 by Nagas, landslides or any other eventualities.

“Wrong Views & Stale News” was interested in what may have triggered this sudden obsession in Ibobi Singh. Our roving investigator could not be sure. But sources who claimed to be close to the corridors of power, among the rickshawallahs in Imphal, informed him that it all started with the good intentions of a close friend of the much harried chief minister. Knowing the endless troubles, and sleepless nights, Ibobi has been having, this friend wanted to make the chief minister relax and showed him the Western Classic, “The Seven Magnificent Men”. But, instead of relaxing, the chief minister was so enthused by the film that he got emotionally charged and was moved to action! Happily, our investigator-correspondent, from his hide-out, deep inside war-torn Imphal, informs that this issue may blow over soon as the “high command” may not allow the hungama to continue much longer for the sake of the people of Manipur.

(The writer is a Kohima-based syndicated columnist)
(Courtesy:The Northeast Herald)

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