Turnip: Welcome to the Crapola News Network. Today today today, we show you how India’s democratic system is furthering entrepreneurship and enterprise. We have with us someone who has come up with a business model unique to India. Welcome to the show, Mr. Rao D. Tell us about your model.

Rao D: Thanks Turnip. I am quite excited about it. I always believed that in our democracy, political parties and other bodies which aspire towards political power need to efficiently outsource their violence and goondaism to professionals. I mean, they’re politicians…their job is to screw things up….so obviously, efficient execution of anything, including violence, is not their forte. Well, I provide that service.

Charkha: Rao D, I take exception to your statement. I have no truck with this kind of statement so reminiscent of the politician-bashing middle class.

Rao D: Charkha, this has nothing to do with the politician-bashing middle class. It is a case of politicians bashing the middle-class. There’s a difference, so there’s no need to take offence.

Turnip: Are you are you are you saying that politicians can’t be violent?

Rao D: Of course they can be…but, being politicians, their violence is not result-oriented. Very inefficient. We, on the other hand, promise more bang for the buck. Hire us, and if you have to inflict violence on someone, we can take it to any degree you want: bruises, a broken bone, a few broken bones, a fractured skull etc. If you want an office vandalised, we can again deliver great results, depending on how much you pay: from a few windows smashed, to furniture and fixtures damaged or even completely destroyed to total arson ….we aim to please.

Turnip: Well, all that is fine, but why should a party spend money and come to you? Mob violence is supposed to be what these parties are good at.

Rao D: Why is any job or function outsourced? For efficiencies and savings. They may be good, but we are better. We train our employees well….there are specialisations, and depending on the kind of job you want, we send in the best. Political parties do not have our depth of experienced talent. We save political aspirants from maintaining an active, violence-ready political cadre, since sustaining such a cadre is an expensive job, particularly in this age of changing loyalties. Besides, it is our people who now risk arrests and prosecution, leaving the politicians free to make political mileage without fear – either fear of physical harm or fear of sharing the spoils. Again, given the very fragmented nature of our politics, very few parties have any kind of geographical reach. We, on the other hand, have an all-India reach….so your democratic protests are not confined only to your neighbourhood stronghold. Finally, in all our events, our media tie-ups ensure maximum press coverage. We have devised a proprietary algorithm that tells us, depending on the scene of action, where to place banners and posters for optimum coverage and impact. So why wouldn’t someone come to us?

Turnip: But now it is your employees who face possible lathis and prosecution. Surely that is a problem?

Rao D: Not at all. First, the police are always inactive when it comes to protests like these. Besides, even assuming they do their job once in a while, we retain the best lawyers and politicians, so diluted chargesheets, bail and extended paroles reduce the problem. Very often, we manage not to have a complaint registered at all. But we don’t worry too much about it. Our people know it is an occupational hazard. And with so many angst-ridden youth in India, staffing is never going to be a problem.

Turnip: Let’s come back to your business model. So you make money, but where is the scope for growth and expansion? Isn’t isn’t isn’t the outlook infructuous?

Rao D: Are you joking? We are going to see more and more of this in the future. It’s boom time, baby! This is going to be the only acceptable way of democratic protest in India. There will always be some neta Somewhere who will be upset with Someone about Something. Our projections show very healthy growth in earnings over the next five years. And all of it is from domestic demand. We are not worried about any slowdown or recession in any other country, or even in India. In fact, my business is also counter-cyclical…..trust me, Turnip and Charkha, your shares are going to be very valuab…..

Turnip: Ummmmm, that’s all we have time for. Thank you for joining us. Time for a break, but when we come back, do we also love Obama very much? More importantly, does he love us? Find out, as we cover strategic aspects of the PM’s US speech. Only on the Crapola News Network.

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Turnip: Welcome to the Crapola News Network. Today-today-today, we try and predict who will form the next government. That, quite literally, is the billion dollar question. The Co-Co-Congress, to keep the BJP out, will ally with anyone, including the Left, Amma and Behenji, unless each of these decides to ally with someone else, like the BJP or the Third Front, except that the Left will not ally with the BJP, even if they may ally with anyone else to keep the Congress out, unless they want to keep the BJP out, in which case they’ll ally with the Congress as well, unless the Congress wants to maintain its alliance with Mamta, in which case they won’t, which means that the BJP will ally with anyone willing to ally with them to form the government, including Mamta, Amma, Behenji and Naveen Patnaik, unless some or all of these decide to ally with the Congress to keep the BJP out, or with the Third Front to keep both the Congress and the BJP out, which means the Third Front constituents will ally with whoever is willing to ally with them to keep everyone else out, unless they ally with the Congress to keep the BJP out or with the BJP to keep the Congress out…and that will bring us back to Do! Sharad Pawar and Behenji will ally with whoever can increase their respective chances of becoming PM, though Behenji could also be swayed with the promise of a thousand statues. Mulayam will ally with anyone who can dismiss Behenji’s democratically elected government, Laloo will ally with anyone who will withdraw the cases against him, allot him the railway ministry again, and allow his family to run riot in Bihar, Amma will ally with anyone who will take down the DMK government and lob a few shells across the strait. Manmohan Singh is the UPA’s candidate for Prime Minister, unless allies like Sharad Pawar decide otherwise, in which case he is only the Congress candidate, unless Janpath decides otherwise, in which case someone else will be the candidate unless Rahul Baba says ‘yes I can and I will’ in which case he will be the Congress candidate as well as the UPA candidate. Simple, isn’t it?

Charkha: Yes indeed, Turnip. Clear as mud. But the simple-minded viewers we cater to don’t really get it. They feel this whole process is confusing, convoluted and badly in need of reform. Whatever. Anyway, to appear fair and even-handed, we also want to present the other point of view. So, exclusively on Crapola News Network, we have Quirky Indian to explain a process of electoral reforms he has in mind. QI, thanks for swinging by.

QI: No problem, Charkha. I was hanging at a nearby tree. Well, my ideas are very simple. First, let the electorate in every constituency decide how much their collective vote is worth. This is the reserve price, and the constituency is then auctioned to the highest bidder. The money received is then equally distributed amongst the voters who voted to decide the constituency’s worth.

Once all constituencies are auctioned off, there will be a grand auction where bidders can win the right to form the government. There will be a Minimum Qualification Fee to form the government, as well as additional fees for every ministerial post the new government wants. The money thus collected again goes back to every citizen who bothered to vote…….

Turnip and Charkha (interrupting): But QI, your suggestions, apart from ensuring that every citizen has an equal share of the monetary pie, so to speak, actually make democracy in-in-infructuous, and will only lead to the complete corruption of democracy. Do you realise what this means? That people are paid for their votes, that their votes will actually be bought, with no thought to issues or governance or performance. That parliamentary support for government formation and ministerial berths will all be paid for and these democratic assets will be traded like in any other market, that there will be no accountability, no focus on development and governance and that elected representatives and ministers will now seek to recover the money spent on these various auctions … ……wait a minute, isn’t that exactly…….

(Very, Very Long Pause)

Turnip: Ummmm, thank you for watching the Crapola News Network.

I have never felt more proud to be Indian. What a great night! Slumdog Millionaire, that most Indian of films, won a slew of Oscars and vindicated the creative genius of 1.2 billion Indians. I don’t know about you, but I choked with pride when the 265 strong contingent went on stage to receive the Best Picture Oscar, though the presence of some non-Indians in that group irritated me. Especially that gora making the speech. What was he trying to do, steal our thunder? Typical of the Brits, trying to appropriate an Indian movie as their own.

I know that some of you spoilsports have probably ODed on the euphoria, but I haven’t. I consider the almost non-stop coverage in India of this historic win, to the exclusion of any other news, deficient. It seems the media have a problem with Indian pride. This was an Indian honour, as much as Sunita Williams’s ascent into space and Bobby Jindal’s assumption of the governorship. India Rules, said quite a few websites and TV screens. Indeed it does. Why grudge us our moment of triumph?

And what a triumph! A film shot in India, with Indian actors, an Indian music composer, an Indian sound mixer and based on a book written by an Indian – what more proof of Indian-ness could one ask for? What’s that? Did someone say director and producer? Let me tell you, Dannyji has very strong India connections. He lived in India while the film was being shot, his people lived here for centuries (at least till 1947) and hey – curry is his favourite food! And India has also produced the film, because, as we all know, the wealth of Britain came from India – when we were the greatest country in the world and all that. So the money used to produce the film is actually Indian. Therefore it is an Indian film. QED.

Sonia Gandhi, the PM and other notables have swung into the felicitations game, and Chidambaram is planning to exempt Rahman – and only Rahman – from any tax in case the Academy does decide, in an unprecedented break with tradition, to mark this momentous occasion by giving ARR some cash as well. Poor Resul’s achievement, even after his truly heart-wrenching “This is for my country” routine, was ignored by Chidambaram.

There are strong recommendations that the cast and crew should immediately be given Bharat Ratnas. And that the government should announce cash awards for all those associated with the film. February 23rd may also be declared Slumdog Divas, a national holiday and dry day. It is rumoured, though, that the government is not too keen – yet – to give in to demands to declare Slumdog India’s National Film, or to rename the Dadasaheb Phalke awards.

The government has, however, declared the slum complex of Dharavi a national and protected monument. No changes, alterations or modifications would henceforth be allowed in Dharavi, and it will be preserved in its current state for posterity. In fact, to boost tourism, the government reiterated its commitment to create more Dharavis all over India. Full page ads were taken out in prominent newspapers by the Ministry of Urban Development, taking credit for a consistent and focused programme of slum growth, without which this honour might not have been possible. The opposition declared this a poll gimmick and threatened to complain to the Election Commission.

In related but unreported developments, Amar Singh declared himself the Bade Bhaiya of the entire cast and crew of Slumdog (for some mysterious reason, Freida was not on the list of siblings), and even offered Dev Patel, Freida Pinto and Danny Boyle party tickets to contest the Lok Sabha elections. When someone pointed out to him that none of them was actually eligible or qualified, he said “Yes, I know, but don’t worry, we will create criminal records for all of them.” (With inputs from the Crapola News Network)

Edited to Add: Kislay was good enough to send this link, which has to be one of the most hilarious things I have ever come across!

Edited to add this link to a well-thought out and equally well-articulated piece on this issue of increasing intolerance by Vir Sanghvi.

Turnip: Welcome to the Crapola News Network. In our top, in our top, in our top story today, we bring you a frightening exposé of how the Islamic fanatic in India is discriminated against, even by us in the media. In a stunning revelation of deliberate marginalisation, we show you, ex-ex-ex-exclusively on this channel, how an Islamic fanatic has to work thrice – yes, you heard that right – thrice as hard to get the same media exposure as his privileged counterpart, the Hindu fanatic. Charkha.

Charkha: Yes, thank you Turnip. Police in Kolkata arrested editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha of the Statesman for reprinting an article by Johann Hari, “Why Should I Respect These Oppressive Religions?”, after Islamic fanatics rioted in protest. Surprisingly, this bit of news has not got any mention in any mainstream Indian newspaper, channel or website, even though it has to do with the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. The leader of the rioters, Nunu Khan, is understandably upset at this discrimination.

“What does the Islamic fanatic in India have to do to get his voice heard?” he roared to his fellow rioters, his voice choking with anger. “Look at the fine work we have done in Kolkata. No coverage. Look at the negligible publicity we got when we attacked Taslima in Hyderabad and forced the Communist government to throw her out of Kolkata. We got almost no headlines when we drove Kashmiri Pandits out of their homeland. We protested against Shah Rukh’s song, and he got more footage than us! But look at the coverage these Hindu fanatics get. There is vandalism over some paintings, a film shoot is violently disrupted, and look at how much attention they get from the press. This Muthalik fellow and his Hindu goondas beat up innocent girls, and he gets the kind of publicity we can only dream of. Brothers, this is discrimination. We are treated like second-class citizens. Hey – don’t we beat up people, riot and destroy property? We have equal rights, and deserve our moments of fame too!” So you see, Turnip, there is enough evidence that the mainstream media are prejudiced against Islamic fanatics and do not give them their fair share of publicity and coverage. Everything seems to be about Hindu fanatics, and this politics of exclusion has given rise to a very dangerous situation, and deep-seated resentment among the Islamic fanatics. It is very goose-bumpy. Turnip.”

Turnip: “Yes, indeed. Thank you for exposing the vertical fault-fault-fault lines created by the media in this country. Charkha, I’m impressed with Nunu’s work – his rioting actually managed to get the editor and publisher arrested. More effective than sending legal notices to bloggers, eh? Ha ha. But this is a very sobering thought: can the fourth estate actually shirk the great responsibility it has in enabling secular Indian democracy to flourish? We should respect the rights of every hoodlum equally. All rioters and goons, irrespective of religion, should find equal coverage on our platforms. Give every fanatic his due. Unless that happens, Indian democracy cannot move ahead, and everything is infructuous. But don’t go away. When we come back, the pigeon tells us what it was like to go pub-hopping with Sonam, Deepika and Ranbir. Only on the Crapola News Network.”

Turnip: “Welcome to the Crapola News Network. In our top, in our top, in our top story today, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Dukhdardjee, said India had evidence of Pakistan being responsible for the Satyam fraud, and called upon Pakistan to behave responsibly and end financial terrorism. Apart from some e-mails to Satyam that originated in Pakistan, other evidence – available exclusively on Crapola – included the fact that there was an entity called PWC in Pakistan as well, which obviously masterminded, aided and abetted this fraud. “We are prepared for any eventuality and have kept all our options open” Mr. Dukhdardjee said, adding that he had spoken to his counterparts in the USA and the UK and pleaded with them to ask Pakistan to stop. “We are disappointed that after 25 years of requesting the USA to tell Pakistan not to trouble us, nothing has been done.” Taking a tough stand, he added, “Our patience is running out. A few more instances like Satyam, and there is a real possibility that we will consider serious action – for instance, multiple press-conferences like this on the same day.”

In view of the Sa-Sa-Satyam affair, security at other high-profile Indian companies has been strengthened. Special Personnel from SEBI, RBI, ICAI and the BSE have been rushed to the spot. The situation is believed to be tense, to be tense, to be tense but under control. The Prime Minister, Mr. MoanMoan Sing, in an impassioned speech to the nation – in which he blinked thrice, cleared his throat twice and actually looked away from the teleprompter on one occasion – said that the government condemned Pakistan’s complicity in this affair, and that they were ready to take the strongest possible measures to ensure that such scams do not come to light again.

Meanwhile, Affair-with-the-Minorities Minister, Mr. I. Wantolay, called the Satyam fraud a sinister attempt at deflecting attention from the Malegaon blasts, and hinted at right-wing Hindu involvement. Goohlayehum Yadav and Bummer Singh supported his theory and called for an, called for an, called for an impartial probe implicating the Hindu right.

Opposition Leader Turdvani called for tougher laws to ensure that there was no repetition of such incidents, though his demand might be infructuous. This demand was quickly supported by ordinary citizens, many of whom called for stricter legislation along the lines of the Fraud Unearthing and Corporate Knavery (Updated Significantly) Act, though saner commentators warned that such acts could only sc-sc-screw us,  the citizens. Charkha.”

Charkha: “Yes, indeed, Turnip. It is very goose-bumpy. The US and UK governments have not really responded to India’s entreaties and have asked India to point fingers only on the basis of incontrovertible proof. In response, the government has decided to plead harder with them.

In related developments, Pakistan has condemned the Satyam fraud, promised full co-operation, denied involvement and called for UN intervention in Kashmir to make sure the root causes of corporate fraud could be addressed. When we come back after the break, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Rakhi Sawant tell us what they think went wrong with Satyam. Don’t go away!”

New Delhi and Swarg, Aug 05: In a scathing indictment of temporal and spiritual politics alike, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court expressed its anguish over the state of affairs in India.

Indian politicians, now immune to such pronouncements, had no comments.

There was no response from God’s office and residence to an email asking for comments on the observations. Later in the day, however, God’s official spokesperson addressed a thinly-attended press conference (most press-people were attending a Q&A with Katrina Kaif).

When asked for God’s reactions to the Apex Court’s observation that “Even God will not be able to save this country. In India even if God comes down he cannot change our country. Our country’s character has gone. We are helpless”, the spokesperson had this terse reply to offer: “God is in complete agreement with the honourable judges and has nothing further to say in this matter.”

The spokesperson also declined to comment on who God thought was India’s No. 1 heroine.

Further details are awaited.

Isn’t it a sad day for Indian democracy when the fate of the government depends on the likes of Mohammed Shahabuddin, Pappu Yadav, Suraj Bhan, Afzal Ansari, Ateeq Ahmed and others of their ilk? And while these are the ones who have been convicted, it seems that approximately one-fourth of India’s elected representatives have criminal investigations or cases pending against them. As I wrote in one of my earlier posts, the charges range from murder, rape, attempt to murder, intimidation, rioting and robbery.

So tell me, folks – do we have our own version of the Statue of Liberty outside the hallowed portals of Indian democracy? Complete with our own version of The New Colossus:

“Keep ancient land, your weak and the good!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your crooks, thieves and more,

Your many scoundrels yearning to sin with impunity,

The wretched, stinking refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, charlatans and felons all, ballot-tost to me,

And then do you prepare to bend over some more”

(With apologies to Emma Lazarus)

From what we see, it sure looks like it.