My disdain for CNBC and the pundits on it has prevented me from making millions.

I discovered this sad truth earlier today, when some talking head on the channel let slip the secret that’s been eluding me – and I am sure, many others like me – for years. “The trick to making money in the stock market” he revealed, “is to buy stocks cheap.”

No shit, Sherlock.

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.

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!”

Reporter standing at the site of a huge rally. In the background, one can see people firing guns into the air and at a couple of innocent bystanders, including a few journalists. She fidgets nervously as she stares into the camera.

Studio: And now we bring you, only on Crapola News Network, a live, a live, a live update from the massive rally organised by the Criminals Party of India (National) or CPI (N). Our reporter, Charkha, is bringing you this live update, only on the Crapola News Network, at great, at great risk to her life. Charkha, can you hear us? What is the update?

10 seconds of a split screen showing studio anchor and reporter staring blankly at us.

Charkha: Yes Turnip, the turnout is massive. The mood is one of anger, but there is a determination to bring about change. After peacefully destroying public and private property on the way to the rally, the crowds gathered here to listen to their leaders demand change and offer hope. This rally throws up questions that all Indians should ask themselves.

How do we create a more inclusive society? How do we rid ourselves of years of prejudice and accept other human beings for what they are? It is sad to see the poor representation of criminals in our public life. But small, progressive steps are being taken. In a tribute to the Indian system of parliamentary democracy, criminals have, after years of struggle, managed to go up to 25% of the elected representatives of India. What is even more heartening to note is this trend can be seen across party lines: every political party has played its part in this incredible tale of an incredible India!

But one doesn’t have to look far to see that it’s not a similarly happy scenario elsewhere: systemic, deep-rooted prejudices have ensured that criminals do not have adequate representation in higher, technical and professional education. And while their numbers have been on the rise in the bureaucracy, and especially in the police force, they still form a minuscule minority of the armed forces. The private sector has, as usual, shrugged off all social responsibility and has a history of discriminating against candidates with criminal backgrounds. The CPI (N) has demanded that reservation for criminals be enforced in the private sector. Business leaders will meet to see if industry can take any proactive action in this regard, but sources that did not wish to be named admitted that industry was prejudiced against criminals, but with ‘good reason’. They declined to elaborate on what those reasons were, but added that a number of elected representatives with criminal backgrounds had started setting up private enterprises, and that could throw up more employment opportunities for criminals. National President of the CPI (N), P N Runchor, was quick to condemn such statements as ‘elitist, fascist and obstructionist’. “They want to deprive our brothers and sisters of opportunities they have cornered by creating prejudices and hatred. I fought them all my life, and after winning an election, can now change the laws that sought to put us behind bars. We shall win this war.What they think? Criminals are good enough to run country but not to run companies?” These might sound like tall claims, but even Runchor’s detractors grudgingly admit to his success in splitting their existing criminal vote-banks. As one of them said, “Runchor has shown that the criminal has no religion”. And this rally demonstrates exactly that. It is very goose-bumpy. Turnip.

Turnip: Thank you Charkha. Yes, indeed, and passions and emotions run high in both supporters and detra- detra- detractors of the proposal to increase criminalisation in both India’s public and private spheres. However, one thing is certain: unless we we we create, we create, we create a truly inclusive society, where access, opportunity and benefits are available to all, all this talk about being a world power will be infructuous. Will the criminal’s long road to justice ever be shortened? When we get back after the break, will Akshay choose between Katrina and Deepika? Exclusively on the Crapola News Network.