Stop The World And Let Me Off

 Even though I cannot suck in my stomach till the lumbar vertebrae are visible from the front, nor have I stumbled upon that ayurvedic herb which cures homosexuality, I am nonetheless a great fan of Baba Ramdev. I do Pranayam religiously every morning, usually just after the first cigarette, and meditate deeply- but with a difference. Reflecting on spiritualism and the problems of the world have got me nowhere, so now I ponder on the craziness that defines our lives these days, for we live in such bizarre times that the only way we can retain our sanity is to become a cuckoo in this cuckoo land. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it also confers an immunity against the slings and arrows of misfortune and the ability to sit through the next instalment of Man Ki Baat without wanting to jump off  Shali peak into the valley below. It is necessary to possess a sense of the ridiculous to survive. Just consider what has been happening in the world, and India, this last week.

Yogi Adithyanath has just held his first cabinet meeting on the banks of the Ganga at the Kumbh mela. This washing of the sins of his many corpulent ministers in these holy waters has set the Nirmal Ganga campaign back by many years and set a new Guinness record for the number of potbellys at one place. Cabinet meetings have been held in stranger places in the past( the Maldives had an underwater conclave some years back to draw attention to rising sea levels), and no doubt Donald Trump may soon have one in bed after he has appointed Stormy Daniels as Solicitor General. All this should spur the demand for live telecast of all such meetings, which in turn could motivate some of Yogi’s colleagues to start going to the gym. India can only be a better place if that happens.   

In Davos a few hundred billionaires have spent a week confabulating on how to curb global warming and ensure greater equity in the distribution of wealth. Perfect, just what Baba Ramdev ordered. Problem is, however, that these fat cats have all come to Davos in 1500 private jets ( BBC report) and have just burnt a bigger hole in the ozone layer. And they’re not likely to be doing any wealth distribution soon considering that they themselves own more than 60% of global wealth and have added US$ 39 billion in their fixed deposits in the last one year. And, before flying off to Davos, Mr. Ambani had last month spent a reported US$100 million on his daughter’s wedding. In a country where 230 million people still live- and die- below the poverty line. But don’t worry, there’s so much shit in this country that he can rub our faces in it till Yogi’s cows come home- and then there will be plenty of dung.

Closer home, the other day the CEO and Vice Chairman of the Nutty Ayog claimed that the govt. has created 8 million jobs in 2017-18. Must have been blow-jobs, because the very next day the Business Standard leaked the suppressed( by the govt, who else?) report of the Statistical Commission which states that unemployment is at 6.1%, the highest in the last 45 years! The Chairman of the Commission( who had resigned in protest at the govt. sitting on the report) even expressed his fear that the actual figure may be a high as 7.8% post demonetisation. A friend in Shillong has pointed out that these desolate figures are further confirmed by the fact that, at last count, 22 people had applied for the post of Prime Minister in the next government- and this does not even include Mr. Gadkari or Rajnath Singh or Arnab Goswami!

If you thought that facts could not be tortured any further, you would be mistaken. Mr. Modi’s minions have sought to get around the horrific unemployment figures by claiming that since the economy was growing at 7%+ millions of jobs MUST have been created. This is an inference worthy of Mr. Pickwick and should get Mr. Jailtley the Ignobel prize for Freakonomics. To the question posed by the govt.- where else could this growth have gone?- the answer is simple: to the 291,681 multi millionaires( in dollars) who own 51.5% of India’s total wealth ( Credit Suisse Group AG report for 2018). And they’ve taken all this moolah to the Panama and Cayman islands, after dropping off some loose change in Antigua. No economist can explain the type of economics playing out in India today, only Baba Ramdev can, hence the need for Alom-Vilom and Kapal Bharati.  

Leaving our blessed shores for a moment, what do you make of this report?- there has been a surge in an elderly crime wave in Japan. More than 20% of prisoners are above the age of 60, and the figure is growing rapidly. It appears that these poor chaps are basically lonely. looking for a warm place, good food and company! The govt. is at its wits’ end trying to find a solution. Here’s my advice to the Japanese govt.: take the Superintendent of Tihar jail and some of his finest on deputation for a year and see how soon your jails empty out! If even this does not deliver satisfactory results, we can always send our encounter specialists from UP- they specialise in permanent solutions, like the Pest Control Corp. of India.   

Sticking with prisons, it gets weirder in South Korea. Apparently, an endemic condition called “gwarosa” prevails there: it means “death from overwork”- hundreds of people die of it every year, involuntarily or by suicide, because the average Joe ( or Jill) works about 100 hours a week. So some smart ass has started a prison called “Prison Inside me” where people can get themselves admitted for US$ 90 per day and live in solitary confinement like a prisoner. More than 2000 people have been admitted so far; one inmate gushed: ” I go there to get a sense of freedom.” Freedom? In a prison? Now you know why I meditate.

The Mad Englishman is not to be left behind in this race for lunacy. The homo sapien male had become redundant long ago- the sperm bank and the IVF had already given him pure observer status when it came to reproduction. But he still needed the female of the species to cook the bacon. Not any more. And the culprit once again is AI- not Artificial Insemination but Artificial Intelligence this time. Some nerds in England have invented the Michelin Robot, a robot which can cook delicious, Michelin star grade food at the press of a button, after having studied hundreds of recipes and top cooks in action. So now you don’t have to go to bed with your wife just to get some dinner. Here is the revised equation: she doesn’t need you to make a baby, and he doesn’t need her to cook some supper. Is it any wonder, then, that the supply of babies is declining in the western hemisphere, along with the storks who were supposed to bring them? Or that today’s girls think that COOKING is the name of a city in China? 

Coming back to the Baba with the revolving intestines. Meditate. Breathe in deeply ( they are now calling it Cardiac Controlled Breathing in the US and are about to patent it, along with our humble “datun” under the name Organic Toothbrush !). Don’t try to make sense of this world.  In a world where everyone is an idiot it’s folly to be wise

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at

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