Under the NDA, poverty has disappeared and unemployment is down to zero.
Unlike many of my journalist friends — most of whom are now either ex-journalists or ex-friends, thanks to polarisation — I don’t frequent the Press Club. After work, I go straight home and spend 45 minutes reading the Bhagavad Gita, before going to bed after a light meal of moong dal, steamed broccoli, and watermelon curry cooked in clarified butter for 22 minutes over a low, blue flame.
But last week RK, a former colleague and senior journalist, was in town. We never got along when we worked together. But he sounded friendly, and wanted to catch up over a drink at the Press Club.
I told him I avoided the Press Club as it was located in Lutyens’ Delhi, the headquarters of India’s Pakistan-friendly liberal elite. But RK was hunting for some left liberals whom he could tie to the Toyota Fortuner he’d booked for his upcoming vacation in Srinagar, and wanted my help.
“I need you to identify them for me,” he said, over phone. “I’ve received intelligence inputs that some plump specimens are likely to make an appearance at the club this evening.” So I reluctantly agreed.
RK greeted me warmly. I had last seen him seven years ago. He looked exactly the same, except for a tilak on his forehead and a saffron scarf around his neck.
We found an Ayodhya-facing table and made ourselves comfortable. He ordered a Black Dog with cow urine while I settled for Sattvic Mary, an excellent Ayurvedic cocktail with a base of goat’s milk, the tang of basil juice, and the zing of eucalyptus oil mixed with Ashwagandha powder and crushed jojoba leaves.
“It was brave of you”, I said, sipping my cocktail, “to quit your job as a paid journalist and start your own magazine”.
“I had no choice,” he said, wiping his brow with the scarf. “The mainstream media is only peddling leftist propaganda. Someone had to counter it. So I started The Sanatana Post.”
“What a lovely name!”
“We present the truth from the perspective of Sanatana Dharma,” he said. “News that furthers the cause of dharma is true. Everything else is fake news.”
The conversation drifted, inevitably, to what everyone is talking about these days: the NDA government’s countless achievements after only three years in power.
“We are bringing out a special 600-page ‘Modifest’ issue of The Sanatana Post,” RK said.
“That’s so exciting!”
“It would be a collector’s item,” he explained. “Each page would talk about two achievements. The entire issue, printed on 200-orgasm art paper, would highlight the top 1,200 of the government’s 3,500 achievements. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to inform the public about the other 2,300 achievements.”
“MAARU BUCOLINAL,” I said.
“Modi’s Achievements Are Unlimited But Column Inches Are Limited.” I was shocked he hadn’t heard of it.
“Precisely,” he said, adding, “IT + IT (UT/MT) = BUM + CHEE + AIYO.”
“You bet!” He raised a hand, and we did a high-five.
Then I asked him what he would rate as the government’s two greatest achievements.
“All are equally greatest! How can I pick just two?”
“Try,” I insisted.
“Well, my favourite is Sakshi’s medal at the Olympics. In 60 years of Congress rule, not a single Indian lady won an Olympic medal in wrestling. We did it in just three years of Modi rule.”
“That’s indeed a great achievement,” I agreed. “The other one?”
“Poverty has disappeared, unemployment is down to zero, and people are happy.”
“Are you sure?” I said. “On my way here, I was stopped at a signal by a poor woman carrying an infant. She wanted money.”
“That doesn’t prove anything.”
“She was begging, which means she was in poverty, and unemployed. People forced into begging aren’t happy.”
RK stared at me. “So you are still taking money from the Congress to produce fake news against your own government?”
I was about to defend myself but he raised an imperious hand to silence me.
“My friend”, he said, “This so-called beggar could very well have been a rich young lady from Panchsheel Park preparing to audition for a role as a beggar in an upcoming Madhur Bhandarkar film. In other words, she is not poor, not unemployed, and happy doing something she loves.”
“But that’s not true!” I protested. “You just made it up!”
“The whole world is maya,” RK said, gulping down the last of his Black Dog. “Do you know what that means? It means reality is what your consciousness cooks up.”
“But you can’t cook up things and call it the truth!”
“I must leave now,” he said, looking at his watch. “Want to come with me to Srinagar? I’ll take care of your transport.”