India That Is Bharat
The other day some old documents relating to our government’s Pakistan policy were de-classified. According to them, the then military dictator of Pakistan, Gen. Zia, was not a “fanatic”. Well, now, one lives and unlearns. Satiricus had learnt that Zia had launched a regular campaign for the “Islamisation” of Pakistan. But then, Satiricus is a communal cuss, so he was congenitally incapable of learning the sweet, secular suppositions on which the government’s Pakistan policy is based—ranging from “Zia was not a fanatic” to “Gilani is a man of peace”.
Unfortunately there is a number of foreign policy experts who suffer from Satiricus’s communal ignorance of our oh-so-secular government’s policy vis-à-vis our friendly neighbour who has now graciously bestowed upon us the coveted status of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN)—at least for the export of made-in-Pakistan terrorists. Some of these experts are impolite enough to say our foreign policy, particularly on Pakistan, is a mess. Some other experts are not impolite—they are rude. They say it is a sorry joke. Still others are crassly contemptuous—they say there is no foreign policy at all.
What does Satiricus say? He says if our foreign policy can be so sweetly soft-hearted, why should it not be secularly soft-headed? Secondly, if this policy overflows with the milk of human kindness, is that not because we live in a less than perfect human world? So, as Satiricus sees it, if there are pernicious people who want our Pakistan policy to be less than a mess, there is only one way out—take it out of the hands of humans and hand it over to computers.
Satiricus is not joking. This is exactly what Japan tried many years ago. Observing that China was becoming more and more of an ominous puzzle, a Japanese government of the 70’s had actually fed into its computer some tough foreign policy questions in the hope that it would come up with a computerised policy that would be technologically above human flaws, and could warn six months in advance about nefarious Chinese designs.
Whether or not the computer produced the desired result Satiricus does not know. But he wonders…did the experiment fail because the Japanese computer was outsmarted by a Chinese computer which was more knowledgeable about the shenanigans of foreign policy? In our case there might be another dangerous possibility. What if the Indian computer gets infected with a Bharatiya bug? In that case our computerised foreign minister might actually decide to stand up to China and Pakistan instead of meekly mewing like Manmohan. Won’t that be a communal catastrophe?
Satiricus has decided that he must have name and fame. So he is going to do the easiest thing that an illiterate journalist can do—he will write a novel. When Satiricus told his friends about this idea they had a hearty, derisive laugh. You, media-mutt, going to write a novel of three-four hundred pages, they asked pityingly. No, Satiricus retorted—and showed them a news-item in the papers saying somebody had written a novel of 27 pages. See? In this age of miniaturisation we have microchips on the one hand and microeconomics on the other. Then what is wrong with a micronovel?
Actually, it is not necessary even to know how to write to write a novel—or any book for that matter. For not long ago news had come all the way from Sweden that somebody there wrote a 100-page book that contained not a single letter—it had only punctuation marks! Now isn’t that simply great? The writer said he did not want to enter into any controversy with the reader over what he wrote, so he thought it prudent to stick to punctuation marks. How thoughtful of him ! But was he really sure that way he could avoid all argument? For example, he might write something he thought was really unexceptionable, but what if somebody opposes it? So, in order to avoid this sort of unseemly controversy, Satiricus now proposes to write a book everybody without exception would welcome. He will write a book of 100 pages—of 100 blank pages.
Some people visiting the zoo give cigarettes to the monkeys in the cage and teach them to smoke. Satiricus used to frown upon the mischief. But now he learns that it is a learned thing. For not long back a scientist expressed the erudite opinion that smoking by a monkey is an active aid in the intellectual evolution of monkey to man. This is wonderful news, but the question is, will the monkey’s intellectual progress be in proportion to the brand it smokes? And will a bidi be as intelligent as a cigarette? Incidentally (—this is strictly between Satiricus and this scientist, so, Mr Editor, don’t print this), Satiricus would (privately) like to know if, rather than a slim cigarette, he should try a thick cheroot.