Hon’ble Finance Minister stepped out of her car and walked towards Gate Number 2 of North Block. A motley crowd of reporters (the ones who still have jobs) accosted her. Jostling in ever-shrinking space for journalists, elbowing each other, they thrust mikes and recorders closer to Madam’s face.
Beat reporter: What are you going to do with the gift of Rs. 1.7 lakh of your own money from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)?
Hon’ble Finance Minister: I cannot comment on what the money will be used for.
Many reporters (distinctly confused): Who can?
Hon’ble Finance Minister: I cannot comment on who.
Beat Reporter: Will you consult with the RBI to decide how to best spend that money?
Hon’ble FM: I cannot comment on RBI which is an independent and autonomous institution. The honourable Shaktikanta Das is a man of his own standing.
Beat reporter (who will surely be fired after this question): But people say that RBI is less Shakti, more Das. FinMin is…
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Outlandish. Outlandish. Out…
Hon’ble Finance Minister proceeded to her roomy, bungalow-sized chamber. Security personnel outlanded… I mean… prevented reporters from entering the building, as per the much-needed entry restrictions for journalists Madam introduced. Which is understandable considering the budget cuts across media houses, too many reporters were landing up just to sit in AC comfort and get tea, both of which had been discontinued in their broke offices.
Finance Minister reached her chamber where officials and industry representatives (who had been appreciating the bullshi… I mean bullish mood among “wealth creators” and “industry captains” for long) were assembled, looking less convincing. Hon’ble RBI Governor, glowing like a shiny new one-rupee coin (about the amount by which the rupee had dropped against the dollar in the past two days), handed to Hon’ble Finance Minister two crisp cheques for total Rs. 1.7 lakh crore. In the background the tune of Kaun Banega Crorepati played and there was applause of the ‘Industry captains’ and ‘wealth creators’. Their eyes moist like those of the audience when an impoverished single mother struggling to feed her children won a crore or two. Discussions started.
Hon’ble Finance Secretary (straight face bearing inscrutable expression): We have Rs. 1.7 lakh crore. Government is planning to buy new cars. What else we can buy? What can you sell?
Association of Self-employed Handloom Artisans of India (Asahai) Representative: Madam is wearing lovely Ikkat. Please buy sarees for all government ladies, BPL ladies of Amethi and Rae Bareli…
CEO, Haarle ji: Chup. Biscuits, Ma’am. Biscuits. For self-consumption and some to throw to the many media houses and anchors. They will be happy to be part of the stimulus.
Hon’ble Chief Economic Adviser (horrified): Biscuits? We are no LDC (Least Developed Country). Only cakes for the world’s fastest-growing economy. Or laddoos. Favourite of deities. Ganesha, Bajrang Bali, Ram Lalla…
Hon’ble Finance Minister (looking to the left, out of the windows towards South Block, across the road, is visible): Think big. Mangalyaan.
Hon’ble Chairman, ISRO: Brahaspatiyaan? Shaniyaan? Rahuyaan? Ketuyaan? Idea. Plutoyaan?
Jiyo Bhai (strumming fingers): Like… the real estate sector needs a kick-start. Ek dum 5G ke maafik. Abhi tak sea-facing tha, why not Dal Lake facing and snow peaks facing.
Hon’ble Chief Economic Adviser: Theek bola che. The place where Maa Sharada, worshipped as काश्मीरपुरवासिनि, resides, i.e. Kashmir, stands fully integrated with the rest of the country now. That it happened on Nagapanchami is no coincidence… She is prayed to as ॐ शिवानुजायै नमः
Jiyo Bhai: Like.. let’s do some forward and backward integration…. Time has come for India’s Great Leap Forward. Let’s now integrate the abode of the Kailashpati. India mein Cheeni kam hai…
Hon’ble Finance Secretary (showing slight irritation): All matters upstream of Bramhaputra fall under Raksha Mantralay. We will forward your proposal to there. Lekin hum kya khareedein?
CEO, Haarle ji: You can buy new cars for government officials. Handloom sarees for the ladies. But poor people ka bhi dekho? Mid-day meals scheme. Buy biscuits for the school children in their mid-day meals. Ready-to-eat. Easy-to-buy. Iske saath I’ll give free cakes in government offices. Ek-ke-saath-ek-cake-free.
Jiyo Bhai: Aise kaise? All benefits to you? Halwa hai kya?
CEO Haarle Ji: Nahi sir cake hai. It’s little bit like halwa lekin English halwa…
Jiyo Bhai: Arre chup. I know. Like mid-day meal ke saath koi phone shone dilwao sabko. With broadband connection. Let’s launch Crony. It’s the best in capitalism.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Zyada obvious nahi ho jayega?
Jiyo Bhai: Cellular Revenue Oligarch’s Network Yojna.
Nayika Kumari, devoted shishya of Hon’ble Former Finance Minister: How about Statue of Shri Arun Jaitley ji at least 300 meters high. Bronze, and gold plated.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: I am Arun Ji’s shishya. Already Hon’ble Finance Secretary has written to Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Office suggesting Hon’ble Prime Minister may consider a statute of Shri Jaitley ji at the Lodhi Garden.
Jiyo Bhai: Mumbai Indians would love it to be at the Wankhede Stadium. But Feroz Shah Kotla Grounds has first right naturally.
Nayika Kumar: No, Ma’am. First right belongs in my studio.
Hon’ble Finance Minister (irritated): NO!! Hon’ble Finance Secretary ji, please have a letter drafted to the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Office suggesting Hon’ble Prime Minister may also consider a statute of Shri Jaitley ji at North Block. Right here in the Hon’ble Finance Minister’s Chamber.
Hon’ble Finance Minister, visibly more relaxed now, gets up, walks around the desk and goes to the sofa and seats herself comfortably in it.
Kaamdev Baba (seductively winking): Aah aisi bhakti dekh ke prama anand ki praapti hui.. Competitive shishya thing is ati uttam. Choti shishya, Param shishya. Kapaalbharti…
Nayika Kumari, Param Shishya (impatiently): CGHS extension or pension schemes.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Already done. Kirana walas, widows, shram yogi (informal labour), pakoda walas, widows of pakoda walas, special medical provision patients of pakoda walas who’s pakodas led to food poisoning. Mayoos Goel ne sab announce kar diya. All covered. No one left out.
Nayika Kumari, Param Shishya (smiling smugly): How about Arun Jaitley Patrakar Bimaar Vratti (Pension) Yojana. Arun Jaitley Patrakar Aswastha Bima Yojana.
Hon’ble RBI Governor: Ma’am, RBI employees union requests also for some medial support. Most of us need dental implants.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Huh?
Hon’ble RBI Governor: So many cavities, plaque and tooth decay that toothlessness has become endemic. RBI employees pensions scheme can cover dental treatment costs.
Kaamdev Baba (chuckling): New Teeth for New India… Dantkranti, eh? Yoga kiya karo…
Hon’ble RBI Governor: Daant ke liye yoga?
Kaambev Baba: Reedh ki haddi. For spine. If the spine is strong and straight teeth also strong and white. Connected hai. Jaise ki rubbing nails and colour of hair.
Unknown person: Madam outside body also needs to be cared for. Lots to cover, Ma’am. Jan Gan Man Tan Dhako Yojana…
Hon’ble Finance Secretary: Please introduce yourself, first-time visitor.
Unknown person: President, KBC Association of India.
Nayika Kumar, Param Shishya: Kaun Banega Crorepati?
Unknown person: Ji Kachcha Baniyaan Chaddi (voice trailing, eyes drop to the floor)
Ma’am, we petition for Jan Gan Man Tan Dhakke Rakho Yojana. First-time ma’am undie sales are flaccid. Relatively inelastic demand for chaddis is sagging. This is nuts ma’am. Never before.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Yes, yes. We need to cover up in new outfits. Dress up karo. No matter what the figures, dress-up karna padega.
Hon’ble Secretary, NITI Aayog: Please don’t look at me, ma’am.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Where are the CSO people?
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office (CSO): In the market, Ma’am. For a building. Need office space. No one is renting their building to us.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Arre! Why?
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office (sulking): Credibility issues. No one believes us.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: No, no… but why are you in the market… what happened to Sardar Patel Bhawan?
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office: We were thrown out of our building. No one is giving us a building on rent. We’ll be on the road. (increasing hysteria) Madam hum tabah ho jayenge, BARBAAD HO JAYNGE MA’AM.
Hon’ble Secretary, National Security Adviser (NSA)’s Office: Uff! Please don’t exaggerate.
Nayika Kumari: As usual…
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office: O.K. We have been squeezed. Hemmed in. Pushed into a corner of our own building. NSA has taken over Sardar Patel Bhawan. We also need new tea cups.
Hon’ble Expenditure Secretary: Abhi toh dilaye the…
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office: 1999 base revision year mein dilwaye the. Computers bhi dilwa do… survey update karane hein…
Hon’ble Chief Economic Adviser: This is a brainstorming session on how to revive the economy. Not how to revive the CSO.
Jiyo Bhai: What? Not a session to prepare a shopping list for Rs. 1.7 lakh crore? My time is precious. Why was I not told?
Yoga Baba: kapaalbharti…
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office: Please ma’am. Milk Budget is falling short. Kali chai pee rahe hain.
Kaamdeva Baba: Gomutra daal ke pee lo chai. Gomutra has same qualities as milk.
CEO, Haarle ji: With biscuit…
Hon’ble Secretary, Central Statistics Office: Waise ma’am, Sabhi diabetic hain. Sugar ke paise bach jaate hain.
Hon’ble Chief Economic Adviser: Suna hai sirf tea bag hote hain aap ke yahan chai ke naam pe.
Central Statistics Office Representative (with pride): Ji. Kabhi kabhi ek tea bag se do cup bana lete hein. And then we use the bag to treat dark circles.
Hon’ble Agriculture Secretary: Hai! Nothing for farmers? Farmers income half karoge kya? Double karo. Double.
Jiyo Bhai: Double kardo… aise kaise? Halwa hai kya? Best idea is 1.76 lakh crore ko use karo to tell people ki problem hi nahi. Put it on air, online, broadband. Ads, TV shows, whatapp.. full..
Nayika Kumari: Excellent idea. Primetime sponsorship by CRONY scheme. And Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai Ads.
Jiyo Bhai: On all news channels.
Nayika Kumari & Hon’ble Finance Minister (together): Not all!! Just the truly “independent” ones.
Jiyo Bhai: Whatever you want. Sab naale aake ek hi nadeein mein to milte hai.
Kaamdev Baba: Haan haan.. and everyone please write editorials and articles in all the truly independent media about the economic miracle. I will start with cow economy ke faiyde.
Hon’ble RBI Governor: I can write on monetary policy and interest rates.
Media Expert: Nahi sir. On that subject no one will take it seriously. You write on health. Benefits of flexible spine and toothlessness.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Good idea. I will write on benefits of good guru shishya parampara.
Nayika Kumar: Sorry. I’ve already written that.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Twitter is not “writing”. I mean full article.
Nayika Kumari: No one reads that much.
Jiyo Bhai: No problem. Write as whatapp post. Cheap data se phaila denge… chaliye. Let’s wind up the meeting.
Hon’ble Finance Minister: Erm! That’s my prerogative. Aap kaise kar denge? Halwa hai kya? Hum bhi Hindi seekh gaye hain….
Jiyo Bhai: Ha ha… too late…
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