Thursday, January 2, 2014


THE HIDDEN HAND 


Emperor Akbar asked Birbal, his minister  “Birbal, are the people in my Kingdom honest?”   “No your Majesty! Every person is dishonest in some way.  Only few people are honest but they are too few. So we can conclude that the majority is dishonest,” replied Birbal.  Akbar was astonished by the answer but found it hard to believe that people of his Kingdom were dishonest . He advised Birbal to prove his point. Next day, Birbal made an announcement on behalf of the King that a pot of milk each was required from people for feeding the poor with food.  It was announced that people could pour the milk in the huge tank that was kept outside palace gate, in a closed enclosure so that others couldn't see how much milk was contributed by each citizen. Each citizen thought that even if he poured water instead of milk the king would never know as all others would pour thick milk. So all the citizens poured water, assured that his one pot of water would not be detected. Next morning when Akbar and Birbal saw the tank, it was filled with water. 

The other day I was on a road that led to the Chief Minister's house. A long, serpentine queue of people, both male and female were waiting in the winter cold. The queue extended to few kilometres  and a few traffic constables were trying to ensure order while at the same time making a quick buck by allowing people that greased their palms to jump the queue. I knew many of them. They are filthy rich through money earned by illicit and dishonest methods. There were doctors, engineers, clerks, attenders, senior bureaucrats et al. I was surprised to see so many people of the same genre at one place. I asked an officer very familiar to me as my personal file for plan approval of a building I wanted to construct, was lying on his table as I refused to wet his hands. He said, "The Chief Minister asked all honest staff to report to him. So we came." 'So much, so good' I thought.

"But why are you carrying brief cases in your hands?" I asked out of curiosity. He said, "Just in case". I followed. This "just in case' carries a very deep meaning. "Why are you carrying food for three days?", if we ask a traveller travelling twelve hours, he replies, "just in case". That means "if the train were delayed for three days". If Lord Rama thought "just in case" before proceeding in pursuit of the fake golden deer Ramayana would not have been an epic. If Dharmaraja thought "just in case" before he staked his wife and kingdom in gambling  Mahabharata would not have enthralled us. But they were not government officers and employees.

So, here when he said "just in case"he might have meant "just in case the CM wanted funds for his future elections" or he might have meant that just in case the officer certifying them "honest" is himself as honest as all the other honest officers assembled there, these suitcases would be useful. Convinced about the purpose for which each employee was carrying a bag or a suitcase, I wanted to see how the CM and his honest than thou cronies, that default in paying personal taxes, test the honesty of the employees.Certainly they won't employ the same method that Akbar employed. 


What I saw surprised me. A computer was installed at the humble door of the CM. Each officer/employee was placing his two hands on the screen. If he were honest the screen would turn red and if dishonest it would turn black. And to my surprise all employees were passing the honesty test and they were returning empty handed, a smile on their faces  after meeting the CM. I was shocked. "How blatant?" I thought. I was circumspect, though. I closely observed the computer. A hidden hand is coming out of the computer and collecting the money bags. "So, it is the hidden hand" I thought.

My curiosity did not die. After the crowd cleared, I went to the computer and typed a question. "How did you manage that?" The computer chuckled and said in a human voice. "I am a system made by the most corrupt "HAND" in the world. Even the CM can not spend an hour in office without the hand's mercy. All of you install Windows in your systems. But the "hand" that made me installed lots of "Gates" in me. You name an alphabet, I have a gate. And it is the hidden "hand" that collected the money bags. Being so efficient a system and with so many built in safeguards, I am not able to catch the hidden hand.  I was made so corrupt by the "hand" that the whole lot of viruses across the world cant corrupt me further. Poor CM! He is dependent on the mercy of the same "dirty hand". How can he cut the "HAND"? Impossible." So saying the system sighed and went into "vipasana' mode! 

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N.B.: It is satire on the present 'rotten' system and is intended to be laughed off. If anyone can catch the hidden hand, he will be awarded the "most honest" band in exchange for a bag of money!