Thursday, May 7, 2015


My Mock Interview of The Devil’s Advocate

JUST IN JEST


Welcome! Mr. …..”

“Sorry! Let us start the interview from basics. What is your name?”

“Karan Thapar”

“ That was the name with which you were baptised, if I am not wrong. But you are known as “Devil’s Advocate” to the public. Is it not?”

“See! In my profession…..”

“Leave that. Yes or no?”

“Yes”

“So, in other words you defend the devil and question/cross examine your witnesses”

 “It is not like that. I try to extract the truth”

“Yes, you extract the truth that you want. Answer yes or no.”

“Yes”

“I heard you sometimes ask leading questions where the witness does not have an option to say anything but ‘yes’ “

“In a way, yes”

“Or do you send the questionnaire and answer sheet to some before he comes to the stand, that in examination parlance is called “leakgate”
.
“No.”

“Did you not do that in your latest interview?”

“A firm no”

“OK. Now, we will move to brass tacks. What is your profession?”

“I am a journalist, columnist, a TV personality etc.,”

“ Are you not Devil’s advocate too?”        

“Yes.”

“What does the word Devil’s Advocate mean?”

“ Its literal meaning is to make the witness answer in a way you want”

“So, you made Arun Shourie too to answer, as you wished him to”

“Yes”

“What does he do for a living”

“He is an economist, journalist, a politician, a critique, a Hindu soldier etc.,”

“In what capacity of the above you questioned him?”

“As a critique”

“So, his purpose was to criticize?”

“Yes. But I am not sure he knows what and why he is criticizing.”

“OK. Leave that at that. You asked him about Modi foreign visits and he said the whole purpose was to keep China on tenterhooks.”

“Yes”
“You know Modi also achieved tremendous success in getting investments and assurances for Make in India?”

“Yes”

“You did no follow up on the question”

“No! I got the answer I wanted”

“On Pakistan, he said we should engage them more. You know we have been engaging with them for 67 years with no success. But you did not question him?”

“The same answer here too.”

“He feels no minister is working but he is not sure. Do ministers sit on road or TV studios to work so that Shourie can see?”

“No”

“Why didn’t you follow up.”

“I got my answer again”

“He said, Modi was acting as numero uno in Foreign affairs. And foreign ministers must be engaged. He tried to build wall between Modi and ministers?”

“Yes”

“You know Sushma was doing great work either in Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh, China and even Pakistan”

“Yes. I do not want that information as I want to only criticise as I am Devil’s advocate”

“Economy. He says nothing is moving. And even Deepak Parekh said so. Did you see various reports of economy being at its best now, by both domestic and foreign investors/analysts”

“Yes”

“So, you agree that reading economy is like whether to judge the Origin of Creation. Very difficult. And one opinion is not final. But he says, when he says so, it is final”

“That was his opinion and I wanted that only”

“Do you expect the rubble in Nepal to be cleared in 24 hours because Modi said he acted quickly and said he would stand by them? Since, it is not done he broke a promise?

“He said so”

“He also expects the rot in the economy accumulated over 6+ decades. He wanted a rosy picture in 11 months?”

“He feels so. May be he feels if he were in that position he would have done so.”

“So, it might be out of envy?”

“I can’t say. But Yes, as you want me to be specific”

“ What is Minimum Alternate Tax”

“It is to make companies pay taxes on the real earnings and not take shelter under exemptions under IT Act and Companies Act separately.”

“Are foreign companies too liable for MAT?”    
         
“Yes”

“But he says no?”

“Yes”

“Regarding retrospective tax. Let us take the example of the longest trial in India, LN Mishra case. It took 40 odd years. One way the punishment given to the accused comes under retrospective punishment. Does he feel that as the law took many years to adjudge a case punishment should not be awarded to the accused (if they are still living) as it would amount to retrospective punishment? If a company defaults payment of taxes that were due long back but did not pay as per our law, law should not take a course where they take action?”

“He feels so and I am happy”

“You do not know”

“I do not know anything. I see that I get an answer as I see it.”

“Jaitely said, end of tax terrorism does not mean creation of tax havens where everyone can enjoy tax free regime. But if it is legally due we will collect and if, it is not or a benefit of doubt is there in favour of a company, they will neither harass nor amend law to harass. Shourie brushed it aside as a lawyerly discourse. Does it mean anything in economic discourse?”

“He should know better”

“ One final set of questions. Besides the Devil’s Advocate you are a columnist too?”

“Yes”

“Last Sunday you wrote a column in Hindustan Times ‘Where were you at the time of the earth quake’?

“Yes. I liked the way I wrote”

“Yes. You were in a loo at the time of earth quake not in position to move? Means you were peeing?”

“Yes”

“And you want readers to know where, when and how you were peeing and how you felt at that time but do not want Modi to wear a suit presented by one of his friends and that he promised would wear on day of the marriage and that happened during Obama visit”

No answer.

“What is your take on Church attacks?”

“Who, THE hell, are you to ask all these leading questions?
“ I am Satan, that you all fear. The devil himself. I know better than you what happened and how I imported devilish intentions in the minds of attackers, who you know by now.”

“Now, I am closing this interview”

“ It is me who should close. I am closing  now. Loo is  on the southern side. I assure you there will be no earth quake this time around. Enjoy your sojourn into the loo”

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