Make in India by Saligrama K. Aithal

After listening to Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk about “Make in India,” Omshri Dhanvantri suddenly had a vision of India as the new land of opportunity. Several years earlier, he had left India and come to the United States in pursuit of health, wealth, and happiness. He could, of course, buy health insurance with Federal subsidy, earned enough money to buy a house on a thirty-year mortgage, and a car on deferred payment, and had nothing particularly to complain about, except that he found no way to make a million—the minimum amount required to live the American dream. It seemed that his original homeland now offered that opportunity. Luckily, he considered himself as an Indian American, unlike the famous fellow gentleman of Indian origin making his bid for the White House, and hoped he would be welcome back home with his “Make in India” project.

            Omshri put up a proposal to the Government of India that he had a formula for a powerful Ayurvedic vaccine to cure the growing disappointment, frustrations, and anger among the Indian public at the prevailing economic, social, and political conditions affecting their daily lives. People were particularly disgusted with their elected representatives who spent all their time accusing their opponents of corruption with or without grounds, exchanging insults and recriminations, disrupting parliament/assembly proceedings, whipping up emotions among the masses, organizing marches and bandhs, and going to the court on every possible issue, as if they were elected solely to perform this unpleasant purpose. Worse still, the electorate was blaming themselves most of all for their blindness and idiocy: they cast their votes while the candidates were unabashedly asking for support on the basis of cash, caste, and religion in the name of secularism and democracy, which election tactics should have alerted them of the distasteful things to come, if they had insight. When he let his fellow Indian Americans know about his plans, loans and donations poured in, and the whole Silicon Valley offered every possible IT help to make his venture successful.

Even if the idea sounded too good to be true, the government couldn’t resist welcoming it, particularly when a son of the soil had millions of dollars to bring to the country and the support of expatriates like him who would be getting voting rights themselves and visas on arrival at Indian airports. If, by chance, a vaccine could be found to help cure people of their disillusionment in their politicians, it may not only benefit the country but it may also have universal application, for what part of the world was immune to the phenomenon? Vaccine made in India and sold all over the world was an alluring idea impossible to resist. It could win the country respect of even Pakistan! Without further ado, the Government of India extended Omshri all facilities—multiple entry visa, land for setting up his industry Omshri Vaccine, patent for his product, import-export licenses, tax benefits, whatever he asked for.

            Omshri selected a site far away from New Delhi, a place which doesn’t appear in any map of India. It was once a famous town, king’s own town, but it is now one of the million villages of India. He chose this place because his team could work here quietly without any distractions. He recruited hundreds of scientists and philosophers, among them a few Noble prize winners, for the project.

            New Delhi waited for the vaccine, as Washington, Moscow, and the rest of the world did. Years passed. No word came out of the laboratory. People were beginning to think that the whole thing was a big hoax.

            Politicians started a smear campaign against Omshri Vaccine. No wonder, politicians took the lead in this campaign against the idea targeting them. They pooh-poohed it, saying it was a western ploy to defame “Make in India” scheme, although many of them till the other day were ridiculing the whole idea themselves.

            Forced to finally appear before TV, Omshri pleaded for patience. He assured the public that his team was making progress. He explained to them that the scientists have finally found a gene in a local printed matter yousaidittoi available nowhere else in the world which can provide an ingredient for the vaccine. He said the process of isolating it, transforming print into a biomedical gene, and making it usable in a vaccine was a daunting task, as complex and difficult like splitting of an atom, but he had faith in the ability of his scientists. He evaded the question as to the name and exact location of the place of his laboratory by simply saying that it is between the Himalayas in the north and the Indian Ocean in the south, Bay of Bengal in the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. To the question, when can public expect to hear from him again, Omshri said he would appear before the TV crew periodically once the research work reached the experimental stage to report the results. To questions as to the details of the printed matter, he said that they were trade secrets and could not be disclosed.

            Pacified, the country waited.

Before another storm gathered momentum, Omshri appeared before the TV to report that the first results of the experiment.  Though not yet successful, he indicated the results were promising. Prodded to be more specific, he said that the volunteers after vaccination looked upon politicians as scoundrels, and his scientists were working on getting a more nuanced view of the politicians from the volunteers.

Sensing that the country could not contain its eagerness any longer, Omshri made a television appearance after a few more months. He reported that progress was being made, but there was more work to do. He elaborated by saying that the politicians were now being considered a laughing stock by volunteers who were vaccinated. He promised to get back as soon as a more positive result emerged.

 If, by chance, a vaccine could be found to help cure people of their disillusionment in their politicians, it may not only benefit the country but it may also have universal application, for what part of the world was immune to the phenomenon? 

            In his next TV interview, he said that the volunteers were still laughing at politicians as a bunch of clowns, but they were secretly enjoying the occasions provided by the politicians for laughter and they were laughing at them without showing  any signs of malice—a long way from earlier treatment  of politicians as scoundrels.

            After a long interval, Omshri was back before the TV cameras in New Delhi. He said that his team had recently covered a crucial stage of discovering the vaccine. The team wanted to recruit some politicians to take part in the experiment. With a great deal of persuasion, he said one chief minister of a state and several of his colleagues took part and they showed, after repeated and strong doses of Omshri Vaccine, signs that they were amenable to correction of their behavior and to work in a spirit of cooperation and friendship with other bodies, not confrontation.

            Finally, Omshri made the long-awaited announcement, not only on national news media, but also news media worldwide, that “Make in India” vaccine was ready for application and invited all interested parties to witness the marvel on New Year’s Day in Rasipuram.

            Rasipuram? People looked up the Indian map, but couldn’t find the place. They scoured over the map of Kashmir, the part under the Indian rule as well as the part under Pakistan control. Still no luck. They looked up the remote north-eastern part of the country claimed by China. No trace of Rasipuram there either hidden away in the misty clouds. After frantic efforts, they were able to locate it in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. A host of travel agencies came forward to fly people from four corners of the world to Rasipuram, although there was no airport anywhere nearby and not even a railway station. They promised harried visitors planning to witness the great event that they would reach the visitors to the venue on the specified day and time even if the visitors had to be carried on the shoulders of hired coolies.

            “Make in India” sponsors were happy beyond measure. They strained all their resources to provide facilities to the visitors.

            Adventure and excitement associated with the event brought visitors in drones, using all kinds of transportation. They gathered on the Trinity grounds of the town decorated with banners greeting visitors “Welcome to Make in India!” and “Welcome to Rasipuram Where New Discoveries Are Made!” The gathering included a large chunk of politicians drawn from every country. As the time approached for the commencement of the ceremony, some turned up the sleeves of their shirt and others opened their mouths. All stood ready for Omshri Vaccination.

            After introducing the prominent members of his international team, Omshri asked the visitors to down their shirt sleeves and close their mouths. The vaccine he was giving them was one which did not have to be indigested by syringe or mouth. He then switched on the TV screens.

            On the TV screens appeared the 3-D picture of Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman,–Not heard of him? The name doesn’t sound a bell? OK, your own R. K. Laxman, dear all!—and his daily cartoons “You Said It” in the front page of The Times of India–   in color, motion, and sound,– which expressed the thoughts and feelings of the Common Man in India. R. K. Laxman’s  cartoons had spared no politician worth his/her name and had left no audience untouched by sorrow, disbelief, and comic relief.  Watching the cartoons, spectators laughed and cried, and, in the process, they were cured of their deep-seated distress and heartfelt pain.

            The beauty of Omshri Vaccination Application is that it draws 3-D cartoons in shape, color, motion, and sound of any political figure. Use your cartoon App and search, let us say, Narendra Modi, the architect of “Make in India.” You will see 3-D image of him sitting at his desk burning the midnight oil under the famous words of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, spoken on the eve of India’s Independence, “At the….midnight hour, when the world sleeps,…” Or the leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi whose picture appears under the well-known proverb “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and (with the following words italicized) greatness is thrust upon some.” A search of most political leaders will yield a variety of 3-D cartoons with clothes hanging loose, surrounded by loyal supporters similarly clad, under Shakespearean words “a midget trying to wear the robes of a giant.”

            What contribution does Omshri Vaccine make to the world beyond the borders of the Indian subcontinent? The App is creative and productive. Enter the name of any politician of the world, living or dead, in the App and search, you will find a cartoon drawn to your taste. Enter Bill Clinton, for example, and search. You will find him sitting, smiling, and watching cartoons under the caption “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” of Senators who took active part in his impeachment for sexual misconduct in the US Congress, while they were themselves secretly gallivanting with women/men, before/ after their righteous speeches and covering up their adventures by cash, careers, influence, and every other conceivable means.

About the Author

Saligrama K. Aithal

Saligrama K. Aithal (aka S. Krishnamoorthy Aithal) has published two collections of short stories One in Many and Many in One, AuthorHouse, 2013. Some of the stories in these volumes were previously published in Critical Quarterly, Short Story International, Unlikely Stories, Long Story Short (where his “Enter, Search, Select, Click” appeared as the STORY OF THE MONTH for February 2012), Journal of Postcolonial Societies and cultures, Indian Literature, New Quest, and Contemporary Literary Review. The third collection of his short stories Variations on a Theme-- Make in India is in search of a publisher. The lead story “Make in India” appears in eFiction India, thanks to the editors of the journal.

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