E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As I went round Delhi, I saw pictures of the mother and child pasted everywhere: on Kashmiri Gate, at INA market and Sarojini Nagar market, and on the walls of Qutub Minar and Lal Qila.
I was lucky to get couple of minutes with rail mantri Lalu Prasad at Rail Bhavan to get it clarified.
“Laluji! You presented a great budget although you gave zilch to Karnataka. I see the mother and child highlighted all over Delhi. Are you planning to anything for M-C?”
“Definitely! This year I gave 50% discount for female senior citizens. Next year, I will give 100% free for mother and child. I will declare a mother-child year for Indian Railways. An all-expenses-tour on the Golden Chariot for mother-child for all ages will be borne by Railways next year. This is my tribute to Karnataka!”
As I was coming out, I bumped into finance minister P. Chidambaram.
“Are you too planning to do anything for Mother-Child, sir,” I asked him.
“How did you guess? Saint Thiruvalluvar said in Tirukkural in the first century BC, in Verse VII(2), and I quote:
‘The gruel that children’s little hands have stirred is sweeter than nectar‘.
I will make it the year of the Mother-Child in the next budget. The child will get everything free, and so too will the mother. I will write off all expenses incurred by mother and children of all ages. This will cost around Rs 100,000 crore to the exchequer.”
“Can you afford it? I mean can India afford this? Only last month you wrote off Rs 60,000 crore of farmers’ loans.”
“Poet Subramanya Bharati wrote in the Nineteenth century thus:
‘Destroy the world, if even single person doesn’t have food‘.
Mother and child are the backbone of a nation. It is only fair I am doing my bit in the 21st century.”
Before leaving, I told him, “I am sure a future finance minister, say in 2045-2050, will quote you and do his bit for grandmother and grandchild.”
The more time I spent in Delhi, I realised the government had drawn even bigger plans for mother-child.
Free Blackberrys for mother-child and two-way free talking time for them. Free air travel for mother and child to and fro whenever they travel together in Indian Airlines and Air-India.
Anbumani Ramadoss announced free treatment for both mother and child for any age group in government hospitals, with free boarding and lodging facility at PSU guest houses post-recovery. I thought this would create a huge rush for marriage. Girls, working women who had decided to remain single will chase perfect strangers for marriage with the hope of getting free mother-child bonanza. DINKS (Double Income No Kids), no doubt will drop their silly idea and rush home early to make babies…
As I was heading to the the North Block canteen, Mani Shankar Aiyar called out for me. Before I could escape, he almost yanked me out of my collar and shoes.
Aiyar, who was burning high-octane petrol flying between world capitals trying to get gas through pipes from Iran has been grounded to look after Panchayat Raj and speaks only Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha shuddh Hindi. Ever since, he buttonholes anyone coming 10 feet of his vicinity with news of his pet projects.
“Just this morning I have launched “Rashtriya Yojana Mein Maa-Shishu Vikas ke liye Panchayat Raaj ka Punarnirman (RYMMSVPRP)”. Chaps in Churumuri daily churn out at least 4,000 words, can’t they write 40 words on this? What a shame!” Aiyar thundered.
As I approached the Election Commission building, I could see Election Commissioner Gopalaswamy in a tearing hurry to get the dates organized for General Election 2009.
Only then it became apparent the reason behind the mother-child propaganda: The Queen Mother was making preparations for her child to be the next Prime Minister. The courtiers were already drumming up their bit.