Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bagh ko do kaudi

Dear PC Sir,

My name is Bagh, and my stripes are fading. My extended family brings in millions of dollars in tourist money, and I was looking forward to your budget proposals for schemes to keep this golden goose ticking.
I managed to catch some parts of your speech on the 29th, somewhere between my frugal breakfast (thanks to a falling ‘deer-ness’ allowance) and my midmorning stroll to check my family’s physical deficit.
As Nani Palkhivala is not around any longer to decipher the budget, I had to do some hard thinking to figure out how it impacts me. These are my observations:

A. Farmers seem to have found lots of favour, with nearly 60000 crores ( Rs. 600 billion) of bad loans waived off. Just proves that farming is economically utterly unviable – why not just import food from other countries, and return some of the land to us? Forests disappear for farming, rivers are dammed for farming, groundwater is depleted for farming, pesticides poison everybody, so where’s the logic? Imagine the money saved – no subsidies, no spending on fertilizers and agrochemicals, no power wasted on pumps, no wastage of land, no dams, and most cost-effectively, no Agriculture Ministry!
B. Small cars just got cheaper, so I can expect more crowds at all our National Parks – they will, of course, blare their horns, play their loud music, and leave their mineral water bottles and plastic packets back for us. PC Sir, I’m getting a headache!
C. I’m sure you must have been updated on another alarming figure – the national tiger census. Shorn of all the window dressing going on for years, the actual figure stands revealed at around 1400. Like other sectors of our local economy, we are under pressure from the Chinese as well. I expected some serious protection, such as provided to our domestic industry for eons. The verdict – a paltry 50 crores (half a billion) rupees provided for a Tiger Protection Force. Assuming that this largesse is distributed over more than 25 tiger reserves, each gets about 2 crores (do kaudi?) , which is sufficient to meet just their ‘chai-paani’ expenses for 6 months.
PC Sir, I would rather make a deal with the Chinese and the poachers, assuring them of uninterrupted supply if they regulate their activities, in the manner of the Bakasura story. After all, we still remember the Sariska holocaust, and the culprits haven’t even been identified yet. My suggestion is, PC Sir, please keep the 50 crores – you may need it as petty cash for the coming elections. Why waste it on a segment which doesn’t have voting rights, us dumb animals?

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