The generation in a hurry
K S S Pillai
“How much does a currency counting machine cost, Grandpa?”
I failed to understand why the school-going boy needed the information. His only income was the measly pocket money he received from his father. When I pointed it out, he said, “It’s not for the present. I was thinking of the future when I would become a minister. “But your father wants you to become an engineer, doesn’t he?” “And pay lakhs of rupees to get a job? Stingy as he is, I don’t think he’ll be rich enough to pay that much money when I enter the job market.
Strangely, the situation was the same fifty years ago when I tried for the post of a college lecturer in a private college near my home. The management had demanded a large sum of money. Observing my bewildered expression, they had suggested a shortcut to minimise the shock: “Imagine you were unemployed for some years after you became eligible for the job.” As I already had such a job in another part of the country without greasing palms, I had said, “No, thank you.”
My grandson, a keen observer of the political scenario in the country, said he was thinking of joining some popular political party and becoming a minister one day. He would take care of his appearance by dressing in white, starched shirts and pants or dhoties. He would also avail of the services of beauty parlours regularly.
He was a good speaker and could twist facts so cleverly that the audience would be confused about the truth. In a democracy like ours, getting votes was all that mattered, and he knew how to do it. He would offer freebies to all and appeal to vote-banks by making other promises if his party came to power. Once elected, he would manage to get a juicy portfolio that would assure a regular income from contractors, job aspirants, and similar classes of people.
He had a low opinion of a state minister, caught red-handed recently, after watching news items on television channels. One showed heaps of currency notes dumped in the rooms of his associate.
The raiding agency had to get the help of banks to count the bundles of seized currency notes of 500 and 2000 denominations with machines. He was puzzled why the recipient of such huge sums did not keep a counting machine of his own. He was also critical of the government for not printing notes of 5000 and 10,000, which would have made it easier to store them.
He also failed to understand why a minister, who got crores of rupees illegally, was not intelligent enough to store them where the raiding parties could not lay their hands so easily. It was reported that they were after some missing luxury cars owned by the associate, which could be full of currency notes. He said that if he had to store notes inside cars, he would buy one bigger vehicle and park it far away, moving it regularly from place to place.
He also frowned upon the way the minister stored a large number of gold ornaments. “A prudent person would have bought gold bars or melted the ornaments to make gold bricks. Better still, he would have bought diamonds that required comparatively less storage space. ”
He thought it only natural that the ruling party, to which the minister belonged, disowned him after all the evidence the investigating agency could collect. It dropped him like the proverbial hot potato. The minister, as is customary, had faked chest pain and wanted to get admitted to a swanky hospital. The hospital authorities, perhaps realising that he had no backing of the ruling dispensation any more, declared him completely fit. Now, after the court of law sent him to jail, he must be wondering where he had gone wrong.
I was impressed by the manner in which the new generation thought and was sure my grandson would have a bright future with lots of money at his disposal.
(The author is a retired professor of English. A regular contributor to ‘The Kashmir Vision’, his articles and short stories have appeared in various national and international publications)