India Today organised the most awaited two-day Conclave at the Taj Hotel in New Delhi recently. On the opening day of the event, our correspondent spotted the Chief Operating Officer of India Today Group—flabbergasted and gesticulating wildly—speaking to one of the members of the organising committee, “The best minds in politics, economics, science and arts from all around the world were supposed to participate… well, where are they??!!”
As the committee member was dodging bullets from the COO, an extremely high-decibel buzzing sound filled the venue. Soon all sunlight was blocked, as a giant swarm of bees began moving towards the dais. As an insolent ray of sunshine made way into this dark mass, a saffron man emerged from within, emitting subliminal vibrations through Pranayam. Baba Ramdev had arrived. The audience began buzzing too, giving the bees a run for their honey, as light was restored from Baba Ramdev’s personal Halo. When offered a seat, Baba politely declined and chose to hover above the stage, displaying his Yoga expertise.
The committee member, having gained some confidence with this recent development, began, “Baba Ramdev is a pioneer in the arenas of spirituality and yoga. He has made a mammoth contribution in making our nation disease-free as well as mentally and physically healthy, something for which our society will remain indebted to him. We are gathered here today to—”
His attention was diverted towards the main entrance, where the security guards were having a tussle with a man demanding to be let inside (even though he did not have an invitation), brandishing his bona fide IIT-IIM certificates as proof of his national superiority. Naturally, such claims could not be refused by any patriotic Indian, and he was allowed into the premises, leaving behind numerous inferiority complexes in his wake.
Shooting nervous looks towards the COO—who seemed to be frozen in his seat—the committee member timidly acknowledged, “Aah, Mr. Chetan Bhagat, we are glad you could make it just in time.” Improvising he added, “The topic of discussion is ‘Politics and Pranayam’.”
As Baba Ramdev levitated to the podium, Mr. Bhagat looked around to see if he could spot any filmmakers in the crowd. Dejected, he turned to Baba Ramdev who was saying, “Politics is not bad, it’s just that we have a bunch of wrong people involved in governing India. People are disgusted with politicians. What we need is a spiritual change in Indian politics.” Taking in a deep breath, he continued, “Good people should join politics… like me! If there are good politicians already, what is the need for a yogi to join politics? But there aren’t any, so I have to step up.”
Chetan Bhagat took this as his cue to interject Baba’s narcissistic speech.
The correspondent could sense unrest in the air as Mr. Bhagat cleared his throat, “Babaji, you are a demigod for our people, but good values alone are not sufficient. You need leadership qualities as well as some good advisors; putting up tents in Ramlila Maidan while carrying out routine Dharnas is not enough. Since I am popular and pretty much unoccupied these days, it should be me!”
This statement got the audience buzzing again. “I heard that Mr. Bhagat is unoccupied lately (or was it unemployed?). This is a good opportunity! Let’s talk to him post-session and sign him up for Bigg Boss season 6.” Meanwhile, Chetan Bhagat was defending homosexuality aggressively while the yoga evangelist threatened the nation with another hunger strike if the High Court decriminalized gayness in India.
The helpless committee member impatiently tapped his watch to see if it was working, as the topic of discussion shifted yet again—this time from homosexuality to alcoholism. “Alcoholism is the bane of society. How can a society full of drunkards flourish?? It’s—” Baba Ramdev had not even completed when Mr. Bhagat interrupted him, “I can have a glass of wine and still care for my country! Had it not been for alcoholism, Revolution 2020—a deep and accurate portrayal of politics and a completely original love story—would never have become a ‘Bestseller’! Alcohol is the root of all my stories!”
The slugfest continued for quite some time. It appeared as if the COO and the committee member had taken a leaf out of Baba Ramdev’s book; they were witnessed performing Kapalbhati, thus being unavailable for comments. Our correspondent had also begun to feel dizzy. He fled from the scene to catch up with the latest Rajinikanth blockbuster to restore a sense of rationality in his mind.
Author’s Note: Both Ramdev and Chetan Bhagat project themselves as the leaders of our society. The former intends to bring change through spiritual upliftment and political strategies, while the latter feels he can do it through literature and media. How focussed is their mission? Or are they simply in the race to take a share of public imagination? Share your opinions.
This article is by Shruti Sekhsaria, and has been edited by Apoorva Tapas. Both Shruti and Apoorva are interning with NTMN in our 2012 Internship-cum-Training Program.