We are concerned, greatly concerned. On the very first day of his visit to the land of the superpower Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been caught committing a crime against the national flag. Luckily, it happened outside our borders. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, which makes Modi’s act of signing on the flag a cognisable offence, only extends to “the whole of India” and not to US soil. So Modi is safe for now.
But how did he make such an elementary mistake? It must have been all the excitement. There seemed to be loads of excitement out there as the budding superpower came calling. Mark Zuckerberg had posted his excitement on Facebook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wasYouTubing about the excitement of all Googlers. Amidst all this fun and noise even the best of us – even our Modi – can make horrible mistakes like sullying the flag in a foreign land.
We were worried and hope things didn’t get worse. It’s not the speeches and the meetings with heads of government and Fortune CEOs that made us nervous. Those all run according to prepared scripts and nothing much can go wrong. What’s kept us on the edge is that outrageous experiment in “Townhall Democracy” that Zuckerberg had got lined up for Prime Minister Modi. He would have what he calls a “Townhall Q&A” on September 28 at the Facebook headquarters. And he has spent most of the last two weeks calling for questions to be asked.
Now we all know how shy and reticent a person our PM is. We know how he, since becoming PM, has been extremely allergic to facing questions from the press or from anyone except his close buddies. And, unlike the earlier US trip with its cheering crowds at Madison Square Garden, this time there is quite a bit of antagonism around. A group of academics had written an open letter telling Silicon Valley CEOs to be cautious of dealing with him; even the Patels, his normally loyal supporters, had been mobilised by Hardikbhai to demonstrate against him. So who knew who was lurking in the corners of that Townhall ready to waylay our prime minister with the sort of ambush questions that can be quite hurtful if not tackled well.
The only solution was to be prepared for the worst. At times like this it was up to all of us to rise to the cause. It was with such a spirit that we decided to help Prime Minister Modi by supplying a list of questions that could be asked by potential troublemakers at the Townhall. It’s the least we could have done to help our prime minister be prepared.
1. You have time and again suspended internet and mobile communication in places like Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. Is it an experiment in revitalising ancient forms of transmission known since Vedic times?
2. Your Draft Encryption Policy 2015 has some interesting suggestions for effective control on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Will implementation of this policy change the present position where India makes more government requests to restrict access to Facebook than all other governments put together? Have you shared these policy ideas with other world leaders and can they be developed into a model for universal thought control?
3. Make in India requires a lot of land, but you have put the Land Acquisition Ordinance on hold because of the Bihar elections. How soon after the elections do you hope to restore it?
4. When does the Indian government plan to patent and produce Vedic airplanes? Could they be used to clear tribals and Maoists from the land needed for investments in new projects?
5. You have enlightened the world about plastic surgery practised in India in ancient times. Is there any plan to introduce Vedic plastic surgery in the curriculum of medical colleges?
6. Ban on beef and other types of meat gives an underhand advantage to Indian meat exporters. Other exporting countries can move the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India for unfair trade practices. What is your view on this?
7. If you don’t give Patels reservations in India, can you ask US president Barack Obama to provide a green card quota for Patidars?
8. Since Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students continue to oppose Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson, why don’t you propose him for Harvard or some other American university? It would suit the global Parivar stratagem.