My Satirical commentary on Chidambaram's budget, as featured by the Economic Times today (3rd March 2013)
Complete transcript appears after the mega image :-)
Like a good startup entrepreneur, I dressed appropriately for Chidambaram’s Oscar Party (a la Budget Presentation). I wore my best dress shirt over my jeans (obviously not tucked in) and even combed my hair back. I mean, if I was representing the entrepreneur gang and won an ‘award’ where I was called on stage, I had to look… errr… like a ‘startup guy’.
Between you and me, I had no official invite ☹. I just piled on. For the past many years, entrepreneurs haven’t been invited to the Budget Oscar Parties. We just don't exist in the databases of the Academy of the Finance Ministry.
At the venue, I wasn't allowed in. Instead, the guards politely told me to watch Chidambaram from the giant screens outside. I meekly stood, eyes pointed up to the man who had the power to make my day!
Chidambaram began without a fuss. He presented an honorary award to Joseph E. Stiglitz who had inspired him. Cool...good enough! I mean some guys always got those ‘in absentia’ awards, so why not Stiglitz?
Very rapidly, the awards and the winners started getting announced. Even before I could figure out the details, it seemed that the Tribal Gang (who had intriguingly occupied the front seats), won some major awards! Whoopee! Loud cheering crackled everywhere. The tribals came up and did a small jig on stage! They had won something to the tune of 5 billion dollars (25,000 crore rupees) in prize money!
My throat went dry. 25,000 crores! Whoa! Imagine if I could have the power to give 1 crore rupees away to 25,000 entrepreneurs in India. They could turn out 10 Facebooks, Twitters, Yahoos and God knows what, put together. The ROIs on the 25,000 crores would easily be 100 times on the Capital.
My day dreaming was shattered by more claps and cheering. The ‘all women’s’ contingent had won some big stuff. All of a sudden, the room went dark and quiet. The music turned somber. The spotlights travelled to some old men in stuffy shirts and oversized suits, wearing ties from the 60s. They looked like they had been zapped into the auditorium from a time machine.
Wait. Quiet. What?? Did I hear right??? Oh!
These dudes were public sector bankers and had walked away with mind boggling bounties. They had been showered with grants, licenses and favours to operate as they wished in the vast country of ours. Oh... the promise they had made was that they would install one ATM in each of their banks in the various cities they operated in.
Errrr… Installing ATMs in bank branches was a promise that won such hefty rewards?
My anxiety began to grow. Chidambaram had never mentioned the word ‘Entrepreneur’. How I yearned to hear him utter the word! How would he say it? In a south Indian accent or using a polished Harvard trained style?
Lots of ‘hard working farmers’ came up and crowded the stage. The group was so large that there wasn't enough space to accommodate them. But since they all had won, each of them was doled out a trophy, a prize, a scroll and an award. The farmers and their ilk occupied a lot of time and mindshare at the event.
All of a sudden I heard the word ‘incubator’. My heart leapt. My ears rang. But before I knew it, Chidambaram had ‘clubbed’ incubators with CSR initiatives of companies. Oh no… Incubators were supposed to be a different name for charity it seemed, in the respectable FM’s dictionary ☹
The afternoon swept by. The rich barons were punished, the pretty young girls pampered by Chidambaram’s honorary mentions. But there was nothing for me – the entrepreneur. Or for us – the entrepreneurs of India.
I had thought of simple gifts of easy laws, some tax breaks, minimal rigmarole in starting up a business or even getting some easy funds. But there was absolutely nothing for me. Or nothing for us.
When Chidambaram quoted Thiruvallular, I knew the end had come. There were no more promises to be made.
On my way out, I handed over a chit to the Black Commando who was guarding Chidambaram’s car. I requested him to hand it over to the FM. He nodded. Inside, I had written a sentence, inspired in part by Victor Hugo.
It said, “No one, not all the armies of the world, nor all the finance ministers of the nation can stop the entrepreneurs whose time has come. You will need us more than we will need you, Mr. FM.”
Big Applause Sir.........Dard Bhare Dil se likhi gayi hai yeh Anokhi Dastaan!
Aisi ki Taisi... in Qanoon banane walo ki ho jayegi,
Jab hum Entrepreneurs ki Muthhi mein Duniya ho jayegi!
Jaldi hi ayega woh Din, Jab hum Entrepreneurs ki Fauj, Karegi is Duniya par Mauj!!
Entrepreneur apna law khud banata hai. Baaki saare - khasma nu khao....
You write for all of us. So close whats in our minds. You have amazing sense of empathy.
well written article... sadly representing the current state of affairs ...
Thanks for writing that on behalf of me, on behalf of all the entrepreneurs.
WOW sir.. amazing post!!!
I hope Mr. FM have read this article :)
well written and well said Alok. I hope he got the message! We are burning and roaring and they definitely can't stop us!
Good satire, Alok
I believe the clubbing of CSR is for corporate money going to startup incubators associated with colleges only. If we want companies like 'Google' coming out of colleges in India, then we need a very strong connect between the industry and academia. Let's hope this move increases the quality of startup incubation in Indian colleges.