Thursday, January 22, 2009


A colleague of mine once remarked that in academia, there's a certain type of person who would like to be Director of an institution. Any institution. Such people hanker after the post of Directorship for its own sake. Therefore, he suggested, we should start an "Institute of Directors". Everyone there will be a Director, and they will all be satisfied!

This idea has germinated in my mind, and today I have found the solution to the world's problems. Before you cart me off to the loony bin, let me describe it to you.

The problem is that the world just has too many belligerent people in it. From George Bush to Narendra Modi via Ehud Olmert, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and let's not forget Simi Garewal, just too many people would like to attack, bomb, kill. They do this because they are fundamentalist about something (usually religion), so a society that is nuanced and diverse, that is kind and gentle, that uplifts the weak rather than worshipping the strong, has little appeal for them.

Crucially these people claim that their aggressive approach works, or will work, but then have little to say in the face of massive evidence that it doesn't. It's not even clear what "work" means for them, since a society that is peaceful and just and kind is not even a part of their thought process. And of course although I've only named four world leaders (five if you count Ms Garewal, and back to four, when you realise Bush is finally gone), what's true of them is equally true for their zillions and zillions of supporters. Let's not think the world got this way because of four (or five) people.

Now here's my solution. Let's form a new country, possibly called Fundoostan, where all the fundoos can go! Each state of this country would have its own fundoo belief and all its citizens would be obliged to follow a state religion or possibly some other cult or crackpot idea. Those who do not follow the state religion would perhaps be allowed to live there but only as second-class citizens.

When you think about it, the idea is truly appealing for a variety of reasons:

(i) no inter-state migration. Each state would be completely closed off to citizens of other states in Fundoostan. Think how much money they would save by having no interstate highways and railways!

(ii) inter alia, no need to beat up poor migrants at railway stations. There would be no such migrants. Or even railway stations. Each state would already be a complete and total paradise for its own fundoo residents.

(iii) people from the US, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, India and several other countries, could actually cooperate on something for once. There would be no ideological differences as they would all subscribe to "fundooism".

(iv) the constitution of Fundoostan would be easy to draft. "The citizens shall strictly abide by the rules and practices of the Adventist/Anabaptist/Lutheran/Methodist/Presbyterian/Pentecostal/Ahmediya/Yazidi/Druze/Sephardic/Hasidic/Kabbalah/Lingayat/Chaitanya/Arya Samaj/Digambar Jain etc etc denomination (check one)". Of course, no one in Fundoostan would actually check one of these choices. They would take black pencil or paint and aggressively cross out all the others! Pausing only to beat up someone of another denomination who happened to be around. But of course, no such person would be around.

(v) resources would be easy to distribute in Fundoostan. Some of its states, like Iran and Gujarat, would obviously have a ban on alcohol. So where would all the nice alcohol go? Well, to needy states like Kansas! If a Hindutva state discovered it had beef lying around, they could sell it to Iran, who would send back dates, flowers and pistachios. The country would find it easy to live as an economic union.

(vi) now we come to a possible flaw in my new proposal. What if two neighbouring states in Fundoostan decided to fire rockets at each other, or send undercover agents to shoot and bomb each other, or invade each other to grab land and rape women? Well the most obvious answer is that it's all happening now! So how is it a criticism of my proposal?? In spite of which, I do have an answer. The only people to live in Fundoostan would be those who had consciously decided they like this sort of thing. A few lives would be lost, but being fundoos, people there would understand and even approve. "Sure they killed 15 children in a residential colony of our state! So let's kill 300 - no wait, make that 3000 - infants on the other side! Or preferably just maim them so they grow up as cripples!". And every cabinet meeting in each state would end with singing and dancing in celebration of the lovely massacre they had planned.

OK, I'm done with my proposal. Take it or leave it. I know I promised to be positive this year.. and here I am, penning a bitter, sarcastic piece. But I'm really not! Because the best thing about Fundoostan would be that the rest of us could send people there. A popular vote (say 25 of your neighbours or colleagues) would be enough to pack you off to Fundoostan and you would only get to choose which state to live in. Well the state would have to accept you, but they would if you were one of them, wouldn't they? Moreover you would want to go, wouldn't you, since everyone there would be just like you! No need to tell the press things like "people who don't want to live as [....] should be treated as second-class citizens". It's already done!

So now, let's cheer ourselves up with the thought of who we'll be sending to this benighted land. Personally I'd like to nominate all the people (some of them semi-respectable journalists) who've recently written or spoken the phrase "I used to be a liberal but now, after 26/11...". That crowd would fill up the first Air Fundoostan flight out of here, but my gentle readers are welcome to suggest who they would like to put on the next flight.

P.S. Before anyone points it out, let me confess that I may have picked up a word or two (notably "fundoo") from Pakistani journalist and writer Moni Mohsin, author of the column and book "The Diary of a Social Butterfly", of which I've only read one excerpt. It was funny. As well as bitter.


Rahul Basu said...

That one last extra glass of wine last night was a bad idea... :)

Sunil Mukhi said...

For any great idea, there's always someone to say it won't work...

But following someone very famous, I say to you Rahul: Yes we can!!!

Rahul Basu said...