Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Budget 2013-2014

(Note: This skit was written after PC presented his Budget for 2013-2014 last year)
The Finance Minister P Chidambaram (PC) has just completed his presentation of Budget for 2013-2014 in the Parliament on 28th February 2013. The entire team of officials is in an upbeat mood. PC is relaxing in his office. He is getting ready to meet a stream of visitors. A giant screen has been placed on the wall of his office highlighting the salient features of the Budget. PC has asked his team to allow only a select band of visitors to meet him. One of the Secretaries has also been asked to brief PC about the visitors before they are allowed inside. He is also supposed to sit with him and give him suitable hints if the need arises. Another Secretary has been told to change the display on the screen to suit the particular visitor/s.
Scene I:
(A team of ladies from different spheres of life enters the Chambers of PC)
PC: Welcome to all of you. Please take your seats. I hope all of you are happy with my Budget.
Team: (In chorus) Yes Sir! All of us are very happy.
PC: Unfortunately the woman leader of my own State has termed the Budget as a “damp squib”.
Team: Don’t worry sir! We know how Mamata Didi let down her own State leader Pranab Da in the Presidential election! These things happen!
PC: I hope you will particularly appreciate my proposal to set up a bank exclusively for  meeting the needs of women entrepreneurs. (Looks at the Secretary. He signals another person to present the scheme on the giant screen. The scheme details are now displayed on the screen)
PC: Hope you will appreciate the spirit behind the decision to open an exclusive bank and allocation of  Rs1,000 crore as initial capital.
One Lady: Sure sir. But which spirit you are talking about sir?
PC: You must be aware of the person behind this major decision, I am sure!
Another Lady: Sir, you are referring to your leader Manmohan Singh, the PM. Am I right?
PC: No Baba! I am referring to the woman leader. Do you understand now?
Another: We do know there is always a woman behind a popular person like you, sir!
PC: Oh! My God! I didn’t mean that!
First Lady: We understand sir. We saw the picture of your wife entering the Parliament along with your daughter-in-law! Who else but your wife could be the spirit behind your decision, sir?
PC: No! No! I am referring to the popular and ultimate leader herself! Do you understand now?
Team: (In chorus) We now understand, sir. You are referring to your leader whose Hindi is as good as yours, right sir!
(The team leaves)
Scene II
(A team of top leaders of the industry is entering the Chambers of PC. PC knows all of them by their names)
PC:  (To the Secretary) Quick! Display the photograph of Premji on the giant screen! Do it fast! (A smiling picture of Premji appears on the screen)
PC: Welcome to all of you! Please take your seats. You know I have done my best in the given circumstances. Now it is for you people to  support me!
One Leader: We agree most of the proposals are on the lines of our expectations. Except of course……
PC: I know you are referring to the tax on the super rich! I mean the people whose income exceeds Rs1 crore . I should thank Premji in this regard! (Meanwhile Premji’s picture gets highlighted on the screen repeatedly)
Another leader: No! No! We never meant to question you on that!
PC: But I can appreciate your feelings. In fact I had dropped the whole idea. But Premji’s statement was unambiguous!
Another Leader: Forget it. A man in Premji’s shoes can go up to any level in making sacrifices! Let us not compare ourselves to Premji!
PC: Anyhow Premji openly welcomed the idea! If you have to blame somebody  it is not me at least! (meanwhile the picture of Premji appears on the giant screen again and again)
Another: All of us know 95% of Premji’s income is through dividends, which are totally tax-free. Hence he is least affected  by this 10% surcharge.
PC: I have no comments.
The Team: OK. That is it. We are leaving now. You may remove the picture of Premji on the giant screen and display something else. We had had it enough!)
Scene III
( A team of Senior Citizens enters the chambers)
PC: Welcome to all of you. Sorry I do not know which group you people represent. (Looks at the Secretary. He keeps mum. Meanwhile the giant screen goes blank as the person in-charge doesn’t have any clue)
Team: Keep guessing! All of us are in the age-group of Pranab Da!
PC: Oh! I understand now. You are from the Senior Citizen Forum. What can I do for you sir?
Team: Are Baba! You are asking the question now! Tell us what have you done for us in your so called “Excellent Budget”?
PC: I am sure there must be something for you people in my Budget. (Looks at the Secretary. He looks at the man who operates on the giant screen. The expression of both is as blank as the giant screen!)
PC: I will ask my people to find out. I am sure there was something. (Asks the Secretary who presses Google search on his laptop. He links it to the giant screen and types out  - Senior Citizen- Budget. But there is no display)
Team: Sir! We know there was absolutely nothing for us in your Budget. Naturally Google is helpless! Do you remember we had met you for Pre-Budget discussions?
PC: I do remember. You had some requests which I had asked my people to note down. I am sure we did something for you people recently.
Secretary: Sir! I have managed! Something has now started appearing on the screen. Let us see now.
(The screen starts displaying the Finance Ministry’s directions to PSU banks to withdraw the additional incentive interest rates to the Senior Citizens! The faces of PC and the Secretary turn red. But they are unable to stop the display)
Team: So this is the something you were referring to!  Your team has presented to us an excellent gift for the new year 2013! Let us leave now. Shathamanam Bhavathi Shathayushhyam!.......
(The team leaves in a huff. PC is totally shaken and disturbed)
Scene IV
(PC asks whether anybody else is waiting to talk to him. The Secretary goes out and comes back)
PC: Anymore visitors?
Secretary: Two persons are waiting, Sir.
PC: Who are they?
Secretary: They are the CMDs of X Bank and Y Bank, Sir.
PC: What do they want?
Secretary: They say they are the first to implement the directive to reduce interest rates on Senior Citizens’ deposits, Sir!
PC: So what?
Secretary: The terms of both of them are expiring this year, Sir.
PC: So what?
Secretary: They expect you to accommodate them somewhere like SEBI, CCI, RBI, etc, Sir!
PC: Ask them to pack off! Show them the door!
---The Post Budget Meetings Come to an End---

-----A V Krishnamurthy---

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