Saturday, March 29, 2008

Succor for the Sheep.

It was bound to happen. Election year tom(pop) foolery..sloganeering "inclusive growth for everyone and their mothers-in-law)..hitherto un benefited fauna of the country were roused from their peaceful grazing to look at what the commotion was about and maybe grab a nibble.

What really brought this under closer bovine scrutiny was the unusually ferocious festivities that suddenly broke out in various rural belts around end february, a time devoid of harvest windfalls, election-time "leaders" visits or even rural employment schemes disbursements to the landlords' "hands". No, none of was the (proudly) bedsheet wrapped, finance minister finally doing justice to his awesome talent for straddling the worlds of (traditional)refined politicking as well as macro Economic gymnastics without a wardrobe malfunction !
In one swift delivery,before the random Lallus, Yechurys, Raj Naths, Sidhus could recover.. he had wiped clean the debts of abt $15B owed by "farmers" and their various handlers..and quickly, before they scrambled to get someone educated to advise them what to say to the TV cameras ..the minister drove home his shock-and-awe advantage-
"Anyone oppose this? Who is opposing this concession to the farmers ? Stand up and be counted !! Stand up and be counted !! "..he was prancing, feinting, jabbing like Cassius was his moment.
"Where's the money going to come from ? Is that your question ??..just rest assured "we" have deeply thought about it and that's it.It will be done and only I(publicly at least, privately=no one) know how it will be funded."
(Note: lately it has emerged,the minister did have long discussions with *helicopter* Ben Bernanke over at the greatest economic wonderLand regarding how our country would like to now embark on a higher growth/ consumption trajectory and could he recommend some good printers/ copters for inflating rural India).
In any case, aware they'd been had and no way to come out of this looking good..the rest of the peoples' representatives slowly slunk out of the house looking well and truly beaten.

But the rural belts sprang to life..Landlords everywhere had been fretting about the overdues on account of the SUVs, the A/Cs , the foreign education of kids, the new 6 bedroom farmhouses, the city houses their progeny had made them splurge on. Their wives couldn't get enough of cable TV and the accompanying lifestyle.The bank managers were pliant and impotent enough to not entertain thoughts of actually asking for a repayment but if the other *farmers* find out how much he was in the hock ..his Skoda *would* lose some of that sheen.
(Note: the bulk of the Agricultural loans in this country get disbursed through refined politico-socio-economic filters where the unconnected, apolitical, non-exploitative, unenterprising and (lord forbid) serf classes are largely culled before they can do much damage to the system.)

These non seasonal tremors were felt at the grass root levels where our unassuming sheep were grazing as unambitiously as they'd done for generations. For the sheep, this was the normal cycle of life- be fed every day, feel happy and content mostly, get ugly haircuts (shorn) regularly by the "marketmen", get over it, get fed again and live on. At the end of a typical cycle suddenly each one would be led out of the gate by the "marketmen" never to be seen again. But sheep being sheep, they never lost much sleep over the goners and concentrated on the next feed time and the temporary excitement it brought.

OK,OK..the sheep had been taken in by the stock market culture.They had gradually first,but rampantly later been piling their and their spouses feedstock into ever expanding future Infosys, future Reliance, future L&T,.. hell future anything. The friendly "relationship" managers from fine companies like Religare, Indiabulls, ICICIDirect, Kotak, Motilal Oswal, ShareKhan, 10Paisa, 5Paisa, OPaisa etc. had all stopped by their stockades( destiny ?) and "advised" them the sectoral growth opportunities and how sheep in next pen were getting fatter and fatter on their investment profits.
"Herd mentality" being practically copyrighted by the sheep,it was not long before the herd was feeding at the relationship managers new "stock market" troughs in a frenzy. It was good, it was heady and it was, in a way, sexually stimulating(for the males as usual). There were all kinds of sheep..young and old , dominant and sheepish ,woolly and shorn, fundamental and technical (newly educated in the terms) .
But as has happened for generations, the "marketmen" ultimately led them away to more grounded purposes. This time was different as so many were rounded up and trucked away bleating in one was a little disturbing.

The stockades look quietened down now, what is left is skinny ,close shorn sheep, no meat and no wool to excite the marketmen..they nibble despondently and go about their routine limply.

But this was before the "inclusive growth" populism rained down on the farmer's SUV parked right next door to the disillusioned herd.Now ,some wise old sheep(who'd lost much power and say to younger libido in the stock frenzy) took the matter onto their own hooves and quietly planned how to be included in this talented minister's deficit free (no matter what) cloud seeding program.

As sheep ( by definition a herd to the last one) realistically cannot commit suicides singly or even force the goats to do same ( as happened in Landlords getting compensated for serfs' suicides) without immediately being suspected of being lemmings (apart from the whole herd perishing), it was decided the only solution was to invite the hon'ble Minister to the fence bordering their pasture and coax him to demonstrate his straddling talents for their benefit while they cheered wildly..and hoped for Govt bonds to fund their (ahem) losses.

Personally,I think it is feeble..

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