This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.
At the sidelines of a G-20 summit, two bhais, one Hindi, one Chini, meet at an abandoned temple.
Chinibhai: “Look, we both rose from the same per-capita GDP rate. But see where you are now, and where I am now. Today I have tall buildings, Olympic stadiums, trade surpluses, Sovereign Wealth Funds, ICBMs and thermonuclear bombs. What do you have?”
Hindibhai: “Mere paas Bappi hai”
Contrary to popular belief, the Indian interlocutor was not making a emotional argument. He was engaged in strategic signaling—sounding a subtle warning that even if the thermonuclear design didn’t deliver the expected bang, we have Bappi on our side. A keen scholar of Indian history and culture, the Indian diplomat was drawing attention to the ancient Reality Show in which the Kauravas might well have had the biggest army, but the Pandavas had The Charioteer. We all know how that war ended.
You don’t have to be a Bappitva fundamentalist to understand why Bappi Lahiri is better than a thermonuclear bomb. At the broadest strategic level, this is because while a nuclear weapon is merely an instrument of hard power, Bappida is that and more. For ten important reasons:
First, because a thermonuclear bomb has to be developed indigenously it is very hard and expensive to build one. On the other hand, not only do we already have Bappida, but he himself has never been moved by indigenousness, swadeshi and other forms of irrelevant parochialism. He’ll take whatever, from wherever and make it rock.
Second, even if you design a thermonuclear bomb, it is very difficult and very costly to test it. Bappida doesn’t suffer from similar constraints. He’ll just go ahead and test his designs—if you think it is successful, you’ll get on your feet and dance. If you don’t, then it cost you Rs 25 (in 1985 rupees) or less to figure out that you are on the sad side of the generation gap. No one will demand a ban on his tests.
Third, how easy do you think it is to increase the yield of a thermonuclear bomb? The correct answer is “not at all”. But to improve Bappida’s yield you just need to turn the knob (of the 1985 amplifier) clockwise, slowly. (Those who have done this will know that it will set-off explosions in the adjacent room, flat or town. In some localities in Tamil Nadu, it will even cause mass migrations radiating away from the said amplifier.)
Fourth, you can’t put dark glasses on a thermonuclear bomb.
Fifth, a thermonuclear bomb is useless as a store of wealth. But Bappida is India’s secret Sovereign Wealth Fund. All that gold jewelry can defend the rupee, the Indian government and the Indian film industry.
Sixth, the bomb doesn’t have a son called Bappa.
Eighth, try getting a thermonuclear bomb to sue Dr Dre for plagiarism. It can’t, and even if it did, no California jury will side with an ugly beast that doesn’t sport dark glasses indoors and wear heavy gold jewelry.
Ninth, a hydrogen bomb can’t judge a reality show.
And finally, the thermonuclear bomb can never—not in a million years—sing “Yaad aa raha hai, tera pyaar”. See for yourself:
Actually, astute as they are, the Chinibhais have known all this for some time. But they couldn’t do much about it. Not that they didn’t try—surely, you don’t think that it is a mere coincidence that that Dear Leader chap wears dark glasses—but not every charioteer is The Charioteer. Till that time, India is safe.
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