When the going gets tough, wisdom lies in moving away from the site and, if necessary, also from the sight. When there is an imminent danger of your being thrashed in a road rage because you cannot overpower the adversary, your instinct of survival will tell you to run away as fast as and as far as possible.
The movements away from the site and out of sight can be divided into two broad categories: one, in accordance with the law of nature, also known as Newton’s ‘law of motion’, and man-made laws; two, if that is not possible, defying the law of nature as well as man-made laws. The second category is often described as vanishing trick or magic.
We have examples of both.
The other day, the Home Minister of India told us that he had been informed that certain important documents relating to a historical case, known as ‘Ishrat Jahan’, were missing. Several social and political workers had been working hard for more than a decade to keep the case a hot topic. They are doing so because in their wisdom, secular image of India is more important than the existence of India. If you recall, more than one and half years ago, the then Coal minister of India had informed that certain files required by the CBI had vanished.
The believers in Newton’s ‘laws of motion’ do not believe that government files and documents can vanish in thin air. ‘How is it possible? Were these files or documents in electronic form, kept on a computer and had been stolen by unseen electronic viruses?’ When told that all these were in physical form, the sceptics argue that the movement of every physical object is governed by Newton’s First Law of Motion: ‘An object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.’ Every file, by nature, resists changes in its state of motion. In scientific language it is also known as ‘law of inertia’. The sceptics argue that every file is given a ‘registered identity’ – name and number entered in a prescribed register – at the time of its ‘birth’ (creation), a definite place of stay (exact location depending on its status), a custodian and that, when on move, it leaves behind easily traceable foot marks.
Since Newton was not aware of the Indian magicians, he could not discover the ‘laws’ behind vanishing tricks. All those files which have the potential to create trouble just vanish, exactly as a magician makes a person or a thing vanish under the watchful eyes of the viewers. If the magician PC Sircar Jr can make a big building like Tajmahal invisible, why can our magician officers sitting in the comfortable chambers not make some papers invisible from the prying eyes of enemies?
In fact, movement away from the site or out of sight is a great saviour. The vanishing trick performed by magicians, our bureaucrats included, fall in the second category of movement. Let me give you an example of the movement following in the first category.
The other day when a heavyweight – heavyweight in every sense of the term – realized that he was being unfairly hounded and tried, more by the unfriendly media than by the court of law, he declared that he would also perform the vanishing trick.
“How will you do that, Sir? Are you a magician?” Asked his latest companion
“There is no need to be a magician. I know something better, ‘the Art of Leaving”. He explained.
“Really? You know ‘the Art of Living’? Will we be attending the mega show being organized on the bank of the river Yamuna?” The companion was thrilled at the prospect of showing her beauty to millions.
The heavyweight smiled at her innocence. “You are a beauty without brain. That’s why I like you. You did not get what I said. I said, ‘the Art of Leaving’, L-E-A-V-I-N-G’. Right now it is much more important for us.”
The ‘beauty without brain’, ‘BB’ for short, being the beauty without brain, still did not get it. The question mark on her beautiful face filled the heavyweight with pity. He explained, “Sweety, we would be leaving this country shortly. I mean, you and I would be going out of the country. I have been betrayed by my friends, by all those whom I patronised. I’m fed up with all the noise, as if I’m the only one who has been benefited by the largess of the previous government and banks they controlled. This country is full of intolerant and ungrateful people. I can’t tolerate this intolerance. I am a peace loving man. I want to live in peace, away from these noisy people. Please put everything we need in big suitcases we would be carrying.’
‘BB’ was delighted at the prospect of travelling abroad. She had never gone out of India.
“Where do you plan to go?” She asked.
“I have not yet decided. Maybe, London is our first destination.”
‘BB’ had an apprehension she decided to share with her newly acquired benefactor.
“But I’m hearing all sorts of rumours that you owe several thousand crores of rupees to banks. I’m afraid they may send their musclemen to stop you from going out of country. I know how nasty those musclemen could be. Once I had defaulted to pay the installment of just a few thousand of rupees. One morning three musclemen knocked on my door and did not leave until I had borrowed from someone to pay them. You know, ultimately you solved by financial problems and saved me.”
“Forget about that. No bank would ever send any musclemen to me. Look at me. I’m no lightweight. They jolly well know that they don’t have enough force to frighten me to pay or to prevent me from practising ‘the Art of Leaving ‘or to send me to jail or.” Without knowing anything about Newton, the heavyweight had explained in a very simple language Newton’s second law of motion: heavier objects require more force to move the same distance as lighter objects.
‘BB’ was mighty impressed and felt assured.
After a couple of days she informed her benefactor that the packing was complete but she was a bit nervous that he would be angry to know the number of suitcases.
“I have done the packing but I’m sorry to say there are as many as seven big suitcases but my things in only one suitcase.”
“Just seven? It seems you have taken pity on banks. They should be grateful to you. Thinking that the number of suitcases would be very large, I had asked a bank to lend me some money to charter a jet. But now we will go in a regular flight.”
He asked his secretary to get two first-class tickets for London. Knowing his boss very well, Secretary was not surprised but he wanted to take certain precautions to avoid any trouble to the boss. “I presume you will prefer to fly in night, as Ottavio Quattrocchi had done years ago.” He enquired.
Boss did not like the comparison. He chided his secretary. “What nonsense! I’m not a coward like Quattrocchi. Moreover, I am a respectable citizen of this country. I am one of the lawmakers of the country. I will never do anything against law. I will perform ‘the Art of Leaving’ in full knowledge of everybody. I will vanish from the country in broad daylight. I will not do any trick. I will do everything according to the rules and regulations. Understand?”
On the D Day, accompanied by ‘BB’ and seven heavy suitcases, he reached the airport in his especially designed car which unfortunately he was leaving behind.
Those at the airport were quite impressed to see him. They waved at him. Smiling and looking relaxed, as ever, he too waved at his admirers. At the immigration counter, the staff saw him. One of the clerks took a printed notice out of the drawer of a table, read it carefully to be doubly sure and then rang up an officer in the CBI. “Sir, he is right here, at the immigration counter.”
The CBI officer who was busy interrogating a crooked fellow who had cheated a bank of Rs. one lakh, did not like to be disturbed. In a harsh tone he asked, “Why are you bothering me if somebody is at the immigration counter? Hundreds of people go to there everyday.”
The clerk became nervous but had to do his duty. Mustering all courage, he replied, “Sir, I mean that heavyweight against whom there is a ‘lookout’ notice. Sir, please tell me what I am supposed to do.”
After scratching his head, Sir remembered that, much to his disliking, a ‘lookout’ notice had been issued against a respectable heavyweight. He asked the immigration clerk to read the notice carefully. The clerk read it out on mobile. The officer told him, “That’s fine. You have seen the heavyweight and informed me. You have done your duty. Just keep looking at him until he goes out of sight.”
After a while, the clerk rang up again. “Sir, just now he has gone out of sight. Now I cannot look at him.”
“Don’t worry. Now he will be looked after by air hostesses in his first class cabin. I’m glad there are alert persons like you at the immigration counter. You deserve promotion for doing your duty diligently. You have done exactly what you had been asked to do.”
The immigration clerk was happy. The heavyweight had smiled at him and thanked him profusely before the counter. Now the CBI officer had also complimented him.
In the CBI office the officer took a ‘secret’ file from an almirah and recorded in his own handwriting the status: ‘Today in the forenoon, an immigration clerk at the Indira Gandhi International airport rang up to informed the CBI that as required by the ‘lookout’ notice, he had seen the heavyweight at the immigration counter. The immigration clerk was alert enough to keep an eye on the heavyweight until he had gone out of sight. Since the immigration clerk was not required to tell us the heavyweight’s destination, it is not known where he has gone but on the basis of intelligent guess, it can be said that he has gone to London. We know for certain that one of his several palaces abroad, one is in the suburb of London. If approved the attorney general of India could be briefed accordingly so that he is fully armed with facts when he appears before the Supreme Court next.” He signed the note and sent it to superior who after going through it, put his initials and sent the file to his boss who wrote ‘as proposed ‘ and sent the file on its downward journey.
Every action has its reaction. This is known as Newton’s third law of motion. There was uproar in the media when it was learnt that the heavyweight had fled India, most probably to London.
The heavyweight was irritated by the noise. Coming out in the open, he announced that he was very much in London, that he had not fled, that being one of the respected lawmakers of the country, he had done left the country strictly in accordance with all the laws and rules and regulations.
I think, the banks are feeling relieved. They do not have to do much. Now the ball is in the court of powerful authorities like Enforcement Directorate and CBI.
There is jubilation in CBI and naturally so. ‘We had told you. He is in London.’
By Devendra Narain at indiaopines blog
The author also blogs here