Defence Ministry authorises use of files as weapons

Shovon Chowdhury | Updated on April 17, 2014



Raga in cap_col.eps

I try not to sneeze as the bearer puts the files on the table and backs away. They should have given him gloves. The files are dank and mottled, and covered in years of dust. I can see mold and fungus. Some of the thicker files could well be breeding other forms of life. As chemical weapons, these would be lethal. If deployed in bulk, they would be weapons of mass destruction. The Defence Ministry babu smiles at me from across the table. “As you can see, we are well-prepared,” he says.

“What led you to take this step?” I ask.

“In 2014, China’s defence budget increased by 12 per cent to $132 billion, the biggest increase since 2010,” he says, “We increased ours by 5 per cent, to $37 billion. As a result we’ve been unable to do certain things, like buy new batteries for submarines. For the army and the navy, the modernisation budget has shrunk by 4 and 3 per cent. Given the depreciation of the rupee, the reduction is much more. This is helping us defend the country better.”

“Against the Chinese?” I ask.

“No, against our armed forces. Our primary function in the ministry is to prevent a coup. Our penal code is from the nineteenth century. The forces have weapons from WWII. They are ahead of us. If they become too advanced, they could get ideas. There’s been no coup since 1947, so our strategy must be working. We also have a contingency plan for external defence.”

He picks up a file. I try not to look. Small creatures are crawling all over it. “This file pertains to submarine purchase,” he says, “It has been untouched by human hands for 11 years. It contains bacteria that can eat through steel. We have developed a variety of delivery systems. In case of a naval attack, ministry officials will paddle into the ocean in rubber dinghies and hurl them at enemy vessels. They will also be fired from guns of naval destroyers, launched from submarines, and dropped from Indian Airlines aircraft, lent by the Aviation Ministry.”

“Supposing you run out of files?” I ask.

The babus laugh uproariously. “There is little risk of that. As a last resort, some of us are willing to become ammunition. Since the Bofors guns have no ammo, feasibility studies are being conducted to evaluate if babus can be fired from them.” I tuck my pencil behind my ear and leave his room, reeling from the horrifying image of babus descending from the sky, en masse, at high velocity. If that doesn’t beat the Chinese, nothing will.


Ally Subramaniam was born in south-west Sundarbans, but was blown away by a cyclone and washed up on the shore near Chennai. He was adopted by a poor Brahmin family from Tirupur. He can answer all your questions at >

Dear Ally, My father-in-law recently purchased a gun. Should I worry? Regards, Prakash, Bengaluru

Dear Prakash,

It depends on how long he has known you. Were you married recently? Have you been meeting him frequently? If so, there is cause for worry. In your place, I would hide behind my wife as much as possible. Alternately, he may have purchased it for use in crisis situations. The best way to verify this is to cause a crisis situation. You could hide behind a curtain and leap out at him, perhaps while making a humorous remark. Alternately, you could creep up behind him, put a finger in his back, and shout ‘Hands up!’ Either of these methods should help you understand the situation.

Yours truly, Ally

Delhi Police lathicharge Rahul Gandhi by mistake!

The capital was in uproar after an inadvertent lathi-charge on national icon Rahul Gandhi late last evening in Delhi. The mishap occurred as he was emerging from the home of a Dalit woman in east Delhi. The lady’s son, a youth studying in Class IV, had written ‘Tanu weds Manu’ on his cap, leading to the unfortunate misunderstanding. The dim lighting and the fact that his cap was not properly laundered also contributed to the tragedy.

“We have standing instructions to arrest anyone wearing a Gandhi cap with slogans,” said Constable Ram Manohar Pande, “We attacked him from the backside because it was safer. Because of his heavy beard we were unable to recognise him. It was only when he started talking about NREGA that we realised who it was.” Doctors at AIIMS have reported that the patient is now out of danger. “Despite several blows to the head, he seems to be quite fine,” said one of them.

“We have advised him to have two Crocin tablets daily for the next one week, and to ensure that his Gandhi cap is always properly laundered in the future.”

(The Investigator is a fortnightly round-up of all things droll and newsy. All views are personal. Really personal.)

Shovon Chowdhury is chief Truthdigger and author of The Competent Authority. Follow Shovon on Twitter >@shovonc

Published on March 14, 2014

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