The Investigator

Shovon Choudhury | Updated on December 05, 2019

We dig for the truth. So you don't have to



The deputy secretary has a plate of sweets in front of him. Each one is of a different type. I am touched by his gesture. I have been to many government offices, but no one has ever offered me sweets. I reach out to take one, but he gestures to a peon, who comes forward and slaps my hand away. “Those are not for you,” he says, “They are for discussion and analysis.” He points at the other officers sitting around the table. All of them are frowning at me. “The economy is a cause for concern. Government revenue is declining. This is why we have committed ourselves to increasing GST rates. We will work day and night, continuously nudging GST rates upwards, until the economy improves.” He picks up a laddoo and pops it in his mouth, meditatively. “How will this help the economy?” I ask, ignoring my growling stomach. The deputy secretary eyes me with pity. “Even this you cannot understand?” he says, munching on a kaju barfi. “Government expenditure is almost 15 per cent of GDP. If the government earns more, it can spend more. Naturally, the economy will improve.” I wonder whether I should try to go for one of the gulab jamuns. I decide against it. “We must proceed with caution. GST is like a well-oiled machine. Changes cannot be made lightly. Take the case of barfis. If the barfi contains kaju, it attracts one rate. The rate for chocolate barfi is different. For pista, a third rate will apply. If silver foil has been added, the matter becomes more complex. There are many decisions to be made. Should we increase GST for all of them, and if so, should the increase be uniform? I personally felt that chocolate should attract a higher rate, for contaminating traditional sweets with foreign substances, until it was pointed out that most of our pista comes from Afghanistan. We have not even had time to address packaging. There is a consensus that boxes produced by cottage industries will be favoured, while machine-made will attract a higher rate. In case ribbons are used, a separate cess will apply, with rates varying depending on whether they are silver, gold or one of six approved standard colours, for which separate guidelines are being produced as we speak. And this is just one industry. There are so many more. But we will not rest until we reach our goal of a trillion-dollar economy, sooner rather than later.” He gazes into the distance, enraptured by his vision. I use the opportunity to pocket a couple of barfis. It looks like prices are going up.



In news described as “the logical next step for Indian police procedure” by Police Review Quarterly, officers from a police station in Badarpur have filed an FIR against a murder victim. He has been charged with a wide variety of offences, including “non co-operation with murder investigation”, “loitering”, “sedition”, and “attempt to malign the police”. “This is just another attempt to malign the police,” said the SHO. “The culprit is trying to incite the public, so that we are accused of not fighting crime. If I have said this once, I have said this a thousand times. The police are always there to help the public. If a crime is committed, the public just has to file a proper FIR, after finding the police station with jurisdiction in that particular area. They just have to remember to obtain a directory of local police stations from their relevant home ministry, and carry it with them at all times. It can fit in a medium-sized suitcase. Unfortunately, this murder victim did none of those things.”

What is the status of the investigation? Has any breakthroughs been achieved? The SHO sighs. “We are interrogating the suspect, but he is not co-operating. He is refusing to walk. We are forced to carry him. So far, he has not replied to any of our questions. He appears to be a hardened criminal. During the entire period of his stay, his expression has not changed even once.”


Dear Ally,

My boss has been shouting at me a lot. He has also been making unreasonable demands. The other day he asked me for a printout of Wikipedia. When I failed to comply, he hurled a copy of Manorama Yearbook at me. Due to my quick reflexes, I was able to duck promptly, but one of my colleagues suffered minor injuries. Should I be worried?

Regards, Vaibhav, Noida

Dear Vaibhav,

He is obviously sitting for the Civil Service exam. This explains the Manorama Yearbook. His request vis-à-vis Wikipedia also reveals a thirst for knowledge. I am not ruling out incompetence on your part. You are clearly not a model employee, with a tendency to whine about your bosses. You are also focusing too much on physical fitness, instead of working. This is like stealing from the company. Seeing people like you makes his blood boil, and who can blame him? However, the primary factor is probably the exam. Shifting from the private sector to the public sector is never easy, and his brain may not be as agile as it used to be. Personally, I think he is focusing on the general knowledge part of the exam too much. Ask him to study the other subjects as well. If you do this repeatedly, around two to three times a day, everything should be fine.

Yours Sincerely, Ally.

Shovon Chowdhury is chief Truthdigger and author of Murder with Bengali Characteristics

The Investigator is a monthly round-up of all things droll and newsy. All views are personal. Really personal. @shovonc

Published on December 05, 2019

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