Alice in Budget-land

MANASI PHADKE | Updated on January 20, 2018

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It’s time for a little madness!

And so it happened that Alice, who was dozing off, heard a patter of feet running excitedly past her. But what truly woke her up was the voice of the Rabbit saying, “Oh, I’m really late. Times Then covered the Economic Survey. And Times Now will cover the Union Budget. Had to went, have to go!”

Alice was now fully awake and started to rush into the rabbit hole after Mr Rabbit, when she suddenly stopped outside the hole. Because there were two. The one on the left said “right.” And the one on the right, was, well, right! Left with nothing but right, she chose the right. Falling through the rabbit hole, she crash-landed into the office of the Chief Economic Advisor, who was eating, well, bread and JAM.

“Can I have some JAM too?” she ventured. The gentleman looked up. “In which bank do you have an account?” asked the CEA quite kindly.

“Bank? You misunderstood me. Sir, I am hungry. I just need a bit of Aadhaar.”

“Don’t we all!” beamed the CEA. “And then, you can just use the mobile to get the goodies, right from fertilisers to sugar to food!”

Oh my gosh! Alice thought, who ever said that the Indian economy was not yet developed. They send goodies through mobiles! Just then, Mr Rabbit came running into the office saying, “This is a true Chakravyuha! Only entry, no exits!”

The CEA looked piercingly through his spectacles. “We are going to change that Mr Rabbit! Companies and government policies will all have exit clauses. That is the only way to go ahead.”

“Strange!” thought Alice. “When there was no exit, there was no entry. The moment you announce exit, you prompt more entry! Oh, this world of economics gets curioser and curioser!”

“Sir, can you show me the road to the FM’s office?” asked Mr Rabbit importantly. “Ah, these rails and roads worth ₹2.8 lakh crore take you there. Oh, don’t mind all the repair work, my dear. It’s just the PMGSY. Don’t worry about the water either. Our water table’s not too deep. Not yet, anyway. Good luck with the FM! Mind you are fiscally prudent when you meet him!” advised the Advisor.

Alice turned the golden key 3.5 per cent to enter the FM’s office. She was uncertain, but it looked like the Sherwood forest. “And I am Robinhood,” said the FM, with quite a flourish.

“My dear men, let us take from the rich a Sir-charge to give unto the poor, who do not have dwellings. Give LPG to the maidens who cough every morn on the chulha. But we don’t hold people at the tip of our cross-bows, our offer is to voluntarily come and declare your wrongdoing and thou shallst be pardoned.”

“Ummm, of course, after you pay 30 per cent plus surcharge at 7.5 per cent plus penalty 7.5 per cent,” said Mr Adhia, looking anything but Hasmukh.

“45 per cent?” said Alice. “You seem to be quite thicketty with Picketty. When you grumble all the time about having no headroom, why do you wear two caps, Mr Robinhood?”

“Because the Mad Hatter gave them to me. The first cap has gone bad, you see. And the re-cap is worth ₹25,000 crore. And even with that, we are not covered. Market’s really weak. Now stop talking with me. I am going to court.”

“Of course, you are a lawyer!”

“Wrong again! I am off to the tennis court, my dear.”

“And with whom will you play?”

“With the RBI Governor, of course! I have just put the ball firmly in his court!”

The writer is a Pune-based economist.

Published on March 02, 2016

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