You must be thrilled with the government’s ₹20 lakh crore COVID-19 Relief Package. The FM has, for reasons unknown, stopped at the fifth tranche of the historic package. A highly placed government source tells me the overall plan is for a total of 19 tranches (since it’s for COVID-19). Of these, 18 tranches have already been finalised. But work is yet to start on the 19th one. Apparently, the ministry used up its last tranche of ideas in the 18th tranche, and now they are stuck.
Tell you what, I’m happy to help. Coming up with packages is an old hobby of mine. At this time of national crisis, the least I can do is offer my ideas free of charge. All I ask in return is that, when the FM unveils my ideas at the 19th press briefing, as a courtesy to me, she makes the following announcement: “All the ideas for the 19th tranche have been contributed by India’s leading journalist, humanitarian, and all-round genius who humbly wishes to remain anonymous in this difficult time.”
So, here we go.
Pradhan Mantri Vegetable Cart Overturning Yojana (PM-COY): ₹80,000 crore
• The PM-COY is India’s biggest COVID-19 success story. Policemen across India overturned 38,972 vegetable carts in March — 10,000% more than any other country. This number rose to 65,786 in April, and in May, already 96,456 carts have been overturned. In all, 7.4 lakh tonnes of vegetables and 3 million livelihoods have been successfully destroyed in less than three months.
• Now we propose a special credit line of ₹80,000 crore to further enhance state capacity in overturning the carts of vegetable vendors.
Migrant Workers: Special Measures During COVID-19
• During the lockdown period, special skilling programmes will be undertaken to train cops on the art and science of beating up migrant workers.
• A special fund of ₹5,000 crore to be created for purchase of new lathis to replace lathis worn-out from beating migrant workers.
• Special liquidity scheme for State governments that ensure zero transportation for migrants seeking desperately to return to their homes.
Surveillance Infrastructure Initiatives: ₹9.8 lakh crore
• Surveillance is the lynchpin of India’s COVID-19 strategy. The newly launched Aiyogya Setu will track your every move and report directly to India’s top stalkers.
• We propose a special Marketing and Publicity Fund of ₹6.7 lakh crore to counter the negative publicity against Aiyogya Setu.
Incentives for Doctors and Medical Workers: ₹50,000 crore
• The thousands of medical staff at the frontlines of India’s epic battle against COVID-19 need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Therefore, a special fund of ₹20,000 crore will be created to bear the costs of neutralising the PR damage caused to the government and the PM by media reports documenting the lack of availability of PPE.
Promotion of Inter-Galactic Bovine Trade: ₹20,000 crore
• Many galaxies in the universe are full of cattle with high milk production capacity. A special Fund of Funds (proposed name: ‘Milky Whey’) will be set up to promote private investment in the dairy sector in deep space.
• Incentives to be given for firms that successfully cross-breed Indian cows with alien cows to produce hybrid cows whose effluents retain all the core cultural properties of the desi cow.
Pradhan Mantri Happy Birthday Singing Yojana (PMHBSY): ₹30,000 crore
• The COVID-19 lockdown has caused job losses and paycuts for millions, leading to economic uncertainty and soaring stress levels. This could lead to a spike in cardiac problems. So, a special Pradhan Mantri Happy Birthday Singing Yojana (PMHBSY) shall be launched, under which policemen will visit the homes of rich people and sing ‘happy birthday’. This will lower stress levels and make the policemen seem humane and friendly.
• Government will provide additional support of ₹3,000 crore to encourage cops to learn songs other than ‘Happy birthday to you’ so that they are equipped to take on special requests. Two examples of popular national songs that may be memorised by cops for lockdown singing: ‘Shaitan ka sala’ and ‘Tera ghata’.
New Definition of Freedom of Speech
• There has been a long-pending demand for revision of the definition of ‘freedom of speech’. Existing definition has created a fear psychosis among government functionaries, crony capitalists, and all kinds of low life in high posts.
• The government, therefore, proposes to redefine ‘right to freedom of expression’ as “the right to praise the government, its representatives, allies, and propagandists”.
• Any exercise of free speech that makes the government look like an idiot, regardless of whether or not the government has acted idiotically, will attract charges of sedition, UAPA, MCOCA, LEE IACOCCA, etc.
• 100,000 Free Speech prisons shall be built across the country to lock down (pun unintended) journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens who violate the revised definition of ‘free speech’. 85% of the corpus of PM-SCARES shall be allocated for this purpose.
G. Sampath is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu. firstname.lastname@example.org