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Faster, Higher, Richer

Yesterday, I met one of India’s leading bureaucrats. He looked mighty peeved. “What’s pissing you off, Mr Bureaucrat?,” I asked with trepidation.

“Let me tell you why I’m peeved. One hundred and sixty six of us went to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. For the 2012 London Games they have cut down the numbers and are sending only 10 officials. That too some ex-Olympians who know nothing about modern sport. I don’t know how to face my wife, who has a long Selfridges shopping list for my daughter’s wedding. It is mighty unfair.”


Illustration/ Amit Bandre

“Mr Bureaucrat, what is mighty unfair is that in Beijing, there were 166 useless officials and only 56 worthy athletes, a ridiculous ratio of 3 is to 1. At least this time, it is 10 officials to 84 sportsmen. What do you even know about modern sport?”

The Bureaucrat was calm. “Boss, I am a fully trained master of modern sport. In fact, I don’t see myself as an official, I want to represent India as an athlete.” I laughed. “Ok, but what are you trained in? You look awfully unfit. I see a pot belly popping out of your loose safari suit.”

He said, “Hey don’t go by appearances, samjhe? I am an all rounder. Let’s take each sporting discipline, and I’ll explain to you my artistry. Let’s start with the alphabet A —for Archery. Abhinav Bindra is no match for me. I am a man who has one aim, and I know exactly what my targets are —this year, my aim is to earn Rs 200 crore, and I have set my sights on coal, uranium and natural gas.”

“Next, take Athletics. I specialise in both long distance events and sprints. I have been a marathon runner through so many administrations. Do you know how much long-term stamina it requires to serve through Indira Gandhi’s autocracy, Morarji Desai’s rigidity, VP Singh’s Mandal problems, Rajiv’s Doon School buddies and Mammohan’s inactivity? I deserve several goal medals for my patriotism,” he added.

“At the same time, if there is a scandal that I am involved with, like say the Commonwealth Games, I can sprint away from the spotlight faster than you can say, ‘Usain Bolt.’ Then there’s Hockey — my specialty — do you know what an expert dribbler I am? You won’t see the ball, that’s how quickly I can manipulate it away from anyone who stands in my way.

I’m so skilful that I have been hired to compete at the state level, by all the legends of the game, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalita and Karunanidhi’s son. But I now want to compete at the international level.”

And so he spoke at length about his skill at Wrestling, Tennis, Boxing and every other sporting discipline at the Olympics.
I listened intently and thought to myself, that there is truly one Olympic sport I’d like to master to deal with this man and his 166 cronies — Rifle shooting.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper. 

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