Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MoU – Gujarat plays Monopoly

(Originally written in Gujarati titled ‘MoU : Gujarat no navo vepaar’ in my humor column, friend-journalist Ayesha Khan took pains to translate it for larger circulation. It has some unmistakable Gujarati flavour. Still, it may be worth a look)

After earthquake and communal violence, MoUs are now the main subject of discussion in Gujarat. It is bit fortunate that newspapers nowadays are not printed from lead types. Otherwise, they would have run short of types for number Zero while printing the figures of MoUs. More so the newspapers would have been forced to enter in a MoU worth some thousand crores with some mould manufacturing company.

Communal violence and before that the earthquake – both were reported in such a manner, that all other facts- be it social, religious, educational, financial or miscellaneous matters were discussed only with their reference. Following some lakh crores worth MoUs that took place in Vibrant Gujarat this year, what will happen if MoUs were to take place in all walks of life ?


A prospective groom accompanies his parents at a girl's home. The girl and boy are talking to each other in a room. Outside, the boy's father(Father 1) and girl's father (Father 2) discuss.

Father 1: What do you think?
Father 2 : Can't predict anything about this generation.
Father 1: How about doing a MoU ourselves till both of them talk? You have come all the way to our home. It just will not do that you return empty handed.
Father 2: You are right. Let us do a MoU of ten lakh rupees.
Father 1: What !!!! Hush... If anyone listens, we both will sound like fools. Are we taking some LIC policy that we talk in lakhs? We are doing a MoU. Think of Gujarat’s prestige.
Father 2: I was just testing you. Is Rs 700 crore MoU ok with you?
Father 1: Arrey, we might as well as add up it a bit. Let us keep it at 1000-1200 crore worth. We have done MoUs worth 22,000 crore , but still there is no match available for the boy.
Father 2: Be patient. We also had to end up doing MoUs worth 17,000 Crore Rs for the girl. It happens.

A NRG relative present on the occasion is surprised at the conversation. He end up asking , ‘What is the point of a MoU when a girl and boy merely talk to each other for marriage?''
Father 1: Now if they like each other, will they not marry and set up a home? And if they set up a home, will they not incur expenses? Consider the expense of a family- wife, husband and their two children in these times of inflation. Assume that their married life will last for fifty years, now calculate the expenses. Add up some zeros to the expenses and if we do a MoU worth it now only…..
NRG: But what will that mean? The marriage has not been fixed yet and you talk in thousands, crores. And even if the marriage happens – what is the point in gloating over a figure that they might spend in 25 to 50 years together?
Father 1: You seem to have no idea of how Gujarat works. Gujarat is on the road of development and others are jealous. That is why they come up with such arguments. Are you against Gujarat?
NRG: No, but are you against common sense?
Father 1: There is no merit in such argument.
NRG: O.K. After I return, I will do a MoU worth hundred million pounds with an airline, for the sake of the foreign travel my future generations will undertake. I will also do MoU worth seven hundred million pounds with grocery store and one billion pound with hospital.
Father 1: Now you sound like vibrant Gujarati. This is some vibrant talk which our chief minister be proud of. Look, you should organize one big party every year. You should invite all the bigwigs from big industries, and if they don't come, even shopkeepers will do. Fete and feed them. And the expense you incur on them should be accounted as investment and do MoUs worth million of pounds with them. Then just watch out, you actually can throw your weight around. People will acknowledge you as some one really important. – A year ago he signed a MoU worth one billion dollars, while this year he signed MoU worth four billion dollars…
NRG: Oh, it sounds so vibrant!

Though we have zeros raining in vibrant Gujarat, Some are dry as hay. They argue : “It is different altogether that how many of these MoUs turn out to be actually projects. Industrialists are to benefit most if the MoUs turn in actual projects. And even if they don't turn as projects, the chief minister benefits anyway. What has the common man to do with it?”

To silent such arguments and also to demonstrate how Vibrant Gujarat can make a difference in the lives of the poorest, here is a sample of list of MoUs that can be done for the sake of common man. The rest can add up in the list according to their wisdom.

Datun seller – Neem twig seller (Agriculture sector).
Can't we consider this Datun seller as the poorest of the poor- when earlier they eked living exchanging this twigs for a chappati or two, and sometimes at the most Rs 1? Of course we can. Then, one day catch hold of one such seller and do a MoU worth Rs 25 crores promising to buy datun on behalf of the entire Pol (neighbourhoods in walled city area). Then watch out - everyday you will get fresh datum, and in times of global recession how Gujarat's datum industry picks up momentum, while global players also enter the market!

Bus-Auto-Train (Transport/Green technology sector)

Amdavadis can have a MoU with AMTS, like the Barodians with VITCOs, Rs 50-100 crores per person considering the lifetime ticket costs for the bus service. Similarly, the daily train passengers can have a MoU with central government. And those who prefer ticketless traveling will be also eager for the MoU. This will have the most common person, strutting around, and instead of handing out some simple ticket or season ticket - can flourish out some crore worth MoU document- when asked for a ticket.

Phenyl seller (Chemical sector)
Don't consider these phenyl sellers who come on their cycles to sell in the streets or housing societies any lesser. You can actually do a MoU worth Rs. 25-50 crores with them, and if the figure is inadequate, just add couple of zeroes to the amount.

Newspaper vendors (media sector):
It hardly suits the citizen of Vibrant Gujarat to have monthly dealing of some Rs 100-200 nominal amount. Instead one can have a MoU of Rs 100 crores both with the newspaper vendor and the other with waste newspaper dealer.

Those who expected ``understanding'', justice and Rajdharma from the chief minister following the communal riots should stop criticizing him and instead have a stall during Vibrant Gujarat. If one can be hopeful of ‘understanding’ from government just by signing memorandum, why not try it out?

1 comment:

  1. This article is really a vibrant. I would like to do MoU with Kamvali bai, Dhobi, kariyana ni dukan and shakvala bhaiyaji. :)