The Republic Day Parade would be a great occasion for Prime Minister Modi and President Obama to cosy-up and share experiences of governing two of the largest and most complex countries. Floats passing by, weapons on display and planes flying past would be an ideal backdrop for a heart-to-heart exchange of ideas on development, good governance, and all those myriad little things that go to make great democracies. Stories Unscene tries to anticipate what a one-on-one tête-à-tête may well yield.


Modi: Barackbhai, how are you enjoying your stay here? Hope everything is as you like it.

Obama: Saaru che Narendra, it’s been great! Everything’s simply awesome! Delhi’s a glorious city; long history, massive population… must be millions out there cheering the parade – though of course, can’t see much in this blessed fog. How do you do the security? Must be tough.

M: Oh, it’s easy. We just close down the Metro and cordon off the roads in advance; only let in those we want. No public, no trouble no? They can see it on TV. We all watch cricket that way.

(Shouts of of “Modi, Modi” fill the fog.)

O: How’re the Delhi elections going? Saw your hoardings all over – but who’s that guy in the muffler – your man for Delhi, huh?

M: Hey Bhagwan, not mine, not mine! He’s Arvind, an anarchist! I told him to go join the Naxalites. I’ll send him packing this time – no more elections for him.

O: So sorry Naren, no offence meant. But what’s this Naxalite business?

M: No business Barackbhai, those Naxal guys are anti-business. They’re Maoists.

O: Good God! You’ve got Chinese here? Get them out pronto. On that I’m with you all the way.

M: Not Chinese, Barackbhai. These guys are Indians. My biggest internal security threat. Those guys just don’t want us to do good business. They’re worse than those environmentwallas. They’re mostly adivasis and won’t allow us to clear forests and forest dwellers. So many of our mines, big dams, power projects are all on hold. No development!

O: Real backward guys, huh? Wall Street boys won’t like it one bit. You’ve gotta be firm man. Cannot let a few aboriginals get in the way of a country’s growth. We too had our Red Indians. If we hadn’t cleared them out where would the US be? Development comes with a price you know. Someone’s got to sacrifice for the greater good.


M: Yeah yeah. No sweat Barackbhai, it’s as good as done. Our Raj is on the job. His home department has brought a new policy to handle this stuff. Clear, hold, build, you know. Clear out the locals, hold on to the land, build on top of their ruins. You guys did it Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. Some say you guys made a mess, but Raj and I know you’ve done a great job. And no time to lose now. Our own chaps – Tata, Mukesh, the lot – are also getting irritable. Can’t blame them no? There’s gold to be got under those jungles – and lots to go around. That’s why I want more of your boardroom guys taking interest.

O: Our big boys will come on board, but they’ll need some guarantees. Can’t run around taking risks. Put in billions and then see them rot while some half-naked natives call the shots.

M: That hurts Barackbhai. We’re doing our best. (Just then an aging Chetak hovers over sprinkling rose petals. They wave to the helicopter and to the cameras.)

M: We’re putting in all we have to shove the adivasis out. We’ve even started using some of these helicopters. But those fellows have starting firing on them and our air-force boys don’t want to go in.

O: Our Apaches and Chinooks will come in handy for you. We’ve got real armoured choppers. But you can’t go on being so delicate. You’ll need carpet-bombing someday soon. We’ve learnt all this the hard way. No namby-pamby in things like this.

M: I know Barackbhai, I know. But these human-rightswallas go on creating a fuss. They say that adivasis are our own people, our own citizens. Some judges say our Constitution won’t allow it.

O: Aw Naren, we too have a Constitution. But that does not stop us from finishing off our citizens, when it’s got to be done. And all very legal, mind you. I myself sign the warrants. I’m using drones. Wonderful machines! Something like video games. Zero in… Wham, bam, boom.  There are mistakes here and there and many others get knocked off, but you can’t cry over collateral damage. You too must have them.

M: We’ve started on that. Manohar, our military boss is smart and will push through all deals in a jiffy. But don’t your courts and media guys raise a stink.


O: You give them the right laws and the courts will do their job.

M: We’ve got UAPA, an anti-terror and unlawful activities law. But some judges are watering it down.

O: “You Paa” … Doesn’t sound too good. We’ve called our anti-terror law PATRIOT. Great name  and helps to get everyone on board. Everyone wants to be a patriot, most of all the media. Of course for the media you’ve got to get the owners on board.

M: I’ve got most of them to fall in line. And Mukesh and other friends can mop up some more. If anyone goes too far we’ll clamp down on them.

O: But … don’t you have First Amendment Rights – you know Freedom of Expression and all that.

M: Yeah, we have our First Amendment – Nehru got it passed. But it wasn’t for granting freedom of expression – it was for restricting it.

O: Wow! Our Founding Fathers didn’t think that way. Sometimes I wish they had.

M: Barackbhai, you’re just my sort of guy. May the force be with you! (And it was then that Michelle got into conversation mode and started asking about Jashodhaben’s health. That really spoilt the mood.)