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Bull's Eye

Bull's Eye

Author: Rajinder Puri
Publication: Outlook
Date: February 12, 2007
URL: http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20070212&fname=ZBulls+Eye&sid=1

Introduction: Is there then no solution to monkey menace which is affecting governance at the nation's highest policymaking level? A modest proposal...

As India relentlessly proceeds towards acquiring superpower status, Indians are being encouraged to seek out-of-the-box solutions to hasten progress. In my own humble way, I too have proposed a measure to help improve governance.

Even greater than the Master Plan mess is a crisis in the capital which is paralysing the entire central government. It is derailing the government's policymaking. I refer of course to the monkey menace in Lutyens' Delhi. Monkeys that have proliferated exponentially are threatening the lives of bureaucrats and ministers around the Central Secretariat and Parliament House. No normal work by officials can be carried on for fear of a surprise assault by this growing army. They can't work for fear of the increasingly bold and aggressive monkeys. Ministers spend sleepless nights unable to focus on the next day's agenda.

The Delhi administration's plan to deal with this crisis has flopped. The capital's lone monkey catcher, Nand Lal, ably assisted until now by his langur, whose name we have failed to ascertain, has thrown in his hand. He has quit and gone back to his village in Uttar Pradesh. He alleged unbearable harassment by wildlife activists who accused him of violating the animal rights of monkeys. Apparently Lal imprisoned the monkeys in substandard cages and his langur mistreated them in custody.

Meanwhile, terror among the rulers of India continues to spread. Some time ago, it might be recalled, monkeys even prevented cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar from occupying his allotted bungalow. Is there then no solution to this problem, which is affecting governance at the nation's highest policymaking level?

There is. We should understand the legitimate grievances of monkeys and not treat this as a simple law and order problem. The monkeys are have-nots who clearly believe they too deserve bungalows and privileges of the elite. They are sufficiently large in number in the capital now to form a constituency. I propose they should be encouraged to enter the mainstream. Why not allow them to contest polls? If elected, they could sit in Parliament and become ministers. Would the public support this?

Well, on my request The Crimes of India and The Hindustan Crimes conducted a joint public opinion poll. Of the 10 lakh respondents approached, an overwhelming 83.7 per cent supported the proposal. As one respondent explained: "If elected, they would greatly improve efficiency of parliamentary democracy. Just imagine with what speed monkeys could jump into the well of the House!"

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