On Saturday evening, the National Image Management Group was summoned to an emergency meeting, following the national disaster that befell India at Adelaide in the first ever cricket test match we played with a pink ball.
There was a sense of great alarm among our master image gurus. That India stood beaten comprehensively was nothing new; what agitated this group was that India had crashed to its lowest ever total. A paltry 36 runs. It was a slap across the face of New India. This, after so many resources and so much adulation have been showered on this team. The cricket team is meant to provide the only good news in these days of economic gloom.
Always good at reading the omens, members of the Image Management Group were painfully aware that only a few days earlier Captain Virat Kohli had boldly—and, baldly—proclaimed: “The way my personality and character is, I am the representation of new India.”
Admittedly, Virat Kohli is indeed the most cherished and most valued bhakt because he is the most idolized person among young and no-so-young Indians, millions and millions of them, who all vote for national leadership.
With all the exuberance of a neo-convert, Kohli had gone on the front-foot to argue: “The new India takes up challenges and is filled with optimism and positivity. We make sure that we are ready for any challenges that come our way.”
And, a few days later, the captain leads his team to an inglorious batting performance. What a PR nightmare.
After an hour long deliberation, these veterans of the information game assigned the following responsibilities to our ‘assets’ to steer the national discourse away from the “New India” theme:
First, the party’s digital warriors are to be asked to forgo for some time to come their two favourite slogans: “Modi hai to mumkin hai” and “First time in 50 years.” We do not want anybody to remember that any kind of adversity has hit our nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inspiring leadership.
Second, S. Jaishankar’s Foreign Service Warriors have been asked to draft an argument to put the blame on China for India’s pathetic performance at Adelaide. The argument can be that just to spite our great national leadership, the Chinese have found some nefarious way to put pressure on the Australian bowlers to be extra-deadly. Having failed to get the better of our armed forces, these intractable Chinese have now chosen to subvert the core of our soft power, which the raksha mantri extolled just the other day.
Third, the sleuths over at the Narcotics Control Bureau are to be asked to call in their IOUs with Republic. A conspiracy angle can be introduced. It must be insinuated that something – something mysterious, something bad – happened between Friday evening [when the match was evenly poised] and Saturday morning. Given Kohli’s connection with Bollywood, the ‘drug’ element cannot be ruled out. A suggestion has been made that a CBI investigation can be demanded to determine if a disloyal, uncommitted Bollywood cast its ‘druggie’ shadow over Indian batsmen.
Fourth, those at Information and Broadcasting ministry should be asked to suggest to their patriotic accomplices in the media that the entire blame for India’s disastrous batting performance be placed on Sonia Gandhi and the Congress Party. These ‘Times-tested’ anchors can be told to interview Jyotiraditya Scindia and Hemanta Biswa Sarma [both will be directed to make themselves available] on how Rahul Gandhi had adversely affected the morale of the Indian cricketers, just as he has destroyed all other national institutions.
Additionally, these Times-tested veterans can also be provided with “documents” to prove how Sanjay Gandhi and his minions were responsible for India’s appalling batting performance in 1974, when the whole team got bowled out for a meagre 42 runs.
Fifth, some of those whom we have built up over the last seven years as ‘defence experts’ and have embedded in various television channels, can be asked to contact a few retired and reliable military officers who should name Pakistan. The collapse of the Indian cricket batting order can be cited as a perfect example of the psychological warfare that ISI had unleashed against India. The collapse in Adelaide was a psychological breakdown and the ISI can and must be blamed.
Sixth, a few ministers of state can be asked to hold the Opposition responsible for the massacre at Adelaide because these ‘power-hungry’ and ‘irresponsible’ politicians have ‘politicised’ and ‘misguided’ the farmers against the much-needed ‘reforms’ in Indian agriculture.
The National Image Management Group resolved to meet regularly in order to monitor the situation continuously and to ensure that the nation does not get dispirited. We should never doubt. Acche din aayenge.
Atmanirbhar is a pen-name for an aspiring satirist, who shall be irregularly contributing a column, From the Vishwavguru Archives, and believes that ridicule and humour are central to freedom to speech and expression.