THE CEO of BP, also known as British Petroleum, who went sailing in his yacht while a dozen of his workers lay dead on the drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, has been sacked. Tony Hayward-that is his name-will get a compensation of 18 million dollars, or around Rs 80 crore, not bad for a man who cares more about his yacht than the men who work for him.
Hayward is a typical modern businessman, almost certainly with a business degree from Harvard, a man who cares more for the bottom line than the lives of his men. He is in the line of Walter Anderson of Union Carbide fame, who ran away from India with his tail between his legs and has not been heard of since. He too must be enjoying his pension and his yacht while thousands of men and women and children in Bhopal still do not know where their next meal is coming from.
Sacking is not easy in this modern world with its forest of laws and regulations. You cannot sack even your peon or your driver-which is a good thing-but also your boss even though he may be engaged in fraudulent activities. But if a powerful man like Hayward can be sacked, why not others, particularly the political types, who have made life hell for us, but who still continue to rule over us? For a long time, I have had a list of people I should like to sack, and perhaps send some of them even to jail. Herewith a short selection:
(1) Sheila Dixit : I have never understood why this lady should still be functioning as Delhi’s Chief Minister. She is incompetence personified who has messed up the capital more than all the Moghuls combined and ruined the city for ever. How can a woman who doesn’t know cricket from hockey be entrusted with thousands of crores on a platter to do as she pleases, unless the cash is meant for something else? Only Sheila Dixit knows what that some thing else is, and, of course, her long-time benefactor from across the seas. There are two months to go before the opening-if indeed there is going to be an opening-before which thousands of trucks will go belly-up in the mud, a dozen new stadii will collapse in a heap, and all roads will be under ten feet of water. But, of course, Dixit will remain in place and watch the fun.
(2) Sharad Pawar : I wish somebody could tell me what this man does for a living. He seems to lead a charmed life, here today and there tomorrow, heaving his bulk through dozens of international airports, though nobody knows what exactly he does for a living. He is supposed to be a Union Minister looking after the food portfolio, though I doubt whether he knows what exactly he is supposed to do, for it is the farmers who grow the food, not the man from Baramati. He is also chairman or president of something called ICC, whatever that is, which brings him all those trips, in first class, to the fleshpots of London and maybe Las Vegas. And let us not forget it: he is supposed to be the leader of his Miniscule party of five or six MPs on the strength of which he scares everyone.
In all these three roles, Pawar has been a gigantic failure. The ICC is a house divided and would get rid of him at the first chance. Under him, cricket has acquired such a bad smell that it is no more a gentleman’s game, for these are no gentlemen left in it. Cricket is now a by-word for high corruption, money laundering, gambling and may be drugs. And can Sharad Pawar place his hand on his mighty heart and say he has nothing to do with all this?
(3) Amitabh Bachchan : I have never been a fan of Bachchan and feel he is a product of sheer hype and publicity, because Indian film industry needs such fake idols to keep it going. This is what Hollywood used to do from time to time, and since Bollywood is only a copy of Hollywood, it also does the same. I now watch Bachchan only on TV, where the old man sells hair oils, ointments for arthritis and throat pills.
It is a shame that a man like Bachchan has to do all this to keep the wolf from the door. Acutally, the man is so wealthy he can buy the whole of Bollywood. He is not so brow that he has to sell hair oils to keep home fires burning. Amitabh Bachchan does not do anything unless he gets paid for it. This is what his friend Amar Singh taught him. He and his family, all of whom are busy making money by the ton, rarely do anything without payment. I have never heard of any donation from him or his family for any charity. If he is in the news at all, it has generally to do with his efforts to become a farmer, which he never was. But what does he do with all that land?
Have you ever heard of Laurence Olivier engaged in land scandals? Have you seen him on TV selling hair oils? That is the difference between class and non-class. And that is precisely the reason I never watch Bachchan on the screen, for a man so obsessed with money, like Sachin Tendulkar, can never be worth watching.
(4) Times x x x x: I do not know if the Times, once a great paper, now a caricature of its former self, has an editor or not. It must have dropped the poor man long ago. The paper is now apparently put together by teen-agers from Colaba, Mumbai, who spend most of their time in shady joints, high on beer and God knows what else, and who keep going to Nepal and the sex-soaked beaches of Goa for their refills from time to time.
There was a time when some of us used to take the paper seriously, perhaps a little too seriously, but that was before the juveniles got hold of it. Now it takes just five minutes to finish it. The paper cannot see beyond homosexuals for it seems rather keen on gays and other Curious apparitions; terrorists, particularly the Islamic variety, on whom it is unduly soft, with hard words for Hindus and Hindutva, apparently to please the reigning deities in Delhi. It must be the only paper in the country with a separate supplement devoted entirely to the sexual and other escapades of Bollywood denizens every day.
(5) Dr Manmohan Singh : And now our great friend, Dr Singh. It is a pity that there is no mandatory retiring age for politicians, which is why we still have to put up with men like Pawar and Singh, year in and year out, though they are well past the age they can contribute anything useful to the nation’s life. Singh is in office but not in power, and as one scribe has noted, he is in office precisely because he has no power. He must be the weakest Prime Minister in the world, a babu totally lost in the turbid political waters of India, though he seems quite happy to come to office every morning, signs the register make a few phone calls, and go home in the evening, with perhaps a visit in between to you know whom.
In the last half a dozen years he has been in office, almost every thing has collapsed around him. The common man’s life is a big struggle but the way he delivers those figures from the World Bank, where he would have done nicely. Nine per cent of this and 10 per cent of that, you would think that he-and his colleagues-have taken India to a golden age of plenty. He is prepared to talk to anyone. Pakistanis or Maoists, provided they leave him alone, even if they hurl bomb at him. But these small things make no difference. Babas are there for life, and Dr Singh will be there until he is kicked upstairs, making way for you know who. After a whole career spent in serving others, our good friend is still what he was when he started-a babu, who is still serving others.
This is a short list but it will do for the present. Line up, you fellows. You are fired!
(The writer can be contacted at 301, Manikanchan Apts, Kanchal Gali, Law College Road, Pune-411 004)