One of my favorite funnies, is 'Yes, Minister!' The poor minister tries to do so much good, go against policy, and yet is thwarted almost everytime by it.
The book has an amazing take on beurocracy and policies, not to forget the Civil Services. That the systems of India and UK are so similar, makes the book(s) even more amazing. Watching it on TV as a kid, and later reading the book, I figured it was fictional only when I reached class 9 or so!
Today, there is an article on Times of India which I chanced upon, which reminds me so much of Yes Minister, its not funny...well, almost!
Name of the article? 'Saudi paint for Jama Masjid repair?' IT talks about how the offer of the Saudi King to paint the Jama Masjid and also sponsor education in India has made Govt security agents 'diffident'!
NEW DELHI: Saudi monarch King Abdullah, who will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, has offered to renovate and repair the country's largest mosque, the historic Jama Masjid in Delhi which was built in 1656 by Emperor Shahjahan.
The offer is learnt to have come directly from the Saudi king, whose emissary contacted the Shahi Imam, Ahmed Bukhari.
While the Saudi Arabian ambassador Saleh Moh'd Al-Ghamdi refused to comment, Bukhari confirmed the offer saying he had asked the Saudi government representative to approach the government first.
Bukhari said, "We don't want funds to be given directly to anybody associated with Jama Masjid. The money can be put to maximum use only if it comes through the government.
As it is, only the ASI is authorised to carry out repairs to the monument." The matter then travelled to the government and was taken up at the highest level where, among other things, there was a full assessment of the implications of the offer.
And that’s where the story has got a new twist— while Jama Masjid can definitely do with a fresh coat of paint, the Saudi offer is learnt to have stirred up the intelligence and security agencies who were uncomfortable about the inflow of funds from Riyadh.
In addition to doing up the monument that stands across the road from the Red Fort and has a grand courtyard capable of holding 20,000 devotees, the Saudis wished to fund education in India.
And on both offers, security agencies in the government were diffident. There is an assessment that Saudi money has been used, wittingly or unwittingly, for promotion of sectarianism.
The government is, therefore, caught in a cleft stick. It can’t dismiss the input from security agencies, while it knows full well that turning down the Saudi offer would be diplomatically tricky. But sources did acknowledge disquiet at all levels in the government.
While King Abdullah’s visit is being billed as very important - this will be the first visit by a Saudi monarch in 51 years - the government would much prefer that the visit is kept at a secular and economic level.
Security officials say they are constantly probing funds from Saudi Arabia that are funnelled into madrassas which are not known for secular education.
Given the examples in Bangladesh and Pakistan of Saudi charities funding extremist madrassas, alarm bells are predictably going off in many parts of the government.
Its just too unreal, and well, stupid. Whether the fact that it made it to the newspaper is funny, or the hot debate is, it needs to be considered that perhaps the Saud King did think of repurcussions before the offer, or is he another Minister James Hacker?!!