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December 14, 1999
The Beauty Raj
In India, in the new millennium, there shall be decisive shifts.
The last century had begun with the British Raj consolidating its hold. This coming century will give way to the reign of new rulers.
In the closing days of 1999, Miss India Yukta Mookhey has been crowned Miss World. The recent run of Indian beauty queens winning the world crown testifies to the pleasant fact that in India the British Raj has given way to the Beauty Raj.
Huge changes will now follow.
In the Beauty Raj, the growing pollution on the streets of Delhi and other cities will not be tolerated because smoke, of course, is harmful to one's lungs and skin complexion.
Smoke masks will be mandated for use by all citizens.
As the masks will cover the nose and mouth, there will be no more spitting on the streets of Indian cities.
Due to the fact that the roads and streets will be cleaner and more hygienic, Indians will lead a healthier lifestyle. Sachin Tendulkar will hit more centuries.
Indeed, there will be many more Tendulkars. India will lift the World Cup. Experts say we might even have our first Olympic medal winner.
The use of smoke masks will make it impossible for pedestrians to provide custom for the roadside vendors and foodsellers. The pavements will become wide arcades.
Suddenly, non-resident Indians will have much less to complain about on their visits home. Yet, tourism will grow and make India fabulously rich.
The removal of banana peels, orange rinds, bhelpuri packs, and garbage from the city streets will result in a problem for the nation's cows, who will not be getting any food anymore.
The cows will emigrate en masse, slowly swimming to Australia in massive groups. For a few long weeks, India will achieve notoriety in the Western media as the exporter of the Sad Cow Disease. The Indian monarchy, the Beauty Queens, will manage to save the day with their smiles.
In New Delhi, the emigration of the cows will engender a domestic crisis. The supporters of the BJP, scandalized by this insult to the sacred cow, will desert the party in droves.
Atal Behari Vajpayee's government will swiftly fall.
Our secret sources say that power will most likely be seized by a group of smoke-mask-wearing, left-wing guerrillas from West Bengal, headed by an enigmatic leader called Marcos Mukherjee with a penchant for poetry and bidis.
Amitava Kumar is the author of 'Passport Photos', forthcoming from the University of California Press.
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