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     Volume 4 Issue 14 | September 24, 2004 |

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Undersizing the Cabinet


At some time in history, there was a proposal to make some cabinets for filing (more appropriately storing) important documents. Because of the significance and gravity of the matter, it was placed before an inter-ministerial meeting.

The foreign minister was first to speak. "We have to make sure that in the making of the cabinet there is no material used Made in India. There is too much trade deficit already," he said.

When other ministers, some publicly-elected figures that choose to speak in anonymity to the press, made big eyes, he quickly added, "I am sure this will improve relations between the two friendly countries".

The minister of finance was next: "I do not know how this project would be implemented, as we do not have any specific budgetary allocation. It may again be necessary to rely on my oft and much-criticised Very Alarming Thought, that is, impose special V.A.T. on all the different materials and labour used for any similar works done in the private sector over the next 15 years."

When a colleague pointed out that the party may not be in government till then, he expressed amusement at his ignorance and added: "One must create a field for the future. We have not become politicians out of thin air."

The minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs: "I believe this will allow me to claim several time extensions to prolong the matter."

The communications minister: 'Time may be extended but not the size. Please remember that under no circumstances the length of the cabinet should exceed 40 feet as that is the size of our largest containers."

Several ministers in chorus: "I wonder if we can accommodate all our files in such a small cabinet."

The health and family welfare minister: "Although I do not usually advocate for more than two, but in the case of cabinet we can relax the number."

The shipping minister: "As I will not allow overloading of our vessels, the weight of the cabinet must be kept as light as possible. But with one inspector for over two thousand launches, it may be possible to ignore any excess weight."

The minister for health and family welfare: "Excess weight is bad for health especially if you have high blood pressure."

The minister for labour and employment, "It is because of this high blood pressure that many of our best carpenters have left for the middle-east."

The education minister: "Perhaps the honourable minister means economic pressure."

The minister for industries: "Howsoever you put it there is a bloody international pressure to avoid employing child labour."

The education minister: "Children should be sent to schools, where cabinet-making must be included in the SSC syllabus and text books written in such a way that no subsequent government can change the history of this country."

The labour and employment minister: "History is a small matter when time is moving so fast, when the entire world is changing. In this day of increasing mechanisation and automation, it may not be a good idea to employ manual labour in the making of this historic cabinet."

The minister for fisheries and livestock: "But only human hands can shape the rack that will hold a goldfish bowl to symbolise that we are a nation where fish can be caught on the streets after a heavy shower."

The minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs: 'It is inappropriate for you to be concerned with fish only."

The minister for fisheries and livestock: "Surely a cow will be too big for the cabinet."

The minister for civil aviation and tourism: "But goldfish is like a tourist. It is not indigenous."

Several ministers in chorus: "Let's go for our puti."

A voice that could not be identified: "Oh, my God! My nickname is puti."

The water resources minister: "Don't forget the fish, however little, will also need water. Equitable distribution must be ensured among the parties concerned, big and small."

The foreign minister: "Please do not bring up the subject of India again."

The home minister: "Thief's mind police-police."

The minister for textiles: "Thieves need a cover-up, so do wood. In view of fiscal constraints, we can hide the cheap wood behind a fabric material."

A voice that could not be identified: "Thieves are not cheap."

Several ministers in chorus: "Choop!"

The cultural minister: "A cabinet covered in jamdani would look oh so very pretty."

The jute minister: "Nowadays, we need to conserve our natural resources. Therefore, jute plastic is the order of the day."

The minister for environment and forest: "But that is why for every wooden cabinet we make, we shall plant at least ten trees."

The minister for housing and public works: "For a forty feet cabinet that would mean ten four-foot tall small trees; the girth may be a little too thin."

The land minister: "Furthermore, I cannot provide you with that much land coverage."

The minister for information: "For proper coverage throughout the land, private channels shall be encouraged (heh! heh!) to improve our bhaab-murti in special Live programmes on the daily progress made by the carpenters. Major newspapers shall carry special supplements."

The minister for finance: "Under explicit condition that banks and insurance companies are all well known and do not need to advertise any more."

The minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs: "This work the government cannot do alone. It also requires the cooperation of the bureaucracy and our carpenter brothers. Let me apply for a time extension."

The minister for housing and public works: "Please, sir! The work has not yet started."

The minister for cultural affairs: "Carpenters! Did they not sing that song ...?"

The minister for communication: "This road will lead us to nowhere."

The minister for cultural affairs: "No! That definitely is a not a Carpenters number."

The minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs: "Such confusion is good; I can visualise a number of time extensions."

The minister for commerce: "Under the circumstances we have no option but to rely on divine intervention."

The religious affairs minister: "He is overstepping his line."

The minister for youth and sport: "Overstepping is a No Ball."

The Religious affairs minister: "In terms of design, the cabinet must incorporate arches and domes to reflect our rich heritage and culture."

The minister for youth and sport: "Our culture demands a foreign coach. We can sack him after we are successful and even if we fail."

The minister for communication: "No Ball! Wide! Only my ministry can import coaches, petrol or CNG."

The minister for science and communication technology: "Let us rely on local talent. It may be possible to get an appropriate cabinet design if we hold a competition during a science exhibition for schoolchildren."

The education minister: "But that's my domain."

The state minister for education: "No, mine!"

The minister for LGRD and cooperatives: "Cooperation is the key to the success of this cabinet."

The food minister: “Manoniyo mantree, the best way to a minister's heart is through his stomach."

The minister for women and children affairs: "I have heard that somewhere."

The minister for disaster management and relief: "Perhaps we can raise an appeal…"

The minister for youth and sports: "Howzzzat?"

The minister for disaster management and relief: "…and send a message to some donor countries to come to our aid."

The minister for post and telecommunications: "Now you will realise the importance of SMS."

The home minister: "We have to build a special force like the SMS to guard these cabinets."

A voice that could not be identified: "One of our colleagues has not spoken a word."

The minister without portfolio: "Who wants to listen to this third bachcha of a goat?"

The home minister: "Police mind thief-thief. Thukku!"


All this time the prime minister was listening to the lively discussion very intently. Finally he spoke: 'If there will be so much fuss about a piece of furniture, then I think we have to DOWNSIZE the cabinet.'

Suddenly there was a big hush in the chamber for what seemed a long time.

After a few seconds, they all burst into a loud cheer.

The cabinet was in jeopardy but they had all survived.

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