The Oracle of Delhi Speaketh
Posted on 1-January-2011
"Wallowing in the past may be good literature. As wisdom it is hopeless. Time Regained is Paradise Lost and Time Lost is Paradise Regained. Let the dead bury their dead. If you want to live at every moment as it presents itself, you've got to die to every other moment" Aldous Huxley
Every year in the Month of December, from the beginning to the end, newspapers, newsmagazines, television channels, sundry other public purveyors of wisdom and hundreds of thousands of common people privately wallow in memories of the Christian year that is about to end. Inspired by Aldous Huxley, for whom I had considerable esteem until, thirty-six years ago, I heard the historian Christopher Hill in the only real conversation I ever had with him dismiss him as a second rater, I decided not to spend the last day of the last year looking back at times past. But then one can not meaningfully dwell on the present because the present is nothing but an unseizable point of time from which stretch forward and backward the future and the past. Even the specious present is said to last no more than three seconds. There was only the future to contemplate upon. Lost in these thoughts, falling into into that state of torpor which is neither sleep nor wakefulness, when the mind floats and the body becomes weightless, I thought I was carried into the presence of the Oracle of Delhi, at the foot of the memorial of the Battle of Delhi of 1803, not even one kilometre from where I live. I could not see her as the memorial hid her from my view. This would have happened in the minutes before and after the point when one year of the Christian era ended and another began. Oracles notoriously speak in enigmas and try their best to ensure that their consultants carry away with them only indistinct memories of what they heard. Yet, of what I have retained, I have a distinct recollection. Here is the gist of what she told me.
This new year will be the annus mirabilis for India as well as the world. For India the stage will be set by the International Federation of Organisations of Newspapers, News Agencies, and Radio and Television Broadcasters. Encouraged by President Obama's pronouncement during his visit to India last year that India was no longer a rising power but had already risen, the Federation will adopt a resolution in their meeting at the end of January recognising India as the newest Super Power. They will also resolve to recommend to all their members henceforth not to call India a developing country. In another part of their resolution, recognising India as a paragon of democratic virtues, upholder of human rights and rule of law at home and abroad, they will call upon the United Nations Development Programme and Transparency International and Amnesty International to undertake a review of their system of evaluation, for in their view, on any objective criteria India ought to figure much higher than it does in the Human Development Index and in the Transparency Index and deserves praise, not criticism for its record on human rights. In a unanimous resolution of the Indian Parliament, the Federation will be honoured as a Friend of India and its President will receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for International Understanding for 2011.
In the month of June, after months of secret back channel negotiations, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi of India will travel to the Western White House at San Clemente. After seven days of intense conversations between them and President Obama, they will sign a number of agreements: one outlawing war between their two countries; a second one establishing a joint army and air force command to fight the Taleban and Al Qaeda and a third establishing an Indo-Pak Condominium over Jammu and Kashmir. After these agreements, President Zardari and Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi will together travel to London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo declaring their desire to establish South Asia as a zone of peace and tranquility. They will be hailed everywhere. In an extraordinary summit in August, the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation will appoint a seven member committee to prepare a draft constitution for a South Asian Federation for consideration by its regular summit meeting of 2013. In October the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will announce that its 2011 prize will be shared jointly by President Zardari and General Kayani of Pakistan and Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi of India. And the year will end with India becoming a full member of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.
By the end of the year India's GDP will have attained an annual rate of growth of 10.5%. India's Planning Commission will have completed its re-examination of previous computations of household incomes and will announce in November that the actual number of Indians living below the poverty line was only 19.5% of the population. While refusing to sign on to any legally binding treaty to limit its Carbon Dioxide emissions India will be able to announce at the next climate summit that by the end of the year it will have reduced its carbon emissions to the same level as 2005. India's power generation will grow by 25% in the year and by the middle of the year India will be generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources. Price inflation will be reduced to 3% per annum by the end of June and also by then the Maoist insurgency in central and eastern India will be eradicated. Indian government's drive against corruption will be intensified and by the end of the year, one former cabinet minister, two members of parliament, three senior civil servants and ten junior government employees will be sentenced to varying jail terms but they will remain free as they will appeal their sentences. Five more top order industrialists will enter the upper house of Indian parliament. One of them will become a cabinet minister.
For the larger world outside, the oracle's vision came only in a few bold strokes within the time I had. But here are a few salient lines. Because of the San Clemente agreements between India and Pakistan in June, President Obama will be able to announce an accelerated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, drawing down their strength to a total of 20,000 by the end of the year. In August, President Karzai will announce an agreement with Mullah Omar, enabling the participation of the Taleban in his government in which 45% of Cabinet posts will be reserved for Pashtuns. Strengthened by this development, President Obama will start a new era of confrontation with the Republican dominated House of Representatives. On the international scene, frustrated by his inability to, commit the USA to meaningful cuts in carbon emissions the US president will launch an initiative proposing an international agency to set up large solar power farms in the Sahara, the Thar Desert of India-Pakistan and the Australian desert, and windmill farms along designated coastlines across the globe. These will produce power for an internationally controlled power grid. He will argue that since the world cannot agree to acceptable, binding and verifiable limits on the use of fossil fuels, it can try to move towards an internationally controlled system of generating power from the sun and the wind. China will propose at the next G-20 summit that the International Monetary Fund should move towards the implementation of Keynes's old plan for the establishment of an internationally controlled reserve currency independent of any national currency. The proposal will be vehemently opposed by the USA but supported by all the other members of G-20. Thus in spite of US opposition the G-20 will take some first tentative steps towards an overhaul of the international financial system.
I do not know when from my state of torpor I slipped into deep sleep. I wake up to a new morning in a new year. This day looks no different from yesterday. I resume my life with the usual routine. The television announces disruption of normal life due to bad weather here and there as it did yesterday. The newspapers talk of death due to cold, of high vegetable prices and of corruption. Another news story is about yet another breakdown in Delhi's brand new metro railway. I think I shall give myself a pair of rose tinted glasses as a new year present.