We have been watching with pride that great spectacle of sporting action, The Olympics. Currently being held at Beijing, an important research centre for the effect of smog on human endurance, one of the highlights is the Indian contingent, which has done more for international goodwill than any other country.
It has achieved this by the elegantly simple expedient of letting others win which, as the reader will readily acknowledge, is a delicate art.
This year, of course, the well oiled Indian Sports Establishment slipped up and allowed a winner to participate under its banner. A shooter, Abhinav Bindra, not only insinuated himself into the contingent but went on to win a gold medal, to the embarassment of Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the Indian Olympic Association.
"A lifetime of patient work has been wrecked by Mr Bindra" he is reported to have said. "God knows how many young people he will inspire to try and win."
God of course is the well known power that has helped many athletes to achieve greatness, though nowadays nandrolone is considered to be superior. But we digress.
Coming back to our main topic, Mr. K. P. S. Gill was equally upset.
"Make me the chairman of the IOAC" he said. "I ensured that under my expert guidance, the Indian Hockey team did not even qualify. As chairman of the IOC, I will ensure that the next olympic contingent will consist only of officials and coaches. No participants."
A bold claim, but knowing Mr. Gill and his capabilites, not unrealistic.
Shocked out of their complacency, the officials huddled into an emergency damage control exercise and decided that while nothing could be done about Abhinav Bindra, they could make the rest of the coverage so boring and lifeless that the nation would tune into the many exciting cricket tournaments being played around the world and watch a ball being senselessly hammered around a field. Future generations, instead of running, jumping and shooting, would settle down to the much more financially rewarding pastime of hitting balls around and being called little masters.
The main task of making the coverage boring was rendered difficult by the excellent camera work of the Chinese crew, a most tiresome bunch of perfectionists, if we may say so.
But Mr. Kalmadi and the other officials had farsightedly included Hindi and English commentators who could obfuscate and uh-um-aah through anything that might happen in a stadium. In addition, they had been selected for special sentence-construction skills.
For example, one commentator, who spoke about Akhil Kumar's performance in the boxing ring, said that he "boxed very very good today." Then, thinking this over for a second added that "he boxed EXTREMELY very very good", leaving the viewers in no doubt.
These are high standards, as you will doubtless agree, and well worth the several million dollars that the Government is spending, taking them on an all expenses paid vacation to the Olympics, because when you have a billion people in your country, you never know which one will take it into his or her head to excel.