Ever since his father died, Aladin was living a very humble life with his widow mother and his sister who was married to a poor peasant. He had seen extreme hardships in his young life after his ailing mother retired and left all the responsibility on his 50-year-old young shoulders. Sometimes, he lent his hand to labourers in the presence of photographers and sometimes ate only daal – chawal at poor man’s house but always ensured his sister had a bigger helicopter whenever she wanted to fly. He cursed the king who took everything away from him.
Once upon a time, on his incursions to backwaters of Kerala, he stumbled on to an antique magic lamp. Curious, he rubbed it and a Jeanie appeared. “Ask me any 3 wishes and it will be fulfilled.”, he said. Aladin was ecstatic and asked for the throne. The Jeanie immediately removed the king, held an election and hypnotized all coalition partners to elect Aladin as the next Prime Minister of the Country. Aladin took an oath and gave plum posts to his mother, sister, nephew and nieces. Also, he conferred a lot of land to his brother-in-law. He recalled all the sons and daughters of his late father’s friends and awarded them all profitable contracts. Peace, harmony and democracy once again thrived in the country.
But poverty in the countryside was still a cause of concern to Aladin. On consultation with one Uncle Chidu, he came up with an idea. As part of his second wish, He asked the Jeanie to provide 72,000 dinars annually to 20% of the poor, thus causing a surgical strike on poverty once and for all. “Ab hoga insaf”– he exclaimed. Peasants went crazily happy with this decision. Civil society members sang songs in his praise and hailed him and his ancestors. There were long queues to avail the ‘Insaf’ money. Those who did not fall under the bracket of 20% made sure they faked such documents. Even Aladin’s brother-in-law declared himself a poor peasant and received the 72,000 dinars promised, as so did all of his family friends.
Aladin’s Government had not accounted for the additional liability on the Jeanie. So, to mitigate, he increased taxes. Eventually the rich became the middle class and the middle class became poor and became eligible for the Insaf money, thereby creating a further burden on Jeanie. People stopped working because they knew the Jeanie was getting them free money anyway. Slowly, autos and rickshaws in the cities disappeared. Farmers stopped working in farms and maids stopped sweeping. There was an acute shortage of labour in factories and production in the country of all essential commodities dropped.
Surplus of money and a shortage of labour and goods, however, created another problem. The merchants who used to sell grocery at a few dinars now increased the prices manifold. Even a bottle of water started selling 1000 dinars. But even with their 72000 dinars, people found themselves so deprived that the number of beggars increased considerably as people had already lost their appetite to work and earn. The problem of poverty thus increased manifold. A mutiny and revolt against Aladin’s Government seemed inevitable.
Aladin’s advisers advised him to make use of the third and last wish to alleviate this dangerous issue. “Ask Jeanie to get us a lifetime to stay on an exotic island of Italy” suggested his mother. “Let’s demand a machine which can convert potatoes to gold” advised his sister. But Aladin was committed to resolving the issue rather than running away from it. He summoned the Jeanie and asked, “O Jeanie, for my third and final wish, I want you to remove poverty once and for all”. The Jeanie obliged and immediately passed an ordinance – “Any person who is earning more than one dinar per year would not be considered poor from this day until the end of days. Poverty is now declared to be only a state of mind”. And thus with a masterstroke, Aladin was able to reduce poverty to 0% first time in the history of the country.
After taking the CAT exam 3 times without success, Anand turned on the IT industry and now resides in Toronto. His aim is to write a 300 page novel, but for now he just about manages to churn out 3 page articles