As India completed yet another year of independence, there was an elaborate ceremony held to commemorate the country’s latest technological triumph—the first truly swadeshi computer, developed totally in India using a revolutionary new operating system and packed with applications never seen before. The prime minister addressed the Parliament the next day.
“It is an amazing device which reflects our proud tradition of unity in diversity. Just as India represents many different religions and communities under a single flag, this computer comes with many applications that work under a single operating system...” began the prime minister.
“Hang on,” an MP suddenly interrupted. “What is the operating system called?”
“Well, we are looking for a suitable name. A nationwide contest has been launched...” began the prime minister, but was interrupted again.
“I would insist that the name be in our state’s language,” snapped the honourable member who had butted in. “If not, we will withdraw support to the government.”
“It is important to ensure that its name is truly representative of our country and its heritage,” remarked another. “Let’s form a commission which will look into the matter and submit a report.”
“Actually, the name is very important. It should reflect our secular ethos and long tradition even while reflecting our progress. The commission should visit other countries and find out how they name national monuments,” spoke up yet another worthy representative of the people. “We would want at least four members in this commission. And I would like permission to take my grandson along—he is very interested in computers.”
“Umm...yes, yes, we will see about that ” said the prime minister. “Now, back to the computer. Commercial production...”
“Must be in our state,” snarled a member. “We don’t have any computer companies in our state.”
“That’s not fair,” interposed another member. “We have the most computer companies. So we are best equipped to handle it.”
This led to five minutes of vigorous debate between the two members and their supporters, which ended with two gentlemen in hospital and a number of members walking out.
As the house settled down, the prime minister cleared his throat and began again: “Well, as I said, this is a totally Indian computer. Its interface is currently in English but...”
There was an uproar before he could finish the sentence as members across different party lines expressed their disappointment at the fact that an Indian computer had an interface in English. With a thunderous cry of “Angrezi, Bharat chodo” (English, quit India), a substantial number of members walked out of the house.
Things did not get any better. There was a massive argument over the number of applications in the computer and their names, and yet another one over which state would get the first one. When those issues were resolved, a fresh row broke out over the prime minister’s suggestion that the members should return their expensive laptops and instead adopt the new swadeshi notebook. By the time the prime minister finished his speech, there was only one member left in the house.
“So, that’s that,” said the prime minister, wiping the sweat off his brow and looking at the empty house. “Thank you, Mr Speaker.”
He turned to the only member who had remained in the house. “Any questions?” he asked courteously.
“Well,” said the member, “I just wanted to express my appreciation for this initiative. It will definitely make our country a major IT superpower.”
“Why, thank you. I will convey your appreciation to the team. I will also make sure that some notebooks are sent to your constituency.”
“Well, that is very kind. But please don’t.”
“But why? They are excellent machines, ...”
“Yes, prime minister. I am sure they are,” said the member kindly. “But one still needs electricity to run them. And that is a rare commodity in my constituency.”