India may not win gold medals. It may not top the world in economics, art or culture. But India is the world leader in breaking ships. Let the Americans, British and Japanese argue about who best makes ships. We know who best breaks them. Nobody in the whole wide world can break ships as quickly and thoroughly as we can. It makes me proud.
Last week Andreas Bernstorff and Nityanand Jayaraman of Greenpeace International held a press conference in New Delhi. They said that breaking old and toxic ships was very hazardous, exposing those involved to death and disease.
We braved death and disease. We smashed the ships to smithereens. We became world champs. Earlier China was number one. We've beaten them hollow. Now 70 per cent of the ships dismantled in the world are India's work.
I was naturally curious about this activity in which we excel over the whole world. I consulted an expert. He dwelt at length on the high skill Indians had developed in breaking things. He agreed to take me to a scrapyard and act as my guide while a ship was actually being broken.
When we reached the scrapyard we saw a strange sight. Men and women brandishing hammers and pickaxes danced around a battered ship. The ship's captain was tied to the mast. An altercation was going on.
'They are arguing about whether the ship should be broken or salvaged, my guide whispered. 'It's battered but I don't think it deserves to be broken just yet.
'What's the ship's name and who's that tied to the ship's mast? I whispered back.
'It's called the Ship Of State, he murmured. 'That's Captain Vajpayee. He says if they break the ship they will have to break him too. But the ship-breakers don't care!
Men in saffron were screaming and denting the ship with trishuls. 'They want to break the ship because they say...