The other day I got this frantic call from the CIA’s India desk asking for help. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants a bailout and only our outfit can help him out.” I wondered how we could be of assistance. “Frank,” I enquired of the gentleman at the other end of the line, “is there some investigation to be done? Or does Delhi need some phone-tapping equipment?” I was politely told that the requirement was far more complicated. “As you know, the Indian government is facing a lot of flak from the Opposition over its plan to allow 51 per cent FDI in retail and it wants a big favour from you.” Now, I found this request rather perplexing. As an investigating agency, we did not exactly transact any business in the commercial sense of the term. So where did the FBI come in?
“It’s elementary, Mr Mueller,” Frank said over the hotline. “In India, language and semantics count for a lot. It often changes perception. So after giving it much thought, my boys have come out with this masterplan to save the US-friendly Indian prime minister from much embarrassment. To put it in a nutshell, since there is very serious objection to FDI in retail, we have decided to repackage it as ‘FBI in retail’.” Well, to be honest, I was stumped by what was being suggested and was going to voice my apprehensions but Frank explained that an elaborate gameplan had been worked out by his team. Apparently, an NRI businessman from New Jersey (a certain Mr Aggarwal) had already been coopted and he would be the front for the FBI. Frank further elaborated, “In the Indian Parliament, they hate the very sound of Walmart. So we have decided to give them the Aggarwalmart chain in major cities. And instead of malls, we will set up what we will call ‘moles’ in small towns. By the way, as it is, we have quite a few of them moles in the government in Delhi!”