Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking ahead to 2012

The world in 2011 celebrated the birth of the seven billionth human. No one could quite figure out where the poor soul was born, though India, with a high share of human births was considered a good bet. Scientists heralded the event with a reassuring declaration that there is enough food on the planet for 7 billion humans - though some times minor impediments such as abject poverty may prevent some humans from accessing it. In any case there is no need as yet for future earthlings to bring their own food when they arrive on the planet. In an unprecedented pledge to continued productivity, the earthlings promised to add another billion of their ilk in the next 14 years. This is a huge improvement from 250,000 years that it took us to put the first billionth human on the earth. This is believed to result in a huge demand for obstetricians, kindergartens and diapers - which will be the sunshine industries and professions of the coming decade. The enthusiasm for this production, however, seems pretty heterogeneous across the world - with the Japanese and the Russians preferring to just have sex and no babies, and the citizens of Niger promising a new life with practically every joyous tumble on the mattress.

Despite poor math skills (blamed by Obama on Republican favoured cuts in education spending) America finally subtracted 99% from the total of 100% and discovered to their horror that 1% of Americans possibly make more money than the other 99% put together. A small part of this 99% majority then proceeded to occupy the Wall Street and some comfortable parks around the country. No one could quite figure out what their demands were, whether they wanted the 99% to become 1% or the 1% to turn into 99%. The fact that it is an arithmetic impossibility for both parts to become either 99% or 1%, did not seem to dissuade them.

American presidential candidate Herman Cain also got caught up with the number 9 and uleashed a 9:9:9 tax plan, where every American pays a 9% tax inconsiderate of their income. The pizza moghul, however decided to drop out of the presidential race when 9 women made allegation of sexual harassment on 9 different occasions in 9 different situations. Cain denied the allegations and said that he couldn't have had sex with his alleged victims as they only came up to his chin.

Dominique Stauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, admitted that he had sex with a six footer immigrant hotel maid from Guinea in the middle of the day in a New York hotel, but claimed that it was routine and a habit that he picked up in his attempt to familiarize himself with assets of different countries around the world. He also added that though everyone sees it as a sensual experience, it was in fact consensual. It was ironic that the man used to bailing out nations around the world required a bail out himself to remain out of jail. His successor at IMF, Christian Lagarde, said that she would rather be a laggard in this area and has her own ways of remembering the names of the countries requiring bail outs.

The season of the year was spring - particularly in the Arab region, where the season lasted for the whole year. The climate specialists decided to suspend their alarm about global warming if it leads to year long spring on the earth. Canada pulled out of the Kyoto protocol saying that they hope that their country, though not exactly a part of Arabia, continues to enjoy the spring weather and escape the frozen winters which have plagued it since time immemorial.

In the financial markets old maxim of "markets hate uncertainty" was replaced by "markets hate certainty even more", when the certainty points to inevitable doom caused by the unsustainability of the gap between the nations' pockets and spending. Euro zone heads met for the umpteenth time in December to forge out a treaty which allows Aunt Angela to have a better control on the purse strings of the member nations. Uncle David refused to sign the treaty as he felt that it will constrain the City of London in continuing to make its full and rightful contribution to future financial disasters in the world.

In India a bunch of excitable citizens gathered around a Gandhian figure called Anna Hazare and decided to campaign against corruption. The government sponsored Lokpal bill did not cut much ice with the group, who labeled Lokpal as Paypal to facilitate payment of bribes. In another development in the largest democracy in the world, the government decided to open up the retail sector to multinationals only to withdraw a few days later as it was felt that the country should persist on the middle path directed by its great leaders and continue to sacrifice the interest of consumers and the producers for the continued prosperity of extortionist middlemen.

Not a nation of believers, China decided to cut its risks and set up their own heaven in the space by launching a space module called Tiangong or "heavenly palace". China plans to compensate for the loss in export revenue by selling or renting berths in the "heavenly palace" to those who are not sure of a guaranteed place in heaven. The former Italian president Berlusconi has reported already signed up, the deal being clinched after China announced that it plans to send a few female astronauts to the space module. We hope 2012 will see China make further and substantial progress on this venture, improving the chances of heavenly comfort in the after life for one and all.

As the year drew to a close, the great leader Kim Jong Il added another "L" to his name, became Kim Jong Ill, departed the world and left a country of devastated and hungry mourners. While his son, Kim Jong Un, became numero uno, the country and the world is hoping that the new Kim will do a better job than his ancestors in ensuring a meal of kimchi and rice for its citizens.

Written by Ashok Sethi