Climb trees, protect the Prime Minister

I climbed lots of trees when I was a kid, but I never got paid to do so, not even when the president or Tree security
prime minister came to town. So I'm somewhat envious of the Indian teen-agers who were recently paid Rs.120 each to climb trees and look out for bad guys during a visit from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. My parents were wrong: money does grow on trees.

"We have been asked to keep a close watch on any movement in the trees"
said Jayanta Das, a student at Shantiniketan, near Calcutta, where Mr Singh
was presiding over the convocation of the Visva Bharati University.

"We have also been instructed to shake the trees from time to time to
ensure that all is fine," he added. [Link]

They were not just looking for bad guys, apparently. They were also looking for snakes. It would be quite an embarrassment for India if a snake fell out of a tree and bit the Prime Minister. Especially if the snake had made its way from Pakistan.

The latest example of India's chaotic and incompetent security measures comes
10 days after the devastating Mumbai terrorist strikes that claimed nearly
180 lives and led to accusations of security lapses. [Link]

Chaotic and incompetent? That seems really unfair, especially coming from a newspaper in Britain, where, last I heard, Prime MInister Gordon Brown puts himself at great risk, visiting towns and cities where trees have not been shaken.

Local police chief L N Meena defended using children to supplement the prime
minister's security detail as there were far too many trees in the area and
not enough policemen to man them.

"The area is full of trees, so to check them to see if there were any
anti-social elements or anyone making mischief, we employed the youths"
he said.
[Link]

Makes a lot of sense to me. If only the police had hired me when I was a teen. Instead, just for climbing trees, I was accused of being an anti-social element making mischief.

Photo by Seema K K

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. ha ha… good one that… i also realize i’m the first to post a comment…wooohooo i love doing that!!!
    anyways, i really miss those trees of my childhood that used to be infested with pakistani snakes…
    tada..

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