Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ten Reasons why Paul is important

The Football World Cup is over. One question remains, will Paul the Octopus retire after his meteoric rise as the foremost diviner in the world?
The English-born cephalopod mollusk presently resides in a Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany. After correctly predicting the winner of the World Trophy, he apparently received some death threats; being highly intelligent, like all octopuses, he will probably lie low for some time.
Regarding Paul’s future, Sea Life spokesperson Tanja Munzig made an enigmatic declaration: “Paul will do what he likes to do best, play with his handlers and delight children.”
However many analysts and commentators feel that Paul could be useful in advising certain governments and individuals to help them in taking crucial decisions for their own future and the future of the planet. Ten issues where Paul could make a difference:

1-    German economic decisions
The proverb says that “none is prophet in his own country”. In Germany, Paul could prove this saying wrong. He could advise Chancellor Angela Merkel on which economic direction to take the country if she wants to win the next elections. Though Christian Wulff, a Merkel supporter was recently elected German president, what should have been a mere formality, given Ms. Merkel’s large majority in parliament, turned out to be an extremely painful process. Heinrich Oberreuter, a political analyst at Passau University commented: "It could be a wakeup call for her to design strategies to regain people’s trust. This is vital." But what strategies? It is where Paul’s skills could certainly be valuable. Without proper counseling Angela Merkel is bound to lose the next elections.

2-    Belgium Prime Minister
Next door in Belgium, Paul’s services are needed also. Belgium recently assumed the rotating EU presidency for the next six-months, but the bi-lingual nation still has no government. Outgoing Prime Minister Yves Leterme will run the European Union as an acting Prime Minister. Though observers believe that this is perhaps better, since a properly elected and representative government would have had to listen to too many cooks and ultimately the sauce would have turned sour, Leterme keeps nevertheless trying to form a Cabinet. He would like a coalition government bringing together affluent Dutch-speaking northern region of Flanders and poorer francophone Wallonia in the south. Let all the parties agree that the name picked up by Paul will be the next Prime Minister. Better to have an octopus-selected PM than to run a nation with acting PMs for years.

3-    France: L’Affaire Betancourt
Let us stay for a moment in Europe. President Sarkozy of France is in a dilemma. Should he kick out his Labour Minister Eric Woerth who has presumably been involved in financial dealings with L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Rightly or wrongly, Woerth, chief fundraiser for Sarkozy's UMP party is accused of accepting 50,000 euros (‘peanuts’ Indian politicians will say) for an electoral campaign. During a recent TV interview, President Nicolas Sarkozy rejected all claims that cash had been pocketed, he said: “The political class, left and right alike, is in general, honest. French public officials are people of great rigour." Unfortunately, his rating in the surveys is going down by the day. To dump Woerth could certainly improve his chances for future elections, but it is a difficult decision to take. Monsieur Sarkozy, Paul can help you! Don’t miss your chance!

4-    France: next football team
While in France, Paul could greatly help the nation by selecting the next football national team. We all know the miserable performance of Domenech’s players during the just concluded FIFA World Cup and the lamentable French Revolution spearheaded by some of the French players against their mercurial coach. Since decades, France had never fared so badly in a world competition. Thanks to the Gaulish Gods, the new coach Laurent Blanc (of 1998 vintage) has now taken over from Domenech, the most hated person in the Land of Asterix. Who should be selected to take France to its true place in the FIFA ranking? It is difficult question which could easily be solved by Paul provided that the names of Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Evra and William Gallas are not in the aquarium.

5-    Espana, World Champion
Noted economists have begun serious studied to determine if the Spanish victory in South Africa can save Madrid from an announced bankruptcy. Can the exploits of La Roja revive a moribund economy? Public deficits have reached record levels (some 11.2% of the GNP) with unemployment as high as 20%. According to a study sponsored by the ABN Amro in 2006 (known as Soccernomics) “the World Cup winner enjoys an average economic bonus of 0.7% additional growth, while the losing finalist suffers an average loss of 0.3% compared to the previous year.” The study however warned: “The effects at macro-economic level and on the financial markets are not so great that they can turn a recession into a boom.” José Luis Zapatero, the present Prime Minister is before a terrible dilemma to save his country’s economy. Should he further reform the public spending and risk greater recession or should he borrow more from the new European fund to give a new dynamism to the economy? The answer could come from Paul who is infallible. He would certainly do this for the winner of the World Cup which made him famous.

6-    Washington: Dow Jones

We know that one of Barak Obama’s babies is to reform US finances and particularly the stock markets. For this he has the support of the European Union and more recently US lawmakers have agreed to a historic overhaul of financial regulations. It was a great domestic policy victory for Obama on the eve of the G20 summit devoted to financial reforms. As soon as the financial package was passed after a marathon debate in the US Congress, Reuters commented: “Lawmakers munched chocolates to stay awake”, but added: “Financial regulation could dramatically reshape the US banking industry, but it is not the end of life on Wall Street as we know it.” Paul could be of great help to traders speculating on ‘winning’ shares. One can even envisage that clever traders will start a new venture of ‘octopus cloning’ to get more dividends. Let us hope that it will not end with thousands of small Paul look-alikes. The magic would be lost.

7-    Reincarnation of Tibetan Lamas
Tibetans have traditionally been the masters of the Art of Mo (or divination). The science was developed more than 2000 years ago; long before Guru Padmasambhava, the Indian master introduced Tantrayana on the Roof of the World. In Tibet, each and every Lama is a bit of a diviner and possesses skills and techniques to explore the future. The most famous, like the Nechung Oracle, have been able to judiciously guide the Lhasa Government and the Dalai Lamas for centuries. But today the Tibetans have a problem: a jealous Communist leadership also wants to practice divination. They have found a trick by putting a few names in a ‘golden urn’ and rotating it, they say they are able to find the name of the new body of a reincarnated master. As a result, we have today two Panchen Lamas, one found traditionally by the Dalai Lama (he has been imprisoned for the past 15 years) and one discovered by the Communist diviners. Why not ask Paul, he will certainly tell us that an atheist government who believes that religion is poison is wrong in its choice. Will the Politburo dare asking Paul?

8-    China: next leadership in 2012
In the fall of 2012, China will witness a major leadership change during its 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The present top leaders including President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo are to retire. The Standing Committee of the Politburo will have 7 new faces (the present strength is 9). The process is said the most opaque in the world (it is clearer in North Korea where the Son always succeeds a Dear Leader). One way to bring some transparency (‘glasnost’ in Russian) would be to invite Paul to the Great Hall of People in Zhongnanhai, the exclusive enclave where the Communist Nomenklatura live and ask our dear octopus to select 7 new members for the Standing Committee and some 20 names for the Politburo. It would go a long way in restoring the confidence of the people in the Party.

9-    In India now (cricket, etc.)
Paul could of course have tremendous success in India; for example in deciding the Foreign Policy of the country or the perception threat for the Defence Forces, or even selecting 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts for the Air Force. But it is still for cricket that Paul’s talents could be outsourced in the most efficient way. Instead of having Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of States and their relatives or girl friends ‘sweat’ to form a good IPL team, let the Board give the job to Paul who will do it free of cost and will be absolutely impartial (octopus do not eat bank notes). The quality of the game could really improve and we could even see some Pakistani participation (good for MEA’s ‘soft’ diplomacy).

10-    Match Making
Finally, I have to mention a topic which weighs upon each and every mother and father in India: match making. Of course, here the demand will be so great that cloned octopuses may have to be used. But once everybody is convinced that these mollusks can’t fail in finding the right match, it will be a tremendous success. One problem only, how will the khap panchayats react? But nothing can stop globalization; the outsourcing to octopuses is an ineluctable phenomenon.

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