[Long post alert]
I have always been intrigued and to an extent foxed by headlines which say something like this.
Manmohan Singh [MS] discusses with Nicolas Sarkozy [NS] on climate change
TN CM Karunanidhi [MK] meets Simon Beresford-Wylie [SW], CEO of Nokia Siemens Networks
What do the biggies discuss in those meetings? Obviously MS won't discuss technicalities of ozone holes, glacial melting, Kyoto protocol, carbon credits, weather satellites etc with NS. Maybe they talk in generality in those meetings with courtesies and small talk, the bigger issues as memoranda etc being covered by their secretaries and the technocrats behind them and then go just to sign on the papers. I don't doubt that some are savvy in certain domains, but I feel that it is usually the "behind the scenes" bureaucrats who move the system.
For example SW, won't talk 4G, 5G, software defined radio, EV-DO, WiMAX, LTE, packet backbones or network evolution with [MK] or his aides like his deputy CM [MS], the union ministers [AR] (who obviously would be there for meetings like this) and the other cabinet minister [MA]. BTW, [SW] is no more the CEO of Nokia-Siemens, it is Rajeev Suri now.
Last week, on TV, I was watching a verbal duel between Jairam Ramesh and a group of scientists in a meeting over genetically engineered brinjal (And what is it with TimesNow channel! Showing it all over and over again as if India has walked out of the Copenhagen Summit). Never thought that the scientists could shout and heckle him off the stage. One minister whom I have seen talk some sense in a techie meeting (though not in depth) is Kapil Sibal, when he was in the Ministry of Communications at some IEEE conference in New Delhi. He talked on the social aspect of technology and ramifications and gave some interesting stats.
Here is my unofficial "imagination run riot" take on how the MS-NS or the MK-SW meeting may have progressed. The general folks have no clue on what transpires in those meetings as everyone involved is bound by the "official code/oath of secrecy", whatever it is. And all the disclaimers apply.
For example, this could be the hidden transcript of the meeting between MS and NS.
[MS]: Welcome, Mr. NS
[NS]: Thank you, Mr. MS [shakes hands]
[MS]: Please take a seat [motions NS to his seat]
[NS]: Thank you.
[NS]: [Clears throat] M, Why is it that you always wear a purple head thing?
[MS]: [smiles] No special reason Mr.S. I just like the colour. The head thing's name is turban.
[NS]: Turban, now I know. The one Osama wears. Do you know, we have a new rule in France that bans purdah for women in public? I am not sure if the rule covers turbans. If so, you may have to pay a fine of 500 euros next time when you visit France. [guffaws]
[MS]: [sheepish grin and mumbles] But turban is different from purdah and this is different from Osama's.
[NS]: Did you say something Man?
[MS]: No No. Please have some water. The water is bottled naturally at the glacial springs in the Himalayas.
[NS]: Merci. The water is not from Evian!!! [Turns to his aide and says, Pouvez-vous me faire l'eau d'Evian?] You see, I get my own water, "La France est grande".
[MS]: How is Ms.Carla Bruni?
[NS]: Ah! Asking about my suprême dame. Je t'aime Carla. She is busy and into musique these days. She is also thinking of modeling. Model, you see. Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Miuccia Prada, Donna Karen you see.
[NS]: How about your life, M?
[MS]: [Peers through his glasses]. No personal life Mr.S. My madame is doing good. Daughter is in the US, making Obama's life difficult. My political life is in the hands of Soniaji. [clasps his hands]
[NS]: Ha Ha. Obama, he is inexperienced, ill-prepared by his advisors and not up to standards, vous voyez. And Merkel, she is a copy-cat and Zapatero, the Spanish guy, not very clever. [smiles and then grins] Sonia, Ahhh, Let me talk to Silvio. Nous sommes de proches amis.
[MS]: [Startled that NS may comment something more controversial] Shall we quickly run through our releases, before we meet the press?
[NS]: Okay. Commençons.
[The teams run through the text of the press releases while the heads acknowledge and sip water]
[MS]: [to his aide] Can we please have the official photographer come in and take a photo of our meeting?
[The photo of all the key folks sitting on a table with some papers on it and sitting on the comfy wide sofas facing each other is taken]
[MS]: Let us go to the press conference, Mr. S? The press would be waiting.
[They walk to a room where cameras and microphones are setup like a garbage dump one on top of each other and news folks overflowing in the room]
[MS]: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the briefing. Myself and Mr. NS have had wide ranging discussions a few minutes back on terrorism, environment, culture and international relations. We have pledged to work together on issues of mutual and national importance and [blah blah blah]
This could be the transcript between MK-SW meeting.
The meeting room has MK, AR, MS and MA and their secretaries. SW is ushered in with a colleague or two.
[SW]: [looking at all] va-na-kkaa-m.
[All]: வணக்கம். [and nod their heads]
[SW]: Thank you Sir, for meeting us.
[MK]: Thank you. This is MS, my deputy, this is MA, minister of textiles, this is AR, the telecom emperor.
[SW is confused, who is who, since all of them are wearing the 'karai' white veshti and has no clue why the others, especially the minister of textiles, are in this meeting]
[SW]: Nice to meet you, Sirs.
[MK]: உங்க companyல என்னவெல்லாம் பண்ணுறீங்க? (What all do you do in your company?)
[SW]: In addition to phones and their software, we work in latest wireless technology like 4G, 5G, WiMAX, Wide band frequency hopping spread spectrum receivers.
[AR is now fully alert on hearing the terms 4G, 5G and spectrum in the reply.]
[MK]: [shakes head to ack] and then looks at AR and MA. என்ன தம்பிங்களா, நமக்கு 2.5Gலயே நல்ல ஆதாயம். இவரு என்னமோ இன்னும் நிறைய சொல்லுறார். பாத்துக்கோ. (Dear folks, We had a windfall in 2.5G. This person is talking of more things. Look out)
[SW]: Sir, that additional land requested for expansion ...
[MK]: [looks at his secretary] எல்லா விஷயமும் சொல்லிறுப்பா. (tell him all the info) [looks at SW] My secretary will help you with all that and I'll approve. Don't worry
[SW]: Thank You, Sir.
[Secretary looks at SW like a lamb being taken for slaughter]
[MK]: ஒன்னு தோணுது. ஒரு புது திட்டம். தமிழ்நாட்டுல எல்லா குடும்பத்துக்கும் இலவசமா 2 cell phone குடுக்கலாம்னு, இலவச TV மாதிரி. இவங்க phone பண்ணுறாங்க இல்ல. என்ன பண்ண முடியும்னு கேக்கலாம். நாம இலவச cycle குடுத்தோம், இலவச கல்யாண பணம் குடுத்தோம், இலவச TV குடுத்தோம், Rs.2 அரிசி குடுத்தோம். இப்போ இலவச mobile குடுத்தா நம்மளை சரித்திரம் மறக்கவே மறக்காது. தம்பி MS, நீ இதை பாத்துக்கோ. [to secretary] இதையும் discuss பண்ணிருப்பா. (Something strikes me. A scheme. We shall give 2 cell phones free for every family in TN. These folks make phones. We can ask what can be done from these folks. We gave free cycles, free money for newly-weds, free TV and rice for Rs.2 and now free phones. We will never be forgotten in history. Dear MS, please take care of this [to secretary] Please discuss this as well)
[AR, MA, MS]: தலைவரே. உங்கள மாதிரி யாரும் யோசிக்க முடியாது. (Nobody can think like you, our leader)
[SW blinks, not understanding what is being talked about]
[MK]: We will issue a press release. My secretary will get in touch with you further.
[SW]: Thanks for the meeting, Sir.
[MK]: We shall have a photo for the press release. Please wait.
[Photographer comes in and SW poses with a bouquet to be given to MK]
[SW]: Thank You, Sir.
[All]: Thank You.
[Next day press release - TN CM's meeting with Nokia-Siemens CEO. New people-friendly CM's scheme for the people of TN to be announced on April 1.]