Allegedly Society

How to be a con man

If you have any suggestions on who I should hire as my conning coach, do let me know

Okay, don’t get your hopes — or your hackles — up. I know that you know that I know who popped up in your head when you saw ‘con man’ in the headline. But this column is not about that person. Sorry to disappoint you, but I do plan to live out my full quota of life expectancy.

And I won’t ruin that plan with stupid assumptions. Such as, for instance, that freedom of expression is protected in Indian democracy. Please don’t think I am insulting Indian democracy — I apologise if you thought I was. Dissent may be protected in India. No, I am sure it is. I have complete faith that our honourable judiciary will come to the aid of anyone whose right to dissent is under threat. For the record, I hold in contempt anyone who casts aspersions on Indian democracy or its chest size.

So my interest is quite genuine and heartfelt: I really want to learn how to be a good con man. Why? Because I see nothing wrong in it. Every era of human civilisation puts a premium on certain talents. During the Stone Age, the ability to use stones to make fire was a big deal. Subsequently, during the time of Genghiz Khan, the talent for killing people while riding a horse was highly prized. Then, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, the talent for money-making became hugely profitable.

Prized skillsets

Today, the ability to bump someone off and the talent for making pots of money are both highly prized. But neither will take you far without the one skill that’s critical in our age: getting people to believe anything you say. The true mark of a genius con artist is that the wilder his lies, the stronger the people’s trust in him. Can you see the limitless potential for GDP growth here? That’s why I am shocked that conning skills find no place in the government’s Skill India programme.

Even today, most Indian colleges, with the exception of those that offer degrees in entire political science, don’t expose youngsters to the opportunities that await those with good conning skills. Just to give you an example, one of my mates from college, who never sat for any exams, is now a Senior Vice President at a top consulting firm. He advises companies on how to cut costs by sacking people, and the fee the companies pay him for his cost-cutting advice is several times the costs they save by sacking people. Another friend of mine, an atheist, is now a successful godman. He owns 22 mansions in different parts of the world and top politicians seek his advice on when is the most auspicious time to topple a government or launch a new lie.

Everywhere you turn, successful con men are ruling the roost and enjoying life. If you take healthcare and our pandemic response, it is thanks to the Covid Rapid Action Propaganda kits developed by hardworking con artists that we are regularly able to churn out statistics that can prove, even to the WHO, that we are the best.

Chinese whispers

Or take history. India has little by way of recorded ancient history. But our new historians are so good at their job that today the entire nation is proud to be a nation whose ancestors invented not only zero but also Botox and Boolean algebra, and owned nuclear-powered hovercraft with missiles that had a range of 500 light years.

If you take geography and geopolitics, India has con men of such calibre that the Chinese can walk into your home, sit at your dining table, eat up all your idlis, not sparing even the koththamalli chutney, and you’ll be like, “Look, our corps commanders and their corps commanders are using compass and divider to draw a circle on the Line of Actual Control that will determine the radius of the buffer zone in Galwan Valley where India and China will hold hands in such a way that Finger 4 of Pangong Tso will interlock with Finger 8 of your right hand to determine the Quad of the BRI in CPEC so that the geo-strategic ramifications of the Daulat Beg Oldi Road in sub-sector North at the eastern end of the southern tip of the Shyok river, as evident from the satellite imagery of the area between the Indian perception of the Chinese perception of the Line of Actual Control and the Chinese contraception of the Indian apprehension along the Line of Actual Control prove not only that India, by banning 59 apps, has given China a bloody nose on its Aksai Chin, but also that the Chinese are not at our dining table and not eating our idlis, with or without koththamalli chutney. And for the record, our dining table was made in China.”

Now, that’s the skill level I’m looking at. If you have any suggestions on who I should hire as my conning coach, do let me know.

G. Sampath is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 12:01:29 PM |

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