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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

The Road to Redemption

Never, ever tell me that chess is a boring sport. On the last day of March in 2015, two players…

Assembly Proceedings

This is the 28th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

The Baptist, the Bootlegger and the Dead Man Walking

This is the 35th installment of Lighthouse, my monthly column for BLink, a supplement of the Hindu Business Line. Appearances…

The Seen and the Unseen 5: This Is All Because Of Rupal Ben

This is the fifth episode of my weekly podcast, The Seen and the Unseen. [embedded podcast] A few years ago,…

The Landscape of Freedom in India

Here’s the video and transcript of a keynote speech I gave at the Asia Liberty Forum on January 11, 2017…

29 December, 2008

Taking A Stand

Joby Warrick of The Washington Post reports:

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes—followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won.

I can imagine what will happen if our intelligence networks hear of this. First, they will place a large order (with taxpayers’ money, of course) for many, many tons of Viagra. Then, just as field operatives are about to be handed strategic supplies, the chief of the bureau will raise a finger. “Wait,” he will say, “if these pills don’t work, or have side effects, they could turn out to be counterproductive for us. There is only way to make sure that they work as advertised.” He will pop a pill into his waiting mouth.

Ten minutes later, he will call his wife on her mobile phone, his hands vibrating with excitement as he holds his instrument.

“Darling,” he will say, “I am coming home in ten minutes. Be ready for me. Wear something nice.”

“Ok, I will wear my Patola sari. But why, what happened?”

“Duty calls!”

(Link via email from Arun Hiregange.)

Posted by Amit Varma in Dialogue | Miscellaneous | News

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