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Taking suo moto notice of the spat between Shashi Tharoor and Narendra Modi over the precise value of the former’s wife, Mrs. Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India has undertaken a financial audit to arrive at a precise estimate and put the controversy to rest.
“Normally, we confine ourselves to only audit of government departments but decided to make an exception in this case because of the extreme public interest and the wild figures being bandied about. For starters, only 50 crores is definitely not on. I am also given to understand that it is sexist. If you bar the petty numbers coming from Salman Khurshid, nothing from the Congress camp has yielded a number as trivial as this. But yeah, priceless is pushing things too far as well. We don’t have a problem with appending as many zeroes as one likes, but it needed to be quantified to put the matter to rest,” said CAG head, Vinod Rai, by way of justification for his organization’s intervention.
After a comprehensive, systematic and meticulous approach, the CAG arrived at a value of Rs. 1,56,875 + i 50 lakh crores, clearly an imaginary number, give or take a few zeroes. “In addition to being notional, like most of our past estimates of losses to the exchequer, this number is also complex, in that it has an imaginary component of 50 crores. Tharoor kept insisting that the 50 crores of sweat equity given to Sunanda was a figment of imagination, compelling us to delve into the realm of complex numbers for our analysis,” disclosed the CAG chief.
The CAG had to delve into the theory of consumer choice and utility from micro-economics to estimate the ‘real’ portion of the value. “When it came to the real part, Shashi remarked that one has to be able to love to understand that she is priceless. Now, we are auditors, not Yash Chopra and so couldn’t leave it at that. So we went about mapping Tharoor’s utility curve for increasing levels of income to arrive at the price at which the corner solution would change away from Sunanda. This worked out to Rs. 1,56, 875 lakh crores, at which point his utility, which was till then constant, suddenly spikes. This, of course, as any student of micro-economics will tell you, is a completely meaningless exercise of abstraction.”
In keeping with its meticulous approach, the CAG had also looked into alternate valuation frameworks, including one suggested by Shri Prakash Jaiswal. “He kept insisting that we model her valuation as an exponentially decaying function of time, but we felt it would distract from our main objectives, which was to arrive at a precise value as of 2012. So we ignored him,” quipped Mr. Rai.
Just before going to press, a CAG official tried to run the numbers by Sunanda to seek her validation and approval. She gave him a resounding thappad.
(With inputs from Lokesh Bahety)