he year was 2052. Manoharan was the Mayor of Chennai city. The Coovum river that was at one point considered beyond redemption due to the city’s drainage being diverted into it for a large part of the twentieth century had been successfully reclaimed 15 years ago. One could travel from Arumbakkam to the Marina beach in a speed boat in less than ten minutes.
Yet, Manoharan could not relax. The media polls were showing that he wouldn’t have a chance in hell of being the Mayor for another term if did not eliminate the mosquito menace that continued to plagued the city. He had to find a solution to this problem.
He waited eagerly for Dr. Samy who headed the Biotech and Genome research at the Institute who was going to present a solution.
* * *
Dr. Samy had finished his presentation. Manoharan was extremely pleased. This was a fool-proof plan. It was going to work. He was going to be Mayor of Chennai for another term after all.
The lab had created a lizard using a synthetic genome derived from the common house lizard that made it efficiently hunt mosquitoes. The lizards would feed on nothing but a diet of mosquitoes. It was also tailored with a shutdown gene that killed the lizard after about a month to minimize the risk of the synthetic life form getting into the wild.
The city corporation would pay an incentive of one rupee for each dead lizard from the special budget created under the Health Department for the mosquito elimination plan.
* * *
Muniyan parked his bike in front of his new office building. He was excited that he was offered the job of a call center agent responsible for sales a week ago.
He walked to his desk and booted the PC. It was up in five seconds. He put on his headset and waved to his team leader. The next call automatically routed to him.
“Yes Ms. Sarojini. My name is Muniyan. How can I help you?”
The lady wanted to place an order.
“Of course. I see that you are a regular customer and had ordered with us yesterday. I will go ahead and refill that order as requested. Your credit card will be charged for the amount of fifty rupees inclusive of taxes. You will get the order within a day from our fulfillment center. Let me confirm your order – two hundred synthetic lizard eggs to be delivered to your residence. Would that be all? Have a pleasant day Ms. Sarojini!”
* * *
Manoharan was at the bar. Dr. Samy had a glass of Scotch in his hand and sat next to him.
“Did they find out what happened? Why did the mosquito menace not go away?”
“Yes, we found out. Initially people started ordering the synthetic lizards and they worked fine. But then Capitalism took over!”
“What do you mean?”
“People started breeding mosquitoes to feed the synthetic lizards! The cost of mosquitoes to feed a lizard works out to twenty paise. The cost of a lizard was twenty five paise. With a one rupee incentive from the corporation, they turned a profit of fifty five paise for each dead lizard!”
Manoharan was speechless. He did not know that Dr. Samy’s company also sold genetically engineered mosquito larvae.