Yes Minister: The old BBC comedy everyone is nostalgic about after MHA’s bizarre clarifications

There was a hankering for an old British classic thanks to the bizarre clarifications that have been coming out of the Ministry Home Affairs. Even though the British left over 70 years ago, they left behind a group of well-trained ninjas whose sole raison d’etre is to make life more complicated for Indians.

 They are secret cult and only choose a handful but those who make it are promised huge gains. We are talking about of course the shadowy class of people known in India as babus or bureaucrats!

While samurais use swords, the babu uses cryptic words to strike terror into the denizens of India, particularly during a confused time like a pandemic.

In the age of Twitter, this means one announcement needs a thousand clarifications. For example, the latest lockdown clarification needed an assurance that barbershops, hair salons, liquor shops wouldn’t be allowed to open. In rural areas, all shops barring those in shopping malls (yes SoBo brats, there are malls in rural India), would be allowed to open. Sadly for tipplers, no booze shops would open.  

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wasn’t the only one who was reminded of the classic TV series Yes Ministers as he wrote: “Remember classic tv series Yes Minister? Well, we now have a real life comedy being enacted by MHA. Every order reeks of bureaucratic gobbledygook. next day, lines rewritten, as are conditions. Result? total chaos. Latest one is on shops! So who is our Hacker and Sir Humphrey?”

Since everyone is reminiscing, perhaps it’s time to revisit a classic show that even Margaret Thatcher loved and which truly captures the best of British wit and political skulduggery.

Written by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, it was split into three seven-episode series from 1980 to 1984. A sequel Yes, Prime Minister also ran from 1986 to1988. Rich with satire it showed Minister Jim Hacker’s (Paul Eddington) eternal battle to push through some legislation that wouldn’t be stopped by Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne). The third lead was Hacker’s Principal Private Secretary Bernanrd Wooley (Derek Fowlds) who passed away recently.

Any attempt to pass through any legislation was usually met by Appleby’s subtle ‘no’ which he said by setting up ‘a fact-finding interdepartmental committee with fairly broad terms of reference so that at the end of the day we'll be in the position to think through the various implications and arrive at a decision based on long-term considerations rather than rush prematurely into precipitate and possibly ill-conceived action which might well have unforeseen repercussions’.

Here are some of the best clips:

Yes Minister – The Press

Yes Minister – Education

Yes Minister – The Moral Vacuum

Yes Minister – The Art Subsidies

Yes Minister – The Literati

Yes Minister – How to Distract the Press

Don’t waste your time during the lockdown watching terrible shows and watch Yes Minister right now.

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