Stockholm: The daunting challenge of ridding the world of chemical weapons got a massive push with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) -- an international organization that has been working since 1997 to convince countries to give up chemical weapons, besides checking and confirming the destruction of existing chemical weapons -- being awarded the Nobel peace prize 2013. . . . OPCW is presently overseeing the destruction of Syria's arsenal, and aims to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons production facilities by November 1. -- Times Of India, 11 Oct. 2013.
London: Urging the destruction of an "entire category” of unconventional weapons, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2013 Peace Prize on Friday to a modest and little-known United-Nations-backed organization (OPCW) that has drawn sudden attention with a mission to ensure that Syria’s stocks of chemical arms are eradicated. -- New York Times, 11 Oct. 2013.
The above recent news reports instantly made me recall an institution called OWPC -- which I had conceptualized in a light-hearted article I had written in the Times Of India, Bombay, a quarter-century before the OPCW was set up in The Hague 16 years ago. Please do me the favour of reading that article (which I am copying below), before letting me tell you about another intriguing institution called OCPW.
Glossary & Annotations
Times Of India -- One of India's leading English lamguage newspapers, originally published in Bombay and New Delhi only, but progressively in several other cities also.
Bill Buro -- I didn't give a typical Indian-sounding name to this character, for I wanted him to have a universal image. That's why it isn't clear to which country he belongs. Obviously, Bill Buro was my own imaginary alter ego, and his adventure was just one of my spicy day-dreams about what I might do if I gave up my job as a civil servant and became a professional journalist.
Parkinson and Peter -- C. Northcote Parkinson (1909-1993) and Lawrence J. Peter (1919-1990), whose twin concepts Parkinson's Law (1958 : "Work expands to fill the time available") and The Peter Principle (1969 : "Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence") have dominated worldwide management philosophy for the past several decades.
Times Of India
18 July 1973
BILL BURO IS BACK
As everybody knows, there has been widespread speculation about the identity of Bill Buro, the author of the sensational newspaper column about the methods of people who push files. The column had mysteriously fizzled out some time ago, but is now vigorously back in circulation. Bill Buro has captured the public's imagination because his writing is not only very witty, but absolutely authentic, He has a remarkable insight into the ways of the filemasters. He has been widely acclaimed as a worthy successor to Parkinson and Peter. His articles are illustrated with interesting country-wide case histories.
Naturally, people have been wondering who Bill Buro is, how he gets his information, and what accounts for his all-seeing, all-knowing wisdom.
The speculation almost ruined his brilliant career, but not quite. The trouble began when hundreds of readers started writing to the Editor, congratulating the columnist and praising his uncanny understanding of his subject. The authorities soon woke up to the fact that they had a formidable critic to reckon with, and they issued instructions to all filemasters forbidding the supply of any information to Bill Buro.
But the writer merrily continued his awesome commentary, and the authorities referred the matter to a private detective. After making a painstaking inquiry the detective came to a conclusion, and submitted a report.
After some time Bill Buro's articles began to lose some of their sparkle, and finally they stopped appearing. Readers started writing strong protests to the Editor, who sent for Bill and asked him what exactly was happening.
"That detective chap who went into my case was a frightfully clever chap," Bill said. "He really found out who I was, and the authorities took immediate action to choke the channels through which I was getting my samples."
"Who are you really, Bill?" the Editor asked. "And what are your channels?"
"Well, I guess there's no harm in telling you now!" Bill Buro said. "You see, in the beginning, whenever I wanted material I used to go to a contractor lifting waste paper from the local offices, and buy some of the stuff from him. Later on I started floating my own tenders and began lifting the paper myself from all local offices. After that I spread my business to cover units all over the country."
"Go on! This is interesting!"
"I established a central warehouse and dozens of regional warehouses where I could dump the stuff, and I had all the material I needed."
"What happened then?"
"When the authorities found out the facts, they set up the Office Waste Paper Corporation, and directed all filemasters to deliver their waste paper to the OWPC. So you see, I was no longer able to get any authentic material."
"But what about all those warehouses you had set up? Surely you must be having enough paper to write about for a long time?"
"Not really! The first thing the OWPC did was to take over all my stocks."
"Do you mean to say your column is really done for, Bill? What am I going to tell my readers?"
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that! I shall be making a spectacular come-back soon."
"But how?" the Editor asked. "You said you lost all your material!"
"Well, I'll tell you a secret," Bill Buro said. "Did you notice the OWPC's recent advertisement about the post of Managing Director? I applied for it. I explained to them that I was running the biggest OWP business in the country before the Corporation was set up, and they've given me the job!"
PostScript : 2013
Of prizes and paper
Fishing out the above article from my old records and reviewing it in the present context, I can't resist the temptation to alert you about the following news report which will materialize in the world's media within the next 24 hours:
Stockholm, 19 Oct. : Announcing today that this year's Nobel Prize for Burocrafts has been awarded to the Organization for the Control of Paperwork (OCPW) based in Geneva, the Nobel Prize Committee clarifies that "by setting up a vast network of OWPCs (Office Waste Paper Corporations) in many important member-countries of the United Nations, the OCPW is making a significant contribution to the reduction of paperwork, by converting office paper into waste paper, on a global scale." -- Reuters.