India is taking no chances with President Obama’s upcoming visit. Even the coconuts have been identified as potential threats that warrant precautionary security measures.
While in India, President Obama is scheduled to visit Mani Bhavan, which Mahatma Gandhi used as a base of operations in Mumbai (Bombay) between 1917 and 1934 and which is now home to the city’s Gandhi museum. Apparently, the area is highly vulnerable to attack from dried coconuts that hang precariously from the umbrella-like branches of the trees overhead. Dried coconuts have been known to occasionally fall on passers-by and have even been responsible for a few very unlucky deaths. Gandhi might have used them as a last line of defense were it not for his strict adherence to non-violent resistance.
The threat of attack from falling coconuts has reached new heights as the supply of professional pickers has declined due to the diminished role of India’s ancient caste system and the availability of more attractive opportunities in India’s vibrant economy. Last year, the southern Indian state of Kerala, known as the king of India’s coconut-producing regions, offered a bounty of 1 million rupees to anyone in the world who could come up with a “genius” picking machine capable of plucking coconuts suspended 30 meters above ground level. Due in part to a shortage of picking candidates, Kerala’s production of coconuts fell by 7.3 percent from 6 billion in 2005 to 5.56 billion in 2008.
Miracle machine or no, thanks to the vigilant efforts of India’s security forces, the world can rest easier that the Presidential noggin will not fall prey to hostile coconut fire, at least around Mani Bhavan.
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Disarmed with Care: Coconut Tree. The Telegraph. November 4, 2010.
India Seeks Genius Coconut Picker. BBC News. August 21, 2009.
Pinglay, Prachi. Coconuts Removed in India Ahead of Obama Visit. BBC News. November 3, 2010.