He’s a retiring sort
Senior bureaucrats spend the last few months in office bending over backwards to earn some brownie points with the political leadership to be encashed for a post-retirement job. Union home secretary GK Pillai, due to retire next month, is determined not to fall into this trap. Pillai, who decided early in his career not to invest in shares to avoid any conflict of interest, wants to teach, sharing his experiences in subjects ranging from management, governance to commerce with the younger generation. Of course, after he catches up on lost time that he spent in office instead of on his grandchild. That’s a grand idea.
Not quite a shoe-in
D Raja, CPI secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, lost his shoe in the melee at the swearing-in ceremony of AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa and her ministers in Chennai. It happened when he came to the aid of CPI general secretary AB Bardhan who was about to lose his balance in the jostling at the venue. An exasperated Raja turned to a policeman, who only said, “Where can we look for your shoe in this crowd, sir?” In disgust, Raja threw away his other shoe too before turning up for a lunch hosted by Jayalalithaa. Noticing his plight, actor-turned politician Sarath Kumar and his wife Radhika offered their vehicle to help Raja buy a new pair. The boot’s on another foot now.
The ceiling has a sealing
India’s civil service could miss another chance to have a woman break the glass ceiling. Alka Sirohi — the low-profile secretary of the department of personnel and training — this month made it to a short-list of officers to be considered to replace Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar. But there are hints that this is as far as she will get. Sirohi is the third woman officer to reach this far over the last seven years. The other two, Reva Nayyar and Sudha Pillai, missed their chance, as PM Manmohan Singh gave the incumbent cabinet secretaries extensions. Sirohi might have to settle for something similar if her batchmate from the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Ajit Kumar Seth, makes it the top post. Seth, serving as a secretary at the cabinet secretariat, has a reputation of being an efficient and honest civil servant. Sirohi has an equally impressive track record. Clearly, not all glass is easily breakable.
Lessons in advance planning
The much-awaited first Indo-US Higher Education Summit, announced during President Barack Obama’s visit to India last year, has been postponed indefinitely because US secretary of State Hillary Clinton and human resource and development minister Kapil Sibal — the two key Summit protagonists — are struggling to find a mutually suitable date. The two countries had agreed on mid-June in Washington DC and India even started making detailed preparations for the Summit. But it is learnt that the US has now communicated that Clinton will be occupied on the scheduled dates. An alternative date suggested by the Americans — around June 4 — is not convenient for the HRD minister. The two countries, keen on the Summit, are now trying to find a date in September for the meet. A blind date so far, it would seem.
Fall from the wall
Once known as “poster king”, Union minister MK Alagiri is now at the receiving end of a new poster war unleashed in parts of Tamil Nadu following the DMK’s rout. These posters put up in even in his old citadel of Madurai, declare him as “an absconding Union minister who has gone missing after declaring that the AIADMK would go missing after elections”. They mockingly describe his qualifications as “Union minister who doesn’t know English or Hindi”. Before the elections, Alagiri’s men had his posters deface houses in Madurai and other cities, excepting his own house because “annan doesn’t like it.” A paste and cut job for him.