The interpreter of policies
Activists, some of them National Advisory Council members, have been accusing the Planning Commission of being out of touch with ground realities and of formulating policies that are incomprehensible to the common man. The launch of ‘Greening Rural Development’ last week proved them right, at least in one aspect. Releasing the report, plan panel deputy chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia spoke for a couple of minutes. But his words went over the heads of most of the reporters there. It was only when the co-chair and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh stated that Ahluwalia gave them a headline “GDP and sustainability can go hand-in-hand” did the scribes realise the point Ahluwalia was driving at. A bit out of sync with the aam aadmi here.
A very unique identification process
The government’s calendar for 2013 may have done more harm than good for its ‘game-changer’ Unique Identification or Aadhaar project. The Aadhaar card printed on the calendar identifies a girl as a boy, and elaborates on the benefits she will get because of the Aadhaar number. The photo on the Aadhaar card is that of a girl while the demographic details are those of a boy. Do we see a gender bender here?
And the award goes to...
Lobbying for the Padma awards has started and some people really go to amazing lengths to secure the honour. The principal of a top private school in New Delhi is setting new standards for lobbying. Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth has got the maximum number of recommendations for this person. Seth was also invited to attend a function at the school. People have even tried to contact the prime minister’s family members to put in a good word for the principal who was earlier a physical education teacher. A significant section of the PMO, however, believes that the Padma awards for educationists should go to those working among the weaker sections of society and not those heading elite schools. If there is an award for lobbying, we have a winner here.
A virtue out of necessity here?
Known for his organisational skills, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ramesh Chennithala has twice turned down an offer to join the state Cabinet. The offer had come from Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy himself. “He wanted to be active in the party and refused a cabinet berth,” Chandy disclosed recently. Allegations have been flying thick and fast that some leaders in the Kerala Congress had sabotaged his efforts to become a minister. Coming to the aid of the party.
Presenting a united front
The much-delayed Cabinet expansion in Jammu and Kashmir is expected to take place this week. This will be the first reshuffle in four years of the state government. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has already held consultations with two warring Jammu and Kashmir leaders — health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and state unit chief Saifuddin Soz. They are learnt to have buried their differences for now and have agreed on some names despite reservations. Many give the credit for this to the party’s J&K in-charge Mohan Prakash. He has relentlessly worked to unite different factions within the state, a feat his predecessors failed to achieve. A peace-maker par excellence.
One panel, but many members
The Trinamool Congress-CPI(M) rivalry seems to have found a new arena — the parliamentary standing committee. The panel on transport, tourism and culture covers the functioning of five ministries and is headed by CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury. No wonder the Trinamool realised its importance and packed as many as three MPs — Dinesh Trivedi, Kunal Ghosh and Shishir Adhikary — into the committee. Usually, the regional parties do not nominate more than one member to a panel. Looks like Mamatadi saw red in the case of the panel headed by a comrade.
Not quite on song it would seem
Following the Delhi gang rape, Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Reddy spoke on respecting women and DGP Dinesh Reddy attended sensitisation workshops. But at the launch of a hockey tournament last week both found themselves in a most embarrassing situation. As part of the inaugural programme, college students danced to Bollywood songs like ‘Chholi ke peeche kya hein’, making the CM, DGP and a couple of ministers squirm in their seats. Sensing their discomfort, one official stopped the music and grabbing the mike announced that there was “a technical problem in the audio.” Making sense of sensibilities.