Regional buzz: From ‘babus’ to Rahul Gandhi’s judoka avatar

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 02, 2016 13:08 IST
While several of them have been griping to reporters from time to time for using these “disparaging” terms to describe bureaucrats and the bureaucracy, a retired Punjab bureaucrat in Chandigarh has taken upon himself the duty to sensitise the media to call the ‘steel frame’ anything but babus. (Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu)

Retired bureaucrat takes offence to ‘babu’ word

They belong to an elite service and are seen by many as thick-skinned. But frequent use of terms ‘babus’ and ‘babudom’ has touched a raw nerve with a section of the all-powerful bureaucracy. While several of them have been griping to reporters from time to time for using these “disparaging” terms to describe bureaucrats and the bureaucracy, a retired Punjab bureaucrat in Chandigarh has taken upon himself the duty to sensitise the media to call the ‘steel frame’ anything but babus. His motivation: another IAS colleague who shot off a well-argued open letter to top editor of a national English daily in New Delhi, expressing his displeasure with ‘ babu’ term. “I am still at loss to understand whether my image as a staid, ignorant, slothful man sitting on a creaky chair, behind a pile of pale papers, taking immeasurable time to even perform normal, basic functions is a result of your ignorance or lack of objectivity,” he wrote, calling himself “a humble civil servant, proud to be much more than a babu”. Perhaps the mandarins need to first mend their ways and change their image of being sedentary file-pushers–oops, they might object to this too–before expecting the media to make amends.

Sukhbir turns up late, boring lectures augment cops’ pain

When elections are round the corner, even the most incorrigible of politicians change their colours to put their best foot forward. But Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal seems to take his own sweet time. A habitual latecomer, the deputy CM was late by an hour and a half for a pipping ceremony of recently-promoted cops held in Chandigarh. Poor cops, including senior-most officers of the state, waited patiently. But more torturous were the long, boring lectures some senior officers had to cook up to kill time. On top of everything else, several overweight officers found the Panjab University auditorium seats too small to fit in and remained seated in their chairs throughout the ceremony.

Nomination cements Ramoowalia’s berth

Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who surprised everyone in Punjab by joining the Samajwadi Party (SP) and taking over as minister for jails in Uttar Pradesh in October 2015, was nominated to the legislative council last week. He needed to become a member of state legislature or legislative council within six months to continue in the state cabinet. After his nomination, Ramoowalia put all rumours to rest that he may have to quit the cabinet for not fulfilling the constitutional provisions. “It is better to be a minister in UP and represent 11-lakh Sikhs than struggling to have some say in a ward of a city in one’s home state,” reacted the jubilant minister who will have six years as MLC. Ramoowalia had started his life as a balladeer and can sing paeans to anyone in power. Perhaps this is how he wooed SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his CM son Akhilesh Singh Yadav.

Life comes full circle for IAS officer at Talwandi Sabo

Life has come full circle for 1983-batch IAS officer Suresh Kumar who retired on April 30 after serving for 33 years. On his last day in office, Kumar, whose last posting was additional chief secretary, agriculture, went to pay obeisance at Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, with his wife and some family friends. His first posting was sub-divisional magistrate, Talwandi Sabo. Kumar, as his close aide revealed, had joined duty after paying obeisance at the same gurdwara.

Headless water supply department

The department of water supply and sanitation in Punjab is headless. While water supply and sanitation secretary Ajoy Sharma left for Tamil Nadu on Saturday for 20 days on election duty as observer in the assembly polls, additional chief secretary Suresh Kumar retired on April 30. The state government is still to issue posting orders.

Rahul Gandhi, a judo exponent

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is an avid judoka (practitioner of modern martial art, judo).  The 45-year-old leader practises the art every morning before he embarks on a grinding routine.  “It helps me keep fit. Except for Sundays, I do it every day,’’ he said during an interaction with journalists from Haryana and other states at his New Delhi residence on Friday. Wonder whether Gandhi is practising some new moves to put his political opponents on the mat.

Khattar’s ‘prernadayak’ pilgrimage to Ujjain

The journalists in chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s Karnal assembly segment were full of excitement when he invited them for dinner at a local hotel. But all their enthusiasm petered out when they reached there. The CM asked them not to ask any questions about his government or its working. Instead of talking about his feats and fiascos, Khattar, in his short speech, talked about his recent pilgrimage to Ujjain. “It was ‘prernadayak’ (inspiring) as I got a good ‘katha vachak’ (preacher) of Bhagavad Gita,” he said. While several scribes were disappointed, officers of the district administration made the most of the dinner meeting, clinging to the CM like never before. They captured the front rows, pushing the journalists, who were ‘special invitees’, to back rows. Among the scribes, too, Khattar spoke to a “select few”.

Virbhadra has learnt to ignore his detractors

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh seems to have changed his tactics. Instead of refuting the allegations being hurled by his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal’s two sons, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur and Arun Thakur, he now ignores them. “I don’t think it is necessary for me to reply to everything they utter” is his stock response these days. When asked about the accusations made by Dhumal’s younger son against his (Virbhadra’s) wife Pratibha, the chief minister retorted: “Who is Arun Thakur? I don’t even know him”.

Cricket takes centre stage in Himachal politics

Politicians continue to spar over cricket in Himachal Pradesh with both the Virbhadra Singh government and the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) attacking each other. Their fight had even led to shifting of the India-Pakistan match of T20 cricket world cup out of Dharamshala recently. While HPCA has been using it to brand the state government as “anti-sports”, the latter has, in an image-makeover bid, bowled a surprise bouncer, announcing that Kings XI Punjab will play three of its home games at Dharamshala and the state administration will provide all requisite support, including free security. But HPCA, it seems, was ready for the bouncer and has blocked the event, shifting the blame on the state government. “We had written to the government to host the games, but didn’t receive any response for weeks,” it said.

Zila Parishad members want salary hike too

They never miss an opportunity to hit out at each other, but legislators of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were together on passing the bill to increase their salary and perks. Taking a cue from the MLAs, members of the Zila Parishad staged a walkout from the monthly meeting in Shimla to press their demand for hike in salary. “If the government can afford to pay more to MLAs, then why not us,” they said.

 (Contributed by Chitleen K Sethi, Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Navneet Sharma, Hitender Rao, Neeraj Mohan, Gaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur)

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