A ministry for aliens?

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Close encounters
Archaeologists in Chhattisgarh seem to have suddenly developed a fascination for aliens. One after another, the historians serving with the Chhattisgarh government’s culture department have begun claiming to have found footprints of aliens almost all over the central Indian state, generating a sense of awe and dismay among their fraternity residing elsewhere in the country.
The alien story first got circulated in the local media a decade ago when archaeological adviser to the state government A.K. Sharma then claimed to have discovered antiques — a lookalike of the extraterrestrial beings as shown in some Hollywood blockbusters — during excavation in the famous fifth century AD Sirpur archaeological site in the state.
Mr Sharma, a retired archaeologist of Archaeological Survey of India, has recently dropped another bomb when he once again came out with the claim of finding 2,500-year-old terracotta artefacts from Rajim site in the state, currently being excavated by him. According to him, these artefacts “give evidence of the locals experiencing the close encounter of the third kind”. His latest discovery has however drawn harsh criticism from several quarters.
Describing the claim as “utterly absurd and rubbish”, renowned marine archaeologist and professor and head of department of history, Central University, Assam, Dr Alok Tripathy, quipped, “The Chhattisgarh government should have a ministry for aliens.”
The controversial discovery followed another “contentious” finding of rock paintings in Bastar where figures of aliens and their spacecraft were drawn purportedly 10,000 years ago.
Apparently to set at rest these controversies, the state culture department has now issued a circular prohibiting the archaeologists from going to media without proper official sanction.
That means if officials in the department are to be believed, it is an end to any more alien story.
“Hope, aliens won’t like to visit Chhattisgarh anymore owing to unofficial ban on their publicity,” a senior officer was heard saying.

Yaatrigan kripya dhyan de
Good news seems to be no news these days. If your chain is snatched at a Metro station in Delhi, you may find its mention in a para or two in some inside pages of a newspaper. But what if you have forgotten money at the Metro counter, and the same is given back to you on your return journey?
That’s exactly what happened with one Naina Mukherjee, who had to recharge her smart card for `200. She paid `500 to the person at the counter of the Rohini station and forgot to collect the remaining amount. When she reached the Connaught Place station, Ms Mukherjee realised she had forgotten to collect the balance amount of `300. So, she kept thinking about it all through the day.
On her return journey, she took a chance and went to the Rohini counter again. To her surprise, the Metro officials had kept her `300 along with a receipt at the counter. While this sweet gesture of the Metro authorities is bound to stay with this Metro traveller all through her life, the rare display of honesty has touched our hearts too.

A classic U-turn
In politics, timing is very important and now this is what some prominent dissident MLAs of Assam are found to have been preaching.
Congress minister Gautam Roy and MLA Chandan Sarkar played a key role in foundation of a dissident camp led by ex-health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Congress Legislature Party. the presence of a senior minister like Mr Roy encouraged at least two ministers, Siddiqui Ahmed and Ardhendu Dey, to join the dissident camp.
Mr Roy and Mr Sarkar went ahead and declared the name of Mr Sarma as the chief ministerial candidate from the dissident camp. Support of senior ministers and legislators prompted Mr Sarma to take the risk of tendering his resignation, obviously to mount pressure on the party leadership to remove chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
The dissident camp decided to organise a parade in front of Assam governor J.B. Patnaik to show off their strength of at least 36 legislators rallying behind Mr Sarma. However, they were shocked when only 27 MLAs turned up to join them for the parade before the governor.
When dissidents were meeting the governor, Mr Roy and Mr Sarkar reached the residence of Mr Gogoi to clarify that they are no longer a part of the dissident camp.
As action of dissident camp was in violation of party discipline, Mr Gogoi was authorised by the All-India Congress Committee to take action. It resulted in three ministers — Mr Sarma, Mr Dey and Mr Ahmed — losing their jobs for their involvement in dissident activities for more than a year. Despite his involvement in the same offence, Mr Roy escaped and remains a minister in the Gogoi Cabinet.
Congress insiders said that the timing of taking the U-turn was such that now Mr Sarkar may also find a place in the new council of ministers of Mr Gogoi in the proposed reshuffle of the Gogoi Cabinet.

Akhilesh and his ‘boys’
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has his favourites among the cops and it is now these “cherished boys” who are sullying the image of his government. However, the chief minister’s faith in them is unflinching.
Navneet Sikera, currently posted as Lucknow DIG, has always been a favourite of the entire Yadav family. Ever since a young widow was gangraped and murdered near Lucknow last week, Mr Sikera has been at the helm of investigations.
In his media briefings, he has been churning out almost fantastic scripts about the case, even overriding the findings of his seniors in the case.
The media has been holding almost parallel investigations into the tragic and horrifying case and has found serious discrepancies in the autopsy report of the victim.
The police official, however, has managed to convince the chief minister that his investigations are on the right track and that the media’s character is “dheela” in this case.
Earlier, another senior police official Yashasvi Yadav — also an Akhilesh favourite — had beaten up junior doctors in Kanpur that led to a prolonged agitation.

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The spiritual world has known so many wonderful mystics and most of them have been men.

When our public sector is much in news whether it involves privatisation or disinvestment, it is worth recalling whether they are good corporate citizens, especially when they are monopolies.