PIB CHASES NEWS
Dipa Karmakar, 22-year old, has created history by becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the forthcoming Rio Olympics. While the young athlete is receiving all-round accolade for her achievement and even met the Union minister for development of Northeast region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh, who lauded her for the achievement, the Central government’s publicity arm, i.e. the Press Information Bureau, it seems was oblivious of the meeting.
While the meeting took place on April 21, the PIB issued a press release only on April 25, which was carried by all newspapers on April 26. While the faux pas left officialdom red-faced, it seems only a medal-worthy performance from the Tripura girl in the Olympics will make for prompt reporting!
GOOD LUCK FOR BJP
Newly-nominated Rajya Sabha member and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy is being described as party’s “Brahmastra (the most powerful weapon in the Hindu mythology)” against the Congress in Parliament. His very first debut speech in Parliament (a day later when he took the oath) lasted less than a minute as angry Congress MPs trooped into the well of the House as he named the Congress president while talking about AgustaWestland bribery case.
It only led to war of words between the Congress and BJP leadership. Dr Swamy is considered by many as a bitter critic of the Congress. Dr Swamy, an eminent lawyer, is already fighting the National Herald case, in which the Congress high command had been named. Incidentally, Dr Swamy took oath on a Tuesday (Mangalwar), which his supporters and followers on Twitter, saw as a sign that his nomination will only bring mangal (good luck) to the BJP.
THE CAFE STROKE
Ever heard of a cafe suffering from a “heat stroke” The recently opened Sheroes Hangout, a cafe being run by acid-attack survivors in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has a glaring notice put up on its locked gates. It reads: “Due to heat stroke, the cafe will open only between 5 pm and 10 pm.” The café, which is being run in an open veranda was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Women’s Day on March 8.
Mr Yadav had visited the first Hangout Cafe in Agra last year and was so impressed by the concept that he offered the proprietors a chance to open another outlet in Lucknow.
A food joint being run by Uttar Pradesh tourism was promptly handed over to acid-attack survivors and the café got going, but as soon as the mercury started rising, customers started staying away. Even acid-attack survivors who run the cafe are finding it tough to bear the heat and hence the “heat stroke” notice.
One of the girls who works in the café explained the gaffe and said, “It is actually the system here that is suffering from a heat stroke. We repeatedly told the officials that the café should be covered with air conditioners but they gave it to us as though they were giving alms to a beggar. If the café finally shuts down, one should not be surprised — after all people (read cafés) do die of heat stroke.”
Cornered and marginalised for long in his party for his acerbic voice on scams and scandals, Biju Janata Dal vice-president and Orissa minister for excise Damodar Rout was seething with anger, desperately looking for an opportunity to avenge his humiliation.
On April 27, when the second phase of the ongoing Budget Session of Orissa Assembly began, Dr Rout stood up during the Zero Hour to say something.
Sensing that Dr Rout could embarrass the party in the Assembly by reiterating the alleged involvement of a ministerial colleague in a chit-fund scam Speaker Niranjan Pujari did not allow him to speak.
At this, the septuagenarian leader immediately retreated to his Assembly chamber. The television reporters who always chase Dr Rout to get some good sound bytes immediately rushed to him for his comment on Mr Pujari’s decision.
“It may be my misfortune that I was not allowed to speak. But I cannot ask him why he did not give me the chance to speak. The Speaker has all prerogatives to decide who will speak and who will not. I feel myself most unlucky,” he said.
Television channels ran the news titled: “All is not well in the ruling BJD. Senior leader Damodar Rout unhappy over not being allowed to speak in the Assembly BJD divided over chit-fund scam ”
The Opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders immediately seized the opportunity to attack the BJD. They said the BJD is afraid of Dr Rout as he would have exposed some more leaders of the ruling party involved in the chit-fund scam.
The fire that destroyed thousands of rare specimens at the National Museum of Natural History at Mandi House, New Delhi, has once again brought the issue of the national capital’s preparedness to handle such tragedies into focus. For a population of 167.88 lakh, the city reportedly has only 58 fire stations. In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said that in the 11th and 12th Five-Year Plans, the Delhi fire service (DFS) had proposed to increase its fire stations to 70. But the DFS was only able to add three stations in the last five years. Not only this, the report also said that the breathing apparatus for fire-fighters was either old or in short supply. The CAG said no first aid kits were found in any fire brigade vehicle. It also noted that there was no utilisation of radio and TV for mass awareness campaigns on how to prevent fire-related tragedies.
Interestingly, while an expenditure of Rs 199.99 lakh had been incurred in the name of awareness campaigns, the details of these campaigns were not made available to the CAG. The gossip doing the rounds is whether the Aam Aadmi Party government would provide all the required information to the auditor about DFS’ expenditures, which is directly under its own control, so that effective measures can be taken to prevent fires in the city.
A VOTE AGAINST SWACHCHH BHARAT
Our elected representatives have been known to indulge in various fetishes while hard at work in their respective houses. While MLAs in Karnataka were filmed watching porn during Assembly proceedings, fiddling with mobiles and tabs is a very common phenomenon among MLAs of various states and even our MPs.
However, this week a senior MP from Bihar, who is known for his love for khaini (chewing tobacco), was witnessed spitting the residue near his seat in the Rajya Sabha. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent crores of rupees on creating “Swachchh Bharat” it seems that MPs sitting close to him were not following the basics of hygiene and civic sense.
A CREDIBILITY CRISIS
Several players in Kashmir’s unsettling politics are suffering from credibility crisis and, in order to come out of these, they generally play to the gallery. You will find them always ready to milk any source of potential advantage even if trifling in nature. Once the “heartbeat” of many Kashmiris for being an irate and outspoken advocate of their political “aspirations”, Abdul Rashid Kabuli, a former member of the Lok Sabha, seems to be among those caught in this bizarre situation.
Mr Kabuli’s political journey began as a student leader owing allegiance to pro-Independence camp. Elected to Jammu and Kashmir Assembly a couple of times with active support from Kashmir’s pro-plebiscite Mirwaiz family, he switched sides and joined mainstream National Conference and was twice elected to the Lok Sabha from Srinagar on its ticket. With the Kashmiri separatist campaign bursting into major violence in 1989-90, Mr Kabuli found himself politically uprooted.
His joining Bharatiya Janata Party later on came as a rude shock even to his admirers. Though he quit the saffron party before long, his “aaya ram, gaya ram” attitude and oscillation between extremes ruined his credibility as a politician.
The 80-year-old now heads the one-person political outfit J&K National Democratic Front and his credibility has suffered to the extent that last week he was seen circulating his daughter’s wedding invitation cards with an acknowledgement note from Mudasir Iqbal Cheema, an official at New Delhi’s Pakistan high commission, stating his willingness to attend the reception if permitted to travel to Srinagar by the Government of India. But Mr Kabuli’s stunt found no takers.