When activist Irom Sharmila was produced in court last week, she was accompanied by heavy security including personnel from the Manipur Police, the CRPF and the Delhi Police. After the first half of the hearing, Sharmila, who has been on a fast for the last 14 years, was made to sit on a chair outside the court room to await her turn till the hearing resumed. Since it was a hot day, those accompanying Sharmila began to fan her. A head constable, however, went a step further and ordered his junior to bring her a bottle of water. “Bisleri lao aur madam ko paani pilao” he said. Those around him shot him a nasty look while others simply glared. A constable pulled him aside and told him that Sharmila had not had water or food for the last 14 years.
Too much to track
The level of turmoil within the AAP is proving difficult for party members to keep track of. When mediapersons called party leaders regarding a purported communication between Yogendra Yadav and Manish Sisodia, several party leaders seemed confused. They even asked the reporters exactly which letter they were talking about. One leader, when contacted for his take on the war of words between Sisodia and Yadav, said, “Please read out the letter you have. I don’t want to comment on the wrong one.”
On their toes
While Smriti Irani might have been in the headlines for her educational qualifications, it was her impromptu trip to ministry offices at Shastri Bhawan which really made a difference. Cleaning teams, which an official described as ‘rare at best’ in the past, have become a common facet of every day life at the ministry. An official said, “It’s perhaps because of the possibility of surprise visits. It is not very common for a Minister to come here. At least the cleaning team has been shocked out of their sarkari apathy.”
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Waste of money
The RSS is seemingly upset about how BJP leaders and party supporters have been spending a lot money to reward and honour party workers for their hard work during the polls. The leaders have been constantly enquiring about the money that has been spent on organising elaborate functions and buying gifts. “Though there is nothing wrong in rewarding the workers who have worked hard during the elections, these functions are a waste. Often, the same set of people turn up for the functions to collect the rewards. That defeats the purpose of the whole exercise,” a senior RSS leader said.
As an incentive for good work, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation gave away smartphones to its safai karamcharis this week. The “award” was given for their “outstanding performance in desilting work”. Considered the backbone of the municipal corporations, the karamcharis were awarded mobile phones for the first time. However, while providing the incentive, the Chairman of the standing committee also reminded everyone that those who do not perform their duties will be punished.
Fighting the heat
Traffic police personnel deployed on junctions and intersections have devised their own ways to fight the scorching Delhi heat. In a traffic circle in one of the districts, personnels were seen carrying their ice boxes. An officer explained how they soaked towels in ice cold water and wrapped the wet towels around their necks to fight the heat. “We have to stand in the heat all day. If we don’t carry the ice box, we will suffer a heat stroke nearly every day. We have asked the street vendors who sell water to arrange ice for us on a daily basis,” an officer said.
A senior official of the Gurgaon administration was captured on video moving to a popular dance number during a public event in Gurgaon. The video, which is now doing rounds on messaging service WhatsApp, has evoked both mirth and disgust among other officials of the administration. One of them commented, “There is no doubt that this man is a very intelligent civil servant. But behaving like this publicly does not suit a man of his position. He should be careful.”
After two incidents of fire at the police headquarters last week, and the damage caused to the office of a Crime Branch officer during the storm, a joke has been doing the rounds in police circles. Officers were heard telling each other that a priest should be called in, to ward off evil spirits. Soon, the journalists began playing along, claiming that they would help police find a priest who would not charge a fee.
New plan unwelcome
Even as the Delhi government announces plans for an end-to-end automation and computerisation of the Public Distribution System, the department of Food Supplies is expecting resistance from owners of fair price shops (FPS). Under the new system, it will be mandatory for each of the 2,772 functional fair price shops in the capital to carry out transactions through ‘point of sale’ (PoS) devices. Officials said those who indulge in corrupt practices such as hoarding and black-marketing, are not going to be forthcoming about the new idea. However, the department is proposing an increase in the sale margin for the shop owners from 35 paise per kg to Re 1 per kg. “And the plan is bound to help the FPS owners, as it will help them maintain computerised records rather than keep them manually,” a senior official said.
The IT department of the Delhi government is planning to install CCTV cameras in all government departments that have a public interface. According to the plan, surveillance devices will be put up at all liquor shops run by the government as well, “to keep a check on any illicit activities”. The exercise, however, became quixotic when officials suggested that CCTVs should also be put up in corridors, the accounts section and back offices. At this, the chief of one of the departments made his staff redo the entire exercise, questioning the need for surveillance in areas that do not deal with public.
Hunt is on
Admission season may be a busy time for students, parents and teachers, but none is as busy as the touts who walk around the university campus trying to sell their products. The university has become a space to hunt for network marketeers, and students involved with multi-level marketing companies are constantly on the lookout for new agents. On offer are promises to make students “instant entrepreneurs” through “two hour seminars” and “trips to Singapore and Thailand”. “It is about ambition. You can stay, study in this university for four years and still not have a job, or sign up with us, and never study a day in your life. It is your choice,” one of the touts explained to this reporter. Interestingly, 20-odd students from the University had already bitten the bait and signed up for his “dazzling” programme.
During the storm that struck Delhi last week, mattresses and bed sheets from the laundry section in a Delhi hospital’s surgery ward went flying, resulting in the disruption of records. “That was one day when we had about 40 per cent of our ward vacant. Usually, we have to do doubling and tripling of patients. The storm was so sudden and doctors were so caught up with emergency cases, no one noticed these mattresses flying,” a senior official said. The mattress had to be laid out for two days to dry, and the laundry redone.
Rumour mills abuzz
Amid reports of widening differences among senior party leaders and rumours of Kumar Vishwas being the next AAP leader to walk out of the party, his early exit from the party’s National Executive meeting on Friday raised many eyebrows. Vishwas, however, maintained that he was leaving early because of health issues. “Issues of the party can be discussed later but first let me look at my health first,” Vishwas said.