The Monday after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reshuffled the bureaucracy transferring 42 IAS officials in Maharashtra, a dull whirring sound drowned out every other conversation in a top bureaucrat’s cabin. The official, who held one of the most plum posts in Mantralaya, was all set to move out of his cabin to take charge of his new assignment in a couple of hours. As part of the clearing-out routine, he was busy feeding paper-work into a shredder beneath his table, not pausing for a moment even while attending to visitors. At one point, a deafening silence took over as the whirring ceased. The bureaucrat, known for being tight-lipped on official matters, looked up and quipped, in a rare uncharacteristic moment of candour, “Maybe it has been over-used today.”
The freedom to ask questions during press conferences is often misused by participants to voice their personal opinions. But the trend saw a new low at a recent event held to build communal amity in view of the recent conflagration in Lalbaug. A participant keen to ask a question to the panel hankered for getting hold of the microphone before launching into a lengthy question-and-suggestion to the panel. As the panellist began to answer, the answer seeker nonchalantly walked out. The organisers were later heard complaining that the breed of such ‘guerilla reporters’ were steadily increasing — people who ‘ambushed’ panellists but vanished before taking a response.
Although he is not very active on Twitter, senior officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) say municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte likes to keep a tab on civic complaints received through the social medium and reads every message addressed to him. “After reading these complaints, the commissioner also checks with the respective departments. The problem is that most of the time, the complaints received on Facebook and Twitter are not genuine and we waste time getting information about those,” a senior
As minor disputes hamper the operations of the new toll plazas in Navi Mumbai, toll booth officers have admitted that given the chaos at the plazas they let some vehicles go without paying the tariff to keep the traffic moving. “They plead to be excused from paying. And we finally give in because they hold a line as long as 100 meters,” said a senior toll booth official. “Kharghar is really silent but since the toll booth has come up there has been lot of honking in the area. The toll should not be charged just to tackle the noise pollution it has created,” said a Kamothe resident.
At a recent re-enactment of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to mark 100 years since he and Kasturba alighted at Apollo Bunder, one member of the welcome party had travelled all the way from Pune. It was Dr Sunil Gokhale, great grandson of Gopalkrishna Gokhale – who had made the same journey to South Mumbai 100 years ago. While lamenting the state of history in school education that fails to note in any detail the relationship between Gandhi and Gokhale, the Pune resident said, “At a time when Gandhi-bashing is popular, one cannot expect his mentor Gokhale’s role to be studied.”