The Emir of Qatar,Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani,was at his unassuming self after his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for bilateral talks on Monday. As the signing ceremony for the agreements was going on,he didnt sit stiffly like most heads of states. Instead,he took out his phone and started clicking pictures of the ministers and officials who were signing the documents. His wife,Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned,meanwhile,was taken to an MCD school in Kishangarh in South Delhi as she wanted to interact with children.
The National Rural Health Mission is not exactly in very good health,going by the recent reports from Uttar Pradesh where a major scam in this programme is under investigation. Ironically though,the governments flagship programme came in for a lot of praise from the parliamentary standing committee on health on Monday,even from those who have been skeptics till now and from the opposition MPs as well. Congress MP Jyoti Mirdha,otherwise a bitter critic of the programme,appreciated the good work being done through NRHM. The most lavish praise came from BJP MP Sanjay Jaiswal who is learnt to have told the Health Ministry officials that this was the first time he was seeing primary health centres actually functioning,thanks to the decision to have contractual appointments.
A majority of the MPs in the parliamentary standing committee on Defence were keen to know the details of the curious troop movement that happened on the night of January 16-17 when Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma deposed before them on Monday. While they had several questions,committee chairman Satpal Maharaj is learnt to have taken a more conciliatory approach and was not in favour of probing too much. However,the surprise intervention came from Uday Singh,BJPs Purnea MP,who forcefully argued to let bygones be bygones,and tried to convince the committee to drop the matter.
So far it has been the Samajwadi Party and others who have been alleging that the Congress has been misguiding Muslims on the Batla House encounter. Now,even Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit believes her party did not handle the matter properly during the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Talking to a group of Urdu journalists at her residence,Dikshit said if the Congress could do well in one Lok Sabha election and another Assembly poll in Delhi without invoking the controversial encounter,there was no reason to rake up the issue in Azamgarh during the UP polls. She was careful not to name anyone,restricting her reference only to a senior leader in the party. Incidentally,Dikshit is part of a committee set up by the Congress high command to look into the reasons for the debacle in UP.
Re-examining the Issue
Announcing a replacement of the much revered IIT-JEE exam is easy. Effecting the big change is much more complicated. Thats what is being realised now. Amidst opposition from several IIT senates and faculty bodies,a group of IIT directors have now taken upon themselves to convince their fraternity about the need for this change. The directors are in the process of visiting each of the IITs to explain why the new exam system will not compromise the rigour of the IIT system or dilute the quality of applicants. In a bid to convince those who are offended by the idea of burial of the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination),the directors are also stressing that JEE will continue to be used in the new format as well. The consensus building exercise will culminate this weekend after meetings between HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and IIT directors and the IIT faculty associations.