At the launch of The Lancet series on maternal and child malnutrition on Thursday,neither Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,nor Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath,were present. While Azad had declined at the very outset citing prior engagements,Tirath,whose ministry manages the ICDS scheme,the biggest programme to deal with childhood malnutrition,informed the organisers a few days back that she will be travelling. Incidentally,she was very much in town. It was left to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to do the honours even though the subject had nothing to do with his ministry.
WITH several top positions in the Foreign Ministry up for grabs,some of the aspirants are being seen doing the rounds of corridors of power these days. Indias ambassador in Germany,Sujatha Singh,a front-runner for the post of Foreign Secretary is in Delhi these days and is said to be amused by the congratulatory phone calls she has been receiving. Nirupama Rao,the ambassador in the United States,is also in Delhi,having stayed back after the visit of US Secretary of State John F Kerry earlier this week. The buzz is that Rao,who is finishing her term in August,might be considered for an extension,because of Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs possible visit to the US later this year.
BEFORE the Cabinet approved the proposed hike in natural gas prices on Thursday,there was stiff resistance to the move from several ministers. Science & Technology Minister and former Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh opposed the hike arguing that it will not necessarily result in enhanced production as there are not enough hydrocarbon reserves in the country to woo investors into putting in more money into exploration and production. Chemicals & Fertilisers Minister Srikant Jena and Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia were also said to have expressed reservation against the move saying it was likely to have a cascading effect on the prices of fertilisers and power. Finance Minister P Chidambaram,who had the backing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,however,contended that investment will not come unless right prices are offered for natural gas. The FMs views finally prevailed.
FRIDAY happened to be the last day in office for Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal and the Financial Commissioner Vijaya Kanth,both of who are retiring at the end of this month. But because of the disaster in Uttarakhand,both had requested that no farewell functions be organised. However,after several requests from the Railways staff,they did agree for a function but refused the dinner option. The chairman apparently has a lot of unfinished business to attend to and he is likely to come to office on the weekend as well before relinquishing charge at the end of the day on Sunday.