The HRD Ministry seems quite enamoured with star power. While it had roped in Aamir Khan for the School Sanitation drive,it has now managed to get an entire galaxy of Bollywood stars for the Right to Education Act. Penned by lyrcisit Javed Akhtar,an RTE anthem will soon hit TV screens. The anthem will feature the likes of Shah Rukh Khan,Priyanka Chopra,Kareena Kapoor,Anil Kapoor,Farhan Akhtar and Shabana Azmi. This pro-bono project actually borrows from a similar idea the ministry had for its adult education programme. An anthem with the tag line Shiksha ka suraj nikla was recently launched for the programme with the same set of Bollywood actors starring in it.
No Cowing Down
Shashi Tharoor is not done with cows,it seems. During his short stint as Union minister,he had courted controversy with his flying cattle class in solidarity with our holy cows remark. On Thursday,he used cows again to illustrate his point during a discussion on demands for grants for Commerce Ministry. In Europe,agricultural subsidies are so high that they would be enough to pay for every cow in Europe to fly business class around the world, he said,forcing many sleepy MPs to burst into laughter. The significance of his cow-remark was not lost on him,and by evening,he had put his comments on Twitter as well.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clintons sudden plan to visit India has caught many in Delhi and Kolkata by surprise. So much so that long-time Indian interlocutor for the Americans M K Narayanan,who is currently the Governor of West Bengal,will not be able to host a banquet for the visiting Secretary of State. The reason is that the former NSA will be on a pre-scheduled trip to Stanford University in the US during that period. So,South Block protocol is trying to figure out the appropriate hosts for Hillary,who is planning to spend two nights in Kolkata.
How much is the gap between the real and the surreal? Very little,if one were to go by the abrupt swing Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhurys mood took on Thursday. She was holding forth at length on how it takes three people,including a Brazilian,to style her hair,when a gentleman walked up to her,took her aside,said something to her and vanished. Renuka was a different person when she returned to her listeners. Looking rattled,she disappeared quickly from the scene. Shortly thereafter,TV channels were flashing her retraction over her earlier remarks on the value of Presidential hopeful Pranab Mukherjee to the Congress.
After his initial bravado,Commerce Minister Anand Sharma realised the futility of taking on Maratha strongman and his cabinet colleague Sharad Pawar on the issue of exports of agricultural items. Just ahead of the meeting the Prime Minister had convened to decide on the issue,the Commerce Ministry had issued notifications allowing the export of cotton and casein,as demanded by Pawar. But a relative lightweight,Food Minister K V Thomas,did not want to give up without a fight. He went to the meeting with several options to assuage Pawars ego without conceding much ground. All of them,however,were shot down. But by digging in his heels,Thomas once again showed that he is capable of standing up to his former boss. Once a junior minister to Pawar in the Agriculture Ministry,Thomas has on several occasions found himself pitted against the NCP chief because of the overlapping areas of the two ministries. More often than not he has stuck to his guns,even though he has had to lose out in the end.