Our Marxists have never hidden their contempt for pop culture and American commercial cinema and TV. But when the CPI(M) discovered that two of its own were getting awards from such reviled bourgeois institutions as Hollywood and television show Indian Idol, it sang a different tune. The Kerala CPI(M) rejoiced when Resul Pookutty won the Oscar for sound mixing in Slumdog Millionaire because his family are Left sympathisers. Pookuttys brother and sister were invited to a party rally and general secretary Prakash Karat sent Pookutty a letter of appreciation. The CPI(M) led government in Tripura was similarly ecstatic over the win of Tripura girl Sourabhee Debbraman in the Indian Idol contest. The Tripura assembly passed a special resolution congratulating her.
Keep them guessing
While presiding over a mass marriage ceremony,AIADMK leader J.Jayalalithaa made an overture to the Congress. The mercurial Jaya couched her invitation with a veiled warning. She pointed out that sometimes when you try to extend a helping hand to a partner floundering in the quicksand you end up drowning yourself. This was hardly very appropriate advice for the 61 couples who had just tied the knot,but was seen as an analogy for the benefit of the Congress,warning it of its fate if it persisted with its alliance with the DMK.
In fact,most Congress leaders from the state,including K.V. Thangabalu and G.K. Vasan would like to switch to the AIADMK,since they sense this is the winning side. Sonia Gandhi,however,remains suspicious of Jaya who was among the first to point a finger at her foreign origins. Jayalalithaa by her remark has not just set the cat among the pigeons in the Congress and DMK,but has unnerved her communist allies as well. Deve Gowda has now organised a third front meet on March 12,but it is unlikely that Jaya will attend. Her style is to keep all sides guessing.
Sarans policy U-turn
Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Sarans speech at the India Habitat Centre lecture series last week left many foreign policy experts puzzled. Saran,a special envoy of the PM on the nuclear deal,seems to have second thoughts about the pro-US tilt in our foreign policy. But,it was Saran,himself,who played a major role in shaping the policy. Saran declared that India needs to be geared up for a more diffused and decentralised complex international landscape,with the US enjoying significantly diminished predominance. Saran believes India needs desperately to hedge its foreign policy in view of the Sino-US strategy convergence,as the US is embarking on an unprecedented diplomatic offensive to co-opt China in its economic recovery. And in the bargain is willing to accommodate Chinas regional and global ambitions.
For the last two years it seemed as if the Supreme Court and the Planning Commission were calling the shots on the nutrition policy to be adopted in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS),rather than the Ministry for Women and Child Welfare. But at the fag end of the governments tenure,Renuka Choudharys ministry has reclaimed its turf. The ministry has quietly released a note to all state governments laying down nutritional feeding norms for the ICDS scheme,taking the wind out of the sails of the outsiders who wanted to dictate government policy. The guidelines,which have been cleared by the Law Ministry,are trendsetting and put at rest unnecessary controversies generated by NGOs,seeking to end such internationally accepted nutrition initiatives,as micronutrient fortification and supplementary food in the form of take home rations for children under three. The well thought out guidelines also specify hot cooked meals for children over three. Considering the ICDS has been in operation for the last 30 years,it is surprising these guidelines could not have be framed earlier.
The Nepalese Government has taken away deposed King Gyanendras diplomatic passport,which is why the king and his family had to stand in queue like everyone else at the Delhi immigration counter when they arrived in India last week to attend a wedding in Bhopal. It would have been a simple matter for the Indian authorities to have deputed an official to receive the royal family at the airport,so that they could have avoided the unnecessary red tape. It was a small courtesy to extend considering the Nepal royal familys long and close ties with India.