Mumbai Underground: Date with Amitav Ghosh

Mumbai Underground: Date with Amitav Ghosh

The latest book is the third of his critically-acclaimed and bestselling Ibis trilogy

Man Booker Prize nominated author Amitav Ghosh will be in the city to launch his book Flood of Fire. The bestselling author will be in conversation with author-columnist Shobhaa De at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, on June 12, at an evening open to the public unlike many other book launches that are usually by invitation. The latest book is the third of his critically-acclaimed and bestselling Ibis trilogy, his historical fictional account of events that led to the first opium war of 1839-42. The other two volumes of the trilogy are Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke.

A spirited training

A senior IPS officer posted in Mumbai was recently slapped with a memo after he spent most of a mid-career training day closeted in his room, drinking. The mid-career training programme in Hyderabad probably comes amid a midlife crisis for the officer, known otherwise to be an efficient administrator. The trainers at the event, senior police officials themselves, were irked enough by his behaviour to administer a 30-minute lecture on discipline to the other policemen attending the training. The officer concerned is yet to explain his side of the story, but given that he’s not really among the more flamboyant of Mumbai’s men in uniform, his colleagues expect the matter will die a natural death.

Playing with fire

Eleven Mumbaiites lost their lives in two tragic fires in recent days. If you thought those casualties and Mantralaya’s own major fire that killed six not so long ago would have taught tough lessons to the secretariat, think again. A fire drill conducted in Mantralaya last week showed the babus are not quite fire-prepared just yet. Meant to check the fire-preparedness of the revamped Mantralaya building, the exercise turned into a mockery, with emergency sirens failing to go off on several floors. The siren did not go off at all on the sixth floor, where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya sit. Fire marshals later confirmed that the CM’s office was the worst responder — by the time the CMO responded to the fire, everyone else was almost back at their offices. It turns out that a senior bureaucrat on the sixth floor had directed the siren to be switched off because he didn’t want to be disturbed during a meeting.

A son rises

Prakash Mehta, state housing minister and BJP leader, has been grooming his son for a stint in politics. While the young politician counts his father as one of his inspirations, he says he is also a thorough fan of the working styles of leaders such as Raj Thackeray and Ajit Pawar, and believes there has never been a greater leader than the late Bal Thackeray. That outlook crossing party boundaries may be a good thing for a young turk but there have been sniggers at Mehta allowing his son to sit in his Mantralaya cabin, keenly observing his father interact with other ministers, bureaucrats, politicians, developers and others. Recently, the youngster also sat in a closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and senior bureaucrats on the redevelopment of BDD chawls and the Dharavi slums, to the annoyance of bureaucrats and politicians alike.

Transfer travails


Lobbying for choice postings remains an addiction among the bureaucrats, even after the Devendra Fadnavis government de-centralised transfers and postings. Offices of several senior Maharashtra ministers have been flooded with transfer requests. Eknath Khadse, the seniormost minister in the Fadnavis cabinet, has now invented a unique solution to overcome the menace. Khadse, who heads the crucial revenue and agriculture portfolios, has put up a board in his office that says, “Please do not meet in connection with postings.” Officials in Khadse’s office say the minister simply points to the board when an officer comes with a transfer request. Let’s see if this does the trick.

Birth dilemma

The Indian Documentary Producers’ Association is collaborating with NCPA to screen filmmaker Ishani Dutta’s documentary Womb on Rent. The 52-minute film follows the emotional journey of a surrogate mother, and depicts how modern science is bringing forth newer challenges in parenthood. Delhi-based Dutta had earned praises for the production, showcased at Mumbai International Film Festival in February last year. This will be screened at a free-for-all event on June 10, 6.30 pm at Little Theater, NCPA.