While the sound of a conch shell is considered auspicious on some religious occasions, it is usually not heard at government events. However, on Monday, when Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat flagged off a team of officials for a rafting and kayaking expedition along the Ganga, the conference hall at National Media Centre echoed with the sound of conch shells. Much to the surprise of the media as well as officials present there, conch shells were blown at the beginning and end of the press conference.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, a cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, has written a letter to Queen Elizabeth (copied to PM Boris Johnson) asking for the UK public health system to withdraw the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, which is used by manufacturers of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) to promote their product. “The main argument of the ENDS aka Tobacco lobby was that ‘Public Health England has said that E cigarette is 95% safer than cigarette’. Even Royal College of Physicians has been extensively quoted as supportive of ENDS. Such things are unimaginable from the land of Dorothy Hodgkin, Isaac Newton, Alexander Fleming, Rosalind Franklin etc,” Dr Chaturvedi wrote, arguing that e-cigarettes are not responsible for the decline in smoking rates in the UK.
The reconstitution of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee on Monday led to much heartburn and resentment. The unhappiness was not over the appointment of Ajay Kumar Lallu as PCC president, but over the inclusion of many leaders who had joined the Congress recently. While Rakesh Sachan, a former Samajwadi Party MP who joined the Congress in March, was made a general secretary, Dhirendra Singh Dhiru who joined from the BJP was made a secretary. Raj Kishore Singh, who was a minister in the SP government, has been made a member of the working group on strategy and planning. Brahmswaroop Sagar, who joined the Congress from the BSP, too was made a secretary. Unlike in the past, when the Congress used to announce jumbo PCCs, this time the number of office-bearers is less than 75, hence many have not made the cut.