Delhi Confidential: Mark of a minister

The staff were quite impressed by Irani’s gesture as most do not recall a single instance of any other minister dropping in to meet the junior staff.

By: Express News Service | Published: June 3, 2014 2:25:35 am

HRD Minister Smriti Irani Monday paid a surprise visit to her staff. It is learnt that the new minister walked in to greet every single employee in her ministry, dropping by not just the offices of the joint secretaries and directors but also the section officers, data entry operators and so on. The staff were quite impressed by Irani’s gesture as most do not recall a single instance of any other minister dropping in to meet the junior staff. Meanwhile, the new minister also spared time for a teachers’ body agitating for the withdrawal of the Delhi University Four Year Undergraduate Programme. The ABVP has been demanding that it be scrapped.


The 2014 Lok Sabha election results witnessed several top lawyers of the country, mostly from the Congress, being defeated. Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Vivek Tankha, all from the Congress, received election drubbing while BJP’s Arun Jaitley also failed to make it to Lok Sabha. Among the first to get back to business as usual was  Khurshid, the former external affairs minister who was seen representing Tarun Tejpal in the Supreme Court Monday, seeking extension of bail to the former Tehelka editor.


The energised mood in the PMO has resulted in a rejig of duties not only of the secretarial but the maintenance staff as well. It is the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) which oversees the cleaning of the office and ever since the takeover by the Narendra Modi government, they do their spruce-up operations from 6 am to 8 am, instead of the earlier 8 am to 10 am. Reason: while, earlier, the PMO officials would be at their desks by 10 am, members of the Modi team begin trickling in from 8.30 onwards. A night-cleaning shift may also be on the cards for the PMO, especially in winter.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get his first detailed briefing on military matters later this week with the Army preparing a detailed presentation. While the PM has met all service chiefs, till now the meetings were of an introductory nature. Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will present the PM with a detailed presentation, highlighting the hollowness and critical deficiencies that the force is facing, towards the end of the week. This will come before the government prepares its budget and the armed forces are hoping for an increase to meet their modernisation demands.


Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan has a very interesting work habit that has many at South Block fascinated.The officer likes to work — from clearing files and paperwork to reading up on official work — standing up. After moving into his office, the officer has set up a lectern from where a bulk of the Navy Chief’s work is conducted. The habit of working standing up apparently is from his days as a young officer on the ship. As a navigator, Dhowan would stand for 8-10 hours a day on the ship daily and even now works more efficiently standing up!


It was like the proverbial fall between two stools. Ananga Udaya Singh Deo of the erstwhile Bolangir royal family had been elected to Rajya Sabha on a BJD ticket. However, he did not take the oath, for, he had set his eyes on the Bolangir Assembly seat. Though the BJD returned to power for a fourth consecutive term in Orissa, Deo lost. Meanwhile, his Rajya Sabha seat was also declared vacant. Remains to be seen if the Chief Minister would still indulge him and send him back to Rajya Sabha in the byelection.

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