A delegate at a conference Tuesday asked former finance minister P Chidambaram why he could not be included in the government like the US, where President Barack Obama included his former opponent Hillary Clinton in his government. Not to be outdone, a visibly amused Chidambaram pointed out that the two belonged to the same party and so Clinton was included in the government. In fact, taking a jibe at the NDA government, Chidambaram pointed out that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had included many ministers in his Cabinet who were considered his political rivals.
Anti -smoking campaign is quite dear to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. An expert committee appointed by him to look into amendments to the anti-tobacco law has been inclined to recommend a strict crackdown on smoking. However, officials in the Health Ministry do not seem to see eye to eye on several proposals of the committee. In a meeting Monday, officials made it clear that raising minimum smoking age to 25 years was unrealistic and so was an exponential increase in fines. The proposals may have to go through some more discussions before being finalised, which means the Health Minister might not be able to talk about them at his 100-day press conference on September 29.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying special focus on the Swachch Bharat mission, the University Grants Commission has decided to launch a special scheme — ‘Swachch Bharat, Swasth Bharat’, in which it will give financial assistance to universities and colleges (eligible to receive central assistance) for a variety of initiatives, including construction of toilets and colleges, conducting outreach programmes for creating awareness on the mission, promoting physical and mental health activities and organising yoga/meditation sessions, among others. The scheme, cleared during a UGC meet on Monday, will be implemented by a special ‘centre’, which will have to submit a half-yearly progress report of activity and expenditure under the scheme to the UGC.
Economist Bibek Debroy, who has been named as head of a high-level panel to restructure the Railway Board, has decided to set up an email id for the general public to send in their suggestions. Rail Bhawan officials are said to be miffed by the fact that no one from the ministry has been included in the panel. Rajendra Kashyap, a retired financial commissioner in the Railways, is the only one in the panel who can bring the perspective of the ministry.