An important highlight of Army chief General Dalbir Singh’s upcoming Nepal visit is his interaction with the Indian ex-servicemen from Nepal. The Himalayan country has close to 1.25 lakh Indian ex-servicemen and over four-lakh plus dependents, all sharing a strong bond with the Indian Army. The fact that General Dalbir Singh himself belongs to the Gorkha regiment has got the ex-servicemen community in Nepal quite excited. Besides a meeting with Nepal Prime Minister, the Army chief, during his four-day visit, would also be conferred with honourary general of the Nepalese Army, a tradition that began with the late Field Marshal being honoured with the title.
The government is likely to select new chiefs for the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in the next few days. The move is to ensure smooth transition of the two high profile posts in accordance with the practice of appointing incoming chiefs as Officers on Special Duty. Both IB chief Asif Ibrahim and R&AW Secretary Alok Joshi are retiring on December 30. Two senior-most IB officers, Dineshwar Sharma and Ashok Prasad, are supposed to be the frontrunners for the post of Director IB. For the other post, the Prime Minister’s Office, which controls R&AW, is keen to post an officer of the Research and Analysis Service. For the past several years, R&AW has been headed by IPS officers.
There is hectic lobbying by several officers to be part of the new Railway Minister’s staff. Suresh Prabhu has recommended Mahesh Garg as his EDPG(MR), short for executive director, Public Grievances, Minister for Railways, in his office and the process of his appointment is being done in Rail Bhawan. Interestingly, the EDPG (MR) works in Minister of Railway’s office as a bridge between Minister and the Railway Board but is not technically considered personal staff . Although, in practice and nature of work, the EDPG (MR) is very much a part of the minister’s cell. Therefore, while Garg, a joint secretary rank officer, has been working on the same position with former railway ministers of state K H Muniappa and Kotla S Reddy in the UPA regime for around four years, may again be appointed with the Railway Minister.
Arguing over Romila
A shouting match broke out between historians over Romila Thapar, the Marxist doyen of Ancient Indian history-writing, at the prestigious Maulana Azad Memorial Lecture organised by the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) at the Constitution Club on Tuesday. Professor Rajan Gurukkal, former V-C of M G University, Kottayam, who was a commentator at the lecture by Prof S N Balagangadhara of the University of Ghent, Belgium, protested Balagangadhara’s criticism of Thapar. As Gurukkal continued to speak at length in Thapar’s praise, around a dozen people in the audience stood up and interrupted him, asking him to refrain from lecturing the guest on his lecture. Sources present said that as voices rose and matters threatened to escalate, Gurukkal left hurriedly, pleading that he had a flight to catch. Balagangadhara is an expert in Indian religion and culture.
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