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Austerity roadblock

Mani Shankar Aiyar has got the Ministry of External Affairs to reluctantly go along with an overzealous celebration of the two-decade-old Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan

Written by Express News Service |
August 2, 2012 12:36:23 am

Mani Shankar Aiyar has got the Ministry of External Affairs to reluctantly go along with an overzealous celebration of the two-decade-old Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for a nuclear weapons free world order,at a time when New Delhi’s diplomatic efforts are directed at joining the coveted club of the existing order — the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Aiyar,who was behind drawing up this action plan in the 1980s,has got the consent of S M Krishna as well as enlisted the support of the Indian Council for World Affairs to have this conference around August 20,Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary. He plans to get 1,000 students from 25 universities across India to be in Vigyan Bhawan and pledge for global disarmament. Plans to bring in international delegates have,however,run into trouble after the MEA babus showed the latest austerity circular that disallows funding the travel of foreign guests for conferences. Last heard,one of the planned conference outcomes is to demand that India appoint an envoy for global disarmament. No prizes for guessing the frontrunner!

Dull Contest

It is as dull as it can get! We mean,the current Vice-Presidential election. The two adversaries — Mohd Hamid Ansari of the ruling UPA and Jaswant Singh of the NDA — are ensconced at their homes. Ansari is constrained by the fact that he is an incumbent Vice-President and can not,therefore,go around canvassing for himself. Singh has been,on the other hand,advised by BJP patriarch L K Advani not to approach individual MPs for support. He wanted to fly to some state capitals,particularly Chennai and Bhubaneswar,to seek support. The party had agreed to buy him air-tickets too. But,can he undertake these journeys without any signal from the other ends? Obviously,not.

Unwilling patient

Arvind Kejriwal’s insistence on not letting government doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital get near him for the early part of his fast had the authorities quite riled. For most part,the doctor attending to him was a naturopath Rane Singh Arya which made them even nervous. In fact,at one point,the government doctors officially conveyed that they will not be responsible if Kejriwal’s health worsened. At this stage,the grapevine has it that a Delhi Police backchannel was activated to impress upon Kiran Bedi to,at least,let the doctors examine the man. Bedi,surprisingly,agreed with the cops and helped deliver Kejriwal to the doctors.

To steer the arts

It’s becoming a struggle for the government to find candidates to head premier Indian cultural institutions. A telling case has been that of the prestigious Lalit Kala Akademi,where a successor to the noted poet Ashok Vajpayee has not been found since December last year. So much so that even the acting chairman Balan Nambiar has now finished his term,but no willing talent has been found to head the Akademi. An exasperated general council of the Akademi has now formed a three-member search panel comprising art historian Dr Sarayu Doshi,artist A Ramachandran,who is also an IGNCA trustee and sculptor Amitabh Bhowmick to find a successor to Vajpayee.

A novel effort

Amid all the acrimony these days between the officers of the Armed Forces and civil servants,the Department of Personnel and Training has come up with a programme to foster “mid-career interaction” between the Armed Forces and civil service officers. Starting this month onwards until February next year,a series of interactions among middle-level officers has been planned across military institutions in the country. The themes range from the Maoist challenge to building border infrastructure and synergise functioning. But the DoPT’s challenge is to find “interested officers” on these dates.

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