Foreign Frenzy

Foreign Frenzy

As the mercury rises in the Capital,foreign assignments give government officials a pleasant break from the heat

As the mercury rises in the Capital,foreign assignments give government officials a pleasant break from the heat. Many in the HRD Ministry are heading for foreign shores this season. So while Minister Kapil Sibal has already flown out with a delegation to Israel this week,next weekend another delegation piloted by the ministry will head out of the country. Under a HRD Ministry initiative,department officials along with some state education ministers,who are part of a central committee on community colleges,are going on a tour of community colleges of USA. The US trip is likely to be followed up with another to Australia sometime later.

Watery Woes

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation found a unique way to penalise the states that did not utilise their funds this year. It distributed the unclaimed funds — to the tune of about Rs 500 crore — among the better performing states. The beneficiary states included Gujarat,Tamil Nadu and Assam. The Ministry,in the process,killed two birds with one stone. The laggard states were made aware how other states were doing much better than them. At the same time,it ensured that the budgetary allocation to the Ministry did not remain unutilised. Incidentally,the extra allocation to the better performing states was made on March 29,two days before the close of the financial year.

Lucky Number

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s official car’s licence plate number ends in 786 — considered lucky by Muslims and much sought after. Sibal smilingly dismisses it as “pure coincidence” but his associates say it is something he is happy with,and brings a smile on the faces of several people in his constituency,Chandni Chowk,which has a significant number of Muslims.

Upping the ante

Akhilesh Yadav is yet to make a customary courtesy call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after taking over as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. His government,however,has placed its first demand with the Centre. The UP government is learnt to have requested Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth,who belongs to UP cadre himself,to repatriate about a dozen senior IAS officers back to their cadre for administering the state after the change of guard in Lucknow last month.