Around six months back,the Department of Personnel and Training had issued a circular to every department of the central government to post details of foreign travel of ministers and officials on their respective websites. In response,Planning Commission Deputy Chairman M S Ahluwalia announced that he would put travel details about his and his officials on the Planning Commission website. DoPT said in its circular that this had become necessary in view of numerous RTI requests for getting such information. Interestingly,there is hardly any department that has put such details on its website. Even the Planning Commission has honoured the promise of its Deputy Chairman but only on Thursday,months after Ahluwalia gave this assurance.
WHILE most ministries have had a dismal hike in the Budget this year,the Defence Ministry has been one of the hardest hit. The Army in particular is unhappy not just about the small hike in the capital budget but a miserly increase in its vast revenue budget as well. The Army has got an approximate increase of only 5 per cent in the Budget that goes for,in other things,salaries and wages. Traditionally,the increase every year is around 10 per cent to meet costs and inflation. The thinking in the Army already is that there may be a dire need for additional revenue budget at a later stage in the financial year.
YET another helpline is being set up for the benefit of women in distress,this time by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. There are already helplines being run by the National Commission of Women and the police. The WCD Ministry says its helpline will not just serve women in danger of physical or violent attack but also by those seeking counselling and advice. The ministry,however,is clear that its helpline would not be a three-digit number. No three-digit helpline,it has been told,can be a pan-India number and still be able to dial into the same central control room. Clearly,it does not know of three-digit numbers being used by the Railways to provide a variety of services to its customers across the country.
IT was from personal angst that Kapil Sibal seemed to be speaking,while arguing for evolving regulations to prevent offending content on the Internet. If you keep on showing somebodys face as Hitler day in and day out,I am just giving an example,it will annoy him. Should he sit back and say,No,its okay?, he said. Interestingly,Sibal,the IT Minister,was indeed portrayed as a Hitler lookalike on the cover page of the December 19,2011 edition of Outlook magazine,in the backdrop of governments efforts to remove some offending content from social media websites. The image of Sibal as Hitler had gone viral on the Internet then and it re-emerges every time the government is seen to be acting against online freedom.
THE pressure seems to be showing on Sushil Kumar Shinde,who was always known to wear a smile on his face. Ever since he was given the twin jobs of being the Home Minister and the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha,Shinde has been constantly in the limelight,mostly for the wrong reasons. As a first indication of the stress he is under,Shinde has had to skip his morning walks,apparently because he is unable to find time and get enough sleep.