The Elephant Preservation Act, 1879; the Government Seal Act, 1862; the Reformatory School Act, 1897; the Livestock Importation Act, 1898; and the War Injuries Compensation Act, 1943, are among some 500-odd antiquated laws which the government hopes to scrap in the winter session of Parliament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced he hoped to repeal one obsolete law every day. The Law Ministry under Ravi Shankar Prasad has compiled a long list of outdated laws incorporating the recommendations of the Law Commission and the Jain Commission of 1998. There is also a proposal to remove over a 100 Appropriation Acts introduced in past budgets. In the UK, Appropriation Acts are automatically withdrawn every two to three years. Prasad wants a similar law introduced in India with Appropriation Acts expiring every six to seven years.
RSS advance party
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trips abroad are preceded not just by an advance party of the Ministry of External Affairs but also by a representative of the Sangh Parivar. Former RSS spokesperson and BJP general secretary Ram Madhav was actively involved in preparations for Modi’s visit to the US and he also accompanied the PM. Madhav is now heading to Australia on a three-day visit to make arrangements for Modi’s visit there next month. Madhav, who has been invited for Diwali by the Hindu Council of Australia, will oversee arrangements for a Madison Square-style function by expatriates in Australia.
Narendra Modi may be averse to accommodating journalists on his special aircraft when he flies abroad, but he does not feel it necessary for President Pranab Mukherjee to follow his example. The President was planning to take only a small group of the official media on his trip to Norway but changed his mind reportedly after a chat with the Prime Minister. Mukherjee finally had some 15 journalists on his special aircraft. A delegation of Indian businessmen also followed him there.
Spies, not security
The CPM government in West Bengal headed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had provided for special Kolkata Police security to Anandabazar Patrika’s owner-editor Aveek Sarkar as it was felt that there was a threat to his life from terrorist outfits, against whom his newspapers had campaigned. But with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sarkar having fallen out with the state’s most influential media group, Sarkar suspected that his bodyguards were doubling up as moles to spy on him. Sarkar recently sent a note asking the Kolkata Police to withdraw his security cover. However, a report from the Home Ministry at the Centre said that the Patrika owner continued to be at risk from radical Islamist groups. The Central government has now provided him Y-category security with a CRPF detail on guard round the clock.
A sketch of a laughing Mahatma Gandhi, drawn in chalk by British artist Jacob Kramer in 1931 when Gandhiji was attending the Second Round Table Conference, is to be auctioned shortly in London. Indar Pasricha, the owner of the drawing, believes the portrait should return to India and preferably adorn the Prime Minister’s office. In the early 1990s, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, as director of the Nehru Centre, had made an unsuccessful bid to purchase a similar work by the same artist. A statue of the Mahatma is to be installed in London’s Parliament Square in 2016. The statue, incidentally, will be just a stone’s throw from that of Winston Churchill, who had disparagingly referred to Gandhi as “half-naked fakir”.
The Congress seemed to have conceded defeat even before the results of the Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra were announced. The party refused to provide space for television channels to set up their equipment for live coverage on counting day at 24, Akbar Road, the AICC headquarters. The party office is almost deserted these days. Sonia Gandhi addressed only four meetings in Maharashtra and three in Haryana, while Rahul restricted his campaigning to six rallies in Maharashtra and four in Haryana. In contrast, Prime Minister Modi addressed 27 meetings in Maharashtra and 11 in Haryana. Amit Shah attended 17 meetings in Maharashtra and 22 in Haryana.