The states of the nation: news, headlines, gossip, rumours, things we learnt
Notwithstanding uncharitable tweets from the likes of Abhishek Manu Singhvi (“Wish hunger could be solved by anulom vilom; unemployment by sheersaasan & galloping inflation of food items by Yog Nidra!”) and farmers’ own Virodhasana protest at Abohar (Punjab), Yoga Day went off well. Narendra Modi was awarded 10/10 by an acharya from the Bihar School of Yoga, certifying that he did better in Chandigarh than he had done last year in Delhi. That didn’t stop pictures of Marilyn Monroe doing yoga in 1948, Nehru doing the head-stand in the 1950s and a commemorative stamp from the 1990s, to suggest the government has only turned into a spectacle something that was always taken seriously. The PM, in turn, linked it to jobs and everyone agreed it has spawned a flourishing market in desi mats and T-shirts, unlike last year when mostly Chinese ones were imported.
A seven-minute podcast by actor Mohanlal went viral. The actor, who also writes a popular blog, drew the attention of the CM to urgent issues like the state’s inability to clear garbage muddying the image of God’s own country. Growing insecurity of women is another concern flagged in the podcast. Whether those who made the podcast go viral helped in improving the situation should be the topic of the next one.
Those who believed Amma would stop at reducing trading hours at liquor vends were in for a shock when 500-odd liquor vends run by the state-owned TASMAC were shut down. The government seems serious about enforcing prohibition although the two moves so far have resulted in a daily revenue loss of Rs 6 crore, which would make Rs 2,000 crore a year. But, then, the state’s annual revenue from the liquor trade is said to be 15 times higher.
Delhi Public School, Srinagar, took the easy way out by declaring an early summer vacation after an uproar over a biology teacher being asked to choose between her job and the abaya in the classroom. She resigned and the students went on strike, asking how she could be stopped from wearing a dress associated with her religion when Sikhs are allowed to sport the turban as prescribed by their religion.
Santhal writer and government doctor Sowvendra Sekhar Hansda was handed a showcause notice for criticising the state government’s new domicile policy in an op-ed piece for The Indian Express. To Hansda’s question on how citizens can be expected to exercise their right to vote if they can’t voice their opinion freely, the health department had only this to say: service rules allow employees the freedom to praise the sarkar, not to pillory it.
Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s selfie with a pride of Gir lions desultorily watching his back didn’t amuse the forest department. ‘Foolish, not heroic,’ they must have muttered while ordering a probe, amid reports of Gir lions turning maneaters. Lions can work up a speed of 81 kmph in short bursts and had one, already fed apparently, gone after him, the cricketer couldn’t have got back to the jeep in one piece.
CM Sarbananda Sonowal wants the state public service commission to be more transparent. A stiff APSC chairman R.K. Paul pointed out that the commission was an autonomous body and the CM could only “advise”. Paul went on to declare it wasn’t possible to declare the results of the state civil services examination within three hours of the interview or on the same day. But he conceded the CM’s “advice” to record the viva-voce on video.