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The poll battle was won last March, but the war is still raging in the Sahitya Akademi.

The poll battle was won last March, but the war is still raging in our premier literary institution. In its golden anniversary year, the Sahitya Akademi's long-suffering staff is up in arms against the "clique baazi" of the "Urduwallah" who won the Akademi's contentious election for presidentship last year. The list of charges against Gopichand Narang reads like any government report in its random mix of the serious and absurd: backdoor entry to posts in the accounts and administrative sections, waiving the rules for recruitment and promotions, granting air travel for the ineligible, hiring a Hyundai Accent car (as opposed, presumably, against the ubiquitous white Ambassador car) for himself, buying computers "worth lakhs of rupees" without inviting tenders and finally, that perk of all perks: sending his administrative secretary on a trip to the US with a team of writers.

Unlike most of us, Ram Narain was shocked to discover it takes 15 days to get an internet connection from the telephones department. The GM (vigilance), MTNL, decided it was time to do something about the interminable delays in government offices. And so, he wrote a book: Re-Engineering the Systems and Processes (Will the Dreams Come True?) is published by Indiana Books and is a blueprint for improving efficiency in all our existing systems "by 100-1,000 per cent".

Publishers who complain of the cost and profitlessness of book launches simply don't understand what they mean to authors. "Do you know," asked an authoress just returned from a five-city book tour,"how many people came to my book launch in Calcutta's Oxford book store?" When the prize-winning novelist she addressed her rhetorical question to didn't show any sign of interest in her undoubted crowd-pulling capacity, the snubbed authoress added in an aside,"And do you know how many came for her book launch there—only five!"


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