The Multitasker At Work
Home minister Amit Shah is not ambidextrous, but his multitasking skills betrays signs of a mind steeped in equanimity as he learns the ropes in the ministry with multiple presentations from various departments while keeping the party’s wheels whirring at full speed too. Remember, he continues to be the BJP president. There’s no weekend offs either. An advisory was sent to the West Bengal government on Sunday (June 9) over post-poll violence in the state. Shah also met the party core teams of poll-bound states of Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand the same day. So, how long will Shah continue at both posts? Until the state elections by end-2019?
Narendra Modi should owe part of his success to Rahul Gandhi. After all, Rahul gave the BJP a war cry to galvanise its foot soldiers. RaGa went all guns blazing with his chowkidar chor hai barb at Modi for the alleged Rafale-Ambani scam and the BJP turned around the slur into the winsome Main Bhi Chowkidar. On May 23, as a battle-bruised Congress licked its wounds, the chowkidars had the longest laugh and the schadenfreude spilled over. The official residence of Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, located opposite the Congress HQ on Akbar Road in Delhi, boasts a new installation at its gate—a replica of the Rafale jet. The IAF insists it has nothing to do with the poll outcome. But did we just hear giggles at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg?
O Kaptaan, My Captain
As former kaptaan of the Pakistani cricket team, and now the entire country, Prime Minister Imran Khan has had some big shoes to fill. But little would have prepared him for what his admirer Nooruddin Shinwari had in mind. The Peshawar-based shoemaker decided to craft two special pairs of ‘Kaptaan Chappals’ from snakeskin for Imran. But someone ratted on him and the wildlife department seized the sandals. Shinwari has, however, managed to pull himself up by his bootstraps and plans to gift the chappals to Imran. He paid a fine of Pakistani Rs 50,000 and promised in writing to not use skins of wild species again.
Click Click, Bang Bang
Budding dacoits in the Chambal ravines now have a new hurdle. To get a gun licence, they need to plant at least 10 trees and take selfies as evidence. The Chambal region has a predilection for arms—the districts of Gwalior, Bhind and Morena issue more gun licences than the remaining 49 districts of Madhya Pradesh. So if the scheme is a success, the area might become as famous for its green cover as it is for firearms. However, selfies and guns don’t make for the best bedfellows—a 19-year-old in Houston accidentally killed himself while taking a selfie with a gun.
Woof, Mew, Moo For Haryana
Are you a pet parent who has encountered awkward stares for having long conversations with your canines and felines? Do they seem more human to you than your pesky neighbour? The Punjab and Haryana HC has an answer for you. Justice Rajiv Sharma ruled recently that all animals, birds and fish have legal rights and all citizens of Haryana are “guardians of the animal kingdom”. The 104-page order has 29 directions for animal welfare, such as cow carts should have right of way!
Breaking News: Bearded Cabinet
It’s the age of the beard. Why? Ask our PM and his cabinet. Or ask the newspaper that pointed out this extremely important bit of news, proving there are new depths to be conquered while reporting on assignments. When issues such as drought, price rise, and unemployment appear as silly statistics, beard or no beard is real news. Why else would a popular Hindi broadsheet dedicate an anchor spread on its political page to highlight the ‘sanyog’ (coincidence) of not one or two but 18 bearded ministers in the Union council—a feat no other PM has achieved in independent India? Well, perhaps because the two most powerful men in the government sport the facial fuzz.
Himalayan Highs For All
It seems brewers have heard the news that major cities in India are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020. After plumbing subterranean depths, many are shifting base to Bhutan to tap into pristine spring water from the high Himalayas. Kati Patang and Elfa are already selling beer crafted in Bhutan, regarded as one of the happiest countries in the world, and Simba and White Rhino might follow suit. So the next time you crave a few swills, you can choose a beer bottled with happiness. Tashi Delek!
The Premier Taxman
In an attempt to keep up the pressure on black money and unaccounted wealth, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has appealed to his countrymen to disclose their assets by the end of the month to take advantage of an amnesty scheme announced by his government.
“I am appealing to all of you to take part in the asset declaration scheme that we have brought, because if we don’t pay taxes, we will not be able to raise our country,” Imran said in a televised appeal to Pakistanis, days before his government is due to present the budget for the year 2019-20.
“We will need to change ourselves if we want to become a great country,” the Pakistani PM said in his televised address.
Imran’s appeal comes close on the heels of a Pakistani court issuing an order for the arrest of former president of the country and Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on a ‘fake account case’. Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were taken into custody by the authorities after the court order.
In his speech Imran reminded the people that they had until June 30 to declare their “benami assets, benami bank accounts and money that has been kept abroad.” He added, “After June 30 you will not get this opportunity.”
Imran warned Pakistanis: “Our agencies have information about who has benami accounts and benami properties. This was never available to us before. Therefore, take advantage of this scheme. Give Pakistan the benefit. Fix your children’s future. Give the chance to the country to stand on its own feet and help us take people out of poverty,” Imran, who wants to repair Pakistan’s economy, appealed fervently.
According to the prime minister, Pakistan’s debt rose from Rs 6,000 billion to Rs 30,000 billion in the last 10 years, reducing tax collected to only Rs 4,000 billion, half of which went towards repaying Pakistan’s foreign loans.
Earlier, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also had fallen foul of authorities and was jailed for not declaring his income according to law. Now it is the turn of Zardari. But, apart from these high-profile arrests, the move also indicates a seriousness to punish tax evaders and illegal wealth in the country.
This is the second time that Imran Khan is making such an appeal to the Pakistani people to cooperate on this crucial issue. But it is not clear how successful he will be in his latest endeavour.
Illustrations By Manjul; Text Curated By Puneet Nicholas Yadav, Bhavna Vij-Aurora And Alka Gupta