Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s decision to convert a double-storeyed bungalow on the banks of the river Krishna into his official residence has sparked an unlikely row. The CPI(M) is up in arms alleging it is an illegal construction and violative of the River Conservancy Act. It also accuses the irrigation department of trying to circumvent the rules by issuing an NOC for a swimming pool inside the bungalow rather than for the structure itself. More fireworks are expected as Naidu does firefighting on multiple fronts.
Guru Prasad Sen arrived in Patna from Dhaka (Dacca then) around 1870 and four years later launched what was possibly India’s first English tabloid, the Behar Herald. The title was eventually handed over to the state’s ‘Bengalee Association’ but the paper ceased publication around 1987. Now, 141 years after the launch, it is being revived this month by the association.
Not So Loud
For decades now, four hours of the ‘suprabhatam’ tune and other devotional music played really loud has woken up inhabitants up in the temple town of Subramanya near Mangalore (the same which ‘cured’ Sachin’s sarpa dosha). But thanks to the efforts of Harikrishna Punaroor, a past head of the Sahitya Parishad, authorities have been forced to lower volume to three decibel points.
PM’s Man In CBI
For the past two months, joint director Arun Kumar Sharma has been going to the CBI HQ every morning and ‘doing nothing’. The officer, a Gujarat cadre IPS, was IG (intelligence) during Snoopgate and was accused of derailing the probe into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. It was at the behest of the PM and BJP chief Amit Shah that he was brought on deputation to the CBI in April. But director A.K. Sinha has been resisting suggestions that Sharma be posted as JD (policy), arguably the agency’s second most important position (dealing with vigilance, security, anti-corruption, coordination etc). Sinha is pleading it would attract criticism, especially since Sharma has never worked in the CBI before. But the message to him is clear. The PM wants his own man there.
The Model State?
While it has been suggested for some time that all’s not well with the Gujarat growth model, a national health survey results are putting the truth on paper. The Modi government last year refused to release full details of the Rapid Survey On Children (RSOC) survey conducted jointly by the UNICEF and the Indian government, even going to the extent of questioning its methodology. The Economist magazine has since quoted from the survey results in a piece which was none too laudatory about the prime minister. The RSOC survey apparently shows Gujarat lagging behind the national mean, even below perpetual laggards like Bihar, Jharkhand etc in immunisation and child health, weight and nutrition. The national average for full immunisation is around 65 per cent while Gujarat is at 56.2 per cent. Worse news, figures for rural Gujarat is said to be in low 40s.
Why are businessmen, contractors, bureaucrats and even professors who want to be become vice-chancellors making a beeline to the RSS office in Allahabad? A survey has apparently discovered that the RSS office is more accessible and more open to them than the BJP office. It also seems more business-like as well, said respondents. Is the RSS turning a new leaf? It would seem so judging by the Iftar party it hosted for the very first time in the Parliament annexe.
Power Puff Soldier
In January, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury was stopped from smoking in Pragathi Nagar (Hyderabad). Drinking and smoking in public was prohibited here, he was sternly told. But Yechury, who like any good communist enjoys a good smoke, was more at home in God’s own country where he puffed away with little worry and even shared info that he was taking ‘chips’ back for the comrades.