Running Into A Jam
The much publicised JAM scheme (Jan Dhan bank accounts/Aadhar/mobile payments) has run into trouble in all three Union territories where it has been tried so far. (Ration shops have shut and the subsidies of Rs 95 per person per month are being deposited in banks.) Protests have erupted in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry and Chandigarh, with the poor complaining that multiple visits, internet trouble, travel costs and inflation make the scheme unattractive. They’d rather have the ration shops back.
Safe In The City?
With 1,200 CCTV cameras installed in south Mumbai in the first phase of the surveillance project, can the Mumbaikar now feel safer? Answers hopefully will be available before the project is completed next year, after 6,000 cameras are installed all over the city (cost: Rs 949 cr). With half the cameras requiring replacement every year, will the project pan out, a wag wondered.
Fickle Is Faith
It was a heart-warming story: an autorickshaw driver jumping into a sewer to try and rescue two complete strangers (workers from AP as it turned out). All three died and the story seemed to reaffirm our faith in humanity. But no sooner had the state announced a Rs 10 lakh compensation to the driver Noushad’s family than accusations of minority appeasement began doing the rounds (he was a Muslim). Faith in humanity is fickle, eh?
The Patriot Act
Patriotism may or may not be the last refuge of the scoundrel. But an increasing number of Indians seem to be wearing it on their sleeves. The viral video of such a group abusing and hounding a couple out of a city cinema hall, ostensibly because they were sitting when the national anthem was being played, is a case in point. Now no law requires citizens to stand at attention every time the national anthem is played. And the outrage appears selective, when one recalls the upside down national tricolour being put upside down at an official function recently attended by the PM or when he put his signature on what was passed off as a piece of cloth in national colours. That both traditional and social media concluded beforehand that the people involved were from the minority community is even more frightening.
The ‘Genuine’ Suicides
A state government-filed affidavit at the Hyderabad HC has caused an uproar. It cites the report of a three-member committee set up to examine farmer suicides, which blames the suicides on expenses on lavish weddings, visits to Gulf countries in search of jobs and putting children in expensive, private schools, among “other reasons” like crop failure. The affidavit, for good measure, adds that the number of “genuine suicides” since the TRS government took charge is “only 342”, and not 1,147 as claimed by activists. The high court’s reaction is awaited.
Jammer For Exams
Forget Bihar, even in Karnataka it seems to be a losing battle against use of unfair means in exams. After pen scanners and radio frequency transmitters were found in use during MBBS exams two years ago, this week Bangalore University confiscated 150 mobile phones smuggled into the halls. Questions were being sent out on Whatsapp. An audio button pressed by mistake gave the game away!
The PM’s Choice
Guess what the PM has chosen to keep of the 169 gifts and counting he has received on his foreign visits? Well, among the receipts are a jewellery set worth Rs 35 lakh—dignitaries aren’t allowed to keep gifts valued over Rs 4,500 but may pay the difference and keep them—but what our ‘bachelor pradhan sevak’ chose to retain, an RTI application revealed, are a carpet, two photo frames, a painting, a chessboard, a set of bow and arrows and a ‘ceremonial dress’.