25 April 2016 National Happenings

Seven Days

The states of the nation: news, headlines, gossip, rumours, things we learnt
Seven Days
Neither Guru Nor Gram For Eklavya

What’s in a name? Gur Gawan by any other name, Gurgaon or Guru Gram, will remain the steel-, marble- and chrome-encased IT hub, argued some. Others were livid at the state government changing the city’s name without asking the residents. Critics also wondered how Drona, a mythical guru from the Mahabharata who has become a symbol of casteist, anti-Dalit academia in India today, could be honoured in this way.

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The God Strikes Back With Lust

Even the Hindu right wing, belatedly rallying for gender justice, chose to ignore Dwarka Shankaracharya Swaroopananda when he darkly predicted there would be more rapes because women were allowed entry into a ‘Shani Temple’ in Mah­arashtra. He also claimed that the state was reeling under drought as people worship the “unworthy” Sai Baba in Shirdi.

The Banality Of Blade-Wielding Evil

Bizarre to outsiders, but perfectly fine to homegrown eyes was the jig with a sword that retired Gujarat top cop and faking-encounters accused, D.G. Vanzara, broke into on returning from jail in Maharashtra. More bizarre was police officer P.P. Pandey, who shared prison space with him and on the same charges, invoked his Brahminhood to confer on Vanzara the title of ‘Rajarshi’. How long before the philosopher king turns full-time Sangh-BJP politico?

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New Delhi
The Art Of Changing Tack

Sonia Gandhi headed the board of tru­stees of the IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts), which was set up in the mid-1980s by then PM Rajiv Gandhi. So was India’s former amb­assador to the UN, Chinmaya Gha­rekhan. So what’s wrong with the culture ministry’s decision to replace the entire board and appoint journalist ‘Padma Shri’ Rambahadur Rai? First, it flies in the face of the original trust deed that stipulated that one-third of the vacancies would be filled up by the government and one-third by ret­iring members. Second, the board president was to be elected by the tru­stees. And, finally, while Rai has been a fine political reporter and editor in Hindi journalism, he is not known for his contributions to the arts.

Conflicted Interests

Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute (BMCRI) isn’t the only state-run hospital to provide space to private labs. Yet, the controversy over a private diagnostic company hiring the CM’s son, Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, as director and then bagging three state contracts has come as another embarrassment for the beleaguered chief minister.

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Tamil Nadu
Cut, Paste & Make Hay

Bloggers in Chennai were in for a surprise when a Mumbai-based company got in touch. Just cut and paste the content we would mail you to share on social media and get paid for it every day, the firm suggested. The catch was that the content would be propaganda against a political party. The Election Commission, which does probe complaints of ‘paid news’, has now promised to look into ‘paid views’ as well.

Revolution In Evolution
Life Gets A New ‘Tree’

To most people it may well be incomprehensible but microbiologists seem globally excited over American scientists drawing this week a new ‘Tree of Life’. Charles Darwin had first visualised evolution as a tree that sheds its branches and more, and is rejuvenated by new life. Scientists now suggest that many living forms are actua­lly bacteria to be found in river mud and the soil and have redrawn the tree.  Makes sense? You bet it does to the scientists.

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7 Stories We Are Not Covering This week
  • Moscow
    Rumours that Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng, previously linked to British ex-PM Tony Blair, is dating Vladimir Putin
  • New Delhi
    PIB turning down Maneka Gandhi’s request to disaccreditate two Reuters journalists for a story on slashed funds for the women and child welfare ministry
  • Amritsar
    Cricketer-politician-commentator Navjot Sidhu’s doctor-wife, also called Navjot Sidhu, quitting the BJP through a Facebook post
  • New York City
    A chair on which J.K. Rowling sat while writing the first two Harry Potter books going for Rs 2.6 crore at an auction
  • Lucknow
    Samajwadi Party releasing four limited-edition perfu­mes, Samajwadi Sugandh, to mark four years in office
  • Johannesburg
    The Ajay and Atul Gupta family, accused of exerting undue influence on Presid­ent Zuma, leaving for Dubai
  • Thiruvananthapuram
    Ponnaiyya, 35, a physically challenged beggar from Andhra Pradesh, winning Rs 65 lakh prize money in a state-run lottery
VII Things We Learnt Last Week
  • Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s younger son, Anant, 21, has lost 108 kilos in 18 months
  • The lawyer Harish Salve paid income tax of Rs 175 crore between 2004 and 2013
  • Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to have a Ministry for Happiness
  • Only one Indian tabla beat, the ‘teentaal’, fits the metre of the written ghazal
  • Hollywood movies earned Rs 11,320 crore in India in 2014, four times more than the Rs 2,753 crore earned by Bollywood films
  • The world’s thinnest and strongest condoms are made from grass grown in the Australian outback
  • The Belgian beer brand Hoegaarden is 571 years old

Compiled by Uttam Sengupta, Alka Gupta and Deepak Sharma



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