“[A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s English sounded] as though it had been translated into words by a computer from some higher form of mathematics.”
Former Time magazine editor and US deputy secy of state
The Big Idea
As BJP debates the need for a Rajya Sabha, a Chinese scholar mooted a tricameral parliament: including one chamber led by a descendant of Confucius, one by “exemplary persons”
Regime changes in countries often lead to replacement of key envoys in important diplomatic missions. Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to India, Prof Sudarshan Seneviratne’s recall to Colombo was sudden but not entirely surprising. But few would have expected his deputy in the Kautilya Marg mission, M.R.K. Lengala, to also share his fate. The duo has been asked to return to headquarters forthwith. The decision is being laid at the door of former India hand Mahishini Colonne, who served as the deputy head of mission in New Delhi. As the first woman spokesperson of the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, Mahishini not only has a high profile but is also enjoying her rising clout because she has the ear of foreign minister Mangala Samaraveera.
India’s balancing act in West Asia surely is not working. First, it was the Palestinians who got angry over the Indian abstention on a UN resolution against Israel. By the time MEA officials managed to calm the Palestinians, it was Israel’s turn to be miffed with South Block over the sudden announcement of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the country. The first-
ever visit by the Indian head of state to Israel was predictably a marquee event for the leadership in Tel Aviv. But even before Israeli president Rueven Livlin could recover from the death of his elder sister and approve the dates, Israeli officials learnt about its finalisation through the Indian media. Now that is hardly the kind of behaviour one expects from a close ally.
As covers go, last week’s cover of New York Magazine was a cracker. Thirty-five of the 46 women who have accused iconic American comedian and actor Bill Cosby of sexually abusing them posing for it. The women who are now in the age group of 40 to 80, alleged that the avuncular Cosby had raped them, often drugging them before the act, when they were in their late teens and early twenties.
Calling themselves a ‘sisterhood of sadness’ to come against Cosby, the women gave interviews, detailing how they were abused by the renowned comedian over the years. Some years back, Cosby himself had admitted using drugs on women with whom he later had sex. Hackers pulled down the website www.nymag.com, but the magazine posted the pictures and the interviews on social media like Instagram and Tumblr, before pulling it back up.
Foreign envoys are talking about... Rajnath Singh
The Union home minister first became the talking point of the chatterati in Chankyapuri when Modi Sarkar, on the eve of the completion of its first 100 days in office, had to issue a certificate of good conduct to the wily Thakur, twice, on the same day. His advice thereafter to BSF troops to halt cow smuggling to Bangladesh so that people there would give up eating beef elicited a loud laugh. But a succession of recent moves, starting from the curbs on foreign ngos like Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, to the latest contretemps vis-a-vis the Sun TV group, have set diplomatic tongues wagging. The question many are asking sotto voce is: Is the former BJP president (whose residual term Amit Shah is currently enjoying) dancing to the tunes of a different drummer? That’s short hand for RSS. Rajnath’s strident defence of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in l’affaire Lalit Modi has also not gone unnoticed in the diplomatic corps.
Contributed by Pradeep Mishra and Pritam Sengupta