Guess Who's Hosting Modi In Baramati?
There are no permanent friends or foes in politics. And the best place to extend the olive branch is some innocuous but important function, as a significant official. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly given his nod to attend the inauguration function of Krishi Vikas Kendra at Baramati, originally approved by the UPA. This "all-important" function is scheduled on February 14, ironically Valentine's Day for the rest of us. Needless to say Modi will be hosted by none other than Sharad Pawar. The news of them sharing the dais has created ripples among political circles with rumours about the thawing of the so-called rivalry. While Sharad Pawar had already extended a friendly handshake after the state assembly elections by declaring unconditional support, farmers are reminded of the aggressive BJP election campaigns that called for mukti from the uncle-nephew duo. The local leaders of Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana have already threatened to protest if the Prime Minister goes ahead with the plan and "disappoints" the suffering farmers.
Fruitless Search For Thackeray Memorial
Mumbai Mirror recently reported on how Haffkine Institute, known for making important vaccines and a premier institute for bio-medical research, refused to part with their space for a Bal Thackeray memorial. Adding to the never-ending saga of finding a "suitable" spot, the institute spread over 22 acres was asked to part with a three-acre plot. However, the officials refused saying they are expanding and need all the extra space for further research and manufacture of vaccines for diseases such as TB, Tetanus and vaccines for infants. Mirror reported, "Haffkine is the seventh site identified by the state government and the BMC to house the memorial. Of the six other sites shortlisted so far, two are located at Shivaji Park to the left and right of the mayor's bunglow; two at Wadala near Imax Cinema; and two in the mill district of Parel… We supply polio vaccines to 45 countries. We want to expand our capacity and cover more countries. I told the visiting team that even small piece of land in the campus is important to us," Haffkine Institute general manager Shankar Rao said. In the meanwhile, to mark Bal Thackeray's birth anniversary on 23rd January, Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray lit "Akhand Jyoti" at the memorial at Shivaji Park, where the Sena Supremo was cremated. Also a movie on his life, Baalkadu, which I am yet to see, released on the same day.
The Salman Khan Saga Continues
The time taken to "hit and run" may be only few seconds but Salman Khan's accident case has gone for years, 12 to be precise. It is now said to be at fag end. However, in yet another development, a witness in the Salman Khan hit-and-run case asked for protection from the court. A doctor attached to the state-run JJ Hospital made an oral request to the judge through public prosecutor. The court advised him to file a written application. The doctor, who deposed two days after making the request, told the court that Salman did smell of alcohol when he examined him on the night of the accident. However, he "did not look inebriated", added the witness. The testimony is important - as of now he is being cross examined by the defence lawyer. The court has asked the prosecution to complete the trial as soon as possible. Well, one couldn't agree more with that.
Make In Maharashtra And Nagpur
Since Make in India became a popular motto of the new government, everyone in the BJP has taken the cue. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was in talks with several corporate leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, wooing them to come and invest in Maharashtra, especially Nagpur, his home town. He said that growth rate of Maharashtra, which is "India's engine of growth", needs to be maintained at 10 per cent if India has to grow at 8 per cent. At the India Investment Round Table he said that Safran was welcome to Nagpur as there is plenty of land available and the maintenance unit of Boeing will only be an additional plus point. JP Morgan too has promised expansion and creation of more jobs. Fadnavis has had meetings with Cognizant, Ispat, Mitsui etc. While making plenty of land (and other resources) available for industries to set up shop in the state, he also spoke of value chains and crop insurance for farmers. I hope the "regularly suicid-ing" farmers, yet again in the middle of a drought, are listening.
C Is For… Cut Off For School Admissions
This one is important, if you are parents to a toddler. The state government recently passed a resolution saying children cannot be admitted to nursery unless they are three years old, which means they can be in class 1 only at the age of six. Children routinely join school at the age of two or two-and-a-half at nursery level. However, the announcement created enough confusion and chaos about children who are already in nursery, junior or senior kindergarten that it prompted Minister Vinod Tawde to clarify on Twitter that the decision will be implemented from the next academic year, June 2016. Instead of helping, his clarification has reportedly led to more confusion where some schools have decided to adhere to the new norm and some have decided to wait and watch.
RIP, R.K. Laxman
RIP, creator of the common man. Take a moment to remember your favourites, even as the government readies for a fitting state funeral for the most loved and respected cartoonist of India. In Outlook's 17th anniversary issue, in the piece titled Aam Aadmi, Autodidact, his wife Kamala Laxman told me about what her husband would have been at 17:
"R.K. Laxman started drawing when he was just three years old. He was completely self-taught and was drawing caricatures from an early age. So at 17, after completing his schooling and joining the Maharaja College in Mysore, he continued to actively draw and paint. He had applied to the Sir JJ School of Arts but was rejected. Even so, he continued to illustrate and draw in Mysore. He even made sketches for his brother R.K. Narayan's written pieces. At the time, Mysore was a very calm place. There was plenty of peace and quiet. And so it was suitable for his work and temperament to live there. He lived with his extended family and as I was a relative (actually, he was my 'mama') so we almost grew up together. He never needed any training for his drawing and he was illustrating for newspapers when he was studying in college. He left Mysore after we married in the late 1940s."