PM, talkative Congress members
As a broad church party, the
Congress was never known for organisational discipline. The habit
of its members speaking out of turn was always a feature of its
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under fire for his long spells of
"silence" on critical issues of governance and problems facing the
country, seems to have impressed at least one set of people - his
Contrary to his image of being just a speech reader, he made an
extempore address to the nation's diplomats and foreign office
mandarins at a meeting of heads of missions in New Delhi over the
last weekend. India's ambassadors spoke of the prime minister's
"complete mastery" over the subject as he gave an overview of the
strategic challenges facing the country and his government's
foreign policy vision.
One ambassador described it as "brilliant" while another said it
was "solid stuff" as they compared it with the rather insipid and
predictable address of S.M. Krishna, the external affairs minister
and their political boss, who merely read out a written speech.
Others who spoke and impressed were Commerce and Industry Minister
Anand Sharma, a former minister of state for external affairs,
Kapil Sibal, the human resource development minister, and P.
Chidambaram, the home minister. They spoke extempore while only
referring to speaking points. The three-day meeting was chaired by
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao who spoke both on the opening and
Being a minister doesn't help in Congress
The nomination process for Congress president Sonia Gandhi's
re-election to the party post was an occasion for her loyalists to
get their day in the sun.
But it was state Congress chiefs who got prominence over their
powerful and high profile ministerial colleagues. For example,
Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was apparently keen that his
name appears on top of the list of 10 delegates from Himachal
Pradesh in the nomination form of Sonia Gandhi, could not get his
Singh, according to sources, was ready with a list that had quite
a few of his loyalists, but the party told him to come through the
state unit. Eventually, Singh's name came after that of bete noire
Vidya Stokes and state Congress chief Kaul Singh.
elephants migrating from Kerala
Guess why tuskers are migrating from their home state Kerala that
has the largest number, 6,000 of the 25,000 elephants in the
Nobody had an answer to the mystery. Environmental scientists were
busy listing problems jumbos face in the country. In a hectic
exercise they were unsuccessfully trying to draw an effective plan
to protect elephants but were finding it difficult even to
identify the root of the problem.
But then, green activist Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
stepped in with a tongue-in-cheek answer.
"Elephants are Malayali and thus have a migratory nature; so they
are moving out of the state," he said, triggering a bout of
lips, Jairam Ramesh way
Famous for his off-the-cuff remarks, Jairam Ramesh has now
apparently learnt to think twice before speaking out, especially
"I will not open my mouth on China," Jairam Ramesh quipped with a
finger over his lips, when asked to comment on the reported
presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The reason: The minister had created a fiasco in May while talking
in Beijing about India-China warmth, saying that the home ministry
was putting "needless" restrictions on Chinese investments in
India. He had to apologise for the remark before Home Minister P.
Betting on the Gandhis
The political future of Sonia Gandhi, who has become the
longest-serving Congress president, is the latest topic of betting
in the capital's punters' market.
Not surprising in a city where both ordinary people and
speculators are ready to dish out money to bet on issues like
whether Sania Mirza would marry or whether it would rain during
the Commonwealth Games. They are ready to put their money on
anything and everything.
Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka are like hot selling bets even as
bookies find it difficult to execute the bets as the time-frame
does not suit them.
Still, some of the betting topics in are:
Will Rahul become prime minister before 2014? Will Rahul marry his
foreign girlfriend? When will Rahul marry? Will Priyanka join
politics? Till when will Sonia continue as Congress president?
Wonder who would put money on the last one if "lifetime" is not an
Sufi flavour at Tharoor reception
Not many noticed them at the wedding reception of Congress MP
Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar hosted for the
capital's power-pack Friday night, but they were there in their
colourful clothes, providing a Sufi touch to the evening.
The caretakers of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, one of India's holiest Sufi
shrines in Ajmer, were specially invited by the Tharoors for the
reception that saw Delhi's Who's Who in attendance.
In the run up to their marriage, the Tharoors had prayed at the
shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty, a 12th century
saint, seeking divine blessings for serenity and bliss in their
tryst with matrimony - the third for both.
dengue, Azad shows the way
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad may be finding it difficult to
convince Delhiites how not to allow contaminated water in their
surrounding area. Instead of waiting for the municipal officials
to clean the surroundings, the minister suggested, people should
take care of things themselves.
"I have a daily chore," he boasted. "Every night I have to ensure
that the water bowl for dogs in my lawn remains empty," he said.
"My dogs don't drink the water fully, so I empty it and turn the
bowl upside down," he said at a function trying to convince
citizens not to have stagnant pools of water in their homes.
Call it nostalgia or an ideological kinship. Communist Party of
India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury is not seen at many national
day receptions hosted by embassies in the capital, but when it
comes to Vietnam, he makes it a point to be there.
This year was no exception as Yechury, clad in white kurta-pyjama,
showed up at Hotel Taj Palace to toast the comrades on Vietnam
becoming one of the fastest growing economies in East Asia.
After a couple of shots of whisky, Yechury was found waxing
eloquent about how brahmanical repression forced Buddhism out of
India, which is now flourishing in large parts of Southeast Asia.
No Jai ho
for Rahman this time
Oscar winner A.R. Rahman's theme song for the Commonwealth Games
has not been received well by many people. And Commonwealth Games
secretary general Lalit Bhanot has found a unique solution to the
No, he is not suggesting the theme song be changed. He says
Rahman's work takes "a while" to get popular. So, in effect he is
suggesting that people should start listening to the theme song
continuously and then "you will start liking it".
Where did he get this innovative suggestion? "My kids suggested it
to me," he said. Was it an admission that he himself had not liked
the latest from the "Jai ho" composer? And by the way, the "Jai
ho" song of "Slumdog Millionaire" was an instant hit.