When Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar called her customary luncheon meeting for party leaders last week, one expected the discussions to centre around issues before Parliament. But with backroom negotiations between BJP leaders, led by Sushma Swaraj, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath still inconclusive, there was not much that could be discussed formally. Food, as a consequence, became the natural topic to kill time. “The meethi roti is excellent, where is it from?” asked Swaraj. Chandni Chowk, was the helpful answer from someone in a group of which the Prime Minister was also a part. A longish exposition on food from Old Delhi followed. The focus then turned to the cut melons that were served for desert. “Where are they from?” Afghanistan was the answer. “The best are from Afghanistan. Even the seeds can be eaten. In fact, seeds of pumpkin too can be eaten but those of melons, including musk melons, are the best,” Swaraj said. At some point, an uneasy Prime Minister turned to Meira Kumar to inquire about her recent trip to Myanmar. That resulted in another prolonged side conversation on the neighbouring country.
Web of Interest
THE Ministry of External Affairs website, which attracts hits from over 170 countries, usually gets the maximum number of visitors from the US, the UK and other western countries. But in the last few months, the hits from Maldives have witnessed a sharp rise. Ever since the GMR controversy erupted in Maldives, where social media and Internet use is quite high, users from that country have been visiting the MEA website very frequently. The tech prowess of Internet users of Maldives was demonstrated by the hacking of the website of Indian mission in Male thrice in the last two weeks when the former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed was lodged inside. Thankfully for the South Block, the MEA website was spared. Or, as the MEA might claim, is the MEA website hacker-proof?
HEALTH Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad may have set the cat among the pigeons last year when he said that medical students, before going to the US to study, will have to sign a bond that they will be back after finishing the course or else repay the government the money spent on their education, but the ministry is now finding out that such rules are easier to announce than to execute. How does one recover money from a person who is not in the country at all? Is it legally tenable to ask his family to fulfil bond conditions? Perplexed, the ministry has now sought the Law Ministry’s opinion on this tricky issue.
THE Central Industrial Security Force has got a new theme song, which has contributions from three prominent personalities of the Hindi music industry — Javed Akhtar, Sunidhi Chauhan and Sonu Niigaam. The song was unveiled by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday. The song Desh ki Rakshaa Humaaraa Dharm Hai, Desh ki Rakshaa Humaaraa Karm Hai aims to boost the morale of the force. The song will now be a part of all the official ceremonies and graduation parades of the force.
THE description of the Railway Budget by the BJP as ‘Rae Bareli Budget’ was on expected lines. But the criticism of the budget proposals from Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose SP supports the UPA government, came as a bit of a surprise. Yadav said he had no problems about the projects going to Rae Bareli but was disappointed by the fact that areas of Etawah, Mainpuri, Badaun, Firozabad and Etah had been completely ignored. Quite clearly, Yadav was showing his concern not for all the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, but only for those controlled by his family.