Off the record

The long and short of it

What could be the most boring part of a dinner party? Being subjected to listen to a long-drawn speech by the host before you proceed for dinner.

Recently, during the state visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma hosted a dinner for the French minister for economy and finance Christine Lagarde and the accompanying high-profile business delegation.

As Sharma, who has a penchant for delivering long speeches, raised a pre-dinner toast for Christine and the French delegation, he started his speech saying “I will not make a long speech”.

Those familiar with Sharma’s style kept their fingers crossed knowing fully well that the speech would be long.

Living up to his reputation, Sharma forgot his promise and ended up subjecting his guests to a long speech, narrating various facets of Indo-French economic ties.

When it was Christine’s turn to speak there was expectation that she would be short in her address.

And that was what exactly happened.

“The minister promised a short speech. He did not keep his word. But I will say only a few words,” Christine said as she started her speech.

“I thank the host,” she said and quietly sat down amidst applause from the gathering.

Aditya Raj Das, New Delhi

Sibal at crossroads

Kapil Sibal holds two important portfolios — the Human Resource Development and the Telecom ministries — and he is trying hard to do justice to both of them. But that hardly matters when it comes to many education ministers of the state
governments.

Sibal, who now shares his time between the HRD and Telecom ministries, recently convened a meeting of state education ministers to discuss the state of vocational education. However, only five to six ministers attended the meeting, which deliberated on vocational education, but could not come up with a broad policy framework.

So Sibal wants to hold another meeting of state education ministers early next year so the policy guidelines could be finalised. Analysts in Delhi say the reason the education ministers from states ruled by the BJP and its allies skipped the meeting was because Sibal has been against the saffron party’s strident demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the 2G spectrum scam.

If the BJP’s demand for a JPC enquiry continues into January 2011, the next meeting on vocational education would turn out to be another flop.

Ajith Athrady, New Delhi

Mass leader

The entire Christian community in Patna was taken by surprise when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed his desire to attend the midnight holy mass and Christmas celebrations at Women’s College last Friday.

Flanked by Assembly Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary, Nitish reached the college at 11 pm. Braving the chilly winter night, he joined the Catholic community which was singing carols and waiting for the mass to begin.

“It was a pleasant surprise for all of us, as the chief minister participated in the celebrations following all the hymns and the parts of the holy mass,” said principal of the prestigious college Sister Doris D’Souza.

After the holy mass was over, Nitish greeted the Catholic community and thanked them for their contribution in Bihar’s development. The principal too thanked him for keeping his engagements aside and making it to the Christmas celebration.

“May Christmas bring in more joy, peace and prosperity,” said Nitish before leaving. As a mark of gratitude, Doris D’Souza handed him over a Christmas tree.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

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