Off the record

Festival menace

With Vinayaka Chathurthi a couple of weeks away, children and youth in localities visiting homes to raise funds for the public celebrations of the festival is nothing new. But, people, mostly children and teenagers, have taken this fund-mobilisation drive to new heights in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, especially near pilgrim centres. Their modus operandi is simple-- five to six children or teenagers wait near road humps in villages holding a rope across the road to stop vehicles as they slow down. They do not let go vehicles, till at least one occupant of the vehicle shells out some cash. If the driver behind the wheel tries to be adventurous and attempts to clip away, two or three of them start banging on the vehicle. Many end up paying twice—while going to the pilgrim town and back — as the fund-raisers just do not listen. 

R Mohan Babu, Kurnool

Hunt for news

Independence Day celebration in Gujarat this year was held in Patan, North Gujarat, continuing with the tradition laid down by former Chief Miniter Narendra Modi of hosting I-Day in different districts every year. But this time, without Modi after a little over a decade, it was difficult for not only for the media but also the bureaucrats. Realising that the celebration would not get the kind of media glare  it did during the Modi regime, Chief Minister Anandi Patel decided to host it in her home district Patan and instructed the bureaucrats to organise it at the same level as was being done till now.  For the bureaucrats it was a difficult task,  as one of them involved in the arrangements said, “We can create the infrastructure for her, but from where do we get the crowd?’’  As for  mediapersons, it was difficult because most of  them who attended the function were left hunting for a news point, a sharp contrast from the time of her predecessor.

Swati Bhan, Ahmedabad 

Lucky guys!

Some guys have all the luck! Take the Kolkata Police’s constable, for instance. The man in uniform is accompanying Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on her six-day tour of Singapore. While Mamata is going on her first overseas trip as CM to look for foreign investments, the police constable will be there to carry her cell phone wherever the she goes. The other lucky man is a state-employed peon, who is also part of the her entourage, otherwise consisting of ministers, bureaucrats, industry captains and members of chambers of commerce. The peon is travelling because Mamata needs someone to carry important files. The entourage, visiting on invitation of Singapore government, will travel across the island nation and the two lucky men will get front row seats at high profile meetings, luncheons and dinners. Now who can refuse such an all expense-paid trip? 

Drimi Chaudhuri, Kolkata

Musical evening

In their normal 9 to 5 jobs, they serve as vital cogs in the government machinery. But their common passion for music strung together a group of IAS and IPS officers, who for the first time did a stage show on August 16, celebrating the golden era of Hindi cinema. The IAS and IPS officers, who sang at the show are Vishwas Mehta, a joint secretary in the health ministry; Naveen Prakash, chief vigilance officer in SAIL, O P Singh, an additional director general in the CISF, Shamlal Goyal, a joint secretary in the chemical and fertiliser ministry and Puneet Kumar, who heads the apparel export promotion council in the commerce ministry. Though the officers sang in household parties and also participated in television programme in their individual capacity, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya, was their first public show as a group. They picked the gems from 1960s and 1970s to enthral the audience.

Kalyan Ray, New Delhi

Afraid to contest

The absence of the name of CM Omar Abdullah in the first three lists of National Conference candidates for the upcoming assembly polls has become a topic of gossip in Kashmir these days as his opponents claim that he is afraid to test political waters from the party’s once strong bastion Ganderbal. However, Omar’s father and the party patron Farooq Abdullah, who himself tasted defeat in recent Lok Sabha  elections, asked Omar not to skip Ganderbal as the turf has remained party’s bastion since 1977. But one man in Kashmir is praying that Omar should skip Ganderbal. And he is Qazi Mohammad Afzal of opposition PDP who lost to Omar in 2008 elections. While his party colleagues are making fun of Omar over the issue, he sees conspiracy in it. “I really doubt whether such reports are correct. This could be the plan of the NC to float this news,” Afzal recently said.

Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

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