Off the record

Off the record

Exports still in the ICU

The country’s exports showing positive growth trend in November — after clocking a negative growth rate for the past 13 consecutive months — has interestingly brought jubilation as well as anxiety to the commerce ministry.

The ministry is happy that exports have finally moved into the positive zone — after a long gap, following the global slowdown hitting the country’s merchandise with shrinkage of demand in Western markets since October 2008.

But the commerce ministry is gripped with apprehension that the mandarins of the finance ministry may vouch for discontinuing a series of incentives being given to various segments to plug the budgetary holes that have appeared on the fiscal fabric with the government sacrificing revenues by extending sops to exporters.

“One is happy that exports are showing improvement. But my colleagues in the finance ministry may say there is no need for continuing sops for exporters as they are now doing well,” commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said at an year-end informal interaction with select journalists.

“Some of the segments of exports appear ‘not in need of a oxygen mask’. But they are still in the ICU. They are yet to come to the general ward,” Khullar said.

One correspondent asked “Sir! When do you expect them to be in the general ward?”
“Even, if they come to the general ward in a month or two, they would still need some medicine. The question is: which segment still needs medicine and should we bear the medicine bill or not?” Khullar quipped.

Aditya Raj Das, New Delhi

Hema Malini’s generosity

Former Rajya Sabha member and actress Hema Malini is neither a native of Bihar nor has she ever been an MP from the state. Yet her heart bleeds for Bihar. After donating a large chunk of her MPLAD fund for a renowned auditorium — Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir in Patna — the BJP leader has donated Rs 25 lakh for the haemophilia hospital in the state capital.

According to an estimate, one haemophilia patient is found among every 10,000 population. It is believed that Bihar alone has 1,000 patients, who need proper treatment.

Even though the hospital came up in Patna with the help of former Union health minister and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, it is still gasping for breath. To infuse a new lease of life into the moribund health centre, Hema — much before her Rajya Sabha term expired on Aug 23 — earmarked the fund for the hospital.

Seems Shotgun’s charm (read: request) can still floor the dream girl, who last co-starred with the Bihari babu in Manmohan Desai’s ‘Naseeb’ in the early 80s.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

The real artist!

Ask Samajwadi party leaders “who is the real aritst” and their stock reply would be “Bhojpuri film star and folk singer Manoj Tewari”.

In the May general elections, Tewari joined the SP and party general secretary Amar Singh described him as the ‘young Samajwadi’. He contested from Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, but finished a poor third. He disappeared from the political scene thereafter.

The SP leaders, on being queried about Tewari’s whereabouts, would say that he was an aritst and a busy person. Then suddenly, Tewari was spotted at Congress party election meetings in the recent Jharkhand assembly polls seeking votes for Congress nominees and terming Rahul Gandhi as the “future prime minister”.

On being asked when did Tewari leave the SP, the shocked and stunned party leaders quipped that he was the “real artist”.

“He changes in accordance with the demand of the story of the film, and the Congress is in demand these days”, said the leaders.

Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow