Opinion

Raju turns poet

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on June 27, 2011 Published on June 27, 2011

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BL27BENGALI_SWEETS   -  The Hindu

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After playing with numbers and leaving a financial mess that is yet to be cleared fully,

B. Ramalinga Raju, the founder-Chairman of the erstwhile Satyam Computers, is playing with words as he sits in jail. His wifeNandini has just brought out a collection of 56 poems penned by him. People have already begun reading between the lines for clues to the fraud, if any. With rudimentary expressions and rhetoric, the poems in ‘ Naalo Nenu' (Rumblings inside) turn philosophical sometimes and touch upon issues such as hunger and loneliness.

Reshuffle anxiety

With talk of an impending reshuffle of the Union Cabinet in the air, the attitude of people in power toward journalists seems to be changing. While bureaucrats are calling up journalists to speculate about the fortunes of political bosses, ministers are willing to talk on everything, from the Finance Minister's office being bugged to how they are being unfairly targeted by the CAG. All off the record, of course.

‘Sibal society'

Acrimony aside, there were some light moments for journalists covering the Lokpal Bill drafting debate. At a briefing by Union Minister Kapil Sibal on the day the talks with civil society members collapsed, a witty remark by another Union Minister, Salman Khurshid, on the joint drafting panel made the day. “There's a joke that in the panel there's a Civil Society and there's a Sibal Society”, quipped the Minister, bringing some cheer on an otherwise tense and hectic day.

In a time warp

The 25-paise coin is going out of circulation from June 30. The RBI has decided to scrap them as the inflation bug has bitten the currency. And a whole generation of teens have not seen the likes of 5, 10 and 20 paises as they ceased to be legal tender more than a decade ago. The Proxy form published in the State Bank of India's Annual Report for 2010 has a provision for affixing 15 paise revenue stamp over which the shareholder has to sign!

Yes, 15 paise! Now we have neither the coins of the denomination nor revenue stamps of that value. When one started perusing the annual reports of companies, one came across the same bloomer in almost all! But what is surprising is that the State Bank of India, majority owned by the Government of India and which takes care of the Union Government's treasury operations, doesn't know the Indian Stamp Act 1899, since amended 51 times, has replaced the mandatory 20 paise revenue stamps affixation for documents to Rupee One by an amendment in 1994. The State Bank of Travancore's proxy form also has the same format following the parent, while the IOB requires the shareholder to affix one rupee stamp — obviously, they are alert.

Anna effect and wise babus

Call this the Anna or Ramdev effect. Recently, a senior government official was stranded outside a five-star hotel after a business meeting. Apparently, his driver was on chai break and did not pick up his mobile when he was called for the car. An industry member offered to drop the official in his luxury sedan, but the Finance Ministry mandarin spurned the offer. “I don't want to be embarrassed by getting dropped to office in this car. Definitely, not in the current times and in broad daylight”, he quipped. Someone else's old Ambassador car was, however, acceptable to him. One can only sympathise with the official, said an observer. For, it is quite unlikely to go unnoticed , especially if you drive in in a BMW or any other luxury car. All the more so, as Anna Hazare and his team are regular visitors to North Block these days!

Truth face-off

As children we grandly swore our honesty with a hand over chest and a ‘God promise'. These two gentlemen are long past their childhood, but almost repeated the kid stuff. The occasion: The recent flare-up of mutual charges of amassing wealth — an otherwise routine matter between B.S. Yeddyurappa and his erstwhile political partner turned arch foe and relentless rug-puller, H.D. Kumaraswamy. The Chief Minister, through newspaper advertisements, dared Kumaraswamy to take what he called the ultimate truth serum: swear the latest charges before , Lord Manjunatha of Dharmasthala near Mangalore.

Now, the Aane-pramaana veracity ritual — where two contesting parties make out their case in real time before the deity - is a common but serious affair for Dharmasthala devotees. As Kumaraswamy picked up the gauntlet, people were aghast over the two ‘misusing sacred rituals for politics'. Quickly trouble-shooters stepped in, such as the saffron party's president, Nitin Gadkari, and the pontiff of the Udupi Pejavar math. A chastised Yeddyurappa, with both feet in the mouth, meekly said he would abide by these elders' advice. The June 27 no-show of a heady showdown has left everyone relieved . It's not for nothing that the State is called Kar- naataka.

Sweet gesture

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may have been crying hoarse over the state coffers being left ‘empty' by the Left Front, leaving her with no money to feed the people . But, when it comes to offering Bengali delicacies to the media, she never spares an opportunity to open up the coffers of her heart. This time round, her hospitality was also accompanied by a victorious smile. No surprises, therefore, when a van loaded with boxes of sweets and snacks, packed by a well-known Bengali eatery landed up much before Didi did at a media interaction in Delhi last week!

Passports redefined

Two college-going youths from Hunsur (near Mysore) had been abducted and brutally killed for ransom and the Karnataka Home Minister was under pressure to explain why the police were yet to find the murderers. If they were not caught early, they would escape to neighbouring States, went one argument. To which a certain Minister is supposed to have famously replied, “How can they do so? They have no passports.”

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Published on June 27, 2011
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