Slow-moving, but thundering

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on February 21, 2011

Dr Manmohan Singh

Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Board of Management of Daimler AG, had an interesting interpretation of the Prime Minister's description of Indian economy as a 'slow-moving' elephant. Dr Zetsche said: “I understand this analogy was not necessarily meant as a compliment. But with all due respect to the PM, if you take a closer look, it is actually a fitting image.” After all, elephants are intelligent, agile and powerful. What's more, once they get going, slow moving elephants can transform into a thundering herd. And that does sound like a very good description of India's economic development.

Three cheers!

Sometimes, it's all in the name. Men of action and uniform are normally not known to pause for verbal niceties or gender justice. And so, it was a pleasant surprise to witness the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Nayak, firmly ticking off a mediaman twice about a particular word during the just-ended Aero India in Bangalore. Before replying to a query related to the use of UAVs, the Air Chief said, “Please say RPA, don't call it unmanned or ...”. He left the word ‘un-womanned' unsaid, but point taken, Chief. It's time for us to evolve from unmanned air vehicles to remotely piloted aircraft.

Fitting in still?

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh's meeting with a few TV news channels in New Delhi recently reminded one of a chance meeting with him as a Congress leader in February 1998. Dr Singh, then a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, had been sent by the AICC to Ahmedabad to “canvass support” for the Congress candidates contesting the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha elections being held simultaneously then. The Pradesh Congress Committee had put up Dr Singh comfortably in a hotel and virtually forgotten him! When one went to meet him, he was all alone in his hotel room, sitting cross-legged on bed, wearing kurta-pyjama, apparently having nothing else to do.

The next couple of hours were spent discussing various issues over tea. Dr Singh was comfortable only with financial and reforms-related matters and excused himself on political issues! Wondering what to write, one asked him, in a lighter vein: “Sir, I have so far seen your pictures in three-piece suits as an academic and economist. How comfortable do you feel now in this Congress uniform?” Dr Singh smiled and replied: “Although it is comfortable , it is not so in public. I am still trying to fit in!” Twelve years down the line, Dr Singh may still be trying to fit in the uniform of his adopted political party!

Swat a device!

What would you expect our esteemed defence research laboratories to come out with? Lethal weaponry that doesn't miss targets, all-seeing radars that don't give intruders a chance to sneak in or escape and superior camouflage materials that will give our Armed Forces that edge and place them at par with the best in the world. Then these military scientists could spin out good clothing for wars in the cold or heat; or conjure up feel-good nuggets and energy sips that drive away battle blues and keep our soldiers charged with the right bodily ammunition. Now the DRDO has proudly unveiled one such battle device and no doubt it's a fine alternative to swatting common foes. Folks, welcome Maxo Military, the DRDO's smart repellent cream that fights the mosquito and other enemies.

Biyani quips

At a recent panel discussion on ‘creating equal futures,' Mr Kishore Biyani, the father of modern Indian retail, came across as down-to-earth and practical as his retailing ideas. A woman wrestling coach from Haryana was ranting about the lack of government and public support for the sport in India and was comparing it to cricket and the ‘huge money' cricketers made. He hushed her with a remark that quite stunned the audience. “This happens in all walks of life. You see, when foreign retailers come to India, the Prime Minister meets them willingly, but never gives us appointments. But we can't complain about it, can we? We have to get on in life,” he told her in chaste Hindi.

Just friendly?

Are Central Ministers supposed to represent the country or despite being part of the Cabinet, are their loyalties with the State they hail from? This is the question which arose in the minds of media-persons recently, when a Cabinet Minister walked into a press conference and headed straight to address the media. But half-way , there was a change of mind and he retraced his steps to where the media were seated. The Minister whispered something into the ears of a journalist representing a TV channel from his State, much to the chagrin of other newspersons.


In a cricket-mad country, you would not expect this. Recently Sunil Gavaskar was accosted by a young chap, who excitedly exclaimed: “Oh, aren't you the commentator!” That surely must have stumped the Little Master!

Published on February 21, 2011

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