The billion dollar question

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on July 29, 2011 Published on July 18, 2011

The ire and pessimism of people against politicians post the twin bomb blasts in Mumbai's diamond hub was best summed up by Praveen Mehta, a diamond trader of Zaveri Bazaar. Dubbing the police efforts to trace the culprits a waste of time and money, Mehta lamented: “We are still spending crores on terrorists such as Kasab and Afzal Guru, even after catching them red-handed. Both of them are in jail for years, safe and taken care of by the Government, while we Mumbaiites are become more and more vulnerable”.

Austerity and discretion

One of the first casualties of the Finance Ministry's austerity drive seems to have been a media conference planned by Minister for External Affairs, S.M. Krishna, a day before the recent Cabinet reshuffle. The conference and lunch, first scheduled at the upmarket Taj Mahal hotel, was shifted to the Conference Hall of the Ministry and finally postponed, much to the chagrin of the journalists covering the MEA. While the press conference right on the eve of the Cabinet reshuffle suggested confidence that the Minister would not be affected, the abrupt changes in venue and the following cancellation left room for speculation.

Did the Finance Ministry's directive on austerity lead to the changes or is this a case of ‘when being secure in a Ministry why pick up cudgels with the all-powerful Finance Ministry?'.

Divine blessings!

India's space ambitions seem to be getting a share of the blessings of Lord Balaji of Tirumala. The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Radhakrishnan, doesn't miss a chance to get the blessings of the Lord before a flight. Just the day before the launch of the PSLV C-17, he visited the abode of Lord Balaji at Tirupati and offered prayers.

His predecessors, Dr Madhavan Nair as well as Dr K. Kasturirangan, did much the same. Hopefully, the Lord will bless ISRO with successes in the GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) programme, which is floundering with more failures as of now.

Smoke , but no alarm!

For Richard D. Reidy, the American CEO of Progress Software, it was a maiden experience — lighting one oil lamp after another to mark the expansion of the IT facility at Cyberabad recently. He kept looking at the ceiling where fire alarms were placed, expecting the sensors to hoot.

The curious CEO asked his colleagues the significance of lighting the lamps. A photographer explained with a Sanskrit sloka ‘tamasoma jyotir gamaya', which means, ‘from darkness towards light'. The CEO's face lit up as he posed more queries, even as his gaze went up once more to see that the sensors did not react.

Old habits die hard

It's perhaps easier to shift Ministers from one Ministry to another than change their thinking. This is what a colleague realised recently. A veteran politician was shifted from one Ministry to another in the Cabinet reshuffle. However, his speech at a function turned out to be repeat of ditto what he had delivered in the earlier Ministry.

The only changes were names of the people being mentioned in the talk and at the event. If the Minister was asking one section of the industry in January to think global and become second to none internationally, he was parroting the same line even now.

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Published on July 18, 2011
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