Advisor trouble

Our Bureaus | Updated on January 18, 2018 Published on July 31, 2016

Strong views: Maneka Gandhi and animals - Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

The appointment of Gita Gopinath, a pro-market Harvard professor of economics, has triggered controversy in Kerala after she was made economic advisor to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Former chief minister VS Achuthanandan was the first to fire a salvo over the perceived ‘neo-liberal threat’ to the CPI(M) and the State government by complaining to the party’s national leadership. Not to be left behind, the State leadership of the Congress lambasted Vijayan’s move, saying it was the latest in a series of disastrous ‘appointments’. But the chief minister has found unlikely support — from Congressman Shashi Tharoor, MP, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the BJP leadership in Kerala.            

Rat in the sky

At a recent meeting between officials from the Centre and States, the civil aviation secretary tried his best to hard-sell an initiative to activate airports and airstrips in small towns that had fallen into disuse by offering tickets to passengers at a subsidised rate. Airlines would be compensated by both Centre and States in an 80:20 ratio. While many States, including Maharashtra, seemed interested, there were others who smelled a rat.  “The Centre is trying to fool us. While it plans to recover its contribution by imposing a cess on airlines in profitable routes, we would be made to shell out our share from our limited budgets,” the principal secretary from one State whispered to his colleague from another. Then they both slipped out for tea without waiting for the presentation to end for some chai pe charcha!

NPA ‘commission’

Even as bankers are trying their best to bring down NPAs, the common man is not behind in giving suggestions. At the recent annual general meeting of Karnataka Bank Limited held in Mangaluru, a shareholder, taking the example of the I-T department where informers are rewarded for providing information about tax evaders, suggested that banks come out with a similar reward scheme for their employees. He said that bank personnel who are successful in recovering written-off NPAs should be given a part of the recovery amount as commission.

Animated concern

Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi’s love for animals is well known. It was no surprise, therefore, that she looked disapprovingly at Biju Janata Dal leader Tathagata Satapathy in the Lok Sabha, when he expressed concern over the fact that as a Hindu, he found it difficult to tell poor farmers what to do with non-productive cows and buffaloes. Calling for Central policy guidelines for “safety of the cow”, he said old and non-milch animals were earlier sent to the butcher by Hindu farmers. The moment Satapathy finished, Maneka Gandhi called him over to her seat for an animated discussion. 

Rainmaker or newsmaker?

The capital received a bout of heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon. The timing couldn’t have been more spot on: The rain gods decided to open up exactly when the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had scheduled a media briefing on the reports that had been laid in Parliament. The journalists who turned up were drenched and cold, and sat shivering through the first two presentations on e-auctions of coal mines and public debt management. But by the time the presentation on suburban railways had started, they scrambled to the exit, fearing another downpour.


Was Jayant Sinha’s transfer from minister of state (MoS) of finance to MoS civil aviation due to his foreign education? Sources said that a faction in the BJP was of the view that the finance ministry should not be viewed as having too much “foreign influence”, and should have more grassroots-level ministers.


Published on July 31, 2016
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