Below the line

| Updated on December 01, 2019 Published on December 01, 2019

Tough negotiations ahead

The balancing act for the Centre will certainly not be easy. The US has more or less reconciled to the fact that due to religious sensitivities it is not possible for India to make changes in the mandatory certification requirement on dairy products sold in its market.

However, there has been no let-up in Washington’s demand for greater market access. The long list of items that Washington wants to be included in the mini-trade package being negotiated by the two sides has sent the Agriculture Ministry into a tizzy.

With farmer agitation across the country growing because of falling incomes and rising debts, lowering import duties for farm products for the US may not be easy for the government. On the other hand, the Trump regime has been pushing India to take immediate steps to increase imports from the US to lower the bilateral trade imbalance.

PIB fact-check

The Press Information Bureau, which is tasked with disseminating information about government schemes and activities to the media and public, is now turning fact-checker. On Thursday, the PIB tweeted through its official handle, “Ever wondered if a WhatsApp forward is true or just fake news? Or if a tweet/FB Post is real? Fret No More!” The government’s nodal agency urged citizens to email a snapshot or URL of such “dubious material” to pibfactcheck@gmail.com so that it can check the veracity of such information. However, the PIB added that such a fact-check will only be done if the WhatsApp forward or the social media post is related to the Central government departments, ministries or schemes.

Policy Hanumans

Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, is known to pepper his speeches with witty anecdotes to keep otherwise mundane subjects lively. Delivering one such speech on the role of policymakers to drive industry’s growth, Pradhan said that the policymakers are Hanumans. They are unaware of their own strengths unless they get down to actually developing a policy.

All 20

It took 47 years for the Lok Sabha to take up all 20 questions listed for the day for oral answers.

Both Houses of the Parliament list 20 questions every day during session for oral answers along with written answers, and 160 questions for written answers only.

Questions for oral and written answers are known as ‘starred’ while the other questions are called ‘un-starred’. Both Houses dedicate one hour each of its proceedings for oral answers.

Limiting the number of starred questions to 20 began from the Fourth Session of the 5th Lok Sabha (1972) onwards. After setting up this limit, the maximum number of questions taken up for oral answers was 14.

Signing in Hindi

Doctors seeking leave in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, will now have to follow a peculiar rule — their leave applications have to be signed in Hindi. On October 16, AIIMS-Rishkesh Dean (Academics) Manoj Gupta sent out a note to all faculty members informing them that all leave applications will only have to be signed in Hindi and that leave applications signed in English will not be accepted, and he himself signed off this notice in Hindi.

In hindsight, this may not be that strange considering the increasing importance the current regime has been placing on adoption of Hindi.

Will MCA blink?

All eyes are on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to see if it would soften its stance on the online proficiency self-assessment test mandated for independent directors of companies. With the new norms kicking in from December 1, there is still some debate in corporate circles as to whether this regime will apply to public sector companies or not. It may be recalled that the MCA had exempted public sector entities from board evaluation norms, which otherwise now applies to all private sector companies.

It will be interesting to see whether the former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, who joined the board of India’s largest private company in October this year, would also be required to take the online proficiency test. Unless exempted, he may have to take the proficiency test as he does not have the usual 10-year experience as a director or a key managerial person in a listed or an unlisted company with over ₹10 crore paid-up capital, feel some corporate observers Our Delhi Bureau

Published on December 01, 2019
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