Below the line

| Updated on January 26, 2020

Gujarat shows the mirror

Recently, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry held its first conclave to give a boost to the country’s natural gas sector. Though energy ministers from most States did not participate in the National Conclave on Emerging Opportunities in Natural Gas Sector, Gujarat’s Energy Minister, Saurabh Patel, did some plain-speak.

He red-flagged moves by Indian Oil to usurp high-value gas consumers by deploying liquefied natural gas trucks and leaving the cost-intensive infrastructure development task to Gujarat Gas. Patel also pointed that the centralisation process for getting approvals found much appreciation. Patel’s frank and sharp criticism did earn him applause from the audience, and brought some life to an otherwise dull event.

Management hiccup

If the lack of enthusiasm from the States at the National Conclave on Emerging Opportunities in Natural Gas Sector was not enough, adding to the woes was the lack of coordination among the managers of the event.

State Energy Ministers who were present were found hurrying away after the conclave ended. But most didn’t know where to turn as the protocol officers assigned to them were not to be tracked.

Going by the chatter in Indian Oil circles, there was a major coordination lapse which led to this situation. Over lunch, one official was overheard saying to the other that there seemed to be no coordination officers for each of the State ministers.

Green signal

The buzz in the corridors of power is that insurance regulator IRDAI has given its nod for a hike in the FDI limit in the insurance sector in the upcoming Budget.

However, in its recommendation to the Finance Ministry on the issue of “control”, it was silent on whether to retain or remove the existing stipulation that key management persons should be Indian, it is learnt. Tricky slope this!

Quality not our business

A Central government official who was auditing the quality of education across States went to a school in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand and asked fifth-grade kids to subtract 18 from 31. He noticed that 50 per cent of the kids could not solve the sum.

He later went to the district magistrate and askedwhy the administration does not monitor quality of lessons imparted to children. To this, the magistrate quipped that it was for the first time that someone had ever asked for the quality to be monitored.

He further said that the government was only interested in understanding that the money released by the exchequer had been spent, but the quality of service imparted was never checked.

A Twitter spat

Over the past few years, the former governor of Mizoram, Swaraj Kaushal — also the husband of the now deceased senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj — had won lot of admirers with his wisecracks and funny one-liners in Twitterdom. Much to his followers’ delight, after a short hiatus, he is active again on the social media platform, with his Twitter exchanges peppered with anecdotes, motivational quotes and commentary about life in general.

Though his candid tweets usually evoke admiration, this week it also raised eyebrows. As a war of words between actors Anupam Kher and Naseerudin Shah hit the spotlight, Swaraj took to Twitter to rebuke Shah calling him “an ungrateful” and “disillusioned” man.

Swaraj seems unfazed to the reactions his words evoked, and has nonchalantly continued with his tweets and exchanges with his admirers.

Our Delhi Bureau

Published on January 26, 2020

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