Below the line: “Stepney”

| Updated on March 09, 2020


Making use of “grey humour”, Smriti Zubin Irani took a dig at the officials of Press Information Bureau. At an event organised by PIB and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication on the eve of Women’s Day, celebrated the world over on March 8, Irani said she hoped she had done her duty as a “stepney” well.

While welcoming Irani, the organiser said that initially the Information and Broadcasting Minister and Secretary of the Ministry were to come, but unfortunately both couldn’t make it and, therefore, Irani, who is Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD) and Textiles, and the Additional Secretary from Information and Broadcasting Ministry have stepped in.

“….Basically we are stepneys here,” Irani quipped. Touche!

V-P’s piece of advice

In a good humoured but cryptic quip, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu advised the audience at the ‘BusinessLine Changemaker Awards’ to be constructive, and not obstructive or destructive.

On the topic of food, while he advised people to stay away from junk food, he quipped that people have a right over their food habits, and stressed that being vegetarian or non-vegetarian is a matter of choice of the masses.

Future of BBB

The Banks Board Bureau will meet on March 23-24 to interview candidates for post of Managing Director of State Bank of India, to fill the vacancy that may arise from PK Gupta demitting office this month-end. Like last time, it is learnt that even public sector bank officials have thrown their hats in the ring in the hope that they would get the coveted post.

This may well be the last opportunity for the current BBB — second avatar since the first one went operational in April 2016 — to help pick a candidate for the top post in the banking sector as its term is coming to an end in mid-April. All eyes are now on the government to see if it would reconstitute the BBB or disband it.

Corporatised coronavirus

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has sent alarm bells ringing across all sections. But some see opportunity even in these times of crisis. Social media and instant messaging services are abuzz with many ayurvedic and pharmaceutical companies offering remedies for the disease. Fake advisories claiming to be from the Health Ministry and its arms are in circulation. To address some of these, the Centre has been issuing clarifications. Supplementing the efforts, telecom companies are also putting out cautionary messages.

Dodging the virus

The spread of coronavirus in the country has put government officials in a spot. Commerce Ministry officials, for instance, met delegations from three countries — the US, Australia and New Zealand — in less than three weeks.

With the virus threat intensifying in India over the past few days, officials now have their fingers crossed about the visit of other foreign delegations. “We certainly hope that most of our important meetings happen over video conferencing now,” said one official. Using technology to dodge the virus is certainly a good idea.


The word ‘expunge’ is closely associated with Parliament. Unsavoury remarks and name-calling by lawmakers are often obliterated from Parliamentary records by presiding officers of the House. Last week, a part of the biosketch of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla available on the Lok Sabha website too went through one such swift purging.

While the earlier version of the Speaker’s profile proudly informed readers about his decades-long association with the RSS and his imprisonment in Uttar Pradesh for active participation in the Ram Mandi construction movement, the revised one has deleted all these and talks only of the humanitarian work done by the Speaker, who hails from Rajasthan.

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Published on March 09, 2020
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