Below the line

| Updated on April 11, 2021

Debashish Panda

‘Ruling’ batch at FinMin

In an interesting twist of events, bureaucratic reshuffle has brought four batchmates together in the Finance Ministry — Financial Services Secretary Debashish Panda, Expenditure Secretary TV Somnathan, DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey and Economic Affairs Secretary Ajai Seth. All belong to the 1987 batch of Indian Administrative Service. The fifth Secretary, Tarun Bajaj, is a 1988 batch officer.

If one goes by tradition then among the four batchmates, Panda is expected to be designated Finance Secretary as he is ahead in terms of ranking. However, he will be the first to superannuate, with the other three to retire in 2025, Pandey the last. So, till 2025 Finance Secretaries will be from the 1987 batch. It is rare for officers from one batch to hold the Finance Secretary’s job for so long .

App inspiration

No often is a government effort set as an example. But there are always exceptions. Many Indian companies have found a new inspiration for their digital strategies in the Co-WIN app. Observing the popularity and ease of use of the Covid vaccination programme app, many companies are understood to be reviewing their own apps. The idea is to make it simple enough for users in small towns and senior citizens to be able to navigate/use the app easily instead of calling helplines if not visiting their offices.

When sarcasm scores

Natconnect Foundation’s sarcastic letter to the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) has found support from an unexpected corner, with none other than the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office (CMO) taking notice. In a letter in March, the not-for-profit said the IMPPA could use Uran’s eco-sensitive mangrove areas to shoot ‘desert’ scenes, instead of faraway locales of Rajasthan or Dubai.

Panje in Uran, once a home for migratory birds, has now become a dump for construction waste. Filmmakers, the Foundation said, could use other areas in Uran for “flood” scenes as reckless landfills are apparently causing unseasonal inundation. Helpfully, the organisation also included pictures of what it called ‘man-made Uran desert’. While the authorities turned a Nelson’s eye to the destruction of mangroves, the CMO’s office has taken a hand, and asked the Urban Development Department to look into the destruction of mangroves.

Soil Satyagraha

Farmers agitating over the past few months against the Central farm laws have adopted novel ways of protest. One such was by farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana who, led by Rythu Vedika Sangham, went on what they called a ‘Mitti (soil) Satyagraha’ coinciding with the anniversary of Gandhiji’s Salt Satyagraha. They collected soil from scores of villages in Telugu States and joined their brethren in Delhi earlier this week.

Students’ question time

The uncertainty surrounding CBSE exams is giving anxious moments to students who have already spent more than 13 months studying the one-year course and still there is no clarity on when their ordeal will end. Many students nailed the government, asking how it can conduct exams in schools when they got lessons online. The smarter ones even sent a cryptic social media message that they will be eligible to vote in the next two years. Having dragged the elections and voting, politicians now definitely have much to examine.

No room for TDP in House

With two members of the Telugu Desam Party in the Telangana Assembly defecting to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the once powerful party founded by the late Tollywood icon NT Rama Rao is left without any members in the House.

Mecha Nageshwara Rao and Sandra Venkata Veeraiah handed over a letter to Speaker P Sreenivas Reddy requesting that the Telugu Desam Legislature Party be merged into the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi Legislature Party. With this, the TRS strength has crossed the magical 100 in a House of 119. Our Bureaus

Published on April 11, 2021

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