No one to hear the author

At the book launch of MJ Akbar’s Gandhi: A Life in Three Campaigns held at Teen Murti House, the host Nripendra Mishra, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Library and Museum, was a bit discomfited as the auditorium couldn’t seat all the visitors. We need to upgrade this place, he said as he opened the event. He had further moments of discomfiture when one of the speakers, Ram Bahadur Rai, rambled on throwing the event out of gear.

Chief guest Arif Mohammed Khan too spoke at length leaving no time for Mohandas Pai to utter a word. The author Akbar himself found he was unable to speak as the assembled guests departed with Khan who had a flight to catch.

No ‘halwa’?

A whisper of disappointment is echoing through the corridors of North Block. The air, usually thick with the aroma of ‘halwa’ around this time, is likely missing this year. The ‘Halwa Ceremony’, a cherished ritual in the Finance Ministry, marking the commencement of the Budget preparation process, seems to be facing the axe. This year, with general elections on the horizon and only a ‘Vote-on-account’ in the pipeline, the buzz is that the ceremony might not be conducted.

This ceremony is not just about preparing and distributing the sweet dish. It symbolises the sealing of secrecy as officials involved in the Budget preparation are then secluded until the Budget is presented in Parliament.

Twist here

During the current rabi harvesting, data show that Tamil Nadu leads the country in sowing of paddy. This has become a norm, and with the final production being lower than expectations. One of the reasons attributed is poor yield. However, a little bird says the trick is that many people claim to grow paddy without actually doing it but claim losses for one reason or another to seek agriculture insurance. That’s something the Centre needs to check, says the bird.

TN vs Gujarat

Will it be Tamil Nadu or Gujarat? This is an oft-asked question following the global investors meets in both the States. Some of the companies that signed MoUs with the Tamil Nadu government at the Global Investors Meet participated in the Vibrant Gujarat event too, making officials in Tamil Nadu quite nervous. In a few days, there will be clarity as to who is investing where.

When negative is good

The organisers of 10th edition of Vibrant Gujarat seemed slightly nervous during the valedictory session on January 13 when Auguste Tano Kouame, World Bank Country Director for India, said he had a “feedback to give which may not be so positive”. But the feedback left everyone asking for more as Kouame went on to say, “The food was way too delicious to keep our weights down. So I am sure that over the past three days we have gained at least one kilogram.”