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Below the Line: Short and sweet

| Updated on March 11, 2018 Published on March 11, 2018

Last word Sumitra Mahajan knows how to draw a laugh   -  Ranjeet Kumar

 

Reporters have got used to key decisions being taken on Fridays or Saturdays by the Government. So it was no surprise when the 26th meeting of the GST Council was slated for Saturday. But, this meeting was in stark contrast to previous meetings: it got over in about two hours, whereas the norm is a whole day if not longer! The agenda was brief, with no rate changes included, while the issue of inclusion of other items was deferred until the next meeting.

Commotion times

You must hand it to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for being quick-witted. No sooner had she completed the obituary references in the lower house on Friday by uttering the words “Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi” than she realised the Opposition MPs were ready to rush into the well shouting “We want justice”.

She muttered in Hindi: “Lo abhi tho shanthi ki baath hui, tho hungama aa gaya”! (Just as we were talking about peace, here’s commotion).

Banking mess

Our parliamentarians owe it to the nation to have a meaningful discussion on the current mess in the banking sector. The week that went by was practically a washout in the Lok Sabha with proceedings getting systematically adjourned around noon. Will they or won’t they discuss the irregularities in the banking sector is the question uppermost in people’s minds. If nothing else, at least the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill should get introduced.

Soaping the press

Journalists are often showered with gifts and mementos at events, obviously for favourable coverage. Reporters at the International Solar Alliance function were presented with expensive earphones and a kit containing facewash, fruit rub, soap and the like. Wonder what prompted the MEA to offer toiletries?

Rivers of milk

According to the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh, for the last 20 years India has been the largest producer of milk in the world. Commending the role of institutions like the National Dairy Research Institute for catering to the requirements of the dairy sector, Singh said milk production had increased by 20 per cent between 2014 and 2017. The income of dairy farmers too had increased by 23.77 per cent between 2011-14 and 2014-17, he added.

The Government has initiated the National Mission on Bovine Productivity in order to help the benefits of animal husbandry schemes reach the farmers directly, and has earmarked ₹825 crorefor genetic upgradation. The scheme has been a roaring success in terms of increasing milk production. The Government has also started e-pashuhaat to connect breeders with milk producers.

The cap is mightier than the pen

While different agencies are investigating the ‘loot and scoot’ act by the nephew-uncle duo of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, victims Punjab National Bank and other lenders can learn a lesson from the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council. Last week, the GJEPC held a press conference to discuss the impact of the scam on the industry and explain that it is cancelling the membership of the infamous diamantaires. That’s not all: Journalists were given writing pads and pens without caps at the meet, so that the pens would be left behind for use at the next conference. Smart move.

Friends to the rescue

Although the friends of a former stock broker from Mumbai, currently cooling his heels in jail, are leaving no stone unturned to get him out, it appears they are cheesed off that he didn’t attend the court hearings regularly, which led to the judge declaring him a proclaimed offender. Those who have lent him several crores believe he deliberately went to jail to get around paying them back.

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Published on March 11, 2018
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