Below the line

Our Delhi Bureau | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 15, 2017

Quick-fire Responses and rejoinders from Sushma Swaraj and Swaraj Kaushal   -  Sandeep Saxena

Problem child

This time we will lock it, is the feeling with which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s team has been attending the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council meetings. But now, it all depends on Mamata Banerjee and the stance her finance minister, Amit Mitra, takes.

“Everyone else is on board as regards dual control and other issues. Regarding some demands made by States, the Finance Minister is willing to consider them and put it in a language that is to the advantage of all. But, the All India Trinamool Congress is a problem (actually post demonetisation),” says a senior official.

Quick on the uptake

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has definitely carved a niche for herself by helping those in distress —especially NRIs/ PIOs — over the social media. She even received a tweet from someone seeking help with a damaged refrigerator. But she has competition at home.

Her husband, Swaraj Kaushal, a noted lawyer and former governor of Mizoram, is also as quirky on Twitter where he is known by the name @governorswaraj.

Recently, someone asked him to on Twitter share the “love story” of himself and his wife, saying he believed it was “inspirational”. Within minutes he got a response from @governorswaraj that he would share that story only with Satyajit Ray!

Sage advice

What did the RBI deputy governor convey to Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal while handing out the payments bank licence to the latter last April? Serve India Well! Ahem! Will Airtel beat expectations here too, going by its performance in the telecom sector?

Costly delay

Arun Jaitley may have you believe that post offices (about 1,75,000) are the next revolution waiting to happen on the digital transactions front. However, it doesn’t look like this will happen anytime soon. The postal department is taking its own sweet time to form a payments bank. By the time they get their act together, private outfits would have stolen a march over India Post and captured a good chunk of the market. India Post, are you listening?

Hawa hawai hawala

Since November 8, everyone in government, economists supporting demonetisation, and others have been claiming that banning notes of ₹500 and ₹1,000 denomination has crippled terrorist financing, the counterfeiting of currency notes, the activities of insurgent groups, the hoarders of black money and corrupt government officials. Theatrics, is how critics would term this claim. But this is a government that believes in having the upper hand in every situation. Therefore, according to a senior official: “As per our assessment, call traffic by hawala agents in India has dropped by 50 per cent.” If you say so, sir.

Reality bites

On this subject, another official said: “The reduction in prices of real estate is highly encouraging as it creates a suitable environment for poorer sections of society to purchase property.”

And the logic? “With banks reducing interest rates, demand for housing is bound to increase. This raised demand will soon cause a rebound in the construction and building material industry, on account of which demand for recently retrenched casual and semi-skilled labour is bound to re-emerge.”

Tall claims not fair?

Narendra Modi is not a rock star. But that’s what he appears to have become, if the recently concluded Pravasi Bharati Diwas is anything to go by. Asked what the key takeaway was from the event, a group of young PIOs said: “Narendra Modi.” And what about Narendra Modi? Pat came the reply: “He is so fair and tall!” Well!

Published on January 15, 2017
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