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Politicians learning to laugh at themselves
Pankaj Upadhyaya in New Delhi | January 11, 2004 16:47 IST
Last Updated: January 12, 2004 09:43 IST
The feel-good factor seems to have rubbed off on the politicians. They are no longer afraid of accepting India has problems, big problems. They do not even shun from laughing at themselves.
For instance, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani took a crack at his own breed. "I know bureaucrats make fun of us saying aata jaata kuch hein nahin, bas policy decide karte rehte hein."
He believes 'developing country' is a polite term invented in deference to the sentiments of 'underdeveloped countries'. India is considered a developing country.
The feel-good factor, surprisingly seems to have rubbed off on Congress president Sonia Gandhi too. The Leader of the Opposition is smiling more and is not disinclined to engage in conversations with journalists.
When one recently asked if her party realises the magnitude of the problem on its hands in the forthcoming general election, Gandhi's reply was: "We all have problems. Don't you have any problems?"
Harvard don speaks up for IITs, IIMs
Prof Tarun Khanna, a fellow of the Harvard Business School, on Saturday warned the government against any action that would threaten the autonomy of Indian Institutes of Management and Indian Institutes of Technology. These premier institutes have recently been under the predatory glare of the Union Human Resources Development Ministry.
The ministry first created a common pool through which all donations to IITs had to be routed and later initiated moves to take over the admission process to the IIMs.
"I don't know what has been going on here in India but from what I read in the newspapers this morning, I must say we are moving in the opposite direction," Khanna said during a discussion at the 2nd Pravasi Bharatiya Divas fete in Delhi.
Advani, who was the chief speaker at the event, said he had taken note of the points made by Khanna.
Sunday holiday at PBD
The three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas fete seemed almost abandoned by the government on the final day owing to top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders attending the party's executive meet in Hyderabad.
Unlike the activity of the past two days, the venue, Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi, was suffering a Sunday hangover. Crowds were thin, fewer security personnel, a relaxed atmosphere.
Chairman of the PBD organising committee, L M Singhvi, was even willing to engage in informal chats with mediapersons and delegates.
Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi was notably absent at the plenary on 'Education – Synergies Between India and the Diaspora'.
It had been left to the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and minor politicians to keep up the tempo at the celebrations. But they were simply not up to the task.External Affairs Secretary J C Sharma had probably seen this coming because he had thoughtfully called an unscheduled press conference on Saturday evening and declared the celebrations a resounding success.
More reports from Delhi
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