Capital Buzz/Virendra Kapoor
When I went to Russia...
Defence Minister Mulayam Singh
pleased as a punch. And not just because he has been able
to ram through President's rule in
Two days before
the UP cataclysmic events started unfolding, Yadav came to
a Union Cabinet meeting
wearing a sweater. As he waited for the
meeting to be called to order, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram politely inquired
whether he was feeling cold. And that was the cue for Yadav to take off.
"I have just returned from Russia," he said in rustic Hindi, "It is very cold there..."
Chidambaram nodded his agreement. He was well-informed about
the temperature in Russia.
"You know," Yadav went on, "I was the only
defence minister to be received by President Yeltsin. Usually,
he does not meet visiting
As Chidambaram was looking completely at sea -- thanks, solely,
to Yadav's rustic dialect --
Civil Aviation Minister Chand Mahal
Ibrahim quickly jumped to his rescue.
"Don't worry, I will translate. Go on, go on," he encouraged Yadav.
The defence minister needed no second invitation. He chugged ahead.
"President Yeltsin praised my secular
agenda," he said, "And my earlier role as the UP chief minister and
as defence minister and..."
There were many more 'ands' -- all of which Yadav insisted on
narrating to Chidambaram, through a fast-translating, highly-thrilled
Ibrahim (who had plenty
of practice from his master H D Deve Gowda).
Need we say it was a pretty suffocating 15 minutes for poor
Chidambaram who had been with Yadav all through his Russian trip?
When in India...
When multinationals set up shops in India,
do they bring with them first-world managerial practices?
No, they don't. They come empty handed and rely on
the dictum, `When in
Rome, do as Romans do.'
Which is why a foreign-owned satellite television network
is behaving the way it is behaving.
In its bid to colonise Indian airwaves, the said company is using
trick in the book and some. Popular anchors have been hijacked, money has flowed
like wine among the broadcasting bureaucracy and the television's Indian
operations chief is unashamedly wooing the capital's high and mighty.
Recently, following a brush with the Indian government, the
gentleman contracted to pay Rs 100,000 per
month to an ageing socialite so that she would intercede
on his behalf with `friends.' But then arose a problem.
"I want the money in hard cash," the socialite told him, "No deal
The CEO was not put off. He thought for a moment and
with a solution.
"Okay, you will get your money," he assured the lady.
Then on, all agencies who had formal arrangements
with the channel found themselves getting additional amounts. But
before they jumped for joy would come the big boss's instruction: Pass on
the money to madame socialite, immediately.
The socialite, meanwhile, is busy earning the tax-free Rs 100,000.
At a specially-convened meeting of secretaries
to the Government of India recently, Prime Minister
Inder Kumar Gujral
was in full flow.
Senior bureaucrats listened with rapt
attention as he spoke feelingly about a 'widespread malaise' in
"Every financial year," he said, "I find funds are
lapsing. That should not be."
The bureaucrats felt thrilled. Ah, here, finally, was a PM who knew
something about what he was talking. They listened on, some
even going to the extent of clapping a hand or two.
Noticing the positive response, Gujral was thrilled. He warmed to his theme.
"From now," he announced, "secretaries of ministries which do not
utilise the outlay earmarked for them in the first quarter will
Unfortunately for Gujral, the secretaries didn't like the
idea one bit. They protested in unison.
"How," asked a senior bureaucrat of a flustered PM, "are we supposed to utilise
the 'earmarked' money when the finance ministry does not release it?"
"If ministerial bosses dawdle over sanctioning
expenditure plans, are the bureaucrats to be held guilty?" asked another.
"This year, the Budget was delayed," others pointed out, "so how are we to 'utilise'
funds in the first quartet?"
Naturally, Gujral had no answer to that. So he took the
only option he could under the circumstance -- cut his speech short and
beat a hasty retreat from the conference!
Forced on the backfoot by the Tata Tea disclosure, Assam's Prafulla Mahanta government has turned its ire against
former Intelligence Bureau additional director Rattan Sehgal.
Sehgal, the state authorities claim, had personally approved the Tata
Tea's dealings with ULFA. He had shown a remarkable understanding
of the trying conditions in which the tea company had to
operate in Assam. And since he was fully aware of the
threat the tea management faced, he had co-ordinated
the operations to keep
ULFA off the company's back.
But why was Sehgal so sympathetic to the cause?
Prafulla sidekicks say it is because Sehgal's younger brother
is a senior
manager with another tea company operating in Assam...
For our bureaucrats only
Because Human Resource Development Minister S R Bommai does not like Gujral, the Indian delegation
to the biennial
UNICEF general conference in Paris this year will be
an all-bureaucrats team.
Earlier, MPs and
prominent educationists had invariably formed part of the
"But in that case, there will be pressure from the
PM to include his India International Centre cronies," Bommai-associates say, "And the minister wouldn't even
want to give Gujral the time of the day!"
So it's only bureaucrats for Paris, this time.