The Roman Empire in its declining years boasted rulers such as Nero who played his fiddle while Rome was ablaze; another Emperor Caligula sent his horse to occupy a seat in the Roman Senate.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee may not have climbed these heights of absurdity nor plumbed the depths – depending on one’s preferred angle of vision – but her zany utterances and behavior is turning out to be an obstruction to the desired norms of proper administration While the good lady was engaged in heavy political lifting on Assam’s policy to determine who is, or is not, a true citizen of India on those living within its borders; lunching or dining with the Gandhis – mother Sonia, and son Rahul at their Delhi residence, in an attempt to cobble an Opposition alliance to counter the BJP-led coalition at the Centre in the May/June general election, her Bengal bailiwick was in trouble, dire trouble.
Kolkata bridge collapse
Kolkata’s infrastructure were tumbling down. A few days ago, a bridge situated at a key junction of the city leading to Diamond Harbour collapsed. Four people were killed, with many more bodies, possibly, remaining to be recovered from the debris. This is the third such tragedy in city the last six years. The responsibility for these disasters have to be shared by the previous inept Communist Party (Marxist)-led Left Front and its successor, the present Trinamool Congress regime.
Warnings of the deteriorating structures of the bridge (and others that collapsed) were ignored or shelved by bureaucrats and inert ministers. There will be an inquiry into this latest mishap, but whether thorough measures will be undertaken to prevent such calamities in the future is beyond rational prediction, judging by the past record.
Experts have blamed red tape, quick-fix repairs and slack maintenance for the collapse. It will take many months before the debris is removed, and it will take another 18 months before a substitute bridge of the latest design and contruct6ed with material to match is operational. A visibly chastened Mamata Banerjee, speaking to the media, acknowledged that Kolkata’s bridges were unsafe and required urgent attention. She accepted that the Bengal PWD bureaucrats had been slack. That is an encouraging start. The task before the State government now is to put things rights – not easy by any means – without loss of focus (Times of India, Telegraph September 5,6,7).
Code of conduct for MPs
Unruly behavior by MPs has brought Parliament into increasing disrepute, and more damagingly, the concept of democracy itself. Cries for Order from the Chair are routinely ignored, and hence the House in adjourned and the show repeated ad nauseam. Little business is done and bills pile up as the legislative process is derailed by the very people entrusted with its functioning. The public perception is that valuable tax payers’ money is squandered, MPs being well paid and enjoying travel and other allowances and perks.
Conclave of rectitude
BJP MPs misbehaved as a matter of routine during the second term of the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government (2009-14), the Congress in opposition currently does so with similar abandon. Communists and Trinamool contribute liberally to the pandemonium. Enough clearly is enough. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu had a meeting with Dr Singh, Prime Minister Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Congress leader Anand Sharma and Lok Sabha Spoeaker Sunitra Mahajan. Dr Manmohan Singh lauded Mr Naidu’;s efforts for greater discipline in legislatures across the country. to discuss parliamentary discipline at the centre and in the legislative assemblies in the states.. Freedom of speech cannot be licence for boorish behaviour. Mr Naidu. Until and unless penalties of expulsion for periods of time are meted out the rot will continue. Mr Naidu has cracked the whip (Indian Express, Hindu September 3).
Refale gives India the edge: IAF
The Indian Air Force has stated the French fighter aircraft gives India an ‘unprecedented’ advantage in combat and revolutionize air power on the Indian Subcontinent, while dismissing the Congress-driven controversy ‘We are waiting for the Rafale to come. It is a beautiful aircraft. It is a very capable aircraft. It has a capability that we need very quickly,’ said Air Marshal S.B. Deo in New Delhi. Countering critics of of the Rafale deal with France, the Deputy Chief of the of the Air staff, Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar said that had been alleged did not fit with the facts.’the facts on record indicate that there is no truth in those allegations, ‘ said the Air Marshal. (Times of India, Business Line September 6, September 7) India currently has 31 operational squadrons, well short of the 45 sanctioned by the government (Times of India September 6).
Cyient bags UAV Army contract
Cyient Solutions & Systems Ltd, a joint venture between Hyderabad-based Cyient and Israel’s BlueBird Aero Systems, received its first order from the Indian Army for supplies of Spylite mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for high altitude surveillance. ‘Spylite is an advanced combat-proven electric mini unmanned aerial system. It is optimized to offer covert, extended range real-time visual intelligence. Fully autonomous, from launch to accurate parachute recovery, the system delivers enhanced reliability even in severe weather conditions,’ said a CSS statement. ‘Its low visual and acoustic signature underlined its suitability for covert operations.’ (Business Line September 5).
Nasscom to upskill staff
IT trade body Nasscom is to retrain and upskill staff with next generation technologies. Tech Mahindra announced a partnership with FutureSkills – an inititiative by the IT industry’s apex body Nasscom. ‘The partnership pace at which digital technologies are disrupting business today is creating an immediate demand for professionals who can work with next generation technologies to deliver state-of-art solutions and services,’ said C.P.Gurmani, CEO and Managing Director Tech Mahindra (Business Line September 5).
Estonia pitch for Indian IT
Estonia borders Finland and Russia with a miniscule population, but is rapidly emerging as an e-country with 99 per cent of its government services online. Estonia is establishing Data Embassies which replace embassies on the ground in selected countries. Riho Kruuv, Estonia’s Ambassador to India , referred to his country’s rapidly changing relationship with India from 2017, when India emerged as one of the top three countries locating its start-ups in Estonia, as it launched a ‘Start-up Visa’ policy. Another initiative that was drawing Indian businessmen to Estonia was its e-Residency programme for foreigners beginning in 2013. ‘There are 45,000 e-Residents from 160 countries, of which 1,600 are from India,’ said the Ambassador (Business Line September 5).
India high-flier in women pilots
Times are a-changing – perhaps faster than ever before. Time was when a woman pilot was almost as rare as the fabled Kohinoor diamond. Not any longer. India now has the highest proportion of female commercial pilots in the world, 12 per cent of its flying staff. This is twice as high the numbers in most Western countries, including the US and Australia. Phew!
Police families targeted by Kashmiri jihadis
Kashmiri jihadis have taken to abducting the kin of police personnel and holding them to ransom. This, say intelligence officials, are a dangerous trend. The National Intelligence Agency arrested Syed Ahmed Shakeel on charges of terror funding.
Kashmiri jihadis held in Delhi
The Delhi police Special Cell oin anti Terrorist operations arrested two young Kashmiri men, Parvaiz Rashid Lone, 24, and Jamsheed Zahoor Paul, 19. Arma, ammunition and mobile phones were recovered. Lone is an M.Tech student, while Paul was studying engineering (Hindu September 8).
Meanwhile in Hyderabad, three months before the twin bomb blasts, two convicts, Anik Shafique Saeed and Mohammed Akbar Ismail Chowdhury were trained in a farmhouse in Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka (Hindu September 6).
Supreme Court upholds creative freedom
Tamil writer S. Hareesh saw his novel Meesha ran foul of local Hindu bigots, who demanded that its contentious passages be expunged. A local magazine that was publishing the novel in serial for, abruptly ceased publishing the work following threats. The Supreme Court of India rejected the plea to have parts of his novel expunged, upholding his rights as a creative writer with the appropriate extracts from the works of George Orwell. It was a blow for freedom of expression when writers, fearful of giving offence to BJP elements were subconsciously censoring their own work (Hindu September 6).