Power of a Name
Call it superstition, past experience or sheer coincidence, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have taken a liking to officials who are named Rajiv or Rajeev. The former Union Secretary Finance and later Home, Rajiv Mehrishi, who retired last August, has just been appointed as Comptroller and Accountant General of India (CAG), a post that is on par with a judge in the Supreme Court. His replacement as Home Secretary was also a Rajiv, as in Rajiv Gauba. Another key position, head of the Intelligence Bureau, also happens to be a Rajiv (Jain). Following the shake-up at Niti Aayog recently, the task force set up to provide a major thrust to job creation is headed by the think-tank’s vice-chairman, Rajiv Kumar. Another key task force member is Rajeev Kher, former Secretary, department of Commerce. For those who say what’s in a name, here’s the answer.
While the law ministry is formulating a new law to ensure that Aadhaar data is secure, bureaucrats involved with the exercise have been collecting complaints against the UID card. Among them is one from Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner. His thumbprint was not found to be authentic by the system to validate his Aadhaar identity from the database when he filled forms at his bank! Similar complaints have apparently surfaced from across the country leaving many in the law ministry to wonder if biometric data had been accurately recorded in the first place. In which case, would it have to be recorded all over again? Perhaps, the UIDAI bosses need to provide an explanation.
These are taxing times, quite literally. It is now an established trend for critics of this government to suddenly receive income-tax notices or worse, raids by IT officials. NDTV was the classic example, but there have been others, and now we have one more, Harsh Mander, the well-known human rights activist and former bureaucrat. Less than a week after he launched a campaign, Karwan-e-Mohabbat, to show solidarity with victims of communal violence across India, he was slapped with an income-tax notice for the think-tank he runs, the Centre for Equity Studies. A day before the notice, Mader was scheduled to pay homage at the site where Pehlu Khan had been lynched by gau rakhsaks, a move that the Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagran Manch and VHP vociferously opposed. Rakesh Sinha of the RSS had also gone on a news channel to claim that Mander was anti-RSS and said on air that the funding of Mander’s organisation would be investigated. The IT notice arrived four days later.
Economy dictates Politics
That the government is worried about the downturn in the economy was reflected in the BJP’s massive National Executive meeting staged recently in the capital. It is normally attended by members or special invitees but this time, all elected representatives of the party, 1,400 MLAs, 337 MPs and MLCs from all states were called and told to focus on economic issues when they return to their respective constituencies or assembly seats, to counter the attacks by the Opposition. The key issues they were told to focus on was the anti-corruption drive, pro-poor measures like distribution of LED bulbs to cut down power bills, the Rs 16,000 crore outlay to provide power to every village for free. They were told to focus on economic stimulants being prepared by the newly-formed Economic Advisory Council and the positive impact of reforms like demonetisation and GST that will be reflected in the coming months when the economy recovers.