Bits and Pieces – As I Please – 7
Hardeep Singh Puri – Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, IFS (Retired), one of the finest and most decorated diplomats of India, has been inducted into the Council of Ministers of PM NarendraModi. Puri Sahib is the right choice. IFS and we in the fraternity stand taller with this honour conferred on one of our senior colleagues. It is not the first time that IFS has contributed to the national politics and governance. K.R. Narayananan adored the Rashrapati Bhawan as President of India. M.H. Ansari aptly handled the position of Vice President of India. Kunwar Natwar Singh manned the coveted Ministries including the MEA with élan. Mani Shankar Aiyar remained a vocal Minister in PM Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Meira Kumar not only remained Minister but also occupied the coveted position of the Speaker of
|Yunus Mohd extreme right|
Visit to Rashtrapati Bhawan – I visited Rashtrapati Bhawan along with a delegation of Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs headed by its Chairman, Charanjit Singh Atwal on September 8, 2017, as a member of the advisory committee of the Forum, to meet and congratulate the newly elected President ofIndia, Ram Nath Kovind. It was a short and brief but a memorable joint encounter with the first citizen of India. The visit revived and recalled my earlier several official visits to the seat of the highest constitutional authority during my long diplomatic career. I last visited Rashtrapati Bhawan in August 2010 to meet President Pratibha Patil in the official programme of the HOMs Conference arranged by the Ministry of External Affairs.
President Ram Nath Kovind entered the meeting room with quiet dignity where we were all seated. Charanjit Singh Atwal and MOS Arjun Meghwal received him at the entrance and presented him a bouquet of flowers. Charanjit Singh Atwal made his crisp remarks to congratulate and wish the President all success in his coveted position. President Ram Nath Kovind responded with his usualcalm and cool style and thanked the delegation. Invoking Babasaheb Ambedkar, he said that we all must learn and follow the visionary leader in addressing many of the issues of concern and interest to the nation for our further progress. Charanjit Singh Atwal handed over a Memorandum on behalf of the Forum to the President in which my proposal to declare April 14, birthday of Babasaheb Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality was included. President Ram Nath Kovind exchanged pleasantries with us and left after a group photo with the delegation. I must acknowledge the involvement and behind the scene work being done by Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, the scion of Charanjit Singh Atwal for the functioning of the Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs. I am told that the grouping of Schedule Caste MPs was first initiated in the early 1950s by Babasaheb Ambedkar and since then it has been existing with some modifications conforming the current requirements. Hot and crisp snacks like samosas, pakoras and pastries from the traditional kitchen of the Rashtrapati Bhawan revived my memories. Incidentally, the GHO Hostess Anita, who was earlier working at Hyderabad House, was present to look after the hospitality. Since, I also worked for sometime in the Government Hospitality Organisation (GHO) of the MEA and later used to visit Hyderabad House frequently during the course of my duties, Anita happened to know me. She extended all courtesies.
Ten sewer workers in Delhi have died in a little over a month owing to exposure to toxic gases in sewers they were cleaning. Death of workers in sewers is not new. It was reported from Mumbai and Bengaluru earlier this year.
A feature in the Hindustan Times of September 17, 2017 “Raising Stink”