Why Raj Thackeray never wears a mask
While Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray repeatedly appeals to the state’s population to wear face masks to stem the spread of Covid-19, his cousin has turned out to be the first to defy him.
CM Thackeray’s estranged cousin, Raj Thackeray, who heads the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), has been moving around the entire state defiantly without a mask.
At a party event on 27 February, marked as the Marathi Language Day, Raj Thackeray defiantly told reporters that he never wears a mask.
Then earlier this month, when the MNS chief went to Nashik, he made a former mayor who had come to receive him also take down his face mask.
MNS leaders too are puzzled about their chief’s behaviour. When one senior party leader dared to ask the tempestuous Raj Thackeray about why he refuses to wear a mask, the MNS president simply shrugged and said, “It’s suffocating.”
Sitharaman hosts farewell dinner for ex-finance secretary A.B. Pandey
Union Finance Secretary A.B. Pandey got a special farewell with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hosting a farewell dinner for him this week at her residence.
The dinner, attended by senior finance ministry officials, saw Sitharaman praising the secretary for his initiatives, according to sources.
Pandey, a 1984-batch Maharashtra cadre IAS officer, superannuated at the end of February after holding the post of revenue secretary for more than two years and officiating as the finance secretary for nearly a year.
Though it was rumoured that Pandey may get an extension as the budget making process remained incomplete with the budget still awaiting the Parliament’s nod, the government in an order on 27 February handed over the additional charge of the revenue department to Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj.
Prior to his stint in the finance ministry, Pandey held the post of the chief executive officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India that oversees Aadhaar. He is said to have enjoyed the confidence of the Prime Minister’s Office during his stint.
British envoy’s fond memories of 1986 Kashmir visit
The United Kingdom’s new High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis’ absence from the group of foreign envoys that visited Kashmir last month raised many eyebrows.
It was seen as London’s reticence to look at the issue after the scrapping of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status under Article 370.
Ellis has fond memories of Kashmir as he shared with journalists Friday. He had visited the Valley in 1986 where he travelled the entire place on top of a bus, meeting some “generous people”, spending a “very happy month”, seeing some “dangerous curves” and ended up writing a small travelogue. He was visiting India at that time as he came on a teaching assignment to Madhya Pradesh.
The British envoy did recognise, however, that Kashmir has become a political issue now, which is even been discussed in the UK at the Westminster Hall and he admitted that he is “keen” to visit the place even as he said he was busy visiting other places in India while being out of quarantine post his arrival here.
In January, the British Parliament held a discussion on Kashmir wherein the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Nigel Adams said that Kashmir is a bilateral matter while also expressing concerns over the human rights issues there.