Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Whispers

May 13, 2015, 08:33 IST | Hemal Ashar, Dharmendra Jore, Shrikant Khuperkar, Vidya Heble

Cultural affairs minister Vinod Tawde is known in political circles for his man management skills

Cultural affairs in makeover mode
Cultural affairs minister Vinod Tawde is known in political circles for his man management skills. Within six months after taking charge of the cultural affairs department, he managed to pull off a feat that was unheard of before — he managed to successfully market the Maharashtra state government’s official Film Awards, otherwise a down-market event, to a private channel. It saved the government’s money and the event too was conducted in an efficient and professional manner in Pune.

Earlier, he had refused to intervene when the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan organisers requested him for help in getting a free slot on television channels. He told them to create a market for the event which could attract sponsorships, rather than asking for free slots.

Recently, he said he was unwilling to part with a government grant of R 25 lakh for litterateurs to fly abroad for an annual international Marathi meet. He said the people should spend their own money or find other ways of commercial sponsorship.

The latest result of Tawde’s organising skills was a well-conducted function to honour the state’s Jnanpith awardees, of which Dr Bhalchandra Nemade received this ‘Indian Nobel for Literature’ last month. The function at the Gateway of India evoked accolades for Team Tawde, but the remarkable thing was that the minister managed to preclude anyone having to make long public speeches and interrupting the flow of the event. The event showed Nemade’s pre-recorded speech, perhaps the first-ever for the ‘moody’ author.

No meter, no matter
WHEN you alight from the train at Kalwa (East), just one station after big, bustling Thane on the Central Railway, there is no dearth of autorickshaws. But it’s not exactly good news, because these rickshaws are not legal.

AUTO INCORRECT: Passengers see red over the black-and-blue rickshaws.
AUTO INCORRECT: Passengers see red over the black-and-blue rickshaws. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

They have neither permits nor, in some cases, licensed drivers. The authorities don’t do any checking, say disgruntled passengers, as a result of which they are at the mercy of the autowallahs. And we know how extortionate they can get. A proper bus service to the station would give commuters a viable alternative, and of course regularised autorickshaws would ensure safe travel at the proper meter rate.

For better and for nurse
There are days and there are days and some are marketed so well, like Valentine’s Day for instance, where political outfits opposed to all this Western-Shestern culture actually gave the day greater visibility and a boost. By threatening lovers all over that they would snatch their cuddly teddy bears, puncture the balloons they carried, break off the roses and leave them with the thorns (ensure that they fall on the horns of life, and bleed) the anti-V-day movement simply put the day into headlines all over. Some other days have not been so lucky.

PATTERN: JJ Hospital nurses organise a rally in Mumbai on occasion of World Nursing Day yesterday. PIC/PTI
PATTERN: JJ Hospital nurses organise a rally in Mumbai on occasion of World Nursing Day yesterday. Pic/PTI

There has been no movement political inanity or otherwise that would catapult them into immediate recall. So, it was with a whimper that Mumbai marked World Nursing Day yesterday. A day dedicated to the white-clad Florence Nightingales of the world, who periodically find themselves in the news, either for controversies about their uniform or being evacuated from some war-torn countries. They need applause too, though. Let us snap a salute to them.

Aspiring high
Aspirations don’t die easily, especially for hardcore politicians. Such leaders do not shy away from speaking their minds, albeit indirectly at public functions. They are more vocal when one interacts with them in private.  Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late BJP stalwart Gopinath Munde, who is rural development minister in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet, did just that last week in Pune when she told a gathering that for her supporters, she was the CM.

Pankaja Munde

In fact, she had been in the race for the post in view of her father’s untimely death last year. She said her father would have made the CM’s office had he been alive, and went on to add that she did not know if she would make the cut anytime soon. However, she said that she felt blessed when her supporters thought of her as their CM. A fiery leader herself, Pankaja’s Assembly poll campaign rallies last winter saw her supporters making a similar demand. At times, the supporters’ show of strength would embarrass her, especially in the presence of other chief ministerial contenders who would be there at her invitation.

Lights out in Kalyan

Kalyan residents suffered a powerless night on Monday, as large parts of the city were without electricity. Power was restored only on Tuesday morning. We’re not sure why it happened but we can just imagine the trauma of trying to sleep without a fan, in this weather.

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