MINISTERS AND MASSES OF LITERATI INTERMINGLE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
ZEE NEWS made a good show of an interaction between many ministers of the Modi government and invited audience if literati, glitterati and battle hardened Veterans. The occasion was the beginning of celebrations of successful completion of One Year in office of the Modi Sarkar. The Zee News brigade under patronage of its founder-chairman, Subhash Chandra, a Media Baron in his own right carried out an intellectual DNA examination of the success or near-success of the Narendra Modi government in the last one year in office. Sudhir Chaudhary was calling the shots as the compere of the grand show. He was respectful to guest-ministers and yet was unsparing when and where an incision was needed.
The four-hour long show was exciting with rarely an odd dull moment here and there. The opening batsman of the Cabinet team was Prakash Javdekar, the ever smiling Minister for Environment and Forests. He did a fine job of enlightening the select audience and backed his answers with relevant statistics. Indeed the number of guests up on their feet for asking questions was rather large as the session had just begun. When Sudhir Chaudhari asked him to assess himself how he and his zing-bang had fared at the work place, he gave himself 5/5 and rushed out to catch a flight for an outstation assignment. The Zee News CEO presented him a photograph of himself in action that he accepted with thanks.
Many ministers graced the podium and gave a brilliant performance. However, if I were asked to select a few and describe their interaction with the audience impartially, I would select a few and leave out the rest for paucity of time and space. Not going chronologically and figuring out those who gave a brilliant account of themselves and their Ministries, I shall choose Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister for Human Resource Development, Manohar Parrikar, Raksha Mantri, Dr Mahesh Sharma, holding important portfolios of Tourism, Culture, Civil Aviation; Kiran Rijiju, a junior minister in Ministry of Home Affairs, not forgetting Piyush Goel holding the charge of Coal and Power. All of them knew their subjects well and backed their statements with reliable statistics. Generally Speaking, Statistics cause boredom that induces sleep but in all fairness to the aforementioned gentlemen and the sole lady, it must be recorded in all fairness that no one among the distinguished listeners yawned, leave aside snoring. Kiran Rijiju deserves a pat on the back for his plain speaking on problem of attack on churches and cry against the Modi government being a creation of partial people who do not judge situation on the ground as per hard facts.
Smriti Irani, the much criticized Cabinet Minister was just fascinating. She not only handled the incisive questions of Sudhir but also batted googly of some leg pullers from the audience. Her answers were convincing and to support her statements she rattled out reliable and relevant facts and figures which she had on her fingertips. Allow me to add one more feather to her much feathered cap by mentioning how successfully she brought our mother of Indo-European languages, SANSKRIT, back in the syllabus of the Kendriya Vidyalayas – an act of Patriotism indeed. Sanskrit had been given step-motherly treatment by a minister of the UPA government and was replaced by a foreign language of European origin. Smriti righted the wrong done to the culture and ethos of our Motherland. Bouquets to her indeed !
Manohar Parrikar, Raksha Mantri, had been brought specially by Pradhan Mantri Narendrabhai Modi to handle Defence of the Nation and he has been doing it well. Manohar Parrikar has put the purchase of defence weapon system and equipment back on rail without a finger of accusation or making a corruption charge against the procurement procedure. When asked to assess his performance in the South Block where the Raksha Mantralaya is located, Manohar Parrikar chose the card giving his performance 4 out of 5 points only. Sudhir termed it as an honest assessment; not forgetting to mention the half sleeve shirt and well ventilated sandals, Goa style. The distinguished audience loved the simplicity, frankness and openness of Manohar Parrikar, Raksha Mantri when he assured the Nation that he would do every bit possible to make all efforts for safety and security of our motherland.
Dr Mahesh Sharma is a physician by profession but has acquitted himself very well as the Culture Minister looking after Civil Aviation too. No wonder he is all the time on the move. Being a Pracharak of Bhartiyata, he ensures that all tourists, both foreign and Indian, are briefed well about our heritage. He has introduced a welcome card to be given to tourists on arrival which, inter alia, mentions the security points like taking a photograph of number plate of taxis they travel in and forwarding it to a friend and to the next destination. This action makes the journey foolproof from security angle.
Dr Mahesh Sharma admitted that the dual points of Swachchata and Suraksha have been on his radar since he assumed charge of the aforesaid ministries. He was frank enough to say that it would take time to achieve Perfection but a beginning is made. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
Piyush Goel derived satisfaction from the fact that no scam has happened in Coal and Power since the Modi government came to power. He promised that every home will have electricity twenty four hours a day by 2022 – seven years hence. It is commendable indeed. Of course, an odd doubting Thomas took that assurance with a pinch of salt.
I shall be failing in my duty as a free lancer if I do not make a mention the contribution made by members of the distinguished assembly to the grand success of the Zee News show ably hosted by the able members of the team of Subhash Chandra, Chairman of the great outfit. Whenever the stage was thrown open to the select audience to shoot questions, a large number of hands were up in the air. Some got a chance, others resumed their seats disappointed. Of course, the known TV faces like Raju Shrivastava had a cutting edge over others. He did come out with jokes that brought out peals of laughter from all and sundry even if they were about the chained mug in train toilets that made ablution well nigh impossible. Of course, Prabhu, Railway Minister had left by then so Raju wished this point to be inserted at an appropriate place of the recorded programme during editing. Raju Shrivastava is good at mimicking politicians, especially Lalu Yadav and that gave goose pimples to the laughing lot.
The Defence Officers were present in full force and quite a few of them like Lt Gen BS Malik, Col Kaul and Maj Gen Bakshi put questions concerning welfare of all ranks. One of them thought that the Media and Ministers were hand in glove with each other ignoring Defence points of relevance. The general view of the audience was that the Ministers were handling questions competently and the Media, read Zee News, was not hitting anyone below the belt. Well, in a democratic country like Bharat, every citizen is free to hold an opinion and exercise the right of Freedom of Speech.
Be that as it may, I, as a member of the select audience enjoyed every moment that I spent in the Convention Hall of the Hotel Ashok, New Delhi. If Sudhir, the compere, were to ask me how many points do I award to the Zee news show of Interaction between the Modi Government Ministers and the invitees, I shall have no hesitation in saying “ I award TEN OUT OF TEN.”
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