A thing of beauty

A thing of beauty

There is a large mural of scantily clad women posing next to a lake in the North Block office of Minister of State for Home R P N Singh. The painting was made by students of the JJ School of Art back in 1935, when the secretariat was built during the Raj. The title of the scene is taken from a John Keats poem. Over time, the canvas got covered with grime and was damaged by seepage. So for years, the actual scene was not visible. Two years ago, the canvas was restored and repainted and now hangs prominently in the minister's office. Some TV photographers feel that the bathing nymphs are not a suitable backdrop for taking shots of the minister and ensure that the mural does not figure in visuals of Singh sitting at his desk.

Protective cover

When P Chidambaram was home minister, he cut down drastically the list of those provided special protection by central forces. But his successor, Sushil Kumar Shinde, has changed the policy and is extremely liberal in clearing requests for special protection. Shinde has included in the security list a number of new names, including Manish Tewari, Mukesh Ambani, Buta Singh, Sachin Pilot and Beni Prasad Verma. Chidambaram had also recommended that only the NSG be used for VIP protection as the CRPF and CISF are engaged in fighting the Maoist threat. Shinde has reversed this order too.

Power couples

IFS officer Sanjay Singh, who retired as Secretary, East, is the latest in a string of high-profile bureaucrats whose spouses are also in top positions. Singh's wife Sujatha Singh is the new Foreign Secretary. Hardeep Puri, who was formerly Indian ambassador to the United Nations, is staying on in the US because his wife Lakshmi Puri has become acting head of UN Women. Sindhushree Khullar, wife of Rahul Khullar, Chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and former commerce secretary, is now a Member Secretary in the Planning Commission. The post was held earlier by Sudha Pillai, wife of former home secretary G K Pillai.

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