Some months ago, over a dozen ambassadors from Africa asked to meet foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai. The FS presumed that the Africans wanted to discuss Indo-African relations. Instead, he had to listen to a litany of complaints about the second-class treatment meted out to African envoys in India, compared to their counterparts from the developed world. Indians were so cavalier about their treatment of Africans that ambassadors have been known to wait in immigration queues at the airport instead of being escorted through, as is the practice. An envoy accused the MEA of practising apartheid. The discussion does not seem to have had much impact. Last week, the Prime Minister hosted a Christmas party to which ambassadors from western countries were invited, but the representatives from the African countries were not called.
Cricketer Irfan Pathan's presence on the same dais as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the recent election created a stir and was criticised by Modi baiters. Pathan's friends claimed that the cricketer had not bargained that his meeting would be projected as if he was backing Modi. Pathan had wanted to sort out some property matter in Vadodara and had telephoned the chief minister for help. Modi suggested he visit him on the campaign trail. But instead of talking to him in private, Modi led the astonished cricketer to the centre of the stage. But others point out that Pathan's father and Modi seem to have a cosy understanding.
Not so honourable
Since its institution in 1881, the venerable
St Stephen's College has not had a tradition of handing out awards to distinguished alumni. But this month, out of the blue, the college alumni foundation trust announced a list of 58 names who had been chosen for the CF Andrews Distinguished Alumnus Award. The method of selection raised the hackles of many former students since there was no criteria and no transparency in the procedure. Some allege that the awardees were basically chosen for their clout, as evinced by the fact that 25 Central government secretaries and a number of politicians, figure on the list of awardees. Ironically, former Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar is not on the list, presumably because he is no longer in office. Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, Dinesh Singh, was added hastily to the list as an afterthought. Among the many distinguished Stephanians who have been omitted are Khushwant Singh, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha, Rajmohan Gandhi, Ajit Bajaj and Shekhar Kapur