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New Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has been discovering that just like him, many of his counterparts from other countries also have Oxford connection. Certainly, the first few foreign dignitaries whom he has entertained since taking office. Last week he met Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris, who studied at Oxford. Same for British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is currently on a visit to India. Some time back Khurshid had met Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, whose husband Tawfik Nawaz — also a reputed lawyer like him — is a friend of his from their Oxford days.
P C Chacko was kicked when he was chosen to head the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the pricing and allocation of 2G spectrum. Naturally, it underlined the level of trust the Congress leadership had in his sense of loyalty, competence and political skills. But now Chacko realises that at the end of the day, he has been a loser. Because of his job as the JPC chief, he has been overlooked for a ministerial berth. Chacko could only smile ruefully when opposition members of the JPC reminded him that he had been a sufferer in the process.
More curbs on expenses
That the government is facing a financial crisis is known, but the latest set of directives has left many wondering how bad the situation really is. A circular sent this week to all departments by the Finance Ministry says that the planned 10 per cent budgetary cuts are not enough and that departments need to identify areas in which they can cut costs further and save money. Also mentioned are some expenses that are strictly frowned upon and should be avoided at all costs. This includes the procurement of new laptops as well avoidable foreign and domestic travel by government officials. Miscellaneous expenses like printing, advertisements and office expenses are also to be curbed. However, in what may be a silver lining to some, the letter also says that transfer of officials should be strictly curtailed, given the expenses that the government incurs on such moves.