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With Mukherjee away...
To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in 2012, Pranab Mukherjee, as head of National Implementation Committee, had decided to set up Tagore centres in different parts of the world to promote Indian art and culture. The budget for the proposal was cleared by Mukherjee as finance minister and also by the Planning Commission. One of the centres was to be opened in Melbourne and an announcement was made to this effect. However, when our High Commission in Canberra sent repeated reminders to the Ministry of Culture to release funds for the project, it got no response. The ministry claims that the money earmarked for the Tagore centre has been spent on other heads. It appears that now that Mukherjee is no longer finance minister there has been a change of thinking in the government.
Niira Radia figures not just in the world of politics, business and news but also in the art world. One of the exhibits on display at Delhi's National Gallery of Modern Art, which has been shortlisted for the Rs 1 million Skoda prize, revolves around the Radia tapes. A Mumbai-based collective, CAMP, has conceived of an installation where the recording of conversations between the lobbyist and journalists and politicians can be accessed via a telephone number. Act II of the installation has the transcripts of the tapes on the wall. The installation was also part of the US-based New Museum's Triennial show, The Ungovernables.
Narendra Modi's name as BJP's prime ministerial candidate has been mooted by Yashwant Sinha, Maneka Gandhi, Shatrughan Sinha and Ram Jethmalani. Strangely, none of the politicians is considered particularly close to the Gujarat leader. All are on the margins in the party's present power structure and hope to become more relevant by backing Modi, who is seen as the BJP's rising star. Similarly, Ashok Singhal, head of the VHP who has endorsed Modi's candidature, has never had a particularly warm relationship with Modi. In fact, the Gujarat VHP, particularly Pravin Togadia, has been downright hostile to the chief minister. Modi wants to distance himself from the VHP since he seeks to project the platform of development rather than the mandir issue which Singhal has raised once again.