VVPAT: Paperless paper trail
Nasim Zaidi personally and the Election Commission collectively heaved a sigh of relief that political parties made “no overwhelming’’ demand for a return to ballot papers. Despite the sound and fury before the all-party meeting on Friday, not even the Aam Aadmi Party wanted it. Only the BSP was a prominent exception. In the old days, poll officials used to spend months ferrying ballot paper bundles on wobbly Pawan Hans flights to elections in the Northeast.
Such harrowing tales had come back into circulation at Nirvachan Sadan in the past few weeks. So finally when the paper-trial EVM, or VVPAT, was endorsed, it naturally evoked a sense of relief. VVPAT is as paperless as the existing machine. At the end of voting, the voter won’t get slips of the ATM kind. His vote will be displayed on the machine and the slip deposited internally. As for the ink, it’s expected to last for five years, long enough for our long-winded legal processes should there be a dispute over an election result.
No bypassing NEET
People are in for disappointment if they think that the opprobrium over crude anti-cheating checks will force the Centre to roll back NEET. Health minister J P Nadda was quite categorical: “NEET is here to stay.’’ Nadda, however, has been asked by his party top brass to ease the problems faced by the state board students, particularly from the South. Nadda was surprisingly candid while taking questions at the IWPC session. About his ministry’s differences with NITI Aayog, Nadda quipped that he does not go by the think tank’s prescriptions but by PM’s policy. directions. The Q&A apart, Nadda stayed back to have tea and palak pakoras.
Ever since Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted -- in Edwardian English -- his counter to Republic TV’s allegations on the Sunanda Pushkar murder mystery, social media has been rolling in the aisles with the sort of laughter that Wodehouse evokes. People on all sides of the political divide scurried for their Oxford dictionary! The latest spinoff is a spoof video that suggests Tharoor is launching a rival channel called Farrago TV to take on “increasingly verbose journalism”.
An Indira double
Two new books on Indira Gandhi were out this week, even as the G family battled an adverse turn in the National Herald case. Of the two, the one edited by Anand Sharma focused on Indira’s public persona and her legacy, delving into archival material and rare photographs; the other, written by Jairam Ramesh, trained its focus on Indira as an early environmentalist. Though both India’s Indira: A Centennial Tribute and Indira: A Life in Nature are attempts at rescuing her memory from the negativity of the Emergency, they were received differently. If Jairam had a quiet launch on Amazon, there was a high-profile lineup for the other book.
The author is Political Editor, TNIE. Email: santwana@ newindianexpress.com