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Cabinet reshuffle: Prime minister tweaks portfolios but sacks no minister

first_imgPrime Minister Manmohan Singh’s first Cabinet reshuffle was expected to address governance and image deficit in the wake of a string of scams and political crises. But the consensus in the political circles as President Pratibha Patil was swearing in new ministers was that the PM’s endeavour was mostly an exercise in futility.PM Manmohan Singh announces a new teamIncompetent ministers were shifted, not sacked; he failed to infuse young blood into the council of ministers; and there was no attempt to bridge the governance and image deficit.The much-anticipated rejig failed to send out a strong message against corruption to the people or to the political class.Ministers who presided over the Commonwealth Games (CWG) scams and management mess – urban development minister Jaipal Reddy and sports minister M. S. Gill – were not dropped but let off with only a change in their portfolios.Reddy’s transfer was, in fact, seen as a promotion because he was given charge of a more important portfolio – petroleum in place of urban development that went to Kamal Nath. All the more shocking was the transfer of Vilasrao Deshmukh, who figures in the Adarsh Society flat allotment scandal, to the crucial rural development and Panchayati Raj ministry.Deshmukh’s appointment to this ministry is questionable considering that in December 2010, the Supreme Court had imposed a fine of `10 lakh on the Maharashtra government on a complaint that Deshmukh, as chief minister, had influenced the police against registering an FIR against his brother, who was facing charges of money-lending irregularities by farmers in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district.advertisementMoreover, this ministry is closely monitored by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Both feel it has potential to empower the “aam aadmi”. Some in the Congress feel the suave Mumbaikar is a bad choice for rural development as his heart is in Mumbai.Meanwhile, there was no attempt to address issues of non-governance, or “governance-deficit” as the PM himself has admitted several times as known non-performers – C.P. Joshi, Kamal Nath, Virbhadra Singh – were simply transferred to different departments. Contrary to expectations, there was no infusion of young blood barring a 48-yearold K.C. Venugopal from Kerala as minister of state.The Opposition was quick to point out that the cabinet reshuffle has not addressed any issue concerning the people. “The PM has failed to punish the corrupt,” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain. “He has just effected a change in rooms for his non-performing and corrupt ministers.”The PM, however, tried to rekindle hopes of a major shake-up by promising a “more expansive” exercise after the budget session of Parliament which concludes in May.This is a minor reshuffle and after budget session of Parliament, we will do a more expansive exercise,” Singh told mediapersons. Ageing and ineffective ministers such as Virbhadra Singh and B.K. Handique were retained, while Beni Prasad Verma, who can barely walk, has been inducted as minister for steel. Similarly, Sushil Kumar Shinde was allowed to continue in the power ministry though the PM was apparently considering shifting him out.Compulsions of coalition politics were evident in the hands-off approach to two important departments – agriculture and railways. The PM left the allies untouched and despite persisting food inflation which is eating into Congress’s political space, the shuffle does not show any desire to arrest the price spiral. Sharad Pawar continues to occupy agriculture, the only token change being the food and public distribution being taken away from him.Gill, sports and youth affairs minister, and best known for his weak handling of the CWG mess and arm-twisting sports bodies, also escaped the axe as he was shifted to an obscure statistics and programme implementation ministry.None of the non-performing ministers holding an infrastructure portfolio was dropped. Instead they were merely shifted to other portfolios, as if these ministries are of no consequence. Another infrastructure minister Kamal Nath, who figured in the Nira Radia tapes and was considered wanting in performance, has been shifted to urban development from road transport and highways.Minister of state V. Narayanaswamy, who is articulate neither in Hindi nor in English, analysts said, was considered by many insiders to be a bad choice for the MoS slot in the PMO.The reshuffle did not convey any message to trouble-torn Andhra Pradesh, especially when the Telangana region is on the boil and state Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy is threatening to split the party. Many party leaders from the state in private have expressed dismay over non-induction of any new face from the state.advertisementDespite sending 33 MPs, the state has only one cabinet minister in Jaipal Reddy. As against Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, which has only seven Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha, has three cabinet ministers.The re-jig does not show any strategy to bring Parliament back to normalcy. Many in the party hoped incumbent soft-spoken parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, may be replaced with someone more aggressive like Ghulam Nabi Azad to craft a strategy to take the Opposition parties on board. However, the PM opted for status quo even when the Opposition continues to remain adamant on a JPC to probe in the 2G scam threatening to cripple the Budget session.Ashwani Kumar’s appointment as parliamentary affairs minister is also circumspect. “We doubt if he can forge a compromise with the Opposition to break the deadlock over the JPC to look into the 2G scam,” a Congress leader said.last_img
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Dodgers Top D-Backs in Aussie Opener

first_imgSYDNEY — Clayton Kershaw flashed his Cy Young form, Scott Van Slyke homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the Major League Baseball season with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22 at Sydney Cricket Ground.A crowd of about 40,000 watched as MLB played its first regular-season game in Australia.Opening day was a g’day for the NL West champion Dodgers.Kershaw, who signed a seven-year, $215 million contract in January, allowed one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Van Slyke hit a two-run homer and also doubled. The first pitch was delayed because of rain for 14 minutes.The long trip Down Under took even longer for some Arizona players. A team bus had a flat tire, and the Diamondbacks said “a handful” of players decided to walk the last half-mile to the stadium instead of waiting for a replacement bus.Kershaw was impressive while making his fourth consecutive opening-day start. He struck out seven, walked one and was pulled by Manager Don Mattingly after throwing his 102nd pitch.Quite a turnaround from spring training, when the two-time NL Cy Young winner went 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA in four starts. “Sometimes you just need the adrenaline of a regular-season game, and I just kind of feel relieved to get this one under my belt,” he said. “It’s always good to get results, obviously,” he said. “This one counted.”In his previous opening-day starts, Kershaw was 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in 19 scoreless innings.“Kershaw did a good job keeping us in the middle of the diamond,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “He threw a good ballgame against us. We know they’re always going to be close.”Three relievers kept the Diamondbacks scoreless with hitless work. Chris Perez, a five-time All-Star with Cleveland before joining the Dodgers in the offseason, got the last out in the seventh.Brian Wilson pitched the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen got the save. Jansen walked a batter before getting Gerardo Parra to ground out to end the game.Dodgers manager Don Mattingly liked what he saw of his pitching ace and his supporting cast.“Clayton was really good, kind of as always … kind of doing his thing,” Mattingly said. “He’s a tough guy to take out of the game, he always wants to stay in. And I thought our bullpen was really good tonight. Chris comes in and gets a big out for us there and Wilson did a good job and Jansen in closing the door.”Van Slyke, playing because of an injury to Matt Kemp and paternity leave to Carl Crawford, nearly cleared the left-field fence in the second inning. His double set up a grounder by Andre Ethier that scored Adrian Gonzalez with the Dodgers’ first run.In his next at-bat in the fourth, Van Slyke connected off losing pitcher Wade Miley for a drive over the right-field fence — just inside the foul pole — with Gonzalez again on base to put the Dodgers up 3-0.“He’s always been an RBI guy,” Mattingly said of Van Slyke. “He’s a good defender. He’s really a pretty solid player.”Miley, who came out for a pinch hitter in the fifth, got the opening day assignment because of a left elbow injury to Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin. Miley gave up three runs and three hits, striking out eight with two walks. Both teams finished with five hits.The Diamondbacks scored in the sixth after a double by Paul Goldschmidt, who had two hits. He moved to third on Kershaw’s wild pitch and scored on Mark Trumbo’s infield out. The Diamondbacks were shut out 5-0 in an exhibition game March 21 by Team Australia when they stranded 11 runners.A series of thunderstorms but little rain around the stadium about two hours ahead of the start cut short the Dodgers’ batting practice and tarp was rolled on to the field. That caused the start of the game to be delayed and canceled the pregame ceremonies.Sydney Cricket Ground was refurbished two weeks ago to create the baseball diamond and an outfield with an 8-foot wall. It was 328 feet down the foul lines and 400 feet to straightaway center.There were plenty of Dodgers and Diamondbacks uniforms in the crowd, some worn by American visitors and others by Australians who had flown across the country to watch the opener and a March 23 second game, when another capacity crowd was expected.They feasted on baseball-style treats like nachos stuffed in batting helmets and Cracker Jack, which is not usually sold in Australia. If you could afford the cost and the calories, a 2-foot-long hot dog sold for $36.(Dennis Passa, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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Mexico Chair to be Established at UWI

first_img Mexico’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Juan José González Mijares, made the announcement at a reception to commemorate the 208th Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico, held at his residence in Cherry Gardens, St. Andrew, on Friday (September 14). A ‘Mexico Chair’ will be established at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in October 2018 as part of efforts to increase research collaboration and strengthen relations between higher-education institutions in Mexico and the university. Story Highlightscenter_img A ‘Mexico Chair’ will be established at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in October 2018 as part of efforts to increase research collaboration and strengthen relations between higher-education institutions in Mexico and the university.Mexico’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Juan José González Mijares, made the announcement at a reception to commemorate the 208th Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico, held at his residence in Cherry Gardens, St. Andrew, on Friday (September 14).The initiative was made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Mexican Foreign Ministry and UWI during the VIII Meeting of the Mexico-Jamaica Binational Commission in Mexico City on May 18, 2016.Ambassador González Mijares said that the honorary position of ‘Mexico Chair’ at UWI will enhance knowledge about Mexico within the Jamaican academic community.Lecturer and researcher at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur, Dr. Rubén Olachea, has been selected as the first Mexico Chair. He will deliver classes in the Department of History at UWI, Mona, for a period of six weeks, from October 1 to November 9, within the framework of the MOU.Meanwhile, Jamaica is expected to host the IX Meeting of the Mexico-Jamaica Binational Commission scheduled to take place in early 2019. At this meeting, the Bilateral Cooperation Programme for 2019 will be reviewed and decisions taken on the commencement of projects.Some areas of collaboration to be discussed include climate change and resilience, the teaching of Spanish and the evaluation of social policies.The reception was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., and other officials from the Ministry; members of the diplomatic corps; and senior government members.last_img read more

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