The big, oft-forgotten thing that separates the Warriors and Blazers

first_imgOAKLAND — There’s something missing from the national conversations and narratives surrounding the NBA playoffs, and, frankly, it blows my mind.After all, it’s present on every single possession.Folks, we need to start talking about defense.As much as the postseason is a moment for shot creators and shot takers, a basket prevented is as good as a basket made. And while defense isn’t sexy, and most people don’t fully understand its nuances, it’s what separates good teams from …last_img read more

Vaccines for a healthier Africa

first_imgMass immunisation campaigns in Kenyahave helped to halve measles deaths insub-Saharan Africa since 1999.(Image: Unicef)Janine ErasmusThe Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) at the University of Cape Town has launched Vaccines for Africa, an immunisation advocacy programme. The programme’s mission is to work towards a continent free of vaccine-preventable bacterial and viral diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis, pneumonia, and diarrhoeal disease caused by the rotavirus.The initiative is the brainchild of Professor Gregory Hussey, director of the IIDMM as well as the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (Satvi). Renowned paediatric infectious diseases specialist Hussey also serves on the World Health Organisation’s global advisory committee on vaccine safety.Hussey is firmly of the opinion that immunisation, with both new and established vaccines, is the key to beating highly communicable and deadly diseases in Africa. He maintains that Vaccines for Africa’s (Vacfa) vision will be more efficiently realised through a co-ordinated effort across the continent, with a focus on greater access to information.“Africa lags behind other continents in the uptake of life-saving vaccines,” writes Hussey on the Satvi website, “even though vaccine-preventable diseases are causing avoidable deaths in Africa.”Vacfa also works to advance the United Nations’ fourth Millennium Development Goal, which stipulates a two-thirds reduction of mortality in children under five by 2015.Driving forceWith the support of a number of individual and corporate partners, the Vacfa website went live at the end of March 2009. It aims to be a driving force behind vaccination awareness, fostering a lively exchange of current, accurate, and empirical information applicable to Africa.The site provides comprehensive information for health professionals, researchers, policymakers, parents and the public at large regarding immunisation practice and vaccine development.Health practitioners can furnish themselves with the latest developments regarding vaccine-preventable diseases and their corresponding vaccines. Parents can read about common childhood diseases, their causes and symptoms, treatment, and prevention by immunisation.The site also provides links to relevant organisations and vaccine initiatives, pharmaceutical companies, and published scientific papers. Finally, there is a discussion forum for the sharing of ideas.Good information practiceThe Vacfa website is currently under evaluation for good information practice by the World Health Organisation, which demands compliance in four categories, namely credibility, content, accessibility and design. Websites that meet the standard are admitted to the Vaccine Safety Net, a network of sites providing information on vaccine safety.According to the world health body, inaccurate and unbalanced information can lead to unwarranted fear among the public, and the unnecessary proliferation of rumours. This is especially dangerous in the health sector, as lives may be at stake.Preventing child deathsVacfa’s site is initially focusing on the rotavirus, which causes serious diarrhoea and dehydration in children around the world and is responsible for the deaths of over 500 African children every day. It is so widespread that every child on earth will have contracted a rotavirus infection before the age of five, says the World Health Organisation.The virus is transmitted mainly through close contact, but can also spread through contaminated water or food sources and possibly via the air, as it has been found in the respiratory tracts of infected children. Outbreaks in facilities harbouring vulnerable patients, such as daycare centres and nursing homes, are common.The good news is that rotavirus is almost completely preventable with the orally-administered vaccine, which is estimated to be up to 98% effective against severe rotavirus disease.According to Hussey, the choice of rotavirus was based on the fact that many African countries now include the rotavirus vaccine and others such as hepatitis B in their national expanded programme on immunisation. This is a schedule set out by the World Health Organisation for vaccination against common infectious diseases such as measles, polio, whooping cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis.The United Nations Children’s Fund reports that the programme has been a resounding success. At least 20-million lives have been saved in the past 20 years, and nearly 80% of the world’s children now receive the life-saving vaccines. However, there are still 27-million children who do not have access to routine vaccination.Expert advisersAn advisory board of immunisation and vaccine experts from across Africa will share their combined expertise and knowledge on the Vacfa site, and will also guide its development and expansion.The board is made up of 12 members from nine sub-Saharan countries. All are experts in their respective vaccine-related fields and are drawn from the academic and research community as well as medical practice. Three hail from South Africa, two from Uganda, and one each from Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Malawi, Ethiopia, Gambia, Senegal, and Ghana.Together they represent the interests of millions of Africans, especially children, who still succumb every year to diseases that are easily preventable.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesTB vaccine in SA clinical trial“The end of meningitis in Africa”Booster for child health in SAUseful linksVaccines for AfricaSouth African Vaccine Tuberculosis Vaccine InitiativeInstitute of Infectious Disease and Molecular MedicineWorld Health Organisation – vaccinesDepartment of HealthRotavirus vaccine programmelast_img read more

Snowshoe Geocaching – A Geocaching.com Video

first_img SharePrint RelatedGeocaching.com Presents: FavoritesOctober 20, 2011In “Learn”Geocaching.com Weekly Newsletter – International Geocaching DayJuly 25, 2012In “Groundspeak’s Weekly Newsletter”Geocaching.com Presents: “The Rock”November 3, 2011In “Community” White fields of deep, powdery snow can’t stop geocachers from embarking on a high-tech treasure hunt. They simply adapt. Watch this Geocaching.com video to follow along as geocacher Greg McCaddon, Totemlake, leads a group of eight on a snowshoe geocaching adventure in the postcard-perfect mountains of Washington State.Snowshoe geocachingGeocachers say snowshoe caching is like preparing for any winter sport. It’s recommended you dress in layers, bring water, food, survival gear and (of course) your GPS receiver loaded with nearby caches.Totemlake hosts a Hike of the Month for local geocachers. Watch the video to see the unique token that each participant receives and what goes into the cache on each Hike of the Month.Explore more than 30 Geocaching.com videos in our gallery.  Share a video on “Basics of Hiding a Geocache,” watch a Travel Bug® move from cache to cache around the world and visit the highest and lowest geocaches in existence.Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more

Blogged Morphs Into a Social News Service

first_imgTags:#Product Reviews#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts center_img Blogged started out as a straightforward blog directory in early 2008. Today, Blogged announced a major redesign of its product that puts the service’s focus on facilitating conversations around blog posts. Blogged now presents users with a Facebook-like feed of blog posts, with the ability to comment on posts and share them on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, Blogged also rolled out support for Facebook Connect and a widget that allows bloggers to bring comments made on their posts on Blogged back to their own blogs.Blogged slowly rolled out the new commenting features – as well as a FriendFeed-inspired option to ‘like’ posts – over the last few weeks. Some posts on the site are already getting hundreds of comments (a lot of them from Blogged’s Facebook application), so users are obviously quite enthusiastic about these new features. Allowing users to share the stories they like to Facebook directly from the site will only bring more user participation to the service. Bloggers have always been somewhat nervous about ‘comment fragmentation’ when it comes to services like Blogged, but there can be no doubt that these services also bring new readers to these blogs. The new widget that Blogged introduced today should help to alleviate some of these fears, as it will allow bloggers to showcase the discussions about their posts on Blogged back to their blogs.After this redesign, Blogged definitely feels like a mix between Google News and the Facebook news feed, which is not a bad thing. The blog directory, which once formed the basis of Blogged, has now been relegated to the back pages of the site, though it still provides a valuable service in its own right. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market frederic lardinoislast_img read more

Laying down the law

first_imgEnforcing New Requirements on Your Green Job SiteOK, so you have encouraged, set expectations, inspected, maybe even pleaded and begged, but you still aren’t getting what you want. So what is there to do?It’s time for some enforcement. When you have provided direction and given complete information to your team, as professionals they are responsible for delivering the performance for which you have contracted.As part of your contract with trades, or your employment policies, you should create a method to enforce your standards. This may include holding payments for incomplete or incorrect work, reducing or eliminating bonuses to employees, or, in extreme cases, terminating contracts or firing staff. Let everyone know about these policies in advance, enforce them fairly and evenly, and you will eventually get the performance you need.Making the transformation to green building will require everyone in your operation to change their behavior and work practices. When you start to make the transformation you will find varying levels of resistance within your existing team. Watch their behavior carefully. You will see a wide range of responses to the changes you are asking for.Some team members will embrace change with enthusiasm—they are the cheerleaders who will help you see your way through. Others will show some resistance, but can be coaxed into making necessary adjustments to remain on the team and be successful.Finally, some people will put up extreme resistance, arguing with you and expending much of their effort telling you why the changes are stupid and won’t work. This kind of behavior is unacceptable, and as the owner or manager, it is your job to keep them from ruining your company morale. If you can’t change their behavior quickly, you will probably need to let the naysayers go.You will find that as you make necessary changes that allow your business to develop, certain excellent, long-term employees may not be capable of making the transition with you. During my 25 years in the construction business, we frequently outgrew some of our employees’ abilities, requiring them to move on. In some cases it was voluntary—they would resign, often letting us know that, while they appreciated and understood what we were doing, they weren’t prepared to change the way they worked to fit our needs. Sometimes they needed to be fired.Firing is rarely an enjoyable experience, but you need to always keep the long-term viability of your company in mind when making decisions about your team. This also applies to trade contractors—some old, reliable ones may need to go.The beauty of making improvements in your company is that once they are made, every new team member knows them as the standard—no arguments, no complaining—they come on board ready to roll with you.There is often a lot of emotion on a job site, and long—term personal relationships with your team can be strained by business disagreements, but it is important to keep in mind that it is just business. I am always reminded of a great line from the movie “The Fugitive,” when Harrison Ford pleads with Tommy Lee Jones, the marshal pursuing Ford. Ford says that he is innocent, to which Jones replies, “I don’t care.” To him it is just business, and his job is catching the fugitive.Without being callous, you need to take this position—it is just business, and everyone needs to do their job, and if they don’t they will suffer the consequences. As noted in the beginning of this series, green-project management is not rocket science, but it does take some extra attention to get it right. Armed with the right information, careful planning, and effective policies and procedures, your green project can run smoothly, taking your company to the next level so that it can stay ahead of the curve in this rapidly growing sector of the industry.last_img read more

Foundation Plan for a Snowy Climate

first_imgIs there really a rot problem here?Malcolm Taylor replies that the stipulated 16-inch separation between ground and untreated lumber that’s mentioned in building codes refers to the structural components, such as deck beams outside the structure, not to exterior wall framing.“What governs there,” he says, “is a separation of 8 inches from grade to the top of the concrete foundation wall. Seeing as this is the case, and almost all houses in cold climates are built with wood framing which is covered by snow during the winter, is there really enough evidence of widespread rot to make you need to deviate from the how everyone else builds?”Stephen Sheehy takes a similar line. In Maine, where Sheehy lives, last winter saw more than 6 feet of snow piled against the north wall of the house for three months. “So long as the melted snow or rain drains away from the house, the sills are going to be OK,” he says. It’s drainage, not simply the exterior walls’ distance above grade, that really matters here.”Although Kevin Zorski also believes that the 8-inch-above-grade guideline is plenty adequate even for a snowy climate, he suggests that Scaglione could incorporate some pressure-treated material into the house near the ground to ease his worries about rot. If he does go ahead with the plan he’s already outlined, Scaglione might consider using an insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation, which combines rigid foam insulation and a structural concrete core.“These should probably go below grade as we’ll, as there is nothing in your drawing preventing frost from getting under your slab,” Zorski says. “Or you could extend foam down the inside of the stem walls to protect the soil under the slab.” Our expert’s opinionHere’s what Peter Yost, GBA’s technical director, adds to the mix:Any foundation and above-grade wall combination system, and with any cladding in any climate, works for me, so long as both bulk and capillary water are well managed.If you don’t manage both well, there is no combination of assemblies and claddings that will be robust and durable.In cold climates, you do see a lot of failures in walls where there is no capillary break in the transition from the below-grade portion of the wall to the above-grade portion, and in walls where the barrier to bulk water entry is not continuous. But these failures are more about the detailing than they are about the type of assemblies and claddings.Just to be sure, I checked in with GBA architect Steve Baczek, who does a lot of high-performance designs for cold climates. Here is what Steve had to say:“This is a water management problem. More specifically, a bulk water management problem. Snow against a wall doesn’t really bother me; what bothers me is what happens when the snow or ice melts. Where does the water go?“First, there is the question of the proximity of wood to the water. Code requires a distance of 8 inches between grade and a wood sill. Start with that. In addition, you should provide a relatively steeply sloped grade away from the foundation to make sure water doesn’t pool around the house. As snow melts, it will typically stay below the 8-inch mark. Nathan could increase that distance to 10, 12 or even 18 inches, but I don’t think that’s necessary.“The problem with Nathan’s wall as drawn is that’s it’s a single-wythe barrier. Because of that, I question how one manages any water or moisture in that system. On a rainy afternoon in late fall, for example, that block wall could get saturated with water, and then become susceptible to freezing through the night. Eventually, repeated freeze-thaw cycling will take its toll.“I think it’s important to build in a protective layer. If Nathan sticks with a lower wall made of block, he might build it with two layers of masonry and leave a gap between the two. This is similar to the suggestion from James Morgan. Alternately, Nathan could lower the wood-framed wall so it starts just one course of block above grade, but add a ventilated rain screen to create a capillary break. That’s better, but it still leaves a course of block at the base of the wall not as well protected as I’d like. Let’s not forget block is not as robust as a poured concrete foundation would be.“There’s one more potential detail he could consider — one I have used on a house in snow country: a layer of corrugated steel protects the bottom of the wall, with a layer of rigid foam insulation between the steel and the wood framing behind it. (See Images #2 through #4, below.)“In summary, keeping wood framing above the soil will certainly help, but true success lies in proper management of the water that the wall is bound to see.” Nathan Scaglione’s central New York State building site gets plenty of snow and cold weather during the winter, and that’s proving to be a sticking point in his plans for a new house.He’d prefer a slab-on-grade foundation rather than a basement, even though a full basement would be a more typical choice in this part of the country. The foundation would consist of concrete-block stem walls extending to a footing below frost line. Exterior walls would be framed on top of the block walls, roughly 24 inches above grade. Inside the block walls, Scaglione will pour a concrete slab floor. As he explains in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor, Scaglione has seen this detail in garage construction, not necessarily for a house.“I would like to build on a slab with radiant floor heat,” he writes. “But I really can’t get behind the idea of melting snow sitting up against the stick frame and gradually rotting the walls. For everything except a [frost-protected shallow foundation], code says 16 inches above grade. Ideally I’d like to have the stem walls be 2 feet above grade. With a platform framed house, now we’re talking about the floor being close to 3 feet off the ground. From a design standpoint, I really don’t like being way up off the ground. I’d rather one step down and I’m walking on the grass.”The drawing Scaglione has provided (above right) includes the basics. The slab would be about 6 inches above grade, and doors would be “about one step off the ground.”Are there structural problems here that Scaglione is missing? Does this type of foundation have a track record? Those are the questions for the his Q&A Spotlight. Another option: Masonry veneer and a waterproof membraneTo James Morgan, it’s getting a little complicated. A simpler approach, he says, would be to frame the exterior walls from the slab. To guard against water damage, Morgan would apply a peel-and-stick waterproof membrane to the first 2 feet or so of sheathing, and protect all of it with a masonry veneer wall. (See the drawing at left for a sample of this construction detail).“Backfill against the masonry to your heart’s content,” Morgan says. “Protect exterior door sills with at least 4 feet of gable porch overhang. Exterior walls are insulated right down to the slab and you will have no jamb issues with inward opening doors.”Morgan says that finish grade can even be higher than the finish floor when necessary. “We’ve used variations of this kind of detail reliably for many years when at-grade entries are either preferred or required, e.g., for wheelchair accessibility,” Morgan adds. He concedes that his experience has been entirely in Climate Zone 4A, bordering a county with an even milder Climate Zone 3A, but there’s no doubt it’s been successful.Sullivan would be “paranoid” about the peel-and-stick membrane becoming a “wrong-side vapor barrier” and potentially allowing wood wall components to get wet by condensation.Another possible problem, Holladay adds, is that the brick veneer will draw soil moisture upward via capillary action. “This shouldn’t be a problem if the mason remembers to install through-wall flashing a few inches above grade, along with an adequate number of weep holes to allow drainage and to provide ventilation inlets,” Holladay adds. “Your sketch fails to show the flashing and weep holes, but these details are essential. They are also tricky, because the mason may not know how the excavation contractor plans to backfill and grade the site.”Says Morgan, “I did not go into into the complementary details which I assumed would be taken for granted in this forum: proper roof water management strategies, good overhangs, proper surface grading, etc. But bottom line: I see a clear advantage in a clean and consistent wall insulation and service run condition all the way to the interior floor level. (Maybe I missed it but nobody seems to have mentioned the problems that the electrician and the plumber would face in the originally proposed configuration).“Stepping out to grade seems to be Nathan’s core performance requirement,” Morgan continues. “I stand by a construction strategy which with appropriate local detailing offers a way to achieve both objectives without making a dog’s breakfast of the exterior wall construction.” CONSTRUCTION DETAILS Foundation/Floor Connections A full basement would be a better choiceGBA senior editor Martin Holladay sees no structural problems with Scaglione’s plan, and he agrees with Scaglione’s concerns about water damage to the lower parts of exterior walls when they’re only 8 inches or so above grade. Increasing the separation between soil and wood can’t hurt.Still, Holladay would proceed differently: “I would go for a full basement (with poured concrete walls, not CMUs), and my first floor would be framed with joists rather than using a slab,” he says.Scaglione can’t disagree with the functional advantages of a full basement built with concrete, rather than block, walls, but there’s a labor issue here as well. Scaglione is working by himself, and he doesn’t have access to concrete forms.With than in mind, Charlie Sullivan suggests ICFs for the foundation walls, “one of the easier solo building approaches if you don’t mind calling a concrete company to come fill them.” Scaglione could even do the entire first floor with ICFs, Sullivan adds.Scaglione has considered, and rejected, ICFs after seeing a fellow owner/builder bracing his ICF walls before the concrete was poured with metal forms he had to rent. Second, Scaglione wasn’t embracing the idea of having the expanded polystyrene foam of an ICF exposed on outside walls.An alternative suggested by James Morgan would protect the base of the framed wall with a peel-and-stick waterproof membrane (in red) and a masonry veneer outer layer. It’s a detail Morgan has used successfully for many years. All About Wall RotZen and the Art of GradingFlashing Brick VeneerGreen Basics: Foundation TypesHow to Insulate a Basement WallFoam Under Footings Wall rot actually is a common problemScaglione isn’t convinced that an 8-inch gap between ground level and the bottom of a wood-framed wall is enough. “I have seen sill plates rotting and water damage all over the place where I live,” he says. “I would say it is a widespread problem on houses that are less than 1 foot above grade. I think you’re right that the code doesn’t say 16 inches. The old houses that are in good shape around here all have at least an 18-inch-stem wall.”He first read about extending the height of stem walls in a book by Ben Falk, who said one of the most common problems in houses built in cold, humid climates was the interface of the foundation and the frame.Before buying his lot, Scaglione saw several houses that were rotting in this area. One house he remembers in particular was a timber frame built in the 1970s, with one corner about 8 inches above grade.“The [pressure-treated] sill was hanging in there, but they also put down a timber sill that was completed rotted away to the point that the house was sagging and there were gaps around the windows,” he says, “I want my house to last longer than 40 years.”Although replies posted to his original question suggest there are ways to detail a wall so melting snow drains harmlessly away, Scaglione still wonders whether adding two courses of 8-inch block and getting the walls that much farther away from the ground is, in the end, a simpler and more foolproof approach.“Just about every well built old house in this area has at least 16 inches of clearance above grade, and I don’t think those guys were stacking rubble for fun,” he says. RELATED ARTICLES last_img read more

How Owning Outcomes Creates Greater Value

first_imgIt’s impossible to be a Level 4 Value Creator without owning the outcomes that you sell. Your clients expect you to be accountable for results, just like any member of their management team. Here’s how to own outcomes.Ensure Execution: The invoice you sent your client may note the product, service, or solution that you sold them, but that isn’t what they bought. They bought the outcomes your product, service, or solution was designed to provide them. You can no longer drop your solution off at the door and move on. Owning outcomes means that you help your client execute. It means you ensure that they get the outcomes they bought, even if you have to plead, prod, or push to get your initiative over the line. You own it, and making it works is value creation.Lead Your Team: Most of the people that execute what you sell don’t report to you. You don’t have any real, formal authority. But that doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to lead your team. You have to ensure that your team executes for your client. This means you may have to ask them to do work in a different way. It may also mean you have to push for what you need. But that is only half of this equation. You also have to go and fight for what your team needs when your client isn’t helping your team to help them. There is nothing easy about this, and it is often complicated and political. But your ability to lead and deliver separates you from the pack as a value creator.Verify and Adjust: You need to hold regular meetings with your clients to ensure that what you do is still working. You need to verify that they are still getting the necessary results. Before serious dissatisfaction can creep in, you need to make adjustments to what you are doing. When something changes in your client’s world, you are either there to make the changes and help them or your competitor surely will be.Accountable to the Organization: Being accountable for the results you sell is one thing, but it is another thing to be accountable to your client and their organization. What you sell them may work for them, but being accountable to your client and their company as a trusted advisor, Level 4 Value Creator requires that you also be accountable for future results. You can’t rest on your laurels. You have to go back and visit proactive, then execute, and then proactively come up with what’s next. The more you believe and behave as if it your job to help your client succeed, the greater value you create, and the more valuable you become.QuestionsWho is responsible for ensuring your client can execute what you sell and achieve the outcomes you sold?How do you lead your team when you have no formal authority? How do you lead your client’s team?How often do you verify that what you are doing works? How often do you make adjustments?What is your responsibility to your clients, their organization, and their future results?last_img read more

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