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After Opting To Retire To Be With CM, Bandyopadhyay Writes To Centre

West Bengal’s ex-Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who has been served notice under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 for refusing to comply with its lawful direction, is being made a scapegoat amid political fight between PM Narendra Modi-HM Amit Shah combine and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, political observers feel. The babus in the corridors of power claim Bandyopadhyay has an upper hand in arguing his case and let the political bosses continue to settle scores against each other. Bandyopadhyay, who opted to retire and be appointed as West Bengal CM’s chief advisor for three years — instead of reporting to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), has dashed off a letter to the Centre in which he makes his case, adding he has all the respect for the PM.  The undersigned was privy to the letter which says: “The CM to whom I reported directly was also doing disaster management and she wanted me there. I followed protocol by going there. CM had taken permission, so I thought it applies to me. I left. If I was wanted there I would have certainly waited. I had nothing against the PM or cyclone review meeting. Both were important but CM wanted me to accompany her. After I got the recall notice, I consulted the CM and my understanding was I cannot go unless CM asked me to go. She flatly refused.  With such a situation I was in a quandary. I had all the intention to come and report to DoPT. In any case I decided not to continue as CS, so I had no hesitation in coming but I was stopped. If I had decided to report to DoPT against the CM’s wish, she could have ordered a department inquiry against me and not allowed me to retire or suspended me for subordination. So, I decided to go with the CM’s express order.’’ The ball is now in the Centre’s court for further action.


AIADMK Startled As Sasikala Sets The Cat Among The Pigeons

Last night’s YouTube news channels were on overdrive with news of the Return of the Pink Panther…er, Small Mummy as a popular Tamil weekly gave her this moniker. VK Sasikala, confidante of the late J Jayalalithaa, is supposed to have dialled a few loyalists and reassured them that her return to active politics is imminent. The effort to find if the caller was truly Chinnamma’s voice is now viral. She seems to have set the cat among the already rustled pigeons, even as an uneasy peace reigns among the warring AIADMK factions, with an EPS and OPS face off, after the election results. But OPS is seen frequently in the DMK confabulations on Covid, even being seated next to the health minister. Sleeping with the enemy? Running with the Hare and hunting with the Hounds? Sasikala finds this the ideal entry point after her mega welcome scheme coming out from jail, fell flat. In fact, the widespread view is that she was more newsworthy behind bars! …Sasikala goes to the mall in Bengaluru with a snazzy handbag, has a suite of rooms at the Parpana Agraharam Jail, superintendent Ms Rupa complains to the State government….. She was more Memed trolled, fake newsd, YouTubed than any other inmate. So, her home coming was built up to unbelievable heights. ..700 cars, roads lined with AIADMK loyalists, 7 Hours to travel from Hosur to Chennai! AIADMK deputy co-ordination, KP Munusamy said acerbically, “In this pandemic time, vested interests are trying to create chaos.” Chinnamma is definitely up to some sinister plans ….Will the AIADMK withstand her onslaught and serious comeback plans?

Indian Immunologicals Joins Bharat Biotech’s Vaccine Efforts

While Covid-19 gathers momentum and lockdowns stretch across the country, the vaccines are depleting as the production has not kept up pace with the demand. According to a source, the Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) is working on a vaccine. Animal trials are underway and the new vaccine is expected to be ready for human use by next year. IIL makes over 150 products and runs one of the largest plants in the world for veterinary vaccines. Soon it is expected to make drug substance for Bharat Biotech, which makes Covaxin, say sources. IIL will make the substance for 2-3 million doses and scale it up to 6-7 million per month later in the year. Meanwhile, Panacea Biotech has commenced production of the Russian Sputnik vaccine.

TN’s Masala Market In Throes Of A Hot & Spicy Battle

Tamil Nadu’s masala market is put at a sizzling Rs 715 crore, the highest among the southern states. And 93% of this lip smacking, aromatic and jazzed up taste is delivered to the homemaker by the two top players of TN, Aachi Masala and Sakthi Masala, brands that have held the ready to go masala market captive with a slew of spice combos that send taste buds into culinary stratosphere. Not surprising that the scent of these spices has tickled the competitors across the country to zero in on TN. Take Bengaluru-based MTR Foods, with a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore. They have already put up a Rs 125 crore product infrastructure to take on the Aachis with Sakthi. According to MTR Foods CEO Sanjay Sharma, even product differentiation has been planned, “Our masalas are pounded, according to tradition, not ground like others.” With an average of Rs 35 crore ad spend, the masala brands are pounding, grinding and literally stomping their aromatic way into kitchens, which now witness more home cooking, gourmet experiments and taste adventures while a family is locked down. Coimbatore’s Annapoorna, a 45 year food brand, plans to pepper the TN masala market and more than double their turnover to Rs 90 crore in 2021-22. And the promos by TN’s masala players including entrants from the Punjabi belt, MDH, Badshah, Everest are getting more creative. Actor Jyotika’s hiatus in film appearances was hardly noticed. As Brand Ambassador, she carried the Sakthi Masala ads with as much aplomb as she did the Saravana Store Diamond Jewellery brand. From the days of standalone ground spices like turmeric powder and pepper, when homemakers would rather make their own sambhar and rasam mixes, every household now reaches out to popular ready mixed spices, podis and even easy do kits for homemade Biryani. The right masalas matter.

Who Benefits From Keeping Sushant Singh Rajput Legacy Alive?

For nearly a year, Sushant Singh Rajput’s name has been trending on Twitter. But, on May 31, 2021 the hashtag #SUSHANT YOU WILL WIN was trending at #1 spot with over 93,400 Tweets. It is understandable. His first death anniversary is just a fortnight away on June 14. The successful Bollywood star died young and that too under mysterious circumstances. His death has indeed devastated millions of his fans and that perhaps explains why he keeps trending for a year now. He is a rare phenomenon. It appears that no death — be it that of Mahatma Gandhi, John F Kennedy, John Lennon or Lady Diana — has been in the news for nearly a year now. And like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose whose disappearance has intrigued a whole generation, so is the case with Sushant Singh’s death. The investigating agencies must answer one simple question: was Sushant Singh Rajput murdered or forced to commit suicide? Till a satisfactory answer emerges, rumour mills will keep doing overtime. Yes, there was a glimmer of hope in December 2020 when the CBI, in response to a letter written by the BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Dr Subramanian Swamy to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The CBI is conducting investigation in a thorough and professional manner using latest scientific techniques. During investigation, all aspects are being looked at and no aspect has been ruled out as on date.” Since then, there has been a deafening silence. Come to think of it, some of the most complex cases have been solved in double quick time. Take for instance, the case of the rogue cop Sachin Vaze, who was dismissed from the service for his alleged involvement in planting bomb near Antilia, home to the industrialist Mukesh Ambani. The investigating agency within a fortnight said, Vaze was involved in the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiren – this murder was earlier communicated as a case of suicide! So, the question everybody is asking, why is this case dragging endlessly? Who benefits from keeping Sushant Singh...

When Ad-Libbing By Dada Moni Helped The Director of ‘Victoria 203’

It was quite a popular song of the 1970s Do Bichaare Bina Sahaare, Dekho Puchh Puchhkar Haare sung on screen by Ashok Kumar and Pran in the 1972 comedy movie Victoria 203. The movie, produced and directed by Brij Sadanah, had Navin Nishchol and Saira Banu in the lead roles. Those days most of the films were shot with the original sound recorded simultaneously at the time of shooting. There was no post-production concept. The shooting of the movie was in full progress at a Mumbai studio with Ashok Kumar (Raja) and Pran (Rana) in full flow…delivering their dialogues. But there was a problem. Every time the camera rolled it would capture the cooing sound of pigeons. The sound recordist said that pigeon cooing noise was interfering with the dialogues. After three takes everybody was exasperated as to how to overcome the pigeon noise issue.  Ashok Kumar said, “Okay, don’t worry, I will manage.” No one understood what he meant by ‘manage’.  When the director said lights, camera, action, Dada Moni effortlessly added a line before his actual dialogue, ”Kya zamana aa gaya hai Rana, aajkal raat me bhi kabootar bolte hain!”  This thinking on the feet or ad-libbing as it is popularly known saved the day and the director Brij could finally say cut and pack up.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.