Donald Trump with PM Modi at the Hyderabad House
Visiting US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held talks at New Delhi’s Hyderabad House. A big shamiana with dozens of chairs were put up for journalists in attendance as the two leaders read their statements. The Ministry of External Affairs had made it known that no questions would be allowed at the joint press conference. By the time the event took place, most also knew that the American president would be speaking to the press in the evening at a city hotel. This led to an embarrassing situation with several empty chairs since many journalists decided to skip the Hyderabad House event and went to the hotel instead. Eventually, the security staff, who were not in khaki, were asked to occupy the empty seats to give the occasion a semblance of respectable attendance.
Warming up to the media
After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) poor showing in the recent Delhi elections, the Central government, run by the party, has asked senior officials and public-sector undertakings to send a positive narrative to the people about the work they have been doing. The plan is to bring all the good work to the media’s notice under the signature Har Kaam Desh ke Naam programme. Even some official emails bear that endnote these days. This is in sharp contrast to 2014, when officials had started keeping the media at arm’s length, fearing that hobnobbing with media persons might anger ministers. Close circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed in ministries and officials were pulled up for any media “leaks”. It seems there has been a change of heart.
Dancing into politics
The Union Ministry of Culture frequently gets requests for the children of senior government officials to be considered for a career in art. But the ministry is surprised by the regularity of requests to accommodate the daughter of a Cabinet minister for her dance recitals. The grapevine says she is being promoted by her father for an eventual political career, but officers are in a fix over the question whether dance recitals could be the best way to make that happen.