New Delhi Diary-April 2021

A new house for Modi
As the new Parliament House nears completion over the next two to three years, several other related projects will also be undertaken. The first ones would be new homes for the Prime Minister and the Vice President near the new Parliament building. Both these houses will be connected with the Parliament House through tunnels. The projects are still in the planning stage and the cost and completion time are not yet known.
Why are there no plans to build a tunnel to connect the President’s house too? Two reasons: First, the President’s house (Rashtrapati Bhavan), is already nearby, and unlike the Vice President and the Prime Minister who have to visit Parliament regularly, the President rarely visits it. The Vice President visits Parliament regularly to chair sessions of the Rajya Sabha.
The tunnels will help avoid traffic jams each time the Vice President or the Prime Minister visits the Parliament House. Currently, their ‘carcades’ bring traffic in the Lutyens’ area to a standstill for hours. Incidentally, very few people know that a tunnel connects the present home of the Prime Minister at 7 Race Course with Safdarjung Airport.

The Bamiyan Buddha comes alive!
One of the Buddha statues, destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001, has come alive through a 3-D projection that glows in the rocky alcove where it used to stand since the Sixth and the Seventh Centuries CE. These ancient statues were the world’s tallest Buddha statues till they were blown up in 2001.

Ladakh Review, one of its kind
When you think of Nawang Tsering Shakspo, the first thing that comes to mind is his annual publication called Ladakh Review. Its seventh volume was recently released by the Hon’ble Lieutenant-Governor of Ladakh at an event in New Delhi. Like previous volumes, this one too provides fascinating accounts of Ladakh and the author. The present volume is partially an autobiography in which the author makes it clear that he remains undaunted despite various challenges he has faced.
Secondly, he has stood by his conviction on the official language for UT Ladakh. All these decades, he has been advocating that ‘Ladakhi’ should be declared as the official language of Ladakh. This is based on sound logic. Both the principal communities of Ladakh speak Ladakhi, and most of them want ‘Ladakhi’ to be declared as the UT’s official language.
I am very happy to agree. Any other name like Bhoti, Bodhi, Tibetan, etc. can become a bone of contention and Ladakh will have no official language for the lack of consensus. Moreover, Ladakh can’t remain united with a ‘divisive’ official language. Therefore, ‘Ladakhi’ is the only language with no religious or communal implications’.

The highly-paid bodyguards
I recently discovered that the bodyguards of Bollywood stars are paid very handsomely. For instance, Shah Rukh Khan pays his bodyguard INR 2.6 crore (260 million) annually. And, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan pay their bodyguards INR 2 crore (20 million) per annum. Among the female actors, Anushka pays the highest (INR 1.2 crore or 120 million) to her bodyguard followed by Deepika and Katrina who pay INR 1 crore (10 million) each.
Why are bodyguards paid such large salaries in this industry? The reasons include that Bollywood stars are high-risk individuals and the bodyguards are highly-trained in martial arts and safeguarding practices.

Tailpiece:
Wife: Did you have your lunch?
Husband: Did you have your lunch?
Wife: I am asking you!
Husband: I am asking you!
Wife: You are copying me?
Husband: You are copying me?
Wife: Okay, then let’s go shopping!
Husband: Yes, yes, I had my lunch!

By P.P. Wangchuk

The author is a New Delhi-based editor-at-large, columnist and professional speaker.

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