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Thread: In search of a speech draft

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    In search of a speech draft


    In search of a speech draft

    New Delhi, Dec 19: Noting that the non-availability of records of drafting of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Independence day speech in 2002 as "most unusual," the Central Information Commission has directed the PMO to make "renewed effort" to trace the documents within 20 days.

    "The Indian Prime Minister's office is an institutionalised office, unlike a monarchy or indeed a presidential form of government, which can change with the incumbent," Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent order, that came on a Right to Information plea of Delhi resident R L Kain.

    Kain, who said that media was misguided by certain parts of the speech that were "misleading", sought details on drafting of Vajpayee's speech including names of PMO officers who had drafted and approved it.

    Responding to Kain's application, PMO said while the speech was drafted by its then Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Sudeendra Kulkarni, no documents relating to preparation and approval of the speech draft was available with it.

    It was also stated that Kulkarni had relinquished his charge of OSD after the change of government in May 2004.

    "To explain why the record of drafting of the speech of then PM had not been retained in the PMO which was an established practice, since even if the drafting officer concerned had relinquished office, it would be most unusual if draft speeches... Were also to move with the officer so relinquishing office," the commission's order said.

    PMO has been directed to make a renewed effort to trace the records of the drafting of Vajpayee's speech. It would also include notes received from various ministries suggesting points for inclusion. The details have to be provided within 20 days. (Agencies)


    In search of a speech draft



  2. #2
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    Re: In search of a speech draft


    As reported by Subodh Ghildiyal of TNN in Times of India on 4 February 2008:
    Is PM accountable for making false claims?-India-The Times of India

    Is PM accountable for making false claims?

    NEW DELHI: Can the prime minister be held accountable for what he says on important occasions like Independence Day when he spells out his agenda and achievements of his government?

    The crucial question has sprung from a dogged six-year-long contest against a claim made by ex-premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his 2002 I-Day address, where he said: "My government has extended the period of reservation for SCs/STs in government service by another 10 years."

    With a citizen taking on PMO over the sensitive issue, the Centre has virtually conceded that it was a factually incorrect claim made by the PM but was unable to put a finger on who could be held responsible for the gaffe. While the PMO said that "I-Day speech is finalized by the PM" based on inputs from Union ministries, it has added that Vajpayee's speeches were drafted by his OSD, Sudheendra Kulkarni.

    Unlike reservation for SCs/STs in the political sphere, which have to be validated every 10 years, no time limit has been envisaged on job quotas.

    An RTI application filed by R L Kain, general secretary of an Ambedkarite outfit, to pin the blame for the claim has resulted in the PMO pleading that files on the drafting-approval of the 2002 speech were untraceable. Moreover, it said the speech-writer Kulkarni left office on change of government in May 2004. This line of defence elicited a sharp riposte from the CIC which called it "unusual" that office records were disappearing with change in officials.

    Though the controversy has kicked off a tricky situation for the PMO which is faced with the embarrassing option of rebutting an ex-PM's I-Day speech, the serious gaffe gives a peep into the expanding world of speech-writers taking over politicians to spin even sacrosanct, apolitical addresses into election-type rhetoric. Clearly, the claim was aimed at reaching out to the electorally significant Dalits and tribals.

    Vajpayee's claim on the NDA regime extending job quota by 10 years flew in the face of the distinction between political reservation and that for public sector employment. While the earmarking of Lok Sabha and assembly seats for SCs/STs, provided by Article 334 of Constitution, is valid for a period of 10 years, there is no time-limit attached to job quota governed by Articles 335 and 16(4).

    After an agitated Kain failed to get a retraction of the controversial claim and action against "those responsible" for it despite repeated reminders to the PMO, he filed a plaint under RTI in 2006, seeking files on the 'address to the nation', names of those involved in its drafting and the action taken towards correcting the mistake.

    The issue is now locked in an RTI battle, with CIC Wajahat Habibullah directing the PMO to "make a renewed effort to trace records of the drafting of the speech". The fight for the speech records may not go too far but it may have done enough to train the focus on the culture of speech writers who have taken over politicians a la West.

    Observers have often lamented the trend, recalling the personally-penned 'Tryst with Destiny' of Jawaharlal Nehru which moved a sea of humanity as the nation emerged free from the British. Since then, politicians have outsourced the crucial job to spin-masters.

    The all-pervasive trend was true even for Vajpayee, whose oratory could hold people in thrall. While he held people captive with his words for years, he is said to have handed over writing speeches to a ring of aides after taking up the top assignment, much to the disappointment of his followers.



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    Re: In search of a speech draft


    As reported by PTI in hindu.com on 14 February 2008:
    The Hindu : National : Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech: draft records missing from PMO

    Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech: draft records missing from PMO

    Central Information Commission closes the case
    Applicant demands apology from the PMO

    New Delhi: A month after the Central Information Commission’s direction to trace records on the drafting of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech in 2002, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has expressed its inability to locate them.

    However, the CIC has closed the case.

    The CIC, in its December 17 order last year, directed the PMO to make a “renewed effort” to trace the records, terming its plea on non-availability “most unusual.”

    Quota for SC/STs

    The order followed a right to information (RTI) plea of a city resident R.L. Kain seeking details on drafting of Mr. Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech in which he had announced extension of job reservation to SC/STs for the next 10 years.

    “The records related to the information sought could not be traced ...,” PMO’s former Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) Kamal Dayani had said in his reply of January 10.

    The PMO, however, produced before the Commission a report of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) detailing the inputs provided to it for preparation of the speech.

    The DoPT is the administrative ministry that deals with matters relating to reservation, it said.

    “Misleading statement”

    The applicant demanded an apology from the PMO for its negligence for an “alleged misleading statement” by Mr. Vajpayee on the extension of reservation to SCs/STs, which did not find any favour from the CIC.

    “Mr. Kain’s comments regarding the method of drafting the speech and the interpretation given to the information on which it was prepared is not for us to adjudicate upon,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said, terming the matter as “closed.”

    In its order, the Commission had expressed surprise over the PMO’s assertion that the relevant records could not be found out.

    “To explain why the record of drafting of the speech of the then Prime Minister had not been retained in the PMO which was an established practice, since even if the concerned drafting officer had relinquished office, it would be most unusual if draft speeches ... were also to move with the officer so relinquishing the office,” the order said.



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