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More tributes to GR For whom the bell tolls? For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform A welcome initiative by the judiciary The few handicaps... TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Return to king coal for urea... TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... The Swadeshi Trump Excel Generators provide the vital back-up Parliament in paralysis... The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… When Ratan Tata visited SRM Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! Plummeting profits of PSBs The balancing act R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital CII projects higher growth… Recognition to role of NBFCs.... Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai to the lack of interest on the part of these to focus on original research. This despite the much lower costs of such research in India. The industry which thrived on the protection of a closed economy and the advantage of a vast domestic market, has failed to organise its evolution on healthy lines Solar thermal shines… Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research A yen for wastage… Making ‘my Amaravati’... SoA @ 80 Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi An enemy’s enemy is a friend Engineering seats go abegging When the President was rendered homeless… Which side are you, Montek? Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? IPL type auction for VCs? GM Technology at last! The rise and fall of Annamalai University Tribute Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet Telangana in top gear… Maximising the micro pricing … Put expensive assets created to use... Why this malaise in medical education? TELANGANA at last…BUT Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Fuel for thought An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... EVM is tamper-proof When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Editor's Says B H Kothari - a tribute Revving up the manufacturing sector Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Shanti and Sadhana through Music Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Sri Lanka votes for change A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! Sweet news for TN sugar mills Paytm karo... Revive development banks... ONGC at KG Basin Wise Presidents He saved millions from starvation... Tatas moving out of urea production... Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Delhi returns to BJP When online building permits work…. Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Modi storms Silicon Valley S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Boy, can you beat these? Where a state respects its litterateurs… Moily’s bold thrust Strengthen the base... More Shakti to resource mobilisation... Poor quality of university VCs A proud Madrasi London, London Narayan The Gulf aviation boom Robber barons everywhere Airlines in India: cost and space A friendly business group Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Where is Rajaji? Mu Sigma – is no more Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai IAS invades NDDB... The star of Spencers is no more Russi Mody – a tribute Muffled voices for merit… Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Preserving for the future A professional at the helm of IRDA... Adharma of opposition politics L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Editor's Notes Things happen by accident and not by design... The power-full Hindujas Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... The why of tax incentives Intellectual of rare qualities Road development slows down The Jan Dhan bonanza Cement prices continue to rise… Welcome focus on core competence Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel No engine for this car IPL - no surprise this scam Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V The rise and rise of KCP Demise of a media baron... Kudos to NDTV... Nuclear power at the nucleus Roaring Ro-Ro facility Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt Discoms deserve better… WTO Meet: resolved to meet again Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy TIAM turns a full cycle Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Noble nonagenarians... Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Kinetic Karnataka Sweeter prospects for sugar Gay abandon in pricing GNS - 100: our first subscriber Banning booze... Of course, Gujarat is vibrant Small units prefers to remain small... Why land prices zoom in TN? Permanent secretariat for TN GIM Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Auto components surge… Tribute – M V Murugappan Secularism and anti-Hinduism Silver Years of Madras Musings More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Polls and promises Fortune for Indian Airlines Streamlining mandatory third party cover Shale gas and its shallow future CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. How Air-India loses customs... Building loyalty through the stomach Cutting the nose to spite the face EEC at the National Media Centre CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Contrarian cousins Breaththrough in malaria control A think tank for Chennai Medical costs hit the roof... Come elections, come advertisements... Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS Shipping woes of Chennai companies A more liberated TN… Welcome GST Delhi is distant Lalu’s envy, India’s pride Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Pharma – overdose of copying Funding the un-funded Music happens Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School Five star activism stalls development activity More heat than light Valli, they are more marginalised All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya Another Indian music maestro at the UN Kulandai was a giant An inexplicable neglect Remembering Indira Sivasailam... When nations steal growth from one another… China invests in India Delhi is distant… West Bengal: mindless malignancy Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW Fortune 500 review Towards speedy justice Build close rapport with business leaders Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu Mersal magnified No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Delhi Chalo... Marketing expert Balagopal is no more Modi and the lady The nuclear option A rich pool of talent not utilised…. L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles No Maha Koottani in TN... He continues the focus on social amelioration This scant respect for Law MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways …and of a popular trade leader Tax agriculture S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal Gas is the way forward Make standards certification mandatory... Convulsions in The Hindu The sea- saw battle continues... Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara Rahman at CIC Tatas moving out of urea production... Protest masters... Quality education through the PPP mode New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Tough task taking states together TGS- The king storyteller A glass full of corruption Readers' Mail The brown list of Venkitaramanan Quality silica from Neyveli Vibrant Gujarat Align crops to agro climate endowments… Should we change the official year? Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model Waning interest in public discussions… Multi-faceted Venkat Alexa – Talking Wikipedia PC’s preference for professionals When small is no larger beautiful.. Solar, solar everywhere … Haul over the coal Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami
 
More Shakthi to Das’ elbow

I am happy to find Shaktikanta Das, Union Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry, who belongs to the Tamil Nadu cadre of IAS, in the limelight. Especially after the announcement of demonetisation, he has been articulating the nuances of this revolutionary measure so effectively. He seems to be part of the handful of policymakers behind this plan. He appears to command the trust of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and has been the principal spokesperson on the progress of the scheme and the several course corrections. 

During his tenure in Tamil Nadu as Industry Secretary, I remember the dynamism and thrust of Das in bringing several large new projects into the state. I make particular mention of the Ford Mahindra project in 1996 that heralded the auto boom in the state. He was working hard at developing the Ennore Port by facilitating the setting up of several industrial units. 

Hailing from Odisha, this upright officer was put on the bench, a fate suffered by several other civil servants. But his transfer to the Centre helped bring out the best in him. 

I  remember such problems encountered by several of his predecessors in Tamil Nadu. K P Geethakrishnan resisted the clearance for one of the large state sector projects, the TNPL, on the grounds of an unproven technology. He was transferred as the Industry Secretary and appointed the CMD of the smallest of the corporations, TANSIDCO, and later appointed as Chairman, SIPCOT. His luck in getting shifted to Delhi saw him record steep growth in his career as Secretary – Environment, later Finance Secretary and thence Executive Director, IMF. 

I see good prospects for Das reaching Washington through this route. 

Das revealed yet another facet of his articulation: at the inaugural session of the Economic Editors’ Conference, a journalist from Chennai was struggling to articulate his query in English. Das intervened and asked him to raise it in Tamil, which the former did. Das responded in Tamil and also translated the Q&A for the benefit of all! Bravo.

If S K Das displayed his linguistic prowess in Tamil so well, Minister of State for Industry & Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman,  did one better: she answered queries from correspondents in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English with equal felicity and command!

I raised two questions on the ministry’s performance: the first was in response to her claim on facilitating exports. I cited the instance of a flourishing engineering goods exporter of Tamil Nadu who complained of demand for fat speed-money by port managers to move his containers to the ship. He pointed to incurring an expenditure of Rs 3 lakh per month on this score. The penalty for not coughing up the bribe was detention of the container and demand to open and explain every part inside, entailing massive delays and risk of his losing custom for failure to deliver in time.

The second instance cited related to the AIADMK government’s scheme to offer fans, mixies and grinders to its citizens. If one expected the expenditure of over Rs 2000 crore per annum to benefit industrial units in Ambattur or Coimbatore, one was in for a shock: the entire consignment has been imported from China! 

There was silence for a couple of minutes. The minister then admitted she was speechless!  Rare for this highly articulate minister.

Sitharaman promised to look into the first of the queries and rectify the malaise. Of the second, she said it is a more complicated trade issue.

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