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

The Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry has several divisions that are supposed to take care of the interests of the media:  the Press Information Bureau to disseminate information on government’s plans; the Press Registrar for facilitating publications with registration, imports of machinery, newsprint, etc., the DAVP for a release of government’s advertisements... There is also the mandate to assist small newspapers to help them meet the unequal competition from the bigger ones.

 These divisions have grown into behemoths with a large retinue of officials spread across the country. Not long ago there used to be one principal information officer with the responsibility as the spokesperson for the Prime Minister with deputies assisting different departments. While we had one PIO for years, today we have a PIO cum Director General, assisted by a dozen Additional Directors General and more deputy and assistant DGs.  And there are officers at the regional/state level with little communication with the media for which they are supposed to exist. Regional offices used to take care of press releases, press tours, organising press conferences for ministers…

Delhi also used to organise several important conferences for editors and media persons and visits to projects. Today, the salaries and perks of staff demand so much that these services to media - persons suffer severe cuts! The Economic Editors’ Conference was one such launched by the then Prime Minister in 1966. The annual conference used to provide the opportunity for economic editors to interact with ministers and senior civil servants handling economic portfolios. Spread over three days it used to provide excellent background material for the working of the different departments. It also provided for interactions and the opportunity to apprise policymakers of the impact of economic policies, particularly fiscal, on the different regions from which the editors hailed.

I have had the opportunity to participate in EEC from 1973 for over 40 years. For several years, I used to be the sole representative from the South attending the conference. I presented specific issues concerning the southern states and several of these have been effective. eg. I submitted in 1973 on the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) requiring urgently additional mining machinery to reach its original target of mining 6.5 MT of lignite. Till then NLC could mine less than 3 MT p.a  plunging it to continuous losses. Mohan Kumarmangalam as the then Steel and Mines Minister, appreciated this and promised attention. Though he died soon after, the steps he initiated resulted in a handsome expansion of mining capacity. After completion of this in 1977, NLC, which was described by Finance Secretary Yardi in the 1973 EEC as a drag on the public sector, turned out to be among the most profitable of PSUs since!

The EEC has been particularly useful to editors from outside Delhi to meet and interact with policymakers. Particularly in the context of the very few policymakers from Delhi, especially the Finance Minister and his senior cabinet colleagues visiting state capitals and with such visits being crowded, regional editors have little access to policy makers.

Sadly, the NDA government seems to be less inclined to hold such interactive sessions. Dr Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Yashwant Sinha, who have had long tenures as finance ministers, allotted liberal time for the EEC. Jaswant Singh as finance minister skipped this. Arun Jaitley in NDA II would not provide time for this through 2014 and 2015. Maybe his lack of a finance background can be some reason for this. Neither his deputy Jayant Sinha nor officials of the finance ministry are often seen in Chennai or other state capitals.

It is, even more difficult to get any response from the Press Registrar or the DAVP for letters sent. Surely, the numbers and the stature of such divisions have expanded.

K P Geethakrishnan as Chairman of the Expenditure Reforms Commission delved deep into the working of the different departments. He pointed to the little  work done by many of these and recommended closure of quite a few. Arun Jaitley as then Minister of I&B seemed to have been impressed with the recommendation and was about to act. But with his shifting from I&B, a more kindly

Sushma Swaraj who succeeded him as the I&B Minister dropped the idea. Jaitley is I&B Minister again, assisted by another live wire minister of state. But they seem to be overwhelmed by the politics of administration and not much concerned with vital issues of administration as an essential tool for good governance.

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