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Boy, can you beat these? The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ B H Kothari - a tribute IPL type auction for VCs? Plummeting profits of PSBs More tributes to GR Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Revving up the manufacturing sector When small is no larger beautiful.. Valli, they are more marginalised Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai Solar, solar everywhere … CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Quality education through the PPP mode Engineering seats go abegging Cement prices continue to rise… Silver Years of Madras Musings China invests in India S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! The Jan Dhan bonanza For whom the bell tolls? Recognition to role of NBFCs.... Put expensive assets created to use... CII projects higher growth… Robber barons everywhere F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL Telangana in top gear… Tatas moving out of urea production... EVM is tamper-proof When the President was rendered homeless… Delhi returns to BJP The brown list of Venkitaramanan Auto components surge… Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Secularism and anti-Hinduism Sri Lanka votes for change Sweet news for TN sugar mills Tatas moving out of urea production... Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! A more liberated TN… Editor's Notes Fortune for Indian Airlines Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami Preserving for the future More heat than light Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model TGS- The king storyteller Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... 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The star of Spencers is no more When Ratan Tata visited SRM The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more No engine for this car Kinetic Karnataka Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Make standards certification mandatory... Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Rahman at CIC A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science London, London Narayan Tribute IPL - no surprise this scam Adharma of opposition politics Fuel for thought Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... The rise and fall of Annamalai University The power-full Hindujas Alexa – Talking Wikipedia Airlines in India: cost and space Which side are you, Montek? The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu He saved millions from starvation... A glass full of corruption A yen for wastage… Strengthen the base... TELANGANA at last…BUT Contrarian cousins How Air-India loses customs... Marketing expert Balagopal is no more IAS invades NDDB... Parliament in paralysis... Excel Generators provide the vital back-up Discoms deserve better… GM Technology at last! Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara Modi storms Silicon Valley Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Build close rapport with business leaders Waning interest in public discussions… Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital Gay abandon in pricing No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet Shanti and Sadhana through Music The balancing act Lalu’s envy, India’s pride Multi-faceted Venkat Wise Presidents Tribute – M V Murugappan Gas is the way forward Towards speedy justice Mu Sigma – is no more No Maha Koottani in TN... Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School The why of tax incentives Vibrant Gujarat Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Maximising the micro pricing … Moily’s bold thrust West Bengal: mindless malignancy More Shakti to resource mobilisation... Delhi Chalo... Solar thermal shines… Cutting the nose to spite the face Another Indian music maestro at the UN Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... Sweeter prospects for sugar Revive development banks... Pharma – overdose of copying The rise and rise of KCP Small units prefers to remain small... The Gulf aviation boom Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt Intellectual of rare qualities TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Tax agriculture Readers' Mail New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Paytm karo... S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Quality silica from Neyveli Convulsions in The Hindu More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Things happen by accident and not by design... The nuclear option An enemy’s enemy is a friend The sea- saw battle continues... Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Mersal magnified CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. The Swadeshi Trump Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai Editor's Says 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 Russi Mody – a tribute TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership A proud Madrasi Don’t seem to feel the pulse…
 
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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