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Roaring Ro-Ro facility A more liberated TN… WTO Meet: resolved to meet again Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami Nuclear power at the nucleus Why this malaise in medical education? Fortune for Indian Airlines Fuel for thought The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu Fortune 500 review Solar thermal shines… Strengthen the base... TIAM turns a full cycle PC’s preference for professionals Auto components surge… Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Editor's Says Preserving for the future Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Convulsions in The Hindu Discoms deserve better… Come elections, come advertisements... Moily’s bold thrust The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more Tribute – M V Murugappan TELANGANA at last…BUT CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. When small is no larger beautiful.. Haul over the coal More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Why land prices zoom in TN? Streamlining mandatory third party cover Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks A professional at the helm of IRDA... GNS - 100: our first subscriber Tatas moving out of urea production... Silver Years of Madras Musings Five star activism stalls development activity Airlines in India: cost and space Secularism and anti-Hinduism Making ‘my Amaravati’... Align crops to agro climate endowments… Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Revive development banks... Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Towards speedy justice When the President was rendered homeless… Delhi returns to BJP The Jan Dhan bonanza Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Kinetic Karnataka Poor quality of university VCs Vibrant Gujarat Plummeting profits of PSBs Delhi is distant Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities GM Technology at last! Quality education through the PPP mode A friendly business group When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Banning booze... The Gulf aviation boom Sweeter prospects for sugar Medical costs hit the roof... The brown list of Venkitaramanan Put expensive assets created to use... China invests in India Telangana in top gear… Lalu’s envy, India’s pride R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital Noble nonagenarians... An inexplicable neglect More heat than light TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... 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Recognition to role of NBFCs.... When nations steal growth from one another… Delhi Chalo... IPL - no surprise this scam Pharma – overdose of copying Contrarian cousins Of course, Gujarat is vibrant Tatas moving out of urea production... Muffled voices for merit… Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Building loyalty through the stomach A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara A rich pool of talent not utilised…. London, London Narayan The sea- saw battle continues... When online building permits work…. A proud Madrasi A yen for wastage… No Maha Koottani in TN... Gas is the way forward The power-full Hindujas The why of tax incentives EVM is tamper-proof There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Solar, solar everywhere … PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles How Air-India loses customs... SoA @ 80 Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL IAS invades NDDB... Sweet news for TN sugar mills CII projects higher growth… Cutting the nose to spite the face Wise Presidents Shanti and Sadhana through Music Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Breaththrough in malaria control Mersal magnified Tax agriculture Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... Demise of a media baron... Polls and promises Sri Lanka votes for change Shale gas and its shallow future TGS- The king storyteller Tribute Make standards certification mandatory... Music happens Parliament in paralysis... Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Things happen by accident and not by design... Cement prices continue to rise… Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Russi Mody – a tribute F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Gay abandon in pricing The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... He continues the focus on social amelioration A welcome initiative by the judiciary …and of a popular trade leader ONGC at KG Basin CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? More tributes to GR MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Rahman at CIC Excel Generators provide the vital back-up A glass full of corruption Small units prefers to remain small... Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Which side are you, Montek? Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Paytm karo... Should we change the official year? Shipping woes of Chennai companies Build close rapport with business leaders Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Permanent secretariat for TN GIM Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model Welcome focus on core competence He saved millions from starvation... The balancing act The rise and fall of Annamalai University CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... The few handicaps... Adharma of opposition politics Delhi is distant… No engine for this car New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Engineering seats go abegging Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi More Shakti to resource mobilisation... Modi and the lady Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW Multi-faceted Venkat S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Marketing expert Balagopal is no more The rise and rise of KCP Boy, can you beat these?
 
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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