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