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