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