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