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