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

I am happy to find Shaktikanta Das, Union Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry, who belongs to the Tamil Nadu cadre of IAS, in the limelight. Especially after the announcement of demonetisation, he has been articulating the nuances of this revolutionary measure so effectively. He seems to be part of the handful of policymakers behind this plan. He appears to command the trust of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and has been the principal spokesperson on the progress of the scheme and the several course corrections. 

During his tenure in Tamil Nadu as Industry Secretary, I remember the dynamism and thrust of Das in bringing several large new projects into the state. I make particular mention of the Ford Mahindra project in 1996 that heralded the auto boom in the state. He was working hard at developing the Ennore Port by facilitating the setting up of several industrial units. 

Hailing from Odisha, this upright officer was put on the bench, a fate suffered by several other civil servants. But his transfer to the Centre helped bring out the best in him. 

I  remember such problems encountered by several of his predecessors in Tamil Nadu. K P Geethakrishnan resisted the clearance for one of the large state sector projects, the TNPL, on the grounds of an unproven technology. He was transferred as the Industry Secretary and appointed the CMD of the smallest of the corporations, TANSIDCO, and later appointed as Chairman, SIPCOT. His luck in getting shifted to Delhi saw him record steep growth in his career as Secretary – Environment, later Finance Secretary and thence Executive Director, IMF. 

I see good prospects for Das reaching Washington through this route. 

Das revealed yet another facet of his articulation: at the inaugural session of the Economic Editors’ Conference, a journalist from Chennai was struggling to articulate his query in English. Das intervened and asked him to raise it in Tamil, which the former did. Das responded in Tamil and also translated the Q&A for the benefit of all! Bravo.

If S K Das displayed his linguistic prowess in Tamil so well, Minister of State for Industry & Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman,  did one better: she answered queries from correspondents in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English with equal felicity and command!

I raised two questions on the ministry’s performance: the first was in response to her claim on facilitating exports. I cited the instance of a flourishing engineering goods exporter of Tamil Nadu who complained of demand for fat speed-money by port managers to move his containers to the ship. He pointed to incurring an expenditure of Rs 3 lakh per month on this score. The penalty for not coughing up the bribe was detention of the container and demand to open and explain every part inside, entailing massive delays and risk of his losing custom for failure to deliver in time.

The second instance cited related to the AIADMK government’s scheme to offer fans, mixies and grinders to its citizens. If one expected the expenditure of over Rs 2000 crore per annum to benefit industrial units in Ambattur or Coimbatore, one was in for a shock: the entire consignment has been imported from China! 

There was silence for a couple of minutes. The minister then admitted she was speechless!  Rare for this highly articulate minister.

Sitharaman promised to look into the first of the queries and rectify the malaise. Of the second, she said it is a more complicated trade issue.

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