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