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Boy, can you beat these? Kulandai was a giant Vibrant Gujarat Shale gas and its shallow future A rich pool of talent not utilised…. B H Kothari - a tribute Tough task taking states together Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Engineering seats go abegging A welcome initiative by the judiciary Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Cement prices continue to rise… The balancing act Sweet news for TN sugar mills No engine for this car Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel Small units prefers to remain small... Delhi is distant IPL type auction for VCs? The rise and rise of KCP The Swadeshi Trump Secularism and anti-Hinduism Permanent secretariat for TN GIM Auto components surge… Preserving for the future TIAM turns a full cycle Why land prices zoom in TN? Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy More heat than light CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami Tatas moving out of urea production... A more liberated TN… Strengthen the base... An enemy’s enemy is a friend When online building permits work…. Building loyalty through the stomach Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria When Ratan Tata visited SRM Demise of a media baron... Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Recognition to role of NBFCs.... London, London Narayan L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Rahman at CIC R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital Poor quality of university VCs Polls and promises Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Alexa – Talking Wikipedia Gay abandon in pricing Quality silica from Neyveli When the President was rendered homeless… Discoms deserve better… The few handicaps... The rise and fall of Annamalai University Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra SoA @ 80 Mu Sigma – is no more Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Russi Mody – a tribute Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks An inexplicable neglect Where is Rajaji? Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Banning booze... Streamlining mandatory third party cover Haul over the coal Protest masters... Sri Lanka votes for change Tribute EEC at the National Media Centre Solar, solar everywhere … PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities The star of Spencers is no more Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Tatas moving out of urea production... Delhi Chalo... 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Readers' Mail The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ Where a state respects its litterateurs… Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research The Gulf aviation boom A proud Madrasi Shanti and Sadhana through Music This scant respect for Law CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Tribute – M V Murugappan Silver Years of Madras Musings S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Why this malaise in medical education? Fuel for thought Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai Contrarian cousins A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Excel Generators provide the vital back-up Adharma of opposition politics Marketing expert Balagopal is no more Return to king coal for urea... Kinetic Karnataka The sea- saw battle continues... S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... He continues the focus on social amelioration How Air-India loses customs... When small is no larger beautiful.. PC’s preference for professionals TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Five star activism stalls development activity L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Pharma – overdose of copying There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! GM Technology at last! Mersal magnified Lalu’s envy, India’s pride Gas is the way forward The power-full Hindujas Fortune for Indian Airlines Music happens Wanted: a second airport for Chennai The why of tax incentives Wise Presidents A friendly business group Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Delhi returns to BJP For whom the MIDS bell tolls? All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! The brown list of Venkitaramanan A glass full of corruption CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. Put expensive assets created to use... Build close rapport with business leaders The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Welcome focus on core competence Should we change the official year? Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet Kudos to NDTV... Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Noble nonagenarians... When nations steal growth from one another… Intellectual of rare qualities Medical costs hit the roof... TGS- The king storyteller Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai Come elections, come advertisements... Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt Modi and the lady Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... More tributes to GR Tax agriculture Valli, they are more marginalised Maximising the micro pricing … Muffled voices for merit… Remembering Indira Sivasailam... A professional at the helm of IRDA... Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Revving up the manufacturing sector Telangana in top gear… No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Delhi is distant… Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Editor's Says Waning interest in public discussions… Align crops to agro climate endowments…
 
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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