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