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