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

The slow grind of judiciary

PRESS COUNCIL Chairman Markandey Katju seems to comment on every issue under the sun.  These range from the quality of administrations of Mamata Banerjee and Narendra Modi to the need for minimum qualifications and entry barrier for journalists and most recently a mercy plea on behalf of Sanjay Dutt. As Chairman of Press Council, he has been commanding regular and extensive free space in the national media. With the love of media for controversy and with the penchant of Katju for such controversy, understandably, he gets liberal coverage.

I, however, wish Justice Katju could focus on an area that needs attention and reforms most – the judiciary. With his experience of over four decades in matters relating to law and judiciary and with a fair reputation earned by Katju as a practitioner of law and justice, there is a lot he can do to contribute to this field. Look at the travesty of the Bombay blast case reaching the finale a good 20 years after the occurrence. Look at the Bombay riots. Look at the several cases relating to the legitimacy of the victory of those elected as MPs/MLAs including such high profile personalities like Finance Minister P Chidambaram not decided almost till the end of their terms. Look at the cases against politicians like A Raja, Kanimozhi, Suresh Kalmadi or Jayalalithaa remaining undecided for so long.

There is systemic collapse at the high courts. In the Madras High Court that recently celebrated 150 years, a typical schedule for a two-judge bench lists 50-60 cases a day. Some 300 persons, including advocates, clients et al are present at this court from 1030 hrs. Almost till lunch most of these idle their time until the honourable judges give their ruling. Except a couple of cases, all others get adjourned. One also witnesses the judges routinely shifted from one bench to another at intervals of around two months. In some cases when a case is in advanced stage, one of the judges of the bench decides to recuse himself/herself.  I have experienced this first hand.

Just look at the time involved in cases relating to appeal: a presentation by the appellant’s advocate, one by the defence counsel and if needed, some responses/clarifications. In the American courts, I understand, each party is provided 30 minutes; which means the entire hearing could be completed in a day. In the Madras High Court such appeals extend over a year. Adjournments are sought and granted at the drop of a hat.

Katju, who headed the Madras High Court, is certainly familiar with these humongous inefficiencies that cost the litigants dearly. The judges get paid. The lawyers also have no penalties for procrastinations caused by them and benefit by prolonging the cases and the number of cases pending before courts bulge by the day.

For a change, I request the super- active Katju to focus on this issue. He would earn the gratitude of millions of hapless litigants.

Duelling dual pricing

OUR ENERGY expert, Dr Bhamy Shenoy, has been pointing to the impracticality of dual pricing for petroleum products. We have yet another instance proving this point.

A couple of months ago the Union government announced dual pricing for diesel, with a higher price of over Rs 10 for bulk consumers. Since the state transport undertakings belonged to this category, and since state governments are wary over raising bus fare, this proposal had given rise to a lot of resentment and opposition, especially from the states ruled by parties opposed to the Congress.

The Tamil Nadu government effected a steep increase in bus fares last year. Understandably it is reluctant to add further to the burden of the passenger. It instructed the busses to get fuel filled from retail outlets which charge lower rates. I notice large factories that buy diesel in bulk directly from the oil marketing companies, have drastically reduced such purchases and buy their requirements from retail outlets. Retail traders are only too happy over the big spurt in sales made possible by such a practice.  OMCs report of a steep drop in bulk purchases and a large increase through retail outlets.
The Madras High Court ordered a stay on the differential pricing and permitted state transport undertakings to get their fuel requirements directly from the oil companies at lower prices. Curiously, large bulk private consumers complain that OMCs do not follow this dictum of the High Court! So such companies play safe, continuing to buy from retail outlets!

So mostly the sections that pay the higher prices are the Central government and public undertakings, notably the Indian Railways. Understandably the railway is planning a fuel surcharge that means yet another bout of fare increases.

Man is an economic animal. His behavioural pattern cannot be changed easily by government dictats.

Technology for demolition

FOR YEARS, I used to wonder over the large buildings in US demolished by planting explosives and the whole edifice crumbling to ground level in minutes. The contrast is provided in the conventional method of employing muscular manpower to demolish buildings physically. This field is dominated in Chennai by several Muslim entrepreneurs who employ specialist gangs for this purpose. These endeavour to recover as much as possible of the materials-doors, windows, electrical goods, cables and wires, sanitary ware, glass, steel, bricks. Understandably these require care and involve considerable time.
 
I was looking at the evolution of this business. With scarcity of labour, there is resort to mechanisation. The employment of JCB machines has been increasing.

In recent times, the speed and sophistication of such jobs have increased manifold. High-end bulldozer-mounted machines by large MNCs like Hyundai are employed. The level of sophistication is impressive.

K K Nagar in Chennai gave priority to mass housing by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board. On easy mortgages, hundreds of houses were built with liberal 1:1 FSI, which meant space for lot of greenery. A common size is construction of four flats over two floors, each of 900 sq. ft in a plot of measuring 7200 sq. ft. One could spot a dozen trees and a lot of lush vegetation around.

I witnessed such a structure raced to the ground in just about a week with the Hyundai machine working during nights, not just demolishing the buildings but in recovering bricks, steel and in quickly clearing the debris. It was a sight to watch steel separated from concrete blocks, with the powerful machine crushing cement and mortar.

There are restrictions in the operation of such machines that can operate only during the night; the debris had to be shifted to designated places during night. A lot of speed money is involved in the whole process. The crowding of the real estate business by politicians can now be better understood.

Pharma pioneer succumbs to cancer

IN THE death of Dr Anji Reddy, South India has lost one who took the pharma industry to great heights. With a market cap of close to Rs 30,000 crore (as on 25 March 2013), Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd is the Number One pharma company in south India and ranked fifth among the region’s most valuable companies (see IE March 2013 issue). Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) and the rich cluster of CSIR labs that included the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology nurtured rich talent in and around Hyderabad. Reddy was a product of IDPL who ventured on his own. He founded Uniloids Ltd in 1976 and later he founded Standard Organics Ltd, before setting up Dr Reddy’s Lab with a capital of Rs 25 lakh. This evolution turned the pharma bulk drug industry from an import-dependent stage to export-oriented.

Research was always the forte of Reddy. He established Dr. Reddy’s Research Foundation in 1992 to focus in the area of new drug discovery.  For his extensive contribution to the pharma industry, Government of
India honoured him with Padma Bhushan.

Muthumalla Reddiar is no more

SADLY, MARCH also witnessed the demise of another pioneer, Muthumalla Reddiar (MMR), who died at the ripe age of 102. MMR experimented with scientific agriculture in Chenglepattu district. I remember the small arboretum nurtured by Reddiar that had several hundred-year-old trees of rich variety, including rose wood, saal, teak and mahogany.

I had occasion to meet with MMR. Well into his nineties, he used to talk with passion on the role of agriculture for economic development.

Senior Advocate C Ramakrishna (CR), who has so liberally bequeathed for posterity the Yerrangadu Arboretum with munificent funding (See IE December 2012) and a close friend of MMR, used to refer to the pioneering work done by MMR in the development of agriculture in this region. He recalled instances of MMR’s philosophical outlook: “his farm suffered extensive damage in the aftermath of the severe cyclone of 1985. Over thousand coconut, papaya and other trees at his farms were uprooted and MMR could not even reach his farms for a few days. But as a true karma yogi, he took this on his stride.”

CR recalls MMR performing over fifteen Kumbabishekams of a large number of temples in and around his village.

MMR’s grandson Dr R Srikanth, an Assistant Professor in theoretical physics and an alumnus of IIS-Bengaluru, aptly described MMR as “a builder and renovator of schools, nature lover, farmer, leader, upholder of sacred ways, cricket fan… who inspired love and respect by his action.” CR recalled the several innovative practices he introduced to farming and in the spread of productivity improvements in and around his village of Polampakkam.

CR also referred to the high moral rectitude of MMR: “in 1993 MMR sold 140 acres of his land to Brakes India, a unit of TVS, at a price of around Rs 35,000 an acre. Land prices shot up in quick time. The  conscientious chief executive  of the company, R Ramanujam, offered to pay an additional Rs 10 lakh towards the cost of the land. MMR literally chased CR out stating that he sold his land at the then prevailing market price!

“Six years later Ramanujam noticed MMR still using an old Ambassador car. He sent through CR the keys of a new Ambassador car. MMR again refused the gift.” 


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