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