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