The EEC became an annual event inaugurated by the finance minister, addressed by a dozen minsters handling economic portfolios assisted by senior civil servants of the respective departments. The EEC provided an important forum to discuss the impact of economic policies on the different regions. As one attending this from 1973 continuously for four decades I have found value in this interaction. The forum provided the opportunity to project the impact of policies on different regions as also report on specific needs of the regions far removed from Delhi. For instance at the EEC in 1973 I pointed to the inadequacy of mining capacity at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation that plunged NLC into continuous underperformance and losses. Mohan Kumaramangalam then minister of Steels & mines appreciated and assured of quick redressal. The special sanction that followed for augmenting mining machinery resulted in NLC emerging among the most profitable PSU.
For journalists outside Delhi the EEC provided an invaluable opportunity to meet with policymakers and discuss policy issues.
The NDA government has not convened the EEC since it assumed power in 2014 (even in the first NDA Jaswanth Singh as finance minister missed out one).
The media of Lyuten’s Delhi has not been fair and kind to Narendra Modi that seems to have conditioned his reflex to keep the media at a distance. But should this also extend to his cabinet colleagues?
In this light the Press Information Bureau organizing a two day conference of regional editors’ conference for the southern states on 1 and 2 September assumed interest. Prime minister has directed his cabinet colleagues to undertake the TirangYatra to explain the highlights of the NDA -2 performance over the last two years. I&B Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the conference in Chennai along with a photo exhibition to commemorate the 70th independence day. He explained in detail the plans of his ministry of urban affairs with focus on infrastructure and housing. Minister for Law and Justice and Ministry of Information Technology and Minister for IT Ravishankar Prasad known for his articulation described in detail the Digital India initiative that promises India to leap frog development.
Other two Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Rijju listed to participate did not make it but senior civil servants of their ministries made detailed presentations. Those on shipping and highways were rich with details on the impressive work done in the development of highways, ports and inland waterways and the focus on northeast.
The continuous and steep drop in exports due to global slowdown is a matter for concern. Minister of commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman made a detailed presentation on the efforts made to focus on specific products and specific regions to expand exports. But like the AIADMK ministers she laboured hand on data, on micro issues like areca and copra, missing out onlarger issues affecting the Make in India effort.
The programme included a visit to the IIT Madras Research Park. Dr Ashok Junjunwala made an evocative demonstration of a welcome breakthrough: a 125 kw solar power unit with several modifications done to use DC current, to power homes at low cost and reducing dependence on grid power. This famous scientist has made invaluable contributions in the telecom and rural development spheres. The IIT-M Research Park that provides for close collaboration between scientists and researchers in industry and the academy and students of IIT-M, has already produced a number of innovative products and several applications with great promise has been ......