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

The Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry has several divisions that are supposed to take care of the interests of the media:  the Press Information Bureau to disseminate information on government’s plans; the Press Registrar for facilitating publications with registration, imports of machinery, newsprint, etc., the DAVP for a release of government’s advertisements... There is also the mandate to assist small newspapers to help them meet the unequal competition from the bigger ones.

 These divisions have grown into behemoths with a large retinue of officials spread across the country. Not long ago there used to be one principal information officer with the responsibility as the spokesperson for the Prime Minister with deputies assisting different departments. While we had one PIO for years, today we have a PIO cum Director General, assisted by a dozen Additional Directors General and more deputy and assistant DGs.  And there are officers at the regional/state level with little communication with the media for which they are supposed to exist. Regional offices used to take care of press releases, press tours, organising press conferences for ministers…

Delhi also used to organise several important conferences for editors and media persons and visits to projects. Today, the salaries and perks of staff demand so much that these services to media - persons suffer severe cuts! The Economic Editors’ Conference was one such launched by the then Prime Minister in 1966. The annual conference used to provide the opportunity for economic editors to interact with ministers and senior civil servants handling economic portfolios. Spread over three days it used to provide excellent background material for the working of the different departments. It also provided for interactions and the opportunity to apprise policymakers of the impact of economic policies, particularly fiscal, on the different regions from which the editors hailed.

I have had the opportunity to participate in EEC from 1973 for over 40 years. For several years, I used to be the sole representative from the South attending the conference. I presented specific issues concerning the southern states and several of these have been effective. eg. I submitted in 1973 on the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) requiring urgently additional mining machinery to reach its original target of mining 6.5 MT of lignite. Till then NLC could mine less than 3 MT p.a  plunging it to continuous losses. Mohan Kumarmangalam as the then Steel and Mines Minister, appreciated this and promised attention. Though he died soon after, the steps he initiated resulted in a handsome expansion of mining capacity. After completion of this in 1977, NLC, which was described by Finance Secretary Yardi in the 1973 EEC as a drag on the public sector, turned out to be among the most profitable of PSUs since!

The EEC has been particularly useful to editors from outside Delhi to meet and interact with policymakers. Particularly in the context of the very few policymakers from Delhi, especially the Finance Minister and his senior cabinet colleagues visiting state capitals and with such visits being crowded, regional editors have little access to policy makers.

Sadly, the NDA government seems to be less inclined to hold such interactive sessions. Dr Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Yashwant Sinha, who have had long tenures as finance ministers, allotted liberal time for the EEC. Jaswant Singh as finance minister skipped this. Arun Jaitley in NDA II would not provide time for this through 2014 and 2015. Maybe his lack of a finance background can be some reason for this. Neither his deputy Jayant Sinha nor officials of the finance ministry are often seen in Chennai or other state capitals.

It is, even more difficult to get any response from the Press Registrar or the DAVP for letters sent. Surely, the numbers and the stature of such divisions have expanded.

K P Geethakrishnan as Chairman of the Expenditure Reforms Commission delved deep into the working of the different departments. He pointed to the little  work done by many of these and recommended closure of quite a few. Arun Jaitley as then Minister of I&B seemed to have been impressed with the recommendation and was about to act. But with his shifting from I&B, a more kindly

Sushma Swaraj who succeeded him as the I&B Minister dropped the idea. Jaitley is I&B Minister again, assisted by another live wire minister of state. But they seem to be overwhelmed by the politics of administration and not much concerned with vital issues of administration as an essential tool for good governance.

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