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This scant respect for Law Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks Wise Presidents MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Parliament in paralysis... Quality education through the PPP mode Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Mersal magnified Funding the un-funded Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai The rise and fall of Annamalai University Gay abandon in pricing Muffled voices for merit… Delhi is distant For whom the bell tolls? The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL The brown list of Venkitaramanan Put expensive assets created to use... Delhi is distant… GM Technology at last! Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel A professional at the helm of IRDA... Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi Paytm karo... A proud Madrasi Intellectual of rare qualities Music happens Engineering seats go abegging The Gulf aviation boom A rich pool of talent not utilised…. The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more Demise of a media baron... The rise and rise of KCP Roaring Ro-Ro facility Things happen by accident and not by design... A welcome initiative by the judiciary Permanent secretariat for TN GIM 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 F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Tatas moving out of urea production... Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform TIAM turns a full cycle Haul over the coal Revive development banks... IPL - no surprise this scam Modi storms Silicon Valley Streamlining mandatory third party cover China invests in India Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Breaththrough in malaria control Tribute – M V Murugappan Computation of GDP – conundrums continue PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Kinetic Karnataka Five star activism stalls development activity Airlines in India: cost and space Kudos to NDTV... CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? The star of Spencers is no more Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! Marketing expert Balagopal is no more Banning booze... 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Convulsions in The Hindu Increasing non co-operation of state leaders London, London Narayan EVM is tamper-proof Adharma of opposition politics GNS - 100: our first subscriber Auto components surge… L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles A friendly business group Where a state respects its litterateurs… Fortune 500 review Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan SoA @ 80 Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Another Indian music maestro at the UN Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Secularism and anti-Hinduism A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… He saved millions from starvation... Strengthen the base... Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities When nations steal growth from one another… Quality silica from Neyveli Come elections, come advertisements... Road development slows down Solar, solar everywhere … Multi-faceted Venkat Noble nonagenarians... 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No engine for this car Waning interest in public discussions… Revving up the manufacturing sector Welcome GST Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? Align crops to agro climate endowments… IPL type auction for VCs? Making ‘my Amaravati’...
 
More Shakthi to Das’ elbow

I am happy to find Shaktikanta Das, Union Secretary for Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry, who belongs to the Tamil Nadu cadre of IAS, in the limelight. Especially after the announcement of demonetisation, he has been articulating the nuances of this revolutionary measure so effectively. He seems to be part of the handful of policymakers behind this plan. He appears to command the trust of the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and has been the principal spokesperson on the progress of the scheme and the several course corrections. 

During his tenure in Tamil Nadu as Industry Secretary, I remember the dynamism and thrust of Das in bringing several large new projects into the state. I make particular mention of the Ford Mahindra project in 1996 that heralded the auto boom in the state. He was working hard at developing the Ennore Port by facilitating the setting up of several industrial units. 

Hailing from Odisha, this upright officer was put on the bench, a fate suffered by several other civil servants. But his transfer to the Centre helped bring out the best in him. 

I  remember such problems encountered by several of his predecessors in Tamil Nadu. K P Geethakrishnan resisted the clearance for one of the large state sector projects, the TNPL, on the grounds of an unproven technology. He was transferred as the Industry Secretary and appointed the CMD of the smallest of the corporations, TANSIDCO, and later appointed as Chairman, SIPCOT. His luck in getting shifted to Delhi saw him record steep growth in his career as Secretary – Environment, later Finance Secretary and thence Executive Director, IMF. 

I see good prospects for Das reaching Washington through this route. 

Das revealed yet another facet of his articulation: at the inaugural session of the Economic Editors’ Conference, a journalist from Chennai was struggling to articulate his query in English. Das intervened and asked him to raise it in Tamil, which the former did. Das responded in Tamil and also translated the Q&A for the benefit of all! Bravo.

If S K Das displayed his linguistic prowess in Tamil so well, Minister of State for Industry & Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman,  did one better: she answered queries from correspondents in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English with equal felicity and command!

I raised two questions on the ministry’s performance: the first was in response to her claim on facilitating exports. I cited the instance of a flourishing engineering goods exporter of Tamil Nadu who complained of demand for fat speed-money by port managers to move his containers to the ship. He pointed to incurring an expenditure of Rs 3 lakh per month on this score. The penalty for not coughing up the bribe was detention of the container and demand to open and explain every part inside, entailing massive delays and risk of his losing custom for failure to deliver in time.

The second instance cited related to the AIADMK government’s scheme to offer fans, mixies and grinders to its citizens. If one expected the expenditure of over Rs 2000 crore per annum to benefit industrial units in Ambattur or Coimbatore, one was in for a shock: the entire consignment has been imported from China! 

There was silence for a couple of minutes. The minister then admitted she was speechless!  Rare for this highly articulate minister.

Sitharaman promised to look into the first of the queries and rectify the malaise. Of the second, she said it is a more complicated trade issue.

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