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