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NEW DELHI-Muddled Thinking on Public Sector

of public sector undertakings under its administrative charge convened by the Industry Ministry this month received wide attention. At the close of it, how- ever, the chief executive must have been overwhelmed and baffled by the range and multiplicity of tasks set for them by the Industry Minister, T A Pai. Pai has acquired a reputation for outspoken exposition of the government's pragmatic industrial policies. If in the recent past Pai had been forcefully advocating higher production by the public sector undertakings

NEW DELHI- Lessons of SAIL

NEW DELHI Lessons of SAIL B M THE resignation of Wadud Khan as Secretary of the Steel Ministry and Chairman of the Steel Authority of India has not come as a surprise. Matters were heading in this direction for some time. The only issue to be decided was whether Wadud Khan would be retained in either of the two capacities or would be relieved of both offices. He resisted for a long time separation of the two offices, but lost the struggle when the Prime Minister was at last convinced that the experi- ment of combining the two offices had failed and gave the green signal to the Steel Minister, Chandrajit Yadav, to make the necessary changes in the steel set-up. What made Wadud Khan's position wholly untenable and forced his total exit was a series of miscalculations on his part in the prolonged tussle he was engaged in with successive Steel Ministers over the working of the SAIL and over his functioning in the dual capacity of Secretary of the Ministry and Chairman of the steel holding company. At one time he was offered Membership of the Planning Commission in place of the two offices ho held, but he understood it to mean that: he was being offered a third charge which, of course, ho was ready to accept. This streak of over-ambitiousness on the part of its Chairman found reflection in an obsession with giganticism in the conception and structure of SAIL. The idea of the holding company for steel was conceived with the objective of promoting integrated development of the steel industry in the public sector on the basis of a long- term perspective. In practice, however, this was distorted to mean the assembling from the top a bloated monolith

NEW DELHI-Decay of Public Distribution

October 9, 1976 DAMODAR BULK CARRIERS is offering 9,49,880 equity shares of Rs 10 each at par to the public for subscription. The company is engaged in transportation of iron ore from India to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Europe and bringing back foodgrains from the US and Australia, and also runs a passenger-cum-cargo service between Bombay and Persian Gulf. Promoted by Salgaocars of Goa and P and O of London, the company began its operations in 1966 with a small ship of 2,000 DWT. Today it has four bulk carriers aggregating 224,018 DWT and a passenger-cum-cargo vessel of 4,615 DWT. Before the end of this month the company will launch a multi-purpose cargo ship of 21,610 DWT at the Hindustan Shipyard. With increase ' tonnage from 2,000 to 228,633 in i

NEW DELHI- A Very Different Plan

NEW DELHI A Very Different Plan B M THE Fifth Five-Year Plan has at last been given 'final' shape and dutifully approved by the National Development Council. The Prime Minister described the finalisation of the Plan as a "morale booster" and as "clinching evidence'' of the resumption of the processes of planned development after overcoming the strains and distortions which had beset the economy during the past several years. But what is the operational hie of the final Plan document? It is' bound to be rather limited if for no other reason than that the final Plan will be of relevance for only the last two years of the five-year period.

NEW DELHI- Embarrassment of Riches

Embarrassment of Riches THE experienced and highly sophisticated group of 'aid diplomats' in New Del hi currently find themselves in somewhat of a quandary. Their task was never easy, especially in the last lew years of what is euphemistically called deterioration in the aid climate. But they brought to bear on their aid solicitation a degree of ingenuity and refinement which was impressive. This is testified by the higher quantum of aid inflow in the last three years in particular, even in the lace of so many political impediments. They were naturally elated when the World Bank- gave a public chit applauding the good management of the economy last year. Unlike the past practice of World Bank reports being kept confidential, it was mutually agreed to give this report wide publicity. This was expected to overcome the so-called aid-weariness in the donor countries and to counter propaganda that aid-receiving countries were squandering concessional aid and that, especially in the ease of India, aid was going into a bottomless pit.

NEW DELHI-Time for Rejoicing

NEW DELHI Time for Rejoicing B M THE claborate year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry which were launched with much fanfare last week at Bombay does not look like Incoming an ordinary or conventional ritual associated with such occasions. It is being taken very seriously by the business community. The first ceremony staged at Bombay in this connection was a good indication of that. It was an impressive display of growing understanding and liaison between the captains of industry and trade and the government This understanding is now beginning to find firmer and clearer articulation on both sides.

NEW DELHI- Food Surplus for Export

NEW DELHI Food Surplus for Export! B M THE brief spell of anxiety which was felt in government circles in July has given way to robust optimism with the turn for the better in weather conditions. The stopping of further purchases of foodgrains abroad and another look at the foodgrains production target for the Fifth Plan which has been proposed by the Food and Agriculture Ministry show how far and to what extent the behaviour of the monsoons influences the mood and the outlook of policy-makers. The Food and Agriculture Minister, Jagjivan Ram, was unusually cheerful, relaxed and confident when he met economic journalists for an informal discussion last week. He used the occasion to predict that India should emerge as an exporter of foodgrains at the close of the Fifth Plan period two years hence. He disclosed that the Planning Commission had been advised by him to review the food- grains production target for the Plan with a view to its upward revision. The original Plan target of 140 million tonnes is, of course, treated as not worth talking about. But the revised target of 124 million tonnes, which was thought to be realistic, is now proposed to be revised upwards, by exactly how much Jagjivan Ram did not say. But a target of 128 mil- tion tonnes is hinted at as quite feasible considering the achievement of 119 million tonnes during the current year.

NEW DELHI-Spreading Sickness

NEW DELHI Spreading Sickness B M WITH their number growing relentlessly, closed and sick industrial units are posing a complex problem for the government. It is no longer a case of a few units falling sick which the government could deal with under the Industrial Development and Regulation Act. Entire sections of industry are now tending to fall sick. Large segments of certain industries

NEW DELHI- Miles to Go

NEW DELHI Miles to Go B M THE potential of Bombay High, after the long-delayed drilling of the structure was started, is turning out to be better than even the most optimistic pre-drilling estimates. The strikes at Bassein and other faults have given it added dimensions. But far more than even the precious oil struck, the success here has helped to restore morale and confidence among our oil men. Morale and confidence had been greatly undermined by the earlier smug dependence on import of cheap oil for a whole decade until ||ie world oil crisis jolted the government out of a mood of complacency and lethargy in regard to oil exploration. Facuity of funds, bad leadership in the ONGC, the overlordship of the bureaucracy and the tie-up with a single source of technology, not necessarily the best, had emasculated the ONGC and its work had been sapped of energy, enthusiasm, imagination and initiative for a long time. The situation has greatly improved during the last couple of years in this key sector of the national economy.

NEW DELHI- Up the Pragmatic Road

Special\Number August 1976 NEW DELHI Up the 'Pragmatic' Road B M THE conditions created by the Emergency, the government has claimed, provide vast scope for wide-ranging innovations and initiatives in the field of economic policy and management. There is little doubt that in some ways the economic situation today is much better than it was a year ago and more especially two years ago when inflation was at its peak and had created severe strains and uncertainties all round. Inflation has been brought under control, though, as the erratic behaviour of prices in the first quarter of the current 'nancial year showed, inflationary forces in the economy have not yet been entirely eliminated.

NEW DELHI-Tinkering with Fifth Plan

NEW DELHI Tinkering with Fifth Plan B M AFTER a prolonged interval, there is some revival of activity in Yojana Bha- van. The Prime Minister has at last been persuaded to show some interest in the labours of the planners. She has agreed to a full meeting of the Planning Commission in August under her chairmanship. This is a much-needed morale booster for those working in Yojana Blmvan. The exact date for the meeting is, however, yet to be fixed. Meanwhile, the emergence of fresh pressure on prices has created fresh doubts and uncertainty. But it is fervently hoped among the planners that the price problem will be effectively tackled in the prevailing overall economic and political environment and will not be allowed to once again raise fresh obstacles in the way of their al- together belated effort to give final shape to the Fifth Plan.

NEW DELHI- Inflation Raising Its Head Again

THE euphoria over the success of the anti-inflationary measures is beginning to lose some of its exuberance. In its wake has come fresh anxiety as the price index has again begun to rise. The wholesale price index began to move up in the second half of March this year and since then in the last three months prices have been rising at the rate of about 2 per cent per month. There is no sign yet of the pressure on prices abating.


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