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NEW DELHI- The Recession Scare

the wage freeze after October 30. They argued that such an assurance was absolutely essential because their own unions were far more democratic than the big national federations and made commitments only after a series of discussions among their rank-and- file and that their members' eagerness to participate in the JAC programmes would be conditional upon such an assurance.

NEW DELHI-Necessary but Insufficient First Step

NEW DELHI Necessary but Insufficient First Step B M THE decision to endorse the recommendation of the Agricultural Prices Commission against any further increase in the procurement prices of foodgrains, has not come as a total surprise. First, it has come only after a long tussle within the government. And second, it would make sense in food policy terms only if it is unequivocally followed up with certain other steps.

NEW DELHI-Heart-Break in Moscow

so, their names do not catch the newspaper headlines; he could join them. But, clearly, there are limits beyond which such personal gestures cannot proceed. Besides, even amongst the literati, many of the lesser mortals will worry, in the first place, about their own households: already, with inflation roaring, There is a rapid erosion of living .standards; a considerable number amongst the literati do not feel bounden to consider themselves keepers of the government's conscience; let the authorities look after the hungry and dying, the literati will take care of their own kith and kin. Many of them it will he pointless to question their integrity

NEW DELHI- No Money for Development Projects

NEW DELHI No Money for Development Projects B M THE Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Chemicals, heading the Department of Chemicals, last week called journalists to a special briefing to take the Press into confidence on the snags that have developed in the implementation of the high priority fertiliser programme. The stunning disclosure that he made on the occasion was that it was no longer the availability of foreign credits which now stood in the way of launching fertiliser projects. The real hurdle was the paucity of rupee resources. The Finance Ministry had made it clear that it was unable to provide funds for the Para- dip fertiliser project for which French credits to cover the foreign exchange cost had already been arranged, The beginning of work on the project will, therefore, have to be postponed till April next. The mention of April in this case, as also in several other cases, is a camouflage; it merely means that the question will be considered when the next year's budget is framed.

NEW DELHI-Fumbling in Peril

Fumbling in Peril B M PRIME Minister Indira Gandhi's ritual address from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 was unusually subdued. Her supporters have commended it for its honest admission of the grave difficulties which engulf the country. Her critics, however, were struck by the fact that for the first time her Independence Day speech contained no tall promises and implied no aggressive posturing. It really indicated the present undercurrent of frustration and failure in the entire government leadership and top administration. For a while, during July, there had been a sudden rash of activity within government which yielded the anti-inflationary 'measures'. By the time the final measure of the claimed 'package' to fight the inflation had emerged

NEW DELHI-Hands Up, without Fight

phenomenon. The principal causes of the inflation are the failure of the government to procure and distribute a minimum quantum of foodgrains through the public distribution system; speculative holding of commodities, mainly with 'black' money; financial mismanagement by the public and private sectors alike giving rise to vast current (consumption) expenditure and consequently low real savings and investment, particularly in the public sector; and the low investment in turn, resulting in a series of shortages of key industrial commodities as well as of power and transport.

NEW DELHI-Delusions of Demand Management

Delusions of Demand Management B M THE ordinance promulgated last weekend imposing a virtual wage freeze on workers and salaried employees in the organised sector was not entirely unexpected. As for the ceiling on dividends announced simultaneously, it was obviously intended to cushion the shock of the wage and DA freeze and to make it look that the government was holding the scales even between workers and dividend-earners. Though official spokesmen have denied it, the government has been thrown on the defensive by the sharp reaction of the trade unions to the wage and DA freeze. It has, therefore, begun to talk of a comprehensive package of anti- inflationary measures. But the main emphasis of government policy is now set. The emphasis is on arresting further growth of money supply with the public which, it is hoped, will reduce aggregate demand and thereby relieve pressure on prices.

NWE DELHI-Sell-Out on Aid

strong feelings of some of the developing countries both the US and West Germany, which are strongly opposed to any SDR-aid link, agreed to a compromise solution of referring the issue to a new joint IMF-IBRD Committee. However, since the US and West Germany are unlikely to revise their basic position of opposition to any SDR-aid link, the issue may beconsidered as good as lost On the question of gold, the Group of Ten decided that gold could Be used as collateral by countries for their international borrowings. That this small group of developed countries arrived at this important decision just a day before the meeting of the Committee of Twenty shows that the developed countries will increasingly try to settle their differences within their own small group and arrive at solutions to international monetary problems by bypassing the newly constituted IMF Super Board. The more noise the developing countries make in the discussions on monetary reform, the more inclined will the developed countries be to settle issues related to monetary reform outside the IMF

NEW DELHI-The Big Stick for Workers

NEW DELHI The Big Stick for Workers GOVERNMENT spokesmen from the Prime Minister down have been talking nineteen to the dozen about major 'wage reforms' in the offing. The various Cabinet committees are also said to have been discussing the subject. To take all this to indicate the beginning of an earnest effort to end iniquitous wage differentials and distortions would be to allow oneself to be misled by official propaganda.

NEW DELHI-Search for an Unconventional Wizard

NEW DELHI Search for an 'Unconventional' Wizard B M FINANCE MINISTER Y B Chavan's letter to state Chief Ministers on the need to exercise discipline in expenditures and raise additional resources has only elicited frivolous comment. Wide publicity was arranged for the letter which has warned the state governments that the Centre will not give them any more special accommodation and that they will, therefore, be well advised to cut down low priority expenditure and embark on additional resource-raising. But only a couple of weeks earlier when the Reserve Bank had refused to honour the cheques of the Karnataka government and Kerala also had reached a similar position, all that the two state governments had to do was to come rushing to New Delhi and secure authorisation for special accommodation. This will always happen as the state governments cannot be left in the lurch in such a situation and they know it. If the Finance Minister were to prove difficult, the state chief ministers can always go over his head.

NEW DELHI- Making a Scapegoat of Labour

NEW DELHI Making a Scapegoat of Labour B M THE organised sector of industry and business, represented by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) which held its annual session this week, reflects a new mood of confidence over the direction of government policies. This confidence appeared to be fully justified in the light of what the representatives of the government, from the Prime Minister downwards, had to say at the session. The Industrial Development Minister, C Subramaniam, himself articulated the sentiments of the captains of industry and trade most forcefully when he said that the "investment climate' was no longer a 'mysterious' problem and should not be made an excuse for lack of effort on the part of private industry. The Prime Minister was equally forthright on this question in her inaugural address.

NEW DELHI-World Bank, Our Saviour

NEW DELHI World Bank, Our Saviour B M A COMPLETE lack of credibility marks the working of the government. No one, therefore, takes seriously the denial by the Food and Agriculture Ministry that efforts are under way to arrange for imports of foodgrains. It will be recalled that reports from Washington had suggested that India was in the world markets for purchase of' as much as 4 to 5 mn tonnes of foodgrains this year. These reports had further suggested that some purchases had already been made in the US market for shipment to India. There can be no escape for the government from importing foodgrains this year. This is the simple logic of the decision to abandon the take-over of wholesale trade in wheat and to hand it back to private traders.


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