ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NEW DELHI-Doing Away with Collective Bargaining

NEW DELHI Doing Away with Collective Bargaining?
B M THE energy minister, F Shiv Shankar, confirmed in response to questions in the Lok Sahha that a proposal to set up a national wage committee or commission for employees of public sector undertaking was being considered by the Government. It was still an idea in an "embryonic stage", he added. The idea is understood to have been thrown up during! consideration of the wage agreement for coal workers by the political affairs committee of the Union Cabinet. In considering the agreement which had been negotiated by the Coal India management with the workers' unions, including the INTUC union, the Union Finance Ministry on the advice of the Bureau of Public Enterprises tried at first to stall its signing by raising minor contentions, including a small special allowance which figured in the agreement. Only when the trade unions threatened a strike did the Union Cabinet approve the negotiated settlement and allow it to be implemented. Since then the proposal to set up a committee or commission for fixing wages in public sector undertakings has been canvassed in- side the Government by the Energy and Finance Ministers. It has been commended on the ground that it would enable the Government to regulate and bring about greater uniformity of wages in the public sector. The idea, however, is to emasculate collective bargaining between management and workers' unions in the public sector and eventually in the organised industrial sector as a whole.

NEW DELHI-Public Relations Is All

October 15, 1983 office was at Calcutta. But, on the day of the firing, S N Tantia, one of the directors of the Company, was present in Dibrugarh and was keeping track of the events in the garden, Kalia, however, could riot explain why no member of the managerial or office staff had received even minor injuries despite all the brickbatting. His office room too did not bear evidence of any onslaught.

NEW DELHI-About-Turn in Electronics

NEW DELHI About-Turn in Electronics B M THE TV expansion programme which has been launched on Indira Gandhi's personal initiative, has more behind it than the projection before the mass of the people of a favourable 'image' of the government and the ruling junta through this government-controlled media. On August 18, within days of the launching of the TV expansion programme, the Deputy Minister of Electronics and Chairman of the Electronics Commission made a special statement on electronics policy in Parliament. The statement modifies, indeed reverses, all1 the basic postulates of the electronics policy of the government based on the recommendations of the 1963 Electronics Committee headed by the late Homi Bhabha, As with the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956; here too the present government by no means admits to any repudiation of its past policy positions; the attempt always is to pretend to continuity of policy even while departing from it. However, unlike with the modifications to industrial policy which were made gradually and in stages, the modifications in the electronics policy are dramatic, without equivocation, and belie the claim that the changes in policy are not very material.

NEW DELHI- The Prime Minister s Priorities

NEW DELHI The Prime Minister's Priorities B M WHAT exactly are Indira Gandhi's and her government's priorities and concerns in the complex and difficult area of economic and social development? The answer to this question will not be found in such exercises as the mid-term appraisal of the Sixth Plan and the correctives that the Planning Commission is proposing in order to moderate the distortions which have appeared because of lags and shortfalls in Plan implementation. It will also not be found in the advice tendered to the Prime Minister by various committees, commissions and councils, including in the latest widely- publicised note of the Economic Advisory Council headed by Sukhamoy Chakravarty. These advisers and advisory bodies seem to be bothered about stringency of resources and need for mobilising more resources for development. They arc worried about lags in investment in what they regard as the priority or core sector of the development plan and the need to step up investment in this sector. The advice they are tendering is designed to tackle these problems.

NEW DELHI-Fretting in IMF Embrace

NEW DELHI Fretting in IMF Embrace B M THE announcement by the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, that the government had decided to draw in 1983-84 only 1,200 million SDRs, in- stead of the earlier programmed 1,500 million SDRs, from out of the unspent 2,300 million SDRs of the IMF loan under its extended financing facility, came as quite a surprise. Mukherjee made the announcement on his own, and not in response to any query by pressmen. When earlier queries on the drawal of the loan instalments had been made with official of the Finance Ministry

NEW DELHI- Sixth Plan in Limbo

NEW DELHI Sixth Plan in Limbo B M THOSE in Yojana Bhavan concerned with the mid-term review of the Sixth Five-Year Plan have virtually completed their task. But the crucial next step, of considering the review document and the corrective measures indicated in it in a full meeting of the Planning Commission, remains uncertain. That would depend on the convenience of the Prime Minister as chairman of the Commission. The Prime Minister's own preoccupations, however, seem to lie elsewhere. And it is unlikely that a meeting of the full Commission under her chairmanship would be held in the near future.

NEW DELHI-Backtracking on Food Policy

NEW DELHI Backtracking on Food Policy B M THE government has often claimed that its public distribution system for foodgrains

NEW DELHI-In the Wonderland of Economic Policy

NEW DELHI In the Wonderland of Economic Policy B M WHAT has been highlighted by the Hurry of activity on the part of the Prime Minister in recent weeks is not only the half-hearted manner in which she has taken half-measures, though this has eroded faith in Indira Gandhi's leadership qualities and her political invulnerability. More important, it has been once again shown that Indira Gandhi must continue to rely, by choice as well because of the circumstances in which she has placed herself, on a small coterie which she may assemble at any given point of time and function only through such a coterie. She has neither the desire nor the ability lo look beyond for talent and indeed those with integrity and independence as well as talent may not be available to her for advice and assistance. This is manifest in the composition of her Council of Ministers und the periodic reshuffles of ministers and their portfolios as well as the top administrative set-up. This applies also to the changes in the Congress(I) set-up at all levels. The composition of the new Council of Economic Advisers would appear to dispute this view, but only partly. It was K N Raj, now a member ot the Council, who had while delivering the S Nijalingappa endowment lecture in 1974 said that in the prevailing circumstances expert advice had ceased to exercise much influence on government policy and action and that, therefore, economists would do well to take a back seat and not offer advice to government "to their own and others' advantage". He had also argued that most economic problems had ceased to be amenable to the advice or intervention of experts. Has he changed his views or was he pursuaded to join the Council of Economic Advisers by the persona] request of the Prime Minister? The Planning Commission is supposed to be an expert advisory body on economic policies. Yet the setting up of the Council to advise the Prime Minister on economic policies has not caused the slightest ripple in Yojana Bhavan. It is generally believed in the Commission that the Council and the proposed larger panel to advise the Planuing Commission will turn out to be assemblies, from time to time, of some eminent economists in the PM's office or in Yojana Bhawan to do some smart talking which will have little impact on official policy or action. Such assemblies have been held in the past on several occasions and they have served little purpose. Those who are invited to such meetings reiterate their known views in general terms, just as they do in many seminars, and go back to their normal functions in universities, research institutes or other places of work.

NEW DELHI-Delusions about Defeat

NEW DELHI Delusions about Defeat B M THE Prime Minister found it, characteristically enough, convenient to give her first reaction to the drubbing that her party and more especially her vaunted vote-gathering charisma have received in the recent Assembly elections in Andhra and Kanataka to a group of journalism students who made a routine call on her' She is reported to have attributed the stunning defeat suffered by her and her party to what she chose to characterise as 'malfunctioning' of the Congress (I) party and to 'adverse publicity'. This was obviously her way of trying to appear cool and unruffled in the face of a political setback which has visibly shaken the Congress (I) party at all levels as well as all those who believed Indira Gandhi to be invincible at the hustings and hence destined to rule without question and without accountability to anyone.

NEW DELHI-Crippling Crutches in Fertilisers

Crippling Crutches in Fertilisers ARRANGEMENTS being sought for the construction of the second batch of six large fertiliser plants, based on Bombay High gas as feedstock, belie yet again the official pretensions to achieving technological self-reliance and increasing indigenous content in these plants. The new plants are to be of the same size as the four that are under construction

NEW DELHI-BHEL Out in the Cold

NEW DELHI BHEL Out in the Cold B M IT has been disclosed in the Rajya Sabha that offers of the Soviet Union and Britain to set up super thermal power stations in India had been accepted. The USSR offer, it was stated, envisaged supply of equipment to generate 1,200 MW of power but the British had offered 100 per cent assistance for setting up a super thermal power station. The Rihand power project has been tied UP with the British assistance. Similar offers with minor variations in the terms of 100 per cent financing have been received in the Energy Ministry from other sources and are now expected shortly to be accepted since policy reservations on such offers have been removed.

NEW DELHI-Agricultural Prices and the Left

NEW DELHI Agricultural Prices and the Left B M THERE has been a great deal of press speculation on the CPI and its stance towards Indira Gandhi's government in the wake of the latter's 'complaint' to the Soviet leaders that the CPI was tilting towards rightist forces and joining hands with them to destabilise her government. From all available accounts, the CPI leadership has been able to hold its position so far in the face of mounting pressure from a variety of elements within and outside the party. What has enabled it do so is the emphasis that the leadership has been laying on what are called mass issues. In the face of the government's tough policy towards industrial labour and trade unions, activising of the trade union front has been given emphasis. The fairly impressive presence which the BJP has been able to muster in the trade union field in the last three to four years has not. created any complications in this context. The left trade unions have felt no reason to dissociate from the BJP trade unions in their campaign against the governments labour policy.


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