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NEW DELHI-Police in Charge of Industrial Relations

employers to lock out or lay off workers in industrial disputes and lock-outs and lay-offs for other reasons such as, say, power-cuts or non-availability of raw materials or other similar bottlenecks, it can be taken for granted, will be readily permitted by Authority as being valid and in order, In any case, the most telling refutation of the claim of the Prime Minister came within two days of her making it when Century Rayon served notice of lock-out on its workers, directly and explicitly because the workers had raised an industrial dispute and were agitating for their demands which the management considered excessive and unreasonable.

NEW DELHI-Dumping the Rural Poor

such threats and repression?
Predictably again, the INTUC which calls itself a trade union body has raised no protest against the Ordinance; indeed, some of its affiliates are demonstrating support to it, in front of the PM's house in ways reminiscent of the Emergency. All non-INTUC unions have vehemently condemned the Ordinance. The real test, however, will come when they decide what they are going to do about it. After the june 4 Bombay Conference of non-TNTUC trade union organisations, some efforts seem to be under way to launch a joint agitation on the more pressing labour issues and demands. Even before the Rational Campaign Committee set up by the June 4 Conference has had time to draw up its full campaign plans, the Ordinance has come as a challenge to it. But the Campaign Committee will be well advised to refuse to beprovkedat the Centre. The present Union and stampeded into any premature and precipitate conflict on the issue of the Ordinance, It will be wiser for it to draw up its own campaign plans regardless of the Ordinance and let the government show its hand as to how it proposes to use its newly-assumed repressive powers. At the same time, it should alert its constituents to be in readiness to resort to resolute direct action if and when the government does in fact seek to suppress legitimate struggles of workers. Too often in the past similar joint trade union initiatives have turned out to be mere posturing. The Ordinance may yet turn out to be a boon to workers if under its threat non-INTUC trade unions moderate their mutual rivalries and build a more honest and durable joint front for action.

NEW DELHI-Clueless about the Economy

NEW DELHI Clueless about the Economy B M THE decision of the government to import 200,000 tonnes of sugar and, quick on its heels, to import, to begin with, 1.5 mn tonnes of wheat

NEW DELHI- Oil Companies Turn the Screw

Oil Companies Turn the Screw B M WHEN the Oil ami Natural Gas Com- mission drilled the first well in the Godavari basin and struck oil early in 1980, the then Petroleum and Chemicals Minister, Virendra Patil, told Parliament amidst much cheering that a second Bombay High had been discovered. Since then, however, the ONGC hits been having a rough time with its drilling of the Godavari basin. This is not unusual. Finding oil is a difficult and exacting job and no oilman will be unduly put out on this score. The drilling of the second well in the basin has met with specially difficult conditions. Strong winds and waves and other conditions have resulted in several mishaps. Some equipment has been lost and work held up. This, however, does not mean that prospects of finding a rich oilfield under the basin have diminished in any way. It is still considered a highly promising structure and there can be no question that the effort to find oil there should be slackened, much less given up. On the contrary the effort has to be intensified with better technology, better equipment and more expertise.

NEW DELHI-Wheat Procurement Fiasco

NEW DELHI Wheat Procurement Fiasco B M INDIRA GANDHI's dash to Chandigarh to goad the Punjab and Haryana governments into better performance in procurement of wheat was something novel. It appears that Rao Birendra Singh, the Food and Agriculture Minis- ter, was found ineffective in dealing with the chief ministers of the two states who had ignored him when he asked for a greater role for the Food Corpora- of India in the procurement of wheat in Punjab and Haryana. According to the established arrangements, the FCI picks up only 20 per cent of the marketed surplus in the organised mandis of the two states and the rest is left to the state procurement agencies. Birendra Singh was also told rather brusquely by the two chief ministers that setting targets for procurement on the basis of inflated claims of production and without a proper policy framework was both unrealistic and irresponsible. His poor leadership

NEW DELHI-Resisting Foreign Intrusion into Indian Oil

Resisting Foreign Intrusion into Indian Oil B M THE grandiose plans of the Petroleum Minister, P C Sethi, to 'open up India to the international oil companies in a frantic bid to discover oil, on-shore and off-shore, seem to be going awry. The OPEC challenge has not apparently softened up the notorious seven sisters of the world oil business. They remain as exacting bargainers as ever. They insist on solid and substantial gains for themselves before they choose to make any deal. It is naive of P C Sethi and the men in his ministry to be taken by surprise or to be dismayed at the oil companies' close-fisted response to the warm invitations handed out to them for exploration of prospective on-shore and off-shore structures.

NEW DELHI-Business and Government

NEW DELHI Business and Government B M A MARKED feature of the annual meetings of the various organisations of industry and trade which take place at this time of the year has been a significant drop this year in confidence and assurance on the part of business circles, in contrast to the arrogant display of power and optimism in these meetings last year. Also, there was a noticeable undercurrent of anxiety on their part about the state of business-government relations which seem to have turned somewhat subdued and cool compared to the ardour and warmth which characterised them after the return of Indira Gandhi to power last year. The so-culled 'fruitful dialogue' between the two sides on which high hopes were placed by both for some time after the change of government appears to have been tuned down to a comparatively low key. The situation has reverted to the familiar monologue of the two sides marked by accusations and counter-accusations, claims and counter-claims.

NEW DELHI-The Import-Export Wallahs

NEW DELHI The Import-Export Wallahs B M THE annual announcement of import- export policy by the Union Commerce Ministry has become over the years a well-rehearsed ritual, performed with due ceremony and solemnity. Its impact on the overall volume, composition, and direction of India's foreign trade is minimal. It does not touch more than a quarter of the country's imports. As for exports, the determining factor is their competitiveness in foreign markets and no amount of control and licensing can help matters though, of course, exports of certain selected items may be banned on the grounds that these are needed in the home market. The Commerce Ministry, too, seems satisfied with making a spectacle of shifting certain items from one list to another through an elaborately contrived licensing and control regimen.

NEW DELHI-New Aid Diplomacy

NEW DELHI New Aid Diplomacy B M THE sophistication associated with India's aid diplomacy has begun to wear off. In its place, the bureaucracy, in New Delhi, which is now handling the job, is ready and willing to be unabashed about soliciting aid, to the extent even of making a spectacle of itself and India's abject dependence on aid. The first manifestation of this new style of aid diplomacy became visible at the time of last year's Aid- India consortium meeting when it was publicly proclaimed that the two billion and odd dollars of aid pledged was insufficient, even "paltry" for India's growing aid needs and that New Delhi was greatly disappointed by the aid- givers' performance. But a more stark and striking manifestation of this attitude has been provided in the course of the farewell visit of the outgoing President of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, to New Delhi.

NEW DELHI-Fall-Out of Thal-Vaishet

between Indira Gandhi and her crities. Indira Gandhi is being attacked on two totally untenable grounds. Contrary to the belief of many opposition politicians, she has not committed India to unqualified support of the Soviet military presence in Afghanistan. Secondly, she seems to he under attack for not taking Zla's friendly overtures seriously. There atrain Zia and his fundamentalist junta will prove her right The Morarji Desais and Vajpayees of the world and our enthusiastic opponents of Soviet hegemonisrn will be proven wrong by Zia and his junta. The simple fact of GOINGS on in New Delhi are becoming my re and more intriguing. The opposition has scored a point, by its own kisan rally. But rallies, small and big, are becoming a daily occurrence

NEW DELHI-Open Door for Multinationals

THE annual visit this year of a group of American multinational representatives led by Orville Freeman, who acts as their consultant and public relations man in India, is on a rather low key. This is in marked contrast to the en- ormou publicity given to such visits in the past. This time there are quiet talks with the Prime Minister, her Cabinet colleagues, high government officials and leaders of private business and industry. The quiet stance is accompanied this time with clear and repeated signals from the Indian side that they are willing to accommodate the multinationals on most generous terms. Indeed this had been foreshadowed in the Vice-President publicly declaring, soon after the present government of Indira Gandhi had been formed, that there is a 'deceleration' in the antipathy and hostility among government circles in India towards foreign capital and collaboration. No less welcoming were the remarks of the Prime Minister, in her meeting with the Orville group this year, that her government was seeking to ''diversify sources of knowhow and investment" and make the regulatory system ''less restrictive" in order to boost product ion.

NEW DELHI- Noose around Labour Unions

NEW DELHI Noose around Labour Unions B M THE government of Indira Gandhi has passed on from talking tough to acting tough towards labour. The government began by making appeals to workers and their unions, asking thorn to observe 'discipline' in the interest of increasing production and controlling prices. At that time only some 'anti-social elements' among workers were held responsible for creating trouble and the government claimed it wanted to isolate these from the 'responsible and responsive' trade union movement. For a briet while thereafter, it claimed that an improvement in industrial relations had been achieved after its return to power. The fall in number of mandays lost owing to industrial disputes, during the first nine months of last year, was widely publicised. Evidently, it has now decided that the time has come when appeals and exhortations will not do and when the kid-glove must be given up for the mailed fist.


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