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NEW DELHI-Towards More Centralisation

NEW DELHI Towards More Centralisation B M THE administrative hierarchy in New Delhi expected Indira Gandhi to stage a comeback and was ready and willing to take the event in its stride. But the scale and sweep of her electoral victory has surprised the bureaucracy entrenched in the sprawling secretariat and it seems to be somewhat unnerved by it. Indira Gandhi invested by the people with overwhelming political authority indeed presents ominous uncertainties. These have only been emphasised by some of her statements such as the one she made to a foreign radio network that she would be "changing everything" in economic, social and foreign policies.

NEW DELHI-Politics of Sugar

NEW DELHI Politics of Sugar B M LIFTING of price and distribution controls last year and the gyrations of official policy since then which have led to the reimposition of what is called 'partial' control on sugar a few weeks ago and a series of revisions in sugar prices in its wake present an interesting and revealing case study. It is a case of official policy being tailored openly and entirely to subserve sectional interests, above all the least efficient among the sugar manufacturers and traders and cane- growers

NEW DELHI- Mess in Coal

Mess in Coal B M NEW DELHI BY all accounts, the performance of the giant Coal India Ltd with its heavy responsibility in conditions when the overall energy situation is last worsening is far from satisfactory. There is unrest and indiscipline in the work force, the middle level officer cadres are restive and their morale has hardly improved with the abandonment of their intention to go on strike without securing an acceptable solution of their problems. Production is simply not picking up even while demand for Coal is growing. Project planning and development of coal mines to meet future demand are lagging far behind schedule. While Biju Patnaik was able to secure the integration of the Coal Department in his Steel and Mines Ministry

NEW DELHI-Behind the Energy Crisis

Behind the Energy Crisis B M THE energy system of the country is under severe strain. All types of commercial energy electric power, coal, petroleum products

NEW DELHI-Planning Commission s Make-Believe World

NEW DELHI Planning Commission's Make-Believe World B M THE planners in Yojana Bhavan hit on a bright idea when they suggested to the caretaker Prime Minister, Charan Singh, that the final draft of the Rs 71,000 crore Sixth Five-Year Plan drawn up by them last June and approved at a meeting of the full Planning Commission chaired by the former Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, should be published without waiting for its approval by the Union Cabinet the National Development Council Irfter the coming mid-term poll. The argument advanced was that this would help the state governments and the Union ministries to prepare their annual plans for next year. This exercise normally starts at about this time of the year and it was suggested that the process should not be interrupted because of the abnormal political situation pending the mid-term poll to the Lok Sabha. The planners also felt that, in any case, there was little scope for any major modifications in the draft and if they were to be attempted by the new government after the poll, the five-year span of the Sixth Plan would nearly expire without a plan at all. The idea of publishing the draft Plan and treating it as the basis for planning exercises of the state governments and Union ministries for the coming par was thus the planners' unique Technocratic and administrative solution to planning problems in a difficult and uncertain political situation.

NEW DELHI- Conflicts Come into the Open

leaders and their dismal hangers-on. And we will have to accept reasonable constitutional flexibilities to underpin such a government pledged to a programme of reform and restructuring. What are the crucial tasks which have to be launched if chaos is not to take over? Minimum management, the ensuring of productivity, controlling prices, implementing electoral reforms to reduce money-power, and laying the foundation for a reorganisation of the states. There's enough here to keep a government busy, and working overtime. While political parties need to concentrate on activising their organisation at the grass-roots, now disrupted and decaying, they would have to apply their minds to a whole lot of political and economic cliches which they have never analysed or understood in the context of democratic functioning. There is enough political and economic experience in the country to permit a government of national unity to introduce the new disciplines through persuasion and agreement.

The Famous Battle of the Plan

The Famous Battle of the Plan B M THE atmosphere in Yojana Bhavan has changed dramatically from one of despondency to one of elation. The Planning Commission claims to have won a famous victory in a close tussle with the Finance Ministry on the question of the size of the Sixth Plan. The position had seemed grim when the Commission received a note from the Finance Ministry early last month demanding a substantial cut of between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 crores in the outlay of Rs 69,000 crores proposed in the Draft Plan. On its part, the Planning Commission had been carrying out elaborate exercises on updating the Draft Plan and these exercises had indicated that the financial outlay on the Plan would have to be increased by nearly the same amount as the cut proposed by the Finance Ministry if its output targets were to be kept intact. The Commission tried to make adjustments in its calculations to accommodate the Finance Ministry's views, but it found that some critical programmes and projects would suffer severe damage, and indeed the entire edifice of the Plan would crumble, if the Plan outlay was not raised by at least Rs 2,000 crores. But this seemed an impossible task in the prevailing political environment when all talk in the corridors of government was about cutting government expenditure, about enforcing a dedit squeeze and about other measures to somehow curb the expaasion of money supply as the only way to arrest the rise in prices.

NEW DELHI- New Perspective on Energy Policy

NEW DELHI New Perspective on Energy Policy B M SOME anxious rethinking on overall energy policy and perspective has been induced by what is called the second oil crisis hitting the country and the world economy as a whole. The working group on energy policy set up under the auspices of the Planning Commission is expected to submit its report in a few weeks. It is indicated that the report will present far reaching propositions for the planners and policy-makers to consider. What is being emphasised is that conventional parameters which have so far governed thinking on energy policy will have to be given up and some structural reforms in this sector will have to be boldly faced.

NEW DELHI-Hot Air on Public Distribution

NEW DELHI Hot Air on Public Distribution B M THE much-advertised expanded production- cum-public distribution scheme of Mohan Dharia, holding the portfolio of civil supplies in addition to external trade in the Union Cabinet, is ready to be launched from July 1. The .scheme is claimed to have been given final touches at a conference with the state chief ministers and civil supplies ministers at the same time as the more pressing problem of coping with police unrest was discussed in the capital. In the context of a marked spurt in prices and thriving black market even while the traders too have chosen to take to the agitational course, direct intervention of the government in the market on the scale on which it is planned to be done will be widely welcomed. But the question is whether Dharia's scheme will really work for the purpose for which it is ostensibly designed.

NEW DELHI- The Impossible Package

NEW DELHI The Impossible Package B M RAJ Krishna, Member, Planning Commission, seems to have earned a lot of criticism for his public warning that, unless proper steps are immediately taken, the much-vaunted price stability will soon yield to an inflationary spiral. His critics even argue that such a statement by a responsible member of the Planning Commission may actually induce a market psychology which traders would be only too glad to exploit. Such a criticism is indeed naive, because the Indian trader is very sensi vely tuned to market trends and would of faster than would any structured official machinery or expert.

NEW DELHI-Gunning for the Public Sector

the date of maturity upto 15 years with increase in the rate of interest to 11 per cent per annum with effect from lanuary 1, 1980. The improvement in the company's profit is attributable to reasonable prices of raw materials and multi-fibre policy of the government, which have benefited the cotton textile industry as a whole. The company has been pursuing the process of modernisation. It installed a number of items of machinery during the year. These would enable it to achieve further sophistication in the varieties of cloth.

NEW DELHI-Playing Politics with the Economy

NEW DELHI Playing Politics with the Economy B M THE prolonged infighting in the Janata Party and the growing bitterness and militancy with which the various factions in the ruling front are contending against each other could not but have its repercussions on the functioning of the government. A facile idea has been cultivated in some Quarters that factional quarrels may go on at the party-political level and that the normal work of government can be insulated from their impact. However, the position seems to be heading towards a crisis so fast that the deci- gien-making process at all levels, including at the cabinet level, is now beginning to be directly effected by factional considerations. The fact indeed is that the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility is itself getting eroded. A remarkable feature of this development is that the Prime Minister is actively contributing to this process.


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