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

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Madarsas: Need for a Fresh Look

The importance of modernisation and universalisation of education among Muslims in India is borne out by their poor performance in various fields. It is a matter of gratification, therefore, that there is growing convergence of views on the need for modernisation of madarsas and bringing the education imparted in them into the mainstream of universal trends in education.

MSEB's Tariff Revision Proposal

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) must take cognisance of the sharp deterioration in the finances of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) in deciding on the Board's tariff revision proposal submitted to it. Consumers must not be expected to pay for the inefficiencies of the MSEB.

Controlling the Purse Strings

Control of Public Money – The Fiscal Machinery in Developing Countries by A Premchand; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp 494, price not indicated.

Making State Budgets Transparent and User-Friendly

The Maharashtra government appointed a one-man committee consisting of the author to prepare a report to initiate reforms in the state government's budget-making process. The report was prepared and submitted to the state government in September last year and was accepted by the government in December. This paper brings out some of the more important observations and recommendations of the report.

Maharashtra - Budget 2001-2002:A Directionless and Empty Ritual

Given the grim financial situation in the state, the state Budget 2001-02 was expected to offer bold initiatives. However, there appears to be a lack of political and administrative will to deal with substantive issues. The budget not only fails to address issues of expenditure management - the question of the burden of wages and salaries, for instance, has assumed serious proportions - but only outlines temporary measures to put the state's finances on a firmer footing.

A Well-Intentioned Budget

The Budget for 2001-2002 is certainly not wanting in terms of good intentions and a thrust in the right directions. The main question is whether these intentions are likely to be translated into reality.

Finance Commissions in a Cul-de-sac

The reports of successive finance commissions make it clear that the institution of the finance commission is progressively getting trapped in a cul-de-sac. The reports have become a ritual and for the most part have hardly anything new to contribute though the fiscal position of the states and the centre has deteriorated sharply over time. The elaborate quinquennial exercise, lasting over three years on each occasion and involving intensive discussion with all the state governments and central ministries, academics, representatives of trade and industry and other knowledgeable persons, has hardly thrown up any new idea. The successive commissions have instead merely tinkered with the percentages of horizontal distribution among the states along with effecting marginal increases in central devolution.

Unending Struggle for Right to Information

It is interesting that through five years of dithering over the bill on the right to information, the position of the central governments which has been run by two United Front governments, the BJP and its allies, has remained the same. The bill, as presented in parliament last month hardly does justice to the struggle to bring transparency to issues of governance.

Enron Saga

Power Play: A Study of the Enron Project by Abhay Mehta; Orient Longman, New Delhi, 2000; pp 226 plus xv. MADHAV GODBOLE Enron will be remembered and commented upon for generations as an illconceived, hastily approved project which reduced the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) to penury and cast an unsustainable burden on MSEB

Right to Information

 After many unfulfilled promises to enact a law on right to information, there is now a draft Bill on Freedom of Information. This paper brings out the inadequacies of the bill and suggests improvements to it as also parallel actions which will help make the proposed act meaningful.

Maharashtra Budget, 2000-2001

Maharashtra budget 2000-01 shows that the government has missed an opportunity to set its house in order. Reformist rhetoric notwithstanding agriculture continues to escape the tax net, procurement schemes for cotton continue to make losses and the state government continues to be downgraded by the credit rating agencies.

Tasks before Eleventh Finance Commission

The award of the Eleventh Finance Commission (EFC), to paraphrase the finance minister, will be the first of the new century and of the new millennium. But to live up to this historic role, the EFC must blaze a new trail and get away from the well-trodden path of tinkering with percentages for vertical and horizontal distribution of funds. What is required are bold departures from the past. Some expectations of the EFC.

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