Opinion

Below the line

| Updated on March 22, 2020

Sending a wrong signal

The RBI move to appoint R Gandhi, a former Deputy Governor, to the reconstructed board of YES Bank has raised eyebrows in banking and professional circles.

From the corporate governance angle, this is emitting wrong signals. Reason: Gandhi was part of the YES Bank board — as an RBI appointee in May 2019 — that got superseded by the central bank earlier this month.

People wonder why the RBI is rewarding Gandhi with a second stint on YES Bank’s board when it had been clearly proven that the earlier board couldn’t save the private lender from collapse.

Questions do arise the whether the collective responsibility of the board is sought to be given a go-by. Public confidence in regulatory integrity seems shaken.

Does this smack of an attempt to probably ring-fence him from investigating agencies?

Janata Curfew

Millions of viewers who were glued to their TV sets on Thursday evening to listen to the live telecast by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on measures being taken to fight Covid-19 were both surprised and amused by the term ‘Janata Curfew’.

The Prime Minister may have forgotten to give credit to those who coined the term, but farmers in Rajasthan and elsewhere have been using janta curfew as a means of protesting against government policies for several years. More importantly, the term was made ignominious by self-styled Karni Sena, when it used janta curfew to threaten and prevent people from going to movie halls to watch Padmavat, a movie by Sanjay Leela Bansali released in 2018.

Novel incentive

Insolvency regulator IBBI had come up with a novel way this past week to get on with its work in these coranavirus times. It relied on webinar (basically technology) to do some of the activities that otherwise would have called for physical presence of the people.

Sample this: On Friday, to drive home the message on the efficiency of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the regulator presented the successful resolution of Ruchi Soya Industries through webinar.

Clearly, webinars could be just what the doctor ordered in the current turbulent times.

Oops!

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey recently stated that sunbathing could help in fighting the novel coronavirus which has spread to become a global pandemic. Curious reporters posed a question to a Joint Secretary regarding the Ministry's stand on this statement.

Visibly embarrassed, he said that if the Minister had made any such statement, then the reporter should ask the Minister for clarification and not him.

The official also said that as an administrator it would be wrong on his part to make any comment on this point.

Technology to the rescue

Apprehensions about the fast-spreading coronavirus prompted the Commerce Ministry to scale down an important meeting with exporters to get inputs for the forthcoming Foreign Trade Policy for 2020-25.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), together with industry body CII, had planned a day-long meeting with exporters from all important sectors and other industry representatives to discuss the nitty-gritties of the policy.

On the scheduled day, however, the DGFT informed the participants that the meeting was cancelled because of the virus. Instead, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal held a meeting through video conferencing. Technology can certainly come in handy at a time when `social distancing’ is the mantra.

However, not all of the large number of participants invited to the first meeting could be accommodated.

Our Delhi Bureau

Published on March 22, 2020

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