Opinion

Below the line

| Updated on October 18, 2020 Published on October 18, 2020

RTI in Covid times

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has claimed that the RTI (Right to Information) cases recorded higher disposal rate during the Covid period (the last six months) compared to the same period of 2019.

In FY20, during the March-September period, 76.49 per cent of RTI cases were disposed off. In FY21, , during the same period, the disposal rate went up to as much as 93.98 per cent. Going by whole numbers, during this period last year, 8,962 cases from a total of 11,716 registered cases were disposed of. This year, 8,015 of 8,528 cases were disposed of.

Weighing options

Reports of Iran turning to Pakistan for basmati rice instead of importing it from India is worrying for the country’s exporters, as the Middle East nation has traditionally been a significant buyer of the fragrant rice from India. Although many Indian exporters are hopeful that it is only a temporary diversion because of payment problems from the Iranian side, there are some who fear that the loss of business may be permanent if the Centre doesn’t act soon and come up with some feasible mechanisms.

The rupee-rial payment mechanism operated by UCO Bank is now on the brink of collapse, with money running dry with India stopping all purchases of oil from Iran following US sanctions. Iran had suggested a barter system where items from India such as tea and basmati rice could be traded for Iranian products like fertilisers. But this, too, didn’t work out. With Iran now seeming to indicate that it could reduce its traditional imports from India if the payment process isn’t fixed, the onus may now be on New Delhi to work out a solution.

Historical or buried in history?

The word ‘historical’ appears to be part of every government decision. Just listen to any briefing by Central ministers, it always starts with ‘it is historical’ and end with ‘it is historical.’ If all policy decisions are historical, then why can’t MoUs be too?

A Cabinet minister, by habit, terms even an MoU with different countries ‘historical’. It is a different matter that MoUs have no legal binding on any of the party and are mostly considered customary in bilateral relations. Fed up with the use of the word ‘historical’ in the current regime, a government official quipped that all decisions taken during the first five years of the Modi government now seem to be buried in history!

No local strings

The buzz in corridors of power is that policymakers have dropped an earlier idea of mandating secondary listing for domestic companies that float their shares in overseas bourses. With Parliament recently amending the company law to allow direct listing overseas, there was apprehension that the rules being framed for the implementation of the law could stipulate mandatory secondary listing in India. Now, with rule-framing going through the last lap, it appears that secondary listings will not be mandated. Why, you may wonder, has there been a sudden change of heart from policymakers? Well, it may be to ensure markets get a good Diwali cheer amid the Covid-19 gloom, quipped a corporate observer.

Masking the pain, Chinese way

China is being panned in certain quarters for unleashing the coronavirus on the rest of the world, leading to a massive loss of lives and economic output. US President Donald Trump even calls it the ‘Chinese virus’. But this has not deterred some Chinese companies, which have investments in India, from distributing `Made in China’ N95 masks to their various stakeholders. Some of these masks have even made their way into many news organisations in the country, tempting journalists to quip in jest that it looks like ‘first the pain, and then the balm’ is being provided.

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Published on October 18, 2020
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