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Our Bureaus | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 12, 2017

Smogged out: The royal Belgian visit to New Delhi



At an event organised by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy in Chennai recently on power sector reforms, CEA Arvind Subramanian recalled asking the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar, how many power slabs his State had. Around eight or 10, the CM said. When Subramanian insisted it would be more, the CM called the power secretary who said it was around 25. The CEA was not convinced; he looked up the Bihar tariff chart and found there were 65 to 70 slabs in all with many sections of society getting exemptions and reduced tariffs. That came as a shock to the CEA and bolstered his point on power reforms!

Disqualifying directors

The Government has been on mission mode to clean the system through various legislative and regulatory changes: at times this has created more confusion than clarity. The latest concerns disqualification of directors. It is hoped that disqualification is limited to the company which did not file statutory returns for three consecutive years. This would mean that the concerned director would not be required to step down from other companies (where he holds directorship) that are compliant. If this is done it will come as a relief for thousands of directors because strict interpretation of company law would require the disqualified directors to lose directorship of all the companies.

No wonder all eyes are on the Supreme Court where the MCA is expected to file a transfer petition to club all writ petitions (challenging the disqualification) before different High Courts into one.

Breathless in Delhi

A high-level official delegation from Belgium couldn’t have chosen a worse time to visit India. No sooner did it set foot in New Delhi than the city was engulfed in smog. A businessman from the city was heard explaining rather sheepishly to his Belgian counterpart that things had taken a turn for the worse since the Belgians had arrived. The visitor replied with a twinkle that he hoped that Delhiites were not blaming the Belgians for it. The room burst into good-natured laughter and suddenly everybody seemed to be breathing easier.

Best host

Whether GST has served its purpose or not only time will tell, but one thing it has done is create competition among the States to host the council meetings. These meetings are now often held at places other than Delhi, based on invitations from States. Irrespective of the venue, State and Union finance ministers and officials remain busy in negotiations and discussions at the meetings. But the host States take it a serious view of being gracious hosts, organising meetings in comfortable locations with sumptuous meals and sometimes, even some post-meeting entertainment.

Guru-speak

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu is known for his one-liners. Delivering the 13th annual convocation address at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology University in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, Naidu said Google cannot replace Guru. According to him, “Education occurs in the classrooms, the sports fields, at home, through internet and the media and multiple daily interactions with people around us. All formal, non-formal and informal channels contribute to making us educated. Teachers play a pivotal role in educating the society. Google can’t replace Guru.” Well said, especially when everyone depends on Uncle Google for answers.

Tail-piece

Before he launched into his talk on power reforms at the Music Academy in Chennai, CEA Arvind Subramanian said he was overwhelmed that he was speaking at the same venue where the venerable MS Subbulakshmi and MD Ramanathan had performed. “I feel like an embarrassed interloper,” said Subramanian.

Published on November 12, 2017
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