e October 2011

My Page

A monthly bulletin from M G Warrier incorporating select published letters/articles (and some stray thoughts based on what he read/saw and wrote during the month). Send your responses and views to mgwarrier@rediffmail.com.

Vol 1, No 4, October, 2011

Page One- Letters


Pre-audit by CAG (Published on September 10,2011)

This refers to the report “Home Ministry to seek CAG audit before award of Rs 30,000-cr deal” (Business Line, September 5). On the face of it, this may look like an extra-cautious government trying to make its processes defect-free at a time when the Anna-effect is haunting it.

But a government which was hesitant, intolerant, doubting and critical (not necessarily in that order) while handling ‘outside' participation in drafting the Lokpal Bill is unlikely to have become wiser suddenly.

First, the CAG is very much a part of the government and is, therefore, no third party. Trying to get a clean chit from the CAG on a prior basis, for expenditure that hasn't been planned yet or been fully provided-for in the budget, is only an effort to pre-empt future audit objections.

There may not be many takers for the view that the CAG is the only third party who can give expert opinion on the proposed contract.

In the present situation, the better choice would be to ask institutions like ICWAI or even the CAG to suggest an expert or an expert body, whom the scrutiny can be entrusted to.

Although one doesn't expect the present CAG to meekly submit to the approach of the Home Ministry, one cannot rule out the possibility of the Home Minister succeeding in the effort to persuade the CAG to give his views on the proposal. Such an eventuality would create a bad precedent.

M. G. Warrier , Mumbai

Taxing the rich (Published in Business line on September 26, 2011)

This refers to “Beyond Plan panel's Rs 32 / day poverty line” (Business Line, September 23). Lopsided priorities followed with regard to costs, prices, wages and income by mimicking developed countries have affected the efforts to tackle problems arising from income disparities so far.

The Government should take responsibility for providing minimum satisfactory living conditions, including food security, healthcare and shelter to all.

For this purpose, the Government should consider creation of a fund for poverty alleviation by transfer of substantial shares from windfall gains, such as from taxing unaccounted wealth, auction of natural resources and disinvestment of equity in public sector companies.

Additionally, taxing those who need extra security, and those whose wealth grows faster than the rate at which Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grows, could be another alternative.

These two categories of people have a vested interest in keeping the majority of the people poor.

M. G. Warrier, Mumbai

Business Standard

Letters: Ensure positive returns

Business Standard / New Delhi September 07, 2011, 0:02 IST

This refers to the report “LIC to give 6% annual return on Pension Plus” (September 5). In the last two decades, we have seen a progressive fall in the real rate of return (net of inflation) on savings invested in post office savings schemes, provident funds and savings bank accounts. The New Pension Scheme (NPS) introduced to replace the government pension scheme has also failed to show any sign of giving a stable rate of return in the near future. This is disturbing since a huge amount of captive funds that belong to low- and middle-income groups remain idle without generating reasonable rent. And at the same time, it is these groups that pay for inflation in terms of taxes and increases in the price of food articles and other basic needs. No wonder the household savings rate is declining. The government should take a look at the rate of return on the above mentioned categories of savings and ensure that the rates of return are positive. If this is not done, the burden will ultimately fall on the taxpayer since the government may

not be able to abdicate its responsibility to ensure minimum food security and social security, including health care for all citizens.

M G Warrier, Mumbai

Letters: Housing problems

Business Standard / New Delhi September 19, 2011, 0:56 IST

This refers to Geetanjali Krishna’s column “Ramesh’s house-hunting” (September 17). The author has nicely captured a real-life problem faced by millions of migrant workers in India. Ramesh represents a class that is being sustained and perpetuated by the so-called influential elite to ensure that unskilled workers are available for starvation wages. A solution can be found by making those who occupy or hold, say, more than a reasonable limit of living space (this could be 400 sq ft per individual) agree to either accommodate more members in their own dwelling unit or to contribute to a national house-building fund dedicated to providing cheaper accommodation to the needy.

M G Warrier, Mumbai

Letters: Focus on HRD

Business Standard / New Delhi September 13, 2011, 0:19 IST

This refers to A K Bhattacharya’s column “The rise of the public sector” (September 7). The column gave an idea of the positive impact of the last two decades of LPG (liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation) on the public sector organisations’ policy perspectives. The ageing workforce is a serious issue in India’s public sector today. When the performance of the government and institutions in public and private sectors is being watched by the world, HRD at the top level across sectors should become a national priority. The huge disparity in the pay and perks in institutions with similar responsibilities across public and private sectors is a cause for worry. In this context, there is an urgent need to overhaul the policy on recruitment, training, placement and compensation.

A long-term solution may have to be found for the HR-related problems, including the inability to hire experts at market-related compensation, employees’ reluctance to change and demands from trade unions emanating from job security concerns. The government and public sector organisations may have to consider how best the “cost to company” principle can be integrated into their current recruitment, training, placement and career progression policies.

Till perhaps 10 years ago, employers could depend on a growing population of educated unemployed from which they could hire and fire candidates on their terms. The situation has changed with the opening up of the economy and the sooner we realise and act, the better.

M G Warrier, Mumbai

Letters: India's real tryst with destiny

Business Standard / New Delhi September 22, 2011, 0:49 IST

The Lunch with BS with Ajit Rangnekar (“Left and Right,” September 20) was loaded with content that is so relevant to present-day India. The ISB’s Mohali campus could easily be the first serious institutional effort to cater to the educational needs of those who are practicing public policy and governance in Delhi. So far, most of the management institutes have only been concentrating their resources on building a professional cadre to satisfy the recruiters from industry and financial institutions.

When Rangnekar says, “The truth is, my job is outside, not within, the campus. If I am required on campus, something must be wrong”, he conveys an important lesson for our political leadership — it is not just about delegation and leadership, but also about developing trust.

India being a country that cannot cut and paste any policy prescription, either from the West or east, is having her tryst with destiny in evolving a middle-path. The tidings are favourable; more and more educated youth are contributing to better governance. The ISB’s Mohali campus has the potential to become the epicentre of changes long overdue in its focus areas.

M G Warrier, Mumbai

Page Two- Blogs

Economic Times

New Pension Scheme*

The central government employees covered by the NPS are two-way losers. One, the huge costs savings in pension pay out by the switch over to the Defined Contribution pension system from the defined benefit pension system is a direct charge on the overall remuneration package this category of employees are entitled. Two, they do not have a window to air their grievances in this respect because the loss is not immediately felt and the full impact of the change will be felt only after 30 years or so when those who joined the service in January 2004 start retiring. It is also true that the anticipated savings in pension expenditure will also start accruing to government only by then. The time tested social security arrangement available to a section of employees has thus disappeared without any alternative system in place.

Two years back, when this writer made extensive enquiries, there was no clarity in the minds of authorities about the arrangements for payment of compensation/Family Pension to the survivors of central government employees who joined service on or after January 1, 2004 and die in harness. It is imperative for the organizations of serving employees to take up the issue with the government. This is a humanitarian and social security-related issue which cannot wait indefinitely, as the first normal retirement of post-2004 employee will be two or three decades later.

*Came online during September 2011

Economic Times

M G Warrier says:

September 22,2011 at 11:14 AM IST

RBI Governor

During last year, Dr D Subbarao while airing his policy concerns specifically about managing inflation had stressed the need for synchronization between monetary and fiscal policies. He also mentioned that in a poor country like India, the RBI has many responsibilities as well and it is not proper for it to focus only on inflation. This plainspeak should have been seen as an expression of his expectations about supportive measures from those in charge of fiscal policy and as an indirect admission of the limitations of central bank’s policy intermediation in an environment influenced by external compulsions. External influences including those arising from caging by coalition partners forcing Finance Minister to continue a stagnant fiscal policy, at least about supply-side management and price control, GOI did the next best thing by allowing Dr Subbarao to continue in office for another two years. You cannot blame him, if he took it as a signal to go ahead and pursue the right course RBI has been following in different areas of its responsibility. Dr Subbarao has during the last three years made perceptible progress in areas like fighting inflation, forex reserves management, financial inclusion and outreach and transparency in policy prescriptions.

Page Three-Entertainment/Travel

ONAM 2011


Mumbai Warrier Samajam celebrated Onam with traditional Ona Sadya, Thiruvathirakkali, dances and flower decoration on September 21, 2011. Sudha (my wife) and I joined as members of the Samajam.


The Dreams Malayalee Association representing 136 malayalee families staying in the Dreams Complex celebrated ONAM with traditional Ona Sadya, Thiruvathirakkali, dances and flower decoration on September 21, 2011 afternoon. Rendering of select Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi songs by a professional group “Rudra Veena” from Andheri entertained the audience from 6 pm to 10 pm.

Page Four-Archives

The Hindu Business Line

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010

Opinion - Letters

Executive interns in RBI

This refers to the report “RBI to hire 200 executive interns'' (Business Line, July 20). Although on the face of it, the proposal may seem like a normal HR initiative at infusing young blood with expertise and enthusiasm at a lower cost, no in-depth analysis may be needed to find that this is a short-term remedy being tried out for a long term problem. Sooner than later, the RBI, government and public sector organisations will have to wake up to the reality that their recruitment, training, placement and compensation strategies need thorough overhaul and this they have to do taking their existing employees into confidence.

A long-term solution may have to be found for the HR-related problems, including the inability to hire experts at market-related compensation.

The Government and public sector organisations may have to consider how best the ‘cost-to-company' (C to C) principles can be integrated into their existing recruitment, training, placement and career progression policies. This may involve the following: Taking the existing employees into confidence with an assurance that the changes will only improve the working results of the organisation and they will get an opportunity to share the benefits and new job opportunities and so long as they are prepared to learn new things/upgrade their skills, the infusion of ‘experts' will not eat into their career progression opportunities. Inter-mobility of executives in all cadres among comparable organisations. For instance, a banking/financial sector service could be evolved for institutions including those in the private sector and regulatory bodies in the financial sector. A transparent guidance for remuneration package based on paying capacity/need for skills for different sectors. Proposals like the present one by RBI of shifting to C to C to reduce costs will send wrong and unhealthy signals.

M. G. Warrier, Mumbai

Free Press Journal

Letters to the editor

Functional Autonomy(Published on August 17, 2010)


In the piece ‘RBI Autonomy is under threat’ (FPJ,August 16), Nantoo Banerjee has observed that on paper, the Reserve Bank Governor enjoys autonomy of a constitutional authority and in practice, he is expected to work like those ‘favored few’. The reasons for this unenviable position are not far to seek. If autonomy has to be functional, the people in position should feel the freedom first.

We all talk highly about the virtues of private sector, but do we really allow public sector imbibe its good features? This is a rarity. How else can one explain the difference in the selection procedures of successors for Ratan Tata and N R Narayana Murthy and those for finding CEOs and top managers of public sector organizations? Another point is that

it will be next to impossible to attract talent to these government positions, given the meager remuneration offered. It is time to revise this factoring in market realities. The present practice has resulted in compromises on quality and the nation can ill-afford this state of affairs.

M G Warrier


August 16

My Page-Genesis

The article below published in the New Indian Express in May, 2008 gives some background about the earlier avtar of My Page



M G Warrier

The premitive wisdom, passed on through generations, which today's Senior Citizens were privy to, inheriting from their parents and grantparentsthrough word of mouthis rarely available tothe kids now growing up. Remembered this today, when faced with a battery of questions from my grandchild, while walking with him in the garden today. His doubts included from why one cannot straight climb to the top of the coconut tree to why the butterfly wants to enjoy honey direct from the flowers, instead of coming to the kitchen for milk! I, as a child, have travelled with my father much less a distance than this three and a half year old would have already covered with his parents so far. But, my father had spent much more time with me. The difference is attributable to the progress made by the world during the last sixty years or so. When I was hanging to my father's fingers or even enjoying a ride on his neck, my thoughts were not polluted by the ghastly memory of the previous night's cartoon or movie on the television. and my dad didn't have a mobile or transistor pouring FM music into his ears and he didn't have to drive in

a traffic jam in Mumbai's highways, simultaneously answering clients' querries on the mobile! Depending on the length of the journey, my father used to tell me, long or short stories which included episodes from Ramayana, Mahabharatha and adventures of Siva and his kidsbesides anecdotes from the lives of my dad's friends and neighbours. Every story, invaribly carried one or more morals asking good children either to follow or avoid the path followed by the hero in the story, depending on whether he represented good or evil.

My children too were lucky to have their stay with their parents who were still enjoying the fruits of the fights for eight hour work and week end holidays till their late teens. The day my son joined a professional course of study in a far off college and I was travelling back after leaving him in the college hostel, the thought that we will not be sharing the

day's experiences at the dining table next monday night made me sad. Suddenly an idea came to my mind. I decided to write regular letters to him. From next week, till he completed the course, I wrote to him, on an average, six letters a month. No, I didn't write anything of my own, beyond the bare minimum to communicate news in the family and neighbourhood or enquire about his well-being. I stuffed the letters with quotes from the day's paper or a magazine or a book I was fortunate to lay my hands on. Tata, Vivekananda, Nehru, Gandhi, Shankaracharya EMS Namboodiripad all shared My Pages. Much later, in one of my letters I deliberately squeezed in some of my own thoughts also. I quote:

"The strengh or the power that has taken me so far, is the faith in myself or the greater existence of which I am an integral part, which was more than fortified and supported by an abundance of good luck. Faith in oneself- believe me, the whole universe and whatever is beyond exists because you exist and you are the most important being and if that be so, have faith in yourself- and good luck can keep one going and life is all about living each moment to the satisfaction of oneself.

God, Vedas and Upanishads and the social systems and scriptures are all man-made to make the existence and survival smooth and meaningful. Whichever way you look at it, whether God created the Universe or man deified the energy, power and resources, which he thought are beyond his comprehension, either way the purpose was to generate sustainable happiness.

Having said this, let me add that none of the great Gods or greater humans have enjoyed their being more than a village farmer or a good tailor or an expert blacksmith or a fisherwoman or a mimicry artist or a circus clown or a temple pujari who lived their lives one breath at a time and never bothered about what happened around, above or below(in terms of space) OR before or after."


*Published in New Indian Express in May 2008.


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