WEEKEND LIGHTER: HELP WHILE YOU CAN

WEEKEND LIGHTER: HELP WHILE YOU CAN
(August 20/21, 2016, No. 34/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
I
Opening Remarks
RBI Governor*
Apropos “Jaitley meets PM over new RBI Guv’s appointment” (Business Standard, August 19), the reported quip from the FM that “We will let you know when we decide. You will come to know about the conclusion, not the process.” must have been adequate to shut the journalist’s mouth. But, now, from Ex-RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao’s book “Who Moved My Interest Rate?”, we know how hazily selection of RBI Governor is made! Dr Rakesh Mohan and Dr Subbarao were summoned separately to the then FM’s house same day and the person who was amenable was selected.
There is a context for stakeholders outside GOI being vigilant about the selection process of the incumbent who will be RBI Governor after September 2, 2016. Right or wrong, a message has been sent out that Dr Raghuram Rajan who needed some more time to complete certain reform processes in the regulatory and supervisory environment in the financial sector, besides long-term structural changes was being ‘eased out’ by using unethical means, like mounting of baseless allegations by a spokesperson of the ruling BJP. It is common knowledge now that Dr Rajan would have taken the ‘Swamys’ in his stride, if he had the assured support from PM and FM.
The eleventh hour hurry in finding out ‘suitable substitutes’ to fill in vacancies like that of RBI Governor does not augur well for a mature nation like India.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Watch out next issue of WL for more on this subject.
Missing gold pots
This refers to the report “769 gold pots missing from Kerala temple vaults, SC told” (The Hindu, August 15, 2016). The report is indicative of the helplessness of even statesmen of proven eminence like Vinod Rai in eliciting relevant information from ‘institutions’ like Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple. The reference here is to the embarrassing observation that ‘This would indicate that the total number of gold pots excluding the gold pots if any in B kallaras were only 397…There is a shortage 769 gold pots with an aggregate of 776 kg (approximately valued at Rs 186 crore) would require a detailed probe…’
Temples and religious bodies receive funds and offerings in kind (like gold and jewellery) from public. The assets of this temple also accumulated from such receipts. It is intriguing that governments of all denominations find it difficult to enforce transparency in accounting of assets and liabilities of such organisations.
Kerala can play a lead role in bringing transparency in the working (at least to the extent of keeping a record of accumulated assets, if not sources and uses of funds) of temples, religious bodies and organisations receiving donations higher than a threshold limit annually. As regards Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, hopefully, the Supreme Court will prioritise and resolve the mystery surrounding the missing gold by first insisting on completion of the preparation of inventory in all vaults including B Kallara (Vault).
M G Warrier, Mumbai 
II
Recent responses
1
 Back to basics
The well-researched and elegantly argued article “An avoidable war of attrition” by Sanjay Hegde (The Hindu, August 17) should form the basis for resolving the impasse created by stalling of appointment of judges against existing vacancies in High Courts. Read with the historic evidence of earlier situations when GOI and judiciary had passed through confrontations on issues, it is amply clear that the CJI’s ‘reaction’ on appointments is not a sudden outburst of anger or just an expression of disappointment. It is an indictment on the GOI machinery handling appointments. In the recent past, the ineptness in handling appointments at the top level by Centre has been glaring. This laziness in handling appointments at higher levels do not augur well for a government which wants the nation to reform, perform and transform. After all no institution can perform efficiently with several vacancies at the top. Take note that this is additional to the constraints in attracting talent on account of abysmally low remuneration of judges compared to the income of those advocates in the ‘catchment area’.
As new vacancies are sanctioned in government (judiciary included) and public sector after due   deliberations and most of the time a year or two later from the initiating of processes, the existence of large number of vacancies at various levels directly mean heavy pendency of work. Judiciary need to get some special consideration in the matter of filling up existing vacancies, as the fate of pending court cases has a direct impact on the lives of people involved.
Government and public sector should move forward to a ‘zero-vacancy’ concept sooner than later. In such an approach, GOI may have to consider appropriate legislative measures to enable allowing retiring incumbents to continue post-retirement, on mutual consent and acceptable terms, till the successor takes over. 
M G Warrier, Mumbai
2
Handle with care
This refers to the report “CJI Warns Govt on Vacancies” (Economic Times, August 16). Read with the short piece on Justice Thakur published along with (ET Newsmaker), it is amply clear that the CJI’s ‘reaction’ on appointments is not a sudden outburst of anger or just an expression of disappointment. It is an indictment on the GOI machinery handling appointments. In the recent past, the ineptness in handling appointments at the top level by Centre has been glaring. This laziness in handling appointments at higher levels do not augur well for a government which wants the nation to reform, perform and transform. After all no institution can perform efficiently with several vacancies at the top.
As new vacancies are sanctioned in government (judiciary included) and public sector after due   deliberations and most of the time a year or two later from the initiating of processes, the existence of large number of vacancies at various levels directly mean heavy pendency of work. Judiciary need to get some special consideration in the matter of filling up existing vacancies, as the fate of pending court cases has a direct impact on the lives of people involved.
Government and public sector should move forward to a ‘zero-vacancy’ concept sooner than later. In such an approach, GOI may have to consider appropriate legislative measures to enable allowing retiring incumbents to continue post-retirement, on mutual consent and acceptable terms, till the successor takes over. 
M G WARRIER, Mumbai
3
Merger of budgets
This refers to the report “No Railway budget from next fiscal” (HBL, August 15). The proposal to merge Rail Budget with Union Budget need to be seen as part of the reform process, which, hopefully, is set to gain momentum with the passing of GST legislation in Parliament. Many components of economic reforms including structural reforms in the financial sector which is now under way were getting stalled due to various hurdles, some of them emanating from the weakness of alliances in power at the centre and in some larger states till recently.
The acceptance of ‘cooperative federalism’ by the Prime Minister as a principle which should guide broad approaches on national level issues and emergence of NITI Aayog as a body which will coordinate research and planning efforts for economic growth with a long term vision are positive signals for one to expect more speed in implementation of reforms in the coming days.
In recent years planning and budget exercises, both at Centre and in most of the states, had reduced to mere arithmetical juggleries to assess how much resources can be mobilised with ease and how the resources mobilised can be distributed in a manner that will ensure that the governments in power remained ‘popular’. Once Railway Budget also gets merged into Union Budget and major taxes get aggregated through the mechanism of GST, central government’s responsibility to plan resources and ensure distributive justice across geographical regions and various sectors of economy rises. Among other things, Centre will have to ensure:
·        Windfall gains are used for investment purposes only and are not used for freebies to satisfy vote banks. Cross-subsidisation by using surpluses of revenue-generating sectors for the benefit of social sector and for long-term investment in infrastructure will have to continue.
·        Gradually, provisions are made for future liabilities including expected and unexpected heavy expenditure which may not be met from ‘current’ revenues. Provisions for meeting future pension liabilities (which are now being met on a “Pay As You Go” basis) and other retirement benefits should, ideally form part of current revenue expenditure.
·        The claims of geographical areas which are not industrially developed and more importantly where literacy level is below the national average should be met, preferably from a dedicated fund to be created for the purpose.
·        A prices, wages and income policy covering government and private sectors should guide the market and employers.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
4
RBI’s inflation target
This refers to the report “RBI may not meet inflation target: IMF” (ET, August 15). It is unfortunate that a research paper by three scholars on “Monetary Transmission in Developing Countries: Evidence from India” in which authors have expressed their personal views has been relied to give an impression that IMF has made some predictions on how inflation will move in India post-MPC. Remember, though there has been broad agreement on inflation-targeting and RBI’s role in it, the Monetary Policy Committee itself is yet to be constituted!
Conceding, for argument, RBI fails in achieving the target ‘given’ by GOI. The only condition of the contract is that RBI need to give reasons for that. Much will depend on what GOI does on the fiscal policy management. Both GOI and RBI are aware of the nature of roles to be played by government and the central bank in ensuring optimum economic growth. Inflation target cannot be compared to a target given to a worker in a primitive cashew factory. As in the past, there will be ongoing consultations between GOI and RBI on fiscal and monetary policy issues and changes/corrections in projections will be part of the game.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

III
LEISURE
The Hindu, August 18, 2016

Faith
HELP WHILE YOU CAN


It is important that we love and serve people. But we neglect our parents and elders when they need our help, but observe all the rituals after they are dead, said Malayaman, in a discourse. Of what use are such rituals, when we have been selfish and unmindful of the needs of our loved ones? Saint Thirumoolar asks in one of his verses: “Does it matter if a dead body is pecked by crows? Does it matter if the body is referred to in abusive terms by someone? Does it matter whether you sprinkle milk on it or not? Does it matter if others praise the body? Once the atma has exited the body, what is the body but a mere bag of skin?”
But do we ever give a thought to this, when we are young and strong? It is only when death approaches that we begin to think of our mortality. We end up spending the last days of our life regretting our failure to do our duty, our failure to look after our family. We cannot turn the clock back, even if realise our mistakes. We might have lived happily all our lives. But don’t those last days or months of our lives count? Should we spend them looking back at our past and feeling sorry for the many things we failed to do? We can learn a lesson or two from the crow. If we place some grains out for the birds, and one crow chances upon it, it calls out to other crows to share in the food. That is the attitude we must have towards wealth- sharing it with those in need, and using it to keep our elders comfortable, instead of spending it entirely on ourselves.
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