(August 6/7, 2016, No. 32/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
***Warrier’s Blog crossed 2222 posts and 55,555 page views recently.
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Opening Remarks
Home truths*
RBI has set up an expert committee to look at household finances. The proposal to set up a committee to look at various facets of household finance in India, according to RBI, came up during the meeting of the Sub Committee of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC-SC) held during April, 2016. RBI, particularly its Research and Statistics departments make ongoing internal studies on several aspects relevant to policy formulation and many of the findings get incorporated in the bank’s regular publications like RBI Bulletins and reports as also ‘occasional papers’.
The proposed comprehensive study by experts which will cover various aspects of sources and uses of funds by Indian households will undoubtedly be a valuable document which can change the direction of thinking in favour of much talked about ‘financial inclusion’.
Perhaps, the study could be made a joint effort of GOI and RBI and by expanding the terms of reference given to the panel, the committee could be made an empowered body to go deeper into patterns of savings and investment by individuals and institutions. Mapping of idle financial assets and methods to bring them into the mainstream and sources of funding social security system including pension could come under the broad purview of the areas for coverage by the committee. A look at better management of pension funds and other retirement funds including provident fund is also overdue.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*An edited version of this appeared in The Hindu Business Line on August 6, 2016
Recent responses
Inclusive growth
This refers to the piece “Ensuring growth for all Indians” by Jayanta Roy (July 31). Any number of ‘reminders’ like this should be welcomed. Post-independence, for decades, there has been a conscious neglect of the need to ensure equity or distributive justice, literacy for masses and elimination of poverty from India. There was self-interest of ensuring cheap labour for industries and even for house-hold work, behind the studied refusal to attend to these issues.
 Till Narendra Modi as Prime Minister exhorted from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 2014, importance of schooling girl children or the reason for high rates of drop-outs beyond primary classes (inadequate toilet facilities, especially for girls, in schools) did not get the attention these issues are receiving now.
Skill development based on the local needs is still a neglected area. Except in states like Kerala where education is oriented towards ‘sending out’ youth to seek jobs, there are no serious efforts to improve literacy or develop skills.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
 ‘Capitalist’ adviser!
This refers to the report “Appointment of ‘capitalist’ adviser angers Left in Kerala” (The Hindu Business Line, July 30). The smile on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s face is real. He has successfully generated a debate in the media and among his friendly adversaries within LDF and in the opposition on a non-issue. Here are the reasons.
CM knows that an advisor is not an administrator of policies. Her role starts and ends with giving her views with supporting empirical evidence or reasons on issues referred to her. The opposition and even his own friend, philosopher and guide VS will get engaged in finding out the background and ‘profile’ of Gita Gopinath, when he can concentrate on other mundane issues of governance.
This observation is also in the context of criticism from political parties like Congress that the present LDF government in Kerala is not following ‘Marxist’ policies.
When will our political leadership across party affiliations mature and start worrying about ground level problems affecting the common man?
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Signs of recovery
This refers to the report “Rahul jibe, Jaitley retort spice up inflation debate” (Business Standard, July 29). Let us look at the same event from a different angle. After a long time, Rahul Gandhi came to parliament armed with a long note on a topic of public interest and read it out in a relaxed mood. It has to be said to the credit of current Lok Sabha that the House is allowing debate on serious issues.
Here, let us remind ourselves that In-house debates are an integral part of a healthy parliamentary democracy. Once this recognition sinks in and every member does his/her homework and confronts the treasury benches with the issues affecting the people, policy formulation will graduate from a bureaucratic process to real legislative procedure guided by informed discussion among people’s representatives.
On the same day (July 28) Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent two hours with the NITI Aayog think tank guiding them to get out of the earlier practice of ‘incremental changes’ and to go ahead and finalise a vision document for the next 15 years factoring in the growth needs of 21st Century India.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Skill management
The well-researched article “Bridging the skill gap” by Santhosh Mehrotra (The Hindu, August 3) has looked at various options on funding skill development. In a wider sense, just as costs on social security needs including for post-retirement life of the workforce should be factored in the wage bills of employers, there is a need to create an awareness about the responsibility on the part of employers including the government and PSUs to fund the cost of skill development.
The fast changes in science and technology these days, call for ongoing training and frequent refreshment courses to maintain skills at optimum levels. Times are changing and sooner we reconcile to the reality that the option to ‘outsource’ for reducing costs and eliminating friction (read unionism) may not be perennially available, the better.
A related issue is large scale abuse of trained manpower. Civil and mechanical engineers and graduates with high academic records from any discipline are being recruited by several sectors including IT and given basic training in branches of technology of respective relevance for being employed by corporates. Beyond cost-benefit issues, this has a job satisfaction issue which creates more social problems at a later stage. One remembers a time when P & T and Railways in India absorbed the best performers at SSLC level as clerks.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Banks on ‘tap’**
This refers to the report “RBI clears decks for universal banking” (The Hindu Business Line, August 2). The RBI initiative to issue bank licences to those who are serious about doing the business of banking and can mobilise the resources needed and provide leadership to professionally manage new banks has not come a day earlier. Reserve Bank of India has been struggling to reconcile the interests of multiple institutional systems, broadly coming under commercial banks, cooperative banks and NBFCs, all trespassing each other’s operational jurisdictions and the competing claims for regulatory, supervisory and administrative controls from central and state governments and a variety of statutory bodies. Thank God, RBI has been there!
We had to wait 65 long years after passing of the Banking Regulation Act for Raghuram Rajan to arrive and tell us some ingenuous solutions to handle some of the tricky problems faced by Indian banking sector. He has opened many taps to ensure smooth and competitive functioning of the banking system and it will not be easy for RBI and GOI to take an easy diversion, as in the past. The institutional system that is emerging to take care of the banking needs in the present Indian context envisioned by RBI under his leadership will cover the entire banking business.
Ideally, all institutions which were hitherto ‘outside’ the definition of banks and were doing the business of banking in some pretext, will have to transform themselves into banks or transfer their banking business to banks. Consolidation of small private sector banks and professionalization of the working of cooperative banks (some initiatives in this direction have already been taken by states like Kerala) also need to be prioritised.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
**Edited version published in Business Standard and The Hindu Business Line

The Hindu Open Page published my article “Let’s attract the tourists better” on August 2, 2016.
How are you?

“I'm fine, thank u..
There's no matter with me
I'm as healthy as I can be
I've arthritis in both knees
When I talk I've a wheeze
My pulse is weak
And blood anaemic
But I'm very well
This I firmly tell
I've arch support for feet
Else I can't stand on street
With sleep denied every night
Yet morning I'm in sight
Memory failing
Head reeling
But I'm very well
This I firmly tell
Liver out of whack
Terrible pain on back
Vision is dim
All out of trim
I've aspirin & glycomet on right
And along & pan on left
But I'm very well
This I firmly tell
For u & me growing old
These stories unfold
Better say "I'm fine" with a grin
Than people infer the shape u r in
I've silver on head & gold on tooth
Stone in kidney & sugar in blood
But I'm very well
This I firmly tell
My ears in a box
Eyes on the table
Teeth in a cup
Till I wake up
Every morning I get up without worrys
And watch the columns of obituaries
Finding my name missing, I know I'm not dead
With shoes on for a jog I tread

(Received from K S Iyer, Exrbites Group)


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