WEEKEND LIGHTER: RBI's accountability

 WEEKEND LIGHTER: RBI’s accountability
(September 17/18, 2016, No. 39/2016)*

Weekend Lighter is usually posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
*Posted on September 16, 2016. Nos 37/38 posted on September 14, 2016


Opening remarks

RBI’s accountability*

With reference to Jaimini Bhagwati's excellent analysis in his article, "Central bank's autonomy and accountability" (Business Standard, September 15), it is comforting that the media has taken note of this year's Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Annual Report and that several aspects of the central bank's role and responsibilities are being debated. This is in contrast to the near-blackout of the RBI Annual Report by sections of the media and analysts in 2014-15.

Traditionally, the RBI uses its annual report to provide a comprehensive assessment of its activities during the year and to mention the challenges it faces in performing the mandated functions.

The 2014-15 report had the Raghuram Rajan touch: It contained a separate chapter titled "Governor's Overview" in which the then RBI governor minced no words in expressing his concerns about fiscal and monetary policies. Once submitted to the government, the report is available in the public domain and Parliament gets an opportunity to seek more information from the central bank.

It is to the credit of successive governments at the Centre that compared to other regulatory and supervisory bodies and public sector undertakings, including public sector banks, the RBI had efficient teams at its helm during the most part of its existence, even though the tenure of its governors and deputies were not long enough many a time.

The three-year period that has just ended proves that more efficient leadership can bring out the best in Team RBI. Let us not get carried away by former RBI governor D Subbarao's laments about appointments. There is no denying that continuity at the top through longer tenure of governors and their deputies will be beneficial. But within the RBI talks about its autonomy hovered around policy issues, including monetary policy management and government support in supervision of banks, especially those owned by the government. On and off, the finance ministry gave the impression that PSBs were nothing but conduits for financing government programmes while forgetting the source of their resources.

The RBI has clarity about the role of the financial sector in economic development. This has come through in its reports and has been elucidated in the speeches of its governor and other executives in the past few years.

M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Published version
Recent responses
Halt destruction*
The destruction of property and violence in the name of protest against unwelcome decisions by courts or governments should not be encouraged by media by giving coverage. Governments need to handle law and order issues as such. Miscreants should be punished and efforts should be made to force them to make good losses to property irrespective of whether the property belonged to government or private party.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Email sent to media on the night of September 12, 2016 in the context of Cauvery waters violence.
Achche din
Apropos "Modi's promise of 'achche din' remains unfulfilled: Mayawati"(The Hindu, September 12), one is tempted to remind that bringing 'achche din' is the joint responsibility of those in charge of governance at all levels from Delhi to the Panchayats. WE THE PEOPLE to whom the Indian Constitution was symbolically entrusted through a conscious dedication in the Preamble need to function as a vigilant watchdog to ensure that those in charge of governance uphold the Constitution and perform their responsibilities well. Opposition's responsibility in helping citizens in ensuring that their rights are protected is huge. The present way of ruling coalitions and respective oppositions exchanging 'blames' and allegations with elections in view needs a review.

M G Warrier, Mumbai
Presidential recognition
Apropos "Rajan took many steps to put system in right direction: Pranab"(Business Standard, September 11), though a little late, the acceptance and recognition of the good work coming from the first citizen of India should comfort several RBI-watchers who did feel that Rajan was haunted out during the last few months of his three year tenure at Mint Road.

It will be a great service to the Indian economy and particularly the country's financial sector, if Rajan's successor is able to complete the reform measures initiated by RBI during the past five years. That will need much more support from GOI than has been available in recent years. Perhaps, Urjit Patel's background, approach to issues and the capacity to assert without being controversial may augur well for Reserve Bank of India performing it's mandated role without let or hindrance in the coming days. To make this possible, GOI may have to resist the temptation to treat RBI as a government department and micromanage the central bank's internal affairs including HR issues.

M G Warrier, Mumbai

Report in Deccan Herald, August 29, 2016

Traditional Indian diet cuts Alzheimer's risk: study

Washington, August 27, 2016 (PTI)
Consuming traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan and Nigeria - which have lower meat content than the Western diet - may significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study has found.

Globally, about 42 million people now have dementia, with Alzheimer's disease as the most common type of dementia. Rates of Alzheimer's disease are rising worldwide. The most important risk factors seem to be linked to diet, especially the consumption of meat, sweets, and high-fat dairy products that characterise a Western Diet.

For example, when Japan made the nutrition transition from the traditional Japanese diet to the Western diet, Alzheimer's disease rates rose from 1 per cent in 1985 to 7 per cent in 2008, with rates lagging the nutrition transition by 20-25 years. The evidence of these risk factors, which come from ecological and observational studies, also shows that fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and fish are associated with reduced risk.

In addition to reviewing the journal literature, a new ecological study was conducted using Alzheimer's disease prevalence from 10 countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and the US) along with dietary supply data 5, 10 and 15 years before the prevalence data. Dietary supply of meat or animal products (not including milk) five years before Alzheimer's disease prevalence had the highest correlations with it.

The study discussed the specific risk each country and region faces for developing Alzheimer's disease based on their associated dietary habits. Residents of the US seem to be at particular risk, with each person having about a 4 per cent chance of developing Alzheimer's disease, likely due in part to the Western dietary pattern, which tends to include a large amount of meat consumption.

"Reducing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke and chronic kidney disease," said William B Grant, author of the research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. "Mounting evidence from ecological and observational studies, as well as studies of mechanisms, indicates that the Western dietary pattern - especially the large amount of meat in that diet - is strongly associated with risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and several other chronic diseases," Grant said.

"Although the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with about half the risk for Alzheimer's disease of the Western diet, the traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan, and Nigeria, with very low meat consumption, are associated with an additional 50 per cent reduction in risk of Alzheimer's disease," he said.


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