WEEKEND LIGHTER: Ignorant critics of RBI

WEEKEND LIGHTER: Ignorant critics of RBI
(January 21/22, 2017, No.3/2017)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com

Section III: Intellectual conviction

Opening remarks
Ignorant critics of RBI*
Media reports about the proceedings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance yesterday (BS, January 18), exposed the ignorance of the purpose and content of the proceedings among analysts, more than the lapses in the planning and implementation of the withdrawal of Rs1000 and Rs500 currency notes from circulation.
Even before the meeting of the Standing Committee, an impression was created as if RBI Governor was appearing for a ‘qualifying’ or ‘selection’ examination and several outlets ‘leaked’ different versions of the  question paper. 10 to 18 questions were circulated in the media. Some of the leaked questions were really asked. From cost of printing new notes to ‘when you expect normalcy in currency circulation?’, it is reported, Urjit Patel was grilled and occasionally a loving Manmohan Singh helped him with answers or asked him to skip tough questions.
Perhaps, just as, now in hindsight, we feel that the so called ‘demonetization’ could have been managed better by planning the linkages, analysts will now pick up holes in the conduct of the proceedings of the Standing Committee! If these wise men had allowed to function the Parliament in November 2016 and asked some of these questions and suggested some midway corrections it would have immensely benefited the nation. Even now they have not done their homework. Otherwise, they would not be talking about ‘replacement’ of withdrawn currency notes. If 60 per cent of the value of SBNs(Specified Bank Notes) have been ploughed back to the system, that will definitely take care of the cash needs of India. May be, some realignment of denominations and reaching out to geographical areas not adequately served by bank branches will be necessary.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*A slightly edited version was published in Business Standard on January 20, 2017

Recent responses
Trade unions reform

This refers to Jaimini Bhagwati’s article “Reform Indian trade unions” (Business Standard, January 19). This well researched piece gives a broad view of the present status of trade union penetration among the Indian workforce. Time is opportune for India to think in terms of a much higher level of trade union membership among workers in both organized and unorganized sectors.
At present we have, irrespective of political affiliations, only two categories of trade unions. One, in the organized sector, taking up wage and welfare issues concerning members. Two, large, loose groupings of workers and the unemployed in the unorganized sector dependent on political parties for leadership and used by them as part of election machinery by the political parties concerned. Leaderships of both the categories have interests beyond those of the members.
Just as professionalization of leadership and cadres have not happened to desirable levels in the political leaderships and their hierarchies, Indian fa unions too are  lacking professionalism and are dependent on external support in managing their affairs. Such support come at a price, whether it  is from politicians  or social workers or lawyers. It is in the national interest to have independent and self-supporting trade unions based on industry/profession with focus on the welfare of workers. If multiple trade unions are unavoidable due to political realities, identification and  recognition of majority organisations by employers/government/s should happen in the normal course.
Worker education and taking care of the welfare of members should be the responsibility of trade unions.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Unfair to the RBI*
This refers to the report “RBI has no idea how much it cost to print the new notes” (BL Exclusive, January 18). It is unfortunate that a newspaper known for its adherence to prudent and ethical behavior in journalism is trying to sensationalize a common sense response from RBI, in a routine manner. By such tactics, Business Line joins the category of ‘RTI activists’ who survive by giving the common man the impression that RTI Act is an instrument for law enforcement or collecting any information from any organization covered by that Act.
Compared to many other organisations in the public sector and private sector, RBI has a fairly transparent accounting practice as is evident from its Annual Report, which carries information about the sources of income and details of expenditure the central bank incurs to perform its various functions. The information sought, namely ‘the cost of printing new Rs500 and Rs2000 notes’ may not be available with RBI, as it is still a work in progress. The question is like asking Hotel Taj International the cost of making rotis during a particular period. The hotel may still attempt to give some guestimate figures, which RBI may not be comfortable doing.
My humble submission is, media has worthier and more important things to do at this point of time and should avoid diverting precious resources chasing shadows.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Letters, Business Line, January 19, 2017
Demonizing RBI
This refers to “Simple. RBI Critics Have an Axe to Grind” (ET, Straight Talk Express, January 17) by R Sriram. I loved the caption.  Amartya Sen to trade unions in RBI, IMF to most of the financial sector retirees, TOI to Wire and Sriram to me, all have expressed some view on demonetization. Many more are waiting for a call to bounce upon RBI, as change (in lower denominations) was not managed the way they expected by the central bank. All fine.
But, frankly, what is the autonomy of RBI, many among these “RBI Critics” are talking about? Is it the carpet which political leadership since 1990’s tried to pull away from underneath the feet of the RBI Governor and the RBI Central Board  which climaxed manipulating a monologue report obtained from the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission? In that case let us remember the role played by Dr Raghuram Rajan who was at Mint Road for a short period of 3 years, who, by perseverance, saw to it that RBI remained in one piece.
There is no RBI autonomy involved in Prime Minister Modi’s November 8, 2016 announcement of withdrawal of legal tender character of Rs1000 and Rs500 notes or post-November 8 currency management by RBI. The need for alignment and harmony between fiscal and monetary policy and for that matter GOI resisting the temptation to do back-seat driving in statutory bodies including RBI being highlighted in recent debates cannot be brushed aside. It is in GOI interest to have a central bank with a strong balance sheet, professional expertise and international reputation. But, the present grumblings in the media does not help in working towards that end.

Faith, leisure
Intellectual conviction*

Sastras quote many rational examples drawn from nature and from individual experience to explain subtle and esoteric truths. But they also proclaim that the experience of the ultimate truth is caught and cannot be taught.
It is a fine balance to be struck between rational thought and faith. Hence the Upanishads stress the value of reflection and meditation and point out that meditation in its highest form is concentration on the Ultimate Truth, pointed out Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a discourse. Only repeated reflection and meditation can bring about an inner awareness and intellectual conviction.
A simple example from daily life illustrates the difficulty in the effort of external forces to bring about this conviction. One cannot deny the fascination of bursting crackers that one may have experienced as a child. But as one grows old, the truth that there is no happiness in this act as in the case of the many pet longings one might have cherished soon becomes evident. This is how one develops viveka as a matter of course. But this truth cannot be taught to one’s children or grandchildren who are still to see the hollowness in this form of enjoyment.
This is the state of mind of a jnani in whose consciousness there is direct perception of truth and reality. He is right in the world, but remains aloof. He observes, eats and sleeps as any ordinary person. But in his mind he is able to dissociate himself from these acts and hence their consequences. He maintains equanimity in all situations. One involved in worldly affairs cannot easily understand the state of mind of a jnani. The jnani for his part is also aware that there is no guarantee that those spiritual aspirants around him can understand the truth as he sees it.
 Source: FAITH, The Hindu, January 14, 2017


Conquest of stress

This refers to the cover story on pages 59 to 65 of January 2017 Reader’s Digest which need to be preserved by all who would like to bring down their own stress levels or help out someone near or dear from stress-related problems. The tips, which may look too simple and ordinary, if followed can improve one’s leave record and medical bills considerably on a recurring basis. Some of the 25 tips listed have been capsuled from time-tested stress-relief techniques practiced world over.
Suggestions like those relating to breathing deeply, reading, meditation, planning ahead, if you have to drive will give excellent results, if practiced regularly. I loved to read the narration under “Self-esteem is a natural stress buster”. At 72, I can endorse it based on personal experience.
M G WARRIER, Mumbai 


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