WEEKEND LIGHTER: Cooperative federalism

WEEKEND LIGHTER*: Cooperative federalism
 (April 29/30, 2017, No.17/2017)
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
*Posted at www.warriersblog.com on April 27, 2017
Section III: Leisure: Remaining...

A poem by Balachandran Chullikkad

Cover Story
Cooperative federalism*
With reference to “CMs want a more consultative NITI Aayog” (Business Standard, April 24), Prime Minister Modi has taken forward his commitment to rebuild the Planning Commission that he made from the ramparts of Red Fort in his Independence Day speech in 2014 with all sincerity. There has been visible effort from the government to professionalise governance at various levels and across institutional structures. The inadequacies being felt emanate more from the stagnant status of reforms.
In the Sunday meeting of NITI Aayog, in addition to the development agenda with long-term perspective, keeping a 15-year time span, issues like change in financial year from April-March to January-December and simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies were mooted. It is comforting to see that serious discussions over issues on which difference in perceptions across states and political denominations are inevitable are happening at NITI Aayog in a cordial manner. Perhaps one significant takeaway for representatives of Parliament and state legislatures who attended the meeting could be the orderly manner in which deliberations can take place. The dissent expressed by two CMs by deputing representatives and the criticism of NITI Aayog by the Kerala chief minister in particular are pointers to more efforts needed to make Modi’s dream of “cooperative federalism” in governance come true.
Hopefully, the coming days will see NITI Aayog revisiting “concurrent subjects”, considering legislative reforms in the administration of justice to fast track reforms in other sectors and to support economic development, social security and to ensure overall improvement in governance. Three other important issues awaiting attention are professionalising management of political parties, mapping of the nation’s “hidden” resources and reforms relating to production, pricing and marketing in the farm sector. All issues are inter-related and disentangling may need unreserved support from citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

M G Warrier | Mumbai
*Letters, Business Standard, April 25, 2017
Recent responses
Understanding what’s AAP
This refers to your editorial “Time’s AAP” (Business Line, April 27). By comparing Aam Aadmi Party’s performance in elections with that of other political parties, we are doing a great injustice to the commonsense of the common man which conceived the idea of AAP. Media and analysts today are using the same scale to measure the performance of Congress which had monopoly over the country’s political platform from pre-independence days to 1970’s, BJP which emerged as a power to reckon with during the current decade in certain circumstances and AAP which is the off-shoot of a movement called India Against Corruption and did not have political ambitions till its leadership by experience realized that politics was the only route to influence governance in India.
It wouldn’t be off the mark to observe that if freedom movement and Congress were responsible for India’s independence, IAC and AAP played a definite role in waking up citizens and telling them about the constitution given to the people and the rights and responsibilities emanating from the Constitution.
Politics being what it is, it is too early to write off AAP, going by the Delhi local bodies election results. While BJP just retained its 2012 vote share of 36 plus percent, Congress and all other parties suffered set backs and AAP which was not in the race in 2012 secured 26 percent votes and 48 seats in 2017. This is no mean achievement.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Restructuring banking infrastructure*
This refers to the report “Merger of PSBs could help banking system: Urjit Patel” (Business Line, April 26). The need for reorganization of Indian banking infrastructure to rationalize functional responsibilities, presence and outreach is as old as nationalization of banks. All along, we had a touch and run or ‘first-aid’ approach to financial sector reforms. Committees and Commissions, periodically have made recommendations on this issue, but restricted mandates or selective approach in accepting recommendations have delayed a comprehensive look at structural alterations.
Even during the last four years when RBI was visibly serious about changes in the institutional system in the financial sector, measures were sporadic and didn’t take a global view in the context of existing infrastructure and future needs. Thus we see new institutions coming up and making existing ones running for life, branches and ATMs of several banks crowding commercially developed zones while small towns, less posh urban and semi-urban areas as also rural India wait for reasonably acceptable banking services within reach.
The merger of associate banks with SBI has shown that all blames dumped on employees were misplaced. As a large geographical area remain still unbanked or under-banked, surpluses in terms of manpower released can easily be redeployed elsewhere. As public sector banks and private sector banks raise resources from the same source and by and large are expected to serve the same clientele, GOI should avoid the temptation to ‘divide and rule’ and encourage a level playing field for both categories of banks in terms of regulatory environment, functional autonomy, a self-regulated revenue-based remuneration package and professional management of human resources.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*An edited version(Level the field) published under Letters, The Hindu Business Line, April 27, 2017
RBI’s concerns
With reference to “Restoring credibility”* (Business Standard, April 13), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor’s apprehensions with regard to loan waivers and other critical issues are a good sign to lend a durable credence to the regulatory mechanisms and in its endeavour to make the banking system strong. The fact is that over a period populist measures indulged in by the political class have retarded the growth process, thereby widening the fiscal deficit. Politics can never be good unless the economics to be pursued is also good. Agreed that there are exceptions, but massive loan waivers are something that can severely impact the recovery process of banks, which has already taken a big hit.

Urjit Patel has warned that such loan waivers serve to undermine an honest credit culture. Concerns about the mounting non-performing loans of public sector banks (PSB) and the pressing need for their quick resolutions, meeting the additional capital needs of PSBs and the need to think beyond recapitalising the PSBs in terms of evolving alternatives such as divestment of ownership etc., and the delayed transmission of monetary policy cuts of RBI by banks resulting in room for more rate cuts are issues that are getting much needed attention.
Srinivasan Umashankar | Nagpur
*By M G Warrier (Letters, Business Standard)

Buddhist Monk Pragyasheela said:
"When you wake up in the morning,
And while going to bed everyday,
The ten thousand years, prior to
Your arrival on this planet, and
The ten thousand years, after
You leave here..."
Imagining like that...
Blurring of the clear and unclear...
Led to fading of my conscious existence!
Still, the first human touch on my body...
The first inhalation of atmospheric air, Which my nostrils squeezed in fast.
The sweetness of the first drop of,
Mother's milk...The piercing smell of,
The boiling wild blood of youthfulness...
The burning flame of ecstasy...
The short-lived brightness of rainbows...
The amazing power of nuclear energy...
Even if... I'm able to imagine and know,
The hidden secrets of,
Ten thousand years, back and forth...
Alas!!! I remain...
That miniscule piece of camphor...
Melting...And flaming out...
Leaving some ashes...
When 'consumed' finally by,
Shocking, cursed electricity...
Or... Sweet, loving flames...
*A free translation of the theme of a poem in Malayalam by Balachandran Chullikkad (Mathrubhumi Weekly, April 23-29, 2017)


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