WEEKEND LIGHTER: NITI Aayog: Restore trust, credibility

WEEKEND LIGHTER: NITI Aayog: Restore trust, credibility
(August 5/6, 2017)
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Section III Dear Sir/Dear Madam
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Cover Story
NITI Aayog: Restore trust, credibility*
Business Standard editorial “Empower NITI Aayog” briefly covers the birth and growth of NITI Aayog from Prime Minister Modis August 15, 2014 announcement from the ramparts of Red fort to demolish Planning Commission (calling it a house in disrepair) and reconstruct it, to certain useful suggestions about the future of the “rebuilt edifice” contained in the resignation letter tendered by Dr Arvind Panigariya on July 26, 2017.
At a time when India needed their services most, Dr Raghuram Rajan and Dr Arvind Panagaria took ‘short’ breaks from academia and served in this country occupying positions crucial to the country’s economic development. It is another matter that we couldn’t lure them to stay on. Let us thank them for being with us and providing leadership in their respective areas of expertise.
Both the exits point to the need for the country to have a talent pool for avoiding vacuums when top positions fall vacant at shorter intervals. Except for unexpected reasons, we need to plan for continuity for positions like those held by Panagaria and Rajan, for 5 to 10 years. Though both have justified their presence, three years is too short a period for ‘visions’ getting translated into visible actions.
Irrespective of people heading them, institutions have to carry on. GOI has now to help NITI Aayog to perform its assigned role by providing appropriate leadership and functional autonomy. This will need much more than the ‘floating talent pool’ or freedom in carrying out research work and producing reports. If NITI Aayog’s guidance has to be taken seriously by central ministries and states in the environment of “Cooperative Federalism” which Prime Minister Modi is comfortable with, Centre has to first restore trust and credibility in institutions including NITI Aayog. For that, it is imperative to allow them to apply their ‘mind’ in performance of their professional functions within legal mandates.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Read the published version using the link provided under Section II.
NITI Aayog has a long way to go, to justify its emergence as an​ institution to "Transform India"
Please read my letter also.
M G Warrier

Modi’s letter to Pranab Mukherjee
Livemint: Monetary Policy
Excellent analysis. As I observed earlier, the variables in MPC's basket (costs, prices, return on savings, lending rates of banks and so on) are yet to come to terms with the need for a live-in relationship. No point in blaming MPC. No magician can handle inflation in isolation. The efforts of Finance Ministry to find out a peg to hang the bag of its policy failures are getting exposed. Over time, MPC will tell us where the shoe pinches.
M G Warrier

RBI cuts repo rate by 25 basis points
Reserve Bank off  target


Recent responses

PM Modi’s message
This refers to Sucheta Dalal’s article “CAs and Industry Have Got the Modi Message. Who Next?” (July 31).
The reference to “Erring CAs” is just another disturbing signal bringing to public glare the depth of the malignancy of unethical and corrupt practices eating into the country’s economic system. The action initiated shows that Prime Minister Modi’s concern is not limited to the three aspects of corruption (unaccounted money, terrorism and forged currency) he mentioned in his November 8, 2016 speech but there is a willingness on the part of his government to challenge corrupt practices in any walk of life. The clarion call to come together to eradicate filth, poverty, corruption, terrorism, casteism and communalism contained in Modi’s Mann Ki Baat on July 30, 2017 should be seen in this context.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI), through a circular dated July 27, 2017 has raised the ‘rest’ period for statutory central auditors(SCAs) of banks to 6 years”. The grounds for longer rest period for SCAs given in the RBI circular more than justifies the enhancement of rest period for  SCAs from two years prevailing since 2001 to six years. They are also suggestive of unethical practices being followed by professionals and banks in tandem.
Let us concede that regulatory oversight alone cannot ensure best practices of governance in organizations which manage huge resources including public funds. And diminishing public trust in professionals is a matter for worry not only for the government or regulators, but for the common man and the taxpayer. In the given case, even the possibility of lateral movement of individuals from one CA firm to another can reduce the impact of forced ‘rest’ periods. It is difficult to build trust and honest behavior through statutes or directions.
In this context, the only option left is strict self-regulation by professional bodies. The institute of CAs, RBI and banks should expose unethical approaches by individual CA firms and their employees and where proved guilty the firms/individuals should be punished. If there are legal hurdles, GOI need to come to help them out.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Waste of resources

This has reference to a photograph of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan surrounded by several photographers which appeared on the front page of some mainstream newspapers today (August 1). 
The occasion was CM coming out from a meeting of leaders of BJP and CPI(M) held to initiate peace moves following violence including murders allegedly as part of inter-party rivalries. This letter is not about the main issue of politically motivated violence in Kerala.
  This is about lazy media persons spending precious resources including time, out of proportion, to cover just one event in the state capital. Why not various media houses pool resources and cover more events and share notes and pictures/videos? Such an effort will release resources including personnel, equipment and vehicles which can be deployed for covering more news including developmental news across city, urban and rural areas.

M G Warrier



Dear Sir/Dear Madam

"Dear Sir", "Please refer to", "We shall be glad" and "Yours faithfully" were the permanent fixtures in draft letters I used to write in RBI. In one of the papers I signed on the first day in RBI I signed under the words "Yours obediently". Soon after, I overheard my Sub-Accountant telling his T-Partner (Sharing of "Officer's Tea" with a partner of his/her choice was customary those days) that what he expected from 'his' staff was 'implicit obedience, subject to natural justice'. Having come from a militant trade union background of AG's office those days, whatever was left of obedience and discipline in me evaporated when I came to know of my boss's mind. 
Coming back to the subject. Madams whom I address know that they are all dear to me. And Sirs, with the exception of few, are aware that Dear and Sir have meanings depending on contexts! just like "Dear Sir" in RBI's official letters.
The Post master at Sastamangalam Post Office is a lady. when I address a letter to her about change of address, i start with "Dear Sir/Madam"
In the Exrbites Group, I quite often respond to mails with deep insight which I receive from Vathsala Madam. Luckily for me "Dear" is already there in her name and I just address Vathsala Madam!

M G Warrier


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