‘All the world’s a stage/ And all the men and women merely players/They have their exits and their entrances…’ wrote William Shakespeare. How right he was, and is. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, is vacating his office, and Urjit Patel, Deputy Governor, is taking over the reins as the new Governor.
Rajan, by most accounts, performed commendably during his tenure, and will be hard act to follow. One of the biggest names in international banking circles and an academic of note at the University of Chicago, to which he now returns, he predicted the financial crash of 2008, while the experts at the international rating agencies and the mandarins of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were deep in their slumbers.
Apart from the lunatic sledging of Subramanian Swamy, Dr Rajan has received fulsome praise from the government and India’s financial community for his stress on anti-inflationary measures so that a secure platform would be constructed to ensure lasting economic growth. Hereon, growth will be linked to a benchmark inflation statistic based on control of the fiscal deficit.
Dr Rajan also put in place far-reaching banking reforms; these form the core of his legacy as he hands over charge to his successor. The Government took its time naming him, but its choice has been determined by a desire for continuity in monetary policy.
The decision to appoint Dr Urjit Patel has been widely lauded by the captains of industry and financial experts. Deepak Parekh, Chairman, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), the private sector’s largest lender, under whom Dr Patel worked for nine years, hailed the appointment, pointing to Patel’s depth of experience, having served in the private and public sectors, and in government.
A former respected RBI Governor, G. Rangarajan agreed, as did economists Megnad Desai, Jagdish Bhagwati and the markets (Times of India, Hindu, Business Line, Mint August 21, 22)
India, Dubai to expand traffic
India’s civil aviation authorities are to hold talks with their counterparts in Dubai to increase bilateral seat entitlements due to increased demand. The Indian Civil Aviation Ministry received a fresh request as airlines from both countries have exhausted their current capacity (Hindu August 15)
Russia keen to make India aeronautics hub
Russia is ready to make India its global aeronautics manufacturing hub, and to this end, is looking for a local partner in the venture. This would also provide Indian companies to tap Russian technologies, as the head of an official Russian delegation visiting India pointed out.
Coal, iron ore projects
India, on its part, expressed a desire to jointly develop iron ore and coal mines in Russia and sought technical inputs on producing high-grade cold-rolled grain-oriented steel usually used in power transmission equipment.
Rogozin meets PM
Russian Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for India, Dmitry Rogozin, visited India for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the progress of Indo-Russian projects. Mr Modi extolled India-Russia ties as ‘time-tested’. He said he was looking forward to President Putin’s visit to India later this year for the annual India-Russia Summit (Hindu, Times of India August 19, 20)
Locksmith to global player
The Godrej Group began small and has made it big, reflecting in many ways the story of India. The company started the long road to eminence way back in1897. Its founder Ardeshir Godrej had left India in 1889 for Africa to practice law, but unwilling to commit perjury in a particular case, to advance he returned home in 1897 to start a modest business. The Indian National Congress, which was founded in December 1885, had initiated the movement for freedom and given the Make in India call known as swadeshi.
The swadeshi spirit took hold and gained traction Ardeshir Godrej incarnated the idea. The company started by manufacturing locks, then steel furniture, detergents, typewriters and refrigerators. Today it is a player in the defence sector. Three generations of this remarkable Mumbai-based Parsi family have overseen the Godrej Group expand into a global conglomerate worth $4.5 billion. Godrej Chairman Adi Godrej hopes to expand the Group 10 times in 10 years. Group employees are guaranteed housing, education and healthcare in keeping with best welfare practices. More power to Godrej elbow (Business Line August 18)
NAVIC: India’s eye in the sky
India’s navigation satellite system is due to become operational very shortly. Consisting a constellation of four geosynchronous and two standby satellites, NAVIC will ensure accurate real-time positioning and timing services over India and the region around to a range of 1,500km. India thus joins an exclusive club of the US, E U, Russia and China.
Civilian, military use
The fully operational NAVIC, while of primary benefit for Indians, particularly fishermen, there are significant potential benefits for the South Asian region as well. NAVIC has dual-use technologies, which means that it can provide information for the civilian and military sectors. India’s weapon systems and guided missiles require the guidance of space satellites. When cooperation with the American GPS system, and the EU’s Galileo project fell through, India decided to go it alone (Mint August 17)
Bangalore doctors thank IBM’s Watson
Dr Somashehar, an oncologist and Chairman of Manipal Hospital‘s cancer centre, examines 120 patients per day and also does multiple surgeries. As a result, he cannot read the 130 research papers published daily across the world. However, IBM’s Watson, a powerful computing platform, has the capacity to ingest millions of pages of research papers and patient records in a blink. Its artificial intelligence technology can pull together connected strands of information to make sense of them. It learns as it goes along, correcting its own mistakes. The system operates in New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, figures out the best option for treatment (Times of India August 24)
English returns to Bengal govt schools
West Bengal has abolished the Communist-led Left Front regime’s ruling that English could only be taught from Class V in government schools, according to a local wit and satirist. Whatever the true reason, it has done immeasurable harm to education in the State, The President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Naushad Forbes, said: ‘ As it moved away from English at government schools (till Class V) West Bengal missed out on the IT and IT services boom that the country benefited from.’ (Times of India August 24).
You can understand why the Communists were thrashed in two State and General elections. Their 63 seats in the Lok Sabha, a decade ago, has slumped to 10 and shrinking.
Used car market boom
First time car buyers in the age group of 25-34 are responsible for the surge in sales of second-hand car market of Rs 90,000 crore., according to a report released recently by the India Blue-Blue Book, a vehicle pricing guide. As per the report, India is expected to be among the top five in the global automotive market by 2020, in which the market for second-hand is predicted to grow annually by 15 per cent. (Hindu August 24)
Swaraj, Suu Kyi reaffirm India-Myanmar ties
Aung San Suu Kyi and the top leadership in Myanmar assured Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister, that they were committed to maintain close ties with India in every field, that they would not permit Indian insurgent groups to operate from their country to attack targets in India.
However, Suu Kyi’s first foreign visit was to China, move the country’s Global Times newspaper to comment that by so doing it seemed that China was ‘more significant than India in Myanmar’s diplomacy.’ but conceded that she would seek a balanced relationship with the two countries in the national interest and not because she was drawn to China. The artcle concluded that India’s soft power connection with Myamar were strtonger than those of China, ‘because they share a lot in culture, religion and democratic values, and their highest officials have had a close relationship for a very long time.’ (Hindu August 24)
India’s French connection
Rafale aircraft are still a pie-in-the-sky with not a plane delivered and none in sight and the price rising. Prime Minister Modi’s investment in the French connection appears a few light years away from yielding the desired dividends.
What is alarming is the leaked 22,400 pages of technological details of secret data, in an Australian newspaper, on the vaunted Scorpene submarines India has contracted to buy from a French company.
Francois Hollande, the French President, is perceived to be a joke in poor taste in his own country, his approval ratings 10uper cent and plunging. His socialist party will be booted out of office come the 2017 general election in France. One or two retired Indian Air Force officers are given to pleading the French cause in the media, their generous pensions at home possibly supplemented by more sumptuous sums as tokens of French affection (Times of India, Hindu, Business Line, Telegraph, Mint August 25).