Financial Daily
from THE HINDU group of publications

Friday, April 27, 2001





Banking and Finance
Co-op banks and market: The vicious link
Considering the basic mandate of the co-operative sector, it is desirable that co-operative banks be debarred from involving themselves, directly or indirectly, in the stock market. Weaning co-op banks away from imitating commercial banks' culture of a ` quick kill', in the sense of speculative gains, and making them address their legitimate task of development should be the RBI's policy thrust.

After a decade of reforms, what next?
THE MAIN objectives of India's economic reform process, started in 1991, were to reduce the government's stake in its enterprises, downsize workforce, allow private sector participation in infrastructure and other core areas of economy, thereby reducing the fiscal deficit, increase allocation of funds for socio-economic development-oriented programmes and create a market-based economy rather than an artificially-controlled one.

India in a lightless tunnel
I AM not criticising Parliament for having discussed the India-Bangladesh border clash when the Opposition did not allow even the debate on the Railways Budget. Parliament did the right thing because the clash jolted the nation. However, why has Parliame nt not done likewise regarding another disturbing problem: The steep fall in the industry growth rate from 7.6 per cent last February to a mere 0.6 per cent this February?

US economic landscape -- Too early to read the signs
WHEN THE US sneezes, other countries, rich and poor, catch cold. All eyes have been on that engine of world economy, ever since the corporates -- many of them icons and legends in their own right -- were on the skids. Within the US itself, the cynosure i s the Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Mr Alan Greenspan, whose moves are watched by policy makers and economic players with eyes peeled. To the uninitiated, it may seem that all he is doing is tinkering with the interest rates and pushing them up or down at intervals. But by these means, he is actually exercising his overlordship of the monetary scenario, pulling vital levers to set the course and quantum of funds released into the system, and influence the nature and purpose of investment decisions.

Nod for the Budget
IN THESE DAYS of Tehelkas and scams, it is a relief to see one of the better Union Budgets of recent times getting the nod of Parliament. The direct-tax break, estimated to cost around Rs 1,000 crore, should partly compensate for the steep drop in return s on contractual savings and place some more cash in people's hands. Instead of the usual exercise of raising the standard deduction and the rest, the Finance Minister could have raised tax ceilings on investments in infrastructure bonds and other corpor ate debt instruments.

Net or nyet?
THE National Organisation of Women (NOW) in the US is hopping mad over MCPs (male chauvinist pigs!) breaking into chat rooms of various Web sites in the Internet and indulging in rowdy behaviour with obnoxious and obscene comments and remarks. There shou ld be nothing surprising about the manifestation of this depravity. Anyone watching the weird goings-on in the cyeberworld would have long ago realised that this was something inherent in the psychology of cyber-miscreants and, in that sense, waiting to happen.

Casting Ramayana
HAVING written the screenplay of The Ramayana for Sanjay Khan's big feature film, The Legend of Ram, I have been steeped in our distant past. I will not claim to be an expert on the Ramayana but I have been visually and imaginatively roaming Ayodhya, Lan ka, Mithila and other places. I have met Rama and Lakshmana, Ravana and Dasaratha (to be played by the Big B), Sita and Bharata. It is going to be a stunning movie, but I wonder whether it will at all relate to today's India.

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