Monday, June 04, 2012

Can a few bureaucrats make India story as attractive as it used to be?

Ex-IAS VS Gopalakrishnan's creation, Mohenjodaro
THE moment India’s fourth quarter GDP dropped to the level of shocking 5.3 percent, the policy-makers finally woke up. It was the worst nightmare as many UPA bigwigs refused to buy the theory of policy paralysis dismissing it as a media creation. But numbers can’t lie. The panic button was already pressed.
If the serial events of the last few days have anything to go by, a few bureaucrats at the level of secretaries have virtually been entrusted the daunting task of ending “policy paralysis” and stop a further slide to the growth numbers. Who are those bureaucrats, and whether…
they would succeed accomplishing this Herculean task during this politically challenged period?
On Sunday afternoon, the panic-stricken government announced it had already set up a Manufacturing Industry Promotion Board (MIPB) for matters pertaining to the implementation of the National Manufacturing Policy. After all, during the quarter ending March 31, growth in manufacturing sector shrank to 0.3 per cent, from 7.3 per cent during the corresponding period of 2010-11.
The members of MIPB will include secretaries of department of economic affairs (DEA), revenue, labour and employment, micro, small and medium enterprises, road transport and highways; heavy industry and public enterprises, science and technology, environment and forests, and member secretary, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council. Currently, former DIPP secretary Ajay Shankar is the member secretary of NMCC.
The MIPB will also have two industry representatives too, and DIPP secretary, currently Saurabh Chandra of 1978 batch, will be the member secretary of the Board. The government notification was signed on Friday. Significantly, the bureaucrats’ Board was empowered so as to have enough power to invite industry ministers of states if and when required.
Again on Friday, six influential bureaucrats of key ministries were present when commerce minister Anand Sharma chaired the Board of Trade Meeting. But the mood was quite somber. The power-packed gathering included finance secretary RS Gujaral, newly appointed commerce secretary SR Rao, industry secretary Saurabh Chandra, textile secretary Kiran Dhingra, MEA secretary Sudhir Vyas and director general of foreign trade Anup Pujari.
The urgency was quite visible. On June 1, Prime Minister’s Office said that it had set up an Investment Tracking System to ensure speedy implementation of big-ticket projects. Accordingly, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council will now track all public sector projects with an investment of Rs1000 crore and above, and department of financial services would monitor projects with an investment of Rs 1000 crore and above in the private sector. DK Mittal is the secretary of department of financial services.
But the question still remains: will these handful of bureaucrats be able to bring back the lost glory of GIGS, Great Indian Growth Story?

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