Archive for July, 2006|Monthly archive page

“Jobless Growth” in India – Forbes

Leading financial magazine Forbes warned that India faces the prospect of jobless growth saying that the Information Technology sector is too small to support the burgeoning work force. Forbes stressed on the need to expand the manufacturing and energy sectors, which are usually the primary drivers of job growth. Forbes also warned that the growing fiscal deficit could potentially stifle growth due to lower government spending. The magazine also reiterated the pitfalls of red tape, saying that the greater danger is that the will to reform the economy gets weaker the further down the bureaucracy one gets from central government.

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TN Budget discussions

Participating in the general debate, Leader of Opposition Jayalalitha lashed out at the TN Budget calling it a ‘villian’ and a ‘quagmire’. She claimed that revenue deficit have grown from an estimated Rs. 207 crores in the interim budget to Rs. 1,129 crores in the revised budget. She also said that the Finance Minister “openly confessed that the Medium Term Fiscal Plan, which is mandated by Tamil Nadu Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2003, which was subsequently amended in 2004 and 2005, has broken down”.

Finance Minister Anbazhagan responded to Jayalalitha’s charge by stating that the projected revenue deficit was well within 3 percent (of total revenue) level permitted by the 12th Finance Commission. He also dared Jayalalitha to bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

Caparo Group plans unit at Sriperumbudur

The U.K.-based Caparo Group, founded by Lord Swraj Paul, is setting up an automobile components manufacturing unit at Sriperumbudur, involving an investment of about Rs. 300 crore. Angad Paul, son of Lord Swraj and chief executive officer of the Caparo Group, met Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here on Saturday and apprised him of the company’s plans for investment in the State. The project is intended to make stampings, aluminium die-castings and forgings and includes an R & D centre and a tool room. It will have an employment potential of 1,000.

Bahrain fire tragedy

Sixteen Indians living in Bahrain, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, died when a fire broke out in their three-storey building. Most of them died from suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the heavy smoke. Eleven people were also injured in the incident. Arrangements were done to bring the bodies to India after all the formalities were completed. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, and Minister of State for External Affairs offered their condolences to the families of the victims.

TN Govt to enact new Law

The Tamil Nadu Government today introduced a bill in the assembly that would enable it to take over 65 percent of the seats in professional colleges. Already the same ratio of 65 to 35 was agreed upon by the college management as well as the TN Government for 2006-2007 counselling conducted by Anna University. For minority colleges however this will only be for 50 percent. The bill in the TN assembly was introduced by Education Minister Ponmudi.

Your Opinion

Its time for another reader’s opinion section. In this weeks section, I would like to know whom you regard as the greatest Tamil Icon of your generation. A few months back in an on-line survey conducted by CNN-IBN Live President of India APJ Abdul Kalam ranked first as the greatest Tamil Icon followed closely by music director AR Rehman and ‘superstar’ Rajnikanth.

I am sure many candidates come to mind immediately like politicians Kamaraj, MGR, M Karunanidhi, Annadurai, Periyar and people from cine field like ‘Sivaji’ Ganesan, Rajnikanth, and Kamal Hasan. Other icons that come to my mind in their respective fields are musician AR Rehman, director Manirathnam, poets like Subramanya Bharathy and Kannadasan, scientists and mathematicians like Abdul Kalam and Ramanujam, and sportsman like Viswanathan Anand. So I would like to know whom you regard as the greatest Tamil Icon. Your comments…

India Today’s Top College Rankings

Last week, I published the results of the Outlook survey of Top Engineering and Medical Colleges in India. This week, India Today has published its results. India Today’s ranking the Top 10 Colleges in India in the areas of Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Science, Law, and Medicine. City wise rankings are also provided for certain areas. Let’s look at how colleges from Chennai and Tamil Nadu have performed in the survey.

Arts & Commerce

Three colleges from Chennai finished in the All-India Top 10 rankings in the areas of Arts and Commerce. Presidency College (#4), Loyola College (#6) and Madras Christian College (#9) featured in the Top 10 for Arts. While Presidency College (#3), Madras Christian College (#4), and Stella Maris College (#9) featured in the Top 10 for Commerce. Presidency College, Kolkata was ranked #1 for Arts, while Shri Ram College, Delhi was ranked #1 for Commerce.

Engineering & Medicine

For Engineering, the only College in the Top 10 is IIT Madras (#3). IIT Kharagpur finished first in the All-India rankings for Engineering. For Medicine, there are three colleges in the Top 10. JIPMER, Pondicherry was ranked #6, CMC Vellore was ranked #7, while Madras Medical College was ranked #9. AIIMS was again ranked #1 in the All-India rankings for Medicine.

Sadly, no Law Colleges from Tamil Nadu or Pondicherry finished in the Top 10.

Tax Benefits

Following its recent decision to reduce the cost for outdoor shootings, the Tamil Nadu Government has announced another benefit for the Tamil film industry. Now, movies released with Tamil titles will be fully exempted from the state entertainment tax. Entertainment tax accounts for about 10-15% of the price of the movie ticket and so this makes a huge difference to the industry. Many producers who had earlier announced films with English titles are now scrambling to change them before release. The Tamil film industry is very happy at the latest announcement.

Land grabbing?

The CPI(M) has charged that ADMK chief Jayalalitha and her close associate Sasikala have grabbed land allotted to Dalits for their farmhouse at Siruthavur in Kanchipuram District during its tenure between 1991-96. Jayalalitha in a press release has however denied these allegations claiming that she only rented the place and that the property doesn’t belong to her or her close associate. She insists that charges are made by her detractors to create an “illusion of corruption”. She also threatened to sue the CPM for making these charges.

Chief Minister Karunanidhi told reports that he is waiting for a report from officials about the complaints from the Dalits who were allotted the land. Charges of corruptions against Jayalalitha isn’t something new. She has several cases pending against her for corruption during the 1991-96 rule. However, the facts that she has allegedly grabbed land from Dalits should have political repercussions should more evidence emerge.

Chennai – Healthcare Capital of India?

This post is inspired by an observation made by Badri Seshadri on his blog about Chennai becoming the Health-care capital of India. He made the observation based on the fact that hospitals in Chennai are frequented by people from other states. However, I would like to take this one step further by asking the question “can Chennai attract medical tourists not just from other states but from other countries as well?”.

Chennai has some of the best hospitals in the country. Given the good infrastructure we have in Health-care sector, I think attracting tourists from other countries makes perfect economic sense since Health-care in India costs roughly about 10-15% of what it does in other countries. More over, by attracting people from other countries, the Health-care industry in the city will grow and will lead to further competition and produce even better hospitals and infrastructure. Just as how IT companies like Infosys and Wipro made Bangalore the leader in Information Technology, Chennai with the help of its modern hospitals can truly become the Health-care Capital of India.

I have also noticed a good trend in this direction. Some organizations are taking initiative to realize this. MediTourIndia is a private organization which supports such an effort by offering complete packages of various categories to attract tourists from other countries. One of the main difficulties experienced by patients from other countries is the lack of knowledge as to how to schedule an entire trip from abroad. Companies like MediTourIndia simplify this task by satisfying the end-to-end requirements for the patients from abroad.

So I think promoting Chennai as the Healthcare capital for attracting foreign patients is a win-win situation for the city, patients, as well as the hospitals. While, the Tamil Nadu Government is unlikely to foresee such opportunities for the betterment of the city, private initiatives in this direction is a welcome step.