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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Three burning problems..

As I see now, there are three problems that require the immediate attention (and action) on the part of the Govt of India. If there is failure to act on these, the economic growth of the kind we witness now in India will surely lose its steam. And that, is bad news!
First of course is the rising inflation. The WPI based inflation rate is high and so are the CPIs too. The government has tried to bring it down by reducing the import duty on food items and the RBI has, in its Q3 Review of Monetary Policy, tried to strike at the demand side of inflation. The measures taken by the RBI officials especially are to be appreciated, as they have tried to target specific segments which, in their view, are fueling the inflationary pressures - like increasing the provisioning for segments like credit card outstandings, capital market exposures, real estate financing and personal loans. As Governor YV Reddy pointed out, inflation is always harmful to growth as it leads to volatility in the economy.
Second problem is the inadequate infrastructure. As correctly identified in the Mid-Year Review of the Economy by the Ministry of Finance, if infrastructure problems are not addressed properly and in time, it can prove to be the Achilles' Heel in our economic growth. So, what all comes under the generic term 'infrastructure'? It includes roads (highways), ports, airports, uninterrupted supply of power and water, housing facilities and telecommunication facilities. In the post-reforms era, we have seen tremendous improvement in telecommunication facilities and, to some extent, transportation facilities. It can easily be seen that whichever sector was opened up to private participation, with commensurate and competent regulatory mechanism, has shown good results. In fact, the single biggest factor behind the growth of IT & ITES sector, in my view, is the unprecedented improvement in telecom facilities resulting in the lowest charges in the world. It is mostly in the power sector that we have ended up laggards. And, that is the area where there have not much reforms and opening up. In recent times, there seems to be some improvement, what with the bidding for some mega power projects resulting in very competitive tariffs.
In PM Manmohan Singh's view, we need a whopping US$ 350 billion as investment to spruce up our infrastructure. Where will it come from? Of course, partnering with the private sector is the solution. For this, appropriate homework needs to be done and it may also be necessary that user charges may have to be imposed. A good way to raise at least a part of the funds is to revive the debt market segment. One hopes some concrete measures will be undertaken in this connection.
What is the third problem?  It is agriculture. Agri-sector contributes around 22 per cent to India's GDP but employs more than 60 per cent of our population. But look at the growth rate: just about 3 per cent. And, farmer suicides are going on at an alarming rate. It naturally means that for growth to be more equitable, the fruits of reforms should reach the millions of farmers in our country. Only then will our dear politicians be able to 'sell' reforms to their constituencies. [More on agri-sector in a separate post, coming soon!]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Two composers I expect a lot from....

I had, in one of my previous posts, talked about my music preferences. To the list of the composers I like, I would like to add two more names: GV Prakash Kumar and Rahulraj T.
GV Prakash Kumar probably needs no introduction to ARR fans. He has sung a number of songs for ARR. Perhaps more than this fact, it is this factoid that will pop some eyeballs: he is ARR's nephew. He started off singing with 'Chikku Bukku Raile' (Gentleman); he went onto sing a number of other songs for ARR. In the meanwhile, he took up Audio Engineering and has worked as programmer for a number of music directors, viz Vidyasagar, Harris Jayaraj, etc. He has worked as a programmer for ARR from Swades onwards. Meanwhile, he also sang the hit number 'Kadhal Yanai' (Anniyan). IMO, his most notable work as an assistant is the recently-released Hindi flick 'Jaanemann - Let's fall in love again'. Yes, the music was by Anu Malik, but it was GV Prakash's music arrangements that stood out. The songs ended up sounding like ARR's and till one newspaper highlighted the contribution of GV Prakash, everyone was under the impression that Anu Malik had improved! GVP has made his filmy debut as composer through director Shankar's production 'Veyil'. The songs were good and became hits too. Of course, he teamed up with ARR's crew (notably 'flute' Naveen and H Sridhar) and there are some who say his real skills will be on display only if gets a team of his own. I see promise in this guy.
Rahulraj too would require no introduction to the Mallu fans of ARR and to observers of music scene. He is the one behind the soulful theme of Amrita TV and also some programmes on the same channel. He has also given music to some album tracks, most notably Tom George's 'En Jeevane' and Sreenivas' 'Aaril Aaro'. He has composed some jingles too. His filmy debut will be the Mohanlal-starrer 'Chotta Mumbai'. He has a voice very much similar to ARR's and that's why I said he is no stranger to ARR fans; his rendering of the Amrita TV theme had many wondering whether it is not by ARR himself. I have had the good fortune to get in touch with this talented young man and it was a wonder to learn about his musical sojourn. I look forward to his works eagerly.
What is common to both GV Prakash Kumar and Rahulraj is that both of them are good singers, but with voices that are slightly different from what we usually consider normal. Another common factor is the ARR connection. They are both talented and no lover of good music will dismiss their works lightly.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Adieu, Sidney Sheldon.....

Been and am a little too busy....after all, life is all about giving priorities to different things, right? So, naturally, the time I spend online, in general, and blogging, in particular, has taken a hit....However, this is something I want to type in a few words on......
Sidney Sheldon, the popular novelist, passed away. He's authored a number of best-sellers, starting with The Naked Face. I've been a fan of his ever since I first read If Tomorrow Comes. I then went on to read almost all of his works. In fact, his works, to some extent, rekindled my interest in reading; from his novels, I moved on to the more serious stuff and learnt to appreciate literature for what it is worth.
What was special about Sheldon's works? For a beginner, they offer decent thrill. Of course, some passages might seem to give a 'cultural shock', but once you are familiar with the milieu in which the stories are set, you are able to overlook these. Secondly, the language he used is simple and easy on eyes and brain. Yes, it's meant for leisure reading. The stories take you to different parts of the world and you feel you are actually seeing all with your own eyes.
However, there is something more to his works than what meets the eye in the beginning. That is the powerful characterization of the female protagonists. Be it Tracy Whitney (If Tomorrow Comes) or Ashley (Tell Me Your Dreams), they do what they do for a reason. They are not cowed down by the adversities of life, but take up the challenge of fighting the odds and seeking revenge. That is the specialty of all of Sheldon's works.
In Sheldon's death, we have lost a wonderful novelist....Sheldon, RIP!!!!