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Jottings: EC’S NEW HELMSMAN?

A study by the Quality Council of India (QCI) for the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) says complaints against cow slaughter, poor facilities for animals and tax benefits for slaughter houses made up 20 per cent of the grievances received by the Union ministry of environment.

EC’S NEW HELMSMAN?

Finally, we get to know who will be the man in command at the Nirvachan Sadan, during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

Sunil Arora, a decorated officer, who has previously worked at the I&B Ministry and the Skills Ministry as Secretary, recently assumed charge as the new Election Commissioner.  Going by the convention (of seniority), he is likely to be elevated to the position of Chief Election Commissioner as the other two incumbents at the Nirvachan Sadan - Achal Kumar Joti and O. P. Rawat – will retire well before 2019. Among various institutions in the country, the Election Commission, besides the higher judiciary, enjoys the highest credibility, and except for a few aberrations, all the Election Commissioners have been known to be upright officers.

Although his career has flourished under the BJP regime, political masters often learn the hard way – just as a few Civil Aviation Ministers have – that Arora, 61, and a 1980-batch IAS officer, is a stickler for rules. And that he is a strict disciplinarian. All this augurs well for the Republic. Arora will thus,  join the distinguished league of Chief Election Commissioners who helped conduct absolutely fair elections in this country – without fear or favour.  — Suman  K. Jha

Warplanes for IAF

close on the heels of US aircraft major Lockheed Martin, which has signed an agreement with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) to produce the F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft in India, Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab, has joined hands with the Adani Group to bid for similar defence deals in India. The Swedish manufacturer will collaborate with the Indian multinational to  design, develop and build Gripen fighter jets in India if its bid is selected by the Indian Air Force (IAF).  

According to a company statement, Saab plans to combine its technological edge with the Adani Group’s industrial engineering, system integration and mega project execution capabilities to manufacture defence systems in India. A critical part of their roadmap would be to encourage development of small and medium sized enterprises and a robust national supply chain.

The deal comes amidst a massive thrust by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to build defence products in India and so, provide for high-skilled jobs. The Saab-Adani tie-up comes at a time when the IAF is poised to phase out the Russian MIG-21s and MIG-27s now in service and replace them with 100 single fighter aircraft.

— Avishek Bannerjee

Step by Step

Several things have changed for Air India ever since the Union government decided to disinvest in the debt-laden and loss-making national carrier in June.To begin with, Air India gets a new Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), even if for an interim period of three months initially. Rajiv Bansal, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Nagaland cadre is the new Air India chief replacing Ashwani Lohani, who is now Chairman of the Railway Board. An Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) circular says that Bansal would be interim CMD of Air India for “3 months or until further orders”. For now, Bansal is also the Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor in the Union ministry of petroleum.

Meanwhile, Air India has put on hold all upcoming renewals of employee contracts post-retirement. This is a significant step as a number of contract employees of the national carrier tend to get re-employed when their contract tenures end. Holding the process for several categories of employees may be the first step towards shedding a small portion of the large workforce. — Ashish Sinha

Complaints on cows top at Green ministry

A study by the Quality Council of India (QCI) for the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) says complaints against cow slaughter, poor facilities for animals and tax benefits for slaughter houses made up 20 per cent of the grievances received by the Union ministry of environment. The Grievance Analysis and Systematic Reforms Report was released by the Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, Jitendra Singh, recently. The report says complaints on industrial and vehicular pollution accounted for 17 per cent of the grievances, followed by those on deforestation (13 per cent), waste management and plastic regulation (13 per cent) and rhino poaching (5 per cent). Issues pertaining to cows dominated the 9,490 grievances received by the environment ministry between April 2015 and March 2016. — Anurit Kanti

Vegetables Bring Cheer

Remember when farmers had flung out their produce onto the thoroughfares, because vegetable prices were at rock bottom? The Spring crop seems a distance dream now that prices of greens have begun to shoot through the roof.

Government estimates attributed the slight upward nudge in the Consumer Price Index (to 2.36 per cent in July from 1.46 per cent in June) to skyrocketing prices of green vegetables. Well, the autumn crop seems to suggest that the demand at the mandis may get satiated soon with fresh supplies

The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare estimates the production of fruits to be a whopping 93.7 million tonne. The vegetable crop is estimated to be 176 million tonne, which is a record of sorts. These estimates are based on information received from the State governments and Union territories. Production of flowers may also touch a record  2.3 million tonnes.

— Prabodh Krishna



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