N.S.Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

Adani’s Calling Off Public Offer: A Big Setback for India’s Green Hydrogen Projects

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All those who are keen that India should successfully set up massive green hydrogen projects to overcome the impending energy crisis are greatly disappointed that Adani group has decided not to go ahead with the fully subscribed  Rs.20,000 crore   Follow On Public Offer.

Using this public offer of Rs.20,000 crore,  Adani group earlier announced that it would spend a substantial amount to set up green hydrogen projects,  which are unlikely to happen now.

Need for green hydrogen energy project

India presently imports around  80% of it’s crude oil requirement amounting to around 250 million tonne per annum,. India is also importing around 50% of India’s requirement of natural gas, which amounts to around 35 billion cubic metres per annum.

Import requirement of crude oil and natural gas is likely to increase at 6 to 7% per annum in the coming years, as domestic production of crude oil and natural gas is likely to remain stagnant in the coming years.

Amongst many plans being implemented by the government of India to reduce the use of fossil fuel and avoid global warming, the promotion of green energy projects in a big way is one of the very important strategies.

The government of India has allotted Rs.35,000 crore for green energy projects in the 2023-24 annual budget.

The government of India is targeting to generate five million tonnes of green hydrogen annually from the year 2030, which is the industry’s total amount of (non-green) hydrogen consumed today.

This shift to green hydrogen would avoid  30  to 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per annum and avert import of more than ₹60,000 crore worth of natural gas and crude oil.

Adani group’s proposed plans:

Adani group’s business spans coal trading, mining, FMCG (Adani Wilmar), seaport, solar power manufacturing, airports, roads, data centres, green hydrogen and so on. 

If the proposed public offer would have been accepted by Adani group, about ₹10,800 crores would have been used to fund the capital needs of green hydrogen projects, airports and expressways. 

Green hydrogen project proposal of Adani group covers the green hydrogen ecosystem from scratch.

While a few other green hydrogen projects are in the preliminary stage in India, the green hydrogen project proposal of Adani group is one of the largest.

A big setback for India’s project investment plans:

Private sector investments in projects like what Adani group has announced have to happen in a big way if India is to attain the target of 5 trillion dollar economy in the coming years.

Obviously, to attain this target, many massive projects require huge investment, for which large public issues of several thousand crores of rupees are required. 

If such public issues were to be throttled and sabotaged by vicious and motivated campaigns by some so-called research groups, then,  it would result in big setbacks for India’s future development programmes.

When an industrial group achieves spectacular growth, it is seen that those who cannot match the performance of the fast-growing group view such performance with surprise and disbelief. 

There have been cases and instances, where competitors from India or abroad would try to indirectly launch campaigns against the fast-growing group and support negative campaigns.

There have also been cases where motivated environmental groups have scuttled projects by carrying out hate campaigns and stating unproven environmental violations against particular companies. The immediate example is the closure of Sterlite Copper unit in Tamil Nadu

There have been many instances to show such motivated campaigns across the world for whatever reasons.

These conditions cause setback to India’s plans to achieve big leap forward.

Adani group   – A victim of motivated campaign  in this case:

A vicious campaign   against Adani group   was carried out by a US-based investment research firm known as  Hindenburg Research, stating several  vague  allegations, some unproven violations 

Due to the massive publicity given to such campaigns in Indian media before proper investigation, the gullible investors became panicky.  In such circumstance, the share of Adani group have seen massive losses.

In such extraordinary circumstances, Adani group felt that going ahead with the fully subscribed issue will not be correct,  since the interest of the investors have to be protected.

The net result of the situation is that  India has lost massive investment opportunities in green hydrogen projects.

Further, the motivated American research team and the detractors against India, wherever they may be,   seem to be highly pleased and satisfied.

The entire Adani episode is a case of negative forces winning ,  which is a very unfortunate situation for a growing and developing country like India.

A Vicious and Motivated Campaign to Malign Adani Group

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When an industrial group achieves spectacular growth, it is seen that those who cannot match the performance of the fast-growing group view such performance with surprise and disbelief.  In such circumstances, the armchair critics and the research and investigative organisations would try to   “invent and discover” some reasons for the rapid growth of the industrial group and in the process, the research organization would get media attention and come to the limelight.  There have also been cases and instances, where the competitors would try to indirectly launch campaigns against the fast-growing group and support negative campaigns so that the interest of the competitors would be protected.  There have also been cases where motivated environmental groups have scuttled projects by carrying out hate campaigns and stating unproven environmental violations against particular companies.

There have been many instances to show such motivated campaigns across the world for whatever reasons.

Two instances can be readily pointed out:

One is the Koodankulam nuclear project in Tamil Nadu in India, where a very vicious campaign was made against the project by so-called environmentalists and vested interests, which delayed the project by more than ten years. Now, the Koodankulam nuclear power project is operating quite well after commissioning, which clearly highlights the fact that all the allegations made against the Koodankulam nuclear power project were false and motivated.

Another immediate example is the Sterlite Copper project in Tuticorin region in Tamil Nadu, which is a large copper complex, which has been forced to be closed down by violent agitators, alleging   environmental violation. Sterlite Copper management denied all the allegations but the state government decided to close the unit permanently, fearing agitators.   The so-called environmentalists said that the Sterlite Copper was causing cancer in the local region and emitting noxious fumes, which was not true. Now, that the Sterlite Copper plant remain closed for around three years, it is clearly seen that there is no change for better in the atmospheric, soil or health conditions in Tuticorin region. This obviously proves that Sterlite Copper was sinned against rather than sinning.

Allegations against Adani group:

The present case of Adani group being accused of financial malpractices etc. by a US based research organization clearly falls on the same pattern as described above.

Many vague allegations have been made against Adani group such as family members occupying crucial posts, some unproven violations and preliminary notices issued against the group by government agencies which were suitably answered, artificially boosting share value in the market and so on.

Multiple activities in vital sector:

Adani group is involved in several field of activities including renewable energy, coal mines, seaport (Adani port), power transmission, telecommunication, airport management etc.  All these are well-planned profitable ventures if one can manage the business competently.

Adani group is a significant contributor to the industrial, infrastructure and economic growth of India and it is promoting technology and industrial growth, employment generation and conferring so many other benefits on the country as a whole.

The fact is that all these projects are managed with a reasonable level of competence by the Adani Group. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Not a loan defaulter:

While Adani group has taken large loan to finance the projects from financial institutions, there is nothing wrong in this, as these are legitimate methods to start and run any business activity. As the debt is serviced properly as per the terms of the agreement with financial institutions by Adani Group, this clearly show that the business is managed well.

Some sworn critics say that Adani group is debt-ridden. This is not true.  As a matter of fact, the total debt of Adani group is much less than several other groups as indicated below

A few companies with high debt ( In Rs. ‘000 crores )

While financial institutions and other agencies have extended loans or the public who have bought equity, there are no complaints from them. This obviously means that they are satisfied with the overall performance of Adani Group and all is well.

There are many ways of raising finances for operating business and so long as they are done as per the law, there should be no complaints.

 The allegation that Adani group has artificially boosted the share value in the market is totally baseless, as the market evaluates and reacts to the ground realities relating to the company and participates in the financial scheme of things promoted by the company, as per their judgement.

Is it motivated allegation?

One thing that cannot but be noted is that such allegations have been made by the US based research company against Adani group at a time when the group is launching FPO (follow on public offering).  Obviously, one may suspect that the US organization has the intention of sabotaging the efforts of Adani group.

The financing institutions around the world will certainly scrutinize the FPO launched by Adani group carefully and properly and would not be influenced by the findings of some armchair critics, who call themselves as researchers.

Gullible public being misled:

The fact is that when such vague allegations are made and somehow get adequate publicity in the media, gullible people get confused and become suspicious even without understanding the actual facts.

For example, it is ridiculous to see media reports that Adani group’s public offer price is around Rs.3112/- while the face value of the share is Re.1 /-  The absurdity of the view can be explained as follows.

“Suppose an organization was founded by the promoters with the face value of the share Re.1/- and when the company would develop and progress very well, then the market share value of this Re.1 /- face value could be much higher.  In some cases, it could be even as high as INR 2000 /- and more per share.  In such circumstances, when the public offering is done with a share price of around INR 3112/- , it  should not be interpreted as that Re.1 face value is being priced as INR 3112 /-

Let not Adani group waste time:

Adani group has said that it was considering legal action against the U S based research company and the research company has replied that it would face legal action.

The fact is that the armchair critical team in USA has really nothing much to lose by legal action and they would get huge publicity due to the protracted legal proceedings that may promote their business contacts. 

 Whereas Adani group, which has many projects which are under operation oi implementation and have many more future projects in view,  would find it difficult to divert its attention and time to fight a legal case in court.

 Adani group should ignore such detractors and save its valuable time and energy to move on with the process of contributing to the industrial and economic growth of the country.

Views expressed are the author’s own

Benefits of Demonetisation Now Lost in India

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In November 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprang surprised the countrymen by announcing the demonetisation of high-value currency notes.  After announcing the decision,  Mr. Modi spoke to the surprised and confused people and explained as to why demonetisation was necessary.

Mr. Modi  said that considering the urgent need to wipe out black money circulating in the country, root out corruption and eliminate counterfeit notes, he had taken this measure.  While stating that demonetisation was one of the measures that he would initiate to achieve the objectives, Mr. Modi also implied that curbing currency in circulation is a pre-condition to achieve such objectives. 

The demonetisation announcement was followed by long queue in front of the banks,   causing hardships to people in several ways.

Of course, the pledged admirers of Mr. Modi appreciated his courage of conviction to take such bold decision and sworn critics of Mr. Modi opposed his move bitterly. However, the fact is that, by and large ,common people in India viewed   Mr. Modi’s move as necessary and appropriate, which became clearly evident when Mr. Modi’s party was voted back to power with clear majority in subsequent election to parliament.  The consensus view was that the demonetisation measure put huge fear in the mind of the corrupt people and black money holders and huge quantity of unaccounted money was brought to light, which justified the demonetisation measure.

Huge increase in currency circulation :

One of the claims made at the time of demonetisation by Modi government was that the currency in circulation would be significantly brought down and digitalisation would be promoted in a big way .

While the currency in circulation was significantly brought down immediately after demonetisation, the present ground reality is that the currency in circulation has now increased by over around 83% after the demonetisation period in 2016.

Soon after demonetisation, the currency in circulation fell to a low of about ₹9 lakh crore on January 6, 2017, nearly 50% of ₹17.74 lakh crore on November 4, 2016.

The currency in value terms has soared from ₹17.74 lakh crore on November 4, 2016, to ₹32.42 lakh crore on December 23, 2022.  Currency in circulation, which was ₹18.04-lakh crore at end-March 2018, jumped to ₹31.34-lakh crore at end-March 2022 and further to ₹32.42-lakh crore as on December 23, 2022.

Has the benefits been achieved now ?:

The question now is whether India has reaped the benefits of demonetisation measures subsequently.  It appears that it has not happened, which is unfortunate. 

Due to such a high currency circulation level  at present, the use of unaccounted  money  
( mainly cash)  has now soared.  Recently, record seizures amounting Rs.6.6 crore in cash were made in one single assembly constituency in Telangana.  Almost every day, news Is appearing in the media that  Enforcement Directorate and Incomes Tax authorities have been conducting raids and seizing a huge amount of cash from the black money holders. Some people think that the seizure of such black money is only the tip of the iceberg.

With such large currency circulation, the parallel economy is now in full flow in the country, accompanied by corruption in government departments and business dealings.  Real estate deals are now increasingly being done by cash transactions using black money.

The country seems to be back to square one at present, with a parallel economy happening and increasing at an alarming level.

What justification  ?:

Government of India has not so far provided any credible explanation for increasing the currency in circulation multi-fold, which is much against the objective pronounced by the Prime Minister at the time of announcing demonetisation. 

Some economists justify such huge cash in circulation by stating that it is necessary, as the national economy is growing at a very impressive rate and people and business houses need cash to meet their requirements.  Another argument that is advanced in favour of increase in currency circulation is that so long as people pay tax properly directly or indirectly, the total amount of cash in circulation is not a matter of concern.  To support this view, it is pointed out that the GST ( Goods and Services Tax) collection has been increasing steadily.  Further, it is argued that even as cash in circulation is increasing multi-fold, digital transaction has also been increasing significantly.

There appears to be some fundamental flaw in the above argument and there should be a better way of fiscal management than printing currency notes in a developing country like India, unlike USA.

Need for increasing currency circulation :

In the last few years, the Government of India has been spending huge money by way of subsidy support, extending cash benefits to the farmers and welfare measures and distributing free vaccines to the countrymen,  particularly to reduce to the suffering of the people during the COVID period. 

With the significant increase in currency circulation by the Reserve Bank of India, the Government of India collects money from the people in a variety of ways by issuing bonds etc. and several state governments also do so.

Benefits undone:

This strategy of the Government of India amounts to finding a short-term remedy for a long-term problem, which is bound to be counterproductive in the long run.

The net impact of the overall   Rs.32.12 lakh crore currency in circulation at present is that the benefit of demonetisation has been undone, resulting in a disturbing level of growth of parallel economy and corruption in the country. 

It is necessary to note that the increase in tax collection by the government is nowhere in proportion to the huge increase in cash circulation in the country.

Finally, the increase in currency circulation has resulted in a steep increase in the price of goods and services, creating a huge burden on the family budget of those living in the lower and middle-income groups, pensioners and those belonging to the unorganised class in the country.

Is human life a mere time-passing exercise?

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Human beings live on earth, without knowing where they came from to be born and where they would go after the end of life. This is the scenario for thousands of years that have gone by.

Human beings have been struggling to find some answer for this vexed question without much success so far.

Fact with regard to  human life

In view of sustained efforts to understand the “fact of human life” over many centuries, several explanations have been guessed or imagined and evolved.   As a result of such attempts to find answers, several religions have come up all over the world, resulting in sort of competition amongst the religions as to which answer and explanation is appropriate and which is not.

Some religions speak about rebirth after the end of one’s life until such time one would lead a pious life that would facilitate him to reach the feet of God, wherever He is and whatever He is.

Some other religions talk about hell and heaven at the end of human life. So many other explanations have been offered and theories are propounded like pre-ordained fate etc.

There are several mythological stories, ” establishing ”  that there is God ruling the world and about God’s incarnation to correct the world’s happenings from time to time and describing ” impossible conditions “such as a person having ten heads and another person living and passing away and then resurrecting and so on, which cannot be even visualized by the humans.

Individuals really do not understand clearly and convincingly and without an element of doubt as to why one would be born and the human body grows in size over the years and then finally perish in one way or the other.

The fact is highlighted at the end of one’s life that none is really “big or small” in the world, with death ending as an equalizer and clearly create an impression that whatever one has ” achieved in life and not achieved ” is in vacuum, without any significance,  whether the person was a  President or beggar.

Is it time passing exercise?

In any case, what is clear ultimately is that the human life process end up as a time-passing exercise,  with individuals getting themselves into the business of getting a living and striving all the time to prove themselves to others with so-called aspirations and achievements.

In such circumstances, many persons try to avoid the uncomfortable thought process relating to the origin and end of life,  as they move on blindly with the life process, with imaginary hope and aspirations.

With sort of helplessness, humans simply resign themselves to the confusion and lack of clarity about the purpose and otherwise of human life. Ultimately, some theories are accepted by some and some other theories are accepted by someone else, simply as a  matter of faith.

Now, what is the way out in such a condition for an endlessly thinking human being on this subject?

What Hindu religion says ?

Perhaps, leaving aside several stories and theories that have been said and repeated over the years , fundamentals of Hindu religious thought suggest a way of life that enables one to live with peace,  even with unsolved questions about the origin and end of human life.

The fundamentals of  Hindu religious thoughts ask humans to introspect about the question  “Who am I”, that ultimately would lead one to meditation exercise and make the individual conclude that whatever may be the origin and end of life, it cannot be and need not be probed beyond a level.

On the other hand, asking the question “Who am I” enables one to understand the fruitlessness of the  life process  and ” it’s vacuum”

In such circumstances, the Hindu religion advocates visiting temples  and  offering prayers, that would drive the mindset towards introspection on the inner self,  meditation and seeking peace in the mind, destroying ego

Hindu religion asks everyone to lead life actively with a sense of detachment,  with hatred or prejudice towards none.

This condition ultimately promotes peace and harmony in the mindset of individuals, that is what really matters.

Hindu thoughts do not ask individuals to lead  inactive life, withdrawing from the life process.  On the other hand,  it advocates active life with detachment.

One would never know or need to know about the origin and end of life, as such thought process will lead to nowhere.

Under the circumstances, achieving peace in the mind is all that to be desired in worldly life, even as one would continue the process of living active life.   Such peace in the inner self amounts to the realization of   “God within,”   which condition Hindu religion elegantly term as “Ananda”.

This should be the essence of the goal of human life, though it may be deemed to be a time-passing exercise.

Prime Minister Modi shows the way

Recently, Prime Minister Modi’s 99-year-old mother passed away. Mr. Modi cremated the mother’s body and then immediately went ahead with his official programme, even though the passing away of his dear mother must have caused deep grief in his mindset.

By this act, he exhibited his attitude of detachment and continued his work with dedication. This approach to the death of his mother reflects the true basics of Hindu philosophy, where the central advocacy is that one has to maintain detachment to the pleasures and pains of life,  even as one would continue to pursue active life and maintain the work culture.

Such an approach to life, as exhibited by Mr. Modi, would pave way to achieve inner peace, which really amounts to the realization of God.   

Counter Productive Politics in Indian State Tamil Nadu

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Those who were born in Tamil Nadu and now living in  Tamil Nadu or other states in India or outside India feel proud about the historical traditions, culture and value system inherent in Tamil Nadu for the last several centuries. Unfortunately, in recent times, many undesirable political developments have taken place in Tamil Nadu that mar the image of Tamil Nadu as a cultured state.

In the last eighteen months, some approaches of the Tamil Nadu government have caused considerable concern to the cross-section of Tamil-speaking people now living in Tamil Nadu and across the world.

The political party which won the last election and came to power made many promises in the pre -election campaign, most of which do not make any economic sense but are good enough to please the gullible public.  After coming to power, while some minor promises have been implemented, several major promises could not be implemented, as Tamil Nadu’s finances are in extremely bad shape. In such conditions,  the political party governing the state is facing criticism, which it is unable to counter by an appropriate response.

In such conditions, the party in power is creating new issues, in such a way that people’s attention can be diverted to such non-issues, so that the criticism against the non-implementation of the pre -election promises by the government would not be focused.

Attack on Hindu religion:

It is a fact that the present government is systematically trying to discredit Hinduism in several ways, by disturbing the smooth functioning of the Hindu temples where poorly trained priests are being appointed and in the process, driving out the experienced and traditional priests from Hindu temples.  This could cause serious uncertainty and confusion in the way that Hindu Gods are worshipped in the temples.

The government mislead the people by saying that it is supporting the Hindu temples by retrieving the encroached land and at the same time, it is taking away the gold and silver belonging to temples which do not belong to the government.

Several speeches made by those belonging to the party in power and their allied parties have been decrying the Hindu religious practices. It is ridiculous that they say that those belonging to Hindu religion are the children of prostitutes.  Many similar extremely undesirable statements have been made against Hindu religious practices.  Obviously, the party in power is causing public debate over such continuous utterances to divert the attention of the people, while such persons speaking against Hindu religion go unpunished and scot-free.

There are so many other incidents that can be readily cited to indicate the diversionary tactics of the party in power, to conceal it’s poor governance.

Weak financial condition:

The finances of the Tamil Nadu government are in very poor shape and several public sector undertakings like transport, TANGEDCO are in deep red. However,  the government continues to borrow more money even while the present debt burden on the state is around Rs.7 lakh crore.  Meanwhile, unconcerned about the situation, many unproductive expenses are being incurred.

Social instability:

People addicted to liquor in Tamil Nadu are increasing at an alarming rate and social stability and family harmony in the state have been seriously disrupted.  Murders and the use of ganja are reportedly increasing, particularly among the youth.

Issue with Tamil Nadu governor:

The recent controversy deliberately created by the state government with regard to its relation with Tamil Nadu governor is extremely in poor taste. The Tamil Nadu governor is conducting himself with a high level of dignity, in spite of many provocations and particularly by the persons belonging to the ruling party and its allies who are using extremely undesirable and vulgar language against the state governor.

To add insult to injury, the  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister deliberately and in a calculated manner insulted the governor, when he came to the Assembly to deliver his customary speech.

It is said that the governor has not read out the speech prepared by the government, but the fact is that in that particular speech prepared by the Tamil Nadu government, many wrong figures and information have been mentioned  which no governor   can read out, if the governor would want to maintain the standards of his office.

It is really silly on the part of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to make an issue with the governor, for the governor using the name Thamizhagam instead of Tamil Nadu in his speech.  There is really no difference between these two names and traditionally in many forums and writings by the government and the people, the word Tamizhagam is being used for several hundreds of years.  This is because people, poets, writers and everyone feel more emotionally satisfied using the word Thamizhaam instead of Tamil Nadu. Now, the Tamil Nadu government is demanding that the governor should be sacked, which is condemnable.

Wasted opportunity:

All said and done, the ground reality is that the present party in power in Tamil Nadu has wasted it’s opportunity to govern the state adequately. It seems to be more focused on creating controversies and is not focusing on reducing corruption and nepotism or in enhancing the reputation of Tamil Nadu in the eyes of the world by good governance.

The widespread feeling amongst people in Tamil Nadu is that Tamil Nadu deserves better.

Challenges and Opportunities for Annamalai in Tamil Nadu Politics

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Just after a period of less than 24 months of entering Tamil Nadu politics and becoming the President of Tamil Nadu BJP and with no prior political experience, Annamalai has certainly become a “strike force” in Tamil Nadu politics today.

A number of political researchers and discerning observers wonder as to what could be the reason for Annamalai’s stormy entry into Tamil Nadu politics and his nearly outshining so many other experienced politicians in Tamil Nadu including those in Tamil Nadu BJP itself.

A careful study clearly indicates that there are reasons for this.

Entry into politics at the right time:

Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics at the right time when the common people in the state have almost become tired of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu for around sixty years now, which have been marked by several negatives including a high level of corruption, an increasing number of people including children getting addicted to liquor and counter-productive and caste-based politics and unprincipled politicians.

People have been voting for one dravidian party or the other so far since they had no other alternate party with good standards. Poor people have been voting for anyone of the Dravidian party based on the freebies given, loud promises made and distribution of cash to the poor voters at the time of elections. Several poor people know very well that it is wrong to take cash for voting but “justify” their accepting cash, stating that by accepting cash they would be only squeezing out the money swindled by the politicians and thus “would make such politicians poor”.

The senior citizens who have seen great political stalwarts in Tamil Nadu such as Kamaraj and Kakkan, who exhibited very high personal and political standards and ruled the state competently, crave whether such politicians of high standards would enter Tamil Nadu politics anytime in future.

Youth in the state who have been told about the exemplary standards of Kakkan and Kamaraj find it difficult to believe that such great politicians could have lived in the state at all. They often wonder whether such high political scruples would be possible for any politician.

At a time like the present one, when people are looking for political leader of high standards, Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics, raising hope that Annamalai could take the political standard in the state to high level, matching the standards of Kamaraj and Kakkan.

Unique attributes:

There are some unique attributes in Annamalai, which has not been seen in any other politician in Tamil Nadu. He is well educated with an engineering degree and management qualification from a reputed institution, entered the India cadre of IPS bypassing the competitive exam and served as a senior police officer in Karnataka with an impeccable record.

He speaks knowledgeably not only on politics but a variety of other subjects such as administrative ethos, philosophy, history and so on with the capability to speak in the Tamil language that could be readily understood by anyone.

What is more, is his courage of conviction and confidence to make critical observations with informative data and analysis. He uses strong language against corruption, which has caught the imagination of the common man.

In such conditions, everyone is keen to know what Annamalai thinks about any matter and people flock to his meetings in good numbers.

Opportunity:

There is a vacuum in political leadership in Tamil Nadu, as the ministers and politicians are fast losing their credibility and the governance appears to be virtually a family affair. This scenario gives an opportunity for Annamalai to continue his crusade

Constraint:

Both print and visual media in the state appear to be soft and uncritical towards the ruling party for whatever reasons. In such circumstances, Annamalai has a problem in reaching his message to the people through print and visual media. In such circumstances, he is heavily dependent on social media to publicise his views.

Of course, social media has two sides and there is also negative publicity on social media for Annamalai.

Challenge:

Obviously, the politicians belonging to the ruling party and allies are concerned about Annamalai gaining popularity and in the coming days, it is likely that many false allegations would be made against Annamalai to spoil his image. The ruling party is likely to leave no stone unturned in this regard.

It remains to be seen how Annamalai would face this challenge, which would come not only from opposition parties but also from within the BJP itself by those who fall to the “offers” from the ruling party men.

Annamalai at the crossroads:

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

While popularity means that people are taking a close look at Annamalai’s speech and programmes, he has to maintain high standards in a consistent manner, so that people would not change their views.

Perhaps, Annamalai may pass the test which could happen, if he has the quality in him and exhibit it to the people.

Today, in Tamil Nadu politics, Annamalai is at a crossroads.

Tamil Nadu would be a loser, if Annamalai would fall apart due to the high-pressure campaign against him that is bound to be launched by the opposite parties and vested interests.

People would stand by Annamalai if he would continue to show that he is an unbending fighter against corruption and negative politics.

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

Can Year 2023 Be Better in Anyway?

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Dawn of the year 2023  will be celebrated with people all over the world welcoming the year with bright illumination, bursting of firecrackers and exchange of good wishes, with soothsayers and astrologers predicting the events in the forthcoming year and leaders of various governments across the world greeting the people promising an era of peace and prosperity. Of course, prayers are also offered in religious centres seeking prosperity and happy conditions.

Events in the past several years show that such celebrations and wishes on new year’s eve have not been followed by showering an era of peace and harmony but the world continued to be strife-torn with conflicts and animosity between nations and individuals remaining undiminished.

Of course, in the year 2023, there would continue to be spectacular achievements in the field of science and technology with a greater reach in communication facilities and in a variety of other fields. But, however, what is unlikely to change is the mindset of people.  It appears that violence and self-centredness in the hearts of men and women all over the world would remain at the same level.  This is the experience of mankind over several decades. 

The year 2023 will continue to be confronted, like the previous years,  with several challenges and issues like global warming and climate change, terrorist attacks, conflicts between nations,  atrocities against women and so on. 

Climate challenge :

COP 27, a global meeting to discuss and deliberate on the global climate threat has concluded in Egypt,  after animated discussions and passing paper resolutions, with  COP 27 ending no better than COP 26 earlier. 

The fundamental issues posing climate challenges like the need to eliminate fossil fuels do not look like happening at anytime soon. Oil-rich countries do not want to stop the production of crude oil and natural gas and coal-rich countries do not want to reduce the production of coal.  All promises made in COP 27 look like going for a toss.

Russia Ukraine war :

Russia Ukraine war is now going on for nearly ten months now, with Russia attacking Ukraine, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people in Ukraine mercilessly and forcing millions of citizens of Ukraine to run out of Ukraine as refugees. 

It is a war taking place on Ukraine’s territory and not on the territory of Russia, obviously indicating that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is only a defender. 

With USA and NATO countries supplying arms and ammunition to Ukraine to defend itself and making no real efforts to end the war and  Russia is absolutely not concerned about the world opinion against its aggression and United Nations simply discussing and watching the scenario helplessly, it is obvious that the objective of world peace remains a far cry

Certainly, the year 2023 would continue to be war-torn in one part of the world or the other.

Terrorist attacks :

Terrorist attacks are continuing to take place in different countries, almost every day due to one reason or the other. 

Apart from terrorist attacks due to political reasons, what is known as Islamic terrorism is a grave concern, with people being killed by terrorists due to religious fanaticism.  As yet, it appears that terrorists across the world continue to have a field day.

Slaughter of innocents:

 The frequent shooting down of innocent people in public places in USA and other countries,  for no apparent reason except due to blind hatred feeling of the shooter, only highlights the fact that violence is firmly rooted in the mindset of several individuals and there is no indication that such mindset would be reformed.

Atrocities against women :

While it is claimed that the world is forging ahead due to technological developments, such developments seem to have no impact on modernising the thoughts of certain religious heads and extremists in some countries.

The suppression of women and denial of rights of women,  as a matter of policy,  by governments in Iran and Afghanistan and a few other Islamic countries, clearly point to the fact that prejudice of men against women continues to prevail in some parts of the world.

 While the atrocities against women and restrictions imposed on women’s lives have shocked many people, nothing could be done to stop such atrocities.  The women in such countries continue to suffer,  with people in other parts of the world watching the scenario like fence-sitters.

Poverty issue :

Deep poverty continues to prevail in several African and Asian countries, with no hope that the conditions there would improve anytime soon. 

Developed countries which are in much better positions and have adequate resources, have not come forward to help the poor countries to overcome these poverty conditions in a significant way.

On the other hand, it is often alleged that advanced countries and multi-national companies based in developed countries exploit these poor African nations by exploiting their vast mineral and natural resources.

Offenders go scot-free:

There have been deep atrocities committed by one nation against another and offenders have not been taught a lesson.

An immediate example is the atrocities committed by China against Tibet,   by forcibly occupying the defenceless land after killing the Tibetan protesters.

This indicates that” might is right” conditions have been prevailing in the world for several decades. There is no indication that these conditions will change in the foreseeable future.

Isolated group of good samaritans :

The fact is that there are still small and isolated groups of people in the world, who want to promote compassion, peace and love but these groups are too few and far between and really have no significant impact on world conditions. 

There are great philosophers who try to explain the essence of life and the futility of war and hate feelings. But, their preachings also seem to be ending up as mere listening posts.

Is the world celebrating the new year in a vacuum?

Now, what is the hope and where does the world go from here?

In such circumstances, the pessimism of thoughts as it may look, the ground reality has to be seen and realised without wishful thinking that the year 2023 would be any better than the previous years.

With the thought process and mindset of people in the world not having changed over several decades and wars and conflicts and self-centredness becoming part of the global events amongst countries and people, should we conclude that the wishes and greetings on the new year’s eve have no significance?

The pre-conditions for the wishes on the eve of the year 2023  for peace and harmony to be realised is that the battle for the future has to be fought and won in the minds and hearts of the people.  Will it happen in the year 2023? 

India Should Checkmate China by Recognising Tibet as Independent Country

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460 views
4 mins read

China has never concealed its hostility towards India in the last few decades.  China initiated a war against India in 1962 and is still occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian Territory. Pakistan gifted some area in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China to spite India and China has gleefully accepted this region as its own, not bothering about India’s protest.

After the 1962 war, there have been several times that Chinese forces tried to enter Indian Territory in the Ladakh area.  China now demands that the Arunachal Pradesh state in India belongs to China. The recent clash between Chinese troops and Indian troops in the Dawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh will not be the last military clash between India and China and many more similar clashes will take place in the coming years, as China would continue its efforts to subdue India in variety of ways and will provoke a frequent clash with India.

Certainly, the hostility between India and China would continue, as China will maintain tension with Indian troops as part of China’s expansionist strategy.

Under the circumstances, India has to realise that it has to necessarily checkmate China in whatever way it is possible for India, under the present circumstances. 

India’s response

While China is openly hostile to India, the present Modi government and the past Indian governments have been giving the impression that India wants to have peace with China, which has repeatedly proved to be an unreal expectation.

Claim on the territory of other countries

China’s efforts to expand its territory commenced with the occupation of Tibet using military force during the 1950s and since then, China has been ruling the Tibet region with an iron-like grip, suppressing whatever protest that has been happening by  Tibetan people in Tibet against China’s occupation.

Apart from demanding Indian Territory, China is making claims in the South China Sea, Senkaku Island and other places, which are opposed by several nearby countries.

While China has progressed in industrial, technological and economic status in a very impressive manner, the ground reality is that several countries suspect China’s motives and are concerned about China’s aggressive, expansionist greed and ambition to dominate the world by emerging as a superpower. 

Increasing unpopularity:

China is steadily becoming unpopular in the world due to its human rights violation in Hongkong, Tibet and Xīnxiāng and its suppression of the rights of Uyghurs. China’s often-declared objective to occupy Taiwan by using military force has been detested by several countries and they are watching the developing scenario with concern.

Even in countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and several African countries where China is trying to dominate the region by extending the huge loan and participating in the industrial and economic activities of the region, China’s interference has created a  sort of animosity towards China amongst the local people in those regions.

Certainly, there is the worldwide view that China is treating world opinion, which is suspecting China’s territorial greed and aggressive postures, with contempt.

Most countries which have no issues with China do not want to come openly against China now, due to the large market base and trade opportunities that China provides.

India’s compelling need to checkmate China

In any case, China now considers India as its number one enemy, as China thinks that India can be a hurdle for China in its efforts to emerge as a superpower in the world.   India has no alternative but to oppose China and checkmate the Chinese government.

One way for India to effectively checkmate China is to accord recognition to Tibet as an independent country. Of course, this move will not make any difference to the suppressed people in Tibet immediately.  However, this move certainly would push China into a defensive posture and this will bring the plight of Tiber to the attention of the world and China’s human rights violations and aggressive occupation.

Certainly, China will become more hostile towards India, when India would recognise Tibet as an independent country. But, China cannot do more harm to India than it has already been doing.

China is unlikely to enter into a full-fledged war with India,   as it will have worldwide repercussions and western countries and USA cannot simply watch the scenario of China overpowering India and they cannot keep quiet, as it will cause serious geopolitical imbalance.   Further, the Indian army has been considerably strengthened now and any future war between India and China will not be like the 1962 war between both countries when China overran and occupied Indian Territory.

Trade relations:

Of course, some people in India may argue that India recognising Tibet as an independent country would be a calculated risk,   as India is still dependent on the import of several chemicals and products from China and a war with China will cause set back to India’s steadily growing economy.

However, any disruption of the trade between both countries will affect China too, particularly as there is a sort of trade war already going on now between China on one side and USA and European Union on the other side.

No other alternative for India:

With China thinking that India has to be subdued to ensure China emerges as a superpower, there is no alternative for India but to stand against China, politically, diplomatically and militarily.

The checkmating of China has now become a necessary need for India to protect its territorial integrity, as China cannot be made to behave responsibly by following a policy of appeasement.

Providing recognition to Tibet as an independent country would be a strong and much-needed response by India to China’s posture against India.

India has morally erred by not protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet earlier and later on India accepted China’s occupation of Tibet as legitimate.  This is a grave error that has been made by India, which has made China take India for granted.  India is now paying a price for not protesting earlier against China’s occupation of Tibet.

India recognising Tibet as an independent country will make China realise that India is not a soft belly anymore.

 Further, with recognition of Tibet by India, several other countries may also recognise Tibet in the course of time and this will be the starting point for the ultimate liberation of Tibet and restoring its glory of Tibet in the eyes of the world.

Views expressed are personal

India: Remembering Rajaji

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577 views
2 mins read

C. Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) was recognised in his time as one of the most enlightened intellectuals in India. Apart from being a freedom fighter, Rajaji excelled in several other areas and was a great writer, speaking and writing on variety of subjects including world peace and disarmament, the need to promote free enterprises, moral and ethical values in public life, religions and so on.

Rajaji was born on December 10th December 1878 and passed away on December 25th 1972 and lived for 93 years.

On Rajaji’s recent birthday on 10th December 2022, the day largely passed off without the people in India or the people in  Tamil Nadu to which state Rajaji belongs, celebrating his birthday,   recognising his contribution to the progress of the country and his achievements.

Of course, Tamil Nadu Governor paid tributes to Rajaji in Raj Bhavan and a few state ministers garlanded his statue elsewhere. This event was not even reported in most section of the media.  This is unlike the way that the nation observes the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel.  Former President Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as teacher’s day every year.

In this scenario, the non-observance of Rajaji’s birth anniversary on 10th December 2022 adequately to remember his contribution is conspicuous and unfortunate.

Mahatma Gandhi hailed Rajaji as his conscience keeper, which is the ultimate tribute for Rajaji’s sense of honesty and courage of conviction.  Later, Gandhiji declared that Rajaji was his successor.  He further told that “Rajaji sees at least six months ahead of him”

There are several instances that revealed Rajaji’s capability to think beyond his time and make his views clear and providing advice to the existing governments.  Unfortunately, a number of his valid suggestions were not accepted by those in power at that time and the value of some of his suggestions were realized much later and implemented.

Rajaji’s View on prohibition:

Amongst many of Rajaji’s suggestions of far-reaching importance, let us take only one, namely his call for implementing total prohibition in Tamil Nadu.

On a rainy Tuesday evening on July 20, 1971, Rajaji, in his ripe age, met the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi at his residence and pleaded against lifting the prohibition, which   Rajaji believed would hurt future generations adversely. It was reported that Rajaji, the former Governor General of India, was made to wait for some time for the meeting which took place for 20 minutes.

Sadly, this advice was not accepted by the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his government, which lifted the prohibition. The adverse consequences of such decision are seen today in Tamil Nadu.

During the last six decades after the lifting of prohibition by the then DMK government, the liquor habit amongst the people of Tamil Nadu have increased by leaps and bounds.  It is reported that more than 50% of men folk in Tamil Nadu have succumbed to liquor habits and even youth and students in the teenage have started taking liquor. What is alarming is that even women are now slowly falling into the liquor habit.   It was really shocking to hear the recent news that school-going girl students joined together and consumed beer in public.

With widespread liquor habit steadily developing in Tamil Nadu, the social fabric of the state have been uprooted and life of women, in whose family menfolk have taken to liquor habit,  have become  hell like. Women are being beaten, harassed and left without earnings of the menfolk, who spend their earnings on liquor.  Many believe that in such condition, Tamil Nadu will be moving towards socially unstable state with value system in life going for a toss.

Rajaji anticipated all these problems and pleaded with the then DMK Chief Minister, who did not listen to him.  Tamil Nadu is now paying the price.

There is no indication that conditions will improve in the near future, as Tamil Nadu government is now heavily dependent on liquor sale income, even though liquor habit is causing social and family disturbance to an extreme level.

Role model ignored:

There can be so many other instances where Rajaji anticipated events, as he could think beyond his time.

It is sad that such a great person is not adequately remembered today, with younger generation not  being well informed of  the role model like Rajaji,  who lived with great wisdom

India: Kerala Government’s Pragmatic Industrial Policy

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5 mins read

Not long ago,  industrial scene in Kerala was marked by labour unrest, confrontation, strike, violence, gherao  and even occasionally murder. The situation was so disturbing that some units like Gwalior Rayon in Mavoor had to be closed down and another important unit Benani Zinc in Ernakulam was permanently closed.

In such circumstances, the project promoters and investors were very apprehensive about setting up or investing in industrial projects in Kerala.  However, in recent years, there is not any big negative news about industrial unrest in Kerala in similar fashion as it existed earlier and it is rare these days.  Certainly, the confidence level of investors in starting ventures in Kerala has visibly improved. 

Many observers wonder as to what could be the reason for such an impressive transformation for better in Kerala. 

There is a view that around eight years back, marxist communist party and other communist party were in the opposition and CITU and other communist unions affiliated to  these political parties often created unrest and indulged in prolonged strike “to settle scores ” with the management.  At that time, industrial relations were seen by these unions in terms of class conflict and they believed in need for struggle by  the labour to get what they wanted.   With the marxists now being in power in Kerala for the past several years, the “lawbreakers”  becoming lawmakers could also be the reason for the peace in the industrial front in the state.

However, there is also a more charitable view that the industrial climate in Kerala has improved,  since industrial managements are now more accommodative and labour and unions have also realized that the working class lose more than what they gain by indulging in strikes and forcing closure of units.

In any case, it is now crystal clear that the ruling marxist party in Kerala has become more pragmatic in ensuring a  peaceful industrial climate and in targeting to achieve industrial growth, realising that this is the only way to promote employment and improve the state’s economy. 

This is a welcome sign and a few examples clearly prove this pragmatism.

LNG terminal in Kochi :

 LNG terminal of capacity 5 million tonne per annum for importing natural gas was set up in Kochi with several crore of rupees of investment by a private company.

However, this project suffered enormously in the beginning with low capacity utilization and incurring loss,  as the gas pipeline project for transferring gas to the user industries could not be implemented due to protests and agitation against the pipeline project. The original plan was to use the gas in Kerala and  also take the gas to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to the end user industries.

There was objection to the pipeline project in Tamil Nadu and  the Tamil Nadu government totally failed to ensure implementation of the pipeline project in Tamil Nadu. Similarly, there ware also initial protests in Kerala , which prevented the implementation of  the pipeline project towards Karnataka.

However, the marxist government tackled this issue in a very pragmatic way by convincing the trade unions about the importance of this project  and ensured the completion of the pipeline project to Karnataka from Kerala and thus saved the Kochi LNG terminal project from collapse.

In short, what the Tamil Nadu government could not do, the Kerala government did. The pipeline project was inaugurated by the Prime Minister sometime back.

Revival of Hindustan News Print Limited :

When the central government had kept   Hindustan Newsprint Limited  at Velloor in Kerala   for sale  along with other central public sector units (CPSUs),  the marxist party ruled government   took over the unit  from central government in 2019  by paying Rs.146 crore  . After the takeover by the Kerala government, the company stopped production  due to heavy losses.  After three years, the state government has now come with the revival  plan of the acquired company  and has commissioned the plant recently.  In the process,it has solved the labour issues amicably , ensuring peace that is necessary to revive the unit to achieve profitable  operation.

This is a remarkable initiative of the state government , showing it’s pragmatic approach to industrial   development in Kerala.

Vizhinjam port :

Rs.17500 crore Vizhinjam international sea port being built by Adani group
 is facing issues now due to agitation against the project by a section of fishermen and the agitation actively supported and led by Christian missionaries.  

The protest movement  resulted in violence  recently.

There is a general view earlier  that marxist communists are firmly against the industrial groups such as Adani and Ambani , accusing them of being “capitalist dragons”

However, marxist led Kerala government has changed it’s view on Adani group and entrusted this massive Vizhinjam project to Adani group for implementation.  Around a decade back , nobody could even visualize marxist communists entertaining Adani group to invest in Kerala.

This is a clear example to show the pragmatic policy of marxist led Kerala government towards the industrialization of the state.

 Kerala government has clearly and emphatically highlighted the industrial and economic importance of the port project and explained how it would benefit Kerala immensely.  Kerala government has clearly and explicitly expressed it’s resolve firmly to implement this project and rejected the demand of the agitators.  Kerala government has not succumbed to the pressure from the “working class”.

What is particularly more significant is that when Adani group wanted that the central government forces should be sent to Vizhinjam port area to protect the engineers and workers and the project from the agitators, the Kerala government simply said that it would have no objection for central government forces to be deployed.  It did  not make it a prestige issue.

Siverline project :

Kerala government proposes to implement  529.45-km railway line  to link Thiruvananthapuram in the south to Kasaragod in the north, covering 11 districts through 11 stations within four hours, at a speed of 200 km  per hour .

Several  political parties in Kerala have opposed this project on various grounds. However, Kerala government has insisted that a holistic view of the project should be taken based on cost benefit analysis and pointed out several merits of the project and expressed it’s determination to implement the project.  Recently, Kerala government confirmed that   the central government has given permission for this project.

Such approach of the marxist party in power in Kerala is a far cry from it’s earlier stand on various issues that upset several project schemes in the state.

Need for more similar pragmatism in the coming years :

Kerala has enormous advantages in setting up industrial projects in several fields which need urgent attention from  the government.

Just one example.

Kerala is the only producer of rutile grade titanium dioxide in India with the production level of around 30000 tonne per annum. Kerala has plentiful  reserves of ilmenite , which is the  raw material for producing titanium dioxide pigment. India  imports more than 2 lakh tonne per annum of titanium dioxide  at present.

There is a glorious opportunity for Kerala government to exhibit it’s quality of pragmatism by setting up  large titanium dioxide project in the state with international participation.  Obviously, to set up large titanium dioxide project of capacity not less than one lakh tonne per annum, involving investment of around Rs.1000 crore ,  technical collaboration from well-established international companies are required.

In view of the strategic importance of the project, the prospective overseas collaborators are bound to ask for controlling equity participation in the project.  Kerala government should meet the demands of the overseas collaborators and quickly go ahead with implementation of the plans of this much needed project in Kerala.

If necessary, the Kerala government should not hesitate to give majority equity share to the overseas collaborators in the existing titanium dioxide unit Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.,where  presently Kerala government own around 100 percent equity share.

Many more investment opportunities exist in the state and the present pragmatic approach of the Kerala government give hope for future industrialisation of Kerala.

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