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T N Ninan: A few stray comments

Observations and questions about key developments, such as Reliance Jio's escapade & AAP minister's sexcapade

T N Ninan  |  New Delhi 

T N Ninan

As the late columnist Busybee might have said, here are a few stray thoughts, some observations and questions, as also comments and (of course) ruminations—all my own work. Like what would the honourable judges of the Supreme Court have said if Singur had been the site of a humming factory, turning out thousands of cars every week, providing jobs to hundreds if not thousands, and keeping dozens of ancillary suppliers in business? Would the gentlemen on the bench have ordered all of that to shut down, all those jobs to be lost, and the tax revenue from the car production to be foregone, so that the land can be returned to their original owners? In short, would the “farce” of land acquisition have been less of a farce if the factory were running? As for the business of good people joining politics—it was said to be one of the thoughts behind the formation of the Aam Aadmi Party. But the ‘good’ people that the PLUs (people like us) approve of have all left AAP, or never joined it—Anna Hazare, Admiral Ramdas, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, etc. What’s left are the guys who fake their degrees, beat their wives or cheat on them, and ask money for party tickets. Never a dull moment, what? Another question: What would first-quarter growth of GVA (gross value added) have been if the government had not gone on a spending spree? Few have noticed that the non-government part of the economy (nearly 90 per cent of the total) grew by only 6.6 per cent, while government spending grew by more than 12 per cent, taking total GVA growth to a respectable 7.3 per cent. If the government cannot sustain its spending blitz (think fiscal deficit), are we headed for sluggish growth in the current quarter? Now for an anti-national thought: Pakistan has brought untold suffering on gullible Kashmiris by making them cat’s paws in Islamabad’s deadly game (gullible because they thought azadi would fall from a tree like ripe fruit). So should the Balochis worry about what might be in store for them if India encourages their seditious thoughts? After all, it’s the grass that gets crushed underfoot when elephants do battle. And, why were Reliance shareholders clapping when Mukesh Ambani announced cheap telecom rates that translate into postponing a return on investment of over Rs 100,000 crore? Outside, in the market, shareholders were selling the stock.

Still, one must hope that the telecom business does better than Mukesh’s gas misadventure, with its history of over-promised production, high if not excessive capex, and misuse of someone else’s gas—and with sundry penalties now proposed. Jio has the advantage that phone customers are fed up with the poor quality of existing data and call services; so it’s just as well if Mukesh up-ends the whole business, even if it is his shareholders who pay for doing it. Meanwhile, a Haryana judge has written 182 pages to record what we already knew about Mr Vadra’s land deals—though, mysteriously, no one has made any move as yet against the country’s most famous son-in-law. And Rahul Gandhi must be the only person in the world who would think of starting not one but three newspapers simultaneously, in the age of the internet. Also, our faujis seem to have become experts at grandstanding. The air chief, for instance, complains that his planes were not used over East Pakistan in the 1965 war. He needs reminding that the IAF did not do well in that war; its own history acknowledges that it “suffered disproportionately higher losses”. In any event, let’s leave history alone and ask the chief to tell us why half of today’s 200-plus Sukhois have not been operable at any given time. Such unhelpful thoughts on a Friday, when workers across the country are on strike against neo-liberalism, and when Delhi celebrates azadi from flooded streets.

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First Published: Fri, September 02 2016. 21:40 IST
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