Aadhaar saga, the final phase
Aadhaar saga, the final phase
Three months into office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got to grips with the rural face of India that was battling with vagaries of nature and migration of its labour stymied by indifferent urban economy. Honest enough to realise the vital need to continue with the MGNREGA and related schemes, he was as sagacious to link it with Aadhaar-driven delivery. With his characteristic push, he expanded Aadhaar coverage and now the back-up legislation to render it effective. One can blame him for not acknowledging the rightful role of the UPA in both the above, but he deserves appreciation in picking up good ideas and their comprehensive follow-through. The same attributes of clarity of purpose and determination would now need to be applied to safeguarding detailed personal data in Aadhaar, even though the Bill has safeguards. The current air of divisiveness and pseudo-nationalism can induce misuse and that needs abundant caution in firming up the legislation on Aadhaar.
Sri Sri event
The very fact that President Pranab Mukherjee has dissociated himself from the Art of Living World Culture Festival well in advance has invalidated the claim that it is meant “to showcase India.” The choice of the fragile floodplains of the Yamuna as the venue for the cultural extravaganza and the deployment of army personnel for building pontoon bridges have stirred up a hornet’s nest. This means thinking people are not willing to accept everything that the “nationalist government” does uncritically. Yamuna is a river that finds a place in the national anthem. Yet it is not spared by the well-known spiritual guru in his quest for international fame. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar carries a lot of clout with the government. Is it a sign of the times that the services of army personnel are made available for a “private event by a private party”? At a time when, for example, the farmers are in deep distress, such an extravaganza for self-glorification is eminently avoidable. But then the venerable Sri Sri seems to be a devotee of “the God of big things” more than “the God of small things”.
G David Milton
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Unions: roadblocks to merger
With reference to the editorial “Weak + strong is not equal to strong” (FE, March 9), the finance minister hit the nail on the head when he said that the country needs strong banks rather than a large number of lenders. The editorial has also quite aptly observed that “the balance sheets of the banks are in poor condition and even truckloads of capital might not be enough to get them back on track.” The emergence of some sharp differences between the government and the analysts over the estimated quantum of the capital infusion that may be required by these banks by FY19 is also engaging the rapt attention of financial experts, policy-makers and RBI. However, it would be highly naive to assume that the presently well-placed and very strong bank trade unions would ever “agree” to the government’s well-intended and much-needed merger of the weak banks with strong banks, as their leaders know that their very survival depends upon the significantly large number of their “loyal” members. How can they be made to fall in line? It is unlikely that things will move in the desired direction despite a clear “writing on the wall”. The inversely-placed cost-to-income ratio of PSBs vis-a-vis private sector banks does not augur well in this highly competitive era.