September 6, 2002
The proposed sale of two public sector oil refiners - Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation - has sparked off intense debate.
Divestment Minister Arun Shourie is keen to divest the government's stake in many PSUs through strategic sales. But his plans have hit a roadblock due to opposition from Defence Minister George Fernandes, Swadeshi outfits, opposition parties, and other `administrative machineries.'
Meetings on divestment have been postponed several times. The latest one is slated for Saturday, September 7.
The sell-off of BPCL and HPCL is seen as a litmus test of the government's privatization drive, and can impact domestic and international investor confidence.
Though he denies a rift, Shourie says resistance to privatisation may retard the reform process.
So, should PSUs be privatised? Is Shourie selling the family silver? Is privatisation hostage to politics? Should other oil PSUs be allowed to bid for BPCL and HPCL?
. 'Govt Should Not Do Business'
. 'PSUs Have Been Ideal Employers'
September 2, 2002
On August 31, the government announced a Rs 14,561-crore (Rs 145.61 billion) restructuring package for the Unit Trust of India, India's oldest and largest mutual fund.
This massive bailout comes following the huge redemption pressure faced by the UTI following erroneous investment decisions.
Investors were shocked by the July 2001 freeze when the UTI suspended the sale and repurchase of its popular Unit Scheme of 1964 (US-64), soon after which the then UTI chairman P S Subramanyam was taken into custody by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The blame game had begun. The stock markets began to crash and the investors panicked. Under tremendous pressure, the government decided to bail out the UTI.
But this is not the first time the UTI has been bailed out. The last bailout, in 1998, when the government forked out over Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion), was an abject failure.
The new bailout will certainly curtail fears of huge stock selling by UTI and perk up the capital markets. And the tax incentives may encourage US-64 unit-holders to remain invested in the scheme.
Will this bailout be any better that the previous ones? Should the government continue bailing out institutions like the UTI by using taxpayers' money?
. 'It's a Criminal Waste of Taxpayers' Money'
August 27, 2002
Veerappan, a sandalwood smuggler and forest brigand who has remained at large for almost 15 years in the Sathyamangalam forests on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, has struck again.
He has kidnapped Janata Dal politician and former minister H Nagappa. His demands, among other things, include the release of Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P Nedumaran, 'Kolathur' Mani and Nakkeeran reporter Sivasubramanian, who are now in Tamil Nadu jails.
Karnataka fears that Tamil Nadu's unwillingness to free these people may spark anti-Tamil tensions in Karnataka.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court had ruled against the release of some TADA detainees in exchange for Kannada matinee idol Rajakumar, who had been kidnapped by Veerapan. It is believed that a large sum of money was paid to finally secure Rajakumar's release.
Given the situation and the limitations, what are the options before the Karnataka government?
. 'Get the Politicians Behind him First!'
. 'We have to end this bargain culture'
. 'Sacrifice Nagappa For Sake of Future Generations'
. 'Let Veerappan Roam Free'
. 'Pay Veerappan to Kidnap Musharraf'
August 16, 2002
The controversial new ICC contract prohibits players from fulfilling their personal contracts with advertisers if they clash with the official sponsors of tournaments conducted by the International Cricket Council.
"If a player now finds that through his own actions he has put his commercial interests ahead of his ability to play for his country, he needs to decide what is more important to him, the money or playing for his country," the unbending ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed, said.
But the players argue that the ICC did not take them into confidence on the provisions of the contract that the game's governing body signed with member boards two years ago.
Top Indian players have, therefore, refused to sign the contract. The BCCI says it's through talking with them, and will definitely send a second-string team for the ICC Champions Trophy.
Are the Indian players being unpatriotic by not signing the contracts? Or is the ICC trying to deprive them of their legitimate rights in its bid to fill its own coffers?
Your views:'BCCI doesnt have the capacity to take a stand'
'The BCCI has to support Indian players'