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Congress takes on Modi over ‘industrialist’ remark

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Manish Tewari

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) With Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that he was “not afraid of” publicly standing beside industrialists because his intentions were “noble”, the Congress hit out at him, saying he should not lend his legitimacy and respectability to such corporates.

“If the Prime Minister feels alright to be photographed with such people, who allegedly ripped off the banking system, and run away to Antigua and London or probably disappear from the earth, then I leave it to the Prime Minister’s wisdom to lend his legitimacy and respectability to such people,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at a press conference.

“The question is not the capitalists or industrialists. The question is what kind of capitalists or industrialists,” he said, while stressing his party was not against industrialists and capitalists, but against “crony capitalists”.

“The Congress feels that private enterprise has a legitimate place in the developmental trajectory of the country. But what we are against is crony capitalism and the nexus between the suit and the boot. ‘The Suit Boot ki Sarkar’, when the government functions for the benefit of a few at the cost of many,” he said.

Tewari also hit out at Modi for comparing himself with Mahatma Gandhi, saying: “What is even more astonishing is that the Prime Minister went and compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi.

“Its unfortunate because no politician should compare himself to the father of the nation. He said that even Mahatma Gandhi used to carry industrialists with him. Again the question is what kind of industrialists. They were those people who in the teeth of British tyranny, British imperialism, in the teeth of persecution were ready to stake in sacrifice everything they had for the freedom of India.”

These industrialists stood with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress because their goal was the freedom of India, and were “not those industrialists who had gamed the banking system and runaway with thousands of crores of public money,” he said.

Slammed Modi over development issues, Tewari said that “the Prime Minister patted himself on the back saying that the country is developing splendidly”, but this is not borne out by facts.

“The facts are that farmers are forced to sell their crop below the minimum support price. The fact is that small and medium industry is closing down rapidly across the country.”

On Modi’s visit to Uttar Pradesh, Tewari said when any Prime Minister visits a state seven times, six or nine months before the Lok Sabha elections, it is possibly the most “potent barometer of the nervousness” of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Prime Minister of India.

“This is perhaps the seventh trip that the Prime Minister is making to Uttar Pradesh in less than a month.”

He also criticised BJP President Amit Shah’s interview to a newspaper where he mentioned the Rs 12 crore Mudra loans for youth, saying the question was “how many sustainable livelihoods have those loans created”.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala meanwhile tweeted: “Dear PM, your political career reeks of a culture of cronyism! From giving land to your crony friends at throwaway prices in Guj to GSCPC scam, from promoting select mobile wallets in DeMo to gifting largest defence contracts in Rafale! So spare us the lecture!”

India

Railways start work under MGNREGA scheme

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Indian Railways

Agartala, Dec 13 : The Railways, for the first time, have started utilising the government’s rural job flagship scheme – MGNREGA – to undertake railway work, a senior official said on Thursday.

“The Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) has started works of widening railway embankment in Kishanganj area of Katihar division in Bihar and Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal under the MGNREGA,” NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma told IANS.

He said that if the state governments of the northeastern states and concerned District Magistrates agree, similar works can be undertaken in the region where NFR has railway lines.

The NFR serves seven districts in West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides the northeastern states, excluding Sikkim.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) mandates 100 days of employment in a financial year to at least one member of each rural household in the state.

Sharma said that in Kishanganj, the proposal of railway line embankment repair was sanctioned for 5.7 km of track at an approximate cost of Rs 13.4 lakh.

“Around 30 labourers are turning up on a regular basis and all are being provided with job card against MGNREGA. Similarly, the District Magistrate of Uttar Dinajpur had also sanctioned supplementary estimate of embankment repair for 8.3 km of railway track at an approximate cost of Rs 21.5 lakh under the rural job scheme,” he said.

He said that the joint initiative of NFR and the Bihar and West Bengal governments will be helpful in providing rural jobs and also the repair and maintenance of railway assets without any additional cost to the Railways.

The works proposed under the MGNREGA include construction and maintenance of approach roads for level crossings, developing and cleaning silted waterways, trenches and drains along the tracks, construction and maintenance of approach roads to railway stations, repairs to earthwork to the existing railway embankments, cuttings, clearing vegetation growth and plantations at extreme boundary of railway land.

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Universities should consult industry on designing courses to make students employable

Such initiatives hold the key to driving India’s innovative capacity forward and making the country more competitive.

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Enhancing employability

Even though the idea of globalisation has come under fire in the last few years, with increasing levels of discontentment over inequity in the distribution of gains, the benefits that the world economies have derived from it are often overlooked.

One unmistakable benefit has been the transfer of productivity-enhancing technology between nations and diffusion of innovation worldwide. The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook released in April this year also pointed out that globalisation has given a significant boost to the diffusion of knowledge and technology across the world through free trade, higher foreign direct investment and the international use of patents and copyrights.

Innovation has become the key to gaining greater market share and more and more countries are shifting their policy focus on building their innovative capacities to strengthen the competitiveness of their economies. Competitiveness is defined as “the ability of firms to compete, grow and be profitable in the long run”. Studies find an unequivocal link between innovative capacity and competitiveness of nations and regions. In fact, it is almost next to impossible for businesses to become competitive without innovating in its products and operations.

With the world innovating at breakneck speed, no country wants to be left in the lurch. Most significantly, China has laid out a plan to become an “innovative nation” by 2020 and an “international innovation leader” by 2030 in its current Five-Year Plan. Even countries like Saudi Arabia that have historically been heavily resource-dependent are making a conscious move towards higher innovation. These countries are beginning to recognise the fact that building a competitive advantage based on factor endowments (cheap labour in case of China and oil reserves for Saudi Arabia) cannot be sustained over the long run. A transition to a knowledge-based economy is imperative.

India can ill-afford to find itself lagging on the curve. The country had missed out on the first industrial revolution on account of being at the receiving end of colonial history. No other phase of innovation in history has transformed industry to such an extent. Only the digital revolution at the end of the 20th century came close. It is, therefore, a rare and opportune time for India to accelerate its development process and move into the next stage of growth by focusing on strategies to foster innovative capacity.

In recognition of the urgency to act, a roundtable on “Innovation for Prosperity” was organized by NITI Aayog and the Institute for Competitiveness last week to draw actionable policy recommendations for NITI Aayog to work upon to improve India’s innovation capacity. One of the most pertinent issues raised at the roundtable was the issue of industry-academia linkage in the Indian education system.

Around the world, universities are seen as hubs of innovation where experts from varied fields come together to share their ideas for developing new technologies, systems and processes. Such innovation originating from universities usually attracts huge demand from industry. This results in diversified products and market development, which leads to the nation gaining a competitive edge in the world markets.

Such industry-academia linkages are missing in the Indian economy. Universities are meant to play a dual role of knowledge creation and knowledge transfer. But the latter is found wanting in the Indian context. The problem resides in the abysmal quality of the country’s education system that focuses more on quantity than quality from a very early stage. For instance, the focus is always on the number of hours taught rather than the quality of education imparted in those hours.

At every level of education, students are never encouraged to think. Rote-learning is encouraged through an incessant focus on marks, which leaves no scope for thinking or innovation. Further, higher education is mostly outdated and hardly industry-oriented. Therefore, the human capital in India is barely equipped to innovate for industry. Another factor that hinders any industry-academia linkage is an utter lack of clarity on who owns the IP for collaborative innovation. Until these problems persist, any collaboration between industry and academia will be difficult to achieve.

One way to move away from the status quo is to encourage universities to consult industry while designing course curricula so that the graduates are more employable and innovative. The government can also play an enabling role in facilitating higher collaboration. It can provide tax incentives or subsidise setting up of research infrastructure in universities that can be used for industrial innovation. The government could also push for higher academic exchanges by funding the transaction costs involved in the process, which can particularly help in better understanding of what industry requires from academia.

Such initiatives hold the key to driving India’s innovative capacity forward and making the country more competitive.

(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected] and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, senior researcher, Institute for Competitiveness, has contributed to the article)

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Ratan Tata conferred steel industry’s lifetime achievement award

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Ratan Tata (File Photo)

Mumbai, Dec 10: Eminent industrialist Ratan N. Tata was conferred the Steel Users Federation of India (SUFI) Lifetime Achievement Award for his association and contribution to the industry, an official said here on Monday.

The award was bestowed on Tata by Union Minister for Steel Choudhary Birendra Singh and other dignitaries on Sunday night, besides 450 delegates from 10 countries representing the industry attending the 2nd SUFI Steel Awards.

The other prominent awardees included Hall of Fame category’s ‘Steel CEO of the Year’ for Vipul Mathur, CEO, Welspun Corp. Ltd; Tata Steels Ltd. and Maharashtra Seamless Ltd sharing the ‘Steel Company of the Year’; and POSCO Maharashtra Steel Pvt. Ltd and Naresh Steel Industries Ltd. jointly bagging the ‘Emerging Steel Company of the Year’ honours.

In the special category, M. Junction won the ‘Digital India Award’, JSW Steels Ltd. got the ‘Make In India Award’ and Metal Street bagged the ‘Start-Up India Award’.

Addressing the gathering, Singh said that the steel industry needs in-depth research and motivation to stay ahead of competition globally, and accommodate the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

“The government is pacing towards boosting and assisting the steel industry towards innovations and technology revolution,” said Singh.

SUFI President Nikunj Turakhia said that recognising the disconnect between the industry and government, the organisation has been instrumental in bridging the gap.

“We believe it is imperative that the contribution of those who have made the steel industry reach its heights today is recognized through these awards,” Turakhia added.

The SUFI Steel Awards with several categories added this year, were conducted in association with the Steel Group, Steel Scenario and ASSAR.

IANS

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