‘Export or perish’ was the clarion call given by Jawaharlal Nehru. Now, with a staggering import bill of $491.9 billion, India needs to stop imports of cheap goods and encourage buying indigenous equipment, even if it costs 15% to 20% higher than overseas
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Anand Sharma, minister for commerce and industry, has confirmed India's exports at $300.3 billion as against a staggering import bill of $491.9 billion during the year 2012-13.
He has further stated that 10 countries, which account for this trade deficit of $191.6 billion, are China, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Venezuela, Nigeria, Australia and Indonesia. These account for as much as 76.5% of our deficit. There are 70 more countries that have a favourable balance of trade against India!
The reasons are not far to seek. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Venezuela and Nigeria are our principal suppliers of oil and gas, which we produce indigenously but in insufficient quantity and thus have to import for catering our growing needs. Australia and Indonesia supply coal, again an essential energy base. India has the resources in substantial quantity but is unable to excavate and distribute in an efficient manner, due to bureaucratic bungling in environmental clearances and logistical issues.
China is well entrenched in India in supplying cheap electronic goods, thereby killing the domestic industry and, of course supplying various power generating equipments, which have been found to be of inferior quality and workmanship. However, this factor is conveniently overlooked due to cheaper Yuan credit that China can give.
It took months of protests and appeals before the government imposed an increased tariff on these electrical equipments that were actually hurting the indigenous industry.
Now, the Heavy Industry Minister Praful Patel is seeking to have the import duty cut to 14% from the revised rate of 21% imposed a few months earlier. We do not know what has caused him to make this suggestion.
On these issues, we appear to brazenly overlook the fact that we need to seriously improve our own production capacity of all electrical power generating equipments, which we import from China, the main supplier, and others.
Secondly, apart from maintaining the current tariff, the government must consider giving a preferential treatment in obtaining indigenous equipment, even if these are 15% to 20% higher than the imported counterparts. Treating such supplies as "deemed export" is one thing, but giving this sort of direct price advantage is a key element to facilitate growth. Besides, a whole lot of foreign exchange can be saved in this manner. Employment opportunities will increase as will consumption and growth of essential raw materials, like steel, that are indigenously made.
The Government must have a think tank to work on these lines of import substitution more seriously than what it being done so far.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
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The CIC directed the PIO under the office of the Superintending Engineer (HQ), at the MCD, to provide specific information asked by the appellant about mobile towers in the capital. This is the 149th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) in the office of Superintending Engineer (HQ), at Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), to provide specific information asked by the appellant about mobile towers and also display the same on MCD website as per requirement of Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
While giving this judgement on 12 February 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The APIO Harminder Singh, executive engineer-EE (building-HQ) is directed to provide the information to the appellant and also to ensure that the information is displayed on the website before 5 March 2010.”
Delhi resident Karam Chand, on 10 June 2009, sought information about mobile towers in the city from the PIO. Here is the information he sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act...
Chand sought information on 20 points regarding total number of cellular towers, poles and cellular antennae in all zones (12 in number) of MCD. As per agreement with companies, he sought information in tabular form under column heading of company name, permission apply date, file number and date of permission. Chand also sought information in tabular form with column heading of company name, towers, poles antenna, permission apply date, file number, date of performance, name of RWA and its registration number, pollution certificate number, number of ATM towers, poles and antenna and dish (ATM) used as commercial. He also asked for information with details of postal address, towers, poles or antenna, bank name in similar table.
In his reply, the PIO stated...
For query 1 to 3- Information sought vide this point is to be provided by the PIOs of different zones, to whom the RTI Application has already been transferred vide this official letter dated 19 June 2009.
Query 4-The information sought vide this point is not an information under the RTI Act, 2005.
Query 5-As per point No. 1 above.
Query 6- The information sought vide this point is not an information under the RTI Act, 2005.
Query 7- As per point no. 1 above.
Query 8- The information sought vide this point is not an information under the RTI Act, 2005.
Query 9 (a to d)- As per point no. 1 above.
Query 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18 19 -The information sought vide this points pertains to PIO, CL Zone to who the ID Application has already been transferred.
Query 20- The information sought vide this point is not an information under the RTI Act, 2005.
Not satisfied with the information provided by the PIO, the applicant filed his first appeal. In his order, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) stated, "Information pertaining to the issue of head quarter (HQ) had been replied vide letter dated 2 July 2009 and the other issues pertaining to different PIOs had been transferred to the respective PIO for providing information to the Appellant."
Chand insisted that consolidated information as per the CIC decision should have to be provided by one PIO. The FAA then directed the PIO of HQ to obtain information from the PIOs concerned and provide the same to the Appellant within two weeks’ time.
Despite the order from the FAA, the PIO of HQ did not provide the information. Chand then approached the CIC with his second appeal.
During the hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that Chand, the appellant, sought various information on the topic of mobile towers and extensive information has been provided (by the PIO) as well as numerous file inspections had also been done by him. Chand then sought specific information on four points:-
1. Total number of towers for which MCD has given sanction in various zones indicating the company which has put up the tower, address of the location and fees paid, if any.
2. Total number of towers setup without permission, with their addresses, indicating the name of the company which has put up the tower and action initiated against them, if any.
3. Copy of the guidelines for giving permission for installation of towers.
4. Any action that has been taken against officers in areas where towers have come up without permission. Copies evidencing such actions are sought. If no action has been taken this should be stated.
While allowing the appeal, Mr Gandhi directed the PIO to provide information mentioned above to Chand before 5 March 2010. The PIO was also directed to ensure that the information is also displayed on the website of MCD before 5 March 2010.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003152/6809
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003152
Appellant : Karam Chand,
Respondent : RK Sharma
Public Information Officer &
Superintending Engineer (Bldg.)
O/o the Superintending Engineer (HQ),
Municipal Corp of Delhi Town Hall, New Delhi-110006