Will there be a new Emergency Medical Services Act in Maharashtra?

A PIL filed by Dr Sarita Parikh and Apoorva Agwan, from Crisys Foundation has widened the scope of emergency medical services with the Bombay High Court asking Maharashtra government to look into the NGOs research and methods for reducing deaths due to snake bites


The Bombay High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), has asked Maharashtra government to consider whether the report prepared by Creative Responsible Integrated Systems Foundation (Crisys Foundation) can be accepted and inform the Court on other steps that can be taken to help snakebite victims.


While hearing the matter in detail, Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode pointed out, “We have heard the learned amicus curiae (JD Mistry). He has submitted a report on Snakebite Project Proposal. The said report contains details about snake problems in India; the main causes for deaths on account of snakebites and the reasons why prompt action is not taken. The report also considers global solutions, which have been found by various countries, including Bombay High Court. Australia is where the largest number of snakebites is reported every year and the report is about the snakebite management in Australia. It also takes into consideration whether it is possible to have a Public Private Partnership between Crisys and the Government of Maharashtra. We are quite impressed by the research which has been done by Crisys Foundation. It has given statistical data about snakebites in Maharashtra and the other States in India. It gives a definite proposal how this problem can be resolved. The report also mentions about equipment which can be manufactured and used to help prevent snakebites.”


The High Court has directed the police in Thane, Maharashtra to ensure that members of Crisys Foundation, which has been helping tribals in the district in case of snakebite, are not obstructed by anyone in carrying out their work. There was some resistance to the work carried out by the NGO from Anantashram Trust and some adivasis, including an ex-sarpanch and a social worker.


The Bombay HC gave the directive after hearing the PIL filed by Dr Sarita Parikh and Apoorva Agwan, both members of the NGO. The court said: "Senior police inspector of the station should see that no one obstructs the petitioners and their apprentices who deal with cases of snakebite in tribal areas."


In conclusion, the Judges observed, “The learned amicus curiae have invited our attention to an Act passed by the State of Gujarat, which is called “the Gujarat Emergency Medical Services Act, 2007”. He has also invited our attention to the various provisions in the said Act and the comprehensive mechanism which has been evolved by the Gujarat Government under the said Act to provide emergency medical services to its residents. The State of Maharashtra may look into the provisions of the said Act and may consider whether it will be advisable to promulgate an Act of this nature in this State.”


Ministry Decides to selectively act on FSLRC recommendations

We are likely to get confused & schizophrenic financial regulation


Even before finance minister, Arun Jaitley, was discharged from hospital, his ministry quietly put out a press release announcing the formation of four task forces to implement the financial sector roadmap, prepared by the FSLRC (Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission) under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Essentially, they will chalk out the path to create four new agencies: the Financial Sector Appellate Tribunal (FSAT), Resolution Corporation, Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) and Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC). 


The Economic Times reports, quoting unnamed finance ministry sources, say that Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) decisions will be kept out of the purview of FSAT. Does this mean that the finance ministry, under the BJP, will stop trying to control RBI using FLSRC’s recommendations as a cover? If so, why doesn’t the finance ministry’s press release provide a clear indicator, instead of resorting to media leaks? 
One may recall that RBI governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan, had scathingly termed several of FSLRC’s recommendations as ‘somewhat schizophrenic’ as well as “faddish and impressionistic rather than based on deep analysis.” Worse, half the members of FSLRC, headed by Justice BN Krishna, had penned dissent notes to the report –YH Malegam (who is the most indispensable man in the Indian financial system having served as a director on the central board of RBI for 20 years), Dr PJ Nayak (founder chairman of Axis Bank) and Kishori Udeshi (the first woman deputy governor of RBI). One will have to wait and see whether these have really had an impact, or whether the Modi sarkar too will quietly work to cut RBI’s autonomy. 
Debashis Basu wrote in Business Standard that the new task forces make no mention of the new Unified Financial Regulatory Agency (UFRA). Immediately, there was another media leak that a half-way house is still on with plans to merge the Forward Markets Commission with SEBI (Securities & Exchange Board of India).
This suggests that the pension regulator and insurance regulator will also remain independent.
That these details are conveyed through media leaks from the finance ministry is again reminiscent of the UPA. 
Finally, let’s come to what former RBI deputy governor Dr KC Chakrabarty had described as a holy trinity—financial inclusion, financial education and consumer protection. Financial inclusion is on in full force to fulfil the prime minister’s Jan Dhan target. Financial education is mainly in the form of superficial advertisements and boring seminars funded by bourses, regulators and the ministry of corporate affairs. But, when it comes to consumer protection, there is no interest and no action. 
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MG Warrier

5 years ago

With reference to the report ‘Don’t Turn Regulators into Paper Tigers: Rajan’ (Economic Times, June 18, 2014) I had responded asunder:.
In May 2013, in response to an article in a financial newspaper, I had observed:
“Not much research is needed to conclude that finance ministry and FSLRC, in a hurry to resolve certain minor issues, ignored the evolution of the role of RBI and the care with which RBI has nurtured the financial sector. Fed Reserve and RBI function in two different worlds. To say that time is not right for dismantling or truncating the RBI which is doing creditably well as is being admitted in several international forums, would be telling the obvious.
The dissenting notes recorded by 4 out of 7 members who signed the final report are well-argued documents, which inter alia plead the case for maintaining the basic features of RBI and assert the need for allowing the central bank to carry on with its present mandates. One wonders what motivated the FSLRC Chairman to finalize the report ignoring the difference of views expressed especially by K J Udeshi, P J Nayak and Y H Malegam.
It would appear that the Commission did not get opportunity to understand the present relationship between the RBI and GOI. The regulatory apparatus plus legislations in financial sector in India are in working condition. The FSLRC’s effort to re-invent them has pushed the present regulators and supervisors to a confused state, making the possibility of an intelligent debate on the issue remote.
The idea of creating a Unified Financial Agency for all financial regulators except RBI, truncating RBI by separating Public debt Management and keeping the agency doing that work (presumably with the same work force) in RBI premises, later UFA subsuming even RBI, all give a feeling that the FSLRC was not allowed to ‘apply its intelligent mind’ and in the eagerness to satisfy all, and so fast, it has forgotten its own brief. Perhaps, the purpose would be served better, if RBI is allowed to function with its present mandate, a coordination committee sorts out issues among the remaining regulators. If GOI aim is to reduce the number of regulators, after necessary groundwork, merger of the regulatory agencies outside RBI one by one, as work stabilizes could be thought of. The twin goals of one Unified Financial Agency and managing the man-power-related issues that may arise with merger here could be better handled this way.”
The terse indictment of FSLRC report coming from Dr Rajan gives one the satisfaction that in India, it is not easy even for governments to ‘cut and paste’ policy formulations to suit individual whims and get away, and wiser counsel will prevail, though this may take time.
Last week, there was a report in Business Standard that in the new Monetary Policy Committee, RBI Governor may get veto power(which he enjoys under the present dispensation). My response published by Business Standard is copied below:
Beyond ‘give and take’
This refers to the report “RBI governor might get veto in price stability mechanism”(October 10). While such gestures to calm dissent are normal in governance, the recent initiatives from the finance ministry, including the hurry with which some of the recommendations of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission are being pushed through for implementation, gives an impression that new dispensation in Delhi has not fully recovered from the hang over of the previous coalition government’s ‘give and take’ approach in decision making.
It would be an unhealthy message to the regulators and all stakeholders in the financial system, if such ‘concessions’ to RBI and its present governor appear to be a privilege available in certain situations. There is a chance of lesser mortals among regulators becoming less amenable to government’s guidance.
Government should not shy away from normal procedures and parliamentary debates before implementing measures of long term implications to the economy. The sooner the transparency in policy formulation and respect to legislative processes and procedures are restored, the better for the country.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

Coal shortage and the failure of Railways in providing rakes

While our power plants are slowly cutting down production, imported coal lies at these ports simply because Railways are unable to deliver the rakes. It is time a serious investigation is made as to why Railways are unable to supply the required number of rakes on a daily basis?


According to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), 60 out of 103 power plants have less than a weeks' supply of coal and unless Coal India expeditiously moves coal from its stocks, lying in pitheads and elsewhere, to these points, we are most likely to face power outages in the week ahead. In fact, India's largest thermal power producer, NTPC, has already shut one of its five units, due to coal shortage, and the situation is precarious, to say the least.


The severe cyclone Hudhud has left in its wake a trail of destruction and damage, and a few deaths in both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Fortunately, the impact of this cyclone Hudhud has been reduced, thanks to the advance preparation by the government, which put all its facilities to evacuate the public from the anticipated path of this severe cyclone.


Flooding has taken place in the affected area; lot of agricultural damage to standing crop, destruction of property, damage to power lines etc have been reported. What we still do not know is whether the flooding would be affecting the coal mine areas in Odisha.


In the recent months, Krishnapatnam Port has been in the news, because it has been specially geared up to receive a huge surge in coal imports, and this port has been anticipating a 50% growth this year. To what extent this Hudhud is going to affect their plans remains to be seen, once full details of the cyclone impact are assessed. The Paradip port has also been getting additional equipment to deal with increase in the coal imports but, here again, Hudhud impact is not known, yet.


What is however shocking is that Paradip has about 2-3 million tonnes of coal at the port and press reports indicate that they have as many as 400 pending indents lying with the Railways. In reality, they are able to get 9 or 10 rakes a day as against the demand of 20 to 25 rakes. This means that while our power plants are slowly cutting down production, imported coal lies at these ports simply because Railways are unable to deliver the rakes.


It is time a serious investigation is made as to why Railways are unable to supply the required number of rakes on a daily basis? Minister Sadananda needs to investigate this lapse and take the inefficient officials to task.


Press reports indicate that there have been some top level appointments in the subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd. A close study would reveal that, in fact, no new qualified personnel have taken over the realms of these coal fields. Simply, inter-company changes have taken place and that too, after the vacancies arose, and which were left unfilled for months, not really, years, before these were effected.


In 2010, according to the media, the Chairman and Managing Director of South Eastern Coalfields (SECL) was arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), for accepting graft, and MP Dixit was removed. Until now, for more than four years, this Coalfield did NOT have any Chairman, and work carried on. About a year ago, it would seem that Om Prakash, Director of Technical Operation in Western Coalfields was selected to take over this position as CMD of Southern Eastern Coalfields (SECL), and only NOW he has been given this responsibility!


It would be worthwhile studying as to why Om Prakash has not been upgraded in Western Coalfields itself, which, in all fairness, he would have better knowledge and grip of the situation? However, when MP Dixit was arrested, it was N Kumar, Director Technical at the Coal India was deputed as CMD. Here again, all the knowledge that N Kumar gained in handling the affairs of SECL would be lost, he would be reverting back to the parent organization! What has prevented the Government in confirming this position in favour of N Kumar? This would be another interesting study.


In the case of Northern Coalfields, it appears that the CMD of this unit was accused of malpractice, though full details have not been made public. TK Nag, Director Technical of Ranchi based Central Coalfields has now been named as the new CMD of Northern Coalfields! Here again, with his knowledge and experience in Central Coalfields, would he not be suitable candidate to succeed the current CMD, if his term is over?


In the case of RR Mishra, Director of Personnel in the Central Coalfields Ltd would now become CMD of Western Coalfields, whose chairman, D C Garg passed away recently (in June this year), who appears to be a non-technical person.


It may be recalled that when all these were happening, Coal India's former CMD S Narasing Rao was talking about acquiring oversea assets and simply decided and quit to rejoin the administrative service in Telengana. At least, in the future, the concerned ministry should ensure that no one should be allowed to leave their top positions until the major pending issues are settled to the satisfaction of the Government.


Finally, the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) has issued advertisements to attract CEOs, CMDs, President or Directors of private sector companies with a turnover of over Rs5,000 crore for presumably top management positions in Government companies. According to the press, the total remuneration package offered is about Rs75 lakh per annum which is low and not attractive enough to qualified candidates to even apply. Private enterprise offers great facilities, including bonus, profit sharing and shares so that the very best is tempted to offer their services.


Coal India should be denationalised; these independent coalfield companies, all seven of them, must be made free to operate with the top management have a stake in each company. There ought to be incentives to perform and deliver the goods. Let the government permit this to happen in the case of Coal India, as an experiment, and one can see the miracle of high production in less than one year's time.


Government must be bold and innovative to make this move. Otherwise, we will continue to be facing such crisis one after another.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also 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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jaideep shirali

4 years ago

The question of why the Railways do not have enough rakes is evident when we consider two simple facts. Firstly, Railway Ministers are more interested in scoring points with unprofitable passenger routes, rather than freight, which gets the revenue but not votes. Secondly, the operating ratio remains above 90% consistently, which indicates the Railways are hardly interested in activities that garner income, but more on spending it. The Railways are critical for cheap and quick transportation, but this is one battle they seem to be very keen to lose to competition. The Railways seem to run for their own staff, not for the country. Till we have a change in attitude at the top, we cannot expect any change in the Railways.

Dr Anantha K Ramdas

5 years ago

After submitting this article, out of curiosity and in public interest, I looked up the web site of Coal India Ltd.

I would appreciate readers of this article to look up the same.

They would be unhappy to note that the Management of Coal India have not yet bothered to make the corrections for the recent changes made.

The nonchalant attitude would be revealed when it will be found that the name of Late D C Garg, who passed away in June this ear still appears on the web site.

Does anybody really care? If they can't update their own web site, would somebody take the trouble to chase the Railways as why the Rakes have not been supplied to various points where they are required?

Frankly we do not know on whose account the million tonnes of coal are lying in the ports - but the core issue is what prevents Railways to make the rakes available, particularly when the requisitions have been made in advance?

Those responsible for this kind of mess needs to be punished.

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