Economic Policy News And Views March 2010
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Economic Policy News And Views March 2010

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EDUCATION ...

EDUCATION

Government drafts Bill to replace UGC, AICTE with higher body
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/govt-drafts-bill-to-replace-ugc-aictehigher-body/384356/

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) announced draft legislation to create an overarching supervisory body for higher education.

It used to be said that if you cannot commit then form a committee to look into the matter. Somehow, the Government is now increasingly announcing the setting up of regulators and super regulators in areas where it has failed to reform. Higher education is one such area. The proposed draft Bill is in some sense worse than what the current regulatory apparatus is. It is moving towards more centralization rather than less, more homogenization rather than organic development of public universities, allowing for more political inference and hence less autonomy be it in hiring, syllabi setting or appointments.
The proposed bill is quite in contradiction to the recommendations of the Yash Pal Committee recommendations which had stressed that the key reform needed is restoring the autonomy of universities and preventing politicisation of university administration.
It may be quite radical, but our view is that the current system is beyond repair and band aid treatment is not likely to revamp the university system. Thus, it is important that slowly a parallel system of private universities based on best principles of autonomy, pedagogy, funding and research be established. Yes it will initially lead to “cream-skimming” and the public universities may be left with the skim, but this may finally force them to change or perish. Eventually, a State university system co-existing and competing with a private university system will be possible. However, many steps will have to be taken soon in this direction. One such is the passing of the pending foreign university bill and the private university bill.

REGULATION

Genetic Engineering Panel to enforce Bt brinjal ban
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/genetic-engineering-panel-to-enforce-bt-brinjal-ban/386078/

The apex Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) decided the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) should be asked to store all the Bt brinjal seeds.
This may be a victory for a few environmental activist groups who will do anything to achieve their objective. This also includes presenting unsubstantiated evidences, twisting of facts and sometimes outright lying. It should not be the case where a jury of public appointees decides such matters of national importance. It is a travesty that environmental concerns that ignore scientific evidence can stifle a second Green Revolution. Indian farmers have reaped the benefits of GM cottonseeds. GM foods are not new: they have existed in North and South America for more than a decade. Moreover, based on extensive study by agricultural research institutes, universities, and expert panels, one of which had been appointed by the Supreme Court, our government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has given the brinjal a clean chit. Ironically, the GEC will be enforcing the ban. Yet, bowing to groups such groups that are committed to opposing GM foods under all circumstances, minister Ramesh has denied our farmers the benefit of the new variety.


NEWS WITH ANNOTATES

Plan for coal regulator on track
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/plan-for-coal-regulatortrack/386528/

The plan for establishing an independent regulator for the coal sector is seemingly on track. The government is positive on appointing the regulator by March 15, 2010.

One more regulator but will mining rights be auctioned or Coal India privatized? If you cannot reform, bring in the regulator mantra!

MNIK was a hype over nothing
http://www.expressbuzz.com/entertainment/Entertainstory.aspx?Title=MNIK+was+a+hype+over+nothing&artid=rlE79dgzfkU=&SectionID=1cjn2aDoBOM=&MainSectionID=1cjn2

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    Economic Policy News And Views March 2010 Economic Policy News And Views March 2010 Document Transcript

    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ Policy News & Views Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2010 EDUCATION Government drafts Bill to replace UGC, AICTE with higher body http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/govt-drafts-bill-to-replace-ugc- aictehigher-body/384356/ The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) announced draft legislation to create an overarching supervisory body for higher education. It used to be said that if you cannot commit then form a committee to look into the matter. Somehow, the Government is now increasingly announcing the setting up of regulators and super regulators in areas where it has failed to reform. Higher education is one such area. The proposed draft Bill is in some sense worse than what the current regulatory apparatus is. It is moving towards more centralization rather than less, more homogenization rather than organic development of public universities, allowing for more political inference and hence less autonomy be it in hiring, syllabi setting or appointments. The proposed bill is quite in contradiction to the recommendations of the Yash Pal Committee recommendations which had stressed that the key reform needed is restoring the autonomy of universities and preventing politicisation of university administration. http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx
    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ It may be quite radical, but our view is that the current system is beyond repair and band aid treatment is not likely to revamp the university system. Thus, it is important that slowly a parallel system of private universities based on best principles of autonomy, pedagogy, funding and research be established. Yes it will initially lead to “cream-skimming” and the public universities may be left with the skim, but this may finally force them to change or perish. Eventually, a State university system co- existing and competing with a private university system will be possible. However, many steps will have to be taken soon in this direction. One such is the passing of the pending foreign university bill and the private university bill. REGULATION Genetic Engineering Panel to enforce Bt brinjal ban http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/genetic-engineering-panel-to-enforce- bt-brinjal-ban/386078/ The apex Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) decided the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) should be asked to store all the Bt brinjal seeds. This may be a victory for a few environmental activist groups who will do anything to achieve their objective. This also includes presenting unsubstantiated evidences, twisting of facts and sometimes outright lying. It should not be the case where a jury of public appointees decides such matters of national importance. It is a travesty that environmental concerns that ignore scientific evidence can stifle a second Green Revolution. Indian farmers have reaped the benefits of GM cottonseeds. GM foods are not new: they have existed in North and South America for more than a decade. Moreover, based on extensive study by agricultural research institutes, universities, and expert panels, one of which had been appointed by the Supreme Court, our government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has given the brinjal a clean chit. Ironically, the GEC will be enforcing the ban. Yet, bowing to groups such groups that are committed to opposing GM foods under all circumstances, minister Ramesh has denied our farmers the benefit of the new variety. NEWS WITH ANNOTATES Plan for coal regulator on track http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/plan-for-coal-regulatortrack/386528/ The plan for establishing an independent regulator for the coal sector is seemingly on track. The government is positive on appointing the regulator by March 15, 2010. One more regulator but will mining rights be auctioned or Coal India privatized? If you cannot reform, bring in the regulator mantra! MNIK was a hype over nothing http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx
    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ http://www.expressbuzz.com/entertainment/Entertainstory.aspx? Title=MNIK+was+a+hype+over+nothing&artid=rlE79dgzfkU=&SectionID=1cjn2aD oBOM=&MainSectionID=1cjn2aDoBOM=&SectionName=aG2z|ca8jQw=&SEO= The film has been mired in controversies right from the day its trailers hit the screens. Thanks to the Shiv Sena, MNIK got good publicity and also received good reviews. Media an important democratic institution has failed us immensely in this case at least. The media hype and the review for the movie were not quite in line with what the movie had to offer. 5 star reviews etc., goes to show that media reporting may not be objective. NDTV promoting this movie also had its own share of conflict of interest! CCI sends query to RBI on prepayment penalty http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/CCI-sends-query-to-RBI- on-prepayment-penalty/articleshow/5594328.cms Competition watchdog CCI has asked RBI if it is planning to give banks any direction on the practice of charging prepayment penalties on retail loan customers, ahead of its much-anticipated verdict on the issue. The CCI has done the right thing, when a banking regulator is in place they should be given the first right to act. This will avoid jurisdiction conflicts and hence will also send the right signals and avoid forum shopping. Security issues to hold up portability http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/Security-issues- to-hold-up-portability/articleshow/5605423.cms The government has said mobile number portability (MNP), which will allow users to change operator while retaining the number, will be delayed further due to security reasons. This is a bogey to delay a very important regulation, already it has been delayed by three years for various reasons. CERC draft proposes to streamline power pricing http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/cerc-draft-proposes-to-streamline- power-pricing/385606/ To facilitate integration of electricity markets, enhance open access and competition, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has introduced a new mechanism. This “nodal” method of pricing brings price as close to the marginal cost of transporting electricity. This will incentivize transmission investment as well as http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx
    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ encourage merchant power plants. But a high cross-subsidy surcharge for open access may still be a dampener. MORE NEWS Watchdog to regulate nano technology soon http://www.hindustantimes.com/Watchdog-to-regulate-nano-technology-soon/H1- Article1-511829.aspx Spurred in part by the debate over Bt brinjal, and in part by the controversy raised abroad by certain products based on nanotechnology, the government is planning to set up a regulatory board. NBS Fertilizer Policy causes Cabinet tussle http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/nbs-fertilizer-policy-causes-cabinet- tussle/386159/ The new Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Policy for Fertilizers has caused a tussle between the Congress and its allies in the cabinet. CCI may go for pre-merger talks to reduce deal approval time http://www.livemint.com/2010/02/16151328/CCI-may-go-for-premerger-talk.html Competition watchdog CCI has said it is looking at the possibility of introducing pre- merger consultations with companies to reduce the time taken for mandatory approvals to mergers and acquisitions. Panel gives shape to body for monitoring government schemes http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/Panel-gives-shape-to- body-for-monitoring-govt-schemes/articleshow/5578229.cms The Planning Commission will hold discussions with various government departments ahead of giving a final shape to the proposed independent evaluation office. OilMin for deregulating fuel prices http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/oilmin-for-deregulating-fuel- prices/385852/ Unmindful of opposition within the ruling coalition, the petroleum ministry is pushing for freeing of petrol and diesel prices from government control. 3G auction likely in next FY: telecom min http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx
    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/3G-auction- likely-in-next-FY-telecom-min/articleshow/5606616.cms India's delayed 3G mobile spectrum auction is likely to happen during the next financial year beginning in April. Draft national health Bill pushes debate on health reforms http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/draft-national-health-bill-pushes- debatehealth-reforms/384389/ A draft National Health Bill has helped kick-start the first serious discourse in India on the way forward in providing universal health care. Agriculture sector kept out of climate change cuts http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/agri-sector-kept-outclimate-change- cuts/384234/ India has informed the UN that it will undertake voluntary cuts of its emission intensity by 20-25 % by 2020 but asserted that it will not be applicable to the agriculture sector. Government considers liberalizing merger and acquisition norms http://www.livemint.com/2010/02/22230604/Govt-considers-liberalizing-me.html India is looking to recast provisions relating to mergers and acquisitions (M&As) that require ratification by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). Government’s move to relax Copyright Act lacks vision http://www.livemint.com/2010/02/03001039/Government8217s-move-to-rel.html The government plans to amend a half-a-century old law to allow the conversion of copyrighted books into the Braille format without any royalty and licence fees. Government to move bill on foreign universities entry http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by- industry/services/education/Govt-to-move-bill-on-foreign-universities- entry/articleshow/5583224.cms The government will introduce a bill to allow the entry of foreign universities, a long- awaited reform that would revamp the country's education system. TSA's emergency levy is a case fit for Competition Commission, says WISA http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by- industry/transportation/shipping-/-transport/TSAs-emergency-levy-is-a-case-fit-for- Competition-Commission-says-WISA/articleshow/5601081.cms http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx
    • Indicus Analytics, An Economics Research Firm http://indicus.net/Research/Home/Research%20Area/Policy%20and%20Institutional%20Analysis/ Western India Shippers’ Association (WISA) has reacted to the recent introduction of Emergency Revenue Charge by the major shipping group TSA. http://www.indicus.net/Newsletter/Policy_News_Views.aspx