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Friday, November 13, 1998
Govt considering package:
When school bus kills a
Things must change
NEW DELHI, Nov 12 Overseas Indian entrepreneurs want the government to lay more emphasis on action rather than on lip service .
Things must change. It is high time for the government to move aggressively forward with maximum accountability and transparency, the Chairman of the Hinduja group, Mr S.P. Hinduja, said while participating in the Global Indian Entrepreneurs Conference here today.
Overseas Indian and foreign investors in the USA, Britain and other G7 members are keen to invest in India. Estimated investments of $40 to 50 billion would be forthcoming. This could be possible once projects are identified and all clearances are given immediately, he added.
The Chairman and CEO of Ispat International, Mr J.N. Mittal said that under normal circumstances the weakness of the South East Asian nations and relative stability of the Indian economy should have offered an excellent opportunity to attract sizeable foreign investment and accelerate growth.
That this has not happened is mainly because India continues to be seen as an increasingly difficult place to invest and do business with, Mr Mittal regretted.
To give you an example, in the numerous acquisitions my group has participated around the world, we have completed sale-purchase agreements with minimum bureaucracy and not a single meeting with the Minister of Finance or Industry, Mr Mittal said.
Regarding Indian financial institutions, Mr Mittal said that despite protestations to the contrary, the balance sheets of Indian banks and FIs are viewed with a lot of scepticism, particularly with regard to non-performing assets.
On the issue of political stability affecting the economic growth of the country, Mr Mittal said that it would be beneficial if our political thinkers can come up with a solution to reconcile the inevitability of coalition with the stability of government, and if needed introduce constitutional changes to ensure this does not pose a threat to our economy moving forward.
The Chairman of Zee TV, Mr Subhash Chandra, said that there was a need to assure the business fraternity both in India and abroad that the democracy in India manifests itself both in vote banks and the market place.
Govt considering package: FM
NEW DELHI, Nov 12 The government is considering a package of measures to revive specific sectors of the economy, the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, said here today.
Mr Sinha also said that the government may disinvest in more than four public sector undertakings (PSUs) the current fiscal.
Four PSUs Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL),Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) are definitely being disinvested this year. There may be more coming in the current fiscal, he said.
The government has not taken any decision on the excise concessions for certain sectors, but was looking at a package of measures for specific sectors and the economy as a whole, the Finance Minister told newspersons on the sidelines of the Global Indian Entrepreneurs Conference organised by the FICCI and Indian Investment Centre here.
Earlier Chairing a plenary session at the Global Indian Entrepreneurs Conference, the Finance Minister underlined the need for speedier implementation of policies.
Stating that the government was committed to establish a fruitful partnership between India and overseas entrepreneurs, Mr Sinha said the reforms process has entered a very crucial phase as the most difficult areas are being tackled.
When school bus kills a child
THE death of a six year old child, Bharat Sharma, under the wheels of his school bus in Delhi last week once again demonstrates the callous indifference that we display towards safety in public places and public transport.
In this case, the bus that was deployed to transport the children was absolutely unsafe and totally inappropriate for the purpose. It had high seats and huge low windows without any grills. And the driver was equally unsuited for driving a school bus. He was not only driving fast, but even took a sharp turn at high speed and then suddenly braked, resulting in the child sitting near the window being thrown out and getting crushed under the rear wheels of the bus.
Now any person with reasonable intelligence knows that school buses should never be driven at high speed and sudden application of breaks should always be avoided because children are not always alert while in the bus and may fall down or hit their head against the seat in front, resulting in serious injuries.
In fact, following the tragic death of 28 children in Delhi in January this year when an overcrowded and speeding school bus plunged into the river Yamuna, the Supreme Court had issued detailed guidelines on the safety norms required for school buses, including installation of speed governors for these buses. But obviously, the guidelines are not being stringently enforced.
However, what comes through in most of these cases is the helplessness of the parents, when they say that the schools do not act on their complaints pertaining to rash driving by school bus drivers or even unsafe vehicles used as school buses. I think its time parents shed this helplessness and apathy and forced the school and the transport authorities to follow basic safety norms for transportation of children. To begin with, at the start of every academic session, parents should call a meeting of school and local transport authorities, besides the traffic police. If the school does not have its own bus and hires private contractors, they should also be called. And the meeting should ensure that only those buses which met the safety requirements are used for ferrying children. And one parent should travel, with the school bus every day and fill up a form on the performance of the driver, the conductor and the vehicle. If there are 30 children travelling in a bus, each parent gets the bus duty once a month. That should not be difficult for a parent. On the basis of such monitoring every month, parents can review the quality of service, particularly with reference to safety standards and call for necessary improvements.
They could demand replacement of bad drivers and at the same time offer small incentives to those who are good. They could even institute prizes for the best drivers to encourage better driving practices. In short, parents should keep up the pressure on drivers, transporters as well as school authorities to pay more attention to safety.
In the meanwhile, parents should demand a comprehensive school bus safety law, which would make it mandatory for schools to buy or hire only those vehicles certified as safe for small children, with special features including safe doors and windows, seating arrangements and seat belts, so as to prevent avoidable accidents. Just as driving licences are issued specifically for light, medium and heavy vehicles, there should be a separate licence for those authorised to drive school buses. And the Government should promote women drivers for school buses, particularly when the new vehicles with improved features like automatic transmission and power steering hit the Indian roads.
Coming back to the tragic
case of Bharat, his parents should now haul up for
negligence not only the driver and the transporter but
also the school authorities. Award of steep damages in
cases such as this would force all concerned,
particularly schools that collect huge amounts as fee
towards transportation, to pay more attention to safety.
Mobile LPG service starts
DIRBA (Sangrur), Nov 12 This village in the backward region of the Malwa belt today became the first place in the northern region to have rural supply of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) through a mobile vehicle.
The service was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Santosh Kumar Gangwar at a function here amidst much rejoicing by ruralites who have to travel to nearby towns to get their cylinders replenished.
The rural mobile vehicle will operate in Dirba village itself in the first phase and serve as a focal point for servicing the consumers of Dirba as well as eight satellite villages. The vehicle, which has a twin chassis to accommodate an LPG tanker, has a capacity to fill 350 cylinders on the spot in a single trip.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) proposed to extend the facility to cover the villages of Cheema and Mehal Kalan, also in Sangrur district. In the second phase it is proposed to cover villages in Bathinda and Hoshiarpur districts also eventually catering to 28,000 households in the three districts.
Addressing a gathering, the minister said the LPG tank, which had a capacity of 10 metric tonnes, would be filled at BPCLs Lalru bottling plant. The vehicle would be stationed at a determined place.
He said BPCL proposed to commission a bottling plant in Bathinda district shortly to cater to the growing demand in the State.
Talking to newsmen, the minister said the government had constituted 50 boards to speedily dispose of applications for dealerships of petroleum and LPG. The motive was to ensure transparency in the entire procedure. There would be no non-government nominees in the board and each board would be headed by a retired Judge of the high court and have two other members from the particular oil company. The expansion of the boards from 14 to 50 had been done so that all cases could be disposed of by February next year.
The government was also
going in for a new exploration policy under which foreign
companies would be asked to conduct surveys to find oil
and only sign a contract after oil had been found. He
said 48 blocks had been identified under the new policy.
100 pc FDI in airports allowed
NEW DELHI, Nov 12 (PTI)
The government today announced that 100 per cent
foreign direct investment would be allowed in the airport
infrastructure sector through a special permission route.
While 74 per cent FDI in the sector would be
allowed through the automatic route, 100 per cent FDI
would be permitted only through the special permission
route, the Civil Aviation Minister Ananth Kumar
told the Global Entrepreneurs Conference here. Although
the domestic aviation is not open to foreign investment
around the globe, the Indian Government has decided to
allow 40 per cent FDI in the sector.
Tribune News Service
NEW DELHI, Nov 12 Stroh Brewery Company has entered into an agreement with Mount Shivalik Industries Ltd to brew and market bottled beer in entire India, except southern States. The Mount Shivalik group has two breweries, located at Behror (Rajasthan) and Bhankarpur (near Chandigarh) with a total installed capacity of 4.5 million cases. Mr Rajeev Bali, Director, Marketing, said the strong distribution network, Strohs brand and availability in glass bottles would boost sales of Stroh.
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