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BW Businessworld

Needed: More Political Talent

As for replacing Parrikar at the Centre, it was said that Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis could be elevated to the role

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Union Finance Minister and PM Narendra Modi’s confidant, Arun Jaitley, is fond of saying that the BJP is a “meritocracy-based party” as opposed to a dynasty-based party called the Indian National Congress. This assertion is not untrue. Consider this: When the BJP lost the Assembly elections in Goa, smaller parties insisted on having Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar at the helm in the State before they could support the party. Elsewhere in UP, where the party scored a mammoth win, it was said to be exploring importing talent from the Centre as its chief ministerial nominee.

Names like home minister Rajnath Singh to communications minister Manoj Sinha did the rounds.

As for replacing Parrikar at the Centre, it was said that Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis could be elevated to the role. Political theorists often lament that the decline of the Congress has been aided by the absence of grassroots leaders in the States and that the BJP had managed to expand precisely because of grassroots leaders in various States. Yet, as the past week’s events show, the BJP could do with more grassroots leaders and political talent too.
— Suman K. Jha

DECLINING PRICES?
Global property consultants Cushman & Wakefield say the glut in the property market, particularly post-demonetisation, was forcing developers to recalibrate their marketing strategies. Simply put, the price of certain categories of houses may decline going forward. For 2016, the ticket size of new launches across top eight cities have declined by 14 per cent year-on-year, the report from C&W states. Many developers may, therefore, lower the effective ownership costs of houses or enhance affordability by either offering discounts or reducing the size of the houses.

“Developers are relooking at their strategy to create better value for home buyers,” says Anshul Jain, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield India. Another report from property consultants Knight Frank in January had said that the residential sales across the top eight property markets in India slipped by nearly a fourth during the July-December 2016 period, compared to the same period year ago. takers?
–Ashish Sinha

THE OTHER CALLING
Very few people know that Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra, was initially deeply interested in architecture and was considering a serious career option as an architect. He had even enrolled himself at the J.J. College of Architecture. Unfortunately, the college went on strike for nine months. Mahindra found the long period of strike and staying at home too boring and began to reconsider other options for the future. And that is how he abandoned the idea of becoming an architect and finally landed up in a liberal arts college in the United States, majoring in film-making. “However city planning still intrigues me and interests me. Even when I was at Harvard, I used to frequently visit the school of architecture there,” Mahindra said at a recent event in Delhi.
— Anuradha Shukla

MORE FOR THE MAHARAJA
Air India’s performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has raised some red flags. The CAG report now tabled in Parliament, says Air India had actually incurred an operating loss of Rs 321 crore in 2015-16 and not a Rs 105 crore profit as claimed by the airline and its senior officials. The CAG report clearly says that on a standalone basis, Air India had “made an operating loss of Rs 321.4 crore”. “We won’t say this was due to misreporting but this was due to non-provisioning for expenditures such as depreciation and maintenance,” said a CAG official. Then there is a red flag on under-selling of aircraft by Air India. The CAG report says Air India sold its five Boeing planes (Boeing 777-200 LR) to Etihad Airways at a “significantly” lower cost ($67.3 million per plane) than the “indicative” market price of the aircraft ($86-92 million per aircraft). The report forewarns that the Maharaja may need government funds again.
– Ashish Sinha

SWEET RETURNS
That announcement on November 8, 2016 has had many ramifications, a shocking plunge in prices of green vegetables, fruits and other perishables, among them. So, it is not surprising that the consumer food price index (CFPI) should be crawling at 3.65 per cent in February. It was racing at 5.30 per cent in February 2016. Food prices actually decelerated by (-) 0.08 per cent between January and February. But now that cash is no longer scarce, prices of cereals, meat, fish, poultry, milk and vegetables, confectionary, sweets, snacks and beverages are rising again, promising the end of a long winter for vendors, retailers and restaurateurs.
— Madhumita Chakraborty