Friday, 8 April 2011

Indian Standard Time

No society understands the theory of relativity better than India - At least those elements of the theory of time. That time is not absolute , but is indeed relative. That's why the concept of Indian Standard Time is commonly used to explain the Indian's mastery of this subject.

That strange introduction is meant to draw attention to the Cairn Vedanta deal, which is again held up by government indecisiveness. Cairn Energy, a UK listed company wants to sell its 62% stake in Cairn India to Vedanta. The balance shares are held by the state owned ONGC. Some time ago Cairn had signed an agreement whereby it need not pay any royalties out of the oil drilled - instead ONGC would pay the royalties. Now ONGC wants to renegotiate this contract as a precondition to a government approval of the sale of Cairn's stake to Vedanta.

This post is not to discuss the merits of ONGC's stand. But one of the unintended consequences of the 2G scam is that nobody in the government is now brave enough to take any decision, lest he be accused of corruption. The easiest way now is to get as many expert opinions, have joint committees, etc etc and simply not take any decision .

The Cairn Vedanta deal has been going for some 8 months now.The shareholders approval for the deal had a deadline of April 15 for completion. Two days ago the government has deferred the decision on approval to a "ministerial panel", which is yet to be formed. The saga goes on.

Time is a precious commodity in business. The government is well within its right to reject the deal. Or approve it. But decide, it must, one way or the other. The fear of scandal cannot paralyse it into inaction. Speed of decision making is not mutually exclusive with good governance. There is an example inside India itself to follow. Gujarat offers the role model.  The state decides, and decides fast. There is no dithering. The results of its action is there for all to see. There isn't much whiff of scandal and the extent of progress is Chinaesque.


kiwibloke said...

IST- Indian Standard Time or Indian Stretchable Time?

gils said...

Irritably Slow @ Trade

zeno said...

China,Gujarat,2G,IST,a Merger and Beauracracy! All in one cocktail :) But IST is a cool concept that can come in to play anywhere any time !!!

Ramesh said...

@kiwibloke - Any which way !

@gils - Also acceptable. You have to expect a @ from a techie !

@zeno - Unfortunately it should not be a cool concept

Sandhya Sriram said...

this is an amazing week - third post and sunday is tom... wish that you are able to repeat this frequency more often...

i am not sure that the inaction is because people are worried about having caught in scams. If there was a potential for a big scam in this whole deal, this would have gone through by now.

its sheer indecisiveness and nothing else

PS: when i read the header, i thought, its on how we always reach to meetings 15 mins after they start (excluding the extended settling time) and endlessly debate and close without concluding when we realize that the next meeting time is overshot by already by 1 hour :-)

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - No its not just indecisiveness, which of course exists in plenty. In the current atmosphere, nobody wants to take a decision at all. That's why in the Cairn Vedanta deal, the whole Cabinet refused to take a decision and has passed it on to a Group of Ministers.

Vishal said...

What to say about corruption, Ramesh? Any idea why it unearths mostly during Congress regime? After watching the level of curruption, there is so much contempt and it is doing no good for youngsters. At some point of time, they may tend to be indifferent.

Even under normal circumstances, the deal would not have gone too quickly either! Indeed, Indian Standard Time.

RamMmm said...

:) that is why our beloved IST also figures in the words alarmist, (in)activist, absurdist etc etc. (as in Madras baashai, one would say, dei udaadhadaa, ellaththayum ISThukkinu poyiruvaan)

Ramesh said...

@RamMmm - Trust RamMmm to come up with a gem like that !

@Vishal - Corruption is there everywhere. Any shade of government. Saw it big in China too. I think its a basic human instinct.

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