Olympic medals and Lakshmi Mittal3 min read . Updated: 12 Mar 2008, 01:41 AM IST
Olympic medals and Lakshmi Mittal
Olympic medals and Lakshmi Mittal
I was happy to read “Lakshmi Mittal goes after Olympic medals", Mint, 8 March, on the first page. The lack of funds and facilities for our athletes is in stark contrast to other countries, including those smaller and poorer than us. Why has Shiva Keshavan, the first to represent India at the Winter Olympics and a three-time winter Olympian in Luge, been ignored both by official bodies and corporate sponsors? Probably because Luge is not cricket. I’m not against cricket. What’s sad is that several promising sportspersons get no support. They wait outside bureaucrats’ offices (at the cost of training time), till they finally get to hear, “You are an Olympian alright, but are you a national champion?" Inane, isn’t it? It’s good that achievers such as Mittal have realized this.
Re: “Wealth comes from trade", Ourview, Mint, 26 February. It talks of two costs of banning or imposing additional taxes on iron ore?exports—loss?of?jobs and of new investments—and says neither “is a cost worth paying" for the sake of the steel industry. But the quality of employment (skill set of the average employee) in a steel plant is much higher than in a mine, where 80% of the labour is unskilled. This cost can be paid for the steel industry’s sake. Adding capacity in steel is far more capital-intensive and exiting from the business is far more difficult than in mining. Do you want permanent skilled jobs or unskilled contract labour to be created? Also, we now have global steel players such as Posco and ArcelorMittal seeking speedier allocation of captive mines for setting up steel capacities, and investment by just one of them equals the total current investment in iron ore mining in India. Do we really need to incentivize investment in mining today? I doubt it.
The editorial goes on to talk of free market economics, suggesting cheap iron ore should be exported to China which, in turn, could sell cheaper steel to India. Will Chinese firms do that? Or are you assuming China’s steel exports are cheaper than India’s because of efficient production techniques? China’s steel is cheap only because exports are incentivized so that there is no surplus in the domestic market and prices are kept at comfortably profitable levels.
Any government would like to maximize taxes on goods and services in demand, but for two fears: 1) If the goods are mainly for domestic sales, there is the fear of inflation; and 2) If the goods are largely exported,?then?domestic?prices can drop with excess supply—negatively affecting the domestic industry. Why not tax iron ore exports when neither of these fears apply? The government would only earn more tax revenues and India would make more of cheaper steel (which creates more skilled and permanent jobs) that would be exported at very competitive prices.
I agree that pedlars of harmful drugs must be prosecuted (“Lax Indian laws mean there’s no cure for ‘wonder drugs’", Mint, 3 March). But all such drugs need not be harmful. We need to establish their benefits through experimentation, analysis and discussion with users. Sadly, sellers act in a clandestine manner. DS Research Centre, Varanasi (www.cancercurative.org) says its medicine Sarvapisti can cure cancer. The website lists hundreds of cured cases. The centre says the medicine is made with nutrient energy from natural human edibles on the basis of Ayurveda. But there’s no clarification or contact detail for references. My mails went unanswered. The medicine may have curative or preventive properties, but who will certify this? We need a regulatory system to establish authenticity of drugs which don’t pass through normal trials. Some alternative drugs might actually heal some dreaded diseases of today!
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