February 24, 1981, Forty Years Ago: Brezhnev reaches out

Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev made a major overture to the US, expressing readiness for a summit meeting with President Ronald Reagan, and willingness to reopen strategic arms talks. He also proposed the two countries limit deployment of submarines and submarine missiles — indicating for the first time that Moscow would be willing to enter direct talks with Washington on aspects of the Afghan problem, and said a special session of the UN Security Council involving “top leaders” of member nations would be “useful” to improve peace prospects. Brezhnev said there was a need for an “active dialogue on all levels” between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Economic Survey

The pre-budget Economic Survey, presented in Parliament by Finance Minister R Venkataraman, warns of continuing price pressures continuing over the next year because of international factors but promised anti-inflationary “package of policies” involving fiscal and monetary discipline. It underlines the need for reducing “budgetary subsidies” and a review of the lending rates structure on government loans and ensuring adequate return on investments on enterprises by a critical examination of their pricing policy. An all-out effort at eliminating wasteful expenditure and minimising tax evasion and avoidance, together with an improvement in the “low elasticity” of taxation with respect to Income and prices has also been spelt out.

DESU billing

The Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking (DESU) embarked on computerised billing without any expertise from within. It did not even bother to ensure that “the master data was correctly entered into the computer records”. This is the finding of an expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Energy to examine the system of computerised billing in DESU. The expert committee was set up by the Centre last year following large-scale public complaints of inflated bills.

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