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Shourie lays down the law

Shourie: settling the intellectual arguments over

The woman wags a hectoring finger at the minister. "If a child is unwell," she says, "its mother does not give it an injection of poison." She and a group of trade union colleagues are accusing the minister of doing just that by privatizing the aluminium plant in Chattisgarh state. For 40 minutes they sit in his office and plead with Arun Shourie, minister in charge of privatization, administrative reform and a panjandrum range of critical issues concerning modernization of India's economy, to roll back the privatization of Bharat Aluminium (Balco).

Shourie refuses their entreaties and tries to reason with them. The government, he argues, has no alternative: privatization is good for the economy and good for the workers, especially since the new owners, Sterlite, run by a London-based overseas Indian, Anil Agarwal, have made promises that there will be no retrenchments or redundancies.

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