Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
India currently exports a paltry 0.33 percent of the 27 million tonnes of Indian refined sugar to the EU. If we are to benefit from the EU opening up, we need to increase that percentage! Currently India has manufacturing capabilites to make sugar of ICUMSA 200 to ICUMSA 100 standards. (ICUMSA is a standard of sugar purity measured through the brightness of sugar. read the standards at What does ICUMSA mean?)
In my opinion, 4 things India should work on in 2008 .
1.EU consumes sugar of ICUMSA 45 and below, mainly made from beet. Indian Sugar mills dont yet have the infrastrucutre to manufacture this grade of sugar. This needs to be developed with immediate effect.
2. India should start increasing its percentage of exports in the EU to Chemical and other non-food processing industries which accept white Indian refined sugars. The EU opening up will directly mean a business oppurtunity for India in this segment.
3. Sugar Mills of India are heavily unproductive compared to thier European Counterparts. Its high time for a sugar revolution in India, and we need to set higher standards of productivity in our Sugar producing units.
4. Government should include a more flexible regulation as far as the price of cane is concerned. As of now , the central and the state governments fix the price of cane, and the farmer gets the same amount of returns irrespective of demand or volume of sugar exported. The mills now, have to (by law) consume all the cane produced by the farmers in their territory at a price fixed by the government. If mill owners have to be more profitable after the EU opens ,cost of sugar should also be allowed to vary based on export demand.
These measures and more will be essential to take advantage of the EU markets opening up!! Else with the situation that it is right now, this gift may very well be a sugar candy that you cannot eat!!
Friday, March 28, 2008
One was our very own Virendra Sehwag when he reached the 300 runs mark at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai in the Cricket Test series against South Africa, and the other Australian swimmer, Eamon Sullivan, as he raced past to finish his 50m freestyle swimming lap in barely 21.28 seconds at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic centre in the Australian Swimming Championship and Olympic trials.
Virendra Sehwag was still on crease as today's play ended, at 309*, and was looking confident of going ahead and beating Brian Lara's "Highest score in a test match" record of 400 runs not out (held since 2004) in a single innings. With his 300 runs in this innings he enters his second 300 run haul, and joins the club of Sir Don Bradman and Brian Lara , the only other two batsmen in cricketing history who have two 300 run scores against their name. Sehwag had his last 300 against Pakistan at Multan in 2004, where he finished with a score of 309. He will now also hold the record for the fastest ever 300 (in terms of number of balls faced) having ‘blitzkrieged’ to the triple century in a mere 278 balls. While he took 116 balls for his first hundred, he needed only 78 balls for the second and just 84 balls for his third!
Eamon Sullivan on the other hand, broke his own record in today's finals, having just broken the same record yesterday night in the semifinals. The record for the fastest 50m freestyle lap was being held by Alexander Popov of Russia for 8 long years at 21.64 seconds since year 2000. On February 17th this year Sullivan first broke the record with a timing of 21.56 seconds. It was only last weekend in the European Championships that Alan Bernard broke the record again and held it briefly at 21.50 seconds only to be improved by Sullivan in yesterday's semifinals to 21.41 seconds. But today’s record of 21.28 seconds clearly puts him on the lead with 0.36 seconds of improvement over the record held for 8 long years.
While Sehwag will be hungry for Lara's record as game resumes tomorrow with India on the trail by 72 runs, a lot might depend on when Kumble will choose to put the innings to and end! For Sullivan however, his record seriously puts him at the favourites' slot in the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
High praise from Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite the union. He says that if Jaguar Land Rover had to be sold then Tata was the best option. "We would have much preferred Ford to keep the companies in the family, so to speak, especially with Land Rover being so profitable," he said. "But with the commitments Tata have given to the future of Jaguar Land Rover and the long term supply agreements for components, especially engines from Bridgend and Dagenham, we're obviously pleased they are in the game." (read the full article in The Economic Times).
Many experts are silently surprised at this buy though. Although Landrover was quite a profitable baby for the Ford, the Jaguar with the rise in fuel prices was more of a loss making bad boy for the American company. Ford badly needed the US $ 2.3 Billion in its banks in the wake of the credit crisis, and there might have been no other reason they would have chosen to part with the premium brands.
For TATA though this acquisition might mean more of a tough challenge ahead. The language of the TATAs seem very confident though.The TATA's are out to do with the Jaguar what even the Americans couldn't. Make profit with the luxury brand-Jaguar. This may not have been possible if not for TATA's huge and diversified conglomerate, ranging from steel to several automobile components. Having shocked the world with the US$ 2,500 Nano, the TATA is now set to surpirse the world in the luxury segment.
While it its yet to see whether Ratan Tata can turn around the loss making Jaguar, one thing is for sure, that the TATAs have proved it yet again , that they are in no mood to rest. Its Vini Vidi Vici for the TATAs.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In this post I want to talk about some interesting methods we can do to achieve these two objectives, namely, Increase levels of consumption and starting to look Eastwards.
First things first. Henry Ford, after the Great recession of 1929, increased jobs by largely recruiting people for his great car conglomerate, in turn increased consumption. We can try this novel approach. What India now needs is infrastructure. Roads, houses, and electricity. The government can offer jobs (irrespective of cast , minority status ) to the unemployed by way of creating jobs that will boost our infrastructure. When I refer to infrastructure, I mean better roads, more houses, and better access to uninterrupted power!
Now take a look at our Unemployment rate. It stands at a staggering 9% at the end of 2008. With a population of 1.2 billion, 9% is approximately 120 Million unemployed individuals. Even if you take 50% of that population to be employable (I guess the percentage could be higher in India) , we are talking about 60 Million , or 6 crore work force. Lets say in the first year we talk of targeting 15% of that population we have a work force of 1 crore. Even with a salary of Rs 50 per day (a lot higher than our current annual consumption rate of a little over Rs 20 a day!), we are talking about a total labor cost of 15000 Crores only! (Just 25% of the amount allocated for loan waiver for inefficient farmers) . Put in another 15000 Crores for basic skill training of this work force (irrespective of their level of education!) , and voila we have just created a consumption of 15000 Crores annually. Besides we have brought the unemployment rate down by 7.5% of its existing value. I guess a work force of 1 crore can create wonders.
This may not be sufficient to create better infrastructure, that’s when we open our markets for global power companies to generate more efficient power. Sign the nuclear deal with the US, and create cheaper efficient nuclear power. Privatize distribution and allow even global companies (even Japanese and Chinese ) to distribute power more efficiently. We should target to double our generation capacity in the next 5 years, and quadruple it in 7.
In the manufacturing sector, reduce the aids to EOUs (Export oriented units)and subsidize people willing to manufacture for local consumption. Allow more competitive products in the country from volume manufacturers like the Chinese! Encourage bulk manufacturing and make products cheaper for the masses to consume! Thus the domestic consumption can increase.
India should sign trade treaties with Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Japan and allow for foreign investments from these countries. That could be the beginning of our looking to the east. India can allow Japanese agriculturists to grow in India, if they can make cheaper commodities with better technology that is monsoon proof! Don't worry about the Indian Farmer's future. Identify farmers incapable of competing against the Japanese! Offer him jobs elsewhere! His sons will get employed with Rs 50 per day as against the Rs 20 per day that the farmer anyway makes today!
This recession, by the time it is over would leave behind the real winners. Not the ones who can bask about the growth of the past, but the ones who would have delinked their economies from the global catastrophes!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Fallen Leaves on this pathway
Fallen Leaves on this pathway
They hid in the shadows
The huts had no lights
Crickets and birds
The kids of the plains
Not by the boulders
I call out for them
and a stone studded wear
pearls from distant lands
Amidst a platinum glare
Kings from all lands on earth
Princes from far and wide
Ministers, all men of power
All her girl friends beside
Large palaces of grandeur
And mansions flowing with glee
A moment of a divine occasion
The wedding of the daughter of D
She looks like an heavenly angel
She shines under the camera glaze
with all the glitter, and color adorned
Where is the smile on her face?
She stares at a distant nowhere
Beyond the oceans of this noise
Behind all the pomp and grandeur
She has everything but a choice!
Bound by the stones on her neckline
and the words on the Morning Times
She sits without a word spoken
Nor listening to the wedding Chimes
She can’t stir away to her freedom
Feel the breeze in the Arabian Sea
For no matter what she is by herself,
She is the lovely daughter of D.
Down below falling swords
And when she smiled a human smile
Saw the light of a friend's trust
Stretched a second over several hours
Learnt the way to share a pie
The grass around my fence grew green
I knew she liked the way I sang
Immersed in a fantasy of marmalede dream
The end it came like a silent bird
Admist the noises of merriful glee
It came and left without a single word
It was bound to flow,and it did flee
Lost in words of a poets frame
Bound by the limits I cannot cross
An helpless player who lost his game
bearing the brunt of an unbearable loss!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Experts feel that these kind of Fed cuts are fine as far as they are only a stimulus package. Not if these can become the sole backbone of good times. They fear that the environment of rising inflation is not the best for such cuts. Inspite of all that partying today when the markets closed, the fear of recession still lurks!
The fear for the moment is the worst for those working for banks (large or small!) in the US and UK. The fall of Bear Searn has probably triggered the panic already!(Read :The Fall of the Bear!) Its hard to digest that a bank as established as Bear Searn could not manage to convince other banks to loan it money to bale out of its hedge fund crisis. The condition seems tense and the banking districts (mainly in London and New York) are waking to a new reality. The reality of losing jobs.
An official forecast predicts the loss of atleast 10,000 banking jobs by the end of this year in UK alone. Already several employees have got their pink slips in various banks including Citigroup , Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch. The dot com burst in 2001-2003 saw atleast 20,000 banking jobs lost in 2 years. Bankers feel that this recession could be worse.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
I was in Helsinki last winter, a place so far of from India, and with such a sparse percentage of Indian population. I happened to meet a fellow Fin on a train. After some short "hellos and "How do you dos" (typical of a European stranger on a train!). He ventured to ask me "Are you from Malaysia?" I replied in negative. I told him that I was an Indian. Pat came the reply" Oh! Indians ...you guys are so passionate about your cricket!"
I recall this incident, today again as the media and all other notable observers are suddenly back to the cricket bashing, on how too much of importance is given to cricket. The accusations range between varied aspects right from -- how cricket gets too much of media attention, on how too much money is spent on cricketers, on how government spends too little money to protect our National game.
The nationalist pride again displayed for the wrong reasons. (read the post on http://kplogs.blogspot.com/2008/02/fallen-face-on-floor-still-no-dust-on.html).
This only raises several questions on my mind.
1. Why (on Earth) is Hockey our National Game?.
Yes I know about Indians being the unbeaten heroes of 6 Olympic medals, way back between 1928 to 1956. But then that’s exactly when Hockey started to be played on synthetic turfs, as against the natural turfs earlier. Let us admit that Indians have been struggling with their performance ever since. Today a distant Finnish stranger identifies an Indian through his passion for Cricket! Our identity has changed a lot ever since 1956. Today we are no more an underdog third world nation. Our identity is with rapid -growth, BPOs and Cricket! I think its time to change our National game to a game where we have just beaten the World Champions!
2. Why shouldn't there be too much publicity for cricketers?
Coca Cola is an American Company, Its an avid sponsorer for cricketing events. But so is Sahara Pariwar an Indian Company. Both these companies would rather invest their money in publicity into a game like Cricket which can attract millions of Indian viewers rather than on a game like Hockey, where it is difficult to find one Indian who can recall the names of all players on the hockey turf! Publicity and sponsorship have nothing to do with Nationalist feelings. Its about populist feelings. So it makes fine business sense for Coca Cola, to invest money in cricket in India and maybe Ice-Hockey in Sweden. After all in advertising the returns are where the audience is.
3. Why shouldn’t we treat Cricketers as Heroes?
As far as the Indian psyche goes, Indians enjoy watching, playing, criticizing and commenting cricket! They love the game. Its players provide us a lot of entertainment value. And simply by that logic, they are heroes. I happened to meet a friend of mine in Gurgaon, who told me this,
"I don’t watch hockey, because its boring! there is no charm , thrill and a feeling of strategy in hockey which is characteristic of cricket!" . Cricket is a game of long term strategy which excites Indians. Indians have never been enamored by 22 people running behind a ball (with a stick or otherwise) in a display of physical talent or immediate thinking. Indians invented Chess, again another slow game with a lot of strategic play! If the Cricketers can entertain us, why can't they be heroes?
It’s a new and a vibrant India. Should we still fight to keep the legacy in calling Hockey—A game which we don’t seem to be able to imprint in our identity—as our National Game?
But the same hero did probably a costly mistake just as the media approached him. Being 35 years in jail, might have made him unaware of the role of media in today's world and he failed to realize that a miscalculated statement could start a storm.
Quoting him ''My mission in Pakistan was not to explode bombs. I was in Pakistan to get the location of their Army and take pictures to get information about their tanks, their guns, their army divisions and brigade, their units and the names of the officers,''
Ansar Burney the Minister of Human rights in Pakistan's caretaker Government had managed to convince the release of Singh who was convicted of espionage. He managed however to get Singh released with the explanation that he was actually a business visitor, an electronic dealer with a lost passport. He thought that this release will pave the way for a new Indo-Pak relationship, releasing innocent prisoners from either sides of the border.
But Singh's retort has really changed things for Ansar Burney, the Government of India, the 600 Indian prisoners in Pakistani Jails, and 200 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. I doubt if Singh's statement of denial later that he was not in a stable state of mind when he made that remark, will do any good. At least not after one reads the rather acid remark in the Associate Press version of the story published in websites including the famous Khilafah. (Read the full report at http://www.khilafah.com/kcom/analysis/news-watch/indian-s-confession-disconcerts-pakistan.html)
In the face of the political change happening in Pakistan, where the elections have clearly shown for the first time, a desire for useful trade relationships between the rival nations, India has a question to answer. Will it remain content with the release of Singh at the cost of throwing a spanner on all the good things happening to erase the hostility between the two nations?
Or will India take steps to avoid running a stick into the spokes? Can India reciprocate by releasing more prisoners from the Indian Jails? (May be even some convicted of espionage?)
This decision can be critical; a soft decision as such can really boost the morale on either side to take the path of friendly economic development.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
The recent occurrences of educated employees from leading firms and respectable professions in Bangalore being involved in terrorist plots and being accused or arrested have opened a can of worms. I suspect a strong undercurrent which I wish do discuss in this article.
There are two aspects to these occurrences’.
1. The new face of terrorism, which breeds itself within unsuspecting neighborhoods of educated and sophisticated individuals.
2. A form of terrorism, which creates a rift between people on communal lines.
It is the second aspect, which I believe can get alarming. As far as this new face of terrorism goes, it is very interesting that terrorism improvises newer and newer methods of looping in individuals into its fold. In a few years the methods will not be the same. The police system and the government would have posed a check on today's events from happening. That will provoke promoters of terrorism to invent newer ways of propagating themselves.
The alarming aspect however, is that this method employed to loop in unsuspecting individuals is leaving an indelible mark on the communal perception of individuals. It is creating fear in the household, in the peaceful workplace and hence creating a communal rift!!
What has been the worst act of terrorism so far? Is it 9/11 or the London bombings? I don’t really think so, for although these events have caused a tragic loss of life and property; history shows that discrete events however disastrous are easily overcome. But the form of terrorism that is most dangerous and self sustaining is the one that causes permanent fear in the minds of the masses! I am afraid that this form of terrorism has struck!!
The perpetuators of 9/11 or London bombings or any other such act will be sooner or later brought to punishment. Terrorist outfits will also be disbanded in the future. But what all the Governments across the world will find it challenging to erase, is the fear in the minds of the masses, against the innocent peace loving Muslims spread across the world.
While we resolve to fight terrorism, we also need to address this concern! We need to educate our children in schools and homes to delink terrorists from religious identities. We need to realize that a terrorist is a terrorist whether a Muslim or not! It is a tough fight against the worst form of terrorism! But we need to fight it. We need to be more cautious of acts of terrorism, but not let ourselves fall prey to allowing terrorism from taking a communal color.
Friday, March 7, 2008
"Born" in India 1948 an era remembered for the left overs of the world's most ugly partition, , "Adoloscent" in an era of bell bottom pants,Indira Gandhi and Shammi Kapoor, "Bachelored" in an era of American Hippies, ABBA and Premier Padminis, "Married" in an era of Cold wars, Mr India, Azharudin and Gorbachev, "Fathered" in an era of Sachin Tendulkar, Reforms, IT industries and AR Rahman, "Retired" in the era of mobile phones, Bluetooth, Dhoni and 20-20. I would call that a rather remarkable profile for this man, who's lived life like the Roman in Rome, revelling his age in his character.
The earliest memories I have of my dad, include watching him when I was about 3 years old, while he was contriving an electric immersion heater out of household junk! Dad has been what one would call a "natural engineer" . A handyman with dexterous fingers that could just fix up anything in a jiffy. He repaired faulty scooters, fans, televisions, VCRs with the ease of an expert, many a times without any formal training to do so. Most of his engineering solutions were ingenious experiments of a clear thinking engineering mind.
All he needed was an old aluminium dish to make a dish antenna to catch television channels in the cable TV era. He was a born innovator. He made lamps, fires, structures, electronic gadgets all with a little bit of imagination and a lot of ease.
The truest of all lateral thinkers I have seen, with a keen eye for puzzles, sudokos and Complex problems. His problem solving techniques were always out of the box, fast and simple. A strong chess player with special strengths in end games and a champion in Tic Tac Toe or Chinese checkers, playing with him was always a pleasure and challenging.
Being a very pragmatic personality,he was a man of few words and strong values. He trusted the power in keeping things simple. He taught us (my brother and me) to enjoy the simplicity of thinking and the joy of taking up challenges. He taught by example the importance of taking difficult decisions quickly and firmly.
60 years might seem a long time for many, but not for this energetic man , an avid gardener and an internet enthusiast now, is still raring to go for long. Looking at him makes you feel that there is no end to learning. It makes you feel the desire to know and to enjoy the pleasure of result!!
On this very day , I want to say , I am what I am because of him and that he has been the inspiration for me to go on to try to reach where I want to go.
Thank you dad, and a Happy birthday.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
- The UPA Government fails in meeting the deadline or calls for election before that date and passes on the new found burden to the next Government.
- The Government actually manages to find finances to fund the whopping waive off.
If the outcome happens to be number 1, then its a furthur 'wait and watch' situation. But my concern in this blog is what if the outcome happens to be number 2.!!
Whether policies like Loan Waive off or Reservations are populistic political measures employed by Governements in power , I am not sure. But I cant help wondering what repurcussions do such measures have in an economic sense!
If the Government actually manages to waive off the loans, wont it be sending a message to every farmer in the country that " If you take a loan and repay it, You are a fool!"? Wont these measures act as incentives to loan defaulters to continue to default, because sooner or later , any Government in power will have to follow Chidambaram's precedent and waive it off.
Won't these measures act as deterrents for banks from actually handing loans over to farmers for agricultural developments? Won't these throw our agricultural economy to dwindle furthur from want of funds? In the name of a " Farmer's Budget" are we compromising on the farmer's competance to produce efficiently and make a profit enough to repay a loan? Are we throwing the agricultural sector into the dark ages?
Why can't we on the contrast penalise farmers for defaulting? Why cant we force the agricultural sector into becoming more efficient? This probably leads to the most disheartening and dangerous truth of a democracy like that of ours. That populist Governments no matter how well they mean, cant overlook the pressures of the majority vote!