Administration & Management

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My Journey on Path of E-Commerce: A Recollection

The effort here is not to deliberate on the History of Computers and or Internet, but since it turns out to be a brief but vital component of total deliberations if any is being made on providing or seeking or exchanging any product, service, information etc. using Internet as a medium.  Instead of starting the sentence “long long ago….”, like in many other field, here story starts with the set words “In very recent past….” .

The deregulation of Internet and it’s use for Commerce is recent as just four decades. Today it would not be wrong if one makes an inference that it happens to be largest market place. It has also succeeded in turning itself near to indispensable and a good number of people can not imagine their daily life in its absence. As a tool of exchanging information and thought, it has even left behind the devices like telephone, fax, mobile telephony etc. by miles. Even we have the examples, though of very recent nature, that few less popular national government, when faced by some kind of event which was called by media as uprising, made internet their first target to breakdown the communication flow taking place in citizens. The case of “EGYPT” and “LIBYA” are a burning and recent example of this.

Initially there was some sense of fear amongst the people who were stakeholders in business. These stakeholder can never alone be the Business Men, they also included the beside established business houses, the Entrepreneurs,  students of business, the academic and scholarly community dealing with issues related to the domain of business, the customers around whom business revolves, and certainly a few more individuals who comprise those who thought it to be fad and expected it to die an immature death.

Here, the stage is ripe for sharing few anecdotes especially Indian to give a practical understanding of how these developments moved from nearly nowhere to everywhere. Prior to starting on it, Helpman and Trajtenberg (1998) were of the opinion that “In any given era there typically exist a handful of technologies that play a far reaching role in widely fostering technical change and thereby bringing about sustained and pervasive productivity gains.” On the similar lines Norman (1999) said that “The goal is to move from current situation of complexity and frustration to one where technology serves human needs invisibly, unobtrusively: the human centered and customer centered way.”

Now coming to Anecdotes:

1. It was perhaps Year 2000 or 2001, when I happened to give entrance examination for pursuing Ph. D. Program at Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Gwalior, when it was still functioning in old building. Till then I was not aware that I would be lucky enough to make my career in academics, scholarly and research work, and also in transfer of technology to masses, though I wanted to do it.

They used to conduct a written test followed by interview for admitting research scholars. Luckily or otherwise, I cleared the written test to qualify for next stage, that was personal interview. There I was interested in pursuing my research in E- Commerce. That was also a time when an e-Commerce initiative with the help of internet initiated by Shoppers’ Stop had met a debacle. All through the interview while I was trying my best to convince them that e-Commerce was the very near future, the interview board was interested in making me believe that penetration of computer required for that would never happen in India and they topped their argument by quoting the example of debacle of Shoppers’ Stop. Besides it the board also wanted to convince me on importance of bandwidth and its importance for e-Commerce, suggesting me to work on it, as it was a must for success of the concept I was arguing, but then I was least interested as it was a work for a Technical Degree Holder and not my cup of tea with MBA preceded by ZBC. Ultimately we could not land on a common platform and it could be said that they rejected me or I myself worked to get rejected.

Nearly the same got repeated at NITIE Pawai Mumbai same year. I would elaborate on it next time when I get chance to further elaborate on it. Its late night and I plan to close writing at this moment. hope spelling mistakes if any would be pardoned.

 

Always Yours — As Usual —- Saurabh Singh

 

 

Happy Holi to All who by Design or Accident Visit this Page…suppoted by a small deliberation on ‘We’or ‘You’

HOW 2 CRE8 A NEW U THIS HOLI

Human Body in itself has a few limitations only but the opportunities possessed by it are numerous. Yet we find ourselves crowded with fears of sufferings, few of which are like wearing out of body [in language of accounting, the process is known as depreciation, i.e., loss in value of an asset due to wear and tear], aging [not in positive terms of learning by curiosity supported by experience leading to enlightenment but as increase in rate of catabolism over anabolism], sickness [as compared to not sending the vehicle to servicing when due] and fear [whereas it’s a clear fact that out of hundred per cent events that you fear may happen, out of them eighty per cent never happen in your life time Pareto’s law].

In all this we tend to forget on what should have been central to our existence, that is, our quest for creativity, curiosity, freedom, enlightenment and probably salvation. We get attached to what in real sense we cannot withhold due to being mortals.  At other times we are busy thinking that we happen to be CEO or this world [which itself is an Illusion] and have responsibility to solve all issues, except for which we are responsible and accountable. We are aware of all the mis-deeds committed by other and seem to be doing same when it’s our turn. Why do we want to correct all except us who happens to be at the pivot of all problematic issues.

Buy my words, and correct yourself, and I assure you of a better world that you will enter into, much better than the imagination that you might have about heaven. The elements of nature are here to provide a synergistic relationship, the moment you focus on changing yourself towards better. These elements make the life possible on earth. Never try to deceive them, as they individually have power, to make life extinct from the planet. These elements as per my limited awareness happen to be five as mentioned ahead: (i): Sky; (ii): Earth; (iii): Air; (iv): Water; and (v): Fire.

Think on facts and you can really be rewarded by not alone creating a new you but altogether a new world.  Remember that you are not mortal as soul, it your physical body that is mortal. You should be aware of the fact that, you may lose your mortal body by passage of time but not you. It’s simply like changing cloths, you are assured of getting a new mortal body, so keep on working towards good cause, not due to fear of being sent to hell but due to fact that within some time you will revisit the planet with new body. It’s just like going for a while to buy new cloths. What you have created will there when you come back [creation here means the contribution you made to this world where life exists]. While performing some task do not be attached with results basically material ones, may be they are there waiting for you when you revisit. In simple terms do remember that your body is nothing more than an illusion.

The fact that you are soul within your body and not the body itself should be remembered by you, even in most testing times. It is energy inside that makes life possible and not the physical body. If you start lacking energy or soul your body will not come to rescue.

If you are fearful of aging, please buy my words, time has never been enemy to anyone, irrespective of anything. It has been the directed efforts of individuals, societies, or nations [perhaps unknowingly] that made time their enemy. Time happens to be an artificial quantity. As we all believe or are made to believe that Supreme Power is eternal or resides in eternal plane, would anyone like to tell me that after how many tomorrows that eternal will come. Probably, eternity is never going to come even after infinite tomorrows. To me it seems that you need cross the boundary line that lies between temporal and non temporal world. So, how could an artificial thing be your enemy? You know that time could be suspended or at least manipulated.  Scientifically you would be aware of the fact that people in spacecraft age much slow as compared to their counterparts on the earth. On the other side we have learned the story of saints who used live for thousand years. Perhaps it was a result of their pious soul, will power and mental state that they were capable of suspending the time.

Remember that, as said in earlier paragraph, that it is the pious soul, will power and mental state of individual that can suspend time. On the other side if you get blocked in physical limits of your body and think that your body by itself is a physical object, then you are cooperating with destructive forces like ageing, feeling that change towards better can never happen, while at the same time on opposite extreme you develop a feeling as said earlier that you are eternal along with your body and it is you who is CEO of this world. How do you feel? Are these not the two opposite principle that you are trying to act upon? Take some time and think for and by yourself and let me how much on the wrong side I am.

If you still want to create a new you in you, then please do become conscious that you are not alone the body rather you should believe that body is very insignificant but important thing. Your intentions, thought, feeling which get transferred to brain are there to consequently impact all your cells in the body and also suck the energy out of you. Thus, the option is to have altruistic intentions, act towards minimizing the suffering of the humanity; believe that you are accountable for acts of yours and finally a new you can make a real and significant development on how the life on this planet shapes up. If you are working alone on self interested materialistic objectives alone, then please do not rate you self on the scale of human, lower order animals are much better at it than you. It is the intentions, acts, thought, and attributes like sacrifice, altruism etc that differentiate you from lower order animals.

 

ALWAYS YOURS — AS USUAL — SAURABH SINGH

”Kayani feared condemning Guv murder may endanger army unity”

Pakistan”s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had “declined” to publicly condemn the January killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, had told Western envoys that there were “too many soldiers” in the ranks who “sympathised” with the assassin, a noted author has claimed.

Punjab's Slain Governor Salmaan TaaseerFor its part, the army has so far failed to express regret on either Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti”s murder or Taseer”s, Lahore-based author Ahmed Rashid, also a senior journalist, wrote in ”The New York Review of Books”. Both Bhatti, the only Christian member of the Pakistani Cabinet, and Taseer were killed for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.

Kayani “declined to publicly condemn Taseer”s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathise with the killer,” Rashid wrote.

Photo of Pak Army ChiefThe army chief showed the envoys “a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer”s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army”s unity,” Rashid said.

Behind this silence lies “something more sinister,” he wrote. “For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own.”

“Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue proteges despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself,” Rashid said.

This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear arms, according to US media estimates, and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees, he noted.

“If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago,” Rashid wrote.

President Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, is no stranger to extremism himself and his populist base has traditionally voted for the party”s “anti-mullah, anti-army and pro-people policies,” he said.

“Unfortunately those principles were abandoned by a series of corrupt and ineffectual leaders, and the PPP today is not even a shadow of what it once was,” he said, while noting that Zardari has also “backtracked” on foreign policy goals such as improving relations with India and Afghanistan.

Pak-army-Parvez with next in Command Kiyaani

“The security agencies have unleashed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) — the largest and most feared extremist group in Pakistan, which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks — on to the streets of Lahore,” Rashid said.

“Right now Pakistan is becoming a place where there is an army without a country,”  wrote Rashid.

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

Source:http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4994774

New World Order Imminent!- Anyone For A Game Of Ping Pong?

This vedio has been uploaded for my learned audiences, fans, students and scholars and rest others, who wish to understand issue of New World Order. I would top up the same by a commentry on Asian Environment Soon. Hope you find some value in it.Always Your—– As Usual — Saurabh Singh

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Barak Obama and Economic Crisis

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Tribute to Late Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad

THOUGHTS AND PHILOSOPHIES ARE BLESSED WITH AN ATTRIBUTE TERMED IMMORTALITY & THIS IS HOW THEY DIFFER FROM INDIVIDUALS, INSTITUTIONS, SOCIETY, AND NATIONS

C. K. Prahalad was one of nine children born into a Madhva brahmin family in 1941. His father was a well-known Sanskrit scholar and judge in Chennai. At 19, he joined Union Carbide after obtaining a degree in Physics from Loyola College, Chennai. Prahalad called his Union Carbide experience a major inflection point in his life.

Prahalad is the author of a number of well known works in corporate strategy including ‘The Core Competence of the Corporation’ (Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1990). He has also authored several international bestsellers, including ‘Competing for the Future’ (with Gary Hamel), 1994, ‘The Future of Competition’, (with Venkat Ramaswamy), 2004 and ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits’, Wharton School Publishing, 2004. This last book transformed the Indian-born Prahalad from bestselling academic to global opinion former. His new book with co-author M. S. Krishnan is called The New Age of Innovation. His ideas are tackle the big issues of our times and make a difference.

He was co-founder of Praja Inc (“Praja” from a Sanskrit word “Praja” which means “citizen” or “common people”). He later became its chief executive officer.

The goals of the company ranged from allowing common people to access information without restriction (this theme is related to the “bottom of pyramid” or BOP philosophy), to providing a test bed for various management ideas. The company eventually laid off one third of its workforce and was sold to leading business integration and process management software company, TIBCO. He was also on the board of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs. At Harvard Business School, Prahalad wrote a doctoral thesis on multinational management in just two and a half years, graduating with a D.B.A. degree in 1975.

It was just a few weeks earlier, when I and some of my friends from different time zone had appointments with each other to deliberate and have a real learning of happenings in respective economy, markets and societies we were physically present. As per IST it was around 12:00 mid-night.

This serves two purposes, i.e., a small interaction for learning and updating on developments taking place in each other’s personal fronts and not professional. Something, probably an individual of present time may call wastage of time as it never provides RoI (as per them) or does not result in rupee, paisa, taka, dollar, franc, euro, pound or any currency for that matter.

Somehow during interactions the deliberations took a turn towards emerging countries and the type and size of markets they happen to be, and we somehow shifted to the concept of ‘BOTTOM OF PYRAMID’, which happened to be a concept developed by a thinker, who could be easily located as strategic advisor to people at TOP OF PYRAMID.

It was not easy for me to believe, when after a couple of days, i.e., on Friday (April 16, 2010), I learned that a great administrative thinker and philosopher lost his battle of life to his Lung Disease in California, USA, just at age of 68. I agreed to his philosophy or not is not a thing to be discussed at this moment.

What mattered to me was the way he viewed the things, events and future when seeing it with business goggles on.

I always appreciated him for his courage; which  I term as “Affording Luxury and Adventure to think, without any fear of having to pay any price for it, and also without any fear of society and rational individuals.”

I always found myself to be much behind to him when it came to fearlessness of society and its norms, his courage to say what he felt as needed, the style of thinking that, which I call as “Latro – Analytical thought process”,   and his uncanny knack of looking deep in embryo of time, which people have permanently christened ‘future’; till it’s not born.

I was a fan of him due to reasons of sharing a common beliefs, that what I in my terms call as “India is tomorrow of everyone’s today”. The late CKP used to call it as “Laboratory of Innovations”.

The void that has been created, due to him quitting the job, I doubt can be filled by cost or sacrifice. CKP was the first person, who made world believe in the innovativeness of Indian Companies, and future dominance of the same in global commerce too.

I will just say that I would always be missing this Administrative thinker, philosopher and visionary who envisioned India @75 and emphasized on it during his talks.


Always Yours  —-  As usual —  Saurabh Singh

War amongst two Organs of same Body: Did Somebody Say Cannibalization: Is it Suicidal?

Market regulator SEBI has barred 14 private life insurance companies from selling unit-linked insurance plans without its approval, giving a fresh twist to the turf war between SEBI and insurance watchdog IRDA.

“We expect some companies to move the court” said the CEO of a life company. “It is unfortunate that this dispute has been allowed to reach this stage. It is time for the finance ministry to intervene” he added.

In an order signed by Prashant Sharn, wholetime director, SEBI, said, “I hereby direct the entities mentioned in this order not to issue any offer document, advertisement, brochure soliciting money from investors or raise money from investors by way of new and/or additional subscription for any product (including ULIPSs) having an investment component in the nature of mutual funds, till they obtain the requisite certificate of registration from SEBI.”

The 14 companies mentioned in this order include Aegon Religare, Aviva, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, Bharti AXA, Birla Sun Life, HDFC Standard Life, ICICI Prudential, ING Vyasa Life, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life, Max New York Life, Metlife India, Reliance Life, SBI Life, TATA AIG Life.

A few months back, SEBI had questioned individual life companies why they were selling investment products without its approval. Companies had responded individually that insurance laws permit them to offer an investment component within a life insurance policy. They also said that they were regulated by SEBI who had cleared all these products. The life companies were supported by the market regulator, who reiterated the stand taken by life companies.

In its final order SEBI said, “I find that the entities by their own admission have stated that there are two components of ULIPSs – an insurance component where the risk on the life insurance portion vests with the insurer and the investment component where the risk lies with the investor. This establishes conclusively that ULIPSs are a combination product and the investment component need to be registered with and regulated by SEBI”

SEBI’s order has implications not only for the life insurance companies but also for their promoters who have sunk in over Rs 26,000 crore in the form paid up capital. According to analyst reports, a significant portion of the value of various companies including, ICICI Bank, Aditya Birla Nuvo, SBI Life and Bajaj Fin serve. Most of the business written by these companies is through ULIPSs. If these companies are barred from selling ULIPSs, their valuations are likely to be hit.

Atul Surana , Certified Financial Planner and MD of Catalyst Financial Planning, says, “Anybody will understand one clear partial stand of SEBI which has not included LIC’s name in the list of life insurance companies selling ULIPSs. Secondly, this sounds much like a war between IRDA and SEBI who are bent on proving their authorities. These two regulators could have sorted out the issue on regulatory process first and then issued the order!”

So far as the order’s negative implications are concerned, experts say that while they broadly agree with the concerns of the regulator, it is also important to look at some possible negative implications of this move.

For instance, this process of another regulatory approval might take away the sheen from these products. Insurance companies may not be inclined.  The Securities and Exchange Board of India’s latest order on ULIPSs is expected to have far-reaching implications for the concerned life insurance companies as well as investors. SEBI has issued a directive to all private life insurance companies not to issue any offer document or advertisement soliciting money from investors for a ULIPS or any product having an investment part in the nature of mutual funds, till they approve of the same.

This directive is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by the market regulator to put an end to all unfair market practices and make the process of investments simple, fair and cost efficient for an investor. While the immediate fallout will be negative for all the 14 private life insurance companies as ULIPSs form a major part of the new business written by these companies in the recent past, yet some financial experts feel that this is a welcome step as it puts an end to the unfair practice of pushing life insurance policies as investment products to gullible investors.

“In the current market practice investors end up paying very high charges for the investment part of these policies and are usually not aware of the expenses they are paying. This is because unlike a normal share or mutual fund investment there are usually a myriad of charges in a ULIPS product hidden behind numerous provisions and clauses which are sometimes not easy to comprehend even by insurance professionals,” says Ashish Kapur, CEO, Invest Shoppe India Ltd, adding, “hence common investors have very little chance of ever getting an accurate picture of the costs they are incurring on these insurance and investment combination products.”

Still all is not well with the SEBI order as it is believed to have some partiality besides having some negative implications to offer these products if the regulations are very tough and costly to comply with.

FRIENDLY FIRE: EXPECTED NUMBER OF CASUALTIES

SEBI’s order asking 14 insurance companies to stop selling unit-linked insurance plans has turned into full-fledged regulatory battle with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority issuing its own order directing the 14 companies to continue selling ULIPSs.

“After due consultation with the members of the consultative committee all the 14 insurance companies which are mentioned in the order of SEBI are directed to note that notwithstanding the said order of the SEBI, they shall continue to carry out insurance business as usual including offering, marketing and servicing ULIPSs in accordance with the Insurance Act 1938” IRDA said in a late evening order on Saturday signed by chairman J Harinarayan.

In the order IRDA observed that SEBI’s order would upset financial stability, jeorpardise policy holders interest and was prejudicial to the interest of insurers. The 14 companies mentioned in this order include; Aegon Religare, Aviva, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, Bharti AXA, Birla Sun Life, HDFC Standard Life, ICICI Prudential, ING Vyasa Life, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life, Max New York Life, Metlife India, Reliance Life, SBI Life, TATA AIG Life.

“The IRDA Act `99 is specifically enacted to provide for an authority to protect the interests of holders of insurance policies, to regulate, promote and ensure the orderly growth of the insurance industry” IRDA said. The insurance industry was greatly relieved by IRDA’s order. “It is now between the regulators who have to settle this among themselves” said a senior industry official.

SEBI’s order has more far reaching implications than a press release or a circular. Since the order has been issued under Section 34(i) (a) and (b) of the insurance Act. IRDA has said that in the year `08-09 ULIPS policies involving a total premium of Rs 90,645 cr were in force. In fiscal `09-10 upto February 16.7 lakh policies have been sold with a premium of Rs 44,611crores. “It is also observed that the 14 insurance companies have an equity capital of Rs 16,281cr as on March 2009” IRDA said.

The insurance regulator said that observance of SEBI’s order would cause the stoppage of all renewals of insurance policies already invested by the insuring public may result in forced premature surrender of insurance policies causing substantial loss to the policyholders and to the insurers. “The effective stoppage of the sale of the products would cause a complete drying up of revenue flows to the insurance companies which could disrupt the payment of benefits on maturity, on death and on other admissible claims, putting the policyholder and the general public to irreparable financial loss. The financial position of the insurers will be seriously jeopardized thus destabilizing the market and upsetting financial stability” IRDA said.

IRDA IS FIRST TO BLOW CONCH – DIN’T YOU HEAR THE WAR CRY

SEBI’s order asking 14 insurance companies to stop selling unit-linked insurance plans has turned into full-fledged regulatory battle with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority issuing its own order directing the 14 companies to continue selling ULIPSs.

“After due consultation with the members of the consultative committee all the 14 insurance companies which are mentioned in the order of SEBI are directed to note that notwithstanding the said order of the SEBI, they shall continue to carry out insurance business as usual including offering, marketing and servicing ULIPSs in accordance with the Insurance Act 1938” IRDA said in a late evening order on Saturday signed by chairman J Harinarayan.

In the order IRDA observed that SEBI’s order would upset financial stability, jeorpardise policy holders interest and was prejudicial to the interest of insurers. The 14 companies mentioned in this order include; Aegon Religare, Aviva, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, Bharti AXA, Birla Sun Life, HDFC Standard Life, ICICI Prudential, ING Vyasa Life, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life, Max New York Life, Metlife India, Reliance Life, SBI Life, TATA AIG Life.


“The IRDA Act `99 is specifically enacted to provide for an authority to protect the interests of holders of insurance policies, to regulate, promote and ensure the orderly growth of the insurance industry” IRDA said. The insurance industry was greatly relieved by IRDA’s order. “It is now between the regulators who have to settle this among themselves” said a senior industry official.

SEBI’s order has more far reaching implications than a press release or a circular. Since the order has been issued under Section 34(i) (a) and (b) of the insurance Act. IRDA has said that in the year `08-09 ULIPS policies involving a total premium of Rs 90,645 cr were in force. In fiscal `09-10 up to February 16.7 lakh policies have been sold with a premium of Rs 44,611crores. “It is also observed that the 14 insurance companies have an equity capital of Rs 16,281cr as on March 2009” IRDA said.

The insurance regulator said that observance of SEBI’s order would cause the stoppage of all renewals of insurance policies already invested by the insuring public may result in forced premature surrender of insurance policies causing substantial loss to the policyholders and to the insurers. “The effective stoppage of the sale of the products would cause a complete drying up of revenue flows to the insurance companies which could disrupt the payment of benefits on maturity, on death and on other admissible claims, putting the policyholder and the general public to irreparable financial loss. The financial position of the insurers will be seriously jeopardized thus destabilizing the market and upsetting financial stability” IRDA said.

POLICE DECIDES TO TURN SPECTOR

The finance ministry today kept a safe distance from the ongoing row between market regulator SEBI and insurance watchdog IRDA over ULIPs, saying the two regulators have to resolve the issue.

“It’s a matter between regulators; so they have to decide,” finance secretary Ashok Chawla told when sought his comments on yesterday’s SEBI decision to ban 14 life insurers from raising any more money from the unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) in which a portion of the premium amount is invested in stock markets, a move opposed by the insurance regulator.

The SEBI decision was taken after the market regulator had sent notices to these companies asking them as to explain why they did not take its permission to launch these schemes.

Insurance regulator IRDA is understood to have stated in its reply that regulation of ULIPs by IRDA is well-laid down and that it does not agree with SEBI contention that insurers need a certificate of registration from the market regulator for dealing in ULIPs.

The issue was also taken up at the meeting of the inter-regulatory body, the High Level Coordination Committee (HLCC). It was decided at the meeting that the two regulators should settle the issue between themselves.

Chawla said the SEBI and IRDA have not so far been able to come to any resolution. “So, SEBI has taken a legal process. He was going to be silent spectator to see the fire power of both Regulators.

 

Always Yours   — As Usual — Saurabh Singh, India

[Thanks are expressed for too many peple]

President Obama Slipped But not Much

President Obama’s ratings on foreign policy have slipped, but not as much as in other areas

Foreign and Military Policy

Leery from the start about President Barack Obama’s military and foreign-policy experience, Americans still retain some of that skepticism about their president as the nation’s commander in chief one year into his term.

Yet after a year of bruising economic problems and domestic-policy debates, foreign policy actually has emerged as an area of comparative strength for Mr. Obama. By a 50%-to-37% margin, those surveyed in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll give him a positive rating for his handling of foreign policy, higher than his overall job rating and his rating for handling the economy.

Moreover, the 13-point positive differential between the share who approve and the share who disapprove of his handling of foreign policy is the most positive reading in his job appraisal. By contrast, he enjoys just a five-point positive differential on his overall job approval and a six-point negative gap between approval and disapproval on his handling of the economy.

Safety a Priority

Perhaps because of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner, national security is climbing Americans’ priority list. In the new survey, national security and terrorism jumped to second on the list of voters’ concerns, with 17% citing that area as a top priority for the government, behind only job creation and economic growth. In the summer, only 11% called national security a top priority, behind job creation, the deficit and government spending and health care.

Some 56% now say they are either very or fairly worried that the U.S. will experience another major terrorist attack, up from 42% in October.

Views of Mr. Obama’s handling of terrorism are split down the middle, with 45% approving of his handling, essentially even with the 44% who disapprove.

In addition to new terror scares, Mr. Obama’s first year in office has seen the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq and the commitment of tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan, both issues central to candidate Obama’s foreign-policy promises. Mr. Obama also won the Nobel Peace Prize and engaged in international travel designed explicitly to raise the nation’s popularity in the world.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod divided Mr. Obama’s first-year mission into three parts: stabilizing the economy; securing the president’s domestic priorities, which he believes will strengthen the nation’s economic future; and restoring U.S. standing in the world, along with international cooperation on issues from terrorism to Afghanistan.

Of those three, the foreign-policy component has been arguably the most successful, Mr. Alexrod maintained.

“It’s been a very productive year in terms of foreign policy,” Mr. Axelrod said in an interview.

Sharp Divisions

Still, in one critical area of foreign policy—as commander in chief of the armed forces—Americans rate the young president lower than they rate him as a person and an overall leader.

As Mr. Obama campaigned for president, he struggled to portray himself as the leader of the military. Running against a Vietnam war hero, Sen. John McCain, candidate Obama convinced only a third of Americans that he would be a good commander in chief in June 2008.

That figure soared amid the optimism that greeted his inauguration, when 55% said he would be a good or very good commander in chief.

After a year in the White House, Mr. Obama readings have dipped somewhat. Now, 49% give him a good rating as the commander in chief—compared with 72% who felt positively about the First Family, 64% who felt good about the president as a person and 54% who felt positively about Mr. Obama as a leader.

Gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds shaped opinions sharply. Only 42% of men felt positively about Mr. Obama as commander in chief, 38% of whites and 39% of those from small-town or rural areas. In contrast, 86% of African-Americans and 59% of Hispanics gave him positive mark

India’s Events that Covered Head Lines in 2009 Media

As Ever A Happening Year but with many Negative Shades still Promising A Bright Future Ahead

SLOWDOWN

It was a year of turbulence for India Inc and the economy. While many sectors like realty, textiles plunged into darkness on the back of a global recession, there was a ray of hope in some other sectors like the telecom. The year also saw India’s biggest corporate fraud, falling earnings, stock market crash, job losses and soaring food prices which hit the common man. However, towards the end of the year, the economy started showing signs of recovery.

The stimulus packages started giving results with the economy growing by 7.9 per cent in the second quarter of this fiscal, the highest growth in six quarters. The Indian economy is likely to grow between 7 per cent and 7.5 per cent during the current financial year despite poor performance of the agriculture sector due to drought and floods. India’s exports and industrial growth have also turned around raising hopes of a better year ahead.



Slowdown banner

Slowdown or Not

SATYAM SCAM

The year 2009 began on a shocking note with Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju admitting to siphoning off over Rs 7,000 crore (Rs 70 billion) from the company. It was the biggest corporate fraud in India. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now pegged the Satyam fraud at Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) instead of the Rs 7,800 crore (Rs 78 billion) that Raju had admitted to in January this year. Satyam Computer Services was founded by Raju in 1987. The crisis-hit company has been taken over by the Mahindra group and renamed Mahindra Satyam. Vineet Nayyar is the chairman of Mahindra Satyam.

Satyams ill famed directror Raju Ramlingam

Satyams ill famed Directror Raju Ramlingam

Raju, who turned 55 on September 15, has been in jail since January, 9. Raju is now being treated at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS).  He was earlier diagnosed with Hepatitis C and heart ailments. Raju’s brother B Rama Raju, chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas, three other employees of Satyam and two auditors are also in jail. They have been charged with cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

INFLATION SWINGS GOLD , FOOD PRICES

The food prices in India hit a 10-year high of 20 per cent for the year till December 5, due to demand-supply mismatch and worst monsoon in 37 years, which affected the kharif crop output. India’s annual rate of inflation, based on wholesale prices, rose sharply to 4.78 per cent in November from 1.34 per cent in the previous month, mainly on account of a 16.71 per cent jump in prices of food articles. Rising prices of food items, jet fuel and alcohol pushed up inflation to 5.64 per cent in January 2009.

In June, inflation in India turned negative 1.61 for the first time in 32 years but the prices of food items like fruit and vegetables, cereals and oil were still higher than last year.

A Grocery Shop Selling Pulses

A Grocery Shop Selling Pulses - Prices hit by Inflation

Meanwhile, the food inflation decreased to soften to 18.65 per cent for the week ended December 12, though essential items like potato and pulses continued to remain expensive.  Potato prices have zoomed by 136 per cent and pulses by over 40 per cent in the last one year.

MONTHLY INFLATION FIGURES

From now on, India will present inflation figures on a monthly basis instead of the existing weekly system. Analysts say since weekly data on wholesale price index-based inflation do not adequately capture the movement of prices of manufactured goods, government has to often revise the figures later.

GOLD PRICES ZOOM

Gold prices closed at all-time record of over Rs 18,000-per ten gram in November 2009 on the back of a strong marriage season demand, positive global cues and a weaker dollar. Gold touched a all-time high of Rs 18,550 per 10 gm. Gold prices rose by 13 per cent since the beginning of this November after the Reserve Bank of India announced it had bought 200 tonnes of bullion from the International Monetary Fund. Retail investment demand for gold has zoomed by 515.8 per cent to 109 tonnes in the second quarter (April-June) of 2009 from 17.7 tonnes in the first quarter. India consumes nearly 30 per cent of the world’s annual gold production. This is slated to increase by 36 per cent to 980 tonnes by 2010 according to the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

UNION BUDGET 2009 – 10

Stating that ‘aam aadmi’ is the focus of all the government programmes, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed the following measures in Union Budget 2009-10

  • Personal income tax exemption limit for senior citizens raised by Rs 15,000.
  • The exemption limit for income tax for women raised by Rs 10,000 to Rs 190,000.
  • For all others, exemption limit raised by Rs 10,000 from Rs 150,000.
  • No change in corporate tax.
  • IT returns to be made simpler.
  • Fringe Benefit Tax abolished.
  • Minimum Alternate Tax on book profits increased to 15 per cent from 10 per cent.
  • Commodities Transaction Tax abolished.
  • 100 per cent tax deduction for donations for electoral funds to improve transparency in political funding.

One of the biggest taxation reforms in India — the Goods and Service Tax (GST) — is all set to integrate state economies and boost overall growth.

Union Minister for Finance during Budget Speech

Union Minister for Finance during Budget Speech

GST will create a single, unified Indian market to make the economy stronger. Pranab Mukherjee while presenting the Budget on July 6, 2009, said that GST would come into effect from April 2010.

DIVESTMENT – A GREAT MONEY SPINNER

Divestment is the government’s mantra to earn big bucks at a time when the country is feeling the ill-effects of the global financial crisis. Now that the Left parties are not a part of the United Progressive Alliance-II, the government has put divestment of public sector units on the fast track.

Money and its Game

Disinvestment -- A Money Spinner

The Centre is likely to prepare a blueprint for its divestment process for the next two years by the end of this financial year. At present, there are 61 unlisted profit-making public sector undertakings and 10 listed PSUs where the government could look to dilute its stake. It plans to raise over Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) in 2009-10, which will help to cut down fiscal deficit and the expansion of public sector enterprises.

THE SPECTRUM SAGA

The much awaited auction of spectrum for 3G mobile services is likely to be delayed by more than a month and may commence from the first week of March next year. The schedule will be announced soon. The revised schedule is being worked out taking into account the outcome of last meeting of an Empowered Group of Ministers where defense ministry agreed to vacate spectrum.

Meanwhile, the spectrum row, termed as independent India’s largest financial scam, is centered on the allocation of scarce 2G spectrum at throwaway prices. Accusing Union Telecom Minister A Raja of orchestrating a Rs 60,000 crore (Rs 600 billion) scam, the opposition parties — Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist) had asked the government to fire the minister and institute probe into the alleged irregularities.

Union Telecommunication Minister A. Raja

Union Telecommunication Minister A. Raja

The government had in 2007 recommended an ‘open license regime’. ‘Applications for telecom licenses were invited setting Oct 1, 2007, as the deadline. An artificial cut-off date, Sep 25, 2007, was created and applications received between Sep 25 and Oct 1 were summarily rejected. Rules of the game were changed after the game had begun,’ the BJP charged. The BJP alleged that ‘all friendly applicants, mostly real estate companies, had been advised to put in their applications before Sep 25’.

The licences and the spectrum allocation were then allotted to nine operators at a price of Rs 1,650 crore (Rs 16.50 billion) per operator. This price was not taken on the basis of the 2007 market value but on the basis of an auction held in 2001. The value of the licence and spectrum in 2007 could not be the same as in 2001 as the telecom market has grown phenomenally during this period. However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said allegations about the scam were incorrect. The prime minister had earlier expressed his reservations about inducting A Raja in the Cabinet.

MERGERS & ACQUISITION’S

Making strong inroads in the global acquisition arena, Indian companies continued to win big ticket deals and acquisitions.

BHARTI – MTN DEAL

This year Bharti Airtel was all set to take over South Africa’s MTN. It would have been India’s biggest-ever M&A deal but months later, the talks failed and the $23 billion deal was called off.

WIPRO BUYS YARDLEY’S ASIA BIZ

Wipro buys Yardley's Asia biz

Wipro buys Yardley's Asia biz

In a $45.5 million (Rs 215 crore) deal, Wipro took over 229-year-old British brand Yardley’s business in select markets including India from UK’s Lornamead Group to stretch its personal care portfolio to the premium range.

LUPIN BUYS PHILIPPINES DRUG FIRM

Drug maker Lupin acquired Multicare Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc. for an undisclosed sum in March 2009. This is Lupin’s sixth acquisition in 18 months.

ONGC BUYS IMPERIAL ENERGY

The Oil and Natural Gas Corp took control of Imperial Energy Plc for $2.8 billion, in January 2009, after an overwhelming 96.8 per cent of London-listed firm’s total shareholders accepted its takeover offer.

MEGA INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

Bandra-Worli_Sea-Bridge

Bandra-Worli_Sea-Bridge

BANDRA – WORLI SEA LINK

An engineering marvel and the first-ever open sea bridge of its kind, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is one of the most complex and advanced construction projects ever to have been undertaken in India. The Rs 1,634-crore (Rs 16.34 billion) project of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation has been executed by the private engineering and construction major, Hindustan Construction Company.

DELHI METRO

Delhi Metro made further progress when a brand-new train chugged into the satellite city of Noida for the first time paving the way for thousands of commuters in east Delhi and adjoining areas to enjoy the new age transport system. The Noida corridor, built at a cost of Rs 630 crore (Rs 6.30 billion), is completely elevated and will be integrated with the existing 34.3 km Yamuna Bank-Dwarka Sector-9 segment, extending the total length of Line-3 to 47.4 km.

AIRPORTS

The state-of-the-art integrated terminal, called T3, of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is poised to be the world’s second-largest, after Beijing in China, in terms of size. The terminal, built at a cost of Rs 8,996 crore (Rs 89.96 billion), has four boarding piers with 48 boarding gates and 78 aerobridges, which is the highest for a terminal of its size.

LONGEST FLYOVER

India’s longest flyover with a length of 11.66 km was opened in Hyderabad in October. The flyover was built over a period of about three years at a cost of Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion), using the latest technology of prefabricated segment and overhead grid launcher, causing minimal disruption to the traffic along the route.

INDIAN AUTO SECTOR BOOMS

It is raining cars in India. The passenger car sales in India soared 61 per cent in November on the back of improved consumer sentiment, easier finance and low sales base, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam).

Auto companies sold 1,33,687 cars in November compared to 83,121 units in the same month last year. About 40 new car models were launched in the market over the past year. India has now become the second-largest maker of small cars, overtaking Brazil.

Nano Car from House of TATA

Nano Car from House of TATA

The world’s cheapest cars, the Tata Nano was launched in March this year. In two months, the Tatas received over 203,000 fully paid bookings amounting to nearly Rs 2,500 crore (Rs 25 billion).

BAJAJ BIDS FAREWELL TO SCOOTERS

Three months from now, Bajaj will bid farewell to scooters. From selling over a 100,000 units every month, the company now manufactures only 1,000 scooters. Bajaj Auto which revolutionized the nation’s scooter market said it will stop production of Kristal by end of the current fiscal.

AIRLINES HIT BY TURBULENCE


It was a year of losses and strikes for the airline industry. The combined losses of all airlines in 2008-09 were over Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion).  The operations of Jet Airways and Air India were hit for several days as their pilots went on strike in September to protests against a cut in performance-linked incentives.

Striking Air India Employees

Striking Air India Employees

A drop in traffic, revenues, high fuel costs further added to their woes. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Indian aviation industry, which accounts for two percent of air traffic worldwide, accounts for 11 percent of global losses.

Jet Airways, Air India, Kingfisher Airlines and low-cost carriers are now planning to hike air fares by up to 25 per cent in January.

THE RISE AND FALL OF MARKETS

The Sensex created history when it crossed the 21K-mark in January 2008, however,  a year later it crashed. In January 2009, the Sensex saw its biggest intra-day fall when it hit a low of 15,332, down 2,273 points. However, it recovered losses to some extent and closed at a loss of 875 points at 16,730 on Januray 22, 2009. On December 29, the Sensex rose by 0.24 per cent to its highest close at 17,401 in 19 months on December 29.

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria poses with Bull

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria poses with Bull -- Probably feeling Bullish on India

On May 18, 2009, the Sensex surged 2110.79 points from the previous closing of 12174.42 this leading to the suspension of trade for the whole day. The Sensex is expected to trade at a historical average P/E of 15 by the end of the financial 2010-11 as foreign and domestic equity analysts expect India Inc’s net profit to grow 25-30 per cent in 2010-11.

FAKE CURRENCY

The government has admitted that the problem of fake currency was ‘alarming and dangerous’ as some groups are trying to destabilize the Indian economy by injecting massive doses of counterfeit notes in the country. The secret template India uses to print currency notes has been ‘compromised’ and that is possibly why fake but real-looking Indian currency notes are being pumped in, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.

The CBI, the nodal agency for checking fake notes, has now formed a special team comprising its sleuths and officials from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to find out how and at what level the design got ‘compromised’. According to the CBI, the counterfeiters have deep knowledge about the kind of special ink, paper and other ingredients that go into the making of notes.

PLASTIC NOTES

The Reserve Bank of India is toying with the idea of replacing paper currency with polymer notes. As a pilot project, the central bank is said to have decided to introduce 100 crore (1 billion) pieces of Rs 10 polymer notes, for which the bank has floated a global tender. The bank has asked interested parties for 500 pieces of sample banknotes, before the actual global bids for the project go through.

Teller Machine Counting Currency Notes-- INR

Teller Machine Counting Currency Notes-- INR

THE COPENHAGEN SUMMIT

On December 7, officials from 192 countries attended the world’s biggest summit on climate in Copenhagen to tackle the challenges of climate change. However, the Copenhagen climate talks failed to deliver a legally binding agreement to tackle global warming. Countries like India, Brazil, China, and South Africa joined hands with President Obama to form the Copenhagen Accord.

The accord commits to cut greenhouse gas emission in each country but the Accord is not yet a legally binding treaty and failure to achieve emission reductions will not be penalized

“Climate change cannot be addressed by perpetuating the poverty of the developing countries,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told Parliament recently that the country would reduce its ‘carbon intensity’ — the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of gross domestic product — by up to 25 per cent from 2005 to 2020.

Climate change and environmental degradation will force as many as one billion people to migrate over the next four decades to Southeast Asia, central America and parts of west Africa.

Mumbai Traffic came to a Standstill following Heavy Rains

Mumbai Traffic came to a Standstill following Heavy Rains

GREAT YEAR FOR TELECOM

The telecom sector continued to ring louder in 2009. The economic slowdown did not hamper its growth. The telephone subscribers were a happy lot with a number of new mobile operators, like Tata DoCoMo, Unitech Wireless, MTS and STel, making a foray into the booming market. The intense competition led to a tariff war, with operators offering tariffs on per second basis. There was drop in roaming and STD tariffs as well. The mobile subscriber base grew from 346 million in December 2008 to 506 million by November 2009.  However, the much-awaited introduction of Mobile Number Portability and third generation (3G) mobile services has been delayed.

CRACKDOWN ON CELLPHONES WITHOUT IMEI CODE

The telecom ministry disconnected mobile phones without the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code. Concerned over the threat to national security, the Department of Telecom had asked operators to crack down on illegal and China-made cheap handsets, which do not bear any IMEI code. It is estimated that there are about 25 million handsets without IMEI number. Delhi Police have seized over 3,500 mobile phones without unique identity numbers, mainly imported from China.

Telecom Sector Booms

Telcom Sector Boom

DUBAI CRISIS

The glittering Dubai image took a beating in 2009. The Dubai government’s announcement seeking a six-month reprieve on debt repayments sent shockwaves through the world markets, as it raised doubts over the Gulf emirate’s ability to meet its financial obligations. The Dubai government requested the creditors of Dubai World (one of three conglomerates that are backed by the emirate), to agree to a ‘standstill’ on repayments until May 30 2010.

The Dubai crisis is likely to hit exports, remittance, banking and real estate sector in India. Exports are going to be the most affected, as the UAE is now India’s largest export hotspot.

Bullion trading in Dubai is likely to be affected. The financial crisis in Dubai will not affect India but may prompt investors to take a relook at emerging markets, according to World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Indians who constituted 42.3 per cent of the UAE’s labour force in 2008 are also likely to be affected with several jobs being slashed.

Burj Tower, Dubai

Burj Tower, Dubai

NILEKANI, MURTHY IN NEW ROLE

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani quit Infosys to head the government’s ambitious unique identification project (UID). Nilekani said he would start issuing the unique number by February 2011. Stating that it was a huge challenge to make sure that there is no duplication. Biometrics will be used to prevent duplication. The project estimated to cost around Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) will offer identity card to all citizens.

Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani

MURTHY TURNS VENTURE CAPITALIST

N R Narayana Murthy now wants to help budding entrepreneurs. He has initiated the first step towards starting a venture capital fund focussed on India. The fund will encourage and support young entrepreneurs who have brilliant business ideas. The Infosys chairman offloaded 800,000 shares from his personal holding, to raise about Rs 177 crore (Rs 1.77 billion) a few days ago to start Catamaran Venture fund. The fund will primarily invest in India, though it might consider investing overseas on a ‘case-to-case basis’.

AMBANI WARS

The Ambani brothers continued to hog the limelight in 2009. Even four years after splitting the Reliance Empire, the Ambani brothers still seem to be washing dirty linen in public: the latest battle is over gas pricing. Mukesh and Anil Ambani are at loggerheads again over a gas-supply agreement that was made when the Dhirubhai Ambani-founded Reliance group was split in 2005.  The gas sale master agreement between Reliance Industries Ltd and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd states that the latter (RNRL) is entitled to be supplied 28 million cubic metres of gas a day from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin at a price of $2.34 per million British thermal unit (mBtu) for a period of 17 years.

Mukesh and Anil Ambani in Happier Times

Mukesh and Anil Ambani in Happier Times

Accusing RIL of using of delaying gas supply to the power projects of ADA Group and NTPC by a minimum of four years, RNRL said: “RIL is selling 40 million cubic meters of gas per day committed to NTPC and RNRL to third parties at $4.20 mmBtu and making super normal profit of over Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion), being the difference between $4.20 mmBtu and $ 2.34 mmBtu.

If you go by the NTPC draft agreement which the RNRL says is the template agreement for the supply of gas then there exists a clause that the price of the gas is subject to the government approval,” RIL’s counsel Harish Salve said.

Meanwhile, the government counsel said the issues involved were not between two parties. Gas from the Krishna-Godavari (K-G) basin was a natural resource belonging to the government. As the custodian of public interest, the government has asked the empowered group of ministers to fix an equitable price and it was doing so with the help of experts. The price of gas and other vital matters cannot be the subject of the fight between two persons.

—–Always Yours as Usual—-Saurabh

Note: The info has been posted for academic use only. This has no commercial value. Specially hosted for consumption of students so as to remain updated of major events and their Impact on markets. I acknowledge the portal Rediff.com and other media for source.

I Keep Thinking About:

“Why majority of social scientists often try to turn mathematicians, which they are not and neither it’s expected of them…Gentlemen you are expected to have Mastered humanities …society won’t take mathematical equations in exchange…equations will be taken as…adding salt to injury …if you do so…You are the one who destabilized the fine balance of Psycho-Socio-Economic elements of Humanity…we can hire a lot of Mathematics graduates…But Philosophers, Thinkers, Social Scientists are Rare Creations of Almighty…We are Searching them Pan Disciplines identified till Date.”

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