Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chinese handsets may sport “Made in India” tag

It is one Chinese move which the Indian government won't mind at all. Chinese telecom equipment makers and telecom companies with a large manufacturing base in China are looking to either set up their manufacturing base in India or ramp up their facilities.The move comes on the back of a recent decision by the Indian government to put strict security checks on imported equipment especially Chinese equipment.UTStarcom, a global provider of Internet Protocol (IP)-based network solutions, which is betting big on the 3G and next generation telephony market in India may infact decide to push forward their plans to set up a Rs. 400 crore manufacturing unit.Other Chinese equipment makers are still hoping for some more clarity.The Indian telecom equipment market is almost worth $8-10 billion annually and third generation (3G) itself will generate additional equipment orders worth $4 billion in the first year of launch itself. But some equipment makers say they need large orders to move manufacturing here.Chinese Equipment makers like ZTE are hoping that by October a clear government policy will be in place giving Chinese equipment makers the opportunity to re-enter the Indian market in a big way whether it is for backend equipment or the highly competitive mobile handset business.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New direct tax code: Major relief for salaried class

In a move that could leave more money in the hands of people, the government on Thursday proposed to raise exemption limit on income tax from the present Rs. 1.6 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh.The new Act would usher in reduced tax rates and exemptions that may come into effect from next fiscal.The bill also proposes income tax for Rs. 2- Rs. 5 lakh slab to be 10 per cent, and 20 per cent on income up to Rs. 5-Rs. 10 lakh, and 30 per cent on income beyond that.The bill has exempted senior citizens earning up to Rs. 2.5 lakh. The direct tax code bill also seeks to remove surcharge and cesses on corporate tax, which could provide relief to business houses.Highlights:Salaried persons exempt up to Rs. 2 lakhSenior citizen up to Rs. 2.5 lakh exemptTax for those earning Rs. 2 - Rs. 5 lakhs at 10 %Tax for those earning Rs. 5 - Rs. 10 lakhs at 20%Tax for those earning Over Rs. 10 lakhs at 30%Housing Loan exemption retained at Rs. 1.5 lakhCorporate tax to be 30%, including cess, surchargeCapt Gains tax remains unchangedMAT to be levied at 20% on book profits not gross assets"The whole objective is that a plethora of exemptions will be limited. (Income) tax slabs will be three. Rate of taxes will be taken in the schedule so that they need not be changed every year," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after the Cabinet meeting.According to sources, the DTC bill is likely to be tabled in Parliament on Monday. Thereafter, it will be referred to Parliamentary standing committee, they added.For senior citizens and females, the tax slabs are likely to be relaxed further, they addedWhen contacted, senior officials in the Finance Ministry declined to comment on the slabs.At present, income between Rs. 1.65 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh attracts 10 per cent tax, while the rate is 20 per cent for the Rs. 5-8 lakh bracket and 30 per cent for income above Rs. 8 lakh.The first draft of the bill had suggested 10 per cent tax on income between Rs. 1.60 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh, 20 per cent on income between Rs. 10 and Rs. 25 lakh and 30 per cent beyond that.However, finance ministry officials had later said those slabs were just illustrative.The Bill, approved by Cabinet today, also seeks to impose minimum alternate tax (MAT) at 20 per cent of the book profit, compared to 18 per cent at present.The first draft had proposed to impose MAT on assets, which drew strong criticism from the industry. The MAT on book profit has been maintained in the revised draft as well.The first draft had also proposed to tax long-term savings like provident funds at the time of withdrawal. However, the revised draft exempted them, after the first draft drew flak."Concerns were expressed for shifting from EEE (exempt, exempt, exempt) to EET (exempt, exempt, tax)," the Finance Minister said.This would also address the issue of taxing surplus funds of charitable institutions, he added.When enacted, the DTC will replace the archaic Income Tax Act and simplify the direct tax regime in the country.Finance Ministry officials exuded confidence that the Bill will come into force by the deadline of April 1, 2011.The code aims at reducing tax rates, but expanding the tax base by minimising exemptions."DTC will help in streamlining various tax exemptions, deductions and thereby bring in moderate tax rates. DTC would address most of the issues raised by corporate India, like, not imposing tax on gross assets, clarifying EEE, introducing graded deduction for capital gains among others," Ernst & Young Tax Market Leader Sudhir Kapadia said.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Apple patents a desktop touch-screen computer

It was only a matter of time.You can touch your iPod, changing songs with the swipe of a finger. You can touch your iPhone, clicking away on a virtual keyboard or zooming into images and maps. You can touch your iPad, flipping though a book or digital magazine or playing games on the 9-inch screen. So it only makes sense that you should be able to touch your iMac.A European patent uncovered by the blog Patently Apple indicates that Apple could bring multitouch to the desktop, giving computer users the ability to touch the screen of the display in addition to the computer's keyboard.The patent shows a series of sensors that could be added to a standard iMac, including an accelerometer to detect the angle of the screen and in turn change the display's resolution or orientation.
As the illustrations and accompanying descriptions indicate, swiveling the screen down to a touch-screen experience could also disable the keyboard and mouse and show a different style of operating system designed for touch.In the touch-screen mode the patent also shows a new type of interface that looks very similar to iOS, the operating system used on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.It was only a matter of time for iOS to appear on the desktop.touchscreen interface for iMac touchAs I wrote in a blog post earlier this year, engineers inside Apple told me that transitioning some Mac computer models and laptops to an operating system similar to the ultrasimple and accessible interface used on the iPhone and iPad would make sense from a consumer standpoint.The simplicity of the iOS could be a big draw for computer owners as it vastly reduces the struggle many non-techies have when trying to find or save files on a traditional desktop operating system.Although it would be difficult to build a new desktop user interface from the ground up, one engineer told me that it would be easy to add the "iPhone OS as a layer on top of OS X, similar to Apple's Front Row experience" used to watch movies and listen to music.Finally, the patent also depicts a tablet computer that comes with a full multitouch screen and and a regular laptop keyboard and mouse. The laptop tablet illustration seems to have a swivel hinge in the center of the screen that could possibly flip around to create an iPad-like screen when the keyboard is not in use.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Seven Flaws in China's Growth Model

Short term, China will keep growing rapidly, adding to demand and boosting the global economy. Long term, the picture's not so pretty.

China's economy is slowing, but only a little. The July industrial production numbers announced by the country's National Bureau of Statistics on Aug. 11 were weaker than expected. That raised fears that one of the engines of global growth was about to seize up. In fact, the slight slowdown is intentional, the result of moves by Beijing to prevent overheating. China can and will change course if the need arises. We still expect it to grow about 10% this year, a figure that will make most of the world envious.
Still, over the next few years, Chinese growth has to moderate somewhat. Double-digit annual GDP gains in the past were relatively easy because the economy was growing from a small base. Those kinds of gains will be harder to achieve now that China is the world's second largest economy, about one-third the size of the U.S. But China's lightning expansion also masks a host of serious structural flaws. Fixing them will take major reforms that, so far, Beijing has proved unwilling to make -- in no small part because they would undermine the authority of the ruling Communist Party.
[See the Top States for Business, 2010 Edition]
Excessive Capital Investment
Beijing rewards provincial and local government officials with promotions if they manage their regions well. For decades, the chief measure of progress was success in providing jobs for a rapidly growing urban workforce. That usually meant building factories or adding infrastructure, whether needed or not. Such overcapacity leads to waste of scarce resources, deflation and dumping of excess production abroad.
Financial Mismanagement
Local officials force state-owned banks to finance that construction at next-to-nothing rates, with no regard for borrowers' suitability. Inevitably, nonperforming loans pile up on the banks' balance sheets. Beijing already recapitalized the four largest state banks once, forcing ordinary depositors to foot the bill, which hurt consumption. Now bad loans are once again on the rise, a result of the $586-billion stimulus China poured through banks last year. Though Beijing could manage another bailout, it certainly can't go through this cycle endlessly.
Flawed Education
Chinese colleges graduate many times the number of engineers and scientists that American universities produce, but such statistics are misleading. To meet the quotas for graduates set by Beijing, academic programs dilute their standards. They further inflate their count by counting as engineering students those studying to become mechanics or industrial technicians. The result, according to a pioneering study led by Duke University professors Gary Gereffi and Vivek Wadhwa, is that many of these graduates fall far short of the standards imposed by U.S. colleges and universities. When they graduate, many are unable to find work in their professions.
[See the 20 Worst-Paying College Degrees]
Stifled Innovation
Those engineers and scientists who do measure up -- the cream of Chinese universities or those who study overseas and return home -- often have little freedom to explore. If they work for state-owned firms or universities, Beijing dictates the direction of research and development. Many gravitate to the more open atmosphere at private firms, but these companies can't get loans to grow because state enterprises gobble up the capital. Beijing aims to compensate by forcing multinationals to transfer advanced technology as the cost of doing business in China, but foreign firms are fighting back hard.
Environmental Degradation
Water pollution and water shortages pose the most serious problems. They cause health ailments, damage agriculture, jam up hydroelectric dams, interfere with manufacturing and limit urbanization. As aquifers dry up, soil erodes, turning an area the size of Connecticut to desert every year. The resulting dust storms add to the country's already horrendous air pollution. Beijing's preferred solution to the problem is a massive south-to-north river diversion project. Odds are, that will make matters worse, draining water from already overtaxed southern supplies.
One of the major reasons Beijing has such a hard time dealing with all the problems mentioned above is that so many individuals have a vested interest in keeping things exactly as they are. Communist Party officials pay for their advancement, then aim to earn back their investment. Local governments seize houses and land, sell it to developers with little compensation for those displaced, then take kickbacks from the construction companies. Academics provide kickbacks to the party in exchange for research funding. U.S. companies operating in China suffer as well. "When U.S companies hire for research and development there, there's a lot of pressure to put Communist Party members in key positions," says Wadhwa.
Beijing does make examples of particularly corrupt officials and business leaders, sometimes even executing the offenders. But the problem of corruption is endemic, says Liao Ran, a China specialist with Transparency International. "Generally speaking, the cost of corruption amounts to about 10% to 13% of annual GDP," he says. In absolute terms, that's a loss of $500 billion to $700 billion per year.
And Demographics
As the generation of the Cultural Revolution retires, the burden of their care falls heavily on the smaller generation of the one-child policy. "The Chinese population is simply growing older faster than it's getting richer," says Peter Navarro, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of California at Irvine. As fewer workers support more retirees, competitiveness will suffer. For an illustration of what this could mean, China need look no farther than Japan.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Intel buys McAfee for $7.7 billion in push beyond PCs

Talk about a new meaning for "Intel Inside."Intel Corp. wants to be inside your television. And your cell phone. And your car. And pretty much any other device that could one day connect to the Internet and require a computer chip.And with its deal to buy McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, the world's No. 1 semiconductor company now wants to sell you security software as well — in all those places.The all-cash deal announced Thursday marks the biggest acquisition in Intel's 42-year history, an expensive example of Intel's commitment to sell more than chips for personal computers and servers. It is the sixth biggest deal globally between two technology companies over the past 3½ years, according to Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.But the deal is also a reminder of Intel's inconsistency in finding new ways to grow. The company is an infrequent acquirer with a history of dabbling in, and retreating from, markets outside its core business. It once even had a toy division that made microscopes and other gadgets — a project Intel eventually gave up because of poor sales.Once the deal closes, as expected, McAfee would help Intel improve the security of its chips, which are currently inside about 80 percent of the world's PCs and servers. It also would open a new revenue stream for Intel, which plans to sell McAfee's software alongside its chips for PCs and other Internet-connected devices.Joint products from the companies won't appear until next year. When they do, the most noticeable result for consumers would likely be sales pitches for security software in unexpected places."Everywhere we sell a microprocessor, there's an opportunity for a security software sale to go with it," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said on a conference call with analysts. "It's not just the opportunity to co-sell, it's the opportunity to deeply integrate these into the architecture of our products."The price Intel is paying — $48 per share — represents a 60 percent premium over McAfee's Wednesday close of $29.93.McAfee shares surged $17.08, or 57 percent, to close Thursday at $47.01. The last time McAfee's stock was that high was during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s.The announcement worried some Intel investors because it takes Intel so far afield of what it's best at, which is making microprocessors, the "brains" of computers. Intel shares fell 63 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $18.96.Some analysts questioned the wisdom of buying McAfee when Intel could have gotten many of the same technical gains by continuing the two companies' partnership. Intel said it has been working closely with McAfee for the last year and a half to improve the security of both companies' products.Others praised the deal as giving Intel an edge over other chip-makers in markets where Intel is weak, such as cell phones, where chips that use less power than Intel's are more popular.Analyst Tristan Gerra with Robert W. Baird & Co. said the deal addresses rising security concerns among makers of non-PC computers and gives Intel "significant security advantages" over chip-makers who have to rely on third parties for the security software they bundle and sell to device makers.Intel's chips already have a significant amount of security features. McAfee's technology should help strengthen those features and fine-tune them for the new devices that Intel is targeting — even if consumers don't buy additional security software.Intel doesn't need the bump from McAfee immediately, having booked its biggest quarterly net income in a decade in the April-June period. But just as PC makers are desperate to broaden their reach as phones and other devices replace certain types of computers, Intel wants to make sure its chips end up inside the next generation of Internet-connected devices.Intel said the deal would hurt earnings slightly in the first year the companies are combined, or help earnings slightly if certain costs and one-time items connected to the acquisition are excluded.Both boards unanimously approved the deal. It still needs approval from regulators and McAfee shareholders, but analysts do not expect problems. Intel did not say when it believes the deal would close. Both companies are based in Santa Clara, Calif.Intel has traveled this road before.Before McAfee, Intel's biggest acquisition was its $2.14 billion takeover of Level One Communications in 1999, part of a multibillion-dollar spending spree during the dot-com heyday to beef up Intel's lineup of communications chips. That effort ended with Intel selling most of those businesses in 2006 for $600 million.The sell-off illustrated a broader purging by Intel as its finances were suffering under an assault from a scrappy, smaller rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., and its encroachment on Intel's turf in server chips. AMD also found another way to hurt Intel: Its complaints about Intel's sales tactics got Intel in trouble with antitrust regulators around the world.Intel is fighting a record $1.45 billion antitrust fine in Europe and separate cases in South Korea and New York state. Earlier this month, it squashed the harshest antitrust case it has faced yet by settling with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Last year it also settled with AMD for $1.25 billion.McAfee has about 6,100 employees and $1.93 billion in revenue last year. Intel had 79,800 employees and $35.13 billion in revenue.

Indian middle class new engine of global growth: ADB

Asia's middle class population, led by China and India, will replace the role of the US and Europe as engines of growth for the world economy, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in New Delhi on Thursday.Asian consumers are likely to spend $32 trillion by 2030, accounting for 43 per cent of global total consumption, the ADB said."Developing Asia's rapidly expanding middle class is likely to assume the traditional role of the US and Europe as primary global consumers and help rebalance the global economy," ADB said in its annual statistical report.Asia's middle class – those consuming between $2 and $20 per day, as per the ADB – has grown from 21 per cent of the entire Asian population in 1990 to 56 per cent, or 1.9 billion people, in 2008, the ADB said in its report on 'Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific'.ADB Chief Economist Jong-Wha Lee, while speaking to the press after the launch of the report, said Asia's middle class population is likely to grow to 2.7 billion by 2030 from the current 1.9 billion people."Asia's consumers spent an estimated $4.3 trillion (in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars), or about one-third of OECD consumption expenditure, in 2008 and by 2030, will likely spend $32 trillion, comprising about 43 per cent of the worldwide consumption," it said.Lee said the middle class in Asia is rapidly increasing its size and purchasing power and will be an increasingly important force in global economic rebalancing. While China has 817 million middle class people, India has 274 million."Asia will be able to move away from export-led to domestic-led consumption growth and reduce its exposure to negative external shocks, such as the 2008 global financial crisis, which began in the US," the report said.On India, the ADB report said the innovative and cheaply priced products like Tata Motor's $2,200 Nano car, Godrej group's $70 battery-operated refrigerator and cheap mobile phone rates targeted at India's booming middle class are helping spur domestic consumption and growth.However, the regional development bank said India's middle class remains vulnerable to economic shocks and carefully calibrated policy measures will be needed to sustain income gains in the longer term."More than 75 per cent of the country's middle class remain in the $2 to $4 daily consumption bracket, the lower end of the range of $2 to $20, leaving them at risk of falling back into poverty in the event of a major economic shock," the bank said.To help unlock the full potential of the Indian middle class as consumers and drivers of growth, the government must continue to remove structural and policy impediments to development and improve income distribution, it said.

IT giants bet big on cloud computing for revenues

Steve Ballmer, Narayan Murthy or Azim Premji, the icons of the IT industry, are all talking about cloud computing.Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand. It has three parts: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).Cloud computing becomes important in a market like India which has plenty of small and medium size businesses of Rs. 50-200 crore in size, that want to grow but don’t have the ability to commit to hefty capital expenditure upfront.Clouds are nothing but infrastructure or data centers that can be used and paid for on an usage basis.So, from storing your data to software applications to database servers all are available on demand on rented basis."We are into software and are not into hardware. We will have to make strategic alliances to offer cloud computing. We are looking at cloud computing as a big opportunity," said S Mahalingam, ED and CFO of TCS.Indian market is expected to offer a market opportunity of about $4-5 billion in 2 years time. Of which about 30 per cent will be in the small and medium size businesses.Nearly 10 per cent of the total IT spending globally is projected to be in cloud that amounts to almost $50 billion.But still Indian IT companies may lag behind in capitalising on cloud opportunities to their global peer."The Indian players realise their lack of bandwidth in cloud computing offerings and say forming alliance across hardware and software vendors is need of the hour...investments at an early stage is critical," said Milan Sheth, partner, technology advisory services, at consultancy Ernst and Young."We have formed a separate cloud computing innovation center. We are investing in it and we see a significant part of our revenue coming from there in future," said Sujay Sen, head – cloud practice at L&T Infotech.In a survey by E&Y titled ‘Cloud adoption in India — Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)’, over 72 per cent of the Indian IT infrastructure firms surveyed said they will adopt cloud computing in a big way over the next 2-3 years.Cloud computing is not a novel concept as it has been there for a while but dormant. Industry experts say the market space is far more ready now with last mile connectivity in place to adopt cloud and India will be a key market.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vedanta to buy majority stake in Cairn India

Vedanta Resources said Monday that it would buy from Cairn Energy a stake in its Indian subsidiary for up to $9.6 billion in cash, acquiring with the deal Cairn’s huge Rajasthan oil field with plans to bolster India’s domestic oil production.Vedanta, headed by the mining billionaire Anil Agarwal and headquartered in London, said it would pay 405 rupees, or $8.66, per share of Cairn India, a premium of about 32 percent over recent share prices.The company will buy between 21 and 40 percent of Cairn India, while collaborating with the Indian iron ore producer Sesa Goa to make a tender offer for another 20 percent of Cairn diluted shares.Vedanta said it was financing the deal with debt and internal cash reserves, and intended to build up an “Indian natural resources champion” using the company that produces 125,000 barrels of crude per day from the Rajasthan field, and which sits on an estimated 6.5 billion barrels of oil and gas.“Cairn India represents a unique oil and gas exploration and production platform with the second-largest reserves in India among private sector oil companies, a proven management team, and low-cost production,” Vedanta said.India currently needs to import two-thirds of the oil it consumes to fuel its dramatic economic growth, with that share expected to increase in coming years — a trend Vedanta hopes to curb.Cairn, which now owns 62.4 percent of its Indian arm, said in a separate statement Monday that much of the cash would go to its shareholders, with the rest financing exploration in Greenland, where it has a major presence. The company, based in Scotland, will keep a minority stake in Cairn India of between 10 percent and 21 percent.Cairn India, listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the country.The deal is expected to close by the first quarter of next year at the latest. It has been cleared with regulators but awaits shareholder approval at both companies.Standard Chartered Bank led the financing and advising of Vedanta, with J.P. Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley serving as joint lead advisers and sponsors, and Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs acting for joint financing and advising.

The proposed takeover of Cairn Energy's India business could see NRI billionaire Anil Agarwal emerging as the richest promoter of a corporate house ahead of Mukesh Ambani, who has ruled the list for a long time.After the acquisition of Cairn India and a proposed IPO of group firm Sterlite Energy, Anil Agarwal, as head of the promoter family, would command an estimated networth of close to Rs. 1,67,000 crore, ahead of Mukesh Ambani at Rs. 1,45,275 crore, a comparison of promoter family holding valuations for leading groups reveals. (Pics: Wealthiest Indians)However, Mukesh-led RIL is a wealthier group than Agarwal's Vedanta, although both are behind the Tatas, whose market capitalisation in terms of listed entities is over Rs. 3,70,000 crore.However, in terms of promoters' wealth, Tata group chief Ratan Tata hardly compares to either Mukesh or Agarwal. In their own respective fields of business, Agarwal is a global leader in the metals and mining, while Mukesh is among the top-ranked international players in the fields of petrochemicals and largest private sector oil group in India.Agarwal is now entering oil business through the Cairn India acquisition and his capacity to play to the size could now make competition intense in oil sector. At the same time, the acquisition would give the Agarwal family double the size of Anil Ambani group (whose promoter wealth currently stands at less than Rs. 80,000 crore).The USD 9.6 billion takeover of Cairn India has already pushed Vedanta group head Anil Agarwal to the second position after Mukesh Ambani in terms of family net worth, measured in terms of value of shares held as promoters in five listed group companies.Add to this, the value of shares he holds in aluminium major Balco and IPO-bound group firm Sterlite Energy, the promoter family wealth of Anil Agarwal group could rise to nearly Rs. 1,66,938 crore.In comparison, the promoter family wealth of Mukesh Ambani group currently stands at Rs. 1,45,276 crore, based on the value of promoter holdings in two listed group firms Reliance Industries and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure. Without Sterlite Energy, which has proposed an initial public offer of Rs. 5,100 crore, and Balco, where Vedanta group has 51 per cent stake, the total promoter family networth of the Vedanta group currently stands at Rs. 1,38,465 crore.This includes the value of promoter shares in Sterlite, Hindustan Zinc, Sesa Goa (all listed in India) and that in UK-listed Vedanta Resources, as also the worth of proposed 60 per cent stake in Cairn India proposed to be purchased from Scotland-based Cairn Energy.The total networth would rise by over Rs. 28,000 crore if Balco is taken at par with its peer group company Nalco, which has a market cap of Rs. 25,830 crore, and the group offloads 25 per cent stake in Sterlite Energy to raise Rs. 5,100 crore.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

PowerGrid mulls foray into telecom-tower business

In a bid to unlock the value of its tower assets prior to the proposed follow-on offer, state-run PowerGrid Corporation of India is likely to foray into telecom-tower business, a top company official said."PowerGrid is mulling venturing into telecom-tower business either by forming a new company or through a joint venture," the company official who did not wish to be identified told PTI.Leasing out the towers to some of the existing players is also being considered, he said. "...but everything is in the preliminary stage." The company has approached global auditing firm KPMG to prepare a report on the diversification and the same is expected in one month, the official said.PowerGrid owns over 1.5 lakh power transmission towers in the length and breadth of India, with almost 70 per cent of them located in semi-urban and rural areas, which will make it the largest telecom tower company in the country.With the rolling out of 3G services that need higher tower density for better services, the prospects of PowerGrid in the new business is brighter and the expected revenue generation may go up to a few thousand crores based on the tenancy ratio, the official said.At this moment, the company is trying to assess the number of its power transmission towers to be used for the telecom business. "The valuation will vary based on different geographies," he said.PowerGrid diversified into the telecom sector four years ago which offers end-to-end leasing of bandwidth to telecom operators, through its overhead transmission infrastructure.The company owns fibre-optic network of 20,000 km which will be expanded to 30,000 km by 2012.Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications are among the customers of its telecom division, which generates annual revenue of Rs. 150 crore."We expect a multi-fold increase in revenue once we enter into telecom-tower business," the official said.According to analysts, the move will help the Government to fix the FPO price band close to Rs. 150. The shares of the company were traded at Rs. 102 on Aug 13 at BSE.

China passes Japan as second-largest economy

After three decades of spectacular growth, China passed Japan in the second quarter to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States, according to government figures released early Monday.The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is for real and that the rest of the world will have to reckon with a new economic superpower.The recognition came early Monday, when Tokyo said that Japan’s economy was valued at about $1.28 trillion in the second quarter, slightly below China’s $1.33 trillion. Japan’s economy grew 0.4 percent in the quarter, Tokyo said, substantially less than forecast. That weakness suggests that China’s economy will race past Japan’s for the full year.Experts say unseating Japan — and in recent years passing Germany, France and Great Britain — underscores China’s growing clout and bolsters forecasts that China will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030. America’s gross domestic product was about $14 trillion in 2009.“This has enormous significance,” said Nicholas R. Lardy, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It reconfirms what’s been happening for the better part of a decade: China has been eclipsing Japan economically. For everyone in China’s region, they’re now the biggest trading partner rather than the U.S. or Japan.”For Japan, whose economy has been stagnating for more than a decade, the figures reflect a decline in economic and political power. Japan has had the world’s second-largest economy for much of the last four decades, according to the World Bank. And during the 1980s, there was even talk about Japan’s economy some day overtaking that of the United States.But while Japan’s economy is mature and its population quickly aging, China is in the throes of urbanization and is far from developed, analysts say, meaning it has a much lower standard of living, as well as a lot more room to grow. Just five years ago, China’s gross domestic product was about $2.3 trillion, about half of Japan’s.This country has roughly the same land mass as the United States, but it is burdened with a fifth of the world’s population and insufficient resources.Its per capita income is more on a par with those of impoverished nations like Algeria, El Salvador and Albania — which, along with China, are close to $3,600 — than that of the United States, where it is about $46,000.Yet there is little disputing that under the direction of the Communist Party, China has begun to reshape the way the global economy functions by virtue of its growing dominance of trade, its huge hoard of foreign exchange reserves and United States government debt and its voracious appetite for oil, coal, iron ore and other natural resources.China is already a major driver of global growth. The country’s leaders have grown more confident on the international stage and have begun to assert greater influence in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with things like special trade agreements and multibillion dollar resource deals.“They’re exerting a lot of influence on the global economy and becoming dominant in Asia,” said Eswar S. Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell and former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division. “A lot of other economies in the region are essentially riding on China’s coat tails, and this is remarkable for an economy with a low per capita income.”In Japan, the mood was one of resignation. Though increasingly eclipsed by Beijing on the world stage, Japan has benefited from a booming China, initially by businesses moving production there to take advantage of lower wages and, as local incomes have risen, by tapping a large and increasingly lucrative market for Japanese goods.Beijing is also beginning to shape global dialogues on a range of issues, analysts said; for instance, last year it asserted that the dollar must be phased out as the world’s primary reserve currency.And while the United States and the European Union are struggling to grow in the wake of the worst economic crisis in decades, China has continued to climb up the economic league tables by investing heavily in infrastructure and backing a $586 billion stimulus plan.This year, although growth has begun to moderate a bit, China’s economy is forecast to expand about 10 percent — continuing a remarkable three-decade streak of double-digit growth.“This is just the beginning,” said Wang Tao, an economist at UBS in Beijing. “China is still a developing country. So it has a lot of room to grow. And China has the biggest impact on commodity prices — in Russia, India, Australia and Latin America.”There are huge challenges ahead, though. Economists say that China’s economy is too heavily dependent on exports and investment and that it needs to encourage greater domestic consumption — something China has struggled to do.The country’s largely state-run banks have recently been criticized for lending far too aggressively in the last year while shifting some loans off their balance sheet to disguise lending and evade rules meant to curtail lending growth.China is also locked in a fierce debate over its currency policy, with the United States, European Union and others accusing Beijing of keeping the Chinese currency, the renminbi, artificially low to bolster exports — leading to huge trade surpluses for China but major bilateral trade deficits for the United States and the European Union. China says that its currency is not substantially undervalued and that it is moving ahead with currency reform.Regardless, China’s rapid growth suggests that it will continue to compete fiercely with the United States and Europe for natural resources but also offer big opportunities for companies eager to tap its market.Although its economy is still only one-third the size of the American economy, China passed the United States last year to become the world’s largest market for passenger vehicles. China also passed Germany last year to become the world’s biggest exporter.Global companies like Caterpillar, General Electric, General Motors and Siemens — as well as scores of others — are making a more aggressive push into China, in some cases moving research and development centers here.Some analysts, though, say that while China is eager to assert itself as a financial and economic power — and to push its state companies to “go global” — it is reluctant to play a greater role in the debate over climate change or how to slow the growth of greenhouse gases.China passed the United States in 2006 to become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which scientists link to global warming. But China also has an ambitious program to cut the energy it uses for each unit of economic output by 20 percent by the end of 2010, compared to 2006.Assessing what China’s newfound clout means, though, is complicated. While the country is still relatively poor per capita, it has an authoritarian government that is capable of taking decisive action — to stimulate the economy, build new projects and invest in specific industries.That, Mr. Lardy at the Peterson Institute said, gives the country unusual power. “China is already the primary determiner of the price of virtually every major commodity,” he said. “And the Chinese government can be much more decisive in allocating resources in a way that other governments of this level of per capita income cannot.”

Seven Millionaire Myths

We all have are preconceptions about millionaires: they're tax evaders who just inherited their money from rich Aunt Flo, and they hang around the golf course all day with their snobby, elitist friends. So what's the average millionaire really like? Here are seven millionaire myths, and the real facts about the ones who seem to have it all.
1. Millionaires Don't Pay Their TaxesFact: It is estimated that millionaires, those in the top 1% of earners, pay about 40 percent of all taxes. Current tax regulation shifts may change these numbers to make this even larger than that -- so think twice before accusing the millionaires in America of not paying taxes.
2. Millionaires Just Inherited Their MoneyAccording to Thomas J. Stanley's book, "The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy," only 20% of millionaires inherited their riches. The other 80% are what you'd call nouveau riche: first-generation millionaires who earned their cash on their own. Many millionaires simply worked, saved, and lived within their means to generate their wealth -- think accountants and managers: regular people going to work every day. Most millionaires didn't get their riches overnight when a rich relative died -- they worked for the money.
3. Millionaires Feel RichFrom the outside looking in, you would think that millionaires feel rich and secure, but that's not so. Most millionaires worry about retirement, their kids' college fund and the mortgage just like the rest of us. Those worries are greatest among new millionaires, the people who just recently acquired their wealth.
[Click here to check savings products and rates in your area.]
4. Millionaires Have High-Paying JobsIt certainly doesn't hurt to be gainfully employed, but half of all millionaires are self-employed or own a business. It does help to have a college degree, as about 80 percent are college graduates, though only 18% have master's degrees.
5. Millionaires All Drive Fancy CarsYou can get that idea of the rich guy in a fancy German car out of your head when you think of a millionaire: They actually drive a Ford, with the carmaker topping the millionaire preferred car list at 9.4 percent. Cadillacs run second on the millionaires' favorite car list, and Lincolns third according to onmoneymaking.com.
[See the Rare $100,000 Bill]
Car payments are an investment with little return, which is why someone looking to grow wealth avoids high-priced vehicles in favor of a more economical set of wheels.
6. Millionaires Hang Around the Golf Course All DayThose millionaires are all retired, with nothing else to do but hang around the golf course, right? Wrong. Only 20 percent of millionaires are retirees, with a full 80 percent still going to work. It's not as glamorous or fun, but millionaires go to work just like you do; it's how the money gets in the bank.
7. Millionaires Are ElitistsWe've already established that most millionaires earned their money and not inherited it, still go to work, drive a Ford, and worry about their kids' college expenses. Sounds a lot like the rest of America, right? Millionaires come in all shapes and sizes -- some may be elitists, but most are just regular Joes who successfully managed their money.
[5 Billionaire Habits That Can Make You Richer]
The Bottom LineMaybe you see a pattern here: Today's millionaires are people who live within their means, budget and spend wisely, and focus on financial independence first. These are habits that take discipline, but ones we can all adopt to begin growing wealth. If these facts prove anything, it's that every one of us can strive to become a millionaire -- you can start by driving your old car with pride.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aerial images being used to enforce laws

On New York's Long Island, it's used to prevent drownings. In Greece, it's a tool to help solve a financial crisis. Municipalities update property assessment rolls and other government data with it. Some in law enforcement use it to supplement reconnaissance of crime suspects.
High-tech eyes in the sky — from satellite imagery to sophisticated aerial photography that maps entire communities — are being employed in creative new ways by government officials, a trend that civil libertarians and others fear are eroding privacy rights.
"As technology advances, we have to revisit questions about what is and what is not private information," said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology.
Online services like Google and Bing give users very detailed images of practically any location on the planet. Though some images are months old, they make it possible for someone sitting in a living room in Brooklyn to look in on folks in Dublin or Prague, or even down the street in Flatbush.
Sean Walter, an attorney and first-term town supervisor in Riverhead, N.Y., insists he is a staunch defender of privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
But Walter supported using Google Earth images to help identify about 250 Riverhead homes where residents failed to get building permits certifying their swimming pools complied with safety regulations. All but about 10 eventually came to town hall.
Walter said the focus was safety, not filling town coffers with permit money, which averaged about $150 depending on the size of the pool. A 4-foot fence is required, gates have to be self-closing and padlocked. All pools must have an alarm that sounds when sensors are activated indicating someone is in the pool.
"We have a town employee who is a personal friend of mine whose son was found face-down in a swimming pool," Walter said. "He's OK, but I don't want to be the supervisor that attends the funeral of a child that drowns in a swimming pool."
Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., fears that while Walter's focus was safety, other municipalities may use the images to check for other transgressions.
"It's only a matter of time," Coney said. "There are lots of ordinances where this can be used. In California, where they deal with brush fires, could a satellite image show if a homeowner has brush growing too close to his home? What if someone has junk cars on their lot in violation of ordinances?"
Riverhead resident Tony Villar said the town's action "could be considered Big Brother looking down at you."
"But at the same time, if the government can listen to your telephone conversations in the name of terrorism," he said.
Standing outside the Riverhead Public Library, Walter Casey of Flanders agreed. "I think it's a great intrusion on people's privacy; they should use it on the politicians' backyards."
The New York Civil Liberties Union's Donna Lieberman said there are ways to enforce requirements "without this sort of engaging in Big Brother on high. Technically, it may be lawful, but in the gut it does not feel like a free society kind of operation."
In Greece, officials are struggling with a debt crisis and have sought to catch tax-evaders by using satellite photos to spot undeclared swimming pools — indicators of taxable wealth.
Google spokeswoman Kate Hurowitz said in a statement that Google Earth acquires its information from a broad range of commercial and public sources.
"The same information is available to anyone who buys it from these widely available public sources," she said. "Google's freely available technology has been used for a variety of purposes, ranging from travel planning to scientific research to emergency response, rescue and relief in natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake."
At least nine lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed in the United States, contending that Google collected fragments of e-mails, Web-surfing data and other information from unencrypted wireless networks as it photographed neighborhoods for its "Street View" feature. Google is also facing investigations or inquiries in 38 states as well as in several countries, including Germany, Spain and Australia.
The Mountain View, Calif., company said in May it had inadvertently collected the data from public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries, but maintains it never used the data and hasn't broken any laws.
Google Earth posts updates about every two weeks on selected images from its providers, with images ranging from a few weeks to a few years old.
For big cities like Chicago, tracking illegal pools, porches and decks through Google Earth requires frequent imaging updates, so the Chicago buildings department uses it as a reference tool on a case-by-case scenario, said spokesman Bill McCaffrey.
"We're not opposed to adopting new technology, but until it advances where we can get photos of more recent updates, we don't have any plans to implement it," he said.
Smaller towns such as Champaign and Naperville, Ill. opted to use satellite images as reference only.
"Mostly it's so we can see that we're going to the right building when we go to do inspections," said Ann Michalsen, lead inspector for code enforcement in Naperville.
It's also important for police officers to know they have the right destination when executing search warrants, said Joe Pollini, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Most departments would use it as a preliminary step, but they would also use active surveillance with their own aircraft," he said.
The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog is seeking to determine the extent of the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration's use of Google Earth in its investigations, spokesman John M. Simpson said last week.
Federal contracting records reviewed by Consumer Watchdog show that the FBI has spent more than $600,000 on Google Earth since 2007. The Drug Enforcement Administration, meanwhile, has spent more than $67,000.
Simpson has called on Congress to investigate how U.S. law enforcement and intelligence communities are using Google technologies. The group says it has concerns that data could be used for racial profiling.
The New York Police Department's Real Time Crime Center uses satellite imaging and computerized mapping systems to identify geographic patterns of crimes and to pinpoint possible addresses where suspects might flee — information relayed to investigators on the street. The NYPD also has two major security initiatives where a network of public and private cameras will eventually link and be searchable.
The NYCLU has filed lawsuits in opposition.
"We live in an environment where we are told that if it's on camera, if you have a video record, that will make us safer," Lieberman said. "That may be appealing, but it is an unproven assertion. There's no evidence of that. Yet we see millions, if not billions, of post-9/11 money has gone to law enforcement for installing cameras in every conceivable nook and cranny."


Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh's address from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day:"Dear citizens,I greet you on the 63rd anniversary of our independence. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the Tricolour on this historic Red Fort, on 15th August, 1947, he called himself the first servant of India. I address you today in the same spirit of service. A few days back, many precious lives were lost in Ladakh due to a cloud burst. I convey my heartfelt condolences to the family members and other near and dear ones of those who have perished. In this hour of grief, the whole country stands with the people of Ladakh. It is my assurance that the Central Government will do everything possible for rehabilitation of the affected people.

When I addressed you last year on Independence Day, our country was facing a number of difficulties. There was a drought like situation in many parts of the country. We were also affected by the global economic slowdown. I am happy to say that we have acquitted ourselves well in these difficult circumstances. Despite many problems, the rate of our economic growth has been better than most other countries in the world. This shows the strength of our economy. This strength has been evident not only in the last one year but also in our economic progress in the last many years. Today, India stands among the fastest growing economies of the world. As the world's largest democracy, we have become an example for many other countries to emulate. Our citizens have the right to make their voice heard.

Our country is viewed with respect all over the world. Our views command attention in international fora. All of you have contributed to India's success. The hard work of our workers, our artisans, our farmers has brought our country to where it stands today. I specially salute our soldiers whose bravery ensures the safety of our borders. I pay tribute to all those martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for our country. We are building a new India in which every citizen would have a stake, an India which would be prosperous and in which all citizens would be able to live a life of honour and dignity in an environment of peace and goodwill. An India in which all problems could be solved through democratic means. An India in which the basic rights of every citizen would be protected. In the last few years, we have taken many significant steps in this direction. Every person living in rural areas now has the assurance of 100 days of employment through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The Right to Information Act is helping our citizens to become more aware.

This year our Government has enacted the Right to Education which will help every Indian to share in the benefits of the country's economic progress and also to contribute to it. To ensure equal partnership of women in our progress, we have taken initiative for reservation for women in Parliament and in State legislatures. Apart from this, reservation for women has been increased to 50 per cent in local bodies. Despite our many strengths, we face some serious challenges. We should resolve today that we will meet these challenges as one people. Our society often gets divided in the name of religion, State, caste or language. We should resolve that we will not allow divisions in our society under any circumstance. Tolerance and generosity have been a part of our traditions.

We should strengthen these traditions. As we progress economically our society should also become more sensitive. We should be modern and progressive in our outlook. Our Government has laid special emphasis on the welfare of our farmers and on increasing agricultural production. After we came to power in 2004, we realized that the state of Indian agriculture in the preceding 7-8 years was not satisfactory. Our Government increased public investment in agriculture. We started new schemes for increasing production. We encouraged agricultural planning at the district level. I am happy that the growth rate of our agriculture has increased substantially in the last few years. But we are still far from achieving our goal. We need to work harder so that we can increase the agricultural growth rate to 4 per cent per annum. Our Government wants a food safety net in which no citizen of ours would go hungry. This requires enhanced agricultural production which is possible only by increasing productivity.

Our country has not witnessed any big technological breakthrough in agriculture after the Green Revolution. We need technology which would address the needs of dry land agriculture. In addition, our agriculture should also be able to deal with new challenges like climate change, falling levels of ground water and deteriorating quality of soil. In the history of Indian agriculture, Norman Borlaug commands a special place. About 40 to 50 years back he developed new and more productive seeds of wheat. Under the leadership of Smt Indira Gandhiji, India achieved the Green Revolution by adopting these seeds. I am happy to announce that the Borlaug Institute of South Asia is being established in India. This institute would facilitate availability of new and improved seeds and new technology to the farmers of India and other countries of South Asia.

We have always taken care to provide remunerative prices to farmers so that they are encouraged to increase production. Support prices have been increased every year in the last six years. The support price for wheat was enhanced to Rs.1,100 per quintal last year from Rs.630 per quintal in 2003-04. In paddy, this increase was from Rs.550 per quintal to Rs.1,000 per quintal. But one effect of providing higher prices to farmers is that food prices in the open market also increase. I know that in the last few months high inflation has caused you difficulties. It is the poor who are the worst affected by rising prices, especially when the prices of commodities of everyday use like food grains, pulses, vegetables increase. It is for this reason that we have endeavored to minimize the burden of increased prices on the poor.

Today, I do not want to go into the detailed reasons for high inflation. But, I would certainly like to say that we are making every possible effort to tackle this problem. I am also confident that we will succeed in these efforts. It is obvious that any person or institution cannot spend more than his income over a long period of time, even if it is the Government. It is our responsibility that we manage our economy with prudence so that our development is not affected adversely in the future because of high debt. We import about 80 per cent of our requirement of petroleum products. After 2004, we have increased the prices of petroleum products much less compared to the increase in the price of crude oil in the international market.

The subsidy on petroleum products has been increasing every year. It had become necessary therefore to increase the prices of petroleum products. If this had not been done, it would not have been possible for our budget to bear the burden of subsidy and our programmes for education, health and employment of the poor would have been adversely affected.In the 63 years after independence, India has covered a long distance on the path of development. But our destination is still far away. A large part of our population still suffers from persistent poverty, hunger and disease.

When our Government came to power in 2004, we resolved to build a new India under a progressive social agenda. We wanted the fruits of development to reach the common man. We initiated programmes especially targeted to the welfare of the socially and economically backward sections of our society. We still stand committed to the welfare of the poor, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, minorities, women and other backward sections of our society. But today we do not need many new programmes to achieve our goals. However, we do need to implement the schemes we have already started more effectively, minimizing the chances of corruption and misuse of public money.

We want to achieve this in partnership with the State Governments, Panchayat Raj Institutions and civil society groups. Secularism is one of the pillars of our democracy. It has been the tradition of our country and society to treat all religions with equal respect. For centuries India has welcomed new religions and all have flourished here. Secularism is also our constitutional obligation. Our Government is committed to maintain communal peace and harmony. We also consider it our duty to protect the minorities and provide for their special needs. This is why we have started many new programmes in the last four years for the welfare of our brothers and sisters belonging to the minority communities.

These include scholarships for minority students and special programmes for the development of districts which have a high concentration of minorities. These schemes have shown good results. We will vigorously take this work forward. We have been giving special attention to education and health in the last six years. Improvement in these two areas is an important component of our strategy for inclusive growth. It is also necessary for higher economic growth in the years to come.

After independence, these two areas could not get the importance they deserved. We tried to change this state of affairs in the 11th Plan. Today, almost every child in our country has access to primary education. Now, we need to pay more attention to secondary and higher education. We also need to improve the quality of education at all levels. It is our endeavour that every child, irrespective of whether he is rich or poor and which section of the society he belongs to, should be given an education that enables him to realize his potential and makes him a responsible citizen of our country. We will continue to implement the new schemes that we have started in the last six years in the areas of education and health with sincerity and hard work and in partnership with the State Governments.

We will soon bring a Bill to Parliament for constitution of two separate councils in higher education and health respectively so that reforms in these two areas can be accelerated. Nutritious food and good health services are necessary but not enough for ensuring good health of our citizens. We also need cleanliness and good sanitation in our villages, towns and cities. There are many diseases which would be difficult to prevent otherwise. The truth is that our country lags behind in this area. I consider it a primary responsibility of all our citizens to maintain cleanliness and hygiene around them.

I would like our children to be taught the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in schools from the very beginning under a campaign for a Clean India. I appeal to the State Governments, Panchayat Raj Institutions, civil society groups and common citizens to make this campaign successful. Mahatma Gandhi had said that our earth has enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed. Imprudent use of the earth's natural resources has resulted in the problem of climate change. We need to use our natural resources with care and prudence. It is our responsibility towards the coming generations to protect and preserve our forests, rivers and mountains.

Our government will endeavour to take care of environmental concerns in our projects for economic development. There is a large deficit in our physical infrastructure which affects our economic development adversely. There is a shortfall in the supply of electricity to industries. Our roads, ports and airports are not of world standards. We have been trying to increase electricity production and improve our roads, ports and airports. The resources required to create good physical infrastructure are difficult for the Government alone to mobilize. Therefore, we have endeavoured to involve the private sector in our efforts.

The steps that we have taken after 2004 to improve our physical infrastructure have started bearing fruit now. About one and half a months back, I dedicated a new terminal of the Delhi airport to the nation. This is an excellent terminal which has been completed in record time. We will continue to make such efforts to improve our physical infrastructure. There has been much discussion recently on the issue of internal security. If law and order in any part of India deteriorates or peace and harmony gets disturbed, the common man is adversely affected. Therefore, it is one of the primary responsibilities of any government to maintain law and order so that the citizens can live and earn their livelihood in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Naxalism is a serious challenge to our internal security.

I pay tribute to the men and officers of our security forces who have became martyrs in the attacks by Naxalites in the last few months. I have stated this before and I say it again - our Government will fully discharge its responsibility to protect each and every citizen of our country. We will deal firmly with those who resort to violence. We will provide all possible help to State Governments to maintain the rule of law in areas affected by Naxalism. I once again appeal to Naxalites to abjure violence, come for talks with the Government and join hands with us to accelerate social and economic development. A few days back I took a meeting with the Chief Ministers of States affected by Naxalism.

We will fully implement the consensus that emerged in that meeting. I would like to repeat here a point that I made in that meeting. It is imperative that Centre and States work together to meet the challenge of Naxalism. It would be very difficult for any State to tackle this problem without cooperation from the Centre and coordination between States. We all need to rise above our personal and political interests to meet this challenge. As I have stated earlier, most Naxalite affected areas lag behind in development. Many such areas also have a large concentration of our adivasi brothers and sisters. We want to end the neglect of these areas. I have asked the Planning Commission to formulate a comprehensive scheme towards this end, which we would implement fully.

It is also our endeavour that our adivasi brothers and sisters join the mainstream of development. They have been dependent on forest produce for centuries and this dependence should not end without the creation of new sources of livelihood. Apart from adequate compensation for land which is acquired from them, we should also ensure that our adivasi brothers and sisters have a stake in the developmental project being undertaken. I would like to state one more thing in this context.

It is very necessary to make the administrative machinery more sensitive in areas affected by Naxalism. The government officials who work there should not only be sincere but should also be alive to the special needs of our adivasi brothers and sisters. It is my hope that the State Governments will pay adequate attention to these requirements. We have a special responsibility towards the States of the North East. We are trying to live up to that responsibility. The North Eastern part of our country has been witness to some unpleasant incidents in the recent months. I would like to convey to all political parties and groups of the North East that disputes in the name of State or tribe can only harm all of us. Discussion and dialogue are the only options to resolve complex issues.

As far as the Central Government is concerned, we are ready to take forward every process of talks which could lead to progress in resolution of problems. In Jammu and Kashmir, we are ready to talk to every person or group which abjures violence. Kashmir is an integral part of India. Within this framework, we are ready to move forward in any talks which would increase the partnership of the common man in governance and also enhance their welfare. Recently, some young men have lost their lives in violence in Jammu and Kashmir. We deeply regret this. The years of violence should now end. Such violence would not benefit anyone.

I believe that India's democracy has the generosity and flexibility to be able to address the concerns of any area or group in the country. I recently participated in a meeting with political parties from Jammu and Kashmir. We will endeavour to take this process forward. I would like to convey to our countrymen, especially our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North East, that they should adopt democratic means to join hands with us for their land country's welfare. We want prosperity, peace and harmony in our neighbouring countries. Whatever differences we have with our neighbouring countries, we want to resolve them through discussions. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we expect from them that they would not let their territory be used for acts of terrorism against India.

We have been emphasizing this in all our discussions with the Pakistan Government. If this is not done, we cannot progress far in our dialogue with Pakistan. I would also like to say something which is related to our glorious cultural traditions. The use of harsh and unpleasant words in our political discourse has increased in recent days. This is against our traditions of generosity, humility and tolerance. Criticism has a place of its own in a democracy and in a progressive society. However, criticism should not be undignified. We should have the capacity to reconcile opposite points of view on important issues through debate and discussion. I would request all political parties to consider this issue.

The Commonwealth Games will start in Delhi after about one and a half months. This will be a proud moment for the whole country and especially for Delhi. I am convinced that all our countrymen will treat the Games as a national festival and will leave no stone unturned to make them a success. The successful organization of Commonwealth Games would be another signal to the world that India is rapidly marching ahead with confidence. Our future is bright.The day when our dreams will come true is not far off. Let us all resolve on this anniversary of our independence that we will keep the flag of our nation flying high. Let us march ahead together on the path of progress and prosperity.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Super-bug named after New Delhi bugs India

There's a new bug in town, a superbug that can spread rapidly. It is extremely immune to antibiotics claim researchers in Britain. (Read: Government's clarification)So what exactly is this Bug. It's called NDM1, that stands for New Delhi Metallo-1. Considered to be extremely infectious in nature, the bug is completely resistant from all antibiotics known at present. (Read: Why superbug NDM1 is considered hard-core).

"It's not a single superbug, rather, it's a type of resistance that's been spreading about among different bacteria. The bacteria that pick up this resistance are resistant to virtually all the good antibiotics," said Professor David Livermore, Health Protection. But what's bugging India is that it is stinking of a conspiracy. A Conspiracy that could damage India's flourishing medical tourism that attract thousands of patients from the west. Most come to India in the lookout for high quality treatment at cheaper costs. Questions are now being raised about why the research was sponsored by two big pharmaceutical companies that may gain from the findings?Moreover, the Indian Health Ministry says the research is not supported by scientific data and has rubbished the conclusions. Also, furious about the bacteria named after the capital of the country, India is only reiterating the conspiracy theory. (Read: MNCs may be behind superbug 'propaganda', say MPs) "This phenomena is not India centric, the superbug is everywhere. It is wrong to blame India, its hospitals, and our drug policy. Indian hospitals are world class. This gives a very wrong message. We will register protest," said V M Katoch, Secretary, Department of Medical Research.However, the medical journal that published the study, Lancet, is highly respected and the report is being taken seriously.In case, there is a new highly resistant bacteria then it could affect millions of people in India. The most asked question at the moment is, what steps should India and Indians take to ensure it doesn't spread?The superbug theory is making headlines and the debate seems to be only heating up. Amidst all, a set doctors believe that the need of the hour is to gather more information about this virus. They say that the Indian government should order a detailed investigation into the matter rather than just rejecting the findings outright.Also, steps should be taken immediately to counter the possible spread of the bacteria.

Did the superbug evolve in India and has medical tourism contributed to its spread across the world? Closer reading of the research paper published in the British journal Lancet Infectious Diseases presents a very different picture. Suggestions that India is the fountainhead of this drug resistant bug are probably erroneous. (Read: Asian super bug hits the UK)Evidence suggests that the bug may possibly have been inadvertently introduced into India. (Read: Government refutes Lancet report on superbug study)Out of the 37 samples collected in UK, only 17 samples had history of travel to India or Pakistan. So, a question arises as to where did the rest 20 people contract this superbug? Also, the authors themselves admit that there is no genetic similarity between the UK and Indian strains. And the very first alert issued by the UK government on January 30, 2009, makes no mention of India. Instead, it lists presence of the bug in Greece, USA and Israel.

Moving on to the other part: If medical tourism is to blame for the spread of this super bug, how come Rohtak, Guwahati, and of all places Port Blair, are home to the bug and find mention in the research? They are not certainly hot destinations for medical treatment. (Read: Superbug named after New Delhi bugs India) (Read: Govt clarification on 'superbug' traced to India)Confirming this to NDTV, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr V M Katoch said India may have actually been a victim of this bug, since it is spontaneously evolving all over the world."India is definitely not the source of origin of this so called superbug, it is omnipresent across the globe," Katoch said. (Read: Why superbug NDM1 is considered hard-core)Indian medical experts say the researchers may have flagged an important emergent problem, but to blame it on India's health system was stretching it too far. Health ministry is now planning to write a strong formal rejoinder to the journal refuting these findings.

Ratan Tata refers to Taj as venerable old lady

Tata Group's flagship property Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, that is scheduled to reopen formally on August 15, almost 2 years after the 26/11 attacks, was described as a venerable old lady by its Chairman Ratan Tata."I won’t burden everybody with a speech but say a few words on this special occasion. This flagship property is a venerable old lady and is going to reopen with the splendor that it has enjoyed for over a century," Tata said while addressing a select gathering of hotel staff and guests at the formal announcement for the opening, in Mumbai on Thursday.The new and renovated Taj will open its doors to its guests this Sunday when the country celebrates its 62nd Independence Day.Tata was composed yet delighted when he said that the restoration of the 107-year-old iconic building, that was build by the Tata Group's founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in 1903, was possible due to the dedication and commitment of a a team."It (restoration) was all possible due to the dedication and commitment of having worked as a team which I think the world has come to recognise," India Inc's senior statesman said.While he garlanded and paid homage to the hotel's founder and his great grand-father, the staff and crew, showered rose petals from the top floor, just behind the red dome, and pledged that they would reinvigorate their resolve, rekindle their spirit and reinvent the magic to maintain and keep alive the beauty of the "old lady".The "old lady" is still strong and standing tall, 20 months after a few Pakistani terrorists damaged it severely on November 26, killing 36 people, he said.The terrorists had blasted a 10 kg RDX-laden IED following which the red dome was engulfed by fire as also some portions of the building.Ratan Tata, had then, vowed to build the Taj brick by brick. "We will rebuild every inch," is what he had said on the reopening of the tower wing of the hotel.The 73-year-old industrialist called on the hotel's most senior and junior staff to express their feelings on the occasion.It was a heart-touching moment when the senior staff Vijay Pratap Singh, overwhelmed with the opportunity, asked Ratan Tata to pose with him.However, the hotel felt the absence of the Taj's General Manager Karambir Kang, who lost his wife and two children during the terrorist attacks. Kang's family were living in the hotel when the attacks took place.Security has been beefed up considerably and perhaps the 'freedom' with which people used to move in and out has been curtailed.Some of the guests, who had witnessed the gruesome attack, have already placed their bookings for the reopening, hotel officials said without divulging their names.The heritage wing will open with 280 rooms, including 42 grand suites, initially. The rest five such as the Pt Ravi Shankar and Tata suites, will open in September as they have not been refurbished completely.The Ravi Shankar suite is the same room where the sitar maestro used to teach Beatle-member George Harrison. In the room is a prized possession, a sitar, which was donated by Ravi Shankar.The Tata suite, with markrana marble flooring, will be kept reserved for the chief captains of states and countries. While the executive suites have a tariff of Rs. 80,000 onwards, the theme suites' prices are on request.

From Pak floods to Moscow smog, the disasters are linked

In Pakistan people are being winched to safety during floods - one of the country's worst ever natural disasters killing at least 15 hundred and affecting around 14 million. Survivors began observing the Muslim festival of Ramadan - instead of the usual celebrations - it's filled with misery and fears of an uncertain future.Soldiers battle against the damage caused by mudslides in China. Thunderstorms brought fresh misery to the northwestern region as the death toll from weekend flooding and landslides rose to 1,117.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities are struggling to cope with unprecedented high temperatures that's sparked forest fires on a scale barely recognisable there. 562 fires covering over 200 thousand acres are still burning.These cases of extreme weather are not isolated - according to the Washington-based - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Climate expert Tom Karl says the first seven months of this year saw the highest global temperatures since weather records began in 1880.Tom Karl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Services, says, "Russia and central Asia this year happen to be the epicentres of very warm conditions this summer. To accompany those warm conditions, we're seeing very heavy precipitation in the monsoon areas in Pakistan. These events are not disconnected. The climate system is connected."According to scientists the floods, fires and feverish heat aren't a warning of climate change but in fact a sign it's already happening.Tom Karl adds, "The key here is that trying to look at the patterns of changes and seasonality of changes, when you try to put that all together and understand what might be causing the changes, you walk away with, if you were a betting person, 19 chances out of 20, humans are having a major impact on why we're seeing these records."The World Climate Research Programme is due to meet next month in Paris to discuss better ways of forecasting extreme weather. However, that will be little comfort to those currently enduring the effects of the worst weather nature can impose.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Rich Is Rich?

Wealth is a subjective concept, but one thing is universal in most definitions: being able to live a comfortable life without having to work.
"I'd like to have enough money so my family and I wouldn't have to work anymore or worry about the necessities, and maybe travel a bit," said Deborah Veale, a Southern California resident visiting New York City.
Veale said she'd need about $10 million to consider herself set.
One woman from Seattle put it at a "couple thousand dollars a month." Another from New York City wanted a billion (although she'd still fly coach.)
Experts peg the figure to be somewhere around $2 million to $12 million in savings.
On the high end of that range, a single person living in an expensive part of the country (say, New York City), wanting to retire at 35 would need at least $300,000 a year to feel rich, according to Steven Kaye, president of Watchung, N.J.-based wealth management firm American Economic Planning Group. He based that number on real-life figures his clients tell him they need.
A yearly income of $300,000 would allow for taxes, a $3,800-a-month apartment (the average price in Manhattan), and a monthly spending allowance of around twelve grand, he said. Not too bad, especially since you could do this all without a pesky job.
To generate $300,000 a year beginning at age 35, you'd need a nest egg of just under $12 million. That assumes a conservative investment portfolio generating a return of 5% a year, an inflation rate of 2.5% a year and Social Security benefits of $25,000 a year starting at age 62.
Over time, the shape of your nest egg would resemble a bell curve, growing in the early years, and then declining as inflation required you to withdraw more money to maintain a lifestyle equivalent to $300,000 in 2010. The $12 million would finally dwindle to $934 when you turned 100.
If you live in a low cost part of the country, $100,000 a year should be enough, said Kaye. In that case, you would need savings of about $4 million to retire at 35.
But if you're willing to stay in the workforce until age 65, a mere $2 million would be enough.
Jon Duncan, a financial planner at Tacoma, Wash.-based Seneschal Advisors, gave numbers similar to Kaye's, and agreed that for most people, the figure would be somewhere in the multi-millions.
"I'm from an era when we'd talk about millionaires and say 'Whoa, he's got it made for life,'" said Duncan. "But that's not the case anymore."
Indeed, few experts think a million is enough to quit your day job.
"Don't retire at 35," he advised this reporter, "you'll need a ton of money."
Keeping Up With the Joneses
Of course, there are other ways of determining wealth besides just what you'll need to live well in retirement.
Although decidedly not recommended by financial planners, one is relativity. Basically, you're rich if you're making more than your brother-in-law.
That appears to be how the government measures affluence. The Obama administration wants to extend tax cuts for all but the wealthiest Americans, which it defines to be those families making more than $250,000.
But that only includes about 2% of the population, according to the Census Bureau.
Kaye cautions not to confuse wealth with income. Some people can make a million a year, but be spending a million and a half. They are not rich, said Kaye.
if"Income relates to lifestyle," he said. "Wealth relates to balance sheets."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Solar power for Rajasthan

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation on Monday released a draft “Solar Policy-2010” to tap the potential of solar energy in the State and set ambitious targets under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The Corporation has invited comments from experts, investors and public at large by July 31 for finalising the policy.

According to an official release, the objective of the policy is to establish Rajasthan as a national leader in solar energy in a phased manner by creating a framework for promoting the solar energy applications. The ultimate objective is to develop a global hub of solar power of 10,000 MW to 12,000 MW capacity in the next 10 to 12 years to meet increasing energy needs.

The State Government will also promote decentralised and off-Grid solar applications, including hybrid system, to meet various electrical and thermal energy requirements. Solar parks of more than 1,000 MW capacity each will be developed in Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer and Jodhpur districts.

As part of the policy, the State Government will act as facilitator to attract global investment and provide necessary infrastructure through RREC as the nodal agency to ramp up solar power generation capacity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

007 car Aston Martin to hit Indian roads

Aston Martin, the car that James Bond made famous through many Ian Fleming flicks, will set the roads of India afire by the end of this year, albeit at a hefty price tag of up to ` 3 crore. The UK-based carmaker is understood to be gearing up to launch its vehicles in India, and has tied up with Infinity Cars to open its first showroom in Mumbai. According to sources close to the development, Aston Martin has signed an agreement with Mumbai-based Infinity Cars, which is also a dealer of BMW, and appointed it as the company's exclusive distributor for the Indian market. "Infinity will open the booking process for Aston Martin from next week. The cars are likely to be delivered in the next 5-6 months," a source said.

Aston Martin will initially sell four models - V8 Vantage, DB9, Rapide and DBS-in India and the ex-showroom prices have almost been finalised, sources added. "While V8 and DB9 will come for ` 1.35 crore and ` 1.9 crore, Rapide and DBS will be offered for ` 2.3 crore and ` 2.8 crore. Above this, customers have to pay for the insurance and registration charges," sources said. Aston Martin is primarily a sports cars manufacturer. Established in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, the company was part of US car giant Ford from 1994 to 2007. In 2007, a joint venture company, headed by David Richards and co-owned by Investment Dar and Adeem Investment of Kuwait and English businessman John Sinders, acquired Aston Martin from Ford for 479 million pounds. When asked about its India plans, an Aston Martin spokesperson said: "Aston Martin is currently in discussion with potential dealers in India." Infinity Cars director Lalit Choudary said: "It is not the right time and pre-mature as we are still finalising the prices and what models to bring in... The picture will be clear in a month's time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tata group starts search for Ratan Tata’s successor

The Board of Tata Sons Limited has formed a Selection Committee, comprising of five members including an external Member, for eventually deciding on a suitable successor to Mr Ratan Tata. Mr Tata is due to retire only at the end of December 2012. The Committee has commenced its work. The move comes within days of Noel Tata's elevation as head of the $72 billion Group's international operations, strengthening speculation that he would be the successor to his half-brother Ratan Tata, who is credited with taking the Tata name global. It was, however, not clear whether who the members were and queries about Ratan Tata himself being part of the search committee yielded no response from the Group's spokesperson. "The Board of Tata Sons Ltd has formed a selection committee comprising five members, including an external member for eventually deciding on a suitable successor to Ratan N Tata," Tata Sons, the Group's holding company, said in a statement. Tata, 72, would be hanging his boots in December 2012 when he would turn 75 -- the retirement age fixed by the group. Earlier this year, Ratan Tata had said: "I said that after (launching small-car) Nano, it will be a good time to step down. I still have a deadline for my retirement. "I do have the responsibility to have a successor and both these things will take place." Although the group is over 100 years old, it was only in 2006 that it earned global recognition when Ratan Tata spearheaded the buyout of Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus for about $12 billion. Tata followed this up with another big ticket purchase of Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury British auto brands, from Ford in 2008 for $2.3 billion. Ratan Tata, who took over as Group Chairman in 1991 from J R D Tata, had said earlier that "I do not want to go out on a wheelchair." About the qualities he looked for in his successor, Tata had remarked: "It should be stated and that person should become known for filling the position and not just waiting in the wings. I know what happened in my case." Tata Sons said in the statement today that the Group would require someone with experience and exposure to direct its growth amidst the challenges of the global economy. "The selection process for a prospective candidate would consider suitable persons from within the Tata companies and other professionals in India as well as persons overseas with global experience," it said. Apart from being from Tata family, Noel, 53, is also the son-in-law of Pallonji Mistry, who according to the US business magazine Forbes, has over 18 per cent stake in Tata Sons and is widely believed to have the value system of the group, a must for being the successor. Pallonji's son Cyrus Pallonjy Mistry is on the Board of Tata Sons. Noel also is in-charge of Tata Investor Corporation and was responsible for Trent, the retail arm of the Tata Group.

A day after Tata Group created a five-member selection committee to find a successor for Ratan Tata, RK Krishna Kumar, a director at Tata Sons Ltd, said the successor is likely to be decided by February-March 2011. Mr Tata, 72, head of the $70 billion salt-to-software group, who has built the world’s cheapest car Nano and taken the group global, will step down in December 2012. Post the announcement there is intense speculation going on whether despite the attempt to professinoalise the process the search will end with Ratan Tata's cousin: Noel Tata, currently heading Tata International. But sources within the Tata Group insist that the process will be completely neutral. Sources say that Noel is not naturally in a line to succeed but added that the candidate must also be seen as willing to 'imbibe Tata ethos'. In the past similar committees have been used by Tata group companies for nominating independent directors or selecting CEOs. The Board of Tata Sons Ltd on Wednesday formed a selection committee comprising five members, including an external member for eventually deciding on a suitable successor to Ratan N Tata. The composition of the committee is largely in house: members of Sir Dorbaji Tata trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trusts, the holding company of Tata Sons. But experts say that the Tata's struggles to integrate their overseas expansions, makes the case stronger for an international CEO as the replacement. Yet the mystique of the Tata surname may be hard to overcome. Ratan Tata himself is not part of the search panel – he willl advise it from time to time. But he leaves behind a towering legacy: both corporate, and personal, one that will make the search for a successor, not an easy task.

Will Indian billionaires donate like Americans? Not yet

Forty wealthy families and individuals have joined Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett in a pledge to give at least half their wealth to charity. Six weeks after launching a campaign to get other billionaires to donate most of their fortunes, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. released the first list Wednesday of people who have signed what he and Gates call the "giving pledge." Buffett decided in 2006 to give 99 per cent of his fortune to charity. Then, he was worth about $44 billion. After five years of investment returns while making annual gifts to five foundations, Buffett's fortune totals nearly $46 billion. Buffett said he, Bill and Melinda Gates, and a few others have made 70 to 80 calls to some of the nation's wealthiest individuals. The people who agreed to the pledge are from 13 states, with the most participants in California and New York. Among those who haven't signed the pledge, some prefer to keep their philanthropy anonymous, some were not available to talk, and others were not interested, Buffett said. Many on the list will be asked to call others, and small dinners will be held across the country in coming months to talk about the campaign. "We're off to a terrific start," Buffett said. Buffett said he and Bill Gates also will meet with groups of wealthy people in China and India within the next six months to talk about philanthropy. They hope the idea of generosity will spread, but they have no plans to lead a global campaign, Buffett said. Gates and Buffett estimate their efforts could generate $600 billion dollars in charitable giving. In 2009, American philanthropies received a total of about $300 billion in donations, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. In addition to making a donation commitment, Gates and Buffett are asking billionaires to pledge to give wisely and learn from their peers. The group has no plans for combined giving, and none of the philanthropists will be told how or when to give their money. "Everybody has their own interests," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who participated in the teleconference as one of the individuals who has signed the giving pledge. "That's what's wonderful about private philanthropy." Bloomberg, who has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $18 billion, said he has changed his personal philosophy over the years from wanting to be more private about his giving toward trying to play a leadership role. He said his whole family is in tune with his giving plan. "I've always thought your kids get more benefit out of your philanthropy than your will," he added. Others who have signed the pledge include filmmaker George Lucas, media mogul Ted Turner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
At home, charity is still beginning. In India, there's every sign that the count of the supernaturally wealthy is climbing. The world's five wealthiest people, according to Forbes Magazine, include two Indians - Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal. Several of the country's leading business houses, like the Tatas, Birlas or Godrejs have traditionally run or supported charities.
"If you look at the amount of philanthropy in India compared to the size of the economy, you'll see that it is growing," says Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group. A recent study on Indian philanthropy however says the country is behind the curve. Business consultancy Bain and Company found that India currently has 1.15 lakh high-net-worth individuals. This elite group is growing faster in India than anywhere else in the world. The study says that since 2000, the elite group has grown at an average of 11 percent annually. And between 2006- 2007 the number of wealthy individuals surged by 23 percent . But individuals and corporations account for only 10 per cent of charitable giving. In fact, nearly 65 percent is donated by India's central and state governments with a focus on disaster relief. In the US, individuals account for 75 per cent of charitable giving. The balance of the philanthropy comes from foreign organizations and the government. Lila Poonawala, who is in her 60s, heads Fila Rozil, Fila Rozil is into the horticultural business. Her foundation, the Lila Trust, provides scholarships to young girls. "In the US, corporates have been generating wealth for ages. Ours is a new generation. I am sure 5-10 years down the line, there will be many more corporates in charity," she says. Godrej says even those who're not donating money can help shape a better financial environment. Godrej says it's easy to be judgemental of those who aren't publicly acknowledged as givers. "If you look at Indian entrepreneurs they are at a stage where they can contribute a lot by re-investing and expanding their businesses. Remember a entrepreneur just by running a successful business is adding a lot of value by creating employment." But in a country where those who don't get one square meal a day are found at every traffic light, perhaps it's time to up the ante and give a little more.