Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tim Cook, the successor to the late Steve Jobs, was awarded total compensation of $4.17m in 2012 and $378 million in 2011.

Tim Cook has finally made it to the top at Apple Inc, but in his first full year as CEO his pay package shrank about 99%.

Cook, the successor to the late Steve Jobs, was awarded total compensation of $4.17 million in 2012, down from $378 million in 2011, Apple said in a federal filing on Thursday.

The 2012 compensation package for Cook, who took over as chief executive in August 2011, also seemed a pittance compared with his 2010 pay, which was 14 times higher, when the executive served as chief operating officer.

Jobs, the iconic CEO and co-founder, died in October 2011 of pancreatic cancer.

The maker of the iPhone and iPad noted that Cook will not receive any stock awards for 2012 after he was given about $376.2 million in stock awards the year before. The stock awards vest over many years.

The 2012 package includes a salary of $1.4 million and a nonequity bonus of $2.8 million, according to the filing. Cook's base salary actually increased compared with the $900,000 he earned in 2011.

While Apple's shares are 35 percent higher than when Cook assumed the CEO role, they have fallen more than 27% since October when they hit a $700.10 high.

Apple shares were down 0.6 percent at $509.85 on the Nasdaq late on Thursday morning.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

India, Russia ink 10 pacts; defence deals of around USD 4 billion.

India and Russia inked as many as 10 pacts, including defence deals worth around USD four billion, as their leaders undertook an extensive review of bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of nuclear energy in New Delhi on Monday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin held comprehensive talks on all key bilateral issues, including defence, space, trade and investment, science and technology, education, culture and tourism.

The venue of the meeting between the two leaders was shifted at the last minute from Hyderabad House to 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the Prime Minister in
view of the large-scale protests after the gang-rape incident.

After his talks with Mr Putin during his brief visit, Mr Singh said, "We also discussed regional and global issues, on many of which there is a marked congruence in our approach."

"The development of our nuclear energy programme has been a key pillar of our strategic partnership," the Prime Minister said while noting that construction of Unit 1 of the Kudankulam NuclearPower Project was now complete, and power generation will commence shortly.

He also said India looks forward to the completion of Unit 2 next year.

"Negotiations for the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam have made good progress. We intend to continue implementing the roadmap for cooperation in the nuclear energy sector that was signed during President Putin's visit in 2010 as then Prime Minister of Russia," Mr Singh added.

About their discussions on regional and international issues, Mr Singh said, "India and Russia share the objective of a stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, free from extremism, terrorism and external interference. We reviewed the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, and agreed to work together against threats posed by extremist ideologies and drug trafficking".

Russia to sell India helicopters, jet kits worth $2.9 billion

India agreed to buy dozens of Russian military helicopters and kits for the assembly of Sukhoi jets at a summit in New Delhi on Monday, where the leaders of both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a strategic partnership.

India, traditionally one of Moscow's top arms clients, said the two sides would also set up a joint venture to manufacture Russian-model helicopters and a $2 billion fund to invest in trade and economic cooperation projects.

"Russia is a key partner in our efforts to modernise our armed forces," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement, welcoming Russian President Vladimir Putin as "a valued friend and the original architect of the India-Russia strategic partnership".

Putin's one-day trip, his first to India since he started a new Kremlin six-year term in May, underlines Russia's interest in India, long a regional ally and now a partner in the BRICS group of emerging-market nations.

Writing in the Indian daily the Hindu earlier, Putin stressed that "deepening friendship and cooperation with India is among the top priorities of our foreign policy".

"India and Russia show an example of responsible leadership and collective actions in the international arena," he wrote, a veiled swipe at the West and in particular the United States, which Putin accuses of seeking to impose its will on the world.

Russian defence industry sources had said the visit could produce deals on the sale of fighter jets and aircraft engines worth more than $7.5 billion. However, the main agreements appeared to fall short of that figure.

Kremlin sources said Russia will sell India 71 MI-17 V-5 military helicopters worth $1.3 billion as well as technological kits worth $1.6 billion to assemble 42 Sukhoi SU-30MKI fighter jets. India's foreign ministry said the original deal for these jets was agreed last year.

Russia Helicopters and India's Elcom Systems Private Ltd will also set up a joint venture to manufacture helicopters.

Separately, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) - a sovereign wealth fund - and Indian lender State Bank of India will jointly invest up to $2 billion to boost trade and economic cooperation projects.

RDIF said in a statement that the two firms will work together to facilitate access to long-term capital in Russia and India and promote mutual investments between the two countries.

Monday, December 24, 2012

India, Russia sign defence deals worth Rs. 22,000 crore

 It was about ten days back that Russian conglomerate Sistema had warned India that a lack of progress in the dispute over telecom licences would put bilateral relations between the two countries at risk.

This threat has, however, fallen flat.

India and Russia today signed defence deals worth around Rs. 22,000 crore ($4 billion).

Russia will be procuring 42 new Su-30 MKI combat aircraft and 71 Mi-17V5 medium-lift helicopters.

The deals were signed during the 13th India-Russia Annual Summit in Delhi after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed their commitment to strategic and military partnerships.

India, traditionally one of Moscow's top arms clients, said the two sides would also set up a joint venture to make Russian-model helicopters.

"Russia is a key partner in our efforts to modernise our armed forces," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement, welcoming Mr Putin as "a valued friend and the original architect of the India-Russia strategic partnership".

Putin's one-day trip, his first to India since he started a new Kremlin six-year term in May, underlines Russia's interest in India, long a regional ally and now a partner in the BRICS group of emerging-market nations.

Writing in a leading Indian daily earlier, Mr Putin stressed that "deepening friendship and cooperation with India is among the top priorities of our foreign policy".

"India and Russia show an example of responsible leadership and collective actions in the international arena," he wrote, a veiled swipe at the West and in particular the United States, which Putin accuses of seeking to impose its will on the world.

Russian defence industry sources had said the visit could produce deals on the sale of fighter jets and aircraft engines worth more than $7.5 billion. However, the main agreements appeared to fall short of that figure.

Under one contract worth around Rs. 13,000 crore ($2.2 billion) for licence production of 42 Su-30MKIs, Russia will deliver technical kits to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to assemble them here.

With this contract, the number of Su-30MKIs in the IAF would go up to 272 in next four to five years with 170 of them already at present in the force.

These multi-role frontline aircraft could also be equipped with Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

Under the contract for 71 Mi-17V5 choppers, 59 of these machines would be given to the IAF while the remaining 12 would be used by paramilitary forces in their anti-Naxal operations.

These helicopters would be used by the IAF to replace its existing fleet of older versions of Mi-17 and Mi-8 aircraft in its inventory.

This is a follow up order by the IAF for the new 'V5' version as it is in the process of inducting 80 such machines for which orders were placed around three years ago.

Already more than 40 of them have been inducted into the force at locations including Bathinda in Punjab, Srinagar and Bagdogra in West Bengal.

Separately, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) - a sovereign wealth fund - and Indian lender State Bank of India will jointly invest up to $2 billion to boost trade and economic cooperation projects.

RDIF said in a statement that the two firms will work together to facilitate access to long-term capital in Russia and India and promote mutual investments between the two countries.


Sistema's venture in India is 17 percent-owned by the Russian government, and the company says it invested $3.2 billion before India' Supreme Court in February ordered to cancel the licences in reaction to a corruption scandal.

"Failure to resolve this case could threaten India's broader diplomatic interests with Russia and standing in the global business community," the company had said in a letter.

Sistema, which has investments in companies ranging from telecoms to oil, challenged the court order and wants the government to find an alternative solution to avoid international arbitration.

"We understand this is a major issue for them," an Indian government official had told Reuters. The official confirmed the government received the letter, dated December 6.

Sistema declined to comment on the letter.

Earlier in February, Sistema had sent a notice to the Indian government citing a bilateral treaty between India and Russia and asked India to "amicably settle" the dispute in six months.

Sistema had said it had the right to approach an international tribunal and seek damages if the dispute was not resolved.

"The right of arbitration, nobody can take away from them," said the Indian official, who accepted the dispute could feature in Putin's visit on December 24.

Mr Putin postponed a visit to India that was widely expected in early November, shortly after Rogozin's trip. The cancellation was blamed on scheduling issues and not the Sistema row.

How Ratan Tata took the group global: major acquisitions

As Tata group chairman Ratan Tata steps down on December 28 when he turns 75, we take a look the major acquisitions made during his tenure.

2000: Tata Tea acquires UK’s Tetley Group for $450 million.

2001: TCS acquires the Indian government’s 51 per cent stake in CMC Ltd for Rs. 152 crore.

2002: Tata Sons acquires a 25 per cent stake in VSNL from the government for Rs. 1,439 crore. Tata goes on to increase its stake in the company and renames the company Tata Communications Ltd.

2004: Tata Motors acquires the heavy vehicles unit of Daewoo Motors in South Korea for $102 million.

2005: Tata Steel buys out Singapore’s largest steel company NatSteel—with operations in Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia—for around $365 million.

2005: Tata Communications acquires US-based Tyco Global Network, making it one of the world’s largest providers of submarine cable bandwidth, for $130 million.

2005: Indian Hotels takes over the management of The Pierre Hotel in New York under a 30-year contract worth $5 million.

2005: Indian Hotels acquires a Starwood-managed hotel in Sydney from the Hong King-based Harilela Group for $36 million.

2005: Trent acquires a 76 per cent stake in the Landmark chain of bookstores for Rs. 103.6 crore.

2006: Taj buys the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Boston for $170 million.

2006: Tata Chemicals acquires UK-based Brunners Mond Group for around Rs. 508 crore.

2007: Tata Steel acquires Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for $11.3 billion.

2007: Taj group acquires Campton Hotel in San Francisco for $58 million.

2008: Tata Motors acquires Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford for $2.3 billion.

2008: Tata Chemicals acquires US-based General Chemical Industrial Products for $1 billion.

2009: TRF Ltd acquires a 51 per cent stake in Dutch Lanka Trailer Manufacturers Ltd for $8.67 million. The company exercised its call option in 2012 to acquire the remaining stake in the company for an additional $8.33 million.

2010: TRF acquires UK-based Hewitt Robins International for 3 million pounds.

2011: Tata Chemicals buys UK-based British Salt for Rs. 650 crore.

Apple working on thinner, lighter 5th generation iPad

If inside sources of a Japanese blog Macotakara are to be believed, then Apple is reportedly planning to introduce the next generation iPad in the upcoming months.

The blog, which has been known for its accurate predictions in the past with Apple products, states that this version of the company's 9.7-inch tablet will be thinner and lighter drawing on elements from the recently introduced 7-inch iPad mini (Review I Pictures). The expected dimensions for the device are 4mm x 17mm x 2mm. According to the blog, the 5th generation iPad is likely scheduled for a March 2013 release.

Furthermore, the blog's sources indicate that Apple is also amidst a production trial of the 2nd generation iPad mini. The 7.9-inch tablet is expected to feature a 2048x1536 pixel Retina display translating into a 326ppi pixel density and will likely carry on board the A6X chip as seen in the fourth generation iPad.

It's evident that Apple has picked up pace on the tablet front, proof of which we first witnessed this year with the launch of the 4th generation iPad in October, a move which came just six months after launching a new model, doubling the speed of the processor.

The new fourth generation iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display, new Apple-designed A6X chip, FaceTime HD camera and ultrafast wireless performance with same 10 hours of battery life.

Coming to the iPad mini, it was introduced at a special event in San Jose, California on October 23rd (Pictures). The iPad mini features a 7.9-inch 1024x768  display, FaceTime HD and iSight cameras, ultrafast wireless performance and 10 hours of battery life.

The company sold three million iPads in just three days since the launch of its new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad. The number is double the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the third generation iPad in March. So whether or not the next generation iPad and iPad mini create a similar effect is something that we'll keep an eye for.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tata Motors goes back to drawing board at stalled Pimpri unit

Deep in Tata Motors' largest factory, engineers don 3D glasses to play with car designs and prototypes projected from a 10-metre wide computer screen. Their quest? The automaker's next blockbuster car model.

The research and development team's task is a pressing one. As they work, sections of conveyor belt and welding stations lay silent at the Pimpri factory and lines of white and silver Indica hatchbacks gather dust along service roads outside.

Tata, a global name since it bought Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, is losing traction at home as underwhelming product tweaks, heavy discounts and slumping capacity utilisation mark a painful 18 months for its passenger division.

Not since the 2008 Nano, the world's cheapest car, has Tata unveiled a head-turning passenger vehicle, and not since the Indica's launch in 1998 has it set the Indian market alight. Now, the company is heading back to the drawing board.

More money and more attention is going to the passenger vehicle unit as the company ramps up R&D, ditches a failed product strategy and prepares to enter the mini SUV segment and reboot the so-far underwhelming Nano.

"We have done something very innovative that will allow us to respond more positively," said Tim Leverton, Tata Motors' head of research and development. "You'll see, over the next 12-18 months onwards, a fireworks of output."

Tata will pour more than Rs. 7500 crore into the passenger vehicle business over the next five years. Less than 30 per cent of that has been earmarked for facilities or upgrading hardware, leaving the rest for new products.

"The business is understanding that's a heavy investment to make," Leverton said. "But it needs to be made."

Tata desperately needs a new hit model to arrest its sliding sales and eroding market share. A slew of new variants to combat competition from global brands will see it bin its inflexible past strategy of one car per market segment.

The success of the new drive will hinge on how soon Tata can bring fresh designs and ideas to market. That could take time.

"We're definitely not factoring in a revival in their market share for the next two to three years. We don't see any major new products ... launched over the next two to three years," said Jinesh Gandhi, auto analyst at Motilal Oswal Securities in Mumbai. "It's going to be an uphill task for them."

Tata's car sales fell 8 percent in the April-November period from a year earlier, as main rivals Hyundai Motor and Maruti Suzuki posted increases.

The company relied on Jaguar Land Rover for 90 per cent of its consolidated profit in the last financial year. The slowdown in its domestic business is seen as a drag on its value.

Tata Motors has a 12-month forward price to earnings ratio of 7.4, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, against 17.2 for Maruti Suzuki and 9.2 for BMW AG.

"For sure new products are the source of growth and interest in our market," Managing Director Karl Slym told Reuters. "And so product focus is and should always be a priority."

The appointment this summer of Slym, a former General Motors executive, itself marked a shift. His two predecessors were former heads of Tata's commercial vehicle business - the unit that made the biggest advances under their tenures.


At Tata's plant in Pimpri, 140 km (87 miles) from Mumbai, most space is taken by commercial vehicle manufacturing. Building buses and goods trucks for India's bone-jangling roads is the 67-year-old company's bread and butter.

Tata, the world's fourth-largest truckmaker, has spent much of the past few years devoted to its commercial portfolio. Its Ace range of trucks redefined a segment and have sold 500,000 vehicles since 2010. It hasn't launched a car that popular since the Indica: its first crack at the then-nascent car market.

"The company is in a transitionary phase," said Leverton, a former R&D head at BMW with more than 30 years experience in the industry. "The nature of what we have got to do over the next five years in really coming to global standards in passenger cars is a reflection of what has been happening in commercial vehicles."

There are signs of green shoots, however. Leverton's 5,500-strong team, with additional R&D centres in Warwick, U.K. and Turin, Italy, produced Tata's first in-house designed concept cars, the Pixel and MegaPixel compact city vehicles.

The mini SUV, of which Leverton declined to give details, will give Tata a foothold in one of India's fastest-growing segments, where it has been outgunned by local rival Mahindra & Mahindra's small, sporty off-road cars.

"I have many fires with many pots on those fires," Pankaj Jhunja, studio head at Tata's Engineering and Research Centre, said in an interview at the site.

"When we had little competition, we wrote the rules of the game," said Pankaj, who worked for Renault for four years. "We don't have brands that we can pull from our Brazilian market or Korea and plonk here with some minor alterations."


The Nano has disappointed sales expectations.

In 2008, a delegation of officials from West Bengal, where Tata was building a plant to make the Nano, visited the Pimpri factory. When they were shown the then top-secret prototype, one excited official shouted: "When can I buy one?"

But the Nano has been beset by production delays, poor marketing and cost over-runs. More pressing for Tata is that no launch since then has matched the barrage of publicity and public excitement it generated.

Tata hopes a new Nano, which runs on diesel - a popular fuel thanks to government subsidies - will rekindle excitement in a car many thought would revolutionise mass transport.

"It's in the pipeline," said Leverton, who declined to give a launch date. "In terms of the technical challenges involved, we've addressed them ... You can judge what's happened so far on Nano, but we haven't finished with it yet."

The last car Leverton worked on before he joined Tata Motors was the 2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom, a car that cost 250,000 pounds when it was launched, and boasted lamb's-wool rugs and chromium-plated air-vents. Bringing desirability to Tata Motors, seen more as a low-cost brand, is his new task.

"There's a certain demand from the customer ... I think we've understood that and we're responding," said Leverton, adding Indian drivers are among the world's most demanding.

They certainly have a lot of options to choose from.

Global marques such as Ford and Renault SA have spent billions of dollars in India over the past few years, and offer models boasting international design standards and features previously limited to Europe or the United States.

Tata's share of India's car market had fallen to 10.9 per cent in the April-November period of this year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, from 12.8 per cent in the fiscal year that ended in March.

The carmaker is offering a discount of up to Rs. 60,000 on its Indica Vista hatchback, which starts at Rs. 410,000, and up to 15 per cent off its Aria SUV.

"We need to get our act better ... in terms of product refreshers, product launches, look at more opportunistic segments," Chief Financial Officer C. Ramakrishnan said on a recent conference call. "We know we have a long way to go."

Vladimir Putin reaches India, eyes arms sales, trade and political ties

Arms sales will be on the agenda as Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in India on Monday to court a country that has traditionally been a top client.

Putin's trip, his first to India since he started a new Kremlin six-year term in May, is a chance to reaffirm Russia's interest in India, long a regional ally and now a partner in the BRICS group of emerging market nations.

In an article for publication in the The Hindu on Monday, Putin stressed that "deepening friendship and cooperation with India is among the top priorities of our foreign policy".

"India and Russia show an example of responsible leadership and collective actions in the international arena," he wrote, a veiled swipe at the West and in particular the United States, whom Putin accuses of seeking to impose its will on the world.

Russian defence industry sources said the visit could produce deals on the sale of fighter jets and aircraft engines worth more than $7.5 billion. One said that could include the sale of 42 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters and a deal on the long-term supply of 970 warplane engines.

The Kremlin said it expected the signing of "a number of large contracts in the area of military-technical cooperation", a term referring to weapons sales, licensing and servicing.

However, warm ties dating back to the Soviet era have been complicated by recent Russian efforts to improve relations with Pakistan, one of Moscow's proxy enemies during the Soviet Union's war of occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Relations between the world's second biggest arms exporter Russia and India, its largest buyer last year, have also run into sporadic problems including delays in the delivery of a reconditioned Soviet-built aircraft carrier, now expected late in 2013.

Military might

India plans to spend about $100 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its largely Soviet-era military equipment, as Asia's third largest economy looks to match its economic might with military power and warily eyes assertive Asian rival China.

Moscow has warm political ties with China, another ally in opposing US clout and a key consumer of the oil and gas that drives Russia's economy, but is thought to also be wary of a faster-growing neighbour with nearly 10 times its population.

India relies on Russia for 60 percent of its arms purchases, but has diversified its suppliers in recent years.

Putin announced record arms sales this year but wants to minimise the effect of the loss of deals with Libya and of uncertainty about the future of longtime client Syria on Russia's defence industry, an important source of political support for him.

Putin, whose country took up the presidency of the G20 this month, also hopes for strong growth in overall trade with India.

In his article, he said the volume of bilateral trade with India was expected to reach a record $10 billion this year, after declining due to the global financial crisis, and set a target of doubling that to $20 billion by 2015.

For Putin, who will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee and senior lawmakers, India is the most distant destination since rumours of a back problem emerged after he was seen limping in September.

He had originally been expected to travel to India last month but the Kremlin has dismissed suggestions he has serious health problems, and Putin implied last week that such talk was politically motivated.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Boeing delivers new surveillance aircraft to Navy

Boosting its anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the Indian Navy on Thursday received its first of the eight P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft from Boeing.

India had signed a deal worth over $2.1 billion with the American firm in January 2009 for procuring eight P-8I long-range surveillance aircraft which are equipped with anti-submarine weaponry.

The first aircraft was handed over to Indian personnel by the Boeing company in Seattle, US and now it will be used for training the Indian Navy crew, Navy officials said in New Delhi.

The aircraft along with two more will arrive in India in May next year and would be deployed at a naval base in Tamil Nadu, they said.

Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has also supplied critical equipment to the US aerospace major for the aircraft that will help it identify friendly and enemy planes and forces.

The aircraft is expected to be equipped with missiles such as Harpoons, which are also manufactured by the US.

India is also looking at ordering four more such aircraft to keep an eye on its extensive maritime territory and for replacing and augmenting its existing fleet of Russian Tupolev-42 and Ilyushin-38 Sea Dragon aircraft.

It also plans to have six more medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It operates the Dornier surveillance aircraft for short-range surveillance activities.

IntercontinentalExchange to buy NYSE Euronext for $8 billion

IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) agreed a $8 billion deal to buy New York Stock Exchange owner NYSE Euronext on Thursday, propelling the commodities player into the big league of European derivatives and helping it to take on arch rival CME Group.

ICE will look at selling Euronext, NYSE's European stock market business, in an initial public offering after the deal closes in the second half of next year.

"Our transaction is responsive to the evolution of market infrastructure today and offers a range of growth opportunities," ICE chairman and CEO Jeff Sprecher said in a statement.

ICE will buy NYSE, which also owns derivatives market Liffe, for $33.12 per share in stock and cash, a 37 per cent premium to its Wednesday closing price and valuing NYSE Euronext at $8.2 billion.

NYSE Euronext shares rose nearly 32 per cent after the deal was announced, while ICE's shares fell four per cent.

Analysts said the deal will give Atlanta-based ICE a strategic boost with control of Liffe, Europe's second-largest derivatives market, helping it compete against U.S.-based CME Group Inc, owner of the Chicago Board of Trade.

"ICE is after Liffe, that is the crown jewel of NYSE Euronext," said Peter Lenardos, analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

"Strategically it makes sense for ICE to enter the European derivatives space in a meaningful way."

ICE, founded in 2000, has its roots in electronic commodity trading and a tie-up with Liffe will boost trade for soft commodities such as sugar, buoying its profits.

"I would imagine that, having the softs contracts under one roof, would provide for easier arbitrage, financing and development of trading opportunities behind the contracts, via swaps and options," said Jonathan Kingsman, a sugar trade veteran who heads agriculture at information provider Platts.

"If you have clearing membership of ICE, you could trade London contracts under the same membership."

Regulatory thumbs-up

An ICE-NYSE Euronext tie-up would leap-frog Deutsche Boerse to become the world's third-largest exchange group with a combined market value of $15.2 billion. CME Group, ICE's largest U.S.-based rival, has a market value of $17.5 billion, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is the world's largest exchange group with a market cap of $19.5 billion.

ICE's main operations are in energy futures trading and unlike NYSE Euronext, it has steered clear of stocks and stock-options trading, so there is not much business overlap between the two groups, making it more likely competition authorities would approve a tie-up, analysts said.

Last year, the US Justice Department blocked a $11 billion joint hostile bid by ICE and Nasdaq OMX Group for NYSE Euronext on concerns the tie-up would dominate U.S. stock listings.

If that bid had succeeded, ICE planned to buy NYSE Euronext derivatives business while Nasdaq would have taken control of the stock exchanges.

A rival $9.3 billion bid by German exchange operator Deutsche Boerse also fell foul of regulators.

"I doubt the competition authorities will have a problem with it, there's only a modest overlap between the businesses," said Richard Perrott, an analyst at Berenberg Bank.

"The rationale for the deal will be the same as that with Deutsche Boerse - migrate the clearing of Liffe derivatives to ICE's services in London and scale up to attract OTC (Over The Counter) derivatives clearing."

ICE said it expected to achieve $450 million in cost savings from the deal.

Before the latest ICE offer emerged, NYSE Euronext's shares had fallen by nearly a third since ICE and Nasdaq launched their thwarted joint bid.

The New York Stock Exchange, known as the Big Board and the symbol of U.S. capitalism, has seen its clout fade as new technology and the rise of private trading venues run by Wall Street banks and brokers cut its margins.

ICE, which started out as an online marketplace for energy trading, is the product of a string of acquisitions from the London-based International Petroleum Exchange in 2001, to the New York Board of Trade and, most recently, a handful of smaller deals, including a climate exchange and a stake in a Brazilian clearing house.

Google may unveil $99 Nexus 7 at CES

The $99 Nexus 7 tablet rumour refuses to die down, and this time you can blame an image spotted on Picasa.

Folks over at The Digital Reader have dug out an image on Picasa whose EXIF data shows an unreleased device, that the blog claims could be the $99 Nexus 7. They further claim that the "leak pattern" of this tablet is consistent with the original Nexus 7, where we saw the specs and possible release date leaked via Digitimes first, followed by the device popping up in benchmarks and then photos taken by the device being spotted online.

The blog then goes on to claim we should be prepared to see the tablet being unveiled at CES.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the ME172V is going to be the highpoint of CES next month. The photos leaked today don't have any other purpose other than to prep the blogosphere for a launch event.

And while Asus may not have a booth at CES, Google has a meeting room in the back of South Hall. I expect that we'll find the new tablet there.

According to the benchmarks and specs leaked earlier, this tablet will be powered by a 1GHz processor provided by WonderMedia along side 1GB RAM. It'll also feature a 400MHz Mali GPU, 7-inch 1024×600 display, 1-megapixel front camera and a microSD card slot. It is rumoured to run Android 4.1 instead of recently released Android 4.2, which would be strange given Nexus 7 is a Google tablet being manufactured by Asus.

Google unveiled the $199 Nexus 7 tablet back in June. The tablet comes with 7-inch IPS display screen with a 1280x800 resolution and is powered by 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Other features of the tablet include 1GB RAM, 1.2-megapixel front camera and 4325mAh battery.

Initially, a variant of the tablet with 8GB storage was being sold for $199, but the model was recently discontinued in favour of the 16GB variant at the same price. Google also added a 32GB variant of the Wi-Fi only tablet for $249, while a 3G variant with 32GB storage was also introduced for $299.

The Nexus 7 has seen strong sales since launch, with recent reports indicating a million Nexus 7 units are being shipped every month. Nexus 7 is expected to clock over 5 million units shipped this year.

Internet to contribute $100 billion to India's GDP by 2015: McKinsey

Internet services and devices industry has potential to increase its contribution to up to $100 billion (about Rs. 5.5 lakh crore) to India's GDP and generate about 2.2 crore jobs by 2015, a report by McKinsey & Company said today.

Internet related technology industry includes personal computers and smartphone sales, e-commerce, broadband subscription, and investment in technologies like cloud and websites.

According to the report titled 'Online and Upcoming: The Internet's Impact on India', Internet generated 1.6 per cent of the GDP or about $30 billion in 2011.

"The Internet currently contributes a modest 1.6 per cent to India's GDP. This could grow to 2.8 to 3.3 per cent by 2015, if India achieves its potential for growth in the number of Internet users and Internet technology-related consumption and investment," McKinsey & Company partner Chandra Gnasambandam told reporters.

This would increase Internet's contribution to GDP from $30 billion now to nearly $100 billion in 2015, he said.

"And while it facilitates about six million direct and indirect jobs at present, this could grow to 22 million by 2015, if India follows an inclusive path of Internet expansion," Mr Gnasambandam said.

India with a user base of 120 million is the world's third largest Internet market and is poised to garner up to 370 million users in 2015, the report said.

China has the world's largest Internet user base with 480 million users, followed by US (245 million) in 2011. By 2015, China is expected to have 583 million users, while the US is expected to have 279 million users.

The global Internet user base is expected to grow from 2,300 million users in 2011 to 2,662 million by 2015, the report said.

"Given current downward trends in the cost of Internet access and mobile devices, India is on the verge of an Internet boom. India is likely to have the second largest user base in the world and largest in terms of incremental growth," McKinsey & Company Global Institute senior fellow Anu Madgavkar said.

At present, India's information and communication technology (ICT) exports are the most significant component of the Internet's impact on GDP, but private consumption and investment from private and public sector have great potential to grow in the future, she added.

Ms Madgavkar, however, added that the impact of Internet in India is constrained by the current infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

RIL plans to invest $10 billion on 4G network

Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has plans to invest $10 billion on 4G network of its subsidiary Infotel Broadband (IBSL), one of its vendors 'Spirit DSP' said today.

The company said it has been selected for providing voice call and video technology by IBSL.

"Reliance intends to invest USD 10 billion in its LTE (4G) network and has turned to SPIRIT's software products for voice and video calls over LTE instead of waiting for phone makers who are slow in offering handsets transmitting voice and video in 4G networks," Spirit DSP said in a statement.

IBSL is the only company in the country to have 20 Mhz of pan-India airwaves that it can use for providing 4G services.

No immediate comments were available from RIL on Spirit DSP's statement.

Spirit DSP said, through its solution, Reliance will be able to offer its subscribers high-quality services as an alternative to Skype - an application for making voice calls using internet connection, over cellular networks.

At present, most of the people are able to make free calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application like Skype but in India such calls are allowed only between personal computers to personal computers.

In October, IBSL has informed the Telecom Ministry that it is ready for trial runs of a technology that would enable voice calls service on its wireless broadband network and has sought allocation of number series to test its newly developed 'Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology.

The telecom arm of RIL has told the Ministry that it has developed a technology in preparation of a unified licensing regime recommended by the regulator TRAI under which consumers will be able to get voice, messaging and video using a single device.

Sharing details of its plan, IBSL has said that VoLTE technology would enable it to work seamlessly with the existing 2G, 3G, NLD and ILD networks. It added that termination and receiving of calls from these networks to the IBSL network would be possible through the VoLTE technology.

Nuclear capable Prithvi-II test successful

India on Thursday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile with a strike range of 350 km from a test range at Chandipur near Balasore.

The surface-to-surface missile was test fired from a mobile launcher in salvo mode from launch complex-3 of Integrated Test Range at about 9:21 am, Defence sources said.

The launch of the sophisticated missile, conducted as part of operational exercise by the Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the defence services, was successful, they said.

"The missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the total launch activities were carried out by the specially formed SFC and monitored by the scientists of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of practice drill," sources said.

The Prithvi-II missile, developed by the DRDO, is already inducted into the Indian Armed forces.

Prithvi, the first missile developed under India's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads and thrusted by liquid propulsion twine engines, uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory.

The last trial of Prithvi-II was successfully carried out from the same base on October 4, 2012.

Barack Obama named TIME magazine's Person of the Year

U.S. President Barack Obama was named TIME's Person of the Year for 2012, citing his historic re-election last month as symbolic of the nation's changing demographics amid the backdrop of high unemployment and other challenges.

TIME editor Rick Stengel announced the choice on NBC's "Today" program on Wednesday.

"He's basically the beneficiary and the author of a kind new America - a new demographic, a new cultural America that he is now the symbol of," he said.

"He won re-election despite a higher unemployment rate than anybody's had to face in basically in 70 years. He's the first Democrat to actually win two consecutive terms with over 50 per cent of the vote. That's something we haven't seen since Franklin Delano Roosevelt," Stengel said, citing the president who served during the Great Depression and World War Two.

Obama edged out Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls' education, for the honor, Stengel said.

Other finalists included Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and scientist Fabiola Gianotti, he added.

Samsung emerges as 2012's top mobile brand to end Nokia's 14-year reign

Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the top mobile phone brand for 2012 and has opened up a decisive lead over Apple in the smartphone market, a research firm said Tuesday.
This will mark the first time in 14 years that Finnish-based Nokia will not sit atop the global mobile phone business on an annual basis, according to IHS iSuppli.

Samsung is expected to account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, according to the IHS, which said Nokia's share dropped to 24 percent from 30 percent.

This will mark the first time the South Korean electronics giant will occupy the top on a yearly basis, IHS said.

Samsung has also extended its lead over Apple as the top maker of smartphones worldwide, the survey said. Samsung will have 28 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in 2011, while Apple's share will rise in 2012 to to 20 percent from 19 percent.

"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,'" said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS.

"Smartphones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cellphone market and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector."

IHS said global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent this year, while overall cellphone shipments will increase by just one percent. This will propel 2012 smartphone penetration to 47 percent, up from 35 percent in 2011.

IHS noted that Samsung produces dozens of smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high-end to the low-end. Nokia is transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company.

Sales of Nokia's older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft Windows-based handsets have been modest so far.

IHS said Samsung, which was in a tight battle in 2011 with Apple, has moved ahead decisively ahead of the California giant with a wide range of Android smartphone offerings, while Apple limited its smartphones to the premium iPhone line.

The report said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion will see its market share fall to five percent in 2012, from 11 percent in 2011.

IHS said it expects smartphones gains to accelerate in 2013, and to account for 56 percent of the mobile phone market.

Monday, December 17, 2012

US-made Apache choppers will be for the Air Force, says chief N A K Browne

 22 Apache helicopters, which are in the process of being acquired from the US, will be for the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said today.

"The Apaches are going to be with us only as it is an ongoing acquisition process," the Air Force chief told Press Trust of India on the sidelines of a 1971 Indo-Pak war anniversary function.

The Defence Ministry had recently allowed the Army to have combat choppers and said that all future acquisitions will be for it.

"The government has decided to let the Army to have its own heavy-duty attack helicopters.

"The decision to vest the future inductions of attack helicopters with the Army has been taken keeping in view the operational requirements in the field," Defence Minister AK Antony had told Parliament.

He had also said that the IAF was procuring 22 AH-64D Block-III Apache helicopters from Boeing Company of USA.

Air Chief Marshal Browne said the Apaches are not just for taking out enemy tanks or for air-to-ground operations but they can be used for multiple tasks such as taking out enemy radar stations and for air-to-air missions.

The Army had said recently that it was planning to send a proposal to the Defence Ministry for seeking transfer of attack helicopters from the Air Force at the earliest.

Sources said the Army had also suggested that the proposal would also include transfer of the Apache helicopters which are being procured.

The IAF and the Army in the recent past have been involved in a battle of sorts for controlling the attack helicopter fleet and the Defence Ministry has decided in favour of the Army.

The Army already has an aviation wing but the Defence Minister has approved a long-pending demand of the 1.3 million-strong force for attack helicopters, overruling stiff opposition from the Air Force.

The Army had been demanding attack helicopters, saying these are mainly used for operations by it.

The IAF had been strongly resisting it, with Air Chief Marshal Browne saying the country cannot afford to have "small air forces".

The IAF is in final stages of completing the acquisition process of 22 Apache choppers from the US after the American machine edged out the Russian Mi-28 Havoc in the tender.

French Dassault opens Indian subsidiary for Rafale deal with Indian Air Force

After bagging the multi-billion dollar contract for supplying 126 Rafale fighter aircraft to IAF, French Dassault Systems has opened an Indian subsidiary company here.

The company named Dassault Aircraft Services India Private Limited (DASIPL) was set up recently and it is 100 per cent owned by its French parent company, officials said here.

The new company is headed by a French national Richard Lavaud, who has worked in India earlier with defence firms,and will work towards finalising the deal with India, they said.

Earlier this year, Dassault Rafale had emerged as the lowest bidder in the IAF tender for supplying 126 combat aircraft edging out its European rival Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in terms of prices.

The contract has been offered to Dassault and it is negotiating the terms and conditions and the final price of the aircraft with the Indian Defence Ministry officials.

Dassault has also entered into an agreement with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) for partnering in defence and homeland security sectors in the country.

There was a possibility of the two companies working together in the combat aircraft deal here.

After finalising the deal, Dassault will have to reinvest 50 per cent of the contract's worth back into the Indian defence sector.

Mukesh Ambani-headed RIL has made several efforts in the past to position itself in the defence, internal security and aerospace solutions sectors.

Cash transfer scheme: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to hold ministerial meeting today

With only a fortnight left for rollout of the ambitious Direct Cash Transfer programme, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold a meeting with ministers concerned today to review its preparations.

The meeting of the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfer, chaired by Dr Singh, will be briefed about the state of preparations by Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, sources said.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) directive to ministries concerned to take up on "war footing" the implementation of the scheme which is to be rolled out on January 1.

The sources said 35 districts would be covered on January one and rest of the 51 districts identified will be covered by January 10.

The PMO has also asked them to organise camps to fast pace enrolment under Aadhaar for the purpose.

Primary activity of all the ministries implementing the scheme in the coming weeks will be to complete enrolment of Aadhaar for all beneficiaries.

They also have to ensure the beneficiaries have bank accounts in which Aadhaar numbers will also be mentioned, besides compilation of beneficiary databases.

The Planning Commission has been asked to finalise dates for a one-day meeting of the Collectors of the districts concerned (excluding Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh) between December 10-15.

Sonia Gandhi rolled out cash transfer scheme

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi will today launch a major food security programme of the Delhi government. Under the scheme, a monthly cash subsidy of Rs. 600 will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of senior-most female members of two lakh poor families.

The government has tied up with five leading banks for implementation of the 'Dilli Annashree Yojana' which will be implemented with retrospective effect from April 1, 2013.

The UPA's latest aam aadmi (common man) initiative, direct cash transfer, is now being called as direct benefits transfer. The subtle change is perhaps due to the difference between the government and the Congress.

"Rahul Gandhi also said that 'aapka paisa, aapke haath' (your money in your hands) is a political slogan and we will take advantage of it in the upcoming elections," Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development had said.

"You know my colleague sometimes has trouble with Hindi. What Jairam meant to say was that others may term it a political slogan, but for us it is nothing more than a social initiative for the welfare of people," Janardhan Dwivedi, Congress Spokesperson had countered.

The move also takes care of aggressive criticism. Even the Election Commission had expressed its displeasure highlighting this scheme in the middle of elections in Gujarat. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had complained to the commission saying it is an attempt to lure voters.

The government and party may differ on whether aapka paisa aapke haath is a political slogan or not, but both hope it will be a game changer - the reason why the party's second in command, Rahul Gandhi, addressed Congress party workers where he compared this scheme to the telecom revolution.

"Rajiv Gandhi said Rs. 15 of Rs. 100 reach the beneficiary... PCOs were the reason behind the mobile revolution... And help bring telecom revolution... This yojana will change delivery system," said Rahul Gandhi, Congress General Secretary.

One of the main reasons the government is pushing this scheme is that the UPA managers say it will plug leaks and check middle men. But critics say this is the first step before the government tries to do away with subsidies altogether.

"They are looking at making the whole country into a market friendly place where everybody has to go to the market. If the government is going to spend money it is going to spend it in the market... If you look at the Public Distribution System (PDS), it is a closed system...which doesn't have any room for the market. It accounts for poverty and the responsibility of the state to the poor..." said Usha Ramanathan, Activist and Lawyer.

Though the government has said that food is not part of the scheme, Congress ruled states like Delhi are already experimenting with transferring cash subsidies directly into the bank accounts of two lakh families.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

India successfully tests ballistic missile shield

India today successfully tested its indigenously developed ballistic missile shield off the coast of Odisha and said it is readying to deploy the system in the National Capital Region for protection against hostile missiles.

As part of the exercise, it test-fired a supersonic interceptor missile which destroyed a 'hostile' ballistic
missile off the Odisha coast.

"At around 1252 hours, the interceptor hit the target missile successfully at an altitude of 14.5 kilometres,"
DRDO spokesman Ravi Kumar Gupta told PTI here.

India is working towards development of a multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system.

"We are ready to deploy the system in the NCR region by 2014," DRDO's scientist and Director of the Missile Defence Programme Avinash Chander said.

The 'hostile' ballistic missile, a modified surface-to-surface 'Prithvi', mimicking an incoming enemy
weapon, first lifted off from a mobile launcher at around 12.52 hours from the launch complex-3 of integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-Sea, about 15 kms from here.

Within about four minutes, the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Wheeler Island, about 70 km from Chandipur, after getting signals from tracking radars, roared through its trajectory to destroy the incoming missile mid-air in an "endo-atmospheric" altitude, defence sources said.

Gupta said a simulated test was also done today to check the system and it was also successful. In today's test, the hostile missile was simulated to be a ballistic missile fired from the range of 1,500 kms, he said.

The interceptor missile is a 7.5-metre-long single-stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a
navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator, the sources said.

The interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities, besides sophisticated radars, they added.

India successfully test-fires Agni-I ballistic missile

Sharpening its missile prowess, India on Wednesday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile with a strike range of 700 km from a test range off Odisha coast.

The surface-to-surface missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher at about 0830 hours from launch pad-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from Balasore in Odisha, Defence sources said.

Describing the test as successful, ITR Director MVKV Prasad said, "It was a practice trial conducted by the Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army."

Agni-I, a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants, has a specialised navigation system which ensures that it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision, a Defence scientist said.

Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-long Agni-I, which is capable of carrying payloads up to 1000 killograms, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.

Agni-I has been developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with Defence Research Development Laboratory and Research
Centre Imarat and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited, Hyderabad.

The last trial of the Agni-I missile was successfully carried out on July 13, 2012 from the same test range.

Google's $99 Chromebook laptop offer receives tremendous response

US teachers have flooded school-centric charity website to snap up Chrome notebook computers Google made available to classrooms for just $99 each.
DonorsChoose said Tuesday that it was no longer taking Chromebook requests from instructors since the allotted supply was exhausted due to the "tremendous response" to the offer.

DonorsChoose is a website where people can donate money to back class projects or provide gear needed in cash-strapped schools based on needs or goals laid out by teachers.

Google on Monday said that Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks that teachers put on wish lists at DonorsChoose would be available for a price of $99 each in a hefty $330 discount from the starting price in shops.

"For many students and teachers, the hassles of traditional computing often prevent them from making the most of technology in the classroom," Google group product manager Rajen Sheth said in a blog post.

"Schools that have adopted Chromebooks, however, have been able to bring the web's vast educational resources whether it's conducting real-time research or collaborating on group projects right into the classroom."

More than a thousand US schools use Chromebooks in classrooms, according to Sheth.

Google built Chrome operating software into notebook computers in a challenge to machines powered by Microsoft Windows.

The Chrome computing model shifts operating software into the Internet "cloud," where data centers store information and tend to tough tasks.

Chromebooks act essentially as doors to banks of Google servers on the Internet, with the California-based technology titan tending to matters such as updating programs and fending off hackers and malicious software.

Advantages include quick start-ups from disk drive-free machines, long battery life, and essentially being able to dive into one's desktop data from anywhere on the Internet.

Why 2013 could be a bad year for IT graduates

The slowdown in India's IT sector will continue to impact campus hiring of fresh engineering graduates in 2013, according to a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The $100 billion IT industry is expected to meet the lower end of 11-14 per cent growth projection in 2012-13, according to software companies association Nasscom.

Campus hiring in 2013 is likely to be lower than in 2012 just as 2012 trailed 2011 recruitments. The news should not come as a surprise because big companies such as Infosys have been deferring joining dates of new hires in the past confirming that all is not well in India's much admired IT sector.

TCS, India's biggest IT software services exporter, plans to hire 25,000 freshers in 2013-14 against 60,000 freshers in 2012-13.  That's a drop of nearly 60 per cent in a year's time.

Unfortunately, the trend is likely to be similar across big IT firms.

Cognizant’s headcount planning for 2012 was too high, according to Sriram Rajagopal, head of HR for Asia Pacific. This year, Cognizant doesn’t want all offers to hit at the same time. It is shifting towards more off-campus and lateral hiring.

Wipro's, India's third largest IT services exporter, witnessed a sharp 6.5 per cent fall in attrition in the September quarter. Lower attrition and uncertainty in the market environment have further depressed the job market for new hires, BofA-ML's report says.

"Unlike lateral hiring which can be done on an as-needed basis, campus hiring is typically carried out 12 to 18 months before the hire becomes billable.  Hence, vendors are looking to increase off campus (i.e. recruitment of freshers outside of the placement process, closer to demand) and lateral hiring," BofA-ML said in its report on the outlook for India computer services in 2013.

The investment bank says IT companies had over hired in the last few years since they had not anticipated the slowdown in discretionary spend in early 2012.

According to Surabhi Gandhi, the Senior Vice President (IT Sourcing) at TeamLease, one of India’s largest recruitment firms, companies are being cautious in lateral hiring too, perhaps because they are trying to optimize their labour forces.

A Naukri jobspeak survey confirms the slowdown in IT recruitments. Hiring in IT software was 3 per cent less in November 2012 as compared to October 2012, the survey found.

"There is some caution in the environment as the IT-software sector, which is the biggest job creator of the country, has seen consecutive five months of dips in hiring activity," the report says.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

US intelligence sees India as rising economic powerhouse in 2030

US intelligence has predicted that in 2030, India could be the rising economic powerhouse of the world as China is seen today and that it will continue to consolidate its power advantage over Pakistan.

"In 2030 India could be the rising economic powerhouse that China is seen to be today. China's current economic growth rate - 8 to 10 per cent - will probably be a distant memory by 2030," said the fifth installment of the 'Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds', of National Intelligence Council (NIC), released yesterday.

As the world's largest economic power, China is expected to remain ahead of India, but the gap could begin to close by 2030.

"India's rate of economic growth is likely to rise while China's slows," said the report which is aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. According to the report, the total size of the Chinese working-age population will peak in 2016 and decline from 994 million to about 961 million in 2030.

"In contrast, India's working-age population is unlikely to peak until about 2050," it said.

"Also of significance, India will most likely continue to consolidate its power advantage relative to Pakistan. India's economy is already nearly eight times as large as Pakistan's; by 2030 that ratio could easily be more than 16-to-1," the US report said.

The NIC report said the diffusion of power among countries and from countries to informal networks will have a dramatic impact by 2030, largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750 and restoring Asia's weight in the global economy and world politics.

In a tectonic shift, by 2030, Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment.

China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030.

According to the NIC report, the World Bank assesses that India will join China as an "emerging economy growth pole" by 2025, which could help to strengthen the global economy.

"India's expected robust growth in the next 15-20 years means that its contribution to global growth will surpass that of any individual advanced economy except the United States," it said.

World Bank modeling suggests that together China and India will serve as nearly twice the engine for growth as of the United States and the euro zone combined by 2025, the report said.

India, however, faces many of the same problems and traps accompanying rapid growth as China: large inequities between rural and urban sectors and within society, increasing constraints on resources such as food and water, and a need for greater investment in science and technology in order to continue to move its economy up a notch, the report said.

India's democracy provides it with a safety valve for discontent in a way that China's one-party rule does not.

"At the same time, regional tensions between India and many of its neighbors could threaten India's rise should such tensions explode in conflict and confrontation," it said.

"As with China, a sharp economic downturn-particularly propelled by a political or military crisis-could quickly have broader regional and global effects," it added.

NIC report said long-term forecasts show Indian economic power growing steadily throughout the 21st century and overtaking China at the end of the century because of China's maturing age structure.

"To maximize its advantage from the greater proportion of youths, however, India will need to boost its educational system, both attainment and quality at lower levels; make substantial governance improvements, particularly in countering corruption; and undertake large-scale infrastructure program to keep pace with rapid urbanization and the needs of a more advanced economy," it said.

The NIC report notes that the current, largely Western dominance of global structures such as the UN Security Council, World Bank, and IMF probably will have been transformed by 2030 to be more in line with the changing hierarchy of new economic players.

"Besides the large emerging powers like Brazil, India (who are not permanent UNSC members), and China (has a veto in UNSC, but not IMF voting rights commensurate with its economic power), many second-tier emerging powers will be making their mark-at least as emerging regional leaders," it said.

"Just as the larger G-20-rather than G-7/8- was energized to deal with the 2008 financial crisis, we expect that other institutions will be updated-most probably also in response to crises," the report said.

Meanwhile, the economies of Europe, Japan, and Russia are likely to continue their slow relative declines, it said.

According to the report, by 2030, no country - not even US, China - will be a hegemonic power.

"Enabled by communications technologies, power almost certainly will shift more toward multifaceted and amorphous networks composed of state and non-state actors that will form to influence global policies on various issues," it notes.

The NIC report believes that in the world of 2030 - a world in which the growing global population will have reached somewhere close to 8.3 billion people (up from 7.1 billion in 2012) - four demographic trends will fundamentally shape, although not necessarily determine, most countries' economic and political conditions and relations among states.

These trends are: aging both for the West and increasingly most developing states; a still significant but shrinking number of youthful societies and countries; migration, which will increasingly be a cross-border issue; and growing urbanisation, which will spur economic growth but place new strains on food and water resources.

Among the US Census Bureau's projections for South Asia, only Afghanistan is projected to remain youthful by 2030.

However, the aging that will occur among the large and growing populations in nearby Pakistan and India probably will mask youthful ethnic and regional populations that could remain a security concern, it said.

"In India, where the southern states and large cities have attained low fertility, youthfulness - which can contribute to instability in the absence of employment outlets - is likely to erode more slowly in the central northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar," the NIC report said.

Monday, December 10, 2012

US study sees China as No. 1 economy by 2030

A new intelligence assessment of global trends projects that China will outstrip the United States as the leading economic power before 2030, but that America will remain an indispensable world leader, bolstered in part by an era of energy independence.

Russia's clout will wane, as will the economic strength of other countries reliant on oil for revenues, the assessment says.

The product of four years of intelligence-gathering and analysis, the study, by the National Intelligence Council, presents grounds for optimism and pessimism in nearly equal measure. The council reports to the director of national intelligence and has responsibilities for long-term strategic analysis.

One remarkable development it anticipates is a spreading affluence that leads to a larger global middle class that is better educated and has wider access to health care and new communications technologies like the Internet and smartphones. The report assesses global trends to 2030.

"The growth of the global middle class constitutes a tectonic shift," the study states, saying that billions of people will gain new individual power as they climb out of poverty. 

"For the first time, a majority of the world's population will not be impoverished, and the middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector in the vast majority of countries around the world."

At the same time, it warns, half of the world's population probably will be living in areas that suffer severe shortages of fresh water, meaning that management of natural resources will be a key component of global national security efforts.

But these developments also bring significant risks, allowing radicalized groups to enter world politics on a scale even more violent than current terrorist organizations by adopting "lethal and disruptive technologies," including biological weapons and cyberweapons.

The study warns of the risk that terrorists could mount a computer-network attack in which the casualties would be measured not by the hundreds or thousands killed but by the millions severely affected by damaged infrastructure, like electrical grids' being taken down.

"There will not be any hegemonic power," the 166-page report states. "Power will shift to networks and coalitions in a multipolar world."

It warns that at least 15 countries are "at high risk of state failure" by 2030, among them Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Yemen and Uganda.

The study acknowledges that the future "is malleable," and lists important "game-changers" that will most influence the global scene to 2030: a crisis-prone world economy, shortcomings in governance, conflicts within states and between them, the impact of new technologies and whether the United States can "work with new partners to reinvent the international system."

The best-case situation for global security to 2030, according to the study, would be a growing political partnership between the United States and China. But it could take a crisis to bring Washington and Beijing together - something like a nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan resolved only by bold cooperation between the United States and China.

The worst-case situation envisions a stalling of economic globalization that would preclude any advancement of financial well-being around the world. That would be a likely outcome following an outbreak of a health pandemic that, even if short-lived, would result in closed borders and economic isolationism.

The chief author and manager of the project, Mathew Burrows, who is counselor for the National Intelligence Council, said the findings had been presented in advance in more than 20 nations to groups of academic experts, business leaders and government officials, including local intelligence officers.

In an interview, Mr. Burrows noted that the audiences in China were far more accepting of the American intelligence assessments - both those predicting China's economic ascendancy and those warning of political dangers if there was no reform of governance in Beijing - than were audiences in Russia.

To assess the validity of this study, the research and analysis team graded their past work on global trends, an effort undertaken every four years since 1996. Past studies, they found, had underestimated the speed with which changes arrived on the global scene.

About 50 countries around the world will be at risk of internal conflict or wars with neighbors, the study says, most sparked by increasing nationalism and border rivalries fought out in the absence of any regional security architecture to resolve them.

The risk of conflict within a state - like a civil war or an insurgency - is expected to decline in Latin America, but will remain high in sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of the Middle East and South Asia, as well as in some Asia-Pacific island hot spots, the study warns.

"A more fragmented international system increases the risks" of conflict between states, the study also cautions. "Additionally, increased resource competition, spread of lethal technologies and spillover from regional conflicts increase the potential for interstate conflicts."

Most worrisome - and already part of the global security dynamic - is an assessment that future wars in Asia and the Middle East could include nuclear weapons.

Other important demographic trends will be aging populations in Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, which could slow their economies further. The report warns that Russia's economy will join these nations in their "slow relative declines." The United States will benefit from its domestic oil and natural gas supplies and new technologies to tap them, allowing the nation to become energy independent and even a net exporter of fuel.

"China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030," the report states.

In general, it found, "the health of the global economy increasingly will be linked to how well the developing world does - more so than the traditional West."

In addition to China, the developing nations that "will become especially important to the global economy" include India, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Turkey.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Indian Air Force to have mid-air refuelling capability on all combat aircraft

In a major step to increase its operational reach, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided that all its aircraft and helicopters meant for combat and combat support will henceforth have the capability for mid-air refuelling.

Disclosing this, the IAF vice chief, Air Marshal D.C. Kumaria, said at the Fifth National Seminar on Aerospace Technologies (N-SAT.5) recently that the decision applies to all its current and future acquisitions - whether combat jets, transport aircraft, helicopters or other assets.

Only aircraft with this capability will be considered for acquisition in future, he observed adding that technology and strategic requirements have evolved over time and that the IAF decision is in line with the current thinking in military aviation worldwide.

The N-SAT series on military aviation is held by India Strategic defence magazine ( annually. It lays emphasis on a building technological edge for the Indian armed forces, and significantly, most participants agreed that if an air force was not thinking of 20 years hence, then it is already behind the times.

Air Marshal Kumaria pointed out that in the late 1970s, for instance, the IAF actually sought removal of aerial refuelling plumbing from the Anglo-French Jaguar aircraft even though they were meant for a deep penetration strike role. Today, whether it is the long-range aircraft or helicopters, aerial refuelling capability is a key requirement.

It may be noted that IAF's current acquisition line includes Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, Boeing C-17 Globemaster, Embraer 145 for electronic radars, AgustaWestland's VIP role AW 101 helicopters, new AWACS and mid-air refuellers (Airbus Military MRTT or Russian IL 78), Rafale fighter jets, and Boeing's Chinook and Apache helicopters.

The last four items are under various stages of procurement.

The existing Mirage 2000s, Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs and Jaguars already have this capability while on the Mig 29s, its plumbing will be activated during upgrades for mid-air refuelling.

According to defence analyst Air Marshal (retired) Ashok Goel, the inflight refuelling capability is standard worldwide now and it would, in fact, cost more to remove it than to have it while acquiring and inducting new aircraft.

All NATO and US aerial assets, for instance, are equipped with mid-air or in-flight refuelling capability and in the Gulf and Afghanistan operations, aircraft were able to conduct multi-mission strikes during single flights.

"This in-flight refuelling capability," Air Marshal Goel told India Strategic, "literally has far-reaching implications, enabling modern aircraft to cover long distances 360 degrees."

Thanks to the IAF's Il-78 mid-air refuellers, its Su-30 combat aircraft have gone up to the US in 2008 to take part in the multi-national Red Flag exercise, and will again do so in 2013, he said.

It may be noted that mid-air refuelling capability will also be on board army and navy combat assets as the Chiefs of Staff Committee already has a tri-Service agreement on common parameters for same and similar systems needed by them.

The committee is currently headed by the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, and he is on record as having said that there are no differences between the three Services on acquiring common systems with same or similar requirements.

Army sources also told India Strategic that it will follow IAF's Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs) while going in for the Apache combat helicopters.

Wal-Mart lobby bill hits Rs. 125 crore on India entry, other cases

Global retail giant Wal-Mart -- waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India -- has been lobbying with the US lawmakers since 2008 to facilitate its entry into the highly lucrative Indian market.

As per the lobbying disclosure reports filed by Wal-Mart with the US Senate, the company has spent close to USD 25 million (about Rs. 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".

In the last quarter ended September 30, 2012 itself, the company spent USD 1.65 million (about Rs. 10 crore) on various lobbying issues, which included "discussions related to FDI in India".

During the quarter, Wal-Mart lobbied for its case with the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Department of State, as per its latest quarterly disclosure report.

The companies are allowed to lobby for their cases in various departments and agencies in the US, but they are required to file their lobbying disclosure reports every quarter with the US Senate.

So far in 2012, Wal-Mart has spent more than USD three million or about Rs. 18 crore on its various lobbying activities, including those related to India.

As per Wal-Mart's lobbying disclosure reports, the company has continuously lobbied for its India entry since 2008, except for a few quarters in 2009.

Indian government recently opened up its multi-brand retail sector for foreign companies after years of political opposition and a Parliament motion against this decision was defeated last week in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

The US-based supermarket chain operator Wal-Mart Stores, which has an annual turnover of USD 444 billion and a world- wide headcount of 2.2 million, has been eyeing for a long time to enter India.

The Indian retail market is estimated to be worth about USD 500 billion currently and is pegged to cross USD one trillion mark by 2020, given the rising personal income and growing consumer spending trends.

According to a report by global consultancy major A T Kearney, the organised retail is expected to reach 25 per cent of the overall market by 2020.

The report also said that India remains one of the most favourable destinations for international retailers and an accelerated retail growth of 15-20 per cent is expected over  the next five years.

Delhi may become first state to have Walmart store

Delhi may soon become the first city in the country to have global retail chains like Walmart and Tesco, with the city government all set bring a bill in the Winter session of assembly beginning on Tuesday to remove hurdles in ensuring "effective" implementation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

The city government will bring an amendment to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act for facilitating direct purchase of produce from farmers by multi-national retailers.

The amendment to the existing legislation will allow direct connectivity between retailers and farmers.

As per the existing provision, farmers cannot sell their produce directly to retailers as it has to be routed through the wholesale market which is mostly under the grip of middlemen.

Officials said the amendment to APMC Act was required to "break monopoly" of the wholesale traders so that retailers could directly buy agricultural produce from farmers.

To break the monopoly of the Azadpur mandi, considered to be one of the largest fruit and vegetable wholesale markets in Asia, the government is also considering allowing private market yards for marketing of farm produce.

The official said the amendment bill has already been drafted and it will be examined by the Cabinet in a day or two.

"The bill is likely to be tabled in the Winter session of the House," said Mukesh Sharma, Parliamentary Secretary to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Ms Dikshit, who has been strongly backing the Centre's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, said it will be implemented in the city by early next year.

Officials said the government was considering setting up a wholesale market in Tikri Khud area in West Delhi where it has around 72 acres of land. They said the government is likely to allow foreign retail giants to set up shop in the area.