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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Terrorism in India - lack of political will ??

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Somehow GOI ( government of India) has been thinking/ discussing/ acting in single direction....initially worrying about agriculture in early 50s and 60s followed by thrust on Industrialization in 60s and 70s Terrorism in 80s foreign reservers/ FII and FDI investments in 90s and 2000s with thrust on creating SEZs all across India in recent past...blindly hoping that all its problems will be resolved.....somehow GOI is focussed on what is in focus in immediate elections and opposition party too is focussed on highlighting immediate needs and failures of government.....Terrorism was dealt serisouly and bravely by Indira Gandhi but somehow with her sad demise things slowed down in creating a terror free state....somehow bomb blasts and communal riots kept happening in India since 1990s to until recently in all parts of country every now and then as and when terrorist organizations wanted to...and to the extent they wanted to..but still after almost 30 years we havent done much in this direction as yet...i think instead of creating further special task forces and complicating the matters even more...As on date just by spending few 100 Rs. anyone can get Date of Birth Certificate of any place/ date/ time in further spending another 100-500 Rs one can get Driving license based on DOB document..and now believe me based on these two documents one can get mutiple - Voter ID card, PAN Card and even Passport only expenditure might be to the tune of Rs.2000-Rs.5000....So, overall by spending maximum Rs.8K to Rs.10K anybody can become proud citizen of India..hence Special Task Force/ Anti Terrorism Squad or even FBI can do much with such crippled system... I think if government can do simple things such as -

- Ensuring that all citizens of India have one and only one driving license, pan card, voter id card and if possible all this information available in 1 place

- Maintaining the database of people coming from different parts of the world and ensuring tht warning system is in place at least 2 months b4 their visa expires local police informs respective embassy and take some strict steps as soon as visas expires

- Conduct thorough survellience, if not regularly at least intermittently in Indian ocean, Arabian Ocean, Gujarat and Rajasthan border, North east India...randomly throughout the year continously for 10-15-20 years

- Maintaining and regularly updating the database of Mobile/ telephone/ internet connection issued by public and private sector, Vehicle registration database.

We seriously need good softwares, robust models, honest data entry operators, honest data collection at each town, city, villagethe country...I think these measures might appear mundane but i believe that if we have all this information genuinely updated without fail on timely basis, we can expect better governance, better control...and hence slightly better control and overall enviornment under control....By doing so government will at least know whos inside country and whos going outside...where to look for in case of possible chances of unrest....abnormal civil or criminal activities !!

Its all about old simple saying - A Stitch in Time Saves Nine.... !!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Recession, USD, Crude and Conspiracy Theories !!

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Well here my attempt at simplifying things first for my own understanding and then for the understanding of readers :).

When did it began - pretty difficult to say the history of global trade and economics can extend back to centuries, but perhaps if we confine our discussion from great depression of 1930s followed by World War -II and adaptation of Bretton Wood system sometime in 1944. The history of The Great Depression can be easily located here -> 3 school of thoughts explain it differently -
1) Macroeconomics effect of Money supply & Gold
2) Structural Theories
3) Marxist point of view

1) Post World War 1 era every country in order to protect its exports printed money. Currencies were not inter convertible and were pegged against Gold. High liquidity caused high level of inflation, a stock market crash, a black Tuesday and a recession which turned into Great depression.
2) Keynesian theories attribute depression to lack of government spending which resulted in lower employment, lower income of middle class and great lack of confidence in the system triggered by stock market crash.
3) Marxists call this as accumulation of wealth in pockets (mainly industries), aberrations in wealth distribution which couldnt be sustained and hence recession which later turned into depression.

To some extent or the other all the theories are interrelated. Things subsided to varying extent in various parts of the world. Thrust on agriculture, infrastructure created employment and wealth for masses, but all of it was short lived. 1940s saw increased military spending worldwide which eventually culminated in the World War II and change in World order which lasted in 1944-45.

Bretton Wood conference in 1944 laid the founding stone of International Monetary Fund (IMF), USD become the new world order, USA was given the responsibility to hold the price of gold and marked the beginning of cold war between USA & former USSR which lasted till 1989.

However US couldnt hold the responsibility too long. Rise of Japan, growth of international currency markets, weak USD ($) AND once again led by increased military spending on Vietnam War made USA to shrug off the responsibility eventually in early 1970s.

Lets now fast forward to late 1990s and early 2000s, this time led by emergence of China followed by emergence of BRIC nation once again became threat to US manufacturing superpower. Hi-end manufacturing from automobiles to missiles, arms ammunitions to oil rigs slowly started taking place from South Korea, China, Isarel, India to Brazil. US exports started declining once again simply due to decreased demand of Made in USA goods and services due to availibility of same or better quality goods and services at much lesser the price. However this time around USA used the period from 1970s to 1980s smartly by convincing Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to sell OIL in USD. Long Iran - Iraq war, fall of USSR further strengthened the US position globally. Gold got replaced or perhaps paralleled by OIL. However the structural change is that ALL the countries in WORLD needs to buy US Dollars ($) to pay for the OIL. With no more Bretton Woods in place printing USD is all USA has to do to buy all that OIL.

This deamnd of USD helped it to remain strong for considerable time. Oil futures literally allowed big US banks, hedge funds to buy oil futures at NYMX worth 1000 $ by having merely 50-60$ in bank account. On the one hand it increased liquidity on the other hand it increase speculation. The inherent problem of decline in manufacturing output, decline in working population, high % of retiring population, unemployment couldnt be suppressed for too long. A low interest rate regime led to increase liquidity and silently created an enemy in the backyard - DEBT. Unfortunately lot of bad things happened parallely - speculators made money as Oil price rose from 40 to 140 USD within 1 year. These speculators lended this money to masses at abysmall interest rates which blowed up the real estate prices. High oil prices fired inflation, which decreased internal consumption and exports were already under pressure and hence triggered the unemployment which in turn triggered loan defaults which in turn triggered bankrupt banks and big financial institutions. Interesting to note is that with the collapse of Lehman & Goldman of the world OIL prices declined even more sharply which further strengthens our assumption that rise in Crude price from 40 to 140 USD was not due to demand supply gap but perhaps due to huge built up in speculative positions which were eventually squared due to bankruptcies casued by famous sub prime crisis.

I think the last paragraph is witnessed by all of us and Rest as they say is History !!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Voting - a minimum contribution !!

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Guys voting is the first step towards making any foreseeable change in the society around you ! Working professionals specially in this part of the world are out of their home towns doing jobs or running business usually in or around Bigger towns and Metro cities, and they dont find time to care about elections ( though all of us find great amount of time criticizing politicians, system, bureaucrats). I think these guys are doing real good job, making voter registration looks so easy...

lets get started !! Request all Indian visitors to register themselves at the earliest

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recession - Is the world is falling apart ?

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I was just going through my past post almost 2.5 years ago about Indian Stock Market ->
As on date Indian indices and even global indices are at pretty much the same level as they were around that time ( May 2006). At that time almost every asset class was rising including salaries, inflation, GDP growth rate etc AND NOW everything is falling !! It all started in 2nd week of Jan 2008 when global indicies started falling and were never able to achieve those levels. It has almost been a year now and still global leaders, politicians, analysts are debating - Are we in recession ? US fed is taking several measures including spending huge tax payer( not only of US but global tax payers, oil buyers etc) money for saving age old US corporations from overnight collapse !! A Socialist effort to save the capitalist !! What an irony....

Back home our fin min/ RBI to is doing its bit to infuse liquidity in the system by reducing interest rates, forcing PSU banks to lower home loan rates, provding tax SOPs to exporters and what not without caring about the fiscal deficit...

Somehow I tend to disbelive that the Market is always right ! I havent seen that in recent past... Most of the time market was moving in one direction irrationally ( be it crude, gold, BRIC stock markets, steel, cement etc) without any kind of consolidation...why cant world leaders, world media, market analyst simply accept the fact that yes we are in recession....and it will take some time to recover....and take some transparent, bold steps to improve the situation in long term rather than worrying about immediate elections, next quarter results, montly IIP numbers or weekly jobless claims !!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Massacre on Indian streets

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Huge massacre is going on at Indian street since past few might have felt it for yourself but might not have realized the same thanks to our 1 billion + population..latest statistics show India FIANLLY TOPSSS the world !! Yes WE ARE NUMBER ONE HERE and pretty unfortunately so....its really sad and no one is to blame for it except ourselves.

According to reported statistics

            Deaths                    Injuries
2005 - 94,968                    4,65,282
2006 - 1,05,749                 n/a

Consider the simple fact - over past one decade close to 45 MILLION INDIANS have been affected by road accidents, injured seriously or lost lives in these accidents !! By no means are these numbers tiny !

We have lost close to 1 million lives on road accidents in past 12 years. Though I don't have any statistics to prove, but I am pretty sure almost half of those lives lost could have been saved, easily. We don't need to spend billions to fight terrorism, we have identified our enemy number 1, that is us, we, ourselves.

Unfortunately these statistics are not discussed, no policy/ law enforcement has been put in place to address such a huge slaughter of human beings going on day and night and WE THE Citizens of INDIA lacks any kind of sensitivity what so ever towards such incidents !!

Can a civilized nation hoping to become super power in coming years expect to ignore these simple facts and statistics !! I dont think so !! Why THE people of India are so insensitive and indiscplined ??? Why we dont care about an event, incident, rules of civilised society which appear so trivial and common sensical to rest of the world ?

Almost every Indian in his/ her daily life is commuting via roads, rail etc and spend anywhere between 5 to 55 minutes ( no stat proff here) daily on roads. According to me traffic sense and time spent on roads is one of the most common and critical form of social interaction. Everybody from Politician, business tycoon to common man, bureaucrat and beggar is an integral part of this social, impromptu orchrestra in which everybody plays himself. This interaction shows-

- How disciplined citizens of a city/ society/ country are
- How much do they care about law and order/ system/ police
- What is the tolerance level of citizens ( the number of horn beeps, shouting and verbal abuse gives a reasonable idea of tolerance and patience)

The problem is much more deep rooted and represents the common state of affairs in every sphere of Indian society !! But somehow I believe that solution to this/ these problem are much simpler.

A simple yet powerful and forgotten movie by Madhur Bhandarkar which gives some (though lill exaggerated and dramatized) idea of life and social interactions at 'Traffic Signal' in Mumbai. The Traffic Signal has grown into a fully functional, breathing, growing animal in India and there's an urgent need to tame that animal. According to me by spending few minutes on a Traffic signal, one can understand the state of affairs of a city, the psyche of the mango man, which ultimately decides the fate of the nation.

According to me few things which can be easily done by all of us to contribute our bit towards making our roads more safer place to walk and drive -

- Do not bypass Redlights
- Even more important dont boast about sucessfully breaking the red signal and duping the traffic officer
- Dont block the right lane at - traffic signals, railway crossings. Its not meant for you and nobody will save any time by bypassing the lane and blocking both sides of the roads at every intersection, bridge, signal, round about.
- Do not overtake from the wrong side, ever. Its criminal, you can kill somebody innocent following all the laws of the land for no fault of his/her.
- WEAR Helmets and Seat belts, even when you think its absolutely unnecessary. Accidents wont take place as per your and my plan.
- Encourage and inculcate these habits in your friends, juniors, children. Lets start feeling proud about following the road safety, traffic rules and regulations.

For more statistics and other details -