Sunday, April 26, 2009

Of German Artillary, British Officers and Indian Soldiers

Sushil Kumar wrestling his way to an Olympic bronze

Circa WWII,Adolf Hitler is reported to have said " give me German artillery, British officers and Indian soldiers and I can win any war".

Today, to guarantee a victory, you need Italian styling, American markets,German durability,British marketing and Indian manufacturing.

More than 60 years later, India has not yet graduated from providing exceptional foot-soldiers to the world. It is helping the world win its wars. All wars, except its own. India is content in basking in reflected glory. Achievements of people of Indian origin, irrespective of their current nationality, makes us happy.

The world's leading apparel brands are made in India but not marketed by India. Some of the finest software is coded in India by not marketed under an Indian brand. India's BPO sector and IT sectors provides the world its foot soldiers lead by British officers and American Generals.

However, "the times they are a-changin'" . There are several indicators which leads me to believe that the world is gradually turning into India's Oyster.

Let's take sports:
* India is the T20 World Cup champion.
* Franchisees of the Indian Premier League and Indian Cricket League have
"bought" several foreign players. It is prestigious as well as lucrative
for foreign players to sign up for Indian franchisees.
* India is world no.2 in One Day International cricket rankings.
* India is world no. 3 in Test cricket.
* There are 5 Indians in Wisden's Dream Test XI.The captain is MS Dhoni.
* Vishwanathan Anand is the world's highest ranking chess player
* Koneru Humpy is the winner of the Women's Grand Prix in March,2009
* Pankaj Advani is the IBSF World Billiards Champion
* Abhinav Bindra is the Olympics and World Champion for the 10 m Air Rifle event.
* India has Asia's best hockey team.They won the Azlan Shah cup in April,2009

Cut to business. India's business is decidedly going global:
* Tata' Motors acquisition of JLR
* Tata Tea's (world's second largest tea company) acquisition of Tetley,Glaceau
(which was later sold to Coca Cola)
* HCL's acquisition of Axon Group Plc
* Hindalco's buying Novellis for $6 billion
* Suzlon acquisition of Hansen Transmission for over $ 677 million
* Videocon buying of Daewoo Electronics for $ 1 billion
* ONGC snapping Ominex de Columbia

Of course, this list is not even a partial list of the acquisitions by Indian companies. Nor does it reflect deals in the pipeline.Reverse colonization has now begun!

* ISRO put 10 satellites into orbit in a single launch - a world record. The earlier
record was 8 satellites launched simultaneously.
* We have the 2nd largest number of nuclear power plants under construction
* Over a 100 global corporations have their R&D center in India.
* With the help of Indian science, we have become the world's largest food producer
* Research is being done in the fields of superconductivity,nanotechnology and Fast Breeder Reactors.
* An indigenous Light Combat Aircraft is only a few years away.

Other achievements? Here goes:
* We are the world's largest democracy.
* We have won the Miss World pageant most times - 5
* Largest billionaire population in Asia - 42
* Second fastest growing economy in the world, after China
* Largest contributor to the UN Peacekeeping force - 55,000
* World's second largest producer of cinema

Indian Peacekeeping Force in Congo

Look around you. Ignore newspaper headlines which thrive on bad news. The good news is tucked away in the inner pages. More importantly, there is a sense of achievement all around us.

Already, there are Indian Major Generals and Lt.Generals in the war against recession.The time when the world will be lead by Indian Generals is not far away.

Recognize the signs.Celebrate it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Is any sufficiently advanced Economics, Astrology?

Arthur C. Clarke's four laws of predictions are fascinating.These four laws are:
1."When a distinguished but elderly scientist states something is possible, he is almost certainly right"."When he states that something is impossible he is very probably wrong".
2."The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible".
3."Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".
4."For every expert, there is an equal an opposite expert".

Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur C. Clarke's third law "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" came to my mind when I read about the prediction of the Russian academic Igor Panarin who predicted, almost a decade back, that the USA would break-up in 2010. He says that by the end of June,2010 or early July mass immigration, economic decline and moral degradation will trigger a civil war and the collapse of the dollar.

He first presented this theory in September,1998. When people did not believe him, he pointed out that the French political scientist Emmanuel Todd predicted the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1976, 15 years before its breakup.

Emmanuel Todd also predicted the breakup of the USA in his 2001 book "After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order".

Emmanuel Todd

American clairvoyant Jean Dixon, French seer Nostradamus and the famous numerologist Cherio had predicted the partition of India.

Therefore, on one hand we have economist and sociologists who have predicted the breakup of nations and on the other hand there are people who practice occult sciences and have made similar predictions. Does the mean that a modern day science like Economics and the ancient day science like Astrology converge at a point?

Taking the prediction of Igor Panarin forward I refer to the article in The Time of India (Bangalore Edition - 17th April,2009 - page 14) with the headline " Don't Mess with Texas; it will secede from the US". According to this article Texas Governor has invoked the secession argument during an agitation against the federal economic policies.

There are many websites on astrology which indicate that the USA may go through troubled times from 2008 till the year 2012. Have you heard of John Titor - the time traveller from 2036 AD who left indications of the future on message boards in the years 2000 & 2001. Hoax or not, John Titor predicted in 2000/2001 about a civil war in the USA in 2008.

John Titor's Time Machine

Igor Panarin has a similar predictions with a little different time frame.

Will astrological and economic predictions converge in this case? It is not in anybody's interest for this prediction to come true. Therefore, I hope that these predictions do not turn out the way it is described.

However,finally,only time will tell.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pyar ke Side Effects - or - The Advantages of Ayurveda & Homeopathy

So, you just popped in an analgesic, which your wife/husband/mother so lovingly offered you, when you had a headache last? Now, an analgesic is very convenient. But, is it equally safe to be popped in? Consider the side effects of some analgesics:
- some analgesics can irritate the stomach lining.
- analgesics, when taken in high dosage, may cause liver damage especially if the person also consumes alcohol.
- Taking pain relievers which contain caffeine can cause disturbed sleep, when consumed close to bed-time.

I am sure you that this has not convinced you at all about the need to go easy with allopathy. What can be more convenient than to buy an analgesic over-the-counter remedy to get rid of a headache. When you do this, you are ,perhaps, not only inviting some of the above side effect but also suppressing a symptom which could be indicative of an underlying medical condition which needs more investigation.

Just consider some of the side-effects of some over-the-counter cough medications, under some circumstances:

- can cause anxiety
- may cause confusion
- may cause excitability
- may cause euphoria
- may cause nervousness

I had an attack of severe cold in the winters of 2006 and 2008. Allopathic treatments seemed to cure very fast. However, after each cure there were further bouts of severe cold. In addition, the treatment caused insomnia, uneasiness and other such side effects. Finally, tired to the treatment and its side effects I moved over to homeopathy.The cure was not transitory in nature. There were no side effects. There were no relapses.

In earlier years, I had a two years battle with vertigo.Allopathy did not help much. Homeopathy brought about lasting cure.

I know of others who swear by the treatment of the dispensary chain of Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala. They have cures for diabetes, hypertension and other such illnesses which allopathy only controls. That is, you have to be on drugs life-long.

.... Yoga & Ayurveda

Swami Ramdev in his various programs questions why allopathy does not have a cure for hypertension and diabetes when there are cures in other systems of medicine. Is it because it ensures that pharmaceutical companies get a continuous stream of income by keeping the illness under control through continuous medication?

Of course, it is completely incorrect to say that allopathy has no merits. It has an important role to play in disease control. For several illnesses allopathy is, perhaps, the best line of treatment.

However,Ayurveda and Homeopathy have a strong line of treatment for various maladies. Since these are not well known they tend to be ignored.

The next time you have a cold or a sinus complaint try and alternative system of medicine.

It is nothing to be sneezed at.

You could be pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alto, But You Still Can't Go!

Why can't you go with an Alto? That's because of your time-share vacations.

I have always marvelled at the ability of companies to sell time share vacations. I have pitied those who buy them. In time-share vacations:
a) They sell you 7 days of resort stay a year - fixed for a particular time of the year.
b) They sell you the vacation for 25 years in future.
c) You have to pay for the 25 years of vacation upfront or in instalments over about 25 months.

So,what's wrong? Plenty!

a) You get a fixed period of 7 days a year. If your time share is valid from the 25th December for 7 days can you ensure that you can always take these 7 days off?
b) Sure, you are allowed to exchange this slot with another. But, that quite a bother and is subject to the availability of the alternative slot. It is also subject to additional payment.
c) You have to provide for administrative delays of getting the alternative slot.
d) You have to pay upfront or in EMI's for the next 25 years. Will the time-share company be around for the next 25 years? What if it disappears or gets into financial trouble. Several time-share vacation companies which started around 20 years back did get into financial trouble or even disappeared. It is like losing money in the stock-market.

Is this they way you want to plan your vacation for the years to come? There are new holiday opportunities every year. There are new locations and newer resorts. Taking a time share is like booking a train or airline ticket in advance and then going through the trouble of cancelling it and bearing the cancellation charges.

A decade back you could safely plan your holiday weeks if not a few months in advance. Today, the economic situation (whether in a bear or bull phase of the economy) does not always allow you the liberty of planning a holiday.Whenever the situation allows it, you go - provided your investment in the time-share vacation allows it.

For many it's Alto, yet can't go!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Murugan Idli Shop & the Indian Economy

Murugan Idli Shop ( picture below of their outlet on Elliots Beach Road ) is a chain in Chennai. It is now 1920 hrs on the 5th April, 2009. There are about 200 diners inside and 50 on the wait list outside - and its not even dinner time, yet.

Murugan Idli Shop - Elliots Road, Chennai

Walk into Bhima's jewellery on Dickenson Road, Bangalore - you'll have to jostle for space like to do at Big Bazaar.Ditto at Sri Krishna's jewellery on Commercial Street, Bangalore.

About a decade back, the then Chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) is reported to have said that banks like Citibank had a great advantage because Citibank did not have to invest in branches. They were growing their business with just expanding their ATM network.Today, SBI has the largest network of branches as well as the largest network of ATM's.Citibank can, perhaps, never hope to equal SBI's business in India. The network of branches which was earlier viewed as a liability by SBI is now a great asset.For SBI, it was easier to expand their ATM network and setup an online banking system than is was/is for Citibank to expand either their branch or ATM network.

India's population which was earlier viewed as a liability, is now a valuable consuming class powering India's growth in the face of a global slow-down. All the gloom and doom that you read in the pink papers is undoubtedly true - but not as true and all pervasive as they make it out to be.

If about 55% of India's population is dependant on agriculture then this 55% of population is at least maintaining status quo in terms of their income. Food prices have not come down though inflation is under 0.5%. Secondly, a large part of the salaried population is employed with government companies,government and quasi government organizations. This segment of population has only seen its disposable income go up on account of salary hikes recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission. Young urban India may be feeling the heat on account of the slowdown or slow pace of growth in the BPO/KPO/IT sectors and the difficulties is getting the coveted H1-B visa.However, note that within months of the new restrictions on the H1-B visa US companies are lobbying with their government to take off the restrictions as it is affecting the competitiveness of US companies. Jack Welch is reported to have formulated this 70:70:70 rule more than a decade back. That is, 70% of the work that GE does must be outsourced. 70% of this 70% must be outsourced out of the USA. 70% of what is outsourced out of USA must be outsourced to India!

Business Newspapers are concerned with only a small section of the population employed with a segment of the industry which is affected by the downturn of the economy.When this small segment of the industry gets a disproportionate amount of mileage the situation appears to be gloomier than what it actually is.

If you feel depressed reading the daily newspaper - take an evening walk. Walk to the closest mall or a high street. Feel the energy on the streets and in its shops. The power of India may not be apparent in corporate boardrooms - it is on its streets. It is this power, which has to travel to the boardrooms.

Be that conduit.

India's time has come!

Nostradamus and Indian Elections 2009

For those who woke-up late, today, (or don't live in Chennai) The New Indian Express, Chennai Edition of the 6th April,2009 (page 6) has reported of the discovery of authenticated unpublished manuscripts of the French Astrologer, Nostradamus.The columnist, describes the following predictions - under the headline - Nostradamus sees Saffron (Francois Gautier reports on the unpublished manuscripts by the famous oracle on the future of Indian Politics, tongue firmly in cheek), from this tranche of documents, pertaining to India's 2009 elections:

1." In 2009 AD,Advani will announce that if his party is elected, MM Joshi will be made External Affairs Minister and Narendra Modi, Home Minister".

2.The allies of the BJP will be deserting the boat as they think the Congress will win. But if they stand true to the aspirations of its Hindu voters, it can come on its own at the center.

3.The Hindus will be the most tolerant people, even in the Age of Iron, because they will still accept that God may manifest in different times and under different names, using different scriptures.

4.BJP will reaffirm its commitment to eastern states, standup to China's bullying...

5.Under BJP's leadership,Indians will worship again their country as Mother India and Sri Aurobindo's words will echo:" India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken has last creative word.And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicized oriental people, doomed to repeat the cycles of the Occident's success and failure but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering her deepest self"

There are a few more predictions in the newspaper in its Latin form and English translation. I found it difficult to follow the English translation though the meaning of the Latin quatrains is not too tough to guess.

And, hey!, I also just about understand the meaning of "tongue firmly in cheek"!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thru the Gap*

Passenger amenities on Indian Railways have certainly improved in the last few years.

Passengers one row ahead watching the movie on a portable DVD player

Friendly co-passengers on the Shatabdi Express on the 3rd April, 2009 made it even better.

*Jane Tu Ya Jane Na