Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Very true video about India by Amitabh

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vikram Akula and Micro Finance

Vikram Akula of SKS Microfinance on NDTV's Walk The Talk. Watch here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mumbai Infrastructure

I found a post on a blog describing some of the infrastructure projects in Mumbai. Truly impressive and a MUST SEE.

Read here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

India's first Communist?

Ever wondered who was India's first Communist? Or the first leader to be influenced by it and practicing and publicly endorsing it?

The answer surprisingly, is Bhagat Singh.

Bhagat Singh came from a patriotic sikh family. One of his uncles was incarcerated by the British, and another fled to Iran to escape punishment. BS was a huge fan og Gandhiji's non-cooperation movement as a kid, and burnt his school books and boycotted government schools. He later studied at National College in Lahore. Here he was acquainted with Marxist philosophy. Before he was to be hanged in Saunders Murder case, in jail, he used to read books about Lenin.

I absolutely loved the movie 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh' when I first saw it in 2003. Back then I was unaware of these facts. Last week I saw the movie again. This time I knew about his Communist connections, and it was hard to miss out of these indications in the movie.

The movie depicts-

* BS saying "azadi to sirf shuruvat hain, hamein azadi ke baad bhi desh banana hain. Aameer aur aameer hota jaayega aur gareeb aur gareeb". Or something to that effect.

* His joins the party Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), founded by Chandrashekhar Azad. Later, on his suggestion, the name is changed to Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).

* When the police invade their hide out, the movie shows the communist red hammer and sickle logo on their walls. It also shows him reading a book about Lenin before he is hanged.

--Although I had loved the movie before, I thought it would have been fictionalized to certain extend to make it more entertaining. However it is amazingly accurate. Like the thing, BS uses his trial in courts to send his message to the awaam. It did happen in actual.

The CPI(M) acknowledges the fact, about BS being one of India's First communist on their website.

Earlier I hated the communists. But now after talking to few guys who know about the naxalites in India, I think although what they are doing is wrong it is not entirely unjustified. The movie Hazaroon Khwaaishe Aisi, also has a small role in this change. As far as the Left parties are concerned I still think their mindset and policies are completely outdated.


I was waiting for this channel to be available for a long time. It finally can be viewed here.
The evening and night shows (india time) are really very good.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Richest man in the world?

Q. Who is the richest man in the world?

A. Bill Gates- Wrong
Warren Buffet- Wrong

The right answer is the Mexican, Carlos Slim.
A few months back according to Forbes magazine he had pipped Warren Buffet to be the second richest, but according to some sources he may have now gone past Bill Gates too.

Report from Mint-

Mexico City: Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim is the world’s richest man, worth an estimated $67.8 billion, after overtaking Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, according to a respected tracker of Mexican financial wealth on 2 July.
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim
A 27% surge in the share price of America Movil, Latin America’s largest cell phone operator controlled by Slim, from March to June made him close to $8.6 billion wealthier than Gates, said Eduardo Garcia in Sentido Comun, the online financial publication he founded.
Garcia estimated that Gates was worth $59.2 billion.
Forbes magazine reported in April that Slim had overtaken billionaire investor Warren Buffett for the No. 2 spot in the world’s richest stakes but was still behind Gates.
Mexico has a huge rich-poor divide, with a tiny elite holding most of the country’s wealth and around half the population living on less than $5 a day.
Forbes bumped up Slim because gains from his holding company Carso and fixed-line telecom Telmex added to the Mexican’s fortune while shares of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. fell in the same period.
Three months ago, Sentido Comun’s Garcia begged to differ with Forbes and calculated Slim’s wealth as more than Gates’ -- but only by a whisker. Now he says there is no doubt whose fortune is bigger at current share values.
“When I put Slim ahead three months ago Forbes bumped him up to second place (in world rankings) a few days later,” Garcia, also the publication’s editor-in-chief, told Reuters. “Let’s see if the same happens again.”
Spokespeople at Forbes magazine were not immediately available for comment.
Garcia, who uses Forbes’ calculations for US billionaires’ wealth, says the 5.7% increase in Microsoft share prices in the second quarter is no match for the sharp rise in valuations of Slim’s companies.
Shares of Telmex in the second quarter rose 11% and Slim’s bank, Inbursa, saw its stock advance 20%.
Garcia’s Sentido Comun, which translates as “common sense,” reckons Slim and his amily own a fortune equivalent to 8 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product.
For Gates to be worth 8% of the US economy, his fortune would have to grow to more than $13 trillion, 17 times his current wealth, according to Sentido Comun.
Slim, known for his Midas touch in turning around struggling businesses and turning them into profit-making machines, told Reuters in an interview this year he was not in the habit of calculating his fortune on a regular basis.
Slim and his chief spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub were not immediately available for comment.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Indian Railways

Think of Indian Railways and I am sure all Indians will have a sense of nostalgia. As a kid traveling in trains was fun for me. However think of railway stations and you think of crowded market like places with a lot of filth around. But if things proceed correctly this could change. The Indian Railways is considering upgrading all major railway stations in India, and make them airport like. I hope it happens soon. Read here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Heard of a building called Antilia being built in Mumbai with six floors of parking, mini theatre, two floors for terrace gardens, a floor with swimming pool and health club, four floors of apartments and three helipads and all that for a single family?
Yeah thats true. Who else but MK could do that. Read here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

2nd GR (part 2)

In my previous post on GR, some wondered whether the entry of corporates will really better farmers lives and benefit the consumers as well.

Heres what Gurcharan Das says about it in his blog.

The price of potatoes, November 19, 2006

I sometimes wonder why I pay Rs 10 per kilo for potatoes when the farmer receives only Rs 3. My potatoes travel some distance, I realise, from the farm to the mandi to my bania, and each person in the chain must get his cut. Still, the gap of Rs 7 seems excessive, especially when the American farmer receives Rs 4 to 5. This gap varies, of course, depending on the commodity and the season, but studies by agricultural economists show that farmers in the developed countries do get a bigger share of the consumer price because their distribution chain is shorter.

Reliance opened seven supermarkets in Hyderabad last month and my friend bought potatoes there for Rs 10 per kilo compared to Rs 18 at his bania’s shop. Another friend who works with an NGO in rural Andhra reported that farmers, who had supplied potatoes to Reliance, reported receiving higher than the mandi price. How could Reliance pay a higher price to farmers and charge a lower price to consumers? Simple--it had eliminated middlemen in the chain. Thus, we should welcome the entry of large retailers. They will bring logistics efficiencies and competition between them will lower consumer prices and raise farmers’ incomes. We shouldn’t wait too long to open this sector to foreign retailers like Walmart and Tesco lest Reliance become a monopoly.

A typical farmer harvests his crop, loads it on his bullock cart, travels30 km to the mandi, where he is forced to sell often at distress prices. Once at the mandi, he cannot return without disposing his produce. He needs the money and the trader knows it. Had he known the price before he left, he might have waited a few days. Where E chaupals have arrived farmers are happy because they get to know mandi prices via the Internet. The national commodities exchange (NCDEX) is setting up electronic tickers announcing spot and future prices in local languages at mandis and bus stands in some states. Eventually, the mobile phone will be the farmer’s best source of information. All these developments make traders unhappy.

Since his crop is perishable, the farmer needs a warehouse to enhance his staying power. NCDEX is putting up a thousand cold storages with world class grading facilities, but large retailers will also bring air-conditioned warehouses and trucks, and this will save India’s huge post harvest losses, as high as 40% for some crops. Banks ought to lend money to farmers against warehouse receipts, but the Reserve Bank refuses to allow them to hedge against future prices. This is a pity for bank loans would mitigate the farmer’s risk and improve his holding power. In fact, banks should also sell crop insurance. It is amazing that RBI should view futures trading as speculation. If the farmer knows the price of potatoes, he might plant onions instead.

Old habits of the mind die slowly. When you have been a stagnant, peasant agriculture for hundreds of years, it is difficult to grasp how Reliance, commodity exchanges, futures trading, and contract farming will quietly bring a second green revolution and liberate farmers from the clutches of the old mandi system, which is at the heart of rural political patronage. Activists oppose the entry of global retailers like Walmart on ideological grounds. Talk of farmer suicides is cheap. Politician-traders on Agricultural Marketing Committees play on these insecurities. No wonder it takes so long to reform in a democracy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bullet trains in India? You Bet !

Such reports have been coming in the print media for a long time now, so here is one of them. Hoping that it will materialize soon.

Here is report from mint.

"The ambitious high-spe-ed rail project is gaining momentum with several states actively pursuing it.
The response from state governments has given the railway ministry the confidence that there is demand for the project. Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are some of the states that have written to the ministry expressing interest in the project.
Of these, Punjab and Kerala have already announced plans to set up a high-speed rail system in their states.
Even as the preparatory work for the project is being done, with the railways surveying routes for construction of high-speed corridors, the ministry is understood to have zeroed in on leveraging railway land as well as carbon credits as two streams of revenue that can be earned from the project in order to fund construction and operation of the high-speed network.
Most states also prefer a public-private partnership option as they are unsure whether they would be able to invest in the project.
“The project will definitely require the railways to look at some revenue streams which would help plough some money into the project. One method of raising money that has been looked at is to hand over land to private players and to allow them to develop the property,” said a person close to the project who didn’t want his name used.
The railways has adopted this strategy of leveraging land for many of its recent ventures, including modernizing 20 railway stations recently and building budget hotels. The ministry also plans to earn from carbon credits as high-speed rail is considered a “clean” technology.
In a presentation before the Prime Minister’s Office in April on the high-speed rail project, the railways said the energy consumption per km is 3.5 times lower than private cars and five times lower than aeroplanes. The emission levels would be “4.5 times lower than even green cars” transporting the equivalent number of people, the ministry officials had said in their presentation."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A second Green Revolution in agriculture?

While our cities and industries have been growing at an unprecedented rate, our agriculture is stagnant. In India 70% of the people are employed by agriculture but they contribute just 20% of GDP. Several reasons like small land holdings, poor knowledge about soil requirements, unavailability of credit, poor logistics are some of the reasons. Even if agriculture grew by 2% higher than what it currently does, sustaining double digit GDP growth will be possible. When companies like Reliance, Wal Mart enter food retail there will be several changes. These companies will provide cold chain facilities (currently more than 50% of produce is wasted in the supply chain), by eliminating the middle trader they will give better price to the farmers and yet offer lower prices to their customers, also they will export a certain fraction which will only give higher returns to farmers. These companies will also make available better technologies to the farmers hence increasing their farm yields, pushing their sourcing costs down and offering even lower prices to the consumers. Everyone is benefited by this improved farm to plate efficiency. Read my previous post on Mukesh Ambani for more information about this retail strategy. Here is a link which gives M.S.Swaminathans views on a second Green Revolution!

I am pretty optimistic about this.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

India Unbound

I recently read a book by Gurcharan Das, called India Unbound. It is a classical textbook for any one wishing to know why the state of the Indian economy is, what it is. The author has very nicely covered the journey from pre-independence days to the year 2001. However much has happened on the scene since.
However the book is not just about matters related to the economy, but several factors which affect it like social, political, and cultural too. A must read.

P.S. He also has a blog-

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Mukesh Ambani's journey with Reliance as he turns 50.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Simply brilliant...

Thursday, March 08, 2007


If the Bombay Stock Exchange is too sophisticated for you, and if you are looking to play around in stocks, worry not. For, with the coming of the Cricket World Cup a group of students from IIM and IIT have come up with a unique concept. In their online 'Cricket Stock Exchange' (CSE) people can buy and sell stocks of their favorite cricketer, or if you or too financially erudite, a cricketer who will give you the best returns. The game is played with play chips to avoid controversies and also since this is only invented to enable people to know how a stock market works. So if your interested log on to since the IPO is already over.
Read about this on FE.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mukesh Ambani's big plans

Mukesh Ambani talks about his plans for retail, SEZs and education. Really enlightening thoughts, and very fascinating business logic expressed in this.