Thursday, 30 June 2011

Print Release

Print ReleasePrint
Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
29-June-2011 21:06 IST
Preliminary transcript of the Q & A session between the PM and Newspaper Editors.
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Q 1: Sir, you did not mention anything about our neighbourhood.

A: Well, neighbourhood worries me a great deal, quite frankly

You have a situation in Sri Lanka. The decimation of the LTTE was something which is good. But the Tamil problem does not disappear, with the defeat of the LTTE. The Tamil population has legitimate grievances. They feel they are reduced to second-class citizens. And our emphasis has been to persuade the Sri Lankan government that we must move towards a new system of institutional reforms, where the Tamil people will have a feeling that they are equal citizens of Sri Lanka, and they can lead a life of dignity and self-respect. It is not easy. Within Sri Lanka’s population, there are hotheads, the Sinhala chauvinism is a reality. But we have to find a difficult balance because what happens in Sri Lanka has a domestic dimension also. The Tamil Nadu government and assembly have often shown great worry about what is happening. Our challenge is to keep the Tamil Nadu government on our side. I have had good cooperation with Jayalalithaa-ji. I raised this matter with her the very first time. What she asked of me was moderate. Whatever be the resolutions that were passed in the assembly, I found her fully conscious of the complexities and the realities of managing this relationship.

With Bangladesh, we have good relations. Bangladesh government has gone out of its way to help us in apprehending the anti-Indian insurgent groups which were operating from Bangladesh for a long time. And that is why we have been generous in dealing with Bangladesh. We are not a rich country. But we offered it a line of credit of one billion dollars, when Sheikh Hasina came here. We are also looking at ways and means of some further unilateral concessions. We are also looking at ways and means of finding a practical and pragmatic solution to the sharing of Teesta waters. I plan to go there myself. The external affairs minister is planning to go later this week. So, Bangladesh, our relations are quite good. So Bangladesh, our relations are quite good. But we must reckon that at least 25 percent of the population of Bangladesh swear by the Jamiat-ul-Islami and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI. So, a political landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time. We do not know what these terrorist elements, who have a hold on the jamiat –e – islami elements in Bangladesh, can be upto.

So a very uncertain neighbourhood. A very uncertain international, economic environment. We have to swim and keep our heads high.

Q 2 –About uncertainty between the government and the party.

A- Let me say that these things can be exaggerated. But it always existed in the Congress party. I welcome the expression of views, which can be helpful at times in introducing mid-term correctives. For example, let us take the case of the criticism from the party of our handling of Anna Hazare and Ramdev. When he threatened to sit on a fast, my honest attempt was that we as a government should appear receptive to all good ideas, wherever they come from. And that is why,I was the one who encouraged this dialogue with Anna Hazare, who I have known for many years. He came and spent an hour with me. And when he went back, I felt he was satisfied. But in 2-3 days I found that there are other forces controlling him, who wanted confrontation. I consciously, created a system where our government should reach out to all civil society elements. We need their inputs, and their support to carry out a social and economic transformation of the type we need in our country. I also expected that they would also play by the rules of the game. NO group, howsoever important he or she may be, can insist, that their views, A to Z, are the last word on what the people of India need. There are many other layers of NGO opinion. There is the Parliament, There are former Chief Justices of India – who have voiced differences with some of the ideas that Anna Hazare has. But it is still my endeavour, that we can, working together with the political parties, evolve a national consensus. And with regard to Swami Ramdev also, all I felt was, not to create an unnecessary misunderstanding. I wrote a letter myself, when he wrote to me. I mentioned that I share your concerns, with regard to black money and corruption, and we will be very happy if you have any ideas. And he responded quite well. When Pranab Mukherjee sent some officials, tax officials, they came back and said that Baba is very cooperative. He is not going to be a problem. Once he comes here, he will make a statement, that problems have been resolved. It was in that background, that our colleagues went to the airport, not to receive him. There also they had a good meeting. But the moment Baba is in the company of large crowds, that also has an effect on him. We did not get the impression that he has any intention of honouring what he said. He himself said, and I heard him, that 90 percent of their demands had been met. I also heard him say that when Kapil Sibal last wrote to him, and said, we will enact a law, he said all my demands have been met. But suddenly, when it came to addressing the public, he gave a different picture.

Q -3: At 11 o clock a letter reached him, at 12 o clock there was a lathi charge. Are you aware of this?

A- Lathi charge and teargas – these are unfortunate things – they should never have happened. But quite frankly, if we had allowed them to work during the day, the next day, we would have to handle a much larger crowd, and there worries that we had – because the way the Ramlila ground is located, there are some very communally sensitive issues. We didn’t know Sadhvi Rithambhara and others - where would that lead to. It is unfortunate that this action had to be taken. I don’t see – the situation we were placed in – there was any other alternative.

Q -4 Your views on bringing PM, PMO, under the purview of the Lokpal.

A- We have discussed this matter in the Cabinet last year. I for one, have no hesitation in bringing myself under the purview. But there are Cabinet colleagues of mine, who said Sir, this is not your personal concern. We are legislating for the people of India. There are many members of the Cabinet feel strongly, that bringing the institution of the Prime Minister (under Lokpal), will create an element of instability, which at times, can go out of hand. I hope that sound sense will prevail, and we would still work to find a way out. Also, the Prime Minister of India, is equally covered by the anti-corruption act. One can dismiss the Prime Minister of India most easily. All that is necessary is for Parliament to pass a vote of no-confidence. Every day, the Prime Minister is a 24-hour servant of the people of India. So we have mechanisms, much more effective mechanisms, in place. I am not saying categorically, one way or the other. I would like the guidance of political parties. Some Chief Ministers have spoken. Dr Jayalalithaa have spoken. Others have spoken. Badal sa’ab has spoken. So there is obviously a divergence of opinion in the country. We have to find a way out. I recognize we need this Lokpal bill. Even though,I don’t believe Lokpal is a panacea. Also, if we enlarge the mandate, the way Anna Hazare group wants it – they want 15,000 people, independent of the existing intelligence and prosecuting agencies. If we want to cover every single civil servant of our country – Centre and States – I worry whether the system will be able to stand the strain. Let us concentrate on corruption in high places – which is most obnoxious – which invites wrath – that is a justified concern. Wherever possible, we will act, and act firmly.

Q-5 What about the judiciary?

I have been talking to a number of people about this – the serving judiciary as well as a number of other people. They have grave reservations of including higher judiciary. People say, why set up a separate mechanism – we have a judicial accountability bill. We have a new set-up – the judicial selection board- which will look into all complaints against judges. But Supreme Court has to ultimately pronounce on everything. How will the Supreme Court pronounce on complex issues, if it is subject to restrictions of the Lokpal. I am not a legal expert. I think several distinguished luminaries have questioned this particular suggestion in the Jan Lokpal Bill – saying that this runs counter to the constitutional scheme of things. Judiciary must be encouraged to find ways and means to regulate its own affairs – consistent with the spirit of the constitution. That is my preliminary feeling. But as I said, I am not going to pronounce. I would like to hear from the political parties, and if necessary, we should hear other groups also – what they are thinking.

Q-6 :Are you confident of getting a national consensus – on the bill in Parliament, given the opposition’s resistance to it?

A – Yes I am confident.

Q -7: What about the cabinet reshuffle?

A – That is a work in progress.

Q-8: – Major or minor

A – I cannot tell you. I cannot predict.?

Q -9: Do you think team Anna hazare is naive – politically innocent, or politically motivated?

A – We are still in the process of negotiation. It is not a good thing to question their motive. I still hope we have the wisdom to come to the right conclusion. Either our people have not been good at communication. Or there are other interests at work to see that an atmosphere of confrontation is built up and sustained over a very long period of time.

Q -10: What do you think of the large middle-class and celebrities that supported your government in 2009, and are now not supporting you on the Lokpal?

A – Some events – the telecom scam, the commonwealth games – have caused genuine concerns among large classes of middle-class opinion. That cannot be wished away. So people want that whosoever is guilty must be punished. Before the Commonwealth Games took place, I had announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August last year, that anyone who is found guilty of wrongdoing in the Commonwealth Games, we will bring him or her to book. That comment still stands.

Q –11 : There is an impression that with your government unable to bring regulatory measures to prevent corruption, you have conceded space to civil society – who are now forcing you to do it?

A – I have been working 24 hours a day. I spend 18 hours a day on work – without any holidays. Then there are so many extraneous issues – that affects the ability of the government to attend to essential things of the type that we want to do. It will be wrong to say that I am not affected by such things – it does affect me. Sections of the media have not been responsible while covering recent events.

Q-12:– The judiciary has also made some strong statements?

I have talked to the judges – and they said these had to do with questions and answers in the process of hearing the cases – in order to clarify their point. They say the way the press reports – it creates a real problem. I think everybody should exercise restraint. When I talk to the judges, they say these are not our intentions, orders or instructions. Press reportage causes sensationalism.

Q -13: There was a hope that UPA-2 would push faster on reforms. That record two years down the road has been a disappointment. What is the agenda for the next 8-9 months.

A-I think the first thing is to sustain the momentum of growth that we have built. Second, we must ensure that infrastructure does well, is well-managed, its reform is a priority concern. It is in this context that the procurement system in the public sector must be made more transparent – we are all working towards a law which will lay more emphasis on transparency. There are new issues that have arisen, with regard to the management of scarce natural resources – particularly the land question. The land acquisition will require modification. There are several drafts within our government – but it is my hope that we will have a workable draft of the Food Security Bill – and finally – with regard to education and rural health – we have a large agenda. I would like to start a system of vocational education, skill formation, there is a report from Dr Ramadorai – to help me in putting together a design of the sort of systems and working procedures we need. We also need a group in the Planning Commission working on how we can expand and ultimately generalize the healthcare insurance system. Plus looking at citizen’s charters, and create an environment in which leakages in the disbursement of subsidies can be got rid of. I have been told that the system that Nandan Nilekani is at work on – if that system works, we will have instruments to deal with wrong use of subsidies. I think that will be a massive effort. There are other issues also – the consensus that emerged until a few months ago on the Good and Services Tax – the BJP is clearly playing politics, they do not want the government to pass this landmark legislation. We had helped the BJP pass the first insurance bill. All we want now is to increase the share of FDI to 49 percent. The bill is in Parliament. I hope we can still persuade the opposition and other parties to pass the bill. Insurance industry needs that capital. Domestic industrialists don’t have that large capital base. They need that support.

There is also the question of supply-chains and distribution of food supply. This is where the question of FDI in retail comes in. There is a big debate about it in government and Parliament. There is fear of small traders, but without breaking such institutional barriers, there is fear of food inflation. I am hoping we can make a beginning in these areas. These are some of the ideas that are uppermost in my mind.

Q –14:- There are occasional voices in your party that Rahul Gandhi should take over? What is your opinion?

A-I am sure that the Congress Party and the Congress President have entrusted me with this job to do. I have not got any contrary view from the Congress High Command. In fact, the Congress High Command has been most supportive, particularly Mrs Gandhi. Therefore, if you ask me, the general perception – that younger people should take over – I think it is the right sentiment. I sincerely hope that whenever the Congress Party makes up its mind, I have no objection to step down. But so long as I am there, I have a job to do.

Q-15: There is a feeling of a drift in the government – the coalition itself is cracking up. There is a question about the longevity of your government.

A-There are some of tension. But I am confident that no one wants an election at this time. Therefore, the self-preservation instinct will work to our advantage. We can manage these tensions of the coalition.

Q-16:-Do you think you should have dealt with your coalition partners more firmly in your earlier term?

A-I really don’t know which is the golden mean. I don’t know if some of these things could have been avoided. Because some of these things which have happened, they have happened without our getting the full picture. Take the case of 2G auction. I had myself written to Raja, that we should consider auction. He wrote back saying this matter was considered by TRAI. TRAI came to the conclusion – which was endorsed by Telecom Commission – this is on record and it is a public property – you also have access to it. He said to me – TRAI is against auction. TRAI is also against other verification which would help the competition between the new and the old. Quite frankly, I felt TRAI exists to advise the government, it is an expert body. And therefore, I left it at that. On the same matter, three letters that he wrote to me, he assured me that utmost transparency, fairness and objectivity will be observed in anything that he has done or will do. When a cabinet colleague makes that sort of an assurance, I cannot sit in judgement. After that someone approached the CVC. The CVC then passed it on to the CBI. The CBI began investigating. They raided the offices of the ministry.

Q-17:One of the biggest assets you had was your integrity and honesty. But in the second term, while your personal integrity remains above board, there is an impression that you allowed these things to happen.

A-If a cabinet colleague tells me, that in all matters of his ministry, he will scrupulously work by the norms of ethics, fairness and transparency. How can I conduct a post-mortem? I am not an expert in telecom matters. As Prime Minister, it is not that I am very knowledgeable about these matters. Or that I can spend so much of my time, to look after each and every ministry. Ministers administer their departments, and if they don’t apply any policy change, they are free to implement the policy to the best of their ability. One observation that my private secretary recorded, that the Prime Minister says there must be transparency - the minister should have said it was his responsibility – rather than saying that the Prime Minister has also endorsed it.

Q-18:-The issue was on the boil on the front pages of newspapers every day. There were questions being asked.

A-If I go by the newspapers, there were people writing to me on both sides. If I go by the newspapers everyday, I would have to refer everything to the CBI, and the CBI would sit in judgement. And if we continued in this vein, our public sector would not be able to perform. It would greatly weaken the (entrepreneurial) forces that we have unleashed, and willy-nilly install a police raj.

Q-19:How do you propose to recover the lost ground on this?

A-My conscience is quite clear.... There is a cabinet decision of 2003.

Q-20:What about the CAG draft report on KG Gas?

A-I have not read the full report. This is a special report which the ministry themselves had asked for. It is never been in the past that the CAG has held a press conference – as the present CAG has done. Never in the past has the CAG decided to comment on a policy issue. It should limit the office to the role defined in the constitution.

Q-21: What about the bugging issue?

A-There was a complaint that the office was bugged. I asked the IB to do a thorough check. The IB reported back to me that there was nothing of the sort.

Q-22:Did it go through the Home Minister? Did he know?

A-No. This was on a need-to-know principle.

Q-23:There is a perception that Sonia Gandhi is deciding everything and you are helpless.

A-Whatever this government has done, I will accept full responsibility. I never felt that she was an obstacle in the performance of the government. My relations with her have never been better. I meet her every week.

Q-24:What about the diarchy – she heads the party and you the government – is it not working anymore?

A-She has done a superb job of being the President of the party for more than 15 years.

Q-25:There was a question of rotational chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir?

A-There was a decision of the Congress high command that they would have a full-term as Chief Minister. We have not done anything to reverse that decision.

Q-26: What about the current situation in the state?

A-We have to be on our guard. We hope Pakistan will leave Kashmir alone, because they have their own share of internal problems. Tourists are returning. We have to keep our fingers crossed.

Q-27:What about the current situation with regard to Pakistan? Will you undertake a visit to Pakistan?

A-We are not a big player in Pakistan. But whatever our role, engagement is a commitment to our shared geography. They have not done enough on terror. I still feel they need to do more. We need to keep engaging them.

Q-28: Is there any possibility that Indian companies will be able to access natural resources in Afghanistan?

A- Transit through Pakistan – Pakistan is not ready. Afghan trucks can come upto Wagah. Afghanistan is quite keen. But we also have to reckon with Pakistan’s capacity to protect our enterprises. Situation on the ground is not that good.

Q-29: What are your views on theAmrrican pullout form Afghanistan scheduled by2014?

A-It does hurt us. It could hurt us. No one knows what is going to happen in Afghanistan. Yesterday, I was talking to the New Zealand Prime Minister, the war in Afghanistan does not enjoy large-scale public support. That’s the reality. If we hold elections every four years, politicians have to be re-elected before they can become statesmen.

Q- 30: In Afghanistan there is also the question of good and bad Taliban?

A-I told the Afghan Parliament that the reconciliation should be Afghan-led. I think Karzai and other politicians can work on that. You cannot carry the good-bad Taliban distinction much too far. but the Haqqani group –they are a more determined group – perhaps not in league with the Pakistani establishment – I don’t know – but we are worried about them.

Q-31: What about our defence preparedness in the light of Chinese capabilities?

A-We have started the process. We are looking at the modernization of our armed forces, including the navy and the air force. For the first time in many many years, we have added two divisions to our army. So within the limits of our resources, – we are doing - much advanced air fields in the border areas. We are trying to strengthen the border roads. Also to see, that states on our border - our villagers have access to electricity using solar power. The effort is on.

Q-32: The defence expenditure as a part of GDP has been falling from year to year.

A-That is true. But quite frankly we have not restricted defence spending – no conscious decision has been taken to any fixed percentage. We are as a nation, prepared to live with a defence expenditure equal to three percent of our GDP. IF the armed forces have a plan to raise their expenditure to that ceiling, the system will be able to tolerate it.

Q-33: It will take 10 to 15 years for all of this to materialize?

A.The Chinese are far ahead of us. They are building a blue-water navy also. Aircraft carriers – they are acquiring.

Q 34: -A major threat is Naxalites

A-We are tackling that problem at two ends. We are strengthening the development work in the 60 districts. This year we have put at the disposal of the Deputy Commissioner, SP and the District Forest Officer, large sums of money for each of those districts. Money is not a problem. But the main problem is infrastructure. We need to protect the building of roads. There is a proposal to raise a reserved battalion to protect the building of development works in the Naxal-affected areas. If that goes through, I think we will provide greater security to contractors willing to build roads and other infrastructure in those areas. It is a vicious circle. We must strengthen the police and other intelligence. One emphasis is on intelligence so that they match them in actual combat. The other is on development. Development is the master remedy to win over people. If my children are in school, better health facilities are available, if forest rights of tribals are respected, ---- implemented, it should win over people. In the short run, government’s writ must run.

Q-35:Your environment minister is on record, saying he has had to reverse many of his positions under pressure from you?

A-I think he is right.

Q-36: Are you pressurizing him?

A-As Gandhiji said, poverty is the biggest polluter. We need to have a balance.

Q-37: Mamata Bannerjee in West Bengal and Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra are opposing the gas price hike. How is this effecting the functioning of the coalition?

A- I have nothing much to say about these tensions.

Q-38: At Air India, the situation seems to be getting from bad to worse. What is the government doing about it?

A- I was discussing this with the Principal Secretary only yesterday. I think I have to tell the Pranab Mukherjee led group to expedite considerations on the proposals that are in the offing. So I am aware of it. There was some difficulty in paying salaries last month.

Q-39: In terms of perception, Your second term seems to be somewhat of a disaster. Your credibility has been damaged and you have become a lame duck Prime Minister.

PM: Much of these happened in the first term. ...(interjection) This is the result of the clever propaganda of the opposition. Because whatever we are discussing today it was already in the public domain when elections were fought. This is nothing which happened now, I think.

Q-40: On Commonwealth Games

PM: The Common Wealth games bulk expenditure was incurred before 2009 elections and what could we do. As far as the Common wealth games were concerned, there was a group of ministers under Arjun Singhji, there was a group under Jaipal Reddyji. As far as Kalmadi’s presence is concerned for you have also written Mr. Ninan that our friend Mani Shankar Aiyar wrote to me,but he wrote to me on purely ideological grounds – he was opposed to hosting cwg. (Interjection- sir but budget) That is the job of his Ministry - to tell us about the budget.It was the responsibility of the Sports Ministry- they had to c ome to the Cabinet. There is no mechanism in PM’s office to look at all the minute details. Mani Shankar Aiyar wrote many letters to me. Bulk of the letters were all on ideological aspects of spending so much money on the Common Wealth Games – we should be doing --- nothing he brought me anything that was wrong. At one stage, I did get worried – I did get reports but at that one stage we put some officials under Jarnail Singh to keep a watch. Question is how effective was that supervisionJarnail Singh. But Kalmadi was there because he was the President of the Indian Olympic association. The agreement to have CWG was signed in the year 2003 when the previous government was in power.

Q-41. Lameduck PM.

PM: Well I have reason to believe that ultimately truth will prevail.

Q-42. Inflation

PM: I agree. Quite frankly – I did not expect the effect of shock injection of liquidity into the system by the United States. I could not anticipate that the Middle East would once again go into turmoil. Commodity prices, food prices, energy prices are variables over which we have no control. And if you exclude these I think the rest of the inflation is still marginally above what would be considered as inflationary. Now we have the no magic wand to bring down international commodity prices – particularly of food grains – we cannot force our farmers to part with their food grains for procurement at unreasonable prices. That will be suicidal to our farmers. One thing what this Government has done is, it has increased the procurement prices in a manner like no one has increased in the history of the country. (Interjection : That is the root of the problem.) No it may be the root of the problem but that is also our safety net. That agriculture is in good shape. That we have all time high stocks of foodgrains. We have at long last been able to reach out to large numbers of our people.

Q-43:The Food security law wants 80 million tones procured, that is impossible.

A. Maximum that has been procured is 57 million, the average procurement for the last couple of years is 55 million tones. We have to work out a system within this.

Q.44: How would you control Inflation?

A. Inflation is a global problem. Chinese inflation rate has also gone up sharply. We have so much liquidity in the world, and in an integrated world economy we cannot wish away some problems. If oil prices soften and if commodity prices remain where they are, then I asked Rangarajan the other day, and he said that by the end of March, we should have an inflation rate of 6.5 percent.

Q.45: Have you seen the Chinese figure on hidden debt – all of it has suddenly emerged.

A. The Chinese system is opaque. They have a visible very small fiscal deficit. But there are reports that the banking system is financing their infrastructure out of their non-performing assets which is leading to these debts.

 

 

 

SC/LV/SK

EKS, Neutrinos and the Political Leadership

Many years ago Baroda Productivity Council was running a German based course called E K S - Energo Ky(pronounced 'Cy')bernetics System.  It was wonderful.  You could use terms, definitions and jargons of one discipline to compare or draw parallel with. For e.g. Use agricultural terms in Management etc.

Very useful I thought if one were to use it with a different mind to label people and compare, judge.  I came across today on the ECONOMIST 

http://www.economist.com/node/18864342

A new term called Neutrino and thought let me make a reference to this using a current topic.  The most current was the Country situation, Inflation, Jan Lokpal, Corruption and the silence ( Mauna ) of the PM and a tweet I read last morning about the Pope decides to tweet and the PM decides to speak.

The Neurtinos are defined in the article as:

EVEN by the elevated standards of particle physics neutrinos are weird beasts. They travel within a whisker of the speed of light, have no electric charge, practically no mass and precious little will to interact with anything else. Billions penetrate every square centimetre of the Earth’s surface every second without so much as a quiver.

This makes them rather hard to detect. So hard that Wolfgang Pauli, the Austrian physicist who postulated their existence in 1930, wagered a case of champagne that no one would ever do so. He lost the bet in 1956. Since then, neutrinos (of which there are now known to be three fundamentally different sorts) have allowed researchers to glimpse inside the sun, study exploding stars and examine the universe’s distant past.

The latest example of neutrinos’ weirdness comes from Japan. Researchers using a detector called Super-Kamiokande think they have observed the beasts changing their fundamental nature in a way not seen before. They are not yet quite sure. Their result has a 0.7% chance of being a fluke. But if it is confirmed, it will have implications for one of the deepest mysteries of the universe—why it is made of matter.

I thought let us compare the attributes with the current topics.  

  • The leaders travel at a brisk pace around the world.
  • They have no electric charge - have to be diplomatic.  
  • Practically no mass - you may or may not be elected.
  • Precious little will to interact with anyone - Take a Mauna Vrat - Just ignore.
  • Millions penetrate every square centimetre of Earth in every country and park Billions in every square milimetre in every money parking place to avoid tax.
  • No Qalms or quiver in doing so.

 

So who are the people qualifying for the Title of Neutrino in India and in the World?

Memo to Carmakers: Don’t Distract Drivers — Make Them Unnecessary | BNET

Beautiful...but deadly?

Beautiful... but deadly?

Few companies knows more about safety than automakers. Ask an engineer what the dumbest thing you can do behind the wheel is — besides boozing it up — and he’ll likely say “talking on a cell phone” or “texting.” Pretty soon, he may have to add “updating Facebook” or “tweeting” because our cars are rapidly becoming rolling technology hubs. Consumers want it this way. But by listening too obsessively to consumers, automakers may be missing out on the future.

Infotainment versus autonomy

Carmakers do not want their vehicles to in any way inhibit consumer lifestyles. This means that if people want to do social media all day long, they shouldn’t have to shut down in their vehicles.

Companies like Ford (F) know that drivers and passengers will bring iPhones and BlackBerries and tablets into their cars, so they’re building technology platforms that will enable cars to communicate with gadgets, providing in-vehicle interfaces that let people live an app-addled life without endangering themselves.

This has kicked off an arms race in the auto industry. Every carmaker is developing its own proprietary systems, or partnering with tech firms like Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) to ensure that if a customer wants to listen Pandora (P) in their new Ford Explorer, they can. In fact, Ford has pushed out so far with the technology that it’s actually hurting the company’s short-term quality ratings.

But there’s something else happening at the same time: cars are learning to drive themselves. Don’t believe me? Then check out this TED Talk from Sebastian Thrun, who developed a driverless car with Google.

Foreign funds to India drying up - Rediff.com Business

     Next

Foreign fund flows into India have reduced significantly as the country witnessed inflows of just $40 million in the last three months, the weakest among its emerging market peers, says a report.

According to Kotak Institutional Equities' foreign fund flow tracker, "Flows to India continue to disappoint as China, Korea and Taiwan attract the largest inflows in the last three months."

At a time when Indian inflows totalled at $40 million, China had witnessed as much as $1.3 billion, Brazil $484 million and Russia $365 million.

India witnessed an outflow of $371 million last month, while China saw an inflow of $45 million during the period under consideration.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

today is $2 Million Car Day

Did you know...

... that today is $2 Million Car Day? At a 1985 Sotheby's
auction in New York, John Lennon's psychedelic 1965
Rolls-Royce Phantom V touring limousine sold for $2.299
million, the most ever paid for a used car up to that time.

~~~

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you
are. You are what you are!"

-- John Lennon

Act, Mr Prime Minister, act! - Rediff.com News

The time to thump the table has come.

Mr prime minister, the time to thump the table has come.

The time to say: Here I am. Here I will be. The prime minister of India.

The time to tell the people of India: I have received your message. I understand your anguish over the state of India. I share your concerns over corruption. I realise that it has become the single dominating issue governing the thought process of the nation.

Of what use eight-plus growth rate, of what use my unblemished reputation as a man of integrity, if I am perceived by large sections of the people as heading a government of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt. I am determined to see that your anguish is mitigated and that your concerns are addressed in the short time that is still left for me to serve as the prime minister of this great nation.

Close to retirement? Getting a loan won't be easy - Rediff.com Business

     Next
Dipta Joshi in Mumbai

When Jamshedpur-based Siddhi Sharma approached a bank for a Rs 20-lakh (Rs 2 million) home loan, she wasn't sure of the response.

With just six years to go for her retirement and pension the only source of income after that, she did not know how the bank would structure the loan.

To her surprise, the bank agreed to give her a 20-year loan, but with a rider.

She was asked to opt for a joint loan with her salaried daughter, the latter being the main borrower.

As a co-borrower, her liability would be limited compared to her 26-year old daughter, who would have a longer working life.

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Transport Unions Boss Calls For Unity Of International Freight And Passenger Logistics Workers - Latest industry shipping news from the Handy Shipping Guide

Shipping News Feature

US – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters 28th convention was addressed today by Australian Padraig (Paddy) Crumlin, the President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) which represents over four and a half million workers in the freight, shipping and logistics sectors. Mr Crumlin made a typically impassioned speech which reflected the current views of many in the Trades union movement.

Mr Crumlin promised to join together with the Teamsters to fight what he termed ‘the war against workers.’ He said it was necessary to align to get workers rights back from the ‘thieves and carpetbaggers robbing us with one hand and patting themselves on the back with the other.’ He went on to speak of the freeing of Iranian driver Mansour Osanloo who he said had been humiliated and imprisoned for seeking fair wages for those he represented. He continued:

“World trade dominates our national and international economies. It is a mighty engine like those powering the magnificent teamster local rigs outside this hall. It is the engine linking labour throughout the world, workers from the mines of many countries, to the manufacturing centres of many more.

“From there to the distribution and retail outlets everywhere it links workers, their communities and their endeavours as never before. From the farms, coal and iron ore mines of Australia, Brazil and South Africa, to the steel mills and factories of China, India and Japan, to the Wal-Marts, Macy’s and supermarkets of the world - transport workers do the heavy lifting.

“We must organize every link of that supply chain so that we can reach out not only to each other in companies like UPS, DHL (see articles 1 and 2 this week) and FedEx but to other workers in other industries to help build their power and so they may in turn help us build ours.”

The speech welcomed Chinese union representatives who Mr Crumlin said faced similar pressures and demands in the protection of workers’ rights in the next largest economy to the US. He said there was a monopoly against labour which had squandered the wealth created by the workers and he blamed the banks acting in a conspiracy with large multi national corporations.

Last year Mr Crumlin personally led demonstrations (video HERE) in Australia against UPS who the unions accused of unfair treatment of workers in Turkey and again last month in his role as National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) against Patrick Stevedores (ABC video HERE) which resulted in the company locking out workers and accusing the MUA of intimidation and holding the country to ransom. After the union capitulated Mr Crumlin said it had done so ‘to save the company from itself.’

Mr Crumlin finished his speech with the presentation of a print depicting industrial action in Australia to James (Jim) Hoffa, President of the Teamsters and son of the late Teamster boss the infamous Jimmy Hoffa who he described as one of US labour’s great leaders - a man of courage, loyalty and conviction.

Photo: Paddy Crumlin

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Seth's Blog: Are you wow blind?

Are you wow blind?

Kevin asked me: "Do ‘great ideas’ possess universally some sort of Wow Factor?"

The problems with this question: What does 'great' mean? And who decides what 'wow' is?

The challenge is this: lots of people think they know what both words mean in their area of endeavor, and many of them are wrong.

Consider the case of web 2.0 companies. People like Brad Feld and Fred Wilson are brilliant at understanding what wow means from the point of view of an investor. They have great taste about what's going to pay off. They have a sense for which teams and which ideas will actually turn into great businesses.

The peanut gallery at tech sites, though, don't have such great abilities (if they did, they'd be Brad, not anonymous voters). As a result, they mistake consumer wow for investor wow, and often focus on the wrong attributes when they're criticizing or congratulating a company.

This is endemic in the book business, which resolutely refuses to understand the actual P&L of most of the books it publishes. As a result, there are plenty of editors who continue to overpay for the wrong books, because their wow isn't the market's wow.

In his book Money Ball, Michael Lewis wrote about how virtually every single scout and manager in baseball was wrong about what makes a great baseball player. They had the wrong radar, the wrong wow. When statistics taught a few teams what the real wow was, the balance of power shifted.

By definition, just about every great idea resonates early with those that have better radar than those that don't. The skill, then, is to expose yourself often enough, learn enough and fail enough that you get to say wow before the competition does.

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today is Molly Pitcher Day

Did you know...

... that today is Molly Pitcher Day? In 1778, Mary Ludwig
Hays, otherwise known as Molly Pitcher, carried water to the
American soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey,
during the Revolutionary War.

~~~

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"Man imposes his own limitations, don't set any."

-- Anthony Baily

India off US human trafficking 'Watch List' - Rediff.com News

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After a gap of six years, the United States has taken India off the human trafficking 'Watch List' for making significant efforts in combating the menace.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department has upgraded India to Tier 2 countries after keeping it on a 'Watch List' for six years.

The Watch List is for those countries where the number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat it.

Tier 2 is for those countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) but are making significant efforts in this regard.

Ministry-wise PIB releases

India now has 153,000 millionaires; 12th highest in world - Rediff.com Business

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At the end of 2010, India's HNI population stood at 153,000, up more than 20 per cent from 126,700 in 2009, when India was ranked 14th.

The HNIs have been identified as those with investible assets of $1 million or more, excluding their primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.

The report named the US as the country with the largest HNI population (31,04,000), followed by Japan, Germany, China, UK, France, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Brazil and India.

In Asia-Pacific, India has the highest number of millionaires after Japan, China and Australia. Among the top 12 countries globally, India's growth in HNI population was highest at 20.8 per cent.

Monday, 27 June 2011

mental_floss Blog » 10 Funny and Fabulous Flowcharts

10 Funny and Fabulous Flowcharts
by Miss Cellania - June 23, 2011 - 8:11 AM
bloghead_M.C.Files.gif

Flow charts are wonderful for mapping processes for machines, as they lay out a sequence of binary decisions, meaning yes or no. When you think about it, most of what we do in life is also based on yes/no decisions -you just have to break the problem down into small pieces to see that clearly. In these flow charts, we see how life choices can be broken down into a set of binary decisions taken to a ridiculous degree.

1. Should I Worry?

I love this chart. It illustrates what I tell my family from time to time -there’s no sense in worrying about something you can’t do anything about. And when you think about it, there’s no sense in worrying about anything else, either. And if you squint your eyes, the chart looks as if it is saying “OK.”

2. Should I Become an Astronaut or Not?

You may be devoted to space and space travel, but if you’re not cut out for the position of astronaut, you may as well focus on something else. This flow chart will help you make that decision in a logical, orderly fashion. After all, hiring is down, even at NASA. It’s from Good magazine, where they have a new flowchart for your life decisions every week.

3. Video Game Characters

If you’ve ever wondered how game makers design characters, there are only a few easily-parsed rules. This is just the beginning of the flow chart, but if you go to the full chart, you will see more character development. You already know where the female line is heading.

4. How to Play Pictionary

I’m not sure if this is the best way to play the game, but it’s what actually happens when people play it, illustrated by the webcomic Doghouse Diaries. If you have a better method, it would be prudent to keep it to yourself to gain an edge on the competition (yeah, right- as if Pictionary is a competitive game).

5. Should You Friend Your Parents on Facebook?

What a conundrum! In my case, the question is whether I should “friend” my children. With a house full of teenagers, I am torn between wanting to keep up with their social interactions and not wanting them to know the details of my online business. This handy flowchart by Mike Newman at Cool Material leads you through the decision-making process.

6. How to Find YouTube Videos

YouTube is a vast ocean consisting of almost anything that can be committed to video. Finding what you’ll most likely enjoy is made easier with this maze of a flowchart by Karen Kavett. A series of questions will lead you to a recommended channel, or at least a starting point. See the full size version at her site.

7. How to Hack a Computer in an Action Movie

Hacking someone else’s computer system in the real world is a complicated feat that not just anyone can do. In Hollywood, however, all you need is a few time-tested steps that can be followed in a flow chart from College Humor. Only the beginning is shown here. Click to enlarge the original version to read it all.

8. Expressing Your Thoughts

Paul Davis designed a series of a dozen greeting cards with hand-drawn flow charts that explain the sender’s message. Each step in the flow makes the greeting more meaningful.

9. What Produce Should I Eat?

What Should I Eat? Produce Aisle Edition is just one of the many food flowcharts from Top Cultured. They also have flowcharts to help you select your beer, candy, fast food, chain restaurant, and more. Looking at all the choices from the produce aisle makes me crave a salad, especially in the summer when everything tastes so much better. Even if you have no trouble selecting your food, this chart may give you ideas for something new to try. Only a small portion is pictured here.

10. Obsession

This flow chart explains the daily life of a cyclist, but it could be adapted to anyone who has a hobby that takes over their life. It was designed by Karl Rosengarth of Wearhold. I can’t argue against anything that will make someone this happy.

See more funny flowcharts in other mental_floss posts:
Run Your Life with Flowcharts!
Fun with Flowcharts
7 Geeky Flowcharts
7 Brilliant and/or Baffling Flowcharts
7 Flowcharts for Fun
10 Funny Flowcharts
10 Clever and Confusing Flowcharts

Business Line : Industry & Economy / Logistics : Air cargo business could soar with better infrastructure

Air cargo business could soar with better infrastructure

Debabrata Das
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Air cargo companies are hopeful that improved infrastructure will boost growth, especially in transporting specialised products, such as pharmaceuticals
Business Line Air cargo companies are hopeful that improved infrastructure will boost growth, especially in transporting specialised products, such as pharmaceuticals

The volume of air cargo traffic in the country stands at around 2.64 million tonnes a year, with almost half of this coming from Delhi and Mumbai.

With air cargo traffic growing in the country, global air freight majors are queuing up to get a share of the pie. But to nurture the growth of air cargo in the country, airport infrastructure needs to improve, with more dedicated cargo terminals. The growth in the two major centres, Delhi and Mumbai, highlights what a modern cargo terminal can do for the air cargo sector.

According to industry estimates, the volume of air cargo traffic in the country will be around 2.64 million tonnes this year.

Almost half of this comes from Delhi and Mumbai, with Delhi accounting for 600,000 tonnes while Mumbai accounts for 500,000 tonnes (2010-11).

As modernisation work in Delhi nears completion, the air freight industry expects the cargo terminal to handle not less than one million tonnes of air cargo, annually, by 2013. Analysts expect another 500,000 tonnes of cargo traffic to be added from Mumbai when the Navi Mumbai airport starts functioning.

“Delhi International Airport is India's second largest airport in terms of cargo traffic,” said Mr Rajat Khosla, FedEx Trade Networks Country Manager of India. “It also serves as the gateway to the industrial areas of Northern India, which are home to a variety of industries, including automotive, high-tech, pharmaceuticals, leather goods, and apparels and textiles, among others.”

Since 2009, when modernisation work at the Delhi cargo terminal was started by Celebi Holdings, cargo traffic has grown by close to 40 per cent. The terminal now handles 600,000 tonnes of cargo, against 430,000 tonnes in 2009.

“It is good that India is looking seriously at its cargo infrastructure upgrade. India exports pharmaceuticals, for instance, in a big way. Lack of facilities will hold up growth,” said Ms Canan Celebioglu Tokgoz, Vice-Chairperson of Celebi Holdings, the company in charge of the Delhi Cargo Terminal.

Turbulent Times

The last two months have been a struggle for air cargo companies in the Asian region as air cargo traffic has declined.

“The decline in international air cargo traffic reported for May this year reflects some moderation in the pace of global economic growth, affecting Asian exports, especially when compared to the very strong rebound in demand seen last year. However, we may see volumes pick up again in the stronger second half of the year,” said Mr Andrew Herdman, Director-General, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

But despite the drop, the South-East Asian region is one of biggest revenue generators for air cargo. According to data from the International Air Transport Association, air cargo revenues in the South-East Asian region is $1,944 million, as of May 2011, second only to Europe.

Air cargo companies in India are hopeful that improvement in infrastructure will boost growth as the Indian market offers a good balance of import-export cargo.

“From Cathay Pacific's perspective, imports and exports are highly balanced. There's only an 8-9 per cent difference, so it makes the market attractive for us as the freighters come in full and fly out full,” said Mr Ashish Kapur, Regional Manager, Cargo, Cathay Pacific Cargo.

He added that the biggest challenge for growth of air cargo is infrastructure. “Warehouse infrastructure is a big problem. It takes 5-6 days, on an average, for trucks to reach the warehouse in Delhi. This kills the time advantage that air cargo gives. In more mature markets there are private bonded warehouses with Customs checks. That is what we need here. Some work is happening in Chennai but it is not enough,” said Mr Kapur.

Warehouse infrastructure

Work on other private airports also continues. Recently, the GMR Group's Hyderabad airport received certification from Lufthansa Cargo, to become one of the airline's cargo hubs in South Asia for transporting pharmaceutical products.

“Hyderabad is fast emerging as an important pharma manufacturing centre, with 70 per cent of the exports coming from Hyderabad alone. Lufthansa Cargo's expertise and the modern infrastructure at Hyderabad Airport will enable us to offer our customers the best and most reliable infrastructure facility for cool chain transport in South Asia,” said Mr Vikram Jaisinghani, Chief Executive Officer, GMR Hyderabad Airport International.

Gulf-carriers such as Emirates have also started to concentrate on smaller cities. Emirates SkyCargo recently began operations in Lucknow with a view to penetrate the Indian market further.

“Now, we are looking to expand to secondary markets. When I say secondary markets, I mean Jaipur, Coimbatore, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Indore and Visakhapatnam,” said Mr Keki Patel, Emirates SkyCargo Cargo Manager (India & Nepal).

Keywords: air cargo trafficCa

Why 3G hasn’t clicked so far

Seven months into its much publicized launch in India, the 3G service in the country is yet to create any waves. Analysts say inadequate infrastructure, linear tariff models, and less than enthusiastic consumer experience threaten to derail the gen-next breakthrough in the Indian telecom story.

An independent 3G survey by Bangalore-based IT and Telecom consulting firm, Knowledgefaber suggested a modest uptake so far for the service.

Said Jayant Kholla, telecom practice leader at Knowldgefaber, “As per our estimates, as of mid-April there were three million to 3.5 million subscribers (voluntary 3G upgrades by users) as compared to 5 million to 6 million claimed by operators.”

This rather lowly figure assumes importance in the context of the estimated total number of 3G handsets in circulation in the country. “There are about 80mn to 100mn 3G enabled mobile handsets installed base in India.” 3G handsets have been available as early as 2005-06 in India.

Although there hasn't been much change in the average selling price of 3G handsets post the launch of 3G services, about 65 3G enabled handset models have been launched in two quarters starting October 2010, as compared to about 50 in the two quarters leading up to October 2010, said Kholla at Knowledgefaber.

The ground situation on infrastructure hosting 3G is also said to be sparse. As per Knowledgefaber estimates, there were just over 40,000 3G base transceiver station (BTS) installed by end of March 2011 as compared to 3,50,000 2G BTSs pan India (all operators combined).There are close to 300,000 mobile towers (passive infrastructure) for supporting the existing 2G active infrastructure. The operators can potentially use the available tenancy on these towers to deploy their 3G antennas.

Indian carriers (especially incumbent carriers) currently face multiple structural challenges such as inadequate infrastructure and limited available spectrum (5MHz) to offer 3G enabled data optimized services at launch.

Also, carriers’ “walled garden” approach to value added services and prevalent piracy and Indian consumers’ lack of willingness to pay for such services pose a huge challenge for immediate uptake of 3G services, the study argued. However, once the 3G device prices decrease and the tariffs stabilize in the first two years, Knowledgefaber believes that the 3G uptake will rise in 2013 and reach over 90 million by March 2014.

Shobhit Agarwal, managing director, Protiviti Consulting said, “Key would to be keeping pricing low and have good customer experience – as there is no single killer application. Operators will continue to bundle and have aggressive pricing to induce people to try more and more of data services.”

Top operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance and Tata Communications are offering various services including video based services, high definition gaming, high speed mobile internet browsing and app stores on their 3G networks.

Knowledgefaber cited poor end-user experience as the other reason for poor uptake. “Many consumers (early adopters) who have opted for 3G services offered by some of the leading carriers are facing issues with services and network coverage. A single block of 5MHz spectrum is insufficient to offer dedicated data & video services on 3G,”its study said.

“Video becoming more popular and as the base of customer using 3G expands, operators will have to keep innovating/optimizing as they have limited 3G spectrum – this would be an important factor to ensure good customer experience; if initial experience continues to be good, adoption will be accelerated which will help 3G realize its potential in India – a country with a significant unmet data demand,” Protiviti’s Agarwal added.

david hieatt - The Zen of the Penalty Taker.

The Zen of the penalty taker.

P1020510  

When a football games goes to penalties, something interesting happens.

There are those who step forward to take a penalty. And then there are those

who’d do anything on earth not to take one.

Are the most talented the most likely to take one? Not always. The pressure of taking a penalty often means all that talent suddenly evaporating to nothing in front of your eyes. And more importantly, in front of goal.

Are the bravest the best penalty takers? The problem here is 'brave' really means 'passionate'. And passion can take a terrible penalty. Or a great one. It really is either hit or miss.

The best penalty taker is the one with nothing on his mind other than taking a penalty. They don’t think about the importance of the kick, about the crowd, about what it will mean to lose. Their heart maybe racing, but their mind is clear.

They block stuff out. They don’t/can’t/won’t imagine what missing could mean.They are the entrepreneurs of a football team. They accept the risk, but don’t dwell on it.

They just kick the darn ball.

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today is the Seat Belt Law's Birthday

Did you know...

... that today is the Seat Belt Law's Birthday? In 1955, the
state of Illinois enacted the first seat belt law in the
United States. Trivia buffs: today 31 states, the District of
Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands,
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands all have primary seat belt
laws.

~~~

Today's Inspirational Quote:

"You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained
Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from
them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right
reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons."

-- Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Today's Inspirational Quote:


"Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do
something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody
goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a
crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a
champion someday."

-- Wilma Rudolph

STAND UP WHILE YOU READ THIS POST! [INFOGRAPHIC] | North Star Alliance

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Did you know...

Did you know... ... that today is Bald Eagle Comeback Day? On June 28, 2007, in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the bald eagle was official...