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The Indian Economy (Page 31)

malligai Senior Member
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Posted: 07 February 2009 at 11:54am | IP Logged
I  really admire your work.
You must have spent lot of time to prepare.
Thanks jagdu. God bless you.

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Posted: 08 February 2009 at 4:03pm | IP Logged

Election Commission Denies Setting Federal Poll Dates

India's Election Commission hasn't yet met to decide dates for federal polls which are due by May this year, a spokesman for the panel told Wednesday. Denying reports that federal elections will be held between April 8 and May 15, the spokesman said that the Election Commission of India has not met so far to decide any dates. Any reports on dates, if any, have no authenticity.

Rural India Snaps Up Mobile Phones

Demand Among Poor

Even amid the global economic slowdown, one Indian industry continues to boom: selling cellphones to the rural poor. Economists have slashed Indian economic growth forecasts for this year and the stock market is in the doldrums. But cellphone companies are signing millions of new subscribers a month, making India the fastest growing mobile-phone market in the world. There is no sign of a slowdown yet: figures to be released later this month are expected to show that new subscriptions in January reached a record 11 million. The demand for cellphones is coming mainly from rural consumers, who typically earn less than $1,000 a year. These buyers haven't been affected by plunging stock and real-estate prices or tighter bank lending since they typically don't own land and don't borrow. A large majority of them don't have access to regular landline phone networks there are only about 40 million landline subscribers in India so once cellular coverage comes to their towns or villages they scramble to get their first phones.
[SB123394623541257907] hspace0

Can You Hear Me Now?

Indian consumers, many from rural areas, make up the fastest-growing group of cellphone subscribers world-wide. In the village of Karanehalli, a cluster of simple homes around an intersection of two dirt roads about 40 miles from India's high-tech capital of Bangalore, Farmer K.T. Srinivasa doesn't have a toilet for his home or a tractor for his field. But when a red and white cellular tower sprouted in his village, he splurged on a cellphone. While the way his family threshes rice crushing it with a massive stone roller hasn't changed for generations, his phone has changed the way he farms. He uses it to decide when to plant and harvest by calling other farmers, to get the best prices for his rice, coconuts and jasmine by calling wholesalers, and to save hours of time waiting on the road for deliveries and pickups that rarely come on time. Life is much better with the cellphone, he said from his rice paddy in the shadow of the new tower. I bring it with me to the fields and anyone can reach me here. Mr. Srinivasa, like close to half the 800 people in his village, uses Idea Cellular Ltd. as it was the first to bring them service. He paid the equivalent of about $60 for his Nokia phone, and spends about $6 each month for service. Like most rural users, Mr. Srinivasa uses his phone to make voice calls he doesn't know how to text message or to download emails. On average rural Indians use their phones around 8.5 hours a month, up 10% over the past year. The story is the same across rural India, home to more than 60% of India's population of 1.2 billion. The continued expansion of the cellphone industry in India stands in sharp contrast to most other industries here. Textile and software exporters are struggling. India's brand new malls are sparsely populated and the sales of cars, trucks, tractors and motorcycles have declined in recent months.

[india phone usage]
But the cellphone industry recorded more than 10 million new subscribers in December, up from eight million a year earlier. The industry's overall subscriber base grew 48% in 2008 to 347 million customers. Rural customers have been hungry for mobile phones for a long time, so demand will remain unaffected, by the global jitters, said S.P. Shukla, chief executive officer of the mobile business at Reliance Communications India Ltd., India's second-largest cellular company by number of subscribers, after Bharti Airtel. Reliance launched a new $2 billion nationwide network in January that reaches more than 24,000 towns and 600,000 villages. International wireless giants are clamoring for a piece of the action. Last year, Vodafone Holdings PLC took over India's fourth-largest cellular company by number of subscribers. In December, a japanese company announced it will pay almost $3 billion for a 26% stake in Tata Teleservices Ltd. While the average amount subscribers spend has slipped as less-affluent consumers get connected, profit growth and margins have remained healthy thanks to economies of scale, according to investors and telecom executives. For example, Bharti Airtel saw its profit in the three months ended Dec. 31 climb to 22 billion rupees ($452 million), up 25% from a year earlier, as it drew in a record number of new subscribers. And with a national penetration rate of less than 30% as of December there is still a lot of untapped demand. In contrast, in the U.S. more than 80% of the people have mobile phones. In China the penetration rate is more than 40%.In Khairat, a village 45 miles outside Mumbai that is only accessible on foot or by motorcycle, buffalo farmer Mohan Zore makes around $80 a month but figured he still needed a phone once his village got coverage. He doesn't have to walk into the market to find out the price of buffalo milk, he now just dials friends at the market from his phone. And he can easily call his son from the fields when he is out grazing his herd. He used to spend 300 rupees and three hours on a bus to visit his daughter and grandchildren. Now he can catch up with them for one rupee a minute. The phone saves me money, he says from his mud-walled home, which he shares with his 20 buffalo.Mr. Zore can afford a phone because Indian cellular services are among the least expensive in the world. Incoming calls are free and making a call usually costs less than 2 cents a minute. Most of the rural subscribers use prepaid cards for service rather than monthly plans, topping up as needed. The companies are pushing ahead with multibillion dollar build-out plans to expand their networks to smaller and smaller villages. We are still experiencing strong growth in all areas, said Amit Ganani, chief executive officer for Tower Vision India Pvt. Ltd., a New Delhi based company that builds cellular towers and then rents them out to multiple service providers. It built the tower that brought cellular services to Karanehalli. It plans to raise the number of sites it has in India to about 5,000 by the end of the year from about 3,000 now. If you go to the remote areas you don't have to be a genius to record huge growth, Mr. Ganani said. The villagers in Karanehalli say the cellular tower was one of their first opportunities to plug into what was happening in the rest of India, and the world. They can name America's new president -- Obama! a group of villagers shout when asked. They know that the global slowdown has hurt the price of coconuts as well as silk. They know that their relatives that work at the nearby car factory have lost their jobs recently. They also understand that their agriculture-based economy is not hurting as bad as that of their high-tech neighbors in Bangalore. After the global crises, said Mr. Srinivasa, the farmer, I think we are in better shape.


Edited by jagdu - 09 February 2009 at 9:38am
atina IF-Rockerz
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Posted: 08 February 2009 at 8:30pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by malligai

I  really admire your work.
You must have spent lot of time to prepare.
Thanks jagdu. God bless you.
 
Yes I agree with you maaligai....it s a lot of work.....and it is nice to get all these news under one thread like this........hats off to you Jagdu
jagdu IF-Dazzler
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Posted: 10 February 2009 at 9:22am | IP Logged

Boeing Expects India to Buy Military Products Worth $31 Billion 

US Aircraft makers said Tuesday it expects India to buy military products worth 31 billion dollars in the next 10 years, raising an earlier forecast. The U.S. aircraft makers said also it expects sales in the South Asian country's civil aviation market to reach $105 billion in 20 years. Boeing had said in December 2007 the Indian market for military products was expected to touch $15 billion in 15 years. It had also predicted India to buy commercial products worth $80 billion in 15-20 years. It's a growing market. We have not even scratched the surface. Approximately, $2 billion [of the forecast of $31 billion] has already been realized through the [maritime patrol aircraft] P-8I deal. The Indian government signed a $2.1 billion agreement in January with Boeing to buy eight P-8I aircraft in its latest move to modernize its mainly Soviet-vintage defense equipment. Boeing has delivered 161 commercial planes worth $25 billion to Indian carriers in the past three years. None of its customers in India has canceled any orders because of the current slowdown in the market. Economic expansion, rising incomes and start of several low-fare airlines had led Indian carriers to order 410 commercial aircraft worth about $40 billion from Airbus and 164 planes worth about $25 billion from Boeing since 2004. Most of the orders were placed in 2005. But, a slowing economy and oil price-induced higher fares have damped demand this year, leading several carriers to cut costs via pruning routes and reducing staff. Boeing currently has outstanding orders for 100 planes from Indian airlines.. Also, it has delivered 25 of the 68 planes previously ordered by state-run Air India. Boeing will bid to sell six medium-range maritime patrol aircraft to India. Indian government is to shortly invite bids for six heavy-lift transport helicopters, for which it will pitch the Chinook helicopter.

India to Borrow 460 Billion Rupees

India's federal government plans to borrow an additional 460 billion rupees ($9.4 billion) through March, the third extra borrowing in the current fiscal year. We had discussions with the RBI [Reserve Bank of India]. The borrowing will be between Feb. 20 and Mar. 20 to the tune of 460 billion rupees. The additional borrowing will be spread over four tranches, he said. The government has already exceeded its initial gross fiscal year borrowing estimate of 1.45 trillion rupees by a further 700 billion rupees. The new borrowing will raise the total to 2.61 trillion rupees. Higher expenditure and lower tax revenues are straining government finances.Government bonds fell sharply after the news as the market factored in the additional supply. The most actively traded 8.24% 2018 bond was at 112.70 rupees in recent trade as against 113.39 rupees before the news came in. The Indian government's heavy extra borrowing this fiscal year shows the effect of sizable fiscal stimuli as well as possible slippage in tax collection in the last few months. The whole point is that we do need more stimulus to boost the economy. Given that we expect a further slowdown in the next [fiscal] year, heavy government borrowing in the market will continue. The Indian government forecast Monday that the country's economy would grow 7.1% in the year ending March 31, the slowest pace in six years, as exports tumble and domestic demand slackens. India's economy, the third-largest in Asia, grew 9% in the last fiscal year, and 9.7% the previous year. Global demand will remain weak in 2009 and there will be a continuous need for fiscal stimulus.

From the Horse's mouth: Coporate Queens 2

Why We Should Welcome The Recession

Thank God for the downturn. When I moved back to India from college in California in 2003, I experienced what I would call counter-culture shock. Adjusting to America wasn't so hard I'd spent years studying American culture on cable TV. But returning to Mumbai I found a city undergoing a complete makeover. Tall buildings sprouted up. Major retail brands opened outlets. Big financial companies set up shop. Easy financing was plentiful. Indian companies discovered expansion.

[Devita Saraf]

Devita Saraf

A country where, in the socialist era, was experiencing a capitalist preening frenzy. I remember meeting a multiplex cinema company that was planning to set up 1,500 screens across the country and attract 3 million walk-ins a year. Impressed as I was with their plans, I couldn't help wonder where this audience would come from. After all, the real spending population of India is barely 5% to 10% of the country, even less than in many other countries where 20% of the people spend 80% of the money. But I didn't dare argue with their inflated math. After all, they had paid a fortune to a consulting company to come up with the magic number. We are not suppliers to this company yet  thankfully in retrospect. But what business we do with them now will be for real. Deep-down, we all knew that the market was built on hype and that most companies would fail to deliver. With the economy on the skids, the company's expansion plans have stalled. Projections of millions have been reduced to a few hundred thousand. Increasing capital expenditure is out; boosting revenue from existing multiplexes is in. That's why, for someone who could be a supplier to this company, the recession is a blessing in disguise. Because deep-down, we all knew that the market was built on hype and that most companies would fail to deliver. Yet, we built our businesses and our sales targets on these inflated figures in the hopes that India would really shine. We kidded ourselves that we could be the biggest consuming economy in a few years.

Now when I meet companies we might supply to, they talk real numbers in terms of their expansion goals. There's no mention of the statistically magical consulting companies. So it makes it easy for me, as a supplier, to plan production and my own targets. I can pay real salaries, instead of kow-towing to the whims of young whipper-snappers who conveniently add a few zeros to the salary they deserve. I get real prices from my own suppliers and they stick to deadlines because they appreciate the business they have. So the recession is not so bad, is it? It's just the rudest wake-up call we've ever had. India will shine and our economy will boom. But if we ever felt that we might be immune to the global downturn, now we know we were kidding ourselves. Yet we need to realize that our local economy itself is huge the reason so many foreign companies come to India until recently was a very inward-looking economy. We must simply understand what the Indian consumer in the new age is looking for and deliver on that. And it's clear that, at heart, he's still the simple Indian purchaser who wants a better life for his children than he has. He wants a better car, a bigger house and all the amenities organized retail chains, malls and multiplexes that his friends who moved abroad have. He's had a stroke of unbelievable luck for the past few years because a higher salary allowed him to indulge, as the shopping choices were only matched by almost unlimited financing options. It's time now to depend less, as the new movie title has it, on Luck by chance.



Edited by jagdu - 10 February 2009 at 9:25am
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Posted: 11 February 2009 at 11:32am | IP Logged
India's defense
Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer said it expects to sell more military aircraft to India, capitalizing on the South Asian country's plan to modernize its defense forces. Embraer bid in 2007 for an Indian government order to supply nine multi-mission aircraft. Embraer is waiting for a response from the Indian government. Embraer declined to disclose the estimated value of the potential order. Embraer previously sold five of its Legacy 600 executive jets to the Indian government, of which four are with the Indian Air Force and one with the Border Security Force. Each jet is worth an estimated $20 million. Embraer is seeing good progress in a military aircraft program with the Indian government. Under the program, Embraer will deliver three EMB 145 AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning & Control) jets, which will then be fitted with advanced electronic systems that are being developed by India's Defence Research & Development Organization, or DRDO. Embraer is in the design phase of the program. Embraer is receiving specifications from the DRDO for modifications. Embraer signed an agreement with the Indian government in July last year to sell the three EMB 145 jets for an undisclosed amount. Delivery of the first EMB 145 jet is scheduled for 2011. There is a market for the project (with DRDO). If Embraer is successful in providing DRDO with a very good platform and provided DRDO is capable of coming up with a good radar and command-and-control system there will be scope for the Indian government to export it. Besides the defense and government space, Embraer has a presence in the business jets and commercial aircraft market in India.
The Indian government is likely to order up to 100 Hawk trainer jets from the U.K. for its air force and navy. There was always a plan for about 160 Hawks, so we are looking to fulfill that at the Aero India 2009. India had ordered 66 Hawk jets in 2004 for $1.45 billion for its air force. As per the agreement, 24 aircraft were ordered in flyaway condition, of which 12 have been delivered. The remainder will be produced by India's state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.  The new order could be announced soon, perhaps at Aero India too.
 

Interim Budget likely to offer tax breaks

The Budget to be placed in Parliament on Monday might be interim in nature, but a third stimulus package to boost the economy hit by the global slowdown is likely to be a part of it. Some tinkering in the indirect tax structure, focusing on specific sectors, is on the anvil, besides higher depreciation rates to boost investment and extension of tax benefits for the information technology sector, on the direct tax front.

SEBI smells circular trading in Spice Communications rally

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is probing if there was any circular trading in shares of Spice Communications, which had risen sharply of late. A top SEBI official told ET that the market regulator has asked stock exchanges for details of trading in Spice shares in the three sessions since January 29, when the stock surged 228%. The rally in this stock during this period stumped most market watchers, who said the low-free float, provided traders the ammunition to ramp up the stock. Free float means the shareholding of non-promoters, which is supposed to be at least 25% of the total equity, unless in exceptional cases such as public sector companies.

IL&FS to take control of Maytas Infra

Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Company (IL&FS) is poised to acquire management control of the troubled infrastructure company Maytas Infrastructure owned by family members of Ramalinga Raju, former chairman and managing director of Satyam Computers, who confessed to financial fraud on January 7. The leading non-banking finance company is emerging as a government preference given its prominent role in infrastructure finance in the country. IL&FS is among 19 banks and financial institutions that have collectively lent Maytas Infra Rs 50 billion and is partner in several major Maytas projects including the Hyderabad Metro.

DoT gets tough with new mobile players on rollout

The Department of Telecom is turning the heat on new mobile players for not launching services despite having given out the licenses almost a year ago. The DoT has asked all the new players to submit details of the network set up so far including the number of base stations and location of their mobile switching centers.

GSM operators add 9.3 million subscribers in Jan

Unscathed by the global economic downturn, the Indian telecom growth story continues with the GSM operators adding a record 9.3 million new subscribers the highest ever, taking the total user base to 267.5 million in January, 2009. If Reliance Telecom numbers are included the addition may cross 10 million.

Low fares didn't work, so airlines take the high road

Low fares, sometimes even pitched as no fares, didn't work for them, so Indian airlines are hoping that the reverse strategy works for them. The move comes even as jet fuel prices, tracking oil prices, have plunged, helping airlines cut costs.

UPA's dilemma: to be or not to be populist

There is no bar on such measures before poll dates are announced, but the government may need to weigh pros and cons. While two senior ministers independently said the government would make use of the opportunity to announce some populist measures, another said the government would just present its basic accounts during the interim budget.

Talk to us directly: India tells Pak

India asked Pakistan to directly deal with it on the issue of the Mumbai dossier, after it became clear that Pakistan was stringing India along. After Pakistan said on Monday it would revert with more questions, India is now resigned to several more days of waiting for the neighbor to respond. Pakistan has successfully mired India's demands to deal with terrorism in bureaucratese. Terror groups may have approached Dawood Ibrahim to kill Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive after the November 26 Mumbai attacks. Underworld don Chhota Shakeel, a close aide of Dawood's, is believed to been given a contract to kill Kasab. Shakeel is believed to be hiding in Pakistan and taking help from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

Devolution of powers in Lanka only way out: Pranab

India underlined the urgent need for credible devolution of powers in Sri Lanka, saying it is the only way forward to ensure resolution of problems afflicting the island nation. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told that India remains concerned over the condition of civilian population in northern Sri Lanka.

Advani woos voters via Pak media

A Pakistani website is a rather unusual place to find an advertisement of BJP leader L K Advani campaigning for the forthcoming 2009 Lok Sabha polls. But there he is on the online edition of Pakistan's premier English newspaper, Lahore-based Dawn, with his slogan: Advani for PM. The Dawn online advertisement isn't an isolated example. The BJP is hard-selling the 81-year-old Advani all over the web. About 2,000 sites frequented by India's net-users have been identified by BJP's crack IT team. Several foreign media sites have been selected, including Washington Post, New York Times and UK's Guardian online. Apart from the Dawn, Pakistan newspaper The Nation and website Paktribune also carry the ads.

Maharashtra sees 150,000 job losses

Maharashtra has reported around 150,000 job losses over the last few months. State Labor Minister Nawab Malik said 150,000 fewer jobs were available in the unorganized sector in the state this year compared with the previous year. The worst-hit sectors were automobile ancillary, engineering and construction.



Edited by jagdu - 11 February 2009 at 11:34am
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Posted: 12 February 2009 at 9:11am | IP Logged

DLF stalls 2 of its biggest projects

Facing acute liquidity crunch and poor buyer sentiments, the country's biggest property developer, DLF, has stopped work at two of its biggest mid-income housing projects. The New Delhi-based builder has halted construction at DLF New Town Heights in Gurgaon Sector 90 and Express Greens in sector M1 in Manesar, both in Haryana. The two projects were launched in January and August 2008, respectively.

Tata Strategic Group ties up with Roland Berger

Tata Management Strategic Group, a part of the diversified Tata Group, on Wednesday announced alliance with Roland Berger Strategy, the biggest strategic consultants with European origin. The alliance will give both firms an opportunity to offer Indian firms new high-end services that require specialised or international experience. The alliance will support international firms in their expansion plans in India and large Indian companies planning to develop in Europe, China and Japan. Both companies would also seek to jointly develop new geography like West Asia, South-East Asia and Africa.

IBM seen controlling half of local offshoring market by 2010

IBM, the world's biggest software services provider, continues to gain more business in the domestic information technology market, and Nine trends for IT in 2009 is set to control almost half of the domestic outsourcing market by 2010. At least two experts tracking India's $5.6-billion market for software outsourcing said, that IBM currently has around 36% share, and is set to control almost half the domestic outsourcing market by 2010.

Subhiksha directors quit company as woes mount

Three directors on the board of Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd resigned over the past six months as the discount retailer hurtled into a crisis that has left behind angry investors, employees and business partners. These directors had quit the board to avoid the legal problems they would inevitably face as the crisis at Subhiksha worsened.

CCEA okays proposal to ease FDI norms

The Government streamlined the methodology for calculating the total foreign investment in Indian companies, under which it has excluded indirect investment routed through entities ultimately controlled by Indians from the overall sectoral ceilings. The move, cleared by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, is aimed at encouraging more overseas funds inflow and offering greater leeway for foreign firms to increase equity in their ventures in India.

NSG hints at Qaida, Taliban link to 26/11

A day after top Al Qaida commander Mustafa Abu Al Yazid warned India of more Mumbai-like strikes if it tried to attack Pakistan, National Security Guard (NSG) chief J K Dutt on Wednesday said 26/11 was a joint operation of Taliban, Al Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The Mumbai terror attack was an audacious attempt by the LeT, Taliban and Al Qaida combine to shape policies of three sovereign nations that include the oldest and the largest democracy,Dutt said at an international seminar organised by the National Bomb Data Centre at Manesar in Haryana.

PC snubs Modi, asks if he is in touch with Pak

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram slammed BJP leader and Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi over his irresponsible remarks concerning local links in the Mumbai terror attack. Queried on similarities Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's remarks on involvement of internal elements in Mumbai attacks and comments by Pakistani leadership, Chidambaram said you should ask Narendra Modi whether he and Pakistan are in contact with each other.

Kasab: Media says charges filed, Pak Govt denies it

Confusion prevailed over reports that Pakistani authorities on Wednesday filed a case against Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the Mumbai attacks, and 12 others in connection with the terror strikes. The case was registered on the basis of the probe conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the decision made by the Defence Committee of the Cabinet during its meeting on Monday.

India Nears Decision on Easing Foreign Holdings in Airlines

The Indian government may decide within days whether to ease rules on foreign investment in the country's aviation sector, with Indian carriers seeking more leeway to raise capital in the economic downturn. The government will decide very soon on allowing foreign airlines to buys stakes in domestic carriers Arun Mishra, joint secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said.
 

Rolls-Royce Plans to Bid for India Jaguar Engine

Rolls-Royce Group PLC said Wednesday it plans to bid for an Indian government program to replace the engines of its 125-strong fleet of Jaguar combat jets.
 

Indian defense forces competent to meet any threat: Chidambaram

In the wake of an al Qaeda warning to carry out more Mumbai-type terror attacks, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the country's defense forces are prepared to meet any threat from any quarter. Defense Minister A K Antony had already made it clear that the defense forces are fully prepared to meet any kind of threat.

Foreign firms can hike stake with change on FDI norms

Giving scope to foreign firms to increase equity in their Indian joint ventures, the government on Tuesday changed FDI policy and excluded indirect investment through domestic companies from overall sectoral ceilings. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the changes in the guidelines for calculating total foreign investment.

Rebels deny shooting civilians in Sri Lanka war

The Tamil Tiger rebels denied accusations that they opened fire on civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's northeastern war zone, instead accusing the military Wednesday of turning so called safe zones for civilians into killing fields. The accusations came amid reports of increasing casualties among the many of the tens of thousands of civilians reportedly trapped inside the war zone as government forces battled to destroy the rebel group and end the nation's 25-year-old civil war.

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Posted: 13 February 2009 at 10:59am | IP Logged
From the Horse's mouth.
Corporate King Sandeep Kohli
 
Opening a restaurant is every foodie's dream. Realizing those dreams in India can be a nightmare.
[Sandeep Kohli]

Some of the laws governing the opening of eating establishments in India date back almost 100 years and are completely archaic. Add to that the boatload of approvals needed just to open shop in Delhi and most cities across India and it's tempting just to ditch the idea of having a restaurant before you begin. When I set up the KFC and Pizza Hut restaurant chains in India in 1994, for instance, I found that the restaurant licensing laws are governed under the Punjab Municipal Act of 1957. It requires that no building housing a restaurant should have unauthorized construction. And the entire restaurant has to be on the ground floor. Anywhere else was out of bounds. How did this play out in practice? A friend of mine who had a property in Defence Colony market, one of Delhi's swankier neighborhoods, was more than willing to rent it to us. No sooner had the lease been inked than problems started coming out of the woodwork. The building quickly came under scrutiny from the Delhi authorities because it had some unauthorized construction. Ploof! The building was torn down and rebuilt from scratch. I did open the KFC three years after first signing for the site. For a country that seeks to be a global power, encourage entrepreneurship and investment, there is still a huge amount of red tape.  That, of course, was a decade ago. How much has changed since then? Not much. I've been opening new restaurants for the past year. There has been some relaxation in the rules: You can build on higher floors as long as they are commercially zoned. With the arrival of malls, the real estate crunch has eased. Privatization has made getting a power connection less of an issue. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. For a country that seeks to be a global power, encourage entrepreneurship and investment, there is still a huge amount of red tape. It is an added cost of doing business here. First, you get a No Objection certificate from the Fire Department which is followed by a Health license from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Then you need three different police clearances one from the police station in the area where the restaurant is located, the next from the police station in the area where the restaurant manager lives, and then another one from the police licensing department. Next, you apply for Tourism & Excise licenses. The Excise license is issued only after approval from the Tourism department and it's all governed by the Punjab Excise Act of 1913. Inspectors check out the premises and paste a notice at the restaurant inviting objections from the neighborhood regarding the sale of alcohol in that area. This is accompanied by the beating of drums literally. The restaurant also can't get a liquor license if it is near a place of worship or a school. Oh, and the process can only start once the restaurant is ready to open, potentially landing you with more serious delays. If you get this far, all you have to worry about is whether anyone will show up! Of course it's all worth it in the end. You wake up from the nightmare with a dream realized. But it takes a foodie's passion to want to do it again.

26/11 attacks: Kasab gets police custody till Feb 26

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested in connection with the November 26 terror attacks in the city, was today remanded in police custody till February 26. A magistrate's court here remanded Kasab to 14-day police custody for his involvement in a blast that took place in a taxi at Vile Parle. Kasab, however, was not produced in court citing security reasons.

Satyam an aberration in system; company functioning as usual

The government today said it was business as usual at Satyam Computer ever since a new board took its reins following an accounting scam, which the Corporate Affairs Minister described as an aberration. Satyam is a stand alone case. Our corporate sector is very mature and our IT sector is respected worldwide Prem Chand Gupta, Minister of Corporate Affairs, said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

Indian Passenger Rail Fares Cut as Polls Loom

In a nod to the global downturn and looming general elections, India's Railway Minister presented a please-all interim rail budget, holding freight rates and cutting passenger fares across the board by 2%. Lalu Prasad said in Parliament the government will introduce 43 new trains in the next year through March which begins April 1 and committed to spend 379.05 billion rupees ($7.8 billion) to improve infrastructure and modernize the country's 63,000-kilometer railway network, among the largest in the world.
As spot gold prices in the local market surge to record highs, Indians are flocking to jewelry shops to sell old jewelry in the middle of the busy wedding season, when purchases usually pick up, and imports are slowing sharply.

Pure gold in the spot markets of Mumbai, the largest bullion market in the country and a benchmark for prices in other local markets, rose to 14,770 rupees ($304) per 10 grams Thursday, up from the previous high of 14,265 rupees/10 grams early in the week. Standard gold was quoted at 14,705 rupees/10 grams, up from a previous high of 14,200 rupees/10 grams.

[Gold Jewelry] 

Customers look at gold jewelry in a showroom at Zaveri Bazar, a jewelry market in Mumbai

About 90% of people are only coming to sell old jewelry. So far in the month of February, there have been no imports of gold due to the record high prices. The peak Indian marriage season runs from October to March. Indian prices are marginally higher than the international spot gold price of around $940.75 an ounce because of the rupee's weakness against the dollar. India, the world's largest buyer, imports more than 90% of its annual gold demand of 700 to 800 tons. With spot gold prices in domestic markets expected to rise further in the next couple of months due to firm investment demand in global markets, imports of gold are likely to be reduced to a trickle, traders said. When they (traders) can get it cheaper in domestic markets, why would they import at higher rates slightly discounted price offered to sellers of old gold. Jewelers are not purchasing gold from banks as consumers are selling their old jewelry and asking jewelers to remold it, instead of buying new gold. Gold imports in India fell to between one and two metric tons in January, from 18 tons in the same month last year. Spot prices are likely to surge further to 16,000 rupees/10 grams in the next two months as economic concerns persist globally. A year ago spot prices of pure and standard gold were at 11,735 rupees/10 grams and 11,685 rupees/10 grams, respectively. Prices may correct a little before rising again to around 15,200 rupees/10 grams by March, tracking global prices. The current rally is unlikely to be sustained for long as demand has totally dried up and the Indian rupee looks set to strengthen against the U.S. dollar.
 
Bangalore to Ramnagar

In 1975, Indian audiences thrilled to the sight of Bollywood dream girl Hema Malini dancing with bloody feet on stark granite boulders sprinkled with shards of glass. The setting was a place called Ramanagara, hardly known before this film, Sholay (Hindi for embers). It used its rugged terrain as the backdrop for the pursuit of a band of bandits by a young and rather smoldering actor Amitabh Bachchan.

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The start of a vegetarian lunch, served suitably on a banana leaf.

The film's phenomenal success put Ramanagara on the map, and today the district retains its appeal for day-trippers seeking relief from the blaring traffic and crowded shopping streets of Bangalore. Though just 48 kilometers southwest of the city, easily reached by car or train, it seems blessedly distant. Ramanagara does milk its links to the 199 minute Bollywood classic. These rocky Indian hills maintain a pleasant serenity, especially on weekdays, since most tourists skip them as they take the highway to Mysore. The district got further screen time in the great director David Lean's final film, A Passage to India. But Ramanagara has more to offer than mere celluloid nostalgia. One could get an early start by catching the 7 a.m. Mysore Express train from Bangalore's City Station; that would go to Ramanagara in 49 minutes flat. In order to do that one has to negotiate with local auto rickshaw drivers to steer through various locations. A drive from Bangalore can take a little longer, depending on traffic leading into the Bangalore Mysore highway, but affords a bit more comfort and flexibility. After passing the foul smelling Vrishabhavati River, the drive turns out to be a cinch. Stop at the 55-kilometer mark on the highway for breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi. Decorated with murals and masks, this airy eatery originally was built to serve visitors to the Janapada Loka, the folk-arts museum next door, plan to visit it later in the day.  The restaurant turns out to be the far bigger draw, with fans coming to enjoy specialties from both the north and south of Karnataka state. Its idlis, or fermented rice pancakes, are a coastal variety known as kotte kadabu. While idlis at most South Indian pit stops are round and fairly flat, these are plump, plantain-leaf-wrapped cylinders, all the easier to be dunked in coconut chutney or spicy vegetable stew. A battered green arch Government Silk Cocoon Market. The silk industry is a mainstay in the district for the daily auction the market operates all but two days a year. While India's silk industry is generally getting a beating there is no sign of doldrums here: A buzzer sounds at 10 a.m. sharp, the overhead fans kick in and hundreds of traders standing over metal bins filled with the fuzzy egg shaped cocoons begin haggling occasionally pelting each other with a spare cocoon to attract attention. This is serious business: More than 41 metric tons of cocoons from four Indian states change hands on this particular day; at peak season in March, the volume rises to 70 tons. Prices per kilogram range this day from just over $3 to about $4.70, depending on the breed and quality. To explain more about silk at the adjacent Cocoon Testing Centre, cocoons, must be plunged in boiling water with the live silkworm inside to yield the maximum prize a continuous silk strand up to 1,300 meters long. Checks a few samples for defects slitting the cocoons open with a razor blade. Will followers of the SPCA ever buy silk saree after this? Leave the cocoon market and drive to the nearby foothills. The bucolic vistas Ramanagara's average elevation is 735 meters draw rock-climbers and hikers who don't seem to mind dodging a few goats. The stairs leading to the Sri Rama temple are painted a garish red, white and blue, with trash strewn on either side. Up past the temple and after a right turn, though, gaze happily at the natural panorama. To escape the bright midday sun, head to Channapatna a hamlet that produces colorful wooden toys and bangles to observe some craftsmen at work. The bright wooden rocking horses and spinning tops that predated the Barbie doll invasion. A few narrow workshops are in an area called Nizami Chowk. Sawdust cloaks every surface, including the faces and forearms of the young men who hunch over the rudimentary cutting machines. See the final products, including sets of sleek coasters and floral-patterned bangles that dealers in Mumbai will export to the U.S. and West Indies. At Kamat Lokaruchi, get ready for the vegetarian feast arrayed on a banana leaf. Pop next door to see the collection at Janapada Loka. The displays include some delightful leather puppets, as well as elaborate costumes used in Yakshagana folk theater, a form that still thrives in Karnataka. Also get drawn to workaday items such as cowbells, noodle-makers, and a cleverly designed rattrap.

Satyam Computers
The Indian government soon will choose a strategic investor that would be offered management control federal Corporate Affairs Minister P.C. Gupta said. The investor could be one company or a group, the minister said at a software-industry event Thursday. He didn't say when the investor would be picked but said there have been offers from various bidders. Indian engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro Ltd., which holds a 12% stake in Satyam, has expressed interest in buying the company as have HCL Technologies Ltd., the Hinduja Group, Spice group, Tech Mahindra Ltd. . Satyam's board has said the company would be sold as a whole and not in parts. Mr. Gupta's comments came as Satyam Chairman Kiran Karnik said the Hyderabad, India, software provider is absolutely financially stable and that the board will unveil a long-term plan for the company in the next seven to 10 days. The board met Thursday to discuss cutting costs, a sale of the company and client and staff issues, Mr. Karnik said. He said six billion rupees, or about $120 million, in loans will come soon, and that'll give us additional buffer and comfort. Satyam was plunged into turmoil in January when founder B. Ramalinga Raju said he overstated the company's profit over several years and created a fictitious cash balance of more than $1 billion. A government-appointed board has started a recovery process for the company. We have to deliver this [recovery plan] and pass on the baby to somebody. We are not going to be responsible for it forever, Mr. Karnik said.
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Where are you with the latest economy news??Ermm

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