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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Now, use same SIM in different handsets

Now, use same SIM in different handsets
29 Sep, 2007, 1405 hrs IST,Harsimran Singh, TNN

NEW DELHI: Do you prefer to carry a lighter, smaller handset in the evening and a bulkier multi-functional smart-phone during the day in office but tired of changing SIM cards between phones? Don’t worry. Now, you won’t have to go through the hassle of pulling out SIM cards to insert in another handset.

A UK-based mobile applications company has tested such a service in Russia and is in talks with leading Indian operators to roll out the 'single line multi-SIM' facility by next year.

The company has launched an application where in multiple SIM cards carrying same number can be provided to a user. Thus a user wishing to carry another lighter or jazzier handset in the evening can just switch off the earlier one and the second one becomes operational. The SIM cards will be active one at a time.

Or if the user has opted for 3-4 SIM cards with the same number, they can just download a java application from the internet. The application will provide a user interface wherein a user can chose to activate SIM card number 1, 2, 3 or 4.

The other option will be to set a time schedule(night/day) at which the different SIM cards will be active. “You can dial your customer care to set the time for activation/de-activation of a particular SIM,” says Michael Crossey, vice-president of UK-based Aopena, a mobile applications provider.

"We have already tested the service in Russia. All leading operators in India have shown interest in our service. We are hopeful to launch the service in India by early next year," Mr Crossey told ET.

The service has many utilities. “For instance, some people like to carry a bulky smart phone with all the features of a computer during daytime for office use. During evening, they like to switch to a lighter, jazzy phone. The service will remove the hassle of changing SIM cards,” says Mr Crossey.

The application may also offer a feature where in one SIM card receives incoming calls and the other just makes outgoing calls, he adds.

Another utility of the ‘multi-handset single line’ (MHSL) service is that on loss of a phone, an extra SIM ensures seamless connectivity. One doesn’t have to go through the hassle of re-submitting documents and getting a new SIM card.

Though, a similar multi-line single handset (MLSH) service is common, the single line on many mobile phones is still uncommon. In the multi-line service, a handset can carry two SIM cards (be it GSM or CDMA or both) at the same time. One can switch between numbers by switching off and on a handset. One can also switch between lines through a Java application on the phone.

The dual SIM card phone is quite common though. T-Mobile in Germany and Vodafone and Telecom Italia in Italy offer multi-line single handset services.

Indo-French nuclear business meets from Oct 15

Indo-French nuclear business meets from Oct 15
28 Sep, 2007, 1630 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: In the backdrop of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) planning to buy six nuclear power reactors from France, an Indo-French nuclear business meet will begin here from October 15.

The meeting is organised by the French embassy in collaboration with NPCIL, a top scientist said.

"The two-day meet is to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the nuclear power sector and also to improve the relationship between the industries of both India and France," S K Agrawal, Director, Projects of NPCIL told media today.

"We are expecting the participation of over 20 French nuclear companies including AREVA and an equal number from India," he said.

NPCIL plans to buy six nuclear power reactors from France, Agrawal said.

AREVA could be one of the biggest suppliers for its Jaitapur site in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra which is one of the four coastal sites selected by NPCIL for imported reactors, he said.

Also, NPCIL can enter into business with the French only after the completion of the Indo-US deal, he said.

On that front, US has a timeframe for the entire process including India's discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency on safeguards and US' negotiations with the NSG countries.

Asked whether other members of Nuclear Suppliers Group were also in touch with NPCIL officials, Agrawal said, the Japanese were interested and Mitsuibishi had held talks with the NPCIL officials.

Oil industry safety awards presented

Oil industry safety awards presented
30 Sep, 2007, 1500 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Recognising the efforts of oil and gas industry in enhancing safety performance, the 'Oil Industry Safety Awards 2006-07' were presented to five oil companies here.

The awards were given to the companies by the Secretary, Petroleum & Natural Gas, M S Srinivasan, at a function held in the city, a release said here today.

Indian Oil, ONGC and GAIL, won two awards each while Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum won one award each.

Indian Oil's Mathura refinery won the award for the best safety performance among refineries and ONGC's Ahmedabad operation was adjudged the best managed oil and gas asset, the release said.

Bharat Petroleum won the award for its lube oil blending plant while GAIL won accolades for managing its Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline and the processing plant at Vijaipur.

Hindustan Petroleum won the safety award in the petroleum products marketing category and Indian Oil in the LPG marketing category.

The criteria for selection of winners was based on various parameters like complexity of facility, volumes handled, safety management system with minimum fires, accidents and losses.

The Oil Industry Safety awards were instituted in 1986-87 by the Government to promote safety performance in the industry.

They are administered by the Oil Industry Safety Director, New Delhi, which co-ordinates a series of self-regulatory measures relating to safety in the oil and gas industry in the country.

Nifty seen on course for fresh high

Nifty seen on course for fresh high
24 Sep, 2007, 0257 hrs IST,

We saw a ‘bullish engulfing candle’ for the Nifty on Tuesday, which was a strong candlestick pattern for an upward move for the market. This was mainly due to the surge in major indices on Wednesday and robust gains on Friday. The Nifty ended the week at 4,837, its highest-ever closing, and a gain of 7% over the previous week.

It has been gaining for the past five consecutive weeks. Market breadth was negative on Friday, but it was positive for most part of the week. BSE Realty, BSE Oil & Gas and BSE Bankex indices were among the prominent gainers during the week.

Market ahead

Last week’s upmove was backed by strong volumes, and we expect the market to build on these gains in the coming days. This week, the Nifty is expected to consolidate in the 4,850-4,900 band. We also expect a major up-move for the market beyond 4,950 and touch 5,000 levels in the short term.

Sectoral Indices

BSE Oil & Gas (9,340): The BSE Oil & Gas index had broken past the crucial resistance level of 8,200 about three weeks ago, and has been on the uptrend ever since. On a weekly closing basis, the index has been on an uptrend for six weeks in a row. It was also helped by the buoyant trend in the international oil market. We expect this index to touch 9,750 levels in the short term. Petronet LNG and Gail are our favourite stocks.

BSE Bankex (8,740)

The BSE Bankex has closed at 8,740 level last week, and is now quoting at an all-time high. We expect this index to touch 9,000 levels in the short term. Kotak Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce are our favourite stocks in this sector.

SBI: After being restricted in the Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,750 range for the past three months, we saw SBI breaking out of that range on Friday. The stock ended the week at Rs 1,808. We recommend a ‘buy’ on SBI in the Rs 1,800 to Rs 1,820 band, with a target of Rs 1,935. Investors should fix their stop loss in this stock at Rs 1,760.

BSE Realty (9,183)

The BSE Realty Sector closed at 9,183 levels last week, and is now quoting at an all-time high. This sector rose above its key resistance level of 8,500 supported by strong volumes. We expect this index to touch 9,500 levels in the short term. Indiabulls Real Estate and Purvankara are the best bets in this sector.

Akruti Nirman: The stock has broken above its key resistance level of Rs 705, supported by strong volumes. We recommend a ‘buy’ in the Rs 745-750 range with a price target of Rs 835 and keeping a stop loss at Rs 720.

DS Kulkarni Developers: The stock has broken above its key resistance level of Rs 260, supported by strong volumes. We recommend ‘buy’ in the Rs 272-275 range, with a price target of Rs 302 and keeping a stop loss at Rs 258.

(This is the weekly technical outlook of Reliance Money technical desk)

Investing in a bull market

Investing in a bull market
30 Sep, 2007, 0901 hrs IST,Kavita Sriram , TNN

The stock markets are brimming with optimism. Money is pouring into the market like never before. The index has embraced unimaginably new highs. For now, it appears that the bull-run is at the horizon. For a true bull market, at least 20-25 per cent of the stocks must be on an increase and that too for a sustained period say two years. An upswing market is considered a good time for the investor.

What sort of a strategy must investors adopt to make it rich in a bull run? It is not unusual to find some stocks faring poorly in a bull market and some doing exceptionally well in a bear market. A bull run implies a booming economy, low unemployment rate, high production of goods, and low inflation.
The market ups and downs follow cyclic patterns.

For now, it is the time of rising index and increasing volatility. In a bull run, investors follow the formula 'buy low and sell high'. It is now time for investors to sell their stocks and book profits. Investors need to make well-educated and investigated investments in the markets.

Mere speculation can prove costly. Suppose in a bear market one stock fares poorly. An investor who has done enough research will know the reason for its fall. There may be something fundamentally wrong with the stock and the company policies.

Or the slide in the stock's price will be a reflection of general pessimism pervading a bear market. If an investor knows that it is the latter, he will stay calm and may be even add more stocks of the company to his portfolio. On the other hand, if he believes that something is fundamentally wrong with the stock, he may decide to sell it and stop further loss.

The scenario holds much the same in a bull market. Some stocks may become highly overpriced. An overpriced stock in a heated market is sure to burst when the bull run ends. Some investors prefer to sell all their shares and make profits. Another strategy is to sell some of the shares and buy back the stock when the price falls back to reasonably low levels.

The value of equities tends to rise fast in a bull run. Predictably, the equity investments in your portfolio will become disproportionately higher. Depending upon your age, objectives and financial obligations, you would have arrived at an asset allocation plan.

In order to stick to the asset allocation, make a judicious down-sizing of the equity component. This will provide ample cushion in case the bubble bursts and markets fall. In a bull run, investigate the real value or worth of the stocks. Do not invest in overpriced stocks. It is advisable to sell overvalued stocks. Exit immediately if you feel the prices have gone up adequately.

Invest regularly. The power of compounding and systematic investment plans goes a long way in wealth accumulation. Finally, bear in mind that there are no permanent bull and bear markets. Disciplined investing and avoiding speculation will help investors.

Tatas' Rs 1 lakh car to sport rear engine

Tatas' Rs 1 lakh car to sport rear engine
1 Oct, 2007, 0007 hrs IST,Krishna Kant, Lijee Philip & Gouri Agtey Athale, TNN

MUMBAI/PUNE: Many may find it difficult to digest that Ratan Tata’s billion-dollar empire is getting its biggest buzz from something as mundane as the Rs 1-lakh car. However, for Mr Tata, the last few years have been spent personally overseeing the project which will turn the Rs 1-lakh car dream into a reality.

It’s a project that the entire auto world — from Detroit to Japan — is watching keenly, for it could change the dynamics of the global car market. Not much has been forthcoming from the Tatas so far, and the details of the project are a closely-guarded secret. Every time the management of Tata Motors has been asked about the car, all it has said is ‘wait and watch’.

Now, for the first time, ET has unearthed details that show there are many surprises in store beside the price when it comes to Tata’s small car package.

If you are dying to get your hands on the cheapest four-wheels in India (possibly globally), then be ready to change the way you drive in city traffic and load up the luggage while going on weekend getaways.

For starters, the base model of the car will be fitted with variomatic gears — which means it will be gearless for all practical purposes — instead of the standard manual gears on conventional cars. This is a radical departure, given that typically in India auto-transmission variants are priced higher than manual variants.

More surprisingly, the engine will be mounted in the rear of the car, pushing the luggage compartment or dickey to the front — a trend that is common in the international markets. The changes apparently have been made to improve its fuel efficiency and ensure that the price tag is kept to a lakh.

The higher-end version will feature manual gears and frills such as air-conditioning, power windows and power steering, among others. Most component manufacturers working on the car seem to believe that the basic version would find acceptability. “It is for price-conscious consumers and they won’t mind little less functionality as long as the price is okay,” said a component manufacturer working on the small car.

Given the stakes and the fact that this is a project which is being personally overseen by Mr Tata, full details are hard to come by with suppliers preferring to keep mum. “It’s a Ratan Tata project and a top priority for the company. Around 55 prototypes are already being tested in varied conditions around the country and the first car will arrive in the show-rooms by September next year,” says one of their vendors.

MICO, Robert Bosch Indian subsidiary, is learnt to be developing a fuel-injection system for the small car from scratch, though the company is not willing to give any details on this. Brakes India and Bosch Chassis systems are supplying low-cost braking systems.

Kinetic Engineering, which had hoped to launch a small car of its own, is supplying variomatic gears while the steering system is being manufactured by Sona Koyo Steering Systems. The challenge for vendors is to meet Tata Motor’s expectations without sacrificing their financial interest. “Developing components for small car has been a huge challenge. Most of us have taken a cut in margins, hoping the volume will more than compensate for it,” says one engine component vendor.

Many in the industry are wondering how the car is likely to balance the trade-off between price and performance and whether engine power and speed are likely to be much below the current norm. “It will be a light-weight vehicle with a frugal engine.

In terms of fuel-efficiency, the car has been benchmarked with upper-end motorcycles,” says one of their vendors working on the small car. There are many ways to improve fuel efficiency — lower the vehicle weight, under-power the engine, improve the fuel combustion or reduce the wastage of power during transmission. Tata engineers and their vendors are all understood to be working towards this.

Weight reduction has been achieved by using low-gauge steel for body panels, while rear mounted engine will reduce the wastage of power during transmission. Variomatic gears also help improve fuel mileage by increasing the torque output. “Besides improving the fuel-mileage, lighter vehicle allows Tata Motors to use simple and low-cost components without sacrificing performance or safety,” says another vendor. With new safety regulations coming into place, the car is expected to meet crash test requirements too.

Though full details are not available, industry sources say Tatas may ramp up the production to nearly half a million units a year within three-four years of its commercial launch. “If they achieve that, most of the vendors will mint money even at low margins,” says a senior official in one of their component suppliers.

Job Hopping!!

Mr. Gopalakrishnan succeeds Mr. Ratan Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons
Ltd., the holding company for many of the Tata Bluechips like Tata
Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Voltas, etc.,

Possibly he is the first non-Tata person to head the Tata Empire.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side!!

Move from one job to another, but only for the right reasons. It's yet
another day at office. As I logged on to the marketing and advertising
sites for the latest updates, as usual, I found the headlines
dominated by 'who's moving from one company to another after a
short stint', and I wondered, why are so many people leaving one job
for another?

Is it passé now to work with just one company for a sufficiently long
period?

Whenever I ask this question to people who leave a company, the
answers I get are: "Oh, I am getting a 200% hike in salary"; "Well, I
am jumping three levels in my designation"; "Well, they are going to
send me abroad in six months".

Then, I look around at all the people who are considered successful
today and who have reached the top - be it a media agency, an
advertising agency or a company. I find that most of these people are
the ones who have stuck to the company, ground their heels and worked
their way to the top. And, as I look around for people who changed
their jobs constantly, I find they have stagnated at some level, in
obscurity!

In this absolutely ruthless, dynamic and competitive environment,
there are still no short-cuts to success or to making money. The only
thing that continues to pay, as earlier, is loyalty and hard work.
Yes, it pays!

Sometimes, immediately, sometimes after a lot of time. But, it does
pay.

Does this mean that one should stick to an organization and wait for
that golden moment? Of course not. After a long stint, there always
comes a time for moving in most organizations, but it is important to
move for the right reasons, rather than superficial ones, like money,
designation or an overseas trip.

Remember, no company recruits for charity.

More often than not, when you are offered an unseemly hike in salary
or designation that is disproportionate to what that company offers it
current employees, there is always unseen bait attached.

The result? You will, in the long-term, have reached exactly the same
levels or maybe lower levels than what you would have in your current
company.

A lot of people leave an organization because they are "unhappy". What
is this so-called-unhappiness? I have been working for donkey's years
and there has never been a day when I am not unhappy about something
in my work environment-boss, rude colleague, fussy clients etc.

Unhappiness in a workplace, to a large extent, is transient.

If you look hard enough, there is always something to be unhappy
about.

But, more importantly, do I come to work to be "happy" in the truest
sense?

If I think hard, the answer is "No". Happiness is something you find
with family, friends, may be a close circle of colleagues who have
become friends.

What you come to work for is to earn, build a reputation, satisfy your
ambitions, be appreciated for your work ethics, face challenges and
get the job done.

So, the next time you are tempted to move, ask yourself why you moving
and what are are you moving into.

Some questions are:

* Am I ready and capable of handling the new responsibility? If yes,
what could be the possible reasons my current company has not offered
me the same responsibility?

* Who are the people who currently handle this responsibility in the
current and new company? Am I as good as the best among them?

* As the new job offer has a different profile, why have I not given
the current company the option to offer me this profile?

* Why is the new company offering me the job? Do they want me for my
skills, or is there an ulterior motive?

An honest answer to these will eventually decide where you go in your
career- to the top of the pile in the long term (at the cost of
short-term blips) or to become another average employee who gets lost
with time in the wilderness?

"DESERVE BEFORE YOU DESIRE" - Dr. Gopalkrishnan, Chairman TATA Sons.

Iran and Pakistan agree to gas accord without India

Iran and Pakistan agree to gas accord without India Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Tehran: Pakistan has agreed to details of a deal for buying gas from Iran, officials from both sides said on Friday, adding that the proposed tri-nation pipeline would be viable even if India, the third party, walked out.

India stayed away from last week's talks in Tehran on the proposed $7 billion pipeline, saying it wanted to agree transit costs through Pakistan on a bilateral basis first, an Iranian official said. But he said India had not said it was quitting.

"The economics of the project will improve with Indian participation but ... the project is economically viable as a bilateral project also," Mukhtar Ahmad, the energy adviser to Pakistan's prime minister, told reporters in Tehran.

Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the three sides had previously planned for gas sales and purchase agreements (GSPAs) to be negotiated separately by India and Pakistan.


"So far, the information formally we have from the authorities of India is that they are willing to join us. They have just their internal problems, including that they need to finalise the transit fee with our good Pakistani friends," Ghanimifard said after talks late on Friday.

Iran's oil minister said on Wednesday his country would still sign a deal with Pakistan if India decided not to join.

Mukhtar said Pakistan and India had agreed in principle how to tackle issues like transportation tariffs and transit fees.

"We don't see transit through Pakistan as a problem. We've had bilateral discussions with India on this subject," he said, although he said more talks were be needed.

Speaking of Pakistan's talks with Iran, Mukhtar said: "We have agreed upon everything that we needed to agree on with regard to the gas sales and purchase agreement and the inter-governmental framework agreement."

He said the details would be drawn up in final documents to be examined at bilateral talks in Islamabad on October 15-19.

Mukhtar did not give details for the price of the gas agreed but said it would be linked to the price of oil. He also they also agreed on a price review clause - an issue that had been pending - but he did not elaborate.

In July, Ghanimifard said India and Pakistan had accepted Iran's demand for gas price reviews based on market changes.

He denied reports by some Indian newspapers that the pipeline talks had failed after Iran demanded a review every three years.

The pipeline would initially carry 60 million cubic metres of gas daily to Pakistan and India, half for each country.

The pipeline's capacity would later rise to 150 million cubic metres. Pakistan says it could want 60 million cubic metres for itself in the future.

Iran says it has completed 18 per cent of the work for the pipeline to bring gas from its South Pars field up to Iran-Pakistan border. Pakistan has yet to begin work on a 1,000 km stretch of the pipeline to link Iran with India.

Strong demand: New Delhi plans about five petrochemical zones

India said on Friday it plans to set up 4 or 5 oil and petrochemical zones, each with an investment of up to $2.5 billion, to tap growing demand.

"There is a gradual shift in demand and production of petrochemicals from the west to the east and we want to make the best out of it by setting up the zones," Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said. He said several state governments had expressed an interest in developing a so-called Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR).

"We cannot set up the PCPIR in all the states which have come forward. We have adopted a first-come-first-serve approach for allowing states to go ahead with it," he said.

China bets on Myanmar status quo for gas deals

China bets on Myanmar status quo for gas deals
Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Hong Kong: China struck an energy coup with a pipeline deal in Myanmar earlier this year but its cosy relationship with the ruling generals could come back to haunt it if the investment environment opens up, analysts say.

The military government of the impoverished southeast Asian state gets most of its export earnings from selling gas to Thailand and it has stepped up a drive to attract more foreign investment in the last three years.

But a week of unrest, in which at least 9 people died when troops broke up the biggest anti-government demonstrations in nearly 20 years, has raised the question of what might happen if the military government loses its grip on power.

"If the junta is overthrown -and that's a very big if - clearly that might have an impact on China because it has invested a lot over the last 20 years," said Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

"We're well into the grounds of speculation but if a more pro-Western government came into power they might seek to limit China's involvement. China is an important ally of Burma and it won't want to lose that."



Myanmar is wedged between China and India, making it a small but juicy prize in a furious battle for energy between the world's two most populous nations.

Its proven gas reserves amount to only 0.3 per cent of the world's total, but a lack of exploration means the true figure could be much higher.

Chinese oil giant Petro-China appears to have won the last round by snatching a gas pipeline agreement from under India's nose. It has sweetened the deal by talking to Myanmar about running an oil pipeline along the same route.

Such a pipeline would ease the passage of Saudi crude bound for China by cutting out the congested Malacca Straits, but would be dependent on the goodwill of the regime in Myanmar.

While China has been quietly trying to build ties with democratic and ethnic groups in Myanmar in recent years, Beijing has remained a steady friend to the ruling generals.

"If there was a change in government, there could be a rethink of the gas pipeline to China," said Sanjeev Prasad at Kotak Securities.

Observers are not predicting an imminent change of government in Myanmar, but many other countries have experienced unexpectedly rapid changes of leadership in the last 20 years.

For the moment, the country's biggest investors like Total and Thailand's PTTET as well as South Korea's Daewoo International Corp, operator of a multi-billion-dollar gas project under way, say it's business as usual.

Kuwait shortlists firms for new refinery

Kuwait shortlists firms for new refinery
Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Kuwait: State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) yesterday announced firms pre-qualifying for the construction of the state's planned 615,000 barrels per day (bpd) Al Zour refinery.

KNPC said last week Kuwait had approved a budget of about $14 billion for the construction of the refinery, the Middle East's biggest, more than twice an initial cost estimate.

The tender was split into several construction packages for which the following firms pre-qualified, according to a KNPC statement published in local daily Al Qabas.

Tender details

A consortium of Italy's Snamprogetti and Korea's Hyundai Engineering & Construction, consortium of Japan's JGC and Korea's GS Engineering & Construction and consortium of Technip Italy, Foster Wheeler and Korea's SK Engineering & Construction qualified for crude distillation units, sulphur removal and units to treat naphtha, kerosene and diesel.

For hydrogen production and recovery, sulphur industrialisation, units to treat diesel, etc, those qualified include a consortium of Technip Italy and Foster Wheeler Energy and Snamprogetti, consortium of Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Daelim Industrial Co, GS Engineering & Construction, WGI Middle East, SK Engineering & Construction and Petrofac International.

For tank storages, those qualified include consortium of CB & I and CBI Eastern Anstalt, Daelim Industrial, GS Engineering & Construction, SK Engineering & Construction and Petrofac International.

Fasting for the first time


Fasting for the first time
By Ruqya Khan, Gulf News Report Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33


Growing up means different things to different children. Some feel grown up when they are given responsibility, while others feel content when they are allowed to interact more closely with their elders. But what exactly is growing up all about? It's a process of learning and understanding day to day life and accounting for one's actions.

Though there is no set age to begin fasting, it becomes compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, after he or she reaches puberty. Often children as young as seven choose to fast.

Though they may not fast the entire month, this practice strengthens them mentally and spiritually.

Excited
Al Hajjaj Bin Habib is 9. He is in grade 4 at Al Hikmah Private School in Ajman. This year was his first fasting experience. He said: "I am very excited about fasting as all my classmates are fasting as well. I felt so proud of myself for having hung on till iftar time. As a means of encouragement I was given a monetary reward to save in my piggy bank and it was the ultimate treat. Last year I tried to fast, but was only able to fast half a day."

"I've learnt that with intention and a strong will, desires can easily be defeated. Now I understand the pain of hunger and want to share the extra food left over with the poor at Al Ihsan Charity Centre."

Ten-year-old Sidra Momin agreed. "On other days I would not feel hungry. My mum would have to force me to eat, but when I fasted I knew what the needy feel.


Effort

"Now I don't take my blessings for granted. It helped me realise how much effort my parents put into the day when they fast. I now enjoy helping my mother set the table, arrange the fruits, etc, at iftar time. It doesn't feel like a chore anymore," said Sidra.

"In Ramadan everything and everyone is different. We visit places like parks and mosques instead of the usual routine of spending time in the malls. My parents are more relaxed, dad comes home early and we get to meet with the family and friends more often during iftar gatherings. I like that. Plus, I get to select my clothes for Eid, which is great!"

Kahkashan Kareem, a grade 4 student at the Gulf Indian High School, said, "I think fasting makes us better people. We are able to wait from suhour to iftar to eat and drink. Plus, when I'm fasting I make sure I don't get angry at my sisters - Safoora, 6, and Darakhshan, 12. In fact, my elder sister encourages me to be punctual for my prayers. She supports me and keeps me away from the mischief of my little sister.

"I think Ramadan is exciting. The relatives get together each weekend and I like to exchange ideas with my cousins about how we fasted, what we did at school, etc. I also enjoy the iftar spread - my favourite is chocolate juice. Mummy makes this by adding milk, cream and sugar to melted chocolate ice cream. It's really yummy and easy to make.

"But that's not all. We even get to go to the mosque for special Tharaweeh prayers. Sometimes I even attend dars (religious lectures) with my mother and aunts. Here the teacher tells us about the simple rules to follow and it's said like stories from the Quran or Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammad PBUH). It's never boring."

Patience

Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Khalid are cousins studying at Al Wataniya Private School. They started fasting on the first day of Ramadan. Yousuf is in grade 5.

He said, "Fasting takes a lot of patience. The first day I was miserable. I could not tolerate having my younger siblings come close to me after they had just eaten. I think my sense of smell had suddenly become stronger because I could smell what they ate or drank and it tempted me a lot.

But I was happy that I made it through the day just like my younger cousin, Khalid."

Khalid added, "As usual we went to the grocery store that day and bought the goodies we liked, but didn't eat them until after iftar time. Each year during Ramadan the whole family gathers at my uncle's house to break the fast. On my first fast it felt really nice when everyone congratulated us. We have been promised a surprise gift after two weeks of fasting, I can hardly wait.

"Most of my friends in school are fasting so I don't feel out of place during recess. I think school days are easier to go by without food and drink because there is a fixed schedule, we study, play, come home tired, rest and then ready ourselves for the evening meal with the family. But on weekends there is little to do except smell the aroma of dishes in the kitchen."

Did you know?

Fasting is compulsory for all Muslims once they reach puberty.

However, many children, some as young as 7, also fast during Ramadan.

They may fast only a few days or a few hours.

Children can also attend prayers at the mosque and religious lectures with their family members.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Shell buys up all Nov Dubai crude cargoes

UAE details Nov oil export cut due to maintenance

UAE details Nov oil export cut due to maintenance
(Reuters)26 September 2007

TOKYO/SINGAPORE - Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) told at least one customer on Wednesday it would halve term November exports of its three offshore crudes due to field work, blunting the impact of OPEC’s planned output rise.

ANDOC, the main oil producer in OPEC-member the United Arab Emirates (UAE), notified at least one refiner in Japan that it was reducing supplies of its Umm Shaif, Lower Zakum and Upper Zakum crudes by about half, a trading source told Reuters.

The notice was the first to confirm the extent to which planned maintenance would affect exports from the emirate, which pumped about 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) last month. Two other Japanese refiners and one in Southeast Asia had yet to receive the note.

ADNOC had said on Sunday that oilfield maintenance would reduce oil production by 600,000 bpd in November.

Oil traders had earlier said as much as 810,000 bpd of output could be shut in for two to three weeks during the peak of the maintenance.

The three fields, in which Exxon Mobil Corp, Total and BP hold equity stakes, produce a total of just over 1 million bpd, according to recent estimates.

Production at the UAE’s biggest field, onshore Murban, will not be affected, the oil trader said. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Exxon Mobil are partners there.

The trader added that ADNOC had been selling extra supplies to help its customers build up stocks ahead of the maintenance, which comes just as refiners are bracing for peak winter demand, particularly in Japan, the world’s second-biggest importer, which relies on UAE crude for nearly a quarter of its supplies.

“ADNOC’s commitments to its term clients are all met by advancing the majority of liftings, and some deferments that have been re-scheduled by mutual agreement,” the state oil company said on Sunday in a statement.

Maintenance at the country’s Ruwais refinery from late December through February may also allow the UAE to free up more supplies for export following the November work.

The supply reduction in the three grades had been expected for months and traders had earlier identified the three fields as the 530,000-bpd Upper Zakum, the 250,000-bpd Lower Zakum and the 280,000-bpd Umm Shaif.

Saudi Arabia persuaded the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to raise output by 500,000 bpd at a meeting earlier this month in a gesture to consumer nations worried by the economic impact of record-high oil prices.

U.S. crude for November delivery was up 23 cents at $79.76 a barrel by 0723 GMT, off a record high of $83.90 hit last Thursday.

Give it a thought before signing up

Give it a thought before signing up
By Rania Oteify, Features Editor Published: September 28, 2007, 23:14

Please sign here, and here and there. Do you hear this request often? I guess you do if you are financially active, i.e. opening bank accounts, requesting credit cards or finance, or just filling forms.

But as common as it is, the request is usually alarming for me. It is not that I don't sign my credit card slips with only a quick glance at the price, but in different contexts, I do require longer thinking periods which may extend to days. Why? Because a signature, in a way, formalises or legalises a document even in non-financial situations. I don't see the argument that you signed a document without reading it standing in a court of law. So, be patient when you're asked to sign and think of the consequences.

Face value

In many banks, whether local or international, there are common practices which fall in a grey area, and can get you in trouble. One of them is asking clients to sign blank cheques to secure loans and credit cards.

You may be right when you think: "This is a reputable bank with thousands of clients, international branches and much bigger business than mine. Who am I to ask them to change a policy?" But you can always ask, and if they don't accommodate your request, you've the option of walking out of the deal. But if you decided to go along with the trust line that the bank isn't in the business of tricking people, try to keep it to the absolute minimum. After all, remember that your signature on a blank cheque will grant you credit now, but in case of default, the bank can fill this cheque with the outstanding amount and penalties in addition to the accumulated interest.

Sign now, fix it later

Everyday, we sign documents which may not be as serious as financial ones but they are still sort of contracts which may bring not so nice surprises later on your credit card statements. For example, a friend who was renting a car in Dubai told me the agent asked for all the normal stuff: photocopies of his passport, driving licence and a credit card authorisation. Then she handed him the form for the payment which quoted a price Dh600 higher than the agreed price. Her excuse was: This document doesn't matter, we will charge your card the correct amount. "So why do you ask me to sign a document that doesn't matter?" he furiously asked. Here she decided to contain his anger. "No problem. Please sign here and we will fill it with the correct numbers later," she said, pointing to a blank document.

He found it pointless to argue with her, so he collected his documents and walked out. He definitely did the right thing. Why should he willingly sign a document which quotes the wrong price or another with no price at all while car rental companies are aplenty? Even though credit card transactions can be negotiated and voided, he would not be in a good position since they have a document carrying his signature.

For my loved ones

Co-signing on other people's credit documents isn't a good idea. However cruel it might sound to advise someone to say no to a friend or a child, it may be the right thing to do. People do default on their loans - check the statistics. This doesn't mean you should not consider helping them if you can. But take your time to find out whether you can afford it or not. An additional car payment of Dh1,000 a month for a car that you're not driving may not be a good surprise. If you do want to help and are willing to bear the burden if things don't work out for your loved ones, then go ahead and sign here, and here and there.

A signature, in a way, formalises or legalises a document. Be patient when you're asked to sign and think of the consequences.

Euro breaches 1.42 dollars for first time

Euro breaches 1.42 dollars for first time
(AFP)28 September 2007

LONDON - The euro surged above 1.42 dollars for the first time in its short history here on Friday amid the prospect of further cuts to US interest rates, dealers said.


The euro reached 1.4208 dollars in afternoon London trade, the highest level since creation of the European single currency in 1999.

At about 1300 GMT, the euro was trading at 1.4203 dollars, compared with 1.4150 in New York late on Thursday.

The dollar slumped to a fresh low despite US data out Friday showing that consumer spending rose 0.6 percent in August as Americans shrugged off credit and housing market turmoil.

The Commerce Department report was better than the 0.4 percent rise expected by Wall Street analysts and showed that a key driver of US economic activity remained strong.

Personal income however rose a more modest 0.3 percent, slightly below expectations of a 0.4 percent gain.

Weak US housing data appeared to offset any good news.

“Dollar weakness remains a dominant theme after yesterday’s (Thursday’s) far worse than expected US new home sales data suggested once again that we would see further rate cuts from the Fed as the year progresses,” said James Hughes, an analyst for CMC Markets.

Cuts to US interest rates is making euro investments more desirable to many investors.

On Thursday, US economic growth for the second quarter was revised downward from 4.0 percent to 3.8 percent.

Sales of new US homes meanwhile plunged to their lowest level in seven years in August, and median sales prices made their sharpest drop in 37 years.

“The weak housing data confirmed in people’s minds that the Fed is going to ease interest rates,” said Tim Condon, head of research at ING Financial Markets in Singapore.

“While a rate cut is bullish for the equities and fixed-income markets in the US, unfortunately it is bearish for the US dollar,” said Condon.

Market players were looking ahead to second-quarter corporate earnings to be released next week as well as a key monthly US jobs report as they weigh prospects for further interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve.

“Traders are focusing on the employment report next week, which would give clues to the Fed’s policy decision next month,” said Yoshifumi Suzuki, a forex dealer at Hachijuni Bank.

The market widely expects the Fed to cut its key rate again at a two-day meeting beginning October 31, after it slashed rates by 50 basis points to 4.75 percent earlier this month, dealers said.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Adnoc notifies on supply cut

Adnoc notifies on supply cut
(Reuters) 27 September 2007
TOKYO/SINGAPORE — Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) told at least one customer yesterday it would halve term November exports of its three offshore crudes due to field work, blunting the impact of Opec's planned output rise.

Adnoc, the main oil producer in Opec-member the United Arab Emirates (UAE), notified at least one refiner in Japan that it was reducing supplies of its Umm Shaif, Lower Zakum and Upper Zakum crudes by about half, a trading source said.

The notice was the first to confirm the extent to which planned maintenance would affect exports from the emirate, which pumped about 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) last month. Two other Japanese refiners and one in Southeast Asia had yet to receive the note.

Adnoc had said on Sunday that oilfield maintenance would reduce oil production by 600,000 bpd in November.

Oil traders had earlier said as much as 810,000 bpd of output could be shut in for two to three weeks during the peak of the maintenance.

The three fields, in which Exxon Mobil Corp, Total and BP hold equity stakes, produce a total of just over 1 million bpd, according to recent estimates.

Production at the UAE's biggest field, onshore Murban, will not be affected, the oil trader said. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Exxon Mobil are partners there.

The trader added that Adnoc had been selling extra supplies to help its customers build up stocks ahead of the maintenance, which comes just as refiners are bracing for peak winter demand, particularly in Japan, the world's second-biggest importer, which relies on UAE crude for nearly a quarter of its supplies.

"Adnoc's commitments to its term clients are all met by advancing the majority of liftings, and some deferments that have been re-scheduled by mutual agreement," the state oil company said on Sunday in a statement.

Maintenance at the country's Ruwais refinery from late December through February may also allow the UAE to free up more supplies for export following the November work.

The supply reduction in the three grades had been expected for months and traders had earlier identified the three fields as the 530,000-bpd Upper Zakum, the 250,000-bpd Lower Zakum and the 280,000-bpd Umm Shaif.

Saudi Arabia persuaded the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to raise output by 500,000 bpd at a meeting earlier this month in a gesture to consumer nations worried by the economic impact of record-high oil prices.

U.S. crude for November delivery was up 23 cents at $79.76 a barrel by 0723 GMT, off a record high of $83.90 hit last Thursday.

Abu Dhabi set to take giant leap forward

Abu Dhabi set to take giant leap forward
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Abu Dhabi: The imminent arrival of Hollywood entertainment giant Warner Bros in Abu Dhabi with a theme park is in line with the positioning of the emirate as a "world-class place that has it all" and over time, tourist arrivals to the UAE are expected to see strong growth, market analysts told Gulf News.

"This is yet another feather in the cap for Abu Dhabi, after the announcement of Formula One, arrival of top world-class universities, setting up of industrial zones and a museum from France, things that tourists love to see," said one analyst.

On Wednesday in a multi-billion dollar deal, real estate developer Aldar Properties PJSC, one of the largest companies by market capitalisation in the UAE, US-based Warner Bros and the Abu Dhabi Media Company forged a long-term strategic alliance in New York aimed at Abu Dhabi's digital transformation.

"Abu Dhabi will soon become like Dubai, a very attractive place to live in for professional people with all the goodies available in one place. This would also give a boost to the real estate projects in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi," said another analyst.

Shortly after the deal was signed, Aldar chairman Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh told Gulf News that the proposed money committed would be invested over the next five years.

Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company together will invest 50 per cent of it, while the remaining 50 per cent will be invested by Warner Bros.

"We are going to build an integrated entertainment and media infrastructure that will be respectful to our culture and values," said Al Sayegh. "This is a regional partnership that will cover the entire Middle East."

In a joint statement, Aldar, Warner Bros and Abu Dhabi Media said their alliance covers the creation of a theme park and hotel and jointly owned multiplex cinemas, as well as the formation of a joint venture fund to finance films and to develop and publish video games, heralding the growth of new media in the national capital.

Additional areas

Beyond the businesses specifically outlined in Warner Bros' initial agreement with Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company, the companies will explore additional areas in which they can work together, including ventures such as production facilities, digital content distribution and retail opportunities in the Gulf.

Aldar will coordinate and oversee physical construction of both the theme park and hotel. Groundbreaking for the theme park and hotel is expected in 2009.

Warner Bros International Cinemas will develop, design and manage jointly owned multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi to be built by Aldar. Initial plans call for the construction of four cinemas in Al Ruwais, Al Ain, Yas Island and the Central Market in Abu Dhabi, which will be Warner Bros-branded and themed, featuring iconic characters and titles from Warner Bros' classic and contemporary film libraries. Groundbreaking for the multiplex cinemas at the Central Market Development has taken place and they are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.

WBIC currently operates cinemas in Italy and Japan and manages the Mann Theatres chain in the United States.

The film production fund, a 50-50 venture, calls for the development and production of mutually agreed-upon, broad-appeal films, with Warner Bros retaining worldwide distribution options/rights. Separate from this arrangement, Warner Bros Pictures International will work with Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop and produce a slate of Arabic-language films for local and pan-Arabic distribution.

Mohammad launches global innovation award

Mohammad launches global innovation award
WAM Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Dubai: In another historic global initiative, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has given directives to institute an international award titled the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Innovation.

The award aims to acknowledge excellent innovative solutions for problems on a global level, to reward the originators of these solutions and to encourage the adoption of these modalities in a way that the changes brought about by them will lead to the improvement of efficiency and competence in governance.

Shaikh Mohammad reiterated his keenness that the award will not only acknowledge the best innovative practices around the world, but also will propagate the culture of such practices among all sections of society.

Higher standards

He stressed the importance of setting up a work environment and the need for each person to concentrate on continuous innovation in a quest for the best. This, he said, will pave the way for attaining higher standards in performance and achievement.

Shaikh Mohammad said the award and the global benefits it brings will be in tune with his vision which focuses on improvement of social and economic conditions for all humanity.

The proposal for setting up an award for innovation was presented to Shaikh Mohammad by Jawhar Rizvi of Harvard University, Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs, Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash and Minister of Education Dr Hanif Hassan.

Educating children key to ending cycle of poverty, says Maitha


Educating children key to ending cycle of poverty, says Maitha
By Zoi Constantine, Staff Reporter Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Dubai: Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has urged Dubai's diverse, multi-cultural communities to unite under the banner of 'Dubai Cares' to contribute to the goal of educating 1 million children.

The call came as the amount raised for the initiative launched on September 19 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, topped Dh300 million.

Among the latest to donate are Dubai Contracting, which yesterday pledged Dh500,000, and Ahmad Siddiqui and Sons who donated Dh1.5 million to the six-week campaign at an event hosted by Shaikha Maitha, on Wednesday night.

During the event she also announced that she will host the 'Dubai Cares' Walkathon, scheduled for October 19 to be attended by members of the public as well as sporting personalities and well-known names from the world of art and culture in the UAE.

"Dubai Cares is an opportunity for all of us - regardless of our race, religion or ethnic background - to bring together the different communities in Dubai's multicultural landscape to support a common cause and contribute to a greater purpose," Shaikha Maitha said during her address before the diverse crowd at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Wednesday evening.

"We recognise education as the best long-term solution to poverty alleviation in the developing world -educating children, especially girls, is the key to ending the global 'cycle of poverty'."

Present at the event to launch Shaikha Maitha's participation were various sports personalities, artists and actors, including Abdullah Al Khair, who pledged their support for 'Dubai Cares.'

Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage


Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage
By Samir Salama, Bureau Chief Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Abu Dhabi: As residents complained of an acute shortage of taxis in Abu Dhabi, a think tank has warned that the problem will worsen the traffic congestion in the city.

"A shortage in taxis will simply mean more and more people will opt to buy their own cars to rid themselves of the daily suffering of finding a cab," said a report by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Study and Research.

The report expected that the implications of the problem will increase as time passes and that this will be reflected in worsening gridlocks.

This [predicted] increase in the numbers of cars happens at a time when the government is supposed to take measures to reduce them or at least maintain the present number, according to the report.

Statistics of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry put the increase in the number of new cars registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi at 380 per cent between 2002 and 2005, while the increase at the UAE level during the same period was 230 per cent.

A whopping 152,000 new cars were registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi in 2005 accounting for 43 per cent of the total number of cars registered across the country in the same year, compared with 40,000 cars registered in the city in 2002.

This makes the average annual growth in cars registered in Abu Dhabi around 95 per cent.

According to the ECSSR's report, the curve of growth in the number of cars registered in the capital is ascending steeply, especially if the number of used cars registered in the city is taken into consideration.

The report expected that implications of the shortage in cabs will unfold within six months. Residents in Abu Dhabi have complained of queues being formed at bus stops, malls and in major streets everyday particularly at peak hours.

Many say they are compelled to wait for taxis for a long time in the scorching summer heat, with cars belching fumes and fraying tempers.

Refusal

Residents said even if they come across cabs, drivers refuse to take certain routes. Sahar Mohammad, 25, an Egyptian housewife, said for a 10- minute journey she had to wait for almost 60 minutes on Hamdan Street to take her children to school.

"Taxis are not available and most of the taxi drivers are very rude and arrogant and simply refuse to drive to my destination," she said.

Varghese A., suggested that a proper public bus transport system like that in Dubai would help solve this problem. There is a lot of potential for this kind of city bus service.

Other residents complained that taxis are cashing in on people who had to move to suburbs such as Mussafah and Baniyas to escape rising rents.

Khalid Saleh Al Rashidi, general manager of the Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre, said there is no shortage of taxis in the city.

He told Gulf News the root cause of the problem is taxi drivers selectively taking routes which give them more revenue.

"The first batch of a new taxi fleet will hit the roads in November this year," he said.

* 380% increase in the number of new cars registered in Abu Dhabi between 2002 and 2005.
* 230% increase in the number of new cars registered in the UAE between 2002 and 2005.
* 152,000 new cars registered in Abu Dhabi in 2005.
* 95% average annual increase in the number of cars registered in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

The Sensex story: From 1000 to 17,000 !

The Sensex story: From 1000 to 17,000 !

Indian markets achieved yet another milestone on Wednesday; it opened positive and within seconds, hit a new high. The 30-share index took just 5 days to reach 17,000 from 16,000. Technology stocks helped the index rally to a fresh all-time intra-day high of 17,074. However, the Sensex finally ended with a gain of 22 points at 16,921. ( See below for the timeline)

Following is the timeline on the rise and rise of the Sensex through Indian stock market history.

1000, July 25, 1990
On July 25, 1990, the Sensex touched the magical four-digit figure for the first time and closed at 1,001 in the wake of a good monsoon and excellent corporate results.

2000, January 15, 1992

On January 15, 1992, the Sensex crossed the 2,000-mark and closed at 2,020 followed by the liberal economic policy initiatives undertaken by the then finance minister and current Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

3000, February 29, 1992

On February 29, 1992, the Sensex surged past the 3000 mark in the wake of the market-friendly Budget announced by the then Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

4000, March 30, 1992

On March 30, 1992, the Sensex crossed the 4,000-mark and closed at 4,091 on the expectations of a liberal export-import policy. It was then that the Harshad Mehta scam hit the markets and Sensex witnessed unabated selling.

5000, October 8, 1999

On October 8, 1999, the Sensex crossed the 5,000-mark as the BJP-led coalition won the majority in the 13th Lok Sabha election.

6000, February 11, 2000

On February 11, 2000, the infotech boom helped the Sensex to cross the 6,000-mark and hit and all time high of 6,006.

7000, June 20, 2005

On June 20, 2005, the news of the settlement between the Ambani brothers boosted investor sentiments and the scrips of RIL, Reliance Energy, Reliance Capital and IPCL made huge gains. This helped the Sensex crossed 7,000 points for the first time.

8000, September 8, 2005

On September 8, 2005, the Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark 30-share index -- the Sensex -- crossed the 8000 level following brisk buying by foreign and domestic funds in early trading.

9000, November 28, 2005

The Sensex on November 28, 2005 crossed the magical figure of 9000 to touch 9000.32 points during mid-session at the Bombay Stock Exchange on the back of frantic buying spree by foreign institutional investors and well supported by local operators as well as retail investors.

10,000, February 6, 2006

The Sensex on February 6, 2006 touched 10,003 points during mid-session. The Sensex finally closed above the 10K-mark on February 7, 2006.

11,000, March 21, 2006

The Sensex on March 21, 2006 crossed the magical figure of 11,000 and touched a life-time peak of 11,001 points during mid-session at the Bombay Stock Exchange for the first time. However, it was on March 27, 2006 that the Sensex first closed at over 11,000 points.

12,000, April 20, 2006

The Sensex on April 20, 2006 crossed the 12,000-mark and closed at a peak of 12,040 points for the first time.

13,000, October 30, 2006

The Sensex on October 30, 2006 crossed the magical figure of 13,000 and closed at 13,024.26 points, up 117.45 points or 0.9%. It took 135 days for the Sensex to move from 12,000 to 13,000 and 123 days to move from 12,500 to 13,000.

14,000, December 5, 2006

The Sensex on December 5, 2006 crossed the 14,000-mark to touch 14,028 points. It took 36 days for the Sensex to move from 13,000 to the 14,000 mark.

15,000, July 6, 2007

The Sensex on July 6, 2007 crossed the magical figure of 15,000 to touch 15,005 points in afternoon trade. It took seven months for the Sensex to move from 14,000 to 15,000 points.

16,000, September 19, 2007
The Sensex scaled yet another milestone during early morning trade on September 19, 2007. Within minutes after trading began, the Sensex crossed 16,000, rising by 450 points from the previous close. The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange's sensitive index took 53 days to reach 16,000 from 15,000. Nifty also touched a new high at 4659, up 113 points.

The Sensex finally ended with its biggest-ever single day gain of 654 points at 16,323. The NSE Nifty gained 186 points to close at 4,732.

17,000, September 26, 2007

The Sensex scaled yet another height during early morning trade on September 26, 2007. Within minutes after trading began, the Sensex crossed the 17,000-mark . Some profit taking towards the end, saw the index slip into red to 16,887 - down 187 points from the day's high. The Sensex ended with a gain of 22 points at 16,921.

Asian growth forecasts


Asian growth forecasts
Sep 20th 2007 From The Economist print edition

Asia is a bright spot in an otherwise darkening outlook for the world economy. The 43 developing countries in the region are expected to grow by 8.3% in 2007 and 8.2% in 2008, says the Asian Development Bank in an update of its 2007 Outlook. The bank has revised up the forecasts it made in March, largely based on the stronger performance of China and India. Although developing Asia is expected to slow only marginally in 2008, there are risks to that forecast. A recession in America that affected Japan and the euro area would hit growth in Asia too. But large foreign-exchange reserves and more robust financial systems mean that the region is better equipped to weather a downturn.

Chemical generation - Punjabis are poisoning themselves

Chemical generation
Sep 24th 2007 From Economist.com

Punjabis are poisoning themselves

IF INDIAN newspaper reports are to be believed, the children of Punjab are in the throes of a grey revolution. Even those as young as ten are sprouting tufts of white and grey hair. Some are going blind. In Punjabi villages, children and adults are afflicted by uncommon cancers.

The reason is massive and unregulated use of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals in India’s most intensively farmed state. According to an environmental report by Punjab’s government, the modest-sized state accounts for 17% of India’s total pesticide use. The state’s water, people, animals, milk and agricultural produce are all poisoned with the stuff.

Ignorance is part of the problem. The report includes details of a survey suggesting that nearly one-third of Punjabi farmers were unaware that pesticides come with instructions for use. Half of the farmers ignored these instructions. Three-quarters put empty pesticide containers to domestic uses.

Yet, over 250 dense pages, the report also reveals structural problems in the state’s agricultural sector that no mere education programme could address.
Punjab was the totemic success of India’s green revolution, a leap forward in agricultural productivity during the 1960s and 1970s that ended the subcontinent’s periodic famines. It was based on the introduction of a few simple technologies—including artificial fertilisers, pesticides and better seeds. In Punjab, especially, the benefits were massive.

Between 1960 and 2005 the state’s annual food-grain production increased from 3m tonnes to 25m tonnes. Punjab, one of India’s richest states on a per capita basis, supplies more than half the country’s central grain reserves.

But the successes of the green revolution are in retreat. Punjab’s agricultural growth rate has slowed from 5% in the 1980s to less than 2% since 2000. In the past five years production of food grains has increased by 2%, and the state's population has grown by 8.6%.

What price bounty?

“Punjab, the most stunning example of the green revolution in India, is now at the crossroads,” the report states. “The present agricultural system in Punjab has become unsustainable and non-profitable... the state’s agriculture has reached the highest production levels possible under the available technologies.”

Indeed, the technologies available to farmers are part of the problem: “Over-intensification of agriculture over the years has led to overall degradation of the fragile agro-ecosystem of the state”

In particular, massive use of nitrogenous fertilisers—which draw multiple crops from Punjab’s rather poor soil—has reduced the soil’s overall fertility and led to widespread soil erosion.

Massive application of pesticides has meanwhile extinguished some pests and insects while letting others thrive, including the American bollworm, an unpleasant cotton blight, and rice-leaf folder. Many of these survivors have developed resistance to common pesticides.

Intensive irrigation—especially from tube-wells, of which there are over a million in Punjab—has depleted the water-table. It dropped by 55cm each year between 1993 and 2003. Partly as a result, the land irrigated by canals has decreased by 35% since 1990.

Use of sewage and industrially contaminated water for irrigation has drenched Punjab’s soils in heavy metals and other poisons.

The state’s government is not entirely passive before this catastrophe. It has banned the use of several agricultural chemicals. And it has taken steps to encourage organic farming. But there is much more it could do.

In particular, it needs to scrap its populist policy—reintroduced in 2005—of providing farmers with free electricity. Though a great vote-grabber, the policy encourages farmers to pump water up from their tube-wells both day and night.
Equally disastrous is a subsidy on agricultural fertilisers, for which India’s central government is responsible. There is little hope of turning Indian farmers greener until both subsidies are ended.

Meanwhile, the report by Punjab’s government encourages farmers to alleviate the twin crises of environmental degradation and falling productivity by returning to traditional practices.

It recommends they use rice and wheat straw for mulch instead of burning it, rotate their crops, use a range of different seeds, manure their fields, and so on. In short, it recommends many of the agricultural practices that the green revolution swept away.

Let's do business


Let's do business
Sep 26th 2007 From Economist.com
SINGAPORE is the most business-friendly country in the world, according to the World Bank's “Doing Business 2008” report published on Wednesday September 26th. The bank ranks 178 countries using measures including labour-market flexibility, the complexity of trading across borders and access to credit. One indicator of red tape is how long it takes to open a business. In Congo an entrepeneur would have to wait 155 days and spend five times the annual income per head. Countries that simplify regulations see results. Saudi Arabia reduced the time from 39 days to 15, resulting in an 81% increase in new businesses. Egypt, Georgia and Croatia are among the most enthusiastic reformers.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Humility and merit go together

Humility and merit go together
24 Sep, 2007, 0035 hrs IST,N K Vijayaraghavan, TNN

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his Valley of Fear, observes: “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself but talent instantly recognises genius.” An old English proverb also notes, “Empty vessels make more noise”, while a Tamil aphorism conveys the message, Niraikudam thalumbathu (a vessel full of water doesn’t make gurgling sounds).

Indeed those who earnestly strive for excellence do not ever view others with a condescending or patronising look because they feel earnestly that they themselves have much to traverse in their own quest. They practically live out the message of the Tamil saint Avvaiyar, “What we have learned is just the size of a handful of sand; what we haven’t is as big as the entire sand in this vast earth.”

Egoism (ahamkara) is the root cause of all pride, vain boast and self-assumptions, which discount the merits in and accomplishments of others. In fact, in general, human nature is such that most tend to magnify their own sufferings, contributions made or help rendered. Many also lose themselves in orgies of self-pity, self-justification, self-aggrandisement, vain assumptions and fanciful imagination, through living in a fool’s paradise, evolved out of the hollowness, feelings of inadequacy and pretensions to superiority.

The seeking aspirant, on the other hand, is bestowed with a spiritual insight to look beyond his own limitations and thus be sensitised to the virtues, merits and beauty, which abound in the world around. Drawing thus from the cornucopia of blessings all over and obtaining lessons from others too, he becomes the prime beneficiary in his search for virtues and blessings, which would lead him on.

The beginning is thus through that self-effacing humility which admits to the deficiencies within and through a capacity to appreciate and learn from worthwhile things around. Such virtues cleanse the spirit of the retarding forces of egoism, pride and egotism.

This concept is conveyed brilliantly through a scene in the great Kannada film, Hamsagethe. The main character, Venkanna, in sheer ecstasy and gratitude within, embraces a tall rock, on the top of which a sparrow perches itself, as if to taunt him, “You have much to climb before you attain excellence.” Venkanna’s quest thereafter begins in right earnest.

The truly meritorious, not ever needing the crutches of self propagation, would obtain around him many to spread his fame. Indeed, when some one else blows your trumpet, the sound will carry twice as far!

Lehman sees rupee at 36/$ by FY09 end

Lehman sees rupee at 36/$ by FY09 end
26 Sep, 2007, 1811 hrs IST, INDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK

MUMBAI: Lehman Brothers has maintained its call that the rupee would appreciate to 39 to the dollar by the end of 2007 and 36 by end-2008, despite Reserve Bank of India easing overseas investment norms of Indian companies.

The investment bank expects RBI to take the middle path by "allowing some rupee appreciation but managing its pace, continuing to mop up liquidity and further encouraging capital outflows."

The RBI Tuesday announced following measures aimed at liberalising capital outflows.

• Investment in overseas joint ventures/wholly owned subsidiaries by Indian companies permitted up to 400 per cent of the net worth, from 300 per cent.

• Limit for portfolio investment abroad by listed Indian companies raised to 50 per cent of net worth, from 35 per cent.

• Prepayment limit for external commercial borrowings raised to $500 million from $400 million.

• Overseas investment limit for mutual funds raised to $5 billion from $4 billion.

• Annual remittance limit for individuals enhanced from $100,000 to $200,000.

In August, the finance ministry had imposed restrictions on external commercial borrowings to restrict inflows.

Although the RBI move is expected to encourage capital outflows in the medium term, it is unlikely to cause a sharp increase in outflows immediately, since existing limits have not been fully exploited, Lehman says.

Merits of adopting global accounting system in core sector

Merits of adopting global accounting system in core sector
25 Sep, 2007, 0303 hrs IST,P Rama Krishna,

Earlier, in most countries, while public sector operators were responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure, including toll highways, toll bridges, power plants, water supply plants, airports, sea ports, etc, such infrastructure was financed through public budget appropriation.

Of late, in today’s expanding global economy, governments of several countries use a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model for the purpose. The BOT model allows private, foreign and national investors to finance, design, construct, upgrade and operate large-scale infrastructure and development projects.

In return, the operator (a private sector company) is granted the right to generate revenues from the infrastructure facilities for a specified term or concession period. These revenues enable the company to recover its invested capital and also earn a fair return on investment during the concession period, which may range typically from 10 years to 40 years. At the end of this period, assets of the BOT project are transferred, in good condition, to the government or to the local authority which granted the concession (i.e., grantor). This arrangement is articulated in a contract which delineates performance standards, mechanisms for adjusting prices and provisions for arbitrating disputes.

In India, successful public-private participation arrangements are emerging and it is estimated that to sustain economic growth, investments of $350-500 billion would be required in the next five years. While these service arrangements may assume any variety of forms, participation by both the grantor and operator, accompanied by an initial large investment, raises questions over the assets and liabilities to be recognised by the operator.

To facilitate this scenario, a reasonable framework of concessionaire agreements and specialised considerations for accounting and preparation of financial statements of these private sector entities should be prescribed.

Currently, from an Indian perspective, BOT assets are recognised as fixed assets and depreciated over the course of the BOT contract. This treatment does not fully exhibit the risks and rewards associated with the arrangement and also does not reflect the substance of the underlying arrangement rather than in form.

For example, the operator neither holds a leasehold right to nor owns the asset; he constructs the asset in accordance to the grantor’s specifications and he also complies with the grantor’s operation and maintenance requirements for the asset. In addition, he should also comply with the terms for transfer of the assets at the end of the concessionaire period as specified by the grantor. In such a situation, how would the operator be justified in recognising these assets as his own?

Further, in most of the cases, the initial development takes place over a time frame of 3-7 years. At this stage, the operator continues to provide services by building the infrastructure; therefore what is the justification for not recognising the revenues during this period? One can observe that there are more risks and efforts involved during the development phase rather than the operations phase. But the present Indian Accounting Standards permit revenue recognition only during the operation phase, but not during the development phase.

Infrastructure, within this context, is not recognised as property, plant and equipment of the operator because the contractual service arrangement does not convey the right to control the use of the public service infrastructure to the operator. The operator has the right to operate the infrastructure to provide service to the public, on behalf of the grantor, in accordance with the terms specified in the contract.

Internationally, the context for accounting for BOT projects has changed to one where the asset is recognised as a financial or intangible asset.

On November 30, 2006, the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) issued IFRIC Interpretation 12-Service Concession Arrangements. This Interpretation provides guidance on accounting by private sector operators involved in the provision of public sector infrastructure assets and services. With effect from January 1, 2008, the standard is to internationally recognise the BOT asset as a financial asset or an intangible asset.

Various factors, including globalisation, encourage the migration of accounting to a more singular and common platform in terms of rules and standards. In this context, it would be prudent for infrastructure companies based in India to recognise BOT assets as intangibles, on par with their international peers.

To do this, Indian companies need to be educated about the benefits of recognising the service concession as a financial or intangible asset, which include greater synthesis and congruence with international standards. A more accurate and insightful view into how the BOT asset is recognised on the books.

Accounting for service concession arrangements commences from the time of bidding for a service concession. Research indicates that accounting issues are present across each stage of the value chain; these issues include, and are not limited to n Prior costs — bid costs, security deposits, consultant fees, etc.

n Construction and procurement of assets — recognition of intangible assets, recognition of financial assets, borrowing costs, special purpose entities, etc.

n Operations and maintenance — revenue recognition, exchange fluctuations, taxation, current and deferred income taxes, impact on credit rating by bank creditors, etc.

It is not only Indian companies who will have to be educated on the benefits of recognising service concessions as financial or intangible assets. Retail and institutional investors, financial services providers and the market as a whole must become aware of this new practice. Accounting firms will need to articulate to its clients and to financial services providers extending financing for such projects the merits of adopting the international system of accounting. Initially, there may be a certain amount of resistance to adopting the global standard, but accounting firms can address this by facilitating their clients and other parties to view the issue in a more holistic and accurate manner.

(The author is partner, Price Waterhouse)

BPCL - Premier hits gas in Assam block

Indonesia's talks with ExxonMobil hit a hurdle

Indonesia's talks with ExxonMobil hit a hurdle
Reuters Published: September 25, 2007, 23:45

Jakarta: Indonesia and ExxonMobil have halted negotiations on the disputed Natuna D-Alpha gas block, now controlled by the US company, an official at energy watchdog BPMIGAS said yesterday.

Talks on the offshore gas project, estimated to require investment of about $40 billion, have run into several problems, attracting the attention of foreign investors who are already wary of committing money to Southeast Asia's biggest economy because of its weak legal system, bureaucracy and corruption.

The most recent setback over Natuna has arisen because the two parties involved cannot agree on how to split the gas produced, the official said, but other unresolved issues include the length of Exxon's contract.

The Indonesian side is waiting for the government to issue new instructions before talks can resume.

Controlling issues
Exxon controls a 76 per cent stake in the Natuna block while Indonesian state oil and gas firm, Pertamina, owns 24 per cent and would like to increase its stake to half.

Indonesia also says that Exxon's contract giving it that 76 per cent share has expired, whereas the energy major has said the contract is valid until 2009.

The BPMIGAS official said the two sides stopped talking recently because they could not agree on how to split the gas produced from the block.

"Indonesia wants a 65 per cent split for the government and 35 per cent for the contractor. Exxon has rejected the proposal because it wants more," the official said.

Kuwait favours BP ahead of Shell as partner in China refinery plan

Kuwait favours BP ahead of Shell as partner in China refinery plan
Reuters / Published: September 25, 2007, 23:45

Kuwait City: Kuwait wants to drop Royal Dutch Shell as a partner and is instead considering BP in a project to build a $5 billion oil refinery in Guangdong in China, Kuwait's state news agency Kuna reported yesterday.

Shell had hoped to gain a foothold in the domestic fuel market of the world's second-largest energy consumer through the Guangdong plant, after an attempt to take a share in another refining project failed last year.

The refinery would be one of the largest joint venture investments in China, similar in size to the $5 billion refinery to be built by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco in Fujian.

State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and China's largest refinery Sinopec received preliminary Chinese government approval for the Guangdong plant last year.

In August, Sinopec said Shell and US Dow Chemical Co were also in talks to participate. There were several reasons KPC no longer wanted Shell involved, including objections from China's National Development and Reform Commission, Kuna reported, citing Chinese sources. KPC was in talks on the project with BP, which had previously expressed interest, it said.

It was unclear why BP would be a better fit than Shell for the project. Analysts say Beijing is showing a preference toward teaming up with state-owned firms that can offer oil supply guarantees such as KPC, with less need for the technology or financing offered by oil majors such as Shell or BP.

"The issue has been dragging on for months," said Kuwaiti energy analyst Kamel Al Harmi.

Photo Speaks - Passing shots 25092007




Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Team India winners of 2007 Twenty20 World Cup and Misbah's mistake




Congratulations to Team India for this wonderful achievement.

While joining the celebrations, we are proving once again that Cricket Victory is the only real sporting victory that is counted in India. This can be seen by the barrage of gifts and prize money that is flowing and that will flow on and on to the
players. Dhoni did a great thing and as he rightly talked to the press during the presentation ceremony - "I opted to give an opportunity to a player who wants to prove in front of the International Cricketing Community. Win or Fail did not matter me."

It was the best possible leadership example alive and online in front of millions of viewers. Very seldom you will find a leader taking a courageous decision such as this one in a crunch situation. He was well supported through out by his team members. This is Team Spirit at its best. Many more prizes await you Team India when you return tomorrow.

And the joke part of this victory is expressed below here by an email forward just now received by me. It goes like this:

T20 FINAL - MISBAH'S MISTAKE!!

MISBAH THOUGHT HE WAS SENDING THE BALL TO A PLACE WHERE THERE WAS NO ONE. HE DID NOT KNOW THAT THERE IS A MALAYALI IN EVERY CORNER OF THE WORLD!!!

Have a great day and God Bless,

Ramesh Menon
25092007

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Mind Speaks - Planning and execution



Planning and execution

Well, well, well. What at an exciting game of Twenty20 cricket it was. Australian team was really floored by the brilliant overall team work of Team India. Each player looked responsible and played a pre-defined plan to perfection. The exuberance of confidence and focus level in them were at its peak that some times I felt the Team forgot the art of celebrating wickets. Not many times we get to get such an occasion to execute a plan to its perfection as it was displayed on the field yesterday by the Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bunch of young heroes. Whether we win the finals against Pakistan or not, they have already captured the hearts of millions of Cricket fans, irrespective of whether they come from India, Pakistan, England, Australia or wherever.

Keeping the nerves and keeping cool is an important element, required all the time in life to achieve success and victory. Not many people practise this art or at least even attempt to learn it. Till some time ago, I myself was one who never achieved this target. It is very easy to get intimidated or distracted and lose the focus of our objectives. In life, every one has to have a smaller objective and Bigger Objective. While working short term for the smaller objectives, our prime focus should be on the Bigger version of it. The pace and methodology with which we should go about should be strategically developed for the execution of such a strategy. But many times, we tend to focus on the smaller objectives and which will totally take us out and away from our Bigger objectives. We can illustrate this situation many times by small events happening in our life. One such incident happened to me even yesterday. I was driving down the highway early morning towards Dubai from Abu Dhabi and it was a very foggy morning. With not much traffic and with music on, my concentration was to watch out for a diversion to particular place I had to go. I was almost sure that I was nearer to that diversion and at this time, I happened to watch closely in the side mirror a beautiful car approaching mine. With a passion for automobiles, I was unable to take my eyes of her, slowed down the speed and watched the beautiful Blue Rolls Royce Phantom passing me like a race horse. I took a closer look at it, the number, the model and even the driver and realised that it was owned by the most prominent businessman from Abu Dhabi. I enjoyed it and all this happened within the matter of 1 or 2 minutes at the speed of 120+ kms on the highway. In the same instance I realised, I missed my very important turning, crossing it, making me drive for a retour of about 25 kms and valuable time of almost 45 minutes in to the rush hour traffic of Dubai City.

This is just a small example, it did not cost me much as I had kept a leverage time of 45 minutes before my appointment just to explore the location I was visiting to capture the surroundings with my camera before the very important meeting. To arrive early - I do this strategy many times if time permit, because it will give me some time to relax and also familiarise myself and de-stress from the drive towards the place. While looking through the view finder of my camera, I transform myself into a positive self once again, and in the background ready myself with my plans and strategies.

This is one way of grooming towards a positive self at all times. I have found Photography as a creative pursuit which always help to improve Positive Thinking and create a Quality attitude. When we take a camera and focus on an object, we will never be satisfied until and unless the object is clear and focussed. With the newer technologies and advanced options, the modern day digital cameras aid better towards perfection. Most of the equipment comes with several controls and if we have to come out with a quality output, we always have two options. One, to use the automatic mode all the time and get the picture perfect. 2nd to study the manual and learn the nuisances of those controls and execute the options and get a perfect picture. We can use, option 1, if we do not favour risks or do not have time factor. Whereas we use option 2, if we do not mind taking risks and have fractions of seconds or minutes to change the settings before each of the shots. In reality, life and those around us, is also like the camera we use. Many times, we let them do what they are supposed to do, and wait for the result. Some other times, we take risk, talk to them, groom them and extract desired results from them. In both cases, the capacity and capability in store with them are the same, but the productivity may vary and results depends on how the machine or man were able to understand our ideas or visions and transforms them in to a wonderful product of Quality.

We saw the 2nd method very well executed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who marshalled just ordinary resources, who were with him, and who were playing with senior captains like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganuly before. A small amount of pep talk, his own performance and initiatives to lead from the front, and the result, Team India is now in the finals of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament in South Africa. A different approach, keeping the fundamentals in place, that’s all he did. It turned out to be Powerful and they all seemed to be the right person’s for the right job. It’s working like a magic so far. Time will tell whether Dhoni is our magician for the hour.


However, how far we keep the momentum going, we do not know? Because, Team India is prone to politics and already, in today’s news there is an article about Yuvraj Singh’s dad talking to press about his son not being made the captain of the Indian Team!

We don’t care, who the captain is. We want performance and Quality Performance. The choice is yours and those around.

GOD BLESS AND HAVE A GREAT DAY.

Ramesh Menon
23092007

Team 1 Dubai : Your e-Home for TQM & Positive Thinking Headline Animator