Friday, 30 November 2007

Abu Dhabi estimated to generate additional $800b in cash flows

Abu Dhabi estimated to generate additional $800b in cash flows

ABU DHABI — Abu Dhabi is estimated to generate $800 billion worth additional cash flows during the period 2005-2020 due to high oil prices in the international market, said a consultant.

Kito de Boer, managing director, ME Mckinsey & Company, said GCC region sans Abu Dhabi would add another $1200 billion cash flow to make a total of whopping $2 trillion worth of financial resources chiefly due to bullish oil market.

Sharing his views at a panel discussion during a two-day 'Abu Dhabi Conference 2007', being organised by MEED, he said this additional cash flow would offer more business opportunities.

Earlier, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority (EAA) and CEO Mubadala Development Company, gave a comprehensive overview of Abu Dhabi's economic ambitions and government reforms process. He said Abu Dhabi has a clear roadmap for economic development.

The future economic strategy of the emirate focuses on real estate, setting up of heavy industry and exploring potential of high-end tourism, infrastructure development under Vision 2030, he added.

In the oil sector from current level of 2.7 million barrels per day Abu Dhabi is keen to raise production to 4 million bpd by 2020. A major development project would be announced in near future, under which nation's huge sour gas resources would be explored.

Moreover, a number of petrochemicals projects would be developed besides setting up of heavy industries like aluminium smelters etc.

"Abu Dhabi wants a cluster of industries to be developed once aluminium smelter comes online in Taweelah, where a industrial city is being developed," the chairman EAA said.

Soy Kabab

Raw Vegan Curried Cabbage Salad

Thai-style Spring Rolls

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Osteoporosis - Prevention is the key

Osteoporosis - Prevention is the key
By Priya Mathew
Dr Ayman Mofti

IT HAS NOT YET captured the imagination of the health fanatics in this part of the world the way more 'popular' diseases such as cholesterol or blood pressure have. But then, Osteoporosis and its implications haven't been under the media glare for long even though its complications have been making life difficult for human beings, especially, the female of the species, for ages.

"For many years there was no easy tool to diagnose the condition characterised by low bone mass due to thin bone and large holes in the bone, which in turn makes the bone fragile and prone to fracture. Furthermore, there was no effective treatment for the condition until about eight to ten years ago," says Dr Ayman Mofti, Rheumatologist with American Hospital Dubai.

That might explain to some extent why the media chose to give Osteoporosis the royal ignore all these years. But that has added to the misconceptions people harbour about the condition.


Osteoporosis, as we know it, falls into two categories, primary and secondary. The most common one is primary Osteoporosis which is not associated with any other disease. It usually occurs in post-menopausal women due to the drop in hormones leading to bone loss.

Men too are candidates for osteoporosis but it happens at a significantly older age, mainly in their late sixties and early seventies.

The main problem with Osteoporosis is that it goes unnoticed as it does not have any symptoms. "Many people believe that pain is a symptom of Osteoporosis. But actually it is the complications that arise due to Osteoporosis that cause the pain. And the complications can vary from broken vertebrae or fractures that cause severe pain and immobility to spinal deformities in the form of humps," says Dr Mofti.


Statistics say that 1 in 3 menopausal women develop some kind of fracture due to osteoporosis that will in some way threaten the longevity of their lives.

Of all fractures, hip fracture is the most serious complication as about one fourth of women who have had hip fractures die within a year. About half of them have difficulty walking on their own and become totally dependent on others.

Though hip fractures carry a high mortality rate, the most common fracture due to osteoporosis is the vertebral fracture. Something as delicate as coughing or sneezing is known to cause the collapse of the vertebral bone in women with severe osteoporosis.

Avoiding fractures

No wonder Dr Mofti lays great emphasis on preventing fractures once diagnosed with Osteoporosis. "Studies have shown that about 35 per cent of menopausal women develop some kind of fracture that may impact their lives. You can imagine the enormity of the situation when you compare the figure for men belonging to the same age bracket. It is a mere 14 per cent. And hip fractures take the cake in terms of mortality rate. So extra care has to be taken to prevent fractures."

That would include rearranging the furniture layout of the room if it is not patient friendly as tripping and falling forms a major cause of fractures. Another factor that needs to be taken care is the eyesight. If plagued by vision problems, no time should be lost in rectifying them. If certain types of medication, especially medicines for blood pressure make you dizzy, consult your physician and have them replaced by more favourable medicine.

Prevention is better than cure

As with any other medical condition, the age-old adage of prevention is better than cure holds true for Osteoporosis as well.

In order to prevent Osteoporosis, you need to know whether you are at risk of developing Osteoporosis.

Risk factors

Though one cannot do much about the genetic make up as well as the fact that one is a woman naturally progressing towards menopause, there are a whole lot of other risk factors that can be altered to prevent the onset of Osteoporosis.

Inadequate Calcium intake particularly during young age would affect the amount of bone reserves one would have in old age.

An average person requires about 1000-1500 mg of Calcium a day. Young people who drink milk everyday and consume dairy products would easily get the required quantity. But children with lactose intolerance would need to take Calcium supplements in order to build up optimum bone reserves.

Sedentary life style with little or no exercise, especially weight bearing exercise, increases the risk for developing Osteoporosis.

Habits such as excessive smoking and drinking also put you at risk for Osteoporosis.

Certain medications such as high doses of cortisone used for a long time (3 months or longer) or high therapeutic dose of thyroid hormone supplement are said to affect the bones leading to osteoporosis.

Small built women who weigh less than 55 kg are also at the risk of developing Osteoporosis.

Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to Osteoporosis. A person is supposed to have 400-800 international units of Vitamin D every day. Its deficiency either due to mal-absorption or due to less exposure to sun can cause softening of the bone which in turn makes the bone more fragile. Vitamin D deficiency is more evident in women in this part of the world as they spend most of their time indoors and whenever they venture out they are covered from head to toe by their traditional dress.

Regular screening

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Majority of the people come to know they have Osteoporosis only after they break a bone or two. That is why Dr Mofti insists on regular check ups for postmenopausal women for Osteoporosis. Women deemed to be at a higher risk should be screened for it every one or two years while women with lowered risk should be screened once in five years.

Currently, the most accurate method available to diagnose Osteoporosis is the DEXA test that measures the bone mineral density. It uses a measuring unit called T-score which compares the bone density of an individual with that of an average young adult of the same sex. The T-score can tell the extent of risk you are at for developing Osteoporosis.

If the T-score turns out to be -2.5 or higher, the person can be considered to have Osteoporosis. Further evaluation is recommended to find out whether the patient has primary or secondary Osteoporosis.

"Many people are still very reluctant to take a test for Osteoporosis. It might be due to their ignorance about the impact of Osteoporosis. That's where the media has a significant role to play. If people are made aware of the consequences of Osteoporosis the way they know about the ill-effects of cholesterol or blood pressure, it would be easy to tackle the problem," says Dr Mofti.

And it is not as if you have to pay through the nose to conduct the test for Osteoporosis. It costs as much as a comprehensive test for Cholesterol, which would vary from Dhs 250 to Dhs 500.


"Ideally, we need medicines that would rebuild bone as well as medicines that would reduce the bone loss. Medicines that would actually build up the bones are still understudy while we have several medicines which reduce bone wash out," says Dr Mofti.

Hormone Replacement Therapy is also recommended as a preventive and therapeutic medicine for Osteoporosis though it requires longer period of treatment. Though it has its benefits it has its limitations in that it cannot be used in women who are predisposed towards deep vein thrombosis and breast cancer.

Exercise is also recommended before and after the diagnosis of Osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises such as lifting weight, walking, etc which put pressure on the bones would do a lot of good as it stimulates the bone.

Eliminating the risk factors would also go a long way in controlling Osteoporosis. It is never too late to quit smoking, cut down alcohol consumption and increase Calcium and Vitamin D intake. All these would help but not as effectively as it would have if implemented before being diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Remember, prevention is the key element in tackling Osteoporosis.

Smoking mothers lead to fat children: study

Smoking mothers lead to fat children: study

TOKYO - Children whose mothers smoked even in early stages of pregnancy are at nearly three times greater risk of obesity later in life, according to a Japanese study.

While researchers do not know the exact correlation, it is possible that the children whose mothers smoked were deprived of nutrition in the womb, the study said.

The survey was done over a period of nearly two decades by a team led by Zentaro Yamagata, professor at Yamanashi University’s School of Medicine.

It covered some 1,400 women in Japan who gave birth between April 1991 and March 1997. The researchers then collected data on about 1,000 of their children when they entered fourth grade at age nine or 10.

The risk of obesity was 2.9 times higher among children whose mothers smoked when they were three months pregnant or in earlier stages of pregnancy compared with children of non-smoking mothers, the study showed.

The results “indicate smoking during pregnancy, even in the early stages, can affect the health of children over a long period of time,” Yamagata said.

Researchers can “speculate” that children who had been poorly fed in the womb would stock up on nutrition after they were born, he said.

“But we don’t know the truth. What is important here is to stop smoking,” he said.

The results of the study were announced at a meeting of public health experts in Japan last week and will be carried in a North American magazine to be published in December.


UAE to boost oil production capacity by start of next decade

UAE to boost oil production capacity by start of next decade
WAM Published: November 28, 2007, 13:27

Dubai: The UAE plans to increase its oil production capacity.

Government owned news agency WAM said the oil output of the UAE is expected to rise from 2.7 million to 3.5 million barrels per day at the beginning of the next decade.

It’s refinery capacity, which currently stands at 600,000 barrels per day is expected to rise to 1.1 million in the near future.

The UAE has 8.1 per cent of the world’s oil reserves as well as an estimated gas reserve of Six trillion cubic metres.

Abu Dhabi to supply extra crude

Abu Dhabi to supply extra crude
Reuters Published: November 29, 2007, 00:20

Singapore: Abu Dhabi will supply full term volumes of crude oil to its Asian customers for January and additional barrels to at least three buyers to meet winter demand, lifters said on Wednesday.

This is only the second month since November 2006 that Abu Dhabi, the main producer in Opec-member the UAE, is supplying additional volumes, but the move may not herald the organisation's plan to lift output again when it meets next week.

"We received the notice. It is full volume and a small incremental," one term lifter said.

Abu Dhabi occasionally sells extra crude to its term buyers in Asia, its main export market, although the exact volumes to be supplied this time were not immediately known.

Opec is meeting in Abu Dhabi on December 5 and is under pressure to supply more crude to world markets to stop prices from breaching new records and put further strain on the global economy.

While top Gulf Opec officials have expressed deep concern at prices threatening to top $100, they reiterated that markets were well supplied and steered clear of saying whether Opec would raise production at its policy meeting.

The incremental Abu Dhabi supplies for December came after a sharp cut-back in November due to offshore oilfield mainten-ance, and were in line with Opec's decision to boost daily output by 500,000 barrels from November 1, which failed to stop prices from rocketing.

Written notice

Two lifters confirmed receiving written notice that they would get full term volumes for a second month in January.

Four lifters said they had not requested extra barrels, while three others had asked for additions, leaving it unclear whether Abu Dhabi will supply more crude to Asia for January than for December.

But unlike the December barrels, Adnoc did not not actively offer additional volumes for January. It may also not be able to satisfy all requests for additional crude, with one lifter saying it had sought a full additional 500,000-barrel cargo but received less.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Palm Island near to completion...Something very awesome

Adnoc set to resume production at Lower Zakum West next week

Adnoc set to resume production at Lower Zakum West next week
Bloomberg Published: November 28, 2007, 00:31

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc), the biggest oil-producer in the UAE, will resume production from its 280,000 barrel-a-day Lower Zakum West field on December 6, a company official said.

The field, which produces more than 10 per cent of the UAE's daily oil output, has been completely shut since the end of October for the installation of a gas facility.

The new facility will inject gas into the oil wells to exert pressure in the reservoir so more oil can be pumped out.

Adnoc, the second-larg-est Arab oil company by production, reduced its output this month by a quarter, or about 600,000 barrels a day, because of planned maintenance at the Upper Zakum, Lower Zakum West and Umm Shaif oilfields.

Umm Shaif has resumed production, the official, who declined to be identified because of company policy, said. Lower Zakum includes Lower Zakum West and Lower Zakum Central.

Zakum Central continues to produce about 60,000 barrels a day while the rest of the field undergoes maintenance, the official said.

Lower Zakum and Umm Shaif are operated by Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Co, also a unit of Adnoc.

An Adnoc official responsible for maintenance at the Upper Zakum field declined to confirm output at that field had resumed. Upper Zakum, which contributes about 200,000 barrels a day to UAE daily oil production, is operated by Adnoc unit Zakum Development Co.

The UAE, the third-largest oil exporter in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is planning to raise oil output to four million barrels a day from about 2.6 million barrels a day at present.

Enoc gets new chief executive officer

Enoc gets new chief executive officer
Staff Report GULF NEWS Published: November 28, 2007, 00:31

Dubai: Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) Board yesterday appointed Saeed Abdullah Khoury as its chief executive officer effective from December 1.

Khoury takes over from Hussain Sultan, who retires as group chief executive of Enoc, a position he held for 35 years since the group's start-up.

Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, Enoc's vice-chairman, said: "With 28 years' experience in Adnoc, Khoury is an expert in both upstream and downstream activities in the Emirates and is well placed to be a strategic implementer for Enoc's growth."
Khoury said: "We will continue to focus our activities to remain an important player in the local and international energy industry." He added: "Enoc already operates many international businesses, which will be a major focus of our growth in the future, and will help to extend our excellent brand vision across the world."

With a strong industry background, Khoury has been responsible for several industry achievements and is set to spearhead the future growth of the leading oil and gas company.

Abu Dhabi is biggest stakeholder in Citigroup

Abu Dhabi is biggest stakeholder in Citigroup
Gulf News Report Published: November 28, 2007, 00:31

Dubai: The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority yesterday became the biggest shareholder in the Citigroup following an acquisition of 4.9 per cent shares worth $7.5 billion in America's largest bank.

Through this deal Abu Dhabi displaces Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal as Citi's largest shareholder. Prince Alwaleed acquired his Citi stake in 1991 when the bank struggled with Latin American loan. Currently, Alwaleed holds 3.97 per cent stakes worth an estimated $6 billion.

The fresh capital injection by Adia will shore up Citi's balance sheet, which has been hurt by some $6.8 billion of writedowns and losses in the third quarter, and the potential for another $11 billion in the fourth quarter.

Growth opportunities

Following the deal Citigroup shares gained 1.3 per cent to reach $30.18 by noon yesterday. On Monday, Citi shares closed at $29.80 on the New York Stock Exchange. Citi's market value has fallen by more than $100 billion this year. "We see in Citi a highly respected company with a premier brand and with tremendous opportunities for growth," said Shaikh Ahmad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Managing Director of ADIA.

Analysts said yesterday that the share sale might also signal an end to the freefall in US financial stocks following this summer's credit crisis.

"There will be more such investments," said Giyas Gokkent, head of research at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. "The other [Gulf] buyers will likely play the same white-knight role," he said.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is buying equity units, which will be convertible into Citi shares at a price of up to $37.24 a share between March 15, 2010 and September 15, 2011.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

15 financial problems at a glance!

15 financial problems at a glance!

When it comes to psychology and financial behaviour, India does not have too much of research papers. Hence we are forced to turn to the US or UK for such research work.

US studies have summarised financial problems and have found the following to be the most common of financial problems:

~ Not planning: The single biggest problem for most people is that they just do not plan their finances. It just keeps coming and going. Even if they are not happy about the results of what they have done so far, they do not change the way things are done.

~ Overspending:
Many people with not very high incomes have very high ambitions. This is likely to get them to grief. Most of this problem is because the salesmen in most shops do not tell you the price of a product, they only tell you the EMI -- so anything from a plasma TV to a luxury home on the outskirts of the city are made to look cheap! After all at Rs 2,899 a month does a plasma TV not look cheap?

~ Not talking finance at home:
Children are kept away from the finance topics at the dining table. Finance is perhaps the second most taboo topic at home! So many children grow up without knowing how much of sacrifice their parents have gone through to educate them.

~ Parents spending on education and marriage: There are just too many kids out there who believe that they need to worry about savings, investment and life insurance only at the age of 32 plus. This means your father, father�in-law or a bank loan has funded your education and marriage. Kids should take on financial responsibility at a much younger age than what is happening currently.

~ Marriage between financially incompatible people: Most marriages under stress are actually under financial stress. Either the husband or the wife is from a rich background and the other partner cannot understand or cope with the spending pattern. It is necessary to match people financially before marriage.

~ Delaying saving for retirement: "I am only 27 years old why should I think of retirement" seems to be a very valid refrain for many 32 year olds! Every year that you delay in investing the greater the amount that you will have to save later in your life. Till the age of 32 it might be feasible for you to catch up, but after some time the amount that you need to save for retirement just flies away.

~ Very little life insurance: With all the risks of life styles, travel, etc. illness and premature death are common. We all have classmates who had heart attack at the age of 32 but still pretend that we do not need life or medical insurance. We buy car insurance because it is forced upon us, but we ignore life insurance! Imagine insuring a Rs 10 lakhs car, but not insuring (or under insuring) the person who is using the car -- and paying for it, that is, you!

~ Not prepared for medical emergencies: Normally big emergencies -- financially speaking -- are medical emergencies. Being unprepared for them -- by not having an emergency fund is quite common. Emergency fund has now come to mean the credit card -- which is good news for the bank, not for the borrower.

~ Lack of asset allocation: Risk is not a new concept. However, it is a difficult concept to understand. For example when the Sensex was 3k there was much less risk in the equity markets than there is today. However at 3k index people were afraid of the market. Now everybody and his aunt wants to be in the equity market -- and there are enough advisors who keep saying, "Equity returns are superior to debt returns." This is true with a rider -- in the long run. It is convenient for the relationship manager to forget the rider. So there could be a much larger allocation to equity at higher prices -- to make for the time missed out earlier.

~ Falling prey to financial pitches:
The quality of pitches has improved! Aggressive young kids are recruited by brokerage houses, banks, mutual funds, life insurance companies, etc. and all these kids are selling mutual funds, life insurance, portfolio management schemes, structured products, et al. Selling to their kith and kin helps these kids keep their jobs, and there is happiness all around! These kids, themselves prey to financial pitches, have now made it an art when they are selling to their own natural 'circle of friends' and relatives.

~ Buying financial products from 'obligated persons': This is perhaps one of the worst things you can do in your financial life. A friend, relative, neighbor, colleague who has been doing something else suddenly becomes a financial guru because they have become an agent! They, in great enthusiasm, sell you a financial product and promptly in 2 years time give up this 'business' because it is too difficult. You are saddled with a dud product for life! What a pity. Charity begins at home, not financial planning.

~ Financial illiteracy: Most people do not wish to know or learn about financial products. They simply ask, "Where do I have to sign" -- so buying a mutual fund is easier than buying life insurance! Selecting products based on the ease and simplicity of buying is a shocking but true real life experience in the financial behaviour of the rational human being!

~ Ignoring small numbers for too long: What difference will it make if I save Rs 1,000 a month? Well over a long period it could make you a millionaire! So start early and invest wisely. It will make you rich. That is the power of compounding.

~ Urgent vs important: Most expenses, which look urgent, are perhaps not so important -- the shirt or shoe at a sale. That luxury item which was being offered at 30 per cent discount is such an example. These small leakages are all reducing the amount of money you will have for the bigger things like education or retirement.

~ Focusing too much on money: Money is no longer a commodity to buy things. It is a scorecard of one's life. That will cause stress, and yoga might help. However if you will seek a branded yoga teacher -- so that your friends think you have arrived, yoga it self could cause financial stress!

Dubai Police 50th anniversary

Dubai Police 50th anniversary
By Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS

From a one-station police force with 29 members to a 15,000-strong organisation, Dubai Police has grown into one of the most successful forces in the region.

And today marks its 50th anniversary, with celebrations that will continue for 50 days.

Cultural, educational, sports and recreational activities will be held during this period.

Brigadier Jamal Mohammad Khalifa Saqr Al Merri, Deputy Commandant General of Dubai Police, says, "The celebrations include an introduction which will be conveyed through audio, video and written materials.

"A book detailing the establishment of Dubai Police, and the phases it went through, will be released. Dubai Police began operations with just 29 officers in 1956. One of them was Khalifa Bin Daen, who is still in service."

The book comprises, among other topics, a timeline, the achievements of Dubai Police, and developments it witnessed through the years.

The celebrations will be promoted on television and through distribution of print material encouraging the public to participate.

"Today there will be a special military parade in which all the sections of the police, such as cavalry, air wing, anti-riot, explosive materials section, police dogs and various forces will participate," says Brigadier Al Merri.

The parade begins in the morning along Shaikh Zayed Road and everyone is invited to participate. The Dubai Police Air Wing will also be participating - carrying banners promoting the Golden Jubilee.

"This celebration is a way of us saying a 'thank you' to all those who helped and supported Dubai Police and positively participated with it," says Brigadier Al Merri.

During the celebration period, former police officers, including expatriates, who served Dubai Police for 25 years or more, will be honoured. They will receive the Golden Jubilee medal.

As part of the celebrations, Dubai Police will unveil a coin as well as a stamp.

"There will also be congratulatory messages sent via SMS to the public. Etisalat prepaid cards will have sentences such as '50 years of excellence'," he says.

Congratulation cards and gifts will be distributed in places such as petrol stations and shopping malls.

"Bluetooth technology will also be used in sending messages to people in shopping malls, while the new building of the General Headquarter will be illuminated," says Brigadier Al Merri.

Police patrols will tour areas under their jurisdictions in their new uniforms.

Three children among five killed in Abu Dhabi crash

Three children among five killed in Abu Dhabi crash
By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: November 27, 2007, 00:11

Abu Dhabi: Five members of a family, including three young children, were killed in a traffic accident on Sunday afternoon on the Musaffah Bridge.

Those killed included a 26-year-old UAE national A.M, the driver of the car, his 18-year-old sister S.M and his three nieces S.A., F.A., M.M. aged 11, 10 and 8 respectively. The accident involving four Abu Dhabi-registered vehicles happened at 3.45 pm.

"A 24-year-old Asian driver hit the car in front of him, probably due to speeding. This car with an Arab family hit the barrier and swerved to the next lane on the right hitting a third car with the five victims.

"The impact of the hit was so high that the third car was thrown on to the other side of the road, where traffic was flowing in the opposite direction. A four-wheel drive hit this car killing all five of its passengers on the spot," said Colonel Hamad Adil Al Shamsi, the Director of the Department of Traffic and patrol police.


The driver of the 4WD, H.S, a 26-year-old UAE national, has been admitted to Shaikh Zayed Military Hospital. The vehicle he was travelling was entering Abu Dhabi while the rest of the vehicles involved in the accident were leaving the city.

"All the vehicles involved have been badly damaged," he said. Paramedics and ambulances rushed to the scene and in some cases extrication was necessary to take the victims out of the cars.

Saying that preliminary investigations to determine the cause of the accident are going on, Col Hamad added that most accidents are caused due to speeding. He urged motorists to be cautious while on the road.

Monday, 26 November 2007

'Smoking turns men bald'

'Smoking turns men bald'
26 Nov 2007, 1154 hrs IST,ANI

WASHINGTON: Asian men should kick the butt if they don’t want their locks to fall off, for a new study has stated that smoking might be the cause of age-related hair loss among them.

According to doctors in Taipei, the risk for the condition is largely genetic, however some environmental factors may also play a role.

“Androgenetic Alopecia, a hereditary androgen-dependent disorder, is characterized by progressive thinning of the scalp hair defined by various patterns,” the authors wrote as background information in the article.

“It is the most common type of hair loss in men”, they added.

A survey was conducted among 740 Taiwanese men of age 40 to 91 (average age 65) in 2005, where at an in-person interview, information was gathered from the men regarding their smoking habits.

They were also asked about other risk factors for their hair loss and if they were suffering from Alopecia, and if so, at what age they began losing their hair.

Using clinical classifications, their degree of hair loss was assessed, height and weight were measured and blood samples were taken for analysis.

It was found that men increased their risk of hair loss with advancing age, but still had lower risk than the average white men.

“After controlling for age and family history, statistically significant positive associations were noted between moderate or severe Androgenetic Alopecia and smoking status, current cigarette smoking of 20 cigarettes or more per day and smoking intensity,” the authors wrote.

They noted that the relationship between the two could be caused by a number of means. Smoking may destroy hair follicles, damage the papilla that circulate blood and hormones to stimulate hair growth or increase production of the hormone estrogen, which may counter the effects of androgen.

“Patients with early-onset Androgenetic Alopecia should receive advice early to prevent more advanced progression,” the authors conclude.

Wholemeal bread checks cancer risk

Wholemeal bread checks cancer risk
26 Nov 2007, 1324 hrs IST,ANI
LONDON: A new research has revealed that having two portions of whole grains such as wholemeal bread and brown rice on a daily basis may almost halve the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

According to the research, carried out by the University of California, San Francisco, a diet rich in these ingredients and other whole grain foods could bring about a substantial reduction in the risk of developing this form of cancer.

In the study of more than 2,000 men and women, a clear link between the amount of whole grains eaten and the chance of developing pancreatic cancer was revealed.

It was found that those who ate at least two helpings of whole grains a day - the equivalent of a cup of brown rice or porridge, or two slices of wholemeal bread - were 40 per cent less likely to develop the disease than those who ate less than one portion.

It was also found that those who ate more than 0.9oz (26.5g) of fibre a day were 35 per cent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who ate less than 0.6oz (15.6g).

"There is a possibility that diet can affect one's risk of pancreatic, as well as other cancers,” maintain researchers.

"Eating a diet rich in a wide variety of grains is likely not only to help in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease, but also this very deadly cancer," they added.

In fact, during the study, it was found that eating more refined and sweetened grains - such as two or more servings of doughnuts a week - was found to raise the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Dr June Chan, lead author of the study, said, “The risk reductions associated with some whole grain foods and fibre provide general support for the hypothesis that eating whole grains is much better than eating more refined and sweetened grains for pancreatic cancer prevention.”

The study looked at grain intake among 532 people with pancreatic cancer and 1,701 people without the disease among the San Francisco Bay area population. The two groups were similar in age, gender, and body weight, and had a similar history of diabetes.It was found that those with pancreatic cancer were also more likely to be current smokers.

The life and times of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

The life and times of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Excellent & Precious photographs by Mr. Noor Ali

Shaikh Khalifa watching army manoeuvers at Al Ain with the Chief of Staff, Abu Dhabi Defence Force, Shaikh Faisal Bin Sultan Al Qasimi.

There was always plenty for the young Shaikh to do and paperwork was never far away. Here we see Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nayhan in his office in Al Ain.

Shaikh Khalifa receives Queen Elizabeth II alongside the royal yacht Britannia, during an official visit by the British monarch to the United Arab Emirates in 1979. Also present are the Ruler of Ajman, Shaikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, standing in line next to Shaikh Khalifa and and the Ruler of Um Al Quwain, Shaikh Rashid Bin Ahmad Al Mu'alla, standing next to Shaikh Humaid.

Shaikh Khalifa with his first born son, Shaikh Sultan.

Shaikh Zayed, accompanied by his son, Shaikh Mohammad, and companions on a bird shoot during a private visit to England.

Seen from right to left, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed and Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed with their sister.

Shaikh Zayed on holiday in Lausanne, Switzerland, with his sons, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed and Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Shaikha Maitha bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum won the gold medal in the women 60kg karate final

Shaikha Maitha bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the daughter of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, poses on the podium after she won the gold medal in the women 60kg karate final during the 11th Pan Arab Games in Cairo on Thursday, November 22.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Total seeks quick deal on Kashagan

Total seeks quick deal on Kashagan Reuters Published: November 23, 2007, 01:04

Tienen: France's Total hopes for a swift end to the dispute between Kazakhstan and operators of its Kashagan oil field, but a deadline of November 30 will be hard to meet, the head of Total said.

Christophe de Margerie said Total was also keen to pursue its projects in Iran, which have been bogged down by discussions over terms and the French government's request to French companies not to invest in Iran.

Kazakhstan's energy minister said last week the settlement of the dispute over Kashagan, the world's biggest oil find in three decades, could go beyond the November 30 deadline but that a deal was possible by the end of the year.

De Margerie said it would be hard to meet the formal deadline given that time is now so short, but was keen to see a settlement quickly.

"Let's do it as fast as possible. One must not give too much importance to deadlines... The goal is to find a solution as fast as possible," de Margerie said on the sidelines of the inauguration of a solar energy production plant in Belgium.

Kashagan's development has been plagued by cost overruns and delays which have irked Kazakhstan.

The oil-rich country has accused ENI and its partners of ecological and other violations.

UAE value added tax likely in a year

UAE value added tax likely in a year
By Saifur Rahman, Business News Editor Published: November 22, 2007, 21:50 GULF NEWS

Dubai: The UAE could implement Value Added Tax (VAT) "in a year's time", which could be supervised by a new federal authority, a government official said.

"We are currently carrying out various studies on the implementation of VAT in a year's time," Abdul Rahman Al Saleh, executive director for Corporate Affairs at Dubai Customs, told Gulf News on Thursday.

Dubai Customs recently launched the second phase of the VAT Study Project that includes the transition to the implementation stage of the plan. "This phase will also include the completion of the legal aspects and the groundwork of its infrastructure, especially the collection of taxes," a Dubai Customs statement said.

Al Saleh said: "The business size that defines the classification of taxpayer companies is being studied, as small companies will be exempted."

Dubai Customs handles 80 per cent of the UAE's Dh858.65 billion foreign trade, including Dh510 billion exports and Dh348.65 billion imports, of which a large chunk is either re-exported or consumed locally.

It is, however, not clear how VAT would be collected across the country.

"We are weighing various options. A new federal authority could be formed to oversee the VAT collection process or the customs could collect at entry," Al Saleh said.

"We will go with the international best practice that are employed in some of the 140 countries where VAT has been implemented," he added.

Gold for Shaikha Maitha

Gold for Shaikha MaithaFrom Hisham Al Gizouli 23 November 2007 for KHALEEJ TIMES

CAIRO — Shaikha Maitha bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum won the gold medal in the women's karate competition last night.

She made easy progress in the 65kg category, making short work of her opponents from Lebanon and Syria to secure her path into the final before she won 1-0 to make a golden day for the UAE sport.

A 1-0 defeat in her first match in the open category put her out of the running for gold and silver, but she was declared the winner in the bronze-medal bout over an Algerian opponent in the open weight.

In the men's kata final, the UAE team secured silver, losing out to the crisp, acrobatic display from Egypt's world championship-winning team, 5-0.

In the men's kumite open category, Mohammad Khamis suffered an injury during his bout against a Tunisian opponent and forfeited the match. However, the UAE is now appealing the decision.

Randa Mohammed Ebrahim won UAE’s first silver medal in the women’s karate competition at the Pan-Arab Games which opened at Hall-3, Cairo Stadium yesterday.

The UAE girls karate team started as pre-tournament’s favourites to bag the gold medals by the end of the competition. Led by UAE skipper, Shaikha Maitha bint Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the team has been training regularly and going from one tournament to another in many parts of the world.

They have also picked up many gold medals at the team and individual levels in different official and friendly tournaments, including the recent Asian Games in Doha 2007.

Meanwhile, the other UAE contender Hiba Abu Harmoush received her first defeat at the hands of Morocco’s Fatima Al Zahra in the 53-60kg category. In the men’s competition, Khalid Sulieman was knocked out by Algeria’s Hicham Buleef in the 60kg and Mohammed Khamis Al Meshrikh was beaten by Mohammed Jadid from Jordan in the 65kg category. UAE disabled continued their impressive performance and picked up more medals for their country in the weightlifting.

Paralympics gold medallist Mohammed Khamis lifted the gold in the 90+ men’s competition and Fatima Rashid Khamis walked away with the silver in the 82+ women’ competition.

Meanwhile, the only UAE woman cyclist and winner of the 2004 Pan-Arab Games silver medal in the road race Maitha Al Blouchi did not have much luck in her start at the Games and finished disappointingly 10th.

Dubai to move on cards from 2008

Dubai to move on cards from 2008
By Joy Sengupta (Our staff reporter)23 November 2007 KHALEEJ TIMES

DUBAI — In Dubai, card is in, cash is out.

Soon, one will not have to pay in cash to a taxi driver or for using buses but just ‘flash’ the card before a machine and go one’s way.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai yesterday announced the introduction of a Unified Automated Card Project which would cover all modes of transport, including buses, taxis and abras, and parking.

The project costing Dh102 million would be completed in phases. The project is being handled by Electronic Document Centre (EDC).

The fourth quarter of 2008 would see its introduction in buses, taxis, abras and waterbuses. Phase two would see the Dubai Metro also starting to accept the card.

RTA sources told Khaleej Times that there would be a system at a later stage in which the same card could be used to buy things like movie tickets and fill petrol.

According to the RTA officials, there would be two types of cards. One, known as the plastic cards, would be for people who use public transport services on a permanent basis. The second, called the Paper Ticket, would be for a short term basis valid upto a maximum of one week.

Ali Mahdi, Director of the Unified Automated Card of Transport Systems, said, “The cost of the cards has not been decided yet.”

The system works like this. If a person is travelling in the metro, he would just need to wave the card in front of a machine near the exit gate when he is coming out. The machine would automatically calculate the fare and deduct the amount from the card. Once the money in the card is over, one can top it up just like the phone cards. “Recharging could be done in any of the metro and bus stations,” Ali Mahdi said.

He said the parking metres in Dubai would also be upgraded so that the cards could be used.

“We are not going to change the existing system at the moment. Gradually, we would stop the manufacture of the existing parking cards. The new cards would replace them,” added the official.

“This card is safe, difficult to counterfeit and modelled on worldwide practices. In the future, it could be sold at the commercial outlets, petrol stations and ATMs. This will make it accessible to our customers and enhance their confidence in the services delivered by the RTA,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA.

Ali Mahdi said the top-up method would be made easier. “Facilities will also be provided for ‘auto top-up’ where cards are linked to a designated credit or debit account of the cardholder for debiting the recharge amount. Internet top-ups will also be available.”

All transactions, including sales, top-up and usage transactions, would be processed through a central clearing house operated under the direct control of RTA, through the Unified Card Department, said the official.

The unified card service would be launched for public buses, water buses, taxis and parking metres in the fourth quarter of 2008.

In the third quarter of 2009, the unified card would be launched in Dubai Metro, whereas in the fourth quarter of 2009, more customer care-related services would be introduced on the web, including online recharging (topping up) and automatic reloading to start using the same card on the Metro.

Who gains most in a volatile market?

Who gains most in a volatile market?
23 Nov, 2007, 0521 hrs IST, TNN

Long-term passive investor gains most
Anurag Tripathi Executive VP (Equities), AGSL*

Every time the stock market touches a new high, it enters into an unchartered territory associated with higher volatility. History shows that the so called “intelligent money” is seldom able to exploit such bullish moves in the market. This happens because conservative investors move out of the markets into cash or cash equivalents. Attracted by the euphoria and sensing an opportunity to make quick money, new investors enter the market.

There is a general belief that increased volatility favours day traders as they get more opportunities to trade. Increased volatility is a double-edged sword which can result in higher profits or losses. As volatility increases, the ability of a day trader to hold a leveraged position declines. Stop losses in relation to the underlying volatility become smaller/tighter and as a result the likelihood of the stop loss being triggered on a given trade increases. The risk reward ratio thus favours risk rather than reward.

Further, the market often opens with large gaps as compared to the previous day closing. This implies that the day trader is not able to exploit the entire upward move in the market. Higher volatility often leads to panic reaction by the various market constituents, which results in inadvertent financial mistakes.

A passive long-term investor on the other hand is not influenced by the volatility in the market. He is usually sitting on deep notional profits and consequently has a much higher ability to hold on to his investments. His investment decisions are based on fundamentals of the company in which he is invested and the general macro environment. As long as these two factors remain positive, the long-term investor stays invested. He does not give much weightage to the price movements of stocks.

Further, the ratio of profitable trades to loss making trades is also skewed in favour of the long-term investor. This happens because as the investment horizon increases, the ratio of trades resulting in profits to the trades resulting in loss improves in a bullish volatile market.

The cost of doing the trade is negligent in the case of a long-term investor, but is extremely high in the case of a day trader. Hence, a bullish volatile market generally favours the long-term passive investor.

Day traders may gain, but not continuously
R Swaminathan VP, IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd

Volatility is the result of pricing upheavals in the market due to irrational market response. The liquidity in the market pushes demand beyond a level creating valuations that are illogical. Even a perfect market with reasonable pricing can turn volatile due to sensitive issues like political or global issues or even liquidity.

One who invests for long term reaps the benefit, subject to the fundamental strength of the stocks invested. Long term sustainability of the prices denotes the inherent strength and the potentials of the future. As such a long term investor depicts the character of calm and patience over the investment decisions made and the possibility of certain growth. As for the day traders, they are hitting in the dark and trying their luck.

The market is surging on liquidity and expected liquidity. The valuations at PE of around 25-plus and PBV of around 6-times with a negative dividend yield (unheard of in recent times) with a swinging open interest positions in derivatives all denotes the market imperfections and gyration.

Day traders may succeed on a hunch once or twice but not continuously. The order of volatility even in percentage terms vary with the base. The markets have entered a different plane with the sensex over 12,000, 15,000 and 17,500 and even touching 20,000. Hence, the upheavals are wild.

In market swings, only long term investors make profits. In the upward market volatility, the day traders cannot benefit continuously. One should not get swayed by the consistent upward market. As the index moves up continuously, with every 1,000 points, the base for volatility increases. Hence even small percentage change of 1% can move the values in big way. As such investors who stayed invested have benefited, as growth over a period is always higher than the one time gain.

Last but not the least, churning always proves costly in missing opportunities and also results in expenditure like brokerage, STT and other charges. Long-term investors benefits on the taxation front too if the investment and sale is planned properly. Investing is like running a marathon and not a sprint. As such day trader’s greed cannot be compared with the long term yield.

India: World's best performing stock market

India: World's best performing stock market
21 Nov, 2007, 1903 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: India has emerged as the world's best performing stock market in the past three months, notwithstanding the five-day plunge that wiped off close to $85 billion of investors' wealth from the bourses.

The country's benchmark Sensex has lost over 1,300 points in five trading sessions pulling down the total market capitalisation of all the listed firms from about $1,650 billion to $1,565 billion during the same period.

However, an analysis of three-month US dollar return data available with the global market intelligence service provider MSCI Barra for equity markets across the world shows that Indian bourses have delivered the highest gain of 33.64 per cent during this period, thus adding over $400 billion to the investors' kitty.

The developed markets like the US, Japan, Austria, Sweden and Belgium have given negative returns in this period, while UK managed a modest return of 0.6 per cent.

The best performing developed markets has been Spain (18 per cent) and Hong Kong (17 per cent). But, their returns is just about half of the same on Indian bourses since August 21.

Worldwide, India is followed by Qatar, UAE and Egypt with a gain of about 28 per cent each. Among emerging markets, India is followed by Brazil with 31 per cent return, while Chinese stocks have managed to give about 17 per cent returns.

But, there are others as well like Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela who have registered a fall during this period.

Since the beginning of this month, however, just a handful of markets have managed to register a positive return.

Spain is the only developed market to have seen a modest gain in November (0.6 per cent), while Morocco, Egypt, Colombia and Jordan are the only emerging markets posting positive returns.

There's no success without failure

There's no success without failure
21 Nov, 2007, 0029 hrs IST,Vithal C Nadkarni, TNN

As a successful venture capitalist, Peter Morgan Kash has raised zillions of dollars and started up dozens of successful biopharma companies. He has also lectured on entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business and Japan’s Nihon University.

One of the earliest lessons he learnt was that there is no success without failure. He started working on Wall Street at the age of 21 and by 30 made a sizeable fortune. “But in no time, I lost virtually all of it,” he writes in his book, Make Your Own Luck: Success Tactics You Won’t Learn in Business School. “What made the loss particularly difficult was that my setback was due entirely to my own poor judgement. No one had squandered my success except me.”

As it turned out, this period became one of the richest and most educational times of the New York businessman’s life. He went on to have several successes. “But I do believe that I would never have had them, if I had not failed so spectacularly early on,” he told this writer recently, during a first-ever visit to India. “In our culture, people tend to think of failure as a static condition or a termination point at which a person’s inability to achieve their goals, aims and desires becomes apparent. This is often viewed as a more or less permanent condition. That, however, is a completely erroneous understanding of failure.”

After studying the lives of dozens of successful entrepreneurs, Kash found that all people who succeed go through periods of their lives when all their efforts seem to fail. Yet what separated the real businessmen from the boys was not failure per se, but how they responded to difficult times.” Remember that a negative multiplied by a negative can be a positive,” he says. “Today I realise that life is a wave pattern — there are ups and downs, good times and bad.

Life doesn’t stop at any one point on the wave. Success and failure are just two words we use to describe different points on the wave. Wherever you may find yourself on the wave, know that this is temporary,” he explains, echoing the great Buddhist doctrine of anitya .

But as a doer, he also has antidotes: first, listen to your heart, on what you truly want and then never give up. Listen also to your critics, although you must not measure yourself by their take. Learn to pay the price of success. Finally, have faith in yourself and the web of life. Even a negative from someone can lead to a positive outcome.

A look at India's oil vulnerability index

A look at India's oil vulnerability index
19 Nov, 2007, 0537 hrs IST,Mythili Bhusnurmath, TNN

With oil prices poised tantalisingly near the $100-a-barrel mark, the economies of oil importing, developing countries will be hit hard. The policy choices they make will be severely circumscribed by how vulnerable they are to soaring oil prices.

The UNDP’s Oil Price Vulnerability Index (OPVI) report (prepared when oil was ruling at $70 a barrel) lays out these choices in stark terms. The good news for India is that our OPVI is in the medium range, along with countries like Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. In contrast, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Philippines and Sri Lanka have a high OPVI.

The bad news is that our big neighbour to the East, China (along with Iran and Malaysia), has a low OPVI, giving it an edge in coping with higher oil prices. Worse, many strategies to reduce vulnerability are unlikely to find favour since they call for a degree of political courage that has so far been singularly lacking in the present government.

So what are the broad policy prescriptions? Manage oil price risk, i.e., have proper pricing policies, targeted subsidies and use financial tools. Enhance oil supply, i.e., strengthen oil exploration and extraction, build refining capacity, diversify sources of supply and engage in barter. Restrain oil demand, i.e., increase efficiency in transport, industry and agriculture.

Prepare for emergencies ie build strategic reserves and plan for rationing. Diversify fuel sources ie use more coal, hydro, solar and other sources of renewable resources. The Report ranks these strategies in the context of four different possible scenarios that it calls baseline, supply shock, peak oil price and energy security scenarios. The ‘baseline’ scenario assumes future oil market developments are likely to be in two phases.

First, until 2010, high oil prices will keep the oil market broadly in balance, with incremental oil demand being met mostly by high non-OPEC production. From 2010, as non-OPEC production peaks, there are likely to be calls on OPEC to increase output. Subject to short-term reversible spikes, oil prices will range between US$65 and US$75 per barrel.

The ‘supply shock’ scenario considers an abrupt drop in oil supply as a result of which prices spike steeply to $100, plateau at around $120, and, in later years, decline to the initial level of $70. Over the medium term till 2011, as a result of the supply shortfall, countries reduce their oil intensities.

As supplies resume normal levels, they will probably increase intensities again, but not to the same levels as before, due to the greater substitution of oil by natural gas, coal, nuclear and renewable energy The peak oil price scenario reflects the Hubbert’s Peak theory, according to which, with no new major discoveries and the declining productivity of existing fields, world oil production will start to peak in 2007.

There will be a temporary supply plateau until 2011, resulting from a more efficient supply infrastructure, but subsequently, supply will decline irreversibly by 2.5% annually. In this scenario, oil prices will increase gradually from their current level of around $70 to $100 per barrel in 2011, the mid-point of the peak. Thereafter, prices per barrel will rise more steeply to $130 in 2015 and $190 in 2020.

Until 2011, the oil intensity of economies will remain constant or decline at current rates of substitution with natural gas and coal, but then decline at a faster rate as the impact of new fuels and technologies and structural changes begin to assert themselves. In the energy security scenario, concerns for both energy and environmental security lead to reduced oil demand, so prices fall back to a lower equilibrium at around $50 per barrel. In this scenario, the oil price will decline from its current value of $70 to $50 per barrel by 2015, and then remain constant at the new supply-demand equilibrium.

The report looks at different strategies for India in each scenario. In general, it suggests the following measures to meet the growing energy demand:

➢ Pricing: Move to a system of market determined pricing of petroleum products.
➢ Import pricing: The import parity pricing formula must be revisited to ensure that the Indian refining industry enjoys a margin that is rational and fair to producers and consumers.
➢ Excise duties: Duties should be based on a sliding scale that would fulfil the following objectives — ensuring revenue earnings for the government in a period of rapid changes in international prices; safeguarding consumers from the multiplying effect of an ad valorem duty; making the government responses to international oil prices more transparent.
➢ LPG: Since international prices of LPG are cheaper than those of kerosene, the production of kerosene could be phased out.
➢ Solar lighting: Since most kerosene in India is used for low-quality lighting, the government could provide highly subsidised solar lanterns to all unelectrified households.
➢ Energy efficiency: The government can promote energy efficiency measures across all sectors. This could include fiscal incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles, use of biofuels for public transport and greater use of rail for freight movement.

As a blueprint, it is unexceptionable. Unfortunately, the government is likely to ignore it as it has many similar blueprints in the past.

(UNDP Regional Centre, Bangkok: Overcoming Vulnerability to Rising Oil Prices: Options for Asia and the Pacific).

Going the extra mile

Going the extra mile
19 Nov, 2007, 0332 hrs IST,Vikas Kumar, TNN

As we chat up Ramesh Chandra Juneja, 55, in his sparse, yet modern office in New Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area, his head of product management drops by with an update on Mankind Pharma’s latest achievement.

The company has been ranked 2nd in India, after Glaxo, on prescriptions per doctor per month as per latest ORG-IMS audit data, while on secondary stockist sales value, it’s at the 14th position. “This gap between the two figures shows how we have managed to grow with our core philosophy,” beams Juneja.

The proverbial David among the Goliaths of global pharma in India, Mankind is now rated amongst the fastest growing pharma companies with a CAGR of over 60% in revenues, which touched Rs 515 crore last year. Juneja’s success mantra is making drugs affordable for the masses. And mankind has returned the favour as well. Sample this: Of the estimated Rs 150-crore organised market for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs in India, his brand Manforce occupies a third at Rs 50 crore.

The key is pricing — while Pfizer's global blockbuster Viagra retails at around Rs 350 a tablet, most others, including Manforce, sell in the Rs 20-25 range. Says Juneja: “In the past 12 years that we have been around, we’ve saved consumers an estimated Rs 2,000 crore by forcing others to drop prices.”

A science graduate from Meerut, Juneja began his career with Lupin Laboratories as a medical representative (MR) in 1975. Eight years later he left to start Bestochem with his brothers. After a split, he launched Mankind Pharma in 1995 along with brother Rajeev, with an initial capital of Rs 50 lakh, 20 employees and a small factory in Gurgaon.

Pitted against bigger, well-known brands, Mankind’s MRs had to fight a tough battle at the doctors’ clinics. “When we started, our competitors were skeptical. But we never compromised on quality, so doctors gradually started to recommend our products,” says Juneja. By the second year, the company was well on its way to becoming a serious player in the Indian pharma market, and that’s when Juneja’s first million also happened. “After making Rs 5 crore from a scratch, we knew we were on the right track.”

But the turning point came in 2001 when the company touched the magical Rs 100-crore figure. “That’s when we first entered the league of India’s top 50 pharma companies.” It was also the year when Mankind entered the ED segment with ‘Manforce’, which has been extended to condoms. Juneja now plans to launch an ayurvedic version of Manforce by January 2008.

While its OTC business is just six months old, also on the cards are anti-cancer, veterinary and psychotropic drugs. Juneja is gunning for Rs 700 crore revenue this year and Rs 1,100 crore by 2010. Early this year private equity firm ChrysCapital invested $24 million in Mankind, and Juneja says the next funding will be through an IPO but that’s a couple of years away.

Managing the next level of growth may require a different formula, but for now the key is in keeping a lean organisational structure. “We don’t have a thick layer of management,” says Juneja. “Ours is a unique and transparent style of functioning, without the frills of a large organisation, and I think no one can copy us or follow us.” He didn’t either.

Success in the backwaters

Success in the backwaters
19 Nov, 2007, 0001 hrs IST, TNN

From a lawyer who took to the capital market to pay his fees at law school, to setting up a private stock broking firm, CJ George, managing director of Geojit Securities has come a long way...

He is the odd man out in the capital market, having decided to build a business from the back of beyond in Kochi, rather than Mumbai. For a lawyer who took to the capital market to pay his fees at law school CJ George has come a long way.

And yet, for someone who is caught up in the frenetic world of stocks and shares, he still tries to ensure that he remains in touch with his roots — which is why he still makes it a point to visit his native place near Kochi on weekends, where he spends time with his mother and engages in farming. Just as we are about to say that is an odd hobby, he tells us that in his growing years, much time was spent in cultivation and tapping of rubber. “My father was a communist,” he says. “And though you may find it hard to believe, I myself used to be a communist student leader,” he adds.

His transition from a firebrand communist to a passionate capitalist was rather accidental. It so happened that there was an advertisement by Batliwala & Karani (B&K) on the Delhi University notice boards, seeking young, bright minds to come and join the firm as equity analysts. Those were the days when the market was run by old hands and equity research was considered just a passing phase. Equity research as a vocation was unheard of in the domestic capital market.

Mr George, though not really interested in the job, figured that this could be a way to pay his tuition fees at law school and signed up for the test. The legal community’s loss was, as they say, the capital market’s gain.

Like most people who end up making a living through the equity market, life for Mr George began in Mumbai. So, how did he end up in Kochi? Turns out that it was a desire to be close to his family that made him ask for a transfer to Kochi. While running the Kochi operations of B&K, he decided to invest in a Cochin Stock Exchange (CSE) card “purely from an investment perspective,” he says. This turned out to be a far-reaching decision, because when he ventured out on his own, he figured that in order to be a success in the capital market, he did not need to move to Mumbai; he could carry on his activities from Kochi itself.

His decision to set up Geojit arose because of what he says were differences with his employer. Rather than take up another job, he decided to venture out on his own. And thus, Geojit came into being. So, how did this rather unusual name come about? Mr George laughs and tells us that it is an amalgam of the first three alphabets of his name and the last three alphabets of Ranajit Kanjilal, the man whom he partnered back then. Armed with a broking card and a name, the two went into business in 1987.

In 1995, KSIDC (a Kerala government-owned financial institution) picked up a 24% stake in Geojit — this was the first time that a government company in India picked up a stake in a private stock broking company. Five years later, Mr George had come a full circle — back to the city of dreams, as his company was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

As we sit at the Bombay Yacht Club — a venue he prefers to the more glamorous five-star hotels in the vicinity — we wonder what motivates him now. He tells us it is the same thing that motivated him when he set off — building a world-class capital markets institution. He says that Geojit was founded on the same principles as that of a Schwab or a Scotstrade, which is, to deliver best execution at the lowest cost for investors. Rather tongue-in-cheek, he tells us, “Which means that I have to contain all costs, including the MD’s perks.”

Mr George says that around the time he was contemplating how to take Geojit forward, the Schwab model started to gain acceptability and he decided to follow the same. Interestingly, this decision meant that Geojit never had a research team.

We tell him this is rather odd, given that his own career began as an analyst. But Mr George says he does not have a research team because it would have been foolish to carry such a huge level of fixed overheads, when revenues were driven by market cycles. Moreover, he doesn’t have a great opinion of analysts either — he says that most research is paralysed by self-interest and cannot really produce sustainable long-term returns.

So, what stocks does he have in his personal portfolio? “The only equity I own is my holding in Geojit,” he says. Clearly, Mr George is a man full of surprises. On being questioned as to why he does not put his money where his mouth is, he laughs and says, “It was the lack of money that caused me to stay away from the market a long time ago. Today, when I can afford to get in, I simply don’t have the time to follow the market.”

He points out that building an organisation consumes most of his time, especially since he’s looking after all the new initiatives, be it the joint venture with BNP Paribas or expanding into the lucrative Middle Eastern market.

We ask him what he considers to be the main reasons for his success, so far away from the financial capital of India. He tells us his success is largely due to bold decisions that paid off, such as franchising — a move that eliminated the sub-broker and gave greater control to the company. Another reason for his success is the rapid advancement of technology, which resulted in the shift from physical exchanges to electronic exchanges. “Without electronic trading it would have been impossible to succeed in a remote place like Kochi to this extent,” he says.

Along with success, he has had his fair share of failures as well — the most notable being that he fully missed the transformation of the business to an online model. While Geojit was among the first to launch online trading in February 1999, it neglected this segment and trailed behind most other players. After realising his mistake, Mr George is now fully focused on ramping up his online presence and taking it on par with the offline business.

So, is there anything else that he hopes for? He says the equity culture still has a long way to go in the country, since equities comprise just a fraction of the total savings. The socialist in him also perks up as points out that a large part of the populace continues to be far removed from the market gains in recent times.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Time for change

Time for change

Shashi Ravichandran

John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Everyone has heard this or a variation of this truth at some time or another. But how prepared are we to actually face and accept change? It seems that most people have a hard time acknowledging that age old ways of doing something may not work in tod ay’s demanding corporate world. The rigours of working with international teams and matrix reporting structures, both of which are common practice today, calls for certain panache in adaptability and a willingness to change with the times.

Take for instance an area where leading industry gurus are crying hoarse for change – college curriculum in the area of soft skills and business communication. How receptive are people to this suggestion? “I have been teaching this course for 23 years and you are now telling me there is a gap in the content?” His voice grew shrill. “I am a professor of English and I am good at what I teach. You are an executive in a multinational company. What do you know about teaching English?”

Mishra, Professor of English, has been teaching in the same college for over two decades. The syllabus is weighed down by the classics and Shakespeare. Mishra’s teaching style has changed little over the years and his course content and notes even less so. Shyamal, the target of the professor’s ravings, is an executive in the organisational learning department of an IT company.

Mishra does make a fair point. So where is the disconnect? And is it real?

Very. Mishra may be an experienced professor but his coursework and teaching are outdated for today’s market needs. The graduate population coming out of college needs the self-confidence to hold its own in an international arena. They have to be able to talk impressively with confidence. They have to know how to communicate effectively with impact. The syllabus, the teaching methodology, and the course content all beg to be revamped.

But because change is unsettling and ambiguous, because it robs people of confidence and challenges their beliefs and attitudes, many people like Mishra and not just those in academics, resist change. It threatens them and makes them insecure; it also intimidates them because they are unsure of whether they have the wherewithal to cope with the new situation. Generally speaking, most people are comfortable in a set routine and many get angry when confronted with change. Some even believe that if they are indifferent and ignore it, it will actually go away.

But the fact is, people who succeed in today’s changing world are those who don’t shy away from taking measured risk in trying a new approach. They embrace differences and recognise the value of diverse experiences. They have a flexible mind, they are open to change, and they possess high self-esteem and self-confidence. They meet challenges with innovative approaches and fresh thinking; they think laterally and build on each other’s ideas. They train themselves to adapt quickly to changing demands and are capable of delivering superior solutions. The future, as George Will said, has a way of arriving unannounced. Preparing oneself to win is every individual’s own responsibility and choice.

(The writer is Head, Corporate Affairs, Scope International Pvt. Ltd., the wholly-owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank, UK.)

Networking matters

Networking matters
Ranjini Manian

There are no strangers in the world, only friends we haven’t yet met.

It was 8.15 am and I was at Frankfurt airport with a five-hour wait for my connection to Denver.

I walked up and down in the waiting lounge observing friends I hadn’t yet met, reading the papers, working on their laptops, drinking coffee, chatting on their cell phones or at least busy looking out of the window. Waiting is no luxury these days, and we all fill it with things to do.

As I did my people-watching, I noticed an Indian lady — the only other one in the room. She was elegantly dressed and seemed vaguely familiar. I walked by, but not before smiling and she acknowledged my greeting.

My mind was saying to me, “Naturally, she looks familiar, she is Indian… silly, but she is busy so don’t disturb her. She won’t like it.” But my sixth sense said, “Wait a minute. Why is she familiar?” So I walked right up to her with an extended hand and a sincere smile, “You look familiar, haven’t we met before?”

“Are you a doctor,” she asked after I gave her my name. “I told you so,” my mind said, “You don’t know her, now you look silly.” But I shushed it and went on to give her a 30-second elevator introduction of myself that I have learnt to deliver quickly.

“I am Ranjini Manian and I run Global Adjustments, an expatriate services company for people doing business in India.”

And then the Eureka moment arrived; over two years ago, she had attended one of our Global Indian seminars in Bangalore on international etiquette and cross-cultural communication strategy. “What a great memory you have,” Larisa Singh smiled.

The story ended with an opportunity for my company to interact with Larisa’s brilliant IT solutions business and to explore providing our services.

This potential business is the outcome of a proactive networking moment which I had seized despite my muttering mind.

What I want to share with new managers in today’s column are thoughts on how we all can seize opportunities as they present themselves to us.

Try these steps for networking the next time you are at a conference, a social occasion or any group situation. If I can do it, anyone can.

Fact 1: People won’t know who you are till you tell them.

Fact 2: People won’t know how good you are unless you tell them.

Fact 3: People are the same, mostly good; don’t let them scare you.

Steps to networking

Be proactive and use sincerity in your approach. Remember, in a previous column we had talked about how India was ranked 123rd among the nations of the world based on who smiles the most.

So we do need to consciously work on this area. Smile sincerely as you purposefully walk up to someone you want to meet, offer a firm handshake and use the moment to make a good first impression. The next two points tell you how to make a good impression.

Practice your elevator introduction piece. Here is where you need to have done your homework.

You need to write a two-line introduction about yourself and your company or your unique contribution to the world.

The introduction should be done naturally when you meet someone for the first time. For instance, “Good evening, I am Ajay Bindra and I am a systems analyst at XYZ Technologies which provides accounting solutions to firms in the US”; or “Nice to meet you, I am Shanta Raman and I am a HR professional at ABC Corporation which makes auto parts”; or “Hello, I am Suzy Fields, I am a freelance writer/ high school teacher/ homemaker supporting my entrepreneur husband.”

Take an interest in their interests. Once you have introduced yourself, then all you have to do is simply listen and absorb. Repeat information you hear, “Oh I see, how interesting. So does your job mean a lot of travel” or “Uh huh, (after she has mentioned being in New York) how was it when you were in New York last week?”

Learn when the moment is over. It may go well and the proof is when you end with an exchange of business cards. Don’t try to transact business here; keep that for later. Sometimes, the interaction may not go very well and you simply know it is time to move on.

People will tell you through body language if they want to end the interaction. Simply stay tuned to signs such as glancing at a watch, fidgeting with keys, shifting eyes or feet.

Simply leave with a polite phrase such as “nice to have met you,” but a closing comment is a must.

If there is an awkward moment, let it not bother you.

Brush-offs teach you to get even better at networking as soon as you handle your first one or two. You are simply free to go and try meeting the next friend.

Follow-up afterwards. A networking situation is not the place to try to push a business deal or get into a detailed conversation. Save that for a follow-up call or e-mail.

If the person doesn’t give you a card, it doesn’t matter; don’t insist that he does. You can always find them via the Internet or the phone book.

If the follow-up is soon enough, they will remember the recent pleasant interaction and a meeting can ensue.

(The writer is CEO of Global Adjustments, a company that offers integrated India destination services and cross-cultural education delivered through the portal

Business lessons in the fast lane

Business lessons in the fast lane
M. Chandrasekaran

I first heard the whining, whizzing sound a few months ago when I happened to make one of my infrequent visits to my teenage son’s room. The TV was on and from what I could see, there were a number of colourful cars zooming around a track repetitively and endlessly. I made the rookie mistake of commenting disparagingly on this apparently mindless activity. Naturally, my son reacted as any self-respecting teenager would and gave me an earful about my ignorance of the many things that matter in life and, importantly, about my cluelessness about Formula One racing. Shamefacedly, I beat a hasty retreat.

Two weeks later, I heard that sound again and went back to my son’s room pasting on an acolyte’s eager expression of wanting to learn from his guru. My son looked up belligerently, expecting some more ‘inane’ (his words) commentary from me. What he saw made him welcome me grudgingly. He initiated me into the intricacies of the starting grid positions, pit stop strategy, tyre change strategy, fuel carrying capacity, down draft, impact of track temperature on performance, slip streams, spoilers and so on. I goggled at the many parameters in what I considered to be a mindless sport. I certainly was wrong to go by first impressions. F-1 racing seemed to have all the crucial ingredients that go into making a complex business operation.

When we look at companies, most often, we find that there is a clear divide between the so called front-end functions and the back-end functions. Unfortunately, these terminologies have also contributed to showing the so called back-end functions in a supportive but inferior light. The way that most companies are run, and the formal and informal importance given to the so-called front-end functions, serves to underline this unfortunate differentiation. Over a period of time, companies subtly develop a caste system, a most regrettable development that undermines performance. Something akin to the way the Manu Smriti’s formulations have degenerated over time to prevent social mobility and societal renewal.

The biggest lessons from F-1 racing are that there is a place for everyone on the team, each person’s contribution is equally vital and the contributions are visible to all concerned. And all this happens in real time. Strategies have to be fine tuned/revised in quick time and responses are measured in seconds. The driver and the racing company get the trophies and publicity, but it is clear to all that in a very real sense this really belongs to the entire team. The drivers say so every time and they mean it.

When we look at organisations, while there is near universal commitment on paper to all these ideals, in practical terms one or more of the tenets are never practised. If organisations have to deliver consistent high performance, it becomes imperative to see how best to assimilate the lessons from F-1 racing and apply them.

When compared to F-1, companies have the luxury of much greater time to respond; such a luxury has to be appreciated and actions must be taken in quick time. Most often between intent and action, there is a big gap which often leads to frustration in employees. There are also times when inefficiencies in the rest of the system are not addressed and persons manning the support functions become the whipping boys for sub-par performance.

This is something that needs to be driven as a concept critical to the organisation’s sustained success by the senior managers, and most important, they must live by this credo. More than a big bang announcement supported by powerful graphics, the purpose will be best served if it is observed in action — in little things and the big things, and on a daily basis. For example, the rewards and incentives programmes must reflect this thinking; the job rotation policy must also reinforce it. If this is done well, over a period of time such practices will not only get accepted, but will also get internalised at all levels in the system. In the long run, the organisation will develop into a high performance system that is open to fine tuning to meet all challenges as they emerge.

As I write this, the F-1 season is over and the new champion has been crowned. I salute my son who taught me this signal lesson in life — never trivialise anything without understanding what makes it go.

(The writer is advisor to 3i Infotech, Manipal Education & Medical Group and IDFC Pvt Equity.)

Features of leadership

Features of leadership

A look at the skills needed to stay ahead in the new economic scenario.
Kamal Kishore Jain

Leadership is in great demand, but leaders are in short supply. Leadership is in demand because it is the driving force behind the success of any individual, society, organisation or country. Leaders are in short supply because the qualities they bring to the table — of courage and character, belief in core values, compelling modesty and commitment to a cause — do not come for free and are not things that can be bought in a shopping mall.

The new parameters

Leadership is not a static phenomenon. As societies move towards a knowledge economy, there will be a paradigm shift in the skills and qualities necessary to be a successful leader. A leader has to recognise that in the knowledge economy it is knowledge that gives him a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, he also needs to recognise that the shelf life of knowledge is getting shorter. One may have a competitive advantage thanks to his or her knowledge, but this knowledge base alone may not be able to sustain his or her edge beyond a point. If you cling to old knowledge, anyone will be able to pull the carpet from under your feet no matter how firmly you keep your feet on the carpet .

Technology in the knowledge economy can make an expert of the layman. Today, anybody with a camcorder can produce a quality video. YouTube took advantage of this opportunity and became successful overnight.

It is obvious then that success in business in the future will depend on new ideas; ideas that are not just incremental but rather serendipitous.

A leader in this scenario begins by asking questions such as how do we provide a hotel room to customers at Rs 9; how do we provide cardiac care to patients at a price lesser than 30 times the cost of such procedures in the US; or how do we provide a small car to people at a price of Rs 1 lakh.

For a leader in this situation, the issue of competing with his rivals becomes extraneous, insignificant and irrelevant. He believes in being a rule maker rather than a rule taker.

People, the key drivers

As success in business depends on new ideas, people become a critical factor for such success. It then becomes a leadership issue rather than a management issue. Ross Perot rightly said that people cannot be managed; only inventories can be managed. People need to be led.

In order to make people join him on the journey towards new ideas, the leader becomes a member of the team, he engages the team, nurtures and develops it, he leads and at times is willing to be led.

As leadership takes centre-stage , it is imperative for future leaders to know what is right leadership and what is flawed leadership.

There can be no greater danger to a society or economy than that posed by flawed leadership. When you have a flawed leadership, it gives rise to people like Hitler and cases such as Enron and WorldCom. Enron, for instance, had everything in place. It had a bold, well-defined vision, the management was able to inspire its troops to rally around that vision, it was able to attract the best and the brightest people in the world and was able to create a fast-paced, highly innovative and entrepreneurial culture. But alas, it did not have the basic foundation of good leadership — values and ethics.

In this age of media activism, any compromise on values and ethics is discovered, sooner than later. Without good governance, one may end up with a fate similar to that of Paul Wolfowitz, the former president of the World Bank, who was found guilty of having skirted the rules to secure a generous compensation package for his partner and thus had to make an unceremonious exit from this prestigious position.

The business landscape is changing. Economic, political and complex social transformations demand change from business leaders, at a faster rate than ever before. The changing cultural and ethnic make-up of our societies and the changing political/social environment in the context of the new globalised economy are undeniable factors that leaders need to address.

The business world that has long been characterised by stability, autocracy and strictly bound processes, would have to embrace change in this changing landscape.

(The writer teaches at IIM-Indore)

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