Thursday, 31 January 2008

Gasco wins the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award for 2007

Gasco wins the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award for 2007

Gasco was awarded the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award from H. H. General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in the presence of H.E. Yousef Omair Bin Yousef, Secretary General of the Supreme Petroleum Council and ADNOC's Chief Executive Officer and H.E. Abdulla Al Suwaidi, Deputy CEO & Director, E&P. The award was recieved by Mohammed Sahoo AlSuwaidi, General Manager of Gasco.

‘Excellence’ is one of the values we actively promote across all areas of our organization- and hence this award conferred on us fills us with a profound sense of professional achievement.

The Award, instituted by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce under the patronage of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is given each year to an organization that qualifies on the basis of a set of standards and stringent evaluation criteria. The Award Criteria, that form the basis for evaluation by an expert team of Assessors, covers our results in the areas of People Management, Business Performance, Customer Processes and Societal Contributions. Our approaches to producing these results are also evaluated.

This is the first year of our entry into the Award cycle, and to be rated high in an excellence scale is testimony to the high levels of efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism all of us are able to bring on to our work

Opec to pump more oil if necessary, says Al Hamili

Opec to pump more oil if necessary, says Al Hamili
(Wam)31 January 2008

ABU DHABI - In a bid to strike a balance in the world oil market, Opec will take every measure deemed necessary to keep market stability, including pumping more oil, UAE Minister of Energy Mohammed bin Dha'en Al Hamili said.

Speaking to the news agency shortly before travelling to Vienna for the extraordinary Opec meeting which will open tomorrow, Al Hamili expressed concerns that world oil prices might remain volatile due to the current state of global economy which, he said, is exacerbated by the mortgage crisis in the US. The UAE official, however, observed that demands for crude oil “usually recedes during the second quarter of the year due to seasonal factors".

Al Hamili remained non-committal on whether or not Opec would increase output in view of the of the current market volatility.

"Any decision to maintain or increase the current production ceiling will be based on informed opinions, studies and analyses that will be presented to the ministers," he said.

Al Hamili further said that market and economic conditions indicate that world economy is heading towards recession. "Nevertheless, it is predicted that global economy will continue to grow by 4.8 per cent during 2008, a growth rate that is closer to last year's level."

While underling Opec commitment to strike a balance between supply and demand, Al Hamili cited weakening US dollar, speculators, US housing sector crisis, among others, as the main factors responsible for oil prices volatility.

Opec oil accounts for about 40 per cent of the world's needs.

Get ready for the big chill in UAE

Get ready for the big chill in UAE
By Adel Arafah (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 31 January 2008

ABU DHABI — A polar cold air mass passing by the Arabian Gulf is going to stream over the country today afternoon, the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology predicted yesterday. The air mass would come with a moderate northwest wind.

The cold air mass would affect the Western region in the afternoon and would gradually extend to the other regions in the night.

The temperature would plummet during the night. A sharp fall in temperature would be felt tomorrow (on Friday) as well, especially in the coastal and mountainous areas.

The northwest wind would continue lashing the country tomorrow, and the sky would be hazy in the Northern and Eastern regions accompanied by rain.

The National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology advised the people to be extra careful when venturing into the sea for the next three days from today (Thursday). Waves are likely to be 3-5 feet high near the coast and 8-10 feet high in the high seas. Besides, the centre advised the people to wear warm clothes.

An expert at the centre said the country was affected yesterday by a depression forming in the south and centre of Saudi Arabia which caused the dusty winds, especially in the western region.

Winter storms and snow caused schools and shops to shut across the Middle East yesterday.

Meanwhile, many Israelis and Palestinians stayed home from work as snow piled up in Jerusalem and highland areas of the West Bank. Cars crawled through sleety streets and children, excused from school, flocked to parks to have snowball fights.

The storms also closed government ministries and universities in Jordan’s capital Amman, as many residents took the day off rather than try to negotiate the clogged roads.

In Lebanon, heavy snow disrupted traffic on the main highway to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and left villages above 600 metres (2,000 feet) largely cut off. (With agency inputs)

Qatar says Opec could cut supply as inventories grow

Qatar says Opec could cut supply as inventories grow Bloomberg Published: January 31, 2008, 01:28

Doha: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) won't raise output quotas at a meeting this week and will consider a supply reduction in the future because world econ-omic growth is slowing and oil inventories are ample, Qatar's energy minister said.

"The world has sufficient supply, even oversupplied in some places,'' Qatar's Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah said yesterday. "So to increase, I don't think this is on the agenda.''

He said the 13-member producer group, the supplier of more than 40 per cent of the world's oil, would consider a production cutback "if the world economy moves toward a recession.'' Weaker economies may lead to reduced demand for energy, he said.

The Opec is expected to keep its output target unchanged at 29.67 million barrels a day when it meets in Vienna on February 1, according to 29 of 32 analysts surveyed by Bloom-berg News.

UAE Energy Minister Mohammad Bin Dha'en Al Hamili said yesterday he was concerned about the possible knock-on effects of the US mortgage crisis on the world economy and oil markets.

Al Hamili said Opec was monitoring the impact on crude oil demand of a possible slowdown in the global economy and would discuss the matter.

A senior Iranian oil official also made clear yesterday he did not expect Opec to decide to change output levels at the meeting. "Because no special conditions have been created in oil markets, it is unlikely that Opec will make a special decision in its meeting on Friday," Javad Yarjani, head of Opec affairs at Iran's oil ministry, said. "Market conditions do not need a new Opec decision."

Oil prices have tumbled from a record $100.09 a barrel set on January 3 amid signs of an economic slowdown in the US, the world's biggest energy consumer.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 45 cents at $92.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange ay 9.28am London time.

Customers lose up to 4% when wiring money abroad

Customers lose up to 4% when wiring money abroad
By Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 31, 2008, 01:28

Dubai: Expatriates in Dubai lose up to four per cent per transaction when they send or receive money from other countries, according to a recent market entrant.

As an expat magnet, the UAE sees millions of dirhams being wired to and from the country every day. And banks charge a wide variety of exchange rates and commissions, which fluctuate daily.

But, according to Lisa O'Brien, director of First Rate FX, a London-based currency specialist firm with offices in Dubai, by doing some basic research, expats can save a lot of cash when transferring money.

"Often people want to transfer money quickly, and so they get in the habit of calling their own bank," she says.

"But we're currency specialists. We buy large volumes of all major currencies every day. And because of this we can make a huge saving and pass this benefit on to the client."

O'Brien says this is with no commission or any other additional charges.

Lucrative business

Mohammad Ishaq, Head of Treasury at Sharjah Islamic Bank, says: "They benefit from the customer in two ways: When a customer deposits the money, it takes a few days to arrive at the destination. In this time the money is lying in transit and the company makes the interest on that.

"Also, the company buys big amounts of money at wholesale rates, but offers it to the customer at the retail rate - about half a per cent or one per cent, depending on the transaction. This half or one per cent makes a big difference. It's very lucrative for them."

To highlight O'Brien's point, using a High Street bank such as HSBC to transfer £1,000 from the UK to Dubai would convert to Dh7,175 with no extra charges or fees at an exchange rate of 7.17.

Naturally, this is only "an indication for today as prices vary from day to day", according to a bank employee. To send £1,000 from Dubai to the UK, however, would cost Dh7,408 at an exchange rate of 7.41 with an additional charge of Dh80 for sending, amounting to a total of Dh7,488.

Sending £1,000 from the UK to Dubai with a money transfer agency like Western Union would amount to Dh7,220, with the sender paying an additional charge of Dh331 (£47). Sending £1,000 from Dubai to the UK however, would cost Dh7,510, with an additional charge of Dh400, amounting to a total of Dh7,910. Western Union also has a maximum amount of $7,500, with a $310 fee.

Using a specialist company like First Rate FX to transfer £1,000 from the UK to Dubai at a rate of 7.23 would amount to Dh7,230. To send 1,000 GBP to the UK from Dubai would be Dh7,307, at a rate of 7.31.

As foreign exchange is volume-driven, larger amounts would achieve better rates. For example, sending £25,000 from the UK to Dubai with First rate FX would amount to Dh180,957.5 at today's exchange rate of 7.24 with no commission or extra costs. It would take Dh182,272.5 at a rate of 7.29 to get £25,000 from Dubai to the UK.

According to O'Brien, it's a case of taking the time to research the market. "In the UK press, there's been a lot of talk about banks charging too much. So people are becoming more educated to go to specialists instead."

Damaged sea cable hits internet services

Damaged sea cable hits internet services
By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 30, 2008, 18:17

Dubai: Both the UAE's telecom providers suffered yesterday from a break down of internet connections and international calls after a cable was cut in the Mediterranean Sea.

Officials from both network providers were unable to disclose when the issue will be resolved as the submarine cable system operators (FLAG Telecom and SEA-ME-WE 4) were responsible for repairing the damage.

In its statement, etisalat said it was able to re-route the traffic through its network partners in Asia, Europe and UAE to ensure that services remained operational in the UAE.



etisalat said it was working closely with the administration, partners, and concerned operators, for urgent repair work to ensure that the links with major global internet hubs are restored at the earliest. The links deployed by etisalat has meant that normal internet browsing and essential traffic will continue to work at reasonable speeds for the company's customers.

According to a source at du, the cable is located in Egypt, 12km from the shore. The fault occurred yesterday morning and affected telecom operators globally. du confirmed that its customers were also affected by the broken cable and were likely to experience interruption in internet services and international voice calls.

Emergency: Who's doing what

- du has transferred internet and international voice traffic through other cable systems that were not affected, although congestion is expected to occur at peak times.

- etisalat is working to ensure that links with major global internet hubs are restored at the earliest. Essential traffic continues to work at reasonable speed.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Photo Speaks - Might is right

With the increase in number of vehicles and buildings, parking is difficult to find. However, there is a saying "Might is Right". And these bus drivers knew it very well.

Photo Speaks - Balancing Act

It's a tough world to live these days. Especially with the cost of living increasing by day. We know very well how difficult is it to do the balancing act even when we are fairly compensated. And we know how difficult and costly it can be for us with momentary lapse of concentrtion. Ever imagined how these poor workers manage thier needs under these growing economic situation?

Dubai to build world’s longest arched bridge

Dubai to build world’s longest arched bridge
By Joy Sengupta (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 30 January 2008

DUBAI — Construction of the world’s longest arched bridge in Dubai will begin in March and the project would be completed in four years, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced yesterday.

The project, the sixth crossing over the Dubai Creek, is estimated to cost Dh3 billion.

The bridge, 1600 metres long and 64 metres wide, will comprise 12 lanes, 6 in each direction. In addition, the Green Line of Dubai Metro will run through the centre of the bridge (the dividing area between the two bridges). The giant arch will be 205 metres high and 667 metres long.

The bridge will link Al Jaddaf in Bur Dubai with the road separating The Lagoons and Dubai Festival City. The crossing would also provide entry and exit points for the Creek Island, on which Opera Building, a project of Sama Dubai, will be constructed. The Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, Mattar Al Tayer, said the project, developed by a United States-based company, would be completed in six phases.

“The construction of the first phase would begin in March this year,” he pointed out.

The crossing would facilitate free traffic flow at all intersections and allow free navigation throughout the day as it would be15 metres above the water surface.

The 50-metre-wide navigation corridor would enable movement of large yachts.

A Resolution that will do Good

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood?

Abu Dhabi to withdraw 500 old taxis from service

Abu Dhabi to withdraw 500 old taxis from service
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Abu Dhabi: About 500 taxis from the old fleet will be withdrawn from the capital's streets this month, Trans AD, the taxi regulatory authority, told Gulf News.
"We are withdrawing the gold and white taxis [old taxis] in accordance with the increasing number of new taxis," said Huda Al Ka'abi, Communication Officer at Trans AD.

"About 800 new taxis are on the streets now and the number is increasing day by day."

She said more than 900 drivers have received their registration so far and some of them are undergoing training.

"About 7,600 old taxis operate in the emirate and 500 will be phased out every two months," said Sultan Mohammad Al Shamsi, Director of Customer Services and Compliance Division at Trans AD.

"Although about 8,000 registered old taxis are in the emirate, about 400 were non-operational for a long time." He said the compensation for old taxi owners will be distributed by next month.

The first batch of new taxis commenced operations on November 4, 2007 with 300 taxis [which gradually increased to about 800] and the phasing out of old taxis has started this month. Trans AD authorised seven national companies to operate in the emirate and over 7,000 new taxis are expected to be on the roads in the near future; over a thousand by each franchisee.

One of the franchisees said they are planning to introduce their quota of 1,021 taxis within six months.

Complaint: Knowledge

Complaints about language skills and local knowledge of drivers are also strictly dealt with, said Huda Al Ka'abi, Communication Manager.

"People have to call up the hotline number 600535353 with the taxi number and we test the language skills of the driver." If he is unable to speak, he will be sent back for a month of training.

Metro man is Indian of the Year

Metro man is Indian of the Year
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

And here is the Indian of the Year for 2007. He is the man who gave the country such rail marvels as the Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro. He also taught Delhiites, without ever asking for it, how to respect public property.

He is the Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan.

Sreedharan was presented the award — instituted by CNN-IBN in partnership with the Hindustan Times — at a glittering function in the capital on Tuesday. The chief guest was Vice-President Hamid Ansari and the guest of honour former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Accepting the award, Sreedharan said the honour bestowed on him showed that some values still count — the integrity of individuals; professional competence; and the fact that time is money, hence, the need to finish work on time. And, he said, he held these values in high esteem.

The metro chief was competing with Finance Minister P Chidambaram (from the category of politics), SBI chairman OP Bhatt (business), Vishwanathan Anand (sports), Chak De director Shimit Amin and scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni (entertainment) and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin (NRIs). Sreedharan was the winner in the public service category.

The lifetime achievement award went to cartoonist RK Lakshman.

The format of the awards was as follows: the competition was divided into six categories, each with six nominees — politics, business, sports, entertainment, public service and NRIs. Each category would have a winner. The six winners would then compete for the top award.

They were to be picked by a mix of voting by people — SMS and online — and selection by a jury of Padma awardees — lawyer Soli Sorabjee (chairman), HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, actor Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair, Hindustan Times Media Ltd vice-chairman and editorial director Shobhana Bhartia, Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani, billiards champion Geet Sethi and former police officer Kiran Bedi.

The Indian of the year for 2006 was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Hospital puts anti-abduction system in maternity ward

Hospital puts anti-abduction system in maternity wardBy Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Dubai: Dubai's only public maternity hospital implemented a system to prevent baby theft after some babies were abducted from their bassinet, Gulf News has learnt.
A security bracelet is attached to the babies' ankles that have a sensory barcode which is linked to all nursery stations and security offices at Al Wasl Hospital, which implemented it last year.

Diaa Hassan, Consultant, Quality and International Accreditation, Al Wasl Hospital, told delegates at the Hospital Design and Upgrade Conference at Arab Health that the anti-abduction system is a standard procedure required by the Joint Committee International.

"The baby anti-abduction system has been implemented for the past year, and there were two to three cases of abduction in the country," she said, but refused to elaborate.

The most publicised baby snatching case in the UAE was in December 2005, when an Indian doctor abducted a new-born Iraqi boy at Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah. A nurse spotted the doctor walking away with the baby and alerted the authorities. The gynaecologist served six months in jail followed by deportation.

With regard to preventing hospital-acquired infections, Hassan said that it was difficult to prevent because the maternity ward is always receiving many family members. "It is difficult to control the number of visitors at the hospital because of the culture in the region. When someone delivers all the family comes in," she said.

She noted that it was highly unlikely for patients to receive hospital acquired infections because all infectious cases are transferred to Rashid Hospital.

Abu Dhabi to keep March contract volumes steady

Abu Dhabi to keep March contract volumes steady
Reuters Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Singapore: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) has notified at least four Asian lifters that it will supply crude oil at full contracted volumes for March, as it did for February, lifters said yesterday.

Abu Dhabi, the main oil producer the UAE, would also supply limited extra volumes, on top of fully contracted volumes, with three refiners saying they did not request additional volumes for March.

Additional cargo

One lifter said they would receive an additional 500,000-barrel cargo of Murban crude for March, while another declined to comment on whether he had sought additional volumes.

Demand for March Abu Dhabi crude has weakened from February as refiners in North Asia have started cutting runs.

The steady March volumes come as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) is scheduled to meet this week, with members repeatedly saying they are pumping enough oil, signalling that it would maintain output levels despite calls by the United States for more supplies to help ease high prices.

International crude prices have come down from their historic high of over $100 a barrel on worries of a US slowdown.

Spot Abu Dhabi crude fell to its deepest discounts in three months last week, with flasgship Murban crude sold at down to a discount of 25 cents a barrel to Adnoc.
But demand has not collapsed and spot cargoes for March loading have largely cleared by now, traders said, suggesting that refiners saw value in the light sour grades, though at discounts to their official selling prices (OSPs).

Japanese refiners, who are the largest buyers of Abu Dhabi crude, have cut runs for January and February from their initial plans on sluggish domestic demand and falling margins.

Japan's top refinering company, Nippon Oil Corp, has also said that it will extend and deepen a 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) production curb this month to a 41,000-bpd cut in February.

Four out of five South Korean refiners have also decided to cut crude runs for February, pressured by poor margins and seasonally weak demand, processing at the lowest rate in four months, a Reuters poll of industry sources show-ed.

Opec likely to deny Bush plea for more supply

Opec likely to deny Bush plea for more supply
Bloomberg Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

London: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), the producer of more than 40 per cent of the world's oil, may reject US president George W. Bush's request to increase production and relieve the strain of rising energy costs.
Opec will keep its output target unchanged at 29.67 million barrels a day when it meets in Vienna on February 1, according to 29 of 32 analysts surveyed between January 24 and 28 by Bloomberg News. Ministers from Qatar, the UAE and Iraq said last week that more oil isn't needed. Bush asked producers to pump more crude during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Oil fell 5.3 per cent to $90.90 a barrel this month, and the 13-nation group wants to prevent a further decline, the analysts said. A slowdown in the US, the world's biggest energy consumer, risks curbing demand for fuel as the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere reduces consumption. "Opec would be shooting themselves in the foot if they increased supply," Michael Davies, head of research at Sucden (UK) Ltd in London, said.

Recession fears

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. predict deteriorating growth in the US will spread to other nations. Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer, has probably entered a recession already, Goldman's chief Japan economist, Tetsufumi Yamakawa, said.

The US dollar, used by Opec to price oil sales, weakened 12 per cent against the euro during 2007, eroding Opec's purchasing power. There's "no need for additional barrels," Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, the Opec governor for Iran said.
"There's a 60 per cent chance they'll increase production as the US is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia," Hannes Loacker, an analyst at Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterriech in Vienna, said. "If Opec does increase, prices could come down into the $80s."

"Opec is happy with the price above $80, and they clearly want to stop it going below $80," said Johannes Benigni, managing director of PVM Oil Associates in Vienna.

Forecast: Output may be cut

Opec may cut its oil output in March if stockpiles increase and demand dwindles, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unidentified ministers and officials.
The 13-member group may have a tough time this year deciding whether to boost or decrease production, the newspaper said. A US recession could curb the growth in global demand, yet China and the Middle East are still using more oil, the Journal said.

Money Market - Questions & answers

Moral Story

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Dr. Kamala Shankar, the inventor of the shankar-guitar

Dr. Kamala Shankar, the inventor of the shankar-guitar, plays Raga Yaman (vilambit gat and jhala) with Shri Pundlik Bhagwat on tabla.

More about Dr. Kamala Shankar can be read by visiting:

Surat, fastest growing city in India

Surat, fastest growing city in India

Surat and Ahemdabad in Gujarat are the first and third fastest growing city regions in the country in terms of economic prosperity, says a study.

However in terms of actual GDP size, the country's financial capital Mumbai is the biggest of them all.

With an annualised GDP growth rate of 11.5 per cent over the past seven fiscal years, Surat has emerged as the fastest growing city, while Ahemdabad region, which also includes Gandhinagar, is third with 10.1 per cent, as per the data compiled by economic research firm Indicus Analytics.

Southern metropolis Bangalore is the second fastest growing region with 10.3 per cent growth, while rest of the city regions in the country saw a growth rate of less than nine per cent.

The growth rate figures are short-term annualised GDP growth rates for fiscal year 2001-02 to the fiscal year 2006-07. The city regions includes rural and urban areas of the corresponding districts, Indicus Analytics said.

In terms of actual GDP size and contribution to the all India GDP, Mumbai occupies the top position, followed by the national capital region Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

According to Indicus Analytics, the current price GDP for the fiscal year 2006-07 stood at Rs 2,00,483 crore for Mumbai region, including suburban Mumbai and Thane, and contributed 6.16 per cent to all-India GDP.

For Delhi, including its nine districts and adjoining Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon, the total region GDP stood at Rs 1,60,739 crore and contributed 4.94 per cent to all-India GDP size.

In GDP size, Mumbai and NCR are followed by Kolkata (Rs 100,229 crore and 3.08 per cent contribution), Chennai (Rs 63,195 crore and 1.94 per cent all-India share) and Bangalore (Rs 58,792 crore with 1.81 per cent share).

In the top 10 city regions in GDP size, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat accounted for two each, while Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh each had one region.

Pune came at the sixth position, followed by Ahemdabad, Hyderabad, Surat and Bardhman (West Bengal).

In terms of individual GDP growth rate, Surat, Bangalore and Ahmedabad are followed by Mumbai (8.5 per cent), Delhi (8.4 per cent), Hyderabad (7.8 per cent), Pune (7.4 per cent), Bardhman (6.6 per cent), Kolkata (6.3 per cent) and Chennai (6.2 per cent).

According to the data, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the only three regions with a GDP size of more than Rs 1,00,000 crore, while Surat, Bangalore and Ahmedabad are the only three to have a growth rate of more than 10 per cent.

Except for Bardhman in West Bengal, all the regions in the top 10 have a share of more than one per cent in the all India GDP.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of India in its quarterly monetary policy review said on Tuesday that GDP growth projection has been retained at 8.5 per cent for the fiscal year 2007-08.

"The projection of overall real GDP growth in 2007-08 is maintained at around 8.5 per cent for policy purposes, assuming no further escalation in international crude prices and barring domestic or external shocks," the central bank said.

'Starving mothers may have addictive kids'

'Starving mothers may have addictive kids'
Babies born to starving mothers may develop addictive disorders later in life, Dutch researchers said after examining men and women born during a period of famine.

A famine called "Hunger Winter" hit Netherlands during the winter of 1944-1945, near the end of World War II, in which over 20,000 people died.

Researchers from the Dutch mental healthcare organisation Bouman Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg (GGZ) and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam examined men and women born in Rotterdam between 1944 and 1947.

They found that children whose mothers had suffered severe food shortages and starvation during their early pregnancy were significantly more likely to be receiving treatment for addictive disorders, reported science portal Science Daily.

Modern brain research has shown that if the brain is not able to develop at normal rates while the child is in the womb, neuro-developmental abnormalities can occur that give rise to susceptibility to addiction.

"Exposure to famine beyond the first three months did not result in a higher risk of addiction, which supports the view that the first trimester is crucial in the development of the human brain that is involved in addictive behaviour," lead researcher Ernst Franzek said.

Jog daily, increase life span

Jog daily, increase life span
Indo-Asian News Service

Daily jogging may help you stay biologically young and live nine more years than those who don't jog, researchers in US have suggested.

A regular exercise is already known to provide several health benefits. Regular exercise also helps prevent heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and depression.

In the new study researchers at King's College London and in the US studied ageing in 2,401 twins and found that there was a difference of about nine years of ageing between those who exercised regularly and those who did not.

It happened even after considering other influences, including body mass index (BMI), smoking and socio-economic status (SES), according to the researchers, online edition of Daily Mail reported.

"The US guidelines recommend that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week can have significant health benefits" the study said.

"Our results underscore the vital importance of these guidelines. They show that adults who partake in regular physical activity are biologically younger than sedentary individuals," lead researcher Lynn Cherkas said.

Benefits of jogging

It speeds up the digestive system and helps get rid of digestive trouble.

It counteracts depression.

In order to be an effective means to loose weight, the jogging sessions must be at least half an hour and be repeated fairly often.

Jogging makes you sleep better.

A formula for stress-free driving

A formula for stress-free driving
By Carole Spiers, Special to Gulf News Published: January 29, 2008, 00:22

For Dubai's motorists, the New Year has not begun well. First, the unexpected visit from President Bush, bringing instant gridlock to a city still not mentally accepting of urban traffic crawl.

Then the equally unaccustomed sight of Shaikh Zayed and Emirates Roads partially flooded during exceptionally heavy rainfall. And then the UAE road-accident figures for 2007, one of the worst in the world - 829 deaths and more than 10,000 injuries - a most unwelcome symptom of increasing traffic jams and driver frustration, in this fast-expanding emirate.

To you, all of this may look like something new and unnatural on your horizon. To me, as a UK-based stress consultant, it is something depressingly familiar and inevitable. So perhaps this is the moment for me to offer you my little rule-of-thumb guide to stress management on the road. It takes the form of a simple acronym - S.A.F.E.

S is for SURE. Be sure of your vehicle, sure of your itinerary, and sure of your own fitness to drive. Stress builds up especially when you're driving an unfamiliar vehicle, either new or borrowed. So take trouble to check all the features, especially those that you need in an emergency. And when someone else is having to familiarise themselves with new controls, don't raise the tension by standing over them, expressing impatience.

A is for ACCEPTING. This is an underlying philosophy which takes the heat out of many potentially stressful situations at the wheel. It is to accept that you are not master of the road, and that your journey will always be influenced by conditions you can't change. You can't stop it raining. You can't stop your children grumbling. You can't speed up that traffic jam as you approach the bridge to cross the creek. So - don't get excited or agitated - it will not get you there any faster.

F is for FOCUSED. A driver's first duty is to concentrate on the road. Even under perfect conditions, mistakes can be made. So when the car is full of distractions like music, quiz-games or long-running arguments with the children, driving errors can happen. Equally, the sheer familiarity of the same daily route may cause loss of concentration. To stay focused, try to make a habit of ignoring distractions, and make sure you're properly nourished and exercised and take breaks on long journeys.

E is for EGO-FREE. Your car reflects your ego, and this lies behind many reckless actions on the road - trying to live up to that macho image, and wanting to hit back at any insults to your dignity or driving skills. Ego can be a major stressor, and you will do better to practise remaining calm and not rising to challenges that can spiral into fatal accidents.

Four little letters that may keep you safe by helping to set up the right kind of atmosphere in your car, as you learn to combat the growing pressures of driving in Dubai.

Good luck!

Key points: Safe drive

Dubai's traffic congestion and high accident rate is predictable.
Constant pressure on the road leads to harmful stress for drivers.
Be Sure, Accepting, Focused and Ego-free.

- The writer is a BBC broadcaster and motivational speaker, with 20 years' experience as CEO of Carole Spiers Group, an international stress consultancy based in London.

Special number plate to be exhibited at Abu Dhabi private motor show

Special number plate to be exhibited at Abu Dhabi private motor show
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS

Abu Dhabi: Vehicle plate number 1, which is expected to set a record as the most expensive, will be exhibited at an exclusive private motor show next week, an official told Gulf News.

The world's top 30 most luxurious supercars will be displayed at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace from February 2-4, and it will be best venue to showcase the prestigious number plate, said Abdullah Mattar, Managing Director of Emirates Auction, which jointly organises the number plate auction with Abu Dhabi Police.

The exclusive automotive event held under the patronage of Shaikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will present the latest trends and inventions.

Plate "1" is expected to set a new Guinness world record for the most expensive plate when it goes under the hammer at the 'Emirates Golden Auction' on February 16, 2008 at 4 pm in Abu Dhabi.

Big expectations

It is only the third single-digit number plate to go on sale in Abu Dhabi, Mattar said, adding that Emirates Auction already holds the records for the six most expensive plates worldwide, followed by a Hong Kong plate in seventh place.

Plates "5" and "7" sold for Dh25.2 million and Dh11 million respectively. Both were snapped up by Abu Dhabi businessman Talal Ali Mohammad Khouri.

The expectations for Plate "1" are sky high," Mattar said.

Raga Ratnam Junior - Jugal Bandhi Round

Raga Ratnam Junior is about to enter one of the most demanding aspects of this exciting competition. Scheduled for the next rounds will be what might be phrased as hard core Carnatic music. Within these upcoming rounds we will discover who the “pancharatnam” -the five diamonds- will be. If you have ever thought that Carnatic music was just for the older generation, these youngsters will change your mind in a heart beat.

Amrita TV is steadfastly pushing the envelope in its effort to find, nurture and develop talent in all fields of creativity and human interest. Raga Ratnam Junior exemplifies this effort by showcasing Carnatic musicians in the 10-15 years young age group. This programme is a first ever in the history of Malayalam televison.

From the original 15 we still have 9 talented performers left. But the competition is heating up. Watching the show is bound to expand the viewers knowledge of this unique music form by placing all us under the tutelage of veteran music maestros, V.Dakshinamurthy , K.L.Sreeram,Binni and Krishnakumar.

Raga Ratnam Junior is a perfect example of the channels commitment of providing exciting entertainment without compromising its commitment of honoring the values inherent in Malayalam culture. And its also were the action is!

Amal Shaju Jose

Akhil Krishnan

Arjun B Krishna



Shilpa Murali

More to come, please continue to visit this section

Monday, 28 January 2008

Photo Speaks - Keeping clean

We all think our job is too difficult and only we have many problems in work and life. Just have a look at these workers who are keeping the mall neat and clean. And what about them? What do they say? And to whom?

Auto Riksha's in Dubai

Come on and enjoy a ride for this DSF. Special discount for all Team 1 Dubai readers.

Plan for your child's future

Plan for your child's future

27 Jan, 2008, 0050 hrs IST,SRIKALA BHASHYAM, TNN

When it comes to children, parents turn generous. In most cases, asset allocation is not an issue as every parent makes it a point to set aside a corpus for the child's future.

A few years ago, the parents of girl children made a conscious effort to get into the saving mood as the corpus for the marriage was considered a long-term goal. Today, planning for the child's future has taken a different meaning as parents are increasingly setting aside money for their child's education.

With the cost of education expenses galloping at a faster pace, it has become a necessity for parents to think of a savings plan for their children at the earliest.

Earlier the better. This is one dictum which holds well whether you think of retirement planning or investing for children. Needless to add, the more period you have on hand, bigger can the corpus get. Ideally, think of saving for the child immediately after birth simply because you will be faced with huge expenses at regular intervals.

Experience has shown that those who get into the saving mood at a child's birth end up as more disciplined parents. Also, it helps them to start with a small sum.

Those looking at funding a children's education through investments need to look at the cost in a staggered way.

The education cost for a parent can be divided into 3-4 phases. It first comes when the child is around 3-4 years old and is ready for schooling. Investment for this is possible only when a parent starts saving even before the child completes one year.

The next big bill arrives when the child is 18 and is ready for an entry into professional education. After a gap of three years, parents in most cases, have to prepare for an investment which depends on various other factors such as choice of educational course, location etc.

While setting aside a portion of earnings on a monthly basis is one of the options, it is definitely not an efficient method as savings bank offers a paltry interest of 3.5 per cent, and is well below the rate of inflation. Hence, one needs to look at different products.

The most popular option for children's education has been insurance but it need not be the only option. The advantage with insurance is that it offers protection to the child even in the event of the death of the parent.

Since insurance companies allow investment options through their unit-linked plans, it offers the added advantage of cover and investment. In fact, it may not be a bad idea for every parent to look at the option of a child insurance plan at an early age.

While insurance can be a long-term option, mutual funds too offer the advantage of long-term capital appreciation for parents. One of the best options would be the systematic investment plan (SIP) in equity funds as they allow investment growth over the long term. The choice of fund could be a combination of aggressive and diversified funds with a time horizon of 10-15 years.

Mutual funds also offer dedicated children's products which also carry a lower entry load. The fact that the parent cannot withdraw these plans before the child's age of 18, allows them to build a corpus over the long term.

Surat tops GDP race at 11.5%

Surat tops GDP race at 11.5%
28 Jan, 2008, 0318 hrs IST,Shailesh Dobhal & MK Venu, TNN

NEW DELHI: India’s average GDP growth of over 8% may have lagged China’s impressive double-digit growth in recent years, but a couple of non-metro, though large Indian cities have been punching well above the national average.

They are growing at over 10% for the past five years. India’s diamond capital, Surat, has averaged 11.5% annualised growth between 2001-02 and 2006-07, even surpassing China’s 13-year record of 11.4% growth in 2007.

The Bangalore city region (which combines two districts in Bangalore city and Bangalore rural) at 10.3% and Ahmedabad city region (Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar districts) at 10.1% have delivered double-digit annualised growth within the same period, with Vadodara at 9.8%, just shy of the 10% mark.

In this first of a two-part series, ET presents an exclusive peek into the first-ever computation of GDP figures at the district and city-level by Indicus Analytics.

To be sure, metros such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore remain on top of the absolute GDP table, but flagging growth in many metros and big-city regions may be the source of concern for policy makers and businesses alike.

For instance, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune have underperformed the national average at under 8% GDP growth. The city regions around Mumbai and Delhi have, however, managed to stay above the national average.

Mumbai city region (districts of Mumbai, Mumbai suburban and Thane) has the highest city-region GDP (at current prices 2006-07) of Rs 2,00,483 crore (and annualised growth of 8.5% between 2001-02 and 2006-07). Delhi city region (nine Delhi districts plus Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon) with Rs 1,60,739-crore GDP (and 8.4% growth) too, managed to stay above the national average of 8%.

A wake-up call for the CPI (M) is reflected in Kolkata region’s poor show on GDP numbers. Kolkata (GDP Rs 1,00,229 crore) has an annualised growth of just 6.3% between 2001-02 and 2006-07.

This is one of the lowest among the top 20 populous city regions in the country. Chennai (Rs 63,195 crore; 6.2%), Pune (Rs 48,116 crore; 7.4%) and Hyderabad (including Hyderabad and Rangareddi districts, Rs 42,931 crore; 7.8%) underperformed the national average.
Says founder director of Indicus Analytics Laveesh Bhandari, “Growth in many of these cities is hampered by infrastructure constraints.” But if urban infrastructure-starved India’s IT capital, Bangalore, can grow at 10.3% for the past five years, surely the infrastructure can’t be an alibi for underperformers such as Pune or Hyderabad?

Well, not necessarily, for Bangalore and Delhi’s high-to-average growth and Pune or Chennai’s below-par GDP growth need not point to any infrastructure contradiction here. “The sheer economic momentum built over a decade now in cities such as Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai is making them grow in spite of their infrastructure bottlenecks,” adds Mr Bhandari.

Needless to say, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai or Surat could have grown much faster, perhaps 15% plus, had it not been for their crumbling urban infrastructure. If there ever was a more clear pointer needed for policy makers at both the national and state levels to address urban infrastructure issues, everything from roads, airports, power, water, governance et al, on a war footing, they need not look further than these city-regions’ GDP growth figures.

Also, given the current concern of keeping India’s growth momentum going in the face of a US-led global economic slowdown, the finance minister may like to use his Budget 2008 speech to reinforce and re-energise the government’s two-year-old pet project in Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Increasing urbanisation, from just 27.8% (percentage of urban to total population) in 2001 to a projected 38.2% by 2026, also makes it imperative for the government, both at the central and state level, to focus on addressing urban infrastructure deficiency and decay on a most urgent basis.

Why District-Level GDP?

By Laveesh Bhandari
Founder Director, Indicus Analytics

While district-level income estimates are a crucial input for policy making, few states publish these estimates at this level. And even if some states have taken the initiative to publishing these estimates, there are time lags involved.

‘District GDP of India, 2006-07’ is an effort by Indicus Analytics to fill this gap and provide the first-ever estimates of district gross domestic product across all states & UT’s of India, and across primary, secondary and tertiary sector.

District-level GDP estimations have broadly followed the methodology published by CSO with appropriate changes, wherever required due to inconsistency in data availability across time, districts and states. The main data sources used for the analysis are NAS, CSO, RBI, Census (2001), National Sample Survey Organisation, NDSSPI, etc.

Income estimates across districts can be helpful in recognising industries/sectors that are driving or retarding economic growth at the district level. Also, these estimates can be very much useful in facilitating better resource management for policy implementation at micro and macro levels and to remove the constraints imposed by lack of reliable data on latest situation at the district level.

From the perspective of the corporate sector, this can help in understanding the vast Indian market and its wide variations within districts. Last but not the least, this can provide valuable background information to credit facilitating companies and investors to prioritise locations for further investment.

Indian students flock to China

Indian students flock to China

M.R. Narayan Swamy, IANS

China is becoming a higher education hub for Indian students. More and more young men and women from India are braving the bone-chilling temperatures as well as language and food hassles to study in Chinese universities.

Diplomats say that easy admission systems, affordable fees and high standards of facilities are the chief attractions for Indian students, who now number more than 6,000 all over China.

The dominant choice of Indians is medicine. Chinese language also draws many. Clearly, Indian students are enjoying it in China.

"My (Chinese) teachers and fellow students have been very welcoming," said Jyoti Bhattacharya, 23, from New Delhi who studies at the Beijing Language and Culture University.

Bhattacharya admitted that she was very apprehensive when she arrived in September 2007.

"But it has been a very smooth journey, very helpful," Bhattacharya told IANS. "We have been treated very well.

"While I could have studied Chinese even in India, the exposure there was not good. Here you are speaking and hearing the language all the time. It makes a big difference. And I want to make a career."

Added Ravi Ranjan, who teaches Indian literature and culture and also Hindi language at Peking University: "This is a good place for students from India interested in Chinese studies. Chinese universities are good when it comes to science and technology too."

The Tianjin Medical University, located in a port city that can be reached in 90 minutes, has 400 Indian students on its rolls studying medicine. According to its International Exchange Department, the number of applications from India exceeds the available places.

According to Indians, the average tuition fee in a Chinese medical university is $2,000-$3,000. Another $1,000 is needed for board and lodging. This is a fourth of what one would spend in India.

Indian students scoring 70 percent marks and above in their own universities are the most sought after. But Indians returning home are expected to pass the Indian Medical Council test.

According to Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao, Indian students find China "cheaper possibly than any other country" when it comes to education.

"Chinese institutions of learning have also been very active in promoting themselves in India," she said in an interview at her office.

Ranjan, 46, from Hyderabad, said that many of the Indians learning medicine in China were sons or daughters of doctors who failed to enter Indian medical institutions. "Also, it is not very expensive here," he added.

But communication can be a daunting problem for students who know no Chinese - Putong Hua, the dominant language, or Mandarin. Although many teachers and students speak English, that language is hardly understood on the streets.

Where possible, Indian students living away from their homes provide comfort to one another. When they go sightseeing, Indians go in groups. The safety in and outside homes in China is widely appreciated.

The one area of concern for most Indians is cuisine.

Bhattacharya, who is on a 10-month language course, admitted: "I am missing my family in Delhi. And frankly, I am very much missing Indian food."

In the circumstances, any Indian student who has culinary skills or has a relative or friend willing to serve Indian food to hungry young women and men is arguably the most popular in the community.

L&T gets orders worth Rs 1057 crore

L&T gets orders worth Rs 1057 crore

MUMBAI: Engineering and construction firm, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, said on Wednesday its group had got orders worth Rs 1057 crore($270 million) in the Middle East.

No further details were available immediately.

Brands ready to board autorickshaws for marketing

Brands ready to board autorickshaws for marketing
28 Jan, 2008, 0945 hrs IST,Parag Dave & Mahima Puri, TNN
AHMEDABAD: Talks about brands and reach could not hope for a better ride. Success is coming on three wheels for brands looking for eyeballs and consumers.

Three-wheelers, the lifeline for public transport in almost all Indian cities and towns, are also turning out to be cheap marketing vehicles for companies eager to take their products across consumer categories.

And, what could be a better choice than the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw that ferries passengers from residential societies to plush offices, market places, railway stations, airports and is also parked in congested areas and slums. For brand managers, there could not be a better choice of consumers.
Ahmedabad has approximately 50,000 auto rickshaws and brands like Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum, Samrat Namkeen, Sushma Namkeen have opted for similar brand promotions. Needless to say, a lot many are expected to follow,” says proprietor Pushpak Communication Pankaj Dave.

Big Bazaar is one such example. The company will soon start its campaign through autorickshaws.” According to us, such modes of advertising can help us reach across every section, in terms of area as well as customers. The better quality three-wheelers in the city are also an added advantage. One can get better visibility, at cheaper rates,” says Gujarat head Pantaloon Retail Anand Adukiya.

Payment per auto-rickshaw could be as low as Rs 500 per month. Contrast it with a hoarding that would cost close to Rs one lakh for one month, the moving medium is certainly the cheapest. Apart from three-wheelers, brands are also riding on pulling carts and camel carts in the city.

“Brands which need to target masses, usually opt for such out-of-home advertising. The idea is to create a better visibility and higher recall value for your product,” says IIM-A Prof. Arvind Sahay.

Adds director, brand services, Triton Communications Sanjay Chakraborty, “One can also focus on target customers in such medium. For instance, an edible oil brand can display ads on auto rickshaws carrying school children, so that it is visible to mothers. A premium suiting brand will not do the same.” The medium is particularly attractive for companies looking for reach and not brand-building. A typically upmarket brand will not associate itself with auto-rickshaws, says a consultant.

Though such mediums turn out to be cheaper, the concept can not be used for every product. In fact, in the last few years, the concept has been followed by a number of brands, both established as well as local. Also, a few advertising agencies in the city have come up, which only cater to such outdoor advertising techniques. one such example is Pushpak Communication.

Pirates bring Ambani book out of closet

Pirates bring Ambani book out of closet
Ten years after it was effectively banned in India, photocopied versions of Hamish McDonald's book The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani are now being sold freely on the city's pavements and traffic signals for an astonishingly wide range of prices - Rs 100 to Rs 1,600. The unauthorised biography is said to be selling by the dozens.

The timing of its appearance is curious. Hawkers said they first got the book on January 13 and 14 — a couple of days before the IPO of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power Ltd opened for subscription.

Representatives of both Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited and his estranged brother's Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group declined to comment on the underground sales.

Sanatan, a hawker selling the title for Rs 400 in Fort, had a unique marketing line. “The makers of Guru (the Bollywood film loosely based on Dhirubhai Ambani’s life) used 25 per cent of this book to make their film. The other 75 per cent that is in here was too controversial to show.” Sanatan is perhaps correct.

The book mentions how every year Dhirubhai played an April Fool’s Joke on an elderly employee, and also describes the arrest of Kirti Ambani, a general manager at Reliance, on charges of conspiring to murder Reliance rival Nusli Wadia.

On the phone, Australian author McDonald sounded bemused: “I wonder why it has suddenly appeared, 10 years after it was published. I am not even making any money out of this.”

In 1998, before the book could make it to Indian stands, the Ambanis had moved the Delhi and Ahmedabad High Courts, asking for injunctions against the book’s release on grounds of “anticipatory defamation.”

The Delhi High Court passed a verdict in favour of the Ambanis, halting the release of the book. The rights for the book’s Indian edition had then been sold to Harper Collins, which had numerous printed but unbound copies of the book in their warehouse. “After the Delhi stay order against the book, the Ambanis said they would get more such [court] orders from other states, and had threatened to sue,” said Renuka Chatterjee, who was heading Harper at the time. “Harper then decided to withdraw the book.”

McDonald recalled feeling gravely disappointed at the time. “Let a book be published and then be sued,” he said. “It getting blocked even before it can hit the stands is a serious infringement on the right to free speech.”

The Australian, though, is not one to be cowed down. “I have been keeping up-to-date with the actions of the two brothers and am thinking of an update,” he said. “I wish I find a publisher who is brave enough to publish the book in India.”

Reliance Industries set to build L&T rival EPC

Reliance Industries set to build L&T rival EPC

IN 1988, Reliance Industries made a determined bid to take over Larsen & Tourbo, the country's premier engineering and infrastructure behemoth. But a fierce battle triggered by former prime minister VP Singh and the Indian Express group forced Reliance to retreat — one of the rare occasions when one of the country's most successful entrepreneurs Dhirubhai Ambani had to accept defeat.

Today, nearly two decades later, Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani is all set to revive his father's plans of building an engineering, procurement and construction services (EPC) powerhouse, modelled on the same lines as one of L&T's core businesses. The blueprint for a separate global EPC business — which will bid for a variety of infrastructure projects within the country and overseas — has been on the drawing board for nearly three years.

But now, the building blocks are finally falling in place.

Like every project — be it in retail or upstream exploration — that Mr Ambani dreams up, this one too is no less gigantic. Back of the envelope calculations show that engineering and construction accounts for 75% of L&T's $5-billion turnover.

Reliance expects turnover of Rs 5,000 cr in first year

RELIANCE expects that its new play will be able to gun for a turnover of Rs 5,000 crore in the first year itself, and double it in the second year. Reliance plans to execute its own projects as well as by building bridges, highways, dams, power projects, airports, chemical plants and refineries initially within the country and subsequently in the Middle East and the US.

The moorings

When the plan was first mooted two years ago, the intent was much the same. Yet, as PMS Prasad, Reliance's CEO of its oil and gas business admits, building the mega refinery at Jamnagar became the dominant priority — and the task of building the competencies for a separate EPC play receded to the background.

In a small way, Reliance has already tested out the concept in the US through an initiative called Crest with US major Chevron. Across the western world and in the Middle East, almost all major petrochemical and refinery projects are running behind schedules, thereby leading to huge cost overruns. The reason: an alarming shortage of engineering talent. The idea behind the Chevron tie-up was to leverage Reliance's engineering design skills to ensure that these projects can be completed on time. So for about a year now, 70-80 engineers from Reliance have been working at Chevron's facilities in the US. "Chevron has an immediate requirement for 500 engineers. But we are finding it hard to supply that many," said a senior official at Reliance, on condition of anonymity.

With the Jamnagar refinery expected to be completed by March this year, Mr Prasad, who is leading the charge, is now making up for lost time. Nearly 700 engineers are already on board. More will be freed up as the Jamnagar project ends. The plan is to push up the headcount to 4,000-5,000 over the next two years.

Much like L&T which signed up joint ventures for separate verticals with global majors like Chiyoda of Japan and the US-based Sargent and Lundy, Reliance too is eyeing JVs to bring in global best practices on engineering process automation. In 2006, Reliance had signed a 50:50 engineering JV with Bechtel, the $20.5-billion US-headquartered engineering, procurement and construction firm to form BecRel Engineering.

Although Mr Prasad declined to comment, insiders said negotiations are on to form a separate JV with Bechtel for construction services. A formal decision is expected in the next couple of months. Much will depend on how serious Bechtel perceives Reliance to be about using its base in India for a gamut of engineering export services in Middle East. An email sent to Bechtel went unanswered.

Mr Ambani, though, is mighty serious, say insiders. As he sees it, the new plan is predicated on the country's strength as a high-quality, low-cost destination for global engineering, procurement and construction services.

But building overseas projects using engineering talent is easier said than done. One, tighter local immigration rules — among other things — will make it more difficult to send large teams of Indian workers to build dams and airports.

So Reliance is actually examining the option
of a unique onsite-offshoring model. So for instance, if it takes up the task of refurbishing many of the old refineries in the western world — and there are hundreds of such plants which Mr Prasad describes as 'paint held together by rust' — Reliance will look at sending small teams of engineers for either the finishing touches or testing and interconnecting, but bring back much of the fabrication work to its SEZ at Jamnagar, where it can modularise the construction at a relatively lower cost. Even if one were to add the cost of freight, Mr Prasad reckons there would be a sizeable cost savings for EPC projects in the Middle East.

Of course, the business model faces a huge challenge. The attrition rate is high among engineers. Already, many of those working for the $6-billion Jamnagar Export Refinery Projects are getting snapped up by other Indian and international firms. Reliance currently has 7,500 engineers working on the 27-milliontonne-per-annum Jamnagar refinery project.

It's a difficult challenge to retain them, when software firms coming calling. L&T chairman AM Naik has been a strong critic of software firms in India who continue to rely on engineers to fill up their ranks. As VV Bhat, Reliance's president, HR, admits, "We try our best to retain talent up to a certain limit. Beyond that we let them go. The engineers who will stay till the completion of the refinery project will get big money as part of their ESOPs. Most of them go to IT and other sectors." Even hiring engineers at the entry-level isn't easy. "Most engineers are taking up jobs in the financial, consulting services and IT because they pay more than double that of any engineering firm. Globally, only Schlumberger recruits in the petroleum sector. Margins are thin and most companies cannot compete with other sectors," said a senior academic at IIT Bombay.

So how does Reliance hope to cope with the staffing challenge? There are three routes that Reliance will take to staff its EPC business. One, it hopes to initially get a pool of experienced people through its collaborator. Two, it plans to offer an option for many of its experienced mid-career engineers in its operations, maintenance and technical functions, who want to seek a change. Three, it plans to continue hiring 700-800 engineers every year from engineering colleges across the country. The pitch: the sheer variety and hands-on experience of directly working in some of the biggest projects in the world — from building a retail and logistics supply chain to complex deep water exploration projects — and of course, a chance to also travel to other parts of the world. These trainees first get trained for six months to a year working on Reliance's own projects. And even though exact numbers are hard to get, billing rates are reckoned to be very hefty — making it far easier to pay a lot more to these engineers.

What it means for Reliance

There are very sound reasons why Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani is excited by the opportunity of building an engineering services business. At one level, this enables him to harness Reliance's core competency of building large-scale projects at an aggressive pace and cost and institutionalise it for the future. For instance, when the Jamnagar project ends, Reliance will be able to put its engineers onto a new project — and thereby not lose them.

Secondly, when Reliance continues to execute many of its multi-billion dollar projects, it will not have to face serious quality and time delays that tend to take place now. "Many of our contractors find it incredibly difficult to find resources. But since we push them hard, they often use inexperienced people, who end up making mistakes. Our quality assurance teams invariably discover them and we are forced to redo the work, thereby slowing down the implementation," said Mr Prasad.

Finally, there's another critical reason and it is linked to Reliance's new-found accent on partnerships and inorganic growth. In the global M&A game, as Reliance sees it, having a robust EPC business is likely to be seen as a differentiator. Across the developed world, there is a huge shortage of engineering talent. So a partner who brings critical resources — the availability of low-cost, high quality engineering skills — to the table will gain the upper hand over, say, private equity firms.



Engg services for large projects like refineries or steel plants usually awarded as turnkey contract to one engg company. These lucrative contracts can either be for EPC or project mgmt contracts. Market for both these services is huge since there are only a few cos with the experience to handle such massive scale
RIL plans to tie up with a global engineering major like Bechtel and bid for large-scale infrastructure projects either by directly bidding for it and managing it or subcontracting it to domestic engineering firms like Punj Lloyd


Abu Dhabi's oldest hospital on its last legs

The Central Hospital is part of the Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre and was the only hospital in Abu Dhabi till Al Jazeera Hospital was set up by the mid-70s.

Abu Dhabi's oldest hospital on its last legs
By Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 28, 2008, 00:11

Abu Dhabi: Central Hospital, the oldest hospital in Abu Dhabi, is slated to be demolished by the end of next week.

The 40-year-old hospital located near Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre (SKMC), was the only hospital in Abu Dhabi till Al Jazeera Hospital was set up by the mid-70s, said the management of SKMC.

Two crucial sections at Central Hospital - the Urgent Care section and the Renal Unit Dialysis (RUD) - are being transferred.

The Urgent Care section is scheduled to be transferred to the new Khalidiya Urgent Care Centre (KUCC) at SKMC, which will service patients the same day the Central Hospital is closed.

The urgent case section is meant to relieve the ER section at SKMC which receives a large number of patients suffering from accidents, heart attack, renal-related cases and others. The ER section has 28 beds in the surgical ward with 10 beds at the Children's Accident Section. Seven new beds are to be added, to increase the current bed capacity to 45 for adults and children.

During the first ten months of last year, the ER ward treated 72,091 patients, including 24,368 children.

The KUCC will have 20 doctors specialised in emergency related cases, 43 nurses and 59 technicians, with a total of 19 rooms.

The second department to be transferred, the Renal Unit Dialysis (RUD), will be re-located in the medical pavilion, formally known as Al Jazeera Hospital.

The RUD will continue treating non-Emiratis. The section will have 17 new dialysis machines. Five more machines are to be added soon.

Healthcare: SKMC employs 4,600

* Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre (SKMC) consists of a 550-bed Acute Care Hospital, a 120-bed Behaviour Sciences Pavilion, an 88-bed Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre, 10 primary healthcare centres, and more than 12 specialised outpatient clinics. SKMC employs about 4,600 caregivers and administrators from 62 nationalities.
* The various sections at the SKMC are Shaikh Khalifa Surgical Pavilion; Shaikh Khalifa Medical Pavilion; Outpatient Specialty Clinics; Primary healthcare (PHC) facilities; Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre; Abu Dhabi Blood Bank and Diabetes Centre.

Urgent Care patients include less life-threatening cases that need not be admitted to the Emergency Room ward (ER).

One killed and another injured in horrific car crash

One killed and another injured in horrific car crash By Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Last updated: January 27, 2008, 21:32

Dubai: A man was killed and another injured after a car overturned on Emirates Road on Sunday.

The victim, who was said to be speeding during poor weather conditions, lost control over the car. The vehicle flipped over, swerved and hit a signboard on the right side of the road.

The driver was killed on the spot while a passenger was injured and was taken to Rashid Hospital. The accident took place on Emirates Road near the bridge that leads to Al Ain.

Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Police's Traffic Department, called on motorists to be more cautious during bad weather conditions, including rain.

Speeding may cause the vehicle to skid and the driver may lose control.

He said the chances of road accidents increase during rain, storm and fog and motorists should abide by safe driving guidelines during low visibility.

Brigadier Al Zafein said five per cent of all accidents occur during foggy or rainy weather.

He called for extra caution on main roads such as Shaikh Zayed Road, Emirates Ring Road and the Dubai-Al Ain Road.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Market crash: A quick guide for young investors

Market crash: A quick guide for young investors

rediff Get Ahead Bureau

If you are young and restless and into the stock markets then this is for you.

For the Indian stock markets are caught in a whirlwind and you might need a straw to hold on to something. Some words of wisdom, some nuggets that may help you to relax, howsoever often you may have heard them before.

Waking up this morning would you have imagined the 30-stock benchmark index, the Sensex, would crash by more than 1,500 points after noon?

The US markets seemed a bit stable with the Dow Jones down by about 0.5 per cent. The Indian stocks too had been on a downslide since January 15. However, the shock and awe that the Sensex witnessed today must have made a few of the weak-hearted amongst you stop and take heed.

Weak-hearted we all are but if you also have some patience -- considering your age -- here's what you should keep in mind to weather stock market turbulences.

1. Start nibbling in

If you believe in India's growth story every steep fall should be seen as a buying opportunity. If you haven't yet entered the market but want to then tighten your belts. Market crash like the one today is an ideal time to buy. However, since these are very tumultuous times don't put all your eggs in one basket.

That is, if you have Rs 100 to invest then put only Rs 25 or even less during such crashes. If you have heart for some risk then put Rs 25 out of that Rs 100 today and keep the rest for later. However, do this only if you are willing to stake your money for at least five-seven years. The long-term stock market story in India still looks positive.

2. Don't panic

If you are already invested in the market and are sitting on huge losses, don't panic. The macro economic story in India led by the consumption, infrastructure and engineering sectors still have chances to remain insulated from what's happening in the US markets. This because many believe that the US recession is responsible for the current weakness across global markets.

If the US can't buy our goods, no problem. India and Indians have the purchasing capacity believe some experts, who say that the US recession will not have a huge impact on the Indian growth story.

Moreover, India's demographics, skewed heavily in favour of the young, will help India overcome external pressures in the long run. Young Indians like you are spending more on their daily needs thereby increasing the consumption demand.

So if you are a brave heart and believe that there are bound to be minor hiccups along the way this is your time. Add more and good quality stocks to your portfolio.

3. Avoid averaging

If you are a short-term trader and think that you can buy more of the same stocks to average your buying price then you may be in for a rough ride. Nobody knows for sure about which direction the markets will take in the weeks ahead.

Any bad news coming from global giants like the US, Europe and China can only have multiplier effects. If the markets were to tank further your losses are likely to increase manifold. So book your losses and get out of the market.

However, if you want to invest with a long-term perspective start nibbling in on good quality stocks.

4. Don't go by tips

If you are young and eager to make money then you are an ideal target for those who give stock tips. They will start flying thick and fast from tomorrow. Or may have started doing rounds even today for all we know. Some of your friends will ask you to buy stocks; some other will advise you to sell them.

Agreed you will find a lot many stocks at prices far lower than what they were a fortnight ago. Check for their credentials. For this is the time when gullible investors go for the bait thrown by stock market manipulators. Don't buy any stock merely because a broker or a market punter advised you to.

Similarly, there will be a host of technical advisors jostling for your attention. "This particular stock looks weak on the charts. Traders can make some profits by selling them now and buying the same at lower levels with strict stop losses." Shun the thought. For you never know when the markets will bounce back.

Bottom line: don't trade on tips. Better still don't trade at all. Go for long-term investments. For the time being forget what Lord Maynard Keynes said: "In the long-term we are all dead."

God knows what will happen in the long-term but in the current scenario if you were to act on tips then you will only be responsible for your own ruin.

5. Mutual funds are your best friends

In such times let experts manage your money if you find stock markets to be a hot potato. Put your money in mutual funds for the mutual fund manager is a market expert and is assisted by a big team of market specialists. A decision made by a team of experts will help you make far greater profits than what you will try to do on your own.

The stock market hammering of the last few days should be taken as an opportunity to buy into good diversified equity funds. For, they put their money into the markets irrespective of any sector, theme, or market cap limitation.

When the markets will bounce back they will have a far higher chance of appreciating faster than any other type of mutual funds.

6. Don't try to time the markets

As an individual you are in no way going to buy when the market falls and sell when the market rises. Believe in investing money into stocks or mutual funds' systematic investment plans, SIPs, regularly. This is the only key to avoid getting ruined in the stock markets.

The stock market crashes -- like the one witnessed today -- get evened out by long-term gains. For instance, those who had been regularly investing from the time markets crashed steeply during the May 2006 crash would not feel bothered about the crash today.

The market had crashed to some 12,000 points then from about 16,000 levels in just a month's time. Today even after the crash the market was trading at 17,000 plus levels.

Remember that age is on your side. If you are in your early, mid or late twenties then this is the right time for you to put your money in stock markets. Historically, stock market gains have outweighed gains from other asset classes over 10-year, 15-year and 20-year time horizons.

Who knows, by the time you are in your 40s or 50s, twenty years from this day, you might look back at this crash as your first stepping stone towards building wealth for yourself and your family.

France confers highest civilian honour on Narayanamurthy

France confers highest civilian honour on Narayanamurthy

January 26, 2008 22:25 IST

Infosys mentor N R Naryanamurthy was on Saturday conferred with the Officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction of the Government of France.

The French honour for Narayanamurthy comes on a day when he was chosen for Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of the country.

French Minister of Higher Education and Research Valerie Pecresse bestowed the honour to the "most admired business leader" of India at a glittering function in New Delhi on Saturday evening.

Created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honour is the highest civilian distinction that can be conferred in France regardless of the social status or the nationality of the recipients.

Pecresse acknowledged the humble beginnings of Infosys, which was co-founded by Narayanamurthy in 1981 along with six friends and 215 dollars in the pocket.

"Infosys, which employs over 82,000 staff, is a shining example of development in India," she said.

Accepting the distinction, Narayanamurthy said he was extremely grateful to the government of France for honouring him and said he will try and work harder.

Narayanamurthy, who pursued higher studies in France, said it was a country he loves most after India.

"Today is a very important day. I read in the newspapers on Saturday morning that I had been chosen for the Padma Vibhushan award. It was a pleasant surprise," he said.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Padma award winners on Republic Day 2008

New Delhi Jan. 25 The following is the full list of people conferred with the Padma civilian awards this year

Padma Vibhushan

1. Ms. Asha Bhosle Art Maharashtra 2. Justice (Dr.) A. S. Anand Public Affairs Uttar Pradesh 3. Mr P.N. Dhar Public Affairs Delhi 4. Mr Pranab Mukherjee Public Affairs Delhi 5. Dr. E. Sreedharan Science and Engineering Delhi 6. Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri Science and Engineering Delhi 7. Late Mr. Edmund Hillary (Posthumous) Sports New Zealand 8. Mr Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar Sports Maharashtra 9. Mr Viswanathan Anand Sports Tamil Nadu 10. Mr Lakshmi Narayan Mittal Trade and Industry UK 11. Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy Trade and Industry Karnataka 12. Mr P.R.S. Oberoi Trade and Industry Delhi 13. Mr Ratan Naval Tata Trade and Industry Maharashtra


Late Shri Amarnath Sehgal (Posthumous) Art Delhi, Ustad Asad Ali Khan Art Delhi, Smt. P. Susheela Art Tamil Nadu, Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar Art Delhi, Prof. Sushil Kumar Saxena Art Delhi Shri Chandrashekhar Dasgupta Civil Service Delhi, Shri K. Padmanabhiah Civil Service Delhi, Shri V. Ramachandran Civil Service Kerala, Shri Jasdev Singh, Commentary & Broadcasting Delhi, Prof. Brijinder Nath Goswamy Literature and Education Chandigarh, Prof. Ji Xianlin Literature and Education China, Prof. Kaushik Basu Literature and Education USA, Prof. (Smt.) Padma Desai Literature and Education USA, Shri Ravindra Kelekar Literature and Education Goa, Dr. (Smt.) Shayama Chona Literature and Education Delhi, Shri Shri Lal Shukla Literature and Education Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan Literature and Education USA, Prof. T.K. Oommen Literature and Education Haryana.Prof. (Dr.) Jagjit Singh Chopra Medicine Chandigarh,Prof. Nirmal Kumar Ganguly Medicine Delhi,Mian Bashir Ahmed Public Affairs Jammu & Kashmir, Lord Meghnad Desai Public Affairs UK, Late Mr. Yuli Mikhailovitch Vorontsov (Posthumous) Public Affairs Russia, Prof. Asis Datta Science and Engineering Delhi, Prof. Sukh Dev Science and Engineering Delhi, Mrs. Sunita Williams Science and Engineering – Astronautics USA, Dr. Vasant Gowarikar Science and Engineering Maharashtra, Shri D.R. Mehta Social Work Rajasthan, Mr. Dominique Lapierre Social Work France, Dr. (Ms.) Inderjit Kaur Social Work Punjab, Shri Suresh Kumar Neotia Trade and Industry and Social Work Delhi,Shri Baba Neelkanth Kalyani Trade and Industry Maharashtra, Shri K. V. Kamath Trade and Industry Maharashtra, Shri Shiv Nadar Trade and Industry Tamil Nadu, Shri Vikram Pandit Trade and Industry USA.


Shri Gangadhar Pradhan Art Orissa, Mr. Gennadi Mikhailovich Pechinkov, Art Russia, Pandit Gokulotsavji Maharaj Art Madhya Pradesh, Shri Hans Raj Hans Art Punjab, Dr. (Smt.) Helen Giri Art Meghalaya, Shri Jatin Goswami Art Assam, Shri Jawahar Wattal Art Delhi, Shri John Martin Nelson Art Chhattisgarh, Shri Jonnalagadda Gurappa Chetty Art Andhra Pradesh, Shri Kekoo M. Gandhy Art Maharashtra, Smt. Madhuri Dixit Art Maharashtra, Shri Mangala Prasad Mohanty Art Jharkhand, Shri Manoj Night Shyamalan Art USA, Ms. Meenakshi Chitharanjan Art Tamil Nadu, Shri Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar Art Kerala, Shri P.K. Narayanan Nambiar Art Kerala. Shri Pratap Pawar, Art UK, Smt. Sabitri Heisnam Art Manipur, Ms. Sentila T. Yanger Art Nagaland, Dr. Sirkazhi G. Sivachidambaram Art Tamil Nadu, Shri Tom Alter, Art Maharashtra, Prof. Yella Venkateswara Rao Art Andhra Pradesh, Ms. Barkha Dutt Journalism Delhi Shri Rajdeep Dilip Sardesai Journalism, Delhi Shri Vinod Dua Journalism Delhi, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo Literature and Education Jammu & Kashmir Shri Balasubramanian Sivanthi Adithan, Literature and Education Tamil Nadu, Shri Bholabhai Patel Literature and Education, Gujarat, Dr. (Smt.) Bina Agarwal, Literature and Education. Delhi Prof. (Dr.) K.S. Nisar Ahmed Literature and Education, Karnataka, Dr. (Smt.) M. Leelavathy Literature and Education Kerala, Dr. Nirupam Bajpai Literature and Education USA, Dr. Srinivas Udgata Literature and Education Orissa, Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat, Literature and Education, Delhi, Shri Surjya Kanta Hazarika Literature and Education Assam, Dr. Vellayani Arjunan Literature and Education Kerala, Mohammad Yousuf Taing Literature and Education Jammu & Kashmir, Haji Kaleem Ullah Khan Mango Plantation and Grafting, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. A. Jayanta Kumar Singh Medicine Manipur, Prof. (Dr.) Arjunan Rajasekaran Medicine Tamil Nadu, Prof. (Dr.) C.U. Velmurugendran Medicine Tamil Nadu, Dr. Deepak Sehgal Medicine Delhi, Prof. (Dr.) Dinesh K. Bhargava Medicine Delhi, Dr. Indu Bhushan Sinha Medicine Bihar, Dr. Keiki R. Mehta Medicine Maharashtra, Dr. (Smt.) Malvika Sabharwal Medicine Delhi, Dr. Mohan Chandra Pant Medicine Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Rakesh Kumar Jain Medicine Uttarakhand, Dr. Raman Kapur Medicine Delhi, Dr. Randhir Sud Medicine Delhi, Dr. Shyam Narayan Arya Medicine Bihar, Prof. (Dr.) Surendra Singh Yadav Medicine Delhi, Dr. Tatyarao Pundlikrao Lahane Medicine Maharashtra, Dr. Tony Fernandez Medicine Kerala, Smt. Colette Mathur Public Affairs Switzerland, Shri Bhavarlal Hiralal Jain Science and Engineering Maharashtra, Dr. Joseph H. Hulse Science and Engineering Canada, Prof. Kasturi Lal Chopra Science and Engineering Delhi. Dr. Sant Singh Virmani Science and Engineering USA, Shri Kailash Chandra Agrawal Social Work Rajasthan, Sister Karuna Mary Braganza Social Work Maharashtra, Dr. (Smt.) Kshama Metre Social Work Himachal Pradesh, Dr. Kutikuppala Surya Rao Social Work Andhra Pradesh, Shri Madan Mohan Sabharwal, Social Work Delhi, Dr. (Ms.) Sheela Barthakur Social Work Assam, Shri V.R. Gowrishankar Social Work Karnataka, Shri Vikramjit Singh Sahney Social Work Delhi, Shri Yousaf Ali Musaliamveettil Abdul Kader Social Work UAE Shri Baichung Bhutia Sports Sikkim, Ms. Bula Chowdhury Chakraborty Sports West Bengal, Dr. Amit Mitra Trade and Industry Delhi; - Bureau Report

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008

Celebrate the 59th Republic Day

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