Monday, 27 June 2011

Opinions: ‘I am not your crony’

Last week, RIL Chairman, Mukesh Ambani, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I don't know what they discussed, which is hardly surprising. But I can guess, since the media has been full of speculation about the CAG's draft report of investigations into RIL's exploration, development and production of petroleum resources in the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin.
Now I haven't read the report. Again, this is hardly surprising, since it is still being studied by the oil ministry. Nor, says Mukesh Ambani, has he read the report. Now this would be truly surprising, given the wide-spread belief that the Reliance empire's access to relevant government documents is unparalleled.

Unless, of course, something has changed in the RIL-government dynamic. When Murli Deora was transferred out of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas this January, the move was seen by many as a signal that the government was trying to create a distance between itself and the country's richest man: Murli Deora, who now oversees the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, has a long-standing association with the Ambani family.
Since Murli Deora's departure from the oil ministry, its technical arm, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has been openly critical of RIL. In April this year, the company reported two gas finds on the same day it declared financial results that were somewhat disappointing. Within hours, the DGH refuted RIL's claims, saying that the finds could not be considered commercially viable - "About 15-20 days back we rejected their request as the data provided by the contractor was not appropriate."
The CAG report has been a long time coming: 2 years ago, the media carried news of a draft CAG report suggesting RIL had 'gold-plated' its expenditure in the KG basin - over-stating its investments so as to be able to postpone sharing revenue with the government. The report was handed over to the oil ministry, followed by 2 years of media silence. This time around, though, it seems to be open season on RIL; the reportage has the company saying, somewhat petulantly, " While the actual contents of the report are not available to us, from the media reports doing the rounds, it is extremely disheartening to note that there is complete and basic misunderstanding of legal and contractual issues..."
I wonder whether Mukesh reflected that petulance in his meeting with Dr. Singh, or sought to enlighten him about the basics of the legal and contractual issues involved in the KG basin. Such speculation is pointless, since we will never know. Instead, indulge me while I reflect what I would have liked Manmohan Singh say to India's richest man:
"Mr. Ambani, since last September, my government has been rocked by accusations of corruption and crony capitalism. I believe in capitalism, especially when moderated by social-sector expenditure, but I do not believe in cronyism. Perhaps I have been blind to the hidden workings of some of my colleagues, but in my native Punjab, we used to say - der aaye, durrust aaye; better late than never.
I have little time left to serve this country, but I intend to use this time well. My journey has brought me far, farther than I dreamed as an orphan walking barefoot to school in my dusty Punjab. My country, however, has a long way to go before it becomes a beacon of justice, equal opportunity and transparency.
I know that corruption and malpractices begin at the top; correspondingly, in attempting to clean up the country, I have to begin with the most-powerful men and women in the nation - whether in politics, business or the administration. I don't know whether I will succeed, but I don't want my epitaph to read ' an honest man heading a corrupt government'.
In my efforts, I will be ruthless. I will attempt to be fair, but the carriage of justice depends on the quantity and quality of evidence; these are subject to chance and the inclinations of our investigating agencies. I have directed our agencies to be fearless in their work, to discriminate against no person or company in gathering evidence of wrong-doing; nor to be seen to favour anyone by suppressing it.
Many of your colleagues, and mine, are already in detention. Over the next few months, many more will be. I carry no brief against any one. My only hope is to leave a family and nation believing that I tried the impossible - to clean up my country.
I have told my colleagues in government of my intentions. When you leave Race Course Road, go and share them with your fellow industrialists."

'Zindagi' Dilemma: Hrithik, Katrina's Deep Smooch!

Their lips are sealed… in a tight liplock, that is. One that is reminiscent of what Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori shared intimately in the low flying Kites. Word has it that Roshan Junior has managed the feat once again. And, nope, it's not Mori who's the recipient of the lip smacking attention (hah, albeit differently, eh?)… it's Katrina Kaif.

The actress, who's steadily refused to buss her co stars (on screen, that is) has reportedly gone right ahead, smooched and clinched the kissing deal with Hrithik for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

The ek junoon song track between Katrina and Hrithik serves amply to scorch the screen, swear insiders. And the sensual heat was so tangible, that it was suggested to director Zoya Akhtar that she make it into a "group song". Apparently, Hrithik and Katrina too wanted the sizzle element to be scaled down.

Photos: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Reveals a close source,"In the film, Katrina who is riding a motorbike, chases Hrithik and draws him into an embrace leading to a deep kiss. Zoya is now in two minds whether to retain the kiss or to edit it out. The scene, though, is very crucial to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara since it triggers off the romance between the two. Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar are being very tight lipped over it at the moment."

Sensex stares at second yearly fall in a decade

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The BSE Sensex is headed for its second annual decline in a decade as persistently high inflation, rising interest rates and slowing growth keep investors at bay, a Reuters poll showed.

The 30-share BSE Sensex is already down more than 13 percent year-to-date, making it the worst performer among its peers in emerging markets.

Analysts expect a pullback in the second half if monsoon rains, a lifeline for the Indian economy, are bountiful but this would still not be enough to lure back investors in droves and wipe off the year's losses.

The median forecast of 18 investment houses, brokerages and research firms taken over the past week, sees the benchmark at 19,750 at end-2011 and at 21,500 by next June. The index closed 2010 at 20,509.

If the Sensex drops in 2011, it would be the first fall since 2008 when it slumped 52.5 percent, and the findings are more pessimistic than the poll conducted three months ago, where participants expected the Sensex to close 2011 at 20,500.

But this translates to a predicted 11.4 percent gain by year-end from Thursday's close of 17,727.5 and a 21.3 percent rise a year from now.

The most recent poll saw the third downgrade to end-11 forecasts with 11 of the 14 common contributors from a poll taken in March downgrading their targets for the end of this year.

"India's growth story is under threat," said R.K. Gupta, managing director of Taurus Mutual Fund. "The RBI has already indicated they are more concerned about inflation and they don't mind dealing with it at the cost of growth."

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been the world's most aggressive central bank to combat stubbornly high inflation in Asia's third-largest economy. It has raised rates by 275 basis points over 10 moves since mid-March 2010.

Still, annual inflation in May was more than 9 percent, well above the RBI's comfort zone of 4-4.5 percent, meaning there will be more rate increases coming.

The tightening has dented growth, with January-March economic expansion at 7.8 percent, the slowest rise in five quarters and the fourth consecutive slowdown in activity.

Many forecasters have lowered their growth expectations this year for India, with Goldman Sachs cutting its outlook in April to 7.8 percent from 8.7 percent.

Cooling growth has triggered an outflow of around $450 million in foreign portfolio investments from equity so far this year, compared with record inflows of $29.3 billion in the whole of 2010.

Asked if he saw foreign fund buying reviving in the second half, Gupta said: "I am afraid, no."

Global investors are shying away from riskier emerging markets and moving to beaten-down developed economies that look a better bet for returns.

Out of 14 respondents who answered an extra question relating to Indian stocks' performance in comparison with their emerging market peers, nine expected their situation to improve.

"Prospects of a decent monsoon should help. Also, after a further correction, valuations are likely to turn fair to attractive," said Ambareesh Baliga, chief operating officer of Way2Wealth Securities.

The four-month annual monsoon that ends in September is a crucial source of irrigation for farms across India and rural incomes that drive spending on a wide range of goods from television sets to cars.

Kashmir problem is Nehru's special gift to India: Advani

As India and Pakistan restored peace talks over pending issues including Kashmir, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Sunday slammed the country's first political family of late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru whose 'lack of courage' led to the Kashmir issue remaining unresolved.
In the latest entry on his blog,, the BJP leader also slammed late chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah whose ambition to be the leader of independent Kashmir also contributed to the issue.
Advani said neither the government of Nehru in New Delhi nor the government of Abdullah in Srinagar believed that Jammu and Kashmir needed to be fully integrated into the Indian union.
'In the case of Abdullah, the problem was his ambition to become the unquestioned leader of a virtually independent Kashmir. In the case of Nehruji, it was a matter of lack of courage, firmness and foresight,' Advani said.

He said that Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian constitution, had 'emboldened' secessionist forces in the state to carry out their 'poisonous propaganda that (Kashmir's) accession to India is not final and that Kashmir, in particular, is not a part of India.'
Advani wrote that India had lost two opportunities to settle the issue once and for all with Pakistan -- one in the 1947 war when Nehru ruled the country and the other in the 1971 Bangladesh war when Nerhu's daughter Indira Gandhi was at the helm.
'Our countrymen should know that the Kashmir problem is Nehru family's special 'gift' to the nation,' he wrote in a sarcastic vein.
'Nehruji's blunder was totally avoidable. The consequences of this 'gift' are Pakistan's export of cross-border terrorism and religious extremism, thousands of lives of our security personnel and civilians and tens of thousands of crores of rupees spent on military and paramilitary defence.'
The BJP leader's comments come days after India and Pakistani in foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad discussed a range of issues relating to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and the promotion of trade.
Advani also warned against giving any autonomy to the state because 'the implications must be understood'.

The End of Unwanted Phone Calls and Spam?

Unwanted calls and messages from telemarketers might end soon after the legislation of a new measure from TRAI and the Indian Department of Telecom enforcing the Do-Not-Call Registry in India.

The end of unwanted texts and calls from marketing 'executives' might be near.

Last year, TRAI had announced that calling phone numbers registered in the Do-Not-Call Registry (over a 100 million mobile phone users) would invoke a first fine of Rs and up to Rs 2.5 lakh for the sixth offense, after which any failure to comply would lead to a 2 year blacklist.

Previously, penalties stood at Rs 500 and Rs 1000

This powerful measure had not been legislated, even after 4 (missed) deadlines. Now, according to an official's statement to the Economic Times, this measure might be formally passed by end June.

The new rules will let you screen out all telemarketing calls, while opting to receive SMSs, which can also be filtered by your area of choice, ranging from banking and financial products to real estate, education, health, consumer goods, automobiles, communication, entertainment, tourism nd leisure.

Further, you won't be receiving this text messages at odd hours - the 9PM to 9 AM telemarketing text window will be closed. This will also be applicable to unregistered customers.

The TRAI recently sent a new communication to the Indian Department of Telecom, asking for completion of registering telemarketers with the '140' number series, an easy way to spot unsolicited commercial calls.

However, BSNL is asking for more time (till the end of the calendar year)to upgrade to the new ten-digit numbers starting with 140.

'The delay is due to BSNL - most of their switching infrastructure is old and it will be challenge for them to get it ready to handle the new numbering series on landlines. On the mobile side, the infrastructure is largely in place across all operators," explained Rajan Mathews, who heads the Cellular Operators Association of India, the industry lobby representing all GSM players.

There have also been reports of more powers in curbing erring telemarketers.

Action on spam SMS and telemarketing scenario was held up due to the legal issues between regulators and the Department of Telecom.

James Bond is no more single!

British actors Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz have married, a U.S. representative for Craig said on Sunday.
"They are married," said an LA spokesman for the 43-year-old actor, best known for playing superspy James Bond in the film franchise. He provided no more details.
People magazine said the couple, who were first cited as a couple last autumn, married in a quiet ceremony in New York on Wednesday.
Weisz, 41, won an Oscar for her role in "The Constant Gardener".
The newlyweds play husband and wife in the upcoming "Dream House", due out in the United States in September.

These relationship managers will find you the ideal match

Marriages might still be made in heaven, but these days, they are increasingly being made at marriage bureaus. Three-year-old is taking this to the next level by targeting high networth individuals (HNIs) and has introduced relationship managers to help in finding the ideal partner - for a minimum of Rs.50,000.

'The basic subscription starts at Rs.50,000 for three months. As the exclusivity and expectations rise, so does the subscription,' Rohit Tilokani, Head (Premium Products) at told IANS, not wanting to specify how high the figure could go.

People living abroad face difficulties in finding the right partner. This is where, launched by to provide highly personalized services, steps in.

The company has a global presence and aims to help NRIs, especially in the US and Britain and Middle Eastern markets, said Tilokani adding that the relationship managers are based in India and abroad.

'Currently we have a team of 100 plus. We have more than 50 exclusive relationship managers who play a critical role in the match-making process. These managers will handle searching for, identifying and contacting potential partners.

'Lack of exact demographic and lifestyle information on profiles is another reason why some people may not find matrimonial sites very helpful. Aggressive follow-up by relationship managers by keeping multiple parties (parents, relatives and self) in the loop is yet another feature that members find useful,' Tilokani said.

With no dearth of matrimonial sites that offer not-so-expensive services, what makes tick?

'Though our membership is limited to businessmen, industrialists, high networth individuals, highly-placed personalities in public life and of course celebrities in entertainment and sports, we do invite highly successful professionals and well-placed personalities too.

'Hitherto, the elite have had to generally mask their identity. With us, they are searching among select segments like themselves in terms of status and wealth. The special site also provides a high level of privacy to members who prefer not to reveal their identity,' Tilokani explained.

'EliteMatrimony has added a new dimension to online matrimony...the idea was in incubation for very long and executed in late 2008, much before anyone else had envisaged such services in India or overseas. It also stemmed from strong customer feedback for a differentiated and discreet service for HNIs,' Tilokani added

Bank sends back Dhoni's cheque due to wrong account number

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni''s cheque of Rs 645 to pay house tax was returned by a nationalised bank due to wrong account number.
The cheque was in favour of Ranchi Municipal Corporation and the payment to be made towards holding tax for Dhoni''s house at Harmu under Doranda circle.
"It was not bounced. The cheque dated March 15 was returned (by the bank) due to wrong account number. It''s a human error," Ranchi Municipal Corporation''s Chief Executive Officer Vinay Chowbey told PTI today.
"We will request the owner of the holding tax (Dhoni) for a fresh cheque," he said without taking the cricketer''s name.
Dhoni''s brother-in-law Gautam Gupta could not be contacted as his mobile phone was switched off.

Double Dhamaal review

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jafri, Ashish Chowdhury, Mallika Sherawat, Kangana Ranaut, Satish Kaushik
Directed by Indra Kumar
Rating: ** 1/2
No animals were hurt in the making of this film, unless you consider Ashish Chowdhury in his gorilla costume being abused by another gorilla (who is apparently the Emraan Hashmi of the ape world). This is ironic as Hashmi is himself often referred to as the chimp of the human world. And yes, this film is about the famously-foolish-foursome from 'Dhamaal' monkeying around like this was the Indian version of 'The Planet of the Apes'. And if the brand of humour called 'idiotically hilarious' doesn't row your boat, don't get on this roller-coaster of non-stop madness. But if it does, enjoy the ride.

The film has quite a bit for a plot, considering such films can even manage without one. Our super-zeros, Adi (Arshad Warsi), Manav (Javed Jaffrey), Roy (Riteish Deshmukh) and Boman (Ashish Chowdhury) still love doing what they did in single Dhamaal: make money without actually doing anything constructive.

After several sequences inspired by 'The Three Strooges', a lot of junior artists getting severely hurt and some terribly childish jokes, they encounter their arch enemy from part one, Kabir (Sanjay Dutt). Kabir, who was a cop in the first part has undergone a logical career transition to become a millionaire conman. In his relentless mission to spell doom for our four lazy loafers, he is now assisted by two aides, love interest, Kamini (Mallika Sherawat) and sister Kiya (Kangna Ranaut), both of whom struggle for screen-space, as they're often (rightfully) ignored.
The film chugs along swiftly as each gang constantly tries to outfox the other through hilarious situations and exaggerated getups. Each of the four idiots plays an average of three characters in the film and mimics atleast 2 Bollywood actors in every scene. They manage all this while trying to seek revenge from Kabir, who leaves them in an oily mess (go figure). Also this time around they want to destroy Kabir's personal, professional and marital life as well. Why? There's a dialogue about how it makes for an ultimate revenge or something to that effect.
An interesting, insignificant character in the film is Bata Bhai (Satish Kaushik), whose assorted abusives make him a complete joy to watch. His winning one's include, "silent-film ke dubbing artist" and "lower-stall ki phati hui ticket". The film also takes a dig at many others but the one on Guzaarish is hilarious. A fly buzzing around Manav's nose (when he's pretending to be a dement) is smashed with a slipper by Roy, who adds, "Iske machchar marne ki guzaarish bhi mujhe hi puri karni padti hain!"
The most unmentionable disguise has to be Boman's cross-dressing avatar as Barbara Gori, where he takes the film's title (double D) as a measure for an inappropriately endowded part of his body. Yes, he should've stuck to the gorilla costume.
It's difficult to point out if any of the actors is better or worse than the other. Yet, Arshad and Riteish are natural bums and Javed Jaffrey couldn't be funnier if he were actually retarded. Mallika Sherawat will surely be elected as the union leader for item girls as she sneaks in an item number in a film where she actually has a proper role.
Apart from the title song, none manage to sufficiently impress or depress. Sanjay Dutt's dance steps on the title number may be just throwing lazy punches in the air but it does the trick.
The film works for a simple reason: it packs in so many gags, that there would be atleast a few you haven't heard. And then out of those, a few you'd actually enjoy. In the end, everyone finds something to hold on to.
With everything going in the film's favour, even Kangana's slury speech has almost found its way to recovery. Let's hope she's around in 'teeple dhamaal'.

HTC brings its tablet, HTC Flyer to India

'We saw an opportunity to create a tablet experience that is different, more personal and productive,' said Faisal Siddiqui, country manager, HTC India.

According to the company, the seven-inch touch screen tablet is powered by a 1.5 Ghz processor coupled with HTC sense -- a graphical user interface which combines natural touch and pen interaction.

The Taiwan-based company is considered to be a pioneer in the field of high processing power smartphones in the world.

The tablet also comes with HTC watch -- HTC's new video download service which enables low-cost on-demand progressive downloading of hundreds of high-definition movies.

For gaming enthusiasts, HTC Flyer is integrated with a cloud-based gaming service from OnLive Inc, and helps customers to connect the tablet to their television sets through broadband wireless or lets them play directly on the tablet.

'HTC believes that many people are progressing beyond a single wireless device paradigm into an era where some will own multiple wireless devices that serve their different needs,' Siddiqui said.

The new tablet would compete with existing players such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab, BlackBerry Playbook and Apple iPad.

Learn yoga from Mallika Sherawat!

It's proven that yoga helps one to stay fit and also enhance beauty. It's a small wonder then that stars embrace yoga with open arms. After Shilpa Shetty,Bipasha Basu and Lara Dutta, we have another Bollywood babe turning into a yoga instructor. If sources are to be believed then hottie Mallika Sherawat is planning to release a fitness DVD in the US soon.

India’s global managers

When the global giant Unilever that churns out fast moving consumer goods announced the appointment of the Harish Manwani as its chief operating officer (COO) on Friday, the Dutch multinational said it was changing its growth plans.

Better focus on fast developing businesses in the emerging markets is part of the change.

So a market like India where Sunsilk sachets and Lifebuoy bars are part of life in remote villages and high-rise city apartments has lessons to offer the global giant, feel observers.

Increasingly, Indian managers are being chosen to head global businesses - American multinational PepsiCo that makes Pepsi-Cola, Tropicana juices and Lays chips, is headed by Indra Nooyi; US Banking major Citigroup's CEO is Vikram Pandit; the worldwide investment banking operations chief of the German giant Deutsche Bank is Anshu Jain and recently, British consumer major Reckitt Benckiser, that makes Dettol, appointed Rakesh Kapoor as its CEO.

The first take of observers is that experience and exposure of a big emerging market like India gives global leaders a cutting edge — though many of the big names were already more global than Indian.

The managers' qualities that experts highlight, however, include a rich, diverse experience, an ability to overcome obstacles, hard work, innovation and a certain robustness that comes from all these factors put together. India is a tough terrain that polishes great managers out of good ones.

Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, principal consultant (Vice-President) at the global executive search firm Stanton Chase, says that the trend has to be seen from two perspectives, "It is the ability of the Indian managers and simply the demographic advantage of the country."

Companies are looking at talent outside their home base, and they need people with global experience and leadership qualities.

"Indian firms and executives increasingly fit into this bill, with our rigorous education systems and increasing global opportunities at work," she adds.

Besides, businesses are increasingly looking at emerging economies with their unique dynamics.

"Look at the current trend of people born between 1955 and 1975 coming to the helm. They have gone through a lifestyle marked by scarcity. They become good managers who can meet challenges boldly."

Also Read: Input costs likely to remain high: Hindustan Unilever

Harish Manwani appointed as Unilever COO

Brand consultant and industry observer Harish Bijoor takes this view point a step further. He says, "An Indian who has climbed to the top has reached there after a lot of hard work and patience."

The other advantage that Indians have is a 360° appreciation of factors. Such a view stems from the complex nature of Indian economy and society.

Bijoor adds the obvious factor of India being a tough emerging market to the list ,"One who has earned spurs in the early Indian market is a valuable asset."

Ramesh Ramanathan who had a fast-track career in Citibank, rising as the MD and European head of corporate derivatives before coming to Bangalore to start the NGO Janaagraha, supports the argument.

"Without doing a stint in a significant emerging market, there is no way you can reach the top," he says. That means American and European managers are trying to gain an India experience.

Taking the emerging market argument forward, Prof P Vijayakumar at the Center for Social and Organisational Leadership, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, notes:

"The huge size of the markets, the difference in economic and infrastructure capacities, the remarkable differences in customer preferences make the emerging market challenging for managers at this point in time."

Ramanathan notes that another plus point is that the dynamics of innovation in India — a country that has gone through significant period of shortages and reverse engineering — is something that the West has to learn from.

Boman Irani: "There should be a fire in the belly"

Before he gained recognition as principal Asthana in ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, actor Boman Irani ran his family-owned bakery, then opened a chips shop that failed, was – and still is – a photographer and a theatre actor of merit. Irani talks to Salil Jayakar about the unconventional path he trod to become a renowned actor.

Q. Was acting on your mind even when you were in school?
A. I wanted to be a pilot or an astronaut. But I also felt there would be an artistic outlet for me at some stage. So, I took up photography as a child and used a still camera. And after my stint at the shop, the first thing I did was to pick up the camera - I wanted to be a wildlife photographer with National Geographic!

Q. What sort of student were you – a bully, a rebel, a nerd?
A. No, I wasn’t a bully, but a bit of a rebel, yes. Nerd is not a bad word because I never thought I was intellectually capable but it never translated into marks. My own spirit reflected I was not, which was good enough of me. I learnt a lot about life and many other things that help me even today. I used to read a lot. Reading is a great source of entertainment. I would imagine how a book would translate into film; how a character would come to life on screen.

Q. You have played some difficult principals in your movies. Were you inspired by your own?!
A. Lucky for me, my principals were great human beings and visionaries. They were men of letters, and great orators and very kind. Ultimately, whether you are a cop or a principal, if you are a man in a position of power, it can alter the lives of many. I’m playing those people in power who shape people’s lives.

Q. How did your first assignment in a mainstream Bollywood film happen?
A. Back then, I was never sure about acting in a Hindi film because of the language. But my character was that of a UK-returned doctor. So, they asked me to improvise on the lines. It was an ordinary role if you take the laughter away from it. But the audience loved it.

Q. Did you ever face rejection before your first big break?
A. I can’t say I’ve faced any rejection as an actor, but there has been a period of struggle. Rejection, if any, has come from within to do things differently. Rejection comes from your own disappointment, from yourself. You cannot be complacent or comfortable in what you do.

Q. Do youngsters today have more opportunities than in your younger days? Your advice to them…
A. Definitely! They have way more opportunities. But they have to face greater competition than we did.

Q. Your take - choose a career that pays or a career you love?
A. If you love what you do and if you are good at it, it will pay. If you are not good at what you do and if you don’t love what you do, then you will never make money even in a lucrative career.

Q. What does it take to be successful?
A. Reinventing yourself is important, as long as you are happy doing it. You have to look for a new challenge in what you do and reinvent the soul of what you are doing...It’s great fun! You work for the person you stare at in the mirror every day. Be your own arbiter and only then let people judge you. I feel stagnation and comfort are the undoing of creativity and growth. You don’t work hard for accolades. What’s the big deal in that? There should be a fire in the belly. Every time should be the first time!

Top Indian executives now to get performance-linked pay

op executives in India will see their pay being increasingly linked to performance due to rapid increase in remuneration levels in recent years and increasing instances of inadequate delivery, said a survey released Monday by a global human resource consulting firm.

The survey by Mercer said, 'There will be greater pay governance at senior levels due to rapid pay increases in prior years and increasing instances of inadequate delivery by the senior team.'

'This will mean greater scrutiny by boards and compensation committees on fair use of remuneration benchmarks, increased use of performance criteria and more clawback provisions,' it added.

Clawback provisions refer to clauses in a employment contract that allow companies to take or hold back components of pay if certain performance criteria are not fulfilled by the employee.

With the economy rebounding after the global economic slowdown and growing at a robust rate, there is considerable pressure among companies to retain top talent.

Mercer also said that the top trend in 2011 in India was a likely resurgence of equity-based pay structure at middle-management levels in smaller companies.

This sort of pay structure would, however, become an added cost on the books of companies as most firms were moving to international financial reporting standards.

The survey also said that rapid growth, shortages in leadership positions and high inflation in countries like China and India had created record increases in executive pay.

Last year average executive salaries in Asia surpassed those of Europe and they are on track to surpass those in the US perhaps in 2013, Mercer said.

Germany to open doors for specialists from non-EU countries

Faced with a shortage of highly qualified specialists and skilled workers in many hi-tech fields, Germany has eased the restrictions on migration of some professional groups from non-EU countries that had made it more difficult for them to find work in the country. It is for the first time, since the regulations on the recruitment of these professionals were tightened in the early 1970s, that the German government has agreed with industry and union leaders to go for a long-term concept that includes changing immigration laws.
The new concept endorsed by the cabinet yesterday, exempted mechanical and electrical engineers, automobile constructors and medical professionals from a requirement that German companies can appoint them only when suitable candidates are not available within the country or in the EU. German companies intending to recruit those specialists from non-EU countries no longer require to produce such a certification from the Federal Labour Office, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. Merkel said her government''s concept is a two-pronged strategy to tackle the shortage of specialists by exploiting the potential available within the country and by making the country more attractive for specialists from non-EU countries. German Institute for Labour Market Research estimates that the country will face a shortage of around 6.5 million specialists and skilled workers by 2025 as a result of an ageing population if effective steps were not taken to offset the decline through migration and by developing domestic resources. Another institute forecasts German labour market will have vacancies for up to 240,000 engineers by 2020. The opening of German labour market for job-seekers from East European members of the EU on May 1 did very little to alleviate the shortage of specialists because the influx of workers so far were mainly in the low-wage segment, the studies said. Shortage of specialists and skilled workers at present is very acute in the fields of mathematics, information technology and natural sciences and it reached a record level of 150,000 vacancies, according to the estimates of the Federal Labour Office. .

Winning three overseas tours will prove our Test supremacy: Sehwag

Virender Sehwag, who is working to get fit for the away series against England, says that World No.1 India can prove their supremacy in Test if they can win all the three overseas series this year.
India have been the number One Test side since December 2009. They have been able to beat teams in their own backyard and maintain the top spot. At the start of the year, India levelled the three-match away Test series against South Africa 1-1.

India are currently touring West Indies where they will play three Tests. After that India will tour England for four Tests and later this year, they will visit Australia for four Tests.
'If we can beat the West Indies, England and Australia (this year), we can prove that we really are the number one team,' Sehwag was quoted as saying during an interview with the ICC Cricket World Radio Show.
'We are maintaining this number-one position from the last one year or so. Reaching that number-one position is difficult and it is even more difficult to stay there for a longer time.'
Sehwag, who pulled out of the West Indies series because of a shoulder surgery, said it is recovering well.
'I am getting better and working hard on my rehabilitation. Hopefully, I will be back soon. I am trying very hard to be fit so that I can play during the England tour,' Sehwag said.
'It is very difficult when you are sitting at home and watching India playing against the West Indies. It's very frustrating but you can't do anything. It is because of the shoulder injury, I have to sit out and do my rehab.'

What lies ahead for the banking sector?

The banking sector has been on a roll over the last couple of years, throwing up huge opportunities for wealth creation on the way. Consider this:

if had you invested Rs 1 lakh in the banking index in May 2007, your money would have grown to Rs 1.9 lakh today, a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 per cent compared to Rs 1.3 lakh which you would have got had you invested in the Nifty index i.e. a CAGR of 7 per cent.

During the same period, stocks like HDFC Bank and State Bank of India would have grown your wealth by 24 per cent and 21 per cent on a compounded basis, respectively.

As the Indian economy does well with over eight per cent growth in recent times, banks tend to be one of the biggest beneficiaries due to the demand for credit and the fact that market conditions are suitable for growing the loan book.

In fact, post the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, the banking index delivered a return of 82 per cent during May 2009 until October 2010, compared to a return of 40 per cent delivered by the broader market.

"In 2009-2010 banking was the safest bet at a time when everyone had concerns on the market, especially on sectors like telecom due to the competitive intensity or power and real estate due to the infrastructure bottlenecks or oil and gas, which was underperforming," says Ajay Parmar, head, institutional research, Emkay Global Financial Services.

This is also due to the strong credit quality of Indian banks, which made them resilient during the global crisis. During this period i.e. May 2009 until October 2010, the returns delivered by the PSU bank index were much stronger at 110 per cent. This can be attributed to the flight to safety away from other assets into PSU bank deposits along with healthy credit growth.

Further, PSU banks have a large amount of holding in longer maturity government securities and bonds which did well since the yield on the 10-year benchmark came down from 9.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent in March 2009, indicating a rise in the price of the bonds, leading to a higher mark-to-market profit on their investment portfolio.


However, of late, banking stocks have been beaten down due to reduced credit offtake, pressure on yields etc. which is flowing into valuations causing downgrades in this sector. Since November 2010, these stocks have delivered a negative return of 19 per cent compared to -13 per cent of the Nifty.

The PSU Bank index has performed even worse with a negative return of 29 per cent.

With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raising its key policy rates by 250 basis points (a basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point) since March 2010, there has been an overall increase in the lending and deposit rates in the system.

Although a bank can generate revenue in a variety of ways including transaction fees and financial advice, the main income is through charging interest onthe money it lends. It mainly profits from the difference between the average interest it pays for deposits and what it charges on loans, also known as the net interest margin (NIM).

As interest rates rise, credit growth tends to slows down due to higher borrowing costs. In fact, since the beginning of the year credit growth has moderated from 23.3 per cent in January 2011 to 21.9 per cent as of April 2011 and deposit growth has inched up from 16 per cent in January 2011 to 17.90 per cent as of April 2011. Despite this, select private sector banks are not doing badly.

"Although the results declared by banks have been a mixed bag so far. There are pressures on margins for several banks, credit growth has remained strong," says Dipen Shah, senior vice president, Kotak Securities.

ICICI Bank, for instance, posted a strong loan growth at 19.4 per cent YoY and 4.7 per cent QoQ, while margins improved from 2.6 per cent to 2.7 per cent partly due to premature breaking of FDs, says Shah.

"Banks like HDFC Bank and Axis Bank have been able to grow profits despite the high interest rate scenario," says Rajeev Thakkar, chief executive officer, Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services (PPFAS).

Axis Bank, for instance, posted a strong loan growth of 36 per cent YoY, way ahead of its peers and maintains a guidance of 25 per cent growth going forward. At the same time its deposits grew at 33 per cent but the NIMs contracted by about 70 basis points.

Thakkar maintains a buy on Axis Bank at the current price with a 3 year perspective. He also recommends HDFC Bank although he would wait for a lower price before investing.

However, the biggest disappointment has stemmed from the public sector behemoth SBI Bank which declared a 99 per cent drop in profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2011 due to provisioning (an expense set aside as an allowance for bad loans) on teaser loans, providing for pension and gratuity shortfall and higher nonperforming assets (NPAs) has shaken the markets.

"The bank's Q4 net interest margin fell to 3.07 per cent v/s 3.61 per cent in the previous quarter and the bank's pension liability provision was much higher which likely reduced book value by about `125 per share," says Shah of Kotak.

This could be a precursor for similar things happening in other banks, especially PSU banks, which are saddled with the same issues. According to Parmar of Emkay Securities, banks have been cautious about their growth and the primary area of focus is to maintain NIM and quality of assets.

As per their recently conducted banking conference, most banks have toned down their growth assumption for 2011-12 to 20 per cent in loan books compared to 25-27 per cent earlier.

"Although spreads of banks have been quite stable since the last three quarters, this is unlikely to continue, which will affect their profit growth," says Anand Shanbhag, executive director and head of research, Avendus Securities. In 2010 and early 2011, banks benefited largely from the lag in re-pricing of deposits, which resulted in the NIM expansion i.e. faster rise in lending rates compared to deposit rates.

A majority of loans that banks offer effectively carry floating rates so when rates are rising, these are re-priced almost immediately. On the other hand, the average cost of deposits does not change that rapidly since deposits are typically fixed until they are up for maturity.

"The cost of deposits for PSBs like Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda, for instance, have gone up by 20 basis points whereas the yield on loans has increased by 41 basis points," says Shanbhag.

"Increases in deposit rates have been announced in early 2011, which over the next two quarters will become applicable on deposits that mature and this will begin to cast an effect on profitablity," adds Shanbhag. Parmar agrees, "The lagged re-pricing of deposits and requirement of funds could put pressures of 20-30 bps in NIM in 2011-12".

According to Thakkar, inflation and interest rates are likely to remain elevated for some time because of easy monetary and fiscal policies in developed countries, which is increasing capital flows to emerging markets, fuelling asset prices on the way. Also, supply side constraints and disruptions in commodities like oil are also contributing to the inflationary scenario.

The consensus is that rates in India could go up by another 50 basis points this year before cooling off.


In its annual monetary policy, the RBI increased the provisioning on substandard assets from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, doubtful loans from 20 per cent to 25 per cent and asked banks to provide two per cent on restructured loans.

In this context, PSBs are negatively placed considering restructured loans form almost five per cent of their total loans while private sector banks are better placed at less than one per cent considering they have been providing conservatively.

According to a report by Espirito Santo Securities, restructured loans were as high as 6.5 per cent for Punjab National Bank and 4.5 per cent for SBI compared to 0.16 per cent for Indusind Bank and less than 0.3 per cent for Yes Bank and HDFC Bank.

Although asset qualities of banks do not seem to be under pressure yet, most PSBs could take a hit ranging from one to two per cent of their 2011-12 PAT for additional provisioning requirement.<

SBI and PNB may see an impact on their profits to the extent of four to five per cent considering their higher restructured loan portfolio.

According to Shah of Kotak Securities, private sector banks are better placed than PSBs as their growth rates are expected to be higher because of their focus and they provide better comfort on asset quality.

RBI has also increased the savings bank deposit rate by 50 basis points, which according to Espirito will increase the cost of deposits for large PSBs and private sector banks by 10-15 basis points and a lower one basis points to five basis points impact on deposit costs of new age private banks like Yes Bank and Indusind Bank, due to their relatively low proportion of current account-savings account (CASA) deposits (<10 per cent).


Parmar recommends selling stocks like Canara Bank due to its low CASA and rising NPA issues.

He expects SBI and Union Bank to underperform considering the changing environment for these stocks.

Shanbhag advises investors to refrain from investing into this sector as of now.

Having said that, their underperformance over the short term is likely to continue considering NIMs for FY12 could face stress if the pace of lending rate hikes were to slow down and the debt-servicing ability of small corporates could wane. For the long term Shanbhag likes stocks like PNB due to its high return on equity (ROE) and Bank of Baroda due to its relatively low NPL ratios and higher RoE compared to peers.

Man robs bank for $1

A video has surfaced of an American man admitting how he robbed a bank for $1 (60p) so he could go to jail and receive free medical treatment.

James Verone, of Gastonia, North Carolina, was so desperate to get help for a bad back, foot and growths on his chest that he made the calculated decision to stage the unusual robbery.

The unemployed 59-year-old, who cannot afford health insurance, told a reporter how he walked up to the cashier and handed a bizarre note demanding just one dollar from her.

The note also said he was armed, but in fact he wasn’t. The suffering man then said that he purposely sat on the couch in the RBC bank to wait for the police to arrest him.

Unfortunately for Mr Verone, because he wasn’t in possession of a weapon at the time of the robbery, the police could only charge him with larceny – a sentence that warrants a shorter jail time than that what he had initially hoped for.

Speaking from Garston County Sheriff’s Office, Mr Verone said that he had never been in trouble with the law before.

“I'm sort of a logical person and that was my logic. This is what I came up with,” explained Mr Verone.

According to the jail’s inmate handbook, inmates pay a small fee of $5 (£3) for initiated visits and declared emergency visits.

The handbook also reads: “However, no one will be denied access to health care whether they have money or not.”

Mr Verone hoped his crime would get him a minimum of three years so he can carry on receiving free health care.

Government does not want to see me alive: Ramdev

Three weeks after he was bundled out, yoga guru Baba Ramdev Sunday returned to the capital to visit a woman who was critically injured in the crackdown on his agitation against corruption and accused police of a conspiracy to kill him. He also asserted that if any black money was found on him, it could be declared national property.
In new allegations that are sure to spark much outrage, Ramdev said that the police not only resorted to brutality, but also tried to rape and molest women during the post-midnight crackdown on protesters June 4.
This was the first visit by Ramdev, who heads the Haridwar-based Pantanjali Yog Peeth, to Delhi since the crackdown on his followers during his fast against corruption at the Ramlila Ground.
The visit also came amid the persisting standoff between the government and civil society activists over the Lokpal bill, with Ramdev, who fasted earlier this month against mounting corruption in the country, reiterating his charges against the government for not doing much against back money stashed abroad.
Profusely thanking his supporters at a press conference, Ramdev, blazing with anger, stressed that the entire world saw the injustice done to women and children at the crackdown and charged that police did not come to arrest him June 4, but to kill him.

He said he had come to Delhi on the eve of the 36th anniversary of the imposition of emergency and asserted that the situation 'was very much similar to the emergency'.
'At Ramlila Maidan, the police did not come to arrest me, they wanted to kill me. I won't give any evidence right now, because the case is pending with the Supreme Court,' said Ramdev.
He added that police attacked his supporters when they tried to extinguish the fire which started on the stage. 'The attempt to set the stage on fire was again an attempt to kill me. They attacked my supporters who were trying to extinguish the fire.'
Ramdev also lashed out at the way the government reacted to his protest, saying that if they suspected that he was doing something illegal, then why did four ministers go to the airport to meet him when he arrived and why did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee write letters to him.
'Government doesn't wants to see Ramdev alive. If it's a mistake, then we'll commit such mistakes many times,' he thundered.
With the government trying to expose him over his thriving yoga business, Ramdev asserted that he was innocent. 'If the government finds any black money with me, they can declare it national property,' he said.
He dared the government to come clean on the issue of black money. 'If its not their money, then I ask, why are they afraid of declaring it as national property. I have uploaded all the details of our account in the website. Government should do the same,' he said.
After reaching Delhi, Ramdev rushed to G.B. Pant Hospital where the 51-yar-old Rajbala was being treated and invoked her condition as the government's tactic of repression against those protesting corruption and black money.
Rajbala suffered spinal injuries in the June 4 police crackdown.
'Bhrastachaar and atyachar' (corruption and cruelty) was the new rallying cry of Ramdev, who said that his 'fight was not illegal' and asserted that and 'nobody can silence' him.
'Behen Rajbala is in very critical condition. Only a miracle can save her once the ventilator is removed,' he said. If she lives, she won't be able to walk again,' he said.
'This government is not only corrupt but also cruel. If I had not asked the people to stay calm, there would have been a pool of dead bodies,' he added.
Ramdev also alleged that there were attempts at rape during the midnight crackdown. 'There was attempt to rape the women and molestation... human rights were violated. 'We will give the proof related to this when the time comes,' he said.
Rejecting the charges of being the face of communal forces - an allegation made by some Congress leaders - he said it was a smear campaign. 'I am not the face of any party or organisation, I am not communal, I am only the face of billions of Indians,' he said.
He was asked to leave Delhi and banned from entering the city for 15 days. Ramdev continued his fast in Haridwar and Dehradun till June 12.
Delhi Police has in an FIR on the Ramlila Maidan incident, cited 'provocative' speeches made by religious and political leaders, including Baba Ramdev and Sadhvi Ritambara, as the main reason for canceling permission for the yoga guru's protest at Ramlila Maidan.

3 Urban Survival Apps

It's not just a way to let your mother/boyfriend/spouse/kid know where you are, anymore. It's your shopping list, your address book, your scheduler, not to mention your status symbol. Marvin (my Android phone) certainly is mine. I'm one of those women who likes to be prepared for every eventuality possible. Survival kits are like chocolate to me - essential! Just like real world shopping, the Android Market is equally attractive for its useful tools as for its fun stuff like games. These are some apps that are on my front screen for immediate access.
Sun Flashlight

My very first mobile phone was a basic Nokia 1100 ("Made for India") whose only feature was that it had a flashlight. I never had that on a phone after that and I've missed it ever since. The number of times I find myself fumbling in poor lighting to read a sign or to open a door or even just find my way to my seat in a theatre, makes me wonder why mobile phone makers didn't put that feature on more phones.
I remedied that on my Android with this app. Once installed, all you do is touch the icon and within seconds your screen lights up like a flashlight. It's bright enough to light up a small room and provide adequate visibility that keeps you from bumping or falling. Sun Flashlight is available for free download in the Android Market.

Mumbai Taxi and Rickshaw Fare

Any urban dweller knows that public transport is the holy grail of your personal happiness. There are a number of taxi/rickshaw fare apps available, by city and features. I liked the autorickshaw meter logo of this one. Here's how it works: You feed in the rate displayed on the meter and check the Night Rates On/Off option. The corresponding fare for taxi and autorickshaw shows up immediately, eliminating all awkward fumbling and scrabbling for a paper rate card. Also, because taxi and auto fares both show up on the same screen, it lets you choose what you want instantly. Mumbai Taxi and Rickshaw Card is a creation of Aditya Talpade and available for free download on the Android Market.

Gesture Search

And finally, because I like big bags and packing them in, I do the same with apps, photographs, music and other files on my phone. Finding the one I want is always a pain, no matter how organized I am. I often find myself wishing there was a 'Find' function in real life as there is in certain Microsoft applications. I tried the Voice Search app but somehow my accent gets results that are amusing at best. Instead, I found Gesture Search much more useful. Gesture Search recognizes images that you trace onto the touchscreen and corresponds them to the names of contacts, images and files. The app also learns intuitively which means the results get better with use. You can imagine just how helpful this is when you urgently need to make a phone call without scrolling through hundreds of names. Gesture Search is a product of Google Labs and is available for free download in the Android Market.

Ramya is a blogger and writes for Real Beauty. You can read more of her blogs here:

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Big B calls 'Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap' ...

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan,while promoting his upcoming film 'Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap' in New Delhi on Sunday,described the film as a wholesome entertainer.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Chidambaram has changed now, says Digvijay

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh, who stoked a controversy last year by calling P Chidambaram as "intellectually arrogant", now feels the Home Minister has "changed quite a lot now".
"...Now as far as my personal remark on Chidambaram, I have already conveyed my regret to him. I think he has changed quite a lot now," Singh told NDTV in an interview.
He was asked whether his earlier remark that Chidambaram was extremely rigid once he makes up his mind and "I have been a victim of his intellectual arrogance many times" was the view of the Congress.

"They are two different things. One is the issue of handling Naxalites if you see the Congress manifesto it says what I have said," he said before explaining on his "personal remark" on Chidambaram.
Asked whether he has revised his views on the handling of the Naxal issue which last year he had said was mishandled by Chidambaram, Singh said "there is no contradiction on that my view (as it) was Congress party''s view."
Last year, Singh had dubbed Chidambaram as "intellectually arrogant" and had openly differed with his anti-Naxal strategy, prompting disapproval from the AICC for airing his views in public.
In an article last year in a newspaper, Singh, during whose tenure as Chief Minister Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, suggested treating the Naxalite issue as a law and order problem was wrong and called for a rethink of counter-Maoist strategy.
Singh''s remarks at that time had came close on the heels of the Dantewada massacre of 76 security personnel by Maoists.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The keys to successful investing

A trust that pools the savings of a number of investors sharing a common financial goal: that is the simple definition of a mutual fund. And those who manage these funds know money is made only in the long term.

Does that contradict economist John Maynard Keynes who said: "The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead"? Take the case of Reliance Growth Fund, an open-ended equity fund where investments grew 46 times in 15 years. Sunil Singhania, Head of Equities at Reliance Mutual, advocates long-term investing as a key to wealth creation.

What does one do when the external environment is choppy? Stay put and not get swayed by fear or greed, says Singhania, winner of Best Fund Manager award under Equity India category.

Take the great fall of 2008. From its peak of 21,206.77 in January 2008, the Sensex tanked to 8,000 levels by October. There was wholesale withdrawal of funds and mutual funds were no exception. But those who stayed put ultimately benefitted. Indeed fund managers believe that such slumps should not be seen as threats, but as opportunities.

"Every sharp fall is an opportunity to pick up quality stocks," says Singhania. The key to successful investing is picking the right stocks and ensuring they continue to add value. The secret of beating the markets, says Chirag Setalvad, Senior Fund Manager at HDFC Mutual fund, is: "Stay within acceptable risk levels and invest in quality companies." Setalvad is winner of Best Fund Manager award under Mixed Asset INR Balanced category.

HDFC MF's Prashant Jain, winner of Best Fund Manager award under Mixed Asset INR Aggressive category, is an advocate of long-term investing as well. Markets can move away from fundamentals in the short-to-medium term. "But in the long run, prices come to where they deserve to be," says Jain. Hot and volatile sectors should either be avoided or their stock movements watched very closely. In the bull run of 2007, for instance, Jain did not venture into realty, power utilities or select non-banking financial service companies. But neither did he panic during the downturn. "We did not go in cash when the markets bottomed out," he says. His fund stayed fully invested when the Sensex dropped sharply.

Life is simpler for a balanced fund manager than it is for those of pure equity or debt funds. A balanced fund has a cushion with its equity-debt blend, which others do not. A hike in interest rate by one per cent will have a five per cent impact on the portfolio, says Jain. During the 2008 crisis, even government securities showed four to five per cent intraday volatility.

"That was a cumulative of two years' volatility with the entire capital at risk," recalls Abhishek Bisen, Fund Manager at Kotak Mutual Fund, who won the Best Fund Manager award under the Bond Indian Rupee category along with Deepak Agrawal.

For bond funds, explains Agrawal, the fund size increases with a decline in interest rates and maintaining liquidity during such a situation is critical. For Kotak Bond Fund, the split between corporate bonds and government securities is 50:50. In the aftermath of the crisis, the fund opted to buy corporate and public sector bonds with a residual maturity of five and 10 years, respectively.

"Government securities add alpha while corporate bonds contribute to accrual," says Agrawal. Alpha refers to returns adjusted for risk. The last few years have also blown the old hypothesis that there is low degree of correlation between asset classes. "We have to deal with linkages of asset classes," says Amandeep Singh Chopra, Head of Fixed Income at UTI Mutual Fund and winner of Best Fund Manager award under the Mixed Asset INR Conservative category. "The job of a fund manager is to beat the markets," sums up Jain of HDFC MF. And that comes from the long term.

Live-in couples cannot adopt! Is marriage a must?

MARRIAGE will be a must for those dying to adopt a child if a proposed move of the ministry of women and child development is approved. It is proposed that live-in couples should not be able to adopt, and an unmarried or single man shouldn’t be able to adopt a girl child.

Are you scared of a committed relationship?
Unsurprisingly, there’s much disappointment and single men and live-in couples lash out against the move.

"It’s unfair — you can't put all men in the same basket and call them pedophiles. Adoption agencies should have a thorough study of the person before handing over the child. The law has to reflect the times," says ace choreographer Sandip Soparrkar. Though he became the first single father to adopt in the country, Soparrkar had to put up with red tape for four years before he could adopt in 2007. He wanted a girl, but he was told single men couldn’t adopt a girl child so he had to be content with a son.

But now his life revolves around his six-year-old son, Arjun. Waking up Arjun in the morning, dropping him to school, helping him with homework, playing with him before bedtime, Soparrkar would rather miss a starstudded party than any of these chores.

Brooding men, smiling women seen as sexy

BACKING the view, Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Anjali Chhabria says that it’s unfair to make a blanket statement that all men are abusers. "Sexual abuse can happen anywhere, not necessarily inside homes. What would make more sense is that the prospective adoptive parent (single dad) should be made to undergo psychological assessment," she says.

Why you should wait to get married!

SOPARRKAR also feels that the rules are heavily biased against single dads. "Post-adoption too, the bias continues. When I applied for my son’s passport, the column for mother had to be filled whereas single mothers are exempted from it,” he says.

Defending the government’s move, Leila Beig, secretary, Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency (CVARA), says, adoption rules are framed in the child’s best interest. “ For us, the security of the child comes first. If we can’t find a secure couple, we prefer single women. The chance of sexual abuse is one reason; the fact that a single dad won’t be able to fulfill all the emotional needs of a girl child in her adolescence is the other,” says Beig.

However, child psychologist Deepali Batra says that it’s a stereotyped notion that women are more maternal. "It depends on the personality of the individual.

All women are not maternal, whereas I have come across a good number of men who are sensitive and caring. However, it’s important to assess a person before adoption,” says Batra.

Six Foods to Help you Have Great Sex

THE argument that live-in couples can’t adopt since the relationship isn’t stable has also raised hackles.

Living-in for the past 23 years, Sandhya Gokhale and Mihir Desai feel it’s wrong to assume that only marriages are stable.

But they admit that the adopted kid may be deprived of her rights unless live-in relationships get legal sanction. "No live-in couple can adopt a child unless they hide the relationship — and that will be hard on the child,” says Gokhale, a Mumbai-based software consultant.

Viplav Gaurav and his live-in partner Meenakshi Singh too are sorely disappointed and feel the laws should be drafted keeping in mind changing social realities.

Though the two have not thought of adopting, Gaurav says the right of adoption should not be denied. “ What’s the issue if we are living together to know each other better? Look around and see how unstable most of the so- called stable marriages are? It’s an archaic notion that only a piece of paper can validate a marriage,” says the Delhibased media professional.

Dr Chhabria also feels that the concept of stable marriage is overrated. "The stability of marriages is subjective as I am seeing a rise in the number of divorces these days," she says.

Putting the chances of a breakup in marriages and live-in relationships on par, Dr Batra feels mostly societal compulsions keeps rocky marriages working.

source by:

Monday, 20 June 2011

Indian IT industry concerned over global economic crisis


The resurgent Indian IT industry Monday expressed concern over the fragile global economy plunging into crisis again due to sovereign debt defaults in Europe, sluggish growth in the US and emerging economies overheating.

'The economic crisis is not just in India, but the world over. This is a period of concern. If the situation becomes worse, I don't think anybody can predict what will happen,' a top industry executive said here.

Though the Indian IT industry had not seen any impact of the crisis brewing, especially in Europe, Infosys chief executive S. Gopalakrishnan hoped that the lessons learnt from the 2008 global financial crisis would help in tackling the present crisis.

'I am hopeful that the coordinated efforts by the European Economic Forum and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to address the debt-ridden crisis would get a right response as they did two years ago,' Gopalakrishnan said on the margins of an ICT function.

Admitting that the present crisis was a matter of concern for everybody, including the Indian IT industry, Gopalakrishnan said though economists projected that the post-2008 recovery would be a long drawn out downturn, the situation changed in a short time for better, especially for the developing countries.

'Hopefully, this time also, such concerted effort across nations will happen and we will be able to sustain this recovery. Though we (Indian IT industry) have not seen any impact yet, we don't know the future,' the IT honcho quipped.

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