Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barrack H Obama - 44th President of United States of America

Today is a historic day for the United States of America. A day which will be remembered as a day of unprecedented change. Today is probably one day when the whole world for the period of one hour while Obama was taking the oath came to a stand still and everyone forgot the most talked about phrase "The Credit Crisis" momentarily.

Forty six years ago, Martin Luther King gave the most inspiring speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial and today Barrack Obama repeated the same feat. His speech centered around the fact that America remains the strongest nation in the world inspite of the recent turmoil which has engulfed the world badly.

An ocean of people attended the Inauguration Ceremony in the Capitol Hill which is considered to be the costliest presidential inauguration ever.

The most touching sentences in his speech were these:

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Salute our Brave Heroes

This post comes at the time when the Mumbai Police has declared the city free of terrorists. Our Men in Uniform, the true heroes of our country, fought relentlessly for 58 hours against the inhuman terrorists and brought freedom to Mumbai, our country and to all our people. This post is my deepest homage to the following heroes who laid their lives in this battle against terrorism.

1. Hemant Karkare, ATS Chief
2. Vijay Salaskar, Encounter Specialist
3. Ashok Kamte, Additional Commissioner of Police
4. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, NSG Commando
5. Gajendra Singh, NSG Commando

Although all the three operations, Operation Cyclone at Taj, Operation Black Tornado at Nariman House, Operation at Trident and Oberoi are now complete, but still a sense of fear remains in the residents of Mumbai. Life will not be the same after these incidents for sure.

Monday, April 28, 2008

PSLV Successfully Launches Ten Satellites

On Monday 28 April 2008, India and ISRO created a history and entered the record books by launching ten satellites in one go with its Polar Launch vehicle carrying the heaviest payload weighing as much as 824 kg.

Earlier a Russian rocket in 2007 delivered 16 satellites in the outer space but the Russian launch vehicle carried a lesser payload of just around 300 kg.

The ten-pack launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation saw the 230-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) put into orbit an Indian Mini Satellite and eight foreign nano satellites besides the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite. This is the first time that ISRO has put ten satellites into orbit in a single launch.

Madhavan Nair, Chief of ISRO said that this is the first time a country has attempted to put multiple launches in a precise manner. Russia had attempted almost 13 satellites in a single go but was unsuccessful.

There were some last minute anxiousness which was cleared at 11 PM and the launch was scheduled.

Nair expressed happiness that all the mission objectives were achieved with precision and all systems functioned very well.

"The PSLV-C9, in its total flight of 1,151 seconds, has performed extremely well. It's much better than a text book performance. Every system functioned as per the parameters," Nair said.

The CARTOSAT-2A and with IMS-1, followed by the nano satellites were released in quick succession, he said.

"We have received information from international customers that they have received signals from the satellites at their ground stations. The mission stations at Thiruvananthapuram and Mauritius have also received information that the satellites are in good health and we hope that if everything goes right within the next two days, we would be able to switch on the imaging system," Nair said.

He said while $0.6 million was charged for the nano satellites, it cost around Rs 120crore for the CARTOSAT and Rs 22 crore for the IMS-1.

The launch comes ahead of India's plans to launch its first moon mission - Chandrayaan-I - expected later this year.

Truly a great feat by the ISRO. Hats off !!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Indian Premier League (IPL)

Indian Premier League (IPL) rocks. It really does.

Initial feeling within the masses of this form of cricket was not great. Indian Cricket League (ICL), a counterpart of the IPL, did not manage to get the attention of cricket lovers in anyway possible. The matches started and the series was finished also and no one even came to know about it. It was a euphoria which lasted only on the day when it was announced that ICL will be formed.

IPL is quite different from ICL. More than the fact that its recognized by BCCI and ICC, the entire strategy behind the formation of IPL is vastly different from ICL. IPL carries probably one of the best names within the industry beginning from DLF, Sony Max, KingFisher, Citi, Hero Honda and PEPSI as sponsors. Then the concept of team owners which is first of its kind in our country picked straight from the english premier league. The team owners are no small people and consists of the likes of Shahrukh, Mallaya, Mukesh Ambani, Preity Zinta which gives IPL a all new flavor and a richness. As we would know that most of the players in IPL have been valued at exhorbitant prices which gives the league a distinction of being one of the richest in the world. Add to all the above an advertising extravaganza which was being aired before the series began. The ads like "MANO-RANJAN" ka baap and others really caught up with the audiences. Phenomenal ad spending has been done by different segments of the industry and this has helped BCCI as well as SONY MAX equally.

Some of the cutest ads like the one of Vodafone has got consumers major attention with the introduction of the pug. Godrej has launched its new identity during this IPL League.

Some of the matches within the IPL have got probably the best of the finish we have seen in recent times. The last match between Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians saw Gilly hitting the fastest century and just concluded match between Chennai SuperKings and Royal Challengers Bangalore saw a turnaround led by Dhoni.

Overall its really a package deal for the viewers and have caught their frenzy.

Congrats Lalit Modi, you have proved what extreme execution is all about hats off !!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Hyderabad Airport @ Shamshabad Courtesy GMR

Last Monday I took the flight from the new Airport of Hyderabad located at Shamshabad. Hyderabad Airport is the first project to be completed amongst the running public private partnership projects in our country for modernization of airports. Bangalore Airport is also expected to be ready latest by second week of May.
True to the expectations, Hyderabad Airport is an absolute marvel. Its a terrific example of how successful a public private partnerships can be. Built by GMR Group, the Hyderabad airport located at Shamshabad got the clearance for commercial operations on the midnight of 23rd March 2008 with the first flight of Lufthansa arriving shortly. The new airport has led to the closure of 73 years old Begumpet Airport which was situated in the heart of city.
The new airport is close to 40 KM from any point in Hyderabad. HUDA is still in the process of building the required infrastructure in terms of expressway so as to ensure that the distance is covered in least possible time. The nearest point for the new airport is Chandryangutta X Roads from where the distance to airport is close to 15 KMs and there are clear sign boards and directions.
Infrastructure in the airport is truly world class and can be compared to the Dubai and Malaysian airports and probably the first of its kind in our country. A huge concourse each for the departure and arrival. Electronic baggage services akin to the international standards. Longest runway in the country in excess of 4.5 KM and capable of supporting the AIRBUS A380 as well. There are more tha 44 gates available for the passengers and different airlines together with LCD screens displaying the departure and arrival of flights at all times. The new airport, with world-class facilities, can initially handle 12 million passengers and 100,000 tonnes of cargo annually. The cost of the first phase of the project is Rs 2,478 crore. The Rs.25 billion airport with the longest runway in Southeast Asia has been built by GHIAL, a joint venture in which GMR Infrastructure Ltd holds 63 percent, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad 11 percent, AAI 13 percent and the Andhra Pradesh government 13 percent.
Inspite of poor connectivity to the airport currently being served only by radio cabs, coaches and taxis, people have said that the airport is in comparison to Dubai and London. Significantly higher ground handling fees and user development fees were the main reason for the Airport to be operational from 14th of March which was its scheduled date.

Built by the China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong), it is the first airport in India to have no demarcation between international and domestic terminals, making passenger movement easier. It also has a unique airport village with commercial space where passengers can meet with their friends and relatives. The airport has a 70-metre-high Air Traffic Control (ATC), equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment, a world-class cargo terminal, 42 aircraft parking stands with 12 aero-bridges and 30 remote parking bays. It incorporates the novel ‘aerotropolis’ concept on the lines of Seoul, Munich and Hong Kong international airports that houses hotels, commercial centres, hospitals and residential quarters.
All in all, the new airport at Hyderabad, truly speaks of the Infrastructure which is coming up in India inspite of ever increasing stories of slowdown. Hyderabad airport sets a superb example for other airports to follow. Soon to be commissioned Bangalore airport is also expected to be on the similar lines. Lets hope GMR is able to garner its share of profit out of this project.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A really long break

I am back after really a long break. I have been waiting to scribble something here but then either it was the constraint of the time or my acute laziness or the intranet in my new company not allowing access to the Blogger .

Lot of developments took place during this sojourn from blogging in my professional life. I moved from Polaris in October 2007 to Accenture. This change in company also forced me to move out of my comfort zone in Hyderabad to Mumbai. As I see myself today, I feel proud of my decision which was not an easy one. But definitely there is something about Mumbai which I feel every other city in our country lacks actually.

On March 08, I shall be completing my probation as well as six long months in the company where I have tried to put my best efforts in doing a lot of things some of which happened, others in the pipeline and some which took off well but are now in a state of dormancy. I continue to work in Calypso but now with much more focus and much more clarity about the application.

My tryst and experiments continue with Interest Rate Derivatives and Credit Derivatives along with certain new areas like subprime mortgages thanks to the recent credit crunch and economy meltdown in US.

The last couple of months have been extremely volatile for the Indian equity markets which were rocking and had proved the decoupling theory earlier. Markets actually came down from a high of 21000 to a low of 15400 in just about 15 trading sessions. A huge fall of close to 2200 points was witnessed during a trading session but it was then lead by a recovery fueled by buying at lower levels. Most of the stock which had jumped by close to 80-90 % have fallen close to 50-60 % in the recent meltdown. Some of the notable names are Ispat (86 to 42), JP Hydro (143 to 75), Neyveli Lignite (256 to 135). New IPOs got a major hammering like the Emaar MGF and Wockhardt Hospitals which could not even get fully leave alone the question of over subscription. In January we saw volatility ranging from a low of 2 % to a high of close to 300 %. The turnover had fell considerably from a high of 1.3 lakh crores to as low as 47000 crores. The markets are still under tremendous pressure and are moving in a rangebound fashion between 16500 till 18000. The message is clear about selling on rallies and buy on decline. But the question remains as to whether the markets have bottomed out and will we be crossing the earlier highs of 21000 on the Sensex and 6500 on Nifty.

There are lot of issues to talk about. I shall take up one by one in the coming articles.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Finally I have been able to update my personal details on the blog after close to six months of soujourn.
There is more to come. Wait and watch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

AIRBUS A380 Takes off !

As I write this post on AIRBUS A 380’s maiden flight, I would like to go back to my TAPMI days wherein we discussed the A380 case study as part of the project finance case. This case study described the way A 380’s project has been organized and what kind of issues the company can face (It did face a lot of issues !).

At this point in time, I would also like to talk about the other blog entry which I had posted earlier in which the delay in AIRBUS A380 delivery was mentioned. AIRBUS A 380 delivery to airlines was delayed by close to 18 months which resulted in AIRBUS paying huge penalties and fines. Because of AIRBUS A380 the parent company EADS and AIRBUS both went into a lot of trouble which resulted in restructuring of the business and operations.

A380 which took close to a decade in the making and is about two years behind the delivery schedule, made its first commercial debut for Singapore Airlines flying from Singapore to Sydney with more than 450 passengers aboard. People were so excited about the first journey that they were spotted wearing T Shirts which said “I am First to Fly A380”.

For Boeing, it’s truly a gauntlet and kicks off a new round of multi billion dollar contest between the rivals for jets which will serve the long distance travel.

A380 has a price tag of about $ 300 million and if the plane is completely occupied with coach seating it could carry a whopping 850 passengers. The logic behind building such huge jets lies in the fact that major airports would become congested by huge number of aircrafts and it will be important to have large planes which can carry more passengers than the existing ones.

People have described the first commercial flight of A380 as a moment in aviation history. A few tickets for the suites within the aircraft were auctioned on e-bay and a Sydney businessman bid $ 100, 380 for two of the 12 luxury suites. This speaks of the excitement which people had for traveling in jet.

In Singapore, passengers began to arrive at the airport at 4:30 a.m., anticipating long lines, but the average wait for check-in was 15 minutes and people breezed through security. At the gate, they were treated to a buffet of breakfast pastry and canapes as a string quartet played classical music.

The new jet for Singapore Airlines was configured for 399 people in economy, 60 in Business class and 12 in Suites. There were 33 in flight crew, including four pilots and the journey time was just over seven hours. On the main deck similar to Boeing 777-300, there are 10 seats in each row with four in the middle and three on either side. In the narrower upper deck, eight seats make a row in economy with four in middle and two on either side. Business class seats on upper deck were arranged in pairs in three rows.

Surprisingly of the 468 passengers, 75 were newspaper and TV Reporters.

Passengers snapped pictures of each other several times in various parts of the plane including the spiral staircase and even restrooms. Media brought in a party atmosphere and interviewed a large chunk of people in the business class.

On October 17 2007, when Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng took delivery of the A380, he described it “The new queen of the skies”. But whether A380 will redefine the air travel the way Boeing 747 did remains a question.

Airbus has over 165 orders for it’s A380 Megaliner as against 700 Dreamliners for Boeing 787. But Airbus expects to have a second round of orders post its commercial operations of A380 take shape.

Problems assembling the A380 drove up the development cost from an initial $12-billion estimate to nearly $20 billion. That led to a major shake-up at Airbus that included the ouster of several top executives. This became a major issue in AIRBUS and the project A380 looked like a distant dream and most of the airline companies asking for heavy compensation from AIRBUS.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner hasn't been immune to problems. In an embarrassing setback, Boeing said in October that shortage of parts would delay the first delivery by six months.For Singapore Airlines, the decision to fly the A380 on the Singapore-to-Sydney route was strategic. The airline has been in a battle with British Airways and Qantas to fly the lucrative route that connects travelers from Europe and Australia. Before jets, propeller planes from Europe had to make numerous stopovers to reach Australia. Because of the "hops" involved, the trip became known as the Kangaroo Route.

These days, a flight from London typically stops over in Singapore before proceeding to Australia, and vice versa. Singapore Airlines hopes the introduction of the A380 will help it lure passengers, particularly first- and business-class customers, away from competitors.The test will come Sunday when the Megaliner enters regularly scheduled service that will require a landing, unloading of passengers, cleaning of the cabin, restocking of meals, refueling, loading of passengers and taking off -- all within just two hours that too on a daily basis.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Subprime and the Rocking Markets

Nothing can beat this. No one can afford to ignore this. This certainly is the biggest news this week. Another punch from the Markets after the 15000 mark. Sensex crosses 16000. Wowwwwwwww. A month back we were seeing the downturn and we are all back as a phoenix which will rise from ashes. Let’s go back a little bit to analyze as to what happened.

Subprime shockwave, Fed Funds Rate, Discount Rate, Ben Bernanke, Northern Rock, Countrywide Financial, Emerging Markets decoupling, These are the some of the key words which we have heard over a period of last two months day after day. The list is just endless and goes on and on. All the business news channels and the financial news paper kept on talking about the Subprime phenomena and US entering into a recession. It was also said that very soon India could also see the impact of subprime shockwave, which will hit the equity markets badly and will end the emerging markets story in one shot. But as of today 23rd September, we stand tall and straight and absolutely fine at a cool 16564 mark. Yes the benchmark index for the country SENSEX has kissed 16000 with the NIFTY cruising to 4800 mark after the Fed announced the rate cut in the Fed Funds rate by about 50 bps and the discount rate by 50 bps.

Going back to the month of July when I was working with one of our client’s and I heard the term called as Subprime and how it can hit the markets hard. I was just waiting to understand the complete picture but before that the Dow and NASDAQ reacted and on August 2 we saw the first collapse in Dow and NASDAQ. A fall of about 3-4 % leading to a worldwide belief that the bull run of the equity markets has come to an end. Asian markets fell by a good 3 % that day with Indian markets tumbling down by over 4 % lead by Reliance and Infrastructure stocks.

Lets understand the phenomena of Subprime and how does it affects the equity markets globally or on a larger basis US Market. Subprime is a term which is coined for borrowers who do not belong to the prime category of borrowers. This happens because of the fact that these borrowers have a bad credit history, have defaulted on previous loans and credit card payments or have no sufficient collateral to back up their loans. The best way to describe them is the word NINJA. NINJA stands for No Income No Jobs and Assets. We know from finance that lower is the credit rating of the borrower higher is the interest rate charges. So for the subprime borrowers the interest is charged at a higher rate when compared to prime borrowers. The term subprime actually refers to the borrower’s quality unlike the interest rate in India.

In the last 5 years Fed has cut the rates for the first time on last Tuesday. This means that rates have been northward from the last five years primarily on the inflation concerns since Alan Greenspan who was the Fed Chairman before Ben Bernanke, felt that rate has to be under a strong control to contain the inflation. Due to this, the sub prime borrowers now had to continuously pay higher rates on their existing home loans. Only way to counter this increase in the home loan rate was to refinance the loan. Refinancing the loan involves again a cost, which may not be able to match up with the lower interest rate. In late 2006, the first signs of Subprime came into picture when a few of the home loan borrowers started defaulting. But then the news died since the stakes involved were not very high.

The first shock of Subprime hit a large scale US Investment Bank, Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns announced that it has made a huge loss of $ 2 billion in one of the hedge funds it runs. Now to understand the connection between subprime and hedge funds lets go back to the concept of securitization. Securitization is a concept of repackaging illiquid assets and selling them as high yield securities. This happens normally in case of home loans, credit card receivables and a lot of illiquid homogeneous assets. Now a lot of financial lenders like Countrywide Financial actually sold their subprime loans to prominent investment banks globally which in turn created hedge funds out of them and sold the securities in the fund to investors. Why should investors buy the securities? Simple in return for the risk they take they get a high yield probably much higher than what they can get on a treasury bond.

As the subprime borrowers started defaulting more often, the value of the hedge fund started falling. This went on to such a extent that Bear Stearns declared that one of its hedge fund will not be in a position to allow any further redemption because the value of fund has fallen considerably. When the investment banks realized that the Hedge funds based on subprime loans are not sustainable, they decided not to buy any more home loans from financial institutions like Countrywide which in turn hit the latter badly since it started accumulating bad loans on its balance sheet. This soon became worldwide phenomena with prominent investment banks like Lehmann Brothers, Goldman Sachs etc closing their mortgage services and cutting jobs extensively. BNP Paribas in France stopped redemption of one of its fund. In the Far East, Macquarie Bank in Australia closed one of its hedge fund which had exposure to US subprime market. Due to higher home loan rates, the housing market hit a record 20 year low in US which actually forced Countrywide to close some parts of its business and cut jobs rapidly. This also led to collapse in the equity markets and Dow saw its worst time since 2001 falling by more than 400 points in a single day triggering the world wide collapse of the equity markets. So this is in brief about Subprime problem.

Subprime issue had spread to such an extent that now it was felt that if Fed does not jump in and take some action, US may enter into a recession. Soon Fed showed its colors and cut the discount rate by 25 bps. Discount window of Fed allows the banks to borrow emergency funds from Fed which are repayable in a month’s time. This actually gave a relief to the markets and globally all the indices went up marginally over this news. Then came the news that Countrywide is about to get busted when it went to 12 different banks in US for a $ 12 billion credit line. The markets reacted again and fell by more than 4 %. Nifty went below 4000 mark and Sensex went until 13787 levels. The punters said that the bull market run had ended for the emerging economies.

Slowly and steadily the news about Subprime losses stopped coming. It was felt that Indian markets are not prone to such markets and hence a decoupling theory was suggested for the same. Decoupling from the US markets, which actually helped the Indian markets considerably. Indian markets started recovering quite well but the recovery was seen only in quality stocks or stocks which are fundamentally good like Reliance, L&T, BHEL and couple of others. While Index was rising slowly and trying to reach the previous highs the rising dollar hit the IT companies badly. In the past few months the IT stocks have fallen to an extent of more than 5-10 % with some stocks hitting 52 week low also.

On September 18, Fed made its announcement about rate cut. Markets were expecting a rate cut of about 25 bps in Fed funds rate. But to everyone’s surprise the Fed fund’s rate was cut by 50 bps and the discount rate was cut by another 50 bps. This was an enough trigger for the markets and Dow and Nasdaq went up in the last hours of the trading session by almost 3- 4%. Next morning we had a huge rally in the Asian markets with the Hangseng and Nikkei 225 moving by more than 4 % in a single trading session. Indian markets were not far behind with Nifty crossing 4700 mark and Sensex crossing the 16000 barrier. Most of the stocks touched their 52 week high.

The rate cut by Fed is a sign of two things. One is to ease the liquidity in the markets to ensure that US keeps growing at about 2 % every year. Second is that the subprime problem is big enough to entangle the entire US into it. This can affect the US housing market which has seen the biggest slump in last 9 years.

As I complete this article, which has now taken close to a week, Market globally; have risen to lifetime highs in each and every sector. Whether it is mid cap, large cap or small cap everything has risen astronomically and some stocks are daily making new Highs. Reliance pack especially has risen like anything with some stocks getting completely out of their fundamentals. RNRL moved by close to 30 % in a single day followed by JP Hydro which moved by 28 % in a single day together with RPL which moved by 16 % in a single day. It has been a maniacal rally for the markets and more is yet to come that’s what analysts say across the world. As I write this article we are looking at breaching the 18000 mark on SENSEX and 5500 on NIFTY very soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Twin Bomb Blasts in Twin Cities

Twin bomb blasts rocked the twin cities on Saturday 25th of August 2007. The two bomb blasts happened with a gap of about 15 minutes begining at 7:45 pm at Lumbini Park Laserium. Thereafter at about 8:00 PM a bomb blast happened at Gokul Chat Bhandar, one of the famous eateries in the twin cities and a heavily crowded place on Saturday. Over 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured in this disastrous act of terrorism which shooked the twin cities completely and everyone including the Police Commissioner were taken by surprise.

The blasts at Lumbini park happened in a laserium with about 300 people. It was a bomb made out of Ammonium Nitrate ( which is an explosive since I have used it in our Chemistry lab once for testing some cations). The second blast happened in Gokul Chat which is one of the favorite chat spots in Hyderabad. At any point in time there would be atleast 50 people standing in Gokul chat. The explosion in Gokul chat could have been done by a suicide bomber or a gas cylinder and there is no evidence yet for that and investigations are in progress.

These incidents are third in the series starting from the Mecca Masjid bomb blast which happened on a fateful friday on 18th of May this year. It has been a very tumoltuous year for the goverment as well as the Police officials in the state and they are struggling to keep up with it. There is a bangladeshi terrorist group which has been quite active in the city from sometime and is the main cause of trouble.

Very recently the police commissioner issued orders to the IT companies to conduct a background check for each and every employee within the company since there was a report that a few of the terrorists are actually working within the IT companies. Moreso on one of the friday's we got a hoax call which stated that a bomb has been planted within our premises.

Last Sunday, due to heavy rains lashing the city the flyover bridge over the Punjagutta road collapsed partially killing more than 5 people and injuring a few others added to destruction of the property. It was a horrific incident and it actually went into the minds of individual and created an adverse impact with respect to safety and security. This incident added to the bomb blasts actually created a panic situation in the city which has forced most of the people to stay indoor on the weekends as well.

Yesterday and day before, we went for a drive to a few places which normally would be full of people. But to our surprise, the roads are wearing a deserted look and there is no one to be seen around. Most of the restaurants are empty and the most happening places in the city are absolutely crowdless. This is the first time when I am seeing a Saturday evening to be so quite. Again on Sunday we went to Nagarjuna Sagar, which is about 160 km from Hyderabad and is one of the most famous weekend destination here. On a weekend one can easily find couple of thousand people out there. But to my surprise, the road which was leading to Nagarjun Sagar as well as the Launch were completely out of people. There were a handful of people scattered across and it was raining very heavily all the time.

The incidents in the past few months have created a feeling of jittery in the minds of the people. Everyone is scared to come out of their homes. Whether it is driving under the flyover or visiting a temple. The security has been tightened considerably across every place of gathering and in the times of Ganesh Pooja its really difficult for the Police to manage the crowd. But inspite of all this people enjoy and spend their time with their loved ones. Although there is fear but then as someone has said. The show must go on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

India @ 60

Today India celebrated its 60th Birthday. At the outset let me wish the country and my fellow citizens a very happy Independence day. Its a momentous occasion and when I look ten years back, the amount of enthusiasm and spirit has doubled thanks to the explosive growth of the media and communication.

Exactly ten years back, I was still in Kendriya Vidyalaya whereas my counterparts had already moved into junior colleges. My school at that point in time was one of the finest schools in Hyderabad and only one of the few KV schools to offer 11th and 12th in CBSE syllabus. I still remember the long preparations which underwent as part of the 50th I-Day celebrations in our school. There were host of cultural programs including some of the fascinating regional dances and parade. Sweets distribution used to be one of the major part of I-Day celebration in our school or for the matter of fact in any school. The snack pack as I can call it was also really good and matching the occasion of 50th I-Day. All in all it was probably one of my last day's in School and hence the importance of this day was more for me.

Thereafter when I was in college I never ventured out on 15th August and tried to stay indoor for all the four years. When I went to TAPMI to pursue my MBA once again the flavor of I-Day caught up in the campus and for consecutively two years we had some or the other celebration in our campus.

This year is special in its own terms. Its the 60th Independence day and it becomes equally important to go back into the past and see what we achieved together with an outlook into the future and what we wish to achieve. Numerous television channels took this as an opportunity and invited eminent personalities from different fields to talk about achievements of India. Its definitely very difficult to point out one single event in the history of last 60 years which would stand out but certainly there are a few which everyone of us remember it extremely well.

I would like to remember the victory of Kapil's Devil over the mighty WestIndies in the 1983 Prudential World Cup. Even Omkar Goswami rates this as the most important event in the last sixty years. The abolishment of the License raj in the year 1991-92 by then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh stands as the most important economic reform carried out till date in the history of Indian economy. Before this reform, we had just enough foreign currency to manage imports worth of two weeks. Such was the condition of Indian Government.

Reliance coming out with an Initial Public Offering in the year 1978 was also perhaps one of the landmark events in the history of India. This was the first time that a private enterprise was allowed to raise money from the public. Its said that Reliance shares helped some people in the marriages of their daughters and sons.

Some of the events like emergency in the year 1977-78 and the babri masjid demolition in the year 1992 together with the stock market scam by Harshad Mehta stand as negative moments in our history. The dot com bubble bust in the year 2000 together with the Asian currency crisis of 1997 also caused a havoc in the Indian economy. 9-11 would also remain a black mark in the history of India as well as the world.

Inspite of all this, there are a lot of issues in which India still needs to focus. Infrastructure is one of the biggest issues which can hamper the growth of India in every possible way. Political instability which can be seen from last few days on account of Nuclear treaty with US. Increasing population as we look very close to surpassing China. Scarcity of knowledgeable workforce. Rise in the rupee since it has risen close to 8 % in the matter of 2 months which can be extremely bad for the exports.

I shall touch upon each of the above areas in the coming articles. Lets see how India prepares to look forward to 2067.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Canadian Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton all the way to Chequered Flag

Wow ! what a Grand Prix was that. Absolutely mind blowing. Really the best Grand Prix of the season. Only 13 drivers finished the race with Lewis Hamilton leading from the front, Nick Heidfeld in the second place followed by Alexander Wurz who moved by 16 places to finish on the podium. But out and out it was a race of Lewis Hamilton who took the chequered flag in a style. Alonso finished a distant 8th and Kimi finished at number 5.
The race was perhaps the most adventurous race in the recent times which included more than 11 drivers retiring from the race, 4 times Safety Car coming into picture and Kubica suffering a major mishap. Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella were shown a black flag because of entering the pitlane when the Safety Car was on the tracks. It was confirmed later in the race that Kubica suffered a leg fracture and his condition is stable and under observation.
Ferrari had a bad day today and as expected Williams did display some good show out there on the track. Lewis Hamilton joins the group of drivers who won a Grand Prix for the team in their debut season. In just six races in this season, Hamilton has finished on the top and in all other races he has finished on the podium. Mclaren working really well for him.
Trulli had one of the unlucky exits when his car crashed onto the walls. Coulthard once again had a engine failure and he was seen discussing this in not so good fashion with the team boss. Overall this grand prix turned out to be a delight to watch.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Impact of Technology in Cinema Theatres

Last week I went to Sree Ramana 35 mm, a movie theater in our locality, to watch the latest bollywood flick based on Mumbai based gangsters, Shoot Out at Lokhandwaala. Sree Ramana 35 mm is an old theatre in our locality and I have watched most of my movies out here only in my engg days. Some of the big movies which I have watched here as a “first day first show” are Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hain and Kaal. I like this theatre because its pretty close to my house, ticketing is hassle free and gives comfort which is on par with the Multiplexes.

I saw Shoot out at Lokhandwaala in Sree Ramana 35 mm last Sunday. People have criticized this movie considerably and it too follows more on the lines of earlier RGV flicks on Mumbai underworld. But the acting by Sanjay Dutt and Vivek Oberoi is worth mentioning in the movie and deserves some credit. Ofcourse this movie is better amongst the lot available in the market. Over a period of time most of the old theatres in Hyderabad have got degraded in quality and big theatres like Maheshwari have been demolished to give rise to Muliplexes. But Sree Ramana 35 mm stands out as an exception and not only maintained its quality but in some departments like ticketing it has improved considerably making use of the available technology.

The ticketing process in the theatre is completely revamped and employs the latest technology in this field. There are no more any counterfoils being given. Instead of counterfoil a slip is given at the ticket counter with the seat numbers on it together with a photograph of the person who purchases the tickets. Once you enter the theatre with the photo ticket the person standing at the door uses a barcode reader to scan the ticket and the photo of the person who has purchased the ticket appears instantly on the computer screen. Moreover all the people enter through a metal detector which ensures that one is not carrying some weapons with him and also updates the count as the ticket is read by the barcode reader. This is really phenomenal development which I have seen in the recent times in such a small theatre. I have seen big halls like Satyam in Chennai and Imax in Hyderabad but nothing to beat a system like this. Truly a masterpiece development.

This kind of technology in a movie theatre ensures that

1. The black marketing of tickets is prevented
2. Safety and security of the moviegoers is ensured
3. Ticketing is hassle free and does not require multiple counterfoils to be carried
4. Excess tickets are not issued ensuring that hall capacity is not crossed
5. Reduces the ticketing time considerably

Monday, April 30, 2007

World Cup 2007 comes to an end

Here we are. ICC World Cup 2007 came to an end on Saturday evening (28th April 2007) at Barbados. The final was played between the tournament favorites Australia and the Asian tigers Srilanka. Yet another rain hindered match which ended up being restricted to maximum of 38 overs each side. Once again the team which played first won the game convincingly and the match had almost no element of excitement from start to finish. Except for the fact that if Sangakkara had hit McGrath for a few more sixes it would have been some turnaround for the match but it was the day of Australia from the start till the end.

Australia remained unbeaten in all of its 29 matches. All the matches were won convincingly by them and they proved once again that they are just world class keeping in mind the number of upsets which happened in this cup. Minnows Ireland defeated Pakistan the same day when Bangladesh defeated India. The day after the defeat, people got literally enraged and it was a furore all over the country. It came to such an extent that we had to even watch the clash between India and Bermuda which could have been easily forgotten. I remembered getting a forward which had names of India and Pakistan already in the Super 8. Both the teams could not make it to the Super 8. The other major upset of the tournament happened in Super 8 when Bangladesh defeated South Africa and proved that they are the next Asian Tigers. Nevertheless one win was not sufficient for Bangladesh to get into the Semis which already had some of the best teams waiting.

The host West Indies again put across a dismal performance with just managing to win 2 out of their 7 matches in the Super 8. The team which once upon a time had stalwarts like Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards was reduced to dust within no time by the likes of Shane Bond, McGrath and others. England ensured that they continue their pathetic form and put up a performance which can be said as a little better than Bangladesh. None of their batsmen were in form leaving Kevin Pieterson. Ross Taylor really could not get his form back. Flintoff got himself into trouble after some charges were filed against him.

The surprise package of World Cup 2007 was nevertheless Ireland. They were the team which proved that if there is a will to win anything is possible. Its quite possible that all that happened because of team Ireland may be a chance but surely they did bring some welcome change in the World cup.

India's performance was probably one of the worst one in the recent time. The series against WI and Srilanka was a warning sign in terms of the form of the key player but of no avail. Most of our top batsmen collapsed. In the entire tournament India played three matches out of which two were not with the test playing nations even. But again India keeping up with the tradition of records ensured that this world cup 2007 does not go without. India scored 413 against Bermuda which is the highest ever total in World Cup till date. All our batsmen played an excellent innings in that match. It was unfortunate that we all had to even view that match. Bangladesh thrashed India badly with the opener Tamim Iqbal hitting the top Indian bowlers all across the fence. India was trailing at 159/9 when the tailenders came in took charge of the score and added about 32 runs to take the score to 193 which was a modest total to defend keeping in mind the strength of Indian bowling. The match against Sri Lanka was a nightmare and it really put each of the television viewers into a sorrow state. Muralitharan proved that he can be a match winner once again. Solid performance by the Sri Lankan team in the world cup must say better than the rest of the sub continent teams.

The final was a treat to match only in terms of the batting by Adam Gilchrist. He really rocked that day and it was proved again and again that it is his day today. Rock solid batting by Australians together with some tight bowling by Nathan Bracken and Michael Clarke turned the match towards Australia very easily. McGrath took one wicket and ended up as the Man of the series which he truly deserved. There cannot be a better ending than that for an illustrious career lead by this bowler. All across the newspapers and internet websites people were talking about watching McGrath bowl for the last time on an international arena.

A good number of big guns retired from the international cricket with this world cup. Inzy retired with tears in his eyes, Lara got a standing ovation from the crowd as departed from the ODI scene, McGrath retired from the limited overs cricket, Anil Kumble was the only Indian player to retire post this world cup and there is a good chance that we will not be able to see some of the players in the next world cup also. Stephen Fleming stepped down as the New Zealand Captain after a shocking defeat to Sri Lanka in the semifinals. New Zealand and South Africa stand as the most unfortunate teams of the World Cup. South Africa played disastrously in the Semis against Australia and it was really a bad performance by them.

All in all the this world cup had nothing literally for Indians other than the funky sarees of Mandira Bedi which incidentally got into a rage courtesy Indian Democracy and a pathetic telecast of the SETMAX where ads kept sneaking all the time even between a single over. Indian cricket teams came back amidst tight security and were given a very very warm welcome in literal sense. The tour to Bangladesh starts this Saturday. Let’s hope for some fireworks this time.

Some knowledge trivia about the World Cup Mascot is here

The 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup held in West Indies had Mello as the Mascot. The mascot resembles an orange raccoon-like creature wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt over a white vest and blue canvas shoes. Mello is shown standing with cross legs and tossing a white ball in the air, while leaning on a cricket bat. Mello pins a red ribbon on the left side of his shirt showing his support for the ICC/UNAIDS initiative, aimed at creating awareness of HIV/AIDS challenges among people.

The mascot of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 has sparkling eyes, relaxing smile and pleasing personality, representing a youthful, friendly and fun loving character with a positive attitude and a zest for life. Mello is in his teens - cheeky and curious and aware of social and health challenges around us. The world cup mascot was chosen after an extensive worldwide research and development sessions.

Here is the photograph of the Mello

Monday, April 23, 2007

Windows Vista running not just capable

Yes my DELL Inspiron 6400 Laptop is now running Windows Vista Home Premium edition and is not just capable. About 2 weeks back, I upgraded my OS from Windows Media Center 2005 edition to Windows Vista Home Premium edition.

I bought my Dell Laptop Inspiron 6400 in London for not a very cheap price of about GBP 600. When I was buying the Laptop over the phone, I got the feel of the outsourcing advantage of India. I dialled a UK Toll free number and the voice at the other end was something like this :

Hi this is Rajesh? How can I help you (The accent was a typical english accent)

Thereafter our conversation got complete and I ordered the Laptop and asked the executive as to where is he calling from. His reply was like this :

Sir, I am calling from a city called as Hyderabad in India. Do you know about this place ?

I was not surprised over this response since Dell runs a huge call center out of Hyderabad located in Hi-Tech City. It was a pleasure talking to Rajesh as he was extremely cordial unlike the ICICI Bank customer care executives.

My Laptop is of very decent configuration (I will not rate it excellent as the RAM it has is just sufficient for Windows Vista Home Premium edition). Intel Core 2 Duo running at 1.67 GHz, 1024 GB RAM and 120 GB Hard disk. It comes with a DVD Writer, Windows Media Center Edition 2005 and Norton Internet Security 2007. Must say its a value for money when compared to the other brands in the market. I was lucky enough to buy the laptop in the period when Dell was also providing an express upgrade to the Windows Vista which got released on 30th of January.

The Windows Vista was complimentary to the purchase of Laptop and it was shipped to one of my friend's in London who got it for me to India on 5th of April. Windows Vista due to release in the month of October 2007 went into a few glitches before coming into the market on 30th January. After that Dell started shipping the eligible desktop with the Windows Vista DVD and Dell Utility DVD to ensure that the migration of all applications is smooth. Must say, the way DELL has organized the upgrade DVD and other issues is just terrific and truly a masterpiece in itself.

The installation of Windows Vista is completely automated. In the first step the Dell Upgrade Assistant thoroughly checks the PC for that software’s which can interfere with the installation of Vista. Most of the software’s which are older than 2006 version is not supported by Vista. For the matter of fact Norton Internet Security 2006 was also not supported by Vista and had to be upgraded to 2007 vista compatible version. Once the upgrade assistant completes the system checkup and uninstalls or migrates the software which can interfere with the installation, the screen for entering the software key came into picture. For the first time I was entering the OEM key for software. It was a delightful and memorable experience for me altogether. Believe me original software is definitely different from a counterfeit or pirated one in more ways than the look and feel. The installation is fully automated and does not require any kind of user intervention at all. The system restarts several times and if you PC/Laptop belong to the latest generation running on Intel Core 2 Duo, you would complete the installation in less than 1 hour of time.

Once installation is complete you are greeted with the Welcome screen where you create the User ID and password for your login. Windows Vista comes loaded with several features at different levels of the operating system. The start up and shut down tunes are very different and the Aero interface is one of the most special features of Vista. Windows Aero is the premium visual experience of Windows Vista. It features a transparent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors. Part of the Windows Aero experience is Windows Flip 3D, which is a way to preview your open windows in 3D stacks, as well as taskbar buttons with live, thumbnail-sized window previews. Windows Vista has a new feature called as User Account Control which helps prevent unauthorized changes to the computer by requiring permissions before performing actions on the computer which can be potentially damaging. Vista has photo organizer called as Windows Photo Gallery which is very much on the lines of Picasa although not as versatile as the latter is. Some of the enhancements include features like support for a Tablet PC, a completely new Windows Mobile Center for devices which run Windows Mobile Software, an enhanced security center together with Windows Defender which is Windows Spyware protection tool. Here are some of the screen shots of the Windows Vista Home Premium Edition which supports Windows Aero Interface.

Windows Vista Home Premium running and not just capable

1. The revamped Start Menu
2. The Side Bar a new feature

3. Windows Flip 3D

4. My Computer Icons. Look at the clarity
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