Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rang De Basanti - A Generation Awakens

This is the first time ever that a movie name has appeared in my blog. Infact this post is dedicated to the movie Rang De Basanti. Rang De Basanti is one movie in recent times after probably Sarkar which I was able to appreciate and like a lot. But at the outset I can make one statement that this movie is not for the masses.

Rang De Basanti, one of the most awaited movie of 2006 was supposed to release on 20th but then as with any other movie this one also ran into some kind of trouble with the Censor board of India and finally got released on the eve of Republic day to packed houses. The movie stars Aamir Khan (DJ), Madhavan(Ajay), Soha Ali Khan (Sonia), Sharman Joshi (Sukhi) , Siddarth (Karan) , Kunal Kapoor (Aslam), Atul Kulkarni (Laxman) and Alice Patten (Sue). The music director needless to say is A R Rahman since we see the songs of the movie topping almost every chart.

The movie starts on a very slow note with the introduction of General Mckinney who felt the threesome Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and RajGuru are different from the masses and starts writing the account of his experiences with them in his diary. His grand daughter who is Sue reads the diary of her grandfather and then decides to make the documentary film over it depicting the national heroes. But she does not get approval for the same from the senior people in the company so she all by herself comes to India where she has Sonia as her friend. They both do good number of auditions for the documentary film but in vain. This is shot in a very nice manner keeping in mind the big number of contests like Indian Idol and others happening over the television now and then. But it so happens that in a party Sue meets the five guys Sukhi, DJ, Karan, Aslam and decide that yes they are the heroes she is looking for her film.

But Sukhi, DJ, Aslam and Karan is one of the modern youngsters brad who believes that India is nothing but a useless country and nothing can be changed in this country even after the best attempts. They believe in living their life to the fullest and do not bother about anything in this world. Aamir Khan once again shines in the role superbly. He has got that terrific knack of posing as a spoiled guy who knows only how to have fun. As he says in one of the dialogues:

" Its been 5 years since I passed out of this University but then I do not want to get out of this place for a simple reason that, here there is some reputation of DJ but outside I would be nothing more than a street dog. "

The character of Karan suits Siddarth very well. He is a silent guy who does not talk a lot in the movie even but his shot at the radio station is amazing. Aslam looks more like a VJ than a Kranthikaari but the role suits him very well. Sukhi essayed by Sharman Joshi is the most energetic character of the movie. It suits Sharman very well and he gets into the shoes of Sukhi and plays the role. His death in the movie makes the mood really sad in the theatre.

These 4 guys are always together in the DU Campus and there is an activist of Swadeshi called as Laxman who is totally opposed to the idea of westernism exhibited by these people. He fights with these people but then it happens that Sue finds an excellent fit in this character and then he enters into the role of one of the freedom fighters. Then the rest of the movie revolves around these five characters together with some of the romance between Madhavan and Soha. After the intermission, the death of Madhavan shooks the five and then their mind starts thinking as to how they can make a difference in the society. The movie ends in a tragic way by the death of all the five people in an encounter. But then this movie gives a really big message to the audience and succeeds in it too.

This movie is different in number of ways. The way it has been shot. The ideal mix of youthful extragavanza and patriotism which no movie has portrayed as of yet. If we look at any of the movies in the past made on the History of India they never involved the youngsters as such. But this movie took a bold step to involve youngsters from present into the past of India and convey the message to the audience. The locales, the picturisation, the back ground score everything in this movie is so well done that one feels that all the strings are perfectly attached. Also this movie is different in a way that it portrays one of the important problem we are facing right now in terms of our defence strength. The MIG. The scandal happening in the area of MIG components is a major blow to the defence department of Indian govt. From the past in which our freedom fighters faced hell and gave us freedom to the present wherein our politicians are playing with our national security and filling up their pockets by way of corruption, the movie portrays it all. The best part of the movie is the time when the DJ and group get the message that they have to do something for their country after the death of Madhavan in a MIG crash.

Rang De Basanti stands out tall among the latest movies which are made on the theme of patriotism and national freedom struggle. Its the same story but presented in a lot different way and its also able to deliver the message across the audience. The music score of A R Rahman is extremely good and complements the movie in all possible ways. The character portrayal and the song sequence together with the selection of places is extremely well done keeping in mind the storyline every moment. The director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehara stands by his fine touch and delivers a masterpiece which the viewers were longing for quite sometime. One of the last dialogue of Aamir Khan is the most heart touching:

"Is duniya mein do tarah ke log rehte hain. Ek jo system ko maante hain aur chahe woh system kitna bhi gandha ho usi ke hisaab se chalte hain. Aur Doosre jo zimmedari lete hain system ko sudharne ki aur use perfect banane ki"

"Har desh perfect nahee hota. Use perfect banana padta hain."

Take my word Rang De Basanti is must watch for just everything it can offer to you.

Friday, January 27, 2006

100th Post

Here I am. 100th post on the blog. This blog has seen 100 posts till date starting from March 12, 2005 when I had posted my first article on this blog. It has been a long journey wherein I have written articles on numerous topics ranging from IT to Merger and Acquisitions to Politics to the trips I had undertaken last year and a whole lot of things.

Every article on this blog is special to me. Whether its about the Goa trip or its about my passion of Sarbanes Oxley. I believe one of the best posts on this blog has been the one on Oracle Acquisition of I Flex. This post is the most comprehensive post amongst all the posts I have made on this blog.

There was a time when I used to write just about once or twice in a month but then the frequency of posting has increased considerably thanks to DataOne broadband service.

I have not followed a single theme for the blog just because of the simple reason that it creates monotonicity which I hate a lot. I always wanted my blog to express what I feel every moment as the days pass by.

To take my quizzing to new heights I also started a blog on quizzes. This was titled Punchliners and is currently a very famous series among the quiz groups like quinkie, quizkrieg etc.

Hope the action on the blog will continue in the future with increasing amount of activity happening around me.


Big Bazaar vs. US Retailers

Yesterday was a Maha Savings Day at Big Bazaar. Big Bazaar announced a week back that 26th January would be the day when its going to give ultimate discount on its entire range. One could buy a 21 inch television at just about 5890 bucks. VIP suitcases were available at just about 200 rupees and a whole lot of merchandise notably garments like the Ruf and Tuf jeans. A pair of Ruf and Tuf jeans were available at 499/- only which is close to 50 % less than the market. With this kind of offer Big Bazaar opened its stores on 26th of January, a national holiday, at a never before time. At 8:00 AM.

Some of the offers were as follows:
The offers were spread across categories from electronics to utensils to apparel to furniture to food. Pressure cookers will be on offer for Rs 299 while a pair of 2 Ruf-n-Tuf jeans for just Rs 499, Motorola C115 mobiles for Rs 1399, sofas for Rs 15,999 or a 21'' flat TV for Rs 5890 and many more such offers. Customers will get sugar for a year free on shopping above Rs 4000 and on shopping above Rs 8000, sugar and Charminar basmati rice will be supplied free for a year.

So to test the waters, I went to Big Bazaar in the evening at about 6:15 PM. As soon as we reached the lane close to the Mall, the traffic jam had started and I was getting the signals of it. We somehow got a parking space at a distance of about 200 m from the Mall and after parking the vehicle moved towards the Mall only to see the biggest surprise of my life.

This is what I observed. The Mall was locked out as if it was a strike of the worker's union. All the lights were shut down and the entire MPM Mall which used to shine like anything in the night turned into a dark place with only Police and security guards visible. The entire Mall was closed for any public entry by tying a rope from end to end which covered the entire structure. No citizen was allowed inside and Police was literally doing a lathie charge on the crowd which tried to make an entry into the Mall. No one was allowed to stop anywhere near on the road also and it was out an out a situation wherein once again our infrastructure was not able to serve the people. We came out of the place pretty early and went to CENTRAL. CENTRAL was ok since the crowd there is of some standard.

But then the title of the post does not reflect the story till now. A few days back I was working on a quiz where in I came across a site which was telling the story of big retailers in US. Globally the economy is doing really good and we are seeing consumer spending reaching new heights. new projects are getting kicked off and new opportunities are coming into focus in almost every direction. But in this point in time can we hear of some closures happening. Yes we do and here is the example. Instead of talking about their growth plans for 2006, many big-name retailers instead are announcing store closings.
Here are some examples
  • Among those retailers closing locations are jeweler Zale Corp. which is set to turn off the lights at more than 30 of its high-end Bailey Banks & Biddle stores.
  • Office supplies seller OfficeMax announced it will close 110 of its 950 U.S. outlets this year as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts.
  • Department store chain Mervyn's plans to close a third of its stores in 2006.
  • Toy seller Toys R Us is closing 75 of its namesake stores, most of them by springtime, and converting 12 others to Babies R Us locations.
  • Music retailer Musicland Holding Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month, is considering a "significant number of closings of unprofitable stores" under the Sam Goody and Suncoast names.

Only the big giants like Walmart and HomeDepot are looking into expanding their chain. Why is it that there is a rash of closings and cutbacks. Howard Davidowitz A retail analyst and, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, argued that the U.S. retail market was "too overstored" and therefore a victim of its own overcapacity. There's nineteen-and-a-half square foot of retail space for every shopper in USA which is a lot by any standard. The question raised in concern to the above is :

"Is it natural for companies to keep expanding when the market is already overcrowded with stores, especially when there are numerous projections calling for a slowdown in consumer spending?"

The problem for the brick and mortar store is increased due to the steady increase in the Online Retailing which is the second biggest group in retailing after Walmart. The movement is happening more towards consolidation of small stores as people move towards value stores like Walmart and Target. Its getting more into the hands of larger stores as the stronger is becoming more stronger. But the online retailing should be looked more synergestically with the brick and mortar stores in terms of adding value to the customer.

To be continued.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Google 2084

Something really interesting which I found on the web when I was searching for a few logos. This picture is Orwellian vision of Google in the future, published in the New York Times, 10th October 2005. You’ll be able to search the net, your brain, your future, basically everything everywhere…

AICC Plenary Session

If there was one news in the recent times which appeared on the front page of every newspaper, it was none other than the news of 82nd Annual Session of AICC. The plenary session was held in Hyderabad over a span of 3 days. The best part of this plenary session was the decorations which were done in the entire city because of this. But more than that the plenary session was a different one and dedicated totally to the Gandhi family.
Almost every part of city was decorated and there were only three colors visible on the roads, saffron, green and white and one symbol the characteristic of Congress "Hand". The plenary sessions were organized at Gachibowli Stadium which was once upon a time venue for the National Games. Soon thereafter it became a venue for election vote counting, music concerts and other events and not just sports. The event was held from 21st to 23rd of January and thank god that the Gachibowli stadium is pretty far from the city and near the IT Park but since it was a saturday and sunday, IT companies managed to save the business. Entire city had hoardings of all the past Congress presidents and prominently of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. One could spot new gates coming up in Twin cities where each gate was named after one president of Congress in the past years. In all this our very own Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was forgotten and it so happened that the presence of Rahul Gandhi shadowed the position of Prime Minister itself. There was no news item covering the speech of Manmohan Singh neither the banners or the posters were carrying the photograph of Singh. Even among the party workers the enthusiasm was with respect to only Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and not for any one else.
It so happened that I was in Lumbini Park on Saturday when the plenary session was in progress and we could spot atleast 2 dozen party workers passing time near the Hussain Sagar lake. I do not know what they had come for to Hyderabad. A good number of party workers went into clashes upon the issue of Rahul speaking or not. Rahul Gandhi had to come to the stage to control the crowd. I do not understand why the people are so mad about Rahul Gandhi and give him an eternal status as to he is the only sole saviour of the Congress party.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jet Airways Acquires Sahara

In continuation to my previous post about Jet planning to buy out Sahara, this post fills the gap. In what can be termed as the biggest deal in the Indian civil aviation history, Jet Airways took over Air Sahara for nearly $500 million (about Rs. 2,300 crore) in an-all cash deal, executed on late Wednesday night.

Announcing the deal through a joint statement, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal and Sahara group Chairman and Managing Worker Subrata Roy said they were "pleased to announce the execution of a share purchase agreement for acquisition by Jet Airways India Limited of the entire capital of Sahara Airlines Limited subject to regulatory approvals.''

Though talks between the two leading private carriers on the subject had been in the air for the last few months, they preferred to term the exercise as discussions on forging a "strategic alliance.'' Shedding its initial coyness and shying away from the talk of buying out Air Sahara, Jet Airways stepped on the gas after Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya gave up his efforts, saying $500 million was too high a price. At present, the public sector carrier Indian Airline's market share is estimated to be around 34 per cent, Jet's share at 37 per cent and Air Sahara's is put at 12 per cent.

Addressing a press conference, Air Sahara Vice President Alok Sharma said that Air Sahara's equity value was put at about Rs. 276 crore. Mr. Sharma said there was no timetable set for a total integration as there were a number of processes to be undergone, including approvals and clearances from various government authorities. He said all the 27 aircraft of Air Sahara were on lease but other tangible assets like ground equipment, engines, spares and other inventories would be transferred to Jet Airways. The lease of Air Sahara aircraft was likely to end by 2010 and two new leased aircraft would arrive in February and March.

Sahara group Chairman Subrata Roy, in an internal communication to Air Sahara employees, numbering about 4,400, assured them full job protection. "If the employees find it difficult to work under the new management, the Sahara India Pariwar, in a true family spirit, shall be responsive to any of their genuine difficulties and would take all steps to mitigate their difficulties,'' Mr. Roy said.

Reacting to the acquisition, highly placed sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry said, "Since both are private companies, laws of the land, relating to acquisitions and mergers, will apply to their case. The Department of Company Affairs and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) may have a role to play,'' the sources pointed out.

At stake would be two crucial factors — the allocation of parking bays and the arrival and departure slots during the prime time in morning and evening in the four metros — that would favour Jet Airways after the new, rebranded entity comes into existence.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Clause 49

With the global standards of Corporate Governance reaching new levels continously and the need for the companies to maintain a high level of transparency in their processes , the SEBI has issued a directive on the lines of Sarbanes Oxley named Clause 49.

Clause 49 is pretty much on the lines of Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 provided by SEC for companies listed on US stock exchanges. According to Clause 49, the top management becomes directly accountable for all financial statements and internal controls of the organization, which is also the bottom line in case of Section 302 of Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002.

With the Indian capital markets touching new heights and the steep increase in the retail investors taking shareholder confidence to a new high, corporate governance has become all the more relevant today. The significant addition under the revised Clause 49 is CEO and CFO certification on internal controls.
Clause 49 derives its base from the concept of Enterprise Risk Management. ERM is a framework that
  • Establish, document, implement & monitor systems
  • Mitigates operational risks and improves organization performance
  • Sustains business goals
  • Communicates value creation to key stakeholders

Clause 49 was made mandatory for all companies to comply by 31st December 2005. At a very high level, it gives guidelines on the composition of the board of directors and the composition of the audit committee. In addition, it makes necessary for CEOs/CFOs to

  • Establish and maintain internal controls in their organization
  • Report and certify effectiveness of, deficiencies in and changes to internal controls
  • Disclose to the auditors and audit committee, of discrepancies and deficiencies in internal controls
  • Initiate and implement remediation and risk mitigation towards such deficiencies
The figure below shows the exact meaning of the Clause 49 agreement.

Similar to the implementation of SOX, Clause 49 is also becoming a big project for most of the Indian companies and in a way is allowing them to clean up their processes and standardize them to match the global standards. Looking at Clause 49 only as a regulatory requirement and bringing about a adhoc change in the processes will bring in lot of problems for the enterprises in the future. A strong system of internal controls effected by Clause 49 is very important to ensure that the goals of enterprise risk management are met.

Compliance to Clause 49 gives a huge opportunity for the IT vendors in India to come out with a Indian version of SOX solution. Most of the Tier 1 vendors have been actively involved in the development of the SOX solutions which involved majorly the Risk Management System for many global companies. Technology as in SOX is going to play a very important role in adopting the compliance standard with minimal cost and maximum efficiency.

I hope the Indian firms will keep in mind the problems faced by US firms while in the first year of SOX and even after 3 years the companies are struggling to put the internal controls process in place. Clause 49 is not as big as Sarbanes Oxley but we need to remember that this is only the first step taken by SEBI on the road to effective corporate governance in India.

As someone has said rightly:
"Good Governance is Good Business, even if it costs a bundle. Businesses that have sound corporate governance policies outperform those with weak ones in terms of total shareholder return."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Jet Airways to Buy out Sahara

In one of the most far reaching acquisition in the new year, Jet Airways is planning to buy out Air Sahara in a deal which may be worth 560 million dollars. This deal if it happens will mark the beginning of M&A activity in the area of Airlines which has not seen this activity for quite some time after the usherance of number of small players with their own market strategies like Air Deccan, GoAir etc.

If this deal gets sealed then it would make Jet Airways country's number 1 domestic airline way ahead of Indian (formerly, Indian Airlines) grabbing close to 50 % market share. In all terms whether it is the fleet or the turnover or the valuation, Jet Airways will become number one in the Indian domestic airline market.

Earlier before this news, Kingfisher was in the race of buying out Sahara but later on Vijay Mallaya backed out of the race. As far as Jet is concerned the senior management has denied of any such sort of negotiations happening. Its only when it was reported in the news channel CNN IBN that the news spread.

It is expected that the merged entity would have more than half the domestic market and a fleet of more than 90 aircraft, with revenue of 70 billion rupees ($1.6 billion) and a market value of 115 billion rupees which makes it way ahead of its competitor Indian which has very recently done a brand makeover exercise.

It all began when in September, Air Sahara had announced that it is looking for a partnership to fuel its growth and appointed Ernst and Young as the strategic advisor for this activity. E&Y valued Air Sahara at $ 750 million to $ 1 billion.

Air Sahara, which began operations just months after Jet in 1993, is part of a $12-billion group owned by flamboyant tycoon Subroto Roy, with interests spanning finance, housing, power and media.

India's domestic air travel market is forecast to grow more than 20 percent a year over the next five years, boosted by rising incomes and lower fares. An estimated 19 million domestic passengers travelled by air in the year to March 2005.

From the Jet point of view this deal is very strategic as it allows the Jet to kill the competition very easily. If it acquires Air Sahara then it gets way ahead of the next closest competitor which is Indian. Also Air Sahara has a strong presence in the North which Jet can take advantage of and grab a greater market share.

With the emergence of no frills airlines with a rush like Air Deccan, GoAir, Spice Jet it has become very important for the established brands like Jet to grow at a faster pace either organically or inorganically to ensure that it stays at the top position in the market.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Perspective 2005

Here is the list of events which made 2005 a year to remember for a long time.
  • The ever rising SENSEX which crossed all previous records and set new records every week in the month of November. SENSEX at the close of the year ended at 9397.93 and generated a return of 40 percent over the start of the year. The SENSEX at the start of the year was at 6679.

  • The Oracle acquisition of I Flex which once again proved the value of India IT companies in the Global IT sphere. It marked the entry of Global IT giants into India aggressively but at the same time it also ended one of the finest product companies in India.

  • Tsunami dominated the first quarter of 2005 although the event happened in 2004 end. The effects of the super cyclonic storm in the sea were wide spread leading to the death of close to 300,000 people. A good amount of southern India and south east Asia suffered damage in this calamity.

  • The fall of Laloo Prasad Yadav dominated the news channels and media for a good amount of time in the month of November. Nitish Kumar was appointed as the new Chief Minister and it gave a good amount of relief to the BJP which was struggling under its own weight.

  • The earthquakes in the northern region of India near LoC and Pakistan shattered the people staying in those areas.

  • The nation came to a stand still when the voice of the nation, the Mega Star Amitabh Bachchan fall ill and shook the nation once again as in 1982. It took him one month to recuperate and as I write this entry he has come back to his home and start shooting for KBC 2.

  • The M&A activity in the Indian industry whether IT or Non IT was at a heightened pace. With all the top IT companies doing some or other overseas acquisition. Notably Wipro which acquired 3 companies in the last week of December

  • The ABN Amro Bank deal in the IT outsourcing space was one of the biggest deals to happen globally. The deal was worth 2.1 billion dollars and got split among the top IT vendors like Accenture and IBM together with Indian vendors like TCS, Infosys and Patni. IBM got the biggest pie of the deal valuing over 1.5 billion dollar followed by Accenture.

  • TCS acquired world’s number four core banking solution company FNS Global which is rolling out the CBS in SBI for 26 million dollar. This ensured that TCS makes a strong foray into the market of financial solutions outsourcing. FNS Global has B@NCS 24 x 7 as its core banking solution.

  • In one of the landmark deals in the space of athletic wear Adidas acquired Reebok for close to 3.2 billion dollar and created a very stiff competition for Nike the world’s number one sporting goods maker.

  • Oracle continued its acquisition spree by buying out Siebel in all cash deal worth 5.1 billion dollars ensuring that it gets the lion’s share of the CRM solutions market globally.

  • BSNL rolled out its broadband service termed DataOne which gave the other Broadband service providers a run for their money. Within no time, BSNL snatched a sizeable market share in this business.

  • For the first time in the country, Motorola India manufactured a mobile phone in India which can be aptly termed as Made in India. This mobile phone was priced below Rs. 1000.

  • Natural calamities surrounded India and the World throughout the year. Whether it was the horrendous rains in Bombay which stopped the city which is unstoppable inspite of all the problems or the Hurrican Katrina and its sisters Rita and others. Lousiana and New Orleans were thrown out of gear totally. When everyone thought that Chennai and Bangalore are the safest places to make any FDI, the electronics city office of many top Indian companies were found flooded due to huge rains in these two cities. Chennai received a very heavy rainfall for close to 2 months which ensured that the city which used to cry for rains does not do any more.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

RTA Office

One office which has not change a bit also right from my childhood is the RTA office in India. RTA stands for Road Transport Authority. These are the people in India who issue driving licenses and do registrations for all kinds of vehicles after examining them. Well I went to the RTA office last time only about 6 years back and thank god I did not get the fortune of visiting it again in the recent past. But the day finally arrived on 7 January 2006 when I had to enter the pedestals of India's most unfriendly and totally customer disoriented office. The RTA office of Musarambagh.

Recently we got our first four wheeler, a Maruti Esteem. Since I did not have any prior experience of driving, we appointed a driver who asked me to take the learning license at the earliest because of numerous checks by the traffic police at various places. So I went to the RTA office on saturday. Inspite of lot of resistance from my side Dad took me to the office and I was shocked to see a similar kind of situation as I saw close to 6 years back. Same agents or Dalals, Same old police inspectors and the pretty much the same unfriendly staff. But there was a change in the manner the process was carried out this time.

The entire operations of the RTA office were computerized with some central system running at place. It was amazing. The application submission happens and then photograph was taken using a digital camera. Then a digital signature pad was given to me on which I had to sign and it would directly appear on the screen. It was a very unique usage of technology, I must say since I have not seen the signatures still appearing digitally. Thereafter we moved to the first floor where one had to give some computer examination against the physical and visual examination which used to happen earlier.

The way I took the examination only I know. It was one of different kind. But I must say the way IT has penetrated into the system and made it look really easy. The entire process was so well managed that the job which used to take some days to get done got over in just about an hour. Now the target time for most of the jobs at the RTA office is one day only. The improvement clearly shows the ability of IT to right track any business process although it finally boils down to the people who are using it to set the process right.

Another instance in day to day life where IT has made life simple for many of us. I got a print out of my Learning license with a hologram of RTA office for just 60 Rs. which could take anywhere between 400-700 if done through a agent.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Google and Gmail Play

This post is dedicated to the way Google is playing with my listing in the Google directory. I do not have an idea as to how Google search works but definitely they revise the search algorithms over 15 days once or every week also. I had submitted my site to Google on 2 Apr 2005. After submission on that day, my site has been facing a roller coaster ride in terms of its appearance. Sometimes it appears as the first result when I type Yashasvi Arun, but on other times my blog does not appear even in the last page. Very recently both of my blogs the quiz blog and the personal blog are not coming as the search result when I type my name. They are appearing in pages 5 or 6.
The biggest surprise is that the text "Yashasvi Arun" does not appear fully in any of the entries suggested above. Only in my blog the name appears completely and I do not have any other web presence also. This is one problem I am facing with Google for quite some time.

The other unique problem which I faced today is with Gmail. It happened for the first time although the problem got resolved pretty early when I mailed back Gmail promptly with all the details. The error is “Gmail Lockdown in Sector 4”. I was just checking the answers for my quiz but when I finished checking the answers and clicked on the back, I was taken directly to this screen with the error name. In this error the account home page was replaced with the flippant title: "Lockdown in sector 4!" along with a short explanation of the lockdown. I immedietely referred the Gmail Help and found that the accounts in question had conducted "unusual usage," although the users maintain their innocence. If the account user violates the Gmail usage policy and other agreements, the account is freezed before being released within 1 min to 24 hours.

This is the mail which I got from Gmail Team. This is also the first time I have observed a mailing service closing abruptly.

“Hello, Our system has detected abnormal usage of your Gmail account. As a result, we have temporarily disabled access to this account. It will take between one minute and 24 hours for you to regain access, depending on the behavior our system detected. Your account may be temporarily disabled if, among other things, you are:
  • Sending or receiving an excessive volume of mail·
  • Using any third-party software that automatically logs in to your account and is not supported by Gmail
  • Using certain browser extensions that change the behavior of a Website (Greasemonkey, a popular Firefox extension, often interferes with Gmail We suggest disabling Greasemonkey to use Gmail without any issues.)
For your protection, we ask that you disable any non-supported software before accessing Gmail again. If you feel that access to this account should not have been disabled, Please respond to the following questions:
  • List the date and time of day when you were locked out of the account.
  • What task were you performing when you were locked out? (ex: sending an email, downloading an attachment, etc.
  • Has access to your account been disabled before this occurrence? If so when and for how long?
  • Indicate which of the following, if any, Gmail features you use: POP, auto-forwarding, or Gmail's Notifier
  • Are you using any type of browser extensions? If so, please specify
  • Do you use any third-party software in conjunction with Gmail? If so please specify.

Sincerely, The Gmail Team

Snap Shot of Error

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Recently when I was reading Economic Times, I came across this abbreviation related to the financial directives in the european countries. Now one area which is getting tremendous amount of attention is the area of corporate governance and regulatory compliance in the financial services industry. The area of compliance has gained a lot of importance because of the number of accounting scandals happening in various large firms in USA. Notably the historic legislature called as Sarbanes Oxley is one of the best examples of this type of regulatory norm. MiFID is one of the close cousins of Sarbanes Oxley.

MiFID stands for Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID is being considered to be the most far reaching directive in the financial markets of Europe akin to what Sarbanes Oxley is to the companies in US.

MiFID will replace the existing Investment Services Directive (ISD), the most significant European Union legislation for investment intermediaries and financial markets since 1995. MiFID extends the coverage of the current ISD regime and introduces new and more extensive requirements to which firms will have to adapt, in particular in relation to their conduct of business and internal organisation.

MiFID is a major part of the European Union’s Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP), which is designed to create a single market in financial services. FSA is very popular in the world because of its FSA 133 standard for derivatives accounting. MiFID comprises two levels of European legislation. ‘Level 1’, the Directive itself, was adopted in April 2004. In several places, however, it makes provision for its requirements to be supplemented by ‘technical implementing measures’, so-called ‘Level 2’ legislation.

The aim of the ISD was to set out some basic high-level provisions governing the organisational and conduct of business requirements that should apply to firms. It also aimed to harmonise certain conditions governing the operation of regulated markets. MiFID has the same basic purpose. But it makes significant changes to the regulatory framework to reflect developments in financial services and markets since the ISD was implemented.

MiFID is going to have a huge impact on firms involved in investment services in the European region. In general MiFID will cover most if not all firms currently subject to the ISD, plus some that currently are not.
This will include:
  • Investment banks;
  • Portfolio managers;
  • Stockbrokers and broker dealers;
  • Corporate finance firms;
  • Many futures and options firms; and some commodities firms.

In some areas, the position for firms will be less clear-cut. For instance, Retail banks and building societies will be subject to MiFID for some parts of their business – for example, selling securities, or investment products which contain securities, to customers - but not others.

Proposals for implementing MiFID will be carried in three CPs:

  • The main MiFID CP: this will cover all necessary changes to FSA rules and guidance – except the organisational and financial promotions requirements of MiFID
  • The systems and controls CP: this will cover the organisational and systems and controls requirements arising both from MiFID and the CRD (which is to be implemented by 1 January 2007), setting out proposals for a single set of requirements (a ‘common platform’) for all firms subject to either or both of these directives;
  • The financial promotions CP: this will cover the MiFID provisions on marketing communications, within wider changes flowing from our financial promotions review, and will be relevant to all firms.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

As we accelerate into 2006, let me take an opportunity to wish all my friends, and colleagues a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.