June 2006 - Page 3 of 4 -

INFRASTRUCTURE IN INDIA

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In this article, I would like to analyse one of the most important economic factors, which is also one of the tool aiding economic development. Well if you are still wondering what I am talking about, it is about Infrastructure.

Infrastructure refers to some of the basic and important facilities like electricity, crude oil, transportation, roadways, refineries etc. It is on the basis of these various infrastructure facilities that the industrial development and in turn the economic development of a country depends. Let us analyse the situation that is present in India. No doubt that Indian Industry has achieved a good growth in industries, especially industries relating to that of Information Technology or in short IT. But the question is, are there enough Infrastructure facility in the country to sustain the growth of these industries and to encourage them to grow. Even if the industries do make a marked development, it is only with the help of these infrastructure facilities that future development and growth is possible. India at the moment needs foreign investment, and foreign investors would be forthcoming only if the country has a good infrastructure facility to offer.

Let us take the city of Chennai, which is fast growing as another important Information Technology gateway of India. The public transport facilities are yet to improve in Chennai. While some of the companies provide their own private buses for the employees, the Government should take adequate steps to provide frequent public transport facilities to these areas. Also as far as the connecting roads from these IT parks are concerned, they are in a bad state and more overhead bridges are required in these areas. In order to draw a comparison between the state of affairs in India and similar economy, let us take for example of China. The improvement that China has undertaken in their entire transport and roadways, especially in the city of Shangai is noteworthy. The facility offered by the Government of China is commendable and provide impetus to various foreign investments. China as an economy has grown tremendously. We need to take example from such economies and move forward and provide better and more investment to infrastructure. The Government by providing and investing in Infrastructure facilities to fast growing cities like Chennai, is going to be rewarded in two ways. One is by providing increased employment facilities to the unskilled labourers, and the increase in more foreign investments.

By referring the various articles on infrastructure and the China Year book (2003-2004) and by comparing the infrastructure facility offered in China and those existing in India the following are the various observations made by me; For one China has offered to provide all the infrastructure facility in the form of more ports, highways and connecting roads from the port to the inside of China. China has encouraged foreign investors to invest in their country; the encouragement offered by them is in the form of Government investment in infrastructure. This has helped the investors by producing goods at a cheaper cost thereby reducing their price. Foreign Investors are completely impressed by this offer. According to the office of foreign investment administration, under the Ministry of Commerce, China has invested around $10 billion with average growth rate of 20% since 2000. From the excerpts of an interview with Sridhar of ‘Bengal Tiger Line’ conducted by Business Line, China has encouraged competitiveness among various ports in the sense that Government owned port authority would built the infrastructure, while the private entrepreneurs bring in the equipments and operate. Taking the example of ports between Shenzhen and Hong Kong Sridhar observes that while the ports are in the outskirts offering cheaper facilities, it has also got the other advantage, that whilst one port is engaged the carrier can always move to the other. This leads to reduction in the waiting period and also reduction in the cost involved. The most important factor that India has to learn from China is that, quick decisions in the Government level has lead to such an improvement, but as far as India is concerned this has become a barrier, with projects waiting for years to be completed. The indecisive nature of the Government has resulted in increased cost, and delay; this situation needs to be changed immediately.

While I do acknowledge the various facilities provided by the Government to the IT sectors in Chennai. Yet the State Government must do more active investments and town planning, if they would like to see more investment and more growth in the Information Technology Sector. The Government apart from their own efforts should also support the various infrastructure facilities undertaken by the various corporate themselves, the encouragement can be in the form of reduction in duties, conferred upon such facilities. The Infrastructure development, undertaken wholly by the Government or partly by the Government should ensure that the infrastructure provided should be in lieu with the development projects to be undertaken by the corporate. A joint consensus should be reached by such corporate (either corporate in the same area or corporate having similar business activity must join together) to ask the Government for a common infrastructure plan which would be beneficial for all the corporate houses and also reduce the expenses of the Government. I also feel that more research needs to be undertaken in order to provide optimum and maximum utilisation of the electricity in the various industries, and more investment and research is required in alternate sources of electricity, such that we make good utilisation of the resources around us. While the Government cannot do much about the global increase in the crude oil prices, it can still impart education and training to various industrial houses on ways of efficient use of power and availability of alternate sources. Investment is thus again required in researching such project, such that the outcome would be maximum and efficient use of resources and greater productivity. Well as a citizen and as an entrepreneur, I have full faith in the system and am sure that the Government takes these steps without further delay and help the economy of the State and in turn the Country grow.

In their website The Asian Development Bank, has analysed the various infrastructure constraint facing our economy. The article titled “ Asian Development Outlook:2005” It has analysed the infrastructure situation in India. According to the site, both private and public infrastructure investments have been quite below the desired level. The reason why the private investments in infrastructure are low is because of the gestation gap between borrowing and returns. Because the return of the loan amount depends on the productivity of the infrastructure facility provided, if it fails then it is difficult to return the loan, also the gestation period between borrowing and return of the loan is quite high in case of infrastructure investments. Hence domestic market for long-term security loans must be encouraged, and ADB has done so with the issue of its long-term bonds.

In case of Government investment in Infrastructure, it has not been quite forthcoming because of the consolidated fiscal deficit faced by both the central and the State Government. But in order to overcome the situation the Central Government has decided to invest in specific areas like that of road, port, tourism and airport with the aid of additional borrowings, which has longer maturity period. With all this steps taken by the Government, there is an expectation that overall investment rate would gradually increase to the level of 27.5% in the Financial Year of 2007.

Thus seeing a sliver lining in the dark clouds, has given me hope and believe it would for others too. But what is actually required is proper support of the Government to Private Entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in infrastructure facilities. Th
e Government (both the Central and State Government) should step up and decide immediately on the various decisions, which would determine further investments in infrastructure facilities. The Government should go ahead and do what is necessary to increase the investment rate in Infrastructure to the projected 8.0%(FY 2005-06). Both the state and the Central Government should bear in mind that an increase in investment in infrastructure facility would largely contribute to the sustained and steady growth of the economy.

I belong to this community and can be considered as one of the contributor towards the growth of IT sector of the community, I sincerely hope that both the State and the Central Government step in and amend the infrastructure situation of the state and the country as a whole. This would greatly encourage and benefit, corporate like ours and hence lead to overall development and growth of the economy.

Sellers and Buyers Connectivity.

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E Bay is using Skype facility to provide sellers and buyers connectivity. Skype is the Internet calling facility. E Bay is one of the major online auction houses. The use of Skype as a medium of seller and buyer interaction would be used in the North American sector of e Bay. E Bay had acquired Skype in a $4.2million deal. The buyer would be having a “skype me” near the product he would be buying and would be able to interact with the seller. Skype me would enable the seller to answer some quick question by the buyer. The buyer can either use the text message or the voice mail facility or both. The seller and buyer interaction would help in boosting the confidence level of the buyer and hence would attract more buyers.

E bay is though proceeding with caution, as skype has not much caught up in North America as much as it has in Europe and Asia. Also buyers are using alternate methods of communication and would be vary of any new method. As a piece of information North Americans constitute more than 30 percent of the buyer population of e Bay.

source www.news.com

Blogger leaves Microsoft.

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Being a blogger, I guess I cannot avoid putting up this news on my web log. Being one of the pioneers in corporate blogging, Robert Scoble has earned the reputation for playing the dual role of representing employees of Microsoft through its official blog site called channel 9, and on the personal front, his own blog site called the Scobleizer. Scobleizer has earned the reputation of being a blog site, which is a mix of scoble’s personal life and his view on other corporate matters. Well the erstwhile blogger is in news again, this time for leaving Microsoft, and joining PodTech.Net. He will take up the role of Vice President –Content in PodTech.Net. The news of Robert Scoble leaving Microsoft had come earlier than he had intended through one of the fellow bloggers. Robert Scoble has appreciated Microsoft on being an open company, quite contrary to what was projected of Microsoft. The other silver lining for Robert Scoble is that his remuneration would be above $100,000 with stock options.

This is one more example of how corporate blogging is growing in its reach. I feel Corporate bloggers like Robert Scoble has helped in exploring the various avenues in blogging and through which he had reached millions. Corporate blogging according to me acts as a catalyst between the company and the customers, between the company and the employees and between the company and the ‘news hungry’ public.

www.reuters.com;www.news.com

REACTION IN THE U.S Economy

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As I had written in my last article, the stock market of the United States Economy is going down. I had also pointed out that, we should wait and watch the state. Well the present state of affairs is that the major U.S companies are buying back their own shares, at a time when the share market is plunging down. There is a high record of such buy backs at the moment, and the trend will seem to continue for some time now. Well let us see the pros and cons of such a buy back scheme. The advantage is that because of the huge buy back trend now, the prices of other shares would definitely increase, but it could be counteracted by a situation, when the general feeling in the market would be that “there are no other possible investment options” and that is why there is a increase in the buy backs.

Thus this would lead to a mixed reaction in the economy, again we need to see if the buy backs boost the share prices and hence help the share market. But again the market may take a different turn and the downslide might continue for some time. Thus a proper mix of both the Government interference and productive investment by the private investors is required to stabilise the economy

source: www.wsj.com

Market Watch: United States Economy

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Hey long time since I had made any writing on the stock market, though I have been keeping watch, on the market. Well this weeks closing has compelled me to write down the findings, as usual I have kept it simple. The News is not very positive. The Dow Jones Industrial average has slid down by 46.90 points or the weekly decline of 3.2%, the lowest since April 2005. The United States Economy is being closely watched in the wake of the tighter monetary policy, much depends on weather the Federal Bank would be increasing its interest rates again to 5.25%, this would be decided on June 28th or 29th.

But the situation is similar the world over, countries like Turkey, India and Europe have adopted tighter monetary policy in view of the increasing inflation, this has made investors wary to invest more in stocks. Though the situation is not alarmingly low the investors are on their guard and refuse to plunge into risk.

But there are positive notes otherwise; the stock exchange in Mumbai had increased to 5.5%. The Dow Jones world stock index (except that of the U.S) had increased to 1.5%.

As mentioned in many of the journals, various situations are making it difficult for the United States economy, like the upward surge in the crude oil prices and increased import prices (especially on Chinese goods). Much depends on the route that the Federal bank would be taking in the coming weeks. Let us wait and watch as to the course that the economy would be taking. Look out for my page on any positive turn of events!

Source: June 9, 2006: www.wsj.coms

FIFA- DEFENDING OF A DIFFERENT KIND

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When the buzzword now is football, how can I be far off? I cannot be stated as a die-hard fan of soccer, but I would be on vigil, not only on the scores but also about the hackers, whom FIFA is expecting to strike. FIFA is bracing itself for defence of a different kind, defence from the notorious group of hackers. Avaya, the networking partner for FIFA is bracing itself from attack by hackers, for this, they have completely revamped all the security systems, which was adopted the previous time. Spokesperson from Avaya, has commented that all security measures have been increased to keep the attackers at bay. The major worry is the hundreds of personal information, which the attackers could have access to. Since the attackers were not successful the last two times, it is believed that the security would definitely be up to the mark and would not fail this time too. FIFA’s IT centre is based in Munich and would be constantly monitoring all the IT related activities.

Source: www.wired.com

Internet Vs. Television

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Internet has made a revolution, as had television a few decades back against the radio. Of course the growth in technology is incomparable, yet the transitions have paved the way for bigger and brighter future (quite literally). With the craze for Internet, more and more people prefer computer than television. What might be the reason for the transition? All said and done television still provides people with entertainment and keeps them spellbound in their couch, yet Internet is making a foray and people have begun shifting from their living rooms to their study, one reason might be the interactive nature of the computer. It is just not sitting and watching what others want you to watch but deciding what you want to do and when. With many facilities offered by the computer like games, Internet and otherwise creative stuff, there is wide range for people to chose from and be creative at the same time. Come to think of it we are using computer both as a means of earning and entertainment, this dual purpose cannot be found in television. Of course coming to the negative aspect of it, there are stuffs that we do not want the younger generation to have access to too early, which the Internet seems to be offering too freely; again with the advent of firewalls these can be prevented too. Another important aspect is you cannot be blamed for being a “couch potato” for spending too much time on your computer!

These are only a few comparisons I have made between television and computer; I have kept it simple and easy to understand. But all of us know the technical superiority, which the computer holds, and the comparison itself is a wide area for which a page would not be enough. Well ponder over this!

A new way to re live your adolescence years

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A company called the ‘Planet wide games’ is making online creation of digitised comic books easier with its new software called as the ‘comic book software creator’, according to this, comic characters can be dragged and dropped and a comic book created based on one’s own story line. This software was basically designed for games enthusiast, wherein they can create their own games using the characters from famous game themes.

Paramount pictures have given their approval to planet wide games to use this software based on their movie “Nacho Libre”, thereby various stories can be built around the characters of Nacho Libre and even games can be designed based on these characters. National Geographic and Sony Online Entertainment have signed with the company to devise their own version of the software. The original pack, which was meant for games enthusiast, is also available for $30 pack. This is one software, which has covered the young and the old alike, as this software can be used as a comic book creator, for games and for other types of online designing. This idea is approved by everyone and has been profitably used by online game providers too. I am sure that many graphic designers would find a way to use this software effectively. All said and done the IT world is in requirement of such user-friendly software’s and which serves the double purpose of fun and business.

Source: June 6, 2006, www.news.com

Misinterpretation!

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Denying Mr. Kardonski’s comment that Lenovo would be dropping Linux support, Marc Godin, VP of Lenovo’s Notebook marketing stressed that Lenovo would not be dropping Linux support entirely. Mr. Kardonski’s comment came soon after Lenovo had announced one-year deal with $1.2 billion for Microsoft’s software. But in an attempt to straighten the facts, Mr. Godin has reiterated that the company would not drop support for Linux altogether, but plans to support them in the third quarter, along with the partnership with Novell. At the moment the 3000 range of Notebooks, would not have preloaded software of Linux, and it is up to the customers to buy the licences. And Lenovo would preload the desired configuration once the licence is obtained.

Please do note that Lenovo had acquired IBM’s PC division and IBM is a big supporter of Linux and open source, and Lenovo apparently had commented that it was going ahead with a plan of investing $2.2 million Linux development centre in Brazil. Lenovo better get the facts straight, for it is confusing lot of investors and those who are at present using the Lenovo laptop, the users are confused whether Lenovo would continue to support their Linux loaded Laptop or not. Now with th new partnership with Microsoft, it is really important that Lenovo knows where it stands and keep everyone informed.

Source: 5 June 2006, www.news.com

Competition, more competition

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Google Lab is unleashing a new ‘web based services program’, which had been the area of dominance of Microsoft so far. As part of the program, Google will be launching a new ‘spreadsheet’ program, which is going to be run on the .xls and Comma Separated-value or .csv format which helps to transfer program from cell to cell, insertion of multi sheets are possible, inserting and deleting of columns or rows, and most important when the data is once save, saving is automatically done at every stage making data transfer easy. One more important feature of the program is that ‘in-document’ chat is possible.

Now we can expect the big B to be silent on this, so Microsoft is trying to improve upon its web-based services, let us await and see its new outcome. Hey I love competitions (especially when it is among giants like google and Microsoft, which can only spell improvement of products for people like us) , life cannot get easier than this!

Source: June 5, 2006: www.news.com

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