• India urges the rich to walk the talk on climate change; at the Bali meet
    • India with more than a billion people, is the world’s fourth largest emitter behind the US, China and Russia, and is projected to account for a rising share of global carbon emissions as it burns more fuel to try to end poverty.
    • But India defended its policies, saying its per capita emissions were far below the global average. India has promised that per capita emissions will never reach those of developed nations.
    • The country’s per capita emissions were low at 0.25 tonnes of carbon in 2001, a quarter of the world average and 22 times less than the US.
    • While this is so, the US is blocking progress at Bali says Al Gore, the former US Vice President and Nobel laureate. He was referring to the US refusal to accede to the guidelines being proposed for adherence by 2020. He was hoping the new treaty to be completed by December 2009 in Copenhagen.
    • Sweden is the first country to impose a carbon tax in 1991.
  • Yet another Indian heads an MNC; this time the Citigroup
    • The Citigroup which has been in the news of late for the wrong reasons – it got mauled by the subprime mess – will now be headed by an Indian, Mr. Vikram Pandit. He joins the ranks of Indra Nooyi (Pepsi) and Arun Sarin (Vodafone) on the international corporate scene.
  • Voices of customers and investors vs. those of citizens
    • Writing about Indian democracy, Arun Maira explains how what is good for stock markets and corporations is not necessarily good for a majority of the people. Look at the following excerpt:
    • An analysis by Robert Reich runs like this: The institutions of capitalism that enable masses to participate in the economy as customers and investors — business corporations, investment funds, etc — have progressively gained power. Whereas institutions that aggregate their interests as citizens — labour unions, neighbourhood associations, etc — have withered. Therefore voices of customers and investors are heard more loudly, and voices of citizens are drowned out. Thus, ‘capitalism has invaded democracy’, and the calculus of economic efficiency has replaced judgements of social harmony. Almost everyone in the US is a customer of many corporate products and services and by 2005, the majority of US households also owned company stocks. Therefore, even if their voices as citizens are not heard, almost all Americans participate in the economy as customers and investors.
    • On the other hand, less than 5% of India’s population participates in the stock market, and many millions are not even customers of large corporations. Therefore, what is good for corporations and stock markets in India cannot be presumed to be good for the majority of people. For more economic progress with less friction, and more social harmony, the voices of the citizen within all Indians must be heard, not just the demands of customers and investors.
  • Oil regulator writes to government about price tampering
    • The newly constituted petroleum and natural gas regulator has written to the government against tampering with fuel prices and distortion of market forces.
    • The prices of petroleum products are kept artificially low for about 18 months, impacting the health of oil marketing companies. The price of auto fuel was last increased in June 2006. While public sector OMCs are losing Rs. 6.34 per litre on the sale of petrol, they are losing Rs. 7.88 per litre on sale of diesel.
  • Price preference for SMEs to get legal cover
    • Public sector companies and state agencies may soon be legally bound to give preference for SMEs in bidding process. While a 15% price preference is given to SMEs under NSIC (National Small Industries Corporation) Scheme, some PSEs and states are not extending the same to them.
    • Some of the preference provisions include: issue of tenders free of cost, exemption from payment of earnest money deposit, waiver of security deposit up to a certain limit and price preference of 15% over the quotations of the large scale industries.