Politics & the Nation
  • It's hung ho!
    • With the last phase of polling over, all the post-poll survey results have hit the tube with gusto.  And people are lapping them up like there is no tomorrow.
    • Look at this picture which gives results of these various polls.
    • The Congress led UPA is expected to emerge as the largest coalition.  BJP led NDA will be a close second.  With such a fractured verdict handed out once again, it may be reasonable to expect some sort of 'moderate' (or should we read it as lameduck?) government to be in place for the next five years; if at all it is allowed to last that long.
    • Are we also going the Italy and Israeli way?  We can only wait and watch.
  • The EC deserves a big cheer on successful conduct of elections
    • Polling to elect the 15th Lok Sabha as well as the state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim concluded yesterday.  Tentative figures say that the final voter turnout in 2009 has surpassed the 2004 figure. The poll percentage for all the five phases put together is working out to 59-60% — the final figure may well be higher — which is a notch above the 58.07% turnout recorded for the four-phased poll in 2004.  Take a look at this picture for some best and worst states in voting.
    • The massiveness of the Lok Sabha poll exercise can be gauzed from the fact that it involved enrolling 713.77 million voters, setting up of 8.34 lakh polling stations, deployment and movement of 7.3 lakh security personnel and drafting of 49.6 lakh polling personnel, 2,046 observers and 1.4 lakh micro-observers. 
    • Statewise, while Punjab recorded 60-65% voting, Himachal registered 55% polling, Tamil Nadu 60-62%, West Bengal 70%, UP 52%, Uttaranchal 50-55%, Puducherry 75% and Chandigarh 65%. 
    • BTW do you know the specialty of Ralakung and Phema?  These are two polling stations in the Zanskar sub-division in J&K.  The former had 23 voters and the latter 14 voters.  The polling officers had to trek over 45 km through kneedeep snow to reach the polling stations located at an altitude of 13,700 ft.
    • We don't know whether the voters know the value of their vote, but the polling parties surely do.
Finance & Economy
  • What is the conflict of interest that independent directors (IDs) on corporate boards failed to handle successfully?
    • Promoters of companies have a basic motivation of enriching themselves.  This enrichment is 'undue' for some and not so for the promoters themselves.  When it becomes undue and is at the expense of the small investor, that is bad corporate governance.  This is what the institution of independent directors is supposed to prevent from happening.
    • But Satyam's case is a watershed event for the institution of independent directors (IDs). It has demonstrated that even highly credible, qualified and educated persons are no insurance for corporate governance, that they are no watchdogs of the minority shareholders whose interests they are supposed to serve. In fact, IDs end up serving a negative purpose, that of providing a false sense of security to the minority shareholders. 
    • Today's ET carries an excellent article from Prithvi Haldea of Prime Database about the institution of independent directors.  Very interesting read.  Read it here.
    • BTW do you know that there are a total of 6,443 individuals serving as IDs on the boards of 2,213 listed companies.
  • A shocker of a judgment from the EU Commission on Intel
    • AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) a competitor to Intel filed an anti trust case against Intel with the EU Commission charging Intel with encouraging customers staying away from chips manufactured by AMD.
    • The EU investigated into the matter for 8 years and finally delivered its judgment now.  It indicted Intel.
    • The Commission noted that Intel impeded competition by giving rebates to computer makers that buy all or almost all of their chips from Intel.  Intel gave rebates to computer makers from 2002 until 2005 on the condition that they buy at least 95% of chips for PCs from Intel. The commission said Intel imposed “restrictive conditions” for the remaining 5%, supplied by AMD.
    • It imposed a record 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 billion) as fine on Intel.  This is one of the largest ever fines imposed by the EU Commission.  It is double the 497 million-euro penalty against Microsoft Corp in 2004 and surpassed an 896 million euro fine against Cie de Saint-Gobain SA in a cartel case in November.