12.03.2010

Politics & the Nation
  • India has the second largest number of billionaires in Asia
    • This year, India is home to 49 billionaires, up from 24 last year, but a few shy of the 53 billionaires the year before. China stands first with 89 billionaires.
    • Here are some snippets that make an interesting reading:
    • Last year, there were only 793 billionaires worldwide, while in 2008, there were 1,125, the highest ever.
    • India has the most number of billionaires after the US, China, Russia and Germany.
    • The US is home to 40% of the world’s billionaires, but it is declining. Last year, it was 45%.
    • Pakistan just got its first billionaire — Mian Muhammad Mansha of the Nishat Group, which has interests in textiles and banking.
    • Fifty-twoyear-old Mukesh Ambani, with an estimated fortune of $29 billion, and 59-year-old Mittal, with a net worth of $28.7 billion, rank four and five, respectively, in a list of 1,011 billionaires with an average net worth of $3.5 billion. Apart from Mr Ambani and Mr Laxmi Mittal, only four Indians rank in the top 50. With a fortune of $17 billion, Wipro’s Azim Premji ranks 28. Mr Ambani’s estranged younger brother Anil Ambani ranks 36 with a fortune of $13.7 billion.
    • India’s 49 billionaires have a combined wealth of $222.1 billion —about 17% of India’s GDP. They have an average net worth of $4.5 billion. India’s per capita GDP is about Rs 46,000. Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal account for 25% of the total Indian billionaire wealth of $222.1 billion.
    • Incidentally Carlos Slim of Mexico has overtaken Bill Gates as the richest person in the world. His net worth is reportedly $53.5 bn
  • Narendra Modi summoned by SIT to appear before it
    • Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi faced a major embarassment when he was summoned for the first time for questioning in the 2002 riots after a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team asked him to appear before it on March 21.
    • Eight years after the post-Godhra riots, Modi suffered the ignominy of being the first-ever chief minister of any state to be called for questioning in connection with a criminal complaint after he and his administration were accused of aiding and abetting riots in one area here.
  • Reservation policy in public sector banks
    • Reservation for SCs and STs in matters of promotion at all government agencies started way back in 1997 following a Constitutional amendment (77th amendment).
    • Consequently, PSBs started follow the reservation policy when clerical cadres get promoted to officers’ level. But these banks never followed reservation policy for promotions within officers’ level. However, they used to follow a policy called ‘zone of consideration’, which translated into favourable treatment for SCs and STs at time of promotion up to scale III.
    • But recently the Madras High Court asked five public sector banks including Canara Bank, Uco Bank and Union Bank of India to follow the reservation rule.
    • This has prompted the Centre to issue a directive to all PSBs to follow a reservation policy for SC/STs at all officers’ categories.
Finance & Economy
  • The truth about IIM salaries
    • Take a look at this news story that appeared in the front page today. It brings home the reality of realistic salaries -- not astronomical figures -- of the IIM graduates. An interesting read.
  • Are Indian banks too big to fail?
    • Is it a good enough reason to prevent bank consolidation in our country? How well does that argument hold good in the Indian context?
    • These are the questions that this op-ed today answers very cogently.
    • The article goes on to argue that in the Indian context, failure of banks of any size is a political no. So, the entire sector seems to be seen as too big to fail. When that is so, mergers and acquisitions by banks should be banned only if we believe that mergers make banks weaker. While it is true that many bank mergers do not create shareholder value, it is also clear that most industry leaders have become leaders through successful acquisitions.
    • So how should we think about size and sector stability? Our policy should ensure that size does not stifle competition and consumer choice. Competition in the banking sector improves efficiency and service. This needs to be maintained. Systemic stability needs effective regulation.
    • By and large our banks are regulated well by the RBI. What our RBI does / did routinely so far -- be it capping the CEOs salaries, banning banks from doing proprietary trading, preventing them from directly owning hedge funds and private equity funds, and controlling their derivative transactions without a merchant base -- is now what is recommended for the banking sector in the US and elsewhere, where they have seen tumultous times.
    • Thus, the ’too big to fail’ talk in India is a bit out of place. The ownership structure of the banking sector in India is unlikely to change in the next 10 years and listed PSBs are likely to continue to dominate the market place. Their listing has been a great innovation in India and has led to dramatically superior returns and much improved operational efficiency than was provided by PSBs in the decade before. It is important to level the playing field for our private and public sector banks even more. This should be done in terms of HR policies, branch licensing and in the freedom to pursue board-initiated acquisition to maintain a robust and efficient market place.
  • More on LLPs
    • Sometime back we were introduced to the concept of LLPs -- Limited Liability Partnerships. It is quite some time since India allowed LLPs to operate. Here is a look at the concept once again through this ET in the Classroom column. Good one.
International
  • Why do countries favour FTAs? Why are rule based multilateral frameworks not able to take off that well?
    • Today's op-ed that appeared in ET analyses and gives very good answers for these questions. Take a look.
    • For those of you that are hard pressed for time, we attempt an excerpt:
    • As of 2008, 421 RTAs had been notified to the WTO mostly under article XXIV of GATT. If one includes RTAs not yet notified, being negotiated or at proposal stage, about 400 FTAs would come up for implementation in 2010. Again, about 90% of RTAs are proposals for free trade among members but do not extend to customs unions (CUs). The difference is that in CUs at least some country would have to lower its existing global (MFN) tariff levels.
    • So why FTAs? The failure of the trade negotiations after 1995 to promote labour-intensive exports can be traced to technical details which very few developing countries were qualified to understand. This has led to a ‘trust deficit’ which must first be overcome if multilateral negotiations are to come back on track. FTAs seem to be a defensive response to this.
    • One more reason is need to firm up international political alliances. This is probably most important for developing countries who feel particularly vulnerable in global fora like the WTO. In this context small developing economies have the greatest fears and are normally quickest to get off the block in negotiating FTAs.
    • It is important to note that these alliances (FTAs) will become even more important as other multilateral fora (like for climate change) emerge in future. To this extent, the FTAs are an insurance for future negotiations.
Sport
  • IPL 3 in action from today
    • The opening match at the D Y Patil stadium in Mumbai is between defending champions Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders.
    • What is equally riveting would be the visual extravaganza that includes live performances by Lionel Richie, Bjorn Again and Deepika Padukone before a packed house.
    • Some the branding initiatives that are being tried, perhaps for the first time include, the Google deal for live streaming of matches on YouTube, Indiagames as IPL gaming partner, Karbonn Mobiles' association as official mobile phone & title sponsor for parties post matches, ‘IPL Nights’ on MTV, special IPL shows on Colors and merchandising deal with Swiss watchmaker Bandelier.
  • vacuousness: Noun
    • Indicative of or marked by mental vacuity and an absence of ideas
    • eg: There is a certain vacuousness in current discussions on bank consolidation in India.
  • collage: Noun
    • A paste-up made by sticking together pieces of paper or photographs to form an artistic image; Any collection of diverse things
    • eg: Flags of the eight IPL team will be revealed in theatrical fashion along with a video collage on the 'Journey of IPL' and a performance of shadow artists.

1 Comment:

akshi said...

you are doing a great job... I really appreciate it... Thanks....