Politics & the Nation
  • BJP backs N-bill; private cos nuked
    • The UPA government has secured the support of BJP for the nuclear liability bill after it made concessions which, among other things, include shutting out private players from the nuclear sector.
    • This represents a setback for Indian private companies that are keen to enter nuclear power equipment business. US and European companies have been exploring business potential in discussions with Indian firms such as Tata Power, L&T, GMR and Jindal. Industry leaders Westinghouse-Toshiba and GE-Hitachi of the US, AEC of Canada, and Rosatom of Russia have already signed MoUs to partner L&T in building reactors in India.
    • The redrafted bill now specify that it deals only with plants operated or owned by the government. The government has also agreed to raise the operators’ liability cap from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,500 crore. Besides this, the provision will be worded in such a way that the liability of the operator or total liability can be enhanced from time to time without parliamentary approval. The demand to raise the liability cap was made by BJP and Left parties. However, the Left had asked the government to raise it to Rs 10,000 crore. BJP wanted the bill to include a statement in the main enactment and the preamble that all liability under the Act will be “no fault liability,” under which the victim of a nuclear accident need not prove negligence.
    • The government has also agreed that there will be no reference to any international convention such as the Convention on Supplementary Compensation.
    • With “almost all” of its concerns addressed, BJP is now on board on the civil liability for nuclear damages bill, which is necessary to operationalise the Indo-US nuclear deal.
    • This paves the way for the bill to be in place ahead of US president Barack Obama’s visit in November. The government is likely to place the amendments before the Union Cabinet at its next meeting so the bill can be taken up in the ongoing session of Parliament.
Finance & Economy
  • India Inc is buying jets like there is no tomorrow
    • Around a billion dollars’ worth of new private aircraft are expected to land here over the next one year — 157 of them at last count.
    • When inducted, these planes will catapult this country to fourth position in the world market for corporate jets, according to industry estimates. India is currently the 18th largest base for corporate jets, with 111 registered mini planes. In that respect India is, in fact, much ahead of China, which has just about half the number of corporate jets though it has more billionaires!
    • What makes Inida Inc go for these jets?
    • Aviation experts opine that buyers want the luxe factor, but are also mindful of the savings to be made by switching from commercial airlines. It’s cheaper to move say a dozen odd executives in a business jet than flying them business class in a commercial airline.
    • Luxe factor: Besides the comfort of tailormade travel plans and timings, the high quality fittings and equipment offered by aviation companies adds to the allure of private jet travel for the Indian billionaires. Mood lighting and blended wood finishes for the private suites in mid-size and bigger jets, digital projectors for power point presentations, state-of-the-art communication networks, including satellite phones and internet connectivity in the air, are standard features that go into these private jets.
    • Then for that special touch there’s designer upholstery and custom-made leather seats from BMW that convert into flat beds, gold-plated bathroom fittings, handmade linen and bedware from Noel in Paris, silverware from the French house Christofle, crockery, barware and crystal icetongs comes from the trendy Italian design house Alessi.
    • The charter business is another impetus, as top executives want faster transport.
  • Shale gas -- the next big variable in energy consumption
    • Take a look at this huge write up on the theme. Well worth reading.
    • It is very well written article that gives us an insight into how shale gas is going to change the dynamics of energy consumption in the coming years. Some excerpts and pointers:
    • Shale gas was first produced in the US in 1989. As a natural resource, it is reportedly more democratic and is found in several countries.
    • The size of global shale-gas reserves is not known. Potentially, every rock formation, above and under the ground, can have shale gas, but only the US has really tapped this resource. China is said to have the second largest deposits of shale, after the US. Geologists have also identified deposits in Poland and Australia. Elsewhere, including India, the work has barely begun.
    • In the decades to come, shale gas can affect countries, companies and consumers. It can alter the energy consumption-patterns of economies: how much oil and how much gas? In 2009, shale gas accounted for 13% of US energy consumption; this is projected to increase to 25-30% in three years. It can change their energy production-patterns: how much tapped at home and how much imported? It can trim the clout of oligarchic oil producers by being a natural counter to rising oil prices.
    • The share of gas in India’s energy consumption is 10-12%; this is expected to increase to 25% by 2020. A lot of the incremental gas will come from Reliance’s fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin. It will reduce India’s oil import bill by 10%, or $9 billion a year, during peak production, at current prices.
    • Given its higher cost of production — $2.5-3 per mmbtu, against $1-1.5 per mmbtu for conventional gas found on land — the price of shale gas will be attractive to consumers only if it is not transported long distances or, worse, liquefied. That calls for a sweeping pipeline infrastructure, which India presently does not have.
    • The breakthrough in shale gas came when ‘horizontal drilling’ was established as a commercially feasible technology. In conventional gas fields, one drills vertically, into the ground. In shale fields, which are essentially tight rock formations, the drill first goes down and then sideways, along with water sprays. Shale gas is found in tight reservoirs that have poor permeability.
    • But shale throws up its unique challenges. Shale producers need to have a “manufacturer’s mindset”. In conventional gas, one can dig a well and cap it for later extraction. Shale gas requires large number of wells as the volume per well is small. Further, the wells have to be drilled in quick succession to maintain continuous production. One also has to dig deeper in shale – 8,000-12,000 feet, compared to 3,000-5,000 feet for conventional gas.
    • After all this, the success rate is not too great. It reportedly generates an IRR (internal rate of return) of less than 10%.
    • For questions like: What is shale gas? Where is it used? How much of it is there? Where was share all this while, read the article in full.
    • Here is one graphic that is worth a look in this context.
  • India won’t be interested in pittance from UK: FM
    • Amid reports that the UK is taking up a review of the aid being given by it to other countries -- especially India, which happens to the largest aid receiver from the country, our Finance Minister has said in the Rajya Sabha that such aid does not mean much for the country now.
    • External aid to India from UK’s is about £285 million in 2009-10.
    • External assistance forms just 0.4% of India’s GDP and its share in the total budgetary expenditure on developmental schemes has gone down to 2.5% from 3.4%.
  • Credit cards seen losing out as debit gets preferred status
    • The Indian consumer is slowly warming up to spending through debit cards as more point of sale terminals (POS) at merchant establishments are becoming debit card compliant. Besides, debit card is also emerging as a preferred transaction tool for e-commerce payments.
    • There are 19 crore debit cards in the system. While there are only around 1.9 crore credit cards. The share of debit cards in total card spend has gone up sharply from just about 17% in FY08 to 30% in FY10. This fiscal too, consumer spend through debit card has grown, with its share in total card spend going up to 32% as of end June 2010, according to the Reserve Bank of India data.
  • What is estate planning?
    • Have lot of money? Then this is for you, if you want to bequeath your wealth to your successors in a hassle-free manner.
    • Take a look at this ET in the Classroom column that gives you a lowdown on the concept.
Language Lessons
  • autochthons: Noun
    • The earliest known inhabitants of a region
    • eg: Niyamgiri is considered sacred by the Dongria Kondhs, the region’s autochthons.


Venkataramu DH said...

Hi Ramakrishna,

The news/information you providing here is very useful for me. I am quite following this blog from couple of months. I have one suggestion here.. It will be more use full if you provide the links of web version of the articles instead of ePaper (especially ET Classroom articles). We need to subscribe/buy the epaper to view it.
I hope this will help a lot of people if you give the web version link instead ePaper link.

Thanks a lot for your efforts..


Anonymous said...

kahi pan taryaa nako maru