Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Traffic in cochin city

Another Bumpy ride in Cochin city. I was alarmed at the ratio in whcih the private vehicles increase in the city. The reason I find is: No one believes in the Public Transport. In fact by driving their own vehiclesto city, they are also adding to the problem. There is no space in city to accomodate all the vehicles. In the morning and evening, it takes mimmum half an hour to cross one Kilo meter. The city tries to attract investment and the Government claims also by acknowledging the Dubai internet city's upcoming investment 'SMART CITY'. But the exisitng city cannot be smart without solving the traffic issue. the adminstration has some how resolved to the point that there cannot be any Fly overs, metro rails or sky buses in city. This may be the only city in India having more that one million population, without any traffic improvement systems. No wonder, citizens migrate to the other parts of the world. There is cynisism in everyone's mind.
The roads are nightmares to any driver.The pot holes and the gutters results in lose of lives everyday. In a previous article I had written that this is the state sponsored terrorism. The other day, the Kerala Chamber of Coommerce which is head quartered in Cochin mooted the idea of maintaining the city roads by Chamber. They will spend required money and give gurantee to the people and to the Government for the work they have undertaken. If any pot holes appear in the road, political parties can call for a Hartal against the vandalism and misappropriation of the funds by the Chamber!!!! One more step ahead, we can ask the Chamber to post the sign Board at the beginning of the road advertising the contractors' name and his telephone number. We can ask the Chamber to publicise suo moto their deals in the road repair. We can demand all these and the Chamber is ready to undertake all these difficult tasks at least those in the eyes of the Government. But what was the Government reply???
Government said they are not keen to give the works to Chamber, this time it is not beacuse of the fear of loss of jobs in PWD department but some thing trivial to these kinds of suggestions; they will lose money......

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

JNNURM and Cochin Coperation

I was wondering the other day reading the JNNURM status report in Cochin. The Coperation has been so murky in their stand in their dealings with JNNURM so far. This is the same Coperation dealt with ADB an Administrative Staff College on various projects including the double entry sytem for accounts. They are supposed to learn and improve their auditing system by now. But under JNNURM, Cochin coperation seems to be in the loggerheads on accounts part. Many times, what wonders me is the attitude and the way the Coperation deals with this situation. I am not sure they know their assests and values in the city. If they do not know, at least the citizens have the right to know it. May be we can ask for their assessment on their properties and send thema message that we are watchful in these areas and let them understand they cannot fool everyone everytime.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What can Police do in T Nagar?

I was on the way to Anna Nagar this evening. I was waiting for a bus in T Nagar area. These days I prefer to commute in share autos as it is fast and also convenient to me. It was around 9.30 p.m. There are frequent share autos from T Nagar area to Anna Nagar. The charges are fixed in share autos in Chennai unlike the regular ones. When a share auto came to my side, I boarded it. I was the first passenger to board it. I was sitting near to the driver as he was waiting for more passengers. All of a sudden, a police man appeared in the scene; “where are you going?” he asked the driver. “Anna Nagar”, the driver replied. Then the police man came near to the door where I was sitting and showed his palm to the driver with a meaning to it. I could not understand for a moment what is happening. The driver immediately, gave Rs 10 to the policeman. The police man disappeared in the crowd. It generated much curiosity in me. I asked the driver as he started the drive from T Nagar area. By that time the auto was full of passengers. He told; “it is mamul (bribe) that each auto driver pays everyday to the Police; Rs 10 per day. Though there are permits for these share autos, the police have to get money everyday. Otherwise, one or another reason they will not allow us to drive the auto”. My curiosity increased. “How many autos are commuting from T Nagar area?”; I asked. I understood there are more than 300 share autos serving the passengers in T Nagar area. If that is the case, what is the Police share; yes it is a simple arithmetic; Rs 3000 per day and around Rs 1 lakhs per month. Yesterday I was wondering what can the President do to the citizens, today I learnt this is what our Police force can do for the poor people.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What can the President of India do?

I was going to Madras University campus in the morning. The bus was caught up in traffic snarl near Chepauk Stadium. The bus was diverted to another route. Then i came to understand the President in city. Though I read the news in the morning, I never thought about the traffic jam when I set out. I have to get down from the bus since the bus condcutor said the bus would not go to Anna Sqaure, where the university is. I walked down the road in the direction of the University campus. then I approached an auto. when we reached near Kannaki statue, the police again blocked the road. they even blocked the pedestrians. I had to wait for another 30 minutes to move further. Finally i reached the campus more than one hour latre. i completed the work within ten minutes and came out of the campus. then again the police has bloaked the road for the President. i waited there for another 40 minutes so that the convoy of the President passed the street. In the last five years, for the first time, I have seen in Chennai, the ever busy Marina Beach road opposite to the university and Presindency college deserted at the noon time. thank you President for giving me such a serene and beautiful site. the president convoy just passed and the traffic back to normal; I heard a crashing sound, a bike crashed into a car. As the Presindent values her time, everyone in the street is busy with their job and occupancy. They have to amend the time they lost in the traffic jam. they have to rush and this is what the President of India can do, at least for the citizens of the country

Auction KSRTC Bus stations in Kerala

Indian Railways has done reasonably well in the recent times by aunctioning its owned property adjacent to the railway stations all over India. They in fact are succesful in creating a public limited company to over see these transactions and make a business out of it. But look at the Kerala Road Transport Corperation owned properities in Kerala. Though the KSRTC bus fares are more compared to the Private Bus fares, KSRTC is still having an annual loss of Rs 84 Crores. Every nook and corner of the state, KSRTC manages unutilized property to a larger extend. Imagine if they are in the hands of the private entrepreneurs. It should have created business opportunities in Kerala and also created thousands of employment opportunities in Kerala. The tax payers of Kerala shall demad the accountability from the transport ministry on this. Even after the air trafiic has been deregulated, KSRTC is still at the mercy of politicians

Friday, October 26, 2007

School Education in Kerala

Kerala has manifested the private - public partnership in education way back in 1957 itslef. today 70 per cent of the schools are managed by private parties. The reason for the high literacy is highly attributed to the present sytem in Kerala. After this present Government came into the power, there is a turmoil in the education sector. if the higher education is in a mess, so as the case with the school education too. The ministry has taken a stand which is highly obejectionable and much self defeating; they don't allow any more private schools in the state. The reason given is it will affect the functioning of the Government schools. It is a direct challenge to the parents and the students. Moreover, it is a denigrating stand on the successful formula which his predecssors set rolling in 1957. The aversion is existing there in the case of CBSE, ICSE schools too. The matter of the fact that the education sector is under the strong grip of Teachers unions. The union exists mostly in government schools. Who is losing in this ideology driven battle; it is not the stundents or students. It is Kerala as a whole which is yet to make a mark in the Knowledge power house within the state is the victim of these decisions.
I wonder where the students of the Government school teachers and these politicians study? it is like politicians go abroad for their medical treatment while poor people have to sleep in the courty yards of the most dirty planes of Kerala, the Government hospitals. The school education lays the seedlink for the generation to come. if it is vitiated challenging an exisiting model and proven system, it is really a matter of concern.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Contempt contempt of court


It is alarming to see that in a democaratic country like India the Courts are immune to any allegations and any proceedings questioning their attitudes. One Billion population of this country has a right to know what is truth and that is why they approach the courts everytime they find the other two pillars of the State are not fulfilling their duties. Now, where can they go? personally I don't know what Mid Day times published on Justice Y K Sabharwal. I did not get the chance to read it. it would be the same case with the majority of the population in this country. what they understand today is that 'The courts are corrupt in this country' not becuase of Mid Day Times report but becuase of the verdict given by the Delhi High Court. They could have intiated an enquiry into the whole episode before coming out with Contempt Procedings against the journalists involved. Unfortunately all the media colleagues found to be taken a safe side by publishing the court order in their inside pages and not keeping them in the headlines.
Press is qualified as the fourt pillar of the democracy. Though we have many disagreements with Indian press in the recent times especially on the way they handle certain issues, we cannot overlook the fact that they play a vibrant role in Indian democarcy. By proceding against a press report without verifying the veracity of the same, the court has overlooked its own fundamental foundations on which it has been bulit upon

Friday, September 21, 2007

Private Bus transport in Kerala

Privataisation of the routes in Kerala has been a phenominal at least in the Central Kerala many decades ago. It helped to connect even the remotest of areas and improve the transportation facilities. Though the whole Kerala could not witness that change due to the vested interests in the policy making, Kochi and nearby districts received support from the local mass on this matter.

In the recent times, road accidents in Kerala involving Private buses raised the issue of limiting the permits for the prvate buses in Kerala. I totally disagree with this move. Reasons are given below;

1. there is no propotionate improvements in infrastructure with respect to the increase in vehicles.
2. how many of us willing to give road side land for widening of the road?
3. How many of us prefer KSRTC buses to private buses?
4. what are the reasons if we prefer private buses?
5. how many of our concerned about the accidents caused by KSRTC buses too?

if the speed is the factor for the accidents to happen, what may be the reasons for such a situation?

How can we make the drivers and owners of the Private buses responsible for the safety of the passangers travelling without invoking the traditional methods adopted by the Government?

there are many options but not by limiting the permits issued and thus limiting the options of passengers.....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Media in Kerala

I was getting back to Kerala after two week's South India tour. The moment I landed in Cochin airport, what i noticed was the news in TV screen there. Another news of corruption in the God's own country. this time it is connected to the helipad construction for PMs visit to trivandrum. next day when i looked at the news columns, i was shocked to read the resignation of Chief Secretary of the state on this scandal. She insisted her resignation to CM saying that she was innocent in the whole issue. Whatever be the truth, news papers and media channels in Kerala has another busy time with ever growing public dissent on the corruption and bribe in this part of the world. stories after stories of different versions are available in different media these days. but they seem to start loosing their path on this issues as the same in the past.

How many we have read like this in the past one year? I don't where to start. But I remember the major one's like tantri and mantri ones and minister involved in the indecent act. Not to forget the bullets found out in the baggage of the state secretary of the ruling party. If it was mathrubhoomi at the top of the rating for a few weeks, Deshbhimani and Kairali did not lose in time to compete for the higher position. Remember all these happened when we had the crisis situations like Chiken Gunea and monsoon floods......

who bothers about all these issues when the masala ingredient has turned to be a basic requirement in the entertainment that is news in Kerala. what can we do? shall we pass on one news to another news? Personally when I watch Malayalam television news, i am quite often dismayed many a times as it conveys lot of cynicism and pessimism to the viewers. Let us hope things will improve when this political struggle for the power get stabilised and the voter becomes literate on this political vandalism

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More economic freedom is the key

Source: Economic Times, August 15

India is experiencing a little bit of triumphalism on the 60th anniversary of Independence. That is understandable when one considers its considerable institutional stability and, more recently economic success, compared to the state of affairs in Pakistan and its offshoot Bangladesh. Indian companies are taking over (struggling) British steel-makers and our offshoring prowess generates the respect that comes from fear. As is usually the case with a rising power, its cultural exports (largely Bollywood) have suddenly become attractive. Even the Indian cricket team delivered a series win right on cue.

The India-US nuclear deal represents a tough exercise of sovereignty unlike, for instance, Pakistan whose President reportedly had to discuss his plans to impose emergency with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. In a mirror image of the debate in this country, the Bush administration is accused of capitulating to India. Democracy, IT and a world-class corporate sector are the principal elements of India’s soft power.

In a speech earlier this month South African President Thabo Mbeki referred to India’s success in creating great companies, as an example for his country as it entered its second decade after liberation in 1994. The fact India has developed, like Japan and South Korea, but unlike, say, Malaysia and Thailand, world-class companies with managements that have international credibility, will stand it in good stead.

Of course, India always had plenty of soft power, staring with the freedom struggle. Unlike, for instance, the Russian and Chinese revolutions, whose legacy are controversial, to put it mildly, India’s independence movement is universally regarded as embodying the finest values of humanity, a moral beacon for all ages. Gandhi, India’s greatest export of soft power, has inspired freedom fighters in the decades after 1947. Martin Luther King, Poland’s Solidarity movement, Nelson Mandela, imbibed their techniques from the Mahatma.

Unfortunately, a glorious freedom struggle did not translate into great economic performance. Though India’s economic performance in 1947-80 was far better than that of the British Raj, a disastrous turn leftward in the late 1960s ensured that for a time India’s lustre dimmed as countries like South Korea and Malaysia raced ahead, both in terms of per capita income and social indices, particularly health and education. The pernicious legacy of the high noon of socialism still blights many sectors.

It is almost universally true that sectors with a high degree of government involvement, sugar, fertilisers, petroleum are all doing badly. That’s a lesson the government and the wider political class needs to keep in mind as it contemplates fiddling with booming sectors such as retail or natural gas.

It’s not clear if India’s politicians, many of whom are ‘knowledge -proof’, as Manmohan Singh in his avatar as finance minister once described them, entirely get it. India seems to have hit a sweet spot with savings and investment in the 34-35% range and the demographic dividend — 25% of Indians are between 20 and 35 — kicking in. According to a recent McKinsey report, India’s consumer market, currently the 12th largest in the world, will reach the size of Italy by 2015, and will be the fifth largest by 2025. Its middle class will be close to 600 million by then.

As in the case of the East-Asian miracle, high growth appears to be engendering high savings leading to high growth. GDP growth in the 8-9% range for a 20-year period will transform India. It will generate tax revenues, which if wisely spent, will improve India’s wretchedly poor social sector indices. These include an infant mortality rate of 58 per 1,000, life expectancy of 64 and the fact that too few Indians go to college.

Improving these statistics will help make growth more inclusive by enabling more and more Indians to participate in the higher rungs of the globalisation ladder. But then only high growth can generate enough revenues to make that happen. To ensure this India will have to spend more on upgrading its still abysmal infrastructure: power, roads and ports. A lot of this will be through private investment, though the government will have to step in, in case of rural roads, water supply and irrigation.

Apart from its role in hard infrastructure creation, the government will need to work concertedly at its governance, right from ensuring transparent bidding processes for public-private projects to ensuring delivery of health and education services. Above all, the state ought to reduce uncertainty in business decision, which it generates by constantly changing all rules and the occasional ban. The fabulous legacy of the freedom struggle can only be nurtured, for the next 60 years and beyond, by more economic freedom.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Kerala - Another travelogue

D. Dhanuraj

I was on a visit to Coimbatore yesterday. i started from Cochin at 7 am in the morning. from Cochin Coimbatore is about 190 Km. Many times, I have covered the distance within five hours (not a bad one in Indian standards). But yesterday it took 6 Hours. I had some work to do there. By the time I reached there it was 1 pm, lunch break time for most of the offices. so I could leisurely enjoy the lunch for an hour. I had to rush through my official business so to leave the city by evening. i started return journey by 5 pm and reached cochin by 11 pm. What i got in Coimbatore to conduct my Business is about 3 hours. I was asking my fellow travellers on this plight. i realised that everyone is cynical in the State these days. They want to protest and make things good but they don't see any ray of hope in the horizon. Ask anyone in the street, they will say they have lost their trust in both coalitions namely LDF and UDF. then came the news; one of my fellow traveller's mobile phone rang.. It says that Hartal is declared in Ernakulam District for saturday. i was praying that the bsu could reach the city before mid night. other wise another issue may crop up since no one really wants to take risk by driving on a hartal day.. Yes this is Kerala, God's own country. The raod in between trissur and Palaghat was washed away one month back. No one has called for a hartal on this nor there was not any hartal on garbage issue in Cochin. Why? because there was no martyers to be borne as a result of Police lathicharge and Hoologanism in Streets on these people's issues..........

Thursday, August 02, 2007

India, China fail to expand benefits to people, says ADB study

India and China account for 64 per cent of GDP in 23 Asian countries included in a study but rank quite low when it comes to benefits percolating to their people.
While India ranks 18th, China ranks at 10th when it comes to benefits to the people in terms of living conditions according to a new study of the Asian Development Bank, “International Comparison Programme in Asia and the Pacific: Purchasing power Parity Preliminary Report”.
This picture was evident when the size of the economies is adjusted by population. Rather than dominating the rankings, China and India drop to 10th and 18th positions, respectively, out of the 23 economies participating in the full GDP comparison.
Similarly, China ranks 15th and India ranks 17th when economies are compared based on “actual final consumption of households” (AFCH), a better measure of economic well-being of the population.
The AFCH is a measure of what households actually consume, comprising what they purchase and what they are supplied for individual use by the government (principally education and health). The economic well-being of the population is obtained by comparing household consumption expenditure per capita.
The five economies that top the list are Hong Kong, China (HK$125,303 per capita); Taipei,China (HK$109,108); Singapore (HK$99,706), Brunei Darussalam (HK$81,744), Macao and China (HK$67,639). A Hong Kong dollar is Rs 5.14.
Country Per Capita
Real GDP
Per Capita

RealPrice Level
Index GDP
(Hong Kong,
Bangladesh 7,245 6,553 48
Bhutan 20,903 12,346 49
Brunei 269,581 81,744 74
Cambodia 8,269 7,771 43
China 23,556 11,502 57
Fiji 23,583 25,235 117
Hong Kong (Ch) 202,941 125,303 100
India 12,070 9,346 46
Indonesia 18,427 15,089 55
Iran 60,857 42,945 41
Lao 10,361 7,203 38
Macao (Ch) 212,617 67,639 90
Malaysia 65,136 35,626 63


Mongolia 15,104 10,530 47
Nepal 6,177 5,902 43
Pakistan 13,658 13,230 44
Philippines 16,663 14,145 54
Singapore 236,336 99,706 88
Sri Lanka 19,839 17,629 48
Taipei (Ch) 147,971 109,108 82
Thailand 39,086 28,917 54
Vietnam 12,295 8,541 40
The five economies that are at the bottom of the survey are Nepal, Bangladesh, Lao, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. As for the people living in the two giant economies, a person living in China spends an average of only HK$11,502 per year, while an Indian consumes an average of HK$9,346 per year.
Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) is an idea popularised by The Economist's Big Mac Index which prices hamburgers in global cities for a quick and crude comparison of living standards. The ICP is more comprehensive as it covers a broader range of commodities.
Based on the price level index, which is the ratio of the PPP to the exchange rate, Fiji Islands and Hong Kong, China are the two costliest places to live in. They are followed by Macao, China; Singapore; Taipei and China.
China ranks eighth, and India ranked 16th in terms of PLIs. Price levels in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are very similar and are close to the Asian average. The cheapest places are Lao, Vietnam, Islamic Republic of Iran, Cambodia, and Nepal.
“The results provide the most comparable information on breakdown of GDP expenditures across the Asia Pacific,” ADB Chief Economist Ifzal Ali says. “Purchasing Power Parities are a more appropriate currency converter to compare living standards and the structure of economies than market exchange rates.”
The results are deployed for investment strategies, the global campaign against poverty and national policies such as appropriate spending on schools or infrastructure in Asia.
Using real GDP, estimates were done using assumed growth rates and how long it will take some countries to reach certain levels of per capita real GDP. For example, it will take the Philippines more than 20 years to reach Thailand's present per capita real GDP level if it grows at an average annual per capita rate of 3.7 per cent.
Looking at China, it needs only 16 years to reach the $HK100,000 per capita real GDP level but nearly 30 years to catch up with Brunei, based on an annual per capita growth rate of 9.2 per cent.
India needs more than 30 years to come up to the $HK100,000 per capita real GDP level, and almost 50 years to match Brunei's per capita real GDP, if India continues to grow at an annual per capita rate of 6.5 per cent.
The ICP Asia Pacific is part of a global initiative managed by the Asian Development Bank in collaboration with the ICP Global Office and other regional agencies across the world.
The ICP results, for the first time, enable a robust cross-country comparison of major macroeconomic indicators across diverse economies of Asia and the Pacific.

source: Business Standard

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Garbage and queen of Arabian Sea

As the traffic blockades continue in cochin city, the industrial capital of God's own country is in the newsheadlines for a wrong reason; piling garbage. The city has been growing ever since the state formation and it is the only city in Kerala which has a true cosmopolitian atmosphere. the population in city is more than 2 million and it has been home from Jews to Sikhs. The city contributed much to the state GDP.

today, Cochin has been rated potential IT city. Smart cities and IT parks have slowly started descending down to the shores of Arabian sea. but the city admisnistration is neither smart enough to tackle the issues like grabgae disposal. The city corporation has been ruled by people lacking vision and mission on this subject. during the last one decade, the garbage issue grown out of propotions but there has no realisitic approach from the administration. whenver the court smelled foul or bitten by mosquitoes, the corporation received the admonishment from the High Court. for the next few days, corporation slug out all its machinery to save its face. this has been the norm for the last many years.

this monsoon worsened the situation. there are reports corruption and bribe on the part of officials and the party leaders added misery to the city life. another day, another foul smell opened the eyes of judiciary and luckily for the city dwellers. The city does not have any vacant space nor any recycling plants. the city adminstration bought land in the suburbs for building the recyling plant has been a forgotten event for many officials. to save thier seats they have to act; solution: why should we waste time and money for a recycling plant; instead we can simply dump the garbage there itself. can we call it ' State sponsored vandalism?' anyway, at the end f the day, they have retract at the fury of the locals. now they found another place; udayamperoor. reports suggest that the they have to find another place soon........ how long can this thamasha go on?

can we blame the city adminstrators alone? yes we agree that they failed in their vision. but that is the plight of this God's own country. at the same time, are we lacking civic sense? why can't be corporation be a facilitator and monitoring agency instead of implementing agency? encourage and facilitate the resident associations to come up with thier own plans and solve the garbage issue at the ground level. it shall be the responsibilty to separate the different types of wastes and then hand over to the RWA run recycling plants. in an ever growing city like cochin, most of these issues can be solved with truly decentralised planning and administration. for this to happen, political parties have to bend their minds to equip themselves to facilitate the working of RWAs. unfortunately, their minds are also piled with grabage

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kochi - traffic blocks................. never ending

this is a sad commentary on the affairs in the city of cochin. City is notorious for the traffic blocks. there is no proper traffic system in the city. All the traffic signals, which of course is a obsolete in the traffic map, are famous for its 15 seconds green pasture. My personal experience outside taught me a lesson that the green light shall be on for at least 90 seconds to clear one end of the road before the signal switches over to the other ends. here in cochin, each time when the green signal is on, it provides only max 15 to 20 seconds for the vehicles to cross the eventually ends up with more traffic blocks and more fuel consumption. science text books in school classes teaches us that any engine accelerates consumes more energy to reach the steady state. Cochin is an apt place to demonstrate this phenomenon.

is there any standard road in cochin or any road can be called as road built for vehicle movement. all the roads are known for death knells and gutters. it slows down the vehicle movement and thus ends in traffic blocks. but who cares? another day when the movement of any high court judge is affected, let us hope there will be an improvement.

calculate the loss of time and most significantly, the loss of lives. if the roads are repaired and widened, how much time we can save. where does the money go allotted for the repairing works of the roads? no one is bothered much. is it because of the cynicism that has become a part of social life of Kerala?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Kerala - leading to a disaster?

Recent developments in Kerala lead to many disturbing thoughts in my mind. Each day cannot pass without acknowledging the beaming headlines of corruption and vandalism. To make it worse, in most of these acts the state is involved in one way or another. There seems to be no end to this series of stories appearing everyday. Most of the political party leaders are throwing stones each other on the corrupt practices that they are indulged into and reported by media in order to save their face value. Kerala, having high penetration of media sources, exemplifies how the state is run under the murky dealings of a few individuals. Now onwards, it is accepted in Kerala that even the bribe and corruption are legalised provided that monetary transaction involved in the whole deal is retunred to both parties with market defined interest rates!!!!!!!!!! State sponsors corrupt practices that is rampant in Kerala society.

Other major issue is the increaasig motor accidents in Kerala. Everyday not less than ten individuals lose their lives in the gutters and potholes of Kerala. No one gives value to the life and the significance of time. Traffic blocks are the order of the day. Malayali learns the lessons of patience sitting in the public trnasport. why? State sponsored malpractices in the construction and repairing works of roads and neglignece in the maintenance and support part.

Garbage issue is another one. All the local bodies find it difficult to find place to dump the garbage collection. reason:the lack of vision on the future and negligence. Again state is under threat as a result of state sponsored whmisical attitude of the rulers.

Whethere these developments lead to a situation of total anarchy in the state? can we see a comparison of total collapse of the state as the world witnessed at other parts of the globe one decade back. are we heading to a public audit where the citizens lose their patience and throw away the exisiting systems and believes?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today kerala witnessed the closure strike by members of the merchant association opposing the retail entry of the private companies. in this context this article found to be very interesting;

Sunil Jain: Making organised retail work

Sunil Jain / New Delhi June 25, 2007

While the government has begun work on implementing the CPI(M)’s proposal to restrict the spread of organised retail in the country by strict licensing norms which go back to the old licence-permit-raj days (June 19: No idea left behind), the retail industry itself appears in more than a bit of a mess. French retailer Carrefour, which is among the biggest in the world, and was supposed to be coming into the country within “two to three weeks” (to quote Commerce Minister Kamal Nath) in February, has postponed its India plans indefinitely given the political uncertainties associated with large retail. ITC, similarly, plans to wait it out for the next six months, according to a statement in the Press by S Sivakumar, the CEO of ITC’s agri-business division, and probably won’t set up its Choupal Fresh stores this year in several cities it had planned to earlier.
Among the others, Bharti Wal-Mart is now talking about opening its stores towards the middle of next year, a delay of 8-10 months already from what earlier reported launch dates were, and Reliance’s plans appear in a flux as well. While the company had talked of setting up nearly 1,000 (2,000-5,000 sq ft) stores by March 2007, it has achieved just 15-20 per cent of its target.
The government is still hopeful that the few players who are already in will slowly transform the country’s retail sector. That once they start sourcing cheaper fruits and vegetables, they will win over the common man; and once they set up linkages with farmers and assure them higher prices through reduction in the number of middlemen and in the 20-25 per cent wastage that takes place today in most staples and unprocessed fruits and vegetables, they will win them over as well. In other words, the pace may be slower than the government initially wanted, but if it delivers the goods, what’s the problem?
Theoretically, that’s a sound proposition, but it won’t work, for the same reason that small increases in an aeroplane’s power don’t help it take off until it reaches a critical minimum level. In the retail context, the amount of work, and investment, required to develop the supply chain is too big for any single player, and until this supply chain is built up fully, even the single player cannot do well. In other countries, specialised supply chains do this work, leaving the retailers to concentrate just on setting up their shops and selling things, but such specialised players will not come into the country until there are enough retailers who can be their clients. According to Arvind Singhal of retail consulting firm Technopak, some years ago, Snowman Foods tried to set up specialised supply chain services along with Mitsubishi, but had to shut shop as there weren’t enough retail firms doing good business.
Some numbers should help make this clearer, as well as clarify the extent of the loss by not allowing organised retail to take off. According to a recent report by credit rating firm Crisil’s research arm, the total market for staples and unprocessed fruits and vegetables is around Rs 4.7 trillion, or about $115 bn. And on this base, thanks to huge wastages and high storage costs and commissions to various middlemen, according to Crisil, there is an annual loss of Rs 1 trillion, or around $24 bn. Since farmers earn around Rs 1.8 trillion, or $44 bn, from food grains and fresh grocery, Crisil tries to estimate what they would earn if wastage levels fell dramatically thanks to organised retailing and if, once the number of middlemen declined, they got higher margins. This would increase farm incomes to Rs 2.5 trillion, or by around 37 per cent.
So, can a handful of organised retailers, growing at a curtailed pace, achieve these savings? Clearly not. To achieve the cost savings of $24 bn, organised retailers will have to capture the entire sales of around $115 bn. Which means, given a rule of thumb sales-to-investment ratio of around 3.5, organised retailers will need to invest around $33 bn in just this end of the business. Given that, say, a Reliance plans to invest a total of $6bn, of which just around $1.5-2 bn will be in the foodgrains and fresh grocery business, it is obvious its efforts will be minuscule compared to what is required.
If the maths is too complicated, here’s a simpler text explanation: In order to appeal to customers, Reliance Fresh needs to get foodgrains and fruits and vegetables from various parts of the country. Since the company only has access to just so much capital, and in so much time, it will naturally choose to put up its cold chain network only in some parts of the country. Let’s assume this is north India, for the moment. Which means that, if the company needs to bring in some goods from other parts of the country, it will not be able to do so as it does not have a cold chain there. And if it does bring in food from other areas, it won’t be as fresh, or cheap. And, over a period of time, customers will move away.
If the government is serious about improving the lot of farmers, it is obvious it has to develop organised retail. And it is equally obvious that just one or two chains will not do the trick, an entire retail eco-system will have to be created. If not, get prepared to hear India’s retail giants announce further rollbacks in their ambitious plans.

Friday, June 01, 2007

InfoChange India News & Features development news on Right to Information in India

Right to info soon to be available online

Bringing information closer to the public and extending the scope of e-governance, the Chief Information Commission proposes to accept applications for information online, and put all information that comes under the purview of the RTI Act online

The landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, is all set to take its next big step -- it will now be accessible on the Internet. Soon, applications for information under the Act can be made by email, and all government information that comes under the purview of the Act will be put up on the worldwide web.

The Central Information Commission, the nodal agency for administering the RTI Act, will ask all government departments to begin accepting applications for information from citizens via email.

Applications can be sent in by email and the fee of Rs 10 sent through postal order whose number will be in the email. First and second appeals can be sent in scanned, via email, said Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah. He added that instructions would be sent out to all departments in a few days. “These are only recommendatory instructions, but departments usually follow them.”

The plan to completely computerise the government’s information was devised jointly by Habibullah and officials of the National Informatics Centre. It was sent to the prime minister last month for his approval. It has also been proposed that government-related information of any kind that can be shared with citizens -- possibly tens of millions of pages -- be put up on the Net.

If these proposals are accepted, citizens can look forward to seeking information from the government from their homes, and paying for the service online through their credit cards. “We may also have facilities for online payments later, though it is not being planned right now.” Besides improving ease in access, the idea is also to make the process of providing information less unwieldy.

In January this year, Bihar took the lead in launching a similar innovation in the filing of RTI applications -– citizens can make a phone call to a call centre where they can put in their request for information under the Act. The fee will be added to their telephone bill.

The Right to Information Act, implemented in 2005, enables all citizens to seek any information from the government, with some restrictions on information related to national security and privacy concerns. But while the Act has been widely praised for increasing transparency in governance, its implementation has been tedious.

“The process of filing an RTI application is very cumbersome. People don’t understand governance, they do not know which department handles what -- or how to deposit money, and in whose name,” says RTI campaigner Arvind Kejriwal.

Source: Hindustan Times, May 24, 2007, May 24, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sports – the glamour event of Kerala


Sreeshant is the latest hero of Kerala kids. This is a process continued, only the characters are changed over the years. The list is endless, P T Usha, Shiny Wilson, M D Valsamma, Rosakutty, Yohannan, BinaMol, I M Vijayan, Anju Boby George………….. the prospects and achievements varied at both national and international stages. Thanks to Colonel Godavrama Raja and DGP Joseph, the state generated much interest in sports scene.

Now, the state government has come up with sports lottery. The objectives behind the lottery are praiseworthy; the state wants to win more Olympic medals and Asian Games medals, a mission indeed. Government of Kerala plans to raise more than 200 crores by the sports lottery. At this point, I thought of inviting your attention the stature of the Sports and Games in this country…….

No one knows how much money we spend every year for Sports and Games. The aim is nothing but win medals in International meets like Olympics and Asian Games. The over all medal tallies of our country in all these Olympic Games is simply at our finger tips even though the money allocated to raise the standard of sports in annual budgets and spent by Union Sports Ministry are in millions. Then comes the question; what is the productive outcome of Sports Ministry? Sports Authority of India (SAI), the National Institute of Sports (NIS), state associations…………many are lined up to eat the pie. But where are the results?

What are we going to do with the money that would be collected under sports lottery banner? Are we going to create many more associations to accommodate politicians who mastered the martial arts well in their filed??? Government should spell out the plans prior hand. This can be a good example for transparency and accountability of the system.