Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Terror

Another round of terror at Mumbai is finally over.

The security forces have finally overcome the terrorists who wreaked havoc in India's financial capital. It took them almost 2.5 days (almost 59 hours) to quench the terror attacks that began late on Wednesday night.

According to reports available on television, the intruders were all youngsters in the range of 20-25 years old. I am just shocked to imagine how much hatred must have been filled into their heads that made them to take such a step.

They surely must have known that they would not be able to return alive from this "terror" mission of their's, yet they came to spread terror. They just went about spraying bullets and killing anybody and everybody who came in their sights and in the process they gave up their own lives just to spread "terror", to scare the ordinary common man.
  • Why?
  • What were they trying to say?
  • Who is making dreaded terrorists out of these youngsters?
  • Who is filling the heads of these youngsters with so much hatred that they undertake such drastic suicide missions?
  • Why is anybody engaged in spreading hatred?
  • Why do they want to kill innocent people?
  • What do they hope to gain out of this sensless killing?
I am willing to bet that most of those who died did not even know why these terrorists shot them. I would like plead to all stop the game of hatred.

Nothing can be gained out of hatred.

Please stop!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What do you expect in your elected representative?

I just had this interesting thought...

What do you expect from your elected representatives?

Elections are a common thing in today's democratic world.

United States just completed its general elections Barack Obama has won.

Out here in Chhattisgarh, India we have just completed the polls for the state representatives - results are still awaited. Five other states in India are presently going through the poll process. Somewhere down the line within the next three to four months, the nation will vote to select the central government.

What should be criteria to vote for a representative? I am on the look out for some options and suggestions?

Please add your suggestions through comments to this post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

State Elections in 6 Indian States

State elections are currently under way in 6 Indian states.

Chhattisgarh state has already completed its first phase of polling on 14 November 2008. The second phase is scheduled for 20 November 2008. Before that, the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will be casting votes on 17th November for the 1st phase in that state. J&K elections are scheduled to be completed in 5 phases.

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Mizoram are the other states where the MLAs will be elected and installed before the end of the calender year 2008.

The chosen representatives have so many resources and so much power that they can really do wonders for the masses at large if they put their minds to it, but sadly, it does not happen that way.

Today, in this country rarely we come across leaders who are interested in doing any good for the masses. Elections often end up as an exercise to select the less bad leader. Despite knowing this, we still hope that we get a good leader who will devote at least some of his energies working for the betterment of the people.

We can only pray that we get a good leader.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is Bailout a sustainable solution? No!

Bailout is not and can never be a feasible sustainable solution to the economic turmoil the world is facing.

The American economy has always been looked up on as a free trade economy where performance pays and sloppiness is brutally punished. The economy of this great country was doomed the day government started interfering with fair market forces.

Bailout packages can and must be used only has stop-gap emergency mechanism to handle sudden collapse due to unforeseen events. It is completely unfair to the taxpayer to use his hard earned money to fill the pockets of industrialists and executives who did not have the vision or guts to face the changing market conditions.

History is showing that each time economy was supported with bailout packages it has risen only fall harder the next time.

This happens because the manufacturers have been producing more than what the market needs or can consume. Due to this, competition has become so stiff that manufacturers are falling head over heals to please the consumer. Companies are working on wafer thing margins that make vulnerable to the slightest tremble in the market.

Take automobile industry for example. For years sales was proped by providing its customers with easy financing options. The consumers have so much credit on their hands that they is unable to meet their obligations. As a result, the finance companies are in a mess. Today, a major company like General Motors is at a position where sales have fallen so miserably that the automobile giant is in on the verge of a collapse and government is mulling another bailout package to salvage this company.

Bailout packages may revive sales in the short run, but it will not be able to sustain the recovery in the long term. For a long term solution to the crisis - according to me - there is an immediate need to reduce production capacities to level where the consumer must have to make an effort to get his needs fulfilled.

The basic rule of capitalism - Survival of the Fittest - is the one and only law that will decide the outcome. Bailout packages can and will only delay the fall of the weaker companies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who will benefit from the US$ 700 billion bailout package?

Who will benefit from the US$ 700 billion bailout package?

This question has been turning inside my head since the bailout package was first proposed. I have been trying to understand the rationale behind it and have come to conclude that certainly the package is certainly not for the benefit of the public at large. The only person who - as I can see - will get some respite from this bailout is US President George Bush. The only gainful purpose that the bailout package will serve is to buy time so that President George Bush can make a graceful exit from office.

I strongly feel that there is no way the crisis can get over until there is a major shakedown in the industrial sector. Manufacturing houses around the globe that stand on weak economic foundations will collapse and many people will lose their jobs.

Below are arguments to support this conclusion.

US has been the largest consumer of most industrial production both domestic and imported. Capital goods, durables, homes etc. Does it really have the appetite for a continuously increasing supply of so much of everything?

I don't think so - at least not any more for some time to come. There is a point when every bowl must fill and the bowl called US has just overflowed. Availability is much much above demand.
More cars are being produced than the consumers need. More houses are being built that the consumer require.... this list can go on.

In the begining of the industrial era - goods were comfortably sold to all those who had money to buy them. Soon, all the able had bought out. This was when the era of forced marketing came on the scene. Producers sought ways to sell their products - advertising, merchandising et al - every gimmick in the book was used.

There came a time when all marketing measures were exhausted, then stepped in the financiers. Consumers were provided with funding (through financial institutions) so that they could go out and buy more. Availability of credit made it easier for people who did not have lump sum cash on hand to buy and then pay gradually in installments. This lead to the second industrial boom. People went out and bought second and third cars in the family, bigger houses and all the luxuries credit could buy.

Everyone was happy! Folks were getting the goods they thought they needed. Financiers were earning good interest rates. Manufacturers were selling briskly at good margins.

It is natural, when one has to pays up front for a purchase, he will negotiate to the maximum and ensure he gets value for money. When goods are sold on credit it allows to the vendorto make some extra money in the deal.

As is the nature of free markets, competition stepped in. Many financiers mushroomed. They went out of the way extending credit - believe me way out. Soon credit limits increased as more and more credit was handed out to the consumer. In the bid to reach the customer first some financial establishments did not do proper credit worthiness evaluations.

The financiers were happy! They too went out and got loans - in the form of deposits or equity - to finance their customers. The consumers are loaded and loaded with tons of credit - overburdened. There came a period when the overburdened consumer just could not pay back. They started taking loans to payback old loans, and things kept getting worse. He was addicted to facilities credit brought to him and kept availing them too.

The whole thing bloated and bloated and finally the bubble has burst. Financiers are in deep trouble because the consumers are in no position to payback leading to foreclosures.
The foreclosed assets won't sell because there are very few creditworthy consumers willing to buy these overpriced assets. Financiers are stuck with assets that won't sell and have dried up the capital unable to pay their lenders - shareholders, depositers. Giants like Lehman, AIG etc have already tumbled and many more in line.

The US$ 700 billion bailout package will merely slowdown the impact of recession and not stop it.

It is now time that the manufacturers feel the heat. Manufacturers have not yet felt the impact, but they had better brace up. With financing out of the system, very few customers are left who will go out and buy their produce. The crash in the financial system is just a tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The so-called financial wizards have fallen

Investment bankers like Morgan-Stanley had left no stone unturned to convince us that they are financial wizards and know everything that is happening in the financial markets around the world.

To think, that they used to have their own rating systems and many a manufacturing companies have been quoted striving to ensure that they got a good rating with these so-called financial wizards.

The fall of the US financial markets and way Lehman, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley etc. have lined up outside US Fed's office has surely revealed their true nature. It has become evident that these people were just riding the wave and knew little or almost nothing about the actual conditions of the financial markets.

It seems that they were just cashing on the gullible people's belief. All their claims of deftness was just a marketing ploy. They efficiently used technical terms and literature to confuse the common man into believing that were on the top of things.

These so-called financial wizards have been the ones to fall the hardest in the current financial crisis.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Printer manufacturers can help control pollution

In an era where waste management is a big issue, would it not be in the interest of everybody if printer manufacturers like HP were to come forward to encourage refilling and encourage reuse of the printer cartridges, toners, ink tanks etc and provide proper ink, toners and refill kits?

Today, printer manufactures are actively engaged in using technology to restrict consumers from being able to refill the cartridges used in their printers. This is, obviously, done to force to users to buy the expensive "original" cartridges by the manufacturers.

For the users this means...
  • Increased cost of printing per page.
  • Piling up to avoidable waste in the form of empty cartridges.
The empty cartridges are contributing to the huge plastic waste that is compiling around the globe. My little office has 2 HP inkjet printers for the last 3 months and there are already 8 empty cartridges lying around waiting to be disposed.

The use of refilling not only drastically brings down the per page cost of printing, it also reduces a major waste management problem significantly. Besides this, if original solutions are available from the manufacturers, themselves, consumers like me will not have to use alternate low quality solutions from the grey market.

I strongly believe, it is high time governments take a pro-active step and convince the printer manufacturers to promote refilling in a bid to help reduce the wastage generated in the form of printer cartridges.