Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bangalore Days...

Mentioned below is my current gtalk status message. To give a background, I was on a project in Pune for 8 months, and just as I got released from there, I have been sent to Bangalore for another project. More-over, there was a big team in Pune, made a lot of good friends there, where-as in Bangalore, even though the accomodation is much better, but I am totally alone in the hotel. There is no-one to have fun with. Plus, I cannot even run-back to Mumbai on the week-ends as I used to do from Pune.

Based on all this, obviously, am a lil disappointed, and hence thought let me try to use sarcasm on others to ease my pain :-)

So, here it is...the below message is courtesy some of my friends, who have their own pains to cry on...but whatever, helps me...yea yea, the sadist me :P

Here's the message:
"On a positive note...i'm still in a metro city, nt in sme god-forsaken plc in rajasthan, i'm nt married to a girl who can as well model for a toothpaste ad, i'm no-whr close to being in a dilemma to choose between a job in mum or blore, i hvnt recvd my increment in the form of sodexho passes, and i've all d time in the wrld to come-up wid this status...thts my current status...no offence guyz :P"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baz Luhrmann Lyrics - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing everyday that scares you Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours. Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

An ET article (4th June 2009)

An opportunity in crisis
4 Jun 2009, 0101 hrs IST, ET Bureau

Legendary investor Jim Rogers has in an interview to The Economic Times warned that the very measures taken by the recession-hit western countries to spur growth could cause a bigger crisis for the world economy. His sentiments find echo in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s exhortation that central banks should return to ‘independent and sensible monetary policies’.

The crux of Roger’s argument is that the central banks have printed a huge amount of money which the real economy may not able to absorb. All this money may fuel asset prices again. In the long run, he warns, this liquidity deluge would lead to high inflation and interest rates and a worse economic downturn.

Such a stark warning would appear premature at this stage. After all, the annual rate of inflation has fallen to below zero in the Eurozone and elsewhere, too, inflation is hardly a concern. Those belonging to Roger’s camp would argue that excess liquidity in the global system could create another commodities bubble led by oil. This will cause inflation to rear its head again. In that case, it is argued, the central banks would not be able to act quickly enough for fear of causing a deeper crisis.

Even though there is sound logic to this gloomy scenario, there is very little that can be done as the priority at this stage is to stimulate economic activity. Where does that leave the investors? Jim Rogers himself admits that he would not short stocks.

The rising tide of liquidity could take them to ‘crazy levels’. So, in the short term, no matter which scenario you believe, stocks appear to be a good bet. In fact, real assets such as commodities or land have an even greater appeal in likely high inflation situation. Indeed, Rogers makes out a case for agricultural commodities, but the argument goes beyond inflation.

A spike in crude prices would cause more land to be diverted to producing bio-fuels, causing a price spiral in many farm goods. Others would disagree with the notion of commodities running up sharply in the early stages of recovery when demand is weak. One can argue endlessly, but what is true is that there is a liquidity deluge thanks to monetary loosening. And such a policy did cause possibly the greatest run up in asset prices that ended late last year.

Fund Managers can become farmers: Jim Rogers
4 Jun 2009, 0005 hrs IST, ET Bureau

Even if you are outright bearish, don't short the market. Stocks could touch crazy levels, but they may be in currencies which are worthless.
Jim Rogers
Indeed, a sovereign default and currency turmoil could rattle world markets in a year or two. In a chat with ET, global investor Jim Rogers says cotton, silver and sugar can be hot picks. Read on.

At one stage we were inundated with gloomy forecasts, which were further reinforced by the IMF and World Bank. And then suddenly stocks surged — something most were not prepared for. How risky is the market today?

Central banks all over the world have printed huge amounts of money, and the real economy is not strong enough for all this money to be absorbed... so, it's going into stocks and real assets such as commodities. It's a mistake what they are doing. It's giving short-term pleasure, but there's long-term pain as we are going to have much higher inflation, much higher interest rates and a worse economy down the road.

The American bond market is already beginning to go down dramatically as people realise that the American government has to sell huge amount of bonds, and secondly, there is going to be inflation, serious inflation, as it was always in the past when you had governments printing huge amounts of money.

Stocks are rising even as fiscal deficit is widening. Somewhere it has to snap...

It's going to snap. Later this year, next year, we are going to have currency problems, maybe even a currency crisis. I don't know with which currency — maybe with the pound sterling, maybe with the US dollar, who knows. It maybe with something none of us have at the moment. When you have a currency crisis, stocks will be affected, many things will be affected. It is not sound, what's happening out there in the world.

In the 1930s, we had a huge stock market bubble which popped. And then politicians started making many mistakes. They became protectionist. They made solvent banks take over insolvent banks and then both banks failed in the end.

They are doing many of the same mistakes now. What's different this time is that we are printing huge amounts of money which they did not print at that time. So, we are going to have inflation this time.

What do you do? No politically-elected government can afford so much pain, unemployment and hardships...

America could have. America just had an election. The guy was elected in November and he could have come in the beginning of a four-year term and said the guys before me were hopeless idiots. They ruined things. We have to solve this problem. We have to take some pains now. But don't worry, we will get through this pain, and in two to three years or four years, things would be fine. And he could have been re-elected.

If the pain comes in 2010, 2011 or 2012, there will be nobody he can blame. Especially, if things go bad later, the opposition will say, wait a minute, 2009 looked good. The next guy is going to say you did it... But you are right. It's very difficult for an elected government. You have a newly-elected government in India. Whenever you have a new government they can take some of the pain.

You recently said that you would invest in China and Sri Lanka but not in India. Aren’t you betting on the new government in India?

I was trying to make a point that if anyone wants to invest in this particular part of the world, the best place would be Sri Lanka. Because it looks like the 30-year war is coming to an end.

Throughout history, if you go to a place after the war ends you usually find everything as very cheap, everyone is demoralised, people are just depressed and there are enormous opportunities if you have energy.

In my view, investing in Sri Lanka in May 2009 is probably a better bet than Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or some of the other countries nearby. Let's hope the new Indian government does something. I have heard wonderful things from Indian politicians for 40 years.

And rarely do they produce. It's not the first time that the Congress party has been in the power. If they mean it, India's going to be one of the greatest development stories in the next 20 years. But I don’t know if they mean it.

What kind of reforms?

Why isn't the currency convertible, why isn't foreign capital encouraged, why isn't foreign expertise encouraged, why is it so protectionist? Why are farmers only allowed to own five hectares? India should be the greatest farming nation in the world. You have the soil, the weather, you have everything and yet an Indian farmer can own only five hectares.

How can an Indian farmer compete with a guy in Ireland who can own 1,000 hectares or a guy in Brazil who can own 5,000 hectares? Smart people don't become farmers. Because what's the future? Whenever prices start going up, Indian politicians ban futures trading, as if futures trading makes prices go up. It's the craziest and the most absurd thing in the whole world. Prices go up because there is a reason for prices to go up.

Last year you were buying only Chinese stocks. Why?

The market collapsed in October-November. That's when I bought more Chinese shares. I have not bought any Chinese shares since then. I have not bought shares anywhere in the world since then. My way of participating in what's going on now is to buy commodities.

In my view, commodities are the only place where fundamentals are improving. Farmers can't get loans for fertilisers now, even though inventories of food are the lowest in decades. Nobody can get a loan to open a mine. So, you will have supplies of everything continuing to decline.

What else are you looking at while investing?

There are some industries in India that would do exceedingly well in the next few years, one of which is water. You have a horrible water problem. China also has a horrible water problem. So, I bought water companies in China. There are some great opportunities if America falls off the face of the earth. China is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to solve the agricultural problem.

So, I am buying agricultural stocks and water stocks in China. There are other industries in India which have a great future. I am very bullish on Indian tourism. Wherever I go for speeches around the world I tell people, if you have to go to one country in your lifetime, you should go to India.

Your government is going to re-build the military, they say. So, there's going to be great opportunities here. Also, they may build the infrastructure. So, I see many opportunities in India.

The possibility of a sovereign default in the developed world could further depress sentiments. You think it’s possible?

In 1918, the UK was the richest and the most powerful country in the world. Within one generation it was in shambles, within two-and-a-half generations it defaulted. The UK defaulted in 1970s and had to be bailed out by the IMF. Many of the countries in the developed world are in serious trouble right now.

Iceland has already defaulted. I think there could be a currency crisis because of sovereign debt problems later this year, next year or 2011. Developed nations have defaulted before. Remember the Asian crisis. It was a default of one kind or the other. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Are you worried about any particular market or region?

I am glad that I have no investments in the UK. Neither long, nor short. I am convinced that it’s in trouble. I am worried about the US. I have sold nearly all of my US dollars. I always had some as I am an American citizen. But I see serious problems developing there. Those two of the big developed countries are the ones that I see with the most likely problems.

But the problem is that it never works that way. Everybody is sitting here watching the UK and US and it may happen in say Portugal or some place we haven’t thought of and it will come suddenly to surprise us all.

If US unemployment touches the 10%-mark, it would further impact retail sales. How bad could this be for Asia?

Let's pick on China for a minute. If you sell to Wal-Mart in the US and if you are a Chinese supplier you know there is a problem. And you are going to be suffering. Any company that deals with the West is going to have problems. On the other hand, companies that are in the water-treatment business in Asia will care less if the West disappears. They are too busy making money, too busy going to work everyday.

What kind of commodities will smart money chase? Can money be made in crude?

I own gold but think silver is better right now. Natural gas is cheaper than oil right now, but I own them all. If you want to buy crude, you should probably buy cotton. Because all farmers in the US are planting corn to turn into energy
. That means they are not going to plant any cotton. The best way to play crude oil is to buy cotton.

Right now, there are huge subsidies around the world for farmers to plant corn, maize, for instance, so that they can be converted into energy. If energy prices go higher, there will be even more of that.

If everybody plants his fields with soya, corn or palm oil to turn it into oil or energy then no one is going to plant cotton.

And you can make a lot more money in cotton than oil. Between oil and gold, buy cotton. Between oil and gold buy silver. The other way to invest in oil is to buy sugar as everybody is converting a lot of sugar into energy.
Silver is so much cheaper on a historic basis. And gold is near its all-time high. Silver is 75% below its all-time high. So, I would suspect that silver and cotton are going to do better than gold and oil.

Global population is close to its peak and genetically-modified crops will increase productivity. What makes you so bullish on agriculture?

It doesn't matter. The world has been consuming more than it produced. Food inventories are at a multi-decade low. And we haven't had any bad weather. We had isolated cases of droughts and things. That may never happen again. But if it does, the prices of food would go through the roof.

If there is climate change taking place, the best way to participate is through agriculture or through agriculture products. There are many positive things happening. Right now, there is a shortage of everything in agriculture — seeds, fertilisers, tractors, tractor tyres. We have a shortage of farmers because farming has been a horrible business for the past 30 years.

What kind of a market are you witnessing now?

It's a bear market rally. I was going to say I don't think S&P 500 will see new highs. But I have to quickly temper that by saying against the dollar because the S&P 500 could triple from here if they print enough money and the value of the US dollar collapses, then S&P could go to 50,000, Dow Jones can go to 1,00,000.

Which is one reason why I am not shorting stocks right now. Because there is a possibility of this sort of a thing. There is a possibility that stocks could go through unheard of levels, but would be in worthless currency.

That naturally brings us to the debate on a new international reserve currency

Several countries have raised the issue once again. The US dollar is terribly flawed right now. Something has to be done to the US dollar and something will be done just as something was done about the pound sterling. After World War II, people stopped using the pound sterling and converted to the dollar for many reasons. Something's going to be done about the dollar.

We are much closer to be doing something about it or will be forced to do something about it. India was forced to change in 1991 and the world will be forced to change the currency situation in the foreseeable future.

There is already an underlying fear that this mountain of cash will chase assets and eventually force central banks to mop up liquidity. How do you think this would play out?

I know they all say, 'Don't worry, we will reverse gears and take the excess liquidity out in time.' I don't believe them for a minute. No one has ever done it that way. When central bankers started trying to, it caused so much pain that they quickly reversed or have got rid of that central banker and put somebody else in.

I just don't think they could do it. That's why I am worried about the bond market and the inflation. If all central banks do it together, that's going to lead to higher unemployment, riots in the streets, civil unrests.

Your track record as an investor has been more than impressive. But in todays market can you replicate your performance of the past 20 years?

One can. I probably cannot as I am not spending enough time at it. But it can be done. There are going to be people who we will read about in 20 years having made legendary fortunes starting now. In the 1930s, there were people who built huge fortunes and laid the foundations like Templeton.

He started in the 1930s. He saw opportunities and took advantage. These are people who saw great advantages and opportunities in the 1930s, acted and became fantastic successes. There may be somebody out there now. I don’t know who she is. Maybe she is in Brazil, China or India.

What will you tell a confused fund manager who seeks your advice?

Become a farmer. The world has tens of thousands of hotshot fund managers right now. If I am correct, the financial community is not going to be a great place to be in for the next 30 years. We have many periods in history when financial people were in charge, we had many periods when people who produced real goods were in charge — miners, farmers, etc.

The world, in my view, is changing and is shifting away from the financial types to producers of real goods, and this is going to last for several decades as it always has. This may sound strange but it always happens this way. Ten years from now, it may be farmers who will drive the Lamborghinis and the stock brokers will drive tractors or taxis at best.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ghajini...Simply Awesome!!!

Just saw the movie Ghajini....i know its too late, since it released quite some time back, but anywyz.....Aweeeesoooome movie, awesome acting, both aamir & new girl asin played their roles to perfection...am very very impressed

Infact, more-so considering it was released along with SRK's 'Rab ne bana di jodi'(unfortunately, i ended up watching that one in theatres then)...However, in my opinion, SRK somehow seems nothing in comparison to aamir....its aamir who can fit into all the roles, and play it to the utmost perfection....

Truly truly impressed...a movie well-made, and perfectly executed on screen..Cheers!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Websites for Property / Flat purchases

Good links for Property / Flat purchases:



Fixed Deposits, Home Loans, Liquid MF's

Good links to compare Interest rates on Fixed Deposits, Home Loans etc.:



Liquid Mutual funds returns comparisons (MF's investing in Corporate Debt & MF's investing in Call Money Markets:



Thursday, April 09, 2009

Infrastructure - The Huge Opportunity in India


Shortfalls as opportunities
Puja Mehra
April 2, 2009

On March 11, about 100 school children showed up outside the office of the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company at Bharatinagar in Bengaluru bearing gas lamps. They carried posters that read: “If we fail, Mr. C.M. you are to blame.” and “Are we living in the dark ages?” They were protesting the untimely 2-hour power cuts just ahead of annual exams.

The infrastructure in the IT capital of India, much like that in rest of India, is inexcusable. Most of Bengaluru’s famed techies spend a minimum of two hours every day commuting to and from the Electronic City. “It’s hardly 20 km from the heart of the city, which would take half the time in London, New York or Paris,” says Mohandas Pai, a Bangalorean and the HR Head of Infosys. His frustration is understandable: An efficient transit system could save 25,000 man-hours every day for the IT titan’s staff.

If built quickly enough, it could also buffer the economic slowdown by generating demand for a variety of raw materials, equipment and manpower. But the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) project was only sanctioned in 2006 after being on the drawing board for a quarter century. “Barring a 10-month delay in the first stretch, called Eastern Line or Reach One from Bypanahalli to MG Road due to land-acqusition issues coupled with poor performance of the contractor, the project is running on schedule,” assures N. Sivasailam, MD, BMRC.

The target-completion date is 2012, but few are betting on it being met. The Bangalore Metro is amongst the few lingering projects that transitioned from the planning stage onto the ground under the UPA. The UPA government will end its tenure with a very poor record in infrastructure development. In five years, power shortages haven’t eased. The ports are even more congested. Urban infrastructure is caving in.

But when it comes to infrastructure, opportunity missed is not opportunity lost but opportunity passed on for the future. Infrastructure is the only sector which is not facing any slowdown because of the enormous demand-supply gap. The honey pot is already drawing the bees. Take power-equipment maker BHEL, which is working to raise its manufacturing capacity by 50 per cent by December 2009 and double it by December 2011. “There is no recession in the power sector,” says BHEL’s Chairman & Managing Director K. Ravi Kumar. The next few years will see the entry of many new players, including Alstom, Bharat Forge, Larsen & Toubro and Reliance in the power equipment and turnkey project manufacturing arena. Most of them are undeterred by the global economic downturn. India’s infrastructure is a sweet spot even to global companies. Last month, a BHEL-GE combine emerged the lowest bidder for an Indian Railways’ contract for 1,000 locomotives. Though the ownership of the project is not still clear, it will create a world-class manufacturing facility in Marhowra, Bihar.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, then, has just inked two separate agreements for designing and building multiple nuclear reactors here. “GE is eager to explore business opportunities in civilian nuclear power,” says Vice-Chairman John Krenicki, who toured India in March 2009 meeting key bureaucrats in the Capital.

Given that demand is growing and the supply side is ready to go, infrastructure could provide a robust foundation for building the trajectory for the return to high growth. It’s not that the government machinery hasn’t realised the importance of tapping the infrastructure deficit to beat the slowdown. Red tape and corruption, though, are likely to remain just as crippling. Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar is reportedly seeking the Election Commission’s nod to keep the pipeline of infrastructure projects flowing unhindered during the General Elections and the transition at the Centre.

Funds are not the problem. The Interim Budget presented in February provided a 72 per cent increase in spending (from Rs 6,866 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 11,842 crore in 2009-10) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Between August 2008 and January 2009, the government approved 37 infrastructure projects worth Rs 70,000 crore. “Work on projects will not stop, in fact, preparatory work is underway in the infrastructure ministries,” assures Gajendra Haldea, Infrastructure Advisor in the Planning Commission. The road sector could be amongst the biggest beneficiaries as the NHAI is expected to put up 19-road projects worth Rs 21,455 crore for tendering in the next six months. The size of the opportunity is as big as the size of the shortages.

Roads, power generation and ports are especially attractive. True, the 18 per cent peak-power shortage that persists despite the additions to the generation capacity imposes huge costs especially on industrial users.

Paper makers in Uttarakhand, for instance, go with 20 per cent less power during peak-usage months, paying Rs 4.5-Rs 5 per unit against the captive power cost of Rs 2.10 a unit. For power companies, such as equipment-maker BHEL, however, the deficit holds huge profits. The zero-debt, $2-billion cash surplus PSU’s order book has grown more than 20 per cent this fiscal alongside a 25-30 per cent jump in sales.

Smaller companies are getting a slice of the pie, too. The earthmoving equipment industry has the potential to grow five-fold from its current size of $2.3 billion to about $12-13 billion by 2015, growing at 24 per cent average rate of growth, says Raman Joshi, Director of Marketing in the Asia-Pacific region at the Manitowoc Crane Group. And there will be indirect beneficiaries, too. Banks can earn return on equity of 20-35 per cent (compared with 10-11 per cent plain vanilla RoEs) by shedding their debt focus and moving up the value chain, according to McKinsey. The UPA’s numerous failures comprise the honey pot. For instance, it could not complete any of the 47 projects in the second phase of the North South-East West Corridor.

The auction process for cargo-handling projects, such as the Rs 1,407-crore container terminal planned at the Ennore Port in Tamil Nadu, got mired in litigation. Even Indian Railways, which succeeded in nearly quadrupling its annual cash surplus to Rs 20,103 crore, floundered on major expansion plans. It couldn’t make much progress with the $6 billion locomotive-manufacturing facilities in the Railways Minister’s home state, Bihar. The modernisation of the New Delhi Railway Station did not take off. Now is the chance to push them all.

The potential gains are enormous. In 2006, improved infrastructure made it possible for the Coca-Cola Company to move its Africa group headquarters from Britain to South Africa. India, on the other hand, lost a new Intel chip assembly plant to Vietnam.

That’s because India doesn’t build infrastructure ahead of demand. Rather, we build it typically after the bottlenecks emerge. That too, if an individual adopts a project— the only successful projects are those that got Godfathers—be it aviation minister Praful Patel for key airports or the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Chief E. Sreedharan.

“It doesn’t take money to build infrastructure for raising the quality of life. It just needs some thinking and good management to clean up Bengaluru’s filthy roads,” says Pai who misses the Bangalore of his growing-up years when he walked 5 km every day to school. “Otherwise, it will be a fate of birth that we are suffering because we were born in India.”

Deficit: Trucks cover less than 200 kms a day, 25% of the global average
Sloth: 50% of the roads awarded during 2008-09 haven’t seen construction start
Opportunity: Roads worth Rs 70,000 crore could come up for bids in the next 6 months

Deficit: Existing power generation capacity of 140 megawatts falls short of peak demand by 16%
Sloth: 50% of the additional generation capacity targets is not met consistently since the early ’90s
Opportunity: Request for proposals for power projects worth Rs 74,000 crore in the next six months

Deficit: Track coverage of 35 km per 1,000 sq. km against the global average of 100-150 km
Sloth: Under the UPA, the Indian Railways eschewed sloth to become agile and profit-making
Opportunity: $6.6 bn-Dedicated Western and Eastern Freight Corridors between Delhi and Mumbai and Ludhiana and Kolkata to be built over the next 5 years

Deficit: Key ports are operating at 95% capacity with demand growing at 10% annually
Sloth: 170% of planned capacity tendered but only 75% of the awarded projects have achieved financial closure
Opportunity: 387 port and shipping projects worth Rs 1,00,339 crore planned for the next 20 years

Urban Infrastructure
Deficit: Against BIS’s minimum water supply of 135 litres per capita per day, Indian cities provide just about 92 litres
Sloth: The 8-km, 8-lane Bandra Worli Sea Link is delayed by 7 years, cost has doubled to over Rs 13,060 crore
Opportunity: Mumbai’s Rs 1,329.5 crore-Middle Vaitarna Water Supply Project Phase IV

Source: McKinsey, KPMG, Deloitte; A random sample of current bottlenecks and opportunities

— With inputs from K.R. Balasubramanyam

NOV 2008 PwC Article: Infrastructure in India: A vast land of construction opportunity:

In some areas, roads, rail lines, ports and airports are already operating at capacity, so expansion is a necessary prerequisite to further economic growth.

As per the Eleventh Five Year Plan, more than US$500 billion worth of investment is planned to flow into India’s infrastructure by 2012. Construction projects account for a substantial portion of the proposed investments, making the E&C sector one of the biggest beneficiaries of the infrastructure boom in India.

Private sector participation is integral to these plans. PPPs have been identified as the most suitable mode for the implementation of projects – and indeed, are rapidly becoming the funding norm. Their share of the total planned infrastructure improvements is projected to be around 30% (US$150 billion).

Power and road projects top the list, and other transportation sectors such as railways, ports, and airports are also targeted for major investments.

Projected spending from FY07-FY12 in selected infrastructure segments:

• Electricity: US$167 billion
• Railways: US$65 billion
• Road and highways: US$92 billion
• Ports: US$22 billion
• Airports: US$8 billion

• Electricity: Increased manufacturing activities and a growing population are also causing a surge in power usage. India has the fifth largest electricity grid in the world with 135 GW capacity, and the world’s third largest transmission and distribution (T&D) network. Large investments are needed to meet growing demand and provide universal access.

The Indian Government is also looking to encourage the generation of wind and solar power by providing generation-based incentives to those companies who do not claim accelerated depreciation, so E&C companies with experience in building these types of alternative energy projects may find excellent opportunities.

• Railways: The Indian Government has also recognised existing infrastructure gaps and capacity constraints in the rail system, and as a consequence plans large scale investment over the five years from FY07-FY12.Projected investments total US$65 billion, of which 40% is expected to be contributed by the private sector.

• Road and highways: India’s roads are already congested, and getting more so.

• Ports: India’s existing ports infrastructure is not sufficient to handle the increased loads – cargo unloading at many ports is currently inadequate, even where ports have already been modernised.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stock Market - Way Ahead

Liked this article on the way ahead for the Stock markets:


Akash Prakash: Leads and lags

The first green shoots of recovery will likely be treated with scepticism, rather than embraced
Akash Prakash / New Delhi March 27, 2009, 0:47 IST

The stock market is normally a leading indicator, and has historically always tended to lead the real economy by approximately six months. In fact, in the construct of the series of leading economic indicators in the US, the stock market is one of the critical constituents of the leading indicator index. Even in this crisis, the markets broke down, before the crisis really began to eat into the real economy. The markets signalled early on that this is going to be much worse than a plain vanilla recession.

In the case of a traditional cycle, the economy overheats, inflation spikes, the Fed raises interest rates to cool the economy, growth slows and unemployment rises. Once enough of an output gap has opened up and inflation is tamed, the central bank will cut rates to stimulate growth and the cycle will continue. In this type of a classic recession cycle, brought on by central bank tightening ,markets always bottom about six months before the economy. The typical recession will last about 10 months and investors will always lead the economic recovery. Markets will start rising before the economic data conclusively turns, and some people will be left scratching their heads as to why have markets moved.

Given the unprecedented nature of this crisis, the normal equation stated above is unlikely to work. This crisis is far more globalised and structural in nature. This is the first time we have a simultaneous contraction in both global GDP and trade flows in at least 60 years. The global financial system has imploded, and the multinational banks are just a pale shadow of themselves. Central banks across the world have been forced into overdrive and a race to zero interest rates has begun. Risk appetite globally has been decimated and even the real money capital pools are short of liquidity. The reality is that we have limited visibility as to when we come out of this economic morass, and what will be the unintended economic consequences of all the unconventional fiscal and monetary actions being taken today. There are long-term concerns around the dollar, inflation, fiscal balances and the new regulatory structure governing large financial institutions. China is willing to publicly question the safety of US financial assets.

The destruction of wealth has been totally unprecedented (as a case in point, at the recent bottom of S&P 500 below 700, the combined wealth loss in equity and property in the US alone was over $11 trillion), and the near-collapse of the financial system has given investors a new appreciation of risk.

In the above context a big dilemma for investors is the extent to which they should lead a real economy revival. Can investors take on their normal role of being a leading indicator, and piling into risky assets before an economic revival is apparent in the data? Or should one recognise the unprecedented nature of this economic meltdown and be willing to wait for data to turn, before one gets fully invested? Do investors have enough confidence around the contours and trajectory of an economic revival to pre-empt it? If one believed in the normal lead/lag relationships, and agreed with the consensus view of a second half-2009 economic revival, then the time to buy is now. Valuations seem to be reasonable, though arguably, 15-20 per cent away from true historic long-term bottom levels and investor scepticism high.

Given the wealth destruction and new-found appreciation for risk, my sense is that investors will be less of a leading indicator than the past, and a market revival will be more of a coincident event with the real economy starting to revive than past history would indicate. There is nothing like a market down 50 per cent for everyone to relearn the lessons of capital preservation. Investors will, I think, be more willing to lose some initial upside, than wade in early. Investors’ capacity to bear further capital loss is very limited, naturally curtailing their willingness to be early. The question marks around the long-term impact of all the emergency fiscal and monetary policy action undertaken will also curtail any tendency to jump into markets at the first anecdotal signs of recovery. Investors will, I think, be in more of a “show me” mode, wanting to see clear sign of the economy recovering before they believe. The first green shoots of an economic recovery will most likely be treated with scepticism, rather than embraced as in more normal economic cycles.

The current rally, to the extent that it holds, seems to be more a normalisation of expectations and a pull back from extreme oversold conditions. Investors had gotten too bearish and priced in total collapse and nationalisation of critical financial institutions. Rumours were rampant of even senior debt holders having to take hair cuts on financial institution bonds. The Obama administration had also started losing credibility due to a continuing lack of concrete details around the toxic assets plan, and sentiment indicators were in panic territory. Some of the more extreme bearish outcomes for the banks now no longer seem on the table and we are getting more details around the Geithner plan.

While it is true that a series of economic data coming out of the US has surprised — with at least six or seven data points being better than expected, from the Philly Fed survey to new housing starts and new house sales etc —is this a case of expectations being too negative or a sustainable bottoming of the data? This is still a moot point.

Emerging markets seem to have clearly begun a new cycle of at least relative outperformance vis-à-vis the OECD markets, and this will hopefully extend to India as well, after our elections.

Even if this current rally is sustainable, it is unlikely that the markets just gallop away. We may at best have tested how low markets will go in this cycle. Given the type and extent of economic, financial and psychological damage sustained, the markets will give you numerous opportunities to enter. One of the lessons of structural bear markets is that they tend to tire you out, lasting for years. It would seem foolhardy to chase markets at this stage, given too much is uncertain even now.

Found this article on some blog:

2009..Is this sustainable ?
Thursday, March 26th, 2009

In thirteen trading days from an intraday low of 8047 on March 6,2009,the Sensex is once again kissing 10000….moving up near 25%
Getting a lot of calls…basically to make some sense of this rally

Is this the beginning of the recovery and have we seen the Bottom of 8000 for the Sensex and the October 27,2008 low of 7697 will not be tested ?

Is this just a Pullback rally and we shall see the Sensex breach 8000 again in 2009 ?

I hold the view that the macro pains have yet to unfold in their entirety…This rally is a strong counter- trend and a powerful one at that…. we shall see such bounces on oversold markets…Maybe the Bottoms may not be tested for a while…but they will

In fact even on October 27,2008 when the Sensex touched a intraday low of 7697,it swung back sharply within just three days to close at 9788 on October 31,2008 !…and it had begun October at levels of 13000 !

If you think the WORST MUST BE OVER ,then think again !…Sensex at 11 and 12 multiples may appear cheap against the 25 + Multiples we had in January 2008….With Earnings slowing down,we’ll probably see single digit P/E,trailing and forward, on the Sensex in 2009 and that would sustain for some time

The Dow took 25 years to regain it’s 1929 High…It did so in 1954 !…Our wait for the Sensex to regain 21000 should not be so long !…Right Now I see Stressed Prices but not Distressed Prices on our Bourses…..These will come in 2009 itself and give you some great buying opportunities.

Ask an Investor who got into Unitech at Rs 500 in January 2008,whether he’s excited with this rally !…he may be too shell shocked anyway to respond !

The poor Bloke saw a 95% erosion to Rs 25 in just over a year….he now needs to get a 1900 % surge to recover his loss of Rs 475…so if Unitech has gone up 40% from Rs 25 to Rs 35 how does this matter to him !….so don’t live under delusions and the phony excitement being generated by experts and TV Anchors on the Stock Channels of this “big” 40% gain in Unitech

These swings require you to have a Traders Mentality to capture opportunities…and that’s a tough ask….I thought Investment was about Investment !…not Trading or Speculating !

So what do you do to recover from being Hit last Year in Equity ? Some Thoughts….
• Just Holding on to your Equity Portfolio may not work as some scrips may have seen permanent erosion…so review and reposition…believe me taking a real loss than sleeping everyday with a notional one is a big relief !
• Save/Hold/Generate Cash to capture greater opportunities ahead
• Hedge your Portfolios against declines…the volatility is just too unnerving
• If you must Trade then do so with strict stoploss
• Use upswings to exit some holdings to create cash to later capture scrips at distress prices to reposition your Equity Portfolio
• Be prepared to adopt a tactical,rather than strategic, approach to capture great opportunities
• Get some significant Gold exposure in your Portfolio…Physical or through ETFs
• Ensure proper Asset Allocation to suit your Risk Profile and be disciplined in the rebalancing exercise when predetermined allocation ranges are breached

You’ll be deafened and confused by the divergent views and the cacophany being generated on the channels and the print media by a host of Experts and TV anchors

Try some Independent Thinking….after all it’s your monies at stake… .If you’re going to stick your nose at ‘Monalisa’s nose you’re not going to see her smiling at you from whichever angle you look at this Leonardo Da Vinci Masterpiece….. Stand back to look at the whole landscape and get a feel of the macros…only then you’ll get a feel of how they intensely impact the micros currently

There are Plenty Opportunities coming up…It’s better to be prepared and not get them rather than you’re faced with them and you don’t know what to do or don’t have the cash to do so !

Value and Price are two very different Issues…Milk in Mumbai is sold at @ Rs 25/litre….would you buy it at Rs 60/litre ,even if it’s a Swiss Cow giving it !?….But when it’s at a distress Rs 5/litre don’t question the buying opportunity by being skeptical and saying ” Doodh meh kuch kaala hai !”

I made strong contrarion calls in 1992,1997,2001 and 2003….missed the speed,scale and intensity of the USA Financial Fiasco that has burned the world markets….I’m gearing to make a contrarion call again in 2009….so these bounce back rallies are only delaying distress prices on the bourses and therefore my call….I’m patient….even if this bounce may take the Sensex up to 12k
Get the Point !

Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Apr 09, 2009

Bank chiefs see tough year ahead; bad debts may go up

‘Credit growth likely to slip to 18% this year’.

Large number of accounts are being restructured to cope with recession
Net Interest Margins are likely to fall steeply in the fourth quarter

Our Bureau

Mumbai, April 8 The year ahead is going to be tougher than expected for the banking sector as banks grapple with slowing credit growth, rising delinquencies and declining margins.

This was the message conveyed by bank chiefs in their consultative pre-credit policy meeting with the Reserve Bank of India Governor, Dr D. Subbarao, here on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters immediately after the meeting, Mr T.S. Narayanasami, Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of India, and Chairman, Indian Banks’ Association, said that credit growth will get moderated this financial year.

The credit growth in 2009-10 could at best be 18 per cent as against 27-28 per cent in last fiscal, said Mr M.V. Nair, Chairman, Union Bank of India.

Analysts have also been predicting a lower credit growth in the current fiscal. Broking firm, Angel Broking in a recent report said, “We expect credit growth to go down in FY2010 to 15-17 per cent as fresh investment demand becomes less forthcoming.”

The meeting was called to gauge the outlook for the year and to seek bankers’ feedback.

Bankers said a large number of accounts are being restructured following the RBI advice to help borrowers to cope with the recession. Although this could provide a temporary relief, rising delinquency continues to remain a serious concern.

The NPAs will go up this year as asset quality will be a problem. If there is a further downturn in the economy, it will affect the bank’s asset quality further, Mr Narayanasami said.

Bankers also apprised the RBI that Net Interest Margins (NIM) are likely to fall steeply in the fourth quarter of the just ended fiscal because of the high funding costs. Although deposit rates started coming down in mid-February, they are still high and will continue to ease slowly. However, as the impact of the cut in benchmark prime lending rates is immediate, this has put pressure on NIM. Therefore, further BPLR reduction may not happen for some time, said bankers.

The interest rates and subsidised interest rates cannot come down further, Dr K.C. Chakraborty, Chairman and Managing Director, Punjab National Bank.

Although the RBI has not directly told banks to cut lending rates, there is enough signal from the current repo and reverse repo rates, said Mr Narayanasami.
“It is in the banks’ own interest to bring down lending and deposit rates. They are trying to bring down their cost of funds. More banks will cut their deposit rates in the next fortnight,” he said.

The RBI on its part assured bankers that the Government borrowing programme would be managed smoothly by combining it with Open Market Operations and bond redemptions under the Market Stabilisation Scheme.

Though inflation may turn negative for a brief period, there are no fears of deflation, the Governor assured bankers.


Industrial outlook to stay bleak till exports improve: Moody's
9 Apr 2009, 1722 hrs IST, IANS

NEW DELHI: Industrial outlook will remain bleak until the export sector gains momentum, the research arm of global credit rating agency Moody's
said on Thursday.

"India's industrial outlook will remain dire until there are signs of improvement in export prospects," Sherman Chan, an economist with Moody's Economy.com said in a statement, released hours after government data showed 1.2 per cent fall in India's February industrial output.

"It's almost impossible for local manufacturers to maintain their previous production levels given the slump in external orders. Exports are unlikely to recover any time soon, as major markets such as the US and Europe are still in bad shape," Chan said.

He, however, said the commitment of the G-20 nations to improve trade finance was a welcome sign.

"The domestic sector may provide some support to local manufacturers. For instance, the fiscal stimulus measures will inject much-needed support to the industrial sector. However, such assistance could at most minimise the damages done by the global downturn," Chan said.

Warning that the foreign investment flow to India is decreasing due to the downturn effect, the economist said: "This will weigh on construction and manufacturing activity."

He, however, said the "tech-savvy" India still remained one of the ideal locations for many global corporations.

"Therefore, India's industrial sector perhaps will not be hurt as badly by the global downturn compared with most other emerging economies," Chan added.


Bonds rally strongly on surplus funds
9 Apr 2009, 1835 hrs IST, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Banks parked close to Rs 1,31,000 crore of their surplus funds with RBI on Thursday, as a part of the central bank’s daily money market

This has once again led to speculation that RBI will announce some measures by which banks will stop parking their idle funds with RBI or invest them in bonds.

The RBI governor has said in various public appearances pointed out that for economy to recover, banks will have to start lending to the real economy again. The rupee however closed just above the 50 against the dollar mark (at 50.04) after trading below it for most part of the day.

Bonds rallied strongly on the last working day of the week with banks and primary dealers using the huge liquidity surpluses to buy long dated bonds. Dealers pointed out that yields on short term debt instruments have fallen dramatically since the beginning of the new quarter. This allows banks to borrow cheaply from this market to invest in higher yielding securities.

The RBI said on Thursday it had set a cut-off price corresponding to a yield of 6.74% for the 6.05% government bonds maturing in 2019. This is the benchmark 10-year paper that closed at 6.70% in the market, after some traders sold the securities that they were alloted in the market.

For the 7.50% government bonds maturing in 2034, the cut off price corresponded to a yield of 7.74%. "Every time yields cross 7%, we have seen a return of appetite among traders," says Ramkumar K, head of fixed income at Sundaram BnP Paribas AMC. "The IIP numbers also being much less than market expectation cheered the market. However RBI may be done with its rate cutting spree as of now, although a cut in repo rates will not be unexpected," he said.

The rupee traded in a small 16 paise range and found support from gains in Asian currencies. The dollar and yen softened against other major currencies on Thursday as global stocks rose, renewing appetite for risky emerging markets assets. The main stock market index BSE Sensex though pared all again to end only 0.6% higher.


India may see 75, 000 IT job cuts this year
10 Apr 2009, 1126 hrs IST, Jessica Mehroin Irani & Deeptha Rajkumar, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The Indian IT industry, already under pressure since the downturn began in the US financial, banking and insurance markets last year, is likely to see close to 75,000 job losses this year, according to senior executives of leading software companies.

US president Barrack Obama’s policy on outsourcing had prompted some technocrats to estimate the extent of possible job losses in India at about 50,000 jobs in the first half of the new year itself. These job losses would be across sectors such as IT, ITeS and BPO, they added.

“As on March 31, 2008 there were 550,000 direct jobs created by the IT industry in Bangalore,” said Infosys board member TV Mohandas Pai. “I would estimate close to 30,000 IT professionals, earning an average salary of Rs 5 lakh per annum, would have lost their jobs between April 2008 and March 2009 in Bangalore.”

Mr Pai also said that for fiscal year 2009-2010, an additional 25,000-30, 000 jobs may be lost in Bangalore alone. “These job losses are due to the fact that many companies have shed excess capacity as the growth rates of industries have decreased. It is possible that a fair number of these people would have found jobs in other industries too during this time at a lesser salary,” he added.

Mr Ravi Ramu, CFO of realty firm Puravankara and former CFO of Mphasis says about 50,000 jobs could be at risk next year. However, what worries him more is the spin off effect that will see a lot more losses. “Every direct job in the BPO is supported by 6 indirect jobs. In reality, the spin-off will be even more negative.” Even though, IT bigwigs are concerned about the high rate job loss, IT lobbying body Nasscom, doesn’t think so.

According to Nasscom president Som Mittal, earlier the retrenchment was not on such a large scale as attrition was high. “Companies are stressing more on performance issues in these times as they want to increase productivity. The coming times are uncertain and people are not hiring in large numbers as before. There is already a wage moderation that is happening across the industry and this will definitely reflect on the spending,” he told ET.

Economy leveling off, bumps not over

Associated Press
Posted: 2009-04-10 10:11:20+05:30 IST
Updated: Apr 10, 2009 at 1011 hrs IST

Washington : At last, after a nerve-racking six-month descent, the economy appears to be leveling off.
But don't assume the bumps are over.
Stock investors, shoppers and home buyers are less jittery. Once-frozen credit markets are slowly thawing. And economic indicators that had been going from bad to worse are showing signs of stabilizing - though still at distressed levels.
There were fresh signs Thursday that the full force of the recession may be petering out: a strong profit forecast from Wells Fargo, a drop in unemployment benefit filings and several retailers predicting solid April sales. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials rose nearly 250 points.
Still, with unemployment rising, it will be at least several months before the country's economic engine pops into a growth gear. Job losses - and the fear of them - act as a headwind against consumer confidence and spending, which account for more than two-thirds of the US economy.
"The sense of a ball falling off a table, which is what the economy has felt like since the middle of last fall, I think we can be reasonably confident that that is going to end within the next few months, and we will no longer have that sense of a free-fall," President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, said Thursday.
But Summers, who spoke at the Economic Club of Washington, said it was too soon to forecast how strong the rebound would be and when it would take hold.
The economy shrank at a 6.3 per cent rate in the final three months of 2008, the worst showing in a quarter-century. Some economists say it fared about as poorly in the first three months of this year, while others expect a 4 to 5 per cent rate of decline. The government releases its initial estimate at the end of April.
And the economy is still shrinking in the April-June quarter - perhaps at a rate of 2 to 2.5 per cent, some analysts say.
When will it grow again? Maybe the final quarter of the year.
For now, said Brian Bethune, economist at IHS Global Insight, "I think we can say we've gone through the most terrible part of the recession."
The scenarios charted by economists are consistent with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's hope that the recession, now in its second year, will end this year.
Bernanke, however, has been quick to caution that this will happen only if the government succeeds in stabilizing financial...
markets and getting banks to lend money more freely again to both consumers and businesses. To that end, the Fed recently plowed $1.2 trillion into the economy in an attempt to reduce interest rates for mortgages and other loans.
Even in the best-case scenario, the unemployment rate - now at a quarter-century high of 8.5 per cent - is anticipated to climb to 10 per cent by the end of this year.
History shows that the jobless rate moves higher well after a recession has ended. That's because companies won't want to ramp up hiring - often their single-biggest expense - until they feel confident any recovery will be lasting.
Consumers, whose sharp cutbacks in spending plunged the country into a steep economic tailspin at the end of last year, seem to be gradually spending more freely.
On Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said sales at stores open at least a year increased 1.4 per cent in March. However, discount retailer Target Stores Inc.'s sales fell.
The government reported last month that consumer spending rose in February for the second month in a row - after a half-year of declines.
Shoppers' appetites to spend should get a lift later this year from tax cuts contained in Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package. Tax credits of $400 per worker and $800 per couple translate into about $13 a week less withheld from paychecks starting around June.
The hope is that the added consumer spending will prompt retailers to replenish inventories, which have been cut nearly to the bone during the recession. That would require factories to boost production, creating a ripple of positive economic activity.
Thursday's $3 billion first-quarter profit forecast from Wells Fargo was in part a reflection of the very low interest rates at which banks can borrow money from the government and then lend it out at higher rates to consumers and businesses.
Another positive flicker came Thursday from the Labor Department, which reported that the number of newly laid off Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped by 20,000 last week to 654,000.
Although credit and financial conditions have shown some signs of improvement since the worst of the crisis last fall, they are operating far from normally, Fed officials say.
"In view of the state of the credit markets, it seems a fair bet that it will take time for momentum to build," Gary Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis said in...
a speech Thursday. "But with the passage of time - as we get into the middle of 2010 and beyond - I would expect to see a resumption of healthy growth."
To be sure, the economy is not out of the woods yet. Another bailout of a troubled bank or other company could easily shatter already fragile confidence and send the economy reeling again. The collapse of General Motors would send many more to the unemployment lines and could jolt the economy into a major backslide. And, there's the risk that consumers will once again shut down as jobs continue to vanish.
And, even if the recession were to end later this year, most economists believe economic activity won't return to a more normal pace of around 3 per cent to 3.25 per cent until late next year.
"Yes we have probably seen the worst ... but the shape of the recovery will look more like the Nike swoosh," meaning a gradual - not sharp - rise back to normal, said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia Corp....

Term Insurance

Liked this article on Term Insurance:


A pure term plan ideal for insurance cover
23 Mar 2009, 0533 hrs IST, Bakul Chugan Tongia, ET Bureau

Investment and insurance should never be a part of a single basket. While an investor has a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to investments, a pure term plan is an ideal play for buying an insurance cover. Low premiums and high insurance cover is what defines an ideal insurance plan. And a term plan gives just that.

But even within the basket of term plans, choosing the right scheme is no longer easy. Given the increasing number of insurance players in the country today and their habit of launching schemes aplenty, investors are often left scratching their heads in confusion. If not, the decisions are left to the whims and fancies of the insurance agents who would suggest a plan that earns them the highest commission.

There are many criteria that may be considered for selecting a term plan. However, premium charges are the predominant factor. Different insurers have different premium charges for their policies and one has to select the one which is most economical to the pocket. Moreover, most insurers have the option to pay premiums either periodically - throughout the term of the policy or for a limited period, as the case may be - or a single premium at the time of taking the policy. While a single premium may, prima facie, appear more economical in absolute terms, an analysis on the basis of the current value of total premiums paid under a regular plan reveals otherwise. Not all single premium plans are healthy to the pocket. A regular plan may turn out to be a far more economical deal for some insurers. (See Table) (For the detailed version, log on to www.etintelligence.com)

Investors may however do well to note that the most economical insurer at a particular age bracket may not be as economical in some other age bracket. It is therefore advisable to check the premium rates of insurers for different age brackets before zeroing in on the right scheme.

Term plans are designed to financially support the family of the insured. They simply cover the life of the policy holder (insured) and do not provide any maturity or survival benefits. Nor do these schemes participate in the profits of the insurance company. The sum for which the life cover is taken (sum assured) is payable only to the nominee of the insured in case of unfortunate demise of the insured during the term of the policy. Where the insurer survives the policy term, he/she is not entitled to any benefits from the insurance company. The premiums paid throughout the policy term may thus be treated as a cost to cover one’s life. It is for this reason that the premiums charged by a pure term plan are far lower vis-à-vis any endowment or money back policy.

It is advisable to start a term plan early in life. At the same time, it is important to ensure that it covers life for as long a period as possible. Most insurers provide life cover for a maximum period of 25 to 30 years. The maximum age at maturity is usually pegged at 60-65 years. However, some insurers provide cover for a larger number of years and others have a higher maturity age. Kotak Mahindra, for example, has a maximum maturity age of 70 years, while ING has pegged its maximum maturity age at 75 years. Bajaj Allianz, on the other hand, provides life cover for a maximum of 40 years, while Sahara has the lowest term cover of 20 years.

The minimum sum assured (MSA) is also an important criterion. The amount of MSA ranges from a low of Rs 50,000 to as high as Rs 10 lakh. The investor has the option of choosing the insurer whose policy conveniently fits the bill.

While the term plans do not provide any maturity benefits per se, insurance companies do offer term plans that promise to return the premiums paid at the end of the policy term. These policies are in fact just like any other money-back plans with relatively higher premium charges vis-à-vis pure term plans. Investors may therefore do well to invest their money in profitable ventures rather than pay high premiums for insuring their lives, which can be done rather economically through pure term plans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

B2B or B2C

Recently came across an advertisement on TV, by Tetra Pak, promoting the use of milk sold in Tetra Pak packagings. It was a generic ad, show-casing the different milk brands like Nestle, Paras, etc. available in Tetra Pak packaging in the market.

It attracted my attention for the reason, that come to think of it, Tetra Pak is a B2B company, whose customers are the various milk-producer brands listed above; but instead Tetra Pak here is trying to promote directly to the end consumers. This would basically create a win-win situation for Tetra Pak as well as for its ‘customers’; as even the Processing Director of the company agrees: “if they fail we fail”…Interesting!!

By the way, on a google search, got this link to the Hindu Business Line
Seems I had been over-looking this ad for more than 2 yrs then :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Iceland Bankruptcy

The link to an artile that was published in the 'VanityFair' magazine, about the story of Iceland, which shifted from Fishing to Investment Banking to Bankruptcy (& hence maybe, to Fishing again)...a full circle...

Debt @ 850% of the Nation's GDP
Curency (krona) with hardly any value left


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Alternative Energy Sources

Summary of an article published in the ‘Economist’ magazine in June 2008:

The next technology boom may well be based on alternative energy

High fuel prices may fall as new sources of supply are exploited to fill rising demand from Asia. There is oil aplenty of other sorts (tar sands, liquefied coal and so on), so the stuff is unlikely to run out for a long time yet. But it will get more expensive to produce, putting a floor on the price that is way above todays. For both of these reasons, any transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable, alternative, green energy—call it what you will—is likely to be slow, as similar changes have been in the past.

The future price of these resources—zero—is known. That certainty has economic value as a hedge, even if the capital cost of wind and solar power stations is, at the moment, higher than that of coal-fired ones.
Wind power is no illusion. World capacity is growing at 30% a year and will exceed 100 gigawatts this year.
Wind currently provides only about 1% of America’s electricity, but by 2020 that figure may have risen to 15%.
Victor Abate, General Electric’s vice-president of renewables, is so convinced that by 2012 half of the new generating capacity built in America will be wind-powered that he is basing his business plan on that assumption.
The one part of the United States that has something approximating a proper free market in electricity, Texas, is also keener than any other state on deploying the turbines. In May, T. Boone Pickens, one of the state’s most famous oil tycoons, announced a deal with GE to build a one-gigawatt wind farm—the world’s largest—at a cost of $2 billion.
Ten years ago wind turbines were marginal. Now they are taken seriously, and in another decade they may contribute as much as a fifth of the world’s electricity.

The future price of these resources—zero—is known. That certainty has economic value as a hedge, even if the capital cost of wind and solar power stations is, at the moment, higher than that of coal-fired ones.
The most iconic form of solar power, the photovoltaic cell, is currently the fastest-growing type of alternative energy, increasing by 50% a year.
The price of the electricity it produces is falling, too. According to Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), an American consultancy run by Daniel Yergin, a kWh of photovoltaic electricity cost 50 cents in 1995. That had fallen to 20 cents in 2005 and is still dropping. Not 'RE less than C', but heading in the right direction. Dr Sachs says that these innovations will bring the capital cost of solar cells below $2 a watt. That is closing in on the cost of a coal-fired power station: a gigawatt (one billion watt) plant costs about $1 billion to build.
Greener-than-thou Californians who wish to fall in with their governor’s plan for a million solar roofs, announced in 2006
With the power-hungry markets of Europe to its north, across the Mediterranean, and a lot of sunshine going to waste in the Sahara desert to its south, Algeria’s government is looking for ways to connect the two. It is now building an experimental solar-thermal power station at Hassi R’mel, about 400km south of Algiers, which if all goes well will open next year. In April work started on a similar project at Aïn Béni Mathar, in Morocco, and others are in the pipeline elsewhere in north Africa. Fortunately for people like Mr Woolsey, the ex-CIA man, America has deserts of it own which are about to bloom with mirror-farms too.
Robert Fishman, the boss of Ausra, an Australian-American company based in Palo Alto, California, reckons that his firm’s Fresnel arrays combined with its proprietary heat-storage system can produce electricity for 8 cents a kWh. That matches GE’s wind turbines, and mass production should bring it down further. It is not cheaper than “naked” coal
At the moment it contributes a mere 0.01% to the world’s output of electricity, but just over a decade of 50% annual growth would bring that to 1%, which is where wind is at the moment.
Ten years ago wind turbines were marginal. Now they are taken seriously, and in another decade they may contribute as much as a fifth of the world’s electricity. The same could happen to solar energy, which is ten years behind wind, and geothermal, with a 20-year lag.

It was that Amyris was going into partnership with Crystalsev, a Brazilian firm, to make car fuel out of cane sugar. Not ethanol (though Brazil already has a thriving market for ethanol-powered cars),
All parts of this chain are currently the subjects of avid research and development. Some biofuels were already competitive with oil products even at 2006 oil prices (see table 5). The R&D effort will bring more of them into line, as will any long-term rise in the price of crude oil.

Ten years ago wind turbines were marginal. Now they are taken seriously, and in another decade they may contribute as much as a fifth of the world’s electricity. The same could happen to solar energy, which is ten years behind wind, and geothermal, with a 20-year lag.
The Philippines are not generally associated with the cutting edge of technological change. In one respect, though, the country is ahead of its time: around a quarter of its electricity is generated from underground heat. Such heat is free, inexhaustible and available day and night.
Dr Tester reckons that spending about $1 billion on demonstration projects over the next 15 years would change that. It would provide enough information to allow 100 gigawatts-worth of EGSs to be created in America by 2050, at a commercially acceptable price.

An American industry body, puts the cost of nuclear electricity at 6.5 cents a kWh.

Overall Initiatives:
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, have started an outfit called Google.org that is searching for a way to make renewable energy truly cheaper than coal ,Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, is turning his considerable skills as a venture capitalist towards renewable energy, as are Robert Metcalfe, who invented the ethernet system used to connect computers together in local networks, and Mr Doerr, who works at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture-capital firms. Sir Richard Branson, too, is getting in on the act with his Virgin Green Fund.
It is true that China is building coal-fired power stations at a blazing rate. But it also has a large wind-generation capacity, which is expected to grow by two-thirds this year, and is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of solar panels—not to mention having the largest number of solar-heated rooftop hot-water systems in its buildings. Brazil, meanwhile, has the world’s second-largest (just behind America) and most economically honest biofuel industry, which already provides 40% of the fuel consumed by its cars and should soon supply 15% of its electricity, too (through the burning of sugarcane waste). South Africa is leading the effort to develop a new class of safe and simple nuclear reactor—not renewable energy in the strict sense, but carbon-free and thus increasingly welcome. Spain one of the leading producers of wind-based electricity in Europe.
Initially, the Google project to create renewable energy cheaper than coal will focus on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, and enhanced geothermal systems – but we’ll explore other potential breakthrough technologies, too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Giant Robot :-)

Giant Robot....my favourite childhood show :-)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lead Indicators of Economy & Stock markets

Some fundae...

Some "Lead indicators" to predict Economic Performance:

1) Bank Credit Growth: Increase in Bank Credit Disbursal can indicate a future increase in the GDP, since this credit will be used for higher production, etc. According to an ICICI report, this parameter leads the GDP growth by 2 quarters.

2) Baltic Dry Index: It captures the trade that happens through the sea route (& since most of this trade is Raw Materials, it can give a lead indication of the GDP growth.) I don’t know by what period this parameter will lead the GDP growth, but it will obviously be dependent on the Average Lead time for converting these raw materials into finished goods.

A "Lead indicator" to predict Stock Market Performance, based on GDP:

1) M-cap to GDP ratio: This estimate is a popular method of looking at whether the markets have bottomed out or not. As a rule of thumb, it is believed that when market-capitalisation to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio goes above one, the equity market starts getting attractively valued. “For instance, the average m-cap to GDP ratio for Sensex has averaged between 45-48% and in December 2007, this ratio was 1.78 and the rest is history,” says Bagchi of ICICIdirect.

Will kp on updating this, if i am able to maintain interest in it :-)

Came across this article, after a few days of writing the above post. This article seems to corroborate one of the above lead indicators:


Banks' health key to pick-up in world eco: David Buick

Published on Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 17:11 , Updated at Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 10:51
Source : CNBC-TV18

David Buick, Partner at BGC, sharing his views on global market concerns, said, �The whole key to the kingdom, as far as everybody is concerned, is the health of the banking sector. When that improves, I think you will find that the pick-up in the world economy improves correspondingly quickly.�

Buick said there might be one more sell-off before a positive push towards the end of 2009 is seen.

Here is a verbatim transcript of the exclusive interview with David Buick on CNBC-TV18. Also see the accompanying video.

Q: In these four-five days, the markets have had a very positive reaction. But do you believe the underlying economic situation has changed to an extent where we can say we can leave everything behind and expect the markets to continue on a roll?

A: No, I don�t. I don�t think there is always a natural correlation between stock market behaviour and economic behaviour. One thing we have got in the last few days is a very positive comment by [US Federal Reserve Chairman] Ben Bernanke to the degree that he believes that the recession in the US could be nearly over by the end of the year and that, in 2010, there will be some growth.

Then, of course, we have had some indication from the G-20 meeting that the mood is to deal with the toxic asset situation, as well as introduce quantitative easing in the US. This, together with the fact that there is some evidence over a theory in the UK and in Europe, that banks are beginning to lend again and also that the commercial bond markets improving, has improved sentiment.

But we do know that there are huge problems in the next few months, for instance, the auto industry in the US or unemployment in the UK. The unemployment scenario in the UK is going to hit two million tomorrow and will probably be up above three million by the end of the year.

So, the general situation, as you normally find equities a little ahead of economic activity, we feel that the underlying tone is quite good. But there may be one more sell-off before we see a very positive push towards the end of 2009.

Q: What you are saying is that the credit seizure has gone out of the market and perhaps we are starting to see the capital market system work again. But what about the fact that we had a bull run in real estate, commodities, equities, together and there has been a massive destruction of wealth? What happens to that kind of money coming back, investors coming back? How much of a lag is that?

A: I think it is a very similar lag. I think it is probably three months behind. But there is still � despite the most appalling erosion of wealth � quite a lot of money waiting in the wings. We genuinely believe that this will actually find its way back in the market. We need to see a little bit more in terms of Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, agreeing to a sensible plan for the bank bailout with the Congress, which he is yet to do, and he is three weeks behind schedule.

This is a very complicated issue. But the whole key to the kingdom as far as everybody is concerned, is the health of the banking sector. When that improves, I think you will find that the pick-up in the world economy improves correspondingly quickly.

1 more article published in Economic Times on 30th Mar 09, high-lighting the following 2 lead indicators of Equity markets:
1) Dividend payout by companies
2) Yield on Govt bonds (Inversely proportional relationship)


"Around a year back, we at ETIG had devised a simple and more intuitive way of estimating the right market level –tracking trends in the dividend payouts by companies. The historical data suggests that the movement in benchmark indices closely follow the long-term trends in dividends , albeit with a lag. This should not be surprising. After all, the prevailing stock price is nothing but the current value of all future dividend payouts by the company. Whenever the Nifty trendline overshoots the dividend line, it declines to close the gap and vice versa. This happened during the dot-com bust of 2000, the stock market crashes of May 2004 and June 2006. And whenever dividend outgrows index, the Nifty catches up albeit with a lag such as was the case in 2003 and 2004."

"The above prognosis is supported by various macro and non-equity indicators. One of the most obvious is the yield on the government bonds, which is currently on an upward curve. The government has announced plans to auction bonds worth a whopping Rs 240,000 crore in the next six months. Such a heavy borrowing programme will not sail through at the current interest rate levels. The government will necessarily have to juice up its bonds offering with higher yields. This will have a cascading effect on the entire economy, including the stock market. If the borrowing costs of the best borrower in town go up, the interest rates applicable to corporates and individuals will just shoot up. While this will raise India Inc’s interest payments and lower profitability, it will further diminish the demand for interest rate sensitive products such as passenger cars, commercial vehicles, high-end consumer durables and housing. All this is negative news for the equity market. Anyway, there is always a negative correlation between interest rates and return on equities. Being a risky asset, equities thrive in an environment of low interest rates and easy money."

Here's 1 more article on the Lead Indicators of the economy (courtesy: economic times)...Here they are tracking "new orders less inventories", which i think can be linked to the "Baltic dry index" indicator...


Goldman economist sees signs of US gloom lifting
2 Apr 2009, 0641 hrs IST, REUTERS

CHICAGO: The US economy is showing the first signs in months that it could be getting ready to crawl out of a long recession, the top economist
at Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday.

Jim O'Neill, Goldman's head of global economic research, said among key leading indicators, the measure of "new orders less inventories," derived from the Institute for Supply Management March factory report was a bright light.

That data point is included in Goldman's monthly "Global Leading Indicators" index. At +9 in March, against -0.7 in February, it was "the best sign for a few months that the severity of the US recession might be easing," O'Neill said while giving a presentation to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Goldman Sachs' current forecast is for the US economy to shrink by 1.3 per cent in 2009 before growing by 2.8 per cent in 2010. O'Neill said he looked for the Federal Reserve to keep up its "aggressive" measures to turn around financial conditions damaged by the credit crisis that started in 2007.

"And I think if those things don't work, they will do more," he said, quipping that the moves could include "hiring the helicopters and dropping money from the sky."

China last month proposed a sweeping overhaul in the global monetary system, suggesting the U.S. dollar could eventually be replaced as the world's main reserve currency by the IMF's Special Drawing Right. O'Neill, acknowledged as one of the world's top currency analysts, said such a "radical shift in the role of the dollar" was not "close."

China's idea will be most interesting if it is paired with more flexibility in the rate of its currency, the renminbi, O'Neill said. "If it isn't, it's not of much use at all."

The current situation of 1 of the above lead indicators:


Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Apr 09, 2009

Bank chiefs see tough year ahead; bad debts may go up
‘Credit growth likely to slip to 18% this year’.

Large number of accounts are being restructured to cope with recession

Net Interest Margins are likely to fall steeply in the fourth quarter

Our Bureau

Mumbai, April 8 The year ahead is going to be tougher than expected for the banking sector as banks grapple with slowing credit growth, rising delinquencies and declining margins.

This was the message conveyed by bank chiefs in their consultative pre-credit policy meeting with the Reserve Bank of India Governor, Dr D. Subbarao, here on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters immediately after the meeting, Mr T.S. Narayanasami, Chairman and Managing Director, Bank of India, and Chairman, Indian Banks’ Association, said that credit growth will get moderated this financial year.

The credit growth in 2009-10 could at best be 18 per cent as against 27-28 per cent in last fiscal, said Mr M.V. Nair, Chairman, Union Bank of India.

Analysts have also been predicting a lower credit growth in the current fiscal. Broking firm, Angel Broking in a recent report said, “We expect credit growth to go down in FY2010 to 15-17 per cent as fresh investment demand becomes less forthcoming.”

The meeting was called to gauge the outlook for the year and to seek bankers’ feedback.

Bankers said a large number of accounts are being restructured following the RBI advice to help borrowers to cope with the recession. Although this could provide a temporary relief, rising delinquency continues to remain a serious concern.

The NPAs will go up this year as asset quality will be a problem. If there is a further downturn in the economy, it will affect the bank’s asset quality further, Mr Narayanasami said.

Bankers also apprised the RBI that Net Interest Margins (NIM) are likely to fall steeply in the fourth quarter of the just ended fiscal because of the high funding costs. Although deposit rates started coming down in mid-February, they are still high and will continue to ease slowly. However, as the impact of the cut in benchmark prime lending rates is immediate, this has put pressure on NIM. Therefore, further BPLR reduction may not happen for some time, said bankers.

The interest rates and subsidised interest rates cannot come down further, Dr K.C. Chakraborty, Chairman and Managing Director, Punjab National Bank.

Although the RBI has not directly told banks to cut lending rates, there is enough signal from the current repo and reverse repo rates, said Mr Narayanasami.

“It is in the banks’ own interest to bring down lending and deposit rates. They are trying to bring down their cost of funds. More banks will cut their deposit rates in the next fortnight,” he said.

The RBI on its part assured bankers that the Government borrowing programme would be managed smoothly by combining it with Open Market Operations and bond redemptions under the Market Stabilisation Scheme.

Though inflation may turn negative for a brief period, there are no fears of deflation, the Governor assured bankers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A chat on the Indian Economy :-)

Ok, now considering that I have realized I am not a good writer, have decided to paste a gtalk chat that I had wid a friend today. His name is Vamsee, and he is a IIM L my batch passout, currently working in UAE with a consulting company.

To put things in reference: My gtalk status msg said “Dow down 4%, and Sensex in Green…Now THAT’S Decoupling :P” (frankly, this was more of an aberration, & hence the intention of the msg was more to mock on all the economists who wasted hours on proving the decoupling theory before the Indian markets finally gave in to the US-led slowdown).

vamsee: hmm nice status
full decoupling tab hi hoga jab indian consumers r the main customers for companies

me: too diffcultt

vamsee: ya...but poss
1 billion
population ka faida uthana chahiye

vamsee: :)

me: jus chkd....exports is only close to 15% of gdp

vamsee: hmm
dats good
in china it is >30
yaar am telling u
these politican idiots
r interested in eating money
instead they shd put money in infra, defence, etc
so much employment, so much gdp, development too

me: so with figures, we wud b better off than china in the global mess

vamsee: ya
dats true

y do u think ppl flocked to usa frm the 50s?

me: but rmmbr we discussed on this earlier
its not only on 15% yaar
guess global mess shd affect the remaining 85% too

vamsee: ya dats true

me: demand reductions due to lower incomes etccccc

vamsee: dats y govt shd take steps to stimulate the economy
instead of just pumping in money
and not knowing whr it ends up (i suspect corporate honchos, politicans, bureaucracy to eat a good chunk of it)

me: hmm

vamsee: hey
do u think the crisis will worsen
as in another lehman type incident is pending?
nice article
talks abt fiscal deficit too

me: hehe..i dont knw abt any incidents pending etc
but wid job-cuts, companies shutting -down, it isnt a gr88 picture rite
all this even if it recovers will tk time to build up

vamsee: yaar ppl flocked to us coz of 3 main reasons:
1. excellent infra
2. very good security and defence
3. Favorable business environ, laws, policies, etc
think for ne country to develop, these 3 are essential
and i feel india shd start wid all these 3 now, it is high time

me: The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.

vamsee: well said na

me: haa...too gud :-)

vamsee: yaar fiscal deficit or no deficit
spending karna tho padega infra par

me: haa par wat tht article says also makes sense
mayb thr r other areas whr money can flow currently rather than infra spending
short term is a focus
long term mite be handled wen the sun's up again :-)

vamsee: yaar the way i see it
real estate is a vital sector for any economy
so spending on infra (atleast real estate related prjs) would be beneficial to prop up this sector, provide employment, improve gdp
whr else shd the money flow?

me: nt sure i agree to tht totally
yaar infra spending i agree is definitely needed
but as frm tht article, it most probably would not reap benefits quickly
(other than just creating jobs)

vamsee: yup not for short term

me: Plus tht wud be a Growth oriented outlook (more of a proacitve approach)
but i think nw its hig time to focus on being reactive
try to save companies frm shutting down

vamsee: hmm
dats true...but how?
how can u save, say a motor company?
will it not be very micro level

instead thr shd be a key macro variable which shd be tackled...put money in that macro variable

me: isnt tht y u c a lot of stimulus packages

vamsee: which wud trickle down to all the reqd sectors

me: pumping money
to spur demand
ok..a lil confused ....do u think any difference between making cars now and constructing a road
a lil lame i agree, but thts wat we mean rite
both wud create jobs, demand fr raw matls, which wud trickle donw

vamsee: yaar lots of other things matter here...cars hav always been luxury in india...so ppl even if they hav money, wont spend on cars
but roads is sth which will generate employment and create income for ppl
which they can further use for other products

me: 2 things:
one: construcing tht road will take quite sme time
two: in the current fiscal deficit situation, do we hv enuf money fr creating the road....OR is saving the motor company more easy money-wise

vamsee: yes construction will take time, but wont it create employment? wont it boost the construction companies, steel manufacturers, and other raw material related companies? and money keeps going into roads for a few yrs
unlike a motor co, which 1. might not use the money properly 2. wont create new jobs (let alone save those which hav to go) 3. one time investment

me: to the first point, any industry has a supporting grp of vendor industries
fr example, even a motor company growth has to affect steel manufacturers
otherwise, not use the money properly
dont hv much of a comment here, except, its the govt, the politicians...who do u think cn better emplye money...govt or private sector
create jobs: its all a cycle...if u can save the loss of jobs, u mite nt nd to craete as many jobs..as i said, a cycle
one time investment: i didnt get :-)

vamsee: last point...put money once
in rds...put money continuously

me: my take: roads are reqd now, but maybe nt xactly a priority with the liquidity etcc constraints

vamsee: ok...so basically we agree on one thing
govt has to spend :P

me: hahahaha

vamsee: whr shd the govt money go is debatable

me: yup

vamsee: yes, investing in infra is not a one time thing...so it can wait for sometime
but start tho ho na chahiye

me: also, guess govt is doin gud on tht (spending) front, luking at the fiscal deficitv :P
ha start toh hona chahiye...BUT
fix the roof when the sun shines :)

vamsee: know wot

vamsee: in many developed countries, they hav a very good source of revenue from fines

me: ohh
hmm makes sense

vamsee: like traffic fines, fines for corporate offences, etc etc

me: & we cum to the root: corruption

vamsee: yeah exactly
that is basically reforms and policies (point 3 i mentioned)
i believe that even before putting money, some policy issues shd be addressed

me: yaa agree
more of an idealistic thing :)

vamsee: yaar india mein biz friendliness is very low
unlike us, which is in the top 3
india is arnd 80 i think

me: ohh...tht includes wat...getting credit, no bribes etccc ???

vamsee: no no...ease of starting a biz types

me: ohhh
vamsee: indicator of bureaucracy, in a way

me: hmm ok

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Goa Trip...

Made good use of the extended weekend, courtesy the Republic Day. Had my first trip to Goa, with friends for my current project in pune. 4 of us, we hired a Chevrolet Tavera… living life king-size u see :-)…the travel was too comfortable, trust me.

After reaching Goa on 24th morning @ 9, it took us 2 hrs to get a hotel room, courtesy the huge crowd that probably had reached early in the morning. And well, it was all our idea of adventure, when we decided not to book a hotel from pune itself :-)

Anyways, finally got a room…& the lazy bones tht we all were, we preferred taking a ‘short’ 3-hr nap to exploring goa. Finally, in the evening., we reached possibly the most visited place in goa…the Calingute beach…& wow…it was all thr…the sea, water, the crooowd, the water-sports, and yeah the babes :-)

Somehow, we were too lazy (mayb bcoz of the lonng journey last nite or mayb bcoz we felt we were too old for venturing into the water in our chaddis :-))…so, ended up jus sitting on the beach, while the others (& yeah thr were those 40, 50+ ppl too thr) enjoyed the sea as it shud b in goa. Also, on the same day, we visited the Vegator beach (guest hr wud b sme 20 odd beaches in goa).

Anyways, we were all determined to make the most of the next day…discovered sthing called a Dolphin cruise conducted by GTDC (think tht was Goa Tourism Dev Corp). registered fr tht for the nxt morning, hoping tmrw will be another day. So the first day was a lil too lazy & a huge disappointment, must say :-(

Watver, don’t care, since I knw we kinda made up fr it the next day :-)…So, got up the next day, and rushed to catch the dolphins jumping in the sea (atleast we hoped we will get to c sme)…fortunately for us (& unfortunately for the cruise-guy), we got sme 10-15 min late fr it…we were taken to the ferry via a car, instead of the regular bus, which wud hv carried all others :-) (& yea tht is wen we got the quote frm the driver of the car “goa main time is money”…ahaa…ok whatever :-))

So, we reached a place close to the Marriott, Panaji (btw panaji seemed to be a good place to me), frm whr we got into a ferry (a lil disappointment here fr me, as I had already started to hv huge expectations of a cruise-liner picking us :D)…& well, must say, tht was a great start to the day…we saw dolphins jumping in the sea…caught 3 jumps in my cell-phone video too…man, I was rlly happy thr :-)

Post-that, visited the Aguada fort, which frankly was a lil bit of a disappointment. Did go-karting….dnt knw y, but I hv kinda started to hate this now.

And then came the actual goa trip…went to the calingute, bought the ‘goa’ t shirts & swimming shorts / trunks (watever), and ventured onto the beach…rushing first to the parasail….man, I loved it…did it fr the first time…and wat a fun it was…we were screaming wen we were pulled by the speed-boat. Funnies moment: while cming down, my frnd screaming “excuse me” to the ppl standing below…now, wat a sophisticated fello he is :P…& yup, even tht parasail has been caught on the video :-)

So, post tht, we did all tht playing in the water…loved it…seemed like a young kid again...finally, the life-guard van came up asking everyone to come out of the water…& tht ws it fr us…a short ‘actual goa’ (yea I mean the sea) trip, but we simply loved it.

After tht, we decided to roam arnd in goa …visited the baga beach…close to it ws the Tito’s (guess the most popular pub in goa)…ended our day, wen we started feeelin sleepy (& content with hw the day went by :-))..headed off to the hotel.

The last day, we had decided to leave early, so as to rch okishly in time bak to pune….hence, visited sme churches, had a look at the Miramar & the dona paula beach. Seriously, these beaches are nowhere comparable to the Calingute…no water sports, hardly any crowd, nthing.

So, the last one was a short day…we didn’t feel like leaving goa…but the crazy workaholic frnd of mine had an imp meeting the nxt day...all packed up, but wid a promise to b back again as soon as possible…My gtalk status msg fr the nxt few days said “made a resolution to be in goa atleast once every 2 yrs”…nt bad if u think practically :-)

So, tht was it…my first goa trip, short, but absolutely greaatt...& more importantly, one which ended wid a promise to b bak again. Cya.