What is the New AADHAAR bill?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Thomas John, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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A new and revised Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 was passed in Lok Sabha on 11th March 2016. This takes the massive scheme beyond merely assigning a unique identity to residents to empowering the government to ensure that its subsidies and services reach the right people and directly.
 
What’s New in this Bill?
Supreme Court had earlier passed a ruling stating that Aadhaar should not be compulsory and restricted its use to deliver benefits and subsidies only under 5 government schemes, including LPG and PDS. The new Bill addresses major issues relating to security of information and also calls for imprisonment of up to one year and a minimum fine of Rs.10 lakhs for any person extending unauthorised access to the centralised data-base, or for revealing any information stored in it.
The new Bill makes Aadhaar necessary for availing of state subsidies and benefits received from the Consolidated Fund of India. Through Aadhaar, the govt. can make sure that solely targeted people directly receive funds or services, thereby plugging leaks within the system.The government has, however, confirmed that the Aadhaar card cannot be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile status.
 
Aadhaar is essential to ensure that all social sector schemes of the government is launched and implemented as per time and guidelines laid down therefore the NDA government has  made the correct move towards making certain that it receives the required statutory backing. Rs.13663 crore has already been allotted for FY’16-17, of that Rs 6844 crore has already been spent on establishing Aadhaar Sampark Kendras, technology-related infrastructure and enrollment, and all associated logistics. According to Mr Jaitley 97% adult Indians and 67% children now have an Aadhaar card and five to seven lakh people are being added to the system each day.

Can the Upcoming Recession be worse than 2008?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Thomas John, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The inevitable, and by all accounts brutal forthcoming recession, can coincide with two extremely dangerous conditions that will make it worse than 2008.
 
First, the Fed won’t be ready to lower interest rates and supply any debt-service relief for the economy. In the wake of 2008 Recession, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke took the overnight interbank loaning rate all the way down to 0 % from 5.25 % and printed $3.7 trillion. The Fed bought longer-term debt so as to push mortgages and every other debt to record low.
 
The best the Fed will be able to do is take to away its .25 % rate hike created in Dec.
 
Second, the federal government increased publicly-traded debt by $8.5 trillion (an increase of a hundred and seventy percent), and ran $1.5 trillion deficits to spice up consumption through transfer payments. Another such increase in deficits and debt, would cause an interest-rate spike that may flip this next recession into a devastating depression.
 
So as to avoid the surging value of debt-service payments on both public and private-sector level, the Fed will feel compelled to launch large number of bond purchases. However, not only are the interest rates already at historic lows, but faith in the ability of central banks to provide sustainable  gross domestic product growth will have already been destroyed, given their unsuccessful eight-year experiment in QE.
 
Therefore, the ability of government to save the markets and also the economy this time will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. 

Android N to be the biggest change in Android’s History

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Thomas John, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Turning a successful service enterprise into a product company is a feat that is difficult to achieve. With Alphabet restructuring, Google is focusing on making its operations effective. Android is one amongst the largest merchandise of Google. And understanding the growing dominance of mobile, Google is moving ahead to combine its desktop-focused Chrome OS and also the Android mobile OS.
As per the media reports, this convergence of Chrome OS and Android was in talks from a while and Android emerged as the obvious winner. To compare the both, Chrome OS is less flexible and more safer.
With Android Marshmallow, Google has progressed on the securty front with mandatory encryption and secure boot. With the future Android N, to be introduced at Google I/O, we can expect Google to move towards laptop-type larger screen devices powered by an advanced Android OS.
While Android Marshmallow concentrated on tightening the security hinges and making Android a corporate-suitable product, Android N will be a major change. Earlier this year, Google announced that the newer versions of Android will be free from unnecessary bloatware and Android N will be the proper platform to start with. Android N which is to be named as Android Nutella or Android Nougat will bring one of the largest changes ever in Android OS.
In the past, Google has Android-running larger screen devices, however Android just didn’t feel right. This move to merge the Chrome OS associated Android OS in Android N is Sundar Pichai’s decision to build an OS that runs on all form. The Android package already runs on smartwatches, TV, tablets, phones – and adding the laptops to this list will be Android’s biggest step yet.

Let’s try to remember the primary purpose, was it reservation or was it upliftment?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Tamojit Ganguly, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The Mandal Commission was established in India in 1979 by the Janata Party government under Prime Minister Morarji Desai with a mandate to “identify the socially or educationally backward” classes in the country. Though the commission emphasizes on the words ‘socially or educationally backward’, yet some intellectual administrators recognising the fact that our country has a substantial section of the population who have been at the helm of wealth and luxury, at least when compared to the middle class Indian,  but have been perceived to be educationally backward, was wise enough in laying out eleven criteria for the classes to qualify as eligible benefactors of the Mandal Commission. Among these criteria, there are four criteria which emphasize on the economic condition of the classes and they promptly state

Castes/classes where the average value of family assets is at least 25 per cent below the state average.

Yet, many of our nationalist leaders, in the urge to score brownie political points have forgotten the above criteria and have fuelled agitations initiated by economically affluent classes demanding reservation on the pretext of being educationally backward classes. The recurrence of violent protests led by relatively well-off communities demanding reservation, be it Patidars in Gujarat last year or Jats in Haryana this year, is perplexing. The Jats are a relatively prosperous land-owning community in Haryana and are regarded as being high on the “social ladder” in the region. Their political and social might is even more evident in the influence they wield in rural areas and in the leadership of the dominant political parties in the State. The National Commission for Backward Classes had in the past come out with specific reasons against the inclusion of the Jats in Haryana in the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) list. This was overruled by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre through a notification in March 2014, promising a special quota for Jats over and beyond the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in jobs and higher education. It was left to the Supreme Court in March 2015 to reiterate the reality and to quash the decision of the UPA to include Jats in nine States among OBCs, stating that “caste” alone could not be the criterion for determining socio-economic backwardness. Clearly, even if the demands do not make any constitutional or legal sense, the bipartisan consensus over extending reservations has emboldened protestors among the Jat community. After all, the Bharatiya Janata Party in power too had voiced support for the implementation of the March 2014 notification.

Let’s recognise the fact that we are moving light years away from the purpose with which such commission was established or with which reservations had been laid out for dalits and adivasis. By including economically well off classes under backward classes, we would not just be a boulder in the road for so called ‘lucky, educated and well-off’ section of the society but also an impediment to millions of Indians who actually need reservation.It’s high time that we should open our eyes to such issues with a pragmatic vision.

Reference:

 

The Times of India

The Hindu

Where is free speech and dissent, where are we heading?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Tamojit Ganguly, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The recent attack on Aam Aadmi party leader Soni Suri has cast yet another dark shadow on the prevailing obstructive situation to free speech and dissent we are facing. An Adivasi school teacher turned political leader in Sameli village of Dantewada in south Bastar, Chhattisgarh, India, has not been facing obstruction to freedom of speech and expression for the first time. On February 20, 2016, she was attacked by motorcycle-borne assailants in Chhattisgarh. They threw an acid-like substance on her, which left her in deep pain, and her face swollen with chemical burns. This was not the first physical attack on Ms. Sori. As international human rights watchdogs have reported, Ms. Sori was also allegedly tortured and sexually assaulted by the Chhattisgarh police while in their custody in October 2011. The latest attack on her comes in the wake of a series of developments that suggests a government-endorsed clampdown on free speech and dissent in the State. Earlier this month, Malini Subramaniam, a journalist associated with the news portal Scroll, and Jagdalpur Legal Aid, a group of human rights lawyers working with Adivasis, were allegedly forced out of the State for highlighting police atrocities against the tribal population. Both the journalist and the lawyers have claimed that their landlords were intimidated by the police into issuing eviction notices on them. It is worth noting that Ms. Sori had been trying to lodge an First Information Report against the Inspector General of Police, Bastar Range. She has been leading a powerful Adivasi movement that has sought to hold the State administration accountable for the killing of Adivasis in fake encounters, arbitrary arrests, and alleged sexual assault and torture of Adivasi women by the police and security forces. She had planned to highlight these issues through a 200-km march from Bijapur, set to end in Jagdalpur on International Women’s Day, March 8, before she became a target of the latest attack.

For some time now, free speech and dissent have been on the retreat in Chhattisgarh. The official excuse for this has been the ongoing civil conflict between the state and Maoist insurgents. But the fact that individuals who have no connection with the conflict are being forced out, suggests a larger anti-democratic agenda at work. And this is in keeping with the pattern across the world where so-called underdeveloped but mineral-rich regions have fallen prey to fierce corporate plunder of natural resources at the expense of the local population. The Bastar region is rich in minerals as also Adivasi settlements, and the people are loathe to giving up their land for resource-extraction. It is their resistance to being forcibly evicted from their land — best exemplified in the figure of Ms. Sori — that is the trigger for the crackdown on democratic rights in Chhattisgarh. Given the current political scene where a perverse form of nationalism is threatening to shut down free speech, the attack on Ms. Sori represents another front in the battle against the criminalisation of dissent. The kind of spotlight that has been illuminating the absurd charges of sedition against the JNU students needs to also be focussed on the likes of Ms. Sori who have been waging such battles for a long time.

Reference:

The Hindu

The Hindustan Times

Vishal Sikka- The rising wolf of the Indian IT

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Darshit Shah, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
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India is known for its service industry led by IT sector and Infosys is the second largest Indian company by market share led by Narayan Murthy till 2014. In 2014, Vishal Sikka, former member of executive board of SAP AG, joined the company as a CEO and MD on a 5 year contract and changed our perception of an Indian IT multinational company.

From 2014, Infosys changed its investment plans and followed its own path. When the giant like TCS is missing the estimates, Infosys is consistently performing better than the expected on financial measures. Reason is crystal clear: leadership. Consider the changes made by Dr Sikka. Indian IT companies are struggling with its performance measures inefficiencies. Additionally, many surveys show that majority of people change their job in their early years because of poor performance analysis by their managers. Dr Sikka considered this issue very seriously and acted upon it. Infosys introduced new system called ‘iCount’ under which managers will not have to do bell curve fitting, but simply has to analyse performance with the goals given. Another change was to allow employees to wear casual wear on all days of week. Infosys has also started giving more freedom to work from home.

Another major issue with the Indian IT system is bench period. Bench strength is associated negatively in Indian IT sector. Dr Sikka, as a game changer, started working on a pilot project ‘Zero Distance’ with his 10,000 employees. In this project, project managers can list project requirements on company portal and employees, who are on bench, can apply for the job. Clients can also list their requirements and can select employees to work on their requirements. This is a win-win situation for all: employees, clients, project managers and Infosys.

Company has decided now to extend the tenure of Dr Sikka till 2021 and also hiked his salary. Other companies are following him and his strategies. Dr Sikka has the courage to try out new and there can be many new ideas under his thinking cap.

Blackening the Green March

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sonal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


Global warming, as an issue has been discussed in so much detail that its mere mention may question the point of doing so. Whole world seems so much consumed by the idea of global warming that every act that we do, everything that we consume and every item that we produce seems to decide whether the catastrophic culmination of weather failure will happen in near future or not. But this is surely not illogical. Mankind has learnt from its mistakes. Several times in world history, we have celebrated beginning of a new change and, have repented the change as speedily the very next day. Now we are careful and farsighted. We study future scenarios, speedily merge our new capabilities to leverage gains as soon as possible. The society is a fast learner now and we adopt new developments more readily than how we did few decades ago. So, you shouldn’t complain if I express my disappointment over primitive reactions of a few people towards onset of electric cars.

Electric cars as the name suggests, run on electricity and not on the non-renewable fuels like petrol and diesel. So, they are expected to leave no carbon footprint unlike their older counterparts. The critics then started speaking about the problems in cost, range and charging speed. Because of their less demand now, electric cars are costly to make and purchase, the persistent worry of having the car discharged midway every 50-100 miles and the shortage of charging centers and the less charging speed (around 4 to 6 hours). Apart from these, the cars are mostly two seaters and their batteries have to be changed every 3-10 years.  Big companies, who have been technical leaders in futuristic approach like Tesla, Nissan are spending heavily on research and development in electric car projects. Now a new shortcoming in electric cars have seemed to surface. Critics say that the manufacturing of the common lithium-ion electric car battery and their final disposal entails release of harmful pollutants. Also, electricity that feeds this novel conception itself comes from processes that run on non-renewable resources, chiefly coal. And this is not a minor conjecture. Surveys have been carried out to make the comparison. One of the findings is that the energy intensive manufacturing of EVs mean that some cars make almost double the impact on global warming as conventional cars. If the energy is coming from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas driven automobiles. Also the greenhouse effect of soot is even more than carbon di oxide itself.

While we went on reprimanding electrical vehicles for being disruptive, we neglected some essential facts. First of all, not all energy is coal powered. According to a 2012 study only 40% of total energy is coming from coal and according to Department of Energy and Climate Change, by 2020, this will reduce to around 10%. In fact, there are countries like Norway that almost completely run on renewable energy like hydroelectricity. Even if we choose to expunge these facts, we have to face a simple reality. Developing nations like India and China are going to pour a large amount of greenhouse gas in the coming future mainly because their energy will come from coal. And developed countries are doubting electric vehicles because coal will cause global warming. Connect the two and you will notice that our opposition to green vehicles simply means delaying the inevitable and more we delay it, more are we aggravating the greenhouse problem. Instead of quarantining green vehicles, we need to strike at the source. An innovation like electric vehicle is just in its budding stage and needs extensive research and trials for betterment. Nipping this now will mean stopping the progress of something that could have been timed with proper onset of renewable energy resources to solve the greenhouse problem of Earth. Let’s not be the ones only sting problems, but the ones who are actually solving them.

Sources :

http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-electric-cars.php

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3151637/Are-electric-cars-damaging-region-Maps-reveal-EVs-WORSE-environment-gas-guzzling-vehicles.html

A turmoil in Indian markets : Opportunity for Indian firms

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Sameer Jain, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

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Financial-Advisory

Indian stock market is still facing a downward trend with the public sector bank facing high pressure due to increased provisioning for the NPAs. Sensex is down nearly 7% in February and around 11%. Given the growth outlook of the world and the challenges in overseas market several foreign players had either scaled down or sold their wealth management businesses and exited the Indian market. With the foreign players slowing down and Indian players are now rushing to gain the additional market share of business and acquire talents from them.  IIFL Wealth Management has increased its advisor count by roughly 20 per cent in the past year, recruiting senior executives from foreign entities such as Citibank, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered. Domestic companies are trying to fill the gap created by the foreign companies. Other players such Anand Rathi Financial Services and ASK Wealth Advisor have also increased or planned to increase the their advisors count.

Last year, RBS sold its Indian wealth management business to Sanctum Wealth,  HSBC shut its private banking business in India, through which it provided asset management services to wealthy individuals. UBS and Morgan Stanley exited their wealth business in 2014. A few years earlier, Credit Suisse scaled down its Indian wealth management operations and DSP Merrill Lynch sold its domestic wealth management business to Swiss banking group Julius Baer. (source – Business Standard )

With promoters selling their stakes before the budget on 29th Feb, a  lot of new wealth is being added in the market. This have created an opportunity for the companies to cater high net worth investors. Given the volatility and the uncertainty in the market the role of the wealth advisors has become crucial. Given the various options of investments such as stocks, real state, bullion, etc quality of advice plays a critical role. As observed the stock market was declining while at same time real state price were stable and the gold prices have gained around 10%. Only the time will how the Indian wealth advisory firms are able to capitalize on this increased need of wealth advisors and gain the market share left by the foreign players.

References-

http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/indian-wealth-managers-rush-in-as-foreign-players-exit-116022400896_1.html

http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/sensex-braces-for-worst-monthly-show-in-4-years-116022600915_1.html

WTO Ruling and India’s Solar Mission

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post

Sukalyan Talukdar, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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In the recent WTO ruling against India which declared that support provided by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission to domestic manufacturers was inconsistent with the Trade Related Investment Measures agreement signed by India, again raised several questions related to US’s good will towards United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015, Paris and role of WTO (Does WTO only work for developed nations?)

According to 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015, Paris India’s INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) includes reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level and also to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of COequivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.  India has decided to establish a global solar alliance, INSPA (International Agency for Solar Policy & Application), of all countries located in between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

India has relied hugely upon its National Solar Mission to fulfil its INDC. India’s Solar Mission has a target to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power by 2022. It also offers a subsidy of up to Rs 1 crore per MW to solar developers sourcing components from local manufacturers. It also stipulates that 10% of the solar capacity target of 100 GW by 2022 should be built with domestically manufactured solar modules, which has led to a small part of the solar auctions being reserved for developers employing only domestic content.
So far so good but the US which is especially keen on taking a slice of this huge solar market, has requested to setup a dispute settlement panel under WTO. Though India has blocked the first request, the US made a second request to the WTO. The WTO then set up a dispute settlement panel to examine the complaint by the US against India’s domestic content requirements under the country’s solar power programme.

The US charged India with violating provisions in what are called the trade-related investment measures (TRIMS) by imposing local content requirements that discriminate against foreign products. The US claimed that the Indian government’s measures to impose national content provisions and deny “national” treatment have impaired benefits accruing to American companies.

The panel apparently upheld Washington’s core complaints against the Indian measures on the ground that they are inconsistent with provisions in WTO’s rulebook which again proved that WTO works only for the developed nations. The American solar industry says that WTO ruling against India will actually have huge environmental benefits. According to them The WTO is ensuring that India’s solar ambitions are achieved in the most efficient way possible because the Indian businesses that want to generate solar power get to buy the cheapest solar panels.

After this ruling the first thing that will come to our mind is that how US is interested only about its own trade benefits and it has no concern towards the climate changes. Also this ruling goes against the spirit of an agreement signed early 2015 between US and India. In the agreement, the two sides agreed to promote clean energy and expand solar energy initiatives.

India has argued that developing an indigenous solar industry will in time boost international competition and therefore reduces the price of solar panels for everyone.

One can be amused by the hypocrisy in US trade policy. While the US argues for unfettered free markets in international forums like the WTO, it doesn’t practice what it preaches at home. Half of all US states have subsidies for renewable. India spoke repeatedly against the US at WTO’s committee on subsidies and countervailing measures, stating that American subsidy schemes relating to local or domestic content requirements for its solar companies are inconsistent with its global trade obligations. New Delhi has also provided a five-page questionnaire listing US programmes such as solar energy credits that are contingent upon compliance with domestic content requirements.

India has released statements that it will once again appeal against the World Trade Organization ruling.  Organisations like Greenpeace have already extended its support towards India.

References:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35668342