Colonialism in 21st Century …

Posted on May 18, 2018. Filed under: Business |

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Walmart in India …

Posted on May 12, 2018. Filed under: Business |

You Never Win with Walmart –

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US – China Race in Hi-Tech …

Posted on May 7, 2018. Filed under: Business |

From CNN Tech – Some of the brightest minds in tech believe we are headed toward a bipolar future where the United States and China close their tech markets to one another and fight for conquest of the rest of the world.

There will be an American and a Chinese version of everything — an Amazon and an Alibaba; a Google and a Baidu; an Uber and a Didi Chuxing — and each pair will compete for rights to Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Tech dominance will be how the US and China establish political and economic influence over the rest of the world. The lines of the new geopolitical map will be drawn by tech companies, on a country-by-country basis. Longstanding political and military alliances will shift due to new economic considerations.

Today’s PACIFIC – Good morning. The US-China trade talks have ended without a deal.

In the last 10 days we’ve met with lawmakers in Washington, business leaders in Beverly Hills and VCs and tech executives in New Orleans. Guess what they all want to talk about? China. China. China. China. The issue is also likely to be a key focus at Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders summit in Omaha this weekend.

China’s rise as a technological power is, to me, the most important story of our time. As General David Petraeus said earlier this week at the Milken Global Conference, “There’s a new dialectic, a new competition of ideas.”

“Our political model is being contested,” said Tony Blair, on stage with Petraeus. “We have to understand our position in the world is going to be challenged not just economically but politically.”

Rise of China: Xi Jinping on offense – President Trump’s effort to slow China’s technological rise, including the threat of an executive order that would ban Huawei and ZTE from the US, has only emboldened China’s support of its tech and telecom firms.

• “President Xi Jinping has responded … by vowing to pour even more resources into research and achieve home-grown breakthroughs. He urged China last week to “cast aside illusions” it could rely on others for help.”

• During the trade talks, the US delegation asked China to stop subsidizing its technology companies. “The hosts said their technological advancement goal isn’t on the table.”

• “‘The more pressure the U.S. puts on China, the more urgently the country has to develop its own high-tech products to reduce reliance on the U.S.,’ said Xu Jianwei, a senior economist for greater China at Natixis SA in Hong Kong.”

The Big Picture: China is committed to a $300 billion Made in China 2025 development plan that would make it a global leader in ten categories, including robotics, biotech and aerospace. It is also committed to becoming “the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center” by 2030. US threats are highly unlikely to curb those ambitions.

What’s Next: “Investors are preparing for a blockbuster year of Chinese tech IPOs,” per CNNMoney’s Sherisse Pham: “Smartphone maker Xiaomi filed this week to go public in Hong Kong … It is one of several major Chinese tech companies that could make their stock exchange debuts this year.”

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World Economies 2018 …

Posted on May 5, 2018. Filed under: Business |

1. United States $19.391 trillion
2. China $12.015 trillion
3. Japan $4.872 trillion
4. Germany $3.685 trillion
5. California $2.747 trillion
6. United Kingdom $2.625 trillion                                                                             7. India $2.611 trillion
8. France $2.584 trillion
9. Brazil $2.055 trillion
10. Italy $1.938 trillion
11. Texas $1.696 trillion
12. Canada $1.652 trillion                                                                                        13.  New York $1.547 trillion
14. South Korea $1.538 trillion
15. Russia $1.527 trillion

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TCS Makes Waves …

Posted on April 29, 2018. Filed under: Business |

Economic Times –

The surge in TCS shares meant the stock added over Rs 40,000 crore to its m-cap, which stood at Rs 6,46,273.06 crore in the late morning deals. At rupee-dollar exchange range of 66, this translates roughly to $98 billion.

How did TCS manage to buck the trend when Indian IT companies are struggling with emerging technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence hitting their conventional business models and visa restrictions in the US impacting their revenues?

TCS has been quick in adapting to the changing business environment. “Our full-year growth has been lower than it has been in the recent past but our Q4 growth gives us optimism that we are back on to double-digit growth,” CEO Rajesh Gopinathan told reporters after announcing quarterly results on Thursday. What gives Gopinathan confidence is a strong demand in digital across all verticals and large transformational deals. TCS hopes t ..


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TATAs TCS Strides Strong …

Posted on April 25, 2018. Filed under: Business |

How did TCS manage to buck the trend when Indian IT companies are struggling with emerging technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence hitting their conventional business models and visa restrictions in the US impacting their revenues?

TCS has been quick in adapting to the changing business environment. “Our full-year growth has been lower than it has been in the recent past but our Q4 growth gives us optimism that we are back on to double-digit growth,” CEO Rajesh Gopin ..
It says building capabilities using talent from its nearly 4,00,000 workforce and help incubate new ideas keeps it relevant in a market that is witnessing technology shifts.

Last year, TCS launched an ambitious artificial intelligence product, Ignio. Indian IT companies have so far always sold their AI platforms as part of services and TCS is among the first to sell it as a standalone product. “TCS has taken a different app ..


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Tatas’ TCS …

Posted on April 23, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities, Searching for Success |

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Face Book – Data Leakage …

Posted on March 19, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities |

Facebook lost more than $35 billion of its value on Monday, Mar 19, after reports said that more than 50 million people had their personal data misappropriated by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The firm used the Facebook trove, obtained without authorization, to build a software program to influence voters, including in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to the New York Times and Observer of London.

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Paul Krugman on Indian Economy …

Posted on March 18, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities |

India made rapid economic progress during the last 30 years but Krugman warned lack of jobs and slowing manufacturing sector could derail the growth story of the world’s fastest growing economy.

“India achieved as much economic progress in the (last) 30 years as the Great Britain did in 150 years. It is a very rapid space of transformation….why does there still seem to be visible poverty in India?,” Krugman said.

“Lack of manufacturing could be a major hurdle as India doesn’t have the jobs,” he said.

Another concern for India is high economic inequality, amid rapid economic progress, resulting in uneven distribution of wealth, according to Krugman.

Terming India’s economic growth progress as “extraordinary”, the economist said the country has become (on purchasing power) the world’s largest economy overtaking Japan and while being behind the US and China, it is far bigger than any European country.

Attributing factors that played a role in the economic “progress”, Krugman said there was a dramatic change in India’s policy including liberalised policies taken in early 1990s.

“I am on the Centre-Left, but I do not think the government should have a heavy hand on economy. India used to have Licence Raj, where bureaucratic obstacles were immense and that has not gone away completely but enormously reduced. India has become a much easier place to do business that it was. The PM said India moved from 148 to 100 in the rankings. That is not a badge of distinction, but it is better than it was,” he observed.

He also touched upon the problem of corruption that the country has been facing. “There are issues of corruption. You cannot become Denmark with Chinese levels of corruption,” he added.

In July, last year, the economist had blamed the Modi government’s note-ban, hawkish monetary policy of RBI and a strong rupee for the tepid growth, saying the 6 per cent GDP expansion was “disappointing” for a country like India.

“Your 6 per cent growth is actually disappointing. You probably should be doing 8 or 9 per cent,” the economist said. Unlike the advanced economies, it is “conventional macroeconomic issues” which are afflicting India, he said.

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the nation by surprise abolishing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes with stated objective to fight the scourge of black money.

However, withdrawing 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in a economy that was close to 98 per cent cash-driven, had its impact on growth, as seen in the official data released in May.

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India – The Chidambarams’ …

Posted on March 6, 2018. Filed under: Business, Personalities |

By Madhav Jalapat.

UPA-era Finance and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and, by extension, his son Karti have long been considered to be among those “protectees” within the Lutyens Zone who are immune to legal accountability for their actions.

Hence, it was with incredulity that the senior Congress party leader’s former and present associates across the world heard of Karti Chidambaram’s surprise arrest by CBI sleuths at Chennai airport. Talk spread rapidly throughout the zone that this was a “pre-arranged jumla”, and that Karti would be “out of the clutches of the CBI within a day”.  

The initial granting of just a day’s custody of Karti to the CBI added fuel to such rumours, which were, however, weakened by the subsequent court order granting a somewhat longer period in custody to the investigating authorities.

That the senior Chidambaram has immense goodwill and access across the different branches of governance, especially Parliament, the Judiciary and the Central Secretariat, is undoubted. Although there has been much discussion about the Congress stalwart’s contacts within Parliament as well as the Judiciary, only his whispered linkages within the network of senior Central officials will be sketched out here.

Of course, while claims have been made about the existence of a “Chidambaram Clique” within the leafy boundaries of the Lutyens Zone, several of those seen as being part of such a group say that their only contact with him was as civil servants to their minister, and hence that the same degree of familiarity and loyalty as they demonstrated to Chidambaram was attached to his predecessors and successors. 

Several of these officials have continued their close contact with the former minister even since 26 May 2014, while he himself has, according to sources in the civil service, used his still considerable clout to ensure desirable posts for his presumed protégés.

The valuable trait of effectively ensuring that the tasks given to them by their political masters get smoothly carried out is what seems to have ensured that several who are seen as being part of the “Chidambaram Clique” have retained important responsibilities during the present NDA dispensation, and indeed have been promoted to much higher posts.

Doing the bidding of the minister who set the CBI against the Intelligence Bureau in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, and who sought to establish the existence of a Hindu terror network across the country, does not seem to have adversely affected the careers of Chidambaram loyalists in the BJP-ruled government. 

The Congress politician’s clout and goodwill extend beyond the boundaries of India. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, as an example, is considered personally close to Chidambaram. He is said to be responsible for the RBI reversing, in 2014, its 2012 decision on the “Kumudam matter” involving Jawahar Palaniappan, who is close to Chidambaram.

A Lutyens favourite, Rajan is accused by former colleagues in the RBI of having tipped off the former Finance Minister about queries made to them by the Enforcement Directorate on the Aircel-Maxis case.

In New York and London, fund managers swear by Chidambaram and many have since worked with Karti. Over the past eleven years, the junior Chidambaram has built up a record of financial success that would give Warren Buffett pause, although friends of the family say that this is entirely because of the financial genius and trading instincts of the hard-driving Chettiar scion from Tamil Nadu.

A senior IAS officer, whose name comes up within his circle of peers as being “very close” to P. Chidambaram is K.P. Krishnan. Because of his proximity to the then Union Finance Minister, even routine presentations by him were reverentially attended by the RBI Governor and his Deputy Governors, as also by such top bankers as HDFC founder Deepak Parekh and the heads of private banks such as ICICI and Kotak.

The officer’s detractors link him to Chidambaram and the minister’s (well deserved or not) reputation for partiality towards the National Stock Exchange (NSE). It is true that neither SEBI nor the ED seems to have exhaustively examined the co-location snafu in the NSE, where some influential brokers were said to have secured access to confidential trading data of the exchange through connecting their servers via “dark fibre”, in the process making trading profits amounting to four figures in rupees crores.

Certainly individuals linked to NSE, such as Ravi Narayanan, Ajay Shah, Sunita Thomas, Susan Thomas, Suprabhat Lala and Chitra Ramakrishnan knew Chidambaram and Karti well, but whether this was linked with what took place in the co-location mess at the NSE is a matter that does not appear to have been investigated (especially by SEBI) with the seriousness that multiple allegations of “dark web” insider trading merit.

K.P. Krishnan and another IAS officer, Ramesh Abhishek, are regarded by their peers as having been active in taking steps that resulted in the downfall of an exchange that was competing with NSE, but this is again a charge that seems to have evoked little interest within the agencies even after the NDA came to power.

Sources say that the officers had been behind the reluctance of agencies to ensure that the eight brokers who profited from the NSEL scam repaid the moneys owed. Instead, they ensured that SEBI and ED fire got concentrated on Chidambaram’s target, the founder of the competing exchange, Jignesh Shah.

The CBI, SEBI and other agencies have followed the Krishnan-Abhishek cue of concentrating only on Shah, rather than the brokers who actually defaulted. Abhishek, it may be added, is held in as high regard by the NDA as he was by the UPA.

As for SEBI, Chidambaram was seen by officials as succeeding in having his own man in charge of that organisation, such as C.B. Bhave, who was appointed to the post despite having that very agency investigating him at that time in matters connected with NSDL. Naturally, this “investigation” went nowhere. 

Another Chidambaram favourite in SEBI, according to senior officials of the time, was U.K. Sinha, whose record in ensuring that defaulters pay back the moneys taken by them was visibly less than stellar.

Sources in an investigative agency claim that a very senior SEBI official (not Sinha) was even spotted transporting in a commercial flight a suitcase that was filled with cash, which represented payment by a grateful tycoon for compounding a high profile case.

Within the Department of Financial Services (DFS), another Chidambaram favourite, Amitabh Verma, was claimed by colleagues to have “encouraged” Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to sell their loan portfolios to private banks at low values. These private banks very soon resold such loans for a much higher value.

Thus far, no investigation appears to have been initiated into such UPA-era transactions. Chidambaram was also considered within North Block as instrumental in getting Atul Rai to be made the Managing Director of IFCI. 

Thus far, the former Union Finance Minister has led a charmed life, although there have been scattered accusations, including of allegedly standing by, especially during 1996-97, as poppy growers grew more than they needed, the balance getting sold to the narcotics trade.

Interestingly, the lawyer chosen by many clients involved in narcotics-related cases to represent them was Nalini Chidambaram, the wife of P. Chidambaram, who is known as a highly capable advocate who gets good results for her clients.

Chidambaram too is among the best lawyers in India, while Karti seems to be a financial genius, judging by his results both domestic and global. 

In the INX Media case (involving FIPB sanction), officials present during that time say that two senior officials, Ashok Chawla and Arvind Mayaram, were in the picture, allegedly at the behest of the then Union Finance Minister, who is known to be close to both of these officials.

The same sources say that the duo were also involved “on Chidambaram’s say so” in the Aircel Maxis case, although only an investigation would show whether both had been acting within the rules. A detailed enquiry will bring out the truth of the case.

The INX case was cleared in the FIPB and was not referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, a step that had been suggested by some at the time.

Earlier, the senior Chidambaram’s associates were accused of having taken over land at a throwaway value in a coastal area near Chennai, land that belonged to poor fishermen. This was allegedly “facilitated” by the then Revenue Secretary to the Tamil Nadu government, Saktikanta Das.

The officer concerned was subsequently promoted and shifted to the Central government as Joint Secretary in the Finance Ministry when Chidambaram was a minister.

Even the NDA regards Saktikanta Das highly and has given him further promotions. This hard-working IAS officer, who was among the prime movers behind the 8 November 2016 demonetisation, is now a member of the Finance Commission. No serious investigation into lands in urban conurbations of Tamil Nadu transferred to Chidambaram’s family and associates while he was in high office has thus far been conducted, nor is any likely, judging by the record of the probe agencies thus far. 

Palaniappan Chidambaram has had the good fortune of having several at the top of the LIC being close to him, such as T.S. Vijayan, who subsequently became Chairman of IRDA. The LIC invests heavily in the stock market, entirely coincidentally a favourite playground of Karti and his associates. Several nationalised bank chairpersons were known to be favourites of the former Union Finance Minister, including Canara Bank Chairman M.B.N. Rao, State Bank of India Chairman O.P. Bhat and Yogesh Aggarwal of IDBI. Several individuals were appointed to the boards of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) through Chidambaram’s efforts. These individuals are claimed to have lobbied for several loans that subsequently morphed into NPAs. No enquiry seems to have been conducted by the present government into exactly which bank directors or politicians recommended big loans during the UPA period, advances that went bust, including those to Kingfisher Airlines. From removal of duty differences between natural and man-made diamonds (benefiting defaulters Winsome and Geetanjali Jewellery); to ensuring through budget announcements the sale at a cheap price to a close friend of a mine in Goa; to making a leading state-sector bank “force exporters” (eventually at great loss to them and to the detriment of the country’s exports) to enter into forward positions on dollars through a dubious US-based paper entity; to nudging banks to make expensive changes in logo and software so as to benefit favoured entities, several charges have been made by serving and retired officials about the manner of functioning of the “Chidambaram Clique” that till the past few weeks seem to have been ignored. However, it is possible that the prediction being made by him, son Karti and wife Nalini that they will “soon be free of any taint” (through arguing their case within the legal system) may come true. And should the Congress party cash in on the errors of the BJP—mistakes pointed out every week by Columnist Chidambaram—and manages enough Lok Sabha seats to lead a coalition government in 2019, Chidambaram will almost certainly return as the Union Finance Minister. Some, especially in Washington and London, predict that he may even be made (a la Manmohan Singh) the Prime Minister, should Rahul Gandhi decide to sit it out till 2024, the way the Congress president did during 2009-2014. 

Given Chidambaram’s record of assisting friends and annihilating foes, both sets of individuals will be watching the immediate fortunes of this urbane and ruthless politician from the South with unwavering attention. 
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