Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai terror - try to live with it

Much has happened in Mumbai over the past three days. Can we at Mumbai Much Much ignore it?
It’s become fashion to talk of the Mumbai Spirit and the Resilient Mumbai, particularly whenever have crisis.
But nobody talks of ways and means to keep this Mumbai Spirit alive. Like anywhere else, Mumbaikars too develop panic during crisis. We too create commotions.
Just look at the way some us behaved when rumours were being spread about fresh gun shots at VT, RBI, Haji Ali and God knows where all! Many of ran helter-skelter in fear and horror instead of trying to verify what is being said!
“Main ne suna,” Usne kahaa” etc etc was all that one could hear.
The TV channels too contribute their mite in a hurry. But, thank God, they were quick enough to react and tell the people that all is well at VT etc., Come on, face it! All of us like sensation. Bad, sad and of course mad!
I would like to share few thoughts on what each one of could and should do during crisis:
1. Do not panic. Begin this practice at home and in office or college or school – wherever you go.
2. Do not encourage rumour mongers. You know very well that all rumours are wrong. If it’s a fact, it wouldn’t be a rumour (pl check your dictionary, man!!)
3. Be prepared to donate blood. Who knows some one may need it.
4. Form voluntary groups – we can do this from our daily local train friends, to housing societies and offices/colleges. Inform the police and in fact hold meeting with your local police asking them as to what your group can do in crisis. It could be as small thing as taking drinking water and snacks for the people who are stuck or for media friends doing their job relentlessly (as they were doing at Trident, Taj and Nariman House).
5. Pl raise contingency funds for such unforeseen developments from within your group. The simplest thing to do would be to start collecting one day’s salary, once a year. Or still better, let us contribute one day’s salary on our birthdays to such funds.

I leave you with these thoughts. If you have any more, do add.

Friday, November 21, 2008

PM cautions against competitive politics


Here are some extracts from PM Manmohan Singh’s address to the HT Summit 2008 at New Delhi today. Good food for thought for us in Mumbai:

•Like millions of Indians I come from a family of modest means. I lived in a dusty village with no doctor around, no school, no electricity, no paved roads, and no safe drinking water facility.

•But it was the burning desire to learn, to be educated, that has brought me here to these glittering halls from that distant village without hope. It was scholarships and fair selection that educated me. It was a free society and a land of opportunity that gave me opportunities for self-expression and self-advancement. My dreams for myself have been realized in my own lifetime because my country has made me.

•Nowherelse in the world you find a billion plus people trying to transform their economy and the society in the framework of the functioning democracy committed to full respect for fundamental human freedoms and respect for the rule of law.

•The notion of cooperative pluralism and respect for diversity that is the basis of our democracy must also be the basis of global governance in the 21st century if it is to inspire universal trust and confidence.

•People everywhere seek well-being and sustainable livelihoods, but they also seek fundamental freedoms. People do want jobs, people want education, people want housing and health care. But people also want to live in open societies and open economies. People throughout history has sought freedom from tyranny in all its manifestations. They wish to be governed by the rule of law.

•This has been the human endeavour in the past and I suggest to this august audience that it will remain so in the years to come.

•Competitive politics must not be allowed to divide our people on the basis of religion, caste or region. At home and globally we seek an inclusive growth process. Our century I sincerely believe will be shaped by how we respond to the global economic crisis today.

•If nations look only inwards and imagine that they can solve their problems on their own, they will fail and fall. The world has become more integrated and inter-dependent. In both good and bad, in prosperity and peril, in opportunity and crisis we must recognise the new inter-dependencies of nations and no nation is an island into itself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Relief from gutter cities? Let's hope for the best

The Government is formally launching National Urban Sanitation Policy on 12th November 2008 giving rise to hopes that finally something is being done for the health of the cities!

Dr. M. Ramachandran Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development will announce the details of the policy approved by the Government last month at a Workshop being organized for this purpose.

The vision of the Policy is that all Indian cities and towns become totally sanitized, healthy and livable and ensure and sustain good public health and environment outcomes for the citizens with a special focus on hygienic and affordable sanitation facilities for the Urban poor and women. The goal includes awareness generation and behavioral change, elimination of open defecation, integrated city wide sanitation, safe disposal and proper operation and maintenance of all sanitary installations. The main elements of the policy are financial assistance for state level sanitation strategies and city level plans and Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), promoting Public Private Partnership (PPP), awareness generation and capacity building etc. The policy envisages an annual rating schemes for all Class-I cities and institution of an annual award.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mumbai, Yes We Can!!

There is a lot that we can or, to put it differently, there is nothing that we cannot do is the guiding principle for the Blog.With Yes We Can becoming synonymous with US President-elect Barrack Obama, each every one of us can draw inspiration from Obama and do or perform little bit above one’s normal levels and in turn achieve a lot.

Right from the days of the great Indian epic Mahabharat to the country’s freedom movement spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi, the people in this part of the world have been experiencing the results of the “Yes we can” philosophy. While the epics have all demonstrated beyond doubt the victory of good over the evil when the battles were fought with determination – much like what Obama has told us: Yes We Can!

Apart from achieving one’s personal goals, “Yes We Can” should inspire all of us to do something for the society around us and make our respective cities, towns and villages better places to live in. Just consider the following:

• Can we do something to check the traffic jams in our areas?
• Can we ask our elected representatives to check pot holes and not to waste money on redoing pavements when not necessary?
• Can we make the authorities to encourage people’s movements/volunteers to enforce civic sense – smoking in public places, spitting on roads and in government buildings, vandalizing heritage properties like Qutub Minar in Delhi and Lucknow’s Bhool Bhulaiya.
• Can we start saving power by raising the temperature levels of air conditioners by a degree?
• Can we begin to use power saving electric bulbs?
• Can we start saving on paper by not clicking for impulkse printing of our mails?
• Can we start telling journalists in particular to rely much more on emails rather than waiting for faxes or printed press releases?
• Can we not tell our children to save trees by recycling paper or using bioth the sides of the paper for writing their notes or homework?
• Can we not tell our children to preserve their books well and donate them to poor children in the following year?
• Can we not tell our families to close water taps after use and switch off the lights and TV sets when we do not use them.

The apparent answer to all these questions is YES WE CAN!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Raj Thackeray - Right or Wrong?

Is Raj Thackeray totally wrong? Is media thinks that he is being built out of proportion, than why should they project him as a man who can hold up the normal life in Mumbai? One Hindi channel even called him “Vish Purush” (Poison Man!). Aren’t these channels themselves responsible for building Raj Thackeray into what he is today – a virtual super hero of the Marathi cause?

Hours of airtime is being dedicated to Raj Thackereay in one way or the other. If the channels do not have any sport reporting to do, they indulge in special programmes. Day after day, throughout the week last week we had this “Raj hammering” by the channels as if nothing else was happening in the country! Even the Indian cricket team’s record victory over Australia and the Mission Moon were eclipsed by the coverage of Raj Thackeray related stuff.

Now that we got into this analytical mood, let us ponder over the following points:

• To begin with, what has gone wrong in the Railways not calling local candidates for the examination that Raj and his men opposed?
• Why the candidates from far away Bihar and UP were made to come all the way to Mumbai to appear for the exam?
• Why couldn’t the Railways have arranged for the exams in Patna, Lucknow or Delhi?
• The Shiv Sena has already opposed the outsiders coming here for exams? Why did not the Railways indulge in yet another provoking act?
• As for Raj Thackeray and his spokesperson Shirish Palkar – Was this king of mindless violence required to propagate your cause? Why can’t you go to the court? A PIL would have got you much more publicity (than what you have got now) and even dignity!!

Veteran journo BN Kumar floats Blog to spread 'Yes We Can' movement

There is a lot that we can or to put it differently, there is nothing that we cannot do is the guiding principle for the Blog, says BNK as the journalist is known among frinds. With Yes We Can becoming synonymous with US President-elect Barrack Obama, obviously every one can do or perform little bit above one’s normal levels and in turn achieve a lot.

Right from the days of the great Indian epic Mahabharat to the country’s freedom movement spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi, the people in this part of the world have been experiencing the results of the “Yes we can” philosophy. While the epics have all demonstrated beyond doubt the victory of good over the evil when the battles were fought with determination – much like what Obama has told us: Yes We Can!

Apart from achieving one’s personal goals, “Yes We Can” should inspire all of us to do something for the society around us and make our respective cities, towns and villages better places to live in. Just consider the following:

1. Can we do something to check the traffic jams in our areas?
2. Can we ask our elected representatives to check pot holes and not to waste money on redoing pavements when not necessary?
3. Can we make the authorities to encourage people’s movements/volunteers to enforce civic sense – smoking in public places, spitting on roads and in government buildings, vandalizing heritage properties like Qutub Minar in Delhi and Lucknow’s Bhool Bhulaiya.
4. Can we start saving power by raising the temperature levels of air conditioners by a degree?
5. Can we begin to use power saving electric bulbs?
6. Can we start saving on paper by not clicking for impulkse printing of our mails?
7. Can we start telling journalists in particular to rely much more on emails rather than waiting for faxes or printed press releases?
8. Can we not tell our children to save trees by recycling paper or using bioth the sides of the paper for writing their notes or homework?
9. Can we not tell our children to preserve their books well and donate them to poor children in the following year?
10. Can we not tell our families to close water taps after use and switch off the lights and TV sets when we do not use them.
The apparent answer to all these questions is YES WE CAN!!

BNK says there can thousands and thousands of instances where we can do a little more to achieve a lot? Can we not? Yes We Can.
BNK plans to send thousands of mails to all his contacts to spread the Yes We Can movement.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recession clowds looming, RBI acts for financial stability

MUMBAI: Announcing, further measures for Monetary and Liquidity Management, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today cut repo rate by 50 basis points. With this new repo rate stands at 7.5 per cent.

In its Mid-Term Review of the Annual Policy Statement for 2008-09, the Reserve Bank of India indicated that in the context of the uncertain and unsettled global situation and its indirect impact on our domestic economy and our financial markets, it would closely and continuously monitor the situation and respond swiftly and effectively to developments. In doing so, the Reserve Bank will employ both conventional and unconventional measures.

RBI noted that global financial conditions continue to remain uncertain and unsettled, and early signs of a global recession are becoming evident. These developments are being reflected in sharp declines in stock markets across the world and heightened volatility in currency movements. International money markets are yet to regain calm and confidence and return to normal functioning.

It was also indicated in the Mid-Term Review that the current challenge for the conduct of monetary policy is to strike an optimal balance between preserving financial stability, maintaining price stability and sustaining the growth momentum. Inflation, in terms of the wholesale price index (WPI), has been softening steadily since August 9, 2008 and has declined to 10.68 per cent for the week ended October 18, 2008.

Globally, pressures from commodity prices, including crude, appear to be abating. The moderation in key global commodity prices, if sustained, would further reduce inflationary pressures. On the growth front, it is important to ensure that credit requirements for productive purposes are adequately met so as to support the growth momentum of the economy, RBI said.

Domestic financial markets have been functioning normally. Prudent regulatory surveillance and effective supervision have ensured that our financial sector has been and continues to be robust. However, the global financial turmoil has had knock-on effects on our financial markets; this has reinforced the importance of focusing on preserving financial stability,

The Reserve Bank has reviewed the current and evolving macroeconomic situation and liquidity conditions in the global and domestic financial markets. Based on this review, it has decided to take the following further measures:

(i) On October 20, 2008, the Reserve Bank announced a reduction in the repo rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) by 100 basis points from 9.0 to 8.0 per cent. In view of the ebbing of upside inflation risks as also to address concerns relating to the moderation in the growth momentum, it has been decided to reduce the repo rate under the LAF by 50 basis points to 7.5 per cent with effect from November 3, 2008.


(ii) The cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks is reduced by 100 basis points from 6.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL). This will be effected in two stages: by 50 basis points retrospectively with effect from the fortnight beginning October 25, and by a further 50 basis points prospectively with effect from the fortnight beginning November 8, 2008. This measure is expected to release around Rs.40,000 crore into the system.

(iii) On September 16, 2008, the Reserve Bank had announced, as a temporary and ad hoc measure, that scheduled banks could avail additional liquidity support under the LAF to the extent of up to one per cent of their NDTL and seek waiver of penal interest. It has now been decided to make this reduction permanent. Accordingly, the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) will stand reduced to 24 per cent of NDTL with effect from the fortnight beginning November 8, 2008.

(iv) In order to provide further comfort on liquidity and to impart flexibility in liquidity management to banks, it has been decided to introduce a special refinance facility under Section 17(3B) of the Reserve bank of India Act, 1934. Under this facility, all scheduled commercial banks (excluding RRBs) will be provided refinance from the Reserve Bank equivalent to up to 1.0 per cent of each bank's NDTL as on October 24, 2008 at the LAF repo rate up to a maximum period of 90 days. During this period, refinance can be flexibly drawn and repaid.

(v) On October 15, 2008 the Reserve Bank announced, purely as a temporary measure, that banks may avail of additional liquidity support exclusively for the purpose of meeting the liquidity requirements of mutual funds (MFs) to the extent of up to 0.5 per cent of their NDTL. A similar facility of liquidity support for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) is also found to be necessary to enable them to manage their funding requirements. Accordingly, it has now been decided, on a purely temporary and ad hoc basis, subject to review, to extend this facility and allow banks to avail liquidity support under the LAF through relaxation in the maintenance of SLR to the extent of up to 1.5 per cent of their NDTL. This relaxation in SLR is to be used exclusively for the purpose of meeting the funding requirements of NBFCs and MFs. Banks can apportion the total accommodation allowed above between MFs and NBFCs flexibly as per their business needs.

(vi) As indicated in the Reserve Bank's press release of September 16, 2008, as on some previous occasions, the Reserve Bank will continue to sell foreign exchange (US dollar) through agent banks to augment supply in the domestic foreign exchange market or intervene directly to meet any demand-supply gaps. The Reserve Bank would either sell the foreign exchange directly or advise the bank concerned to buy it in the market. All the transactions by the Reserve Bank will be at the prevailing market rates and as per market practice. Entities with bulk forex requirements can approach the Reserve Bank through their banks for this purpose.

(vii) It has been decided, as a temporary measure, to permit Systemically Important Non-Deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs-ND-SI) to raise short- term foreign currency borrowings under the approval route, subject to their complying with the prudential norms on capital adequacy and exposure norms. Details in this regard have been notified separately and are available on the Reserve Bank's web site.


(viii) Under the Market Stabilisation Scheme (MSS), Government Securities (treasury bills and dated securities) have been issued to sterilise the expansionary effects of forex inflows. In the context of forex outflows in the recent period, it has been decided to conduct buy-back of MSS dated securities so as to provide another avenue for injecting liquidity of a more durable nature into the system. This will be calibrated with the market borrowing programme of the Government of India. The securities proposed to be bought back and the timing and modalities of these operations are being notified separately.

The Reserve Bank will continue to closely monitor the developments in the global and domestic financial markets and will take swift and effective action as appropriate, an official communiqué said.