Performance Inspired By Good Leadership

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The successful management of an organisation can be measured by the people working for it and their level of satisfaction and happiness. The overall success of an organisation must necessarily be geared to the satisfaction and happiness of the customer as well. In the business world, customer satisfaction is given top priority — the customer is always right, no matter what! Much depends on the leader in an organisation, who must rise above limited views. He must carry in his mind the total vision, the complete panorama. If his idea of success is limited, then his success will also be limited. Ultimately, the vision of the totality that the CEO carries, determines the growth, development and success of his enterprise. True knowledge gives us humility. Humility leads to greater ability which in turn leads to higher prosperity. Prosperity if used for righteousness will lead to true happiness. Every leader has some duties or responsibilities towards those working for him. A good leader must assume three basic responsibilities towards his employees: 1. He must give security to his employees. 2. He must design their job content appropriately. 3. Teach them what dharma is. Explain to them the significance of ethics, and the importance of right values. Of the three, the third aspect is most important. A leader must instil the right moral values in his employees and teach them the right way to live and work. Inspiration gained from the empirical world alone cannot give true fulfilment. People must understand that joy lies in inspired action and not in material gain. When happiness depends on the result, we postpone our experience of happiness to the future. There is a contradiction here. We want happiness in the present but have, by depending on the result, delayed the experience of enjoyment to the future. The result that we look forward to with great anticipation also does not last. We often lose it and promptly return to square one. The secret of enjoying life is to understand that joy lies in the very performance of the action. Action is always in the present and so too is happiness. When workers are happy, they are more productive. If they are disgruntled production figures fall. The higher or greater the level of inspiration, the more will be the output of the workforce. When people discover joy in the very execution of action, the quality of their performance changes. With dedication the quality of performance undergoes a radical change. When actions are dedicated to a nobler and higher ideal, inspired thinking produces more refined performance. Akbar was very pleased with Tansen’s singing prowess and praised him greatly. Tansen humbly requested the emperor to listen to his guru, who he opined was a greater artist. Akbar was intrigued and after listening to Tansen’s guru, wanted to know the reason for the difference in the quality of his singing. Tansen attributed the superiority of his guru’s singing to the fact that his guru sang for the Lord, whereas, he himself sang for the emperor. The inspiration gained while working for the Higher Self is much greater. Inspired performance will yield superior result. Knowledge leading to humility ensures success and power, which in turn leads to greater knowledge, more humility and even greater success and power.


Life In The Raj Era

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sharmila and Raj Thackeray’s usual Diwali hamper is exquisitely crafted boxes with a selection of choice chocolates. When a friend asked why not Marathi mithai for the occasion, Raj shrugged, non-committal. He does not particularly like being challenged. This Diwali, Raj finds himself bang in the middle of a sort of confrontation he hadn’t planned on. The Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra, which he had assumed was on his side, suddenly turned the tables on him. The government’s Diwali gift: 54 cases in 30 police stations across the state. In addition, Raj faces charges of murder in two police stations in Bihar. This sudden, seemingly tough crackdown is the only part that didn’t go according to the script Raj wrote out for himself when he was a young boy who spent more time with his uncle Bal Thackeray than with his father Shrikant. If there is a sense of deja vu in the Raj Thackeray story, it is completely intentional on his part. In manner and thought, in cartooning and satirical one-liners, in dress and gait, in belligerence and false bravado, Raj has so completely moulded himself in the image of Thackeray, and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena on the Shiv Sena, that his relentless, name-calling, issue-obfuscating campaign against Uttar Bharatiyas—those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh—invoked direct memories of the one his uncle had unleashed in the late ’60s.
Back then, as Bal Thackeray’s party was similarly targeting ‘Madrasis’, successive Congress governments turned a blind eye. The Sena flourished, thanks to then chief minister V.P. Naik’s refusal to act tough since it went well with the Congress party’s gameplan to use the Sena to counter the Left trade unions and the CPI(M). South Indians were stealing away jobs from Maharashtrians, thundered Thackeray Sr. North Indians are stealing away jobs, says Raj now. Touch me and Bombay will burn, threatened the older Thackeray. Arrest me and Mumbai will burn, declared his nephew last week. The idea of democracy and the rule of law did not hold appeal for the Sena’s tiger. Government does not understand the language of non-violence, said Raj recently.

Take a genuine issue, highlight half-truths about it, exhort the "boys" to bully and bash the outsider, and hold the city to ransom. It was Bal Thackeray’s favourite formula. Raj has adopted it lock, stock and barrel. We profile the rise of Raj Thackeray with a few fundamental questions.
What is Raj Thackeray’s agenda?
It’s called chasing power. But a naked, hurried run hardly appeals to voters. Hence the need for an issue. Mumbai, teeming with migrants, stark disparities in growth and wealth, and a creaking infrastructure, presents many issues to rally people around. Migration is a highly emotive one, closely tied as it is to the idea of one’s identity. Raj has mischievously mixed up the two: equated all migration with lower-middle-class north Indians, their "mini Bihars" and "Bhaiyya bastis".
Raj’s modus operandi is best exemplified by his audacious declaration that "the Railway Recruitment ads were not printed in Marathi newspapers". When it was proved that local editions of papers had, indeed, carried pointer ads in February itself and the main ad had appeared in Employment Times, a national publication, he quickly changed tack to say that had the ads been prominent, Maharashtrians would have applied.
On the eve of his October 21 arrest, Raj asked: "Why does Chhat Puja become a show of strength for Biharis here, why don’t we see Navratri turning into a show of strength for Narendra Modi? Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha don’t come here.


Bulls Eye

Last week, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan wrote to all the high court chief justices urging them to evaluate the performance of judges when they turned 50. If found incompetent or of doubtful integrity, he suggested they be removed. The CJI wrote: "Such a provision will keep deviant behaviour in check, besides getting rid of those who are found to be indolent, ineffective or with doubtful integrity." He added that such a review had proved to be "quite effective" for the Supreme Court.
This approach is welcome. There is just one snag. Has the SC been effective in eradicating misconduct from its own ranks? Reference to the SC is inevitably respectful. But does such respect arise from propriety or from conviction?
Frankly, the SC’s credibility is not as high as it should be. The lax conduct of SC judges themselves is responsible for this. The SC rightly is very zealous about maintaining its high reputation for integrity. That is why it never overlooks word or deed that remotely questions its reputation. Recall how Arundhati Roy was slapped with a contempt notice for staging a dharna outside the SC. However, the public gets puzzled by instances when SC ignores damaging allegations made against SC judges. Why is the conduct of judges not swiftly reviewed then? Such instances are many. Two current cases are noteworthy.
In the Rs 23 crore Provident Fund defalcation scam, high court judges, retired SC judges and one sitting SC judge are allegedly involved. After hearing the case, the SC empowered the high court to authorise the police to investigate. Has the sitting SC judge suspended work until the probe concludes?
A more vivid example of a casual SC approach is related to sitting SC judge, Justice A. Kabir. Earlier, as a Calcutta High Court judge, Justice Kabir passed a judgement deemed perverse and motivated by a litigant. The litigant approached the SC for relief. His petition was upheld. Justice Kabir’s judgement was overruled. Meanwhile, Justice Kabir had been elevated to the SC. Three judges of the Calcutta High Court ignored the SC ruling and followed Justice Kabir’s judgement. In an unprecedented scenario, a contempt notice against these three sitting judges was admitted by the Calcutta High Court. Did the CJI review the performance of Justice Kabir? Was it found satisfactory?
Such instances confuse the people. They will always speak respectfully of the SC. But what do they inwardly think? The CJI should know: respect cannot be legislated, it must be earned.


Emerging India

What started about a year back is continuing. India is slowly beginning to assert itself in the global scene. Half a century after it freed itself from the shackles of foreign rule, this country is feeling a kind of confidence that allows it to stand shoulder to shoulder, without any complexes of inferiority, with developed and developing countries of the world. The change is visible in the many faces this country represents to the world. Indian businesses which for long have been dependent on their big brothers in developed countries for technology and finance are not only competing globally on equal terms but also buying out foreign businesses at will. A country which has for long been a symbol of stagnation and underdevlopment in the eyes of the international community has suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes. Investors today do not hesitate to put their money in India and openly admit that returns on investment in India is greater than most developed nations in the west, including the United States. Indians today no longer believe in spending for a living but “living for spending”. Even the poorest of the poor aspire to daily luxuries and strive to get them. This departure from frugality in the Indian society has opened up a tremendous scope for development of the country and its businesses. In fact, the President of the US unabashedly stated that the growth of the Indian Middle Class has caused a shortage of food and essential commodities in the world!! India can no longer be ignored by the world. No longer can the West blackmail this country to sign the CTBT with the threat of sanctions. In fact, it is countries like India and China who will control the economies of the west in a few decades. Even in trying times as they are now, with an uncertain global economy, rising oil prices and an uncontrollable domestic inflation, there is a quiet undercurrent of confidence in India that seems to assure that these hurdles are not enough to stop the Indian Juggernaut from rolling on.The emergence of India as a global economic power is also reflected in the activities and confidence level of its citizens. Indians are no longer subservient to developed countries when it comes to performance, be it in business or sports. In cricket, India is fast surging ahead in its bid to attain top position In the Olympics, this time Indians have put up a record breaking performance. Abhinav Bindra’s equanimity even after getting a gold in the Olympics is testimony to the fact that Indians are no longer overawed by the big stage. The assertiveness of Indian delegates at international meets, be it the WTO or the UNO signals the arrival of India as a major player in world affairs. India only needs to maintain this acceleration steadily to achieve what many still think is impossible - to become an economic superpower by 2020. I am certainly not among those cynics.


Economic Slow Down: Time to overreact

Friday, October 24, 2008

If there ever was a time when the government needed to overreact to a situation, it is now. The drying up of global liquidity after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers has hit financial markets across the board in India with astounding ferocity and speed. And with that, market uncertainty has spiked to unprecedented levels; rarely have we seen the stock market change direction by 500 points or more in a day, these many number of times, in this short a time. In this environment of hyper-uncertainty, traders, investors and businesses are likely to have overreacted and prices of equity, bonds, foreign exchange have probably overshot their fair valuations. Finely calibrating policy moves to meet the liquidity needs of businesses is an impossible task when there is this much uncertainty. Some businesses are looking for liquidity just to stay afloat, others may be pre-funding future needs, fearing the worst. How much of the future demand is being brought forward depends on how these businesses view the liquidity situation prevailing six months from now. And to assure businesses that adequate liquidity will be available not just today but also in the next six months and more, the government needs to overreact now. It isn’t as if the government has not reacted. Indeed, many have been pleasantly surprised at the speed at which the government has changed policy and that too in all the right areas. In the last month or so, the government has cut CRR by 250 basis points, the SLR by an effective 150 basis points, the repo rate by 100 basis points, increased foreign participation limits on corporate bonds, raised capitalisation of public sector banks, eased quantity and price limits on ECBs, reversed the restrictions on participatory notes and despite pressures has not banned short-sales. However, there is a sense that these measures are event-driven and reactive. What is needed is a set of standing liquidity-injecting facilities that will assure businesses that liquidity will be there if needed. In a paper co-authored with Ila Patnaik and Ajay Shah, we argued that given the underlying and proximate causes of the crisis there is a need to increase both rupee and dollar liquidity in a predictable manner. Last year, India received nearly 10 per cent of GDP in capital inflows. At that time we thought that this surge in capital inflows was a “problem”. This fiscal year, except for FDI, other sources of inflows have dried up. Today, we are being rudely reminded of how dependent our businesses, banks and mutual funds are on this inflow of liquidity. Why are foreign sources of liquidity this important? The reason lies in the funding models of Indian businesses, banks and mutual funds. For a while, Indian firms had been tapping global money markets for fund raising, often through the foreign branches of Indian banks. Many Indian banks have been relying on money markets, both domestic and foreign, to fund their loans. And before some of us start calling for a ban on such business models, let me stress that this is a well-accepted, safe and successful model, provided money markets work, which they did for the last 25 years and will do so once we get over the current liquidity crisis. So when global interest rates shot up after September 15, the rates at which the Indian firms could borrow rose, as did the cost of rolling over their maturing debt. These firms and banks turned to the Indian money market for funds, spiking the demand for domestic liquidity and for dollars as the funds raised needed to be converted into foreign exchange. The result was the upsurge in the call money rate and the sharp depreciation of the rupee. Domestic corporations typically place a significant amount of short-term funds with mutual funds to take advantage of the lower tax rate. When the domestic money market tightened, these corporations redeemed their investments to finance their own funding needs, setting off a wave of redemptions by mutual funds and plunging bond and stock prices. In the coming months and years, we will have time to gain distance from the current events, reflect on the crisis and debate reforms to the financial architecture to prevent a reoccurrence. But this is not the hour. Instead, the government needs to step up liquidity injection now; erring on the side of excess liquidity, not just enough. In our paper, to increase rupee liquidity we argued for cutting CRR to 5 per cent and SLR to 20 per cent, making oil and fertiliser bonds SLR-eligible, increasing the range of repo-eligible assets and even providing insurance against counterparty risk in interbank transactions. To raise dollar liquidity in a predictable manner, we argued for setting up a weekly dollar-swap facility against rupee-denominated assets and investing part of the foreign exchange reserves in one-year deposits in foreign branches of Indian banks. Some will argue that surely these measures will create too much liquidity and sow the seeds of the next asset price bubble and fan inflationary expectations. Perhaps. But if such signs emerge all these measures can be retracted. Indeed, all these measures can be made explicitly temporary. But they need to be done. The government not only needs to provide liquidity but also certainty. For the last, it needs to provide liquidity in spades.


Recession looms as economy shrinks sharply

The British economy shrank by far more than expected in the third quarter of the year which, barring a miraculous bounce in the current three months, means it is in recession for the first time since the early 1990s. Official data showed gross domestic product contracted by a much-bigger-than-expected 0.5% in the July to September period, the first fall since early 1992 and the biggest drop since the fourth quarter of 1990. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg warned that the UK was "on the edge of a new winter of discontent". "This confirmation that we are heading for a recession puts a name to the fear that many people have been feeling for months," he said. "These growth figures show that the credit crunch is hitting the real economy and harder and faster than was first feared."
Chancellor Alistair Darling, speaking on Sky television, said he was confident the British economy would get through a "difficult period" and reaffirmed the government's commitment to help individuals and businesses. "If we do that I'm confident that we along with other countries will get through this difficult period," he said. But the sharper-than-expected contraction in the economy alarmed the City and sent shares crashing. At one stage, almost £90bn was slashed from the value of the FTSE 100 companies, as the index crashed almost 400 points.
"It's a big shock that the decline [in GDP] is so large. It is truly dire," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec.
The contraction was broad-based with manufacturing and private sector services showing declines while only agriculture and government services showed an increase in output.
The pound slumped on the foreign exchanges on the news, dropping to below $1.55 and to nearly 81p to the euro. Indications were that Wall Street will open sharply lower, perhaps more than 500 points, when trading begins this afternoon. "My comment to traders was 'dive, dive, dive'," said Brian Hilliard, economist at Société Générale in London. "It's a very emphatic entry into recession which underlines the need for very dramatic interest rate cuts which we think the Bank of England will deliver."
James Knightley at ING Financial Markets said: "GDP has plunged far more than expected. So much for Gordon Brown's 'no more boom and bust'." He said he thought there could be at least four quarters of contraction, which would make this recession similar to those of the early 1990s and 1980s. Neville Hill at Credit Suisse agreed: "This is clear evidence that the economy is in recession. Recessions tend to last more than the technical two quarters, so there's likely to be more of this to come."He said it was now possible that the Bank of England's monetary policy committee would cut rates by more than the half a percent expected in the City. That would take the MPC into uncharted territory - it has never moved rates more than half a percent in one direction or the other. It cut rates by half a percent last month in concert with other central banks around the world.


GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks plunge, yen surges as crisis worsens

World economy feared in recession, emerging markets at risk
* Yen at 13-year high vs dollar with safety most important
* Stocks bloodied: Japan's Nikkei -8 pct, S.Korea -10 pct (Updates prices, adds quote, European outlook)
By Kevin Plumberg
HONG KONG, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Asian stocks plunged on Friday, led by a 11 percent drop in South Korean shares, as the global economic slowdown and emerging market instability hurt an array of corporate outlooks, pushing up government bonds and the yen.
European stock futures were down 5.5 percent, with sentiment on global equities worsening despite signs this week of stabilisation in short-term money markets.
The financial crisis has spread far beyond the banking sector, with electronics maker Sony Corp and U.S. online retailer Inc cutting their forecasts in the face of weakening consumer demand. The stronger yen, which this week rose the most against the U.S. dollar in a decade, has been particularly damaging to the competitiveness of Japanese exporters because it curbs their overseas profits when they are brought home and erodes the competitiveness of their products. Fears about potential sovereign debt default in some developing economies, especially in Europe where many of the countries run current account deficits, has accelerated a move out of emerging market assets and increased an unwillingness among investors to take risks.
"Players are now focused on emerging markets as the credit crisis takes its toll on them," said Mitsuru Sahara, senior manager of foreign exchange sales for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in Tokyo. "Nobody is willing to take risks under the current circumstances, and risk aversion will only accelerate," he said.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific equities traded outside of Japan fell 5.6 percent to a fresh 4-year low and was on track for its eighth weekly loss.
South Korean stocks have been hit especially hard this year, with the benchmark KOSPI index finishing down by a record of more than 20 percent in the week. The index ended the day 10.6 percent lower, falling below the psychologically key level of 1,000 points for the first time since June 2005.
"The 1,000-point level has a lot of meaning for the Korean stock market. It took 16 years to get there and the level collapsed just in a year, with investors completely losing confidence about economy and government bailouts," said Kim Seong-ju, a market analyst at Daewoo Securities in Seoul.
Japan's Nikkei share average plummeted 9.6 percent to the lowest in 5-½ years. Sony slumped 14.1 percent and was one of the biggest decliners in the index.
The U.S. dollar and the yen have strengthened significantly since the financial crisis broke in August 2007, particularly in the last month, as investors in Japan and the United States cut overseas investments and brought money back home.
A lot of this investment had gone into government bonds, with money managers figuring the backing of the world's two largest economies was the closest thing to safety. State Street Global Markets, which tracks 15 percent of the world's tradeable assets, said capital flows from institutional investors into sovereign bonds were the highest in the 7-year history of its data.
Many of these investors have been keeping their capital in dollars. "In a market where discretionary traders are on the sidelines, scared by volatility and the expense of trading, these institutional flows are likely to have an even greater relative price impact," State Street analysts said in a note.
The yen has also been a beneficiary of investor repatriation and the unwinding of investment in higher-yielding currencies, which have accelerated as economic conditions deteriorate in some emerging markets dependent on portfolio investment and trade from developed markets.
"While there has been a marked improvement in interbank money market interest rates, the velocity of money in the global economy continues to decelerate," said Sean Darby, chief Asia strategist with Nomura in Hong Kong.
"The recent EU and U.S. measures to restore confidence in domestic banking systems may have come too late to reverse capital outflows from emerging markets," he said in a note.
The euro dropped 2.6 percent to 122.20 after earlier hitting a six-year low of 121.70 yen on trading platform EBS. The dollar fell 1.6 percent to 95.69 yen after sliding as low as 95.35 yen .
However, the dollar was at a 5-year high against the British pound, while the euro was down 1.6 percent to $1.2767, near a 2-year low of $1.2726 hit on Thursday.
Government bonds in the euro zone, Japan and the United States have been a haven for investors hoping to wait out the market turmoil and steep global economic slowdown.
Many economists are expecting rising unemployment in major economies to curb consumer spending further, especially after continued U.S. claims for unemployment insurance remained above the 3 million high watermark for a 26th week and reports that Goldman Sachs was cutting 10 percent of its staff.
The benchmark 10-year note rose 22/32 in price, pushing the yield down to 3.605 percent from 3.69 percent late on Thursday in New York. The 2-year note yield slipped to 1.525 percent from 1.60 percent. The 10-year Japanese government bond future rose 0.59 to 137.70.
Oil prices turned lower on the day on expectations recessions in major economies would hurt energy demand. U.S. light crude for December delivery fell 87 cents to $66.97 per barrel.
OPEC is widely seen cutting output at an emergency meeting later on Friday after slowing demand and the growing financial crisis sent prices crashing from record highs set this summer. (Additional reporting by Chikako Mogi in TOKYO and Seo Eun-kyung in SEOUL;


The bubble burst

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and [right] Sheila Bair, Chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The troika comprises the Working Group on Financial Markets entrusted with the task of handling the situation arising out of the fast-changing economic landscape.
THE financial dam burst on September 13, 2008. A flood of capital swept out of the stock markets and went into government-backed bank accounts, where they remain, pooled up and inert. These bank accounts are the equivalent of hiding money in one’s mattress. They are shelters from the turbulence of the financial storms. Governments from Japan to the United States struggled to take control over a vast continent of economic life that they had previously given up to the bandits of profit. To re-establish sovereignty over these regions has not been easy, and it has aged many of those who are trying to lead the charge.
In Washington, D.C., President George W. Bush has lost his swagger. Impetuous in front of the press, he now looks grave, grizzled even. Beside him, the members of his Working Group on Financial Markets look ashen-faced, stooped. Sheila Bair, whom Forbes called the second most powerful woman in the world (after German Chancellor Angela Merkel), runs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. A few years ago, she wrote two books for children on sound money management; now she is in the position to act on her own advice. Beside her is Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a former Princeton University professor of Economics (his colleague, Paul Krugman, won the Noble memorial prize in Economics this year). Towering above them is the U.S. Treasury Secretary, the dour-faced Henry Paulson, who studied alongside Bernanke at Harvard before building a fortune at the helm of Goldman Sachs.
This troika has been given the charge of handling the fast-changing economic landscape. There are few smiles from them any longer as they seek to lay their hands on the Wild West. Unwilling sheriffs, these are dyed-in-the-wool adherents of laissez-faire economics.
In 2002, Bernanke spoke at the 90th birthday celebration of Milton Friedman, the dean of free-market economics. Taking a cue from Friedman’s co-authored book on the Great Depression, Bernanke saluted him, saying sorry for having allowed it to happen, and “thanks to you, we won’t do it again”.
The principal lesson spelled out by Friedman, and underscored by Bernanke, was that the central bank must ensure a “stable monetary background” for the economy, keeping inflation low by properly regulating money supply. The other lesson is not an economic one per se but about leadership. Friedman’s book noted that with the death in 1928 of the talented and influential central banker Benjamin Strong, the Federal Reserve was unable to assert proper control over private banks in a time of crisis. What is needed, Bernanke said in 2002, is “an effective leader”. His time is now on hand, as is that of Sheila Bair and Paulson.Slide to bankruptcy
For the month after September 13, the topography of Wall Street changed radically. Bear Stearns (founded in 1923) had already collapsed in March, and was hastily acquired by J.P. Morgan (which later bought the ailing bank Washington Mutual). Lehman Brothers (founded in 1850) declared bankruptcy, and was swept up for a song by Barclay’s Bank. Merrill Lynch (founded in 1914) folded alongside Lehman, to be picked up by Bank of America.
A few days later, American International Group (founded in 1919), the world’s largest insurance company, went down the slope towards bankruptcy but was saved at the eleventh hour by an emergency infusion of $85 billion by the U.S. government (a few weeks later, the Federal Reserve provided an additional loan of almost $38 billion just as reports emerged that executives of the firm went off on a corporate retreat that included golf and spa treatments and cost $440,000).
The government-sponsored mortgage agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (created in 1970 and 1968 respectively) retreated from their autonomy into the embrace of the government. Finally, in mid-October, Wells Fargo Bank absorbed Wachovia Bank (founded in 1879). Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan (founded in 1824) and Goldman Sachs (founded in 1869) went from being investment banks to being bank holding companies (with Mitsubishi taking a stake in J.P. Morgan).
Turbulence on the stock market now resulted in a downward slide for the Dow Jones and, as a consequence, for the world’s stock markets. By September 18, sellers flocked to the pits, asking for their money back, and put whatever could be made liquid into cash backed by governmental assurances. Credit markets seized up, which threatened economic activity outside stock exchanges, investment firms and their computer networks. The pulses of electricity now began to make inroads into the confidence of those who hire and fire, who make and break. It is no surprise that these events aged Paulson.Bush unpopular
Bush and Paulson tried to put the best face on events, even as these escalated out of control. A year ago, as the mortgage crisis threatened the stability of the U.S. economy, Bush told the country: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.... Job creation is strong. Real after-tax wages are on the rise. Inflation is low.” Each time he faces the country these days, the Dow Jones plummets. Nothing he can say helps, and his approval rating continues to go the way of the stock indices (around 22 per cent of the population now approves of him).
Until recently, Paulson also tried to put a cheery face despite the slide of the stock markets. In the spring of 2007, when all indications turned towards a major lurch downward, Paulson lectured the Shanghai Futures Exchange about the need for an open society: “An open, competitive, liberalised financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than government intervention.” Every once in a while Paulson tries to be optimistic, even as his body language is gloomy. He often looks as if he is searching for the nearest exit.On September 19, Paulson proposed the Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act, which promised to put $700 billion into the credit market, mainly to purchase toxic assets off the books of the financial firms. No one knows the exact size of this toxic pool, and even Paulson admitted that the figure he chose was largely a guess (the Treasury Department said the number was “not based on any particular data point”, jargon for speculation). Asked what he might do if this plan did not work, Paulson responded, “We have nothing else.”
The plan was quickly attacked by right-wing Republicans who saw it as, in the words of Representative Jeb Hensarling from Texas, the “slippery slope to socialism”. They preferred a package that included a cut in capital gains tax and further deregulation. Sections of the Democratic Party found the plan objectionable because it gave Paulson unlimited authority, and did not constrain the way the CEO class in Wall Street do business or earn. Bush and Paulson threatened the Representatives with a wholesale collapse of the system, and even with the promulgation of some kind of martial law. Pressure from Wall Street on the mandarins of both parties finally moved Congress to pass the Bill.
The ambit of the $700 billion bailout was limited. It was designed to clean up the balance sheets of the financial firms and to restore the credit that flowed between banks and to the public. Paulson assumed that as this credit entered the system, normal economic vibrancy would pick up. In other words, the Bush team saw this as a solvency crisis created by bad loans made by irresponsible bankers and not as a wider problem of debt in American society. Two bubbles
In the 1990s, the U.S. economy experienced a boom thanks in large part to two bubbles: one generated by the hype over the Internet and information technology in general and the other generated by consumer debt. The first bubble burst in 2000-01, when dotcom firms failed to live up to their overblown expectations. The second bubble shuttled back and forth between different areas of the consumer economy, from credit cards to mortgages. Disposable incomes, already curtailed, are being haemorrhaged toward debt servicing; more money goes to pay off debt than to buy food.
The household debt crisis erupted in the 1990s, largely because of the stagnation in real wages (more than a quarter of U.S. workers labour for wages below the poverty line). As ordinary people struggled to hold on to jobs, they turned to the generous credit markets to pay off their overpriced homes, their cars, their college tuitions and their everyday expenses.
The federal government kept interest rates very low to enable this expanse of debt, which was one easy way to maintain the illusion of the American Dream as U.S. manufacturing disappeared and pay packets in service jobs shrank. The total consumer debt in the U.S. is now about $2.6 trillion (22 per cent more than in 2000). Mortgage debt is around $10.5 trillion (in 2000 it was $4.8 trillion). This debt will not be written off by the bailout. It is indeed a major flashpoint for the next explosion.
Alan Greenspan, as head of the Federal Reserve, maintained interest rates to enable the large expansion of the 1990s. But that money did not go towards infrastructure development or investment in industry. Rather, it went towards the consumer debt bubble and to the vastly expanded market in financial commodities (such as the mortgage securities, the derivatives market and also the debt itself, now packaged as securities).
No one knows the exact size of the fictitious sector, but some estimate that the credit default swap market alone is about $62 trillion. The danger this poses to the financial architecture is considerable. This is particularly the case as the major banks and investment houses now consolidate into four companies (J.P. Morgan Chase, Citicorp, Bank of America and Wachovia Wells Fargo). The toxic fictitious sector and the equally unstable consumer debt bubble are within the balance sheets of these four entities. The bailout does not address this toxicity, which will inevitably corrode the remaining banks.
How the toxic assets came onto the balance sheets of the banks is a story that Wall Street, the Bush team and those who worked in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department want to ignore. Before the entire issue could be swept under the rug, presidential contender Barack Obama came out fairly strongly against deregulation as “a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary”.
It is true that since Bill Clinton’s second term (1997-2001) and through the eight years of George Bush’s presidency the entire legal framework for regulation of financial markets had been eroded. Whatever laws remained on the books could not be regulated as the Bush team studiously sliced the small remaining staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission, where the enforcement team is now 1,209 and will drop to 1,177 next year. (There are more lawyers on one floor of an investment bank than in the entire SEC enforcement division.)
The General Accounting Office reported that the SEC’s budget is so meagre that it is forced to “be selective in its enforcement activities and… [this has] lengthened the time required to complete certain enforcement investigations”. In 2004, before he became head of the Treasury Department, Henry Paulson led a group of bankers to the SEC and lobbied successfully to exempt investment banks from holding reserves against losses on investments. The investment banks subsequently leveraged their fictitious investments beyond reason. The current bailout does not address this erosion of responsibility, even as Obama has made it a central part of his own plan were he to become President.
Bankers were not enthused by the bailout, which is why they did not renew lending to each other. The market was starved of credit, and so the $700 billion bailout seemed ineffective. The normally staid Wall Street Journal, a reliable free-market periodical, weighed in, with one of its seasoned columnists arguing that the “government needs to inject capital directly into banks”. In other words, the government needs to seize control of the banking industry.
The Working Group apparently paid attention to this, and on October 14, convened in the Cash Room of the U.S. Treasury to call reluctantly for the government to “purchase equity stakes in a wide array of banks and thrifts”. Paulson, who made the announcement, could not bring himself to say that the government had nationalised the banks. Indeed, his laissez faire carapace made him apologise for the action: “We regret having to take these actions…. Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans – me included. Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable. When financing isn’t available, consumers and businesses shrink their spending, which leads to businesses cutting jobs and even closing up shop.”
Reasonable estimates suggest that the Treasury Department will have to expend about $2.25 trillion on this extended bailout. To this must be added the already significant national debt and the escalating military budget and war expenditure (the Iraq and Afghanistan war bills now total in the vicinity of $1 trillion).
In 2004 and in 2005, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the U.S. about its big budget deficits and consumer spending. The U.S. economic engine, the IMF warned in 2005, was “fuelled by increasingly unsustainable fiscal stimulus, as well as housing prices that are ignoring the laws of gravity”. Unlike most other governments, the U.S. administration sneered at the report and its recommendations.
“We want to make sure that the way we address the imbalances maximises growth,” said a Treasury official, making it clear that the government wanted to ride the boom for as long as it lasted, regardless of the consequences. As September moved into October the Treasury Department did not adequately take the measure of its main creditors: Europe is in the doldrums, China did not respond with its considerable treasure, Japan fears a repeat of its own long-term stagnation, and the sovereign funds of the oil lands preferred to put their billions into their own fledgling stock exchanges rather than into Wall Street or Washington’s coffers. In 2004, the IMF warned that “higher borrowing costs abroad would mean that the adverse effects of the U.S. fiscal deficit would spill over into global investment and output”. This has indeed come to pass.Decline in spending
On October 15, the Federal Reserve released The Beige Book, its report published eight times a year on current economic conditions in the Federal Reserve districts. It showed that in September consumer spending had declined in retailing, auto sales and tourism.
This is the first formal indication of the impact of the crisis. Things are so bad that General Motors released a statement that “bankruptcy is not an option” for the company. The Labour Department announced that the U.S. lost 159,000 jobs in September, up from 73,000 jobs lost in August. The Wall Street Journal released its survey of 52 economists who pointed out that things can only be negative.


Nuclear Turnaround

Monday, October 20, 2008

U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY of State Christopher Hill (left) shakes hands with North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Gye Gwan, at the close of talks over the nuclear crisis on September 19, 2005, as South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon looks on

IS the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) resorting to brinkmanship yet again on the nuclear front? Or, is the process of six-party talks, explicitly designed to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, becoming redundant? These inter-related questions have come to the fore in the context of a significant statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 24.
By that date, the IAEA de-sealed the reprocessing plant at the Yongbyon complex in the DPRK and removed all international surveillance equipment from there. The IAEA inspectors were also withdrawn on the basis of the understanding that they would have no further access to the plant, which was earlier “disabled” under their supervision and in terms of an accord reached at the talks.
In a significant setback for the IAEA, its latest action with regard to the seals and surveillance gadgets, carried out at the behest of the DPRK, could pave the way for irreversible “re-nuclearisation” instead of denuclearisation. As this report is written, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill is in Pyongyang, trying to defuse the crisis; and China has re-emerged as the arbiter of last resort on the DPRK issues.
The talks bring together the DPRK, the United States, China which chairs the intermittent dialogue, South Korea, Japan and Russia. With differential stakes in the eventual denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, these countries had agreed last year on the “disablement” of the DPRK’s known nuclear facilities. Not an end itself, the “disablement” was decided upon as a prelude to the “dismantlement” of the entire gamut of the DPRK’s nuclear “capabilities”.
Integral to all the sequential agreements within the six-party talks framework are the open or implicit commitments by the DPRK’s five dialogue partners to give it conventional energy resources and economic aid as well as humanitarian help. Such “action” would “match” Pyongyang’s “action” towards denuclearisation. It is in this perspective that the latest crisis broke out.
As part of the accord, Pyongyang presented “a nuclear declaration” on June 26. The “declaration”, not released for public scrutiny, was said to outline the DPRK’s entire range of nuclear facilities, programmes and activities. On June 27, the DPRK demolished the solitary cooling tower at the Yongbyon complex in a carefully choreographed “blast for peace”. Following that, U.S. President George W. Bush notified his intention to remove the DPRK from his country’s list of “rogue states” or those suspected of sponsoring terrorism. His only caveat, which has now turned into a bone of contention, was that Pyongyang’s “nuclear declaration” should be verifiable by “international standards”.
Following that upturn in the U.S.-DPRK ties, the talks began taking steps to evolve norms to verify the relevant “declaration”. However, with the U.S. taking time to classify North Korea as a normal state, Pyongyang took the line that Washington “seeks to make a house search of the [entire] DPRK, which [at present] is neither a signatory to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] nor a member of the IAEA”. With that salvo, the DPRK asked the IAEA to de-seal the Yongbyon reprocessing plant.
On paper, this development can be fatal to the six-party talks process. However, there was no immediate knee-jerk reaction from either the U.S. or China. Washington reiterated its insistence that the DPRK deliver a “verification package”. China called for “flexibility” on all sides to resolve the new crisis. These are terms which may yet acquire new meanings in international diplomacy.


Made In India

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It’s not all doom and gloom for India in this time of economic hardship. The credit crisis currently engulfing the world could even mean new opportunities for the automobile industry here. Even as bankruptcy fears for US automobile major General Motors (GM) gather steam, Asian and European manufacturers are considering moving production of small cars to India. In recent weeks, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen have all announced their plans to ramp up production capacity to meet demand from not only Africa and Asia, but also a previously under-explored high quality market like Europe. With the increase in oil prices and rising concerns over climate change the world over, cheap, compact and fuel-efficient cars are becoming popular, even in countries like America. Sport utility vehicle sales were down by over 40 per cent last month over the same period last year in Europe and America. Sure, some markets are bucking the trend, but overall car makers seem to be looking to develop small car alternatives to their current gas guzzlers. And manufacturers facing the classic problem of attempting to make money from small cars may find it enticing to ramp up production in India, given lower costs here. To an extent, the shift is already happening. Passenger car exports from India have increased by five times in the past five years. Exports over the next three years are expected to increase by 300 per cent. According to reports, the country’s second largest automaker, Hyundai, is aiming at an 8 per cent rise in exports for the rest of the year, with an increase in production targeted for next year. There are plans to export one model to the US. Other companies, even the embattled GM and Ford, are planning offerings that will bear the ‘Made in India’ tag. And Tata Motors’ home-grown Nano has drawn unprecedented attention from the global auto industry, adding to India’s growing reputation for offering innovation and quality at low costs, borne out by Hyundai’s quadrupling of its research and development arm in the country. As good as things are, however, they could be still better. Despite current robust growth, India remains a relative flyweight in the global auto industry. It exported only 2,00,000 passenger vehicles last year. By contrast, Japan exports five million cars a year and South Korea about three million. Analysts attribute this gap to a lack of adequate transport and energy infrastructure. Politics too can play spoiler, as Tata’s difficulties in setting up a Nano plant have shown. Still, India is adding capacity faster than the developed world. If we adopt the right policies, auto exports should increase as manufacturers look for lower cost alternatives at a time of near-recession in the developed world.


Walking A Tightrope

We have been seeing turmoil in the financial markets. India has emerged reasonably unscathed from this crisis so far, allowing its policymakers to focus on what they perceive to be their enemy number one — inflation. The Reserve Bank of India governor has reiterated the RBI’s commitment to fight inflation. Politicians of the ruling party as well as others have been saying that inflation will come down soon. It is no doubt important to tackle the problem of inflation, especially if it is expected to be temporary. This is because temporary inflation, if it filters into people’s expectations by making wage claims higher, can become durable. But should inflation be the sole concern of macroeconomic policy? Or are there other almost equally pressing problems that are being neglected or even being exacerbated? If one is to believe the figures quoted in the 2008-09 economic outlook of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, the trade balance deficit will be 10.4 per cent of GDP in the current year. The government intends to tackle this by demand compression and by raising interest rates. There is an anti-export, pro-import bias in the policies to combat inflation: put a cap on currency depreciation because otherwise it will feed into inflation in the prices of imported goods; ban the export of rice, steel, cement etc to keep domestic prices from rising. But as a result, imports that were expected to run ahead of exports in excess of 10 per cent of GDP will do so by an even larger magnitude. A significant part of the trade deficit is made up by remittances and invisibles that constitute about 7 per cent of GDP. Thus the current account of balance of payments is expected to be in deficit by a little over 3 per cent (more than double that in the last fiscal year). A 3 per cent deficit on the current account is by itself a matter of concern. But what is really worrying is the casual attitude of the government towards remittances and invisibles. The balance of payments account of any country captures the actions of private players through the current account, which records the sale and purchase of goods and services, transfers etc, and the capital account, which records sales of assets. There is always a potential tension between those who buy and sell goods and services and those who buy and sell assets. For the balance of payments, this manifests itself as follows: the sale and purchase of goods takes place at a point in time and hence those engaged in these activities look at the current exchange rate. A depreciation of the exchange rate reduces imports by making them more expensive and increases exports. Asset holders, on the other hand, necessarily also look at the value of the exchange rate at the end of the period over which they wish to hold the asset. If the domestic currency is expected to depreciate then people will not want to hold rupee-denominated assets. Those who hold these assets would want to sell them; those who were thinking of buying these would wait till the depreciation has occurred. As people sell rupee-denominated assets and there is a dearth of buyers, the rupee will actually depreciate. This is an example of a self-fulfilling expectation in asset markets. In reality, of course, payment for goods may be made after a time lag. So even those involved with current account transactions may have to guess what the currency’s value will be when the payment is actually made. In the last month there were reports that several Indian exporters guessed wrongly as the rupee depreciated more than they had expected. But this distinction between agents engaging in trade and in asset markets becomes blurred if there is a widespread feeling that a currency will depreciate. Exporters will drag their feet when it comes to converting foreign currency into rupees. Similarly the BPOs and Indian labourers in the Gulf will wait before selling dollars. For example, if one is sending money to one’s mother in India from abroad and one expects that the rupee will depreciate by 3 per cent in the next month — that is an annualised rate of return of over 36 per cent — then notwithstanding one’s mother’s urgent needs for funds, one would be tempted to postpone the remittance in order to generate a higher rupee value. This is tenable since over the last month the rupee has depreciated against the US dollar by over 10 per cent. Normal flows, therefore, take on a speculative hue in turbulent times. It would be a folly to think that because invisibles and remittances are usually stable, they would always be so. Thus it is imperative that the powers that be should take the external constraints on the fight against inflation seriously. There is no room for India to divert potential exports to the domestic market or augment domestic production with more imports, a luxury that China has, given its huge current account surplus. Moreover, the rupee must be allowed to depreciate so that the trade balance improves, notwithstanding the inflationary bias of such a move. The currency depreciation has to be orderly, so that people do not start to speculate against the rupee. Even at the best of times such a policy involves walking a tightrope. Having allowed the trade deficit to become as large as we have, implementing such a policy will require all the skills that the policymakers can muster. The choice is between an orderly retreat and a market-driven scuttle. Of course, going by past experience, nothing of the sort will happen.


Studying genetic variations across the Indian population

The research: The DNA for 75 genes spread across all chromosomes, and one 5.2 million bases long segment of chromosome 22 that houses 49 genes were analysed.

Human Genome Organization (HUGO), which turned 20 years of age in 2008, held the Human Genome Meeting (HGM) at Hyderabad in the last days of September.
Drs Samir Brahmachari of Delhi, Lalji Singh of Hyderabad and Partha Majumder of Kolkata organized HGM 2008. Attended by over 1,000 scientists from over 44 countries, HGM 2008 was the forum where new advances in the field of human genetics were present ed.
Dr Charles Cantor set the mood of the meeting in his plenary talk where he pointed out how the costs of sequencing the genome have plummeted; he suggests that within the next decade, the cost of sequencing an entire human genome would be no more than a few thousand rupees.
Dramatic drop in cost
To get a feel of this, recall that it cost Rs.12,000 crores to do this five years ago. Why do I say this? Because of one of the programmes led by the three Indian musketeers mentioned above. They put together a daring programme in 2003 called the Indian Genome Variation (IGV) consortium. This aims to obtain genetic information on over 4,000 genetic markers from a thousand health and illness-related genes from ethnic and language groups from across the whole of India. The IGV database or IGVdb was released in part at HGM 2008. By studying the genetic variations across the vast populations of India, it aims to address several questions regarding our health and well being. Are there clusters of populations that share genetic predispositions towards certain health conditions? Can the same treatment be given to all people across the country or should there be group-based calibration?
What is the nature and extent of genetic differentiation within and between these clusters? These questions are relevant to India, where people marry and found families and communities based on language, religion and social practices. IGVdb attempts to draw a broad canvas of the health map across India, using DNA-based markers.
Some health conditions depend on what is writ in a single gene. Sequencing the gene and finding errors in it allows us to understand the basis of the condition. But many health conditions depend on more than one gene and are thus complex. Sequencing many of the genes is a harder task. But there is a short cut. Any two unrelated people share 99.5 per cent of the DNA sequences of the chromosomes in their genomes. But one may have the letter A at a particular site in a chromosome while the other may have C. Each of these sites is called a single nucleotide polymorphism, SNP or snip. Each of the two possibilities is called an allele. A series of consecutive alleles on a given chromosome is called a haplotype. In other words, adjacent SNPs that are inherited together are a haplotype. Thus when we analyze the SNP variations between individuals and group, we get an idea of their genetic predispositions. Haplotypes are shared between populations but their frequencies can vary widely. Thus haplotype mapping (HapMap) becomes a useful tool to study a group, cluster or community of people. And this is done by sequencing the DNA of chosen chromosomes and doing SNP analysis around chosen genes. Statistical analysis of the data is then done and the haplotype diversity across populations analyzed and classified. IGV chose about 2,000 people from across India, collected as groups of people from the same ethnic and linguistic groups from six geographic habitats and sociocultural strata (large population, caste based, isolated population, tribes; and special populations, religious groups). This gave them a set of 55 representative populations.Fiftyfive populations
And they analyzed the DNA for 75 genes spread across all chromosomes, and one 5.2 million bases long segment of chromosome 22 that houses 49 genes. This allowed them to analyze the nature and variation in the 55 populations, based on 405 SNPs.
How can we use IGVdb? IGVdb is an attempt at the genetic census of India. It would help us address questions of the type posed above, and answer them with a greater degree of certainty and confidence. For more details, please go to


India feels the heat

Domestic financial markets have been feeling the pain of the global financial crisis for quite some time now but last week they seemed particularly vulnerable to the contagion sweeping developed countries as well as most emerging economies. During the week, the Sensex lost 2,000 points, closing at 10,527 — a level that was less than half the record high it touched on January 10 this year (21,206 points). Foreign institutional investors who, in better times, pumped enormous sums of money into Indian stocks are pulling out in droves to shore up their balance sheets back home. On the positive side, India’s economic growth, though slightly diminished, is still expected to be impressive by global standards; most estimates place the GDP growth for 2008-09 at above 7 per cent. Inflation, currently ruling just below 12 per cent, is expected to drop, thanks to the sharply lower oil and other commodity prices in international markets.
There have been other manifestations of the global financial crisis also in India. As the foreign investors exit, there is considerable pressure on the rupee’s exchange rate. On Friday it plunged to Rs.49.30 to the dollar before recovering to Rs.48.36. Forex reserves have fallen by $11.36 billion since the end of August. More ominously, the markets are facing a severe credit crunch and an unprecedented liquidity crisis. Overnight, money market rates have zoomed and several types of bank borrowers are being denied loans. The RBI has cut the CRR by 1.50 percentage points, a measure that would release about Rs.60,000 crore. India has been spared, at least so far, some of the extreme consequences of the crisis. In the developed countries, there has been a serious erosion of faith in the financial sector. Even the massive rescue packages announced by the United States, the United Kingdom, and several other countries have not helped the banks to regain the confidence of investors. In contrast, the mainline banking system in India, comprising primarily the public sector banks, has withstood the crisis very well. All the banks have adequate capital. Public ownership of banks has proved to be a decisive factor in retaining the confidence of savers. In its extreme form, the financial crisis is also fuelled by psychological factors. The government and the RBI have done well to assuage the genuine concerns. They should continue to keep their communication channels open to the markets and lay investors and react fast to changing concerns and sentiments. On Monday, the markets everywhere responded favourably to bold pledges by leaders but it is not clear whether the recovery would endure.



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara at Nanded being spruced up for the Gurta Gaddi celebrations.

ROOTED in a culture that is lively and full of vigour, Sikh festivities are colourful and celebrated on a fairly massive scale. The tercentenary celebrations of the elevation of the Adi Granth as the perpetual Guru of the Sikhs, to be called Guru Granth Sahib thereafter, at Nanded city in Maharashtra are no exception. The city has the unique distinction of having been visited by the first and the last Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. The festival, known as Gurta Gaddi in Punjabi, and the observation of 300 years of Guru Gobind Singh’s departure for the heavenly abode will be held in late October and early November at Nanded, which is home to one of the five most important seats of authority of Sikhs, the Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib. The Langar Sahib Gurdwara in Nanded has made arrangements to feed 1 crore pilgrims between Dasara on October 9 and the 10th Guru’s 300th death anniversary on November 3. The Gurdwara Sachkhand Board, the governing body of the Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib, and the Nanded district administration have geared up for this special occasion in the history of the world’s youngest religion. A princely allocation of Rs.350 crore has been earmarked to develop the city’s infrastructure in view of the celebrations, an exercise that is a component of the work going on under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Camps on the outskirts of Nanded will accommodate two lakh pilgrims.

The Gurta Gaddi celebrations will start on October 27 when Sikhs will observe the “Takhat Ishnan”, or the purification of the Sachkhand Gurdwara. The faithful carry pitchers of water from the Godavari and pour it on the Gurdwara in a symbolic act of cleansing.
On October 28, the festival of Diwali will be celebrated with deepmala – rows of lamps will illuminate the gurdwara on that day. The main Gurta Gaddi festival is slated for October 30, when the consecration and elevation of the Adi Granth as Guru Granth Sahib will be re-enacted. The Granth Sahib will be brought from the Nagina Ghat Gurdwara on the banks of the Godavari in a procession amid the chanting of Gurbani. It will be consecrated at the Sachkhand Gurdwara, where devotees will get a glimpse (darshan) of the holy book. The event will be marked by the recital and singing of Gurbani. On November 3, the 300th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh’s death (parlok gaman) will be observed in the gurdwara, once again amid the recital of the Gurbani. In April 2005, the Sachkhand Gurdwara Board and the Nanded Waghala City Municipal Corporation (NWCMC) drew up plans for the celebrations, which they estimated would attract about 30 lakh pilgrims. In a city with a population of five lakh people, the arrival of just five lakh pilgrims would mean supporting double of its usual population. Collector Radheshyam Mopalwar said: “The surroundings of Nanded had to be developed at least temporarily before the festivities. A plan was prepared in 2004, and it was approved by the State Cabinet on February 2 the next year.” The plan, prepared in consultation with U.P.S. Madan, former president of the Sachkhand Gurdwara Board, sought to develop infrastructure to house pilgrims and facilitate easy access to the city.
Mopalwar, who took over as Collector on March 1, 2005, presented the plan to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 18, in Pune. The Centre agreed to bear 50 per cent of the cost of the project, which included development of Nanded city under the JNNURM.

The 1,500-room complex built around the Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib will house pilgrims.

Before the plan was put into action, the gurdwara premises and the surrounding localities were quite congested. But now the old buildings have been replaced by new accommodation complexes spread over 2.24 lakh sq ft. There are 1,500 rooms in this complex, which surrounds the gurdwara. Mopalwar said: “The new plan gave the gurdwara precincts a spacious courtyard of 2.8 lakh sq ft and an outer corridor of 4 lakh sq ft. This space is enough to ensure easy movement of pilgrims during the celebrations.”

The families that were displaced by the project are now accommodated in the Abchalnagar housing project, which is not far from where they lived before. “We completed the Abchalnagar residential colony in record time. Tourism Minister Ambika Soni, who laid the foundation for the colony in 2007, inaugurated it after it was completed,” said Municipal Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar. Apart from the 1,500-room complex, accommodations were developed at places such as the Langar Sahib Gurdwara. Forty private buildings have been rented for the purpose of accommodating pilgrims. Pilgrims will also be housed in school and college buildings that have been rented for the duration of the festival. At 40 camps on the outskirts of Nanded, some 2 lakh pilgrims will be accommodated. These camps have facilities for water supply and sewage disposal. There is also ample parking space for pilgrims who will drive in from other parts of the country, including Punjab


Nuclear Turnaround

U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY of State Christopher Hill (left) shakes hands with North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Gye Gwan, at the close of talks over the nuclear crisis on September 19, 2005, as South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon looks on.

IS the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) resorting to brinkmanship yet again on the nuclear front? Or, is the process of six-party talks, explicitly designed to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, becoming redundant? These inter-related questions have come to the fore in the context of a significant statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 24.
By that date, the IAEA de-sealed the reprocessing plant at the Yongbyon complex in the DPRK and removed all international surveillance equipment from there. The IAEA inspectors were also withdrawn on the basis of the understanding that they would have no further access to the plant, which was earlier “disabled” under their supervision and in terms of an accord reached at the talks.
In a significant setback for the IAEA, its latest action with regard to the seals and surveillance gadgets, carried out at the behest of the DPRK, could pave the way for irreversible “re-nuclearisation” instead of denuclearisation. As this report is written, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill is in Pyongyang, trying to defuse the crisis; and China has re-emerged as the arbiter of last resort on the DPRK issues.
The talks bring together the DPRK, the United States, China which chairs the intermittent dialogue, South Korea, Japan and Russia. With differential stakes in the eventual denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, these countries had agreed last year on the “disablement” of the DPRK’s known nuclear facilities. Not an end itself, the “disablement” was decided upon as a prelude to the “dismantlement” of the entire gamut of the DPRK’s nuclear “capabilities”.
Integral to all the sequential agreements within the six-party talks framework are the open or implicit commitments by the DPRK’s five dialogue partners to give it conventional energy resources and economic aid as well as humanitarian help. Such “action” would “match” Pyongyang’s “action” towards denuclearisation. It is in this perspective that the latest crisis broke out.
As part of the accord, Pyongyang presented “a nuclear declaration” on June 26. The “declaration”, not released for public scrutiny, was said to outline the DPRK’s entire range of nuclear facilities, programmes and activities. On June 27, the DPRK demolished the solitary cooling tower at the Yongbyon complex in a carefully choreographed “blast for peace”. Following that, U.S. President George W. Bush notified his intention to remove the DPRK from his country’s list of “rogue states” or those suspected of sponsoring terrorism. His only caveat, which has now turned into a bone of contention, was that Pyongyang’s “nuclear declaration” should be verifiable by “international standards”.
Following that upturn in the U.S.-DPRK ties, the talks began taking steps to evolve norms to verify the relevant “declaration”. However, with the U.S. taking time to classify North Korea as a normal state, Pyongyang took the line that Washington “seeks to make a house search of the [entire] DPRK, which [at present] is neither a signatory to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] nor a member of the IAEA”. With that salvo, the DPRK asked the IAEA to de-seal the Yongbyon reprocessing plant.
On paper, this development can be fatal to the six-party talks process. However, there was no immediate knee-jerk reaction from either the U.S. or China. Washington reiterated its insistence that the DPRK deliver a “verification package”. China called for “flexibility” on all sides to resolve the new crisis. These are terms which may yet acquire new meanings in international diplomacy


Stories in stone

This bas-relief at Kazhugumalai has three rows of Jaina Tirthankaras seated on lotus pedestals
WE were completely unprepared for what awaited us as A. Gangadurai, the caretaker, opened the locks of the single gate near a barbed wire fence and led us down a flight of narrow steps hewn out of a hill at Kazhugumalai. On the rock surface, frozen in time, was a superbly sculpted Jaina Tirthankara seated in the ardhapariyankasana pose on a lion pedestal, with a triple umbrella above his head. Around the enlightened one were celestial maidens, dancing inside coils of creepers or playing the flute or a percussion instrument. Their merry abandon signified the occasion of his attaining kevalagnana, or enlightenment. On either side was a chowrie (flywhisk)-bearer. Below them, two devotees stood with flowers in their hands.

At an Ayyanar temple, hidden inside the sanctum sanctorum, are these sculptures of Tirthankaras seated in ardhapariyankasana. The temple, which came up about 100 years ago, obscures some of the bas-reliefs.

R. Champakalakshmi, former Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, in her essay titled “From natural caverns to rock-cut and structural temples: the changing context of Jain religious tradition in Tamil Nadu”, calls the three rows of Tirthankaras “a unique group of the 24 of three kalas, or ages, i.e., Trikala Caturvimsati Tirthankaras….” The essay has been published in Airavati, a felicitation volume brought out by in honour of the epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan in August 2008.
A few hundred metres from the rock surface is Vettuvan Kovil, a monolithic temple hewn out of a hill. The late C. Sivaramamurti, who was the Director of the National Museum in New Delhi, in his book Kalugumalai and Early Pandyan Rock-cut Shrines, describes it as “by far the most beautiful rock-cut temple of the Pandya period… a half-finished free-standing monolith which recalls the famous temple of Siva at Ellora”. The Jaina sites at Kazhugumalai and Vettuvan Kovil are under the State Department of Archaeology.
Apart from Vedachalam’s articles in the Kalvettu magazine published by the State Department of Archaeology, Kazhugumalai finds considerable mention in the work of scholars such as Champakalakshmi, A. Ekambaranathan (Professor, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras, and author of a book in Tamil on Kazhugumalai) and S.M. Ganapathi (retired Curator, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology and author of a book in Tamil titled Kazhugumalai, Vettuvan Kovil).

In this long frieze on the vimana of Vettuvan Kovil ganas can be seen dancing and playing musical instruments.

He pleaded helplessness and suggested that she go back to her husband. Scared of her husband’s wrath, Ambika, committed suicide. She reached heaven and became an attendant, that is, a yakshi, of Tirthankara Neminatha. But Ambika was unable to forget her past and Indra granted her a boon that she could return to earth and live with her husband while at the same time being a yakshi. Back home, her husband demanded that she show him her “golden appearance” to prove she was a yakshi. When Ambika revealed her true self, the husband was taken aback by the dazzling halo. That is why his hand, in the sculpture, is raised and the face, with the glare, perhaps, is not deliberately sculpted.
“There are sculptures of the yakshi Ambika at Sitharal [near Nagercoil], Anai Malai and Samana Malai [both near Madurai] and Tirumalai. But this one at Kazhugumalai is the masterpiece,” said Vedachalam. Another masterpiece is the sculpture of Bahubali (Gomatesvara) standing in meditation in a forest, with creepers entwining his legs, and his sisters Brahmi and Sundari telling him to shed his ego. Bahubali was one of the two sons of the first Tirthankara, Adinatha. (Bahubali himself is not a Tirthankara.)

THE VIMANA OF Vettuvan Kovil shows Dakshinamurti playing the mridangam. He is generally shown playing the veena.

There are 102 inscriptions at Kazhugumalai said Arun Raj. Of them, 100 relate to Jainism and the remaining, Saivism. The Jaina inscriptions mainly talk about the Tirthankaras and the donors who paid for sculpting their bas-reliefs. The donors included local merchants, carpenters, teachers, students, and so on.
The bas-reliefs were made in memory of dead relatives, too. The vatteluttu inscriptions mention the name of the Pandya king Maran Sadayan, who donated 17 bas-reliefs. The inscriptions also talk about the Pandya kings Parantaka Nedunchezhiyan (A.D. 765 -A.D. 815), and Parantaka Veera Narayanan of the 9th century.
The inscriptions, according to Vedachalam, provide another interesting piece of information: to protect the hill and its sculptures, there were two groups of warriors called “Tirumalai Veerar” and “Parantaka Veerar”.

An illegal wall that has come up at Kazhugumalai obscures intricate bas-reliefs.

It is not true that Jainism was rooted out of Tamil Nadu after the 7th century A.D. A good example of the revival of Jainism in the Tamil country after the 8th century is Kazhugumalai,” said Vedachalam.
Arun Raj said important Jaina sites in the southern districts were Tiruparankunram, Anai Malai, Azhagar Malai, Mankulam, Arittapatti, Kizhavalavu, Vikramangalam, Mettupatti, Muthupatti, Kongarpuliyankulam and Karuvalangudi. Jainism also flourished at Sitthannavasal in Pudukottai district. In northern Tamil Nadu, there were Jaina sites at Tirunarungkondai, Tirunatharkunru, Mel Kudalur, Mel Sithamur, Jambai, Tirumalai, Thondur, Paraiyan Pattu and Thalavanur.


Matrix of Death

A U.S. B1-B Lancer bomber drops cluster bombs during a live fire exercise. A file picture. Close air support (CAS) air strikes now account for about 80 per cent of all Afghan civilians who perish at the hands of the U.S. and NATO.

U.S. priorities are further revealed by the more than ten-to-one ratio of military-to-reconstruction aid since 2002. The Senlis Council in its report contrasted military spending with development spending in Afghanistan during 2002-06 (Figure 1). Another source, a report released by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), an alliance of international aid agencies working in Afghanistan, echoes,
While the U.S. military is currently spending $100 million a day in Afghanistan, aid spent by all donors since 2001 is on average less than a tenth of that – just $7 million a day.5
In other words, what actually takes place in the realms of the economic and the social on-the-ground in Afghanistan is at best of marginal concern; furthermore, many point to the ineffectiveness of aid.6 I shall argue herein such marginal stress upon improving the everyday life of common Afghans is paralleled by a callous disregard for Afghan civilians in the carrying out of military operations (especially close air support strikes) and in the paltry compensation (when offered at all) for innocent Afghans killed by U.S. or NATO actions.When we assemble the different pieces of the media jigsaw puzzle, clear patterns emerge. Western victims are presented as real, important people with names, families, hopes and dreams. Iraqi and Afghan victims of British and American violence are anonymous, nameless. They are depicted as distant shadowy figures without personalities, feelings or families. The result is that Westerners are consistently humanised, while non-Westerners are portrayed as lesser versions of humanity (from “Militants and Mistakes,” Media Lens (July 22, 2008)). While Afghans killed by U.S./NATO forces are completely invisible as human beings in the U.S. mainstream media, contrast the efforts undertaken by the same media to give humanity to U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, as for example in The Washington Post at
A major aim of this report is to provide real figures on Afghan civilians killed by U.S./NATO actions since 2006, thereby undermining the common claim that such numbers cannot be obtained. We often hear glib statements about the “fog of war” or “war is hell” or “we don’t do body counts”. My numbers are admittedly underestimates for reasons discussed herein (an incomplete universe of recorded deaths, a propensity of the Pentagon and its Afghan client to label as militants what were civilians, the injured who later die from wounds, censorship by omission, etc). Not counting or estimating means playing into the hands of those who market the U.S. war in Afghanistan as a “clean” war, a “precision” war and the like. The latter is routinely trotted out by the apologists of aerial bombing; “It’s sort of the immaculate conception to warfare,” was how Professor of Strategy, Col. (retired U.S. Marine) Mackubin Owens at the U.S. Naval War College (Newport, R.I.) described the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in November 2001.

Ghulam Jan suffered shrapnel wounds in a strike by U.S. forces on a wedding celebration in Kakarak village in September 2002.

Two main subterfuges have been used by the U.S. and NATO militaries, the compliant corporate media and organisations like HRW to excuse the killing and wounding of innocent Afghan civilians. The first is to express self-righteous anger over “them” killing civilians intentionally whereas “we” never intentionally target civilians. The second is to assert that the dastardly Taliban and their Muslim or Arab associates employ civilians as human shields.
A third means examined elsewhere 13 has been simply to suppress whenever possible written reports and especially photos of the victims of U.S./NATO military actions (“bad” bodies) in Afghanistan, all the while amply publishing stories and photos of Afghan civilians killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or suicide bombers (“good” bodies). Photos of civilians whose death was caused by U.S. or NATO bombs are virtually non-existent.14 One might call this censorship by omission.15 News magazine photo coverage of the “war on terrorism” in Afghanistan most often supports U.S. government narrative and versions of events.16 The policy of embedding reporters with U.S. or NATO occupation forces is an obvious attempt at removing independent reporting, which, sadly, most often succeeds.
U.S. human rights lawyers charged on July 20, 2008, that U.S. military prisons were “legal black holes” and that force was employed to “shut people up” about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Many people in Afghanistan and in Iraq who have been targeted for detention are local journalists covering the conflict in their own country,” said another prominent U.S. human rights lawyer, Barbara J. Olshansky.The nature of the air war in Afghanistan has changed substantially between 2001 and 2006-08. During the last three months of 2001, the U.S. bombing was part of a traditional military campaign pitting two armies against each other. As such, the bombing involved large tonnages being dropped; whereas during 2006-08, the U.S. and NATO bombing involved CAS against a decentralised, highly fluid guerilla resistance. During the former campaign some 14,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped, or almost 12 times the tonnage dropped during the two and a half years (2006-mid-2008).
Of course, the killing of innocent civilians by U.S. bombing has a long history spanning the 20th century. For example, after 58 years, recently released classified documents tell the story of how 93 napalm canisters were dropped on the little island of Wolmi, South Korea, in September 1950, incinerating over a hundred residents.

An Afghan girl holds a poster with photographs of her dead family members, on September 9. They were killed on August 22 during a U.S.-led raid at Azizabad village in Shindand district of Herat province

Aerial bombing in the name of liberating Afghans will continue with little regard for Afghan civilians who for Western politico-military elites remain simply invisible in the empty space which is an “increasingly aerially occupied Afghanistan”.30 The compliant mainstream media perpetuate the myth by serving as the stenographer of the Pentagon’s virtual reality. Patrick Coburn of The Independent got it dead-on:
The reaction of the Pentagon to the killing of large numbers of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Pakistan has traditionally been first to deny that it ever happened. The denial is based on the old public relations principle that “first you say something is no news and didn’t happen. When it is proved some time later that it did happen, you yawn and say it is old news.”31
When details of Afghan civilian deaths finally leak through the U.S./NATO news management efforts, a Lt. Col. at the Bagram Air Base offers “sincere regrets” or the promise of an investigation and by the next day all is forgotten. They are, after all, just Afghans “we” killed. Theirs are bad bodies, not good bodies like those on “our” side that were killed

Senator Barack Obama has staked out a political position by claiming that he will increase United States’ troop strength in Afghanistan by at least one-third, will permit U.S./NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) forces to engage in hot pursuit into Pakistan’s tribal areas and increase U.S. bombing and Special Operations Forces raids into Pakistan. Caesar-like, he proclaims that Afghanistan is a “war on terror” we must and can win. He appears to be completely ignorant that Pashtun nationalism (Taliban) and Al Qaeda jehad are two very different things.1
In effect, Obama proposes to continue and escalate the military policies of the Bush administration if he can draw down the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. I have argued that these actions are doomed to fail on their own terms, will cement a deadly alliance between the Taliban and radical Islamists, and will further destabilise a nuclear Pakistan.2 And whom did Obama visit on his very first day in Afghanistan in July 2008? He met none other than Gul Agha Sherzai, favourite of George Bush’s General Dan ‘Bomber’ McNeill and the ex-governor/warlord of Kandahar infamous for his cruelty, trafficking in drugs, corruption, and pederasty with young boys.3 On the following day, he spent time with the U.S. occupation forces and the “Mayor of Kabul” who was in his Kabul fortress (and not off mourning somewhere or on an international junket raising monies). Obama fails to admit that recent U.S./NATO aerial bombing has been extremely deadly to Afghan civilians, which when combined with the negligible value attached to Afghan lives reveals that U.S. politicians and military hold little interest in Afghanistan proper other than in a geopolitical


Bengal loss is Gujrat gain

After a controversial stay in West Bengal, Tata Motors today shifted its Nano car project to Northcote Cattle Farm in Sanand, 30 km from Ahmedabad, declaring that efforts would, meanwhile, be made to roll out the world’s cheapest car from a make-shift plant in the last quarter of the current financial year.It is a homecoming,” said a beaming Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi by his side.
Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial vehicle maker, had also examined possible locations in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra before settling for
Gujarat. The search for an alternative location arose after the Tata group announced that it would exit the 900-odd acre factory complex in Singur, 40 km from Kolkata, following disruptions from protests by unwilling land losers led by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress. “This is an extremely momentous and happy day for us because we have been through a rather sad experience from a small quarter of residents of West Bengal, despite the state government’s efforts,” Tata said.
The Gujarat government today handed over 1,100 acres of prime land for the project. The Tata group will invest Rs 2,000 crore to manufacture the Nano and its variants including an electric car and a CNG car. A state support agreement was signed by government officials and senior Tata Motors executives.
The plant will have a capacity to manufacture 250,000 cars a year in the first phase, which will be built up to 500,000 cars a year.
The project complex will also house a vendor and ancillary park accommodating 60 small and medium units and “could be bigger than the project originally envisaged,” Tata said.
“We chose Gujarat because of the conducive and industry-friendly environment as well as infrastructure. Also, the location of the land that was being offered was very attractive,” Tata said.
Tata said he was impressed with the pace at which the Gujarat government facilitated the project shift, including the land acquisition. “We promise to become a good corporate citizen of Gujarat and stand for all that Gujarat stands for,” he said.
When asked about the benefits the Gujarat government had offered for the plant, Tata said they were slightly better than what West Bengal had offered. The Tata group has bought 1,100 acre of prime land at around Rs 3.5 lakh an acre.
“This is Tata Motors’ maiden venture in Gujarat, and will broad-base the company’s manufacturing footprint. We are happy to contribute to Gujarat’s strong industrial progress by creating an auto cluster, which will have a cascading impact on the state’s economy,” he added.
The company is also planning to set up an automobile academy in the area. In a speech laced with quips, he added in Gujarati: “Aapde ahiya na chiye ane aapde ahiya paachaa aavya (We belong here and so we have come back here)”. He could have been referring to the fact that Jamsetji Tata had donated Rs 1,000 here to establish the cattle farm when the state suffered severe drought about 100 years ago. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who completed seven years in office today, said, “I see this project as much more than a mere investment — I am supporting it in national spirit.”
“After ship-breaking, pharma, petrochemicals and textiles, this project will make Gujarat a force to reckon with in the surface transport sector as well as automobiles,” Modi added. “Several countries have invited the Tatas to set up the project. If that would have happened, it would have been bad for the whole country.” On the relocation cost of the Singur plant, Tata said, “We are evaluating it and have not quantified the loss. We are trying to retrieve all costs out of Singur. We hope this will have not have any effect on our finances in the current fiscal.”
Meanwhile, Tata Motors will explore the possibility of manufacturing the Nano at its facilities at Pune, Maharashtra, and Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, to meet the launch deadline. “We may not have the volumes but we’ll try and meet the deadline,” said Tata.


Powered by waste

Monday, October 6, 2008

It is perhaps because of the deep-rooted Brahminical aversion among some Indians for all things polluting that India has been hesitant to explore the potential of animal and human wastes to provide energy for direct heating or for generating power. Although gobar gas from cattle dung had been strongly promoted in India’s rural areas with big subsidies, it was not a great success mainly because Indian workers were unwilling to properly maintain these plants. But other countries have fewer inhibitions. With an accelerating world shortage of power and rising costs of fuels, many have started using bio wastes. San Francisco is generating some power from pet poop while several large US farms utilise pig litter and San Antonio generates electric power from human faeces. The world’s seven billion people produce about 140 million tonnes of faeces every day and 25 per cent of this has the potential power to produce roughly 100,000 MW of energy. India, with oneseventh of the world’s population, could therefore generate over 12,000 MW or add almost 12 per cent to its sluggish power generation capacity. Further, as the technology is quite simple and cheap much of this potential can be made available in a very short time. In fact, the technology is so simple and cheap that Rwanda has installed 20 human waste power generating plants of 500 KW each at some of its big prisons where many thousands convicted of genocide are incarcerated. These now provide about half of its electricity requirements. For this initiative Rwanda earned the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy with a cash component of $50,000. If little Rwanda can achieve this it is very clear that every Indian city and large village can do the same and save their environments from the chronic unhygienic stink that surrounds them. After extracting the methane, the digested human wastes make a virtually odourless fertiliser. Modern, largely automated plants are now available to greatly lessen human contact with bio wastes. If each community could sell the gas or power generated it would also earn enough to install a number of public toilets designed to efficiently collect the waste while also making the communities much more sanitary. But there could be a problem as the state electricity boards would have to accept this power and pay for it. However, as the capital costs are low and the fuel cost is negligible the sale of this power would be much more profitable than power from fossil fuels. And by cutting down the methane emissions that are 30 times more ozonedepleting than CO 2 , such plants could also earn valuable carbon credits. The process is very simple. The waste is first collected and fed into a silo from where it is pumped into a large closed tank or digester where it is simply stirred with electric paddles with a little water and air. The acids, enzymes and other stomach fluids continue the process of digestion releasing methane gas and leaving behind an almost odourless slurry that can be pumped into tankers with tractors to spread it on farm fields as a rich fertiliser. It can also be sun-dried and stored in sacks for use or sale. While the methane can be directly used as fuel, large quantities are difficult to store unlike electricity. Power from human waste will be especially valuable in urban areas but all farm wastes including poultry wastes can be effectively used. Suffolk in the UK has a power plant generating 12.7 MW of energy and consumes 125,000 tonnes of poultry litter per year. Encouraged by its success, it is now planning a human waste plant in Northamptonshire. Many entrepreneurs are discovering that there is gold in these bio wastes and some are trying interesting projects like producing N-Viro, a blend of waste coal dust and dried bio solids that are made into a solid cake that can be fed into a boiler or used as kitchen fuel. When people can lift the blinkers of their prejudices the scope for imaginative and profitable uses of bio waste is limitless.


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