Sunday, September 30, 2007

Indo-French nuclear business meets from Oct 15

Indo-French nuclear business meets from Oct 15
28 Sep, 2007, 1630 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: In the backdrop of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) planning to buy six nuclear power reactors from France, an Indo-French nuclear business meet will begin here from October 15.

The meeting is organised by the French embassy in collaboration with NPCIL, a top scientist said.

"The two-day meet is to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the nuclear power sector and also to improve the relationship between the industries of both India and France," S K Agrawal, Director, Projects of NPCIL told media today.

"We are expecting the participation of over 20 French nuclear companies including AREVA and an equal number from India," he said.

NPCIL plans to buy six nuclear power reactors from France, Agrawal said.

AREVA could be one of the biggest suppliers for its Jaitapur site in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra which is one of the four coastal sites selected by NPCIL for imported reactors, he said.

Also, NPCIL can enter into business with the French only after the completion of the Indo-US deal, he said.

On that front, US has a timeframe for the entire process including India's discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency on safeguards and US' negotiations with the NSG countries.

Asked whether other members of Nuclear Suppliers Group were also in touch with NPCIL officials, Agrawal said, the Japanese were interested and Mitsuibishi had held talks with the NPCIL officials.

Oil industry safety awards presented

Oil industry safety awards presented
30 Sep, 2007, 1500 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: Recognising the efforts of oil and gas industry in enhancing safety performance, the 'Oil Industry Safety Awards 2006-07' were presented to five oil companies here.

The awards were given to the companies by the Secretary, Petroleum & Natural Gas, M S Srinivasan, at a function held in the city, a release said here today.

Indian Oil, ONGC and GAIL, won two awards each while Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum won one award each.

Indian Oil's Mathura refinery won the award for the best safety performance among refineries and ONGC's Ahmedabad operation was adjudged the best managed oil and gas asset, the release said.

Bharat Petroleum won the award for its lube oil blending plant while GAIL won accolades for managing its Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline and the processing plant at Vijaipur.

Hindustan Petroleum won the safety award in the petroleum products marketing category and Indian Oil in the LPG marketing category.

The criteria for selection of winners was based on various parameters like complexity of facility, volumes handled, safety management system with minimum fires, accidents and losses.

The Oil Industry Safety awards were instituted in 1986-87 by the Government to promote safety performance in the industry.

They are administered by the Oil Industry Safety Director, New Delhi, which co-ordinates a series of self-regulatory measures relating to safety in the oil and gas industry in the country.

Nifty seen on course for fresh high

Nifty seen on course for fresh high
24 Sep, 2007, 0257 hrs IST,

We saw a ‘bullish engulfing candle’ for the Nifty on Tuesday, which was a strong candlestick pattern for an upward move for the market. This was mainly due to the surge in major indices on Wednesday and robust gains on Friday. The Nifty ended the week at 4,837, its highest-ever closing, and a gain of 7% over the previous week.

It has been gaining for the past five consecutive weeks. Market breadth was negative on Friday, but it was positive for most part of the week. BSE Realty, BSE Oil & Gas and BSE Bankex indices were among the prominent gainers during the week.

Market ahead

Last week’s upmove was backed by strong volumes, and we expect the market to build on these gains in the coming days. This week, the Nifty is expected to consolidate in the 4,850-4,900 band. We also expect a major up-move for the market beyond 4,950 and touch 5,000 levels in the short term.

Sectoral Indices

BSE Oil & Gas (9,340): The BSE Oil & Gas index had broken past the crucial resistance level of 8,200 about three weeks ago, and has been on the uptrend ever since. On a weekly closing basis, the index has been on an uptrend for six weeks in a row. It was also helped by the buoyant trend in the international oil market. We expect this index to touch 9,750 levels in the short term. Petronet LNG and Gail are our favourite stocks.

BSE Bankex (8,740)

The BSE Bankex has closed at 8,740 level last week, and is now quoting at an all-time high. We expect this index to touch 9,000 levels in the short term. Kotak Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce are our favourite stocks in this sector.

SBI: After being restricted in the Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,750 range for the past three months, we saw SBI breaking out of that range on Friday. The stock ended the week at Rs 1,808. We recommend a ‘buy’ on SBI in the Rs 1,800 to Rs 1,820 band, with a target of Rs 1,935. Investors should fix their stop loss in this stock at Rs 1,760.

BSE Realty (9,183)

The BSE Realty Sector closed at 9,183 levels last week, and is now quoting at an all-time high. This sector rose above its key resistance level of 8,500 supported by strong volumes. We expect this index to touch 9,500 levels in the short term. Indiabulls Real Estate and Purvankara are the best bets in this sector.

Akruti Nirman: The stock has broken above its key resistance level of Rs 705, supported by strong volumes. We recommend a ‘buy’ in the Rs 745-750 range with a price target of Rs 835 and keeping a stop loss at Rs 720.

DS Kulkarni Developers: The stock has broken above its key resistance level of Rs 260, supported by strong volumes. We recommend ‘buy’ in the Rs 272-275 range, with a price target of Rs 302 and keeping a stop loss at Rs 258.

(This is the weekly technical outlook of Reliance Money technical desk)

Investing in a bull market

Investing in a bull market
30 Sep, 2007, 0901 hrs IST,Kavita Sriram , TNN

The stock markets are brimming with optimism. Money is pouring into the market like never before. The index has embraced unimaginably new highs. For now, it appears that the bull-run is at the horizon. For a true bull market, at least 20-25 per cent of the stocks must be on an increase and that too for a sustained period say two years. An upswing market is considered a good time for the investor.

What sort of a strategy must investors adopt to make it rich in a bull run? It is not unusual to find some stocks faring poorly in a bull market and some doing exceptionally well in a bear market. A bull run implies a booming economy, low unemployment rate, high production of goods, and low inflation.
The market ups and downs follow cyclic patterns.

For now, it is the time of rising index and increasing volatility. In a bull run, investors follow the formula 'buy low and sell high'. It is now time for investors to sell their stocks and book profits. Investors need to make well-educated and investigated investments in the markets.

Mere speculation can prove costly. Suppose in a bear market one stock fares poorly. An investor who has done enough research will know the reason for its fall. There may be something fundamentally wrong with the stock and the company policies.

Or the slide in the stock's price will be a reflection of general pessimism pervading a bear market. If an investor knows that it is the latter, he will stay calm and may be even add more stocks of the company to his portfolio. On the other hand, if he believes that something is fundamentally wrong with the stock, he may decide to sell it and stop further loss.

The scenario holds much the same in a bull market. Some stocks may become highly overpriced. An overpriced stock in a heated market is sure to burst when the bull run ends. Some investors prefer to sell all their shares and make profits. Another strategy is to sell some of the shares and buy back the stock when the price falls back to reasonably low levels.

The value of equities tends to rise fast in a bull run. Predictably, the equity investments in your portfolio will become disproportionately higher. Depending upon your age, objectives and financial obligations, you would have arrived at an asset allocation plan.

In order to stick to the asset allocation, make a judicious down-sizing of the equity component. This will provide ample cushion in case the bubble bursts and markets fall. In a bull run, investigate the real value or worth of the stocks. Do not invest in overpriced stocks. It is advisable to sell overvalued stocks. Exit immediately if you feel the prices have gone up adequately.

Invest regularly. The power of compounding and systematic investment plans goes a long way in wealth accumulation. Finally, bear in mind that there are no permanent bull and bear markets. Disciplined investing and avoiding speculation will help investors.

Job Hopping!!

Mr. Gopalakrishnan succeeds Mr. Ratan Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons
Ltd., the holding company for many of the Tata Bluechips like Tata
Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Voltas, etc.,

Possibly he is the first non-Tata person to head the Tata Empire.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side!!

Move from one job to another, but only for the right reasons. It's yet
another day at office. As I logged on to the marketing and advertising
sites for the latest updates, as usual, I found the headlines
dominated by 'who's moving from one company to another after a
short stint', and I wondered, why are so many people leaving one job
for another?

Is it passé now to work with just one company for a sufficiently long

Whenever I ask this question to people who leave a company, the
answers I get are: "Oh, I am getting a 200% hike in salary"; "Well, I
am jumping three levels in my designation"; "Well, they are going to
send me abroad in six months".

Then, I look around at all the people who are considered successful
today and who have reached the top - be it a media agency, an
advertising agency or a company. I find that most of these people are
the ones who have stuck to the company, ground their heels and worked
their way to the top. And, as I look around for people who changed
their jobs constantly, I find they have stagnated at some level, in

In this absolutely ruthless, dynamic and competitive environment,
there are still no short-cuts to success or to making money. The only
thing that continues to pay, as earlier, is loyalty and hard work.
Yes, it pays!

Sometimes, immediately, sometimes after a lot of time. But, it does

Does this mean that one should stick to an organization and wait for
that golden moment? Of course not. After a long stint, there always
comes a time for moving in most organizations, but it is important to
move for the right reasons, rather than superficial ones, like money,
designation or an overseas trip.

Remember, no company recruits for charity.

More often than not, when you are offered an unseemly hike in salary
or designation that is disproportionate to what that company offers it
current employees, there is always unseen bait attached.

The result? You will, in the long-term, have reached exactly the same
levels or maybe lower levels than what you would have in your current

A lot of people leave an organization because they are "unhappy". What
is this so-called-unhappiness? I have been working for donkey's years
and there has never been a day when I am not unhappy about something
in my work environment-boss, rude colleague, fussy clients etc.

Unhappiness in a workplace, to a large extent, is transient.

If you look hard enough, there is always something to be unhappy

But, more importantly, do I come to work to be "happy" in the truest

If I think hard, the answer is "No". Happiness is something you find
with family, friends, may be a close circle of colleagues who have
become friends.

What you come to work for is to earn, build a reputation, satisfy your
ambitions, be appreciated for your work ethics, face challenges and
get the job done.

So, the next time you are tempted to move, ask yourself why you moving
and what are are you moving into.

Some questions are:

* Am I ready and capable of handling the new responsibility? If yes,
what could be the possible reasons my current company has not offered
me the same responsibility?

* Who are the people who currently handle this responsibility in the
current and new company? Am I as good as the best among them?

* As the new job offer has a different profile, why have I not given
the current company the option to offer me this profile?

* Why is the new company offering me the job? Do they want me for my
skills, or is there an ulterior motive?

An honest answer to these will eventually decide where you go in your
career- to the top of the pile in the long term (at the cost of
short-term blips) or to become another average employee who gets lost
with time in the wilderness?

"DESERVE BEFORE YOU DESIRE" - Dr. Gopalkrishnan, Chairman TATA Sons.

Iran and Pakistan agree to gas accord without India

Iran and Pakistan agree to gas accord without India Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Tehran: Pakistan has agreed to details of a deal for buying gas from Iran, officials from both sides said on Friday, adding that the proposed tri-nation pipeline would be viable even if India, the third party, walked out.

India stayed away from last week's talks in Tehran on the proposed $7 billion pipeline, saying it wanted to agree transit costs through Pakistan on a bilateral basis first, an Iranian official said. But he said India had not said it was quitting.

"The economics of the project will improve with Indian participation but ... the project is economically viable as a bilateral project also," Mukhtar Ahmad, the energy adviser to Pakistan's prime minister, told reporters in Tehran.

Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the three sides had previously planned for gas sales and purchase agreements (GSPAs) to be negotiated separately by India and Pakistan.

"So far, the information formally we have from the authorities of India is that they are willing to join us. They have just their internal problems, including that they need to finalise the transit fee with our good Pakistani friends," Ghanimifard said after talks late on Friday.

Iran's oil minister said on Wednesday his country would still sign a deal with Pakistan if India decided not to join.

Mukhtar said Pakistan and India had agreed in principle how to tackle issues like transportation tariffs and transit fees.

"We don't see transit through Pakistan as a problem. We've had bilateral discussions with India on this subject," he said, although he said more talks were be needed.

Speaking of Pakistan's talks with Iran, Mukhtar said: "We have agreed upon everything that we needed to agree on with regard to the gas sales and purchase agreement and the inter-governmental framework agreement."

He said the details would be drawn up in final documents to be examined at bilateral talks in Islamabad on October 15-19.

Mukhtar did not give details for the price of the gas agreed but said it would be linked to the price of oil. He also they also agreed on a price review clause - an issue that had been pending - but he did not elaborate.

In July, Ghanimifard said India and Pakistan had accepted Iran's demand for gas price reviews based on market changes.

He denied reports by some Indian newspapers that the pipeline talks had failed after Iran demanded a review every three years.

The pipeline would initially carry 60 million cubic metres of gas daily to Pakistan and India, half for each country.

The pipeline's capacity would later rise to 150 million cubic metres. Pakistan says it could want 60 million cubic metres for itself in the future.

Iran says it has completed 18 per cent of the work for the pipeline to bring gas from its South Pars field up to Iran-Pakistan border. Pakistan has yet to begin work on a 1,000 km stretch of the pipeline to link Iran with India.

Strong demand: New Delhi plans about five petrochemical zones

India said on Friday it plans to set up 4 or 5 oil and petrochemical zones, each with an investment of up to $2.5 billion, to tap growing demand.

"There is a gradual shift in demand and production of petrochemicals from the west to the east and we want to make the best out of it by setting up the zones," Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said. He said several state governments had expressed an interest in developing a so-called Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR).

"We cannot set up the PCPIR in all the states which have come forward. We have adopted a first-come-first-serve approach for allowing states to go ahead with it," he said.

China bets on Myanmar status quo for gas deals

China bets on Myanmar status quo for gas deals
Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Hong Kong: China struck an energy coup with a pipeline deal in Myanmar earlier this year but its cosy relationship with the ruling generals could come back to haunt it if the investment environment opens up, analysts say.

The military government of the impoverished southeast Asian state gets most of its export earnings from selling gas to Thailand and it has stepped up a drive to attract more foreign investment in the last three years.

But a week of unrest, in which at least 9 people died when troops broke up the biggest anti-government demonstrations in nearly 20 years, has raised the question of what might happen if the military government loses its grip on power.

"If the junta is overthrown -and that's a very big if - clearly that might have an impact on China because it has invested a lot over the last 20 years," said Ian Storey, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

"We're well into the grounds of speculation but if a more pro-Western government came into power they might seek to limit China's involvement. China is an important ally of Burma and it won't want to lose that."

Myanmar is wedged between China and India, making it a small but juicy prize in a furious battle for energy between the world's two most populous nations.

Its proven gas reserves amount to only 0.3 per cent of the world's total, but a lack of exploration means the true figure could be much higher.

Chinese oil giant Petro-China appears to have won the last round by snatching a gas pipeline agreement from under India's nose. It has sweetened the deal by talking to Myanmar about running an oil pipeline along the same route.

Such a pipeline would ease the passage of Saudi crude bound for China by cutting out the congested Malacca Straits, but would be dependent on the goodwill of the regime in Myanmar.

While China has been quietly trying to build ties with democratic and ethnic groups in Myanmar in recent years, Beijing has remained a steady friend to the ruling generals.

"If there was a change in government, there could be a rethink of the gas pipeline to China," said Sanjeev Prasad at Kotak Securities.

Observers are not predicting an imminent change of government in Myanmar, but many other countries have experienced unexpectedly rapid changes of leadership in the last 20 years.

For the moment, the country's biggest investors like Total and Thailand's PTTET as well as South Korea's Daewoo International Corp, operator of a multi-billion-dollar gas project under way, say it's business as usual.

Kuwait shortlists firms for new refinery

Kuwait shortlists firms for new refinery
Reuters Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Kuwait: State refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) yesterday announced firms pre-qualifying for the construction of the state's planned 615,000 barrels per day (bpd) Al Zour refinery.

KNPC said last week Kuwait had approved a budget of about $14 billion for the construction of the refinery, the Middle East's biggest, more than twice an initial cost estimate.

The tender was split into several construction packages for which the following firms pre-qualified, according to a KNPC statement published in local daily Al Qabas.

Tender details

A consortium of Italy's Snamprogetti and Korea's Hyundai Engineering & Construction, consortium of Japan's JGC and Korea's GS Engineering & Construction and consortium of Technip Italy, Foster Wheeler and Korea's SK Engineering & Construction qualified for crude distillation units, sulphur removal and units to treat naphtha, kerosene and diesel.

For hydrogen production and recovery, sulphur industrialisation, units to treat diesel, etc, those qualified include a consortium of Technip Italy and Foster Wheeler Energy and Snamprogetti, consortium of Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Daelim Industrial Co, GS Engineering & Construction, WGI Middle East, SK Engineering & Construction and Petrofac International.

For tank storages, those qualified include consortium of CB & I and CBI Eastern Anstalt, Daelim Industrial, GS Engineering & Construction, SK Engineering & Construction and Petrofac International.

Fasting for the first time

Fasting for the first time
By Ruqya Khan, Gulf News Report Published: September 30, 2007, 00:33

Growing up means different things to different children. Some feel grown up when they are given responsibility, while others feel content when they are allowed to interact more closely with their elders. But what exactly is growing up all about? It's a process of learning and understanding day to day life and accounting for one's actions.

Though there is no set age to begin fasting, it becomes compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, after he or she reaches puberty. Often children as young as seven choose to fast.

Though they may not fast the entire month, this practice strengthens them mentally and spiritually.

Al Hajjaj Bin Habib is 9. He is in grade 4 at Al Hikmah Private School in Ajman. This year was his first fasting experience. He said: "I am very excited about fasting as all my classmates are fasting as well. I felt so proud of myself for having hung on till iftar time. As a means of encouragement I was given a monetary reward to save in my piggy bank and it was the ultimate treat. Last year I tried to fast, but was only able to fast half a day."

"I've learnt that with intention and a strong will, desires can easily be defeated. Now I understand the pain of hunger and want to share the extra food left over with the poor at Al Ihsan Charity Centre."

Ten-year-old Sidra Momin agreed. "On other days I would not feel hungry. My mum would have to force me to eat, but when I fasted I knew what the needy feel.


"Now I don't take my blessings for granted. It helped me realise how much effort my parents put into the day when they fast. I now enjoy helping my mother set the table, arrange the fruits, etc, at iftar time. It doesn't feel like a chore anymore," said Sidra.

"In Ramadan everything and everyone is different. We visit places like parks and mosques instead of the usual routine of spending time in the malls. My parents are more relaxed, dad comes home early and we get to meet with the family and friends more often during iftar gatherings. I like that. Plus, I get to select my clothes for Eid, which is great!"

Kahkashan Kareem, a grade 4 student at the Gulf Indian High School, said, "I think fasting makes us better people. We are able to wait from suhour to iftar to eat and drink. Plus, when I'm fasting I make sure I don't get angry at my sisters - Safoora, 6, and Darakhshan, 12. In fact, my elder sister encourages me to be punctual for my prayers. She supports me and keeps me away from the mischief of my little sister.

"I think Ramadan is exciting. The relatives get together each weekend and I like to exchange ideas with my cousins about how we fasted, what we did at school, etc. I also enjoy the iftar spread - my favourite is chocolate juice. Mummy makes this by adding milk, cream and sugar to melted chocolate ice cream. It's really yummy and easy to make.

"But that's not all. We even get to go to the mosque for special Tharaweeh prayers. Sometimes I even attend dars (religious lectures) with my mother and aunts. Here the teacher tells us about the simple rules to follow and it's said like stories from the Quran or Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammad PBUH). It's never boring."


Mohammad Yousuf and Mohammad Khalid are cousins studying at Al Wataniya Private School. They started fasting on the first day of Ramadan. Yousuf is in grade 5.

He said, "Fasting takes a lot of patience. The first day I was miserable. I could not tolerate having my younger siblings come close to me after they had just eaten. I think my sense of smell had suddenly become stronger because I could smell what they ate or drank and it tempted me a lot.

But I was happy that I made it through the day just like my younger cousin, Khalid."

Khalid added, "As usual we went to the grocery store that day and bought the goodies we liked, but didn't eat them until after iftar time. Each year during Ramadan the whole family gathers at my uncle's house to break the fast. On my first fast it felt really nice when everyone congratulated us. We have been promised a surprise gift after two weeks of fasting, I can hardly wait.

"Most of my friends in school are fasting so I don't feel out of place during recess. I think school days are easier to go by without food and drink because there is a fixed schedule, we study, play, come home tired, rest and then ready ourselves for the evening meal with the family. But on weekends there is little to do except smell the aroma of dishes in the kitchen."

Did you know?

Fasting is compulsory for all Muslims once they reach puberty.

However, many children, some as young as 7, also fast during Ramadan.

They may fast only a few days or a few hours.

Children can also attend prayers at the mosque and religious lectures with their family members.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shell buys up all Nov Dubai crude cargoes

UAE details Nov oil export cut due to maintenance

UAE details Nov oil export cut due to maintenance
(Reuters)26 September 2007

TOKYO/SINGAPORE - Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) told at least one customer on Wednesday it would halve term November exports of its three offshore crudes due to field work, blunting the impact of OPEC’s planned output rise.

ANDOC, the main oil producer in OPEC-member the United Arab Emirates (UAE), notified at least one refiner in Japan that it was reducing supplies of its Umm Shaif, Lower Zakum and Upper Zakum crudes by about half, a trading source told Reuters.

The notice was the first to confirm the extent to which planned maintenance would affect exports from the emirate, which pumped about 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) last month. Two other Japanese refiners and one in Southeast Asia had yet to receive the note.

ADNOC had said on Sunday that oilfield maintenance would reduce oil production by 600,000 bpd in November.

Oil traders had earlier said as much as 810,000 bpd of output could be shut in for two to three weeks during the peak of the maintenance.

The three fields, in which Exxon Mobil Corp, Total and BP hold equity stakes, produce a total of just over 1 million bpd, according to recent estimates.

Production at the UAE’s biggest field, onshore Murban, will not be affected, the oil trader said. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Exxon Mobil are partners there.

The trader added that ADNOC had been selling extra supplies to help its customers build up stocks ahead of the maintenance, which comes just as refiners are bracing for peak winter demand, particularly in Japan, the world’s second-biggest importer, which relies on UAE crude for nearly a quarter of its supplies.

“ADNOC’s commitments to its term clients are all met by advancing the majority of liftings, and some deferments that have been re-scheduled by mutual agreement,” the state oil company said on Sunday in a statement.

Maintenance at the country’s Ruwais refinery from late December through February may also allow the UAE to free up more supplies for export following the November work.

The supply reduction in the three grades had been expected for months and traders had earlier identified the three fields as the 530,000-bpd Upper Zakum, the 250,000-bpd Lower Zakum and the 280,000-bpd Umm Shaif.

Saudi Arabia persuaded the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to raise output by 500,000 bpd at a meeting earlier this month in a gesture to consumer nations worried by the economic impact of record-high oil prices.

U.S. crude for November delivery was up 23 cents at $79.76 a barrel by 0723 GMT, off a record high of $83.90 hit last Thursday.

Give it a thought before signing up

Give it a thought before signing up
By Rania Oteify, Features Editor Published: September 28, 2007, 23:14

Please sign here, and here and there. Do you hear this request often? I guess you do if you are financially active, i.e. opening bank accounts, requesting credit cards or finance, or just filling forms.

But as common as it is, the request is usually alarming for me. It is not that I don't sign my credit card slips with only a quick glance at the price, but in different contexts, I do require longer thinking periods which may extend to days. Why? Because a signature, in a way, formalises or legalises a document even in non-financial situations. I don't see the argument that you signed a document without reading it standing in a court of law. So, be patient when you're asked to sign and think of the consequences.

Face value

In many banks, whether local or international, there are common practices which fall in a grey area, and can get you in trouble. One of them is asking clients to sign blank cheques to secure loans and credit cards.

You may be right when you think: "This is a reputable bank with thousands of clients, international branches and much bigger business than mine. Who am I to ask them to change a policy?" But you can always ask, and if they don't accommodate your request, you've the option of walking out of the deal. But if you decided to go along with the trust line that the bank isn't in the business of tricking people, try to keep it to the absolute minimum. After all, remember that your signature on a blank cheque will grant you credit now, but in case of default, the bank can fill this cheque with the outstanding amount and penalties in addition to the accumulated interest.

Sign now, fix it later

Everyday, we sign documents which may not be as serious as financial ones but they are still sort of contracts which may bring not so nice surprises later on your credit card statements. For example, a friend who was renting a car in Dubai told me the agent asked for all the normal stuff: photocopies of his passport, driving licence and a credit card authorisation. Then she handed him the form for the payment which quoted a price Dh600 higher than the agreed price. Her excuse was: This document doesn't matter, we will charge your card the correct amount. "So why do you ask me to sign a document that doesn't matter?" he furiously asked. Here she decided to contain his anger. "No problem. Please sign here and we will fill it with the correct numbers later," she said, pointing to a blank document.

He found it pointless to argue with her, so he collected his documents and walked out. He definitely did the right thing. Why should he willingly sign a document which quotes the wrong price or another with no price at all while car rental companies are aplenty? Even though credit card transactions can be negotiated and voided, he would not be in a good position since they have a document carrying his signature.

For my loved ones

Co-signing on other people's credit documents isn't a good idea. However cruel it might sound to advise someone to say no to a friend or a child, it may be the right thing to do. People do default on their loans - check the statistics. This doesn't mean you should not consider helping them if you can. But take your time to find out whether you can afford it or not. An additional car payment of Dh1,000 a month for a car that you're not driving may not be a good surprise. If you do want to help and are willing to bear the burden if things don't work out for your loved ones, then go ahead and sign here, and here and there.

A signature, in a way, formalises or legalises a document. Be patient when you're asked to sign and think of the consequences.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Adnoc notifies on supply cut

Adnoc notifies on supply cut
(Reuters) 27 September 2007
TOKYO/SINGAPORE — Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) told at least one customer yesterday it would halve term November exports of its three offshore crudes due to field work, blunting the impact of Opec's planned output rise.

Adnoc, the main oil producer in Opec-member the United Arab Emirates (UAE), notified at least one refiner in Japan that it was reducing supplies of its Umm Shaif, Lower Zakum and Upper Zakum crudes by about half, a trading source said.

The notice was the first to confirm the extent to which planned maintenance would affect exports from the emirate, which pumped about 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) last month. Two other Japanese refiners and one in Southeast Asia had yet to receive the note.

Adnoc had said on Sunday that oilfield maintenance would reduce oil production by 600,000 bpd in November.

Oil traders had earlier said as much as 810,000 bpd of output could be shut in for two to three weeks during the peak of the maintenance.

The three fields, in which Exxon Mobil Corp, Total and BP hold equity stakes, produce a total of just over 1 million bpd, according to recent estimates.

Production at the UAE's biggest field, onshore Murban, will not be affected, the oil trader said. BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Exxon Mobil are partners there.

The trader added that Adnoc had been selling extra supplies to help its customers build up stocks ahead of the maintenance, which comes just as refiners are bracing for peak winter demand, particularly in Japan, the world's second-biggest importer, which relies on UAE crude for nearly a quarter of its supplies.

"Adnoc's commitments to its term clients are all met by advancing the majority of liftings, and some deferments that have been re-scheduled by mutual agreement," the state oil company said on Sunday in a statement.

Maintenance at the country's Ruwais refinery from late December through February may also allow the UAE to free up more supplies for export following the November work.

The supply reduction in the three grades had been expected for months and traders had earlier identified the three fields as the 530,000-bpd Upper Zakum, the 250,000-bpd Lower Zakum and the 280,000-bpd Umm Shaif.

Saudi Arabia persuaded the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to raise output by 500,000 bpd at a meeting earlier this month in a gesture to consumer nations worried by the economic impact of record-high oil prices.

U.S. crude for November delivery was up 23 cents at $79.76 a barrel by 0723 GMT, off a record high of $83.90 hit last Thursday.

Abu Dhabi set to take giant leap forward

Abu Dhabi set to take giant leap forward
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Abu Dhabi: The imminent arrival of Hollywood entertainment giant Warner Bros in Abu Dhabi with a theme park is in line with the positioning of the emirate as a "world-class place that has it all" and over time, tourist arrivals to the UAE are expected to see strong growth, market analysts told Gulf News.

"This is yet another feather in the cap for Abu Dhabi, after the announcement of Formula One, arrival of top world-class universities, setting up of industrial zones and a museum from France, things that tourists love to see," said one analyst.

On Wednesday in a multi-billion dollar deal, real estate developer Aldar Properties PJSC, one of the largest companies by market capitalisation in the UAE, US-based Warner Bros and the Abu Dhabi Media Company forged a long-term strategic alliance in New York aimed at Abu Dhabi's digital transformation.

"Abu Dhabi will soon become like Dubai, a very attractive place to live in for professional people with all the goodies available in one place. This would also give a boost to the real estate projects in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi," said another analyst.

Shortly after the deal was signed, Aldar chairman Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh told Gulf News that the proposed money committed would be invested over the next five years.

Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company together will invest 50 per cent of it, while the remaining 50 per cent will be invested by Warner Bros.

"We are going to build an integrated entertainment and media infrastructure that will be respectful to our culture and values," said Al Sayegh. "This is a regional partnership that will cover the entire Middle East."

In a joint statement, Aldar, Warner Bros and Abu Dhabi Media said their alliance covers the creation of a theme park and hotel and jointly owned multiplex cinemas, as well as the formation of a joint venture fund to finance films and to develop and publish video games, heralding the growth of new media in the national capital.

Additional areas

Beyond the businesses specifically outlined in Warner Bros' initial agreement with Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company, the companies will explore additional areas in which they can work together, including ventures such as production facilities, digital content distribution and retail opportunities in the Gulf.

Aldar will coordinate and oversee physical construction of both the theme park and hotel. Groundbreaking for the theme park and hotel is expected in 2009.

Warner Bros International Cinemas will develop, design and manage jointly owned multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi to be built by Aldar. Initial plans call for the construction of four cinemas in Al Ruwais, Al Ain, Yas Island and the Central Market in Abu Dhabi, which will be Warner Bros-branded and themed, featuring iconic characters and titles from Warner Bros' classic and contemporary film libraries. Groundbreaking for the multiplex cinemas at the Central Market Development has taken place and they are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.

WBIC currently operates cinemas in Italy and Japan and manages the Mann Theatres chain in the United States.

The film production fund, a 50-50 venture, calls for the development and production of mutually agreed-upon, broad-appeal films, with Warner Bros retaining worldwide distribution options/rights. Separate from this arrangement, Warner Bros Pictures International will work with Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop and produce a slate of Arabic-language films for local and pan-Arabic distribution.

Educating children key to ending cycle of poverty, says Maitha

Educating children key to ending cycle of poverty, says Maitha
By Zoi Constantine, Staff Reporter Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Dubai: Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has urged Dubai's diverse, multi-cultural communities to unite under the banner of 'Dubai Cares' to contribute to the goal of educating 1 million children.

The call came as the amount raised for the initiative launched on September 19 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, topped Dh300 million.

Among the latest to donate are Dubai Contracting, which yesterday pledged Dh500,000, and Ahmad Siddiqui and Sons who donated Dh1.5 million to the six-week campaign at an event hosted by Shaikha Maitha, on Wednesday night.

During the event she also announced that she will host the 'Dubai Cares' Walkathon, scheduled for October 19 to be attended by members of the public as well as sporting personalities and well-known names from the world of art and culture in the UAE.

"Dubai Cares is an opportunity for all of us - regardless of our race, religion or ethnic background - to bring together the different communities in Dubai's multicultural landscape to support a common cause and contribute to a greater purpose," Shaikha Maitha said during her address before the diverse crowd at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Wednesday evening.

"We recognise education as the best long-term solution to poverty alleviation in the developing world -educating children, especially girls, is the key to ending the global 'cycle of poverty'."

Present at the event to launch Shaikha Maitha's participation were various sports personalities, artists and actors, including Abdullah Al Khair, who pledged their support for 'Dubai Cares.'

Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage

Abu Dhabi congestion looms amid taxi shortage
By Samir Salama, Bureau Chief Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00

Abu Dhabi: As residents complained of an acute shortage of taxis in Abu Dhabi, a think tank has warned that the problem will worsen the traffic congestion in the city.

"A shortage in taxis will simply mean more and more people will opt to buy their own cars to rid themselves of the daily suffering of finding a cab," said a report by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Study and Research.

The report expected that the implications of the problem will increase as time passes and that this will be reflected in worsening gridlocks.

This [predicted] increase in the numbers of cars happens at a time when the government is supposed to take measures to reduce them or at least maintain the present number, according to the report.

Statistics of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry put the increase in the number of new cars registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi at 380 per cent between 2002 and 2005, while the increase at the UAE level during the same period was 230 per cent.

A whopping 152,000 new cars were registered for the first time in Abu Dhabi in 2005 accounting for 43 per cent of the total number of cars registered across the country in the same year, compared with 40,000 cars registered in the city in 2002.

This makes the average annual growth in cars registered in Abu Dhabi around 95 per cent.

According to the ECSSR's report, the curve of growth in the number of cars registered in the capital is ascending steeply, especially if the number of used cars registered in the city is taken into consideration.

The report expected that implications of the shortage in cabs will unfold within six months. Residents in Abu Dhabi have complained of queues being formed at bus stops, malls and in major streets everyday particularly at peak hours.

Many say they are compelled to wait for taxis for a long time in the scorching summer heat, with cars belching fumes and fraying tempers.


Residents said even if they come across cabs, drivers refuse to take certain routes. Sahar Mohammad, 25, an Egyptian housewife, said for a 10- minute journey she had to wait for almost 60 minutes on Hamdan Street to take her children to school.

"Taxis are not available and most of the taxi drivers are very rude and arrogant and simply refuse to drive to my destination," she said.

Varghese A., suggested that a proper public bus transport system like that in Dubai would help solve this problem. There is a lot of potential for this kind of city bus service.

Other residents complained that taxis are cashing in on people who had to move to suburbs such as Mussafah and Baniyas to escape rising rents.

Khalid Saleh Al Rashidi, general manager of the Taxi and Hire Car Regulation Centre, said there is no shortage of taxis in the city.

He told Gulf News the root cause of the problem is taxi drivers selectively taking routes which give them more revenue.

"The first batch of a new taxi fleet will hit the roads in November this year," he said.

* 380% increase in the number of new cars registered in Abu Dhabi between 2002 and 2005.
* 230% increase in the number of new cars registered in the UAE between 2002 and 2005.
* 152,000 new cars registered in Abu Dhabi in 2005.
* 95% average annual increase in the number of cars registered in Abu Dhabi.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Humility and merit go together

Humility and merit go together
24 Sep, 2007, 0035 hrs IST,N K Vijayaraghavan, TNN

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his Valley of Fear, observes: “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself but talent instantly recognises genius.” An old English proverb also notes, “Empty vessels make more noise”, while a Tamil aphorism conveys the message, Niraikudam thalumbathu (a vessel full of water doesn’t make gurgling sounds).

Indeed those who earnestly strive for excellence do not ever view others with a condescending or patronising look because they feel earnestly that they themselves have much to traverse in their own quest. They practically live out the message of the Tamil saint Avvaiyar, “What we have learned is just the size of a handful of sand; what we haven’t is as big as the entire sand in this vast earth.”

Egoism (ahamkara) is the root cause of all pride, vain boast and self-assumptions, which discount the merits in and accomplishments of others. In fact, in general, human nature is such that most tend to magnify their own sufferings, contributions made or help rendered. Many also lose themselves in orgies of self-pity, self-justification, self-aggrandisement, vain assumptions and fanciful imagination, through living in a fool’s paradise, evolved out of the hollowness, feelings of inadequacy and pretensions to superiority.

The seeking aspirant, on the other hand, is bestowed with a spiritual insight to look beyond his own limitations and thus be sensitised to the virtues, merits and beauty, which abound in the world around. Drawing thus from the cornucopia of blessings all over and obtaining lessons from others too, he becomes the prime beneficiary in his search for virtues and blessings, which would lead him on.

The beginning is thus through that self-effacing humility which admits to the deficiencies within and through a capacity to appreciate and learn from worthwhile things around. Such virtues cleanse the spirit of the retarding forces of egoism, pride and egotism.

This concept is conveyed brilliantly through a scene in the great Kannada film, Hamsagethe. The main character, Venkanna, in sheer ecstasy and gratitude within, embraces a tall rock, on the top of which a sparrow perches itself, as if to taunt him, “You have much to climb before you attain excellence.” Venkanna’s quest thereafter begins in right earnest.

The truly meritorious, not ever needing the crutches of self propagation, would obtain around him many to spread his fame. Indeed, when some one else blows your trumpet, the sound will carry twice as far!

Merits of adopting global accounting system in core sector

Merits of adopting global accounting system in core sector
25 Sep, 2007, 0303 hrs IST,P Rama Krishna,

Earlier, in most countries, while public sector operators were responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure, including toll highways, toll bridges, power plants, water supply plants, airports, sea ports, etc, such infrastructure was financed through public budget appropriation.

Of late, in today’s expanding global economy, governments of several countries use a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model for the purpose. The BOT model allows private, foreign and national investors to finance, design, construct, upgrade and operate large-scale infrastructure and development projects.

In return, the operator (a private sector company) is granted the right to generate revenues from the infrastructure facilities for a specified term or concession period. These revenues enable the company to recover its invested capital and also earn a fair return on investment during the concession period, which may range typically from 10 years to 40 years. At the end of this period, assets of the BOT project are transferred, in good condition, to the government or to the local authority which granted the concession (i.e., grantor). This arrangement is articulated in a contract which delineates performance standards, mechanisms for adjusting prices and provisions for arbitrating disputes.

In India, successful public-private participation arrangements are emerging and it is estimated that to sustain economic growth, investments of $350-500 billion would be required in the next five years. While these service arrangements may assume any variety of forms, participation by both the grantor and operator, accompanied by an initial large investment, raises questions over the assets and liabilities to be recognised by the operator.

To facilitate this scenario, a reasonable framework of concessionaire agreements and specialised considerations for accounting and preparation of financial statements of these private sector entities should be prescribed.

Currently, from an Indian perspective, BOT assets are recognised as fixed assets and depreciated over the course of the BOT contract. This treatment does not fully exhibit the risks and rewards associated with the arrangement and also does not reflect the substance of the underlying arrangement rather than in form.

For example, the operator neither holds a leasehold right to nor owns the asset; he constructs the asset in accordance to the grantor’s specifications and he also complies with the grantor’s operation and maintenance requirements for the asset. In addition, he should also comply with the terms for transfer of the assets at the end of the concessionaire period as specified by the grantor. In such a situation, how would the operator be justified in recognising these assets as his own?

Further, in most of the cases, the initial development takes place over a time frame of 3-7 years. At this stage, the operator continues to provide services by building the infrastructure; therefore what is the justification for not recognising the revenues during this period? One can observe that there are more risks and efforts involved during the development phase rather than the operations phase. But the present Indian Accounting Standards permit revenue recognition only during the operation phase, but not during the development phase.

Infrastructure, within this context, is not recognised as property, plant and equipment of the operator because the contractual service arrangement does not convey the right to control the use of the public service infrastructure to the operator. The operator has the right to operate the infrastructure to provide service to the public, on behalf of the grantor, in accordance with the terms specified in the contract.

Internationally, the context for accounting for BOT projects has changed to one where the asset is recognised as a financial or intangible asset.

On November 30, 2006, the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) issued IFRIC Interpretation 12-Service Concession Arrangements. This Interpretation provides guidance on accounting by private sector operators involved in the provision of public sector infrastructure assets and services. With effect from January 1, 2008, the standard is to internationally recognise the BOT asset as a financial asset or an intangible asset.

Various factors, including globalisation, encourage the migration of accounting to a more singular and common platform in terms of rules and standards. In this context, it would be prudent for infrastructure companies based in India to recognise BOT assets as intangibles, on par with their international peers.

To do this, Indian companies need to be educated about the benefits of recognising the service concession as a financial or intangible asset, which include greater synthesis and congruence with international standards. A more accurate and insightful view into how the BOT asset is recognised on the books.

Accounting for service concession arrangements commences from the time of bidding for a service concession. Research indicates that accounting issues are present across each stage of the value chain; these issues include, and are not limited to n Prior costs — bid costs, security deposits, consultant fees, etc.

n Construction and procurement of assets — recognition of intangible assets, recognition of financial assets, borrowing costs, special purpose entities, etc.

n Operations and maintenance — revenue recognition, exchange fluctuations, taxation, current and deferred income taxes, impact on credit rating by bank creditors, etc.

It is not only Indian companies who will have to be educated on the benefits of recognising service concessions as financial or intangible assets. Retail and institutional investors, financial services providers and the market as a whole must become aware of this new practice. Accounting firms will need to articulate to its clients and to financial services providers extending financing for such projects the merits of adopting the international system of accounting. Initially, there may be a certain amount of resistance to adopting the global standard, but accounting firms can address this by facilitating their clients and other parties to view the issue in a more holistic and accurate manner.

(The author is partner, Price Waterhouse)

Indonesia's talks with ExxonMobil hit a hurdle

Indonesia's talks with ExxonMobil hit a hurdle
Reuters Published: September 25, 2007, 23:45

Jakarta: Indonesia and ExxonMobil have halted negotiations on the disputed Natuna D-Alpha gas block, now controlled by the US company, an official at energy watchdog BPMIGAS said yesterday.

Talks on the offshore gas project, estimated to require investment of about $40 billion, have run into several problems, attracting the attention of foreign investors who are already wary of committing money to Southeast Asia's biggest economy because of its weak legal system, bureaucracy and corruption.

The most recent setback over Natuna has arisen because the two parties involved cannot agree on how to split the gas produced, the official said, but other unresolved issues include the length of Exxon's contract.

The Indonesian side is waiting for the government to issue new instructions before talks can resume.

Controlling issues
Exxon controls a 76 per cent stake in the Natuna block while Indonesian state oil and gas firm, Pertamina, owns 24 per cent and would like to increase its stake to half.

Indonesia also says that Exxon's contract giving it that 76 per cent share has expired, whereas the energy major has said the contract is valid until 2009.

The BPMIGAS official said the two sides stopped talking recently because they could not agree on how to split the gas produced from the block.

"Indonesia wants a 65 per cent split for the government and 35 per cent for the contractor. Exxon has rejected the proposal because it wants more," the official said.

Kuwait favours BP ahead of Shell as partner in China refinery plan

Kuwait favours BP ahead of Shell as partner in China refinery plan
Reuters / Published: September 25, 2007, 23:45

Kuwait City: Kuwait wants to drop Royal Dutch Shell as a partner and is instead considering BP in a project to build a $5 billion oil refinery in Guangdong in China, Kuwait's state news agency Kuna reported yesterday.

Shell had hoped to gain a foothold in the domestic fuel market of the world's second-largest energy consumer through the Guangdong plant, after an attempt to take a share in another refining project failed last year.

The refinery would be one of the largest joint venture investments in China, similar in size to the $5 billion refinery to be built by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco in Fujian.

State-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and China's largest refinery Sinopec received preliminary Chinese government approval for the Guangdong plant last year.

In August, Sinopec said Shell and US Dow Chemical Co were also in talks to participate. There were several reasons KPC no longer wanted Shell involved, including objections from China's National Development and Reform Commission, Kuna reported, citing Chinese sources. KPC was in talks on the project with BP, which had previously expressed interest, it said.

It was unclear why BP would be a better fit than Shell for the project. Analysts say Beijing is showing a preference toward teaming up with state-owned firms that can offer oil supply guarantees such as KPC, with less need for the technology or financing offered by oil majors such as Shell or BP.

"The issue has been dragging on for months," said Kuwaiti energy analyst Kamel Al Harmi.

Photo Speaks - Passing shots 25092007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Team India winners of 2007 Twenty20 World Cup and Misbah's mistake

Congratulations to Team India for this wonderful achievement.

While joining the celebrations, we are proving once again that Cricket Victory is the only real sporting victory that is counted in India. This can be seen by the barrage of gifts and prize money that is flowing and that will flow on and on to the
players. Dhoni did a great thing and as he rightly talked to the press during the presentation ceremony - "I opted to give an opportunity to a player who wants to prove in front of the International Cricketing Community. Win or Fail did not matter me."

It was the best possible leadership example alive and online in front of millions of viewers. Very seldom you will find a leader taking a courageous decision such as this one in a crunch situation. He was well supported through out by his team members. This is Team Spirit at its best. Many more prizes await you Team India when you return tomorrow.

And the joke part of this victory is expressed below here by an email forward just now received by me. It goes like this:



Have a great day and God Bless,

Ramesh Menon

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mind Speaks - Planning and execution

Planning and execution

Well, well, well. What at an exciting game of Twenty20 cricket it was. Australian team was really floored by the brilliant overall team work of Team India. Each player looked responsible and played a pre-defined plan to perfection. The exuberance of confidence and focus level in them were at its peak that some times I felt the Team forgot the art of celebrating wickets. Not many times we get to get such an occasion to execute a plan to its perfection as it was displayed on the field yesterday by the Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his bunch of young heroes. Whether we win the finals against Pakistan or not, they have already captured the hearts of millions of Cricket fans, irrespective of whether they come from India, Pakistan, England, Australia or wherever.

Keeping the nerves and keeping cool is an important element, required all the time in life to achieve success and victory. Not many people practise this art or at least even attempt to learn it. Till some time ago, I myself was one who never achieved this target. It is very easy to get intimidated or distracted and lose the focus of our objectives. In life, every one has to have a smaller objective and Bigger Objective. While working short term for the smaller objectives, our prime focus should be on the Bigger version of it. The pace and methodology with which we should go about should be strategically developed for the execution of such a strategy. But many times, we tend to focus on the smaller objectives and which will totally take us out and away from our Bigger objectives. We can illustrate this situation many times by small events happening in our life. One such incident happened to me even yesterday. I was driving down the highway early morning towards Dubai from Abu Dhabi and it was a very foggy morning. With not much traffic and with music on, my concentration was to watch out for a diversion to particular place I had to go. I was almost sure that I was nearer to that diversion and at this time, I happened to watch closely in the side mirror a beautiful car approaching mine. With a passion for automobiles, I was unable to take my eyes of her, slowed down the speed and watched the beautiful Blue Rolls Royce Phantom passing me like a race horse. I took a closer look at it, the number, the model and even the driver and realised that it was owned by the most prominent businessman from Abu Dhabi. I enjoyed it and all this happened within the matter of 1 or 2 minutes at the speed of 120+ kms on the highway. In the same instance I realised, I missed my very important turning, crossing it, making me drive for a retour of about 25 kms and valuable time of almost 45 minutes in to the rush hour traffic of Dubai City.

This is just a small example, it did not cost me much as I had kept a leverage time of 45 minutes before my appointment just to explore the location I was visiting to capture the surroundings with my camera before the very important meeting. To arrive early - I do this strategy many times if time permit, because it will give me some time to relax and also familiarise myself and de-stress from the drive towards the place. While looking through the view finder of my camera, I transform myself into a positive self once again, and in the background ready myself with my plans and strategies.

This is one way of grooming towards a positive self at all times. I have found Photography as a creative pursuit which always help to improve Positive Thinking and create a Quality attitude. When we take a camera and focus on an object, we will never be satisfied until and unless the object is clear and focussed. With the newer technologies and advanced options, the modern day digital cameras aid better towards perfection. Most of the equipment comes with several controls and if we have to come out with a quality output, we always have two options. One, to use the automatic mode all the time and get the picture perfect. 2nd to study the manual and learn the nuisances of those controls and execute the options and get a perfect picture. We can use, option 1, if we do not favour risks or do not have time factor. Whereas we use option 2, if we do not mind taking risks and have fractions of seconds or minutes to change the settings before each of the shots. In reality, life and those around us, is also like the camera we use. Many times, we let them do what they are supposed to do, and wait for the result. Some other times, we take risk, talk to them, groom them and extract desired results from them. In both cases, the capacity and capability in store with them are the same, but the productivity may vary and results depends on how the machine or man were able to understand our ideas or visions and transforms them in to a wonderful product of Quality.

We saw the 2nd method very well executed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who marshalled just ordinary resources, who were with him, and who were playing with senior captains like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganuly before. A small amount of pep talk, his own performance and initiatives to lead from the front, and the result, Team India is now in the finals of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament in South Africa. A different approach, keeping the fundamentals in place, that’s all he did. It turned out to be Powerful and they all seemed to be the right person’s for the right job. It’s working like a magic so far. Time will tell whether Dhoni is our magician for the hour.

However, how far we keep the momentum going, we do not know? Because, Team India is prone to politics and already, in today’s news there is an article about Yuvraj Singh’s dad talking to press about his son not being made the captain of the Indian Team!

We don’t care, who the captain is. We want performance and Quality Performance. The choice is yours and those around.


Ramesh Menon

Congrats - Team India

Congratulations to Team India for a fantastic win over Australia. Dhoni opted for Plan B instead of my Plan A. Yuvraj Singh was focussed, elegant and ustoppable, Dhoni and Rohit Sharma batted aggressively and all bowlers kept their cool and victory was ours. Hats of to you Joginder Sharma - now we want to see your batting and in you we have a new Mohinder Amarnath. Australia did not fit into the Twenty20 scheme of things. Now, India - Pakistan final. No comments on it. Just watch it.

Ramesh Menon

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photo Speks - Passing Shots

Mind Speaks - Playing in the mind

Playing in the mind

Watching Yuvraj Singh’s game in the match against New Zeland on 14th September 2007, I was thinking whether his relocation from Punjab to Delhi made him a docile person or not. Within 2 days, on 16th September he proved my temporary assumptions wrong and justified my faith in the belief that many time we win matches in the mindset we keep. Those 6 sixes which Yuvraj hit of England Bowler Stuart Broad were all against quality bowling from one of the best in the game today. Broad and England captain Paul Collinwood did not have any clue where to bowl and what to do. Yuvraj is a player of class, style, aggression and power in his shots. With added advantage of his height, it is always a beauty to watch him play his shots when he is focussed. It was one such day and it was obvious that Yuvraj Sing’s pride was hurt when he was hit for 30 runs in one of the matches in England which finished recently and he was nurturing his revenge and playing and practising his shots in his mind all these days. Stuart Broad happened to be the unfortunate victim to taste and transform this practise session in to a reality.

It is not only in cricket this form of preparation, calculation and background work happens. It happens in all management field. Practising the art of visualising the scenarios and improvising our action and reaction time to any particular events that happens or can happen in life, will make a person ready to respond to any eventualities in day to day life. Even in case of death, after a certain age according to me, there should be some level of preparedness to be done, so that those close ones should never be wandering and wondering of our activities and shortfalls. In reality, I know and have heard of a visionary who carried a special note of instructions, some money along with some other contact details in his handbag, in case something unfortunate happen to him somewhere. At all stages, there should be a Plan A, and Plan B, and Plan C, and if all goes wrong a special plan X, which is filled with pure common sense.

Being a Tabala enthusiast myself, I remember attending a post-performance gathering some 12 years ago by the legend Tabala player Ustad Zakir Hussain. When asked by reporters about how many hours he practise every day and how he finds time to practise even during his hectic jet setting life style, Ustad Zakir Hussain answered, by taking a small box lying down on his table, and said, “I practise all the time, every time and everywhere”. His hands were tapping on the box gently and he continued, “I play in my mind and find the rhythm composition and the placement variation within, for each of the special notes I play and I continuously practise and improvise them whenever I get an opportunity, even if it is by playing on a piece of wood or tissue box. I create a feel and then when I get to sit for real practise or performance, the natural variations will come automatically”. This was a spark of an idea for someone like me who was listening to each of the letters he spoke.

I never had an opportunity to learn Tabala till then. However, during my schooling days, my parents were kind enough to send me to a master to learn mridangam, which I used to play during the school college days initially out of force or for getting points in the arts festival for my team, and which later on developed as an interest. After college, I never got a chance to continue this form of creative talent. Additionally, there was no such venue here in the Middle East where they used mridangam for any musical events. I was stuck and after getting inspired by Ustad’s speech, I went and bought a set of Tabala and started practising on it. The nature of my job and its long hours, non-availability of an exponent to teach the intricate complexities of this form of performing art, made things much difficult in the initial days However, I did not leave the ambition there. I started listening to songs and music much more carefully, and whenever opportunity knocked, I met people who played the instrument, got to know the hand and finger placement, the initial basics required to play with a flow. Rest everything happened in the mind while driving around listening to music during my hectic life schedule. In a year or two, I was playing well and even for long hours of music for satsangs.

This again, I was able to do it, because I was given a chance by my loving parents to learn a musical instrument when I was young and thus creating an unknown (at that time) flare for an extra curricular talent in me, which became a useful tool later on in the life as a stress reliever.

How many of us have the time or patience or kindness to pass on the same to our children? Recently, I was remembering those formative days when my friend send me an invitation for his daughters dance performance. Participation in any such team events will give children a feel of what he/she can expect in different situations and will give him sufficient boldness and courage to face realities of life and opt for Plan A, B or C according to the situation. It will be his/her initial step in life to realise how team building and team work and the value of these two in day to day life. It is our duty to create an opportunity for our children to grow along and progress in all fields of life. Let it be music, performing art, or in the playground playing cricket, hockey or soccer, a child has to have multiple talents other than education from the school books and TV/Internet media which he/she is exposed to much more than we anticipate.

Coming back to Twenty20 cricket, I am very happy to see Indian team on a winning note and equally or more happy to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s inspiring captaincy during the 1st half when India was batting against South Africa and 2nd half of the match, when South Africa were batted. He lead from the front with determination and scored valuable runs. However, it was his move to give the wicket keeping gloves to Dinesh Karthik that made the big difference that finally ended the team on a winning note. How many of us get to get someone like Dinesh Karthik, to delegate and give a very important role to play with success as he did for Dhoni by effecting many dismissals on the field? Although, there were many extras, I felt the Indian Bowlers did an excellent job, especially R P Singh, Harbhajan and Sreesanth. R P Singh was clinically critical in the win against South Africa today. If the Indian team continue their focus and determination and game plan in the same way they played till now, I am sure, they will play well against Australia, who seems to be lost in thoughts of the Twenty20 scheme of things even though happened to win convincingly against Sri Lanka today.

So, the D-day has come and we are playing semi-finals of an important World Cup match today. I really do not want to promote cricket, but this shorter version is getting in to my scheme of things, as do many others, because of the simple reason that the match gets over just the same time as that of a football match, and there is excitement and surprise factor plenty in store. Being sensitively attached to Sreesanth and his intelligence and willingness to listen (happy to see him coming out of the Sreesanth Syndrome), I sincerely wish him to bowl just 24 unbelievable/un-playable balls of his life today. As do RP Singh and Irfan Pathan. If these 3 main bowlers hits form, line, length and accuracy, we will have a match in hand against Australia. After his game with Srilanka, in which they beat the Sri Lankans convincingly, Rickey Ponting mentioned that they still have not come to terms with this form of cricket. He is not playing today and it is an added advantage and it is up to us to capitalise this golden opportunity. Go with plenty of Fevicol in hands and hold on to all the catches that comes to us, and whenever required, remove the same glue and throw at the wickets the same way we break the glasses of our public transport, Indian team will win. My team for today will be as follows:
Virendar Shewag, Gautam Ghambir, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth, RP Singh and Harbhajan Singh. I leave out Joginder Sharma, who although bowled well was unlucky with wickets on both occasions he played and prefer India keeps Karthik in the playing eleven, where, if required Shewag, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj can give a go at the stumps. My option if we win the toss is - we bowl first. In a few hours we will know what happens. Good to see that.

All the FM stations and regional TV channels here are playing the song Chak De India repeatedly, so much so that even my Arabic and French colleagues know the lines in full. After all, it is champion teams win matches that count. Today is one such day and we all wish Team India to win. Keep going and let the flag fly high.


Ramesh Menon

Abu Dhabi to Durban, Sharma on a roll

Abu Dhabi to Durban, Sharma on a roll
By K.R. Nayar, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: September 21, 2007, 23:15

Dubai: Abu Dhabi was the launching pad for India's latest hero who knocked out South Africa from the Twenty20 World Championship on Thursday.

Rohit Sharma, representing India 'A', had cracked a 56 against UAE and a sparkling 62 against Pakistan at the Zayed Cricket Stadium to walk away with the Best Batsman award.

It were these knocks that fetched him a place among the probables for the Champions Trophy and later won him a place in the Indian team for the tour of Ireland in June 2007.

Speaking about Sharma's superb knock in Abu Dhabi, UAE wicketkeeper Abdul Rahman said: "Sharma exhibited his fine talent during his knock against us for the India 'A' team. I found him the most talented batsman among the youngsters that played for India 'A' in the match."

Incidentally, it was Rahman who caught him off the bowling of Zahid Shah for 56.

"Sharma possessed lovely drives. His on-drives were a treat to watch. It was evident that he would soon make it to the Indian senior team," added Rahman.

Stunning knock
On Thursday, in Durban, Sharma stunned the South Africans with a 50 off 40 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. He also brilliantly ran out Justin Kemp to walk away with the Man-of-the-Match award.

Speaking to Gulf News in November 2006, Kiran More, the former Indian selector, had said: "Sharma is one of the finest batsmen in the country today and will soon clinch a top spot in Indian batting line-up."

Sharma, though born in Nagpur, lives in Borivli, a Mumbai suburb. He is a product of tennis ball cricket who went on to play for the Mumbai under-14 and under-17 teams, before making it to the Indian under-19 and India 'A' teams.

Sharma is also considered as a specialist batsman for the Twenty20 format. He became the first Indian batsman to hit a century in this shortest version of the game.

In the first ever official Twenty20 match played at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, between Mumbai and Gujarat, Sharma had cracked an unbeaten 101.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Many Dimensions Of Heartfelt Satsang

Many Dimensions Of Heartfelt Satsang
21 Sep 2007, 0000 hrs IST,Aruna Jethwani for TIMES OF INDIA

A friend going through depression was advised by her family physician to join satsang. She flared up: "Why satsang?" The physician thought for a moment and said: "Because satsang will give you a community. It will give you a sense of belonging. Two, it will draw you out of your limited self and will help you bond with your higher self".

Satsang helps build up a magnetic centre of spiritual life; from such a centre flows energy which purifies and stabilises our emotions. Traditionally satsang is associated with the singing of Naam kirtan, invoking the Supreme. This is only one aspect. Satsang has many dimen-sions. It may mean a gathering of like-minded people who pray together or discuss and debate issues which are of concern to humanity. Just as any good work is worship, similarly fruitful exchange of ideas which would benefit self and society is also satsang.

In a deeper sense, satsang is fellowship with an evolved person. The presence of a holy person purifies emotions and rejuvenates body, mind and spirit. It spreads 'pure energy' which gives a sense of well-being as it washes away our mundane worries for a while. It is for these reasons that life management courses prescribe satsang, that is, group prayer or singing. Such kirtans divert negative energy, producing circles of positivism which have multiplier and cascading effects. Such gatherings purify the gross physical and help to heal body and mind as well. Little wonder the youth of today find comfort in chanting for peace or good health or just invoke higher energies for themselves.

Satsang of the Naam kirtan type can be a higher mystical and spiritual experience. Recounting his personal experiences Sadhu Vaswani writes, "Our Calcutta Satsang was vibrant. It commenced with recitation of holy verses and readings from scriptures followed by bhajans, and culminating in kirtan. The kirtan awakened the souls of many... Some became ecstatic, others fell into a swoon. This happened so often that my Gurudev had to appoint some of us to pick up those devotees who were in an unconscious state and reach them home safely."

During those times, Calcutta used to have long processions. Devotees of Chaitanya Maha-prabhu, particularly, took out a procession, chanting Haribol, Haribol and in that Masti of Mantra, they went into ecstasy that reached a crescendo of a higher kind. Speaking of his own intoxication, Sadhu Vaswani further says, "On more than one occasion I was so intoxicated with the mantra that I fell in a state of unconscious-ness. Even in that delirious state, I would continue to chant Haribol, and would fall down on the ground. The devotees would pick me up and reach me home. When I woke up, many hours later, I would ask, where am I?"

Such mystical and spiritual experiences are rare. But it goes without saying that satsang relieves us of latent mental burdens; it creates positive patterns; it roots us to our own real self; it takes away our frustrations, it provides a surface for interaction; and above all satsang generates pure energies which purify us. With so many benefits, it is worthwhile to participate in chanting groups, Reiki healing, Gita groups, Interfaith lunches, Peace prayers, and enjoy the vigour, enthusiasm and energy of positive living.

As You Breathe, So Shall You Live

As You Breathe, So Shall You Live18 Sep 2007, 0001 hrs IST,Linesh Sheth for TIMES OF INDIA

The simplest way to build a harmonious relationship with life is to develop a loving, joyful and a friendly relationship with your breath. Understand your breath, its ways of working and develop a friendly relationship with it. Breath is the carrier of vital life force within us that makes our body-mind organisation function and survive.

If you look at breath as life itself, your landscape will change. The love, sanctity and value you give to this great spontaneous phenomenon called ‘breathing’ will tend to completely change the way you breathe. Then if you breathe slowly, just 20 times with a smile, your eyes closed, you will experience deep within a feeling of joy in all those organs where you perceive the smooth touch of breath.

When you look at your breath as if it were your constant and unfailing friend, that quality of relationship brings about a profound change in any breathing method you practise. You will soon realise that the way you breathe, is the way you live. This is how complex life turns simple.

Eight factors that change your relationship to life with reference to the way you breathe are: the flow of breath you allow in your body, the pace with which you breathe, the rhythm you follow, the number of times you breathe or frequency of breath, body posture you hold while breathing, vibrations you produce, the attention and serenity with which you breathe, and finally, your sensitivity to experience the touch of breath in every organ it touches as you breathe.

The way you learn to synchronise all these aspects into one compact process of breathing is what will change your relationship with your body and mind. It is simply profound as well as profoundly simple.

You will begin to like yourself as you feel the pleasing, calming sensation deep breath brings about. You will experience a deep sense of undisturbed peace within. When you pay attention to the beauty with which life rests within you, for the first time, you will experience what it is to feel alive.

Our relationship with breath tends to be simple, direct and proportionate. So if you breathe slowly and attentively you feel the touch of breath as you breathe in and out. You will experience a deep sense of peace.

If you breathe with great satisfaction, you will feel the grace of life. When you breathe selectively into each of your organs like kidneys, intestines, heart or head and feel the touch of breath, you will experience great healing. How many times you breathe and how regularly you do it directly decides the proportion of well being you will feel.

If you think of life as a great struggle, or the world as a battlefield where you have to compete with and overcome others, you will turn yourself into a warrior who has no room for peace or reconciliation in life. Then if you seek freedom or happiness, you will look for it beyond this life, not while you are living. The world that appears outside you is in fact a reflection, a mirror image, of how you feel within.

A simple way of changing the way you feel is to learn how to change your relationship with life in your daily half-hour breathing session. You will soon experience that as you breathe, so shall you live.

Abu Dhabi plans big

Abu Dhabi plans big
By Saifur Rahman, Business News Editor GULF NEWS Published: September 21, 2007, 00:17

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi's urban vision for 2030, announced on Wednesday, comes at a very appropriate time when the oil-rich emirate, which occupies nearly 85 per cent of the UAE, prepares for a massive surge in economic activities as part of its diversification plan.

The Urban Structure Framework Plan 2030 has been devised to cater to the needs of a structured growth agenda for the city's expanding urban landscape and offer a balanced diet to its economy as well as its environment. More than Dh600 billion worth of development works are already at various stages of completion in Abu Dhabi, which has 96 billion barrels of proven oil reserves - enough for a 100-year supply at current production rate. The emirate also hosts three cities.

The Dh55-billion Al Raha Beach Development, Dh100-billion Saadiyat Islands, the Dh30-billion Reem Island and the Dh40-billion Yas Island projects are some of the master developments taking shape in the emirate. Along with these, a large investment in downstream petrochemical sector, industries, aviation and tourism - Dh25 billion in redevelopment of Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dh30 billion in Etihad Airways - are all part of a larger plan to transform Abu Dhabi into an economic powerhouse in the Middle East.

The plan also envisages an additional Dh600 billion investment in projects that will more than triple the size of Abu Dhabi's economy and quadruple some sectors.

Once ready, they will attract new residents, tourists and businesses. But the UAE capital might become a victim of its own success with heavy traffic and inflationary pressures taking their toll on the public.

Abu Dhabi residents will begin to see the fruits of the ongoing projects from around 2010, when public facilities such as transportation, housing, recreational facilities, education and healthcare, will be in high demand. Provisions for these facilities is needed to be built-in within the urban development plan.

The public facilities in Abu Dhabi could be adequate for today, but not for tomorrow. That's why, the plan is significant. From now, all development activities will be structured in line with the broad vision that will help the UAE capital achieve a much-needed balanced growth.