Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gasco wins the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award for 2007

Gasco wins the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award for 2007

Gasco was awarded the Shaikh Khalifa Excellence Award from H. H. General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in the presence of H.E. Yousef Omair Bin Yousef, Secretary General of the Supreme Petroleum Council and ADNOC's Chief Executive Officer and H.E. Abdulla Al Suwaidi, Deputy CEO & Director, E&P. The award was recieved by Mohammed Sahoo AlSuwaidi, General Manager of Gasco.

‘Excellence’ is one of the values we actively promote across all areas of our organization- and hence this award conferred on us fills us with a profound sense of professional achievement.

The Award, instituted by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce under the patronage of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is given each year to an organization that qualifies on the basis of a set of standards and stringent evaluation criteria. The Award Criteria, that form the basis for evaluation by an expert team of Assessors, covers our results in the areas of People Management, Business Performance, Customer Processes and Societal Contributions. Our approaches to producing these results are also evaluated.

This is the first year of our entry into the Award cycle, and to be rated high in an excellence scale is testimony to the high levels of efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism all of us are able to bring on to our work

Opec to pump more oil if necessary, says Al Hamili

Opec to pump more oil if necessary, says Al Hamili
(Wam)31 January 2008

ABU DHABI - In a bid to strike a balance in the world oil market, Opec will take every measure deemed necessary to keep market stability, including pumping more oil, UAE Minister of Energy Mohammed bin Dha'en Al Hamili said.

Speaking to the news agency shortly before travelling to Vienna for the extraordinary Opec meeting which will open tomorrow, Al Hamili expressed concerns that world oil prices might remain volatile due to the current state of global economy which, he said, is exacerbated by the mortgage crisis in the US. The UAE official, however, observed that demands for crude oil “usually recedes during the second quarter of the year due to seasonal factors".

Al Hamili remained non-committal on whether or not Opec would increase output in view of the of the current market volatility.

"Any decision to maintain or increase the current production ceiling will be based on informed opinions, studies and analyses that will be presented to the ministers," he said.

Al Hamili further said that market and economic conditions indicate that world economy is heading towards recession. "Nevertheless, it is predicted that global economy will continue to grow by 4.8 per cent during 2008, a growth rate that is closer to last year's level."

While underling Opec commitment to strike a balance between supply and demand, Al Hamili cited weakening US dollar, speculators, US housing sector crisis, among others, as the main factors responsible for oil prices volatility.

Opec oil accounts for about 40 per cent of the world's needs.

Get ready for the big chill in UAE

Get ready for the big chill in UAE
By Adel Arafah (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 31 January 2008

ABU DHABI — A polar cold air mass passing by the Arabian Gulf is going to stream over the country today afternoon, the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology predicted yesterday. The air mass would come with a moderate northwest wind.

The cold air mass would affect the Western region in the afternoon and would gradually extend to the other regions in the night.

The temperature would plummet during the night. A sharp fall in temperature would be felt tomorrow (on Friday) as well, especially in the coastal and mountainous areas.

The northwest wind would continue lashing the country tomorrow, and the sky would be hazy in the Northern and Eastern regions accompanied by rain.

The National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology advised the people to be extra careful when venturing into the sea for the next three days from today (Thursday). Waves are likely to be 3-5 feet high near the coast and 8-10 feet high in the high seas. Besides, the centre advised the people to wear warm clothes.

An expert at the centre said the country was affected yesterday by a depression forming in the south and centre of Saudi Arabia which caused the dusty winds, especially in the western region.

Winter storms and snow caused schools and shops to shut across the Middle East yesterday.

Meanwhile, many Israelis and Palestinians stayed home from work as snow piled up in Jerusalem and highland areas of the West Bank. Cars crawled through sleety streets and children, excused from school, flocked to parks to have snowball fights.

The storms also closed government ministries and universities in Jordan’s capital Amman, as many residents took the day off rather than try to negotiate the clogged roads.

In Lebanon, heavy snow disrupted traffic on the main highway to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and left villages above 600 metres (2,000 feet) largely cut off. (With agency inputs)

Qatar says Opec could cut supply as inventories grow

Qatar says Opec could cut supply as inventories grow Bloomberg Published: January 31, 2008, 01:28

Doha: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) won't raise output quotas at a meeting this week and will consider a supply reduction in the future because world econ-omic growth is slowing and oil inventories are ample, Qatar's energy minister said.

"The world has sufficient supply, even oversupplied in some places,'' Qatar's Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah said yesterday. "So to increase, I don't think this is on the agenda.''

He said the 13-member producer group, the supplier of more than 40 per cent of the world's oil, would consider a production cutback "if the world economy moves toward a recession.'' Weaker economies may lead to reduced demand for energy, he said.

The Opec is expected to keep its output target unchanged at 29.67 million barrels a day when it meets in Vienna on February 1, according to 29 of 32 analysts surveyed by Bloom-berg News.

UAE Energy Minister Mohammad Bin Dha'en Al Hamili said yesterday he was concerned about the possible knock-on effects of the US mortgage crisis on the world economy and oil markets.

Al Hamili said Opec was monitoring the impact on crude oil demand of a possible slowdown in the global economy and would discuss the matter.

A senior Iranian oil official also made clear yesterday he did not expect Opec to decide to change output levels at the meeting. "Because no special conditions have been created in oil markets, it is unlikely that Opec will make a special decision in its meeting on Friday," Javad Yarjani, head of Opec affairs at Iran's oil ministry, said. "Market conditions do not need a new Opec decision."

Oil prices have tumbled from a record $100.09 a barrel set on January 3 amid signs of an economic slowdown in the US, the world's biggest energy consumer.

Crude oil for March delivery was up 45 cents at $92.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange ay 9.28am London time.

Customers lose up to 4% when wiring money abroad

Customers lose up to 4% when wiring money abroad
By Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 31, 2008, 01:28

Dubai: Expatriates in Dubai lose up to four per cent per transaction when they send or receive money from other countries, according to a recent market entrant.

As an expat magnet, the UAE sees millions of dirhams being wired to and from the country every day. And banks charge a wide variety of exchange rates and commissions, which fluctuate daily.

But, according to Lisa O'Brien, director of First Rate FX, a London-based currency specialist firm with offices in Dubai, by doing some basic research, expats can save a lot of cash when transferring money.

"Often people want to transfer money quickly, and so they get in the habit of calling their own bank," she says.

"But we're currency specialists. We buy large volumes of all major currencies every day. And because of this we can make a huge saving and pass this benefit on to the client."

O'Brien says this is with no commission or any other additional charges.

Lucrative business

Mohammad Ishaq, Head of Treasury at Sharjah Islamic Bank, says: "They benefit from the customer in two ways: When a customer deposits the money, it takes a few days to arrive at the destination. In this time the money is lying in transit and the company makes the interest on that.

"Also, the company buys big amounts of money at wholesale rates, but offers it to the customer at the retail rate - about half a per cent or one per cent, depending on the transaction. This half or one per cent makes a big difference. It's very lucrative for them."

To highlight O'Brien's point, using a High Street bank such as HSBC to transfer £1,000 from the UK to Dubai would convert to Dh7,175 with no extra charges or fees at an exchange rate of 7.17.

Naturally, this is only "an indication for today as prices vary from day to day", according to a bank employee. To send £1,000 from Dubai to the UK, however, would cost Dh7,408 at an exchange rate of 7.41 with an additional charge of Dh80 for sending, amounting to a total of Dh7,488.

Sending £1,000 from the UK to Dubai with a money transfer agency like Western Union would amount to Dh7,220, with the sender paying an additional charge of Dh331 (£47). Sending £1,000 from Dubai to the UK however, would cost Dh7,510, with an additional charge of Dh400, amounting to a total of Dh7,910. Western Union also has a maximum amount of $7,500, with a $310 fee.

Using a specialist company like First Rate FX to transfer £1,000 from the UK to Dubai at a rate of 7.23 would amount to Dh7,230. To send 1,000 GBP to the UK from Dubai would be Dh7,307, at a rate of 7.31.

As foreign exchange is volume-driven, larger amounts would achieve better rates. For example, sending £25,000 from the UK to Dubai with First rate FX would amount to Dh180,957.5 at today's exchange rate of 7.24 with no commission or extra costs. It would take Dh182,272.5 at a rate of 7.29 to get £25,000 from Dubai to the UK.

According to O'Brien, it's a case of taking the time to research the market. "In the UK press, there's been a lot of talk about banks charging too much. So people are becoming more educated to go to specialists instead."

Damaged sea cable hits internet services

Damaged sea cable hits internet services
By Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 30, 2008, 18:17

Dubai: Both the UAE's telecom providers suffered yesterday from a break down of internet connections and international calls after a cable was cut in the Mediterranean Sea.

Officials from both network providers were unable to disclose when the issue will be resolved as the submarine cable system operators (FLAG Telecom and SEA-ME-WE 4) were responsible for repairing the damage.

In its statement, etisalat said it was able to re-route the traffic through its network partners in Asia, Europe and UAE to ensure that services remained operational in the UAE.



etisalat said it was working closely with the administration, partners, and concerned operators, for urgent repair work to ensure that the links with major global internet hubs are restored at the earliest. The links deployed by etisalat has meant that normal internet browsing and essential traffic will continue to work at reasonable speeds for the company's customers.

According to a source at du, the cable is located in Egypt, 12km from the shore. The fault occurred yesterday morning and affected telecom operators globally. du confirmed that its customers were also affected by the broken cable and were likely to experience interruption in internet services and international voice calls.

Emergency: Who's doing what

- du has transferred internet and international voice traffic through other cable systems that were not affected, although congestion is expected to occur at peak times.

- etisalat is working to ensure that links with major global internet hubs are restored at the earliest. Essential traffic continues to work at reasonable speed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Photo Speaks - Might is right

With the increase in number of vehicles and buildings, parking is difficult to find. However, there is a saying "Might is Right". And these bus drivers knew it very well.

Photo Speaks - Balancing Act

It's a tough world to live these days. Especially with the cost of living increasing by day. We know very well how difficult is it to do the balancing act even when we are fairly compensated. And we know how difficult and costly it can be for us with momentary lapse of concentrtion. Ever imagined how these poor workers manage thier needs under these growing economic situation?

Dubai to build world’s longest arched bridge

Dubai to build world’s longest arched bridge
By Joy Sengupta (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 30 January 2008

DUBAI — Construction of the world’s longest arched bridge in Dubai will begin in March and the project would be completed in four years, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced yesterday.

The project, the sixth crossing over the Dubai Creek, is estimated to cost Dh3 billion.

The bridge, 1600 metres long and 64 metres wide, will comprise 12 lanes, 6 in each direction. In addition, the Green Line of Dubai Metro will run through the centre of the bridge (the dividing area between the two bridges). The giant arch will be 205 metres high and 667 metres long.

The bridge will link Al Jaddaf in Bur Dubai with the road separating The Lagoons and Dubai Festival City. The crossing would also provide entry and exit points for the Creek Island, on which Opera Building, a project of Sama Dubai, will be constructed. The Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, Mattar Al Tayer, said the project, developed by a United States-based company, would be completed in six phases.

“The construction of the first phase would begin in March this year,” he pointed out.

The crossing would facilitate free traffic flow at all intersections and allow free navigation throughout the day as it would be15 metres above the water surface.

The 50-metre-wide navigation corridor would enable movement of large yachts.

A Resolution that will do Good

How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood?

Abu Dhabi to withdraw 500 old taxis from service

Abu Dhabi to withdraw 500 old taxis from service
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Abu Dhabi: About 500 taxis from the old fleet will be withdrawn from the capital's streets this month, Trans AD, the taxi regulatory authority, told Gulf News.
"We are withdrawing the gold and white taxis [old taxis] in accordance with the increasing number of new taxis," said Huda Al Ka'abi, Communication Officer at Trans AD.

"About 800 new taxis are on the streets now and the number is increasing day by day."

She said more than 900 drivers have received their registration so far and some of them are undergoing training.

"About 7,600 old taxis operate in the emirate and 500 will be phased out every two months," said Sultan Mohammad Al Shamsi, Director of Customer Services and Compliance Division at Trans AD.

"Although about 8,000 registered old taxis are in the emirate, about 400 were non-operational for a long time." He said the compensation for old taxi owners will be distributed by next month.

The first batch of new taxis commenced operations on November 4, 2007 with 300 taxis [which gradually increased to about 800] and the phasing out of old taxis has started this month. Trans AD authorised seven national companies to operate in the emirate and over 7,000 new taxis are expected to be on the roads in the near future; over a thousand by each franchisee.

One of the franchisees said they are planning to introduce their quota of 1,021 taxis within six months.

Complaint: Knowledge

Complaints about language skills and local knowledge of drivers are also strictly dealt with, said Huda Al Ka'abi, Communication Manager.

"People have to call up the hotline number 600535353 with the taxi number and we test the language skills of the driver." If he is unable to speak, he will be sent back for a month of training.

Metro man is Indian of the Year

Metro man is Indian of the Year
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

And here is the Indian of the Year for 2007. He is the man who gave the country such rail marvels as the Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro. He also taught Delhiites, without ever asking for it, how to respect public property.

He is the Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan.

Sreedharan was presented the award — instituted by CNN-IBN in partnership with the Hindustan Times — at a glittering function in the capital on Tuesday. The chief guest was Vice-President Hamid Ansari and the guest of honour former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Accepting the award, Sreedharan said the honour bestowed on him showed that some values still count — the integrity of individuals; professional competence; and the fact that time is money, hence, the need to finish work on time. And, he said, he held these values in high esteem.

The metro chief was competing with Finance Minister P Chidambaram (from the category of politics), SBI chairman OP Bhatt (business), Vishwanathan Anand (sports), Chak De director Shimit Amin and scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni (entertainment) and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin (NRIs). Sreedharan was the winner in the public service category.

The lifetime achievement award went to cartoonist RK Lakshman.

The format of the awards was as follows: the competition was divided into six categories, each with six nominees — politics, business, sports, entertainment, public service and NRIs. Each category would have a winner. The six winners would then compete for the top award.

They were to be picked by a mix of voting by people — SMS and online — and selection by a jury of Padma awardees — lawyer Soli Sorabjee (chairman), HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, actor Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair, Hindustan Times Media Ltd vice-chairman and editorial director Shobhana Bhartia, Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani, billiards champion Geet Sethi and former police officer Kiran Bedi.

The Indian of the year for 2006 was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Hospital puts anti-abduction system in maternity ward

Hospital puts anti-abduction system in maternity wardBy Mariam M. Al Serkal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Dubai: Dubai's only public maternity hospital implemented a system to prevent baby theft after some babies were abducted from their bassinet, Gulf News has learnt.
A security bracelet is attached to the babies' ankles that have a sensory barcode which is linked to all nursery stations and security offices at Al Wasl Hospital, which implemented it last year.

Diaa Hassan, Consultant, Quality and International Accreditation, Al Wasl Hospital, told delegates at the Hospital Design and Upgrade Conference at Arab Health that the anti-abduction system is a standard procedure required by the Joint Committee International.

"The baby anti-abduction system has been implemented for the past year, and there were two to three cases of abduction in the country," she said, but refused to elaborate.

The most publicised baby snatching case in the UAE was in December 2005, when an Indian doctor abducted a new-born Iraqi boy at Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah. A nurse spotted the doctor walking away with the baby and alerted the authorities. The gynaecologist served six months in jail followed by deportation.

With regard to preventing hospital-acquired infections, Hassan said that it was difficult to prevent because the maternity ward is always receiving many family members. "It is difficult to control the number of visitors at the hospital because of the culture in the region. When someone delivers all the family comes in," she said.

She noted that it was highly unlikely for patients to receive hospital acquired infections because all infectious cases are transferred to Rashid Hospital.

Abu Dhabi to keep March contract volumes steady

Abu Dhabi to keep March contract volumes steady
Reuters Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

Singapore: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) has notified at least four Asian lifters that it will supply crude oil at full contracted volumes for March, as it did for February, lifters said yesterday.

Abu Dhabi, the main oil producer the UAE, would also supply limited extra volumes, on top of fully contracted volumes, with three refiners saying they did not request additional volumes for March.

Additional cargo

One lifter said they would receive an additional 500,000-barrel cargo of Murban crude for March, while another declined to comment on whether he had sought additional volumes.

Demand for March Abu Dhabi crude has weakened from February as refiners in North Asia have started cutting runs.

The steady March volumes come as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) is scheduled to meet this week, with members repeatedly saying they are pumping enough oil, signalling that it would maintain output levels despite calls by the United States for more supplies to help ease high prices.

International crude prices have come down from their historic high of over $100 a barrel on worries of a US slowdown.

Spot Abu Dhabi crude fell to its deepest discounts in three months last week, with flasgship Murban crude sold at down to a discount of 25 cents a barrel to Adnoc.
But demand has not collapsed and spot cargoes for March loading have largely cleared by now, traders said, suggesting that refiners saw value in the light sour grades, though at discounts to their official selling prices (OSPs).

Japanese refiners, who are the largest buyers of Abu Dhabi crude, have cut runs for January and February from their initial plans on sluggish domestic demand and falling margins.

Japan's top refinering company, Nippon Oil Corp, has also said that it will extend and deepen a 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) production curb this month to a 41,000-bpd cut in February.

Four out of five South Korean refiners have also decided to cut crude runs for February, pressured by poor margins and seasonally weak demand, processing at the lowest rate in four months, a Reuters poll of industry sources show-ed.

Opec likely to deny Bush plea for more supply

Opec likely to deny Bush plea for more supply
Bloomberg Published: January 29, 2008, 23:39

London: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), the producer of more than 40 per cent of the world's oil, may reject US president George W. Bush's request to increase production and relieve the strain of rising energy costs.
Opec will keep its output target unchanged at 29.67 million barrels a day when it meets in Vienna on February 1, according to 29 of 32 analysts surveyed between January 24 and 28 by Bloomberg News. Ministers from Qatar, the UAE and Iraq said last week that more oil isn't needed. Bush asked producers to pump more crude during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Oil fell 5.3 per cent to $90.90 a barrel this month, and the 13-nation group wants to prevent a further decline, the analysts said. A slowdown in the US, the world's biggest energy consumer, risks curbing demand for fuel as the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere reduces consumption. "Opec would be shooting themselves in the foot if they increased supply," Michael Davies, head of research at Sucden (UK) Ltd in London, said.

Recession fears

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. predict deteriorating growth in the US will spread to other nations. Japan, the world's third-largest oil consumer, has probably entered a recession already, Goldman's chief Japan economist, Tetsufumi Yamakawa, said.

The US dollar, used by Opec to price oil sales, weakened 12 per cent against the euro during 2007, eroding Opec's purchasing power. There's "no need for additional barrels," Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, the Opec governor for Iran said.
"There's a 60 per cent chance they'll increase production as the US is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia," Hannes Loacker, an analyst at Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterriech in Vienna, said. "If Opec does increase, prices could come down into the $80s."

"Opec is happy with the price above $80, and they clearly want to stop it going below $80," said Johannes Benigni, managing director of PVM Oil Associates in Vienna.

Forecast: Output may be cut

Opec may cut its oil output in March if stockpiles increase and demand dwindles, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unidentified ministers and officials.
The 13-member group may have a tough time this year deciding whether to boost or decrease production, the newspaper said. A US recession could curb the growth in global demand, yet China and the Middle East are still using more oil, the Journal said.

Money Market - Questions & answers

Moral Story

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dr. Kamala Shankar, the inventor of the shankar-guitar

Dr. Kamala Shankar, the inventor of the shankar-guitar, plays Raga Yaman (vilambit gat and jhala) with Shri Pundlik Bhagwat on tabla.

More about Dr. Kamala Shankar can be read by visiting:

'Starving mothers may have addictive kids'

'Starving mothers may have addictive kids'
Babies born to starving mothers may develop addictive disorders later in life, Dutch researchers said after examining men and women born during a period of famine.

A famine called "Hunger Winter" hit Netherlands during the winter of 1944-1945, near the end of World War II, in which over 20,000 people died.

Researchers from the Dutch mental healthcare organisation Bouman Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg (GGZ) and the Erasmus University in Rotterdam examined men and women born in Rotterdam between 1944 and 1947.

They found that children whose mothers had suffered severe food shortages and starvation during their early pregnancy were significantly more likely to be receiving treatment for addictive disorders, reported science portal Science Daily.

Modern brain research has shown that if the brain is not able to develop at normal rates while the child is in the womb, neuro-developmental abnormalities can occur that give rise to susceptibility to addiction.

"Exposure to famine beyond the first three months did not result in a higher risk of addiction, which supports the view that the first trimester is crucial in the development of the human brain that is involved in addictive behaviour," lead researcher Ernst Franzek said.

Jog daily, increase life span

Jog daily, increase life span
Indo-Asian News Service

Daily jogging may help you stay biologically young and live nine more years than those who don't jog, researchers in US have suggested.

A regular exercise is already known to provide several health benefits. Regular exercise also helps prevent heart disease, blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and depression.

In the new study researchers at King's College London and in the US studied ageing in 2,401 twins and found that there was a difference of about nine years of ageing between those who exercised regularly and those who did not.

It happened even after considering other influences, including body mass index (BMI), smoking and socio-economic status (SES), according to the researchers, online edition of Daily Mail reported.

"The US guidelines recommend that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week can have significant health benefits" the study said.

"Our results underscore the vital importance of these guidelines. They show that adults who partake in regular physical activity are biologically younger than sedentary individuals," lead researcher Lynn Cherkas said.

Benefits of jogging

It speeds up the digestive system and helps get rid of digestive trouble.

It counteracts depression.

In order to be an effective means to loose weight, the jogging sessions must be at least half an hour and be repeated fairly often.

Jogging makes you sleep better.

A formula for stress-free driving

A formula for stress-free driving
By Carole Spiers, Special to Gulf News Published: January 29, 2008, 00:22

For Dubai's motorists, the New Year has not begun well. First, the unexpected visit from President Bush, bringing instant gridlock to a city still not mentally accepting of urban traffic crawl.

Then the equally unaccustomed sight of Shaikh Zayed and Emirates Roads partially flooded during exceptionally heavy rainfall. And then the UAE road-accident figures for 2007, one of the worst in the world - 829 deaths and more than 10,000 injuries - a most unwelcome symptom of increasing traffic jams and driver frustration, in this fast-expanding emirate.

To you, all of this may look like something new and unnatural on your horizon. To me, as a UK-based stress consultant, it is something depressingly familiar and inevitable. So perhaps this is the moment for me to offer you my little rule-of-thumb guide to stress management on the road. It takes the form of a simple acronym - S.A.F.E.

S is for SURE. Be sure of your vehicle, sure of your itinerary, and sure of your own fitness to drive. Stress builds up especially when you're driving an unfamiliar vehicle, either new or borrowed. So take trouble to check all the features, especially those that you need in an emergency. And when someone else is having to familiarise themselves with new controls, don't raise the tension by standing over them, expressing impatience.

A is for ACCEPTING. This is an underlying philosophy which takes the heat out of many potentially stressful situations at the wheel. It is to accept that you are not master of the road, and that your journey will always be influenced by conditions you can't change. You can't stop it raining. You can't stop your children grumbling. You can't speed up that traffic jam as you approach the bridge to cross the creek. So - don't get excited or agitated - it will not get you there any faster.

F is for FOCUSED. A driver's first duty is to concentrate on the road. Even under perfect conditions, mistakes can be made. So when the car is full of distractions like music, quiz-games or long-running arguments with the children, driving errors can happen. Equally, the sheer familiarity of the same daily route may cause loss of concentration. To stay focused, try to make a habit of ignoring distractions, and make sure you're properly nourished and exercised and take breaks on long journeys.

E is for EGO-FREE. Your car reflects your ego, and this lies behind many reckless actions on the road - trying to live up to that macho image, and wanting to hit back at any insults to your dignity or driving skills. Ego can be a major stressor, and you will do better to practise remaining calm and not rising to challenges that can spiral into fatal accidents.

Four little letters that may keep you safe by helping to set up the right kind of atmosphere in your car, as you learn to combat the growing pressures of driving in Dubai.

Good luck!

Key points: Safe drive

Dubai's traffic congestion and high accident rate is predictable.
Constant pressure on the road leads to harmful stress for drivers.
Be Sure, Accepting, Focused and Ego-free.

- The writer is a BBC broadcaster and motivational speaker, with 20 years' experience as CEO of Carole Spiers Group, an international stress consultancy based in London.

Special number plate to be exhibited at Abu Dhabi private motor show

Special number plate to be exhibited at Abu Dhabi private motor show
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS

Abu Dhabi: Vehicle plate number 1, which is expected to set a record as the most expensive, will be exhibited at an exclusive private motor show next week, an official told Gulf News.

The world's top 30 most luxurious supercars will be displayed at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace from February 2-4, and it will be best venue to showcase the prestigious number plate, said Abdullah Mattar, Managing Director of Emirates Auction, which jointly organises the number plate auction with Abu Dhabi Police.

The exclusive automotive event held under the patronage of Shaikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will present the latest trends and inventions.

Plate "1" is expected to set a new Guinness world record for the most expensive plate when it goes under the hammer at the 'Emirates Golden Auction' on February 16, 2008 at 4 pm in Abu Dhabi.

Big expectations

It is only the third single-digit number plate to go on sale in Abu Dhabi, Mattar said, adding that Emirates Auction already holds the records for the six most expensive plates worldwide, followed by a Hong Kong plate in seventh place.

Plates "5" and "7" sold for Dh25.2 million and Dh11 million respectively. Both were snapped up by Abu Dhabi businessman Talal Ali Mohammad Khouri.

The expectations for Plate "1" are sky high," Mattar said.

Raga Ratnam Junior - Jugal Bandhi Round

Raga Ratnam Junior is about to enter one of the most demanding aspects of this exciting competition. Scheduled for the next rounds will be what might be phrased as hard core Carnatic music. Within these upcoming rounds we will discover who the “pancharatnam” -the five diamonds- will be. If you have ever thought that Carnatic music was just for the older generation, these youngsters will change your mind in a heart beat.

Amrita TV is steadfastly pushing the envelope in its effort to find, nurture and develop talent in all fields of creativity and human interest. Raga Ratnam Junior exemplifies this effort by showcasing Carnatic musicians in the 10-15 years young age group. This programme is a first ever in the history of Malayalam televison.

From the original 15 we still have 9 talented performers left. But the competition is heating up. Watching the show is bound to expand the viewers knowledge of this unique music form by placing all us under the tutelage of veteran music maestros, V.Dakshinamurthy , K.L.Sreeram,Binni and Krishnakumar.

Raga Ratnam Junior is a perfect example of the channels commitment of providing exciting entertainment without compromising its commitment of honoring the values inherent in Malayalam culture. And its also were the action is!

Amal Shaju Jose

Akhil Krishnan

Arjun B Krishna



Shilpa Murali

More to come, please continue to visit this section

Monday, January 28, 2008

Photo Speaks - Keeping clean

We all think our job is too difficult and only we have many problems in work and life. Just have a look at these workers who are keeping the mall neat and clean. And what about them? What do they say? And to whom?

Auto Riksha's in Dubai

Come on and enjoy a ride for this DSF. Special discount for all Team 1 Dubai readers.

Plan for your child's future

Plan for your child's future

27 Jan, 2008, 0050 hrs IST,SRIKALA BHASHYAM, TNN

When it comes to children, parents turn generous. In most cases, asset allocation is not an issue as every parent makes it a point to set aside a corpus for the child's future.

A few years ago, the parents of girl children made a conscious effort to get into the saving mood as the corpus for the marriage was considered a long-term goal. Today, planning for the child's future has taken a different meaning as parents are increasingly setting aside money for their child's education.

With the cost of education expenses galloping at a faster pace, it has become a necessity for parents to think of a savings plan for their children at the earliest.

Earlier the better. This is one dictum which holds well whether you think of retirement planning or investing for children. Needless to add, the more period you have on hand, bigger can the corpus get. Ideally, think of saving for the child immediately after birth simply because you will be faced with huge expenses at regular intervals.

Experience has shown that those who get into the saving mood at a child's birth end up as more disciplined parents. Also, it helps them to start with a small sum.

Those looking at funding a children's education through investments need to look at the cost in a staggered way.

The education cost for a parent can be divided into 3-4 phases. It first comes when the child is around 3-4 years old and is ready for schooling. Investment for this is possible only when a parent starts saving even before the child completes one year.

The next big bill arrives when the child is 18 and is ready for an entry into professional education. After a gap of three years, parents in most cases, have to prepare for an investment which depends on various other factors such as choice of educational course, location etc.

While setting aside a portion of earnings on a monthly basis is one of the options, it is definitely not an efficient method as savings bank offers a paltry interest of 3.5 per cent, and is well below the rate of inflation. Hence, one needs to look at different products.

The most popular option for children's education has been insurance but it need not be the only option. The advantage with insurance is that it offers protection to the child even in the event of the death of the parent.

Since insurance companies allow investment options through their unit-linked plans, it offers the added advantage of cover and investment. In fact, it may not be a bad idea for every parent to look at the option of a child insurance plan at an early age.

While insurance can be a long-term option, mutual funds too offer the advantage of long-term capital appreciation for parents. One of the best options would be the systematic investment plan (SIP) in equity funds as they allow investment growth over the long term. The choice of fund could be a combination of aggressive and diversified funds with a time horizon of 10-15 years.

Mutual funds also offer dedicated children's products which also carry a lower entry load. The fact that the parent cannot withdraw these plans before the child's age of 18, allows them to build a corpus over the long term.

Indian students flock to China

Indian students flock to China

M.R. Narayan Swamy, IANS

China is becoming a higher education hub for Indian students. More and more young men and women from India are braving the bone-chilling temperatures as well as language and food hassles to study in Chinese universities.

Diplomats say that easy admission systems, affordable fees and high standards of facilities are the chief attractions for Indian students, who now number more than 6,000 all over China.

The dominant choice of Indians is medicine. Chinese language also draws many. Clearly, Indian students are enjoying it in China.

"My (Chinese) teachers and fellow students have been very welcoming," said Jyoti Bhattacharya, 23, from New Delhi who studies at the Beijing Language and Culture University.

Bhattacharya admitted that she was very apprehensive when she arrived in September 2007.

"But it has been a very smooth journey, very helpful," Bhattacharya told IANS. "We have been treated very well.

"While I could have studied Chinese even in India, the exposure there was not good. Here you are speaking and hearing the language all the time. It makes a big difference. And I want to make a career."

Added Ravi Ranjan, who teaches Indian literature and culture and also Hindi language at Peking University: "This is a good place for students from India interested in Chinese studies. Chinese universities are good when it comes to science and technology too."

The Tianjin Medical University, located in a port city that can be reached in 90 minutes, has 400 Indian students on its rolls studying medicine. According to its International Exchange Department, the number of applications from India exceeds the available places.

According to Indians, the average tuition fee in a Chinese medical university is $2,000-$3,000. Another $1,000 is needed for board and lodging. This is a fourth of what one would spend in India.

Indian students scoring 70 percent marks and above in their own universities are the most sought after. But Indians returning home are expected to pass the Indian Medical Council test.

According to Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao, Indian students find China "cheaper possibly than any other country" when it comes to education.

"Chinese institutions of learning have also been very active in promoting themselves in India," she said in an interview at her office.

Ranjan, 46, from Hyderabad, said that many of the Indians learning medicine in China were sons or daughters of doctors who failed to enter Indian medical institutions. "Also, it is not very expensive here," he added.

But communication can be a daunting problem for students who know no Chinese - Putong Hua, the dominant language, or Mandarin. Although many teachers and students speak English, that language is hardly understood on the streets.

Where possible, Indian students living away from their homes provide comfort to one another. When they go sightseeing, Indians go in groups. The safety in and outside homes in China is widely appreciated.

The one area of concern for most Indians is cuisine.

Bhattacharya, who is on a 10-month language course, admitted: "I am missing my family in Delhi. And frankly, I am very much missing Indian food."

In the circumstances, any Indian student who has culinary skills or has a relative or friend willing to serve Indian food to hungry young women and men is arguably the most popular in the community.

Pirates bring Ambani book out of closet

Pirates bring Ambani book out of closet
Ten years after it was effectively banned in India, photocopied versions of Hamish McDonald's book The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani are now being sold freely on the city's pavements and traffic signals for an astonishingly wide range of prices - Rs 100 to Rs 1,600. The unauthorised biography is said to be selling by the dozens.

The timing of its appearance is curious. Hawkers said they first got the book on January 13 and 14 — a couple of days before the IPO of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power Ltd opened for subscription.

Representatives of both Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited and his estranged brother's Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group declined to comment on the underground sales.

Sanatan, a hawker selling the title for Rs 400 in Fort, had a unique marketing line. “The makers of Guru (the Bollywood film loosely based on Dhirubhai Ambani’s life) used 25 per cent of this book to make their film. The other 75 per cent that is in here was too controversial to show.” Sanatan is perhaps correct.

The book mentions how every year Dhirubhai played an April Fool’s Joke on an elderly employee, and also describes the arrest of Kirti Ambani, a general manager at Reliance, on charges of conspiring to murder Reliance rival Nusli Wadia.

On the phone, Australian author McDonald sounded bemused: “I wonder why it has suddenly appeared, 10 years after it was published. I am not even making any money out of this.”

In 1998, before the book could make it to Indian stands, the Ambanis had moved the Delhi and Ahmedabad High Courts, asking for injunctions against the book’s release on grounds of “anticipatory defamation.”

The Delhi High Court passed a verdict in favour of the Ambanis, halting the release of the book. The rights for the book’s Indian edition had then been sold to Harper Collins, which had numerous printed but unbound copies of the book in their warehouse. “After the Delhi stay order against the book, the Ambanis said they would get more such [court] orders from other states, and had threatened to sue,” said Renuka Chatterjee, who was heading Harper at the time. “Harper then decided to withdraw the book.”

McDonald recalled feeling gravely disappointed at the time. “Let a book be published and then be sued,” he said. “It getting blocked even before it can hit the stands is a serious infringement on the right to free speech.”

The Australian, though, is not one to be cowed down. “I have been keeping up-to-date with the actions of the two brothers and am thinking of an update,” he said. “I wish I find a publisher who is brave enough to publish the book in India.”

Abu Dhabi's oldest hospital on its last legs

The Central Hospital is part of the Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre and was the only hospital in Abu Dhabi till Al Jazeera Hospital was set up by the mid-70s.

Abu Dhabi's oldest hospital on its last legs
By Dina El Shammaa, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 28, 2008, 00:11

Abu Dhabi: Central Hospital, the oldest hospital in Abu Dhabi, is slated to be demolished by the end of next week.

The 40-year-old hospital located near Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre (SKMC), was the only hospital in Abu Dhabi till Al Jazeera Hospital was set up by the mid-70s, said the management of SKMC.

Two crucial sections at Central Hospital - the Urgent Care section and the Renal Unit Dialysis (RUD) - are being transferred.

The Urgent Care section is scheduled to be transferred to the new Khalidiya Urgent Care Centre (KUCC) at SKMC, which will service patients the same day the Central Hospital is closed.

The urgent case section is meant to relieve the ER section at SKMC which receives a large number of patients suffering from accidents, heart attack, renal-related cases and others. The ER section has 28 beds in the surgical ward with 10 beds at the Children's Accident Section. Seven new beds are to be added, to increase the current bed capacity to 45 for adults and children.

During the first ten months of last year, the ER ward treated 72,091 patients, including 24,368 children.

The KUCC will have 20 doctors specialised in emergency related cases, 43 nurses and 59 technicians, with a total of 19 rooms.

The second department to be transferred, the Renal Unit Dialysis (RUD), will be re-located in the medical pavilion, formally known as Al Jazeera Hospital.

The RUD will continue treating non-Emiratis. The section will have 17 new dialysis machines. Five more machines are to be added soon.

Healthcare: SKMC employs 4,600

* Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre (SKMC) consists of a 550-bed Acute Care Hospital, a 120-bed Behaviour Sciences Pavilion, an 88-bed Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre, 10 primary healthcare centres, and more than 12 specialised outpatient clinics. SKMC employs about 4,600 caregivers and administrators from 62 nationalities.
* The various sections at the SKMC are Shaikh Khalifa Surgical Pavilion; Shaikh Khalifa Medical Pavilion; Outpatient Specialty Clinics; Primary healthcare (PHC) facilities; Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre; Abu Dhabi Blood Bank and Diabetes Centre.

Urgent Care patients include less life-threatening cases that need not be admitted to the Emergency Room ward (ER).

One killed and another injured in horrific car crash

One killed and another injured in horrific car crash By Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Last updated: January 27, 2008, 21:32

Dubai: A man was killed and another injured after a car overturned on Emirates Road on Sunday.

The victim, who was said to be speeding during poor weather conditions, lost control over the car. The vehicle flipped over, swerved and hit a signboard on the right side of the road.

The driver was killed on the spot while a passenger was injured and was taken to Rashid Hospital. The accident took place on Emirates Road near the bridge that leads to Al Ain.

Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Police's Traffic Department, called on motorists to be more cautious during bad weather conditions, including rain.

Speeding may cause the vehicle to skid and the driver may lose control.

He said the chances of road accidents increase during rain, storm and fog and motorists should abide by safe driving guidelines during low visibility.

Brigadier Al Zafein said five per cent of all accidents occur during foggy or rainy weather.

He called for extra caution on main roads such as Shaikh Zayed Road, Emirates Ring Road and the Dubai-Al Ain Road.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Market crash: A quick guide for young investors

Market crash: A quick guide for young investors

rediff Get Ahead Bureau

If you are young and restless and into the stock markets then this is for you.

For the Indian stock markets are caught in a whirlwind and you might need a straw to hold on to something. Some words of wisdom, some nuggets that may help you to relax, howsoever often you may have heard them before.

Waking up this morning would you have imagined the 30-stock benchmark index, the Sensex, would crash by more than 1,500 points after noon?

The US markets seemed a bit stable with the Dow Jones down by about 0.5 per cent. The Indian stocks too had been on a downslide since January 15. However, the shock and awe that the Sensex witnessed today must have made a few of the weak-hearted amongst you stop and take heed.

Weak-hearted we all are but if you also have some patience -- considering your age -- here's what you should keep in mind to weather stock market turbulences.

1. Start nibbling in

If you believe in India's growth story every steep fall should be seen as a buying opportunity. If you haven't yet entered the market but want to then tighten your belts. Market crash like the one today is an ideal time to buy. However, since these are very tumultuous times don't put all your eggs in one basket.

That is, if you have Rs 100 to invest then put only Rs 25 or even less during such crashes. If you have heart for some risk then put Rs 25 out of that Rs 100 today and keep the rest for later. However, do this only if you are willing to stake your money for at least five-seven years. The long-term stock market story in India still looks positive.

2. Don't panic

If you are already invested in the market and are sitting on huge losses, don't panic. The macro economic story in India led by the consumption, infrastructure and engineering sectors still have chances to remain insulated from what's happening in the US markets. This because many believe that the US recession is responsible for the current weakness across global markets.

If the US can't buy our goods, no problem. India and Indians have the purchasing capacity believe some experts, who say that the US recession will not have a huge impact on the Indian growth story.

Moreover, India's demographics, skewed heavily in favour of the young, will help India overcome external pressures in the long run. Young Indians like you are spending more on their daily needs thereby increasing the consumption demand.

So if you are a brave heart and believe that there are bound to be minor hiccups along the way this is your time. Add more and good quality stocks to your portfolio.

3. Avoid averaging

If you are a short-term trader and think that you can buy more of the same stocks to average your buying price then you may be in for a rough ride. Nobody knows for sure about which direction the markets will take in the weeks ahead.

Any bad news coming from global giants like the US, Europe and China can only have multiplier effects. If the markets were to tank further your losses are likely to increase manifold. So book your losses and get out of the market.

However, if you want to invest with a long-term perspective start nibbling in on good quality stocks.

4. Don't go by tips

If you are young and eager to make money then you are an ideal target for those who give stock tips. They will start flying thick and fast from tomorrow. Or may have started doing rounds even today for all we know. Some of your friends will ask you to buy stocks; some other will advise you to sell them.

Agreed you will find a lot many stocks at prices far lower than what they were a fortnight ago. Check for their credentials. For this is the time when gullible investors go for the bait thrown by stock market manipulators. Don't buy any stock merely because a broker or a market punter advised you to.

Similarly, there will be a host of technical advisors jostling for your attention. "This particular stock looks weak on the charts. Traders can make some profits by selling them now and buying the same at lower levels with strict stop losses." Shun the thought. For you never know when the markets will bounce back.

Bottom line: don't trade on tips. Better still don't trade at all. Go for long-term investments. For the time being forget what Lord Maynard Keynes said: "In the long-term we are all dead."

God knows what will happen in the long-term but in the current scenario if you were to act on tips then you will only be responsible for your own ruin.

5. Mutual funds are your best friends

In such times let experts manage your money if you find stock markets to be a hot potato. Put your money in mutual funds for the mutual fund manager is a market expert and is assisted by a big team of market specialists. A decision made by a team of experts will help you make far greater profits than what you will try to do on your own.

The stock market hammering of the last few days should be taken as an opportunity to buy into good diversified equity funds. For, they put their money into the markets irrespective of any sector, theme, or market cap limitation.

When the markets will bounce back they will have a far higher chance of appreciating faster than any other type of mutual funds.

6. Don't try to time the markets

As an individual you are in no way going to buy when the market falls and sell when the market rises. Believe in investing money into stocks or mutual funds' systematic investment plans, SIPs, regularly. This is the only key to avoid getting ruined in the stock markets.

The stock market crashes -- like the one witnessed today -- get evened out by long-term gains. For instance, those who had been regularly investing from the time markets crashed steeply during the May 2006 crash would not feel bothered about the crash today.

The market had crashed to some 12,000 points then from about 16,000 levels in just a month's time. Today even after the crash the market was trading at 17,000 plus levels.

Remember that age is on your side. If you are in your early, mid or late twenties then this is the right time for you to put your money in stock markets. Historically, stock market gains have outweighed gains from other asset classes over 10-year, 15-year and 20-year time horizons.

Who knows, by the time you are in your 40s or 50s, twenty years from this day, you might look back at this crash as your first stepping stone towards building wealth for yourself and your family.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Barjeel Geojit opens online mutual funds trading platform for NRIs

Barjeel Geojit opens online mutual funds trading platform for NRIs By Babu Das Augustine, Banking Editor GULF NEWS Published: January 25, 2008, 00:04

Dubai: Barjeel Geojit Securities, a UAE-based brokerage and financial services provider has launched Mutual Funds Online, a new web-based trading platform of Indian mutual funds for non-resident Indian (NRI) investors from the UAE.

"We are the first independent financial intermediary to launch such a service, designed to make the investment process paperless, hassle free and seamless," said Krishnan Ramachandran, CEO of Barjeel Geojit Securities.

Barjeel Geojit Securities, a partnership between Indian brokerage company, Geojit Financial Services, and Al Saud Group of Sharjah were the first financial services firm in the UAE to offer direct brokerage investment services to the NRI community in the UAE.


The company has five offices and plans to open two more - in Al Ain and another in Fujairah - this year. "The NRI community in the UAE is increasingly participating in the Indian capital markets and are taking advantage of the Indian economic growth," said Shaikh Sultan Bin Saud Al Qasimi, chairman of Barjeel Geojit Securities.

Despite the high volatility experienced by the Indian market along with other global markets during the recent weeks, Shaikh Sultan said, the Indian growth story is built of solid fundamentals and Investors should have longer term outlook.

Along with the online services, Barjeel Geojit will offer investment advisory services on Indian mutual funds and capital markets.

"Although the number of NRI investors in Indian markets has increased significantly, many have missed the opportunity. The recent market corrections offers them the chance to enter the market at attractive prices," said KV Shamsudin, director of Barjeel Geojit.

Chairman of the Association of Mutual Funds of India, A.P. Kurian, said: "Mutual funds are emerging as one of the best investment options. Even those funds which give a small return perform better than other investment alternatives for NRIs."

More informations can be obtained by logging on to:
or on phone:
Abu Dhabi : +9712 6441555
Dubai: + 9714 3555900
Sharjah: + 9716 5732555
Ras Al Khaimah: + 9717 2277468
Oman: +968 9232067

or in India: Geojit
Phone: = 91 484 2445501

Beat poet

Beat poet
Staff Report GULF NEWS Published: January 24, 2008, 00:06

Tabla legend Zakir Hussain is sure to enthrall you as he matches beats with other renowned artistes on February 1.

Get set for the ultimate fusion concert, headlined by renowned percussionist Zakir Hussain. A classical tabla virtuoso, his consistently brilliant and exciting performances have not only established him as a national treasure in India, but gained him worldwide fame.

The favourite accompanist for many of India's greatest classical musicians and dancers, from Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar to Birju Maharaj and Shivkumar Sharma, he has not let his genius rest there. His playing is marked by uncanny intuition and masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study.

Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Zakir's contribution to world music has been unique, with many historic collaborations including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music, Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, and recordings and performances with artistes as diverse as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison and the New Orleans Symphony orchestra.

This time around in Dubai, he will be joined by Vinni Colaiuta (The lead drummer for Sting); banjo player Bela Fleck; bassist Edgar Meyer; U. Srinivas (The first exponent of the electric mandolin in India); V. Selva Ganesh (The Kanjira maestro); Niladari Kumar (The finest young sitar virtuoso today) and Taufiq Qureshi ( a percussionist and folk drummers from Rajasthan).

With Zakir's fingers creating superb music and Viinie Colaiuta's impeccable strokes, rhythm is going to hit new highs.

Date: February 1
Venue: Tennis Stadium, Aviation Club
Tickets: Dh1,000 (Paradise); Dh700 (Tranquility); Dh400 (Serenity); Dh300; Dh200 and Dh100
Time: 7pm (Show begins at 8pm)
Contact: 050 4216250 or

Let's play the game, not politics

Let's play the game, not politics
20 Jan 2008, 0414 hrs IST,Shashi Tharoor

It is dangerous to act as if the undoubted financial weight of India in world cricket entitles us to our own set of rules. Despite the witty private comment to me of a senior BCCI official - "why shouldn't we now behave in the ICC as the US has always behaved in the WTO?" - we should not destroy world cricket over a misplaced sense of national pride. Racism is as abhorrent when a bunch of under-educated young Indians in our stadiums make monkey-like gestures as Symonds comes out to bat, as it was when Mike Procter walked routinely into a dressing-room from which coloured players were barred.

With the Perth Test underway as I write, the news that the Harbhajan case is on hold till the end of the month, when his (and India's) appeal against his three-Test ban for alleged racial abuse will be heard, offers a brief respite in which to consider some of the broader issues that have emerged from the recent cricket fracas in Australia.

The cricketing aspects of the controversy are clear enough. India suffered from umpiring that was incompetent and quite conceivably biased, and it was right to make it clear that Steve Bucknor no longer enjoyed the confidence of the touring team. What appears to have been overlooked, though, is the question of why the BCCI did not object to Mr Bucknor's standing well before the series even began. This is hardly the first time the egregious gentleman has erred against Indian players, denied reasonable appeals, and refused to take recourse to available technology which in multiple cases would have vindicated the Indian side. Indeed I can hardly recall a Test match involving India in which Mr Bucknor has stood in the last decade which was not replete with such incidents: Tendulkar has been a repeated victim. Could the BCCI not, with all appropriate discretion, have privately indicated that Mr Bucknor was not welcome to stand in matches involving India, well before he was appointed (yet again) for a series? Did we have to wait for him to cost us a Test match before we finally declared that enough was enough?

Again, was there nothing that could have been done about the Harbhajan crisis before the dung hit the fan? Australia is the world capital of sledging in sports; the very tactic was invented by them. Australian cricketers pride themselves on their mental toughness and believe other teams are deficient in this attribute; they therefore resort to unpleasant comments, usually involving references to the opposing players' mothers, sisters or wives, in an effort to disturb the opponents' concentration and distract them into making errors. The approach involves crude psychology, and while it is rarely witty ("how's your wife and my kids?" is how an Australian slip fielder once greeted a homesick English batsman arriving at the crease), it is often effective: angry players make rash mistakes. Does the BCCI provide anti-sledging counselling to our players, training them to ignore such provocations and instructing them not to offer any of their own? Was any special attention paid to the hotter-headed amongst our team members, a category into which Harbhajan clearly falls? Would a cooler head have tapped Brett Lee on the posterior with a bat, thereby prompting Andrew Symonds to unleash the diatribe that in turn allegedly provoked Harbhajan's punishable response? Cooler heads are not just born, they can be made; but there is little evidence that our team management thought that counselling on such on-field matters was likely to be as important as net practice.

Once the complaint was lodged, how hard did we work to get it withdrawn before it came to a hearing? It is not clear that we did; instead of Kumble speaking to the insolent Ponting when the latter said it was already too late, could a higher-level approach to Cricket Australia, pointing to the likely consequences for the tour if this matter got out of hand, have prevented matters coming to a head? The nationwide outrage at the three-Test ban that followed caught our administrators by surprise. But was it wise to imply that the very charge was unacceptable? (Indians are hardly incapable of racism, despite the country's long and honourable record of opposition to South African apartheid, a system within which Mike Procter played and flourished before discovering its evils in Sydney.)

Once we have lodged an appeal, though, we have every obligation, as a responsible and law-abiding country, to honour its findings. To imply that we would reject any guilty verdict as a slight to our national honour is to undermine the very process in which we have engaged. Once again, the best thing would be to see if the complaint can be withdrawn and the proceedings quashed. But if that is now legally impossible, we have no choice but to present our best arguments to the appeals judge — a professional who, unlike Procter, actually understands the rules of evidence and the meaning of the phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt" — and then to accept his verdict in good grace, whatever it is.

If the judge finds that Harbhajan did say what the Australians accuse him of saying, and that the intent was to disparage Symonds' racial origins, then we must accept the punishment he imposes, without further cavil. It is dangerous to act as if the undoubted financial weight of India in world cricket entitles us to our own set of rules.

Despite the witty private comment to me of a senior BCCI official — "why shouldn't we now behave in the ICC as the US has always behaved in the WTO?" — we should not destroy world cricket over a misplaced sense of national pride. Racism is as abhorrent when a bunch of under-educated young Indians in our stadiums make monkey-like gestures as Symonds comes out to bat, as it was when Mike Procter walked routinely into a dressing-room from which coloured players were barred.

Yet one area in which India should definitely use its financial clout is in denying the benefits of Indian corporate sponsorship to players who have violated the spirit of the game. After the appalling behaviour of young Michael Clarke in Sydney, I wouldn't trust him to tell me the time of day, let alone buy a product he endorses. It seems to me entirely reasonable that Indian companies should rethink the value of associating with such behaviour. If Australian cricketers want to win at all costs, let them realize that there will be costs — to them. But let us always, whatever the provocation, play the game.

Mind Speaks - Cartoon Corner

Can't focus on work? Hire a mind trainer

Can't focus on work? Hire a mind trainer
20 Jan 2008, 0329 hrs IST,Amrita Singh,TNN
January is usually the time for resolutions. But if you find yourself breaking them as you slip into February, don't lose heart. Try hiring a mind trainer. That's someone who would help you understand your emotions and show why you haven't been able to keep your promises. Mind trainers work on making your brain more fit so you are better equipped to excel in life and face various situations with a collected mind.

However, it's not as easy as it sounds. Training the mind involves an understanding of how your mind works, visualisation techniques and exercises for the brain — popularly called brain gym.

There are people who swear by its effectiveness. Indian cricket coach Gary Kirsten has requested the BCCI for a mental conditioning coach for the team and even recommended his own mind coach Paddy Upton for the job. Kirsten apparently believes Upton was instrumental in shaping his career by making him understand and deal with his emotions while batting.

But it's not just Team India who is getting a mental coach. As urban Indians are feeling the stress of a more competitive life, even young professionals, students and sportspersons are hiring a mind trainer to help them excel.

In the last two years, several mind training institutes like Brainobrain, Mindtrainers and Mind Gym have come up in the country. At the Delhi Police Public School's brain gym center, students are encouraged to try out exercises that help them keep their mind strong and agile. Chennai-based SIP Academy, that uses brain exercises to make children learn faster, has grown at more than 60% annually and has over 300 branches in India now. Even individual mind trainers have never had it better. N Renuka, a mind trainer based in Hyderabad, has interacted with over 150 clients in the last two years.

The current interest in mind training focusses on enhancing performance. "Broadly, all the mind trainers, irrespective of the technique they use, work on making the brain cognitively fit," says Pawan Choudhary, mind coach and author of the book When you are sinking, become a submarine. Among the most popular options for mind training is the brain gym. Sareylom Poole, one of the two instructors approved for India by the US-based Braingym International Foundation, says, "Brain exercises could help just about anyone, whether you are wanting to lose weight or learn faster or improve sales."

"Brain gym exercises increase the flow of energy between the right and left brain, which in turn increases alertness, concentration, focus and other brain functions," says Dinesh Victor, a master trainer who also happens to be cricketer Sreesanth's coach.

To start with, a private session with a gym instructor is recommended, which typically lasts one-two hours and focusses on a specific goal like increasing creativity, imagination, focus etc. At the end of the session, says Sareylom, one typically experiences what is termed as a 'balance', which means that the process of learning is complete.

Though the concept of a mind coach has been there for centuries (in the Mahabharata, for instance, Krishna turned into a mind coach for Arjun, while Napoleon is said to have employed the services of Indian hypnotist Abbe Faria, who even accompanied him to several battlefields, including the wars against Italy and England), mind training in the country is at a very nascent stage. Which is why, before you settle on a mind coach for yourself, ask for past experience and proof and only then, enroll for a mind training session.

Chocolate is injurious to bones

Chocolate is injurious to bones
25 Jan 2008, 1109 hrs IST,PTI

NEW YORK: Chocolate, the most widely and frequently craved food, may be good for your heart. But, if a study is to be believed, its regular consumption could weaken your bones and raise the risk of suffering a fracture.

A team of researchers has carried out the study and found that people who eat chocolates daily are likely to have less dense and weak bones, which in turn could increase the risk of health problems such as osteoporosis and fracture.

"Cocoa and chocolate have been promoted as having a range of beneficial cardiovascular properties. But the effect of chocolate intake on other organ systems has not been studied," according to lead researcher Jonathan Hodgson of the University of Western Australia.

In fact, according to him, though chocolate contains flavones and calcium, both linked to having a positive effect on bone density, it also contains oxalate an inhibitor of calcium absorption and sugar, linked to calcium excretion.

The team came to the conclusion after analyzing the effect of chocolates on a group of 1,000 women aged between 70 and 85, who were randomly assigned either calcium supplements or a matched placebo for a period of several weeks.

During this period, the participants were also asked to keep a dairy of how often they consumed chocolate.

Metro man gets public service vote

Metro man gets public service vote

HT Correspondent New Delhi, January 25, 2008

Anybody who can bring order to a mad city like Delhi deserves the highest award in the world. Delhiites are monumentally unruly on road, and famously callous with public property. They love to scribble graffiti on monuments, rip open bus seat covers, etch romantic messages (for God knows who) on trees and, worse, of it all, relieve themselves whenever it becomes unbearable.

Next time you ride the metro, look for all the familiar signs associated with Delhiites. You won’t find many. People are magically behaving themselves – it’s hard to believe but it’s true.

And making all this happen is, of course, the Metro chief E Sreedharan. And the best part is, he is known more for the other things that he has brought to the city – a good and efficient public transport. Sreedharan is changing Delhi, its geography and its attitude. He is the choice of voters and the jury of the Indian of Year award — instituted by CNN-IBN in partnership with the Hindustan Times – from the category of people in public service.

Former police officer Kiran Bedi, who has a long and eventful association with Delhi, says this for Sreedharan: “What he has done for his country and at his age (70 years) is remarkable. People think it’s time to retire and live in the past but he has given the metro concept to this country with commitment, integrity, vision and remarkable professionalism…”

The metro chief fought off competition for the slot from Bangalore surgeon Dr Sharan Patil, HIV campaigner Kousalya, Sushma Iyengar of the Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, Patna teachers Abhay anand and Anand Kumar and Dr Oscar Rebello of the Goa Bachao Abhiyan.

Sreedharan now joins finance minister P Chidambaram, SBI chairman O P Bhatt, Chak de director Shimit Amin and scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni and chess champion Vishwanathan Anand as category winners in the fray for the Indian of the Year. These nominees have been elected/selected by votes sent through SMS or online and a jury comprising six eminent Indians – lawyer Soli Sorabjee (he is the chairman of the jury), HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, actor Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair, Hindustan Times Media Limited vice-chairperson and editorial director Shobhana Bhartia, billiards champion Geet Sethi, Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani and former police officer Kiran Bedi.

The Indian of the Year will be declared on January 29.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

'Fight with spouse & live longer'

'Fight with spouse & live longer'
24 Jan 2008, 0038 hrs IST,REUTERS

NEW YORK: Fighting with your spouse can actually be good for your health with people who bottle it all up found to die earlier, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and its psychology department released preliminary findings after 17 years of following 192 couples.

The couples fell into four categories: where both partners expressed anger when they felt unfairly attacked, where neither partner expressed their anger, and one category each for where the wife suppressed her feelings and where the husband did so.

"I would say that if you don't express your feelings to your partner and tell them what the problem is when you're unfairly attacked, then you're in trouble," said Ernest Harburg, lead author of the study, in an interview.

The study found that those who kept their anger in were twice as likely to die earlier than those who don't.

There were 13 deaths in the group of 26 pairs where both partners suppressed their emotions, as opposed to only 41 deaths in the remaining 166 pairs. "When couples get together, one of their main jobs is reconciliation about conflict," Harburg said.

"Usually nobody is trained to do this. If they have good parents, they can imitate, that's fine, but usually the couple is ignorant about the process of resolving conflict."

Harburg said resentment was the real threat - and suppressing anger led to resentment.

He said it is the resentment that interacts with any medical vulnerabilities, a person might have, increasing their chances of succumbing to that medical problem.

"It's healthy to recognise that you're being attacked unfairly and it's even more healthy to speak up and to talk about it and try to resolve the problem if you want to live longer," said Harburg.

This study comes within a week of a survey that said that it is the price of divorce that is holding many couples together.

In a survey of married men and women in Britain, the majority of wives - 59% - said they would divorce immediately if their future economic security was assured.

Among both sexes, more than one in ten wished they had married someone else. The survey found than half of husbands thought their marriage was "loveless". Relationship experts in the United Kingdom have warned couples to avoid getting stuck in a rut - or risk the trauma of divorce.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coping with high EMIs

Coping with high EMIs
Ramganesh Iyer for Express Money Posted online: Monday , January 21, 2008 at 1339 IST

If you took a home loan at rates prevailing in 2005 (around 7.5 per cent), you must be feeling the heat now. If you had borrowed Rs 20 lakh for 20 years, your EMI would have increased by Rs 3,500 or more. What options do you have today?

Increase tenure. If you are not near retirement, and if your original tenure was less than 20 years, your bank should increase the loan tenure. The other benefit of this is that due to inflation, the real cost of your loan will decrease over the years.

If you have surplus cash, prepay part of your loan. The EMI on remaining principal will remain the same as earlier.

Switch banks. This involves a sizeable transaction cost, besides time and hassle. Your old bank may charge a prepayment penalty, and the new bank, processing and administration fees. Switch banks only if the rate differential is at least 0.5 per cent.

Avoid a bad deal New borrowers should do their groundwork. First, avoid taking on an EMI that is too close to your monthly surplus. Expenses have a tendency to shoot up over the years, while income is more unpredictable. By keeping an adequate buffer, you ensure that interest rate increases do not hurt you.
Scout around for the best deal. PSU banks are slower in processing the application, but usually offer slightly lower interest rates.

Finally, before signing the papers, read the fine-print carefully. Of special importance are the clauses that permit the bank to reset interest rates, and pre-payment related clauses. Change the bank if you find a clause that is not acceptable.

The author is a certified financial planner.

Royal Bath

A temple elephant being given a royal bath, before it is taken out for procession at the festival.

Lessons from January 2008

The thing about life is that one makes mistakes. Many mistakes were made in the second half of 2007 and those sins have to be washed away by blood, such is the way of financial markets. Some participants will go down under and never be able to get back to the market again but most will survive. The pain will linger for many months, maybe years but lessons have to be learnt. Every such debacle has lessons for us and the sooner we forget them the more we suffer.

The first lesson is not to let stock price performance become the sole reason for buying, a mistake which was made in abundance in the last 3 months. What couldn't be explained by fundamentals was credited to liquidity. The present lost all relevance as people chose to focus on the distant future, perhaps simply because the present could never justify those ticker prices; only a hazy dream of the future could. Traders and investors had no time for fundamental analysts, in many cases they were labelled "cribbing fools". Chartists became the most celebrated tribe on the street as only they could see and predict the one way run to glory for many of the hot stocks even as fundamental watchers cringed at valuations....till the music stopped. Don't get me wrong, charts do work in trending markets but once stock prices veer away completely from fundamental value, people need to get careful. But they never are. Now that the blinkers are off, people should ask themselves why stocks like RNRL, Ispat, RPL, Essar oil and Nagarjuna fertilisers have lost 50-70% of their value. It is simply because their stock prices had snapped all connection with underlying business fundamentals, earnings and value. Their stock prices became the only reasons for buying them which works for a while but not forever.

The other big lesson, one which should have been driven in earlier in May 2006, is the danger of overextending oneself in the futures market. The lure of stock futures is easy to understand. Put in some margin, take a big exposure on a fast moving stock, make a killing when prices shoot up. Repeat exercise. Just that people forgot that prices may also come down and at a pace which noone can even imagine, maybe their friendly stockbrokers forgot to tell them that part of the story. The result : unbridled speculation that ran into lakhs of crores, excesses that we are paying for today. Even this fall will not cure investors of their love for futures speculation but if at least some amount of caution is injected it would have been a worthwhile learning. Futures are not toys for amateurs, they are time bombs in the hands of inexpert and inexperienced traders, it's only a matter of when the fuse runs out.

The other learning which I hope will play out in the future, as it has in the past, is that it pays to be brave in times of panic such as these. If I was allowed to invest myself , which I am not, I would have no hesitation in deploying serious money into the market today, knowing fully well that prices may fall more tomorrow. And I would be standing there tomorrow to buy more of the same, till my money ran out. India is going to be a terrific stock market story for many years to come, even an intermediate bearish patch cannot shake that conviction of mine. At best, one will have to wait a bit for the returns to follow. That's alright. You are happy to put money in a bank FD and then wait for one full year to collect that measly 8%, aren't you? Then why does the stock market need to give you 20% every month? In the last one year, I haven't seen so many good stocks trade at such mouth watering levels. Forget trading, avoid the duds which were fuelled up by operators, just go out and buy those bluechips. They will deliver, even if there is a global market meltdown for a while, and if you are a bit patient you will be rewarded. But do remember January 2008, as history will repeat itself again in the future. Just that our memories tend to be too short and our greed too much.

Udayan Mukherjee / MONEYCONTROL