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May. 28th, 2010

(no subject)

That would be the easiest thing to do!
Lavish Weddings Vs People surviving on less than 3meals a day!
World's richest individual vs World's Poorest society
Mahatama Gandhi Vs Naxalites/ Maoists/ terrorists
Peace Vs perpetual state of Civil War
Nobel Laureates Vs Illiteracy and Ignorance
Freedom Vs Fear

Root cause for all these problems for educated people might vary from population to education to poverty, but the thing is that all these issues are so intertwined that it just seems to be a vicious circle of problems. Because of a huge population you have illiteracy. because of lack of education people end up have lots of kids which again ends up in more poverty. Our population might be the biggest liability but its also the biggest asset. A primary reason why we attract so much investment is just because we have a huge population.

Jul. 19th, 2009

(no subject)


The news updates on the bottom of the TV screen show that Dawood Ibrahim’s gang has links to Lashkar-e Toaiba. But wasn’t that obvious. I mean even if Unilever has to penetrate India, they take help of Project Shakti, if they want an unparalleled distribution system in a land they don’t know about, they harness the power ofb localites.

So why does it baffle the Indian media to learn about this revelation? Are we guys kidding? That’s obvious business funda… A jargon called Localization!!!

Jun. 29th, 2009

India After Gandhi- After thoughts Part 1

The author of this post belongs to the generation of Post-Cold War and Post- Economic Liberalization Indians. A generation that has taken independence and fundamental rights for granted. A generation that has seen no dearth of opportunities. A generation that is oblivious not just to the pre-independence era but to post independence years of struggle as well.
We are a part of the most youthful India that the world has ever seen. Thanks to the vision of those who drafted the constitution, thanks to the unflinching faith of those who believed that 500 princely states to come together to form this mystery called India. For political scientists throughout the world, who have tried to research on common factors that lead people to unity have termed India as an outlier (As quoted by Ramchandra Guha in IAG) on any parameter they researched on.

Although I have seen a lot of movies/ documentaries on Pre independence India and read many a text on the same period of history, yet haven't been able to lay my hands on anything that talked about the 'ever after' of they lived happily ever after 15th August 1947'. Having traveled across the country for education, it makes me think, what would have my life been like had Radcliffe's pencil moved slightly towards East while partitioning India. Given the liberal education, I have received and relatively peaceful areas and eras i've stayed in, its difficult for people like me to fathom how can people fight in the name of religion. But then, religion, across the world has been 1 major single reason for disunity and disharmony - From Crusades to Kashmir to Palestine-Israel, religion has been one major reason for bloodshed on an otherwise green and blue planet.

Even India, the most enviable secular nation in the world, has had its share of events that are stigmas to the pride we derive in calling ourselves secular. Its, in fact, ironic to see the various regions of India during the phase when we were still consolidating ourselves after 200 years of slavery. The regions of Punjab and Bengal that saw some of the worst genocides ever in Indian history, have moved on since independence. People after independence (and partition) recollected the remains and resurrected the two regions as Pakistan and Punjab (one of wealthiest Indian states) and Bangladesh and Bengal(along with Bihar and Orissa, one of the most mineral rich regions in the country). Whereas, one part of India, which had shown resilience and solidarity against Communalism is still fighting to give its inhabitants one night of peaceful sleep, one night sans the voice of gun shots. These people who fought together as Kashmiris, and not as Hindus and Muslims or Sikhs, for their freedom against foreign accession are the ones who are suffering the most. Indians feel that it was the gravest mistake on our part on letting this issue being taken to the UN and bring it ino limelight as the biggest political problem.

Reading through one of the rare letters  that Nehru had written (a letter that does not even appear in his own biography but has been found in Vallabhai Patel's notes since a copy was sent to him) offered 4 solutions to the Kashmir issue. Was plesbicite an option? Is it still a fair option? Should the British India have been partitioned in this region as well? Would the history that India (and Pakistan) would have lived through been different? Perhaps Yes. Perhaps the Kashmiri Hindus, that live in palpable conditions of refugee camps, been far more educated and progressive. Perhaps, the muslims households that lost their sons to this call for 'Jehad' would have still laughed at the little pranks that these kids played. Perhaps, the money that India and Pakistan spent on 3 wars and their military budgets could have fed millions of people that sleep empty stomach every day.

Apr. 10th, 2009

Economic Nationalism!!!

ET published last week that some Student loan Org in US 'Sallie Mae' is going to transfer 2000 jobs from India and Phillipines back to US. This is being done to please the Democrats as promised by Obama.The only thing that stuck my mind at that instant was "Economic Nationalism". Had read this term some days back in The Economist. The Mag claimed that in this era of recession and financial crisis, many economies in the Europe and US are closing up. Demonstrations in UK on " British jobs for British people" and practices in some Scandinavian countries where loans are not considered as loans on a Bank's books if given within the country borders. Many economists believe that this would just prolong the crisis. but who cares. Next elections are in 5 years, who cares for results that would come after a decade, so u need to keep the people around happy and content because you are spending theirs( the taxpayers') money!!

But whom is it gonna help? Closing of economies!!! Till a year back, all the developed economies used to force the third world countries to open up their economies to foreign goods through WTO and UN. And today, when they are in a soup, this is their path to recovery!

Is the world pushing itself into the Dark Ages that Europe was into in the 17th century. Or what India was during the Mughal rule. There is a set of people who believe that the Europeans could win against the Mughals in the battles they had because Mughals never emphasized on buildong a storng navy. They never gave importance to managing international relationships. Same is true for Dark Ages as well. it was the time when Europe was just losing itself ina black hole.

A cliche statement: History reppeats itself might just come true in the years to come!!

Mar. 2nd, 2009

(no subject)

This post comes from the lobbies of the airport for which we researched loads and loads of data while writing paper for Infrastructure Finance in MBA and then as a management research project. It is amazing how life is in the IT capital of India. Morning when I go for a workout at 6AM the city is waking up to a day full of codes and programs and while returning around 7, there I see numerous young minds standing waiting for the buses to take them to the 'Electornics City'. Till sometime back despite being in Bangalore I was not used to this culture because my work profile is related to business and there are hardly any SW engineers I interact with, but when I see these people I wonder, may be I would have shared a similar fate had I not done an MBA and shifted to finance. Who knows how life would have looked in such a case.

Today mornings journey to the airport has been special. While waiting for a bus to the airport I saw a blind man being helped by a lame guy to cross the road. Off late I have been observing a lot of blind people in Bangalore on the roads. its good to see that people with disabilities also have opprtunities in this city which seems to exist in a computer program. But tjis pair was special. Each of them would have shared that feeling of not being able to lead a normal life as most people around them too. Only when they had crossed the road did I realize that the lame guy was a beggar. Now this is unusual- a guy who would probably not knowing where is he going to get his next meal, has the courtesy to help a blind person cross the road. And we guys, highly educated professionals are running after what in life i don't understand!.
I seem to be a part of the rat race called profession and career. Most of us, who are supposedly in good positions in prestigious MNCs are just earning bucks, eating food and living a comfortable life, away from its harsh realities. We just hope that this illusion does not braek some day. B
Time to go.. to be continued..

Jan. 16th, 2009

Am I not normal?

 Orkut Updates - XYZee has updated his album titled Mrriage/ Album/Honeymmon/kids!! What is wrong? With me or the world.. Just dunno

The whole world is happily getting married and then there is me.. Who wants this freedom of being single to last forever. May be its the energy and intoxication of youth. But then every1 as old as me (chronologically) is married, or planning to get married and settle down with their lives!! Buty am i shirking this responsibility? Y don't I wanna get married, 4get about marriage, i don't even want to commit myself. I have changed for sure! All that I see ahead of me is my work and my life where I have so many plans- have to grow thin, learn dancing, go on a lot of holidays, make lot of friends.. What i see ahead is LIFE!!
wohh!! the radio also is also [playing '18 till i die'.  how does the stupid radio channel know at 12.30 at midnight, how my heart feels... Signal?? or as Coelho puts it.."when u really want something, the whole universe conspires to get you that" Yaah Yaah I know.. Farah Khan's om Shanti Om has a similar dialogue. So this is what my heart sings tonight..

I wanna be young the rest of my life
never say no - try anything twice
til the angels come and ask me to fly
I'm gonna be 18 til I die - 18 til I die

can't live forever that's wishful thinkin'
who ever said that must of bin' drinkin'
don't wanna grow up I don't see why
I couldn't care less if time flies by

18 til I die - gonna be 18 til I die
it sure feels good to be alive
someday I'll be 18 goin' on 55! - 18 til I die

anyway - I just wanna say
why bother with what happened yesterday
it's not my style I live for the minute
if ya wanna stay young get both feet in it - 18 til I die

a 'lil bit of this - a 'lil bit of that
'lil bit of everything - gotta get on track
it's not how ya look, it's what ya feel inside
I don't care when - I don't need ta know why

18 til I die - gonna be 18 til I die
ya it sure feels good to be alive
someday I'll be 18 goin' on 55! - 18 til I die
ya there's one thing for sure - I'm sure gonna try

don't worry 'bout the future - forget about the past
gonna have a ball - ya we're gonna have a blast
gonna make it last - 18 til I die

Dec. 2nd, 2008


Well, this idea is a direct lift up from the movie 'Serendipity'. A friend writes it for John Cusack trying to write the 'Best Man's' speech. Just wanted to write something good about myself!! I hope this turns out to be modest. And before i begin with mine.. here is another one from the same movie; Greek's did not write obituaries, they jsut asked one question -' Did the guy have passion?'

Megha Malhotra, Financial Analyst working with IBM died last night due to the complications in her life. She was 23 years old. A perpetual kid at heart, obsessive and a romantic at heart, Megha was always seen as a sincere and helpful chap by people around. But in the final days of her life, she was a changed person. Practically single for all purposes, she had started giving up what she had wanted all her life. May be she was losing passion or she had lost hope. It was in these final days of her life, she got acquainted with a few people whom she felt were as confused as she was. Some of them became good friends. Some tried to reveal to her her actual self, what she was some years ago and what she is now. (Someone is gonna laugh with the thought of Who you are and Who you are'). And suddenly she realized how much had she lost in the past few years, trying to reach something that probably she wont ever get!! The whole struggle seemed to be ending in frustartion and utter failure.

But her soul should be resting in peace because she was a happy girl when she demised. She had started laughing at the smallest of instances and typing 'lol' after almost every statement she made on Gtalk chats.

I think she died after finding her true self.

Who is God laughing at today?

December 1st, 2008. 2 days after the massacre at Mubai ended, was this some kind of a sign that God was sending. A crescent moon with 2 stars in the shape of a smiley. Who was the God amused at?

May be me. Coz i think I have gone totally bonkers!! its 1 AM into the night, not had anything since morning, had slept peacefully. But then. it seems my brain is brimming with thoughts and had to vent them out somewhere. So this stupid kid just switched on its TP back and started writing.

Started writing about this beautiful sight that it saw and thought, "Who is God smiling at?' May be me, just to tell me that He is there for me, but then my existence is too trivial for such a thing to happen. I  am glad that it could not be captured with a normal camera, because some things are best left for the memory and human brain to remember. May be something like a shooting star.. its just amazing when u see 1!! May be God wanted to tell me that Go Kid.. live ur lyf, u r too young to be respnsible, too young to take decisions.

Or may be he was just laughing at the whole human race!! The naivity and the ignorance of religion. The paradox is that the same thing that brings us closer to God is ignorant of the fact that God does nt need religion to stay in the heart of those who believe in him. May be he was just amused on seeing people fighting over which is a better religion because he knows when we all die, we go to him and no religion is a passport to escape from the sins that we do on this earth. Was it cosmic power, that made sucha a thing possible? Who knows. May be it just had to happen 2day.

After almost a week of the drama staged by the human race, the God, the audience had to smile. He had to smile just like a parent does when 2 of his kids are playing a game and fighting with each other. because he is the one who sees the larger picture. As Lord Krishna saya in the Bhagwad Gita that the soul cannt be killed, then what is the point of killing people. Why cant just people live and let lve others in peace and harmony. I have failed to understand these things all my life.

Or may he is laughing at the people who resigned in the past 2 days, the home minister, etc etc, may be they were just made a scape goat, just because He can see the whole picture, he is amused at the fact that how complicated mankind has made life for itself. he knows who was responsible for what and who is being punished.

Or may be he is just making fun of the fact, that who is this new junta who has woken up afterthe Mumbai incident. They were never seen in India or there were other lesser mortals who were killed when terrorists attacked. The invincible rish and famous of the cuntry have been attcked... and suddenly there is so much of a hue and cry. May be God is just laughing and telling these people 'Ab aya na mazza' just like some Robin Hood would have done in the jungles of England!!..

Sep. 15th, 2008

Is this the Beginning of the End of an Era?

America has always been proud of its Capitalist economy. But just 1 year and the eonomy has already started to stumble. When last year sub prime crisis was brought to light, who would have thought that it would spread like an epidemic in Wall Street, clutching to death numerous banks and institutions. Banks and Institutions that had survived two world wars, famines and even the Great Depression on 1929. The parasite has eaten the world econlmy so badly that it is bleeding and dying a slow death. No one knows whether it will ever recover from this.

For sure, the Lehman Brothers would have wept in their graves when they learnt that the institution that they began one and a half century ago will be history. The bank will be buried somewhere close to their graves. Four months back, an eminent personality who cam to deliver a lecture at my campus had remarked, Bear Sterns is gone, Lehman is next. Im sure, none of the audience sitting there would have taken seriously. But yes it is true indeed, as on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers is a thing of the past. there was news that mortgage companies such as Fannie Mac had been saved by the Fed, but who would have ever dreamt that Lehman Brothers will file a bankruptcy.
The very thought that you reach office on a morning just to realize that your company has filed bankruptcy sends shivers down my spine. I just can't imagine how the top management of Lehman would have taken this hard decision. How many sleepless nights would they have spent to rest the soul of the Bank.

Its probably impossible to empathize, because its so difficult to kill something that you have nurtutred all your life. The pain is unfathomable.

Jul. 18th, 2008

Article on BIAL in the Hindu Business Line


 New airports off to a flying start


The new airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad are a big leap from the old airports in these two cities. Being the earliest PPP projects in this sector, they incorporate some of the ingredients necessary for the successful implementation of such projects.





Thillai Rajan A.
Balaraman Rajan
Megha Malhotra


History of sorts in civil aviation was made recently in India. The event was the opening of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and the Bangalore International Airport on March 16 and May 24, respectively. In no other country have two large private sector green-field international airports started operations within a span of just 78 days.

In a way, this is a clear signal that India is on the threshold of a new era of private participation in civil aviation. Though Bangalore was the first private sector airport to be conceptualised way back in 1994, Hyderabad edged out Bangalore close to the finishing line, when it became the first private sector commercial airport to start operations in the country.

Towards innovation




It might be surprising to know that green-field private sector airports constitute less than a handful of the 50,000 commercial active airports present globally. Government-owned, contractor-operated arrangement has been the standard for the operation of commercial airports in most countries.


However, with the private sector airlines having as good if not a better safety track record as that of the public sector airlines, there is growing acceptance to involve the private sector. Similarly, with the availability of better technology and regulation to monitor air space and development of exclusive defence airfields, the role of commercial airports in national security has gradually got reduced.

Simultaneously, two other developments can be observed. First, airports have metamorphosed from just destinations of flight operations to hubs of commercial activity. Second, passenger comfort is becoming more important.

Income stream



These two developments are being reflected in the income stream of airports. Broadly, there are two revenue streams for airports: aeronautical revenue and non-aeronautical revenue.

As airports become hubs of commercial activity with a thrust on passenger comfort, non-aeronautical revenues constitute a higher share of the total airport income for major international airports. The targeted revenue share for BIAL significantly differs from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) average and is in line with the international trend.

With the increasing importance to non-aeronautical revenues, it seems but natural that airport ownership and operation will be most suitable for private sector investment, because of its higher efficiencies and service orientation as compared to that of the public sector.

Growing role



With India becoming a focal point in the world economy today and more and more Indians taking to the skies, there has been a buoyancy in air traffic growth in recent years. While the global passenger traffic growth rates were 7.4 per cent in 2007, in India the growth rate was 22 per cent, about three times that of the global average. Projections made by the Bangalore and Hyderabad airports (an average 15 year CAGR growth rate of 8 per cent) indicate that the passenger growth rate in India is expected to be very robust in the coming decade. Investment in new airport capacity is essential to meet the requirements of growth in air traffic.

With reports such as those submitted by the Naresh Chandra Committee, highlighting the low operational efficiencies in the existing Indian airports, the government saw an opportunity to encourage private investment in the sector.

The new airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad are a big leap from the previous airports in these two cities. In the first year of its operations, the passenger handling capacity in the new airports is almost twice that of the older airports, and when the expansion is fully complete, both the airports put together would have the capacity to handle 90 million passengers per annum, about seven times the capacity of the older airports.

In 2007, the total passenger capacity of these two airports was about 82 per cent of the design capacity of all the four airports in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Though both the airports are the earliest public-private partnership (PPP) projects in this sector, they incorporate some of the ingredients necessary for the successful implementation of such a project.

Ingredients of success



First, BIAL and RGIAL have adopted a PPP structure that is appropriate for an airport project. PPP projects can have different project formats. The key difference in these structures is the issue of ownership of assets.

In a build-own-operate (BOO) structure, the ownership of the assets vests with the private sector in perpetuity whereas in a build-operate-transfer (BOT) and build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) format, the assets are transferred to the public sector at the end of the concession period.

Since airports have strong public good characteristics and also form a part of strategic national assets, a BOOT structure would be most appropriate as the government can take over the assets at the end of the concession period. It may be remembered that when BIAL was originally conceptualised in 1994, it was proposed as a BOO project, which was not an appropriate structure for a PPP in airport. The unsuitability of a BOO structure was one of the main reasons for the inordinate delays that the project experienced during its formative years.

Second, though the majority shareholding in the airports is with the private sector, government has a strong presence in both the airports. Government has a shareholding of 26 per cent, the minimum threshold level required to retain important investor rights. The government also has a strong representation on the board of both companies. Out of the 14 members on the board of BIAL, there are five nominees representing the government. Similarly, out of the 16 members on the board of RGIAL, six nominees represent the government. The air traffic control in both the airports is regulated by the AAI. After the expiry of the concession agreement, the assets revert to the government. Both the airports, thus, have the twin benefits of government oversight and private sector efficiency.

Third, the contractual structure has appropriate features to ensure superior performance and reduce opportunistic behaviour. For example, the main contractor and operator of BIAL, L&T, Siemens and Zurich Airport, have been given majority shareholding in the company. This would ensure that there is a long-term alignment of interests between shareholders and the operators.

Further, the concession agreements for both the airports have clearly specified standards for performance. It has been indicated that yearly passenger surveys have to be conducted from the third year of airport operations to measure the airport’s performance according to the IATA Global Airport Monitor service standards.

The concession agreement specifies the need to undertake remedial measures if the IATA rating is less than 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5. The service levels expected from the BIAL and RGIAL become even more evident when we consider the fact that the existing IATA ratings for Mumbai and Delhi airports are only in the range of 2.3-2.6.

An idea whose time has come



Governments have displayed tremendous political will and panache in dealing with the new challenges that have emerged closer to the operations start date, such as the closure of existing airports, the consequent impact on the employees, the implementation of user development fee, and providing connectivity to the airport.

The private sector, on the other hand, has learnt the virtues of transparency and patience for long-term success in the infrastructure sector. The opening of these two airports has resulted in a gradual thought convergence among many stakeholders on the benefits of involving private sector in airport operations.

While the eventual financial and economic success of these two airports would depend on many factors such as economic growth, fuel prices, and air traffic growth, the initial mission of bringing private airports into operation stands accomplished.

With the government planning for more airport capacity, even in smaller towns, wisdom from this experience would be a big help in developing more robust project structures and contracts for the upcoming and ongoing projects. To paraphrase Victor Hugo, private airports seem to be an idea whose time has come.

Thillai Rajan is a faculty member in the Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras. He can be reached at thillair@ iitm.ac.in Balaraman Rajan and Megha Malhotra are MBA students at IIT Madras. 

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