Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Insurance and Pensions to Boost Infrastructure

As I keep saying that only Insurance and Pensions will help fund the Infrastructure boom of India, The economic survey also suggested the same.
India needs a massive 320 billion dollars to be invested in infrastructure over the next five years and the requirements could be met through insurance and pension funds, the Economic Survey suggested on Tuesday.

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Stock Market Correction Worldwide on Budget Eve!

As I write this all the markets are plunging like nine pins. Emerging Marekts are plunging ina global meltdown that is making me sit up. Most of the Indian ADRs are also losing 5-10% upwards. Icici Bank ADR is already down 11% China is down 8.8% as of now. Mexico down 6%, Nikkei down 600 points, Dow is down 400 points. Blood Bath?

What is dangerous is the fall is thye chinese market. Holy Cow 8.8%.
The budget will be irrelevant after all.

An incorrigibale speculator, I had betted big on a n0n-populist, market friendly budget and had taken huge long positions. But the Global Meltdown is Huge. Even a 100% cut on corporate tax will not do any good on Sensex today, I guess. Chidambaram save me...

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Am I comfortable with Nishabd!

I love Watching Amitabh Bachchan. He just fills up the screen, and this charisma that is hard to miss. So it was in (KBC)Kaun Banega Crorepati. He was never a friend like Shah Rukh Khan now, but more a father.
Oh he had a blip, during those mid life crises days, when he had not quite aged gracefully. Sagging skin, but trying to act young like the son in Suryavansh. The father was very convincing though.
My love for Amitabhjee Goes a very long way. I got my name from one of his movies. So, I have alsways had this certain connection with this Man, and have loved all his movies.
Except Black. Specially that Kissing scene. You can't imagine your Dad kissing some young girl, would you?
And now Nishabd. I get goosebumps thinking about this movie. Oh Yes, I love oldperson-young person sex scenes, and I have had my fair fantasies when I grew up. And I loved Lolita. But Amitabh is quite a father figure...
Of course, he clarified that Nishabd is not at all at a take at Nabokov. It is the story about an affection of a young girl for an older man. I hope it is not dirty geez.. As Abhinav rightly puts it, Amitabh Bachchan’s demi-god status will prevent him from fully exploring the role of a dirty old man. [via]

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Indian and Air India to Merge

Wasn't it just yesterday that I wrote that the need of the hour of the Indian Airlines Industry is consolidation. Quickly.

The Indian govt. has also okayed the merger of Indian (Airlines) and Air India to create a behemoth.

The stage is set for the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India. An empowered group of ministers on Wednesday cleared the proposal to create a single national carrier — a move first mooted more than 20 years ago for providing muscle to the public-sector carriers to take on private and international airlines. The merger, expected to be completed over the next three months, will create an entity with a fleet of around 120 aircraft. As new planes join the fleet, some existing ones are phased out and those on lease returned, the carrier will have over 125 new-generation aircraft by 2010.

What I really like about the proposal is that some existing aircrafts wil be phased out.. Badly needed! And please please, enforce an age limit on the flying staffs. I am not discriminating, but that is what the customers want.

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Why Apple's iPhone will Sell!

iPod earpin is great, gives out amazing sound. But is it as good as Sony ear plugs? Perhaps yes, perhaps not, I am not sure. It sure is not the iPod earpin that makes iPod such a hot cake. It is just another portable mp3 player, though with a cult-attracting design, and it is the design that sells the iPod. Not just the looks, but the User Interface. The Apple UI is intuitive. It responds to you. It is also Different.

When Apple launched the iPhone, I dismissed it as a desperate attempt at riding on the success of the iPod, and they Apple will just about sell enough iPhones just from the spillover effect of the iPod Brand.

What more innovation can you add to Mobile Phone. Nokia and Sony-Ericsson have tried all there is. Blackberry have filled the gap that Nokia left out.

All that iPhone has to offer, we already have, with multi-billion branding efforts to back them. What is new that iPhone is offering?

Then I saw the iPhone launch video closely only recently. And then I remembered this post by Kathy Sierra at HeadRush. About the Dog ear User Experience Model, of how great animators and good animators can be different. When a Dog Jumps to catch a frisbee, and stops mid air to catch that frisbee, her ear will keep going.. Follow Through.

The UI designers at Apple realised this, and I could see it at the Iphone launch video..(which I will post here tonight). You can actually push the screen, drag a menu, and the iPhone will just follow you.

MP3 Players are as generic as it can get. Store MP3 music, play it from the play list, maybe toggle ( Apple Shuffled it).

Mobile phones are much less generic, and with such an UI, and if the software don't get hung as much as symbian (I trust Apple with that), iPhone is a sure winner. Expect iPhone to exceed the sales of iPod in the near future.

The iPhone UI will actually speak to you, feel you.
Half the feature in my Nokia is left unused, because it is slow, get hung mostly, and not easily accessible.. The mother-child Folder is so very legacy now...
Apple intuitive UI will rule Mobile Phones.
Move over Nokia...

When is it comming to India???

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Year end Investments, Insurance or Mutual Funds?

This is the time that Insurance Agents and Mutual Fund salesman love the most. Instead of the usual pestering phone calls from the call center agents of Banks and Insurance companies, Hawking for Mutaul funds or Insurance, It is the investor who frantically calls up friends to ask for the friendly advisor's number who gave him a discount (** Rebate or discount by Insurance agents on the Premium paid is Illegal). The companies Bulletin baord is full of messages asking for contact details of Insurance agents.

It must be a heyday for the Agents and Insurance companies. Insurance Policies are usually hardsold..

I suggest that You should not buy Insurance for the purpose of savings, and tax savings. You stand the chance of getting wrong-sold, or buying the wrong policy just to save on Taxes. If you want to buy Insurance, do a proper research, and buy for protection of your Family. The tax Incentives are given for just that, Incentives. Incentives for you to buy Insurance. What policies to buy blah blah..... Just buy WHole Life Policies or Term Policies. Fist get adequate cover, and think about the other frills of Insurance.

For Investment purpose, we just happen to be in very lucky Times. We don't have to anymore allocate 10000 on pension plan, 10000 on Infrastraucture bonds, another 20 on National Savings Certificate blah blah Blah.. You can put the whole 1 lakh on any savings instruments Like Tax savings Mutual Funds also called Equity Linked Savings Scheme, Insurance premia, Bonds etc...

If you are running amok for last minute Investment, chances are that, you are a young professional, who forgot to save... I invested in Mutual Funds. There are a hosts of Mutual Funds to choose from, and I chose three Mutual Funds where I invested. These Mutual funds had good allocations into Certain Mid Cap Stocks, and since I am investing for at least 3 years, some of the mid caps could reap huge dividends.. I have chosen SBI Mutual Fund's Magnum Tax Gain, Icici Prudential Tax Plan-growth, and HDFC longnterm advantage fund.

Icici Prudential Tax plan hasn't grown yet, but the other two have started to grow exceptionally wel even in a short time..

If at all you are buying Insurance, SBI life sells very cheap Term cover. Get yourself a 50 lakh term cover. You will sleep in peace.Max New York life has a very good whole Life Plans.. You can try them too.

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Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and Indian!

Earlier My favorite Airlines used to be travel by Air Sahara. Air Sahara has a very warm ambience, or so it used to be. But combined with its internal troubles, and the industry in general, it would be a difficult comeback for Sahara now. Any other time, ie in absense of the price undercutting in the industry, any good marketing guy could have turned it around (Hush Hush about the financials). And Air Hostesses at Air Sahara Still had that old charm, untill stewards ran them over..

So now, about the only airlines left are Jet Airways, Indian and Kingfisher Airlines, and if you book at the right time, the economy fares offered by these airlines are not very different from that offered by the so called budget airlines. Of the three, Jet airways is clearly the market leader, with good service and a percieved brand Value. I have had only good service from Jet except for the fact that the Air hostesses are relatively rude. Rudeness Factor is clearly a parameter that Jet Airways consider when recruiting Flight Attendents. I long the golden days of Air travel when Air Hostesses were no less than Super Models, and some even marrying into Industrial Houses and with Actors.

Indian, is not coping well with the sudden opening up of the skies. The over aged Air Hostesess and Flight Stewards, and their fake smile have become an eyesore at best. And if you happen to fly by Alliance Air, god help you. Other the service quality and the rest, it is the ricketty condition of the Aircrafts that is most disheartening. In fact a weak hearted might have a heart Attack. The other day I came back by Indian Airlines, and the plane was giving out a VERY strange Noise.. It was indeed scary to be listening to sounds when you on board an aircraft, and the aircraft is about to take. I asked the Air Hostess who politely told me that it was the baggage handling system, and I was calmed. And the flight took off well.

It was when we landed in the Delhi, and the plane was taxiing, ie, the baggage handling system was no where close to the aircraft, and we just touched ground when that Creaky sound came again. I promised myself that it was an Airlines that I should avoid.

Only about the best thing Indian Airlines is that if you have extra baggage, it is the only airlines that allows 30 Kilos for domestic travel. But that creaky sound was too much a price to pay for a few extra baggage huh!

In another Indian Arlines flight, the toilet was dirty, and add to it, some fellow passenger had dropped Chewing Gum Wrappers and a small empty water bottle in the sink. Of course, I have photographs of the same..that I took with my Camera phone.

Kingfisher is however is an exception.
Service quality relatively much better.
Umm.. Air Hostesses attractively dressed. And well recruited.
I mean, take out the air hostesses, and there is no fun left in travelling :)
Inflight entertainment, which will pay for itself with inflight promotions..

I expected it to be nothing more than a Huge flying bill board , and a Massive surrogate advertising campaign for Kingfisher Beer. But, with the whole industry in troubled waters, Kingfishers might come out a clear winner. At least they would be selling more beer even if the airlines run into losses. And it will hold out longer than any other Airlines in the case of a price war going out of hand...

Fly the Good times.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pimping on Orkut!

I had written about some very obvious solicitations by Gigoloes on orkut. Today, I got the shocker of my life when a friend sent me mail asking me to be more discreet and not transactions with pimps on my scrap book.

This Said gentleman, offered me sexy gals, Aunties and Housewives for sex with prices starting from 1000.. Any discounts?

He even gave his phone number. Since solicitation is a crime by Indian Laws, I could have this guy arrested. I could report to the police, but I am afraid, they might want to ban Orkut... So I politely deleted the soliciting scrap...

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Will The Indian Airlines Industry Bleed to Recession?

Ummmm!!! Those days, not the early days of the Internet, when I wasn't too used to reading off the Computer Screen, and when I took out printouts if an email was too long( stories from Desi Fantasy too at times shhh!!).. Those days were before RSS became popular, and Dave Winer was busy figuring a way out to bring RSS to the public. And my daily dose of reading included Fortune, Time, Businessweek, and all Indian Magazines.. Now I read so many many feeds in so less time, I don't even know what I am reading, and my habit of copying Intelligent Bloggers' OPML lists keeps my feed list grow at a pace I can't seem to control, or monitor..

Oh, and there was no delicious nor Digg, so I couldn't bookmark that article. Or perhaps I read that at several places.. Something about the American Airlines Industry.. In a few years, severe undercutting by competitors, had bled the US Airlines Industry all the profits that the Industry had earned since the Inception of Air Travel....

It, would be faster for the Indian Airlines Industry, I am presuming, unless something is done real quick. Things like fuel prices, regulations etc are out of their control, but things that are in control, the Industry leaders must control..

Looks like the customers have never had it so good though..
Or do they?

Low prices notwithstanding, the service quality today are comparable to some state owned transport corporation.
Long queues, Delays, Rescheduling (WTF.. I had booked a ticket on monday morning so that I can reach office on time, but they rescheduled it... one day in advance, and it wasn't even a no-frill Airlines... I reached office at 2 PM) and hostile cabin crews..

With near full occupancy, and costs squeezed wherever possible, Budget airlines can't make the tickets any cheaper, and there is no sign of a profit in sight. I am not the "perfect customer for cheap airlines" but I have promised myself never to travel by a Budget Airlines, and I have met many people who swears the same.. Perhaps we are not part of that target market... Are the seats Cramped at Air Deccan?

The airlines are bleeding, and service quality is becoming worse.. Add to it the Airport woes... There was joke today on times of india, about someone who has earned extra miles for hovering over delhi skies waiting for permission to land.. The point is, how long can they bleed?

The only Airlines that sem to be doing exceedingly well is Kingfisher. I am not sure if Mallya is even looking at a Profit.. His Aircrafts are Giant Hoarding for his BEER brands, All the passengers are exposed to the Kingfisher Brand for the whole duration of the flight, and with no remote control to switch to another brand... And The airlines commercials are the Biggest Surrogate marketing Campaign in the History of Surrogate Advertising...

When the rest of the Airlines bleed to bankcruptcy, Cases and Cases of beers are being sold.. It won't be long when Mallya buys out Virgin :)

As for the rest, they should look at consolidation quickly, before the government intervenes. After all INDIAN is also at stake.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Orkut Allows Video Upload using Youtube and Google Video

Orkut now allows video upload on your orkut profile, next to your album, in a very smart integration of other google offerings with orkut.

Share and enjoy!!

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