Friday, October 31, 2008

Economic Rumblings

There are certain things that calls for a greater understanding.How can one explain the plummeting economies world wide? Were
we sitting on an economic time bomb, waiting to explode?The views expressed here are personal and not related to any
organization or individual.
The world economy is in tatters owing to one country's extravagance!US the behemoth of the world always believed that its
economic juggernaut is too huge to be pertrubed by anything.Ha! the age old idiom stands vindicated! Pride hath a fall! and
only this time the fall pulled the entire global economy into an abyss. The over indulgence of the banks and financial
instituions to provide money to all sections of people in US has caused mayhem world over.The Banking Acts of US, which aimed
to help the underprivileged to step up to the altars of banks is the culprit. A law "Equal Credit Opportunity Act" and the right
to put a bank in the docks for refusing money made the banks overlook their poor credit history and the inability to repay
the loans availed. The irony is that the KYC or "Know your customer" programs designed to check the credit history of a
person will have no meaning in this situation!
No. I am not against providing loans to the underprivileged. Its just that a person staying in a caravan cannot be loaned an
amount to buy a house. This is way beyond commonsense. Look at how Grameen Bank has done business. It never said No to these
people. Instead, provided them money to grow a business.The money involved in this type of transaction is very little and
hence the associated risk can also be played down. If a guy prospers with his business, then sure, you can loan him for a
house!Not otherwise!
I really find it stupefying to see that great nations discuss all this risks and issues, come out with Basel I, Basel II
compliance for Banks and NBFIs but never check how to recover money from NPAs(Non Performing Assets).
This statement that my brother said some years back, comes back to my mind now "Dei, in US, credit card speaks for you. If u
want to urinate u need a credit card" Alright, a little crass but drives home the point. Plastic money on a circulation is a
big gamble. You loan to repay a loan and very soon, you are in a vicious circle. This statement was made 6-7 years back when
the economy was opening up. A study by a Japanese professor proves that the basic US understanding of Spending and not saving
is the major blunder the US economists could have come up with.
Thankfully, albeit a touch cautiously,I can say with pride that Indians have a better system in place. We too started
following the US pattern in everything. But our laziness in updating the banking rules or rather sticking to the old one and
only modifying where ever required has put us on a relatively safer side.
We do banking like any other business, as a business and not charity. If we had had laws similar to the US for loaning money
to the underprivileged, then we wouldnt have had an economy to talk about. As the FM says, our fundamentals are strong but
the building is a little weak. Not everything the US does is always correct.For that fact, everything is right until it goes
The liquidity crisis may also be caused by the fact that US has more plastic money than money in banks.I am no expert in the
US economy policies, but then the way they value a thing is totally different. Leasing is a primary business in US and major
financial institutions are a part of them. But when you dont have an attachment to the asset, then in the long run we tend to
lose respect for the same. In case of India, ownership is pride! We would crib until we pay off a housing loan or a vehicle
loan. And we want to do it fast,because it belongs to the bank and not us,until we get the original papers back. This
sentiment has brought in us a great quality of repaying the loan and may be this has also helped us in having a stronger
For a nation of our size, this global bloodbath would have hurt us more, if we had taken the US example of splurging and not
saving.Many a person says that the new generation in IT splurge the most. But how many of them know that IT people are the
most prudent when it comes to saving? They have invested in shares/land/gold or just about anything. But the amount spent by
an average IT guy is far less than his US/Europe counterpart. Infact, these splurging by the ITians have helped in creating
the booming economy India has.
Most of us will now be aware with the terms global economic crisis and fed rate cuts and bailout packages.And with the inborn
nature, we will be more prudent to come to terms with the crisis looming large.
Its time world took notice of how India and its people have saved up our earnings for such a rainy day.I pray that we make use of this opportunity to tighten our monetory policies, particularly the FIIs and their pull-outs,and
for an economy that can be self dependent and be insulated from the global impacts. A strong regulation of the FIIs and FDI
(Foreign Institutional Investers and Foreign Direct Investments) will help us in a long run!
And most importantly, a young employee of a company should never ever think of an insecure job!
So next time a person calls you a nut for saving and not spending hard, smile to yourself and keep going.After all,season changes and not all days are sunny!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


On a dark desert highway....

Zebras enroute Skukuza:
Camping Site:

Sunrise on Freeway

The Road Not Taken,Taken!!!

Its been a couple of weeks since my Kruger trip. Sorry guys, was able to find time just now to give an account of the trip.This is just the beginning. Updates will follow soon!
And please bear with me... this one is pretty long :)
From: Fijnbosch Appartments,Johannesburg.Destination:Krueger National Park
The Trip to Kruger National Park was running on all our minds the week before the travel date.The excitment was
understandable because we were about to embark on a cross country ride in to the Mpumalanga Province, from Gauteng
Province.The estimate was around 400km from our homes.Three cars and 12 people made up the gang. Sasi,Himanshu and Nitin were
the people with cars.The planning for the trip was done by Arun Mathur of Nihilant Technologies.We knew him through
Ramani.The thursday before the trip, there was an "executive committe" meeting to chalk out the final plans. Route maps were
drawn up and the time to start was decided. The agenda for the entire two days was also shared. As is the case with all IT
people, talks of sending across excel sheets to everyone was also doing the rounds.As usual, i took up the logistics division
along with sasi. Plain enough, we were responsible for equipping the cars with ample food to last the entire journey, because
1) Most of us are veggies 2)We are in Africa where you cant trust to get a proper meal 3)The drive is quite long.In all, we
managed to get 450ZAR worth stuff for 3 cars.It included 18 tins of coke,12 bottles of bacardi breezers and Smirnoff shots,3
bread packets,3 jam tins, 6 litres of juice for the people who were observing the navratri fast,biscuits and fruits and
chips.You might think we were stowing away food as if there is no tomorrow... the fact is this helped us a lot over the two
days! Nitin had managed to arrange idlis and sambar for the entire group. So on saturday morning 3:30 Am we all wished
ourselves luck and began the trip.Now the only thing missing for the trip was a proper GPS, the use of which we were to see.So three
people read the maps for our friends behind the wheel, acting as navigators.Started our car with Harivarasanam.. i know i
know.. this was the only song remotely connected to bakthi ... We were to take the highway that will lead to Nelspruit
through Witbank and Ogies. As it is, none of us knew the exact roads and it was pitch dark. So if there was a road that we
could see in the map, we took it. Never a moment of hesitation to whether take it or not...lest there be a road that was not
taken ;) After half an hour of relying on a HTC mobile enabled GPS, we found the right track and headed our way to Kruger.
150km down the line, we took a coffee break at a fuel station and then carried on. The roads are fabulous!! three lanes for a
single track: slow, track change and high speed(left to right). Himanshu was leading the pack with his zigzag driving that made the
natives go red with anger!!! after much persuasion, we chose the high speed track and raced our way. we could never believe
that we had covered 400 odd km when we reached krueger.we stopped at our will and wish and reached the Skukuza Gate at half
past 1 having nearly been on road for 10 hours. Devil and Bertie would know my penchant for day travel and this time too i
did not miss the scenary ;) Gosh... mesmerised by the beauty.... when the sun broke ground in the morning, it was really a
sight to behold ... Just beautiful. We stopped to take a few pics of it too, with other vehicles rushing past us in 140s!! It
was really exhilirating to go on 140s... Dona di, we did 140 on an 80 track...similar to what u did in canada, not that we
wanted to.. we were forced to by the cars behind!
Long winding roads,picture book towns and great car, the Volkswagen Polo with the aircon on!! None of us were tired when we reached Kruger... we were already thinking about the night safari we were about to undertake later that
evening. After a round of idlis and sambar, we went through the gate. It was another 55km to reach the Skukuza Resort from
the gate.
This is where the GPS enabled phone played traunt with us. We went deep inside the jungle on a rut road, when
actually bitumen roads were available. Tempers frayed and frustration piled.After a long discussion, me and my car mates poured
over the map and sorted out the actual route. I am really bemused with my ilk for having the passion of using tools and make
things murkier when the application of common sense would have sufficed. Nevertheless, we had a good laugh at our own
The drive inside the jungle roads were breathtaking... wild animals in their habitats with out any inhibitions!!! We clicked
, clicked and clicked away... soaking in every inch of the jungle. A bigger realization dawned on us when we took the night
safari. We had been warned that any one who takes his car to Kruger will come back atleast with a minor scratch.
Hence we were very careful whilst inside the jungle.
A couple of hours through the jungle we reached the camping resort of Skukuza.There were traditional camping grounds where
people brought in their caravans and camped for a week or so. There is a community kitchen where people can cook.And the
hygine and sanitation is of the highest order here. Africa is a place where an insect bite could prove fatal as no one can
be sure what bit you! We had taken precautions against malaria. Its one of the things that we have to keep in mind when we
are in the Heart of Africa.
Half an hour later, we were all settled inside our tents. Comfortable one with a fridge to store food and a locker to keep
your belongings.Two cots and a huge pedestal fan made up for the rest of the tent.
It was an experience in itself. We had half an hour's time to get ready for the evening safari and we made the most of it by
taking a short nap.
4:45 pm we headed for the Safari zone where we boarded soft top vans ready to hit the jungle that house the Lion, rhino,
hippos, elephants and bison called the Big 5! Now that is a different story altogether!!