Monday, December 31, 2007

CMA Canada has worked to build a strong, professional relationship with the Government of Canada

Cost management in the most complex organisation: the government

The largest and the most complex organisation in Canada is the Government of Canada, says Mr Richard Monk, Chairman, CMA (Certified Management Accountants) Canada. “It makes over $200 billion in expenditures annually, manages a workforce of some 4,50,000 people, and provides some 1,600 different programs and services across Canada and around the globe.”
Such sheer size and complexity create significant challenges to comptrollership, financial management and accountability, he adds, during the course of a recent e-mail interaction with Business Line.

CMA has ‘more than 37,000 CMAs and 10,000 CMA students,’ as informs. And as the new chief of the body, when Mr Monk spoke of his priorities in the latest issue of , first came the aligning of ‘major governance initiatives,’ and second, continuing ‘to cultivate relationships with international associations with similar values and services to those of CMA Canada.’

The most common form of cartels is ‘price-fixing’

Cartelist behaviour is difficult to detect

A few days ago, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) found 44 cement companies guilty of cartelisation under the aegis of Cement Manufacturer’s Association (CMA) during the period February to April 1990. “Even though it took 17 years for the MRTPC to come to a decision on an old case of the pernicious cement cartel in India of 1990s, it is a case of better late than never,” says Mr Pradeep S. Mehta, who recently published Competition & Regulation in India, 2007 ( ).

“Alas, the MRTP Act, 1969 does not have the teeth to do anything other than asking the cartel to cease and desist — in simple terms, to stop them from doing so,” rues Mr Mehta. The larger issue, according to him, is of the recent cartelisation in cement prices, fuelled by the economic boom in the country. “That case is yet to come up, and considering how slow the inquiry process moves, the same may also get dated.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pure fantasy is the extreme argument that markets are or soon will be completely integrated

Don’t get carried away by globaloney

Redraw the map of the world to reflect not land area but the extent of actual economic interactions, suggests Mr Pankaj Ghemawat, author of Redefining Global Strategy ( ).

“It is the single device I have found most useful in working with more than one government,” he says, during a recent e-mail interaction with Business Line.

“Redraw, for example, in terms of trade or investment with a particular country, or potential economic interactions such as GDP (gross domestic product) divided by some composite measure of distance.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Eee PC is based on the ‘easy’ concept

Gee, it’s ‘Eee’

The most valuable thing in Andrew Tsui’s bag, when we recently met in eWorld premises, was a brand-new Eee PC. “Yet to be launched in India,” he said, opening what looked like a shrunken version of a laptop, weighing less than a kg.

Only weeks earlier, the product had hit the shelves in Taiwan, Asus’ home turf. “The first 150 or so units were bought by our rivals to dis-assemble and find out what we have done,” reminisced Tsui, over a leisurely South Indian lunch in Chennai. “At least for the next nine months we don’t expect any competition to our Eee PC.”

The (impending) Direct Tax Code is intended to simplify the tax laws insofar as income-tax is concerned.

We need to mature in tax law admin

Tax laws in many countries tend to be complex, but with India beginning to occupy an increasingly important place on the world stage, the benchmark for comparison has to be changed, says Mr Ketan Dalal , Executive Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Mumbai.

“India will increasingly be compared, not against other developing countries, as in the past, but with the dominant and mature economies,” he adds, during an exclusive interaction with Business Line, over the phone and e-mail, shortly after the release of PwC’s ‘2007 Tax Risks in India survey’.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The “right of first refusal” clause

Impact of Yuvraj case on sports talent market

Yuvraj Singh is having a ball these days, both on and off the field. However, with the litigation process still in progress, it looks like he may have to endure the suspense of what the remaining deliveries in the over have to offer.

As you may be aware, Yuvraj’s former sport marketing agency Percept dragged him to court in a bid to match a competitor’s offer for the budding cricketer as their association was coming to an end. The Mumbai High Court’s verdict was in the cricketer’s favour.

Basically, Percept wanted to enforce a ‘right of first refusal’ (RoFR) but was not allowed to do so. The Court held that the post-expiration RoFR clause of a talent management contract between Percept Talent Management and Yuvraj Singh was unenforceable.

India is attractive to foreign companies because of sustained high growth and improved market access

Broad consensus needed on policy direction

On December 7 another winter session of Parliament ended with the growing divide between the ruling coalition and the Left showing no palpable signs of improvement. While none of this immediately undermines India’s attractiveness to f oreign companies because of sustained high growth and improved market access, what impact can lack of accord in policy have India? A broad consensus is very important, says Mr Christian Murck, CEO of global consulting Apco Worldwide (Asia).

As someone whose experience in Asia spans 25 years, Mr Murck gives his candid views in an exclusive interaction with Business Line on the Indian economy, the potholes lying on the way of India and China to becoming economic superpowers and why both the nations need to know each other before working as partners.
Excerpts from the interview, carried out first over the phone and subsequently through e-mail.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A truly parallel computer would have simultaneity built into its very nature.

‘Quantum’ jump

Quantum computers and quantum information technology remain in a pioneering stage, says Vishal Sahni, author of Quantum Computing ( “Currently, there are obstacles to be surmounted, before we have the knowledge to thrust quantum computers up to their rightful position as the fastest computational machines in existence.”

Quantum systems possess immense computational power due to the startling property of quantum bits (or qubits) that they can exist in a superposition of two or more states at once, thereby opening up immense possibilities such as quantum parallelism, quantum entanglement, teleportation, superdense coding and so on, he explains, during the course of a recent e-mail interview with eWorld.

“The scale of quantum physical phenomena is so vast, that even a super computer built on von Neumann style computing cannot realistically model quantum physics at the atomic and sub-atomic level. On the other hand, quantum computers, which mimic the quantum physics themselves, are capable of vast parallelism and could theoretically simulate such phenomena.”
Excerpts from the interview.

One should be able to work in any team or take the best out of it.

Myths about Indian Civil Services

Civil services all over the world are about administration. “The sublimity of administration consists in knowing the proper degree of power that should be exerted on different occasions,” a French philosopher once said. With such power at hand and the sheer influence it can have, today Indian Civil Services should have been the most sought-after position. But is it still attracting the kind of talent it used to?

To find an answer, Business Line engaged former Secretary to the Government of India, Dr G. Sundaram who served under various capacities in the Ministries of Defence and Environment.
He was one of the first to suggest introduction of VAT (value-added tax) in the country way back in 1986. Like all brilliant students, civil services was then a natural progression for Mr Sundaram who, after obtaining a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Madras in 1958 and teaching Economics in the Madras Christian College, joined the services in 1962.

Operating margins convey the efficiency of operation of the company and thereby influence its profitability

Due diligence, by the dozen

Before you invest in a company, there are at least a dozen factors to consider, says Mr Sandeep Shenoy, Strategist, PINC Research, Mumbai. “Whenever an investor forays into stock markets, he is faced with more questions than answers, and feels intimidated by the sheer scale and dynamics of data around him,” he adds.

To help arrive at a proper decision, he emphasises the need to take into account aspects about a company’s working, the financial and business environment. The 12 factors, according to Mr Shenoy, are as follows: Addressable markets, business model, promoter ability, operating margins, growth or scaling up, operating leverage, asset sweating, debt equity ratio, cash flows, dividend and taxes, value proposition, and cyclicality and dependency.

Excerpts from the interview.

'Hydro is the best suited for us since its operating cost is next to nothing and it is renewable'

11 myths that make nuclear deal unclear

Intense debates have been on about the nuke deal at the political level, generating possibly more heat than light. “Many half-truths and myths are doing their rounds,” frets Mr Shivanand Kanavi, Vice-President (Special Projects), Tata Consultancy Services, New Delhi.

A theoretical physicist from IIT Kanpur and Northeastern University, Boston, he has carried out research at IIT Bombay. After a teaching and academic career, Mr Kanavi became an economic consultant and later turned to business journalism, before joining TCS.
Author of books such as Sand to Silicon: The amazing story of digital technology (Rupa & Co. 2006) and Research by Design-Innovation and TCS (2007), Mr Kanavi is currently writing a book on India’s nuclear programme.

The sovereign rating pertains to both local and foreign currency debt

Delving into Pakistan's `negative' rating

Pakistan is at `a turning point,' recognises a recent report from Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P). "A rapid succession of events over the past eight months has led to considerable uncertainty about the fate of the Musharraf administration, which has governed Pakistan since October 1999," it begins, sombrely.

"The relative certainty of an authoritarian administration strongly focused on the economy and with a generally good policy mix will likely give way to an elected government whose policy orientation, cohesion, and efficiency have yet to be revealed and tested," continues the November 27-dated report.

About a month ago, soon after Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan, S&P revised the outlook on the sovereign rating to `negative', stating that the action would `prolong and exacerbate the uncertainties, potentially putting downward pressure on the ratings if fiscal and external balances deteriorate.'


Marketing in domestic formulations has become a competitive function

M&A the main driver for value unlocking in Indian pharma

‘Generics’ is the old story in the great Indian pharmaceutical space. The new kids on the block are ‘contract research and manufacturing services’ (CRAMS) providers.

The emphasis is on future leaders rather than established captains, and the rapid expansion plans charted by these emerging breeds make them a perfect fit for private equity players, who are hot on heels to get their slice of the growing pie.

Naturally, funding is less of an issue for these smaller companies, says Mr Navroz Mahudawala, Associate Director, Transaction Advisory Service of Ernst & Young (E&Y).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'Teaching and learning must be led by the learning needs of the children, not by what technology is available'

Internet as teacher support

Internet-aided teaching has the potential to improve teaching and learning more than any other recent innovation, declares Alan Pritchard, author of Effective Teaching With Internet Technologies (

“If you get it right it’s amazing how the children respond… even those who you wouldn’t expect it from can surprise you with what they do… what they end up producing and what they learn,” reads a teacher’s quote that Alan cites in his book.
He says that the level of motivation in the class can be higher when the communication capabilities of the Net are used, especially if the communication is synchronous — happening in real time.

'A focused approach and clarity of career choices - the traits in an employee'

‘We seek self-achievers’

“Inducing transformation in people management may have caused some short-term unrest and disruption, but the gains we began reaping have masked this and continue to give us a competitive edge,” says Srinivas Kandula, Global Head-HR, iGATE Global Solutions, commenting on the price the company had to pay while ascending to the 3rd rank, from the previous year’s 29th position, in the ‘DQ-IDC 20 Best IT Employers Survey 2007’.
For the dramatic improvement in the ranking, Kandula gives credit to HR (human resource) policy changes, employee friendly initiatives and the adoption of a ‘German’ model in the company.
“The good practices of the past and the integrated people management model in the last one year led us to the third spot,” he adds, during the course of an e-mail interaction with The New Manager. Excerpts from the interview:

Feedback is the breakfast of champions

8 words to banish from your vocabulary

Eight words and phrases that Justin Herald advises the young to banish from their minds are: “Failure, can’t, rejection, impossible, never, victim, hard done by, and but.”

Instead, make a special place for these eight in your vocabulary, he says: “I can, I will, passion, persist, break through, possible, why not, and attitude.”
Justin should know. It was ‘attitude’ that transformed him. At the age of 25, with only $50 to his name, he set about changing the course of his life. ‘Justin created Attitude Inc, a clothing brand that became an international licensing success that turned over in excess of $20 million per year. His website receives over 30,000 hits a day.’

The trickle-down effect of telecom in India is beyond measure

Four important factors in spectrum allocation

Spectrum issue is hot. Different battles are simultaneously on, be they between the public and the private sector telecom companies, or CDMA (code division multiple access) and GSM (global system for mobile communications) , pitching for ‘level-playing’. A committee set up to suggest norms for spectrum allocation is to meet on November 26 and 30.

“There are at least four factors that have a significant impact with regard to spectrum allocation,” says Ms Sairee Chahal, founder of the New Delhi-based SAITA Consulting. “Infrastructure priority, trickle-down effect of telecom, regulatory transparency, and eye on the future,” she lists, during the course of an e-mail interaction with Business Line.
Excerpts from the interview.