Sunday, February 24, 2008

'Today we are in an era of information overload'

Fifteen myths about memory

Chennai: Considering that today's academic load on students is far higher than what used to be a few decades ago, in what ways can a professional student enhance his throughput and at the same time enjoy the exercise?
On this apparently loaded question about `load,' Prof K. Ganapathy, Neurosurgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, has a different view. He concedes that today's academic load on students is higher than earlier, but he also insists that it is equally true that learning tools and exposure have developed even faster than the quantum of knowledge that needs to be imbibed.


'IT services marketing has evolved rapidly in recent years'

Scoring with service delivery model

In the currently hotting-up US Presidential campaign, Marc Hebert, Chief Marketing Officer of Virtusa Corporation (, finds something noteworthy.
“The issue of immigration is receiving much attention among the candidates, but the sub-issues of offshore outsourcing and the use of visas for highly-skilled workers have received very little attention,” he observes, during the course of a recent interaction with eWorld.


'For most TDS provisions, there is no requirement for the payer to be a resident'

Can TDS provisions be made less tedious?

You can blame it on the abbreviation, but TDS (tax deduction at source) rhymes with tedious, as if in empathy with the plight of tax students and practitioners.
To add to the dreariness of the exercise involved in the levy, there is a perception that the TDS rates are too high, and that the Government is bent on keeping the rates at a particular level, since the collection impacts the cash flow.


'Mauritius has never been blacklisted by any of the international institutions'

‘Mauritius has always been a well-regulated jurisdiction’

The India-Mauritius tax treaty has always been the cynosure of financial planners, on the one side, and policymakers, on the other. Accentuating the attention to Mauritius, a few weeks ago, was the review of the DTAA (double taxation avoidance agreement) or the treaty, in an apparent attempt to plug the gaps. The itinerary of the Chairman of the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes), therefore, recently included a purposeful stop in Mauritius.


'The high yield bond market has dried up as investors are reluctant to invest in high risk instruments'

Equity, popular at the right price

How are the Indian companies performing in the London market? The answer is, “Not bad,” according to Tom Troubridge, head of the Capital Markets Group of the PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK.
“Despite market turmoil in January, Vedanta Resources, the FTSE 100-listed Indian mining company has performed strongly in line with the mining sector,” he substantiates, during the course of an e-mail interaction with Busine ss Line last week, while on a visit to India. “Recent AIM (Alternative Investment Market) flotations such as Greenco and DQ Entertainment are trading above their issue price.”


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

'PE is a concept in tax treaties India has entered into with other countries'

Understanding PE

The concept of PE or permanent establishment is relatively new to India, says Mr Rajiv Anand, Executive Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “There are situations where no guidance is available on what constitutes a PE. Till our courts decide such issues, one can expect litigation on complex PE issues,” he adds, during a recent e-mail exchange with Business Line.
Excerpts from the interview:


'The Internet is not an essential service that people cannot live without'

On a Net drive

Thomas John is into deep-sea fishing, skiing, swimming and long rides on his Royal Enfield 500. A graduate in physics and computing mathematics from Bombay University, he likes to study about high-end audio systems and developments in propulsion systems.
But, right now, his mind is filled with Ooha, a new venture to provide Internet access using kiosk infrastructure. So much so, that when I call John on a Sunday afternoon, he is on the road, tying up the details for Ooha’s soft launch at a Chennai mall, to ensure that the service is available to visitors from February 11.


'There is no globally defined taxonomy of KPO'

KPO is about ‘intellectual arbitrage’

It is likely that the knowledge services phenomenon will have far-reaching consequences for the global financial services industry over the next three years, foresees Mr Egidio (Edge) A. B. Zarrella, KPMG Global Partner in Charge, IT Advisory.
“A significant shift in the boundaries between ‘outsourceable’ and ‘non-outsourceable’ activities may happen with high-value activities overtaking low-end cost arbitrage work,” he adds, during an e-mail interaction with Business Line, soon after the launch of report titled Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO): Unlocking top-line growth by outsourcing ‘the core’, at Nasscom on February 13, in Mumbai.


'Customers should be able to use ATMs of any bank'

Should ATM usage be encouraged through incentives?

The most helpful way to address any effects of the sub-prime crisis is to continue to support mortgage disbursals, says Mr Robin Roy, Associate Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Post RBI’s holding the bank and repo rates unchanged in January, some more tax benefits on housing loans wouldn’t be out of place. It is time banks themselves had a re-look at their PLRs,” he adds, in the course of a recent e-mail interaction with Business Line.


'A fit body facilitates a fit mind'

‘Corporates are waking up to fitness needs’

Fitness, as an industry, has to grow and the people of our nation can benefit from it, but it can only be done with the help of the government, corporates and increasing awareness through the media, says Mr P. Vivekanand, Managing Director, FitnessOne.
“For instance, more fitness centres can open if Customs duty is reduced to a manageable level, considering there aren’t many R&D (research and development) facilities in India in the area of equipment manufacturing,” he adds during a recent interaction with Business Line. We had met, over lunch, on an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon, but Vivek is on high alert when talking about fitness.


Monday, February 18, 2008

A mature and civilised nation must cherish its agriculture and protect its farmers

‘Small farmers must get their share of credit’

In agriculture, there is an unfinished agenda for the Finance Minister, says Mr B. Yerram Raju, Director (Projects and Research) in Development & Research Services (P) Ltd, Hyderabad.
“Small and marginal farmers particularly in the drought-prone areas still access only private debt. The flow of agricultural credit is concentrated only in 11 States,” he adds, during the course of an e-mail exchange with Business Line.
Although the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) recommended credit at low rate of interest, we find the large farmers turning to money lending as a more viable profession than farming, rues Mr Raju.


Monday, February 11, 2008

'To enter into the ERP industry, students should get theoretical knowledge as well as practical training'

‘Just ERP won’t do’

What are the emerging areas of interest in ERP (enterprise resource planning)? Integration of various technologies to overcome the limitations of ERP? Moving towards service-oriented architectures (SOAs) and software as a service (SaaS)? Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) of ERP vendors for market consolidation?

“All these, plus more,” says Alexis Leon, author of ERP Demystified (

'There are things you create indirectly'

‘Planned opportunism’ is about responding to chance events

Indian management gurus have, for quite some time now, helped shape strategies and the thinking of top executives at the biggest corporations in the world. Along with C.K. Prahalad, Ram Charan and the late Sumantra Ghoshal, Vijay Govindarajan has helped push management thinking and articulate ideas that are at once catchy and profound in impact.

Prof VG, as he is popularly known, is the Earl C. Daum Professor of International Business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, USA.

'There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding FDI in real-estate sector'

REITs may face complex rules

The wish-list of the real-estate sector for the Budget should not include tax cuts or introduction of tax incentives, says Mr Abhishek Goenka, Partner, BMR & Associates. “All that the industry should call for is a stable policy,” he adds in the course of a recent e-mail interaction with Business Line.

“The changes in the Industrial Park scheme, which now provides stringent conditions for being eligible for the tax holiday, are a clear indicator of the overall philosophy of the Government to limit or phase out tax incentives,” reminds Mr Goenka.

Mentoring is critical to the future and development of any resource

Risks that control systems face from `creative responses'

Despite the widespread attention given to risk management, we get jolted by one major business failure or the other, almost routinely, with news reports that speak of bigger frauds (as in the case of SocGen), and massive losses, as for example of CitiGroup and Merrill Lynch. Are we learning newer lessons in risk management in the process? Is the risk appetite of businesses soaring dangerously and unsustainably?


A definite challenge for companies is to keep their overall tax costs as low as possible

Retail boom in the indirect tax web
While retailers are concerned about the high cost of real-estate, the recent levy of service tax on ‘renting of immovable property” is likely to be an added cost to the companies in the absence of any taxable output service offered by them, says Mr Varanasi Suresh, a Gurgaon-based expert in indirect taxes. It is noteworthy that there is no tax credit set-off available between service tax and VAT (value-added tax), he adds, during an e-mail exchange with Business Line, on the key challenges for retail and the associated indirect tax costs.

'India is now a major player in the international fuels market'

Natural resources in the energy piece of the growth jigsaw

Growth has been a continuing theme, more so these days. “Idle weeds are fast in growth,” declares the Bard in King Richard III. But the ‘India growth story’ is far from idle talk, you’d agree, though the pace and spread of growth can be endlessly debated upon. Holding a key to the unfolding growth jigsaw may be the energy piece, and within it, natural resources, observes Anish De, Associate Director, Ernst & Young.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A challenge for most wealthy families is that of managing succession

Wealth management starts with the question ‘What is the wealth for?’
A challenge for most wealthy families is that of managing succession. Their great concern is whether the next generation will be willing to assume some responsibility for the wealth.
“Yet each generation and each individual in each generation is different from prior generations,” reminds Mr Charles A. Lowenhaupt, a US-based wealth management expert. “The economics that allowed great wealth to b e built in one era are not the same in another.”

He compares the wealth creator to a collector of art. “He has enjoyed the challenges of building wealth, the excitement of the ‘chase’. When he passes that wealth to his children and asks them to ‘preserve’ the wealth, he is turning them into ‘curators’ of the collection without the excitement and challenges of building the collection.”

In India we are currently engaged with the high-end NDT users in the nuclear and aerospace domains.

A ‘Lucid’ effort

The phrase ‘non-destructive testing’ may sound like a toughie for most of us. “In the simplest form, all of us practise NDT in our everyday life as consumers,” says C.P. Madhusudan, Sales Director of Lucid Software Ltd, Chennai.

“When you buy tomatoes in the market and check if they are of the right colour, you are practising an NDT technique, viz. visual inspection. NDT comes into play wherever there exists a need for quality and safety,” he adds, picking up a piece of tomato from ‘sambhar’, during a recent interaction with eWorld over a quality working lunch.

Link the organisation’s planning process to achieving the targets for each performance measure

A management-reporting framework beyond the balanced scorecard

Can management reporting be based on common information architecture? “Yes,” says Jeby Cherian, Head, Global Business Solution Centre, IBM India, Bangalore. The infrastructure modifications that most organisations have adopted in the last decade provide an opportunity to improve current management reporting, he explains.

With common information architecture, organisations will be able to “integrate the underlying transaction engine with a data warehouse and decision support engine that enable analytics, and deliver the information through a portal to specific roles.”