Sunday, April 29, 2012

Akbar was not that Great!!!

Fatehpur Sikri  Capital of Akbar

Akbar "The Great" [1542-1605], was one of the greatest secular rulers in Indian history. That is taught to all school going students in India.  This is most convenient stand for the ruling parties and the people in the race of power. The statement on the historical facts may not stand true.

During Akbar regime  more than 90% population was of Hindus and aligned religions. Yet the representation to Hindus in his court was of minority stake. According to the books that document Akbar’s administration, A’in e Akbari and Akbarnama, 70% of Akbar’s courtiers were foreigners. Of the Indian 30%, more than half were Muslims. There were 21 Hindu nobles of note.

Further details of these nobles tell that  17 were Rajputs who had submitted to Akbar and were in turn rewarded by a post in the court. Akbar ruled India for four decades during which only four Hindus by virtue of ability could find a place in his court. They were — Birbal, Todar Mal and his son, and a Khatri.  
This was the state of the key positions in a most “secular kingdom”.

Akbar did not fight the war of succession like all other Moghul kings because his father, Humayun died  in 1556 when he was only 13 years of age and his brother Muhammad Hakim was still more young.  It was Bahram Khan and his nurse Maham Anga who helped him stay at the throne in the initial years.  But as he grew he freed himself from them by 1562.

Akbar had inherited DNA both from Timur Lane from parental side and  Chengiz Khan from maternal side.  During his rule of 40 years he exhibited the qualities of these dynasties.  The word “Mughal”  is an adaptation from the Persian word “Mughul” meaning Mongol.

Hindu king Hemu had captured Delhi and  had a battle with Akbar at Panipat. Second war of Panipat was a close fight. The fate of the war changed when an arrow pierced into Hemu’s eye and he became unconscious. His army misunderstood him to be dead and conceded.
Coins of Akbar Period

Unconscious Hemu was taken to the tent of Akbar where he severed the head of  unconscious hindu king  with his saber.  After the battle Hemu's head was sent to Kabul as a sign of victory to the ladies of Humayun's harem.  His commander  Iskandar Khan chased the Hemu's fleeing army and captured a large contingent.  These soldiers when unarmed were slaughtered . A  pillar  to mark the victory of moghul army was built with the heads of slaughtered army men of Hemu.

Peter Mundy, an English traveller 75 years after the Panipat war noted about the “War Pillar of Human Heads. Hemu’s father was captured and was offered exoneration if he adopts Islam. On refusal to change the religion he was executed. Hemu’s wife was lucky to escape safe from the fort.

After the fall of Hindu kingdom at Delhi, many of the Rajputa kings on eastern part conceded to Akbar, but  Rana Uday Singh of Mewar refused to have alliance with Akbar. The Moghul king decided to teach the lesson and sent an army to crush the Rajput voice. After  successfully resisting Moghul battalion for four months, Chittod’s  commander Jaimal  died of wounds. The ration inside the fort was getting exhausted so the ladies of the fort decided to perform “Jauhar” (act of self-immolation for protection from molestation) and army came out of the fort for “Kesariya” – the final battle.

The huge battalion of Akbar won the war and post this war was repetition of the war of Panipat. It is said that more than 30,000 unarmed  hindus were slaughtered in Chittod.   Rana Pratap continued the fight against the Moghuls. Many of us take pride in watching the satute of Rana Pratap sitting on Chetak, do we analyse the reason why he had to live in Jungles and not in fort. Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar, son of Rana Uday Singh, kept the Rajput resistance to Akbar alive and tried to reclaim the glory of Chittod

Marriage with hindu princesses was not a gesture of secularism, but a show of “Strength of Power”. His harem had more than 5,000 ladies of which 300 were officially married queens. Many of them were hindu princess who were weded by threatening their kingdoms.   Akbar wanted religious sanction of all these 300 wives. He is said to have taken shelter of “Mutta” marriage with a free women of other religion. A 'Mutta' marraige involves no ceremony , but is a private pact between a man and a woman for, officially, 'a limited period time (as short as one night)' agreed between them.

The Sunni Ulemma (Islamic scholars) from his court  disagreed with this act. First Akbar and his courtiers tried to persuade the Sunni Kazi to declare the marriages to have religious sanction. The Sunni Kazi refused to bend.  Annoyed Akbar dismissed the highest religious officer from his court. He was later replaced with a Shia Kazi  who agreed  to say the wish of king is the wish of religion.

These are documented versions, only our text book writers do not brows through them as they are like Shia Kazi of Akbar court. The time has come to change and accept the truth – “Akbar was no different than other Muslim invaders, he was rude and intolerant of the native Hindu faith.”

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Salary Survey 2012

ICICI Bank surprises Dalal Street

ICICI Bank Ltd’s March quarter earnings have bettered Street expectations by a large margin for a second straight quarter and has gained on the browsers accordingly. Net profit rose to 1,902 crore a gain of 31% from a year ago is a good reason for investors to get attracted .

Positive side of the results is  a 35% rise in operating profit, which was more than double the growth seen in the December quarter.  Other is a drop in Gross non-performing assets by 85 basis points. GNPA  as a portion of the loan book is now 3.62%.

On the second point there is a catch and so it is advisable to go cautious on this counter. GNPA has reduced, but  restructured loans have risen to 4,256 crore. That was a 39% increase over December.  This may indicate loss of opportunity indirectly or  an effort to give a new lease to the NPAs.  Bad loans are as high as 9,475 crore.

For short term gain one can remain invested till the mood is positive and not much of the post mortem of financial numbers get revealed. ICICI Bank trades at 1.58 times its estimated book value for fiscal 2013, which is lower than  HDFC and Axis Bank which are traded at 3.67 times  and 1.75 times respectively.  Both of them are stronger on the retail banking  a more secured segment.  

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Can Anna fight against Moles to protect his Crusade?

Within one years time Anna Hazare’s  crusade against corruption is losing steam. A movement which raised high hopes amongst the middle class and drew attention of media world over, is now a matter of past.  The team itself has n numbers of crack  and its  working shows lack of mutual trust and respect for each other. This way how long can they persuade for a strong Lokpal bill.

A Loot in Day Light
This does not mean that the level of corruption has come down. There is no need to search one can find it happening every where.  According to TI, 25 % of Indians paid bribe to obtain a service.  If the bribe was paid to get the job, it has to be recovered from the same job.  This indirectly indicates that atleast 25% of the employees are bound to be corrupt.
The worst of the departments are revenue and police  where no one picks up the pen without charging money.  You have lost a bike  so you are tense and under grief. Filing FIR of the lost bike means another expense of not less that Rs 1000 it may even higher, Transparency International estimates that Indian truckers pay something in the neighborhood of $5 billion annually in bribes to keep freight flowing. This any one can watch on any highway in the country.  A loot in daylight.  According to NGHRO daily bribe collection of traffic police from Indian highways is to the tune of Rs 200 Crores ( $40 million).
Do people expect the situation to improve? Answer is no… 90 % of Indians believe that corruption will increase within the next 3 years.  Who can tame the corruption … Police, Judiciary and Government.   Their image itself is detrimental. 68 % believe that governmental efforts to stop the corruption as ineffective. More than 90 % consider police and political parties as the worst corrupt institutions.
NGOs and local politicians are no better than the ruckus of  D gang. All entrepreneurs have to suffer and pay extortion to these elements and still adjust the books of accounts and show it as the miscellaneous  expenses.
Mufti Shamoon Qasmi
“Corruption is a large tax on Indian growth, It delays execution, raises costs and destroys the moral fiber.” says Prof. Rama Murthi.   The most unfortunate part is that those who have  the power to provide solution only confirm the degree of corruption like Rahul Gandhi was quoted by Financial Times, ”Only 5 per cent of development funds reached their intended recipients due to hierarchical corruption in the country”!
But dear prince of the nation  what are you doing to  tame this?  Your party men are busy installing the moles in Anna team. First Swami Agnivesh and now Mufti Shamoon Qasmi.  If you are serious about the remaining 95%  then have guts to expel the corrupt ministers from the government.  Bring a strong Lokpal Bill and let Judiciary function without any pressure from the government.
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Salary survey 2010

Saturday, April 21, 2012

RIL Profit Dipped so is its Control

Loser or a strategist?
Reliance Industries Ltd , India's largest, and arguably, most powerful enterprise has disappointed its investors as was expected one more quarter.  It posted a  drop of 21.2% in Net Profit  to Rs.4,236 crore for the quarter ended 31 March from a year ago.  RIL attributed the drop in profit, despite a 16.7% increase in revenue to Rs.87,833 crore, to soaring crude prices, and higher power and fuel expenses.

The company announced a final dividend of 85% of the face value for fiscal 2012, to bring smile on the face of worrying stakeholders.  The investors are more worried for RIL as it is losing its grip on the national policy makers and is unable to tame the down-slide of business. With the loss of patrons in Petroleum ministry position of RIL has become like ill managed  companies of licence raj exposed to open competition.
Sudarshan RIL Man

Nothing is happening favorable to Mukesh Ambani in last one year.  The man who was believed to dictate the policy makers is getting cold shoulder from "Shastri Bhavan" where each and every body was eager to lay red carpet to him and his fellow employees until last year.

It was said to be another office for RIL bosses and they were free to visit any moment. But P.M.S. Prasad, head of  RIL’s oil and gas business  was denied a meeting by Petroleum Secretary G.C. Chaturvedi  in December 2011. Such an  embarrassment now is not an exception under the captaincy of Jaipal Reddy. It is believed that Mukesh complained to Prime Minister about the biased stance of this Andhra Leader in a personal meeting. But  congress leadership can not annoy any AP leader till Jagan’s position is strong there.

In the last decade there have been two Petroleum ministers from Mumbai, where the HQ of RIL is situated. First, it was Ram Naik in NDA government and then Murli Deora from 2006 till 2011.  Deora was once a mentor for Ambani family. During his period  Shastri Bhavan was used for two out of court settlements favouring RIL. One was against GAIL.In the second case ADAG was  pushed to the wall.  The ministry withdrew gas marketing rights from operators, aiding RIL in case against RNRL.

Ram Naik, hero of Mumbai masses  gave en-mass boost to Ambani by allowing  private players to set up retail stations and sell petrol. But RIL could not compete with subsidised petro products of PSU OMCs. During his tenure RIL won bid for a 26% stake in IPCL against Indian Oil. Later. in April 2007, during UPA-I tenure, IPCL was fully taken over by the Reliance Group.

Things changed last year when Manmohan Singh gave charge of Shastri Bhavan to Andhra Leader Jaipal Reddy following the failure of  RIL in maintaining targeted production from KG basin and media reports on irregularities to favour RIL were making frequent headlines.

After taking the charge Reddy caught the bull by horns, he gradually sidelined all loyalist bureaucrats.  He cleaned up all levels of employees and did not spare even the petroleum secretary S. Sundareshan. Sundareshan  headed a panel that accepted RIL's claim over the entire KG-D6 block. Now, the lower output of gas compared to the projections is flaring up the relations between RIL and the ministry.

Joint secretary Apoorva Chandra in May 2011 wrote a controversial note to allow RIL to cut gas supply from the D6 block in KG basin, to non-core  industries. In August he was handed over transfer letter by the ministry. After three months more than a dozen officers were shunted out.

D6 block is estimated to hold gas reserves: around 11.3 trillion cubic feet. As per a field development plan RIL was to produce 80 mmscmd by April 2012, from 31 wells. However, the actual production is less than half, 34.5 mmscmd from 14 functional wells.  (1 mmscmd = 35,000 mmBtu =  $1,47,000 =  App 7,65 million INR)

RIL blames it to flood  and  three dry wells. Angry Jaipal wants to impose a penalty of Rs 9,000 crore on the company for achieving lower production. After all its in Andhra Pradesh where most of Gas based power plants were planned following this discovery.  

Lanco is the biggest loser because of lower gas production by RIL.  What is wrong, if Ram Naik from Mumbai can gift IPCL to Ambani, Reddy can pressurize RIL to produce extra gas for Lanco to revive? Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), deemed regulator of the sector, wants that RIL must dig an additional nine wells to ramp up production.

There is a group who believes that  lower production is a strategy of RIL group to put pressure on the government to revise selling price of Gas which are fixed at $4.2 per mmBtu. Till 2014 the prices will remain unchanged, so will the output of KG basin.  Till RIL wants to spend time in exploration of Mahanadi basin. Once the  rates are hiked in 2014  the production and profitability  of RIL both will shoot up.