Sunday, October 22, 2017

Quick notes: Popular again, Utility-scale solar...

  • Dynasty is popular again, if you believe the bots: A close analysis of this tweet showed that these 'bots' with a Russian, Kazakh or Indonesian characteristic were routinely re-tweeting the Congress VP's tweets.

  • When did we become so dependent on China? The Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore high-speed-rail corridor lies in limbo because the Chinese railways has failed to respond to the ministry's communiques.. Blacklist the Hans!

  • Greening of South Rajasthan:  A combination of a scientific approach and ancient traditional practices have brought about a green cover in hundreds of villages across the region. 

  • Game changer for India’s solar sector: Country’s first utility-scale solar plant with battery energy storage coming up in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. 

  • Madhu Kishwar: Taking the Sabarimala temple to court for restricting the entry of women of a certain age group is akin to meat-eaters suing vegetarian restaurants for discriminating against non-vegetarians by refusing to serve meat. Common sense response would be to say: “Go find a non-veg restaurant, of which there are plenty.” 

  • American Chefs Discover Mustard Oil: A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 found that Indians who ate mustard oil had lower incidences of heart disease, possibly because of its alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in plants. Pure mustard oil sold in the United States must bear a warning: “For external use only.” after the Food and Drug Administration banned its sale as a foodstuff. “The potential hazards are based on animal studies, and to my knowledge we don’t have real evidence of harm to humans.”

  • Meatless Burgers: When fake meat is better than the real thing

  • Diwali night:

  • Islam summed up in 1 pic

Thursday, October 19, 2017

absolutely superb article by sanjeev nayyar on the law-unto-themselves judiciary

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Fwd: Economy should bounce back strongly in next few quarters by Prashant Jain, CIO of HDFC Mutual Fund in TOI

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

Shubh Deepavali and Best wishes for Vikram Samvat 2074. warmly sanjeev
Economy should bounce back strongly in next few quarters
By Prashant Jain 19/10/2017
The last few weeks have witnessed a lively debate about the prospects of Indian economy, equity markets and earnings. The reasons for this debate have been a slowdown in GDP growth in the last few quarters, weak earnings and equity markets that have continued to do well. This divergence between weak economic and earnings growth on the one hand and strong equity markets on the other has raised concerns around two issues — one, whether the economy is passing through challenging times and two, if markets are running ahead of earnings.
In my opinion, the observations on GDP and earnings growth are correct. But, the conclusion about equity markets is not. Sometimes what is visible is incorrect and what is invisible is correct. Let us deal with these issues one by one.

GDP growth has indeed slowed down in the last few quarters. However, it needs to be borne in mind, that the last one year has witnessed two important reforms — demonetisation and GST. These, while being very beneficial over the medium to long term, have adversely impacted growth in the last few quarters. The slowdown in growth is temporary and should not be extrapolated into the future. In fact, there are reasons to believe that the economy should bounce back strongly in the next few quarters. Monthly data for July, August and September for several parameters (see first table) already points in that direction.
The outlook for the economy over the medium to long term is actually very promising. The last few years have witnessed a spate of reforms that have improved the macro economic fundamentals of the country and future growth prospects, results of which should soon be visible. This view is driven by a likely acceleration in infra capex, affordable housing and a revival in private capex. According to recent news flow, there are reasons to be optimistic about revival of private capex in the not too distant future, primarily led by the metals sector.

Moving to earnings, the first thing to note is that corporate profitability in general, and specifically for some sectors, is cyclical. The earnings disappointment in the recent past has been mainly due to a sharp fall in profits of sectors like steel, engineering & capex and corporate banks. This, however, is all set to change. With the sharp recovery in steel and other metal prices, with the peaking of provisioning costs in corporate banks, and with a slow but steady improvement in infra capex, earnings recovery is under way and it should become increasingly evident with each passing quarter.
Last quarter's results are already pointing in that direction. In fact, corporate banks and metals that witnessed a fall in profits in Q1FY17 have reported decent profit growth in the Q1FY18, albeit on a low base.

One more related issue is that expectations in financial markets move much faster than in the real world. In the real world, it typically takes two years to build a house, one year to renovate it. But we expect economy growth to surge, NPAs to resolve, earnings to recover and much more in a few quarters. Unfortunately, to bring about changes in the real world — and more so in a large and complex country like India — takes longer.

That finally brings us to the most topical issue: Equity markets valuations.
It is commonly understood that over the long term, stock market indices in India are growing around the same rate as the nominal GDP (GDP growth + inflation) of the country. Also, it is well known that nominal GDP of India has been growing 12-16% per annum (4-9% real growth and 10-4% inflation) for several decades. This implies that when in any extended period of, say 10 years, indices grow less than nominal GDP, they tend to make up in the future by delivering higher returns.

The second table summarises the returns of the sensex in those 10-year periods (since its inception in 1979), when the returns were less than 7% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) — approximately half of long-term nominal GDP growth rate of 12-16% — and the returns of sensex for the next 10 years. It is interesting to note that, thus far, every 10-year period of below 7% CAGR of returns by the sensex was followed by a period in which the index delivered 14-19% CAGR over the next 10 years.
Currently, we are at one such instance again as CAGR of sensex in last 10 years is just 6.1%. Equity markets have lagged nominal GDP by 8% CAGR over the last 10 years and are consequently at an attractive market cap-to-GDP ratio. At this juncture, to ignore this significant underperformance of market over last 10 years compared to nominal GDP growth and to conclude that the market is overvalued based on a slowdown in GDP data and weak earnings over last few quarters is not reasonable. Even in price-to-earning (P/E) ratio terms, markets are trading near 17x FY19(estimated, or e) and 15x FY20(e), which are reasonable, especially given the low interest rates. This suggests that equity markets are not excessively valued with a medium- to long-term view.
Successful investing needs more patience than intelligence. The track record of a few mutual fund schemes over decades and the experience of those investors who have stayed invested in these funds for long periods amply demonstrates this. Even in the future, patience should be well rewarded, given the strong fundamentals and growth prospects of the economy.
Let me end this note with a thought attributed to Gautam Buddha: "If the direction is right, all you need to do is to keep walking." Hopefully, even the most ardent critic of economy or of stock markets, will agree that the direction is indeed right.
To read detailed report by Prashant Jain, see attached PDF.


sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Fwd: India cannot ignore military reforms in China ushered in by Xi Jinping+Trump’s latest mollycoddling of Pakistan defies logic+US says holds Myanmar military leaders accountable in Rohingya crisis

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sanjeev Nayyar

Shubh Deepavali and Best Wishes for Vikram Samvat 2074
1. India has upper hand over Pakistan by G Parthasarathy 19.10.17
SN – India must not trust the Trump admin blindly. Todays papers refer to U.S. Sec of State Rex T visiting India, Afghan, Pak and saying that U.S. will work together with Pak to fight terrorism and reduce tension on India Pak border. "We intent to work closely with India and Pakistan and we hope to ease tensions along their borders as well..Pakistan has two very troubled borders. We would like to help take the tensions down on both of those," Mr. Tillerson said.
3 India cannot ignore military reforms in China ushered in by Xi Jinping 19.10.17 by harsh pant
SN – India must give up its obsession with Pakistan esp policy makers and armed forces. Media and Public might not change but government has to.
4. Highlights of Xi's report to 19th CPC National Congress 19.10.17
5. India's review of relations with China overdue 19.10.17
'Turning its back against China, India will have to maintain a large army and purchase expensive and advanced weapons instead of cutting military spending in order to invest limited resources in economic development as China did in the early stages of its reform and opening-up.'
6. Harari: China will play a key role in the next global revolution 18.10.17
8. Testimony of destruction 19.10.17 Rohingyas
8. A possible link between Doklam and Pyongyang by rohit prasad 19.10.17
Warm Regards
sanjeev nayyar
to unsubscribe write back

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Nawaz Sharif Indicted by Courts

Courts in Pakistan have indicted Nawaz Sharif for corruption, which may mean a possible prison term for him:

It looks like the courts are acting at the behest of the Pak Army, which is trying to throw Sharif out of power. Sharif had been positioning himself as a close business partner with China in the new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. This would have not only positioned him for profit, but his coziness with Beijing would have allowed him an upper hand in dealing with the Pak Army. Since the Pak Army exists first and foremost to preserve its own power above all others, they found Sharif's growing power intolerable and have moved to stop it by ousting him through the courts.

It's against this backdrop that Pakistan and its army are now suddenly offering new coooperation to the United States, in order to buy cover for themselves during this backroom coup maneuver. Until and unless the United States sees through Pakistan's games, and learns to recognize Pak Army as the source of regional instability and not its solution, then the US will continue to suckered by Pakistan.

Minorities Who Are Trans-Nationalists

Regarding the piece Rajeev posted from Sanjeev Nayyar about India's courts, and just some of my broader thoughts on courts and minorityism - I wanted to note the following:

Courts/judiciaries want to protect minorities from oppression by the majority. Given the history of smaller groups being at a disadvantage to be crushed by larger majorities, there's reason to want some protections to exist. But there's also another history - a history of imperialism whereby larger/powerful groupings show up in a locality to subjugate it from outside. Laws regarding treatment of minorities have been framed without giving adequate consideration to the special type of minority who are trans-nationalists - ie. having an affinity to similar people living outside the country. In that case, the so-called "minority" is really just the tip of a larger iceberg - part of a larger whole, like the camel which has poked its nose inside a tent. Courts/judiciaries only see the nose, and think that's all there is to see. They don't see the larger camel attached to that nose, and its presence/effect.

There are genuine minorities who have no attachments outside of national borders - they are true minorities, in the truest sense of that word. But trans-nationalists who identify with a larger whole really aren't minorities at all. They continue to maintain and pursue their attachments with their larger whole, and it's the locals who aren't part of that who are at a relative disadvantage to that. It's for this reason that the minorities are able to dominate the narrative and portray local nationalists as a "big, bad majoritarians". The rise of trans-nationalism has continued to further this game.

Nationalists of different countries likewise then need to be able to reach out and coordinate with each other, in order to seize back the narrative and fend off the expansionist tendencies of trans-nationalist groups.

Quebec Bans Face Coverings for Public Services

Canada's province of Quebec has passed a law which bans those with face coverings from giving or receiving public services:

Critics are accusing the law of having been passed to target Muslims in particular.

TIllerson Calls for Ties with India to Counter China

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for closer ties with India in order to counter China:

The United States has announces that it will provide its electromagnetic catapult technology to India for its aircraft carriers:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Quick notes: Fasting craze, INS Kiltan...

Monday, October 16, 2017

morgan stanley optimistic about india

superb piece by sanjeev nayyar

judges are like marie antoinette or the queen of hearts. off with their heads! they cry. 

sent from samsung galaxy note3 neo, so please excuse brevity

Friday, October 13, 2017

Nikki Haley Scuttling Iran Deal?

A report says that Nikki Haley is behind the move by the Trump Whitehouse to decertify the US deal with Iran:

Haley may also be in line to take over Rex Tillerson's job as Secretary of State down the road.

Reports Claim New Chinese Activity on Doklam Plateau

There are fresh reports of new Chinese activity on the Doklam plateau, which was the recent site of a military standoff between Indian and Chinese forces:

Pak Civil-Military Relations Fraying

There are increasing frictions between Pakistan's military rulers and the elected govt of Nawaz Sharif:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quick notes: Missile story, Cycle sharing...

  • India's Missile Story: In autumn 1982, Kalam presented his findings to the defence minister at that time, R Venkataraman. If Kalam was a hard-driving visionary, so too was Venkataraman. Dismissing all talk of a "phased programme", he ordered all programmes to be taken up simultaneously. The Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme was formally sanctioned in July 1983, and funds were pre-allocated for a 12-year period up to 1995.

    Those were heady days for the DRDO's idealistic young scientists, buoyed by the 1971 victory over Pakistan and the "peaceful nuclear experiment" of 1974. In 1972, two young IIT graduates, VK Saraswat and Avinash Chander joined the DRDO just ten days apart. They were amongst more than a hundred young scientists who joined the DRDO's missile complex after graduating from premier institutions like the IITs, and Jadhavpur University. Within three years, Saraswat was heading propulsion development, while Chander spearheaded the development of navigation and guidance systems.

    "Wherever we have worked without the option of import - be it on strategic missiles, nuclear weapons, atomic energy or the space programme - we have achieved self-reliance. In the super-secret world of electronic warfare, where import is not an option, we have built world-class systems. We should ourselves ban imports, and we will indigenise. Necessity is the mother of invention."

  • Debájit Sarkar explains: How good is LCA Tejas compared with other fighter jets in its category?

  • Urban mobility: Zoomcar launches PEDL, India's first technology enabled cycle sharing service 

  • Hydrogen is right choice as fuel for automobiles: G Madhavan Nair, former chairman of ISRO: "Lithium, you cannot throw it around. That becomes the most polluting thing. There has to be an adequate mechanism for collection and reprocessing. The availability of lithium is scarce and that's why the cost of LiBs is high. That's why I say for the long-run, one should look for (Hydrogen) fuel cell "

  • Nerdy and proud of it: The smartest Americans are heading west

  • Foreign languages not to be part of 3-language formula: Students who are keen on learning foreign languages should opt for the subject as fourth or fifth language 

  • Better to learn to code than learn English as a second language: Programming encourages students of all disciplines to be inventive and experimental: “It’s not just for the computer scientists. Creativity is in the front seat; technology is in the backseat.”

Rivals Attack Modi Over Economy

Political rivals continue to snipe at Modi over India's lack-luster economic growth data:

What I feel Modi's govt should have done is to devolve powers over key economic policies - like labor policies, minimum wage, land reform, etc - to the state and local district govts. Doing this would have allowed those state and local govts who are more boldly inclined to proceed more aggressively in reforms and thus boost national economic growth, while the state and local govts with less inclination would have been able to lag according to their preferences. This would have entailed no political backlash cost for Modi directly, as the ensuing reform decisions by various state and local govts would be on their own heads and not Modi's. It would have been a way to jump-start reforms and spur competition between various parts of India in reforming themselves faster in order to reap opportunities faster. I don't understand the purpose of keep all authority over economic policies so tightly in the hands of the Centre. When there's no political cost to doing so, and when there's plenty of benefit to be gained, then I don't see why Modi's govt hasn't proceeded in this direction.