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Showing posts from November, 2008

The demise of expectations

The tragic episode in Bombay was profoundly shocking both in terms of its unexpectedness and intensity. On the evening of the 27th November 2008 a group of terrorists randomly fired at 13 locations including the main railway station, a café frequented by foreign tourists and at two of the city’s leading hotel properties – The Oberoi and Taj Mahal. Dozens of people died and many more were severely wounded. The course of events subsequently evolved into a hostage situation at the two luxury hotels and a smaller guest house – the Nariman – frequented by low budget Israeli tourists. At the time of writing this piece, commando units from India’s elite National Security Guard were in the process of flushing them out. Whilst details remain sketchy, the terrorists allegedly arrived in a boat, disembarking at two points on Bombay’s waterfront. The Indian Coast Guard has since apprehended the craft and discovered sophisticated equipment, most unusual in a boat of that type. An unknown organisat

In the shadow of the storm

As the weeks unfold they bring more bad news and the mighty continue to fall. Citibank now joins a growing list of financial institutions that are reportedly on the verge of collapse. By next week it is conceivable that Citi will merge with another bank, seek a taxpayer-funded bail-out or sell some of its assets to fund its desperate capital requirements. Either way, it may be the end of an era for one of the world’s leading banking institutions that dominated international finance for several decades. India’s woes, too, continue to mount. Many industrial product companies have sheepishly admitted production cuts varying between 20 and 30%. Several smaller ones specifically in the exporting sector are precariously hanging on, as order books shrink and liquidity virtually collapses. Some anecdotal evidence, whilst not substantiated, suggests that as many as 1.5 – 2 million people are in serious danger of losing their jobs (a recent Assocham report conservatively estimated that 700,000

Euphoria now – apprehensions to follow

The media can scarcely contain their excitement over the US presidential elections. Newspapers and television have been swamped with reports and speculation about likely policies of a Democratic White House under Barack Obama. Commentators and foreign governments are literally relieved that a new and refreshing approach is likely to be forthcoming in areas of economic strategy and international relations. All of this they think would lead to a better world. In India too, the press have echoed global sentiment about Mr Obama’s victory. Perhaps this euphoria may need to be tempered as future events unfold. Republican administrations in the United States have, conventionally, been favourably disposed towards India. George Bush may not be remembered for doing wonderful things, but from an Indian perspective his presidency was perhaps the best that India could have hoped for. He changed US policy towards the subcontinent, de-linked New Delhi from Islamabad and genuinely recognised India as