Reading between the lines: PM’s speech on New Year’s Eve

Notes 2017

People all over India and abroad expected surprise announcements in PM’s speech on New Year’s Eve. They glued to the seats in front of their TV screens like never before. But the speech, surprised many by not having any surprise announcements. Or is it so? Here is my take on what to read between the lines from PM’s speech.

According to PM’s speech, three crore Kisan Credit Cards are going to be converted to RuPay debit cards by end of the quarter. These cards are traditionally used to withdraw money from banks and now will be evolved as debit cards. This means

  • Farmers would be made to purchase essentials like seeds and fertilizers using trackable transactions on these cards. The cash withdrawal nature of the schemes and cards would slowly cease to exist.
  • So the expenses of farmers (more importantly, the income of vendors) would go both cashless and trackable.

PM announced interest subvention of 4 percent and 3 percent for housing loans taken in 2017 upto 9 lakhs and 12 lakhs respectively.

  • This will help banks push their cash and deposits surplus to loans that are large in volumes and small in magnitude. That means more and more middle class and lower middle class people are going to opt for housing loans.
  • If and when these loans and subventions are linked to tax filing, more and more people come under tax net.
  • This also has potential to create more business in the housing market (in the short run, i.e. 2017) for middle class and lower middle class. It offsets any potential shortfall in the real estate market (specifically housing market) post notes ban. Given PM’s public statements earlier this month regarding Benami lands, I think there might be some hard decisions that give setbacks in agricultural land markets and the government is trying to offset that in housing market.

PM’s speech almost conceded that there are going to be simultaneous elections in the country. Assuming that there would be a push towards Parliament and Assembly elections in the country to be held simultaneously, it needs significant changes in constitution and the role of Election Commission. I think the PM started his pre-work (of getting people mentally ready for simultaneous elections) with this speech. Rest of the work is purely procedural.

PM’s speech also gives a hint towards “holier than thou” approach needed by political parties.

  • That seems like a hint towards an inevitable curb or restrictions on cash based donations accepted by political parties.

Income from turnover of businesses (with upto 2 crores of turnover) will be calculated as 6% as opposed to earlier 8%, provided the transactions are digital. Effectively, that means a potential 25% tax reduction if the businesses are doing their transactions in digital mode. This is one more push to go digital in their transactions.

The underwriting for small businesses is increased from one crore to two crores, while extending the coverage to loans given by NBFCs also. Not sure how much impact it would immediately have, but I think it might attract small businesses to go for higher loans, garner higher revenues and pay higher taxes. However, the discretion used by NBFCs might not match what the normal banks would do while evaluating a businesses loan potential. So we may have interesting scenarios unfolding in this sector.

Increase in working capital loans from 20% to 30% is another way to push the surplus cash and deposits with banks back into the market.

In a nutshell, here are the key points I do read from the speech.

  • Create more avenues to push surplus cash with banks back into the market.
  • While doing so, ensure that the cash is pushed to trackable investments disburses like loans and agricultural spending.
  • Push for more and more digital payments at all levels. “You get more sops if your transactions are more digital.”
  • Bring more people into tax net, by encouraging them to do businesses at a larger scale with an increase in their capital and loans.
  • Start measures to offset the impact of future hard decisions in real estate markets
  • Give a hint about potential axe on the current leeway enjoyed by political parties
  • Give a hint about election reforms on the horizon

So, no surprises? That is a platform being set for future surprises.

 

 

 

 

 

High Denomination Notes Cease To Be Legal Tender

RBI 2000 High Denomination Note

In a very bold move by PM Narendra Modi, India’s Ministry of Finance cancels the legal tender nature of India’s High Denomination notes of Rs. 500 and 1000 issued earlier by RBI. The move appears sudden, harsh and makes the entire country take a few hardships in the next few days, but it is a much needed and welcome move though. My personal opinions and account of what what to expect soon and how to handle the transition phase.

Baseless Criticism

  • Some people (especially politicians) call this anywhere from anti-nation to draconian. In My Opinion, this is just a harsh and bold move that hurts a bit. Just like you take a shot of injection when you are ill. The move is far less draconian and anti-nation when compared to the inconveniences we common people face when you politicians and employee associations of banks and governments announce sudden strikes/bandhs for some stupid reasons known only to you.
  • Some people criticize the timing of the decision, but I admire this timing for the following reasons.
    1. A big festival season is just over, so common man would have relatively less cash transaction needs
    2. The first week of this month just passed, so majority of monthly cash needs of middle class and upper middle class Indians, like rents and monthly groceries, would be taken care of by now. However, people who do daily and weekly grocery purchases would have a couple of weeks of inconvenience.
    3. This action immediately follows the tax declaration scheme, so people with large sums of undisclosed income did get a chance to get clean. If they haven’t, then they are the most hit.
  • Some people suggest phased withdrawal of notes. However, that would have lesser impact on black money and would lead to long term cash flow issues in the market if big guys cease flow of new currency notes during that phased withdrawal. In my opinion, the cash flow issues with the current approach of PMO and Ministry of Finance would last about a week or two at the most, provided banks and RBI are ready to handle the volumes.

Personal Inconveniences And How To Overcome

I think an average Indian has a short phase of going very conservative. Here is my way to cope up with this critical juncture after assessing the PM’s announcement and its impact on myself. After the announcement, I quickly counted my left over high denomination notes that can be legally tendered. Specifically Rs. 100 and 50. They totaled to Rs. 3850 and here is what I would do with that money.

  • I resolved not to withdraw any cash from an ATM or Bank at least until Friday evening. Preferably until Monday evening. By that time, I presume the rush at these places would ease up and people with more immediate needs can use this time rather.
  • I am going conservative for a few weeks and keeping my cash in bank as contingency for any emergencies including medical emergencies. This would continue even if I am able to withdraw a few high denomination notes in a week or two.
  • I may do some shopping of basic needs using my credit card and limit my purchases to essential food items. That may include biscuit and snack packs for my upcoming travel.
  • I have set aside Rs 1300 towards fuel. My two wheeler needs a refill of about 300 and my car can live with Rs 1000 worth of fuel in the next one week, provided I use my two wheeler more often than my car.
  • I have a weekend travel coming up that involves three overnight travels of 7-13 hours each. I am planning to use biscuit and snack packs as travel food as opposed to meals that I usually buy for anywhere between Rs 80 to 200. With all my tickets purchased earlier, I may be able to manage my travel with about Rs. 1000 of that left over money.
  • I am planning to use public transportation during my weekend travel, so that I would spend less cash than usual for taxis and local transportation.
  • That leaves me with about Rs 1500 to meet any immediate cash needs. Hopefully we can manage with that money and feel proud next week that our nation has done the right thing.

The key thing here is to go conservative and minimize the spending rather than trying to amass large amounts of cash or goods.

Tougher scenarios

I see a few tougher scenarios like these that have no easy way out.

  • My son is going for a few days of international travel representing his college this weekend. The tickets are taken care of by funds from college, but he needs foreign exchange before Friday for food and incidental expenses. Given that he doesn’t have a credit card and we need to arrange forex cash for him before he leaves for the trip, we are not sure how we can manage that. This is a very special case, but a tough scenario for me as an individual.
  • The next few days are auspicious days as per our calendar and lot of my friends and relatives have weddings and functions lined up. Conducting those functions is going to be tough for them (for example, how can one buy Rs. 15,000 worth of vegetables in a farmers market for a wedding dinner tomorrow?) until the banks and ATMs ease up to let them use their cash in banks or exchange already withdrawn legitimate money in high denomination notes.

Barring the impact of tougher scenarios like these, I see that we as a nation can easily wade through the short periods of lesser cash flow. The key is not to panic. Don’t try to get more cash, just conserve the cash you have.

The nation needs support from all of us for this bold and game changing decision. Let us join hands with PM Modi and his administration to make this a smooth phase.

Jai Hind.

Driverless Cars: Moral and Legal Considerations

Driverless cars are no longer a fantasy. Despite being far from general purpose use, this technology is evolving leaps and bounds, thanks to players like Google and Tesla making steady progress on this technology. As the technology evolves and enters into public life, several legal and moral issues are going to crop up.

The recent issue of Communications of the ACM carries a nice article describing the moral challenges of driverless cars. In this thought provoking article, the author brings up scenarios that bring up ethical and moral questions. To quote from the article,

However, should an unavoidable crash situation arise, a driverless car’s method of seeing and identifying potential objects or hazards is different and less precise than the human eye-brain connection, which likely will introduce moral dilemmas with respect to how an autonomous vehicle should react …

Driverless cars have potential to fare better than humans in 90% (or better) of the times. But the other small percentage of times usually bring in more ethical and legal dilemmas where humans would fare vast better than the technologies used in driverless cars. In these situations, human drivers are usually faced with multiple choices that vary in terms of amount of impact or destruction to property or humans. The senors and algorithms used in driverless cars (as they stand for the next few years) may have limitations in identifying the course that leads to least impact or least destruction. When the system operating a driverless car takes a non-optimum decision, there could be several legal and ethical ramifications.

As discussed in the above mentioned article, handing over control to a human driver in emergency situations is far from reality, given the response times needed by a disengaged human. Even the automation around a fully engaged driver’s action is being subjected to several legal questions around responsibility. For example, this article on WSJ discusses how Tesla’s autonomous car-passing feature intends to pass on the responsibility to the driver, by making it a driver initiated (e.g. turn on the signal) automation. Given that the same action of the driver in a car with and without these autonomous features results in drastically different ramifications, states like CA, NV and FL are mandating special registrations for drivers of autonomous vehicles. The registration is based on the level of autonomous features of the vehicle.

Beyond the responsibility question that touches the legal aspects, driverless cars technology needs to continually improve upon the ethical questions that come up during an emergency situation. For example, is it okay to crash the car in the next line to avoid a bicyclist who is jumping a pedestrian signal?

Then comes the integrity question around the autonomous features. What is the possibility of these features getting tampered or outdated? Is Tesla’s Over-the-air update going to be a typical standard for automakers across the globe?

In a nutshell, the legal aspects of driverless cars can be best handled by training the drivers for those specific features. However, the ethical aspects require more maturity of the technology. Add the complexity of changes in driving rules across multiple geographic regions (states, countries) and we are going to see a lot of technology evolution in this space.

Here are a few lingering thoughts that I have regarding driverless cars. I am more anxious to find the answers sooner.

  • What happens if the road sign standards change across borders? E.g. colors and sizes of signs across states, speed limits posted in miles vs. kms across countries. We may soon see a few settings on your dashboard to let the car know (or confirm) that you are driving in New Jersey or Maine or Canada.
  • Cars may be certified to run autonomously in certain areas only. Like “This car can use the autonomous features in CA and NV only, but not in AZ.”
  • Cars would be able to identify the speed limit on a signpost and ignore a similar looking sign on a billboard next to a freeway. Do they do it by improving their sensors or depend on a networked repository (say Google Maps) of speed limits in that area.
  • Visual congestion identification and taking alternate routes. Pretty simple given the current advances in maps technology.
  • In situations where disengaged drivers don’t have awareness of circumstances that led to an accident, cars may require legally acceptable sensor information logs. In other words, the cars would have scaled down versions of blackboxes like in aircrafts.
  • What if someone hacks the “car stack”? How does one get to know? Do we get to do a periodic (smog-check like) stack-check and certification? If this looks like a fantasy, please checkout the Tesla hack and fix a couple of days ago.

And here is an extreme one:

  • If it turns out that the damages caused in an accident by an autonomous car with a disengaged driver are much higher than the damages if an engaged driver were operating the car without autonomous features, what are the insurance ramifications? Would insurance companies track maturity levels of the autonomous features and charge accordingly for insurance?

I do live in interesting times.

Data Insurance: to Limelight and Mainstream

In contrast with other essential elements of human life like death and taxes, the history of insurance has been very short. However, in terms of evolution, the concept of insurance has been constantly changing and continuously embracing new domains. Insurance of properties, life, health, beauty, athletic talent and limbs are very trivial now. Data insurance, which has been limited once to multi-billion dollar corporates and that too for limited scenarios, is now taking center stage.

The drivers for data insurance existed for quite some time, but they haven’t proliferated into human life and organizational practices as it happens now. The key drivers pushing the trend towards data insurance are the protections we need against data loss, data compromise and data misuse.

Organizations, as they evolve in their presence over web, social networks and mobile applications, are capturing more and more data. The rest of the discussion in this article focuses on two categories of this data.

  • Acquired data: All the customer information, employee information and any other user information collected directly or indirectly from the users constitutes this acquired data. By nature, this class of data is highly likely to have sensitive information that includes personally identifiable information (PII), credit card information, etc.
  • Generated data: All the housekeeping, analytics and user behavior data in an organization falls into this category. This data is very vital in delivering  better user experience to both end users and internal teams. This data is mostly generated by an organization’s web/mobile applications that interface with end users and may be augmented with data inferred from other user interactions like support calls and email exchanges.

Any compromise on acquired data leads to a very big exposure – loss of face, legal tangles and/or customer loyalty issues. The data compromises detected at companies like Target and Home Depot are leading to customer unrest, loss of loyalty and severe financial implications from legal consequences.

Any compromise of generated data makes an organization limp (often heavily) in their business process. Generated data compromise mostly leads to inefficiencies and exposure of the secret sauces to competition.

The impact of a compromise on generated can’t be taken any lightly when compared to the impact of acquired data compromise. The generated data may also include intellectual property related items that could hurt a company in the long run when that data is compromised.

Digital (or digitized) data captured by humans also is increasing in its prominence,  value and the risk of compromise. Whether it is personal pictures of celebrities or tax data of individuals, the risk associated with any compromise of this data is increasing over time. As the data access avenues are increasing (e.g. health data accessed via a wearable device), the potential for compromise of personal data is also increasing.

Given all this increased focus on data and its risks, we see a bigger shift towards insuring the data by corporations and individuals. Data Insurance is taking new paths that are less traveled by insurance companies in the past. Data Insurance packages now contain and cover a wide variety of data sets.

Just like humans undergo a set of prerequisite tests before taking a new health insurance package, data sets might undergo certain audits that cover the access controls and security risks associated with this data. We may also see a trend towards re-audits during renewals of data insurance to re-validate the access controls and risks.

The key factor in Data Insurance is determining the value of data. Human life insurance packages usually cover sums like 5x annual income. Vehicle insurances usually cover up to the Bluebook value of a vehicle. Coming up with valuation for data is not that straight forward though. The valuation process might differ greatly between acquired data and generated data. Unlike constant depreciation of a vehicle’s Bluebook value, the value of data may either decrease (data that becomes stale over time) or increase (with volumes or with increased sensitivity of same data) over time. Data Insurance companies and the insured organizations/individuals will often be re-evaluating the value of data to optimize costs and minimize the impact of exposure.

In summary, here are some of the primary factors by which data insurance evolves:

  • Categorization of data
  • Valuation of data
  • Data audits

As data insurance hits mainstream, all these factors experience market growth and some sort of standardization beyond what we have today.

 

 

Currency recalls in a note folding economy

The Reserve Bank of India issued a notice to recall currency notes prior to 2005 in an effort to curb black money in the country. It first issued a notice in January 2014 on modalities of the recall. Then it extended the deadline for recall till January 01st, 2015.

While the intent and rationale behind the recall is very good, recall of notes based on the year of issuance of currency notes has potential to be a pain in the long run. The reason? It is the way RBI prints the year on the currency.

Note that India has lot of cash flow in its economy in the form of notes exchange (as opposed to card or cheque transactions in lot of countries.) Most transactions happen in rural and neighborhood micro economies (as opposed to franchise driven stores.) Most people have wallets in which notes are folded. The currency in small economy stores also is kept in folded form.

Now, lets take a look at how RBI prints the year on currency notes. The year is printed in small font, spreading on either side of the fold in the middle , closer to the bottom edge of the note, and more importantly, on the outer side of the note when folded. Due to this, the area at which the year is printed goes thru lot of rupture during transactions.

Just to validate this thought process, I skimmed around for notes with low readability of the date. I did this among a pool of about Rs 2000 of the cash I have and bingo, I could find two notes each in four low end denominations of the currency. As a bonus, I could find notes that are printed either in 2010 or 2011, that means these notes are 3-4 years in transaction at the most.

Here is a Rs 10 note printed in 2010. See the year in lower middle section of the note and you realize how soiled the area is within 3-4 years of use.

Here is a Rs 10 note printed in 2011.

Here is a Rs 20 note printed in 2010. The date is barely legible.

Here is a Rs 20 note printed in 2011. The date is barely legible here too.

Here is a Rs 50 note printed in 2010.

Here is a Rs 50 note printed in 2011.

Here is a Rs 100 note printed in 2010.

Here is a Rs 100 note printed in 2011.

Going by the above images, we know how difficult it is for rural and small sized economies to use the printed date as a way to enforce the life of currency notes. One consoling factor might be (at least temporarily) that RBI started printing year on the currency notes starting in 2005. So for now, people can use any note with a year printed on it in their transactions. But a year or two down the line, we might have challenges enforcing the rule, if the starting year is different from 2005.

What should RBI ideally do? Here is my take. RBI should start printing the year on the currency notes at a different place (say, somewhere close to the watermark) and with a larger font. The year should be legible in low light conditions and on notes that are heavily used/soiled. Once RBI delivers notes with new standards for a year or two, enforcement becomes easier, because the instrument for enforcement would be more apt.

Enforcing the recall in the current standards of notes (and printed year) would lead to more confusion, especially in poor and uneducated sector. Note that India is one of the countries that uses currencies of different sizes and colors, given the low literacy rates. So enforcement of age of notes should be thought thru more carefully, with strong consideration towards challenges in rural, poor and uneducated sectors.

Better yet, RBI should find more ways to encourage transactions that are trackable – card and cheque transactions. Now-a-days, these kind of transactions are time consuming, come with lot of direct/indirect charges, and in general perceived as an inconvenience. Any innovations in encouraging these transactions would help the economy a lot.

Hope RBI comes up with a better way out of this situation.

Do you want to supersize that drug?

I am a big ibuprofen fan for all sprains and related inflammations. The ibuprofen strips in our medical cabinet usually expire before they get consumed and we throw it away, just like we threw away that strip of 200mg dose of ibuprofen last month. Having a backup of a strip of 400mg dose, I didn’t backfill the one I threw away.

Well, then a back muscle spasm hits me early this week. My typical dose pattern is to take 400mg dose on the day a sprain hits and use 200mg dose for a couple of more days. So I was happy with a day of my booster drug of 400mg and then I scout for my normal dose of 200mg. Went to three pharmacies in the neighborhood that morning and couldn’t find the 200mg dose (with the specific brand I use.) The last two pharmacists told me that people are hardly buying that dose. The last pharmacist religiously checked over-the-shelf stocks and then went to the back of the pharmacy to check the reserves. When he came back, he claims that he doesn’t remember refilling his stocks for that dose recently. As a nice salesman, he said he can get that for me in the next 24 hours, but that was a different story.

About 30 years ago, people are prescribed a 200mg dose for about a week and if the pain doesn’t go away, then only they are prescribed a 400mg dose. One should be hosting a monster level pain to consume 400mg dose regularly to start with. But as per the pharmacists I talked to, people use 400mg dose now-a-days as the default over the shelf medication.

Here are the economics – a 10 dose strip of (branded) 400mg costs INR 10.41, that is about USD 0.18. At such a low price, the packaging costs would have forced a 200mg strip to be priced almost the same or at least very close. Given the “more is better” consumer psychology, people might as well be using a 400mg dose when they could have comfortably used a 200mg dose.

In essence, are we super-sizing our drugs, knowingly or unknowingly? Keeping the scale of economics aside, we might as well be going for faster pain relief than containing the level of pain. That might be leading to super-sizing our drugs eventually. The fact that the manufacturer has a 600mg dose now (I found that while searching on my laptop for dosage levels that people use, I admit that I haven’t seen it in the pharmacy, may be because I haven’t asked for it) is an indication that we might as well be super-sizing our drugs.

Free is costlier in reality

As elections are getting closer, political parties in India are announcing more and more populist schemes across India. None of the major national parties or prominent regional parties are exception to this.

Even though these populist schemes work in the short term to please masses (and in return fetch votes), the impact of these schemes are actually felt in the long run. Here are a couple of examples of what went wrong because of some of the populist schemes and how people are indirectly paying higher price for what they are getting for free.

Engineering Fees Reimbursement

The state of Andhra Pradesh started with this scheme a few years ago. The argument – instead of spending lot of money on government maintained colleges, the government will reimburse fee for people who can’t afford professional education (a.k.a. Engineering) in private engineering colleges. The scheme looked great for various sectors of the society. The government spent lot of money on this scheme in the last few years. Now let us see the net result.

  • The infrastructure in the government owned professional colleges became slowly obsolete.
  • The government college infrastructure for non-professional courses got completely collapsed. (For a test, try to think about a government college in Andhra Pradesh which can be seen as a best place for pursuing a Bachelors or Masters degree in commerce or fine arts. How many can you find?)
  • A small percentage of the mid income group are benefited by the scheme. This is the group which got seats in “good” engineering colleges and also got benefits of the reimbursements. For the rest of the people who enjoyed the reimbursement, they are forced to chose a college of lower quality or a engineering stream of lesser demand, just to enjoy the benefit.
  • A majority of mid income groups and low income groups got an engineering seat in (recently mushroomed) colleges that are of zero or very low quality, but this group happily took it because it is “free”. The attitude of “free” led to less efforts to excel from the students. The free phenomena also led to the situation where the colleges invest less on infrastructure and faculty. The consumers don’t question/complain and the suppliers don’t need to ensure quality. Once these students come out of college, they have very low scores, no exposure to the industry and just have a paper degree in hand after investing 4 years of their life on free stuff.
  • As a net result, we end up with spending lot of money for temporary benefit, no improvement in infrastructure even after spending that much money, overall benefit to a small subsection of people and a vast majority of benefactors eventually  realizing that their free benefits got nullified in the process.
Free Electricity

Free Electricity for farmers is a much touted about program in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Started with a big fanfare a few years ago by the government, this scheme eventually led to more losses for the economy than benefits:

  • Government spent most of its money on giving away free electricity than investing in power plants – both existing and new.
  • Private investments on power sector are encouraged than government enhancing its power production capability. However, the cost of power from these plants is much higher, given the commercial nature of the power plants (right from acquiring the land, they had to spend more money than what government would have spent on setting up plants.) Also, there is no assurance that these power plants sell power to the same state. During high consumption seasons like summer, these plants are selling power to high paying states than to the local distribution companies.
  • A section of farmers got free power, but that is no joy. Power is out most of the day and the supply is at odd hours. Due to load and distribution issues, power is of low quality and it impacted farmers’ infrastructure like motors and pumps. There are scenarios where farmers had to spend more on infrastructure issues due to bad quality free power than what they would have spent on good quality power.
  • As the power situation deteriorated, the government started imposing more restrictions on levies on consumers across the board. Like telescoping billing and ridiculously high tariffs during summer. Majority of the consumers are hard hit due to the free policies that gave little or no net benefit to the rest of the consumers.

There are several other populist schemes (within our state and rest of the country) that follow the same path: give an impression that the scheme is using saved money, pretend that the load on rest of the consumers is going to be low and tell that the benefits are huge. Eventually, the scheme leads to neglecting the production/infrastructure, leads to substantially higher costs for vast majority of consumers and lowers the quality to benefactors as well as rest of the paying consumers.

I am not completely against subsidizing or uplifting poor. As a developing country, the economy for sure needs certain levels of stimulus from governments both at the federal and state levels. This stimulus, only in certain critical sections, can be realized by giving well controlled subsidies. These subsidies shouldn’t be across the board, they should rather stimulate only the needy industries, production efforts and low income groups. The subsidy shouldn’t be so high that the full paying consumers feel the pinch. Once they feel the pinch, they either stop paying (by somehow enrolling themselves into the subsidy-needy groups) or stop consuming – both of these will lead to eventual increase in cost to everybody.

So when a government promises anything for free or at a highly subsidized price, it is actually making all of us to pay higher in the long run. Hope we realize that and make political parties announce stimulus packages that work, but not sink the economy. Otherwise, we will continue to be a developing country for a few more decades, if not centuries.

 

 

 

RBI Rate Hike

The chain of recent rate hikes by RBI, including the one yesterday, is going to hit the pockets of middle class severely. The increase in repo and reverse repo rates will make owning homes and cars dearer, putting pressure on middle class to stay where they are in terms of infrastructure and lifestyle.

This will also hit the recovering housing industry and booming automobile industry. That means less jobs in those areas. Even the banking industry gets hit by lower volumes in these loan segments.

Not sure how much impact the current increase will have on inflation (given that this is the 11th increase since March 2010). Given the recent hikes in petrol and diesel, which will have their own impact on prices across the board, the positive impact of the repo and reverse repo hikes may be minimal or null.

 

Mukesh Ambani on Bank of America Board

Bank of America named Mukesh Ambani as board member. Read here and here. He is the first non-American board member of the bank. This membership  speaks a lot about the changing face of global economy. Not very long ago, companies in India are working extra hard to rope in directors from western economies to leverage global thought leadership. Now the trend is becoming more bidirectional.

Railway Budget

This year’s railway budget is not at all impressive. Especially for the state of Andhra Pradesh, the amount of budget allocations are very poor. For example, a project with a few hundred crores of estimate is allocated with about a crore of budget. This budget never focused on any of the infrastructure improvement projects in South-Central Railway. Really disappointing…