Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Assam: A state fully insured!

Via coffee house, From The Times of India: Assam: A state fully insured!

Not a bad idea at all! ToI says this is "a move to beat all populist moves". The word 'populist' in our parlance only has a negative meaning. I certainly wouldn't consider this move just a vote-catching one. In a country that doesn't have proper social security system, or any other form of Govt. run security system, moves like this would help a long way.

However, I am not clear whether this is a manageable business for the insurance companies. With Rs. 50,000 per accidental death, Rs. 25,000 for any health related "eventuality" (what does eventuality mean? Not death, I suppose?), and the insurance premium of Rs. 25 crores, I do not know how many people will be covered under these eventualities! How many accidental deaths happen in an year in Assam (including terrorist violence between Kukis, Karbis, Bengali Muslims, Bodos, Assamese etc.)? We will probably know how sustainable this operation is for the insurance company.

what would it cost Tamil Nadu with a population twice that of Assam and less violence-prone? Double the premium as above? Rs. 50 crores? I think it would be worth it for the Govt. to do so.

It would be worthwhile if someone can post more details on the exact insurance coverage and other caveats.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mobile consolidation

News about Essar - BPL Mobile deal has emerged today. News from different agencies have been highly confusing. Some talk of Essar buying the stakes. Some of Hutch Essar and BPL merging. Essar may be buying BPL Mobile and then eventually merge it with Hutchison Essar once necessary approvals are obtained.

This was inevitable. BPL Mobile was going nowhere. On the other hand, Hutchison Essar has been scouting for possible buys to fill up the gaps they had. The deal with Sivasankaran controlled Aircel fell through. Hutch doesn't have a footprint in Tamil Nadu (minus Chennai), Kerala and Maharashtra which BPL provides. BPL's Mumbai customers will add significantly to Hutch's base. Now that Tamil Nadu + Chennai is treated as a single mobile circle for tariffs, Hutch desperately needed a reliable partner to offer mobile roaming comparable to what Airtel, Aircel and Reliance could offer. They had a deal in place with BPL, but the deal was rather weak.

Now, when the dust settles down, Hutch can hope to grow faster in Tamil Nadu.

There are some more sick and lonely mobile companies that are waiting to be acquired. Spice in Karnataka is one. Spice in Punjab, while not sick, is still a good acquisition target for someone. Sivasankaran must now work hard to find a buyer for Aircel. Idea could emerge as a distant, fourth GSM mobile operator by swallowing these left overs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The sorry plight of India's innovators

In Outlook's latest Science & Technology special, there is a special story on India's innovators and how they struggle because of Governmental and bureaucratic apathy. The story on Balram Singh Saini & Prem Singh says:
... the Saini brothers have ideas a dime-a-dozen. But in little-known Pasiala, as the farmers get ready to rain-feed their thirsty crops, there’s barely any recognition of these home-grown Edisons.
Why do we constantly seek support from Governments? In what way are they qualified to evaluate an innovator's plans, fund them and then get their cash back? Now, about Edison. I am currently in the process of editing a manuscript on Edison's life (in Tamil). That man never went to the Government asking for funding. He found sufficient private entrepreneurs to fund his ventures. His inventions were truly outstanding. He never complained. His life as an inventor was not rosy either. He had to fight several cases in the courts about patent infringement etc. He just carried on and came up with more and more inventions. He also made a lot of money.

Indians should stop self-pitying and get on with their lives. If Balram Singh and Prem Singh have great inventions, let them take a leaf out of Edison's book and commercialise the invention by raising money from local farmers. It is much easier to convince the consumer community than the morons in Vigyan Bhavan or PMO.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Supreme Court declines to stay High Court order on entrance test

From The Hindu: Supreme Court declines to stay High Court order on entrance test. Also read Court order brings cheer to students.
A vacation Bench, consisting of Justice D.M. Dharamadhikari and Justice S.H. Kapadia, while rejecting the Government's plea for interim relief, directed that the special leave petition (SLP) be listed for hearing after the Supreme Court reopened after the summer vacation. It will reopen on July 11.

When senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for the State, insisted that the judgment be stayed, the Bench said, "Let admissions be made this year on the basis of the CET. You have issued the GO after holding the CET. In this situation, in the interest of thousands of students, let admissions be made for this year on the basis of the CET."
Since the High Court has already quashed the Government Order, the State Government will now be forced to proceed with the admissions on the basis of entrance test.

PMK's Ramadoss has already asked for an Assembly Session to debate this issue, and accuses Jayalalitha of not being serious enough in pursuing scrapping the Tests. Jayalalitha is unlikely to give in to PMK's demand for an assembly session, where she may be forced to unnecessarily defend herself.

We have to still wait and see whether the Govt. allows Anna University to proceed with the admissions process or look at causing further damage to the students by unduly delaying the process of admissions.

Friday, July 01, 2005

DirectPost service from Indian Postal Dept.

From Chennai Online: Indian Postal Dept. to offer DirectPost Service. Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Press Release.

Heard in the AIR news today, and read in Chennai Online... Indian Postal Dept. is offering a DirectPost service - an unaddressed direct mailer service. It is unclear what they mean by unaddressed.

Normally, in a direct marketing campaign, I have a set of addresses to which I want to send a package/phamplet/CD etc. But if the package has to be unaddressed, how would it reach the specific person?

Basically this will be useful - if we get clear information about the service - for those of us wanting to do direct marketing campaign targeting specific user groups with special offers on certain products. The cost of each post is Rs. 1.50 if sent within the same city, and Rs. 2.00 to any other place in India. The price seems very reasonable!

An analysis of India Post by Financial Exress