Monday, August 20, 2007

The world wants to fly to India these days

Cheapticket's blog says "seems the world wants to fly to India these days" and announces that Delta is offering low fares of around $1200 return from anywhere in the US.

Delta was the 1st airline to fly New York - Bombay direct, though the 1st to fly direct to India was Continental into Delhi. Now Air India has joined the fray flying NYC - BOM direct and will so offer a direct from Delhi as well. Add to this Jet Airways direct to the US (2 hr stopover in Brussels but same plane) and Toronto and suddenly there is a surge in capacity to the US. This is reflective of the rapidly growing relations between the US and India, be it strategic, business or personal.

I recall I also read that a San Francisco - Bangalore direct is coming up as well.

In a year, the seat capacity between India and the US is likely to double. Imagine that: 60 years work in 1 year!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

India Reality Check 3: no legal recourse in India

Yesterday's newspapers carried stories about a political party in Bombay rioting and burning vehicles; the papers of the week before carried stories of another political party's leaders physically attacking a female author. Everyday there are stories of these kind of serious criminal offenses with no action taken against them.

On the civil side its even worse. Every business knows that it is impossible to enforce contracts in India as it just takes too long (15 - 20 years). And every Indian knows to never ever take on any government official or body through the legal system because they will do all kinds of nasty things to you using the government machinery (tax raids, police lockup, etc).

In short the legal system is broken.

While there exist strong laws both on the civil and criminal side, the implementation is non existent. This is chiefly due to three reasons:

1. India has only 13 judges per million people, whereas the US has 150 per million. This results in millions of cases backlog at any given time. The average time it takes to settle non criminal cases is 20 years.

2. The judicial infrastructure is extremely weak. Many judges are not well trained and many are not provided with support infrastructure like typists, fans, desks, etc. Goto any court in India other than the High & Supreme court and you will find crowded claustrophobic rooms, where the poor litigants and even sorrier judges have to operate.

3. Judges are very poorly paid, thus keeping the better talent away. Did you know that the monthly cheque of a High Court judge is $600? I bet you can't even believe this. Do you expect the best and the brightest to apply? Or anyone to apply?

How will there be economic progress in India beyond a basic limit? There is only so much economic progress that can be achieved without a decent legal system. I think we are about to hit our economic growth plateau very soon, maybe 10 years at the most. After that growth may slow or there may even be negative growth.

The way out: private legal system. There is a great opportunity and need for a private legal system. Parliament has passed the Arbitration Act and this opens the way for a private disputes resolution mechanism. If private dispute resolution happens (and there is no reason why it should not happen) we will see massive continued growth of the economy.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

India US nuclear deal: good for Inida

Ok so India has signed away its sovereignty and will now forever remain a puppet to be tugged at by the US or anyone who supplies nuclear material. But what option did we have?

We don't have our own nuclear technology to produce energy in large quantities. All the years of research have led to a very poor nuclear program. I suspect mainly because it's government run, and like everything government run it limps on all four legs.

Oil & Gas aren't gonna last very long, especially that now the whole world is guzzling oil & gas instead of just Europe & US. How long before oil is at $200 a barrel and then runs out after that? 10yrs, 20yrs, 30 yrs maximum. What then? Solar, Hydro, Wind and other alternate energies haven't come far, so the only option will be nuclear.

Oh but what does it matter that we have given the US and others an advantage over us, anyway all their calls are answered here and all software too is made here; if they bully us too much, we'll just shut their systems down :)

What amazes me is that we got a deal at all. Why would the US or anyone else give India a special deal? They know that we need nuclear and can't get it. The obvious answer is that the great game is being played between the US (including NATO), Russia and China, and India is an important win.

For India it great news, we are in the US camp, a nation we can relate to and do business with. Good move by Indian politicians for once.

India reality check 2: 13.5% is the current rate of home loan interest

Yes you've read the headline right, 13.5% is the current fixed rate at which you can take a housing loan. And many are doing it. This means the smallest slowdown in the Indian economy and salary growth slowing down will cause a lot of heartburn to a lot of people and the default rate will be huge.

People in India are going crazy taking loans because till 7 - 10 years ago it wasn't easy getting loans; and since the economy has been booming last few years, they haven't been hit.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

India reality check 1: less than 250 aircraft in India

For all the hype surrounding India, the fact is that all the airlines and private owners of aircraft put together do not have more than 250 planes on lease or ownership.

  • Air India has 50 60 aircraft
  • Indian Airlines about the same
  • Jet Airways around 40
  • all others together couldn't be more than 50
  • so its not even 250.

There are airlines in the US that each own 1000+ aircraft. Go figure what the India boom is all about.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 05, 2007 - great way to create profile photos

See this nice photo of mine on the right? Its thanks to Earlier, I never bothered uploading any well cropped profile photos because it was just difficult and the results were poor. however makes it super easy to crop your photos cause it has a neat zoom feature (you'll understand when you use it). Go get it.

(Almost) Bullish once again on India Internet

Read today morning in one of the dailies that Reliance now has 5000 WiMax customers in Pune. Which by Reliance standards means 5000 very angry people. Jokes apart, this is good news for India, because lack of last mile has held back the Internet all over the country. Lets hope WiMax succeeds.

Also found this very bullish report on India, showing what the sentiment in the US is about India:

What do you think about India's future? Do you think that Indian will overcome it's severe infrastructure handicap to maintain its 9% year on year rate growth, or do you think things will slow down, even crash?

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Govt of India: god save the Internet

Yes that picture above is of the website of the President of India on 2nd August 2007 (rather 3rd August 12:51am), which has been down since last night. Why? Because it rained in New Delhi and the building that hosts all government websites (known as National Informatics Centre or NIC), such as defense, income tax, President of India, Prime Minister, Railways, and 3000 other government websites, flooded and had no back-up or proper disaster recover system except for the neighborhood bucket shop...

Now we really know and how serious the Government of India is about the Internet. So much for their announcements of 100 Million broadband connections by Dec 2007 and WiMax across India.