Friday, February 23, 2007

Indian Chilli Enters Guinness Book of World Records

You must have found the title some what amusing and wondered what I was really up to - writing on steel. roses and now chillies. As I am committed to portray India's inner strength despite thousands of blogs still engaged in showing only its poverty, beggars, monkeys, snake-charmers et al, this post had its compelling reasons.
Coming to chillies, I have been reading reports about them in Times of India for the last two days with the last title 'How India won the chilli war'. International honours are hard to come by and when it was to be decided which chilli is the hottest, there were 3 serious contenders. The result (do not mistake in assuming that it was based on tasting them as that would lead to, who knows, terrible consequences) was given after elaborate tests were carried out by New Mexico State University's Chilli and Pepper Institute. The Indian entry known as Naga Jolokia was crowned with the honour scoring 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) and USA's Red Savina scored 577,000 SHUs. The other entrant Dorset Naga which was developed for years scored 923,000 SHUs. Just to get an idea of hotness of chillies, any chilli having only 300,000 SHUs will bring tears. It is perhaps for the obvious reason, Naga Jolokia has a local name 'Bhoot' (ghost) as one would surely start seeing ghost when it is put in the mouth even accidentally. Records are made only to be broken.
Guinness Book of World Records have many examples of old entries giving way to new entries. In this age of globalisation, one cannot shy away from competition. Till some other chilli is found to be hotter than Naga Jolokia in some other part of the globe, let us savour its global honour (definitely not its taste though!).
To sum up, India is surely very very hot.

Monday, February 19, 2007

India's Acquisition Spree From Steel To Roses

Recently, India proved that it has the nerves of steel by acquiring two steel giants of Europe - Arcelor and Corus to become the world's No. 1(Mittal-Arcelor) and No. 5(Tata-Corus) manufacturers .There might be a mistaken impression among some quarters that its most acquisitions have been made for manufacturing or services.
It all changed after I read a news report on St. Valentine's Day that a firm in Bangalore is negotiating with a Dutch flower company Sher - the biggest in the world for acquisition. Incidentally, it seems 40% of annual rose sales takes place on this occasion alone. It may be too early to speculate whether India will be catapulted to become the world's biggest grower of flowers; but already it is being reckoned as a flower power with exports touching $678 million which is expected to cross $1 billion by 2010.
Adding such feathers to India's cap would be truly admirable if one does not read daily about farmers' unabated suicides and grim struggles of tens of thousands of farmers. The stark reality is that even agriculture is not free of infrastructure weaknesses which have been impeding growth of manufacturing sector. Power has been a laggard for decades although other sectors have been scaling new heights.
Not surprisingly, the noted business school KnowledgeAtWharton and a consulting firm The Boston Consulting Group have said in a new study "India is on its way to becoming world-class manufacturer due to changing environment but poor infrastructure, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive labour laws have kept India's manufacturing a backwater while its services have become red-hot'.
'Sher' means tiger in Hindi and to capture big tigers including the Dutch one, India must firstly have power - to light homes, run factories, turn pumps and also to make roses bloom brilliantly.
Is it not?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How Are You Celebrating Valentine's Day?

My heart leaped in joy today in the morning when I got a SMS with the starting words 'Dinner at Taj for u...'. Soon my soaring spirits got deflated on reading the next line 'On this Valentine Download and Dedicate Romantic Songs and U could be the Winner...'. It did not take me long to realise that the great Valentine's Day has arrived as I glanced over the pages of the morning newspaper. My favourite page had a strange look full with classified ads. Some 250 persons had decided to make the world know that they love someone by displaying their printed messages so that the loved ones can always preserve and produce them as proof of their lovers having remembered them at least on this day.
I learnt that on 14Th day of February, Valentine's Day is celebrated and is dedicated to love. Lovers feel they are on top of the world on this day and the romantic frenzy is sought to be built over weeks in advance with media splashing big ads of special gifts for the occasion. Although this day of the calendar I had crossed 65 times in my life so far, I do not remember to have done anything special. Was it because I expressed my love on all the 365 days of the years instead of letting it out on one single day or I am not "trendy" enough to be influenced by the changes sweeping our society?
I wanted to contemplate further. I read a report in Times of India which answered my query about the origin of Valentine's Day.
"In 270, Roman emperor Claudius II was unpopular for waging wars. He lost so many men that he found it difficult to find soldiers. So, he cancelled all marriages and engagements to force the youths to join the army. St. Valentine, a priest, secretly married couples till he was arrested and beheaded on 14Th February."
Since lovers want this day to be celebrated in a special way, it is their choice. I do not believe in jingoism and hence would not comment that this is a foreign custom making way into our lives. At the same time, I do not agree in this case, with the saying 'What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the geese'.
Don't you agree?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Kudos For India's War Against Global Warming

India's current rapid economic growth is drawing increasing attention from far and near with projections released by reputed agencies that it would dislodge Japan from its third rank by 2032 and USA from its second rank by 2050.
A more deserving achievement by India, however, I feel, is its highest reduction in green house gas (GHG) emissions (which have been responsible for global warming) among the developing nations Brazil, Mexico, China and Chile. As per Kyoto protocol, these nations including India, though not bound to reduce emissions, have been encouraged to adopt measures and at the same time earn 'carbon credits' which are tradable globally so that those who cannot achieve reduction in emissions could buy such 'carbon credits' for offsetting. As per a report, India tops such a list with 155 projects registered out of a total of 492 followed by Brazil 88, Mexico 77, China 37 and Chile 14 projects. Some more projects are awaiting registration. It has been estimated that it may finally bring 350 million 'carbon credits' which on a conservative basis would generate a whopping $3.5 billion by 2012.
It has been like killing two birds in one shot. In my post

Monday, February 05, 2007

India: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Today, Indian economy has slowly started getting a respectable position globally. Her GDP growth has now become, what many economists believe, sustainable at 8-10% and in the process the past low growth @5-6% has been buried. Indian MNCs are out for acquisitions abroad and the latest Tatas-Corus deal - the biggest in size by any Indian company involving $12 billion has proved beyond doubt that India has truly become a global player.
How was it yesterday?

"On the eve of industrial revolution (around 1770), India was the second largest economy in the world, contributing more than 20% of total world output. By the 1970s, after two centuries of relative economic stagnation, that share had fallen to 3% - the lowest in its recorded history. From a long-term perspective, the post-industrial economic decline of India (and China) is a historical aberration, driven to some extent by a lack of openness. After independence in 1947, India followed inward-looking and state-intervenist policies that shackled the economy through regulations and severely restricted trade and economic freedom. The result was decades of low growth termed pejoratively the 'Hindu rate of growth'. Reforms beginning in 1991 gradually removed obstacles to economic freedom, and India has begun to play catch-up, steadily reintegrating into the global economy."

So says a report titled 'A game of Catch-up' appearing in Times of India (having its source Golden Sachs' Global Economic Paper no 152).

About tomorrow, I have already reproduced the forecast made, again, by Golden Sachs in my post 'Do you believe India's economy will be the second largest by 2050?' accompanied by my wish-list. The lesson for Indians out of the vicissitudes in last three centuries is "You must run faster to stay where you are".
Is it not?