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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The realm of small hydropower

"The Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES) has been encouraging NGOs to actively participate in the development of small hydropower projects. The first project of the country set up by an NGO, namely the Sai Engineering Foundation, was in Titang (80 KW) in Himachal Pradesh. It was commissioned on December 31, 2001. The project is situated in a remote area of Poonch sub-division of District Kinnaur. This project is grid connected, selling power of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB). It serves five remote villages of the area. The project has been set up as part of UNDP-GEF (United Nations Development Programme/Global Environmental Facility) Hilly Hydro Project."
"Water mills have been traditionally used in the Himalayan region for grinding grains, oil extraction etc. It is estimated that there are about 1.5 lakh water mills in the region. Under the UNDP-GEF Hilly Hydro Project, many water mills have been developed with new and efficient designs, for mechanical work as also electricity generation. Many water mills with advanced designs have been installed in the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Arunachal Pradesh."
"The State of Arunachal Pradesh has over 5,000 water mills with the highest number (about 2500) in the District of Tawang. One of these is in Changpa village in the state. As part of UNDP-GEF Hilly Hydro Project, 50 water mills were installed in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. This has triggered new economic activities in the area."
(Satyesh C. Chakraborty in 'Energy Opportunities & Social Responsibility,' p. 167 Jaico)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bylines intoxicate

"My first foray into journalism... came about thanks to the YOC (Young Orators' Club). When we organised 'Oratoria,' a literary festival in 1991, we requested the leading newspaper in the city to cover the event. I was told that they wouldn't be able to depute any of their reporters but if someone gave them a brief write-up about the event along with some pictures they would consider featuring them. Just as the three-day event drew to a close, I wrote a comprehensive report and sent it to the paper, along with some pictures. Sure enough, the following Wednesday there was a half-page article in the papers -- byline, text, pictures et al! That was the beginning of my long flirtation with writing, which continues to this day. Bylines intoxicate, ask any journalist!"
(Sunil Robert in 'I Will Survive,' p. 94 Westland)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top-down vs Bottom-up investing

“If you spend most of your time hunting for hot stocks, you fall into the bottom-up camp. If you consider countries and sectors before even thinking about picking a stock, you’re leaning toward the top-down group. And if the first question you ask yourself is ‘Should I own stocks at all?’ there’s a good chance you’re a dyed-in-the-wool top-downer…”
“Top-down investors make the highest-level decisions first, letting economic and market conditions guide their investment choices. If the environment looks good for stocks (which it usually does, considering the stock market rises about 65 per cent of the time), that’s where top-down investors want to put their money. Once they’ve decided on an asset allocation, they choose what types of stocks they want to buy. From the many countries, sectors, and styles, they decide which they think will do best. Will telecom stocks outperform industrials? Will micro-cap stocks outperform mega-cap stocks? Will Dutch stocks outperform Swedish stocks? Only after these decisions have been made do top-down investors begin picking individual companies to invest in – if they do at all…”
“Most in the financial services industry utilise the bottom-up approach. MBAs and CFAs are trained in bottom-up methodology. Broker-dealers hire these bottom-uppers as investment bankers and analysts who take companies public and produce prodigious amounts of bottom-up research. They create earnings models and make assumptions about discounted cash flows. They analyse inventories and pipelines and leverage ratios. Brokers then peddle individual stocks to their clients based on bottom-up recommendations. The industry was built from the bottom-up, and it’s been a good business model. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for every investor.”
(Aaron Anderson in 'Own the World: How smart investors create global portfolios' p. 82 Wiley)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sri Lanka in the New Millennium

“On the socio-economic front, numerous structural problems remain even after 30 years of a market-oriented, private sector economy. Close to a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. This section has benefited neither when the economy was state dominated nor private sector oriented. Inequality has increased. Rural livelihoods based on paddy agriculture have been dismantled. The surplus of the economy has been produced by the working class working in the plantations, garment sector and the selling of labour on international labour markets, especially in the Middle East. A large proportion of this working class are women. There are numerous problems in their working and living conditions…”
(Ed: Tan Tai Yong in 'Socio-Political and Economic Challenges in South Asia,' p. 117 Sage)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Semiannual softness

“Here are what I consider to be the three main reasons for seasonal weakness during the May-October period: Vacations, earnings reality overtaking optimism, and a lack of capital inflows…”
‘Vacations: From the perspective of seasonal sluggishness, history shows that the S&P 500 has posted its weakest three-month average performance in the third quarter, as investors may be focusing more on their tans than on their portfolios. In other words, investors’ attention is more likely being paid to their vacation plans than to their investment strategies.”
(Sam Stovall in 'The Seven Rules of Wall Street: Crash-tested investment strategies that beat the market,' p. 59 TMH)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Administrative justice

"James Bovard laments that while in previous eras the citizen worried only about the 'sheriff and the tax collector, he must now often face the power and authority of the zoners, the wage regulators, the compulsory preservationists, the import-price controllers, the occupational licensers, and a multitude of others.' He further states that although we have a 'vast administrative state' there is a minimal control over the administrators and 'because the courts have shown a casual attitude toward administrative justice, thousands of administrators effectively have arbitrary power over millions of citizens.' He blames the federal judiciary for having created an 'overwhelming presumption' in the legality of the actions of federal agencies that once would have been considered 'outrageous, illegal, or unconstitutional.'"
"In his opinion, the US Supreme Court's decision in the 1960's in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 'awarded sweeping discretion to federal agencies to interpret federal laws as they chose -- and thus, in many cases, to decree the limits of their own power.'"
(P. V. Jois in 'Customs & Excise Laws and Administrative Justice: The dynamics of indirect taxation and State power in India,' p. 201 OUP)

Friday, June 12, 2009

National Rural Health Mission

"National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) lays great stress on building capacity throughout various levels in the health system, with special focus on support services such as financial and accounting services. These will become more professionalised by introducing professionals such as MBAs and Chartered Accountants at both district and state levels. NRHM will also induct Skilled Mission Teams at each level."
"Comprehensive training will be arranged for all categories of staff, and even members of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) will receive training to improve their role in health programmes. Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) will receive appropriate training and will be supported by a mentoring group formed from various reputed non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academics and government officers."
(Ed: K. V. Ramani, Dileep Mavalankar and Dipti Govil in 'Strategic Issues and Challenges in Health Management,' p. 143 Sage)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interview is like dating

"In many ways, the interview experience is like dating. And if your business fails the first date, it's unlikely the prospect will want to say 'yes' a second time. A savvy prospect will look for clues, throughout the interviewing process, to how your business operates and, most important, how your business treats people. It's just like those touch points between a customer and the business. How will each interaction contribute to a reputation? And a feeling of what this place may be like as a place to work? How many times have you heard a candidate remark, 'If you all are like this during the interview, what must you be like during the employment?'"
(Libby Sartain and Mark Schumann in 'Brand from the Inside: Eight essentials to emotionally connect your employees to your business,' p. 175 Wiley)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to sell to the driven person

"Selling to the highly driven person means facing some of the most challenging mind games you'll ever encounter. For the simple reason that most highly driven people put themselves into highly stressful jobs, you can bet that most of the time you make a business call to a driven person that person will be under stress. Therefore, he will probably be displaying some of those nasty behavioural weaknesses... such as arrogance, impatience, or condescension."
"You can't let it get to you. You must remain cheerful, non-emotional, direct and firm with these people. Consciously or not, these people have a habit of insulting others when they are not properly managing their stress levels. But if you let them get under your skin for one second, you will become indignant and lose control of your emotions. At that point the game is over."
(David P. Snyder in 'Mind-Read Your Customers: Using insights from psychology to increase sales and build a better business,' p. 59 Jaico)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Your look during the interview

"Smile! According to facial-expression expert Paul Ekman, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California-San Francisco, a smile can be seen from 30 metres away and immediately indicates that the person smiling has 'benign intentions.' So, don't be afraid to smile when you walk into an interview. In fact, smile the minute you walk into the building. If you make enough of an impression, the security guard at the building's entrance or the receptionist in the waiting area may just make a positive comment about you to a decision-maker. A natural, comfortable smile that says, 'I'm confident, I'm self-assured, and I'm friendly' can go miles (or at least 30 metres) to communicate the personal brand image you want."
(Brenda Bence in 'How YOU are like Shampoo for Job Seekers,' p. 193 Macmillan)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Proxemics

"The study of personal space and how humans use distance in general is called proxemics. The term 'proxemics' was first used in 1963 by an anthropologist and researcher named E. T. Hall, who was fascinated with how people communicate nonverbally using spatial relationships and territory. Through his research he demonstrated and defined four areas of space relevant to proxemics: Intimate space, personal space, social space, and public space."
"There is no single set distance for each of these spaces because there is so much variation. The use of space is a dynamic process; it shifts and adjusts depending on personalities, situations, social perceptions, cultures, and more."
"Very few factors matter as much in the secret language of business as proxemics."
"Research and study, though, have identified a general range of distances for each of these spaces and the types of interactions that occur in each one. As I define each one in more detail, think of them as concentric circles with you standing in the middle and the circles radiating outward."
"Intimate space: This area extends from your body out to around 18 inches or so. As the name implies, only those with whom you have the most intimate relationships can move into this space without you moving away. It is the range of space typically used for intimate touch, whispers, hugs, kisses, and the like."
(Kevin Hogan in 'The Secret Language of Business: How to read anyone in 3 seconds or less,' p. 78 Wiley)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Management of food supply

“During the reigns of the pharaohs Ramses III and Ramses VIII in the twelfth century BCE, water shortages drove up the price of wheat by twenty-four times relative to the price of other goods. The fear of low waters that haunted Egypt’s rulers made it into the Old Testament in the form of the pharaoh’s nightmare about seven fat and seven thin cattle, and seven good and seven stunted ears of grain, interpreted by Joseph to mean seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Such erratic harvests and their devastating impact are lasting evidence of the inconsistency of the Nile floods.”
“Nonetheless, monuments to the success of the Egyptian civilisation in overcoming them still stand in the desert. Egypt had a precociously centralised and well-ordered society, and as early as the third millennium BCE had developed relatively sophisticated systems of irrigation and grain storage. The temples and pyramids left by ancient Egypt are testament to its skilful management of food supply, which enabled sufficient labour to be spared from farming the land to carve columns and haul blocks of stone.”
(Alan Beattie in ‘False Economy: A surprising economic history of the world,’ p. 73 Penguin)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Distance milestones

"10 February 2007, Samán, Peru."
"After another sweaty night swatting away at mosquitoes, Martin re-enters the river, energised by a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee. The sun is relentless, and he's baked for the sixth consecutive day without rain. Although most of his body is underwater, there is no way to protect his head and face. This is the wet season in the rainforest, and we were told to expect some heavy downpours at least once a day. It showered every day back in Atalaya. The whole crew is hoping for some precipitation to ease Martin's pain."
"His weight loss is beginning to concern us. He has dropped 15 pounds in nine days, way ahead of the pace from previous expeditions. The problem is that he sweats all day in the river, and then sweats all night killing bugs in his stuffy cabin. 'Three days of rain and I'll be a new man,' he reassures us. Although he's starting to show the first signs of wearing down, we celebrate Martin's 621st mile this morning, which equates to his 1000th kilometre of the journey. Martin loves to hit distance milestones; it always seems to give him a newfound energy."
(Martin Strel and Mathhew Mohlke in 'The Man who Swam the Amazon: 3,274 miles down the world's deadliest river,' p. 59 Jaico)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Destiny vs free will

"Astrology indicates. It just gives you a road map. That's all. But there is freedom also. You know you should always consider the past as destiny. If you think the past was free, you become guilty, you become regretful, you become morose. You are very upset thinking of the past: 'Oh I could have done this way,' 'I could have done that way,' 'I could have... could have... could have...' Useless! Past should be seen as destiny. Future should be seen as free will. This is wisdom. Wise people do like that. Otherwise what you think... You think the past was free will, so you regret the past. And future you think is destiny, and you do nothing about it. You simply sit! We must reverse this tendency. Just doing this one thing will help you to a great extent. Past, whatever happened, is destiny. Whatever happened, happened, finished!"
('Precious Gems of Wisdom: His Holiness Pujya Sri Sri Ravishankar' compiled by Karishma Bajaj, p. 123 Magna)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cook healthy

"Don't kill living foods by improper cooking. For example, many people don't realise that when they boil vegetables, the nutrients leach into the water. By the time the vegetables are tender enough to eat, the mineral and vitamin content of the water is greater than that of the vegetables! You have created a dead food from a living food or simply cooked it to death."
"In one major test, boiling led to a 66 per cent loss of flavonoids compared to fresh, raw broccoli. Pressure-cooking led to a 47 per cent reduction of one of the major antioxidants -- the majority was found in the cooking water."
"If you must boil vegetables, bring the water to a boil first, and then add your vegetables for a brief time. Do not allow them to soak in the water. Drain them immediately and serve them. If possible, just quit boiling vegetables altogether."
"In the same test, microwaved broccoli lost an incredible 97 per cent, 74 per cent, and 87 per cent, respectively, of the three major cancer-protecting antioxidant compounds (flavonoids, sinapics, and caffeoylquinic derivatives). That's why I recommend that my patients avoid microwaved foods."
(Don Colbert in 'The Seven Pillars of Health: The natural way to better health for life,' p. 111 Magna)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Verifiable requirement

"A requirement is verifiable if the finished product or system can be tested to ensure that it meets the requirement. Product features are almost always abstract and thus not verifiable. Analysis must be done to create testable requirements from the product features. For example, the requirement 'The car shall have power brakes' is not testable, because it does not have sufficient detail. However, the more detailed requirement 'The car shall come to a full stop from 60 miles per hour within 5 seconds' is testable, as is the requirement 'The power brake shall fully engage with 4 lbs of pressure applied to the brake pedal.' As we have noted, product features lack detail and tend to be somewhat vague and not verifiable. However, the analysis of those features and the derived requirements should result in a specification from which full coverage test cases can be created."
(Brian Berenbach, Daniel J. Paulish, Juergen Kazmeier, Arnold Rudorfer in 'Software & Systems Requirements Engineering: In practice,' p. 11 TMH)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Afghan Institute of Learning

"Three decades of conflict and political unrest have destroyed the Afghan education system. In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, the net enrolment ratio was estimated at 43 per cent for boys and 3 per cent for girls. There were approximately 21,000 (largely under-educated) teachers for a school age population estimated at six million. Females were forbidden to either attend school or to teach in the five years of Taliban rule. But the situation is gradually improving."
"Several new institutions have been established by the government and the private sector to strengthen the education sector. Among these are the University of Afghanistan (www.universityofafghanistan.com), Afghan American University (www.auaf.edu.af), Kardan University (www.kardan.edu.af), Bakhtar University (www.bakhtar.edu.af), Aryana University (www.aryanauniversity.com), Afghan Pooshesh Training Institute (www.apti-af.com), and ICT Institute (ICTI) Kabul."
"The new curriculum being developed will have computer education as a subject from class (grade) 4 to class 12 in schools. In addition, the MCIT and Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organisation in May 2008, which provides for the deployment of 10,000 XO machines in Afghan schools in 2009. The MCIT and the Ministry of Education (MoE) are developing an e-learning strategy that covers the utilisation of ICT in education delivery, ICT curricula, and the establishment of e-learning centres."
"Also worth mentioning is the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), a women-led NGO that uses a creative approach to meet the health and education needs of Afghan women, children and communities, and provides ICT training at its IT centres. The training lasts from two to 10 weeks and covers basic computer skills such as word processing and use of spreadsheets."
('Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2009-2010,' p. 133 IDRC)

Monday, June 1, 2009

ICT in informal economy

"The spread of ICTs cannot be separated from the informal economy, where used computers, pirated movies, and refurbished mobile phones are traded in large quantity. These low-end businesses not only provide jobs to the information have-less but also help materialise much of the organisational structures of the information society, especially its lower strata, with extensive ties to traditional networks and the institutionalised formal economy. Black markets -- of ICT products, of blood, drugs, assault weapons, gambling, and gangster services of all kinds -- thus flourish because marginalised groups can now use working-class ICTs for internal coordination and information dissemination to the entire informational city."
"There is, therefore, a wide spectrum of activities and events in the lower strata of the Chinese information city... Gangster activity, police brutality, factory suppression of labour activists, starvation and conflicts within the families of the unemployed -- the sufferings and killings of the information have-less go on everyday. Yet most of them are not reported because those killed are not college-educated; because even the have-less themselves have grown apathetic to the silent perishing of human lives."
(Ed: Erwin Alampay in 'Living the Information Society in Asia,' p. 152 IDRC)