Faith-based Investment Thursday, Feb 21 2008 

Have you heard of religious faith based investing? Those of you who are good at making money in the stock market or working in the management or the financial sector may have.

But I haven’t until I came across this story in Businessweek. I was really surprised to read it.

I knew that in Islamic countries they follow or try to follow economic practices based on Sharia.

But Dow Jones pioneered an Islamic market Index in compliance with Sharia in 1999.

In line with Islamic market Index, they’ve now launched Indic (especially Hindu and Buddhist) religion based Dow Jones Dharma Indexes in partnership with Dharma Investments, an Indian firm. (there are four country specific indexes: India, the U.S., the U.K. And Japan).

The move is aimed at helping people invest in stocks that are in sync with their religious beliefs!

The stocks of the companies that uphold opposition to animal slaughter, protection of environment and good corporate governance are Dharmic.

To measure dharma-compliant stocks The Dow Jones Dharma Indexes “track more than 3,400 companies globally, including about 1,000 in the U.S.”

IBM, Apple and Intel are examples of Dharma compliant companies in the U.S.

Infosys, HDFC, ICICI, L & T, etc., are some of the 254 Dharma compliant companies in India.

Three boards of experts, gurus and academicians supervise the screening of companies.

  • The Advisory Committee provides guidance and establishes the principles for the methodology.
  • The Supervisory Board interprets the principles and creates and implements the screening criteria in accordance with the methodology.
  • The Dow Jones Dharma Religious Council ratifies and endorses the established guidelines and methodology.

All companies are reviewed quarterly.

Many companies are excluded from the indexes because they “are deemed unacceptable due to the nature of their business activities and operations…” and they “have exposure to unacceptable business practices.”

Aerospace and defense, casinos and gaming, tobacco, alcohol, adult entertainment, etc., are businesses/companies excluded!

Predictably several spiritual leaders and scholars in India have welcomed the initiative and sent their blessings and support.

One typical message said:

“Trust is the breath of business, ethics its limbs, to uplift the spirit its goal.”

(Other links: Hoovers, Washingtonpost.com, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.)

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Backhoe Fade Wednesday, Feb 6 2008 

Backhoe Fade is a new word that I’ve learned in connection with the disruption of Internet services in this part of the world since the end of January, caused by underwater cable cuts near Alexandria and elsewhere.

On 30th and 31st Jan, I experienced the outage: It was very difficult to access Gmail and I couldn’t access Multiply for a day. Of course, some other web pages were not loading or unbearably slow.

When the service was almost back to normal, unfortunately for me my connection was snapped because of a local “backhoe fade’ for one night and most of the next day.

It looked like a conspiracy!

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Immigrant Inventors And Innovators In The U.S. Thursday, Jan 11 2007 

America prides itself on being a country of innovators, and it seems immigrants are the most prolific.

Of engineering and technology companies started in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005:

* a quarter had at least one foreign-born founder.

* in 2005, immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in revenue and employed 450,000 nationwide.

* almost 80% of immigrant-founded companies were in two industries: software and innovation/manufacturing services.

* in Florida, Hispanics led the pack among immigrant groups that founded companies. In Massachusetts, Israelis led. In New Jersey, they were Indians.  (source)

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Million Dollar Bloggers Friday, Aug 25 2006 

Some of these guys are not entirely unfamiliar to me, for I’ve read one or two of them. But I’ve never imagined that they are known as ‘mainstream bloggers (MSB)’ earning millions of dollars out of blogging. They’ve blogged their way into millionaires’ club.

Who are they and how many millions do they earn? See a few of the dozen or so with their figures:

Nick Denton (Gawker Media)—$3 million

Boing Boing—$1 million/year

Rafat Ali (Paidcontent.org—more than $1 million/year

Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)—$60,000/month ($720K/year)

Drew Curtis (Fark)—potentially $600K/month ($7 million/year)

Brian and Lisa Sugar (Sugar Publishing)—projected $15 million by 2008

(Link)

For the insightful article on which the above content is based go  here.

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A Grave Public Health Crisis Wednesday, Aug 23 2006 

Pesticola War 2.

The Govt of India has caved in to the MNC pressure. Coca-Cola and PesiCo are given clean chit by the health ministry.

This was actually expected. A Govt that cared for the health of its people,
especially children, would certainly have notified the standards that
the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated and finalized in
response to the directive from The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up in 2003,
instead of dismissing the findings of the Centre for Science and Environment
(CSE) as lacking “scientific and statistically valid basis”.

“The current study was conducted by the same Pollution Monitoring Laboratory
of CSE, which had tested samples in 2003. It will be recalled that the
two soft drink companies had raised numerous issues regarding the
veracity of the CSE study and the capabilities of its laboratory staff,
which were scrutinised and debunked by JPC in its report. The JPC
endorsed the methodology and the findings of the 2003 CSE study. This
time, further improvements have been made. Firstly, the laboratory is
now accredited with ISO 9001:2000 quality management system. Secondly,
the laboratory has confirmed the presence of the pesticides using an
expensive and state of art equipment — the GC-MS. “We have fully
complied with the JPC directions and are even more confident about our
findings,” says Chandra Bhushan, associate director at CSE.”
(Link)

The CSE has been emphasizing from the beginning that their target is not
the two soft drink giants, but the Govt of India, which they felt had
been backtracking on the issue of notifying the safety standards. The
two soft drink MNCs have been opposing the move. The latest tests by
the CSE and the publication of their results on Aug 2, 2006 were
intended to sensitize the Govt and the public alike about the harmful
pesticide levels present in the popular colas and the health problems
they will cause to the consumers.

Suddenly the issue snowballed into a highly sensitive problem of national importance and a major crisis for the two domineering global brands.

The Govt’s clean chit is only going to worsen the situation for Coke and
Pepsi, which are seen by the public as the symbols of marauding MNCs.
It’s a new India where information spread like wild fire through scores of TV channels, numerous newspapers and phone networks.

One of the latest news reports reads: Several citizens’ groups including environmentalists and
parliamentarians on Wednesday joined hands and called for a ban on soft
drinks manufactured by MNCs Pepsi and Coke, which have been given a
clean chit by the government.”

The news report says that various citizen movement groups have “charted a three-month protest programme
throughout the country wherein they will go to schools and colleges in
both villages and cities to educate them about the hazardous effects of
consuming colas.

“The programme also includes a week-long complete blockade of all transport facilities for the cola products in November.

The protests are being organised under the banner “Coke Pepsi Quit India”.”

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Pesticola War Friday, Aug 18 2006 

The ongoing cola war in India is not the famous battle between the global soft drink giants for outsmarting each other for the domination of the market. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have joined forces in India to fight the public, the press, politicians, state governments and the judiciary.

The two want to challenge the allegation that their soft drinks contain harmful levels of pesticides. They want to prove to all concerned that the testing and quality control procedures for their products follow stringent global standards.

“The Coke you drink in India would be as clean as the Coke you get in Paris,” Coca-Cola Asia group communications director Kenth Kaerhoeg said.

A report published recently by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, observed that their tests on samples of soft drinks made by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo contained “cocktail of three to five pesticides” exceeding 24 to 140 times the norms set by the Bureau of Indian Standards. They had tested 57 samples from 25 different plants of the two companies.

The report has kicked up a storm of protest which has resulted in six state governments banning Coca -Cola and PepsiCo products in and around Govt buildings and Govt funded schools. The state of kerala has imposed a total ban. The Supreme Court of India has ordered Coca-Cola to divulge its secret formula to Govt investigators.

Though the per capita consumption of carbonated drinks in India is among the lowest in the world, it’s a $ 2 billion market and the two soft drink giants have cornered 80-90% of it.

Can they afford to loose that market lead in a nation of 1 billion plus people?

Links: BusinessWeek Online, Asia Times Online, Time Asia Edition.

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What Is Outsourcing? Friday, Feb 10 2006 

Outsourcing to India has been a major job and income generating opportunity for several Indian IT companies. As the trend increased and the demand for manpower multiplied many youngsters responded to the
opportunity enthusiastically. Many of them left their education and opted for quick buck employment.

I’m not sure how parents view it, but clearly the downside of quick buck is overlooked. Where will they be a few years hence without educational qualification?

I don’t understand these pictures very well. What do they mean?

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