Biased austerity

The austerity move adopted by the babus got a new dimension when corporate affairs minister Salman Khurshid pointed out that even private sector companies should refrain from doling out obscene salaries. But Mr Khurshid should also pay attention to the quasi-government companies, especially the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has created a perception of being a government entity with its virtual monopoly over running the stock market. But it has the highest paid non-promoter executives in the country, Ravi Narain, managing director, and Chitra Ramakrishna, deputy managing director.
Mr Narain and Ms Ramakrishna had an astounding gross annual income of Rs6.89 crore and Rs4.21 crore respectively, besides other perks in 2008-09. The salary of Mr Narain is more than London Stock Exchange (LSE) chief Xavier Roulet (around Rs 5.6 crore) and equal to NYSE Euronext CEO’s, Jean-Fancoise Theodore (around Rs7 crore).
Comparatively, NSE’s supposed competitor Bombay Stock Exchange’s (BSE) CEO Madhu Kannan earned a gross income of Rs1.6crore.
Interestingly, the stock exchanges which are in charge of regulating listed companies themselves refrain from maintaining transparency. NSE refrains from giving any information via Right to Information (RTI). Even its annual reports are not easily available nor does it comply with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) norms.
The NSE has even filed a petition for a stay order on a request by the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) in Delhi from revealing any information relating to NSE. In its petition, NSE has stated that ‘they are a non-government private sector company’ and not under the jurisdiction of RTI. But how just is the argument of the NSE not to reveal any information, considering it has large public sector undertakings like State Bank of India, Life Insurance Company (LIC) etc. as investors? If NSE is a private sector company, it is the only one to have a virtual monopoly in a crucial business that deals with million of citizens.
- Aditya Kshirsagar [email protected]


Mobile IMEI number game

I remember a joke about an engineer and a politician debating on who is more productive and result oriented among them. The engineer claims since he has organised everything in a proper order across the world which was in a mess, he is more efficient. The politician simply says, but tell me who created that mess? Funny, isn't it? But this is what happens to every issue, problem in our country.

Take for example, the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) issue. As per DoT and security agencies in India, mobiles with fake or no IMEI number, mostly imported from China and hence called Chinese mobiles, can pose security risks and should be banned. DoT had even issued tough directives to ban use of these handsets, but since then, the order has been postponed twice, following "reservations" from mobile service providers and importers.

Chinese handsets have a 15-digit IMEI number while genuine handsets, or rather those handsets sold with a bill and warranty from reputed brands, come embedded with a 16-digit IMEI that can be easily tracked by the operators.
Almost all the mobiles, which come in India, do have an IMEI number, but some China-made phones carry a fake IMEI number which is the issue. Also, the problem was not just of IMEI numbers, it is the import of these so called Chinese mobiles, which are smuggled into India.
As per market information, the illegal trade of importing and selling Chinese mobiles in India alone accounts for about Rs70 billion and about 20% to 25% subscribers use these handsets. The industry obviously scared of losing millions of subscribers has taken some damage control measures. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has tied up with the Mobile Standard Alliance of India (MSAI) to set up 1,600 retail outlets across the country to implant IMEI numbers on these handsets for a fee of about Rs200 for each instrument.
However, there are more questions regarding the IMEI implant itself. With software like this, it is now clear that an IMEI number can be implanted into any handset, so what is the assurance that such programmes will not used for other, mostly stolen handsets, in the future as well? Secondly, there is a website to check genuine IMEI numbers (, but when I checked some IMEI numbers, it showed the numbers as genuine and issued somewhere in 2001-2002 for the primary market of Europe while the handsets were made in China and are in use in India.
This brings out other, more serious questions about the origin of the IMEI number. Suppose, if there is one Chinese handset with an IMEI code but the IMEI code belongs to some other manufacturer and a defunct handset like the Nokia 5110, then how can the mobile service provider ban such handsets? Since the mechanism to check originality of IMEI numbers is restricted, in terms of infrastructure, data sharing between operators, I wonder whether this (the ban on fake IMEI) will sustain?
On the surface, banning handsets with fake IMEI looks like a good idea, but it is not sufficient. The issue here is not of banning the use of these mobiles with bad or non-genuine IMEI numbers, but to curtail the highly prosperous illegal trade of mobile imports, which is going on since the last few years, through the porous borders along Pakistan and Nepal.
The illegal trade of the so-called Chinese handsets mostly takes place via Pakistan through the Rajasthan route, with a few consignments coming in via Nepal. Due to the turmoil in Nepal, the Pakistan route is supposed to be safer, as there are very few restrictions. Most of the time, the smugglers work hand in glove with the authorities in Pakistan.
In this scenario, it would be interesting to see how DoT, COAI and MSAI would keep the deadline. Will there be another extension for the ban, in order to import some more illegal handsets into the country? Well, we don't know, but what we know for sure is that the market for Chinese handsets continues to glitter.


Chinese mobiles continue to flood Indian market with
Mobile handset maker China Wireless Technologies has tied up with Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) to launch its dual-SIM smart phone in India and aims to earn around Rs8 billion over the next five years.
After the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number dispute and concerns raised by Indian security agencies, Chinese mobile makers seem to have revised their strategy. After flooding the Indian market with their cheap (both in quality and rates) handsets, Chinese mobile manufacturers are now mainly using domestic companies to promote their products.
In the past few months, many companies have entered the domestic mobile market with their "own" brand, but in fact all these handsets are procured from China at low rates and then sold using a different brand name. Although this method is not new, what is more important is the after-sales service that is not easily available for such equipment.
Hong-Kong stock exchange-listed China Wireless Technologies' Indian subsidiary Coolpad Communications has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with RCom's retail subsidiary Reliance Webstore and the handsets would be available in the market under the ‘Coolpad’ brand name.
China Wireless unit Yulong makes highly popular Yulong Coolpad smartphone models that are feature-rich and are mostly on dual technology that is on GSM + GSM or CDMA + GSM. Yulong's recently launched 3G mobile handset 'Coolpad N900' is being marketed in China with the title "iPhone Killer.”
Earlier, many companies, especially RCom and Tata Indicom, used to buy CDMA handsets in bulk from Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei and sell it under their brand name. ZTE has sold over 25 million handsets in India through operators such as RCom, BSNL, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone. Now ZTE is targeting the GSM handset market in India.
The Indian mobile handset market is estimated to be around Rs26,000 crore, dominated mostly by Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG and Motorola besides HTC and Blackberry. Other brands include, Haier, Bleu, Spice, Videocon, Philips and some smaller brands like Simoco, Kyocera, Sagem, Micromax, Fly, Huawei, Xenitis, GeePee and Usha. Bird International and Kejian are present in India since 2003 and retail their handsets through their partners Agrani Convergence Ltd and Ragarhia group, respectively.
A few months ago, Essar group's Mobile Store launched China-made 'Ray' brand handsets. There are some companies which import Chinese handsets with IMEI number and sell it under their own label, like Maxx, Fortune, Karbonn and Olive.
Although these made-in-China handsets offer value for money to price-conscious Indians, there are some concerns as well. Mainly, these handsets do not offer any warranty or guarantee and there is no after-sales service available. In case your handset becomes "ill", then you can't get it repaired easily, as the spares and parts of these handsets are not available.
I used a Haier handset sometime back and one fine day it stopped working. The problem is minor, but despite running from pillar to post at many authorised service centres, the handset is still ‘dead’.




5 years ago

Items made is China by unknown companies are usually of better quality than those made in India by unknown companies, even if it is a lot cheaper...
It would be better if we decide to learn from the Chinese instead of hating them.
BTW, even your Nokia/Blackberry handset is most likely to made in China!

manoj kumar

6 years ago



6 years ago

unnecessary hype and hate of the china cheap brands.the same vicious stories were prevalent in the 70s when the upstarts of the day like honda and toyota were new kids on the block. i've had bad experience with samsung and nokia. and no problems with micromax. electronic goods quality is a nebulous idea.if they work they work.its not like they are perishable commodities. get a clue,the mobiles wouldnt sell if people didnt see value for their buck

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