Forget Peak Oil, at least for now. It may be time for Peak Coal

Of late, there has been a mild, but growing level of hype about the coming epoch of peak world coal extraction. The amount of coal consumed every year can't grow forever. So when will the terminal decline set in?

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Tuesday’s Market Preview: Soft-to-flat opening likely

The local market is likely to witness a soft-to-flat opening today on mixed global cues, concerns about domestic quarterly earnings reports and inflationary pressures that may force the Reserve Bank of India to hike interest rates later this month. Wall Street closed mixed on Monday, recovering from early losses, as hopes of strong earnings helped to offset the lingering fears about the debt crisis in Europe. Markets in Asia were mixed in early trade today on following a rise in the value of the yen against the dollar and worries about the European debt crisis. The SGX Nifty was up 10.50 points at 5,767.50 from its previous close of 5,757.

The Sensex began with an opening gap down of 22.61 points (three points on the Nifty) on Monday and made an intra-day high of 19,720.43 (5,907 on the Nifty). This was the lowest intra-day high in the past 19 days. Massive and steady selling soon took over. The Sensex broke through the support of 19,500 before noon and in the closing session witnessed a sharp sell-off.

The indices made a 20-day low hitting the 19,158.43 mark, after easily breaking the support of 19,500. Finally, the Sensex closed at 19,224.12 (down 2.38%) and the Nifty at 5,763 (2.38%). The 1,319-point gain in the 16-day rally which started on 10 December 2010 has been completely wiped off in the past five days.

The advance-decline on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was, however, slightly better yesterday at 176:1,228 from that on Friday. The market has sharply fallen for the past five days and there is some scope for a bounce back after the morning session on Tuesday. But this doesn't mean that the decline which started on 4th January will come to a halt soon. After a day or two of rally, if at all, the market will fall again. The support may come around 18,500 on the Sensex and 5,600 on the Nifty.

US markets closed mixed overnight, recovering from early losses, as hopes of strong corporate earnings offsets worries about the lingering debt crisis in Europe. Early losses were driven by concerns that some Euro zone members are struggling to repay their debt. However, blue chips like Apple Inc, General Electric Co and Ford Motor Company ended higher on speculations of strong earning numbers. Alcoa was upbeat as it reported better-than-expected quarterly numbers after the US exchanges closed for trade. Analysts opined that a correction was due after the markets gained in the last quarter of 2010.

The Dow declined 37.31 points (0.32%) to 11,637.45. The S&P 500 slipped 1.75 points (0.14%) to 1,269.75 while the Nasdaq added 4.63 points (0.17%) to 2,707.80.

Markets in Asia were mixed in early trade on Tuesday following the strengthening of the yen against the dollar and nervousness ahead of government bond auctions in Europe. Investors were concerned about the contagion spreading to other nations in Europe.

The Shanghai Composite was down 0.15%, the KLSE Composite fell 0.19%, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.23%, the Straits Times shed 0.10% and the Seoul Composite was down 0.34%. On the other hand, the Hang Seng rose 0.26%, the Jakarta Composite surged 1.07% and the Taiwan Weighted gained 0.79% in early trade. The SGX Nifty was up 10.50 points at 5,767.50 from its previous close of 5,757.

On the domestic front, prime minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting on high food prices today even as agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said the government has no control over high vegetable prices.

Onion remained expensive at Rs55-Rs60 per kg in retail markets across the country. Prices could have gone up further but for the calling-off a two-day strike by traders in Nashik, the major producing area, within hours.

The meeting, called by the prime minister, is expected to be attended by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, besides Mr Pawar.


CRISIL announces grading system for B-School programmes

The ratings agency has evolved an evaluation of management programmes on a host of parameters to enable students make informed choices and the industry to make better recruitments

CRISIL India, the country's premier ratings agency, has introduced a new grading system for Business Schools that will help students make informed choices about the institutes and the courses they wish to pursue. The Mumbai-based agency today released its inaugural report containing a summary of the evaluation of 24 B-School programmes at institutes across the country.

CRISIL says that this is the first step in its plan to extend grading services to the entire education sector. Roopa Kudva, managing director and chief executive officer of CRISIL, said that the increasing number of B-Schools had resulted in many more options for students, making it more difficult for them to make a proper choice. She said this initiative by CRISIL will help students and their parents to make better decisions. It will also provide other stakeholders like recruiters a wealth of information on B-School programmes, to enable them become more focussed in their recruitment efforts. For the institutes themselves, this will be valuable feedback from an independent agency that should spur them to make the necessary changes to improve the quality of their programmes.  

The first report released today contains an evaluation of management programmes at such institutes like Asia-Pacific Institute of Management (New Delhi), Xavier Institute of Management (Bhubaneswar), Assam Institute of Management (Guwahati), PGS Institute of Management (Coimbatore), Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (both in Mumbai) and 18 more.

The evaluation is a holistic process on ten quantitative and qualitative parameters such as management and governance, the faculty, curriculum, student selection and outcome and industry interface. The grading is assigned on an eight-point scale ranging from A*** (triple star), which is the highest level, to B, the lowest, and allotted on a national level and a state level. This will help compare similar institution programmes at an all-India level as well as the state level, catering to the geographical requirements of students and recruiters.

"The grading is not a ranking, but it is an in-depth evaluation of the programme," said Hetal Dalal, head of CRISIL ratings. "The process is rigorous and intense. We spend 2-3 days on the B-School campus where we have extensive interaction with students, faculty members, administration staff, to get an overall view of the programme. The evaluation is dynamic and not static in nature."

The grading also takes into account information of the alumni, like their performance and whether he/she is able to meet the industry standards. "The evaluation is not a mathematical model with a pre-designed numeric model, it is a holistic assessment," Ms Kudva said. CRISIL is in the process of evaluating six more programmes and others will be taken up on a continuous basis. It has started with management programmes and plans to extend the evaluation to engineering and medicine too.
There are several problems that plague the quality of higher education today. While industry has been affected due to the shortcomings, the only source on the quality of education provided by B-Schools was rankings and accreditations, which were not transparent.

The CRISIL announcement was followed by a panel discussion on benchmarking the quality of management education in India. Rashesh Shah, chairman and chief executive officer, Edelweiss Capital, said, "Today, students pursuing MBA are much smarter and broad based. They are evolved in technical skills but they lack in soft skills like interpersonal and social skills."

Rajan Saxena, vice-chancellor, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies that has also been rated in the CRISIL report, was asked about the quality of education in B-Schools and the employability of students. "There is inadequate and imperfect information. The quality front of the education is missed out and is confused with infrastructure and glossy advertising," Mr Saxena said.

CRISIL is hopeful that several institutes will come forward voluntarily to seek evaluation and gradation. "Seeing the response so far, we are sure that more institutes will come forward to get their programmes evaluated and that they will be ready to share the report with their stakeholders," Ms Kudva said.




6 years ago

can the rating agencies be trusted to give unbiased ratings ? Afterall they are the ones who gave A grade ratings to the banks just months before they collapsed in wall street.

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