Starting operations from this June, Honda’s new plant shall have 12 lakh units production capacity in Phase I
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd (HMSI), the second largest two-wheeler company in India inaugurated its most advanced and latest third two-wheeler production plant at Narsapura Area, District Kolar (Karnataka) today.
The new plant enables HMSI to more efficiently serve the vast scooter and motorcycle market of India together with the existing Manesar and Tapukara plants in northern India.
Spread across 96 acres, Honda’s third two-wheeler plant in Narsapura is situated at Narsapura Industrial Area, which is around 52km from Bangalore. The new plant employs approximately 4,500 associates and entails a total investment of Rs1,350 crore.
Starting operations from this June, Honda’s new plant shall have 12 lakh units production capacity in Phase I. Aiming at market leadership, Honda also announced additional increase of 6 lakh units capacity in Phase 2 of this plant taking its annual capacity to 18 lakh units by end of this fiscal year. With its three plants, Honda will significantly increase its cumulative annual production capacity by 64% in just one fiscal.
Speaking on the occasion Yoshiyuki Matsumoto managing officer, Honda Motor Co and representative of development, purchasing & manufacturing, Asia Oceania Region said, “In the current fiscal year 2014, Honda’s global two-wheeler sales growth is expected to increase more than the previous years and headed to new heights by its operations in India. There is no doubt that India is one of the most important markets for Honda’s overall business. Today we establish a new milestone with the inauguration of our 3rd manufacturing facility in India in the state of Karnataka. Out of the total 4500 new positions at this facility, nearly 90% are being offered to the local youth.”
During 2012-13, about Rs160 crore was paid to depositors of 13 failed co-operative banks. The DICGC used money collected from depositors of other banks under the credit insurance scheme. Not a single rupee was paid on account of any failed nationalised or private banks. This only shows that dual regulation means poor regulation
Maharashtra leads the states for the maximum number of failed cooperative banks that are gobbling up depositors’ money. As many as 13 co-operative banks failed to pay customers and have shut down operations in the 2012-13 fiscal. It is reported that the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), a government-owned entity which guarantees deposits, paid as much as Rs160 crore to deposit holders of the 13 banks during 2012-13. This means deposit holders from other better managed banks and taxpayers have to bear the burden of mismanagement and failure of these co-operative banks.
Under the norms of DICGC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), a maximum of Rs1 lakh is paid to a depositor in case a bank goes insolvent. Last year in August, finance minister P Chidambaram informed the Rajya Sabha that deposit insurance coverage provided by DICGC is also applicable to the eligible deposits held in all eligible co-operative banks.
In the same breadth, Chidambaram said that the DICGC had sent a proposal to increase the deposit insurance coverage limit to Rs2 lakh from existing Rs1 lakh. He had said, “The proposal was examined and to rationalise the deposit insurance premium structure, the government has suggested to the DICGC and the RBI to adopt the Risk-Based Deposit Insurance Premium Structure, before the proposal of the DICGC is considered for approval.”
Unfortunately, the only beneficiaries of the deposit insurance premium collected by the DICGC are badly-run and politically-influenced co-operative banks. Since its inception, the Corporation has paid out about Rs4,051 crore till August 2011, in claims to depositors after bank failures. As much as a quarter of this—a whopping Rs1,025 crore—has been paid out in the past three years, from April 2008 to March 2011, which was given to 83 banks. And all of these 83 banks were co-operative banks.
The payment is possible because DICGC collects the insurance payment from banks to guarantee deposits up to Rs1 lakh per account holder. The DICGC collects a premium from 2,249 banks, of which a whopping 2,080 are co-operative banks.
Here is the irony. Less than 200 commercial banks account for 88% of the insurance premium collected and co-operative banks account for under 8%. Yet, when it comes to payment because of failures, 100% of the money is paid on account of co-operative banks.
Moneylife Foundation has strongly opposed any attempt to increase the deposit guarantee since this will only ensure that badly run, politically controlled cooperative banks get money for their depositors from the banking system. Moneylife believes that the cost of this high insurance will eventually have to be borne by customers who make smart choice to put their money in better banks.
What is worse, co-operative banks are poorly regulated under the dual regulation of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Registrar of Cooperatives. It is an open secret that RBI's supervision is completely ineffectual when it comes to co-operative banks, because of the enormous political influence wielded by their promoters.
This year, of the 13 cooperatives, the ones in Maharashtra are the worst offenders, with nine banks from the state defaulted on deposit holders, followed by Gujarat (two co-operatives), Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (one each). According to media reports, the DICGC paid the maximum amount of Rs54.88 crore to Bhandari Co-op Bank of Maharashtra. This was followed by another Maharashtra-based lender Solapur Nagari Audyogik Sahakari Bank whose depositors were paid Rs45.76 crore. Depositors from two other failed banks, Siddhartha Sahakari Bank and Bhusawal Peoples Co-op Bank were paid Rs23.99 crore and Rs10.05 crore, respectively during 2012-13. A year ago or during 2011-12, the DICGC paid Rs277.31 crore to depositors of 18 co-operative banks that were closed.
Moneylife had carried a prescient story more than two years back (Co-operative banks are in terrible shape; account-holders will be at the receiving end. RBI should act decisively, and soon), written by Prof Anil Agashe, that co-operative banks were in terrible shape and that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) badly needed to tighten its screws, so to speak, and act boldly to protect deposit-holders. Unfortunately, the RBI did not act fast enough. Not only did co-operative banks default on deposit holders but, unbeknownst to Indian citizens, they were used for far more sinister purposes.
RBI recently discovered, albeit too late, that the money-laundering racket, discovered by Cobrapost, had spread to cooperatives too, and appeared to be the main conduit for the private sector banks to launder money. Shockingly, it was also discovered that cooperative banks happily accepted fake PAN cards and dodge detection by opening hundreds of accounts without proper KYC with each deposit carefully under Rs50,000. Moneylife had written about this story here: RBI money-laundering probe shows cooperative banks as the key facilitator of shady deals.
Regulation of co-operative banks is appallingly poor. One of the worst offenders is Maharashtra State-Co-operative Bank (MSC Bank), which had reported over Rs1,070 crore loss, mainly due to non performing assets (NPAs). Not only did it suffer losses but, according to advocate Vinod Sampat, the bank was “window dressing” its accounts. This prompted the RBI to swiftly act and highlighted the need to bring all co-operative banks, a majority of which are controlled by politicians, under the central bank's direct control. Moneylife had written about it over here (MSC Bank: The RBI finally steps in to clear the mess in Maharashtra’s apex co-operative bank)
Unfortunately, it still isn’t clear who really regulates co-operatives because there are actually two regulators: the Registrar of Co-operative Societies (RoCS) and the RBI. Because of this dual set-up, there is little regulation, accountability and willpower to take action against errant co-operative banks.
Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity, including “visits to web sites, online posts, instant messages and other communication forms”, back to the user. Tor is intended to protect users' personal privacy, freedom, and ability to conduct confidential business by keeping their internet activities from being monitored
If internet has enabled us to produce and consume content, it has also enabled the powers that govern us to keep an eye on what we do on the web. It would be naive for us to assume that you take a dive into the ocean and come out dry, and of course, there are footprints left behind. Take the recent case of girls being arrested for their comments on Facebook or a person arrested for comments on Twitter against a minister's son. No matter what you do on in cyberspace, where you do from, our government is hand in glove with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to keep an eye on you.
So it seems. Should we be afraid to do anything on the web? Should we be living in the fear that I write a blog about a government policy and wait for the police to knock on my door? To me, this is another case of policy makers defining policies from their ivory towers. Our ministers lack core knowledge of the portfolio they hold. Even their babu advisors have not kept up the pace in their respective fields. Sometimes I fail to understand that what an actor has to do with the tourism ministry or a lawyer has to do with HRD ministry? Does being young entitle someone to handle the IT and communications ministry? Can our ministers switch portfolios irrespective of their academic and professional background as they change their robes?
Internet is a treasure trove of information. At the click of a mouse you dive into an ocean of information—so deep and vast that you can't imagine a physical library to substitute it. Internet is not just a source of information; it is also a medium to express yourself via social networks, blogs, forums, etc.
Coming back to surveillance on the internet, in the modern technological world millions of individuals are subject to privacy threats. Companies are hired to not only watch what individuals visit online, but to infiltrate the information and send advertising based on one's browsing history.
There is still a way to browse the Internet and not let the powers that be know what you did. There is an open source project called ‘Tor’ (originally short for The Onion Router), which allows us to browse internet anonymously. Tor was started by US Naval Research Laboratory and later open sourced. It was started to allow citizens in oppressive regimes like Iran and China to browse censored content. This explains the backing of US. However, it is now run by a non-profit organization with funding from the US government. As of 2012, 80% of the Tor Project’s $2 million annual budget comes from the United States government, with the Swedish government and other organizations providing the rest, including NGOs and thousands of individual sponsors.
To understand the way Tor works, one first needs to understand the way Internet works. At a very basic level, your browser on your behalf requests for something (get/push some content) on a server. The server responds back telling you whether it was able to do what you requested or not. While doing this you are directly talking to the server through your ISP. Traffic goes to the server from your ISP. While the traffic is in transit, it could have been logged and stored either by the server itself or even by your ISP. Not just the request is logged, who, where and when made the request could also be logged. This is what enables the tracking. One catch here is that the server needs to reside in the native country for the government to get a hold otherwise there is the ISP anyway. Since ISP is the mediator between you and server, it can also regulate the content on government's orders.
Tor has a worldwide volunteer network of relays. If you browse Internet through a Tor client, then your traffic is routed through these relays, after being encrypted multiple times. At each relay, the data is decrypted one layer at a time, passing the remaining encrypted data to the next relay and the final relay in the chain sends it to desired server. If you visit a different site, then a different relay chain is chosen. Your ISP can only see your request to the first relay, while the server would see the request came from the last relay.
The best part in this system is that your request will go through many different regions making it more difficult to detect. At no point can anyone determine from where the request originated unless all the relays in the chain are in the same country and someone is able to decode the pattern and the encryption. The only weak links here are the entry and exit relay—though they are tough to crack. Tor will be as effective as is their relay network. More the relays, greater the anonymity.
So using Tor you can browse Internet anonymously. However, as they say with great power comes great responsibility. Although Tor was developed to protect the users’ anonymity, it has been misused for illegal activities like selling drugs and pornography. So it is just like a hammer—either you can use it to nail the doors or to bang someone. It depends on the person using it. The users of Tor have to be careful that they always browse internet via Tor when they are doing things, which require a user ID and password. Even if once you use the same user ID and password without Tor, the ISP or the server might sniff out the pattern.
Like all current low latency anonymity networks, Tor cannot and does not attempt to protect against monitoring of traffic at the boundaries of the Tor network, i.e. the traffic entering and exiting the network. While Tor does provide protection against traffic analysis, it cannot prevent traffic confirmation also called end-to-end correlation.
While we are on the subject of privacy, a note about browsers is worth mentioning. It is always better to use free (not as in free beer—to be read as freedom) and open source browsers instead of the ones which you would categorize as freeware (as in free beer) or proprietary. Free and open source software's prime focus is user privacy while others are here to earn the bucks even if they are giving the browser free. No matter what the critics say about speed and usability, for me, privacy is of paramount importance. I would also encourage readers to find out the difference between free software and freeware. Even the experts in IT do not understand this difference!
It is also advisable to use the private browsing mode. It would be worth a while to explore the preferences section of your browser to customize it according to your privacy needs. For those who are willing to explore beyond the regular Windows/ Mac operating system, they can consider installing an anonymous Linux distribution, which can be used just to browse the web. Their other activities can be done through the regular OS.
Smartphones, which are the in thing now also aid in the surveillance. There are a chunk of companies which can remotely monitor what you do on your smartphone and let the government know about it. They are together in this along with the smart phone manufacturers and mobile service providers—they built this feature in the first place. Everything right from your location, text messages, emails, contacts and call records can be monitored remotely. Luckily, in this area, we have a free and open source alternative. It has not yet arrived in India, but should be something to keep an eye on.
(The author writes with a pseudonym of Prathmesh Bhargav)