Brian Clancey of STAT, which also tracks global pulses prices and forecasts global production levels, said that India’s pulses production apparently is up this year. But whether India will be able to sustain the high level of production is a question
Pulses production in India is likely to decline this year, resulting in higher imports, confirmed a government official at an international pulses conclave being held in Mumbai. Experts present at the meet highlighted the need for increasing pulses production to meet the demand from rising population.
“Pulses import is expected to touch 2.8 million tonnes (MT) till March and is slightly higher than last year, which was at 2.6 MT,” said Rajiv Agarwal, secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs-Foods and Public Distribution on the sidelines of the ‘Global Pulses Conclave 2012’ organized by India Pulses and Grain Association (IPGA).
Presenting the global perspectives on pulses, Brian Clancey, publisher and editor, STAT Publishing said, “The net field crop needs to rise at the rate of 1% per year by 2050 to meet the demand of rising population. If the output is even low by 0.5% then we have to face the issue of food shortage and higher prices”
Another panellist G Chandrashekhar of the Hindu Business Line, speaking on the global agricultural markets and outlook, elaborated on the factors such as weather conditions, inflation, slowing economy, prices of crude oil and speculative capital- impacting the agricultural commodities. “In the first half of 2012, the prices should be firm. It would be moderate because of the expectation of a rebound. There will be built up stock in the next 3-4 months. However, there is an upside risk of weather aberration.”
He adds, “Positive macro-economic data should give boost to the demand.”
Mr Clancey of STAT, which also tracks global pulses prices and forecasts global production levels, says that, “In India production apparently is up this year. It is less compared to last year, but both these years, production was way above for India. We calculated that the demand for pulses here is between 20-12 million tonnes. Prior to 2010, the production was hardly 15 million tonnes and the country imported around 3.5 million tonnes. That was way below what the country needed. Now the production has rebounded with a record crop last year. But still there is a gap which will be covered by imports.”
According to IPGA, around 1 lakh metric tonnes of chana have been already imported from Australia. India is the largest producer of pulses. Despite this, it is also the biggest importer of pulses, from countries like Australia, Canada and Myanmar, consuming about 15% of the world pulses trade. Of the total import basket, 50% is yellow peas, which is imported from Canada, Ukraine, Russia and France.
Mr Clancey says that, “Whether India will be able to sustain the high level of production is a question. Last year the record production was due to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) that the farmers got. Now, if the MSP falters, the farmers have to rely on the market. Indian pulses market is a diversified and sophisticated market.”The three-day conclave, which began yesterday, is an attempt to bring together all the stakeholders, from India and abroad, of the pulses industry. It is supported by the food and public distribution department of the consumer affairs ministry.
According to Mr Clancey, competition over acres for production, consumer demand, US Biofuel Policy and rising population of India and China will be the key drivers for the prices of pulses.
What is common between Microsoft’s steep rally in 2000, Petorchina’s rise in 2008 and Apple’s vertical move in 2011?
Apple made news recently when it was valued more than Microsoft and Google combined, when its market capitalisation was valued at an eye-popping $461 billion. It became the most expensive company in the world. However, what is more interesting than this little fact is the recent ‘parabolic’ rise in its share price while emerging as the largest company in the world by market capitalisation. For the uninitiated, a parabolic rise simply means sudden upwards rise in the share price that resembles a mathematical parabolic curve. What happens when the most expensive stock also records a parabolic rise?
Before we delve into Apple, we take a look at two other examples in the past. Microsoft, in 2000, was the world most valued company then, with market capitalisation of $586 billion. It came to occupy this perch with a parabolic rise in its share price during the dotcom boom. Similarly Petrochina was the world’s most valuable company in 2008, following a similar rise in its share price with crude oil prices hitting almost $150 a barrel. Now we have Apple’s parabolic rise to the top of the charts.
What do these three companies have in common? Well, according to Market Anthropology blog, there seems to be a correlation between the steep run up in the share prices of these companies, and what happened after. The steep or ‘parabolic’ rise in its share price made them the world most valuable companies. Immediately after this phenomenon, the entire market tanked and what followed was an overall bear market. In Microsoft’s case, it was the dotcom bust that followed its parabolic rise. In case of Petrochina, it was the sub-prime crisis and a crash in oil price speculation. And now we have Apple. The manner at which Apple became the most valued company is similar to the two examples above. Is Apple’s parabolic rise telling us something? Has the market peaked? We’ll get to know in a matter of time. In the meantime, investors can decide for themselves whether to sell their holdings or smell an incoming opportunity when the market falls.
The chart below, courtesy of Market Anthropology, tells the story:
The killing in cold blood of Indian fishermen off the Indian coast by armed mercenaries on the Italian ship Enrica Lexie has deeper ramifications which impact not just our seafarers but the roots of our commerce and economic strength. That this has been on sale and barter to the highest bidder is not a secret, but that this is now resulting in the death of innocent fishermen is unforgiveable. An in-depth report on what really happened...
The killing by automatic weapons in cold blood of two Indian seafarers (fishermen) onboard the fv (fishing vessel) S. Anthony in Indian controlled waters off Alappuzha on the Malabar coast by the crew of the Italian ship Enrica Lexie once again brings into focus the unequal task that Indian seafarers have in trying to safeguard their own lives and livelihood. On one side is the real and present danger that our seafarers—people working on fishing boats, dhows, offshore industry ships and more—have from the perils of the sea which now include piracy in no small measure in waters off the Indian coast.
The bigger danger, however, is the almost criminal attitude and approach taken by the various authorities in India in this matter. In this case, if it had not been for the Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy who to their credit acted independently of the soft-pedal attitude pushed forward by the state government in Kerala as well as the mercantile marine authorities in Kochi and Directorate General (DG) of Shipping in Mumbai, then it is not incorrect to state that the Italian ship would have simply escaped like a common criminal and proceeded on its way without demur.
It is not that we have to understand more about just a case of arrogance on the high seas by people who still bemoan the loss of their colonial power in this part of the world. That, too, is a simple truth. It is more important to understand certain facts of this case first:
1) The incident took place about 14 miles off the Indian coast around Alappuzha. One look at a coastal navigation map will show anybody with the least knowledge of navigation and due diligence that such a huge ship had no business to be so close to the coast there. Alappuzha is not a port of call for ships of this size and moreover, any prudent ship-owner and master will positively stay at least 30-35 miles off this coast for more than a variety of reasons—including standing instructions, safety and pollution. If the ship came so close, then it is clear that she did so with some ulterior motive—either to try and get local mobile phone signal or to probably be in line with some other vessel to pick up or drop off the security guards.
2) The case of the Costa Concordia mishap caused by her Italian master and crew in Italy is still fresh, and should have worked on the mind of any reasonable captain, especially Italian, to ensure that the ship stayed a safe distance away. Incidentally, standing instructions on board similar ships of Indian flag indicate that the ship needs to stay at least 36 miles away from coast in such scenarios—including off the Indian coast. This is in line with instructions issued by the DG Shipping on the subject, after the famous groundings off Mumbai last year, by ships which came too close to the Indian coast.
3) The golden rule, never to be broken, for any merchant seafarer, is that if you see a small craft especially if she is fishing, then you stay a good distance away—even if you have to alter course. For us, that was 10 miles—or more. The fisherman’s right to the seaway is paramount—especially close to the coast; that is one thing. The other more important thing is that you do not want your ship’s propellers to get entangled in fishing nets, which are made of very strong nylons, and can cause huge ships to come to a halt. Again, arrogance and bad seamanship by the master, unforgiveable.
4) One of the first things a watchkeeper on a merchant ship is supposed to do in case of threat of piracy or any emergency or distress is to punch certain buttons which create alarms in various parts of the world—by satellite and other forms of communication. For reasons of security, this is not going to be explained here, but as any seafarer knows—this is a cardinal role. Your certificate can be cancelled if you do not do so. The next steps to be taken, especially if the said emergency or distress is over is to report the same again by a due process.
5) This due process involves informing the vessel’s owners, operators and the relevant authorities. The world’s oceans have been divided into clearly demarcated zones for this, and there is absolutely no doubt that this episode was in the Indian controlled zone, as is known to even the most raw and fresh of seafarers. It appears that the ship informed the owners and operators, but neglected to inform the Indian authorities, while wheels within wheels started working in Kochi and Mumbai and Delhi to soft-pedal the incident and push it under the proverbial carpet.
6) The next step for the vessel is to stop to render help and then make for the nearest port (in this case Kochi, just about 35-40 miles away) and await further instructions, and there is no two ways about it. To try and escape towards Sri Lanka leaving injured fishermen or seafarers behind is counted as murder as per the laws of the sea, and as happened in this case, can only reveal an ulterior motive on the part of the owners and master as well as crew of the ship. It is to the credit of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, which were aware of this incident, that they took independent action.
7) The timing of the incident, at 1630hrs, is also important. This is a time onboard when ALL FOUR of the management-level officers are awake and on duty, and there is no question of placing this to inexperience, as is being made out to the Indian authorities—who it seems are behaving like apologists for the Italians. Seafarers are placed in jail for far less serious offences in the rest of the world, is the Kerala government and the MMD/DGS so much in awe of the departed Italian colonials that even today there is talk of ‘excusing’ the Italian master and armed guards on board?
8) Most importantly, the status of approvals for Indian or foreign security companies hiring Indian origin guards for Indian or foreign ships operating in Indian waters, recruited from ex-servicemen of the Indian Navy or other services, has been kept in abeyance for months now at the level of the DG Shipping and other authorities in Mumbai and Delhi. Our ex-servicemen know our waters and should by all rights as well as common sense be on ships performing what is called “innocent passages” through Indian waters. Instead, we have a wide variety of trigger-happy mercenaries dredged from the dung-heaps on the basis of cheapest best, from all over the world, freely indulging in shoot-outs within miles of our coast.
This incident has far bigger implications than can be understood in so short an article, but in the first instance, this should be used for exemplary action against the master and crew responsible. This is no less than intentional homicide and murder on more than a few counts and then leaving the injured and dying fishermen while trying to escape makes it worse.
In the next article, I shall try to explain the economic aspect of such episodes. Interim, this report was done basis inputs from a variety of sources who all do not wish to be named, but it is amply clear that the merchant shipping and state authorities have been found majorly wanting in this case.
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Killing of Indian seafarers in cold blood off Kerala—the case of the St Anthony and Enrica Lexie (Part 2)
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)