Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Life of Pi at Oscar: Namaste! Ang Lee gets the Academy for best director

While Ang Lee was adjudged the best director, the movie 'Life of Pi' won three other Oscars, for best original score, cinematography and special effects

Taiwanese-American Ang Lee beat master directors like Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Michael Haneke (Amour) to take home the best director Oscar for “Life of Pi”, his visually stunning 3D tale of an Indian boy adrift in the ocean for 227 days with 'Richard Parker', a Bengal tiger.


Lee, for his second Academy award, beat Spielberg, Haneke, David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and indie filmmaker Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) in the directing category.


Before ending his speech with a 'Namaste', Lee said, “I really need to share this with everybody who worked in ’Life of Pi’. I need to thank Yann Martel for writing this marvellous book".


Ang Lee, an Oscar nominee for five times, earlier won the Academy for his 2005 gay cowboys’ drama ‘Brokeback Mountain’. His 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' was nominated for best picture and directing honours, similar to 'Life of Pi'.


Claudio Miranda won the best cinematography trophy for his stunning camera work in the 3D movie. 'Life of Pi' also won in the visual effects (VFX) category with Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R Christopher White taking home the golden statuette. The team paid tribute to the Rhythm & Hues, the company behind the VFX, which has filed for bankruptcy.


Music director Mychael Danna won the Oscar in the Best Original Score category for 'Life of Pi'. Dana had previously worked with Indian origin filmmakers Deepa Mehta for ‘Water’ and Mira Nair for ‘Monsoon Wedding’. Recently, he won a Golden Globe for his score for 'Life Of Pi'.


Lee made several trips, including one to promote the film, to India to research and cast the movie. He chose the then 17-year-old newcomer Suraj Sharma to play the lead from 3,000 hopefuls.


During his trip to Mumbai, Lee had said that he felt a sense of belonging to Pi’s journey, which somehow mirrored his own struggles to direct the technically superb spectacle.


The filmmaker, who is behind genre-defying movies like 'Sense and Sensibility', 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', 'Hulk' and 'Brokeback Mountain', also credited destiny for bringing the movie to him after it changed hands with many directors.


Here is the complete list of winners from Oscar 2013


BEST PICTURE: Argo, Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

BEST ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Skyfall', Skyfall



BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina



FILM EDITING: William Goldenberg, Argo

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell, Les Miserables

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Carter and Jim Erickson, Lincoln

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: Paperman, John Kahrs

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: Curfew, Shawn Christensen

BEST SOUND EDITING: [tie] Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers, Skyfall; Paul NJ Ottosson, Zero Dark Thirty

BEST SOUND MIXING: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes, Les Misérables

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi


Tax havens: Why they exist and continue to thrive

For small countries to create an entire profitable industry by passing a few laws appears to be a cheap and effective road to economic development. It is estimated that the size of assets held in these tax havens is in excess of $21 trillion, and most of which is beyond the reach of tax collectors

My first law related job was with a large international bank in New York. I worked for the international trust department or as I called it: the ‘you got it, we hide it’ division. The purpose of our department was to take money from clients who were not citizens of the United States. We would then invest it in the US, but only through one of the bank’s off shore subsidiaries located in one of the Caribbean or European tax havens. Later, I practiced in the US city of Miami. Like my job in New York, I helped to structure in-bound investments by non resident aliens. So, when this week’s Economist published an excellent report on international tax havens (excuse me ‘offshore financial centres' or OFCs), I could not resist making comments.


The most interesting point of the article was of course the size of the tax havens. Presently in the world there are between 50 to 60 active tax havens. They exist in all parts of the world. Some of them are in surprising places. They also specialize. Some like Bermuda are the locations of international insurers. Other like Panama concentrates as flags of convenience.


Sovereign debt crisis and tax collections


The plethora of tax havens or OFCs and size of the business is hardly surprising. For small countries to create an entire profitable industry by passing a few laws appears to be a cheap and effective road to economic development. It is estimated that the size of assets held in OFCs is in excess of $21 trillion most of which is beyond the reach of tax collectors. They even have their own vocabulary. Structures to help individuals and businesses avoid tax go by monikers like a “Double Irish” or a “Dutch Sandwich”.


The location of these tax havens is also interesting. They usually fall into one of several categories. The first category is the older more established tax havens in Europe. These include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Luxembourg which were started after the First World War. These countries profited by their proximity to larger economies. In an era of less international cooperation but nascent globalization, they were able to arbitrage different legal systems. After the war several British dependencies like the Channel Islands, Isle of Mann, the Caymans, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda were able to leverage their special colonial or historical status into financial industries. In the case of the Caymans, a very successful industry, they are now the 5th largest financial centre in the world after London, New York, Tokyo and Zurich.


It was not only the UK. The US also had relationships with a few islands like the Marshall Islands and Samoa. In fact, the US itself is also a tax haven of sorts. Laws making it difficult to determine the beneficial owners of corporations in Delaware and Nevada have made them popular with people with something to hide. Allegedly Miami, my old home town, is the centre for some of the dirtiest money in the US.


The rise of emerging markets has been coupled with the rise of specific tax havens catering to their needs. Much of the money that is exported from Russia goes through Cyprus. Money in and out of India is funnelled through Mauritius. Singapore is far more convenient than Switzerland for much of East Asia.


The real question about tax havens is why they exist at all? With the possible exception of Switzerland, these are tiny and very vulnerable states. Pressure from larger countries can and have forced them to become more transparent. Yet they continue to thrive. The inescapable conclusion is that they fulfil a very real and often protected economic niche which is becoming increasingly necessary in an era of globalization.


Promoters of OFCs like to argue that they provide both regulatory and tax neutrality for international transactions. A kaleidoscope of international laws, overlapping and contradictory regulations might make these transactions impossible. There are also, often, very real reasons for secrecy. Hostile governments often, have confiscatory policies against political enemies and safe havens for cash are a necessity.


Still the misuse of tax havens might outweigh many of their benefits. They are certainly a destination for all sorts of ill gotten gains. Accounts in the Caymans were subject to “massive misuse” by organized gangs from Mexico and elsewhere. It is estimated that elites from 139 low to middle income countries have parked up to $9.3 trillion in these havens. But it is not just small tax havens. Corporate secrecy in places like Delaware made them a favourite of the convicted arms smuggler Viktor Bout, also known as the “Merchant of Death”.


They are also handy in helping with international tax planning. Because under many tax systems subsidiaries are considered as separate entities, transactions between related corporations are taxed at different levels in different jurisdictions. This leads to enormous issues of transfer pricing or perhaps better described as transfer mispricing. For example, American corporate profits are at an all time high in proportion to GDP, but this record has not been matched by the amounts American corporations pay in taxes which are at an all time low.


But like the elites, these corporations have power. Although it is possible to eliminate the problem of tax havens, doing so would have to overcome powerful entrenched interests around the world. Global competitiveness including tax and regulatory arbitrage reduce the prospect for the easiest way to get rid of tax havens: harmonization.  If countries could agree on a simple and efficient way to tax their citizens and to regulate their businesses, then the need for tax havens would be sharply reduced. But most countries cannot even agree on the definition of a crime. What is a bribe in one place might be considered only the cost of doing business in another.  As long as these divides exist, OFCs will have a bright future.


Other stories by William Gamble


(William Gamble is president of Emerging Market Strategies. An international lawyer and economist, he developed his theories beginning with his first hand experience and business dealings in the Russia starting in 1993. Mr Gamble holds two graduate law degrees. He was educated at Institute D'Etudes Politique, Trinity College, University of Miami School of Law, and University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. He was a member of the bar in three states, over four different federal courts and has spoken four languages.)



Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

Hello William,

Answer this, I’m also sending a copy to you! Fine, Can you REPLY?

In the first, you & all US, “SEQUESTERED”! Right! Austerity! US!

Obama says not ‘an apocalypse’, failed to get deal with Republicans.

[I also understand it was GoP prompted hence Congressional nod!??]

Let’s see when trillions are got over ten years, BUT midway, say 2017!

85Bn$ less in about seven months, which IN THE FIRST place will impact Federal agencies.
I advise you to check FAA website for your flights, expect delays, smaller airfield Towers can be shut, Amtrak unaffected.

Could Obama ‘preclude’, HURTING ECONOMY, Job cuts? Compromise must on both sides!?

Without talking of Europe, Spain [no question asked – NO Answer] where US is leading Global economy?

Well coming to ‘SO’ called ‘tax heavens’.

Monaco, France a tax heaven, a millionaire also would not afford stay. [as a resident]

In a tax heaven where there are ‘zero’ taxes – how can the country net taxes? Why should they welcome overseas ‘unverified’ investments to be routed? Panama flag carrier vessels attract double premium.

How the Gulf countries with zero tax manage their economy?

How US has unearthed most of the dogged tax wealth?
About 1.5trn capital inflows in emerging markets in 2012. India only 20Bn! How LIBOR was unearthed?


William, Fed will not spare co’s in Delaware if they get a whiff also.

So, Willam, India is addressing such issues, sooner than later, irrespective of inflows to halt capital flight, round tripping, treaty shopping.

Where do we see financial globalization at the end of the year? By the end of this decade institutional investors will have to take a call to invest in nine major economies to achieve economic growth.

Sovereign debt crises is the result of loose monetary policy, 20% attributed to tax collection, i'll come to you on this.



4 years ago

Excellent Article ,Bravely Explained by Author very Lucidly.GOI and Cental Ministries dealing in Finance and Business can get enlightened- to try to track & bring back Money Slashed in Tax Havens. GOI is fooling Indians by telling Lame excuses
( Ofcourse in their Interest Possibly ). Even Author's Services / Guidance can be Taken by GOI - to Streamline our Economy in these Issues.

Banking sector likely to revive only in FY2015, says S&P

According to the ratings agency, over the next 12 months, troubles for the Indian banking system are likely to increase due to slowdown in economic growth and sluggish fiscal reforms

Standard & Poor's (S&P) Ratings Services has said that the troubles for the Indian banking system are likely to increase over the next 12 months due to slow economic growth and sluggish fiscal reforms and the situation is likely to improve in the fiscal year ending March 2015.


According to the report, titled, "India Banking Outlook 2013: More Pain but Relief Might Be on the Way, performance of the Indian economy and corporate sector are likely to start improving in fiscal 2014.


S&P said, it assumes that the government will be able to carry forward its recent reform initiatives, which could improve operating conditions for the corporate sector and the benefits of these measures could also flow into the banking sector with a lag.


Talking about key factors that affects, the banking sector in India, the ratings agency said, while access to funding remains a strength for domestic banks, they are likely to need significant amounts of capital to meet Basel III norms.


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