As per the revision in the existing order lever obligations in futures segment, presence on both buy and sell of the near month contract has been revised to at least 50% of the trading time
Mumbai: The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has revised liquidity enhancement scheme for derivatives of the FTSE 100 index effective from 18th June, reports PTI.
As per the revision in the existing order lever obligations in futures segment, the NSE said, presence on both buy and sell of the near month contract has been revised to at least 50% of the trading time during the two separate time periods 9.15am to 12.30pm and post 12.30pm till end of the market hours within the top 20 price points.
The maximum permissible bid-ask spread, for a minimum quantity of five contracts each at buy and sell, has been reduced to 3 ticks from 4 ticks, NSE said in a release here.
In the options segment, presence on both sides buy and sell of the near month contract has been revised to at least 50% of the trading time during two separate time periods 9.15am to 12.30pm and post 12.30 pm till end of the market hours, within the top 20 price points, it added.
While the US was limping back to normalcy, the hotel industry had to deal with lower tourist business. The 41st part of a series describing the unknown triumphs and travails of doing international business
As the TV channels continue to relay all details of the aerial attacks carried out by the hijackers, viewers continued to spend sleepless nights and asking themselves how such a thing could have happened in the so well-protected and defended American soil. They had no answers, but as experts on terrorism spoke on the subject, it became apparent that everyone had to become vigilant and remained vigilant all the time, so as to prevent any further and future attacks. We became alert enough to contact the security personnel for assistance when we had the least doubt.
In the midst of all these, two incidents took place in the hotel when I was on duty. A guest needed immediate medical attention, as he called for assistance from the manager on duty; I called in para-medics right away (911) and then proceeded to the room. There I found a frightened Mr Jackson with a small kid, and a lady lying listless in bed; in less than three minutes we had the emergency personnel attending to her. After they carried out the medical check up, we came to know that, she, being a diabetic had not had a bite, and was literally starving for food! I had the chef coming in to the suite and got the type of food that would bring her back to normalcy. Once she had her mouthful, literally, she was ok.
There was a continuous flow of security personnel, mostly in incognito, who were either staying in the hotel or visiting, meeting top officials. Patrol cars continued and uniformed personnel were everywhere, particularly in the capital.
Like all other hotels in the area, we too were limping back to normalcy but the business from tourists had suddenly died down completely.
More information was being given out in the TV channels about the hijackers; discussions and debates about what would have happened if the air traffic controller had not ordered all the aircraft down to the ground, and closing American airspace for all traffic, except for the authorized ones. There was also heated debate on how Dick Cheney, the vice-president had, at one time, ordered shooting down even civilian aircraft if it was a victim of hijack!
The rush to check in normally starts just after 3pm and by 6pm, the flow reduces a great deal, and it is about time when we close our refreshments at the Lounge in the Club level.
It was at this time, I took a call from a guest who appeared angry and upset. As I gathered from his voice: “Are you the manager?” “Yes, I am, what can I do for you?” I replied. “Come to my suite, right away!” he ordered. I asked my colleague to man the desk and went to 502 in a hurry. The door was locked, after three knocks and calling out the guest’s name, I opened the door, when he literally shouted that I do! Front office supervisors become manager on duty and we had the master key to open all the suites.
When I opened the door, I saw the guest, sitting in a chair, with both legs up, in a kind of squatting position! When I enquired as to what happened he began: “How can you have rats on the fifth floor?” I apologized, and started looking around, only for him to turn round and say: “It sneaked through the door”. I called both the housekeeping and the engineering department to come to the suite immediately. He wanted to vacate the room and go to another hotel! I pacified him, had the front desk check and allocate a nice suite on the Club level, and within the next ten minutes had him shifted, and some 2500 bonus points in the Club membership. It was difficult to assess how rats or mice could travel to high floors; the only way these could come in is through the grocery and foodstuff that guests buy from supermarkets, and leave the packages outside! Yes, some guests cannot stand these rodents or roaches!
I did not know that hotel managers got together once in a while to hold luncheon meetings. I learnt later that this was one of the regular means of exchanging notes on the problems faced in the industry and how they were able to overcome. Well, it seems that on one such occasion, someone had spoken about me, as a dedicated member of the team, which was pleasing to hear, from the GM of Holiday Inn International, when he called me up!
He invited me for a chat and after an hour or so offered me a managerial position in the hotel. At the very outset he made it clear that I should be prepared to work six days a week and could choose a day for a weekend holiday!
When I returned back, as my rapport with our GM John was good, I consulted him on the offer. He praised the hotel as being neat and well run, and suggested that it may be a good idea for me to apply ‘economics’ to the annual salary package offered!
I took the hint and worked backwards, only to find that there was hardly any difference in net realizations. Even if one was offered $100,000 per year, it would simply amount to getting $50 an hour. However, instead of working 40 hours a week, managers were expected to put in at least 50 hours a week (20% less wages as a result!) and there was no compensation if the work responsibility drags on even for a longer spell! I declined with thanks, though I kept in touch with him.
There were some more details that were made public on the Shanksville crash in Pennsylvania, where the passengers put up a heroic fight and prevented the plane from reaching anywhere near the capital. The last minute telecalls were broadcast and whole scene was heart-rending. Likewise, nearer home, the passengers on the ill-fated aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon had also been given permission by the hijackers to speak to their loved ones, and these conversations really numbed our feelings, and built anger against the perpetrators.
Bill Harvin, who was my colleague at the Courtyard, had moved on and one day I received his call asking me if I was ready to take a managerial responsibility in a DC hotel! And, it happened to be 4 Points Sheraton. I believe ‘Sheraton’ as a brand is owned by the Starwood group and there were many other brands that were part of it. Sheraton had the Geac System in operation and it was not an easy one; yet, if one mastered it there was no other system that would be difficult to handle! Bill was the FOM, and he was offering a divisional manager’s opportunity and set up meetings with the top brass.
I was offered the position, but mulled over the idea for a couple of days, including consulting John our GM, who reluctantly okayed my idea as he felt that this kind of exposure in Washington DC would be helpful. I felt, after all, I was moving on from one Sheraton to another, to gain knowledge!
On the very first day itself, I realized that, I was getting into a different scenario because this was a franchised property, and they had their own rules, which meant that we would not have free ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’ on duty! This was shocking but I took it in my stride. The next day in the evening, someone from the accounts department called and said that I must pay for the parking in the hotel garage, either on a monthly or daily basis! I made it very clear that this was not acceptable and requested him to transfer the call to the chief accountant so that I could sort this out, as he was one of the three-member panel who finalized my terms. I was told that he was ‘busy’ attending a phone call and would get back in a few minutes. I told him that if this was not done, I would not be reporting for duty the next day! He called back to say that there won’t be any charges!
The work in the hotel was hectic; I faced many new factors that emerged in the next few days. The front desk associates were being assigned to new duties and I was forced to take over the job of standing in their place. When the guests came to book for sight-seeing tours, a colleague of mine advised me that this was not done by the front desk and we had to take care of all details, but the concierge will issue the tickets, etc. This meant that he would get the commission too! Likewise, other guest related facilities like arranging for cabs and bookings for lunch and dinners were to be passed on to the concierge.
I expressed my dissatisfaction to Bill, and asked him as to why these details were not given to me? He was on a full-day job, which meant he would come in by 9am and go off by 5. I was in the afternoon shift, and most of the time, I could never return home before one or two in the morning, as I was advised that managers were expected to be putting in a minimum of 10 hours a working day! I realized that I had been ‘taken’ for a ride by the panel who gave verbal assurances but nothing in writing!
On the top of all these, as I began to walk around the area and gather information, so that I become knowledgeable, I was told that the neighbourhood was not very safe and one had to be careful! I did not think for a moment that any place is safe at night, but these were important information that the front desk associates should be aware of before they are able to advice the innocent visitors (who are new to the city). I called up both John and Krista that I had made a serious blunder in moving out of Sheraton Suites in Alexandria and wanted to get back at the first available opportunity. Chad had moved on with a promotion to Atlantic City, and was succeeded by Clive.
There were repeated rumours in the office of an impending change in the management; Bill Harvin himself was becoming ‘unhappy’ with the events in the hotel and hinted that he was seriously looking for a change. Then one fine afternoon, I heard a great number of people were being “temporarily retrenched” or “laid off” due to occupancy factor, because of the ensuing holiday season. Close to 5.30 pm on that Friday, I too was given the notice that as soon as the situation improved in March, they would get back to me! This was just a few days after Christmas! I spent the New Year at home, for the first time in many years with my wife. The next two months, though she continued to work in the Fort Belvoir, I relaxed, looking for a suitable opening and hoping that I would get the opportunity to be back in Sheraton Suites!
It was at this time, we had the longest three days of continuous snow, when it would take some 40 minutes for us to walk to the 7-11 shop to buy anything, which we could reach in less than five minutes normally.
When 2003 began we had great hopes, and after this great snow in February, I rejoined the Sheraton Suites after my interview with Clive, thanks to both John and Krista for their continued trust in my capacity.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts. From being the advisor to exporters, he took over the mantle of a trader, travelled far and wide, and switched over to setting up garment factories and then worked in the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
The US has used drone airstrikes to side-step legal arguments about the boundaries of the campaign against al Qaeda
Everyone is talking about drones. Also known as Unmanned Arial Vehicles, or UAVs, remote-piloted aircrafts have become a controversial centerpiece of the Obama administration's counter-terrorism strategy. Domestically, their surveillance power is being hyped for everything from fighting crime to monitoring hurricanes or spawning salmon. Meanwhile, concerns are cropping up about privacy, ethics and safety. We've rounded up some of the best coverage of drones to get you oriented. Did we miss anything? Let us know.
A Little History
The idea of unmanned flight had been around for decades, but it was in the 1990s, thanks to advances in GPS and computing, that the possibilities for drones really took off, as the New Yorker recently recounted. While hobbyists and researchers looked for uses for automated, airborne cameras, the military became the driving force behind drone developments. (This history from the Washington Post has more details) According to the Congressional Research Service, the military's cache of U.A.V.'s has grown from just a handful in 2001 to more than 7,000 today. This New York Times graphic shows the variety of drones currently employed by the military — from the famous missile-launching Predator to tiny prototypes shaped like hummingbirds.
This February, Congress cleared the way for far more widespread use of drones by businesses, scientists, police and still unknown others. The Federal Aviation Administration will release a comprehensive set of rules on drones by 2015.
The Shadow Drone War: Obama's Open Secret
As the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the Obama administration has escalated a mostly covert air war through clandestine bases in the US and other countries. Just this week, the administration's drone-driven national security policy was documented in this book excerpt by Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman and a New York Times article.
Both the CIA and military use drones for “targeted killings” of terrorist leaders. The strikes have been an awkward open secret, remaining officially classified while government officials mention them repeatedly. Obama admitted the program's existence in an online chat in February, and his counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, gave a speech last month laying out the administration's legal and ethical case for drone strikes.
The crux of it is that they are a precise and efficient form of warfare. Piloted from thousands of miles away (here's an account from a base outside Las Vegas), they don't put US troops at risk, and, by the government's count, harm few civilians.
How Many Civilians Do Drone Strikes Kill?
Statistics are hard to nail down. The Long War Journal and the New America Foundation track strikes and militant and civilian deaths, drawing mainly on media reports with the caveat that they can't always be verified. The Long War Journal tallied 30 civilian deaths in Pakistan in 2011. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which also tracks drone strikes, consistently documents higher numbers of civilian deaths—for Pakistan in 2011, at least 75. Obama administration officials, the New York Times reported this week, have said that such deaths are few or in the "single digits."
But the Times, citing “counterterrorism officials,” also reported that the US classifies all military-age men in a drone strike zone to be militants, unless their innocence is proven after the attack. If that’s true, it raises questions about the government statistics on civilian casualties. One State Department official told the Times that the CIA might be overzealous in defining strike targets—he told them that “the joke was that when the CIA sees ‘three guys doing jumping jacks,’ the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp”.
What about the Political Fallout?
The US has also used airstrikes to side-step legal arguments about the boundaries of the campaign against al Qaeda. Both Bush and Obama administration officials have argued that Congress’ September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force extends to al Qaeda operatives in any country, with or without the consent of local governments.
Drone strikes are extremely unpopular in the countries where they're deployed. They've led to tense diplomatic maneuvers with Pakistan, and protests and radicalization in Yemen. Iraqis have also protested the State Department’s use of surveillance drones in their country.
Domestic concerns about civil liberties and due process in the secret air war were inflamed last fall, when a drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar al Awlaki, an al Qaeda member and a US citizen. Weeks later, Awlaki's 16-year-old American son was also killed by a drone.
Costs and Crashes
Drones are cheap relative to most military manned planes, and they were a central feature of the Pentagon's scaled-back budget this year. But drones aren't immune from cost overruns. The latest version of the Global Hawk surveillance drone was put on the back-burner this January after years of expensive setbacks and questions about whether they were really better than the old U-2 spy planes they were slated to replace.
And while drones may not carry pilots, they can still crash. Wired has also reported on drones' susceptibility to viruses.
Another problem? The Air Force is playing catch-up trying to train people to fly drones and analyze the mountains of data they produce, forcing them to sometimes rely on civilian contractors for sensitive missions, according to the LA Times. The New York Times reported that in 2011, the Air Force processed 1,500 hours of video and 1,500 still images daily, much of it from surveillance drones. An Air Force commander admitted this spring that it would take "years" to catch up on the data they've collected.
Drones, Coming to America...
There are already a number of non-military entities that the FAA has authorized to fly drones, including a handful of local police departments. How drones might change police work is still to be determined (the Seattle police department, for example, showed off a 3.5-pound camera-equipped drone with a battery life of a whopping 10 minutes.)
Police drones may soon be more widespread, as the FAA released temporary rules this month making it easier for police departments to get approval for UAVs weighing up to 25 pounds, and for emergency responders to use smaller drones. The Department of Homeland Security also announced a program to help local agencies integrate the technology — principally as cheaper and safer alternatives to helicopters for reconnaissance. The Border Patrol already has a small fleet of Predators for border surveillance.
Law enforcement officials are staving off a backlash from privacy advocates. The ACLU and other civil rights groups have raised concerns about privacy and Fourth Amendment rights from unprecedented surveillance capability — not to mention the potential of police drones armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, which some departments have proposed. Congressmen Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, have asked the FAA to address privacy concerns in their new guidelines.
One of the first drone-assisted arrests by a local police department took place in North Dakota this year, with the help of a borrowed DHS Predator. It was deployed, as the New Yorker detailed, to catch a group of renegade ranchers in a conflict that originated over a bale of hay.
Universities actually have the most permits to fly drones at this point, for research on everything from pesticide distribution to disaster preparation. As Salon points out, the Pentagon and military contractors are also big funders of university drone research.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that has been outspoken about privacy concerns related to drones, put together the map below of entities authorized to fly drones by the FAA.