Divya and Bapoo Malcolm spent Sunday afternoon at Nissan showroom in Worli, Mumbai to take a look at Datsun GO, the new car
Enter the Micra, Nissan’s very own wonder kid, and keep the Superman inside you on the ready. With the right side of your vision blinkered, you would need all your super hero powers to negotiate your way through traffic. The steering wheel is so much to the right that even if someone were to touch the bonnet of your car, you would not notice it.
Next stop, the Datsun Go was thus a big relief. Superman could go back to being Clark Kent. He got a near panoramic view of the traffic ahead and to the side. There it was, trying to woo the Indian middle class with its powder blue sheen, a la Maruti in the 1980s. And that’s what it was: an upgrade, by many notches, of the Maruti of those times.
It is as much endowed as lacking. No air bags, a light body but a functional car at Rs3 lakh plus on road. Enough for mommy to go shopping for groceries. But please stick to the city in this baby. Shabana Azmi had once famously said that the Maruti is for women. So is the Go. More so.
Over to the macho husband…
The wife has had her say above. Notice the femme stuff? All colour and shopping! With Shabana to boot. For God’s sake, you are testing a car, not buying a hand-bag.
True, the Micra is vision impaired. The Go goes. With a 1,200 cc Renault-Nissan under the hood, it is peppy. It handles well. The gearing ratio is good for city drives. It feels like the driver is in total control. And that’s a big plus.
The engine ticks over fairly smoothly. Torque at 104/4,000 is adequate. The petrol engine is said to deliver a “mileage” (or kilometrage?) of over 20 kms per litre. Maybe. But all such tests are highly controlled, so a couple of kilos here and there, in daily use, need the Nelson eye. One must remember that Nissan and Renault are co-makers of these engines. And Renault rules the roost in F1.
Uphill, a small one at Worli, was a cinch. Top gear comes soon enough, a boon in consumption. Braking is adequate, what with 13 inch wheels. We were told that a 15 inches option is available. There is room enough for that and that should make it a much better car. But will there be another gear box? We have yet to know.
The sore point is the turn-indicators. They do not return to normal on their own. One has to flick them back, otherwise the fire alarm is nerve-racking. In this day and age? Might as well have BEST type pointer flags sticking out of the sides. Go needs to go a bit further.
The accelerator did not cut the engine to idling soon enough for my liking. It took a bit of time to down the revs once you raised the foot. Was told it was normal. Maybe. Seemed more like a sticky new wire or linkage. Nothing that a bit of oil or Teflon coating cannot cure.
In the old days, pre WWII, the gear shift was floor mounted. The fashionable stick was introduced by the French Citroen. The black, looooong cars. The lever was placed on the dashboard. And everyone raved about it. That is until bucket seats became de rigueur. So the Datsun is restarting the fashion by being a bit up-front.
It’s an OK car. If you think the Nano is not snobbish enough and the Swift is likely to burn a hole in the pocket, if a ‘new’ Jap brand strikes your fancy, the Go may fit the bill. But it is not a tough car. The doors and bonnets have a tinny sound. This is compromise-fatigue in action. A good engine and need for low consumption. What do you get? Less metal all round to save on weight.
Ah! If only we could have everything.
A word about the sales team. Courteous, smiling, bend-over-backward attitude. Especially a guy called Bootwalla. They listened. They replied. There was no bull. Thank Goodness Mr Bootwalla is at Nissan Worli and not at Metro Shoes. Nice kid. Far cry from the Honda team at Bori Bunder. Their motto was, “We sell Hondas. Not answer questions. Take it or leave it”. People did just that. Now Honda is playing catch-up. Sad.
PS. The wife said we will wait and make enough money to buy a Nissan SUV. The Terrano ------- at four times the price. Now that should do it.
Last year, SEBI stopped the SMS menace of SMS Techsoft when it found the company promoters and directors using this to offload their shares. This week, there is a surge in volume in Patidar Buildcon shares after ‘intra-day tip’ SMSes. Is SEBI aware about this?
As the stock markets are touching new highs, the spurious elements have become active. Several savers, investors are receiving daily three-four SMS on their mobiles asking to 'grab' an opportunity to make a 'killing' in shares of Patidar Buildcon Ltd, in just few minutes. These SMS ‘recommend’ people to buy one to 10 lakh shares of Patidar Buildcon (BSE code 524031) for current market price (CMP) of Rs207/208, which it claims would go to Rs225-230 in just few minutes!
Here are the SMS that are being circulated...
Following the messages, over the past few days, there is a surge in volumes in Patidar Buildcon shares on the BSE. Especially, on 25th March, its volume witnessed a jump of over seven times to 3.87 lakh shares as against two-week average daily volume of 50,000 shares. In fact, on Tuesday, Patidar Buildcon was locked at 10% lower circuit at Rs234.55 per share. Even on Friday, it remained locked in lower circuit at Rs181.45 after falling down by 5% on the BSE.
Image Source: BSE
Interestingly, one particular entity Rohit Saboo is found buying Patidar Buildcon shares and again dumping it in bulk on the same day. As of February Saboo held 94,405 shares of 1.72% stake in the company. On 25th March, he bought 74,515 shares at Rs254.24 each and same day sold 1,07,096 shares at Rs256.40. He repeated the act on next two days as can be seen from below table that show all bulk deals in Patidar Buildcon throughout March 2014.
Image Source: BSE
Others like Suresh Kumar Maheshwari (HUF), Sumeet Chandak, Suman Modani and Prefer Abasan Pvt Ltd, however seems to have tried to book profit by selling Patidar Buildcon shares in bulk deals.
Last year in November, Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barred 37 entities after it found various SMSs circulating in the market mentioning buy recommendation for SMS Techsoft were used by its promoters and directors to offload the company shares. SEBI had, suo moto, carried out an examination in the scrip of SMS Techsoft in view of various SMSs circulating in the market during February-March 2013 mentioning therein buy recommendation for the scrip of SMS Techsoft.
During the examination, SEBI said it found SMS Techsoft issued 3 crore shares to 31 entities, including three promoters, who are related to Rajesh Mangilal Ranka, that too when Ranka in 2010 was barred by the market regulator for two years.
Earlier in August 2013, SEBI had passed an order in a separate case where action was taken against persons luring investors through SMSes with promise of daily returns of up to Rs75,000 through mobile messages. SEBI debarred Imtiyaz Hanif Khanda and Vali Mamad Habib Ghaniwala from providing unauthorised investment advisory and portfolio management services (PMS) via SMS.
While in the earlier case the investors were being lured for unauthorised investment products, the SMS Techsoft case pertained to promoters of a listed company being involved as well with the spread of SMSes.
Coming back the case of promoting shares of Patidar Buildcon, the market regulator has yet to initiate any action. Our mail sent to SEBI remained unanswered till writing this story. We would incorporate response from the market regulator as and when we receive it.
Piped gas from Myanmar is far more realistic and practical than expecting the Iranian gas to travel through Pakistan to reach India
Although the question of upward revision of gas prices has been going on for more than a year, and is in line with the contractual obligation, and duly announced by the Oil Minister, it now appears that the revised price cannot be brought into effect from 1st April due to the ensuing elections, as per a ruling made by the Election Commission.
As law abiding citizens, we maintain status quo and await the new government to be formally announced, who will take the appropriate steps in this direction.
The exact price revision is still not certain and, of course, there is no guarantee that, upon the increase, the production and supply of gas will automatically increase to meet our national needs. Far from it. An upward revision would, according to the producers, make it economical and viable for them to explore and extract the gas from depths of the ocean to serve the country.
All the main producers, apart from expanding their exploration and expansion activities in the country, are also keenly investing outside so as to obtain the best results that their investments can buy. Even ONGC, which is a government owned enterprise, has clearly stated that the upward revision would make it worthwhile for them to continue their exploration; at a lower rate, it would be uneconomical to invest such huge sums.
Myanmar, originally and popularly known in the past as Burma, has been the home for oil production for long. Most of the gas it produces goes to China, whom we may recall, laid a pipeline to carry this gas. China is well entrenched in Myanmar, not only in the oil industry but in many other areas as well.
An auction launched by Myanmar in April 2013, according to the Energy Minister, initially received interest from some 68 firms, though, in the end, 30 firm bids were received, covering 30 offshore blocks; and ten blocks each were in shallow and deep waters, which have now been awarded. It would be some more time before the final 10 blocks would be awarded, and no time limit has been set for this purpose, presumably to see the progress that is being made by the awardees.
Myanmar government will receive from these successful bidders a signature bonus of $226.10 million, once the exploration of the blocks begins.
Among the conditions, the winners of the shallow water blocks need to take a local partner but those in the deep water blocks are waived of this ruling, in as much as high costs are involved besides technical competency needed in such work. In any case, bidders will have to enter into a production sharing agreement with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
Reliance won the M17 and M 18 shallow water blocks in Moattama basin in water depths upto 3,000 ft and these two blocks together encompass an area of 27,600 sq km.
Oil India Ltd, Mercator Petroleum Ltd and Oilmax Energy Private Ltd have jointly been awarded three blocks; Italy's ENI Myanmar BV got two blocks while BG Asia Pacific Pte Ltd and Woodside Energy Pte Ltd jointly won four blocks.
International giants like Chevron, Shell and Total also were awarded blocks for exploration. All these successful awardees will have to invest, at least $3 billion in the exploration programme, apart from signing the production sharing contract. This investment will entitle them to a 30 year license to explore and produce oil and gas off the Myanmar shore. The other details of pricing etc. will be known only at a later date when full details are made public.
This is a giant step for India in its march for reviving our age-old relations with Myanmar. It is essential that greater and regular contacts are established with those in authority in that country and we must explore the avenues for persuading them to lay a gas pipeline to ensure supply into India in the eastern states, as a start.
If anything, immediate steps should be taken for the Commerce Minister and Ministry of Oil to lead a joint team to investigate the possibilities for such a pipe line. Piped gas from Myanmar is far more realistic and practical than expecting the Iranian gas to travel through Pakistan to reach India. IPI is a pipe dream, while MPI - Myanmar Pipeline to India would be a distinct and workable possibility.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also 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; and later to the US.)