Use of social networks is not limited to just young people. People aged 55 or more have emerged as the fastest growing age segment in social networking says comScore
Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide accounting for nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online in October 2011, and reaches 82% percent of the world’s Internet population, representing 1.2 billion users across the globe, says comScore.
“Regardless of the geography, social networks are weaving themselves ever more intricately into the fabric of the digital experience, opening a world of new opportunity for business and technology,” said Linda Boland Abraham, comScore CMO and EVP of global development.
Time spent on social networking sites gained ground during this time by taking share predominantly from web-based email and instant messengers, reflecting its emergence as another primary communication channel for users. Unmistakably, it has evolved over the years to become an integral part of the global online experience, in many ways both mirroring and augmenting the offline social experience, comScore said.
The report of the CAG, presented to Parliament a few months ago said “this (the decision to purchase 68 aircraft at a cost of Rs50,000 crore) was a recipe for disaster and should have raised alarm signals in the ministry of civil aviation, Public Investment Board and the Planning Commission"
It has been seven years since India’s aviation icon was metaphorically shot down in mid-flight. And the Maharaja it still lying crash-landed, his glorious moustache stuck in muck and legs kicking feebly in the air.
The first job that Ajit Singh, the new civil aviation minister, will have to take up is to get Air India flying high again, supported by a sound financial position.
Equally important, Mr Singh will have to identify those responsible, from minister to joint secretary, for sabotage of Air India. He has to make sure cases are filed against these people, charging them with anti-national activity and destruction of national property, amongst other things.
The prime accused stands out: he is Praful Patel, who was civil aviation minister in 2004.
Mr Patel maneuvered himself into post of civil aviation minister using the clout of his mentor Sharad Pawar. The fact that, till he became minister, he was a director of Jet Airways is a clear pointer to why he got himself into this particular ministry. What about the concept of conflict of interest? That’s only for credulously innocent and straight-forward people.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh could, to give him the benefit of doubt, only watch helplessly and get all of Mr Patel’s decisions rubber-stamped by the Cabinet.
Mr Patel set about his task quickly. Four months after taking over, he chaired a meeting to discuss Air India’s expansion plan to buy 28 aircraft to replace the ageing Jumbos. Mr Patel’s diktat at the meeting was that Air India would buy not 28 aircraft but 68—at a stupendous cost of Rs50,000 crore.
The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), presented to Parliament a few months ago said “this was a recipe for disaster and should have raised alarm signals in the ministry of civil aviation, Public Investment Board and the Planning Commission".
The inflated purchase order was not backed by either a viable revenue plan or expansion of routes. Indian Airlines, too, was asked to revisit its proposal to buy 43 aircraft but it refused.
On 5 August 2004, the minutes of the meeting were sent to V Thulasidas, then CMD Air India by an under-secretary in the ministry called K K Padmanabhan. The minutes ordered that "Air India should revisit the proposal of aircraft purchase and submit a fresh project proposal to the government at the earliest which could include the revised requirements." Mr Thulasidas agreed to revise the proposal despite strong opposition from V Subramaniam, additional secretary and financial adviser of the ministry.
The entire acquisition (for both Air India and Indian Airlines) was to be funded through debt (to be repaid through revenue generation), except for a relatively small equity infusion of Rs325 crore for Indian Airlines.
Mr Patel's controversial decision was rubber-stamped by a committee of secretaries and a group of ministers. Air India is still saddled with debt of more than Rs40,000 crore and an estimated loss of around Rs7,000 crore. Till the 2003-2004 fiscal, AI was making a profit of around Rs105 crore.
The CAG report said the aircraft acquisition through debt "contributed predominantly" to the airline's massive debt liability, which stood at Rs38,423 crore as on 31st March last year. CAG also called the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines "ill-timed" and said that "the financial case for the merger was not adequately validated prior to the merger".
Having done his dirty work, Mr Patel moved on to the industries ministry. Air India was left to sink in the mud till a few months ago when a rescue plan was mooted. Bankers and bureaucrats are running round and around trying to save Air India.
In 1985, when Rajiv Gandhi came to power, he appointed rookie P Chidambaram as deputy minister for textiles. Within a week he was moved to the home ministry in a junior post.
It was reported that Mr Chidambaram had told Rajiv Gandhi that his family owned a few textile mills and there would be conflict of interest if he stayed on in the textiles ministry. Mr Chidambaram was an honest young man then.
Onion prices for traders have fallen to Rs600 per quintal on Wednesday from Rs1,200 per quintal earlier this month however there is little change in retail prices
Exactly a year after it made consumers to cry, onion prices are now causing losses to farmers. Last December, amidst the high festivities of Christmas and New Year, onions made the consumers to cry with prices touching as high as Rs80 per kg, while this year farmers are reeling under the losses due to the crashing prices. Experts and traders are warning of further downtrend in onion prices.
At Lasalgaon near Nasik, which is the country’s largest onion producing region, prices in the wholesale market have to fallen to Rs400-Rs500 per quintal due to excess production and storage. High export prices have also resulted in poor off take by the traders.
In Mumbai market, the modal prices (rate at which traders buy) of onion have fallen to Rs600 per quintal on Wednesday from Rs1,200 per quintal earlier this month. Meanwhile, the prices of onions from Karnataka have also drastically fallen.
However, there is little change in the retail prices of onions at Vashi retail market, near Mumbai. Onions are being sold at Rs12-Rs14 per kg, compared with Rs14-Rs16 a kilo last week.
“The cost of production for a quintal of onion comes at around Rs300-Rs400 while the current price is Rs400-Rs500 per quintal. At this price the farmers cannot even expect to recover their costs and this makes it impossible to sustain the business. We want the government to immediately take corrective measures to safe guard the interest of the onion growers,” said RP Gupta, director of National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF).
For 2011-12, the onion production so far, according to NHRDF, is estimated at 150 lakh metric tonne, an increase of 4-5% compared to last year.
Experts demand that the lowering export prices could boost demand for Indian onions in international market. “The minimum export price should be brought down to $150 per metric tonne from $250 per metric tonne,” says Mr Gupta.
A Vashi-based trader told Moneylife that, “Governments, both the state and union, should immediately intervene to help the farmers who are bearing losses on the crop. It should also reduce the minimum export price. Even if there is excess production, people continue to shell out higher price in the retail market.”