Saturday, January 15

Updates to the charitable activities

Well, I took the plunge and offered up my services as a trustee to a another local charity. Its called as Home Start. This is what they do.

We help to increase the confidence and independence of families by:

  • Visiting families in their own homes to offer support, friendship and practical assistance
  • Reassuring parents that their childcare problems are not unusual or unique
  • Encouraging parents' strengths and emotional well-being for the ultimate benefit of their children
  • Trying to get the fun back into family life

Our volunteers, who have parenting experience themselves, can offer:

  • Precious time for listening and talking
  • Help with the children
  • A break for parents
  • Practical help and reassurance
  • A chance to meet other parents in similar situations
  • Support to use local services and resources

Parents ask for Home-Start's help for all sorts of reasons:

  • They may feel isolated in their community, have no family nearby and be struggling to make friends
  • They may be finding it hard to cope because of their own or a child's physical or mental illness
  • They may have been hit hard by the death of a loved one
  • They may be really struggling the with emotional and physical demands of having twins or triplets - perhaps born into an already large family

Not sure how much I can do as a volunteer although that will definitely be helpful. There are many immigrant families here in Harrow and if I can help. But I think as a trustee, I can bring on some force multipliers in terms of communications, fund raising, technology and and and. Lets see, will be invited soon for an interview soon Smile

I have fulminated before how charities aren't charities but act as government departments, whining and moaning about the lack or reduction of government funding. Here was a great letter on this issue. I quote:

David Robinson, the co-founder of Community Links, speaks for many publicly funded charities threatened by cuts (Charity chief: cuts may doom PM's big society, 30 December). While praising the "big society" concept that promises influence for third-sector organisations, he bemoans the pace of the withdrawal of public cash underpinning the sustainability of nearly a quarter of all charities.

But with over 250,000 charities in the UK, the last thing the UK needs is another. All may have been set up with the best of intentions, but there's massive duplication in giving and huge operational inefficiencies, with ferocious competition for funding, influence and profile. It's an unsustainable model at the best of times, so why should the taxpayer continue to prop it up now?

The third sector will be much better for consolidation where back-office costs can be cut, income streams enhanced and brand presence increased. Mergers are increasingly common, while one well-known firm of solicitors is touting for business using a line on how to conduct a hostile takeover of a charity. Trustees are beginning to recognise that increasing their public benefit is similar to increasing shareholder value. The jury's still out on the "big society", but the consequence of having paid charities to deliver public services over so many years is the inevitable commoditisation of the third sector.

It's about time that the third sector woke up to these unpalatable but necessary private-sector realities. In developing the most profuse charitable sector in the world, Britain has also created the most self-indulgent, where over one in 10 charities rely on state funding for more than half their income. David Robinson is right to be concerned about the pace of change but, "big society" or not, the coming storm is unavoidable. In 2011 the winners will be those organisations that start to behave more like corporate raiders than third-sector martyrs.

No fleas on Rafael Correa!

Caught this typo on the front page of the FT.

Quite surprised that something like this can happen to an august newspaper as the Financial Times!

Wednesday, January 12

The Indian Schindler

We all have heard about the Schindler List, a movie which talks about Oskar Schindler who saves thousands of Jews from the concentration camps. But not many people know the history of India taking in refugees. The land has a very long history of welcoming persecuted people from other lands and giving them succour. Think back about the Parsi’s or the Zoroastrians who fled the fanatical Muslim invaders who had invaded Iran. They settled in India and are now one of the most advanced components of Indian society. The second example are the Tibetans who with Dalai Lama, escaped from Tibet and settled in India. The next example is that of the Sri Lankan Tamils who escaped the civil war in Sri Lanka and then settled back in Tamil Nadu. Another example are the Bengalis who escaped the genocide and persecution of the Pakistani’s and settled in India. India also offered Palestinian and Afghanistan leaders a safe place and many leaders and their family know India as a safe place to live and raise their kids. Hamid Karzai, the current Afghan President studied and lives in India for a long period of time.

But I did not know about Sassoons. The Sassoon family and the Prime Minister of Cochin state (now Kerala) offered to harbour Jewish Refugees. So at a time that USA and UK were actively stopping the relief of Jews who were desperately trying to escape the Nazi’s, a small corner of India was welcoming them with open arms. Here are some references. Incidentally, some Indian Jews in North East India are claiming to be Jews and are emigrating to Israel. Now that the Church, bloody hypocritically, is whining about losing adherents. When the shoe is on the other foot and all that.

Anyway, found this quite interesting about how India welcomed refugees.

Monday, January 10

This year’s return on Karn’s portfolio–27.59%

Just to give a quick update on his portfolio. If you recall, I am trying to get him to learn how to invest and stuff. In 2010, his overall portfolio portfolio return is 27.59%. Some of his stocks have shown more than 50% uptick, and one (XTRATA) has shown 170.46% upturn. Not bad, eh?

The hedge fund results for the last quarter are in as well and its fairly good return, again not bad for 1 quarter..Cant say much more, the investor call is scheduled in a few weeks and then I can revert back.

Sunday, January 9

Current thinking on India’s energy security

Besides the personal links to India, I also have a significant chunk of investments in India. So the question of India’s energy security is rather high on my list of questions to be answered. If India can navigate its energy path properly, it will emerge as a great country, screw it up (as it keeps on doing), then it will constantly have issues with its economic, political and foreign policy.

This was one partial answer in an article written by sMalavika Jain Bambawale and Benjamin K. Sovacool, in Energy Policy. I quote the abstract:


This article explores the concept of energy security perceived and understood by a sample of government, business, civil society, and university stakeholders in India. Based on a literature review, the authors hypothesize what energy experts suggest energy security is for India. The article then tests these hypotheses through the use of a survey completed by 172 Indian respondents. The article begins by describing its methodology before summarizing the results of the literature review to distill seven working hypotheses related to energy security in India. These hypotheses relate to (1) security of energy supply, (2) equitable access to energy services, (3) research and development of new energy technologies, (4) energy efficiency and conservation, (5) self-sufficiency and trade in energy fuels, (6) nuclear power, and (7) the energy-water nexus. It then tests these hypotheses with our survey instrument before concluding with implications for energy policy in India and beyond.

Research highlights

► We measured the concept of energy security for India through a survey that tested the importance of 16 dimensions. ► For our sample of respondents from India, as hypothesized, security of fossil fuel supply, R&D in new technologies, centralized energy systems, and the availability of clean water emerged as important dimensions. ► Equitable access to energy and low energy intensity did not emerge as important dimensions of energy security for our sample even though we hypothesized them to be so.

Quite an interesting set of responses. The current thinking is quite progressive across the board with the exception of couple of points. The current thinking is still the static centrist centrally planned socialist model of huge investments in huge plants rather the small scale decentralised energy systems that India needs. This can really help in improving our energy grid. Second, they dont seem to care about a good pricing policy. No wonder, they are still sucking on the subsidy tit. And finally, they dont think that equitable access to energy is good. Which is storing up trouble.

But by and large, happy about the thinking that’s going into energy policy.