There is no doubt that Baba Ramdev has commercialized yoga in India ( “Banking on yoga in more ways than one”, Mint, 15 May ) and he treats it as a business, though he may not sound that way. I feel there is no harm in it if he is able to make some money out of it because he has not only given a fresh lease of life to the dying art of yoga, but has revolutionized it as well. He also has competitors who are far less successful than him, hence the jealousy about his claims. People who have attended his camps have benefited from his exercises and there are no side effects or harm from yoga. By spreading awareness about yoga, he has done great service for mankind. At least he is better than all those sadhus who make false claims, besides making money.
— Bal Govind
The editorial on 15 May (“Making money on $2,500 car”) has pointed out the problems with low-price cars. No doubt it’s risky manufacturing a low-cost and low-end product, especially when a rise in input costs can eat away the wafer-thin margins; the challenge lies in constantly innovating and finding new ways to lower cost. For example, the Tata Nano has extensively used glue instead of welding to lower cost—something revolutionary in the industry. Fibreglass has been used earlier by some manufacturers instead of steel. Who knows, some manufacturer may build an electric engine at half the cost of a petrol one, which will change economics and help find a way out of the oil crisis as well.
The other heartening feature is that the importance of scale is being realized by Indian manufacturers of late, but slowly. When WalMart demands shirts from Chinese garment manufacturers at $1 a shirt, they don’t bat an eyelid—“No problem, sir, your price but my volume” is the reply usually. Indian companies have begun to realize this— the mobile phone industry being the best example. So, the announcement of small car projects by at least four manufacturers—Toyota, Volkswagen, Bajaj-Renault-Nissan combine and General Motors—immediately after the launch of the Tata Nano is a very welcome development and augurs well for the consumer. A whole new market—the present two-wheeler buyers—is being encouraged to ride four wheels, and this is where the volumes will come from. Even if input costs do go up sharply, these cars will still be less than half the cost of the cars in the next segment presently available to buyers.
It may not be correct, therefore, to say that Bajaj is walking into the rut it should be walking away from, as it seems to have done its homework well by targeting “the next billion customers” of the world. Shake-outs will be eminent, but may the best man win.
- R Vishvesh
The Indian rupee has not yet hit its medium-term support, but it’s approaching that level.
Before the release of recent manufacturing data, a level somewhere between 41 and 42 looked strong for the dollar-rupee pair.
But the disappointing manufacturing growth numbers that triggered recession fears at home, coupled with reversed Fed rate concerns, pushed the rupee — which has already been hit hard by skyrocketing oil prices — above the 42 mark.
A look at the data suggests a level between 43 and 44 as a near-term target for the two currencies. Until then, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may not intervene in order to give exporters a chance to recover the losses they had incurred last year.
That said, we can’t expect RBI to sit idly while rising oil prices continue to widen the trade deficit.
Also, the improved purchasing power of the dollar vis-à-vis the rupee is likely to make Indian equities attractive to FIIs, which in turn will shore up the Indian rupee.
- Bobby Michael