The Egyptian Spring: Chapter 2

 

Protests spark revolutions, revolutions mark change but that change is sometimes an undesired product. Egypt has shown that the paradox of a protest is sometimes its only inevitable outcome. Inspired by Mohammed Bouazizi’s self immolation in front of the Tunisian parliament, Egypt rose to the global media fore demanding a change, and most West Asian ‘totalitarian’ countries followed suit in a process that came to be casually known as the ‘Arab Spring’.

When Mohammed Morsi was declared the 5th President of Egypt, the country danced to tunes of democracy after being under Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship for over 30 years. Morsi’s Freedom for Justice Party, founded during the Arab Spring, was a direct product of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its anti-capitalist, orthodox Islamic standpoint saw it win the majority’s approval and this change brought with it hopes of peace and stabilization of the nation. However, Morsi’s usurpation of unlimited power to ‘protect the nation’ did not go down too well with the public in general. To add to that, his support of passing a referendum on an Islamist supported draft constitution and the disastrous economic state of the country, opposition began gathering in numbers across Cairo and Alexandria chanting choruses of democracy and secularism.

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What is the future of Egypt? | Image source: theatlantic.com

On the 3rd of July the army staged a coup and General Abdul Fata al-Sisi removed Morsi before suspending the constitution. However, there was support for the ousted President as thousands took to the streets demanding for his reinstatement. And, as was expected, clashes broke out leaving over 60 dead amidst demands for a peaceful protest by the Muslim Brotherhood. The newly elected cabinet by the interim President Adly Mansour comprises only Liberal figures and how the pro-Islamists react to it will be a major concern. Failures leading to the blame-game have been projected around with the US receiving much of the unwanted attention. Both pro-Morsi and pro-Liberals have blamed the US for its role post the 2011 protests. Whatever be it, if one understands the pattern, the future is likely to be marred by deaths, sexual offences, huge waves of anti- establishment crimes and unwarranted counteractions.

Alaa Reqaby, a supporter of Morsi, feels that the army’s political interference is purely selfish rather than a testament to the people’s sentiments. “Mr. Morsi will be back, he will be back. Yes, we can. I want to say to Obama; Yes, we can,” said Alaa Reqaby. However, the complexity of the situation in Egypt is rather interesting because it seems as if two forms of governance are happening alternately. The current liberal form is somewhat similar to Mubarak’s anti-Islamist, pro-development (economic and social especially) style of governance. Morsi’s conservative approach served as the much needed change for many pro-Islamists who were especially against Mubarak’s stance on Israel. Obviously it was corruption that got Mubarak removed but going back to the same political pattern will spell uncertainty as is evident with the increasing support for Mohammed Morsi. Hence, when protestors like Reqaby see the rising sun everyday as a symbol of hope and peace, the more logical tangent would be a doubt which asks: ‘Where exactly is Egypt heading?’

Blimey, what a match!

The English team celebrate after their successful DRS appeal against Australian Brad Haddin. England won by 14 runs.

Test cricket was born with the Ashes. Figuratively.  Since The Sporting Times obituary on English cricket in 1882, a rivalry was formed, one that has seen the romance of seam bowling of Lillee to the grit of Boycott, the 19 wickets of Laker to Flintoff’s single handed heroics. One of the most celebrated rivalries in world sports, Australia and England took to the Nottingham field on a surprisingly warm English day to continue this tradition, this rivalry that has proved time and again why test cricket is the purest and the best form of the gentleman’s game.

Peter Siddle bamboozled the English with a 5-for.

Day 1: Having won the toss, England opted to bat first on a wicket that offered a bit to both the batsmen and the bowlers. James Pattinson got the first break through of the game as he had the English skipper, Alistair Cook, caught behind for 13. After a steady partnership with Jonathan Trott, Root was bowled by Peter Siddle and even though most of the English batsmen got starts, none managed to capitalise as Siddle picked up 5 wickets and England lost their last four wickets for a paltry 2 runs and ended its innings at 215. Trott was England’s highest scorer with 48 runs. Australia got off to a terrible start as they were tottering at 22/3 with Anderson bowling an absolute peach of a delivery to knock off Clark’s off stump. However, Hughes and Smith cautiously saw them through to the close of play. Australia ended the 1st day at 75/4.

Day 2 was all about debutant Asthon Agar’s heroics. He fell two short of a hundred.

Day 2: It took 8 overs for England to get their 1st wicket of the day. Smith had edged Anderson to Prior for 53. After that it was all downhill for Australia as they lost 4 wickets for 9 runs as they were floundering on 117/9 before debutant Ashton Agar and Phil Hughes all sorts of records to get Australia to 280 runs with Agar falling just 2 runs short of his century. Starc then broke through with the ball picking up 2 quick wickets before Cook and Pietersen safely negotiated the remaining overs to take England to 80/2 at the end of the day with a lead of 15 runs.

Day 3: Pietersen and Cook started off things fairly comfortably with the former scoring his 31st test fifty before a lazy shot led to his stumps being uprooted. Cook fell soon after scoring a fifty but Ian Bell formed two decent partnerships with Johnny Braistow and Matt Prior before him and Stuart Broad put up a 138 run 7th wicket stand to get England to a firm ground. However, the highly controversial Direct Review System (DRS) came under the scanner after Broad had clearly edged one to Clarke but umpire Aleem Dar declared him not out. Since Australia had already used up their reviews, they were left helpless as Broad was asked to bat on. England ended the eventful day at 326/6 with Bell at 95.

Ian Bell pulled England out of trouble with a well compiled 100. He put on 137 for the 7th wicket with Stuart Broad.

Day 4: After Bell scored the 1st century of the game, he followed Broad back to pavilion and the last 3 wickets fell for 4 runs. England led by 310 runs and even though the prospect of a 4th innings chase can be daunting, Watson and Rogers started off efficiently with some beautiful strokes through the offside. However, after Watson was trapped infront of his wickets by Broad, there was yet another collapse as Australia kept losing wickets at regular intervals with Graham Swann finally getting a piece of the action. The day ended with Australia at 174/6, needing another 137 runs to win the game.

James Anderson was the player of the match.

Day 5: Even though England was in the driver’s seat, the game isn’t over till it’s over and it proved to be exactly that. After a brief spell of resistance by Agar and Siddle, Australia lost their 9th wicket at 231, needing another 80 runs. But Pattinson and Haddin began countering the English bowling with some lusty strokes across the park. With Haddin amassing his half century and Pattinson looking like a comfortable top order batsman, the sold out Trent Bridge crowd were at the edge of their seats. Lunch was taken when Australia were on 291 needing only another 20 runs. As play resumed after lunch, Haddin was batting on 71 when he knicked it to the keeper. He was given not out but inevitably (in the context of the game), Aleem Dar had to overturn the decision because of the DRS and England won by 14 runs, a game in reminiscence of Edgbaston in 2005. James Anderson, for his 10-wicket haul received the man of the match.

Even though England has drawn the first blood, one can never count the Aussies off and if the series is likely to follow this course, we are in for a cracking series of test cricket. The second match starts from the 18th of July in Lord’s.

Calyx-ZTE tie up to boost sales

ZTE Corporation has announced its intent to foray into the Indian open market with its smart phones and tablets by announcing its partnership with Pune-based Calyx Telecommunications (a part of the Calyx Group). In order to bolster a pan-India presence for ZTE, this partnership will see Calyx in charge of distribution, sales and marketing while ZTS will provide ‘best in class’ products and post sales services.

Announcing the tie-up, Xu Dejun, CEO, ZTE India said, “As we foray into the handset open market, we are delighted to partner with Calyx Telecommunications. Backed by our strong portfolio and R&D capabilities supported by Calyx Telecommunications strong financing background and distribution channels, we expect to emerge as a key player in the Indian smartphone arena. Globally, ZTE is the 4th largest handset manufacturer and we are certain to strengthen our position in India, which is a key growth propeller for us, contributing to 10% of our overall revenues. We feel it is a perfect synergy between two companies who share the same vision of empowering the Indian handset market.”

“We are delighted in partnering with ZTE which is one of the most reputed players in the telecom sector. This partnership will substantially help us broaden our portfolio into the telecom sector. We are also sure that ZTE will find immense benefits with this relationship, which will help both the companies, emerge as strong players in the Indian market.” Executive Director of Calyx Telecommunications, Dr. Gaurav Somani said. He went on to add that the distribution network would initially focus on five states, i.e., Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujarat with 60 cities and towns connected through 7000 touch points. However ZTE products in all major states would be available by the end of October 2013.

ZTE’s initial portfolio in the Indian market will comprise five types of smartphone models ranging from Rs 5799 to Rs 14,999. It will be followed with the introduction of Tablet PCs.

The Samba at the dress rehearsal

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Former Liverpool defender Dietmar Hamann tweeted stating that he doesn’t follow the Confederations Cup because he categorises it in the ‘most useless’ sporting competition in the world. He’s definitely got takers for his view. Just ask any person outside on the streets of Brazil holding slogans saying the Portuguese equivalent of ‘down with the government’, he/she’ll concur.  It’s odd because just as most of us Indians will watch cricket anyhow, anyway and any day, the Brazilians feel the same about football. But given their current economic scenario, practicality ousted passion inevitably. Not like their opinions didn’t matter but on the 15th of June, the tournament got underway in Brasilia on a pitch which would have made Indian groundskeepers proud as peacocks. Japan, either bamboozled by Brazil’s flamboyance or confused by the stadium’s moorland-esque pitch did show flashes of brilliance but ultimately succumbed to a 3-0 scoreline, one flattering the Brazilians a tad. The tournament consisted of the hosts and winners from all the different continents and the World Cup winner. Since Spain were both world and European champions, Italy joined in as the 8th team and was clubbed alongside Brazil, Mexico and Japan. Spain on the other hand was given a slightly easier group. The ageing Uruguay, Nigeria and ‘bolt from the blue’, OFC Championship winners Tahiti were pitted against the reigning world champions.

As was expected, Brazil and Italy qualified from Group A but not after some cracking encounters especially Italy-Japan which ended 4-3 in the former’s favour. Neymar- Mr Prodigy man, on the back of a humble signing for Barcelona, shone throughout the group stages with 2 assists and three brilliant goals. Spain on the other hand showed that the demise of their beloved tiki-taka was nothing more than cheap thrills that analysts got after Bayern thumped Barcelona in the semi finals of the Champions League. Iniesta was master-class and as always Xavi, the engine. Even though the deficit of their victory margin against Uruguay was only by a goal, Suarez and his compatriots knew very well that his classy free kick was nothing more than a consolation. Nigeria and Uruguay locked horns and in their make or break match, Forlan’s 51st minute goal was enough to ensure that Uruguay were the second team to qualify from their group. Tahiti were out-run, out-foxed, out-passed and eventually knocked out of the competition after letting in 24 goals which included a 10-0 mauling by Spain and 8-0 by Uruguay. Their only goal came against Nigeria in which the goal scorer, Jonathan Tehau also scored an own goal. Eventually the semi final line up looked like this: Spain vs Italy and Brazil vs Uruguay.

An 86th minute Paulinho winner sent Brazil through to its 3rd consecutive final after Edinson Cavani had scored to cancel out Fred’s 1st half effort. Spain on the other hand needed the penalty shootout to come out tops against a very impressive Italian side they had thumped in last year’s European Championship finals. 7-6 was the final score in the shootout with Jesus Navas scoring the winning penalty. The third place between Uruguay and Italy was a cracker which saw four goals, a red card and yet another penalty shootout. However Buffon saw that his side weren’t 2nd time unlucky as Edinson Cavani’s brace had taken the match to a goal-less extra time.

The most eagerly anticipated finals of recent years where the high-flying Brazil met Spain. Fred’s goal after 90 seconds set the crowd ballistic and lit the mood inside the stadium. Spain gradually took control of possession but a fierce Neymar finish followed by another goal by Fred proved too much as Ramos missed a penalty and Pique was sent off to round off a woeful night for Spain. It was also their heaviest defeat in almost 20 years. The player of the tournament was awarded to Neymar whose consistent performances are slowly yet surely taking his name into the global fore. One can only fathom the Messi-Neymar combination till the la liga kicks off mid-August. Maybe hosting the world cup isn’t something which Brazil requires now but nothing can dispute the fact that they have always been a force to be reckoned with at home where they haven’t lost a game in over two decades. Next year’s world cup is likely to throw up surprises, matches and otherwise and this dress rehearsal was a gentle nudge on the back of FIFA.

Rudd takes guard in his second innings

Australian Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd
This will be Rudd 2nd term as PM

In a sensational turn of events just three months prior to the general elections, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd returned to power after brilliantly executing a party room coup on Julia Gillard. Almost three years since Rudd was ousted by his then deputy Gillard, the impact of the Labor Party’s decision to put Rudd at the helm is seen more as a poetic justice to the former PM rather than boosting the party’s chances in the upcoming elections.

The latest incident comes after a third of the party’s front bench had resigned and instability had plagued the party during its tenure in the parliament. Even though the move is meant to boost the party’s chances at the elections scheduled for September 14, analysts see this as a disastrous step which is likely to act as a catalyst to predictions of a wipe out by the opposition. “I don’t think it will help Labor. I think they’ve dug themselves a deeper grave,” said John Wanna, professor of politics at the Australian National University.

However, the present situation has thrown a cloud on the election dates as the possibility of the elections being pushed up to August looms large. The Prime Minister himself is tentative about the dates but has said that his first goal will be to remove the ‘Politics of negativity’ which has destroyed the party’s chances. “In 2007, the Australian people elected me to be their prime minister. This is a task I resume today with humility, with honor, and with an important sense of energy and purpose,” he told reporters, adding he wanted to rebuild trust with voters.”In recent years, politics has failed the Australian people. There has just been too much negativity all round.”

Despite low unemployment, low interest rates and comparatively better economic growth rate against other developed countries during a recessive global market, Julia Gillard’s government did not get the vote-bank they had hoped for as voters’ anger was echoed in the implementation of the Carbon tax. Opposition leader, Tony Abbot, tipped as the favourite has promised to scrap not only the carbon tax but also a 30% tax on iron ore and coal mine profits if he wins power.

Mobile services market to reach 1.2 trillion: Gartner

India’s mobile services market will reach Rs 1.2 trillion in 2013, an 8% increase from its Rs 1.1 trillion in 2012. However it accounts to only 2% of the global mobile services revenue even though India makes up for about 12% of worldwide mobile users. Active mobile connections will grow to 770 million in 2013 an 11% increase from 712 million in 2012.

“The mobile market in India will continue to face challenges if average revenue per unit (ARPU) does not grow significantly,” said Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. “If the prevailing conditions do not change in the Indian telecom market, India will account for 12 percent worldwide mobile connections, but just 2 percent of worldwide mobile services revenue (in constant USD) in 2013.”

 

Competing against over-the-top service providers such as Facebook and Whatsapp and increasing their profit margin in the face of intense competition are the two major challenges faced by Indian telecom operators.

“As mobile voice services continue to get commoditized in the country with the increased use of voice over IP (VoIP) and the probable termination of national roaming charges, mobile broadband is the area of opportunity for operators,” Verma said. She went on to add that India has a phenomenal demand for mobile broadband and apps to solve everyday problems for consumers and that its sachet-style usage pattern is appealing to the consumers.

As India tries to catch up with the world in terms of mobile broadband adoption, telecom operators need to think of growing the top line through innovative services. She added that even though rural expansion will come at a cost, innovation in utility apps would help bring in sustained revenue to add to the efficiency it will provide to its consumer.

‘While social and video apps are doing extremely well in India,’ Verma said, ‘it is time to look beyond these and deliver apps that can have a sustained business model. Operators need to insert themselves into the value chain of these new apps and services.’

Mega deal bolsters pan-India telecommunications

In their first business transaction since 2005, Mukesh Ambani’s (RIL) optical fibre sharing agreement with Anil Ambani’s (RCom) has been seen as a positive deal by most brokerage firms and analysts. The deal will allow RIL the usage of RCom’s Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) across120, 000 km for Rs 1,200 crore which will be paid by RIL’s subsidiary, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd as a onetime fee. It will also grant access to RCom for using Reliance Jio’s optic-fibre infrastructure in the future.

[highlight] What does it mean for RIL?[/highlight]

According to the Goldman Sach’s report, factors like a faster time-to-market for the 4G LTE services, lesser non-core capex and diluting cash returns on the medium term will allow 82% of RIL’s $ 29 billion capex, in the next five years, on core energy related businesses which will boost the cash return to 230bps. According to Ashish Jagnani of UBS, a firm GRM and an improved E&P value will enhance RIL’s stock performances. Even a moderate success in the telecom sector could add a staggering increase by Rs 34/share. However, low refining margins and weak petro-chemical margins can be the risk that RIL will have to encounter.

[highlight] How does RCom gain?[/highlight]

The RJio-RCom telecom deal will be beneficial for RCom as it will help in monetising its assets thus reducing the leverage in its balance sheets, especially since RIL is a net cash company, according to the Edelweiss Brokerage. Analysts believe that though this deal will not be significant in reducing RCom’s debt ($7 billion), it increases the potential of future of other deals, which will collectively help in reducing the debt. The deal also potentially increases the annual income in its tower department managed by Reliance Infratel, which has 50,000 towers.

Since the deal had been announced, shares of both Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have fallen. Noamura brokerage says that having another financially strong pan-India telecom operator will hardly be good news to the existing operators and have asked investors to stay out of buying their stocks.