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Friday, September 22, 2017

IIM Bangalore, German B-schools Tie Up To Launch International Management Programme For Technologists 09-22

The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM Bangalore) has announced a partnership with two premier German B-schools - the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Germany for an International Management Programme for Technologists (IMPT), an innovative Executive Education Programme. The IMPT is designed by the three management schools to enable technology leaders respond effectively to challenges and complexities that they face, said a statement from IIM Bangalore. 

Offered to engineering and technology managers, R&D leaders, product designers and architects, and managers in charge of large and complex projects in India and Europe, the unique two-week programme will be offered at both locations, with participants traveling to Nuremberg and Bangalore for one week each. 

The focus of the programme is on innovation, technology-driven business models, intrapreneurship and platform business models.

"The IMPT distils the key elements of Indian and German technology ecosystems to deliver the competencies required for global business. The Erlangen Nuremberg area in Germany is the origin of Industry 4.0, and is known for its manufacturing excellence. Bangalore is home to a vibrant technology start-up ecosystem and is widely considered to be the Silicon Valley of India," Prof. R. Srinivasan, Chairperson, Executive Education Programmes at IIM Bangalore said while highlighting the key takeaways of the new programme.

The partnership, according to IIM Bangalore, brings together best-in-class academicians and leading researchers on strategic innovation, cooperation and management, and the digital transformation of organizations. 

"The IMPT helps participants understand how to compete using technology and leverage the benefits of open innovation in a sharing economy, and promote intrapreneurship," Prof. Dr. Kathrin M Moslein, Chairperson, Information Systems, Innovation and Value Creation at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg said.

"It will equip managers to work in cross-functional, cross-cultural and geographically distributed teams," he added.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top Trends in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017 09-22

A feature on the Gartner Hype Cycle, by Kasey Panetta, suggests enterprises need to explain the business potential of blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

The technology would offer higher levels of performance from employees and offer businesses an edge. Whilst the technology is upwards of 10 years from mainstream adoption, it has the potential to create a multi-billion dollar human augmentation market.  While human augmentation is just at the beginning of the innovation trigger phase of the Hype Cycle, complementary emerging technologies such as machine learning, blockchain, drones (commercial UAVs), software-defined security and brain-computer interfaces have moved significantly along the Hype Cycle since 2016.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017 focuses on three emerging technology mega-trends:
  1. Artifical Intelligence
  2. Transparently immersive experiences
  3. Digital platforms
These three emerging technologies are discussed in detail in the article and can be seen represented in the figure below:

Augmented Reality Spending Exploding 11X To $36.4B in 2023, Greenlight Says 09-22

Apple just released ARKit and Google just released ARCore in the last few months. But revenue for augmented reality devices and content will hit a massive $36.4 billion in 2023, according to Greenlight Insight's newest report.

That's 11 times higher than the estimated $3.4 billion in revenue in 2019.
Greenlight Insights

Estimated augmented reality revenue from devices and content

Current devices in the space include Microsoft's Hololense, Google's second version of the Google Glass, and the Meta 2. Apple's new iPhone X and high-end Android-powered devices are the thin edge of the wedge driving augmented reality experiences into the consumer consciousness.

We're about to see a lot more devices, however:

According to the report, the total number of augmented reality (AR) head-mounted displays will grow from two million in 2019 to 30 million in 2023. That means, of course, that the tipping point is still a ways off ... several years, in fact.

“We are expecting a faster adoption of AR headsets than what we have seen with virtual reality headsets," Clifton Dawson, CEO of Greenlight Insights, said in a statement. "But optimism should be tempered as the AR ecosystem must address substantial problems on numerous base levels.”
Head-mounted AR revenues should reach $12.9 billion in sales by the end of 2020, the report says. Device revenue is most of that: $7.1 billion, with content revenue taking the rest.

And device revenue should grow fast: the report estimates a compound annual growth rate of 98% from 2019 to 2023.

Early devices are going to hit industrial and professional workplaces first, with prices for head-mounted displays in the $1000-3000 range currently. Those prices will come down, of course, and phone-driven systems with lower quality can be priced as low as $100.

Key markets the report identifies include healthcare, industrial design, manufacturing, education, and training. As device penetration grows, so will demand for content and software.

"In the five years to 2023, consumer and commercial spending on AR content and software is forecasted to grow at an average annual rate of 78% to $15.4 billion," the report says.

By 2023, Greenlight says that 53% of spending will be consumer spending. The key driver will be no surprise to technology industry veterans: gaming.

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History of zero pushed back 500 years by ancient Indian text,was it during Ashoka's time.09-22

The earliest recorded use of zero

The symbol “0” is a familiar sight, but its origins are far from certain. A recent batch of carbon dating is causing the history of mathematics to be rewritten, as it has discovered zeros dating back to a period 500 years before previously seen.

The numbers appear in an ancient Indian text called the Bakhshali manuscript, which consists of 70 leaves of birch bark, filled with mathematics and text in the form of Sanskrit. “It seems to be a training manual for Buddhist monks,” says Marcus du Sautoy at the University of Oxford.

The manuscript was first discovered by a local farmer in 1881, and was named after the village it was found in, in what is now Pakistan. It’s been housed by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian library since 1902.

Now, for the first time, the manuscript has been carbon dated – and this has immediately upturned some commonly held beliefs. It was originally thought that manuscript was from the 9th century, but the dating methods revealed that the oldest pages are from somewhere between 224 AD and 383 AD.
This means that the manuscript predates a 9th century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, India, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero.

Across the text there are hundreds of zeros denoted using a dot. It’s this dot that will later evolve to be the symbol with a hole in the middle that we know today. The dot was originally used as a placeholder, like how “0” is used in the number 505 to denote that there are no tens, but was not yet a number in its own right.

The use of zero as a placeholder appeared in several different ancient cultures, such as the ancient Mayans and Babylonians. But only the Indian dot that would eventually go on to gain true number status, first described in 628 AD by the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta.
“Some of these ideas that we take for granted had to be dreamt up. Numbers were there to count things, so if there is nothing there why would you need a number?” says du Sautoy. The concept of zero, initially banned as heresy, was eventually allowed for the development of calculus, and underpins the digital age. “The whole of modern technology is built on the idea of something and nothing,” he says.

Dating it had always been tricky because not all of the pages come from the same date, with as many as 500 years between the oldest and youngest pages. “There’s still some mystery about how all of these leaves got collected together,” says du Sautoy.  

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Time to Accept Reality and Manage a Nuclear-Armed North Korea 09-21

Image credit : Shyam's Imagination Library

Shyam's take on this topic...

I have already read one high value article on this topic from Kevin Rudd. This is another value addition to this topic. I think this is for the first time someone has spoken about accepting the status quo of North Korea being nuclear state. This acceptance solves many problems and removes certain pre-requisites that hinder a peaceful engagement with the North Koreans. 
In this context, I would like to mention what the Russian president Vladimir Putin said, he said the economic sanction after a particular stage can become counter productive. He (Kim Jong-un) will even starve his people and allow them to die, but will not back down on his nuclear intentions.

It is an accepted fact and history shows many examples of the economic sanction becoming counter productive after a stage. North Korean president Kim Jong-un is an educated young upstart. Apart from being arrogant, he is also intelligent, but at the same time highly insecure. Removing the insecurity of a military aggression from his mind and providing food and medicine for his people would gradually make him a little less unpopular every day and would leave him with less problems to tackle with in his own country and with his own people. 
This quite possibly may result in softening of his aggressive postures, giving a room to begin a peaceful engagement.

We would however need a huge contribution from both Russia and China to make even a small beginning possible. 
The idea at this stage may look a bit too far fetched, but who knows, Even Kim Jong-un may be keen to come out this. Because maintaining this level of military activity and agility, must be too heavy a financial burden for the already impoverished country.
Having a positive thought about a positive action for a peaceful outcome is also a positive development.

Let us start dreaming, action will naturally follow...

Posterity should not blame us for not even trying…

Now the article...................

Anyone following the growing crisis on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks has been treated to an endless parade of op-eds on what to do about it, written from almost every conceivable angle. Despite the variation among these perspectives, most such proposals remain focused on how to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this objective appears less and less viable with every new North Korean (DPRK) missile and nuclear test. This suggests the need for policymakers in the United States, China, South Korea, and Japan to adopt a more realistic approach focused on deterrence, containment, and an array of crisis management measures.

While some nongovernmental observers are beginning to call for this approach, few if any present a clear explanation of either the reasons why such a refocus is needed, what specific key features it should include, or how to carry it out. This is a first step in that direction.

A Reality Check on North Korea

The spectrum of suggested responses to the North Korean crisis runs the gamut from attacking Pyongyang in large or small ways—whether as a means of ending the regime, signaling resolve, deterring further escalation, or forcibly ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program—to offering North Korean leaders untold numbers and types of carrots—such as a peace treaty, security assurances, and economic aid—to convince them of the life-altering benefits of dismantling their program.

In between lie a variety of mixed approaches, most often centered on a combination of ever greater sanctions (usually seen to require much higher levels of Chinese pressure) and various types of saber rattling, alongside potential freeze deals and assurances. I advocated a version of such proposals myself at an earlier period.

The situation that the world is facing today has evolved, however, particularly regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. A more realistic approach should be based on the following five basic truths, most of which are ignored or downplayed by many political leaders and outside observers alike.

First, the danger of military escalation that could result in a devastating all-out war would exist with any direct use of force against North Korea, however small. In the current situation, there is no such thing as a surgical or limited strike with a low chance of escalation. Any such action would constitute an act of war, inviting major retaliation by an insecure and defiant Pyongyang. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being highly reckless and engaging in wishful thinking.

Moreover, North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons could increase the likelihood of such retaliation by giving the leadership the false impression that it could strike back with little fear of prompting major escalation. And anyone who concludes that the best course of action is therefore to jump to the supposedly inevitable endpoint of any potential clash by launching an all-out war on the peninsula would be thinking even more recklessly and irresponsibly. Such a bloody conflagration could conceivably kill as many Americans and South Koreans as a North Korean nuclear strike would. And a smaller-scale military attack designed to simply destroy Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities is an impossibility, given the large number of underground sites involved.

Second, no use of force or other high-risk option against North Korea would offer any chance of success, however small, without the full and willing support of South Korea (ROK). Without such support, a U.S attack on North Korea would likely shatter, or at the very least greatly weaken, the alliance, undermining, in the short term, efforts to control escalation and successfully conclude such a conflict while creating enduring resentment and anger toward the United States.

Moreover, regardless of the outcome of this hypothetical war, the resulting badly damaged U.S.-ROK alliance and resulting loss of U.S. credibility as a trustworthy ally would greatly increase the likelihood that Seoul, and then quite possibly Tokyo, would eventually acquire nuclear weapons. Such a regional security environment would be far more unstable than the current one, marked by the United States; China; a likely reunified, nuclear-armed Korea; and a nuclear-armed Japan maneuvering for an advantage, with high levels of suspicion on all sides.

Third, despite its highly inflammatory rhetoric and the Alice-in-Wonderland features of its political system, Pyongyang is not suicidal. Its leaders understand that the United States could extinguish North Korea in a matter of minutes and would do so if a DPRK nuclear missile struck even one U.S. city. Therefore, Pyongyang is not about to launch an unprovoked, out-of-the-blue nuclear attack on the United States.

Rather, the major dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons arise from the possibility of misperception and miscalculation. These risks could most likely be the result of a perceived existential threat emanating from Washington, or a rapidly escalating conventional clash initiated by Pyongyang under the mistaken belief that its nuclear weapons would deter any U.S./ROK military response. Under such conditions, Pyongyang might eventually resort to serious nuclear threats, prompting a U.S. preemptive strike.

These dangers speak more to the need to greatly reduce threat perceptions and strengthen crisis management measures vis-à-vis North Korea than the need to eradicate Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons before they can strike the U.S. mainland.

Fourth, no assurance exists today or for the foreseeable future that Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons under the most draconian sanctions regime possible, a mix of sanctions and assurances, or even an assurances-only approach. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is now almost certainly too far developed and serves too many vital purposes for the regime to abandon it as a result of greater pressure and/or more extensive incentives.

The North Korean leadership views its nuclear weapons as more than just a deterrent against attack. They are also a symbol of the potency and status of the DPRK regime, a domestic propaganda tool, a source of leverage for extorting benefits from other countries, and a potential direct source of political influence and economic growth via the export of nuclear materials and technology.
Hence, even with full Chinese cooperation on UN sanctions and/or hand-on-heart U.S. security and/or aid assurances, Pyongyang would almost certainly cling to the benefits it receives from its nuclear capabilities rather than take the clear security and other risks involved in abandoning them. Indeed, the determination of the North Korean regime was reflected in a private remark recently made to a colleague by a DPRK official: “We will go to any lengths not to give up our nuclear weapons.”

In addition, despite such bravado, it is highly unlikely that more onerous outside sanctions would create such deprivation. Reports from knowledgeable sources strongly suggest that the North Korean economy is more resilient today in the face of outside pressure than during the famine of the 1990s, due to the widespread expansion of private economic activity and the growth of indigenous production in many key industrial sectors.

Fifth, despite the above observations, the United States, its allies, and most of the international community cannot just accept the idea of a permanently nuclear-armed North Korea and adjust accordingly. Given the insecure and hostile nature of the DPRK regime, any open acceptance of such a status would raise the likelihood of war in Asia, increase the possibility that other aggressive states and terrorists might obtain nuclear weapons, and weaken U.S. extended deterrence with South Korea, Japan, and possibly other allies, thereby increasing the chances that they might acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Hence, the international community must continue to work to deter and contain North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, regardless of the short-term prospects of fully eradicating its weapons program.

Shifting Gears: Deterrence, Crisis Management, and Confidence Building

The above five factors strongly suggest that any effective approach to the Korean nuclear crisis must replace the current primary emphasis on ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons before Pyongyang acquires a clear-cut capability to strike the U.S. homeland. Instead, policymakers should aim to develop a less urgent, long-term strategy designed to minimize North Korea’s capacity and willingness to utilize those weapons and related technologies in threatening ways, while also continuing to work toward eventual denuclearization.

In particular, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia must focus not only on deterring and containing Pyongyang through clear, strong, consistent, and common diplomatic and military signals. They must also aim to minimize the chances of destabilizing military escalation by building effective crisis management mechanisms (CMMs) and channels of communication, while also implementing some confidence-building measures (CBMs) toward Pyongyang to reduce its insecurity.

Such CMMs and containment measures should include:
  • A direct crisis management channel between trusted senior officials or high-level representatives of the senior leaderships in China, South Korea, and the United States;
  • Communication links between key intelligence agencies in China, South Korea, and the United States to share information on North Korean nuclear weapons development and possible proliferation activities, communicate sensitive messages, and confirm specific actions that each side may take in a crisis;
  • Agreed-upon procedures for detecting and preventing any attempt by Pyongyang to transfer nuclear weapons materials, know-how, and technologies;
  • A military-to-military dialogue about how to de-conflict Chinese, South Korean, and U.S. special forces in the event of a loose-nukes scenario in North Korea resulting from a fracturing or breakdown of the DPRK regime.
In addition, the United States and China should assure one another that, in any potential Korea crisis: 1) neither side would seek to benefit at the expense of the other, 2) both sides would provide full information and notification before any action would be taken, and 3) nothing would be done to change the situation on the ground over the long term.

In the deterrence realm, critical actions should include a greatly strengthened ballistic missile defense network in the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as a more integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system that includes both China and Russia, if possible. Containment measures should consist of a more extensive and focused version of the existing Proliferation Security Initiative in effect since 2003 (again, including China) to prevent Pyongyang from exporting nuclear machinery and technology.

CBMs toward Pyongyang should include, as a first step, a freeze on its missile and nuclear testing, as well as its conventional military exercises, in return for a suspension of U.S. and South Korean exercises and perhaps a partial easing of sanctions. This should serve as a prelude toward an eventual capping of the North Korean nuclear weapons program in return for movement toward a peace treaty and diplomatic recognition. If Pyongyang refuses such an understanding, the United States should then consider redeploying tactical nuclear weapons on its naval vessels in Northeast Asia, as well as other measures designed to strengthen deterrence and reassure U.S. allies.

Creating such a regime and set of understandings will require significant changes in the mind-sets and approaches of the powers concerned, especially those of China and the United States. Beijing has thus far refused to discuss with Washington or other powers either crisis contingencies or possible deterrence and/or containment measures, due to a sensitivity about how North Korea might react, a fear that such actions would result in the eventual replacement of the Pyongyang regime by a unified Korean government closely allied with the United States, and the misplaced belief that security assurances will eventually entice the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons.

For its part, Washington resists any actions that detract attention from greater pressure in the service of denuclearization. In this respect, President Donald Trump seems only concerned with developing ways to coerce or entice Beijing and Seoul into applying supposedly irresistible pressure on Pyongyang before it acquires the capability to strike the U.S. homeland—a dangerous, misdirected, one-dimensional strategy that is almost certainly destined to fail.

To move both powers toward an emphasis on containment and crisis management, analysts in and out of both the Chinese and U.S. governments, as well as those of South Korea and Japan, need to stop telling their respective political leaderships that they can coerce, force, or entice Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons in any foreseeable time frame, if ever. In such a high-stakes situation, policy should not be based on extremely low-probability outcomes and certainly should not operate under a self-imposed, short-term deadline.

Washington and Seoul should also work together to revive earlier efforts to convince Beijing to hold talks on crisis contingencies and CMMs, on the likely assumption that Pyongyang’s recent missile and nuclear tests in defiance of Beijing’s strong urgings may have reduced China’s resistance to such moves. To facilitate this effort, both nations should also address Beijing’s long-term concerns by expressing a clear willingness to discuss the future political and security status of a unified Korean Peninsula, including the size and presence of any U.S. forces. This could significantly increase China’s willingness to cooperate in a deterrence and containment regime.

Once progress is made in the above areas, the United States, South Korea, China, and Japan should begin talks on the possible features of a stable, long-term deterrence and confidence-building regime on the Korean Peninsula. Even if all sides agree to such an undertaking, it will not prove an easy task to implement, as it requires agreed-upon military, economic, and diplomatic postures sufficient to deter major North Korean provocations without causing Pyongyang to overreact and lash out at a perceived existential threat. Hence, some limited reassurances will likely prove necessary in addition to the above CBMs, such as a formal no-first-use conventional and nuclear force agreement between North Korea and China, South Korea, and the United States.

Finally, throughout this process, the powers concerned should maintain their demand for North Korea to move toward eventual denuclearization, as follow-on to an eventual peace treaty and diplomatic normalization. But that eventual objective will remain as a likely long-term effort.

None of the above recommendations will be easy to achieve. But transitioning as soon as possible away from efforts to denuclearize North Korea in short order to a more realistic focus on deterrence, containment, and crisis management would stand a far better chance of creating a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula not only in the immediate future but for the long term as well.

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Please also read on North Korea 

Monday, September 18, 2017

John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging 09-19

John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging

Below you will find the details for the position including any supplementary documentation and questions you should review before applying for the opening.  To apply for the position, please click the Apply for this Job link/button.
John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging

Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Center for Advanced Imaging at Harvard University

Position Description
Harvard University is seeking applicants for a position as a John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow (JHDSF). We seek life and physical scientists with an interest in imaging to develop innovative imaging technologies, lead biological investigations using advanced imaging technologies, or both.

The Fellow will be part of the current JHDSF community
( and will work with the newly formed Center for

Advanced Imaging at Harvard University. The Center aims to develop novel imaging methods that enable direct visualization of the molecular interactions and networks inside cells, organisms and animals; bridge major gaps in imaging; and apply these new technologies to solving biological problems.

The Fellow will work as an independent researcher; receive funding to run a small, independent research group; and will be appointed for a three-year term, with the expectation that it will be extended by two years after review.

Basic Qualifications
Recently completed a PhD in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering or related areas, or will complete a PhD by the time the appointment begins.

Special Instructions
Please submit the following required application materials through
1. Cover Letter
2. Curriculum Vitae
3. Summary of previous research accomplishments (up to 2 pages)
4. Research Proposal (up to 5 pages)
5. PDFs of up to 3 publications
6. Names and contact information of at least 3 references who will be contacted to provide a letter of recommendation. Letters must be received by the deadline for the application to be complete and candidate considered. Please allow at least 1 week for referees to provide letters.

The Application Deadline is October 29, 2017 (11:59pm ET).

Contact Information
For further questions please contact the Center for Advanced Imaging at Harvard University at

Contact Email

Equal Opportunity Employer

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Minimum Number of References Required :  3

Maximum Number of References Allowed:   5

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).
* How did you learn about this position?
Harvard University - online job search
Journal - online job search
Postdoctoral Association - online job search
Other - online job search
Email announcement
From a colleague

Applicant Documents
Required Documents
Cover Letter
Curriculum Vitae
Statement of Research
Other Statement

Optional Documents
Publication 2
Publication 3

Harvard University seeks to find, develop, promote, and retain the world’s best scholars.
Harvard is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Applications from women and minority candidates are strongly encouraged. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

You can apply for the job here

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India's first bullet train isn't 'free of cost' as Modi claims 09-18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed the bullet train offered to India by Japan is virtually free of cost. A 50-year yen loan amounting to Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 % interest is being described by the prime minister as free of cost. This is patently absurd.

India can have as many bullet trains as it wants on these terms from the Japanese, but nobody should be misled into believing they are free. For one, India may have to repay much more than Rs 88,000 crore over a 50-year period because the rupee will most likely depreciate against the Japanese yen over a long period.

Why is this? Simply put, it’s because the exchange rate between the currencies of two countries is determined by their inflation differential. If India’s inflation rate is average 3% over the next two decades and Japan’s inflation rate is zero, as is widely anticipated, then it stands to reason that the rupee must depreciate 3% every year because the rupee’s value is eroding by 3% as against no erosion in the yen. So, the rupee is bound to weaken by over 60% in two decades. This means that on a loan of Rs 88,000 crore, the repayment, in rupee terms, goes up to more than Rs 1,50,000 crore at the end of 20 years.

Over 50 years, the repayment value will be much higher based on the inflation differential, which is bound to persist between Japan and India because the latter is a rising economy with a sizeable poor population and is striving to become a middle to high income country over the next few decades. India, therefore, could end up paying a much higher value of rupee debt over 50 years. If this happens then we are not being fair to the successive generations, which will be saddled with this high debt component. Inter-generational equity is an important aspect of national debt accumulation even if it is a yen loan coming at 0.1% interest rate.

Therefore, Modi must be careful while describing the 50-year yen loan as “in a way, free”. I remember some Indian corporate houses had shown similar enthusiasm two decades ago by raising international debt via 50-year dollar bonds using the same logic that such money need not be repaid over a long period. Subsequently when the rupee weakened against the dollar – by 50% – over 15 years, the same family-owned business houses got wise and prepaid large portions of the money. Perhaps they did not want to saddle their next generations with such risky loans. This logic holds even truer for countries.

This loan is just for a short route – Ahmedabad to Mumbai. As is being anticipated, if the Japanese build three more such projects connecting other cities in the south, north or east, one can well imagine the total foreign debt burden that will arise. After all, the loans will have to be paid back with the exchange risk built into it. The yen is considered the most volatile currency among all the hard currencies today.

Another factor to be considered is that while an interest rate of 0.1% may appear free from an Indian perspective, it is not so in Japan. Japanese short term interest rates (Tokyo Inter Bank Offer Rate) is 0.06%. The interest rate offered by ten-year Japanese government bonds is 0.04%. India’s ten-year government bond offers 6.5%. The gap between Japan’s 0.04% and India’s 6.5% is explained by the inflation expectations in the two countries. This perspective cannot be lost sight of. So what you pay back to Japan in rupee terms will be way higher than what you borrow. There is no free lunch, as the saying goes.

One last point that needs to be emphasised is the bullet train project covering just Ahmedabad and Mumbai will cost Rs 1,10,000 crore. Just compare this with former rail minister Suresh Prabhu’s first Budget which projected a five year expenditure of a similar amount for network expansion in the entire country. Or a similar amount for strengthening safety over five years.

What would be your priority? After all, there should be something called sequencing of expenditure in a nation as poor as ours.