Archive for January, 2011
Marx predicted globalisation of world capital over a century and a half ago. He pointed out that capital had an inherent tendency to expand, to seek areas of higher profit. Once it exhausts opportunities in one particular ‘market,’ it moves on to encompass other markets. Today the dominant view holds that globalisation, or spread of global capital and capitalism to far corners of the world, is inevitable. The process tends to link up the nation-states’ economies into an integrated world economy. But it is a multidimensional phenomenon. It impinges not only on the world economy but also on the environment, public health and culture, indeed almost every facet of life.
However, the economic integration of the world is not accompanied by matching political integration. The process of creation of supranational bodies able to enforce agreed system of rules and laws on all states is, in comparison, slow. The international system remains an anarchic one, composed of nominally sovereign states. The leading advanced capitalist countries seek free movement of capital and goods. The movement of labour continues to be hampered by a plethora of rules, regulations and laws.
The form of capitalism that the advanced, capitalist world, led by its corporate sector, is trying to impose on the rest of the world—in essence, the neoliberal mantra of liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation—is not conducive to the economic development of developing countries such as Pakistan, which are yet to establish a sound infrastructure and industrial base. Besides, it is certain to lead to tensions and conflict in inter-state relations and/or periodic global economic crises. A financial crisis hit the advanced capitalist world in 2008, sooner than expected.
The global crisis notwithstanding, Pakistan’s economic problems are worsening by the day, due to reliance on the neoliberal paradigm, further confounded by its ruling elite’s aimless policies, corruption, lavish lifestyle, resistance to positive change, and lopsided priorities.
Capitalism’s survival and growth depends, in any case, on the patronage and protection of governments. Judicious regulation of the activities of big market players by governments is essential for the system to work, as is clear from the failure of the ‘deregulation’ experiment of the past few decades. Unbridled ‘deregulation’ in accordance with neoliberal thinking, particularly in banking and finance, were bound to lead to problems. That moment arrived in a big way in 2008 when financial systems in the advanced capitalist world faced a meltdown. Capitalism is in its worst crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. The economies of the advanced capitalist world are in particular distress! Economies of those developing countries dependent on exports to those countries are also affected badly. The IMF forecast contraction of the developed world’s economies, and a reduction in the growth rate elsewhere. The creed of market economy, which metamorphosed into greed economy, has received a big jolt. The huge inter-state and intra-state inequality that it promoted is pushing an increasing number of people across the globe below the poverty line. However, an organised effort is being made by governments in the advanced capitalist world to save capitalism. Nevertheless, a contradiction exists in the claims of the proponents of the market, who decry government intervention whilst the going is good, but call upon the government to save the market when things go awry, as they are bound to, from time to time.
Apart from this, the neoliberal paradigm has made the whole edifice topsy-turvy. It emphasises trade and finance, rather than production and manufacturing industry. This amounts to putting the cart before the horse. Trade follows production of goods, and finance has an important role in industry, but auxiliary, not primary. The rigmarole of financial instruments, hedging and risk management devices, not to speak of speculation and non-productive re-shuffling of financial investments that has taken centre-stage during the last few decades of the ascendancy of neoliberalism, has done more harm than good.
Besides, the developing states’ economies have been severely harmed by premature liberalisation and deregulation, mindless privatisation of state entities and strategic assets. The ‘integration’ of their economies with the world economy has been a mixed blessing, good for some countries, devastating for others. The industry of many developing countries—Pakistan, for example—has got stunted as a result of unthinking patronisation of neoliberal policies. Many economists in the developing countries have merely been parroting the neoliberal mantra, and the presumed blessings of ‘globalisation’ under the neoliberal paradigm—without understanding, and in some cases denying outright, its highly detrimental effects. Many of them have allowed their economies to become suppliers of raw materials, low value-added manufactures and low-skill jobs or merely markets for more developed countries. What they really need is to upgrade the skills of their people, establish industry, initially to substitute imports and at a later stage to export higher value-added products. Foreign Direct Investment is a good thing if it serves the needs of their economies, and worse than useless if it promotes the exploitation of their resources without adequate compensation or transfer of technology. What they need is to upgrade the knowledge and skill of their workforce, and open up avenues to utilise that knowledge and skill. The knowledge and skill gap with the developed world must be bridged in the quickest possible time. In this lies their only chance of meaningful survival, which means survival with dignity. Instead, most of them are turning their economies, partly under pressure, partly on the urging of the IFIs and the developed world, into consumption-oriented economies, markets for the industrialised world’s surplus production.
Many things that otherwise would have been perceived merely as claims, have been upheld by events around the world. Here is a crisis of global proportions, in essence a systemic crisis of world capitalism, hastened and aggravated by the misdeeds of greedy ‘investors,’ speculators and middlemen of the financial system, especially in the industrialised world, where the financial systems are the least regulated. In the US, the Congress passed a 0 bailout plan in late 2008 to save the system from collapse.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and especially since the terrorist attacks in America in September 2001, the sole superpower has tried to sustain its hegemony through military adventurism. It launched an open-ended ‘war on terror’ and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people have fallen victim to this gigantic folly, to which there is no end in sight. Finally it has contributed to the financial meltdown that we witness today. While the Western governments and media focus on ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists,’ they do not tell their people that they were promoted by western governments and their surrogates in the Islamic world, during the jihad against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After 9/11, a wrong strategy has only served to keep them in business longer than might otherwise have been the case. They are now fighting against their own creators rather than doing there bidding!
Unfortunately, Pakistani leaders, past and present, cannot escape the blame for helping unbottle the genii—an action that led to the current unenviable situation for Pakistan. Since 1979, almost all Pakistani regimes have gone along with Washington’s strategic aims in the region, with the consequences that we witness today. The ‘war on terror’ has had highly detrimental consequences for its people! It has become an albatross hung around the nation’s neck. The financial costs of this war in FY 2008-2009 were Rs. 678 billion, up from 484 billion the previous year! The much-touted ‘financial assistance’ received from Washington and its allies is not even a fraction of the financial costs of this war. The political and human costs are in addition.
To return to our main subject, the world system theories give a good insight into understanding the contemporary world. Immanuel Wallerstein’s world systems theory analyses the world holistically. It considers ‘historical ‘systems’ in place of what is called ‘society’ in traditional social science. Systems are classified on the basis of economic production relations. Today’s system is the capitalist world economy, in which capitalist production relations prevail. In the past there have been other systems, which he names localised ‘mini systems’ of pre-agricultural period and later ‘world empires’ based on the ‘redistributive tributary’ mode of production. In today’s ‘world economy’ both state and non-state actors have a role in determining the course of events. The proper field of discourse that considers all these issues is political economy.
Some political economists divide the approaches to the study of international political economy into three different categories: Realist, Liberal and Marxist. According to Frieden and Lake, these three approaches differ in that they regard, respectively, nation-states, the individual, and classes (in society), as the units of analysis. The proponents of the liberal approach claim that economic relations, both at the international and domestic levels, are essentially harmonious, while the Marxist and the Realist approaches consider them to be conflictual. In the Marxist view, based on dialectic materialism, economics determines politics. Economics divorced from politics has no meaning. In the realist view, politics and power relations determine economics. The liberals regard
Becoming an energy broker will be a great choice for any person searching for a creative way to earn some extra cash. This is because you are principally in the business for yourself, but not by yourself. You could work when you desire to, as much as you will want to, as frequently as you will like to and you can work at your own pace, depending on your economical target. As an energy broker you have the possibility to make a profit of 5 to 7 figures. These days, almost everybody in the world has electricity. In many states, no more than 5 to 10% of individuals have made the switch to an outside suppliers of electricity, so as an energy broker the market is flourishing with prospects to make a enormous profits.
You don’t need to be a talented salesperson to become an excellent energy broker, this is because you are not selling something or anything, you are just telling individuals how to save money on a bill that they will have to pay in any case.
If you desire to become an energy broker, the primary thing you must become aware of is that they work in a service industry and as such, the customer is regarded as V.I.P. and not just some other caller. So you’ll frequently discover that a customer’s call would be responded immediately by the company and isn’t directed to a call center. Customers are to be expected to talk straight away to a committed business energy specialist.
Then the agent would be able to give information about the procedure directly to the customer. As an energy broker you are most probably to present various forms of market analysis and update your client about the up to date trend in energy charges. You will then suggest extra services and resolution to help your customer trim down their energy expenses, or control their energy costs better.
So becoming an Energy Broker is an excellent option if you truly wish to make your own financial destiny. There are numerous contractors you could work for but keep this in mind, most of them charge a very expensive amount of fee for you to become an Energy Broker; if truth be told, hundreds of dollars are being charged by several external suppliers in addition to the current monthly fees which you need to pay. Keep in mind that you don’t need to pay a company, for you to become an energy broker.
Becoming an Energy Broker is a wonderful choice and selecting an excellent company to be related to is another clever choice.
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The air that we breathe is very important in our daily lives. We need it to live; we need it for our existence. We surely need it for our existence. Just imagine what would life be without air? The current air pollution is at its worst although there are still places in this country which is said to be less polluted.
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The air we breathe is like the smoke that comes out of factories, industrial plants and those emitted by cars. The current air pollution problem needs to be addressed very well with a strong teeth and a little fist. If not then what will become of our world? Will it still be safe for our future generation to enjoy? If we are not to act now, surely this place will come to nothing.
Air pollution is not only present outdoors but also indoors; it can trap pollutants inside the buildings. Air pollution is present ever since the Ancient world began and can be caused naturally and of course, a larger chunk of it is cause by human activity. Although we cannot blame it all on us for as we progress, our air pollution problem only becomes worst.
We still can do something about it on our own little way. By living a healthy and environment friendly lifestyle, one can definitely get into the groove and get work done. Those with large population and automobiles, as well as highly industrialized and developed countries are most likely polluted. Air pollution affects the ecosystem and if that ecosystem is destroyed, we humans are surely to be destroyed as well.
We should not let these things happen. Let us come together and let us help one another. We must be all aware of the current air pollution problem in order to make this world a better place to live in.
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In this globalized world, Globalisation often comes up for discussions and while many speak eulogising globalisation, as many put the entire blame on it for all the ills prevalent across the world. Golbalisation per se is not something worth blaming and as Amartya Sen in his much acclaimed ‘Argumentative Indian, establishes with facts globalisation was very much here and it is not at all a new phenomenon. Trade, travels by great travellers of yore like Huen Tsang, Fahian, Vasco Da Gama to name a few, flourished across various countries since centuries. As we are witnessing today academic pursuits as well as cultural contacts were in vogue in those days. Hence blaming globalisation blindly has no meaning otherwise absolutely meaningless. Unfortunately it has turned out to be a fashion among a lot to cast aspersions on globalisation and they are not to be blamed for it, as they have their own reasons in subjecting it to scathing criticism. Even those who keep soft corner in their minds towards it, of late the negative points far outweigh plus points a stark unfortunate reality.
Many a bad influence affect all countries from across Western countries like sexual anarchy, a permissive society, the inflow of immoral tendencies, selfish, greed, ulteriror motives of the industrial and business communities by flashing obscene advertisements through visual, print media, internet, bad cultural influences, all being aped across the spectrum in India and other such developing and least developed countries. The inundating bad influences especially affect our children and youth alike and all these influences assimilated and practised by a world of cut-throat competition for amassing wealth and way-ward dealings like drug-trafficking, immoral trafficking and child abuse. Nowadays our contemporary film sector is ne of the examples barring a minority of films, obscenity rules roost in majority of films, the purpose behind producing such films remain the greed for more and more wealth and gratification of sorts. Many actors, male and female alike compete with one another to plunge into the tinsel world and thus hog the lime-light and also for piling up crores and crores of money. In their race to grab opportunities they stoop to such low levels like shedding their self-respect and ethical values. Globalisation in fact plays a prominent role bringing the situation to such a pass.
Due to these bad influences, the plus sides are widely neglected like youth and businessmen getting ample opportunities for pursuing higher-studies, to pursue more jobs with attractive career prospects and also for starting new business ventures by the trade and business community. Lakhs benefitted simultaneously benefitting their mother countries through remittances from abroad. The boom period lasted for decades benefitting many nations and many job, business and trade aspirants.
Ever since the unfortunate Global Economic Meltdown in America in 2008 and its repercussions across Europe, even the Asian nations like India inspite of being a regulated economy badly affected, the boom period had to bid good-bye subsequently forcing US and European nations thinking on the lines of protectionist tendencies. Many rendered jobless in fact including educated, employed youth of US and the Indian diaspora. Till then enjoying brilliant career prospects and earning lucrative salaries these Indian youth in droves left to their motherland jobless. A few upon getting depressed bid goodbye to their lives together with their families. The sudden shock on the economy naturally shocked many and those ones who lavishly enjoyed lives till then couldn’t come face to face with the stark reality.
After Barack Obama ascended the throne in 2008, he unleashed a stimulus package of US 9 bn, a meagre sum compared to the magnitude of the disaster and naturally it could only partially benefit the nation.
Many remained homeless, jobless and on witnessing their lot, he mulled restricting the outsourcing of jobs to India by raising tax rates of those businessmen outsourcing jobs to India. In addition to that he raised the H1B and L1 visa fee hikes sharply affecting a lot of Indians very badly. Any reduction of tax-rates on outsourcing of jobs and any reduction of raised visa fees are not even a distant possibility even on the ocassion of Obama’s ongoing visit to India.
Similar is the case in Britain, where immigration rules have been tightened raising the visa fees for students and skilled employees. That nation also seems to be moving on the path of Protectionism, another threat to Indian students and skilled workers.
Venkita Raman Ramakrishnan, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2009, India’s pride, reportedly has come down on tightening of immigration rules where he is immersed in research in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) at Cambridge. He went on with his observation that if the immigration rules that he witnesses today were in force at the moment of his hope of flying to Britain he would never have even imagined about landing in Britain to follow his research.
Britain’s new immigration rules according to Venkita Raman Ramakrishnan are bound to affect badly the Indian students intending to pursue higher academic studies in Britain and which would ultimately affect not only those students but the entire world in the coming days ultimately stagnating the progress of academic pursuits and employment.
As austerity measures across European countries become rampant protectionist tendencies are expected to rise alarmingly and at present there seems to be no way out.
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Carbon forms many millions of compounds of which its two oxides namely carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are of particular significance and vital consequences In carbon dioxide, a single carbon joins with two oxygens to produce a gas essential to plant life. In carbon monoxide (CO), a single oxygen joins the carbon, creating a toxic, but important compound. The first gas to be distinguished from ordinary air, carbon dioxide is an essential component in the natural balance between plant and animal life. Animals, including humans, produce carbon dioxide by breathing, and humans further produce it by burning wood and other fuels. Plants use carbon dioxide when they store energy in the form of food, and they release oxygen to be used by animals.
Flemish chemist and physicist Johannes van Helmont discovered in 1630 that air was not, as had been thought up to that time, a single element rather it contained a second substance, produced in the burning of wood, which he called “gas sylvestre.” Thus he is recognized as the first scientist to note the existence of carbon dioxide. More than a century later, in 1756, Scottish chemist Joseph Black showed that carbon dioxide which he called “fixed air” combines with other chemicals to form innumerable compounds. This and other determinations that Black made concerning carbon dioxide, led to enormous progress in the discovery of gases by various chemists of the late eighteenth century. By that time, chemists had begun to arrive at a greater degree of understanding with regard to the relationship between plant life and carbon dioxide. Up until that time, it had been believed that plants purify the air by day, and poison it at night. Carbon dioxide and its role in the connection between animal and plant life provided a much more sophisticated explanation as to the ways plants “breathe.”
Around the same time that Black made his observations on carbon dioxide, English chemist Joseph Priestley became the first scientist to put the chemical to use. Dissolving it in water, he created carbonated water, which is used today in making soft drinks. Not only does the gas add bubbles to drinks, it also acts as a preservative. Though the natural uses of carbon dioxide are by far the most important, the compound has numerous industrial and commercial applications too. Used in fire extinguishers, carbon dioxide is ideal for controlling electrical and oil fires, which cannot be put out with water. Heavier than air, carbon dioxide blankets the flames and smothers them. In the solid form of dry ice, carbon dioxide is used for chilling perishable food during transport. It is also one of the only compounds that experiences sublimation, or the instantaneous transformation of a solid to a gas without passing through an intermediate liquid state, at conditions of ordinary pressure and temperature. Dry ice has often been used in movies to generate “mists” or “smoke” in a particular scene.
During the late eighteenth century, Priestley discovered a carbon-oxygen compound different from carbon dioxide. It was carbon monoxide. Though scientists had actually known of this toxic gas, released in the incomplete combustion of wood, from the Middle Ages onward, Priestley was the first to identify it scientifically. Industry uses carbon monoxide in a number of ways. By blowing air across very hot coke, the result is producer gas, which, along with water gas (made by passing hot steam over coal) is an important fuel. Producer gas constitutes a 6:1:18 mixtures of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen, while water gas is 40% carbon monoxide, 50% hydrogen, and 10% carbon dioxide and other gases.
Not only are producer and water gas used for fuel, they are also applied as reducing agents. Thus, when carbon monoxide is passed over hot iron oxides, the oxides are reduced to metallic iron, while the carbon monoxide is oxidized to form carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is also used in reactions with metals such as nickel, iron, and cobalt to form some types of carbonyls. Carbon monoxide produced by burning petroleum in automobiles, as well as by the combustion of wood, coal, and other carbon-containing fuels is extremely hazardous to human health. It bonds with iron in hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body, and in effect fools the body into thinking that it is receiving oxygenated hemoglobin, or oxyhemoglobin. Upon reaching the cells, carbon monoxide has much less tendency than oxygen to break down, and therefore it continues to circulate throughout the body. Low concentrations can cause nausea, vomiting, and other effects, while prolonged exposure to high concentrations can result in death.
Carbon is released into the atmosphere by one of three means: cellular respiration; the burning of fossil fuels; and the eruption of volcanoes. When plants take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they combine this with water and manufacture organic compounds using energy they have trapped from sunlight by means of photosynthesis—the conversion of light to chemical energy through biological means. As a by-product of photosynthesis, plants release oxygen into the atmosphere.
In the process of undergoing photosynthesis, plants produce carbohydrates, which are various compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen essential to life. The other two fundamental components of a diet are fats and proteins, both carbon-based as well. Animals eat the plants, or eat other animals that eat the plants, and thus incorporate the fats, proteins, and sugars (a form of carbohydrate) from the plants into their bodies. Cellular respiration is the process whereby these nutrients are broken down to create carbon dioxide.
Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are thus linked in what is known as the carbon cycle. Cellular respiration also releases carbon into the atmosphere through the action of decomposers—bacteria and fungi that feed on the remains of plants and animals. The decomposers extract the energy in the chemical bonds of the decomposing matter, thus releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When creatures die and are buried in such a way that they cannot be reached by decomposers—for instance, at the bottom of the ocean, or beneath layers of rock—the carbon in their bodies is eventually converted to fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas, and coal. The burning of fossil fuels releases carbon (both monoxide and dioxide) into the atmosphere. Because the rate of such burning has increased dramatically since the late nineteenth century, this has raised fears that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may create a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming. On the other hand, volcanoes release tons of carbon into the atmosphere regardless of whether humans burn fossil fuels or not.
PROS AND CONS OF GLOBALISATION
While developing countries which, in the past, were against globalisation, have wide opened their doors for globalisation, many people in developed countries like USA are angry against globalisation. American jobs and wage levels are severely affected by the influx of cheap imports and shifting of production to low cost overseas locations. According to a Business Week/Harris poll in early 2000, more than two-thirds of Americans believe that globalisation drags down U S wages. A strong majority of the Americans feel that trade policies have not adequately addressed the concerns of American workers, international labour standards, or the environment. The important pros and cons of globalisation according to the above survey are the following. Productivity grows more quickly when countries produce goods and services in which they have comparative advantage Living standards can go up faster.
Global competition and imports keep a Hd on prices, so inflation is less likely to derail
economic growth. An open economy spurs innovation with fresh ideas from abroad. Export jobs often pay more than other jobs. Unfettered capital flows give the US access to foreign investment and keep interest rates low. The adverse effects of globalisation according to the survey are: Millions of Americans have lost jobs due to imports or production shifts abroad. Most
find new jobs that pay less. Millions of others fear losing their jobs, especially at those companies operating under
competitive pressure. Workers face pay cut demands from employers, which often threaten to export jobs. Service and white collar jobs are increasingly vulnerable to operations moving offshore. U S employees can lose their comparative advantage when companies build advanced
factories in low-wage countries, making them as productive as those at home.
True, globalisation can benefit the developing countries in several ways. It is, however, apprehended that unregulated globalisation will cause serious problems for developing countries.
The almost universal acceptance of the market economy and the globalisation driven by private enterprise tend to aggravate most of the harmful effects traditionally attributed to neocolonialism.
The global dominance of industries by MNCs is on [he increase. Many countries are indiscriminate in liberalising foreign investment. Pepsi, Coke and L’junk foods” are allowed even in countries like China.
A number of countries allow high foreign stake even in industries where that is not really required. This could affect domestic enterprise of developing countries.
There has been a large number of cases of takeover of national firms by foreign firms. In some of these cases, the domestic firms are driven to a situation of having to hand over the majority or complete equity to the foreign partners of joint ventures because of the inability of the Indian partners to bring in additional capital or some other incapability.”
Replacement of traditional and indigenous products by modern products, resulting in the ruin of traditional crafts and industries and the livelihood of people in these sectors have also been happening in several countries.
There should also be benefits for employment from a liberal financial regime. Removing restrictions on capital flows should attract more FDI, creating more jobs for the poor by integrating them into international systems of production.”24
It is criticised that developed nations receive most of the FD1, A very small number of the developing countries, which are the relatively developed or large or fast growing in the developing world account for the lion’s share of the FDI flows to this category. What the critics do not appreciate is that, as foreign investment flows are based on economic rational, it is unrealistic to expect the pattern of flow to be different.
Another criticism is that the liberalisation increases the economic inequality. Even in China, the liberalisation has created many island of affluence. If inequality increases because of the worsening of the living conditions of the poor, it certainly is unjustifiable. But, if the increase in inequality is the result of improving the economic conditions of a section, while there is no economic deterioration of any section, or because of the disproportionate benefits, the question is whether the economic progress of some sections should be curbed so that there will not be a widening of the inequality.
The liberalisation may increase inequality. Further, several sectors and sections may not directly and immediately benefit from mere liberalisation. There may also be shocks and other adverse effects on the weaker sections. It is, therefore, necessary that there should be real socioeconomic reforms rather than mere liberalisation. Targeted poverty eradication programmes and social safety net are very important.
The fast growth and overall development resulting from liberalisation could have a major’ impact on poverty. Naisbitt points out that there were an estimated 200 to 270 million Chinese -living in absolute poverty in 1978 (the year in which the liberalisation began) and their number came down to 100 million by 1985.2 Foreign capital has significantly boosted investment and economic growth in China. China has leaped forward on the export front too. Foreign funded enterprises contribute a substantial chunk of the exports from China. Other countries which carry out proper reforms in real earnest should also” be expected to reap such gains in varying degrees. But-, half-hearted and confused measures and implementational problems may create more problems than they solve.
Although the MNCs, by the virtue of their size and resources, have certain advantages they may also have limitations or disadvantages in certain spheres or aspects of business. Small and medium firms often have some edge over the very large ones in respects of standardised products -or technologies like greater flexibility and adaptability, lower overheads, intimacy with the customers, etc. Lower costs is a great advantage which firms from developing countries enjoy. It may be noted that the major component of growth of several India pharmaceutical firms is the foreign market. They are relying mostly on bulk drugs and generics.
What is often ignored while discussing the impact of the product patent is that patented drugs account for only about 15 per cent of the India drug market. There are several more products which. would go off patent in the coming years which can also be taken up the India firms. The new patent regime should be expected help the Indian industry by prompting it to give added thrust to R&D and thereby enabling Indian firms also to develop patented products. Positive signs are already there on the horizon.
There are also many evidences of the better technology brought in by the MNCs inducing or provoking Indian firms to absorb “similar technology leading to their enhanced competitiveness and market expansion.
Department of Commerce
Periyar University, Salem-11
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As we all know, Texas summers can be brutally hot, and Texas winters can be surprisingly cold. Both seasons end up wreaking havoc on our utility bills as we struggle to keep our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Add in all the other little things — the coffee maker, the computer, the TV, and all the other devices that spend most of their time plugged into your home’s electrical system — and many homeowners give up on ever finding a way to really control their Texas electricity costs. But as energy prices continue to rise, and as the pressures on the average homeowner’s finances rise right along with them, the need to find new ways to cut costs and save money becomes a lot more compelling. We know that we could probably cut back on our energy usage, but how do we know where to start? Our Texas electric bill tells us how much energy we’ve used, but only once a month, and that’s not very helpful. Even when we make changes, it could take months to tell whether they’re working, or if they’re saving us enough to be worthwhile. At the same time, major sources of inefficiency might be going unnoticed and unaddressed.
Two competing new services, PowerMeter by Google and Hohm by Microsoft, are on the way with some new tools to help Texas homeowners. Microsoft estimates that the average American home could save almost 0 per year on energy usage. While that number sounds big, they base it on extensive testing in 60 million homes across the country; and of all 50 states, Texas ranked lowest in energy efficiency. Of course, what that really means is that Texas potentially has the biggest opportunity to use less electricity, reduce our carbon footprint, and save a whole lot of money.
Both PowerMeter and Hohm promise the potential for big increases in both efficiency and cost savings by way of an energy monitoring device called a smart meter. Once connected to your home’s electricity supply system, the meter sends an ongoing stream of data to your home computer via a connected wireless device. Your computer then sends that information on to a data hub run by one of the two companies. There, your information is analyzed and re-packaged into a dynamic, user-friendly web interface for you to review and use.
The appeal of these applications for homeowners is that your energy usage is no longer reduced to a single, inscrutable number on your monthly utility bill. The two applications differ somewhat in how your utility data is presented, but the primary feature in both is an extensive analysis of exactly how all of that electricity is being used. For example, Google PowerMeter can help you identify how much energy you’re using on a constant basis — the low-level drain from “always on” devices that can, over time, add up to a major source of inefficiency. Microsoft’s Hohm goes a step further by making active recommendations about how a homeowner might cut back their electricity usage, increasing energy efficiency and lowering costs.
There are further differences between the two services. Google’s emphasis is on the numbers; it tells you exactly how much power you’re using on an hourly basis, and generates graphs of usage over time, whether that means the last hour or the last month. This is a great service for people who like their data raw, as it means that a homeowner can correlate usage to specific patterns during the day. For example, if you know your usage spikes around 7 AM, you can probably guess that it has a lot to do with your family getting ready for work and school. Therefore, you might be able to save money if everyone takes shorter showers, or if you lower the temperature on your water heater. PowerMeter can also analyze usage patterns over the past to predict what your approximate usage and costs will be in the future. So as you make changes and check your results, you can watch your projected bills rise and fall until you’re happy with them.
Microsoft Hohm, on the other hand, is staking its claim on reaching the masses. Already available nationwide, Hohm’s interface is a a more comfortable affair, replacing a lot of the hard, granular data with a condensed “Hohm Score” that compares your home’s real energy usage to its potential energy efficiency — that is, how much you’re actually saving versus how much you could potentially be saving. It also guides you toward possible sources of savings, ranging from large and potentially savings-rich projects like insulating your home, to small things like replacing conventional light bulbs with power-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. It also allows you to compare your energy usage to that of people in your neighborhood, city, state, and all across the country.
If you’re interested in monitoring your home’s energy usage, there are a few things to keep in mind, since the two applications work a bit differently. So far, Google PowerMeter forms its main partnerships with utility companies, and to date it hasn’t established such a relationship with any Texas energy company, so for the time being it remains out of reach for Texans. However, if you’re interested in PowerMeter, it’s worth keeping in mind that while Google is sometimes a bit coy in the beginning, when they do enter a market, they often take it over completely. Google also has an excellent reputation for development, and loves to give its users exactly what they want. While PowerMeter might not yet be a player in your area, they could become the biggest game in town in the reasonably near future.
Microsoft Hohm, on the other hand, partners primarily with device-makers rather than power companies. Anyone can buy and install a compatible device and be up and running, no matter where they live or who supplies their energy. But Hohm requires more of a time investment to reach its full potential. A new user of the service will start out by answering a substantial number of questions about their home — details about the building, what kind of appliances you use, etc. — and some homeowners may find the process a little daunting. (Apartment dwellers may even find Hohm to be of limited use to them if they don’t have ready access to some of these details.) The good news is, even a partially-completed profile can produce some very useful insights and advice, and you can always add information and refine your profile later on.
If you’re interested in using Microsoft Hohm, your first step should be to contact your energy provider and ask them for any relevant information they can provide. Then purchase a Hohm-compatible device, such as Blue Line’s Power Cost Monitor, and register for your free Hohm account. Texas homeowners leaning towards Google’s PowerMeter service will have to wait a while longer, but in the meantime, you should contact your energy provider and let them know that you want to see a Texas energy company on PowerMeter’s list of partners.
In the end, it’s worth bearing in mind that both services are currently in their nascence, and will doubtless see further development and lots of changes in the future. As smart meters become more common and the cost of energy goes up, homeowners will do well to find a way to make use of the information that a these new monitoring tools can provide. Google and Microsoft are already working to make this information easily accessible to their users, and the competition between them will undoubtedly bring out the best in both.
There’s a lot of money to be saved on energy usage in this country, and perhaps nowhere more than in Texas. To help you make sure that some of that money ends up in your pocket, Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm offer two great ways to discover your home’s potential for energy savings, and make your home the most efficient house on the block.
Energy Costs Affecting Business Owners
Energy costs have risen globally, threatening the growth of businesses everywhere. Some of the hardest-hit organizations are those that own or lease property and pay for electricity. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 36 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electricity consumption. So, when electrical energy costs rise, businesses demand a solution. Energy Automation Systems, Inc. (EASI), an international leader in energy-saving technology, can reduce energy costs by reducing the electrical energy waste and consumption already present in your facility today.
A Real Solution
Energy Automation Systems Inc. (EASI) designs, manufactures and installs systems that reduce electrical energy consumption and improve power quality in commercial and industrial facilities by enhancing the efficiency of electrical systems with no trade off in performance. Energy Automation Systems work passively, requiring no routine maintenance, and they function in virtually any facility that consumes electricity. The company’s proven systems can reduce a facility’s electrical energy consumption by 30% or more – and your savings are backed by a written guarantee, underwritten by a major insurance company.
Energy Automation Systems has installed customized energy conservation systems for decades for many thousands of clients in more than 60 countries around the world. Energy Automation Systems Founder and CEO Joseph Merlo has more than 30 years of experience in the energy conservation business and has helped countless companies reduce their energy costs. Paul Bleiweis, President of Energy Automation Systems, leads development of the company’s unique portfolio of energy-saving products. As a result of their leadership, Energy Automation Systems clients have included General Electric, British Petroleum, Apollo Management, Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and ConAgra Foods, as well as many other companies, large and small.
If your business is looking for a long-term solution to rising energy costs, visit the company’s corporate Web site at: www.energyautomation.com. If you would like to learn more about the company’s executive leadership, click here for a bio on Joseph Merlo and Paul Bleiweis.
A Unique Opportunity
As a result of rising energy costs, demand for Energy Automation Systems Inc. (EASI) systems is growing around the world. For years the company provided its systems directly to customers, but increasing demand lead the company to develop a unique business opportunity in which individuals can become Affiliates of the company and market its products to customers around the world.
For a brief overview of the Energy Automation Systems business opportunity, visit www.energysavingbusiness.com.
For an in-depth look at the Energy Automation Systems opportunity, including video interviews with current Energy Automation Systems Affiliates and customers and a detailed overview of Energy Automation Systems product portfolio, visit www.easibusiness.com.