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BY: TAPONEEL MUKHERJEE
Given the size of the Indian economy and expectations of future growth, infrastructure remains a crucial area of focus for both financial and strategic investors alike. As capital flow gradually picks up in the sector over the last five years and operational assets are bought out, the obvious question is: What next in terms of infrastructure projects?
The last few years have seen a significant focus from a plethora of global infrastructure investors in India, especially in the transportation and energy sectors. The primary strategy has been buying out companies or a portfolio of operational brownfield projects. Sellers of such projects have been motivated by the need to reduce their debt and in some cases carve out non-core assets. Buyers of brownfield assets have been motivated by getting access to assets that are operational, thereby giving them a foothold in the Indian market.
However, as brownfield assets see more capital pursuing them, we see two trends emerging. Firstly, high-quality brownfield assets for sale are fewer now, given the capital inflow over the last few years. Secondly, given the increased competition, from an investor’s perspective, due to the yield compression in brownfield assets, the returns available may not be commensurate to the underlying risk. Therefore, the need for investors to move beyond brownfield assets is one that needs attention.
For India, focused investors such as pension funds and private equity funds, the requirement to look beyond brownfield infrastructure assets was in the works for a while. Mainly, extending further out on the risk curve is required to deploy more capital to work. Beyond brownfield assets, investors must now consider assets that aren’t necessarily purely greenfield but are under-construction and close to completion.
The move towards under-construction projects will allow investors access to a larger pool of assets to choose from. Given the still strained balance sheets in the infrastructure sector, opportunities exist that need to be tapped into. The move towards assets that aren’t operational or a portfolio of such assets is a natural progression in the market.
The vital question is the valuation of such assets. Fundamentally, for distressed projects and under-construction projects, there is a potential for unlocking value by investors accessing such projects. Acquiring projects suffering from either time and cost overruns, or both for that matter, at attractive valuations is the key. The seller of such assets can unlock much-needed capital, and the users of such assets can hope to access the much-needed infrastructure sooner.
In effect, investors will have to be more “hands-on” with which to approach under-construction projects. The need for a more operationally intensive plan will require financial investors to team up with operator companies. Such partnerships will take a variety of forms ranging from joint ventures to the utilisation of financial vehicles that allow for partnerships between operators and capital providers.
For operational industry players such as integrated energy businesses, an opportunity exists wherein they can potentially utilise their operational expertise to get an edge in the infrastructure market.
The recent deal in which Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) monetised a pool of arbitration awards is a variant of this strategy, and a deal that displays how investors can unlock value through moving higher on the risk curve. In this particular case, HCC gets access to much-needed liquidity and the investors, the Blackrock-led consortium, get an opportunity to utilise their long-term capital to generate investment returns.
Over the past few years, the investor interest in accessing high-quality brownfield assets to deploy capital has been a natural first step taken by both large and small players entering the Indian markets. Given the constrained balance sheets of many Indian businesses, especially infrastructure companies, has meant that carving out and monetisation of assets to reduce debt was a natural progression in the market. However, in a multi-decade time horizon, given India’s vast infrastructure needs, a move higher on the risk curve towards under-construction projects to be able to deploy more significant amounts of capital is only natural.
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From an investor perspective, accessing non-brownfield projects implies dealing with three primary issues around land acquisition, construction risk and an effective infrastructure-linked ecosystem. The immediate investment focus must shift towards projects or portfolios of projects where risk linked to the latter two must be undertaken, while land acquisition issues have primarily been resolved.
The capacity of investors and the strategies adopted to deal with non-brownfield projects will lead to increased infrastructure investments and will expedite infrastructure creation. Investors and the government will have to keep a keen eye on any policy changes that might be needed as the market evolves with increasing amounts of capital looking towards incomplete and yet attractive infrastructure assets. (IANS)
Diwali, the festival of light that signifies the victory of good over evil. It brings happiness, progress, prosperity and longevity of life to those who celebrate the festival. People of different faiths, religions, social statuses and other differences come together to light up the moonless night of Diwali with Diyas, lanterns and firecrackers. They share meals and sweets filled with love and joy.
The most widely known story of why Diwali is celebrated is that Hindus, that Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya after rescuing Sita and after 14 years of exile. However, within Hinduism itself, there are variations as to why Diwali is celebrated. Diwali has different but equally significant meanings in different religions.
In Jainism, Diwali holds a very special meaning to it. It commemorates the anniversary of Lord Mahavira's, the last Thirthankar's attainment of Nirvana (final release) or liberation of Mahavira's soul. He attained his freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, Bihar's Pavapur in 527 B.C.E. Lord Mahavira was the 24th and last Thirtankat of Jainism, he gave his spiritual teachings and build the religion as it is today.
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The tales say that Lord Mahavira was aware that his time in this world was coming to end. As soon as the news of his departure spread, the city was drowned in the gloom, the devotees were, grieving, even nature felt the Lord's impending doom and looked crestfallen. Indra the king of Gods, who had prepared himself for Lord's departure, lost his composure and the thought of Lord leaving the world pained him to no end.
Indra, unable to bear the pain and as the advocate of anxious people and natured reached out to Mahavira to persuade him to delay his departure, even if it was just for a moment. However, the Lord calmly told Indra, "Indraraj, lust blinds one. You love my body and hence your request. You are knowledgeable and yet you forget that no one - God, demon, or a human being - can extend the lifeline by even a fraction. The mission for which I was born as a human being is accomplished and a moment more here is a great burden to me. See Indra, there is spring blooming and there is a new dawn of sat, chit, anand. Welcome it." Following the events, the Lord transcended Badar Manyog and Vachan-yog and rested in kayayoga the last vestige of life on the planet. The Lord had achieved Nirvana.
It is said that just as Lord Mahavira attained Moksha, darkness spread all around the world on his loss. The guiding light which had enlightened many souls with his knowledge had burnt out. Indra regaining his composure announced, "Light the lamps. Lord has attained nirvana."
Till this day each year on Diwali, Jains celebrate Diwali to remember their Lord Mahavira and his teachings. In Jain scriptures the occasion was first referred to as dipalikaya meaning light leaving the body, it is said that the earth and the heavens were illuminated with lamps to mark Lord Mahavira's enlightenment.
The place where Lord attained nirvana at Pawanpuri was built into a beautiful picturesque Jain temple, Jal Mandir. It is surrounded by a rectangular tank. People believe that the temple has footprints of Mahavira and that place in the temple is reserved for worship.
Jains offer Nirvan Ladoo to Lord Mahavira after the prayers in all Jain temples all over the worldWikimedia Commons
On the morning of Diwali Jains offer Nirvana Ladoo to Lord Mahavira after the prayers in all Jain temples all over the world. Jains usually avoid firecrackers during Diwali as they have the potential to harm living organisms, which is against one of the most important principles of Ahimsa (non-violence). During Diwali usually, the atmosphere in Jain households is cloaked with austerity, simplicity, serenity, equity, calmness, charity, philanthropy and environment-consciousness. Temples, homes, offices, shops are decorated with lights and diyas. Relatives distribute sweets to each other. These lights symbolize knowledge and the removal of ignorance.
Swetambar Jains observe two days of fasting in remembrance of the penance and sacrifice of Mahavira. Devotees sing and chant hymns and mantras from Jain religious texts in praise of the Tirthankar and congregate for prayer and recite verses from the Uttaradhyayan Sutra which contain the last teachings of Mahavira. The Jain year starts with Pratipada, the next day of Diwali.
Keywords: Jainism, Diwali, celebration, religion, Lord Mahavira, Lanterns lighting, Jain temples, night of Diwali with Diyas.
The Lotus flower is one of the most prominent flowers of India. It holds great importance in Hinduism and Buddhism. Hindu gods and goddesses are often depicted sitting on a bloomed lotus flower. Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Laxmi and numerous others are shown holding a lotus flower in one of their hands. What is so important about Lotus? The Lotus flower symbolizes the creation of the universe.
According to Indian philosophies first Lotus plant was born from the navel of Sri Maha Vishnu and upon blooming creator Lord Brahma was born from it, who in turn created the whole universe. This is why it is believed that Lotus is a mythological map of the entire universe.
The Lotus flower is the symbol of purity, spontaneity and divine beauty. In one of his essays, "The Secret of Work", Swami Vivekanand emphasized the significance of lotus leaves as a spiritual detachment from the materialistic work, said, "Just as water cannot wet the lotus leaf, so work cannot bind the unselfish man by giving rise to the attachment to results." Despite blossoming in muddy and unclean water the Lotus flower remains pure and uncontaminated. It is not bothered by its surroundings; it does not try and pretend to be better than it is. It is naturally beautiful; it blooms as it is and withers away. This nature of the Lotus flower teaches us to perform our karma without worrying and being attached to the outcomes of how we'll be perceived. If we free ourselves from external factors which may or may not influence our actions, we'll be able to attain the pristine beauty, grace and purity similar to that of a Lotus flower.
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Hindu deities shown holding a lotus flower in one of their handsWikimedia commons
The transformation of a lotus bud to an enchanting flower can be seen as the path of an individual's consciousness to enlightenment. It represents that to achieve enlightenment an individual must maintain purity in their actions no matter how contaminated the world around them gets, the morality of practical life and practice detachment of spirit from the materialistic illusions of the greedy world. And as the soul develops the petals of the lotus start to unfold. The transformation of the Lotus bud to Lotus flower represents excelling from primal thought to the highest spiritual consciousness. One of the Vedas, Atharva Veda which is the knowledge storehouse of atharvāṇas, the procedures for everyday life, compares a human's spiritual heart to a lotus.
Lotus and the Sun's love is the prime example of unconditional love. The sun showers the lotus with unconditional love and to reciprocate that love the Lotus flower booms out if a smile. With its roots anchored on the bottoms of the muddy lakes, it rises above the surface and as the Sun's rays fall upon the flower the petals unfold slowly one petal at a time. At night when the sun is gone the flower closes itself and sinks underwater to wait for the sun to appear again. This signifies the element of humans that their cognizance flourishes with the radiance of spiritual thought and cripples in its absence. Despite being underwater the untouched petal is often figuratively used in scriptures to indicate the nature of a Jnani (Enlightened Soul) who is ever blissful, untouched by the sorrows and the changes which are characteristic of the world.
In Buddhist philosophies, the lotus is used to represent the preservability of purity of one's soul amidst the grime of mortal, it is often used as an expression to describe someone with pure and delicate attributes.
The Lotus flower was named the national flower of India as it is tied with the culture, history, and heritage of a nation. The flower reinforces the country's image to the world and plays a part in upholding the qualities and core values of the nation.
Keywords: Lotus symbol of purity, Hinduism, Indian values, lotus flower meaning, importance in Hinduism, prominent flowers of India.
Today, fountain pens are seen as aesthetic souvenirs. In fact, in today's time, if someone uses fountain pens, they are seen as 'superior' or 'royal'. Interestingly, there exists an astounding story behind the usage of fountain pens.
It is believed that the first mention of the fountain pen was in the year 973, when Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, who was the caliph of the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa, asked for a pen that would keep his hand clean while using it and would not leave ink marks. So, al-Mu'izz's wish was fulfilled when he received a pen that held the ink inside and could also be held upside-down without spilling the ink. Though, it must be noted that we are not quite aware of how this pen looked or worked.
On the other hand, the next mention of the fountain pen was made in the 17th century, when a German inventor named, Daniel Schwenter invented a pen made from two quills. Interestingly, one quill was placed inside the other in a way that it held the ink, and later on, it was closed with a cork. Furthermore, the ink left the reservoir through a small hole which eventually led to the nib.
By the early 18th century, such pens came to be known as “fountain pens", the name which is still being used. In fact, the first English patent for a fountain pen was issued to Frederick Fölsch in May 1809.
With the advent of time, many patents were released for fountain pens and many designs came into being. As a matter of fact, in the 1940s and 1950s, fountain pens retained their dominance over ball-point pens because the latter were expensive and prone to ink leakages.
Today, though fountain pens are sold and bought, they are used only for the purpose of signing valuable documents. Also, because of the ancient history of fountain pens, they are now considered a “status symbol" in society.
Keywords: Fountain Pens, History of fountain Pen, Stationery, Art, Renaissance.