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Can India Inc Afford Regulatory Lapses?

Prime minister, Narendra Modi, states ad nauseam that he wants India Inc to prosper and, therefore, the all-out efforts by his government on the ease-of-doing-business front. For the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) though, it was business-as-usual when it recently “forced” RBL Bank’s renowned boss, Vishwavir Ahuja, to go on leave without citing what went wrong at the private sector bank.  This comes in the wake of fiscal imprudence causing upheavals at several banking institutions over the last five years including Punjab National Bank, the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, YES Bank, and Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank. These incidents led to considerable financial instability at huge cost to the exchequer. It also distracted the ruling government which had to expend both time and political capital to salvage and set right the mess. This has been the case since the early 1990s — remember Harshad Mehta scam, CRB Capital, Ketan Parekh-Bank of India and Madhavpura Co-operative Bank. Successive Union governments were compelled to launch into respective cleansing acts after the RBI was caught flat-footed on the supervisory front. Surprisingly, no one at RBI was asked to go on leave or lost their jobs because of supervisory lapses. Can India Inc afford regulatory complacency anymore?
Channi convoy

Sycophancy Thy Name is Channi, Punjab CM Goes Overboard To Score Brownie Points Against Sidhu

Even as an entire nation was outraged over the breach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security, with non-BJP CMs like Naveen Patnaik condemning it, a day later it made for quite a spectacle watching Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi across TV channels. Channi downplayed the “inconvenience that may have been caused to Modi” whose entourage was stuck on the Ferozepur flyover for 15-20 minutes as a “small matter”. What compelled the Congress CM to conduct himself in such a bizarre fashion? Did Channi go overboard in order to score brownie points with PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu? Or, was he under pressure to compete against Sidhu to demonstrably prove his higher loyalty standards towards the Gandhi family? After all, Sidhu has been pressurizing the Congress high command to declare a CM face ahead of the assembly elections. Also, why else would a sensible Channi skip receiving Modi at Bathinda airport on the pretext that one of his staffers had tested positive for Covid and then follow it up, the very next day with a public interaction with people and the media, without any qualms whatsoever? Meanwhile, Punjab Congress campaign committee chief Sunil Jhakhar who flayed the way Channi handled the Modi visit has gone off to Sweden to attend to his ailing wife. As for the assembly tickets, sources say the screening panel had already finalized 82 of the 117 seats before Jakhar left. The remaining 35 seats will be finalized on January 8.

Omicron Effect: Kollywood Producers Eyeing Rs 600 Cr Box Office Bounty This Pongal May Have To Wait Longer

The perennial pan India cash cow, the cinema business, with its jingling cash registers is sending out distress signals right now! After two long Covid-19 pandemic hit (locked down) years, just as the film industry started seeing rosy dreams of making up for heart-breaking  business losses, come Pongal Festival, a sudden downturn is now predicted. For years now, the Tamil calendar’s annual Pongal week always meant family indulgences with anything cinematic. That may not happen this time round, as Omicron and its tsunami wave hits the solar plexus of exhibitors and industry big guns alike. Three big budget films, RRR (directed by India’s Cecil B DeMille aka Bahubali SS Rajamouli), Boney Kapoor’s Ajith Kumar starrer Valimai and Prabhas-Pooja Hegde love anthem, Radhe Shyam were lined up for the Pongal sweepstakes. Then came government orders about total Sunday curfews, lockdown daily between 10 pm and 5 am and 50% seating in cinemas. The trade had estimated Rs 600 crore collections from these three films released worldwide and overseas. They had probably structured all their debt and business plans on Pongal to rake in big moolah. But, Omicron seems to have played spoilsport. Big disappointment for fans of Ajith, Prabhas NT Rama Rao Jr, and Ram Charan. But, it’s a question of a month or two before these movies hit theatres near you soon.

Exiting Hospitality Business Offers No Guarantee For Vascon Engineers Honcho From Union Bank

An advertisement in a newspaper, issued by the Credit Recovery and Legal Service Department of the public-sector Union Bank of India, announces an e-auction of immovable property at Mahalunge in Pune district to recover loans totalling Rs 52.74 crore. The property, around 1.27 hectare, is being auctioned because of borrowings by Viorica (sic) Hotels, which operated the erstwhile Hotel Holiday Inn — now Hotel Ramada – at Hinjewadi on the city’s outskirts. The ad names four personal (which the bank spells ‘personnel’) guarantors and, five corporate guarantors, headed by Vascon Engineers. “We will not be affected by this,” says Vascon founder chairman R Vasudevan, whose son Siddharth is among those named in the notice. “I don’t know why they are still dragging us into it. We got out of the hotel business five years ago, when we sold the property to Maruti Navale, formerly of Singhgad Institutes.” Navale and his Neemco Traders are also named in the notice.  Vascon, which got into the hospitality sector in 2006-07, exited it because, as Vasudevan had explained then, this was a specialised job which did not fit into their specialisation of construction. The company held stakes in three hotels in Pune — Holiday Inn, Hyatt Regency and Golden Suites — and two in Goa, Galaxy Resort and Vista Do Ria.

Photo : Twitter

Sidhu Spins A Yarn On Rahul's Secret Meetings Abroad While Surjewala Calls It Personal Visit

Trust Punjab PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu to give a weird spin to Rahul Gandhi’s prolonged absence from the country — he claimed his party leader has gone for a “secret meeting abroad”. He even told a TV channel it was quite possible that the Gandhi scion was indulging in ‘secret meetings’ with karyakartas. “When others go on vacation or take trips abroad, nobody questions them. Today, wherever Rahul Gandhi has gone, he is probably meeting with Congress workers or holding a secret meeting to present his personal views. That’s his right,” said Sidhu. Sidhu’s claims regarding Gandhi’s sudden vacations did not go uncontested. The BJP wanted to know if he had gone to meet his Chinese handlers. Between Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala, who said Rahul Gandhi was on “a brief personal visit” and Sidhu’s claims of secret meetings with karyakartas, the party seems left in this year of elections looking leaderless. It is likely that the Wayanad MP may play a limited role in the assembly elections in the five states that go to the polls. Meanwhile, there was a lot of trepidation in the party after reports emerged that 125 of 179 passengers who arrived at Amritsar international airport by a chartered flight from Rome had tested positive for Covid. Will this impact Rahul’s return? This is a speculation that no one in the party is willing to hazard a guess about.

Photo : Twitter

Tennis Ace Novak Djokovic: Non-Science Believer Falls Foul of Covid Protocol Down Under, Sent To Detention Hotel

The world’s greatest tennis player Novak Djokovic is holed up in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne that is famous for serving maggot-infested food and mouldy bread. The experience of being hauled through the coals for his beliefs may not, however, knock any sense into the Serbian who has been susceptible to all kinds of quackery in his life. He believes that his breathing trouble from gluten intolerance was solved by a quack who held slices of bread on his stomach and used kinesiological arm testing as a diagnostic tool. A great believer in alternative medicine, he once copied a page from Chinese traditional medicine that said – “Each organ in our bodies is undergoing repair in roughly this order: Lungs 3-5 am, Large intestine 5-7 am, Stomach 7-9 am…” The lover of nature and seeker after truth considers a Brazilian fig tree in the Fitzroy Park near Tennis Australia as his best friend in Australia. He once supported a quack on his Instagram Live Channel selling bottles of Advanced Brain Nutrients for $50 a bottle. It is curious that a professional athlete of his standing would believe in such mumbo-jumbo but not trust science enough to take a Covid vaccine that is doing so much for public health around a world beset by a coronavirus pandemic for more than two years now. “No vax, no entry” might be the verdict in his case.
patnaik letter

BJD MP Emulates Modi's Lateral Thinking Mantra, Wants Odisha CM To Woo Corporate Talent For Public Minded Bureaucracy

There is now a call on Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to consider transforming public administration by hiring corporate talent from the private sector. The idea, mooted by BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Dr Amar Patnaik, has urged the Odisha Government to consider lateral entry of young and brilliant minds from the private sector to be inducted into the state bureaucracy in the rank of Special Secretary and below, percolating down to the district level. The whole exercise will be routed through OPSC giving the candidates a fixed term of 3-5 years, similar to what the Government of Karnataka has initiated through a collaboration with a non-profit organization — the Nudge Foundation. Knowing Patnaik’s progressive mindset, he is likely to be receptive to such ideas. It may be recalled that two years ago, it was Naveen babu who had asked his bureaucrats to share “transforming game changing ideas” so as to improve governance, speed of action and delivery of public service in the state.  Should the Odisha government decide to recruit professionals from the private sector it will be touted as another major reform initiative by Naveen Patnaik’s government!
dean elgar_Twitter

Photo : Twitter

SA Captain Dean Elgar Delivers Southpaw Punch Levels Three Test Series 1-1

Dean Elgar, the mean opening batter may not fit into the “elegant left-hander” category. But, yet again, on the rain-marred fourth day of the second Test at The Wanderers, Johannesburg, the South African led the national team for the 12th time in four-and-a-half years and delivered the southpaw punch to the Indians; in cricketing parlance, a typical captain’s knock of an unconquered 96. Into his 10th year of international cricket, Elgar showed his body to defend and a lot of pluck while facing up to the Indian fast bowlers for five hours and nine minutes helping his team to level the three-Test match Freedom series 1-1 and, go to Newlands, Cape Town with their heads held high. The stodgy-looking batter has scored 4559 runs in 71 Tests — 4323 as an opener with 12 centuries and 19 half-centuries, almost 50% aiding in his team’s winning cause. Applauding Elgar’s unyielding undertaking, former captain and the man who worked hard for South Africa’s acceptance into the international fraternity in the early 1990s, Dr. Ali Bacher texted this correspondent saying: “Elgar showed what can be achieved by guts and determination. His performance is particularly praiseworthy because the pitch favoured the Indian fast bowlers.” Elgar is all set to become South Africa’s third left-hander opener to score 5000 runs after Graeme Smith, 9018 runs, and Gary Kirsten, 5726.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.