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Chennai’s Iconic Drive-In Theatre Makes Way For A High Rise Residential Complex

A drive-in theatre provides a viewing experience of a relaxed kind. This one perhaps was the first one to come up in the city of Chennai. Located on the ECR (the East Coast Road (ECR), one of the loveliest stretches on the national highway leading up to the Union Territory of Puducherry, this one was a favourite destination for many a cinema lover. For, it gave them the comfort of a relaxing environment and a unique movie-watching chance. Prarthana Drive-in Theatre on the ECR had for long provided young and old alike an entertaining space to unwind even while serving them sumptuously. All good things will have come to an end. So did Prarthana. The owners downed shutters on it sometime in 2021 due to administrative reasons. Founded way back in the early 90s, this drive-in theatre will disappear altogether from ECR.  Reports suggest that the land which housed Prarthana has changed hands. A leading construction company in Chennai is believed to have decided to build a high-rise residential complex in the space that measures around 25 acres. Post-Pandemic, there has been a flurry of activities around land acquisition by residential real estate developers. Chennai has already seen many iconic theatres disappear. Prarthana is the latest one to enter this list!

Global Investors Meet: Tamil Nadu Govt Ropes In Boston Consulting Group

State governments – cutting across party affiliations – jostle with each other to attract global investment. Of late, the competition has become intense among them to woo investors from across the border. Copious flow of capital from the international investing community is often seen as an endorsement of positive policies pursued by them.  Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin is gearing up to hold a Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) in January. This will be the first Global Investors Meet for the Stalin-led government. The previous two investor meets took place in 2015 and 2019 when the AIADMK was in power.  Chief Minister Stalin has indicated that the upcoming Global Investors’ Meet will play host to investors from over 100 countries. The State machinery is sparing no effort to make the summit an extraordinary showpiece.  Expectedly, the DMK government has decided to appoint a global management consultant. The Stalin regime has reportedly roped in Boston Consulting Group to make the upcoming GIM a grand success. Sometime ago, the Tamil Nadu Government issued a Request For Proposal  for the ‘Selection of Global Management Consultant’ as a knowledge partner for the Global Investors’ Meet 2024. The knowledge partner will work with the stakeholders across the canvas to effectively articulate the focus fields to the international investing community. Will Boston bring a big boost to the TN GIM?

Two Districts In Tamil Nadu Attract Maximum FDI

Numbers can’t just be wished away. Often, they give a clue or two to a decisive interpretation.  A cursory reading of the FDI (foreign direct investment) equity inflows into the country has thrown up a revealing fact. In FY21-22, India recorded the highest ever annual FDI inflow of $ 83.57 billion. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) indeed comes out with data on FDI inflows across the districts in the country. A reading of the data for the last 11 quarters clearly suggests that there is a concentration of the FDI flow into a few districts. Surprisingly enough, two districts from Tamil Nadu figure among the top 10 which were consistent in terms of attracting FDI. The two districts are Chennai and Kanchipuram. They managed to attract over Rs. 500 crore FDI in nine out of eleven quarters. These two neighbouring districts in Tamil Nadu house some of the top-notch manufacturing industries. In fact, the Chennai-Kanchipuram stretch is an iconic one. Many big boys such as Hyundai, Saint Gobain and the like dot this stretch. That these two districts have been consistently getting FDI must make the political leadership sit up and ponder. Should it not facilitate an ecosystem that allows for equitable distribution of FDI flow across the state?
Pradeep Bhardwaj

Now, Indians Are On A Roll In The UK, Pradeep Bhardwaj Appointed High Sheriff Of Wiltshire

The latest news is that Pradeep Bhardwaj, Senior Strategy Director & Head of Industry Standards, Syniverse has been appointed by His Majesty the King as the High Sheriff in the historic rural county of Wiltshire in England. Bhardwaj is the first person of Indian origin, and the first Hindu to be appointed to this high office. Pradeep brings in a huge honour not just for himself but for the entire diaspora from the Indian sub-continent. With the presence of Hindu Chaplain from Leeds Krishnakant Atre at the ceremony Bhardwaj wrote history. The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the county for matters of law and order. It is a direct appointment of the Sovereign by Royal Warrant and is the oldest secular Office in the United Kingdom after the Crown, dating back to the Saxon times in the 10th century, more than 1,000 years ago. High Sheriffs play an active role in upholding the principal parts of the Constitution i.e. members of the Royal family when visiting the County. Pradeep is recognised to have brought many firsts to India — first  public email service, first public internet service, first Electronic Data Interchange service and setting up mobile and international telecom services in the island nation of Seychelles. Pradeep works very closely with the competitive telecom giants in India.
Tata realty

Tatas Move Out Of Housing Space To Focus On Commercial Real Estate

The $128 billion Tata Group with 29 listed companies, has decided to rejig their real estate business. The new thinking of the management is to focus only on developing commercial properties and move out of housing development space. According to an informed source, Tatas, like other major corporations, are finding it difficult to manage consumer expectations in the residential property space; this business needs an owner driven approach with personal skin in the game to handle the daily challenges as well as managing individual consumer’s expectations. As part of the group’s restructuring process, the Tata group has already brought Tata Projects, Tata Consulting Engineers, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, and Tata Housing under a single umbrella in order to create a larger infrastructure vertical.  It has integrated its real estate development entity, Tata Housing Development Company – a 100% subsidiary of Tata Sons – with Tata Realty and Infrastructure. Reportedly, the group is also looking to invest Rs 1200 crores in acquiring land parcels outright and through joint ventures in major cities across the country for commercial development.
Rafiq Ahmed

KICL To Set Up Greenfield Fertiliser Plant At Thoothukudi

Quietly, a lot of things are happening at this once upon a time iconic industrial conglomerate from the city of Chennai. A new management is already in place. And it is silently working to recapture the old image of this highly respected brand. For sure, the D C Kothari-promoted Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd (KICL) isn’t going to vacate the fertiliser field though it has chosen to palm off its loss-making SSP (single super phosphate) plant at Ennore near Chennai on a slump sale basis. No doubt that would help the KICL management clean up debt. The sale move is a sensible one.  But the new management under the leadership of Dr J Rafiq Ahmed is drawing up a different game plan for its fertiliser business. Well, the KICL is toying with the idea of establishing a new Single Super Phosphate (SSP) manufacturing unit at Thoothukudi, a port city in southern Tamil Nadu. The facility – whose contours are at drawing boards – however, will have the latest technology. It will come up on government-leased land. Ever since Ahmed took charge of the affairs of KICL, he has been on a mission mode. Under his stewardship KICL has made a foray into drone production. Also, the D C Kothari group is also now in the process of setting up Phoenix Kothari Footwear Park Tamil Nadu at Eraiyur in Perambalur district. Well, Kothari brand still commands huge pull.
Falguni nykaa

Promise Vs Performance: Nykaa Over-Hyped IPO Goes Awry Post Lock-In!

FSN E-Commerce Ventures, popularly known by its listed name Nykaa, promoted by the high profile banker couple Falguni and Sanjay Nayar tapped the capital market in October 2021 with a public issue of Rs 5,352 cr. More than 475 lakh shares of Re 1 each were offered at an exorbitant price of Rs 1125 per share. The company which moved into black on the eve of IPO, saw its issue subscribed more than 45 times!  Retail investors’ portion attracted around 11 times subscription, HNIs 111 times and QIBs 92 times. Thus, the Rs 5,352 cr issue attracted bidding for a whopping amount of Rs 244,495 cr!.  Effectively, Nykaa, a decade old and yet to earn profits, asked for a market cap of Rs 53, 200 cr while highly rated MNCs like P&G and Colgate commanded a lesser market cap of about Rs 47,000 cr and Rs 42,500 cr respectively.  The public float was a grand success. However, the gullible public did not realize that shares allotted to Anchor investors were locked-in only for 30 days.  Nykaa listed on November 10, 2021 at a premium of 78% over the offer price and scaled Rs 2248 yielding 99.8% return. At the end of the one year lock-in period, the stock price went below the IPO rate inflicting 13% capital loss on the IPO investors. Sensing deep trouble, the management quickly declared a bumper 5 for 1 bonus issue which could temporarily arrest the price slide. Even though the top line is attractively growing, the company’s current bottom line (annualized) gives an abysmal EPS of 9 paise on Re 1 paid-up share. By arrangement with

The World Now Respects India As A Partner Across Hi-Tech Verticals

The current push from both the Indian and UK governments to expand their engagement on defence, aerospace and homeland security has seen an intensity of engagement between the two countries that is unprecedented since Independence. A recent meeting with the UK’s national security advisor, on the sidelines of a meeting in London for cooperation in the defence industry, showed the ‘huge’ respect India now commands from the world. The delegation met three UK ministers including the minister for defence procurement, besides the national security advisor and many senior bureaucrats. Says a ‘happy and proud’ Shekhar Sardessai, Executive Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Goa-based Kineco Ltd and Kineco Kaman Composites, who was part of the delegation: “I have seen how we were treated 10 years back as an insignificant country. The same people are now keen to woo India as a partner. All credit to what our government has done in the past few years to build a formidable position for our country.” Other business leaders agree. “Great!” says Senator Dr PKC Bose, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Bengaluru-based Enercon Windenergy, a subsidiary of Germany’s Enercon Group. “It’s India’s time.”

Environmental Issues Dog Adani’s Navi Mumbai International Airport

Environmental issues continue to dog the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport being built by Adani Airports. As the project secures extension of Environmental Clearance to allow Adani to complete the project, green groups are up in arms against what they called misleading Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted by the company. The EIA quotes exhaustively the research report by the BNHS which called for protecting and conserving at least five major wetlands as migratory bird destinations. The State-government owned city planner CIDCO would take steps to implement these suggestions. Moreover, the controversial golf course planned by CIDCO filling two wetlands – NRI and TS Chanakya – was cancelled, the EIA said. But the ground reality is totally contradictory as the wetlands continue to be under attack, green groups Save Navi Mumbai Environment and NatConnect Foundation have complained to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control. One wetland at Bhendkhal, has been completely buried, another one at Belpada majorly landfilled and a third – Panje – often goes dry as the intertidal water flow to it is blocked by “vested interests”, the greens said. The golf course plan is still alive as the project proponent has recently obtained Coastal Regulation Zone clearance. The tragic part is that CIDCO refuses to accept the existence of the wetlands identified by BNHS as well as the State Mangrove Cell, Nandakumar Pawar of NGO Sagar Shakti said.
taparia tools

Taparia Tools: Highest Dividend-Yield Stock Quoting Dirt-Cheap On BSE!

Generally Rs 10 paid-up stock that carries a dividend of 1725% (Rs 172.50 per share) would have commanded a price of not less than Rs 2000. Taparia Tools, which earned more than Rs 200 per share from its operations and distributed Rs 172.50 as dividend for fiscal 2022, was quoted on March 20, 2023 at just Rs 10.50. At this price the dividend yield works out to 1643%! The company has now proposed a first interim dividend of 775% as against 700% first interim last year which indicates that in all probability current year’s yield may shoot up beyond 1700%! The Nasik-based Taparia Tools Ltd has been manufacturing hand tools in technical collaboration with a Swedish company since 1969.  Its financials have been very impressive with topline growing from Rs 475 cr in FY20 to Rs 670 cr in FY22. In FY23 it is expected to touch Rs 750 cr. Likewise net profit more than doubled from Rs 30 cr to Rs 65 cr during the same period and expected to exceed Rs 75 cr in FY23. Why is the stock quoting so low? It has a small equity base of Rs 3.04 cr with promoters holding 69.73%, directors & relatives 13.72%, two corporate bodies 10.56% and 229 shareholders 3.84%. In the last 21 years, TTL was traded only on 39 days. In the first three months of 2023, the stock has been traded for 5 days. By arrangement with
Atmanirbhar_Pawan Anand

Taking Atmanirbhar A Step Further In India’s Defence Industry

The USI Atma Nirbhar Bharat Initiative (USI-ANBI) has given new meaning has been given to the work of the United Service Institution (USI) of India in furtherance of its avowed objective of “furtherance of knowledge in the art, science and literature in the interest of national security”. Such initiatives bring defence industry players in contact with the Services departments dealing with procurement and indigenisation. In July 2022, for example, it had a panel discussion (PD) with Aditya Birla Securities Ltd on the impact of the geopolitical situation on global and India’s financial markets, followed by one with Microsoft on cybersecurity, where the apex cybersecurity officials were brought in. Start-ups are allowed to register and asked to join when there is a round table discussion (RTD), seminar or closed-door meeting on the issue relevant to them. USI of India is a strategic think tank with a wealth of retired officials from Services, IAS, IPS and IFS, explains Major General Dr Pawan Anand, AVSM (Retd), Distinguished Fellow and Head of USI-ANBI. “It is a great brand!” he says. “We are now planning on foreign industry offerings too at our RTDs.” Obviously, India’s role on the global stage continues to grow in its presidency of the G-20 which it took over in December last year.

Ideas2IT Plays Good Samaritan, Provides Training For Laid-Off Tech Professionals

Sometime ago, this one did an out-of-the box innovation to reward long-time loyalist-employees. This Chennai-based high-end product engineering company distributed 100 Maruti cars to staffers who have served the company for over five years. Now, it has come out with yet another innovative idea. With tech giants such as Google, Zoom and the like dishing out pink slips, Ideas2IT has decided to play Good Samaritan.  It has now launched perhaps the country’s first proprietary up-skilling program. The idea is to help tech professionals bounce back from the adversity of recession and layoffs! “Pledge2Propel”, a career enhancement initiative, is primarily intended to help tech professionals affected by the economic slowdown and layoffs. This initiative aims to provide all the support they need to re-group and pursue new opportunities by means of up-skilling or venturing into entrepreneurship while prioritizing their mental health. To be sure, this initiative does not promise or guarantee a job. Along with IdeaRX, a HealthTech start-up, Ideas2IT hopes to help the laid-off professionals to navigate the psychological and professional challenges and guide them to reach a secure terrain. “With this association, we intend to transform the lives of many tech professionals through empathy, inspiration and empowerment,” says Gayathri, CEO of Ideas2IT.  This non-profit program is available for free to all affected tech professionals across the globe. A twice-blessed initiative, indeed.
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Cooperative Competition: Zomato, Swiggy’s New Business Model

Laissez-faire is a policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society. This freedom is the fulcrum around the real competitive world. Yet, we have a Competitive Commission. This does not, however, prevent competitive cooperation in the business world. If proof was required, it is available in plenty in the Indian business world. Every December, car makers – one by one – come out with announcements of impending price hikes.  One can easily sense a collective design in their individual action. This kind of cooperative competition has now spread to new-age entities. Online food ordering and delivery platforms Zomato and Swiggy are highly popular in India. No doubt, they are in a competing space. These new-age organizations often give a go by to the much acclaimed dictum `profitable growth’. Faced with the reality, Zomato and Swiggy appear to have struck an informal cooperation. So much so, you can now see a Zomato boy delivering an order placed with Swiggy! This kind of order diversion appears to be quite usual these days. None would like to lose out on business due to lack of network. Indeed, it is a sensible way to optimize each other’s network. Of course, they share their commission. Well, the survival instinct is at work indeed.

Adani Stocks: What’s The Further Downward Risk?

From a peak of Rs 24.33 tn (Rs 2,433,000 cr) last year Adani group’s market capitalization has already nose-dived more than 70% to Rs 7.16 tn (Rs 716,000 cr). Is this the end of the slide, or is it going to fall further? A close study of the Adani group stocks reveals that, in the first decade during which the group had just one listed company, Adani’s P/E multiples were in single digit which was far below the market average. In the second decade, when the group started unlocking the value of its closely-held companies, the discounting vastly improved.  In the third decade, when the count of the group’s listed entities increased from 3 to 10, the P/E multiples shot up to three digits which were many times more than the market average. The current slide has corrected the group’s P/E from 147X to 43X. However, this is still far higher than the current market composite P/E of 25X. At the current market composite P/E, the Adani group’s market cap should be about Rs 4.2 tn (Rs 420,000 cr). In other words, the group’s market cap may possibly contract another 40% (about Rs 300,000 cr) under the present circumstances. By arrangement with

Amazon’s India Focused Fund To Invest $104 Mn In FreshToHome

The Bengaluru-based FreshToHome now has the financial backing of Amazon. Through its India-focused Smbhav Venture Fund, Amazon has made $104 mn series D funding.  The 2015 incubated FreshToHome sells fresh fish and meat to consumers in South Asia and Middle East. FreshToHome would be a right fit for Amazon, which of late has expanded to the grocery and fresh category leveraging on its logistics infrastructure in South Asia. During its first phase of funding two years back, FreshToHome, raised $121 mn from Investment of Corporation of Dubai, IronPillar, Ascent Capital and US Government’s DFC. FreshToHome is one of the largest players in the $ 100 billion Indian fish and meat market. The size of the market indicates that India is not just a vegetarian country. FreshToHome plans to change the existing market set-up, run on age-old systems. The company proposes to bring in better efficiency by first streamlining the sourcing infrastructure of meat and fish. This will be backed by improved quality of produce and delivery time by using its own processing plants and vast supply chain network. “Customers ordering fish from Delhi to Dubai on a Monday, get their purchases delivered the latest by the next day,” says Shan Kadavil, co-founder and CEO of FreshToHome.  The company today serves over 4,000 fishers and farmers and millions of customers in over 160 cities in India and UAE.

Will Air India’s Mega Aircraft Order Spell Doom For Air-Transit Business From India?

Air India’s mega aircraft order is expected to spell doom for the air-transit business from India. Also, the major beneficiaries till date, Emirates, Qatar and Etihad Airways will have to rework their strategies like Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Gulf Air did when the Gulf airlines took over the India transit business. Air India’s order for 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777 -9s wide-bodied aircraft will see it offering multiple daily direct flights to all premium destinations in USA, Europe and Canada. Air India plans to have daily flights from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to major U.S. cities, EU capitals, Australia and Canada to start with. The Gulf-based airlines have been fleecing Indian travellers transiting through Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi, to USA and Europe with huge fares during the peak season. The trips are often camouflaged with free stopovers, lodging and site-seeing trips. Air India’s planned direct flights to USA and Europe should see the fares drop by as much as 30% to 40%. And more importantly, the flying time saved would be four to five hours plus stop over time which is a minimum of two hours. Gulf airlines will now have to rework their India strategies by cutting fares and reducing the number of connections. Some of them may look to tie-up/acquire one of the Indian domestic carriers. As things stand, Qatar Airways was in talks with Indigo and SpiceJet. Experts feel the weaker ones like SpiceJet and Go First could be the first to be approached.
WhatsApp Image 2023-02-10 at 15.31

Tamilnad Mercantile Bank To Rope In External Consultant For BPR

Its financials have been strong all the while. Yet, this over 100-year-old private bank has consistently hit the headlines for all wrong reasons. After many twists and turns caused by internecine quarrels among promoter groups belonging to the Nadar community, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) finally made its maiden foray into the capital market on September 5 last year. A new Managing Director S Krishnan took over the bank a day prior to its IPO. Krishnan has his job cut out. Having come out with good Q3 numbers – first quarter results since it went public in September last, Krishnan is on a mission to take TMB pan-India and make it a much more efficient bank to compete effectively with its peers in the industry. He is now toying with the idea of going for a business process re-engineering (BPR). TMB is looking to engage the services of an external consultant to come out with a detailed report on BPR, and recommend solutions for the bank on the way forward. The BPR initiative is intended to bring about a rethinking in the way TMB does its work. The objective is simple: to improve customer service, cut operational cost and become efficient. The BPR could focus on the analysis and design of workflows and business processes within the organisation. It’s transition time at TMB!
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Just Chill With Latest Movies If Stuck At Chennai Airport

Time was when Chennai airport was just workhorse functional, fliers comparing it to the glittering breathtaking Changi, and feeling second class. Frequent construction for cosmetic renovation was always knocking the fliers’ rush. Suddenly this not so glamorous poor cousin airport has emerged as an attractive, talked about airport. Parking bays, arrival and departure bays, all spruced up. But it is the mint new AeroHub adjoining the airport with an umbilical aero bridge that is now raved about. Even before the mall has come up, PVR cinemas have thrown open a razzle dazzle multiplex of 5 screens to showcase favourite films, all on the fly.  Delayed flights, overnight transfers, waiting for technical glitch to resume your flight will turn into a fun experience as you walk across the bridge, drink, dine and dawdle over the latest film. The foyer decor, seating for 1150 people, Dolby sound , reclining seats, ample legroom, crystal clear projection on 5 screens , with Audi2 and Audi4 offering luxe viewing will definitely take the pain out of flying . Not just fliers, but outsiders are also welcome to come, drop a load of money on the peripheral attractions. Tamilians may appear stodgy and serious…but finally what they present in terms of entertainment and deluxe experience reminds one of Rajini’s dialogues, ”Naan lateaa vandalum latestaa varuven “ (I may be late, but I am the latest).
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CII All Set To Launch Indian Corporate Cricket League

India is a cricket-crazy country. The IPL (Indian Premier League), which followed immediately after M S Dhoni-led Men in Blue winning the World Cup in Mumbai, has now become one of the largest annual sporting events in the country. From this year we will have a women’s premier league as well.  The cricket mania is now really expanding. Industry body CII is now gearing up to hold Indian Corporate Cricket League (ICCL).  It is a national-level initiative of the industry body. This will be a pan-India exercise, done at the behest of the Sports Ministry.  It will happen across India in each state. At state-level, it will have a round-robin format. The Tennis Ball cricket will have T-10 matches at state-level in round-robin format. Post-qualifying round, it will take the T-20 format. The CII is reported to have commissioned the services of an event management organization, which will be entrusted with the job of providing end-to-end logistic and related support facilities for the conduct of the ICCL across the country. CII is hoping for a participation of 25 teams in each state in the round-robin level. If grapevine has to go by, the Union Sports Ministry is reportedly keen that this kind of a pan-India corporate initiative is spread to other sports such as kabbadi and the likes. Sports at long lost is given its importance. That’s a welcome sign, indeed.

Soon Restaurants in New York To Ban Plastic Utensils & Condiments In Takeaways

This seems to be the global trend — banning the manufacture, sale and use of single-use plastic items like plates, cups, straws, trays and polystyrene. In India too it has been banned but some states like Maharashtra under pressure from the business fraternity have relaxed it. The latest news comes from New York. The extra but convenient plastic cutlery, chopsticks and sauce packets that restaurants throw in your takeout bag may soon disappear for good as New York City’s City Council has just passed a bill that would bar eateries and food delivery services from providing this accouterment unless specifically requested. Those businesses that keep including these items regularly, would be subject to civil penalties but warnings, instead of a monetary penalty, would be given for any violation occurring before July 1, 2024. The hope is to cut down on single-use plastic that can’t be recycled and ends up in landfills and take away the financial burden of purchasing these items from small businesses. Every year, more than 320 million tons of plastic are consumed globally, with 95% of plastic only used once and 14% for recycling. By arrangement with
Winter Ski Resort

Kashmir Flights Cancellation: Airlines To Reimburse Up To 75% Cost If Flight Tickets Downgraded

Kashmir valley is witnessing heavy snowfall as a result all flights to and from Srinagar airport have been cancelled. Even the national highway has been shut. As per the latest reports, heavy snowfall has been witnessed across the valley while rain has been lashing the Jammu division. Reportedly, 5 inch snow had accumulated in Srinagar city till Monday morning, whereas other popular tourist places, like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam received more than 1-3 ft of fresh snowfall. Realising the problems faced by tourists, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has amended its Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) rules on facilities to be provided by airlines to passengers due to cancellation of flights, denied boarding, and delays in flights. It added that the amendment will allow passengers, who are downgraded involuntarily and are carried in a class lower than that for which the ticket he purchased, to get reimbursements online. The DGCA proposed that airlines need to refund the full value of such tickets, including taxes, and that the said passenger will be flown free of cost in the next available class.  The reimbursement will differ between 30-75% in case of international ticket downgrade. By arrangement with

BBB Trust: Bringing Brahmin Businessmen Worldwide On A Single Platform To Help Them Grow

A social economic forum, this one was founded in 2017.  This triple B forum is headquartered in Mysore, it has 19 chapters and claims to have a membership of over a thousand spread across the Southern states of India. They operated under a trust model. The trust acts as ‘head and shoulder’ for all chapters. It is to assist, support and monitor their engagements. The trust is intended to bring under a common fold all brahmin business entrepreneurs. The objective is to mutually share and refer businesses among the members. The Forum for Business By Brahmins – BBB Trust is a community-based entity. This is not a business body by itself, though.  It will work for business promotion and otherwise wellness of each individual in each chapter and community at large. Growing together is the chosen mantra. The objective is to build a strong global platform which will create growth opportunities for businessmen in the community. Also, it is intended to work for the improvement of the quality of life of the people in the community The BBB Forum has three chapters in Chennai. Well, it is planning to host its two-day annual conference in Chennai on February 4. The conference is expected to facilitate information sharing, relationship building, business leads and the like. A unity mantra to grow, it appears.
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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.
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Indian Firms Should Acquire Japanese SMEs To Promote Business Relations

There is a huge potential to increase bilateral investments between Japan and India, says Tomio Isogai, director of the Kansai Japan-India Cultural Society. Agreeing with the Japanese government-run Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) on the crying need to increase the number of SMEs in India. Quoting JETRO India’s Chief Director General Takashi Suzuki, he says this is definitely necessary because small and medium enterprises (SMEs) here account for only one in five of the over 1400 Japanese companies that operate in India. The corresponding figure in China, ASEAN and Bangladesh is between 40% and 60%. This “abysmally low” presence of Japanese companies here, Suzuki has said, is “a very unique element” of the business relationship between the two countries. Indian companies in the fields of healthcare, elderly care and social care related services have major opportunities in Japan, while green hydrogen and the renewable energy sector also offer big scope. Isogai, a veteran in both Japan and India, spent 37 years in Japan’s Sharp Corporation and is a former managing director of the erstwhile Kalyani Sharp in Pune. He is currently a freelance advisor to the Hyderabad Management Association. Companies in both countries have already unveiled manufacturing plans, they point out.
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Porsche, BMW To Mark Their Presence At Chennai’s Glitzy Leather Fashion Show

After a two-year Covid-induced hiatus, the Leather Fashion Show is back. Chennai is gearing up to host the India International Leather Fair next week, and the Fashion Show, as was in the past, will form a crucial component of this. This time around, the show will showcase products that are made out of recycled leather. For the first time perhaps, lifestyle car brands such as Porsche and BMW have chosen to mark their presence at the Leather Fashion Show. Such shows are often intended to woo high net worth customers. These high net worth people are the potential buyers of fancy high-end cars. Well, Porsche and BMW are finding the Fashion Show a useful platform to touch-base with their potential clients. It is unusual for these esoteric automobile brands to put their cars in a public area. A Fashion Show of international standard followed by dinner at a high-end venue like the ITC Grand Chola is an opportunity that these car majors aren’t willing to miss. They are more than happy to display their high-end cars in the Fashion Show. The association of such global car makers surely will add credence to the profile of the leather industry in India. And, the presence of various Miss India title-holders will add further spice to the upcoming Leather Fashion Show in Chennai.
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UP finance minister Suresh Kumar Khanna and Dr Shashank Vikram

Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister, Bureaucrats To Visit UK To Woo Global Investors

Uttar Pradesh government’s top level bureaucrats led by the state’s Finance Minister & Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Suresh Kumar Khanna are visiting the United Kingdom to woo global investors. On January 28 Jan, Dr Shashank Vikram, IFS who is the Consul General of India in Birmingham will be hosting “a high profile” gathering of investors to meet the minister and top officials. Birmingham which coincidentally is recognised as the “Engine” of UK economy inspired by James Watt will play host to strengthen ties between the UK and Uttar Pradesh. UP minister Khanna’s visit is primarily to woo investors for the UP’s Global Investors Summit to be held shortly in his state. It is learnt that Khanna and his core team along with Dr Vikram have identified a roadmap and strategies to be followed to enhance trade and economic ties between the UK and UP. Khanna is ambitious with his plans as UP’s vision is to become a $1 trillion economy. Towards this objective the state government has provided a single window clearance for 25 sectors it has opened up for the global investors. With the BJP government elected for the second time in UP, there is political stability. But, the moot point will these roadshows in the UK following the USA earlier, encourage global entrepreneurs to UP?

GEMS Education Scouting For Partner

The Gulf-incubated GEMS Education, run by second generation entrepreneur, Sunny Varkey, is on the lookout for a long term partner, failing which it will go for an IPO. The $ 6 billion valued GEMS, is the largest non-Government operator of private kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools in the world, teaching 140,000 students from 175 countries. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have been given the mandate to find a long term partner for GEMS by mid-2023. The hunt for a partner follows private equity firm CVC’s decision to exit its over 30% stake in the world’s largest private school operator. According to informed sources, ADQ (Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Co) and real estate developer Alder have shown interest in GEMS. Sunny Varkey, who started in the healthcare business, later moved to run GEMS started by his parents. Varkey in a recent interview stated that he has no plans to relinquish majority stake in the company. In fact, he stated that he would prefer long term partners like sovereign wealth funds, infrastructure funds or even pension funds. And if the current exercise to find a long term partner fails, then the group will have no option but to go in for an IPO.

Mumbai On Its Way To Become A Metro-Centric City

The extended western suburbs of Mumbai – the city’s most populous stretch — gets fully covered by the Metro network from January 20 onwards. Providing seamless connectivity on an entirely elevated network of 35 km of lines with 30 platforms at the cost of Rs 13,000 crore, has been presented as a solution against the congested Western Express Highway and its parallel running New Link Road. Completing the project was challenging, says SVR Srinivas, metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the city’s planning body, as it meant carrying out major part of the works at night due to heavy traffic congestion. There were challenges in air as well — the Andheri (W) station had to be raised to 22 metres above ground to cross over the existing Metro line 1 lines beneath. This line is estimated to see a footfall of 3-4 lakhs passengers daily soon. This is the second network that is fully operational; the first Ghatkopar-Versova line is already providing much needed relief with its East-West connectivity. While the metro network huffed and chuffed in its initial stages thanks to opposition from residents and environmentalists, it has picked up much speed since then to move towards its target of achieving 337 km with 200 stations by 2030 to service 7 lakhs passengers per day.
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Tata Group Chairman Chandrasekaran Meets TN Chief Minister Stalin

Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin wants to fulfil the DMK’s election manifesto promises and prepare the ground for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. More significantly, he needs to project his intention to create and save jobs. The shutdown of Ford Maraimalai Nagar plant remains a vexing issue. It had accumulated losses of over $2 bn. Recently, Tata Group’s Chairman N Chandrasekaran along with Tata Motors Executive Director Girish Wagh visited Stalin’s camp office. Also part of the meeting were Tamil Nadu chief secretary, ministers Thangam Thennarasu and Udhayanidhi Stalin. It was a courtesy call but it is clear that the Tamil Nadu government has been feverishly looking for a new owner to take over Ford Chennai plant. It may be recalled that Tatas have already bought over Ford’s Sanand plant in Gujarat. So buying Ford’s Maraimalai Nagar plant seems a logical conclusion. Both these plants can crank up Tata’s EV capacity. Currently, with significant bookings for Nexon EV, and Tiago. Tatas are able to meet only 50 % of the demand. The Ford Chennai plant has a number of hidden assets — its erstwhile vendor team supplied 40% of their captive production, the trained workforce can be retrained and logistics support of the Port is one of the biggest advantages.  Tatas have taken a lead in EV, and if this acquisition happens then Chennai could emerge as an EV hub.
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Global Gaming Platform Plans To Enter The Indian Market This Year

On the heels of the Indian Information & Broadcasting Ministry setting up a Task Force for the promotion of animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC), the Singapore-based Gamepay has made plans for a launch in this country by the end of 2023. “We see a big opportunity in India so that gamers can be rewarded and incentivised for the time they play games,” says Gamepay’s founder-director Daniel Santos. “We also see gaming as one of the fastest-growing sectors and we want to make an impact to Indian GDP by playing an active role in its growth.” Rolling out the project involves establishing a chain of investors and game partners, whom he has invited through a series of social-media posts: “Anyone interested in gaming and tech, pls message me,” says the entrepreneur, originally a Brazilian who had earlier floated another game, Chickey Chik, on his platform. Gamepay, described as “the ultimate gaming destination to incentivise gamers”, is an avenue for gamers to vibe and create a community across various game genres, as well as a platform for listing and promoting games. With more than three billion people worldwide spending time playing online games and Web 3 gaming activity accounting for almost 1.3 million unique active wallets (UAWs), Santos is in a win-win situation, which he is offering to share with his Indian partners, making money from subscriptions, advertisements, and transaction and service fees.
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Italy-Based Lamborghini Group Plans To Invest In Kerala

The Lamborghini group is looking at opportunities to invest in Kerala in the areas of luxury flats, apartment complexes and boutique hotels. Tonino Lamborghini, son of the legendary Italian businessman, Ferruccio Lamborghini, is currently in Kerala enjoying the backwaters, cuisines and ayurvedic spas. He also found time to meet the Kerala Industries Minister P Rajeev to identify areas of investment and tax holidays. The group is also interested in partnering with local businesses and also exploring manufacturing opportunities for some of its products. Despite hiving off its famous luxury car business to the Volkswagen group, the Lamborghini family still retains the brand name. The Lamborghini brand has under its belt a line of luxury products like watches, mobile phones, sunglasses, perfumes, bags, clothings and boutique hotels. The group is also looking at partnering with Indian companies to help their brands enter the worldwide market. Tonino also expressed a desire to set up an electric car manufacturing unit. To start off, he felt golf carts would be an ideal area to enter. Tonino is visiting Kerala with his partner, Angela Kriegar and Usman Rehman, MD of Times World group and brand ambassador of the Lamborghini brand in Dubai.
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UK-Based Neelabha Chatterjee

Chatterjees Of Luxmi Group Eye Global Markets, LUK In UK To Launch BrrrGrr

The Rs 1000-crore Kolkata based Luxmi Group owned by the Chatterjees has been producing some of the world’s most coveted teas for over 100 years now. The group which owns Darjeeling’s prestigious and elite Makaibari tea estates are intensely focusing on the global markets for tea, and other lines of businesses. Neelabha Chatterjee, younger son of Dipankar and grandson of PC Chatterjee has decided to settle in the UK.  He went as a student at Cranfield and chose not to return family’s tea estates. He has set up LUK Hospitalities which owns two branded hotels in Birmingham. Besides, he is all set to launch American style burgers, wings and shakes in the West Midlands region called ‘Brrgrrr’. The Kolkata-based Chatterjees have diversified into carpets, furniture in India and now hospitality in the UK. The third generation is strengthening the group’s presence in different sectors. In India, Neelabha’s brother Rudra who is handling the family’s traditional tea business is eyeing the global tea retail markets. To start with, it will be the USA. Besides, he plans to expand hand-woven carpets brand Obeetee and furniture brand Manor and Mews with its atelier in London and manufacturing units in Europe and Jaipur. The Chatterjees came into limelight when Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a packet of Silver Imperial brand from Makaibari to the late Queen Elizabeth when he visited the UK in 2015.

Is The City Of Joy Trying To Revive Tram Travels In A Big Way?

An effort is being made to revive trams in Kolkata city in this era of climate change. Known for its heritage value, trams made their maiden journey way back in 1873, as horse drawn carriages. Today, Kolkata is the only city in the continent operating trams. The revival of trams is part of the action plan under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for Kolkata. Several urban transportation experts and activists, along with NGOs, attended the discussion and made it clear that mindset and lack of political will have hindered sustaining trams in Kolkata and not the availability of funds. They pointed out how eco-friendly trams play a key role in transportation in most global cities. “If the government wants, it can explore the option of using NCAP funds and funds for electric vehicles, as the tram is the mother of electric vehicles,” explains Anumita Roy Choudhary, air pollution expert from the Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), Delhi. At present, only 10 trams ply on two routes in the city, as against 185 trams on 37 routes a decade back. Is the state government listening?
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Uttarakhand Govt To Build An International Airport?

Uttarakhand may soon have an international airport. The state government is set to submit a proposal to the Union civil aviation ministry for setting up an international airport for which it has already identified two locations measuring 1,200 hectares and 1,100 hectares. A pre-feasibility for upgrading the Pantnagar airport, located near the Jim Corbett Park, to an international airport is also said to be ready. The BJP government is making a pitch that an international airport is needed in the state, considering its spiritual, historical and strategic importance. Better connectivity will boost tourism and bring in the revenue that the hill state needs.

Nationalism To Regionalism: FiTEN To Host Global Tamil Start-up Investors’ Summit

What is the common consequence of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war? To be sure, they have redefined the international trade dynamics. The much celebrated policy of globalisation has started yielding ground to the protectionist policies of former times. Is it good? Is it setting the clock back? Well, a clear answer is difficult to fathom at the moment. One thing, however, is sure. Things are seemingly heading this way. How else could one view this? Well, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) is launching the FeTNA International Tamil Entrepreneurs Network (FiTEN)! FeTNA is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1988. In association with Tamil Nadu Start-up and Innovation Mission (StartupTN), FiTEN is organising the first Global Tamil Start-up Investors’ Summit in Chennai. It is ostensibly intended to benefit and promote start-ups and global Tamil investors. The one-day summit will be held on January 9 at The Leela Palace in Chennai. The objective of holding this summit by FiTEN is to share knowledge, debate the latest trends and bring together the global Tamil entrepreneur ecosystem. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin, will be the chief guest. While the proposed summit is hailed by some, still others feel uncomfortable about it. Reason: regional chauvinism/parochialism is not healthy. It may be recalled that Saraswat Brahmin entrepreneurs from across the globe had organised a conclave in Goa in September 2022.

Employees Become Owners Of The Shriram Group Via Trust

Shriram Finance Ltd (SFL) is born out of a composite scheme of merger and amalgamation of Shriram Capital (erstwhile holding company), Shriram Transport, Shriram City Union Finance and others. Today, they are all consigned to the pages of history. The newly-born SFL, as a consequence, has become the largest retail NBFC in the country.  Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd., Shriram Ownership Trust, Shriram Value Services Ltd. and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd are the promoters of SFL holding 25.24% of its equity. Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd. is controlled by Shriram Ownership Trust (60%) and Sanlam (40%). Grapevine has it that Shriram Financial Ventures (Chennai) Private Ltd will undergo a name change soon. In all likelihood, it will be re-named as Shriram Capital!  With the advent of SFL, there appears to be a lot more clarity on the ownership front. Interestingly enough, Shriram Ownership Trust has emerged as the identifiable owner of the Shriram group. This is a perpetual trust. The members – comprising eligible employees – exit the trust upon reaching the age of 60, and are cashed out over a period of eight years thereafter. In a way, this perpetual trust will have a dynamic composition of members (with new additions and subtractions). A four-member board of management will run the trust. A unique thing about this trust – which is the ultimate holding company of the group – is that it is filled with eligible employees! Is there a parallel in the Indian corporate world where the employees are the owners of the group!

Trivandrum Airport May Lose International Airport Status

It’s rare that the Chief Minister of a State goes out of his way to torpedo an expansion plan. That’s what’s happening in the case of Trivandrum Airport which needs to expand and extend its 3.1 km runway to meet the International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO) specifications. For expansion, an additional 18.5 acres of land adjoining the present airport has already been earmarked. Out of this, 16 acres are government land and the balance in private hands. The Adanis, who operate the airport, have been after Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the release of land. Pinarayi seems to be sitting on the proposal. ICAO has given Trivandrum airport time till December 2023 or lose its International airport status. This will mean stoppage of all international flights to and from Kerala’s first international airport built on land given by the Travancore Maharaja. The airport operates 120 international flights per week. Pinarayi’s ire follows the State government’s failure in its bid to take over Trivandrum airport from AAI. Two of Kerala’s greenfield airports — Kochi and Kannur — are run by the private sector with the State Government being the principal shareholder. Despite being world class, Pinarayi’s home town airport at Kannur is struggling for want of traffic and passengers. If the CM hopes that by blocking Trivandrum airport’s expansion Kannur could benefit, then he is totally off the mark going by the distance between the two places.

India Gears Up To Champion Cause Of Global South At G-20 Meetings

The first G20 Finance and Central Bank Deputies (FCBD) meeting held in Bengaluru (Dec 13-15) was to prepare an effective forum for global economic discourse. This meeting marks the start of discussions on the Finance Track agenda under the Indian G20 Presidency and is hosted by the Ministry of Finance and the RBI. Co-chaired by Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth and RBI Deputy Governor Dr Michael D Patra, their counterparts from G20 member countries, and representatives from international organisations participated in the meeting. Through a series of nearly 40 meetings  that will be held in several locations across the country, the Finance Track India will champion the cause of the “Global South”, promoting “oneness”, and lead in pushing for a collaborative action. The G20 Finance Track, led by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of G20 countries, will focus on economic and financial issues to “provide an effective forum for global economic discourse and policy coordination”. The First Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting will be held during February 23-25, 2023 in Bengaluru. In the Bengaluru meeting, discussions will focus on the agenda for the Finance Track under the Indian G20 Presidency. This includes reorienting international financial institutions to meet the shared global challenges of the 21st century, financing cities of tomorrow, managing global debt vulnerabilities, advancing financial inclusion, financing for climate action and a globally coordinated approach to advancing the international taxation agenda.

Mallika Srinivasan Ushers In Refreshing Change At Govt-Run PSEB

Lethargy and indecision often define any appointment in a government-run organisation. Ipso facto, none expects any quick action from an enterprise that is vested with the power to pick right people to fill up board slots in government-controlled organisations. This perception is changing now.  Coming events often cast their shadows before them. Perhaps the change was set in motion when the government for the first time chose to anoint a woman as the head the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB). With the induction of Mallika Srinivasan, head of tractor-maker TAFE, as the Chairman in April last year, PESB is moving with a sense of purpose and clarity of thought. It isn’t just recommending names to fill slots in public sector organisations. It has gone beyond to provide incisive inputs. The idea, it appears, is to help build a robust board that is adequately populated to take quick decisions based on the evolving dynamics. The recent appointments at ONGC are a classic case. Though a new Chairman has been announced, it has been decided to dispense with the position of MD. The creation of a new position of Director (Strategy and Corporate Affairs) is seen in the context of providing flexibility to decide on emerging opportunities in the fast-changing dynamic business environment. PESB is now looking at selection in a holistic way. Well, that’s the way to go.
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This Mattress Company Reposes Faith In Sleep Solution

This one puts faith in innovation. Out-of-the-box thinking is the need of the day for business enterprises to not just grow but to also to stand out from the crowd. This Coimbatore-based mattress company is out on a mission: to promote the power of fresh thinking in the sleep solution space. The Rs 103-crore 10-year-old Repose Mattress Pvt Ltd is concerned that people take sleep for granted. That causes a lot of mental and physical health issues. Right mattress is not just a matter of luxury and comfort. Repose is convinced that the right mattress is vital for healthy living. Early this year, it introduced a smart grid mattress with patented technology from Japan. It has in its portfolio Song-Bird pillow — a memory foam pillow with in-built speakers into which music devices can be plugged into for a novel experience. It also has a Locker mattress – claimed to be the country’s first mattress with an in-built secret locker that can safely store items of value. This 400-plus employee company pines to become a pan-India player. Repose has roped in dance sensation and film star Prabhu Deva as its brand ambassador. Riding on his fan following across the country, Repose aims to aggressively get into the mind space of consumers across the country. Putting faith in a new sleep order, it appears.
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Chennai-Based Companies Gift BMWs, Swiss Holidays Plus Bonuses To Retain Talent

Talent retention is a tough art. It is tougher still in the modern business world. Ipso facto, business enterprises have to think out of box to retain the talent. Ideas2IT and Kissflow are software companies in Chennai. They were trend setters in a way for employee recognition and retention. Sometime ago, Ideas2IT and Kissflow rewarded talent at the workplace in a unique way, giving ‘moving property’ to recognise these contributions.  While Ideas2IT gifted 100 cars to 100 employees “for their constant support and unparalleled contributions to the company’s success and growth,” Kissflow gifted luxury BMW cars to its senior leadership team. Five senior executives of Kissflow were given the new 5 series BMW cars. Real estate developer Casagrand has hit upon a different route to keep its folks happy. It has chosen to take 700 of its employees for a 7-day long trip to Switzerland. The entire trip cost which includes air tickets, accommodation, sight-seeing, meals et al will be borne by Casagrand. It calls it the ‘Big Bonanza’. Each employee who has contributed her/his best effort to the company is rewarded with a trip abroad along with two months’ salary as bonus! Casagrand claims that it had arranged similar outings to its deserving employees earlier, too. Is this a sustainable formula for an enterprise to ensure that talent won’t move out?
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Indian Doctors In UK Gear Up To Save National Health Service; Forge Ties With Indian Hospitals

There is an estimated shortfall of 12,000 doctors and 50,000 nurses in the UK. To meet this shortfall the country is exploring various avenues.  Thus, between September and November 2022 two MoUs were signed between the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and BAPIO Training Academy (BTA) UK and Bengaluru-based hospitals – Gleneagles and Vydehi Superspeciality (formerly Mallya hospital). This tie-up demonstrates the fact that the vast Indian medical community that serves the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been an active and conscientious supporter of the NHS system. The tie-ups are with the aim of developing and providing world-class training and exchange programs for doctors and nurses in India to meet the growing demands of effective and safe delivery of emergencies. BAPIO with its Education Academy in the UK has actively geared up its resources to mitigate the current crisis faced by the NHS system. Chandru Iyer, Deputy High Commissioner UK in Bengaluru says, “Such tie ups will enhance collaborative training avenues for Indian medical students and professionals in the UK.” According to Prof Parag Singhal, Executive Director- BTA and National Secretary, BAPIO this training initiative is designed specially to help International doctors gain experience at core and higher levels in UK hospitals. The BTA Indo-UK Training Programme has been developed in partnership with University of South Wales and Kingsway Hospitals.
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Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Resent Govt Mandate To Link Bill To Aadhaar

Aadhaar linkage has always been a hot subject of political debate in the country. The DMK government led by M K Stalin has chosen to make it mandatory for the power consumers – of common kind – to link their Aadhaar numbers. The move must help it weed out bogus connections. What has surprised many, however, is that not much time has been given to the power users to do this. Power consumers who tried to pay their bi-monthly bills are directed to a separate site for Aadhaar linkage. Unless linked to Aadhaar, the system does not allow them to pay their bills. What has irked the power users is that they are unable to execute the action as the system trips more often than not. Also, there is a lot of confusion. What if a person has more than one house and hence more than one power connection? What about power used for common facilities in a residential apartment? The government says that for commercial use, no Aadhaar linkage is required. How will the power used for common facilities in a residential apartment be considered?  How will the poor – who don’t have a computer facility in their home – get this linkage done? The Tamil Nadu government will do well to create an e-seva facility to sort out the very many glitches coming in the way of Aadhaar linkage?

Arvind Singh, Tourism Secretary

Indian Tourist Sector Moves In The Fast Lane; Gears Up For G20 Meetings

India is emerging as a popular tourist and business destination against the backdrop of the Free Trade Agreement between India and UK to be signed soon. The MICE industry is flourishing with several business delegations travelling to India not just to Tier 1 but to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street who led the West Midlands, UK delegation to India, did not confine his visit to New Delhi but travelled to Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. He played Kabbadi and has promised to host the World Kabbadi tournament in Birmingham in 2024. Global Tech Advocates hosted their global meet with the Tech India Advocates led by British citizens Ani Kaprekar, Af Malhotra and Nilesh Gopali. The 40-plus delegates visited Bengaluru, Hubballi (Hubli), and Deshpande’s Tech Foundation. The global organisation TiE will host their annual summit in Telangana. About 3000 entrepreneurs are expected to attend. Bill Gates, N R Narayana Murthy, Gautam Adani, Telangana Minister K T Rama Rao are expected to take part in the summit. At the recently held World Travel Market in London, Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India and Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism stated that “India is  gearing up for the G20 Presidency to start from December 1, 2022. India is expected to host over 200 meetings across 55 cities in the country.”

Odisha’s Gopalpur Locals Oppose Smartchem's Ammonium Nitrate Plant On Environment Concerns

The familiar battle ground again haunts Odisha just like successful opposition to the National Test Range at Baliapal in 1980’s. The villagers at Gopalpur and its neighbouring six panchayats fearing impact of pollution have collectively decided not to allow Smartchem Technologies Ltd to set up a 377 KTPA ammonium nitrate plant at Tata Steel Industrial Park. Smartchem Technologies is a 100% subsidiary of Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals. The villagers are asking what guarantee the company can give to assure that there will be no accidents at SEZ Gopalpur. There are examples galore worldwide of explosions because of poor storage and handling of ammonium nitrate. According to locals, the company has done very little to educate the local people about the robustness of their hazard handling process and thereby allay their fears. Though the government promoting chemicals is part of industrial development strategy, villagers are determined not to allow hazardous chemicals in their area and are asking to replace it with environmentally-friendly industries instead. With assembly elections due in 2024 the Odisha government headed by Naveen Patnaik may not want to take a chance and is trying to find the middle path in the best interest of all stakeholders. Surely, for Petrochem major Deepak Fertiliser which was ready to invest Rs 2200 crore via its subsidiary this is a temporary setback.
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Bitcoin Craze Has Badly Hit An Unexpected Target, The Direct Selling Business

The Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA), the apex body of companies like Amway, Herbalife, Tupperware, is going through bad times. Not due to regulatory issues and being badmouthed for being multi-level marketing rackets, as its members were branded in the past, but because of another factor that has generated a lot of hype and interest among entrepreneurs looking to make astronomical returns on their investments. With Bitcoin exchanges having mushroomed, and many of them having vanished after collecting money from investors, the cryptocurrency – touted as “the new oil – has lured many of the players’ younger elements away from direct selling. The impact of the Bitcoin frenzy is particularly severe in the direct selling, which is based on a self-entrepreneurial business model, leading many top leaders in the industry to brainstorm strategies to retain their sales field force in training which they have invested heavily. Emerging industries, like food, cab hailing services and e-commerce marketplaces, as well as direct selling and FMCG, which have adopted an aggregator business model using gig workers for last-mile delivery, are experiencing attrition. Industry leaders have also expressed concern about Bitcoin exchanges propagating their businesses as MLM. “We are all over the place,” says an IDSA official who doesn’t want to be named. “Sales have taken a hit because of Bitcoins – the lure of making quick money is attracting the youth.”
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Saraswat Bank Signs MoU With GCSE To Offer Concessional Loans To Saraswat Entrepreneurs

To a cheering audience at the recently held 3rd Annual Conclave of Global Chamber of Saraswats Entrepreneurs and Professionals(GCSE) in Goa, Chairman of Saraswat Bank Gautam Thakur announced a lucrative and special loan scheme to support young Saraswat entrepreneurs. Honouring his commitment, Saraswat Bank’s top brass signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GCSE on November 17.  Saraswat Bank has initiated an exclusive scheme Loan For Entrepreneurs And Professionals (LEAP) that would provide loans/ OD facility for first generation entrepreneurs from the Saraswat Community at a concessional rate of interest. Founder Director of GCSE Siddharth Sinkar, said, “Not only will LEAP boost the morale of the existing young first generation entrepreneurs for scaling up their businesses. This will also promote the entrepreneurial drive amongst the Saraswat minds.” This facility will be offered only to members of Saraswat Chamber. While GCSE would do the basic due diligence of applications routed through them, the final decision to grant loan will rest with the bank.
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Gautam Adani Has Seen It All: Kidnapping, 26/11 Terrorist Attack, Business Crises

Gautam Adani’s story would make for a good Netflix series like Succession. India’s business tycoon Adani is numero uno on all parameters. What makes Adani different and what are his success mantras is well captured by the veteran journalist RN Bhaskar in his book Gautam Adani: Reimagining Business In India And The World. Bhaskar who has been tracking Adanis since 2007 has brought to light information that not many know. Bhaskar writes, “In many ways Gautambhai is destiny’s child. He has escaped accidents, major trading crises and even terrorist attacks (26/11). For instance, in January 1998, much before he became a big industrialist, Gautambhai and Shantilal Patel, an associate, were kidnapped. Adani and Shantilal Patel were abducted at gunpoint after they left Karnavati Club in a car and headed for Mohammadpura Road in Ahmedabad. A scooter reportedly forced the car to stop, and then a group of men came in a van and abducted both men. They were taken to an unknown place in a car before being released, the police chargesheet said.”  The case was finally closed after 20 years when an Ahmedabad court in November 2018 acquitted the two main accused – Fazl-ur-Rehman alias Fazlu and Bhogilal Darji alia Mama. Reason for their acquittal was because Adani refused to press charges. “One reason for not pressing charges could be that a large ransom was paid, estimated at $1.5 mn,” says the author.
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Repatriated SBI UK Head Sharad Chandak Tipped To Be Dy MD

State Bank of India’s Sharad Chandak, Head of UK Region and also the Head of its subsidiary SBI UK has been transferred back to India. Chandak, an old guard at the bank, is currently Chief General Manager in SBI India hierarchy and is likely to be promoted to the Deputy Managing Director’s post of the bank and stationed in Delhi. Talking to Chandak says despite Covid and other odds faced by various banks and businesses at large in the UK, the SBI subsidiary succeeded in giving the parent SBI a dividend of 2.5%. With an Open Banking platform for non-customers of the bank the YoNo App that was launched during his tenure expanded remittance operations to Nepal and soon Sri Lanka operations will commence. To have a wider outreach to areas where bank’s branches do not exist, Chandak with his team has drawn up plans to start “Kiosk banking.” These kiosks are likely to be opened where the footfall is high like the malls. In 2023 Chandak said SBI UK will launch a development finance product that will offer financial support to those in the real estate sector. Sudhir Sharma, CEO (designate) will move into Chandak’s seat. Sanjay Pandey, currently Executive Director and Deputy CEO in the UK also returns to India and his colleague Varsha Bhat who is in the UK will take charge.

India Cements Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Connect Business, Politics And Cricket

In a land where cricket has a mass appeal, it is little wonder that the game has become a connector par excellence. Well, the platinum jubilee celebrations of The India Cements Ltd (ICL) held on November 12 in Chennai saw the Union Home Minister Amit Shah grace the occasion as chief guest. N Srinivasan, vice-chairman & MD of ICL, and Amit Shah have something in common between them. Shah was heading the Gujarat Cricket Association once upon a time. Srinivasan has been a cricket administrator for a very long time – both at the state as well national level. Shah recalled their sports connection and indicated that their relationship required no thanks between them.  Shah’s rare presence at a corporate function threw a surprise of a different sort also. Former Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam was seated on the front row! Is this a signal BJP will go along with AIADMK to fight 2024 general elections? Interestingly, Tamil Chief Minister MK Stalin who is very close to Srini stayed out and instead deputed his Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu to attend the function. And of course CSK Captain MS Dhoni was also seen hobnobbing with Amit Shah. If optics matter, there is enough to ponder over for everybody.
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UAE: American Style Casino Coming Up As Oil Goes Down

With oil on the decline, UAE is rolling out the red carpet to attract all kinds of tourists from all round the world. The latest introduction would be an American style Casino at UAE’s sixth largest city, Ras Al Khaimah by 2026. The Wynn Marjan casino cum resort will be located on Dream Island, an unused area of Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island. The integrated resort will come up in a 18,500 sq m area and would be double the size of Wynn’s Las Vegas property. The emirate’s tourism development authority is believed to be writing gaming laws for the casino using Singaporean and US regulations as the base. For this purpose, a new Department of Entertainment and Gaming Regulator has been set up to consider the social, cultural and environmental impact of the emirates. It will also cover issues of licensing, taxation, operational procedures and consumer safeguards, according to Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. The proposed casino is expected to be one of the 10th biggest casinos in the world. The biggest casino in Asia is The Venetian at Macau. It is also the second biggest casino in the world with a Venice theme in an area of 51,000 sq m. Wynn Resorts will initially operate the casino on its own for some period of time.


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.