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Jiten Ram Manjhi

In An Era Of AI, Can MSME Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Deliver?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the entire environment upside down.  Globally, AI has created a big dent in sectors, especially involving people. The AI-led disruption is bound to have reverberations across the industrial canvass. Given this, the coalition government led by PM Narendra Modi has an onerous task on hand. The MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) is already at the edge in the wake of technological advancements caused by AI and the like. With the proverbial sword hanging over the heads of job-goers, a sense of uncertainty is fast spreading among the working class. Given this, the expectations are that the Modi government will give priority to MSMEs to boost jobs. Given the fast-evolving AI-led scene, a lop-sided focus on the service sector will do no good to the employment ecosystem in the country. Coming as it did against this backdrop, the allocation of the MSME portfolio Jitan Ram Manjhi, 79, has come as a big surprise. Top sources in MSMEs aren’t quite sure of the way ahead for them. What MSMEs require at the moment is a fresh mind, new vigour and right incentive to prevent them from slipping into the pages of history. An existential crisis of serious nature caused by metamorphosis in tech space is worrying the MSMEs. Is New Delhi listening?

Chitale Bandhu Chalks Up Rs 260 Crore Expansion Plan, To Launch Ready-To-Eat Meal Soon

  The Pune-based Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale has chalked up ambitious expansion plans involving an outlay of Rs 260 crore. The third generation Chitale Bandhu is known for making namkeen (especially bhakarwadi) and sweets that Maharashtrians world over swear by. The new thinking among the management is to focus more on  sweets and savoury business even if it means competing with the group’s flagship dairy business which has a turnover of Rs 1200 crore. Indraneel Chitale, managing partner, who is spearheading the expansion drive is extremely confident of his gameplan. His confidence stems from the success of the recently launched BingeBar. Here, the strategy was to make quality Chitale products affordable and available to those at the bottom of the pyramid. For instance, average Chitale products are priced around Rs 100 while Bingebar is priced at Rs 10; it will also be available at the groceries and corner shops. This is on-the-go namkeens with the convenience of no spillage or container requirements. Having tested the market, and to feed this rising demand the company is expanding its Ranje plant spread over 17-acre located close to Pune. The current output of the plant which is 30 bars/minute will be raised to 1,000 bars/minute. Besides, Chitale’s are geared up to launch Ready-To-Eat Meals by the end 2024.

Not Easy Doing Business During UPA, No Issues Now Claims Aircel Founder Sivasankaran

Suddenly exorcised “ghosts” are on the calling end of the mobile. Our very own serial entrepreneur Chinnappan Sivasankaran, he of the Aircel fame in a podcast hosted by Raj Shamani said he was pressured to sell his business during the UPA government. Siva claims that he was “pressurised” to sell off Aircel to Maxis by a duo of siblings who held far reaching clout in the UPA government. “I just made a paltry sum of Rs 3,400 crore from the deal, if I would have sold it to AT&T I would have got $ 8 bn (sic),” Sivasankaran said. On being asked what was the compulsion then. He said India today wasn’t like the India then. “Today no one can pressurise you,” he said, adding back then the entrepreneur had to face pressure “to sell the company to a particular person”. Why did Siva not come out openly with his allegations? Why watch helplessly when a brand you have built with much pain be sold off like an Arabian slave?  He says that he faces no such pressures in the current India (NDA government), that if you can ride high and turboprop your business, the sky is the limit. BJP Leader K Annamalai wasted no time in attacking the UPA government. On X he commented that “The misery of intimidation and subjugation businessmen went through during the UPA regime made India fall several steps in the ladder of development. Aircel founder Thiru Sivasankaran’s statement is a testament to the ease at which our country’s wealth creators are striving today under the leadership of our beloved PM Thiru @narendramodi.”
Vishwa chordia

Suhana Masala Invests In A New Plant Near Satara To Feed Global Demand

  This fourth-generation entrepreneur is just 23 years old but is already a global trotter promoting his company’s brand Suhana Masala in over 65 countries. Vishwa Chordia, it is learnt, has chalked up aggressive expansion plans to consolidate his company’s overseas presence. The Pune-based Suhana masala which makes a range of homemade masalas, papads, and pickles among others is investing in a new plant to meet the rising global demand from the Indian diaspora. The company already has five plants. The new plant is fast coming up near Bholi, Satara Road in Maharashtra and is expected to go on stream by end 2025. The 3-lakh square feet plant — part of the 17-acres — is designed to meet international standards. This 3000 MT plant will cater to both domestic and global markets.

U.S. Toy Maker Enters India, Ties-Up With Delhi-Based Entity

  The Indian market for toys continues to grow as more international players come into the market as well as manufacture their products here. The latest is Tonka from the U.S., a former maker of toy trucks, which is being introduced by toy veteran Sarabjeet Singh who runs the Delhi-based Centy Toys. Tonka, owned by Hasbro, is all set to roll in its big wheels for the first time in the country. The brand has been sparking imaginations worldwide for over 70 years with its durable and innovative toys. Now, Centy is ready to share this legacy with its Indian customers, Singh says: “Get ready to dig, haul, and build with us. Let’s make history together!”

Shriram Picks Up The Art Of Encashing The Opportunity

A lot is happening here and happening at a hectic pace. Well, the Chennai-born Shriram Group went through a major overall with mergers and reverse mergers resulting in a bloated Shriram Finance some time ago. It continues to hog the headlines. Last month, the South African conglomerate Sanlam upped its stake in the general and life insurance joint ventures with the Shriram group by picking up some shares from a private equity holder as well as from Shriram Ownership Trust. Significantly enough, Sanlam also divested a part of its direct holding in Shriram Finance to Shriram Value Service, a subsidiary of Shriram Capital Private Limited (SCPL) to facilitate the stake hikes. Sanlam owns 40.70% of SCPL. The balance is controlled by SOT and its affiliated entities. Now, Shriram Finance has gotten rid of its entire holding in Shriram Housing Finance for a whopping Rs 4,600 crore to Warburg Pincus. The Shriram move has put the long-time watchers of group and stock market pundits alike on an alert. Brand Shriram has always remained in the realm of mystery before the re-jig and post the reorganisation as well. The sale of the housing finance arm was on the cards always, no doubt. But the recent actions suggest a larger monetisation exercise at Shriram group.

NCLT Gives Nod, Dharani Sugar Promoters' Regain Control

Dharani Sugars and Chemicals, a listed entity, has returned to the hands of the original promoter. Well, the Chennai bench of NCLT has allowed an application filed by promoter PGP group for settlement and revival of Dharani Sugars and Chemicals.The application was filed under Section 12A of the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code). Section 12A permits the withdrawal of an insolvency application against a corporate debtor if approved by at least 90% of the committee of creditors (CoC) in cases admitted under Section 7, Section 9 or Section 10 of IBC.  Following the admission of the application, Dharani Sugars and Chemicals has come out of insolvency resolution process. This is the second victory for the PGP group before NCLT. Sometime ago, the group regained control of Appu Hotels, which runs the iconic Le Royal Meridien Chennai and Le Meridien Coimbatore. DSCL has three sugar plants in Tamil Nadu. DSCL was the first sugar company in Tamil Nadu promoted by NRI investors led by Dr Palani G Periasamy. Its revival augurs well for the Tamil Nadu sugar industry, one of the traditionally strong businesses of the state which has started languishing due to fall in cane cultivation area following drought and farmers opting for paddy, cotton and other crops. Well, Periasamy has reasons to cheer.

Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers: The Art Of Doing Business And Keeping Indian Culture & Tradition Alive

  It is a household name in Tamil Nadu. Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers (VBJ) hit the national headlines after the installation of Sengol (sceptre) near the Speaker’s seat in the new Parliament. Vummudis were traced to be the makers of the Sengol that the Adeenams in Tamil Nadu had gifted to Pandit Nehru to symbolise the transfer of power from the British. The Sengol installation in the new Parliament has indeed given VBJ not just national visibility but global focus as well. The VBJ is yet again in the limelight. This time around, it is for its association with the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. VBJ has presented an exquisite SriRamCharitManas, a sacred book to Ram Mandir, in all its golden glory.  It features 524 intricately designed gold pages. Each page narrates the timeless chronicles of Lord Ram with poetic eloquence. It is kept in the sanctum sanctorum of Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Prior to presenting it to Ram Mandir, VBJ allowed the public to experience the “precious epic” by keeping it for public view at its store in Anna Salai in the heart of Chennai. Historically, VBJ stands for trust in the gold jewellery trade. That is getting expressed in newer ways, it appears.
shubhman rishabh

Photo : @IPL

Why IPL Was Not Moved Out Of India This Election Season

India is witnessing two mega events this summer. As the people of the country are making a beeline for polling booths to elect a new Parliament, a cricket fever of an exciting kind has also gripped the masses with yet another edition of the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) truly under way. Is it possible to co-run national elections and the IPL? Why not? That seems to be the view of the political masters in New Delhi. This view is entirely opposite to the one held by Congress-led the UPA government earlier.  Several seasons ago, the annual IPL was moved to South Africa since the then regime did not want that to clash with the national elections. With the Modi Government making a strong pitch for Make-in-India, shifting IPL out of the country could not even be considered by the political masters in New Delhi, lest it should send wrong — rather negative — signals to people at large. Moreover, the IPL has, over the years, become a money spinner with a huge multiplier effect on the national economy. They can’t afford to lose huge revenue by shifting IPL out of India during the national election. Well, the people aren’t complaining about the double dhamaka!

Ford To Re-enter India For The Third Time

Global auto giant, Ford Motor Company is planning its third entry into India. According to Autocar India, “Barely two years since Ford shuttered its Indian operations, the U.S. car maker is plotting a comeback and is evaluating multiple options.” Kay Hart, the head of Ford Motor Company’s International Market Group visited India in March to “assess its entry plans”.  Interestingly, it will be the third time the U.S. auto giant will be entering India. It had set up shop in 1926 as a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company of Canada. But, the Indian company had to be liquidated in May 1953 as a result of severe import restrictions. Then post liberalisation, it entered India for the second time in 1995 as a 50:50 partner with Mahindra & Mahindra and set up a plant in Tamil Nadu. But this JV did not work so the U.S. company hiked its stake to 72% and renamed the company to Ford India Pvt Ltd. Over a period of time Mahindras exited the JV. But somehow it was not able to make inroads into the Indian passenger car market the way Hyundai did with Santro. So nearly after 25 years, Ford once again chose to exit the Indian market in 2021 as it failed to keep up with the competition vis a vis the whole operations was proving to be unviable. Fortunately, the company which had put its TN plant on block at the last moment decided against it. Now, this plant will be cranked up to produce both ICE and EV products. Ford officials have already met the Tamil Nadu government officials with their detailed plans.

Will Tesla Set Up Its EV Plant In Maharashtra?


Maharashtra is hyperventilating over Elon Musk’s plans to invest US $2 to $3 billion, in the state, probable announcement during his visit to India. According to informed sources, “Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri (Konkan belt) or Vidarbha region (in north) may find precedence over Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) that boasts an automobile cluster near Pune city. Tesla’s plan to manufacture electric vehicles by itself is not news as much as the resultant disruption in the new technology for batteries these EVs will use. Already, Tata Motors enjoys first mover advantage in this specialized automobile sector within the conventional technology batteries, with its Exon and Punch EV models enjoying advantage of competitive pricing also.” Additionally, recent discoveries of lignite deposits by the Neyveli Lignite Corporation NLC, a private limited company of the Union Government of India, may also synergise with the forward foray in India’s EV segment. There is also a sharp political inclination to house the Tesla EV project within Maharashtra that recently lost out to Gujarat on the mega Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductors investment. A BJP source insists, “The then MVA government under Uddhav Thackeray had set a pre-condition of government primacy over appointing contractors related to the project that soured the deal. Subsequently, after heading into Gujarat Foxconn parted ways with Vedanta but the project moved towards financial closure.” The BJP leader says that with state assembly elections scheduled in Maharashtra in November 2024, the entry of Tesla in the state, would help to enthuse industrial growth and progress while dissipating any residual bad aftertaste over the Vedanta exit two years ago.
rishi akshata

Akshata Murty To Get Rs 109 Crore Dividend From Infosys

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty is to be handed another 10.5 million pounds as dividend for her 0.94% stake in the tech outsourcer Infosys her father NR Narayana Murthy founded. That translates to about Rs 109 crore while the total dividends she has enjoyed so far amount to around 50 million pounds. The joke going around the UK now is that Akshata has enough money to buy her hubby 1.16 lakh pairs of Adidas Sambas to which sneakers Sunak had given a bad name for wearing the trendy shoe while being such an unpopular PM of the UK that his party is set to face a total disaster at the general elections whenever he chooses to hold them this year. The news will not go down well with the British public who are disowning the Tories at the rate of tens of thousands a day as the Conservative government seems set to go down after ruling for 14 years since winning the 2010 elections. Akshata is paying her taxes now in the UK after discarding her domicile status. Even so, the envy at the PM’s wife’s inherited riches is hurting the public who are facing tough times in the UK.
Ajay thakur

BSE SME Head Ajay Thakur Puts In His Papers

The man who single-handedly built the BSE SME Platform over the last one decade has put in his papers. A diehard workaholic Ajay Thakur, is responsible for starting and making SME Exchange and Startup Platform successful in India. Today his name has become synonymous with SMEs. Even though BSE is a century old Brand but when it came to promoting the SME platform, the task Thakur was entrusted in 2010, it was not exactly a cakewalk. MSME promoters were not keen to list on this platform. He nearly personally met 35,000 SMEs from all over the country in the last 12 years trying to convince them, created an ecosystem of merchant bankers and other intermediaries before his passion, conviction and dream began to bear fruit.  Today, BSE is the largest and most successful SME Platform in India with 491 companies listed and another 125 companies in the pipeline. These 491 companies have raised an amount of Rs 6,397 crore and have market capitalization of approximately Rs 140,000 crore. Seeing the success of BSE SME even NSE has got into the play. Under Thakur’s leadership, BSE has conducted 2500 physical seminars and 500 webinars across the country to create awareness among SMEs and Start-ups about the benefits of equity funding and listing on the SME and Startup Platforms of BSE.

Ex-HDFC Honcho's Housing Finance Venture Attracts Marquee Investors And Best Talents


A new housing finance company being set up by former HDFC executive Satrajit Bhattacharya, former head of M&A at HDFC Ltd, appears to have gathered significant momentum. The venture, news of which was broken here on last December, is likely to be called Weaver, according to reliable sources. The affordable housing finance initiative is learnt to have attracted several high-powered professionals from across domains. “It’s quite a story that Satrajit and his team are weaving together,” said someone in the know of things. “There are talks of acquisitions,” he mentioned. That the venture is eyeing acquisitions as an entry strategy comes as no surprise, given Satrajit’s expertise in M&A. Weavers is looking at crafting together a differentiated national story, and several respected and eminent investment bankers and advisors are understood to be associated with the venture. Several marquee investors too are likely to be a part of the new project it is learnt. Satrajit, an industry veteran, was till recently the senior general manager heading investments and mergers and acquisition for HDFC.
Mithun kamath_Sanjay g

Dr Sanjay Gupta(L) and Mithun Kamath

Two Educationists Join Hands To Provide Soft Skill Curriculum In India

Mithun Kamath, founder of the Bengaluru-based Tantalum Academy and Dr Sanjay Gupta, Vice Chancellor of the Gurugram-based World University of Design have joined hands to provide Soft Skill Curriculum for the students of the World University of Design. Perhaps, a first of its kind initiative in the country, this comprehensive curriculum aims to equip students with a diverse set of skills crucial for success in the professional landscape. Soft skills such as effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving will be integrated into the academic framework, ensuring that graduates from the World University of Design are not only technically proficient but also possess the interpersonal and communication skills demanded by today’s employers. Industry experts view this collaboration as a significant step towards holistic education. Nurturing soft skills is integral to preparing students for the challenges of a rapidly evolving world. Tantalum Academy’s expertise in this area is expected to enrich the educational offerings at World University of Design. Both the institutions are confident that this initiative will have a positive impact on the students when they step onto the real world. Tantalum’s Gamified Learning Programs are recognised globally as a Path Breaking Approach to Competency Development.  Programmes for the Higher Education Institutes throw light on various skills development, particularly employability and entrepreneurship.
Etihad CSK

Etihad Replaces India Cements As CSK's Principal Sponsor

  With India already clinching the ongoing five-test cricket series following a 3:1 victory against England, the cricket enthusiasts are now eagerly awaiting one more edition of the popular IPL (India Premier League). The indefatigable Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to lead the five-time champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK) yet one more time!  As the expectation of fans rises to a crescendo, CSK will defend the title this time around with a new sponsor! Well, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the new official sponsor of CSK. The partnership was unveiled at a special ceremony held in Chennai some time ago. Edition after edition, The India Cements Ltd (ICL) had been an inseparable principal sponsor of CSK for long. The Etihad partnership will come to life across Chennai Super Kings’ events and platforms with Etihad showcased on the back of the Chennai Super Kings’ jersey. That Etihad has replaced The India Cements as the principal sponsor is hard to visualise for many long-time watchers of CSK, which has become an iconic brand. Since Brand CSK commands quite a respect in the marketplace, the CSK management, perhaps, thought it prudent to pitch the principal sponsorship at a premium. It apparently took a lot to convince the management of India Cements, especially its boss N. Srinivasan. It is a win-win for both CSK and The Indian Cements, nevertheless.

Not A Level Playing Field Complain Indian Toy Makers

Indian toy factories seem to be getting badly affected and many of them are faced with closure because of various issues caused by non-implementation of various rules and guidelines. Members of the Toy Association of India and The All India Toy Manufacturers’ Association feel that both these representative bodies urgently need to present various facts to the government, especially as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has focused on the toy industry in his own speech stressing the Aatmanirbhar programme. Officials of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which is tasked with certifying toys among other items, have also been pleading pre-occupation with other work over the past three years. Some foreign manufacturers have invaded the market by flouting BIS norms and rules under various umbrellas provided to protect the Indian industry. Another issue is the huge, continuous supply of imported non-BIS compliant toys – especially from China – because of leakages in the ports, with many customs officers and, later, BIS/ISI inspectors, willing to look the other way for a consideration. Also, the fact that components attract the same customs duty of 50-60% as readymade toys allows importers to misuse this and take advantage of the lower rates of around 20% levied on other products by declaring consignments as other products. This makes it important to define what a ‘component’ is: an organ inside a toy, like mechanical gearboxes, electric motors, coreless motors, PCBs, chips, LED for toys and the like. The duty on these should not be more than 20%, with strict adherence to the law. Unless these and other issues – including the unhealthy challenges from some e-commerce platforms – are addressed at the earliest, the Indian manufacturer will succumb to the uneven competition.
Safety airindia

Incredible! Air India’s Safety Instructions Video Goes Viral

Most of us know about safety instructions video ennui, even as we buckle up our seat belts and wait for take-off. Whether shown as live mime by bored air hostess, or as a video shot with performing robots, take off videos are pushed into the lowest rung of consciousness, except if you are a first time flier. After Tatas took over they are changing many of Air India’s touchpoint profiles — new livery, new aircraft, a whole new attitude to commercial travel’s competitive ethos. McCann Worldwide’s Prasoon Joshi, music icon Shankar Mahadevan and Bharatbala have conjured up a winner in the new safety instruction video which has gone viral. Ingeniously projecting India’s exotic and energetic dances, the safety instructions are embedded and nuanced through eight dance forms set against ancient temple architecture and verdant landscape. India is unique for its art forms…let alone one classical dance, how many countries can boast of such a variety in which the costumes, jewellery and energetic moves make for such an immersive experience? Air India started its first branding image …a child holding up a frame to watch myriad countries to tempt her wanderlust, this new video uses the same frame to view the dances. Incredible India and its facets are packaged in short vignettes…showcasing tourism promo, safety and exotic art all at once. Mile Sur Mera Tumara, Tho Nrithya Bane Hamaara.
parag singhal

UK Recruitment Platform TERN Offers Big Opportunities For Indian Doctors

The healthcare and IT employers in the UK and EU are facing critical staff shortages and to address their problems, the UK-based TERN Group, a recruitment platform provides a full-stack solution for sourcing, upskilling, and placing top-tier medical and IT talent from India. Founding members Avinav Nigam and Dr. Anjali Nigam have chalked out plans to tap this huge UK market by hiring doctors from India. In this journey, they have tied up with BAPIO Training Academy, a prominent educational UK headquartered academy with innovative learning modules. TERN and BTA Partnership plans to bring 1,000 senior Indian doctors to the UK by the end of 2025. As part of this partnership, the BTA will offer an exclusive fast-track training programme for Consultant and Registrar level doctors to meet UK requirements and be eligible to work in the UK. TERN’s partnership with BTA and the Indian government’s National Skills Development Council will allow the National Health Services, UK to access thousands of fully trained doctors from India that the UK so desperately needs.  Dr Prof Parag Singhal, Chief Executive at the BTA stated that the partnership aims to promote healthcare excellence, foster collaborations, and implement initiatives across both nations. This alliance will open big opportunities for Indian healthcare providers but ironically, even India faces acute shortages of doctors, nurses, and health workers.
SRK ultratech

Sports Icons, Film Stars Endorse Cement Brands

Cement is not just what we all perceive. For a long time, it has been viewed as a commodity. This perception has changed. In the world of intense competition, cement has now become a crucial component of building solutions. So much so, branding has become an inevitable part of cement marketing. After consolidation of cement capacity, top players are shifting focus to position their brands strongly by roping in celebrities and sports stars. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is the brand ambassador for industry leader, Ultratech. Not to be outdone, Damia Cement signed up another Bollywood star, Ranveer Singh, as its brand ambassador. A few years ago, JSW Cement brought on board former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and captain of India’s national football team Sunil Chhetri as its brand ambassadors. The India Cements, headed by industry veteran N Srinivasan, launched conkrete super king (CSK) as a game-changing cement. It was endorsed and powered by CSK’s iconic captain M S Dhoni’s Power of 7. Dhoni cement, as is called by dealers and influencers, CSK cement has become a hit in the last one year. With the construction activity at its peak on the eve of  Lok Sabha elections, there is bound to be intense  competition among top cement players  to garner more volume and market share . Not just the power of the brands but also the ability of the ambassadors to pull business will be under test now.
Tiss farmer report

Average Income Of Farmers Up 10 Fold, Says TISS Report

Even as farmers in Punjab and elsewhere are flexing their muscles to force the government to fulfil their various demands, their counterparts in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are seeing a tenfold increase in their mean annual income per acre, thanks to the interventions of a Parli, Marathwada-based NGO working in agricultural development. An independent impact assessment study by the Centre for Excellence in CSR of the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has found that 1248 surveyed farmers’ average income had jumped from Rs 38,723 to Rs3,93,986 because of the initiatives of the Global Vikas Trust (GVT). The comprehensive report has been prepared by TISS based on a meticulous survey of these farmers, who represent 15% of a total of 8299 farmers in eight clusters within GVT’s operational domains in the two states. The focal point of the analysis was to assess the tangible effects of the NGO’s work among the farmers. Nearly two in every three of these farmers — 63.9% — had incomes below Rs 25,000, far lower than the average. Covering the project locations of Palghar, Nanded, Beed, Solapur, Osmanabad (Dharashiv) and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and Burhanpur and Dhar/Barwani in Madhya Pradesh, the study was conducted with the specific objective of evaluating the impact of agriculture development initiatives on the rural communities, analysing the stakeholders’ engagement with communities in the areas, and suggesting measures for the effective implementation of GVT’s activities in the focus areas. As the GVT tagline says: “India can wait no more!”
Hindustan photo films

Chennai-Based Healthcare Major Acquires Hindustan Photo Films’ 291 Acres Via Auction Process

It was an iconic name once upon a time. This Tamil Nadu-based central public sector undertaking Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Ltd (HPF), however, failed to survive the test of time. HPF has long been consigned to the pages of history. Through the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) route, HPF went into liquidation when the official liquidator invited bids for its sale as a “going concern” with a “disputed leasehold land to an extent of 291 acres” late last year. A fast-emerging Chennai-based group, which is coming up rapidly in the healthcare space, is reported to have successfully acquired land and other properties owned by HPF through the auction process. This health care company a few months ago signed up to take over another Chennai-based hospital in a over Rs 125-crore deal. HPF was incorporated in 1960 in the backward Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. Its main plant is located at Udhagamandalam. The company’s photographic films were sold under the name ‘Indu’. The company’s operations have been at a standstill since June 2013. A combination of factors — from obsolete technology to weak marketing and high input costs — pushed HPF to the brink. The digital revolution proved the last nail in its coffin. The acquisition indeed pictures the propensity for expansion by this healthcare group.
Santrupt misra

Why Aditya Birla Group’s HR Director Santrupt Misra Joined Biju Janata Dal

When Santrupt Misra, HR Director of Aditya Birla Group quit his job after 27 years to join the Biju Janata Dal none of his close friends were surprised. Why? He had confided to them a few years ago that he wanted to return back to Odisha some day and was waiting for the right break to change his track. And that break came in 2021 when Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik appointed him as the Chairman of Ekamra Kshetra Lingaraj Temple Advisory Committee, an honorary position bestowed on him while he was still working with Birlas. The way Santrupt handled the Temple project — his foresight, strategic thinking, ability to communicate clearly and solving issues impressed Patnaik immensely. Likewise Santrupt was inspired by Patnaik’s vision, ideology and leadership style. For the uninitiated, Misra is Odia and Odisha is home state; he majored at Utkal University before taking the corporate plunge. His track record in the corporate world is impressive. He has worked with JK, TISS, Hindustan Unilever followed by the Aditya Birla Group. Incidentally, his wife Alka, chairman of the World Skill Development Council is based out of Bhubaneshwar. So it made imminent sense for Santrupt to return back to Odisha. Grapevine has it that he may be nominated to the Rajya Sabha seat or may opt for Lok Sabha seat either from Cuttack or Puri.

David Versus Goliath In Hybrid Vehicles And Electric Propulsion

  Many companies who have got into the electrical vehicle (EV) manufacturing space are looking forward to the music of their cash registers ringing since the government announced its renewed push for such engines. Adding to the euphoria has been the report released in end-January by HSBC Global Research that hybrid vehicles are a practical midterm solution on the decarbonisation road. The smaller players like the Bengaluru-headquartered Altigreen Propulsion Labs, which was a pioneer in hybrids and has announced plans to move towards 100% EVs, is however being cautious in view of the biggies that are already in the field, like Mahindra, Bajaj, Piaggio and TVS. This David is trying to establish its footing in the last-mile transportation space, for electrically-operated cargo as well as passenger delivery vans. Along the way, the company raised Series A funding, which it says is the largest fund-raise from Indian venture and corporate investors by an electric 3W startup. The first investment into the Indian EV sector for all five funders – Sixth Sense, Xponentia, Reliance New Energy, Accurant USA and Momentum Singapore — is a reflection that EVs and last-mile transport have come into their own and are being studied, and investors are willing to take sizeable and long-term bets on them. Of these, Accurant — the investment venture of Bahman of Open Systems International, Inc. — is making its first India investment and promises to be a big player in EV charging infrastructure. As the government moves towards achieving its target of ‘only electric vehicles’ by 2030, will David beat Goliath again as in the original story?
SP 3

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come. And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both. If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment. As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process....

JSW’s Big Plan For Odisha, To Invest Rs 40,000 Crore In EV Projects

The $ 23 billion JSW Group headed by Sajjan Jindal is making headlines in Odisha for its Rs 40,000 crore investment plans. The Group which has strong presence in Steel, Energy, Infrastructure, Cement, Paints, and Sports is setting up the world’s largest single location electric vehicle and EV battery plant, including component manufacturing to be located between Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha. It is learnt that the Odisha government headed by Naveen Patnaik has approved a special incentive package for Jindal Group. Sajjan Jindal who has 35% JV stake in SAIC MG Motor India is likely to increase his stake to 51% stake since Chinese company SAIC MG cannot raise resources and scale operations due to regulatory restrictions imposed by India following strained relationship with China. SAIC MG has signed a JV with JSW to expand India operations. This explains why JSW plans to increase its stake to 51% stake in SAIC MG. Through advance planning and identifying initiatives backed by capital infusion, Jindal is keen to transform MG Motor India operations. JSW Group is spread across India, USA, Europe and Africa, employs nearly 40,000 people.
Areca nut

Nutty Issue: Illegal Imports From Myanmar Hit India Areca Nut Growers Hard

One has heard of gold being smuggled, and diamonds too, and drugs, and contrabands, and cough syrups even, but one must be completely nutty to even imagine smuggling nuts into the country. Yes, the Indian authorities are today faced with the daunting task of stopping areca nuts being smuggled into India, through the Indo-Myanmar border. No paan, gutkha or paan masala is complete without the supari — the areca nut or betel nut. The current areca nut market size in India is estimated at $ 0.92 bn, and is expected to touch $ 1.16 bn by 2029. Areca nut is mainly grown in Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mizoram and Manipur. For areca nut growers it is their only means of survival. Now, the illegal smuggling of the nuts from Myanmar has hit them hard. The reason for it being smuggled is the 100% import duty. And this illegal smuggling has crashed the local market. Earlier, a 50-60 kg bag of fresh areca nuts sold for Rs2,500-2800. Now, it is being sold at Rs 1,085. Complicating the problem is the fact that there is no way to distinguish the Indian nuts from the smuggled ones, in fact there is no competent authority which can differentiate the Indian nuts from the Myanmar-ese ones. And so, while the authorities chew on this nutty issue, the nut growers in India particularly those in Manipur and Mizoram are a distressed lot.
MA Alagappan

No Gender Bias At The Murugappa Group

Much water has flown under the bridge since Valli Arunachalam stirred a hornet’s nest when she alleged gender discrimination to board positions at the Murugappa group. After a unilateral public spat, the daughter of late MV Murugappan (who was the chairman of CUMI) smoked a peace pipe with her family members to finally go her separate way after legal negotiations. Is there a gender bias at the Murugappa group? Not really if one were to go by the presentation made by MA Alagappan, chairman of AMM Foundation, which is a corporate social responsibility wing of the Chennai-based Murugappa group. Top women members of the family were prominently featured on the audio-visual which articulated the work of the foundation, which is celebrating its centenary. Each one of the women spoke with passion and in eloquent English. Insiders aver that the ladies at the group are intensely involved in the not-for-profit activities that directly touch upon the lives of the downtrodden. Be it in running hospitals or schools, the women folk in the family are right up there to provide the hand-holding.  “We would like to be felt and not heard,” said Alagappan, pointing to the works of the foundation over the last 100 years. Established in 1924, the foundation manages five hospitals and an equal number of educational institutions. Behind the successful running of the foundation are these ladies who quietly carry on the Good Samaritan work at the Murugappa group.
marathwada auto cluster

Growth Comes Rapidly To Maharashtra’s Erstwhile Backward Regions

Interesting things have been happening in Marathwada, one of the erstwhile backward regions of Maharashtra. Industry took hesitant steps into the region’s capital city five decades ago to take advantage of the state government’s concessions for setting up manufacturing units in the backward area, led by Bajaj Auto which set up a full-fledged scooter manufacturing plant. The first problem it faced was getting executives to work in the plant – they needed homes, which it was simple enough to build. But they also had to have good schools in which their children could study. The Marathwada Industries Association – which morphed into the Chamber of Marathwada Industries & Agriculture – was established, and began to take steps to solve these problems. There were a couple of missionary schools, but the newcomers wanted their children to imbibe not just learning but the culture of the country to which they belong. The head honchos of Bajaj, electronics major Videocon, non-stick cookware pioneer Nirlep and paper manufacturer Nath group joined hands to set up what has evolved into a world-class residential school: the Nath Valley School. This was followed by a number of colleges: there are now 22 for engineering alone in Aurangabad and other parts of Marathwada. Along the way came the Marathwada Auto Cluster to cater to the training needs of the host of automotive and automotive companies and their ancillaries that came up in the area. More than 1,000 customers have used the organisation’s facilities to train their workers and students.

NALCO Invests In Lithium Exploration & Mining Projects In Argentina

Odisha-based public sector giant the National Aluminium Company (NALCO) is one of the largest integrated Bauxite-Alumina-Aluminium-Power Complex in Asia. This 44-year old Navratna is getting into Lithium exploration and mining, the much sought after minerals globally. It is learnt that NALCO is making lead investment in Lithium exploration covering five Lithium blocks in Argentina supporting India’s ‘Atmanirbhar’ strategy. NALCO’s CMD Sridhar Patra was in Argentina recently to finalise the investment plans. NALCO’s move to get into lithium exploration, popularly known as white gold, comes at the back of India’s whopping lithium import bill of Rs 23,171 crore for FY 2023. NALCO in its exchange filing said that these five lithium blocks in Argentina will cover an area of 15,703 hectare will entail an investment of Rs 200 crore. The Indian government-owned Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) has signed an Exploration and Development Agreement with CAMYEN, a state-owned enterprise of Catamarca province of Argentina, for exploration & mining of five Lithium blocks in Argentina.. Sources say, India’s entry into Argentina is the first strategic move. The larger strategy is to get into the Lithium Triangle through tie-ups, acquisitions, partnerships and long term leasing of lithium reserves spread across Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
firoz manoj

Firoz Tarapore (left) and Manoj Chacko

FLY91: Connecting The Dots On The Country’s Small-Town Aviation Map

Start-up regional carrier FLY91 has just signed its first agreement with an international operator, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, to induct its first two ATR 72-600 aircraft. The Dubai-headquartered company is a global aviation services provider with over 35 years of experience, whose leasing and engineering divisions serve over 170 customers around the world. With this deal, signed between FLY91 founder Manoj Chacko — former vice-president of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines – and Dubai Aerospace chief executive officer Firoz Tarapore, takes the Indian company a step farther in its aspiration to make air travel accessible to every Indian. The professionally-funded airline’s vision is to enable the next 100 million Indians to take flight, with its focus on regional towns reflected in the selection of the ATR 72-600. These aeroplanes have been specifically chosen to enable efficient and sustainable operations from most regional airports in the country, serving tier-2 and tier-3 towns all over India. This also follows the flight path of the Indian government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) regional connectivity scheme, which aims to develop smaller regional airports to allow common citizens easier access to aviation services. The commercial operations are expected to begin in February. The airline, headquartered in Goa, was originally scheduled to take off in October 2023, with a plan to go national gradually in only about five years. It has obviously redrawn this plan. Fasten your seat belts!
hrishit mansi

Two Students Develop App To Help School-Level Pupils Be College Ready

Two 16-year-old school students, Hrishit Deb of K.R. Mangalam World School, GK-II, New Delhi and Sri Mansi Katuri from Emerson High School, McKinney, Texas, US have developed an app that offers career counselling. Called Kwicon, this app is aimed at empowering students with transformative education, practical experience, mentorship, and networking for personal and professional growth. This app was among top 400 innovations presented at the prestigious ATL Marathon 2022-23 which is Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission. Significantly, Hrishit pointed out that with Class 10-12 board examinations due in a month, students undergo stress and concerns about the fact that if they can’t get the desired marks what will be their career options. There are an increased number of mental health cases post examinations. A recent survey across schools in India says that a whopping 80% of students are clueless about what they need to do after the board examination.  Only 15% of students between Class 9 and Class 12 are sure of what courses to pursue. The survey also revealed that only 50% of parents have clarity about their children’s career path. Kwicon app allows students and alumni to connect based on shared interests, majors, and career goals.
tata power

Tata Power Gets Future Ready, Focuses On Youth Development & Women Empowerment In Odisha

Since acquiring the distribution business in Odisha three years ago, Tata Power has successfully reduced the AT&C loss levels in the State. Having ushered in an era of distribution reforms, its four discoms in the state are now focusing on community and youth empowerment through focused initiatives.  Under chief minister Naveen Patnaik Odisha is poised to witness exponential economic growth vis a vis increase in power demand. To ensure that this demand is met with reliable and quality power supply enabled by a skilled and industry-ready workforce, the company is focusing on skill development. It is ensuring that STEM students are equipped with relevant technical and operational skills aligned with the power industry’s changing requirements. Recently it signed a MoU with the Skill Development Technical Education Department of Odisha government to impart industry-level training to students enrolled in ITIs. Besides, the company is also empowering women in STEM to shine by offering a variety of roles and opportunities across its functions. Impressed by the work done by the company in MSME space, GRIDCO’s MD Trilochan Panda feels Tata Power’s consumer centric, social approach will create a vibrant socio-economic system in Odisha.  Likewise Tata Power’s T&D President Sanjay Banga is quite excited about focusing on technical education in Odisha. The company which is committed to invest Rs 6,000 crore in Odisha is focusing on developing the EV charging network, microgrids, rooftop and floating solar plants.
village cooking

Tamil Nadu‘s Village Cooking Channel Is Ready For Global Viewing

This New Year, Tamil Nadu is all set to host The Global Investor Meet on January 7. TN Industries minister Dr TRB Rajaa has conceptualised a number of unusual investor magnets to make this summit not just a meet, greet and eat exotic South Indian cuisine congregation, but a totally new investor experience with a wide spectrum of business choices. The summit will showcase not just big tech, the new energy vistas, green footprint enterprises but also give a ringside seat to TN’s vast rural economy. For starters, the much talked about Village Cooking you tube channel is to participate and present the country’s scrumptious village cuisine, unique to every region, using local ingredients and in season produce, and  drool worthy dishes . A Pudukkottai village, Chinna Veera Mangalam has gained 100 million viewers for its Village Cooking — a start-up launched by six friends in 2018, viewed globally. But for its chief dreamer M Periathambi, it was not a millet cake walk. Initially they had no viewers for the rustic and unfamiliar cuisine. “So they paused, took a look at their mistakes and learned from other cooking channels. From 3 episodes per week, it is only three per month now but fine-tuned, presented with much spontaneity. They earn Rs 10 lakhs per month. According to Vishnu Venugopal from Guidance (a nodal agency for Investor inflows) its aim is to tap the entrepreneurial talent of rural areas. Food is a great leveller, rural or urban. POWERED BY : IDFC FIRST BANK
crowne meridien

A Tale Of Two Iconic 5-Star Hotels In Chennai

Different tales, different strokes! This Christmas will be dissimilar for these two. For one, it will be a joyful celebration. For the other, however, this could be a farewell party. Well, we are talking about two iconic five-star hotels in Chennai. Crowne Plaza (formerly known as Adyar Gate Hotel) and Le Royal Meridien. Crowne Plaza will slip into the pages of history shortly. It has a new owner now in Bhashyam, a leading reality firm in Chennai. What the new owner intends to do with the acquired property is still not known. One thing, however, is sure. A prominent landmark — Crowne Plaza — will disappear from Adyar. The tale is different at Le Royal Meridien hotel at Guindy. Armed with National Company Law Tribunal order reversing insolvency process and restoring Appu Hotels to NRI industrialist, Dr Palani G Periyasamy, the two star hotels, Le Royal Meridien Chennai and Le Meridien Coimbatore are decked up and illuminated for a grand Christmas celebration. Periyasamy is set to step into the New Year with a sense of hope and fresh optimism. No doubt, an appeal has been filed in National Company Law Appellate Tribunal by MGM Healthcare which lost the bid for Appu Hotels and the case is slated for hearing on January 12. But it looks Appu Hotels is not in mood to give up the regained control.
RG chandramogan

Hatsun Agro's Novel Approach, To Instal Vending Machines In Housing Societies

This does not operate in an esoteric field. It is engaged in the dairy business. Today, it is a formidable player in Tamil Nadu, in particular, and the South, in general. Yet, this one has a unique record. It remained unaffected by demonetisation or the Covid-19. Much before digitisation became the new normal in the post-Covid world, Chennai-based Hatsun Agro Products Ltd had gone for a cashless transaction model. So much so, the aforesaid extraordinary events did not have any drastic negative impact on its business. Headed by RG Chandramogan, Hatsun was, perhaps, one of the very few companies which largely remained unaffected by demonetisation! Today, this entrepreneur-driven listed company has evolved into a significant name to reckon with in the dairy industry. This over Rs 8000-crore company has several popular brands such as Arun Ice-creams, Arokya Milk, Hatsun Curd, Hatsun Paneer, Hatsun Ghee, Hatsun Dairy Whitener and Ibaco. Its products are exported to 42 countries primarily to America, the Middle East and South Asia. Under a new initiative, Hatsun is eyeing large apartments to facilitate residents buy these brands through vending machines installed in their premises using smart cards supplied by Hatsun. Chandramogan is always on the look-out for markets waiting to be discovered, it appears.

Welspun Group Plans To Invest Rs 20,000 Crore In Odisha

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and industries minister Pratap Keshari Deb have reasons to feel elated. The state has managed to attract investment worth Rs 84,918.75 crore towards 12 key industrial projects. Some of the companies which have plans to invest big time in Odisha are: Welspun Group, Tata Steel, NTPC, REFL and Sembcorp Green and Ind Barath Energy Utkal. These investments are expected to generate employment opportunities for over 42,000 people. And guess who is leading the investment pack? It is Mumbai-headquartered Welspun Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate led by husband-wife duo Balkrishan and Dipali Goenka. The group has a strong presence in pipes, textiles, Infrastructure, and steel. The Goenkas are investing over Rs 20,000 crore in Odisha covering its business verticals. As part of the plan, Welspun Living has got the Odisha government’s nod for acquiring 350 acres of government-owned Odisha Textile Mills land for setting up an integrated textile and logistic facility at Chowdwar, Cuttack. For this project the group has earmarked over Rs 3,000 crore for this project having employment prospects of over 20,000 employees. Similarly, Welspun’s pipe and pipe coating plant under Welspun Corp at Sambalpur will create another 3,830 employees and its Green Ammonia plant at Sambalpur under Welspun New Energy Ltd will generate another 13,860 employees. Meanwhile, Patnaik has tasked the industry department to find suitable investors for the closed Brajrajnagar Orient Paper Mill spread over 843 acres
Chitale bandhu

Chitale Bandhu Chalks Up Aggressive Plans For The UK Market

Maharashtrians swear by it. Bakarwadi, a quintessential Maharashtrian item, is loved not just all across India but the world over thanks to the Pune headquartered Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale making it available across India via their franchisee Chitale Express. The second generation Chitale brothers are keen to register their brand’s presence globally. So this 83-year old savoury chain has roped in Bollywood stars to endorse their products — namkeen, sweets and dairy products. Chitales have taken the fullest advantage of the opening up of the USA markets and has made huge penetration in institutional sales by tying up with retail chains like Costco. In the UK, they have discontinued their prime distributor Pandit and Co. and replaced them with three new distributors to cover the entire UK. Recently, Chitale brothers who were in London as part of the Export Promotion Council, took time off to explore the UK market. Like the other big daddies in the dairy business in India, Chitales are hopeful that the new Free Trade Agreement may include easy access to Indian dairy products. Sixty percent of Chitales’ portfolio constitutes dairy products so they are keen that their dairy and dairy-based products are exported to the UK. After Brexit it’s observed that the UK which has huge consumption cannot procure enough to suffice its needs from other European countries thus India is one of the best options that has given hope to the Chitales and their ilk.

Former HDFC Executive To Launch Affordable Housing Finance Company

An interesting, and exciting new initiative is quietly taking shape in the Indian affordable housing finance space. The venture, which is expected to unravel in early 2024, will be distinct from the existing players in the country, both in terms of its scale and breadth of operation. The new company is expected to be a national player, with aspirations of becoming an institution. The new initiative has already evoked positive response from leading large fund houses who are likely to back the entity. The venture has also piqued the interest of several industry seniors. Led by former HDFC executive Satrajit Bhattacharya, a core team drawn from across the industry to lead the new initiative is presently being put together. Satrajit, himself an industry veteran with over three decades experience, was till recently the senior general manager heading investments and M&A for HDFC which has now been merged with HDFC Bank. Bhattacharya is an M&A and transaction specialist, having led multiple M&A and capital raise transactions, with a strong background in investments, deal structuring and transaction negotiations. He also had a long stint with market regulator SEBI. Besides being a hard-nosed investment banker, Bhattacharya who graduated from Delhi University is also a birding enthusiast who spends most of his non-working time, searching and photographing the avian species across the length and breadth of the country.
madhushree dabke

No Need To Wait For The Mango Season Any Longer

In the mood for a mango-based dessert? A father-and-daughter start-up offers the delectable taste of the world-famous Ratnagiri alphonso mangoes in any season. Prakruto Foods, a private limited company set up by Pune-based entrepreneurs Madhushree and Prasad Dabke last year, is all set to launch its mango powder in the Indian and global markets. Having started production of its GTM (Gradual Thorough & Moderate) dried products at its own automatic plant, sourcing its mangoes from the alphonso-growing Ratnagiri and Devgad areas in Maharashtra, the company has been formally recognised as a ‘startup’ by the Union Commerce & Industry Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Its introduction of such a new product has also been recognised as an “innovative venture with great potential to generate employment and create wealth”. Prakruto Foods has been granted BRCGS certification, too: the first standard to be benchmarked under the Global Food Safety Initiative, recognised by leading buyers around the world as a mark of the highest standards in food safety. This international certification, the Dabkes point out, allows food businesses to access all corners of the global market and the company is now qualified to supply to global B2B and B2C customers. The aim is to give a substantial thrust in exports to developed countries, targeting not only overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin, but the western palate for 100% natural products: pure mango, minus the moisture — which is removed gradually, thoroughly, and at a moderate, low temperature – with no added sugar or chemicals, and a long shelf life. There is also a Purios Alphonso Mango recipe book with directions for use in breakfast cereal, milkshakes, lassi, ice creams, cakes, mousse, and a wide variety of Indian delicacies. Purios also offers dried Alphonso mango slices and chunks as a healthy bite-sized snack, perfect for children and adults alike, granules as a topping for milkshakes,...

Power Couple Parulekars Make Waves In The Hospitality Sector

They are new power couples who quit their high profile jobs to start their own venture. Deven Parulekar, former partner at EY and Tejas Parulekar chief manager at ICICI Bank started SaffronStays that offers unique holiday experiences by offering beautiful, private bungalows situated in exotic locations across India. What started by Tejas in 2016 as a one-employee operation of offering aggregator services of homestays has now grown into a 115-employee operator of homestays. Their USP of offering unique holiday experiences has indeed found lots of takers. Recently, SaffronStays won awards from Make My Trip and Times of India for providing a unique homestay experience. Besides, it finds mention in the Luxebook 100, a listing of India’s top 100 brands. SaffronStays has steadily built an attractive repertoire of over 250 rooms in Pan India. Inspired by Ruskin Bond, their asset at Landour, the abode of a former CEO of 7-star property in the hills of Mukteshwar, and a Tony Stark-styled glasshouse are some of their exciting assets. In the last eight years, SaffronStays has carved a niche for itself. With domestic tourism seeing good traction the Parulekars are confident of touching the Rs 100 crore turnover mark. They are planning to list their company and are also not averse to the idea of selling the brand, in future, if needed.   Powered By : ICICI LOMBARD

Consumers In Tamil Nadu Up In Arms As Aavin Stops Distribution Of Popular Green Pack Milk

Aavin, the largest dairy cooperative controlled by the Tamil Nadu government has hit headlines. Set up in 1981, this popular brand like Amul in Tamil Nadu has stopped distribution of its popular Green pack milk which enjoys 40% market share. Green pack which contains 4.5% fat content has been replaced by lavender coloured Delite which has 3.5 % fat content. This move has sent consumers and Opposition parties into a tizzy of anger. TN’s former CM Edappadi Palaniswami and AMMK’s supremo TTV Dinakaran condemned the move to sell less fat content Delite at the same price. This move is to popularise private milk brands through the back door says BJP leader K Annamalai. It may be recalled a few months when Amul was making inroads into TN, the DMK government raised hue and cry how local brands are being cannibalized. Neighbouring Karnataka during elections time saw similar protests by politicians saying how local brand Nandini was being killed with the entry of Amul. Interestingly, TN’s minister for milk production, Mano Thangaraj has come up with an ingenious justification, “Look how health conscious people are…they don’t want fat in any form. We have public health as our main concern.” Aavin which processes 30 lakh litres of milk every day ranks eight in consumer packaged goods category of 10 most famous brands. Several private sector players have tried to compete but are unable to sustain Aavin’s reach, price point and popularity.

Has Murugappa Group Bought Out Valli Arunachalam's Stake In Ambadi Investments?

TVS and Murugappa are not just iconic names but also venerable brands in the Chennai business world. TVS has seen the four families, part of the group, go their separate ways legally. Each one of the four families in the erstwhile TVS is now chalking out its own independent business strategy. The Murugappa group, too, has many family branches. This one too appears to be letting the individual families pursue their own business interests. Still, the family holding company is intact and appears to bind the Murugappa families together. The open revolt by Valli Arunachalam, the elder daughter of late MV Murugappan, however, put the spotlight on the Murugappa group. Fortunately, both Valli and the Murugappa group have chosen to smoke the peace pipe. Coming as it does against this backdrop, the decision by Ambadi Investments (the holding company of the Murugappa group) to sell its entire 2.27% stake in EID Parry has set tongues wagging. The open market sale has fetched Ambadi Rs 190 crore. Does the stake sale have any connection with the peace pact with Valli? One tends to quickly correlate the two. Has the Murugappa group chosen to let Valli cash out? That option remains the realm of possibility with the stake sale by Ambadi in EID Parry. Powered by: Powered By ICICI Lombard 

Ghanshyam Nabar (L) and Pratap Singh

The Indian Banking Sector In The UK Witnesses Dramatic Changes

The Indian banking circles in the UK are witnessing dramatic changes at the top level. Pratap Singh, the No 2 in ICICI Bank quit the bank after a 15-year stint to join SBI UK as the Head of Retail & Digital Transformation two months ago. Now, the latest news is that Singh has quit SBI UK. Eyebrows are being raised about his sudden departure. Was it the public sector bank’s work culture, (read rules and regulations) that made it tough for the private sector banker? Going back to ICICI Bank is ruled out as Gaurav Arora has replaced him. Meanwhile the management of ICICI Bank has asked Lok Mishra, MD & CEO, to hold the fort as his replacement Raghav Singhal is yet to get the green signal from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This delay has seen ICICI Bank quietly withdrawing Singhal’s application from FCA.  In another development, Ghanshyam Nabar who was working for West Midlands India Partnership has turned an entrepreneur. He has set up UI Connect offering strategic consultancy between India and the UK and Europe. Shehla Hasan has quit Manchester India Partnership to head CII‘s UK and Europe operations as its Executive Director. MIP and WMIP were set up as a strong “living bridge” between the two nations, but its current defunct states are an ironic reflection of the growing India-UK relations and FTA around the corner.

Bengaluru’s Leading Hospitals Forge Ties with BAPIO Training Academy UK

Two leading Bengaluru-based hospital chains Manipal Hospital and Cloudnine Hospital have signed a MoU with the UK-based BAPIO Training Academy to develop a global training programme for post-MBBS doctors to strengthen training and advance medical education in obstetrics, paediatrics, IVF, gynaecology and foetal medicines. This MoU implemented across 29 hospitals in 12 cities enables doctors for the first time in India to take up the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology exams in India. BAPIO, The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin is a voluntary organisation for doctors of Indian sub-continental origin, established in 1996 and based in the United Kingdom. BAPIO UK team led by Dr Prof Parag Singhal signed the MoU with the heads of Cloudnine Hospitals and Manipal Hospitals — Dr R Kishore Kumar, Dr Sudarshan Ballal — signed the MoU in the presence of the British Deputy High Commissioner Bengaluru and Deputy Trade Commissioner for Investment, South Asia Chandru Iyer. The idea behind imparting training programmes is to empower the next generation of medical professionals and make a lasting impact on the future of healthcare in India.

IBC Has Made It Difficult For Corporate India To Keep Barbarians At The Gate

White Knights, co-option, corporate alliances and the like were quite in vogue in former times. They played handy roles in helping companies – especially of the owner-driven ones – to ward off take-over threats. Examples are dime a dozen in the corporate world of Tamil Nadu where they threw ring-fences around vulnerable outfits to check-mate raids by unwanted or undesirable entities. This had indeed helped many stressed outfits from falling into the BIFR fold, thanks to those friends in need who played Good Samaritans. The promoters of Bank of Madura (since merged with the ICICI) sought the help of Kotak Mahindra to ward off takeover threat from AC Muthiah of SPIC fame. Likewise, Pradip Kothari reached out to MV Arunachalam of the Murugappa group to stop the threat of Reliance satellite outfits from taking over of KICL (Kothari Industrial Corporation Ltd). Under new management, KICIL has now sold its fertiliser factory in Chennai to Coromandel Fertilizers of the Murugappa group! Son-in-law of late Raju, promoter of Raasi Cement, looked up to N. Srinivasan of The India Cements to stop raiders on track. Autolec, too, went to Sundaram Fasteners to ward off takeover attempts by multinational firms. In the evolving regulatory environment and following the arrival of IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code), things have gotten tougher for struggling owners to retain the ventures they have founded. The Good Samaritans of former times are either not there or wary of playing the rescue role in the changed context. Surely, that is hurting some original entrepreneurs in Tamil Nadu. Powered by: Powered By ICICI Lombard 
Ashesh jani

Former London-Based Banker Launches ‘Super App’ To Help Indian Diaspora

For somebody who was heading the Retail, SME & Private Banking divisions for the UK and Europe of ICICI Bank to call it quits at the peak of his career and start his own venture requires both conviction and guts. Ashesh Jani seems to have both. In 2021, 50-year old Ashesh co-founded Ribbon PLC, a digital financial services ‘super-app’, intended to offer hyper-personalized multi-currency wallets to NRIs as well as residents of India. Further, the super app also aims to assist Indians who are keen to invest in the global markets. The target clearly is the Indian diaspora. With that in mind, Jani and company have bagged the official sponsor rights for the Gibraltar Cricket team that will play matches in the European League. In his over two decades’ stint overseas that includes both Canada and the UK, he was exposed to all the challenges of financial markets and that’s what made him launch Ribbon. His notable achievements during his time at ICICI UK Plc was becoming a certified staff for the FCA Register. Ashesh’s expertise lies in the multiple top management roles he played in different countries. While in India he worked briefly with Vodafone and Tata Internet Services helping them build their sales and distribution channels. Beyond his professional pursuit, Ashesh is an advocate for sustainability and a promoter of financial literacy among the youth. Powered by: IDFC First Bank
nitin welde

Limo In The Sky: Helicopter Service A Big Hit In Pune

Make way, limos-helicopters for hire are here. The Oxford helipad at Bavdhan, a suburb of Pune city, saw the launch last year-end of a new mode of transport that offers to literally leapfrog the crawling road traffic. On December 11, 2022, former IAF officer Nitin Welde took off on his maiden commercial flight in a helicopter, carrying six passengers who paid an all-inclusive inaugural fare of Rs 5000 each for a 10-minute joyride over the sprawling city of the Peshwas. Group Captain (retired) Welde, who has launched his Mahalaxmi Aviation under the umbrella of 17-year-old construction company Mahalaxmi Developers, has since taken his ‘birds’ on flights for a variety of clientele: for a ‘Pune darshan’ sightseeing trip offering an aerial view of the city’s attractions, a ‘Dev darshan’ temple tour covering pilgrimage destinations like Tuljapur, Shani Shingapur, Shirdi, Mahalaxmi Kolhapur, Pandharpur, Akkalkot and Shegaon in Maharashtra with an option to choose any other spot anywhere in India, and private charters for weddings – including showering the bridal couple and their guests with rose petals – and business trips. In keeping with the current need with elections round the corner all over India, it has flights for political rallies, especially in far-flung areas and outlying rural areas for politicians to address gatherings to explain their agendas. In today’s world, the flier’s website says, a helicopter is not just an enjoyment but is becoming a need in our day-to-day life. The developer’s take-off in the new business is in consideration of the prospects: a “collaborative effort to save time with the use of modern technology”. The aim: to create a sweet spot where belief and devotion meets comfort and luxury. As its tagline says: “#helicopterspreadsjoy” Powered by: IDFC First Bank
Roshini mukherjee

Indian-Origin Banker Turned Entrepreneur Wins UK Award For Empowering Women In India

Making her country and community proud is Roshini Mukerjee, senior banker-turned- fashion entrepreneur living in the UK for close to two decades. This Indian-British entrepreneur was awarded — Women in Business: Empowering Other Women in India. Roshni is the founder of the brand Myosutra which promises to bring forth culture to couture on sarees to bridge both worlds of Europe and Bengal. She was awarded at the Indo-UK Business meet in the Palaces of Westminster hosted by MP Bob Blackman. She received the award from MP Dean Russel. This is also a recognition of her drive, determination, and vision of entrepreneurship in the UK. Myosutra which was established in 2017 offers handpicked exclusive Bengal Handlooms where each piece is an artwork that reflects both worlds of Europe and Bengal. By setting up this business she has ensured women who suffer domestic violence find both solace and solution and in the process are empowered. Her unconditional love for the Indian craftsmanship has translated into Myosutra promoting Indian ethnic wear like sarees, kurtas, dhotis and accessories. Roshini has been making a conscious effort to showcase Bengal. Her aim is to uplift the women weavers of Bengal and also to make Indian culture and tradition more accessible to the British Indians, the British Asians and the British community.
Bullet butterfly

How Eicher, Crompton Turned Bullet And Butterfly Into Big Brands

What’s in a brand? Well, brand is a powerful communicator. Often, it survives its creator and owner. A brand has the capacity to trigger universal appeal. Sometimes, a brand requires to be freed from the clutches of its owners. That’s very important for its longevity. That is easier said than done, however. It takes the owner to think and act beyond personal wishes to make an institution out of his/her brand. Indeed, an owner/creator has to have a strong sense of objectivity and courage. A couple of top brands from Chennai not only survived the test of time but have also become truly national now. In the 90s, scalability issues saw the late S Viswanathan let go Enfield, the company his family founded. His son Kapil has gone to create Krea University. Today, Enfield under Eicher has taken the iconic bike Bullet to a new height. Bullet is a global brand now. Not long ago, the owners of Butterfly had chosen to let Crompton take over the company. Butterfly is a household name in the kitchen appliances spaces in the Southern part of India. With Crompton stepping in, Butterfly has taken a national wing. Being successful in business is one thing. It’s statesmanship in them that tests the longevity of their brands.

Air India Under Tatas Going All Out To Conquer The Skies

Air India to start direct flight between Manchester and Mumbai. Service to commence operations at the end of November or by December this year. To start there will be three flights per week. Earlier, Jet Airways used to operate this route before it closed down operations in 2019 March. North England has a catchment of over 200,000 people of Indian origin who will benefit with this direct flight as Mumbai is further connected to various destinations and passengers avail their 2-check-in bags allowance. Officials say service can start right away as it has got all approvals. What’s delaying is the lack of fleet to be pressed into this sector. The 787 are old and Air India is keen to launch its service with new aircraft.  With Tatas taking over Air India, the management has taken bold decisions to offer direct flights to Goa, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Amritsar from Gatwick, and reserved its slots at Heathrow for Mumbai and New Delhi. Competition at Heathrow to these sectors is fierce as Middle Eastern airlines managed to grab a larger slice of the cake. British Airways has a monopoly at Heathrow thus non-availability of slots compel other service providers to move out to other London Airports.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.