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Collage Maker-25-Aug-2022-05

High Import Duty Gives Big Boost To Domestic Toy Manufacturers

The Indian toy business is turning traditional. This festival season look out for Lagori games, spinning tops and Gilly-Danda from Funskool. Check out Hasbro’s Monopoly which has Indian cities and locations in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. Also, Shumee Toys is lining up Janmashtami picture collections and board games on Ramayana and Indian fables this Diwali. The industry owes its new outlook to the hike in import duty from 20% to 60% and introduction of BIS trademark certification. This ensured that low quality imported toys especially from China took a hit. The $ 1-billion Indian Toy industry is no longer a small business, it is set to double by 2025, according to the FICCI-KPMG report. This is still considered minuscule going by the world business which is set to touch the $ 230.64 billion by 2028 from $ 141.08 billion in 2021. Today the unorganised sector has cornered about 90% of the $1 billion Indian toy market. And BIS has issued 800 licences to toy makers. This has resulted in a wave of innovation among desi toy makers. The new products reflect Indian culture and popular themes from various regions of India. The spike in business has also seen big players like Reliance Brands takeover UK toy retailer Hamleys, and pick up 40% in Italian toy maker Plastic Legno SPA’s manufacturing business in India.
Ashu Thakur

Legal Eagle Ashu Thakur On A Roll, Closes Deal For Asian Paints And Mumbai-Based Restaurateur In Europe

Mumbai-based Ashu Thakur who heads Ashu Thakur & Associates, a law firm, has been flitting in and out of London for the past few months to help two of her key clients close the deal. It may be recalled that the Mumbai-based Restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani was keen to sell his stake in Mumbai-based French restaurants Slink & Bardot, and Soufflé S’il Vous Plaît back to his partner Alexis Gielbaum and Nick Harrison. Now, there has been a change of heart. Amlani, CEO of Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality and President of National Restaurant Association of India, is keen to stay invested and Thakur seems to be working on the finer points in light of the new development. The other deal Ashu worked closely on was the signing of the JV between the French designer Maximiliano Modesti’s Les Ateliers 2M and Asian Paints. The JV between two firms Asian Paints and Modesti saw the launch of brand INK in India. The collection comprising six distinct patterns combines techniques of screen-printing, block printing and embroidery. According to Amit Syngle, MD & CEO of Asian Paints, this collaboration will help the customers provide a complete portfolio of home décor products and services. Clearly, Ashu is on a roll.
Collage Maker-24-Aug-2022-04

Narain Karthikeyan and Sudarshan Venu

TVS Motor Picks Up 48.2% Stake In Narain Karthikeyan’s Start-Up

In the new world of competition, one has to keep running to stay where you are. Well, this realization has forced many to think out-of-box. What comes out of this new thinking? Fresh alliances of unusual kinds appear to be the order of the day. This Chennai-based two-wheeler major has just inked a partnership with a start-up promoted by the Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan.  TVS Motor Company is picking up over 48% stake in a start-up promoted by Karthikeyan. NKars Mobility Millennial Solutions Private Limited (NMMSPL) is a pre-owned two-wheeler platform. TVS Motor will invest Rs 85.41 crore to get 48.27% stake in NMMSPL by way of primary and secondary investments. Founded in April 2020, NMMSPL runs a digital platform ‘DriveX’ which provides two-wheelers to customers on a subscription model for a flexible tenure and on a purchase model. The coming together of Narain Karthikeyan and TVS Motor indicates a tale or two. For one, this signals a convergence in the mindsets of GenNext. Perhaps Narain Karthikeyan and Sudarshan Venu, MD of TVS Motor, have lots in common in terms of thinking and approach. For another, the pre-owned two-wheeler segment is also seeing a significant shift away from the unorganised and moving towards the organized field. Well, the race for two-wheeler share is heading for an interesting phase.
WhatsApp Image 2022-08-24 at 2.17

Consultancy Firm’s New Angle To Market India Cements’ CSK Brand Yields Dividend

In the fast unfolding dynamic environment, the key to success lies in the quick reconfiguration of the thought-process. A legacy mindset often proves to be a stumbling block to embrace any new idea. This is no rocket science for anybody to comprehend. An expert, nevertheless, can play the change-agent with finesse. Well, this is what this consulting firm Circular Angle is now doing at one of the top cement companies in India.  Circular Angle, a decade old consulting firm which provides consultancy services to some of the big names in the corporate world suggested a few tweaks in the way India Cements sells its cement.  This has seen this Chennai-based company slowly changing over to communication-oriented applications and making products for each application. This is reaping dividends at the ground level as seen from the success that the recently-launched CSK brand of cement is showing in the marketplace. The beneficial impact of the engagement with Circular Angle is now being sought to be extended to other areas of India Cements. From implementing new business strategies to ultra-efficient work processes, Circular Angle is ready to tackle any challenge and put its clients on the path to success. Well, a make-over is definitely happening to make this cement major a modern company.
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IIM-K Case Study: How And Why 100-Year Old TVS Group Split Four Ways

The family enterprises are a dime a dozen in the city of Chennai. All of them have made a significant impact on the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. TVS, Murugappa, Rane, Chemplast and Apollo group have made enormous contributions to not just the economy of Tamil Nadu but the nation as a whole. With families expanding – through induction of new members via marriage – the dynamics of their management has changed. And, the metamorphosis has introduced fresh implications in the management of these family-run enterprises. The TVS – comprising four wings – has recently gone in for a legal separation. Coming as it did after internecine quarrels – that at times took legal overtones – the smooth formal legal separation in the TVS conglomerate is looked upon by other groups which too are experiencing some pressure or the other within. For the first time perhaps, the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, has come out with a comprehensive case study on “Splitting the century-old TVS Group – The Family Arrangement”. It’s a comprehensive effort, chronicling the history of the tension within the larger TVS empire, one of India’s oldest and prominent family business groups with more than 110 years of history. The study dwells on the framework for the split and highlights the governance issues in its wake. An insightful exercise in education indeed!
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Kerala’s Left Front Govt Launches App Hailing Cab Service, Will It Succeed?

Now you can travel hassle free without being taken for a ride by rude taxiwalas or auto guys as Kerala’s Left front government headed by Pinarayi Vijayan has launched an App hailing cab service called Kerala Savari. Unlike other App hailing cab services which charge 25% more than normal fares, Kerala Savari will charge only 8 % more. There are several differences between existing players and Kerala Savari. First, drivers are vetted and cleared by the police. Second, the fares are fixed, there is no surge rush hour and drop-in lean hours pricing. A cancellation option has been built into the app. Comrades turned capitalists have even conceptualised a driver training program that includes training for tourism skills for out-of-state tourists. Even a panic button will be installed in the vehicle for both passengers and driver, to access the police, hospital or fire service. Kerala’s Minister for Education and Labour V Sivankutty proudly claims that Kerala is the first state to enter the online ride business. It may well be the first, worldwide too. The 360 degree vision plan includes discount rates for tyres, batteries, insurance and diesel for those who register for the Savari. The only downside…Kerala is known for its militant workforce, and the best intended App may fail if the drivers and taxi operators raise the red flag.
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Bad Bank, A Non-Starter Till Date

The National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL), which was supposed to start functioning in April 2022, is yet to take off. Also known as Bad Bank, NARCL was to acquire bad loans worth Rs 51,000 crore by April 2022. The Bad Bank was supposed to acquire the bad loans from Indian Banks and transfer them to the India Debt Resolution Company (IDRCL) for part-realisation. It is believed that the Bad Banks initial offers to acquire bad debts stunned banks for their low value, raising questions about the validity of the exercise. NARCL offered Rs 80 crore for an outstanding due of Rs 1136 crore from Rainbow Papers. And for Consolidated Construction Consortium Ltd the offer was Rs 60 crore for an outstanding of Rs 2623 crore. In fact, both the offers dwarf the offer of the existing promoters of both the companies. The Bad Bank has been plagued with regulatory issues, talent and operational headwinds.  NARCL now plans to buy 15 accounts aggregating Rs 50,000 crore initially and 38 accounts overall totalling Rs 83,000 crore. The game plan is simple but cumbersome. The banks will transfer their bad debts to NARCL for 15% per cent cash.  Security receipts will be issued for the remaining 85% for which the government has approved a five year guarantee of Rs 30,600 crore. If things go as per plan, NARCL will now kick-off in September 2022.
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The late V.Srinivasan who founded the company

Will The Chennai-Based WS Industries Regain Its Past Glory Under New Management?

It was an iconic name once upon a time in the industrial landscape of Tamil Nadu. Today, it is a shadow of its past.  Is there a way to salvage it? Well, some are still willing to get into it!  A well-known player in the electrical industry, W S Industries, founded in 1961 by V. Srinivasan, was closed down in November 2018 due to assorted reasons. The demise of Srinivasan in July 2017, the intense competition from Chinese firms and the like had all short-circuited the company, and W S Industries had downed shutters of its factory at Porur, just on the edge of the city of Chennai, after a golden handshake with its 400-odd employees.  Close to 31% shares changed hands a couple of months ago for Rs 115 million. On behalf of the acquirers, Saffron Capital Advisors Private Ltd has come out with an open offer for the shares of W.S. Industries.  The acquirers – C K Venkatachalam, C K Balasubramaniam, Trineva Infra Projects et al – reportedly have expertise in infrastructure development. Indeed, W S Industries is set for a metamorphosis of an entirely new kind. Hopefully, under new owners there is hope for the company which runs two divisions: Insulator Business that manufactures porcelain Insulators and Turnkey Projects Division which offers Erection, Installation and Commissioning of Electrical High Voltage Lines, and Substations, and Line Quality Solutions.
Collage Maker-13-Aug-2022-03

Why Is CBI Investigating Odisha’s High Profile Businessman Mahimananda Mishra?

Mahimananda Mishra, one of the richest businessmen of Odisha with an estimated net worth of Rs 10,000 crore seems to be in trouble with the CBI on his tail. Mishra, who runs Orissa Stevedores is being investigated for questionable business practices that includes corruption and bribing officials at Paradip port. Four decades old Orissa Stevedores is the flagship company of the OSL Group which has presence in shipping, mining, logistics, and exports. The allegations against Mishra, who has been arrested in the past, ranges from bribery, corruption, ducking court summons. But what is worrying Mahima is that CBI after raiding his office and residence also raided the residences of his two sons Chandan and Charchit but took into custody only Charchit. So what led to Mishra’s downfall? He is known for making a killing by providing labour for loading and unloading cargo at the Paradip port by questionable methods. His company held sway at Paradip port and nobody dared challenge him. Little wonder he is known as Odisha’s stevedore king. His meteoric rise saw him being conferred business leader award 12 years ago by the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. But, nobody reckoned Mishra’s reputation will hit rock bottom.  “With CBI investigating  Mahima’s ways of doing business in Odisha, is bound to improve accountability, plug loopholes and bring in transformational changes in the state so as to ensure such incidents do not recur,” says a confident retired  bureaucrat.
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Spices Board Scouts For Brand Ambassadors In The UK To Promote Turmeric Latte Globally

To add more “zaika” to the growing exports of spices from India, BN Jha, Marketing Director, Spices Board of India has embarked upon a new mission:  promote Turmeric Latte. Jha who was in London at the IFE Manufacturing 2022 Fair is scouting for brand ambassadors from UK who can promote this turmeric drink globally. During the pandemic and post Covid “haldiwala doodh” has given big boost to turmeric sales, and its exports have quadrupled because of its medicinal properties, says Jha. During 2020-21 turmeric ranked fifth with an export share of 6.16% of the total exports of spices valued at Rs 27,193.20 crore. Turmeric is globally recognised for its immunity properties. This is why Spices Board is aggressively marketing Turmeric Latte world over. Interestingly, the demand for organic products is growing rapidly in developed countries like Europe, USA, Japan and Australia. The current estimated share of organic foods in these countries is approximately 1-1.5%. This awareness and value for turmeric including other spices is seeing the Spices Board going all out to increase their market share from the current level.  Under the Act of Parliament, 52 spices have been brought under the purview of the Spices Board. However 109 spices are notified in the ISO list.
WhatsApp Image 2022-08-08 at 12

Will Odisha Govt’s Second Attempt To Push Local Air Travel Via India One Air Take Off?

There is good news both for the Government of India UDAN scheme and Government of Odisha’s sustained effort to link its inaccessible airports.  With a view to boost inter-state and intra-state travel the Naveen Patnaik’s administration is making air travel affordable for both the government officers and local citizens. Towards this flight tickets on 9-seater UDAN flights are capped at Rs 2500 per ticket for 500-600 km travel. This pricing will bring in a multiplier effect, boost tourism, regional growth vis a vis Odisha economy. The UDAN maiden flight Bhubaneswar-Jeypur-Vizag is expected to take off any time soon. The Odisha government has roped in the Ahmedabad-based regional airline India One Air. This company has already secured an operating licence to fly the Odisha sector from DGCA.  According to Prasanna Pradhan, Bhubaneswar Airport Director this initiative will meet with success as most seats will be filled by the state government officials. Once the subsidized air travel takes off, UDAN flight capacity will be increased to 18-seater. This new initiative comes against the backdrop of Odisha government’s failed efforts a few years back. By definition the airline industry’s success depends on several factors, the most important being ATF pricing, occupancy ratio and punctuality. What will work this time will be the viability gap funding; 80% will be shared by the Aviation Ministry and 20% by the state government. Besides, GST will not be levied in certain sectors.
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OTT Boom Spells Doom For DTH Players

The Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms may not have set the cash registers on fire but they sure are gaining traction at the expense of direct to home (DTH) operators. According to latest figures by TRAI, DTH subscriber base has shrunk from 68.52 million to 66.92 million in the last quarter ended March 31, 2022. In fact, the DTH numbers have not been looking good since 2020, when the overall subscribers were 100 million. This dropped to 70.99 million in 2021. The OTTs made their entry in the Indian market in 2019 with Netflix leading the way followed by Amazon Prime. Indian players like Zee5, ALT Balaji, Sony Liv, Voot, Jio Cinema and Disney-Hotstar have cornered 102 million subscribers. This is expected to double to 224 million by 2026. Among the DTH players. Tata Play continues to be the market leader with a share of 33.23 % down from 33.48 %. Bharati Telemedia, ranked second, saw its share drop from 26.36 % to 26.24%. Only two players recorded gains — Dish TV from 22.04% to 22.10 % and Sun Direct from 18.11 % to 18. 43%. Reliance Big TV DTH seems to be nowhere in the picture. The OTTs have also hit satellite channels with many big players like Star, Zee, Sony Colors etc reducing the number of channels in their bouquet, especially in English language.
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Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi (centre) receiving MBE Award

UK's Bolton University Forges Ties With Hyderabad-Based iVOlViS

University of Bolton in Greater Manchester has been in the forefront of forging ties with India’s educational institutions. To strengthen its ties with India, Bolton University sought special permission from the Queen’s Office, and conducted the MBE Award Ceremony to honour Dr Kondal Reddy Kandadi at its recent Graduation ceremony. This was unprecedented; never before such an award ceremony was held at the University’s graduation ceremony. Reddy was the former Deputy Vice Chancellor at University Of Bolton who left the UK shores last year at the peak of his career to return to his homeland Telangana to start his own educational venture iVOlViS by collaborating with Bolton University. “At iVOlViS, we are deploying globally proven educational pedagogies, systems, processes, people and technologies to achieve this core goal of realising the Power of Education in every child,” says Dr Reddy. Besides, Dr Reddy, Telangana’s high powered bureaucrat Jayesh Ranjan was conferred with Honorary Doctorate degree for his “outstanding contribution to the development of collaborative relationships between India and Manchester (particularly in the technology sector). “For the past many years I have tried to forge more partnerships between the province of Hyderabad and the UK and that is why I am getting this fabulous recognition by the University of Bolton and why I have received this honorary doctorate,” explained Ranjan.
Collage Maker-01-Aug-2022-04

Union Bank To Auction Paintings, Watches Belonging To Wadhawans Of DHFL

It is turning out to be the season of precious artefacts owned by controversial people up for sale both at home and abroad. Recently, a watch said to have belonged to Adolf Hitler was sold for $ 1.1 million at the Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, much to the consternation of the Jewish community. The timepiece made by German watch firm Huber has a Swastika and initial AH engraved. It was picked up by an anonymous bidder. Also, on the auction table was a dress belonging to Hitler’s wife Eva Braun. Back home, Union Bank of India, is set to auction artefacts owned by scam-tainted Wadhawan brothers of DHFL-fame. During raids at their premises, CBI found rare artworks of S H Raza and FN Souza, luxury watches manufactured by Jacob & Co and Frank Muller Geneve and loads of gold and diamonds. While Raza’s 1956 oil-on canvas painting titled Village is worth over Rs 3.5 cr, FN Souza’s 1964 untitled oil-on-linen piece is valued at Rs 2 cr. The two watches of Jacob & Co and Frank Muller Geneve are worth Rs 5 cr. The gold and diamond jewellery including bangles and necklace were worth Rs 2 cr. Though the Rs 12.5 cr of artefacts recovered is miniscule compared to Rs 34,615 cr losses of DHFL, the consortium of 17 banks say something is better than nothing.
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Twitter

Cooperative Bank Scam Rocks Kerala, 160 Unable To Return Depositors’ Money

Things took a bleak turn for the Kerala Government recently, when the Thrissur-based Karuvannur Cooperative Bank rejected pleas by a customer to withdraw a part of his deposit of Rs 40 lakh. Consequently, the customer’s wife died as they did not have money to meet the hospital bills for a critical operation. After that similar deeds of mismanagement, embezzlement, and non-disbursement of deposits have surfaced not only from the Karuvannur but other cooperative banks across Kerala. Kerala has 1600 cooperative banks in all, with bulk of them controlled by CPM. The Kerala Cooperative Minister, VN Vasan, admitted in the assembly that 160 cooperative banks are unable to return funds to depositors due to financial crunch. The modus operandi of cooperative banks are simple. The political parties/leaders start the bank first in each district and then in big towns. Local leaders at the municipality, block and ward level, head these banks. They then employ their cadre in the bank as clerks, managers, peons, sweepers etc. Then they use their clout and political muscle to garner deposits promising higher rates of interest than scheduled banks. Loans are then disbursed to those who curry favour with the party and leaders. Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also the Co-operative Minister is yet to swing into action as majority of the 98,042 co-operative banks in India are in two politically sensitive states, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
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The Complete Picture: Street View Service Back On Google Maps

Six years after being banned, Google is relaunching its street view service in India in partnership with Tech Mahindra and Genesys International. Starting Wednesday (August 3) — Street View — which displays 360 degree panoramic street-level images will be available in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Nashik, Vadodara, Ahmednagar and Amritsar. Google intends to expand the service to 50 cities by 2022. Starting with Bengaluru, Google Maps will also inform users of the speed limits data shared by traffic authorities. The Mumbai-based Genesys International has been a pioneer in the introduction of street imaging maps in India. Over the next 12 months, Genesys plans to cover all of urban India street imaging, spanning over a million kms. This makes it the largest street imaging exercise in the country. Genesys has the technology and capability to capture almost 150,000 unique kms of street imaging data, according to Sajid Malik, Chairman & Managing Director. To put this number into perspective, the island city of Mumbai is 5000 unique kms. The company is building one of the biggest imaging platforms in India, across both street and aerial, in sync with the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India reflected in the geospatial policy, added Malik.
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Last Ford EcoSport Rolls Out Of Chennai Plant Signalling The End Of The Road For 4000 Workers!

On July 21, a beautifully decked up bride left her home with 4000 well-wishers (read workers) shedding tears and bidding her adieu. That was not just the last Ford EcoSport car rolling out of their beloved Ford manufacturing plant at Maraimalainagar in Tamil Nadu.  It was the end of the road for all 4000 workers with the Ford parent deciding to exit India.  The Chennai plant was set up in 1995 on 350 acres to make 4 lakh vehicles along with the Gujarat plant. The Figo, Endeavour, Ikon, EcoSport were hugely popular. But how long can a business sustain losses, whatever the emotional quotient tagged to a product made with pride? The President of Ford Motors, Jim Farley had candidly admitted that Ford had accumulated $ 2 billion losses producing only 80,000 vehicles a year with the plant having an installed capacity of 4 lakh vehicles. The Covid-19 lockdown, global downturn and business cycle factors are quoted ad nauseam. Even a brief dalliance for a second time with Mahindra was tried in 2019. No one can really pinpoint why it did not succeed. But for now, it is the plight of these 4000 workers that is heart wrenching. Even as we talk about Aatma Nirbhar Bharat, the future of such trained dedicated workers who suffer the whims of global business has to be seriously considered.
Collage Maker-25-Jul-2022-02

Big Tech Majors Not To Have It Easy In India

The free run that tech majors like Google, Meta, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Amazon enjoyed in India will be a thing of the past. Already, they have come under pressure to take down content considered unlawful, inappropriate and disturbing public order. And if Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for IT and Electronics has his way, all of them will be paying Indian newspapers and digital news publishers a share of revenue for using original content. The move is being mooted through regulatory interventions, which is expected to happen as part of the revisions being made in the existing IT Laws. “The Indian news publishers have no negotiating leverage at all, and this needs to be tackled legislatively,” said Chandrasekhar in an interview. The market power on digital advertising that is currently being exercised by the Big Tech majors, has already put Indian media companies at a disadvantage. Several countries like Australia, France and Spain have passed rules that require Tech majors to compensate content producers for using their content and search results. It comes as no surprise that spear-heading the Indian initiative is Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a media honcho himself. Chandrasekhar owns two satellite channels, Asianet News and Suravana News and a clutch of digital news websites in South Indian languages.  Incidentally, he was one of the founder-promoters of Republic TV, but sold his stake subsequently.
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In God’s Own Country Get High On Wine And Liquor Brewed From Tapioca

Soon tipplers in Kerala will be sipping wine and liquors made from locally grown fruits and it will be relatively cheap. By giving license to make fruit-based, low alcohol content beverages, the Kerala government intends to boost cultivation of bananas, pineapple, jackfruit, cashew and nutmeg in the State. The government has also initiated steps to extract liquor from tapioca, for which it has allocated Rs 2 crore in the Budget.  Studies show that 250 ml of spirits can be produced from 1 kg of tapioca at a cost of Rs 48. Meanwhile, a local cooperative bank, Payyavur Service Cooperative Bank has been given permission to produce liquor from cashew apple on the lines of Goan Feni. The new President of the Cooperative Bank, TM Joshy, had mooted the idea of making liquor from cashew apple way back in 1991. “As the state and its people always hesitate to accept new and non-conventional ideas, my attempt had failed then”, said Joshy. As per rough estimates, farmers are expected to make Rs 300 crore per annum and excise department another Rs 300 crore from production and sale of Feni. It is learnt that liquor and wine made from fruits and vegetables sourced locally will be processed and distributed by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd (Bevco), which has a wide distribution network.
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Fotocorp

Deepak Parekh Bought A Smart Phone During Lockdown: Chandra

Are people adapting to digital technologies? Well, if the question is posed to Tata Sons’ Chairman N Chandrasekaran, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. “Deepak Parekh bought a smartphone, otherwise he was always using a SMS, text phone. When he said abhi (now), I need to be at least on WhatsApp, I need to do Zoom calls, so I bought a smartphone,” Chandra, as is fondly known in the industry, said. It is no brainer that the Tata group chairman was referring to HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, who is 77 years old. Despite his oversized stature in the corporate world, Parekh, the Padma Bhushan awardee never upgraded his normal cell phone, until the pandemic struck. Hence, Parekh buying a smartphone becomes the benchmark or the proof of ‘digital adoption’ gaining ground. In comparison, Chandra, also a Padma Bhushan awardee, is known for his technological prowess. The head of IT behemoth Tata Consultancy Services is also the author of ‘Bridgital Nation: Solving Technology’s People Problem’. Chandra’s comments were made at the 74th Founding Day Lecture Meeting of Bombay Chartered Accountants Society (BCAS), where he was the guest speaker. In his speech, Tata Sons’ Chairman also hailed the “huge innovation” and the huge human spirit and how people could adapt – poor and rich – during the last two years of Covid.
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Ghanshyam Nabar and Anand Piramal

How West Midlands Is Attracting Indian Businesses

Birmingham-based Ghanshyam Nabar is go to man. This 40-year old director of West Midlands India Partnership (WMIP) is helping Indian businesses find opportunities in the UK, particularly West Midlands. As somebody responsible for WMIP he is driving collaborative engagement between the West Midlands and India to unlock mutually beneficial and sustainable economic opportunities. He brings to table rich experience to ensure deals fructify and its win-win situation for both India and the United Kingdom. Such a laser-focused approach has seen him and his organisation gaining recognition and bagging awards. At the recently held UK India Awards his organisation won the award for the Best Business Promotion Agency Of The Year Award. WMIP edged out contenders like The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Department of International Trade UK, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Manchester India Partnership to win the award. Nabar had won the same award for two years in a row for the Manchester India Partnership. Recently, WMIP hosted a do for the Indian delegates at Edgbaston ground. Spotted at the cricket match were Ajay Piramal and his son Anand. Besides, there were Telangana’s Principal Secretary Industries & Commerce Jayesh Ranjan, Prakash Wakhankar, BBC commentator and head honcho at the Mahindra BSA, Ankit Agarwal, CEO, Sterlite TECH, Dr Ravi Limaye, MD of Wockhardt. Looks like Nabar and his organization are creating the desired impact among the Indian diaspora.
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Akshaya Patra Chalks Up Plans To Serve Another 1 Million Free Meals In The UK

Former BBC Global Food Champions, The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) UK, is growing rapidly with huge support from UK people. Speaking to shortpost.in, Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, CEO &Trustee, TAPF UK stated that his team is exploring all possibilities to open more kitchens in the UK. This means an addition to the existing kitchen at Watford which is already serving half million free meals a year.  The new kitchens are likely to come up in the Midlands and North England in Manchester and will serve one million free meals every year, taking the total free meals distributed to 1.5 million a year. According to a TAPF study there are 8 million people in the UK affected by food poverty. Of these, nearly 5 million suffer from acute food insecurity. This includes low-income homes, the unemployed, the vulnerable and the homeless. There are close to 3 million children who sleep hungry during school holidays. Unfortunately, for 3 million children in the UK, holidays turn out to become “hungry holidays” instead of happy holidays. Besides, there are close to 300,000 homeless persons across England today. There are even more adults who are deprived of a basic plate of food.  TAPF, winner of the Organization for Social Impact award at the India Global Forum, serves hot, tasty vegetarian food to the needy every day at no cost.
Collage Maker-07-Jul-2022-05

A First In India: Lulu Mall’s Midnight Shopping Concept Draws Huge Crowd In Trivandrum

Kerala’s capital city of Trivandrum is not quite a place of shopping frenzy like Mumbai, Bengaluru or Delhi. But Yusuf Ali’s Lulu Mall has done the impossible by introducing a midnight shopping concept in Trivandrum. What started on a trial basis has ended in a resounding success. The Mall owners have now promised to conduct the night shopping spree on a frequent basis. Huge crowds started milling around the Mall hours before the official opening at 11.59 pm (July 6). The roads nearby were chock-a- block and so were the parking bays. “Our intention to encourage midnight shopping was to offer a new and peaceful shopping experience,” said Joy Shadanandan, Regional Director, Lulu Group. To ensure the success of midnight shopping, there were many firsts like 50% discount on all purchases, a pink parking area exclusively for women customers. The security was upped with more personnel in mufti to ensure women safety at night. The Kerala Government also helped in with more policing and traffic management. Special bus services were introduced by the public transport provider, KSRTC. Lulu Mall in Trivandrum has crossed the one-crore-footfall mark since its opening in December 2021. With the success of the night shopping the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom could well attain the tag of “a City which never sleeps”.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-04 at 1.57

India Cements Leverages Cricket Brand CSK, Launches New Product Line

It did poorly in the last edition of the IPL (Indian Premier League). That has not in any way brought down its brand equity, however. Proof of the pudding is in eating it is said. If at all any proof is required, here is the latest. For the first time perhaps in the annals of the IPL team Chennai Super Kings (CSK), its original franchisee owner, The India Cements Ltd (ICL), chose to leverage the CSK brand name and launched a new product sometime in the middle of March this year.  India Cements launched on March 16, 2022, Conkrete Super King (CSK), a new brand of cement, across the country. Touted as a one-stop concrete solution – from foundation to roof, the launch of Conkrete Super Kings was followed by some aggressive digital campaigns, digital advertisements, hoardings, jingles et al. Well, the CSK brand of cement has sold one lakh tonnes since March when it was launched. The CSK brand launch has, coincidentally, seen India Cements beefing up its marketing apparatus. The N Srinivasan-led cement major has strengthened its marketing and sales force by recruiting a number of foot soldiers to give brand CSK a big push in the marketplace.  A new-found focus is certainly on to give CSK cement an all-India visibility. Well, the numbers appear to be encouraging for the ICL mandarins.
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After Intense Bidding Tatas Retain Taj Malabar Hotel For Next 30 Years

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The Taj Group of Hotels has retained the iconic Taj Malabar Hotel at Willingdon Island in Kochi, Kerala. The Cochin Port Authority (CPA) which owns the property, finalised the bid for operating the heritage property on July 1. Though many leading hospitality groups showed interest in the bid, but the Taj Group managed to retain it for an enhanced lease amount of Rs 1.25 crore per annum. Taj Group paid Rs 71 lakh per annum for the earlier lease. Under the new agreement which is for 30 years, the lease amount will increase marginally every five years. Quite a few hospitality chains had picked up the bid documents, but ultimately there were only two bidders. Though the Taj group had the benefit of first right of refusal, they resorted to outright bidding to retain the property. CPA, did not disclose the name of the competing bidder. With the new Coastal Regulation Zone rules in place, no expansion of the hotel can be undertaken. So, the Taj Group will undertake an exhaustive renovation of the hotel and resort. Ever since CPA indicated that it was going for a fresh bidding of the resort, no upgradation or renovation was done at the premises for nearly two years.
kineco isro3

Goa-Based Company Bags Prestigious Order From ISRO For Its Manned Flight Project

With the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reportedly planning for eight programmes in the next decade, companies are confidently going ahead with the use of carbon-fibre composites. These, say those using them in their products – from windmill blades to railway bodies to rocket components – comfortably outsmart all other materials thanks to their high chemical resistance, tensile strength and stiffness as well as low thermal expansion. It is no wonder that Shekhar Sardessai, chairman & managing director of the Goa-based joint venture Kineco Kaman Composites, is over the moon with a new order from ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) for crew orbiter module adaptor assemblies (OMAs) for the country’s maiden first manned space flight, Gaganyaan. The contract for these was signed just after the successful supply of a composite equipment bay shroud to VSSC for the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III as well as several other space and aerospace programmes. The OMA, a conical carbon fibre reinforced plastic structure integrated with metallic rings machined to tight tolerances, is a critical component of the GSLV, which acts as an adaptor between the crew escape module and the escape bay shroud.  “We will definitely meet the stringent quality parameters and delivery timelines,” says Sardessai. The company will supply the first three assemblies by the end of 2023. After that, the sky is no longer a limit!
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With Adani Group Taking Over Trivandrum Airport, Duty Free Shops Reopen After A Gap Of Four Years

International travellers flying in and out of Trivandrum Airport in Kerala were deprived of duty free shopping for the last four years. With Adani Group taking over the airport in October 2021, things have changed for the better. The Customs authorities had shut down the duty free shop at the airport on the grounds of illegal sale of alcohol to the tune of Rs 6 crore.  The allegation was that the then Malaysia-based operator, Max Plus, was diverting foreign liquor meant for sale at the airport to the black market. Max Plus was using travel documents of passengers passing through Trivandrum without their consent for the illegal sale. Even after four years, the Customs Authorities and the then operator, Airport Authority of India (AAI), were least bothered to hasten the investigation and reopen the duty free shop. Adani on the other hand meant business. After all, the group paid Rs 476.10 crore to earn the right to operate Trivandrum Airport. They immediately got the Customs NOC to reopen the duty free shop with a new partner, the Dubai-based Flemingo. In fact, Flemingo also operates the duty free shop at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport. With the footfalls expected to increase manifold, the Adanis are out to make a handsome packet. Incidentally, Adani is also the operator of the Vizhinjam sea port at Trivandrum.
LAKSHMI KAUL CII

Hunt On For CII’s UK Head With Sudden Exit Of Lakshmi Kaul

The news that Lakshmi Kaul, Head & Representative, Confederation Of Indian Industry, UK has moved out caught everyone in London by surprise. Nobody knows where Kaul is headed. Unlike her predecessor Suchita Sonalika who moved to the USA in 2018 to head the CII office in Washington, sources say it is unlikely that Lakshmi will stay within the CII.  While Lakshmi was in New Delhi last week, CII’s senior director in Delhi, Kavita Choudhry flew to London to hold the fort till a new successor is found. Kavita who has worked with CII for over a decade was responsible for the Europe sector for over four years as well as the South East Asian corridor. Though Kavita is capable and has rich experience, the sudden departure of Lakshmi has perplexed trade, business and media especially at a crucial time when negotiations related to the Free Trade Agreement are in full swing. CII plays a stellar role in the UK as a powerful trade organisation representing Indian business interests. Lakshmi’s warm demeanor and social engagements have proved very valuable to CII over the years. Lakshmi who worked for over 15 years in the UK handled a whole gamut of things ranging from relationship building, public relations, research, strategy and policy work to creating community networks. Lakshmi will definitely be missed.
Shiv Nadar

Eyebrows Raised As Theosophical Society Leases Out 14-Acre Chennai Land To Shiv Nadar Foundation

Land is a touchy subject. Not surprisingly, any land deal in this part of the world draws more than cursory interest across the canvass. This time it belongs to the venerable Theosophical Society in Chennai. This institution at Besant Nagar in the heart of the city of Chennai has now penned a pact with an equally well-known name – Shiv Nadar Foundation. The society has decided to give the foundation 14 acres of its land on a long-lease basis to the Shiv Nadar Foundation. The Shiv Nadar Foundation is planning to set up a world-class K-12 school in Chennai, which, it claims, will be a progressive, ecologically-sensitive school with the highest international standards. Shiv Nadar Foundation is India’s leading philanthropic initiative by Shiv Nadar, founder of the HCL Group. It has established a chain of not-for-profit progressive schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi. Today, these are among the most sought-after educational institutions in the area, and are consistently ranked among the top schools in the country. With their novel pedagogical approach, Shiv Nadar School nurtures young children into life-long learners and conscious citizens. The Society-Foundation alliance comes years after its lease pact with J Krishnamurthy Foundation-run school expired. In a state where anti-anything sentiment sprouts up at the drop of a hat, the society-foundation agreement has also come under intense focus.
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Kashmir Digest

Holy Cow! India Exports 192 Tonnes Of Dung To Kuwait

India has experienced the full gamut of sentiments concerning the cow — from cow worship, cow vigilantism, to riots to protest beef eating and intolerance to use of leather products.  Against this backdrop, a new chapter has just opened up. For the first time a whopping 192 metric tonnes of indigenous cow dung has been exported to Kuwait by the Jaipur-based Sunrise Agriland Development & Research. The company’s director Prashant Chaturvedi is elated that even Islamic countrIes like Kuwait understand the nutrient value of cow dung. Atul Gupta, President of the Organic Farmer Producer Association of India is gung ho about the potential for organic fertilisers, especially cow dung. Reportedly, in 2020-21, the export value of natural fertilisers was Rs 27,155 crore. According to Kashmir Digest, “Many countries have found after research on indigenous cow dung that it can, not only increase the production of crops, but the use of the products produced from it can relieve humans from serious ailment. This is the reason that many countries have started importing indigenous cow dung along with organic manure from India.”  Kuwait has singled out cow dung as an appropriate fertiliser nutrient for increased Date size and yield. This move has made Goshalas in India optimistic which had all along claimed that dung was the best organic fertiliser for healthy agri-products. Holy Cow, dung in demand!
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Dr PKC Bose, Enercon Windenergy

Government To Farm Windmills Off-Shore, Make Electricity Off TN, Gujarat As the Wind Blows

While India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has set a target of 100 GW for wind energy by 2030, it is also understood that the government is proposing two pilot research projects for sea-based windmills, one each in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. These initiatives, according to alternative energy experts, should result in reduction in the oil import bill. Prominent wind evangelist Senator Dr PKC Bose, for one, was gung-ho about World Wind Day (June 15). “Let’s enjoy the natural therapy of wind,” says Bose, who is Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the German Enercon Group’s Indian subsidiary Enercon Windenergy. Kochi-based boat builder Dr Jeevan Sudhakaran, CMD of Samudra Shipyard in Kochi said,“The sail harnessed it first and continues to do so”, and then told Bose “You are electrifying it without a carbon footprint!” Wind is surely slated to play a large part in the future of energy, with people like John Burroughs, American naturalist and nature essayist of the 19th and 20th centuries, having declared: “The fuel in the Earth will be exhausted in a thousand or more years, and it’s mineral wealth, but man will find substitutes for these in the winds, the waves, the Sun’s heat, and so on and so forth.”
Sterlite

Sterlite Copper On The Chopping Block, As Promoter Anil Agarwal Seeks To Exit Tamil Nadu

The going has been tough for this one right from the word go. This one came to Tamil Nadu after two States – Maharashtra and Goa – spurned it. Finally, it found sanctuary in the Dravidian state. And, the Sterlite Copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi had run freely for over two decades under the dispensation of AIADMK and DMK – the warring political parties in Tamil Nadu. Problem began when it went in for expansion. A protest followed. Not just that. A police firing on the anti-Sterlite protesters saw 13 people killed. A panicked government ordered the immediate closure of the plant. Well, this has caught everybody in an inextricable position. Many jobs have disappeared and thousands of crores lost in the process. And, India slipped from its pre-eminent position in the global copperfield. Virtually caught in a cobweb, Anil Agarwal, promoter of Sterlite Copper has now chosen to sell the immobilised plant. The move has taken everybody off guard. Is it a positioning strategy? Or, is it a business decision? With Ford exiting India, the proverbial sword hangs over the heads of workmen at its Maraimalai Nagar plant in Tamil Nadu? Coming as it does in the wake of Agnipath imbroglio, the Sterlite Copper sale move has surprised everybody alike, including the authorities. Well, it is yet unclear how Sterlite wants to go about selling its assets in Tamil Nadu.
Red Jackfruit

How Red Coloured Jackfruit Turned Aerospace Engineer Into A Pomologist

Aerospace engineer M Premkumar who works for Honeywell Aerospace in Bengaluru has turned a Pomologist, a specialist in fruit culture. Call it serendipity. While travelling through rural areas of Karnataka he came across an unusual red variety of Jackfruit which was succulent and dripping with sweetness. Immediately he fell in love with this fruit and felt it should be grown in his village in Tamil Nadu’s Ranipettai district. He zeroed in on some 30 of these exotic red varieties and set up a model red Jackfruit breeding farm and raised 1500 saplings, and sold it for Rs 250 per sapling. Says Premkumar “These saplings need care for three years, and then they can live up to more than 50 years yielding soft fleshy fruits which don’t spoil for up to five days.“ The ordinary jackfruit yields just 20% of its weight as edible fruit, while the red variety yields up to 65% per kg. This makes the red variety hugely attractive in terms of investment as 1 acre can accommodate 70 saplings. Unripe Jackfruit is already in big demand globally, as it tastes like shredded chicken, pulled pork and is considered a boon for vegans.  Premkumar is trying to develop uniform varieties for creating a market under the National Horticulture Mission.  To connect Jackfruit farmers world over he has started a WhatsApp group that exchanges ideas for this fruit.
electricals-steels

As Steel Prices Soar PSU Contractors Seek ‘Blacklisting’ To Escape Penalties For Not Executing The Projects

There was a time when a contractor would give an arm and a leg to win a big government tender. Not anymore. According to ministry mandarins, many contractors who bagged major contracts are doing their utmost to get blacklisted to avoid executing the tenders, and escape severe penalties for failing to meet the project execution milestones. According to a highly placed PSU source, many of the contractors had bagged the contracts in 2020, when steel prices were in the range of Rs 37,000 per tonne. The contractors, as is the norm, would have factored in a 15-20% hike in steel prices. In reality steel prices doubled to Rs 72,500 in March 2022 before falling to around Rs 60,000 per tonne in April 2022 “There is no way the contractors can execute projects at these prices; it’s totally unviable. But given the stringent penalties for failing to meet tender conditions, the only hope for contractors to escape the penalties is to get blacklisted on some count or the other,’’ said a source. If a large number of contractors get blacklisted it will be a big setback for all public sector undertakings. With the government chalking up a CAPEX of Rs 7.5 lakh crore in 2022-23, it will be a lose-lose proposition for everybody. So, should public sector undertakings go in for re-tendering the contracts?
Awign

Awign Co-Founders Annanya Sarthak, Gurpreet Singh & Praveen Sah

Big Cos Proliferate Start-ups, Outsource Work On Gig Platforms, Keep Costs In Check, Just Ask Awign, Taskmo

A new bee on the job horizon goes by the exotic name of Gig business. Many big companies including Tatas, Infosys, Britannia, Wipro, Ola, Fresh to Home etc are looking to the gig economy to cut costs and access talent across locations. There are now quite a few popular gig worker platforms like Awign and Taskmo. Gig is a slang term used for a single professional engagement usually for a short duration. Some of the examples are freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires. The huge interest has seen Awign’s top line and bottomline grow 10- fold, according to Annanya Sarthak and Gurpreet Singh, the founders. In the last one and half years, the business profile of its  customers changed to large enterprises — either Rs 1000 crore brick and mortar enterprises or scaled up growth companies like Swiggy, Ola, Byju’s etc which have grown into large enterprises. Another company, Taskmo, is also seeing its business grow. Taskmo has added 430-450 new task listings. At least 20% of them were as per specific customer requirements. This is a new trend with momentum picking up as companies look at flexi-hiring to rationalise talent acquisition, says Prashant Janadri, Taskmo promoter.
SBI

Hong Kong's Strict Laws Edging Out Lax Indian Public Sector Banks, Except SBI

A huge amount outstanding in bad loans which they will have to write off because they can never recover the money is seeing Indian public-sector banks (PSBs) winding up their operations in Hong Kong. The city state, unlike back home in India, has strict laws about bad loans in bank’s books. Many of these PSBs, perhaps, were pressured to open branches for political and not commercial reasons. These allowed businessmen to get easy loans, allegedly for a fee, and these borrowers then declared huge losses and, eventually, bankruptcy – obviously leaving the lenders in the lurch. Says a local banker: “Even today, there are too many Indian banks here and none making money!” While there is an uproar in Parliament if banks write off loans, HK laws say that bad loans must be written off if they are not collectible. “Bahut chor hain – and banks are bakras!” he adds. “It is good that finally, this government is closing down banks which are not profitable.” The Union Bank of India has already transferred its client accounts to its Singapore and Australian branches and is on the threshold of winding up in HK totally. There are three more in the process of winding up in HK. Eventually, State Bank of India will probably be the only PSB left there.
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ibef.org

IT Sector Attrition Rates At All Time High, Demand For Experienced Employees Shoots Up, As Corporates Sigh!

The high attrition levels in the IT industry is turning into a big headache for corporates. Big IT companies like Cognizant, Infosys, TCS, Capgemini, Wipro are witnessing an exodus of employees with five years of experience or more. The reason is amply clear, as salaries have jumped up after the long Covid break. Cognizant saw attrition levels of 40%, Infosys @ 25% and TCS @ 15% to name just a few.  Earlier, someone with five years of experience earned Rs 24-25 lakh per annum. Now the salaries for the same level and experience net an employee Rs 30-38 lakh per annum.  It is not clear if the same is happening for higher level jobs in IT companies but, this is good news for engineering graduates. The IT sector has been a mass recruiter for some years now contributing to 5% of the Indian GDP. But it was saturating with only good skilled IT engineers in demand. All this was before the Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. produces around one lakh engineers per year in a $ 16 trillion economy. And India produces 15 lakh engineers in a $ 2 trillion economy. With manufacturing, electrical and civil taking a back seat as employment generators, it was the IT sector that has been the saving grace for some time now.
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From Helicopter Shot To Drones, Captain Cool Plays High Stakes, In Chennai Based Garuda Aerospace

CSK is Dhoni and Dhoni is CSK. This is often reiterated by N Srinivasan, the owner of the Chennai franchisee of the IPL team. To be sure, Dhoni and Chennai have become inseparable. Not surprisingly, Dhoni has often said his last game in the highly popular Indian Premier League would be in his adopted home city of Chennai. His affinity to Chennai is all too apparent. And, his propensity to think out-of-the-box is legendary. It is no wonder that people across the spectrum view him a strategist par excellence.  How else could one decipher his investment in the Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace, which is a DaaS (drone-as-a-service) provider.  If highly-placed sources are to go by, the former Indian cricket captain has invested close to Rs 10 crore into Garuda Aerospace. Garuda has also signed up the World Cup winning captain as its brand ambassador. This is expected to fetch MSD Rs 5 crore. Besides bringing in Rs 5 crore, captain cool will be investing this fee also into Garuda. This makes his total investment into the Chennai-based company at Rs 10 crore.  The investment of Dhoni is part of the bridge round, ahead of Garuda’s $30 million Series A round. He may have quit international cricket. Yet, Captain Dhoni remains a formidable brand to reckon with.
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Indian Universities Ink Pact With University College Birmingham, To Boost Skills Development Curriculum

Every region in the UK is actively pursuing collaborations and tie-ups with Indian organisations.  Recently, the University College Birmingham (UCB) entered into a tie-up with a range of academic institutions and organisations in India as part of a continuing drive to boost skills development in India. Bharat Sakhuja, Associate Director of the University’s International department and Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience) at University College Birmingham from the University were in India recently to meet Dr Sangeet Jaura, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Chitkara University, Professor Tabrez Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor of GD Goenka University, Dr Manju Gupta, Dean Academics at IMS Noida, Ved Mani Tiwari, Chief Operating Officer of the NSDC. The duo told shortpost.in, “The new linkups will offer a wide range of potential benefits and opportunities covering key areas including student mobility and up-skilling, progression arrangements, teacher training and cooperation, as well as collaborating in joint conferences and seminars.”  They also shared that discussions were held towards creating more opportunities for Indian students to attend short courses in the UK.  Collaboration between these Indian institutions and UCB will allow effective mobility of students between the institutions and enable them to consider integrated pathways which would be beneficial not only for students but for the academics in raising the level of teaching.
Paints

Grasim Dons War Paint With Rs 5000 Crore Budget, As Asian Paints Looks Outside The Segment

For decades, Asian Paints has led the pack in the Rs 60,000-crore plus paint industry. But with Grasim Industries, part of the Aditya Birla Group setting its sights higher, the competition will intensify.  Grasim has chalked up a Rs 5000-crore investment plan in the decorative segment which is growing at 11% per annum. This announcement by Grasim which has heft and gravitas to disrupt the market made competitors like Asian Paints, Berger Paints, Kansai Nerolac and Akzo Nobel sit up and take notice. Grasim’s foray into the segment will be backed by their existing leadership in cement, white cement and putty business. Paint is a high growth market and the pie is large enough for everyone to share, industry observers say. There is no denying that leaders like Asian Paints will not find the going easy anymore. Sajjan Jindal group’s JSW has also entered the space, so cut-throat competition is bound to see ad spends growing with margins coming under pressure. In fact, Asian Paints read the writing on the wall and made public that it was looking beyond paints.  Recently, the company picked up 49% stake in White Teak Company selling lighting and fans and will increase its stake based on the response. Time will tell which company remains in the black and which moves into the red.
Gopalan and Farooqui

R Gopalan and MF Farooquii

Tamil Nadu Business Houses Set New Trend, Appoint Ex-IAS Officers As Chairmen

This IAS class of officials possesses the uncanny ability to stay relevant all the time. They don’t just disappear into the sunset after superannuation but, simply don a new avatar. Their utility never dissipates and, their experience in government simply can’t be brushed aside. Probably, they are capable of bringing to the table an entirely new perspective. It is no wonder then that two leading industrial groups of Chennai have drafted ex-IAS officers as chairmen for their enterprises. Sundaram-Clayton Limited (SCL) has appointed R Gopalan, a bureaucrat who served Tamil Nadu as well as the Centre, as its chairman and, another Chennai-based company Ramco Cements followed suit onboarding MF Farooqui, a retired IAS officer to the same post. Of course, both Gopalan and Farooqui have served on the boards of SCL and Ramco Cements respectively for a while now. But their elevation to the top slot in the organisations has forced many long-time watchers of these family enterprises to sit up and take notice.  This is the first time that these industrial conglomerates in Chennai have adopted such a course. Larger benefit of having experienced bureaucrats as chairmen notwithstanding, the move is also seen as a step towards splitting the CMD post. At least in these two instances, it appears to be a case of striking two mangoes with one stone!
Anup Ratnaparkhi

Indian Bankers, Bureaucrats In UK On The Move: ICICI’s Anup Joins Ribbon Plc

ICICI Bank’s blue-eyed boy Anup Ratnaparkhi, who currently heads Branch Banking and NRI operations in the UK, has put in his papers.  Thirty-nine-year-old Anup, who had a 14-year long stint, is joining the London-based Ribbon Plc as Chief Commercial Officer. This venture has been promoted by his former ICICI boss Asesh Jani. It is an AI powered technology company that promises to offer a hyper-personalised digital experience to users. Ribbon is loaded with features including an embedded payments marketplace, access to deposits, FX, Crypto & Equity trading platforms. It was Asesh who had spotted Anup’s talent in ICICI and moved him up from Hyderabad to London. The scene at the State Bank of India, UK is no different. Most professionals posted here from India are currently in a flux. Most of the senior staffers who were transferred out of India have completed their term and will now return to India. This includes SBI UK head Sharad Chandak, ED Sanjay Pandey and COO Anurag Joshi. Elsewhere too, it seems to be the season of retirements or transfers. Gayatri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner in UK is into farewell party mode as she retires in September. Meanwhile, Rohit Vadhwana (IFS) who is First Secretary for Investment & Trade and also handles the Press portfolio, has been posted to Kenya.
jackfruit

Green Jackfruit Powder Can Help Control Your Sugar Problem

A decade ago, he was told that he couldn’t head an incubator company being set up by Microsoft because he had no start-up experience. James Joseph, a 25-year tech veteran, took a year’s sabbatical to write a book – which was when he saw his future growing outside his study window in Kerala: a jackfruit tree. The idea that hit him fructified further when he met a diabetic parish priest, who told Joseph that raw jackfruit had brought his sugar down. He researched it, and came up with Jackfruit365, a flour made with green jackfruit. “This is a diet supplement for diabetics and has beneficial effects when used as a replacement for an equal volume of rice or atta,“ he says. “But it should not be compared with medicine.” Along the way, he won the 2020 National Start-up Award for Food Processing and found another supporter: Infosys co-founder and billionaire businessman Kris Gopalakrishnan, who has provided his start-up with the all-important corporate connect. “CII, especially Kris, wants more members to use Jackfruit365 as an example to foster more such partnerships,” he says. Why? “I am an admirer of James and his entrepreneurship,” Gopalakrishnan explains. “So I talk to my industry colleagues and government officials about the product and how James has established the benefits of using it. He alone is responsible for jackfruit becoming the state fruit of Kerala.”
MCX Logo

First Commodity Exchange Of Bangladesh, Harnesses Indian Expertise Through MoU With MCX

The Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) has signed an MoU, to provide technical support for Bangladesh’s first commodity exchange. The Chittagong Stock Exchange has decided to launch Bangladesh’s first commodities exchange, on futures markets next year and roped in MCX to draw up the regulations and bye-laws, the settlement methods, besides providing tech and infrastructure support for the new exchange. MCX which is working on a five-year plan is scouting for talent to manage and work on the project. The new exchange is expected to provide competitive pricing and rationalise price manipulations in the commodities sector in that country. The exchange is also expected to provide farmers with greater liquidity. The exchange is expected to trade in gold, tea, agricultural produce, iron ore etc. MCX, India’s first listed exchange, is a commodity derivatives exchange that facilitates online trading of commodity derivatives transactions, thereby providing a platform for price discovery and risk management. The Exchange, which started operations in November 2003, operates under the regulatory framework of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). MCX offers trading in commodity derivative contracts across varied segments including bullion, industrial metals, energy and agricultural commodities, as also on indices constituted from these contracts. It is India’s first Exchange to offer commodity options contracts, bullion index futures and base metals index futures contracts.
LIC BUILDING CHENNAI

Mount Road’s Tall LIC Tower Will Be Dwarfed, By 25 Storeyed Office Block, Exploiting New FSI Rules On TVS Plot

Chennai is set to soar high. The old man on Mount Road, the 13-storey LIC Building, for long the only noticeably tall landmark in an otherwise vertically challenged city used to growing sideways rather than upwards, will soon get company. A 25-storey tower block of offices is coming up on the old TVS plot. Whether vertical growth is defined as progress would depend on the point of view. But, with a change in government, came a significant FSI change – from 3.5 to 5. You can think what you will of how such changes come about, the most obvious being the use of financial clout by the builders’ lobby.  The fact is the Brigade group of Bangalore, with its political connections and heft, will be the first to take advantage of the higher FSI with a landmark building that will dwarf the nearby LIC structure, old Chennai citizens described using the Tamil phrase – Heightu da! A lot of changes are also on the cards for what used to be the centre of the city’s business district, with many old firms likely to sell out to builders in the CBD. TVS’ R Dinesh, who inherited the old HQ of the reputed TVS group on Mount Road along with the Honda dealership, was the first to cash in on the new FSI.
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Nalco’s Alumina Refinery located at Damanjodi, Odisha

Naveen Patnaik Smelts A Dream, Making Odisha Hub Of SE Asia’s Aluminium, After Steel

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s new dream is to make Odisha India’s aluminium capital and the global aluminium hub. Not without reason too. The state enjoys the true boast of 54% of the aluminium smelting capacity through NALCO, Vedanta and Aditya Birla manufacturing units in India. Of course, this is backed by the state’s rich reserve of 2 billion tonnes of bauxite. NALCO has already chalked out an investment outlay of Rs 30,000 crore towards expansion and diversification to be completed by 2027-28. It has also entered into a JV with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation to set up a state-of-the-art Aluminium Park in Anugul costing Rs 428.95 crore, estimated completion by 2023-24. The Aluminium Park located next to NALCO’s plant will promote downstream aluminium industries with common facilities including logistics, testing, simulation, prototype development and skill development facilities. Joining the chorus is Anil Agarwal of the Vedanta Group that is also planning a Rs 10,000 crore investment to set up an Aluminium Park at Jharsuguda in Odisha to bring in SMEs and MSMEs under one single roof so they can procure the hot metal from Vedanta. With Patnaik transforming the state, Odisha has emerged as the new investment destination of India.
HLL LIFECARE

Adani, Piramal In Race To Acquire Union Govt Stake In HLL Lifecare, Declined Kerala Govt May Decide To Play Unfair

The Rs 5,138-crore HLL Lifecare (formerly Hindustan Latex) headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is attracting many suitors. This follows the Government of India’s November 14, 2021 decision to hive off its entire stake in HLL Lifecare. Around seven suitors including the Adani Group, Piramal Healthcare, two Kerala based companies advised by two former CMDs of HLL Lifecare, a fund besides NRIs. HLL Lifecare, which started as a condom manufacturer sold under the brand name Moods, is today a health care company in the truest sense. It has a Pharma business, makes medical devices, runs diagnostic centres, manufactures sanitary napkins and blood bags etc. The company has seven factories, four in Kerala and one each in Belgaum, Manesar and Indore. Today the company operates 220 pathology labs, 47 imagery centres, six labs under the Hindlabs brand and 253 pharmacies across India. Both Adani and Piramal are keen to acquire it. The cash strapped Kerala government, however, could play spoilsport since it wants to take over the company although its offer was declined. The company’s turnover jumped three times from Rs 1739 crore in 2019-2020 to Rs 5138 crore, the profit marginally lower than the previous year. The jump in turnover was a result of enhanced non-core activities including huge purchases and supplies of Covid vaccines, surgical masks and gloves for various State Governments and hospitals.
CA SIDDHARTH SINKAR, Founder Director at GCSE

Saraswat Brahmins’ Goa Conclave, To Channelise Community Business Spirit Over One Day

Saraswat Brahmin entrepreneurs from across the globe will converge in Goa come September 10, for the first Annual Conclave. The Saraswat Brahmin community of business leaders from different parts of the world joined hands and formed the Global Saraswat Entrepreneurs Chamber (GSEC) in 2019, resurrecting the nearly 30-year-old Saraswat Chamber of Commerce set up by Suresh Prabhu, senior BJP leader and former chairman of the Saraswat Cooperative Bank. This one-day conference is expected to draw some of the biggest names from the community including, Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar, singer activist Hemaa Sardesai, hoteliers Vithal Kamat (Kamat Hotels Group), Raghunandan Kamath (Natural Ice Creams) and Marathi actor Ashok Saraf to name just a few. The underlying objective of the conclave “to build a wise, vibrant and prosperous community ecosystem for Saraswats in business and profession,” says Siddharth Sinkar, founder director of GCSE. The Saraswat community is primarily known as an ethical and philanthropic segment of society that channelised and harnessed cumulative energies for collective excellence in society. In the fields of business and commerce the community has been a frontrunner in the banking and cooperatives sectors.

Tesla’s Roll Out In India Hits Make It In India Fire Wall!

Looks like Tesla may not roll out its EV in India anytime soon. Sources say Tesla recently transferred some key officials out of India to alternate global markets in APEC, Middle East and the USA. This indicates that Elon Musk, who was keen on the Indian market, has decided to move on for the time being. Indianconsumers will buy what’s produced in India by Tata Motors, Mahindra, Morris Garage, Hyundai and Maruti presently. Primarily, Tesla chose not to enter the Indian market because of Indian government policies. Given our relationship with China and Modi’s push for Make in India, the BJP government was averse to allow made in China Tesla cars, boosting Chinese employment, but marketed in India without an immediate commitment to manufacture in India? There are several reasons Musk may have put India on the back burner. Firstly, current EV sales touch barely 1% of total auto sales in the country which does not make economic sense for Tesla to set up a unit in India. Secondly, with 100% import duty, Tesla will become over priced in the Indian market. Thirdly, India is not yet ready with its infrastructure, including road worthiness and charging stations. And, fourth reason is Indian insistence on a long term manufacturing commitment, distinct from being considered like a test pilot case.

Environmental Norms Are Rough Shod, With NGT Fines At Odds, Government Needs To Use The Rod

It is no thanks to the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) vigilance that both, the private sector and government-owned companies brazenly breach environmental laws and, very happily pay the prescribed fines. The reality is that the importance of environmental conservation is not given its due consideration with the NGT mandated penalty system not a functional and practical deterrent. Observers say, tougher measures are needed for the private sector and government-owned companies like NTPC, Indian Oil, BPCL, Singareni Collieries and others that boast of a track record of repeat environmental violations. Without the government’s continued commitment, NGT cannot deliver results by itself and, sadly, tough government intervention is only seen in the wake of intense public pressure. Take the case of the Vedanta Group which had to shut down its Thoothukudi plant, over Sterlite’s pollution issue. No lessons appear to have been learnt from it. Recently, NGT fined Vedanta Rs 25 crore for the expansion of the Lanjigarh factory in Odisha without due EC clearances and also levied a Rs 25 crore penalty upon Hindustan Zinc for violating environment norms in Rajasthan. Sometime in 2017, Vedanta was asked by the Chhatisgarh government to shut down its 1200 mw Balco power plant for violations of environmental norms. Harsh measures yielded results and today, Balco’s power plant is one of the best energy conservation units in the country.
Pankaj Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director of Hero Cycles

Munjal’s Foot Is In Europe’s Door, 150 Mn Pound Invested In UK E-Bike Plant

Pankaj Munjal of Hero Cycle’s fame has ambitiously big plans to strengthen the company’s presence in overseas markets, particularly across Europe. His company Insync Bikes Ltd has geared up to manufacture top end e-bikes at Trafford in the United Kingdom. Munjal, who visited UK to unveil his plans, told shortpost.in, “Manchester has given us more than what we had expected or planned.’’ The immediate future plan involves development as part of the budgeted £150m group-wide investment. His Manchester-based Global Design Centre has innovated an e-bike with artificial Intelligence functions that will incorporate advanced technologies such as Google services integration and introduce anti-theft systems and advanced telematics. Approximately 300 e-bikes will be manufactured every month at Trafford and priced at £3000 per piece. These e-bikes are expected to hit the road by August-September of 2022. The company received an award for being a Fast Track Indian company in the UK from among 900 companies surveyed by Grant Thornton in its India Meets Britain tracker report. Despite difficult conditions in the UK and Europe, Insync Bikes ranked 7th on the growth rate parameter. If the Indian experience is an indication, it will be among the top four players, sooner than later

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.