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The broad objectives of the OCA (Old Campionites’ Association, Campion School, Mumbai) are to act as a medium of contacting and locating and keeping in touch with friends / teachers of yester years and providing information of current events and happenings at the school, and the OCA. It is also a forum of networking and contacting and identifying ex-Campionites in different fields at different locations to promote potential advantageous interaction be it business or social even if they are from different generations with the intent of exploiting opportunities of a common alma mater.

The OCA also helps the present students to identify and interact with old boys and get the benefits of advice guidance or simply a godfather in a strange place.

Birthdays Today

Mon, August 3rd

Name Class Birthday
Darryl Kirby 1961 2/8
Karanjit Gadh 2000 2/8
Keith Rebelo 2000 02/08
Mark Kirpalani 1980 2/8
Rayomand Joshi 1995 2/8
Rohit Shah 1973 2/8
Somesh Kapai 1975 2/8
Zarius Captain 2000 2/8

Upcoming B'day


The OCA would like extend its gratitude and thank the Principal, Staff / Ex Staff and Ex Students of Campion School for their inputs and help in setting up this website. Also, special thanks to our Sponsors who made this happen.

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‘Prem Rog’ Clocks 33 Years, Rishi Kapoor Thanks Fans


ExCampionite class of '69 Rishi Kapoor starrer "Prem Rog" completed 33 years of its release and the veteran actor has thanked his fans for the support given to him. The romantic film revolves around a poor villager played by Rishi, who faces a family's wrath for pursuing the love of an upper class widow essayed by Padmini Kolhapure. "31st July 1982. Prem Rog. 33 years back. Thank you all for your patronage," the elated actor tweeted. Directed and produced by Raj Kapoor, "Prem Rog" also stars Shammi Kapoor, Tanuja, Nanda, Raza Murad and Om Prakash. Rishi and Padmini have also been seen in movies like "Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai" in 1981, "Yeh Ishq Nahin Aasaan" in 1984, "Hawalaat" in 1984" and "Pyar Ke Kabil" in 1987.

Vinod Kumar ExCampionite class of ’64 No More

1964VinodKumarWe regret to inform you of the sad demise of Vinod Kumar ExCampionite class of '64 on 28th July 2015. The Kumar family requests all his friends and loved ones to join them for a Chautha (prayer ceremony) to offer their heartfelt condolences. Date: 1st August 2015 Time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Venue: Jhulelal Mandir Near Maker Tower "H" Cuffe Parade Mumbai 400005

Mesage From Raghuvir Aiyar ExCampionite class of ’80


Greetings from K S AIYAR & Co. and 3D ART GALLERY which is operated by us for a noble cause at our offices at Mahalaxmi.

I am happy to pen this mail and invite you with a personal request for your attention, time and support, to an event being organised by us as an Open House, on Monday August 3 and Wednesday August 5, 2015 from 6 to 8 pm, for sale of paintings in a Group Show by known and upcoming artists. Please do make it convenient to attend the Open House on either of the days.

While we are all preoccupied with our professional and social commitment, our hearts surely want to reach out for the noble cause of social and economic up-liftment of the most needy, especially in villages. While there are many organisations who endeavour to do this, we at K S AIYAR along with HRIDAYAANGAN, an organisation for the up-liftment of villagers, have arranged this event, the sale-proceeds of which will be for the stated objective. K S AIYAR & Co. has chosen to be a catalyst by partnering in this event and hosting the Open House exhibition to support the cause being supervised and conducted by HRIDAYAANGAN, a social service initiative of Ms Usha Nair, known to us for many years and the Curator of 3D ART GALLERY. It is our faith and confidence that the proceeds of this exhibition will reach directly to the target audience under her supervision and direct involvement. Such activity which has tremendous relevance and cannot be successful without your personal support. I request and call upon you to make the exhibition and sale a great success by joining us at an Open House. I am happy to share some details about the project undertaken by HRIDAYAANGAN, in a ppt and a movie file, which will give you a bird’s eye view. (links to both are hereunder)

PPT file HRIDAYAANGAN, outlining the project details (

MP4 file captures details of activities at the village during the current year (

I shall be more than happy and remain grateful for accepting my invitation and should you need any further information or details on the project please feel free to contact me. I look forward to your gracious presence. Driving directions are provided in the footer. With best wishes,

Raghu Aiyar - CEO & Senior Partner And ExCampionite class of '80 K. S. Aiyar & Co #F-7, Laxmi Mills, Shakti Mills Lane, (Off Dr E Moses Road), Mumbai 400011, India 9122 / 6655 1770 ; 2493 2502 x 211 (Board) 9122 / 6655 1775 (Direct) 9122 / 6655 1774 (Fax) - Since 1897 - Celebrating 118 Years of Excellent Client Service

NewGen In Saddle, India Inc Takes Giant Strides

Three years ago when Harsh Goenka bemoaned the decline of Marwari entrepreneurs in India, Flipkart and Snapdeal were minnows. The business community that once built the foundation of India Inc was at a crossroads, the lack of zeal and grit painfully at display among the new generation. According to the chairman of RPG Enterprises, the options for Marwari kids were limited: They could sell their family jewels and splurge, or turn professionals and add value to others’ enterprises, or step out of their cocooned existence and chart the unknown like their famed forefathers.

Not sure if his call fell on ears of youngsters studying in country’s premier engineering institutes, Flipkart and Snapdeal, with young Marwari boys at their helm, have emerged the poster boys of India’s start-up revolution. Political patronage and crony capitalism were on the decline, the loot of natural resources like coal, ore and telecom waves, had just come to an end, under the watchful eyes of the country’s apex court. A wave of new-age businesses and entrepreneurship supported by ideas, technology, research and branding was sweeping the shores of a stunned Republic. The equations have changed. New conquerors — call them Pepperfry’s and Tinyowl’s — have emerged from nowhere and are fighting an online battle, on equal footing. Venture capitalists and private equity firms have swamped the otherwise dry investment scene, rolling out millions of dollars, and turning old-gen businessmen jealous, their eyes popped out. Their ways of raising bank funds by pledging shares and family properties are suddenly passé. Old economy looked squarely jaded.

Top industrialists like Ratan Tata ExCampionite class of '49 turned venture capitalists, generously contributing to the start-up revolution. Wealth amassed from old economy businesses changed its colour, and became seed capital for new-age entrepreneurs. The symbolic Indian tiger, reared but rarely roared in the confines of domestic markets, underwent a metamorphosis to produce a Make-in-India tiger. People, who saw the US of 1970s in new India, outnumbered the naysayers who prophesied an apocalyptic dotcom bubble, or its second coming. So that’s about the past and the present. All along the way, India has remained a land of contradictions. Poverty and famines have been historical realities. But of the 1.2 billion population, over 900 million today wield mobile phones. About 22% of the population is still below the official poverty line. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming big. Expectations are high that India is on course to overtake China to claim the position as the world’s fastest growing economy in a year. Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy is likely to accelerate in the coming years even as much of the world, including China, slows down. While the new-gen businesses went on a euphoric trip, traditional business houses are reinventing themselves. Anant Goenka, the flag bearer of RPG Group, has now revamped strategies dexterously implemented by his father, and charted a new course. Rajiv Bajaj, on his part, abandoned the iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’ scooters that once ferried the entire family, and carefully rebuilt a motorcycle-driven model for Bajaj Auto. The Davids of the e-tail battleground, Bansals (of Flipkart and Snapdeal) are not making it easy for Amazon and Alibaba, the global Goliaths. Thousands of other new-gen entrepreneurs from across the country have kept their flags flying high. Most of the future may look like a part of our history. But we still have a long walk into the future.

Deposit Rates May Come Down: HDFC Bank


HDFC Bank expects deposit rates to come down if the RBI cuts interest rates in the upcoming policy on Tuesday. The RBI is due to announce its third Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy 2015-16 on August 4. “If there is a policy cut, it would imply that banks would be induced to try and cut their deposit rates because that is the indication that the cost of money is going to come down. “It’s only when the banks reduce their deposit rates that they can re-calibrate their base rate,” said Paresh Sukthankar, ExCampionite class of '77 and Deputy Managing Director, HDFC Bank.

Seeing a 25-50 basis points cut in the policy rate during this fiscal, he added that meaningful movements in base rates would have to follow changes in deposit rates. There has been a slight pick-up in deposit growth and, more importantly, deposit growth is outpacing loan growth, he said. “So, when you look at it in relation to each other, there is probably some room for deposit rates to come down and I think that would be the case in some months,” he added. He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch of HDFC Bank’s CSR initiative, Dhanchayat. The bank plans to reach 5,000 villages over five-six months.

Understated Bling Is Cool: Tarun Tahiliani

  • “Buoyancy, lightness, finesse and froth match the mood of today’s new generation. My love for layering evolves into a sensuous feel with silhouettes that fit the body like a glove,” he says. And there are those gold, shimmer, gems, jewels, laces, brocades, hues and tints... his designs are a splendor galore. ExCampionite class of ’77 and Designer Tarun Tahiliani, best known for fusing tradition and contemporary in his creations, accepts that his work is a spectacle of “understated bling”.

    “Bling is what we Indians love,” he says, adding that it can be downplayed. I love Rajasthan. I love Sindhi embroideries, beiges, greys and Swarovski crystals. So I guess, understated bling is cool, chivalrous and the king.” Soon to attend the three-day luxurious wedding exhibition Vogue Wedding Show, starting from August 7, the noted designer will showcase some of his best trousseau and couture pieces with glimpses of real jewels. He labels the Couture and Bridal Collection of 2015 as ‘Our Eclectic New World’. Sharing and revealing much more than what one could ask for—from his treasured moments to his outlook on diverse subjects—Tarun Tahiliani spills the beans in an exclusive interview to, all about his likes and dislikes, and unveiling privy affairs.

    Fashion week mania: Fanatics have turned fashion weeks merely into an “over-hyped” and publicized affair. “Sadly, fashion weeks are more of sponsor parades. While they are excellent for brand communication, their relevance at market places is diminishing,” Tahiliani says. “Pigeons flying around a cavernous hall with trance music is not exactly conducive to business, and at the FDCI, we have failed in the development, exposure and training for real business,” the designer says, adding, “However, Amazon is still the best for business and Lakme gets the most press coverage. The rest are not worth mentioning.” Lakme India Bridal week is the best platform for bridal trousseau.”

    Celebrities in style:Celebrities are fantastic fodder for the press, but Bollywood seems to squander their style,” says the designer who has been in the business for almost 25 years. According to him, “Deepika is the most gorgeous and statuesque, but for style no one comes close to Rekha. I’ve seen her for years. She knocks me out.” “Sonam also looks wonderful, but in the style of someone who loves to dress. Priyanka Chopra has great potential,” he says. “Whatever happened to the oomph of Elizabeth Taylor or someone as simple as Glenn Close, style and personality cannot be divorced or it would make one look like a marionette,” Tarun adds.

    Special shoots and best work-experience: Tarun says that working with Mehr Rampal and Shilpa Shetty has been his best experience. He then quips, “Loved my shoots with Katrina and Deepika.” Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Rekha. They are cool. They reflect themselves, not over the top, just the way they are,” says the 51-year-old designer. He adds Sean Connery and Homi Adajania too in the list.

    Fashion, now and then: Tarun paints a splendid picture of the world of fashion. “There is no doubt that fashion has progressed by quantum leaps and bounds in the last 15 years. There are fashion weeks, trends, glossy magazines, some multi-brand boutiques of note and a thriving handloom scene. Designers have started their own stores, and brands have been established.” Divulging his thoughts, he adds, “Yet, I have this sinking feeling every time I sit at an airport or at a mall that somehow women looked more elegant 15 years ago. That the humble saree that has been tossed off for the light dress did more to soothe the Indian curves, and that while clothes are more practical today, something of feminine grace is lost. That authenticity is missing as ‘aspirational’ Indians move from juicy tailoring to ‘jewelled’ Indian couture in a breath, devoid of any style of their own.” He feels that everyone seemed to have their own style before ‘fashion’ was born. It was the time when “the humble drape caressed the woman’s curve”. Is pop culture the end of civilisation? Tarun wonders.

    India as a fashion country at the global level: I think all eyes are on us,” says Tarun, as India is having “an international moment”. He says, “We’re slowly becoming an economic powerhouse, but in terms of international fashion, I think we are at least 10 years behind. Things are slowly changing, so I think we have the potential to catch up to it.” Tahiliani feels that the major hurdles are: “We don't think grandly. Also, we suffer from inefficiencies and need to be much more professional.” He spells out his inspirations as ‘enduring’. “I love dull zardozi, I love jamewar, I love cut work, I love anything textured, beige on beige, I love layering,” he says. The popular designer loves the Indian idea of looking through multiple layers as an old painting or miniature. “I love chikankari worn with zardozi, velvet, and mirror work. To me it’s fabulous because we’ve always had a wonderful culture of ‘jugaad’ and splicing things together. His other favourite word is collage.

    Indian roots and connection: After completing his education from abroad, did the thought of getting settled strike him or not? Tarun reveals, “Of course it did strike me. In fact, for a while, I ran a parallel studio in New York. We did lovely dresses but the buyers kept trying to make me into a Western dress designer – and I was just too Indian in spirit, Westernized as I may appear.” Sketching his connection with India, Tarun says, “I dreamt of the smells of the Kumbh, Rajasthan, the songs and thumris. I don’t understand but that belongs in my psyche and flows with my instincts. So I decided to return – and as I travelled with craft, I learnt India and more and more about her. We’ve been savaged by corrupt leaders and politicians, and people live in shocking poverty in ghastly towns and cities, but this is my country and I am deeply attached to the idea of living here. We’ve been fortunate to pioneer a bridge between Indian craft and modernism, our past and our future.”

    The tie-up with drapes: “Sari transcended fashion. It’s timeless. It needs to be saved and reinvented,” Tarun says. Tarun Tahiliani put his first step forward into fashion when he co-founded the first multi brand shop ‘Ensemble’ with his wife, Sailaja 'Sal' Tahiliani. He feels that it “kicked off the whole idea of homegrown Indian couture”. Elaborating how he came up with the idea, he says, “My wife, Rohit Khosla and I conceptualised it. We discussed about the need for a designer store that acknowledged quality, gave designers an Indian voice and an expression of freedom. To this sense, Ensemble was born in December ‘87. The store became a sensation heralding a fashion and retail revolution in India.” With his timeless designs, Tarun has blossomed in the fashion industry since the past 25 years. But time will tell whether his fresh collection hits the bull’s eye or misses the boat at the forthcoming fashion weeks!

Microsoft Launches Windows 10


Microsoft Corporation today started rolling out its new operating system Windows 10 around the world, including India, with a host of new features through which the longtime market leader in PC software will attempt to lure back consumers who gave up on Windows for mobile devices. Holding a mega function here, with India being a critical market, as part of celebrations in 13 countries, Microsoft said Windows 10 will become available today as a free upgrade 1 or with new PCs and tablets. The upgrade to its customers would be available for a year from today as part of the celebrations, the company said.

Armed with new innovative features like Cortana, an Xbox app and Microsoft Edge, the long-awaited Windows 10 would be available to computers and tablets in 190 nations. The company said the most secure Windows ever, Windows 10 is delivered as a service and kept automatically up-to-date with innovations and security updates. Windows 10 offers one experience that will become available on the broadest range of devices, including PCs, tablets, phones, Raspberry Pi, Xbox One, HoloLens and more — with more than 2,000 devices or configurations already in testing. The new Windows Store and Windows Software Development Kit also became available from today, opening the door to new and innovative app experiences on Windows 10. Bhaskar Pramanik, ExCampionite class of '66 chairman, Microsoft India, said, “Windows 10 is the best Windows ever. It is more personal and more productive. It’s safer and more secure.”

After Shashi Tharoor’s Speech, UK MP Keith Vaz Says Return ‘Koh-I-Noor’ To India


British Indian MP Keith Vaz called for the world-famous 'Koh-i-Noor' diamond to be returned to India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UK visit in November. Vaz's comments came in response to Congress MP and ExCampionite class of ’72 Shashi Tharoor's recent stirring speech at the Oxford Union calling for Britain to pay reparations to India for 200 years of its brutal colonial rule. "I welcome Dr Tharoor's speech and the endorsement of its message by Prime Minister Modi. I share their views. These are genuine grievances which must be addressed. "Pursuing monetary reparations is complex, time consuming and potentially fruitless, but there is no excuse for not returning precious items such as the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a campaign I have backed for many years," said Vaz, the longest serving British MP of Asian descent. Modi is due to arrive in the UK in November, and Prime Minister David Cameron has gone out of his way to maintain a strong bilateral relationship. "What a wonderful moment it would be, if and when Prime Minister Modi finishes his visit, which is much overdue, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond's return," Vaz said. The Koh-i-Noor was mined in medieval times in the Kollur Mine in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district. At one time it was considered the largest diamond in the world. The diamond was originally owned by the Kakatiya dynasty, which had installed it in a temple of a Hindu goddess as her eye. It passed through the hands of various invaders and was finally confiscated by the British during the Raj. Today the diamond is a part of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth II. But till now Britain has refused demands to return the diamond to its country of origin.

Specialties:Capital Markets And Securities Law Compliance, Mergers And Acquisitions And General Corporate Law.

Low cost housing will be possible with rationalization of taxes as tax collection from real estate has increased tenfold and consolidation of land prices which have increased by 4 times in last 5 years, mentioned Niranjan Hiranandani, ExCampionite class of '66 and Managing Director, Hiranandani Group of Companies while speaking at CII's 7th edition of Real Estate Conclave 2015 held in Mumbai. He further stated that the corporate participation in the real estate market has helped in increasing the reputation of the sector. "The Hon'ble Prime Minister has a vision of housing for all by 2022 and the industry should make its objective to releasing it. The sector for a long time has been catering the high end demand in the market and needs to reassess its strategy with the 70% of the demand existing for affordable housing", added Hiranandani.

In context to Mumbai, Hiranandani stated that the development of infrastructure with Cross Harbour Bridge, Metro connectivity, River project for 24 X 7 water supply and open spaces on the reclamation lands are required for growth of real estate. The 4000 acre of salt pan land in Mumbai alone can create 5 lakh units of at Rs 2000 per sq ft and improvement of the slums around the city with development in slum policy for making it effective can solve the affordable housing in Mumbai. The vision of Project Naina shared by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra is expected to add around 2 times the land area of Mumbai to the city making housing for all a reality, added Mr Hiranandani.

Arun Nanda, Past Chairman, CII Western Region & Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd while addressing the CII's Real Estate Conclave mentioned that real estate is the only industry which has unlimited demand if there are realistic expectations. In case real estate is not sold then there is mismatch in builder expectations and the consumer demand. He also added that the sector is one of the most regulated sectors putting in huge unwarranted cost in place in turn escalating the prices. The real estate industry needs to go back to the drawing board and design products as per the customer needs for catering the customer demand. The industry also needs to take cautious steps while getting investors with unrealistic expectations on board and avert from giving into the artificial land prices of the market.

The theme of the summit Re-moulding around change was conceptualized keeping in mind the change across the globe in regions like America, Europe, Asia Pacific and China which are growing at a different pace mentioned Puri, Chairman - CII (WR) Real Estate Conclave 2015 and Chairman & Country Head, JLL, India. Speaking about the construction sector he mentioned that for the year 2014 the sector was valued at USD 240 bn compared to USD 90 bn in the year 2009, witnessing a demand for residential segment at 86% and commercial at 14% in 2014. He also added that the transparency index of 120 countries constituted by JLL sees Australia leading with India ranking at 40 and China at 45 which is a good sign of Indian markets. Speaking about the future of the sector Puri mentioned that in the year 2015 the demand is expected to be better for commercial space with demand of 13 mn sq ft out of which 40% is expected from Bangalore and remaining 60% spread out in other regions. The demand from retail segment will be encouraging with participation of foreign retailers. The opening up of FDI has also been encouraging with USD 25 bn coming in through the equity route in the sector. There is also an urgent need of the sector to focus on business sustainability by bringing in trained manpower and gender diversity in the sector, added Puri.

Project Nanhi Kali Invites You To Be Part Of 2nd Edition Of ‘Proud Fathers For Daughters


Top photographers Atul Kasbekar, Jaideep Oberoi & Colston Julian to capture special father-daughter moments in aid of girl child education. Ace photographers & ExCampionite class of '81 Atul Kasbekar, Jaideep Oberoi and Colston Julian have come together to support the cause of girl child education by raising funds for Project Nanhi Kali. As part of this unique initiative – titled Proud Fathers For Daughters - the three photographers will capture precious moments between fathers and daughters on August 1 – 2, 2015 in Mumbai.

All the proceeds from this event will be donated to Project Nanhi Kali and be used to educate hundreds of underprivileged girls across India. “This is the second edition of Proud Fathers For Daughters, with the first one receiving an enthusiastic response last year. At the first edition, photographers Atul Kasbekar and Daboo Ratnani captured the special bond between almost a hundred father-daughter pairs, helping fund the education of nearly 250 underprivileged girls. This year, we are really grateful to Atul Kasbekar, Colston Julian & Jaideep Oberoi for their support, and look forward to an even stronger response as we celebrate this very unique relationship in a very special way,” said Sheetal Mehta, Trustee and Executive Director, K.C. Mahindra Education Trust. Several well-known faces such as director Nikhil Advani, restaurateur AD Singh, businessperson Dharmesh Jain and senior leaders from the Mahindra Group such as Hemant Luthra and K N Vaidyanathan were photographed with their daughters’ at last year’s event.

Many top celebrities have also lent support to this initiative by posing as father-daughter pairs for Kasbekar’s expert lens. These include Anil Kapoor and daughter Sonam Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and daughter Ridhima Kapoor, Javed Akhtar and daughter Zoya Akhtar, Sachin Tendulkar and daughter Sara Tendulkar, as well as Alyque Padamsee and daughters Raell and Shazahn Padamsee

Why APJ Abdul Kalam Was A 21st Century Feel-Good Guru

rajdeep-profile_091814043227Rajdeep Sardesai ExCampionite class of ‘81

The former president was till the very end the boy from a little village in Rameshwaram who had risen from a life of poverty through hard work, merit and knowledge. "So, what do you know about missiles!" It was a question asked with a directness that disarmed me completely. We were travelling with President APJ Abdul Kalam to Bihar and I was attempting to profile India's new president. As a student of economics and law, I knew very little about missiles, a fact which I readily confessed to the president. "Don't worry, I will teach you!" he said with typical enthusiasm. For the next half hour, in the regal surroundings of the Raj Bhavan, I was given a basic science classroom lesson by Dr Kalam. The eyes twinkling with excitement, the smile cheery, the voice bubbling with child-like energy, the positive spirit that typified India's "People's President" shone through. I was hooked, as were millions of others, by the sheer simplicity of the message and the infectious charm of the man.

A few years later, he agreed to do an interview with me on the lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan. On hindsight, it was a mistake to even attempt a walk the talk format with President Kalam. He was in his seventies, I was in my forties but if you'd watched the interview, you would have wondered who was the younger man. "C'mon, walk faster!" he told me as I struggled to keep pace. When we launched CNN IBN, I met Dr Kalam with a special request. "Sir, we want to do a Republic Day programme with you!" He was hesitant, perhaps realizing that acceding to one request might lead to many more. "Sir, we will only have children in the audience asking you questions!" I told him. It was the easiest way to his heart: he could never say no to the young. The lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan were opened up as was his soul. In the company of children, Dr Kalam was eternally youthful, not the first citizen of India, but just a friendly uncle with a kind word for all. In 2007, at the Ramnath Goenka journalism awards, I had the privilege of receiving the award from President Kalam. When a question and answer session followed the award ceremony, Kalam refused to sit in the front row. Instead, he came and sat cross-legged on the stage, asking us why we didn't focus more on science and technology in the news. It was a bizarre scene: pompous editors sitting on chairs while the easy-going president was on the stage floor asking us questions! This was quintessential Kalam: unconventional in style, be it his floppy silvery mane of hair, or inviting an audience to send him questions to his personal email: "please write to, shall I repeat!"

In a way, he was a 21st century feel-good guru, someone who could connect with a diverse India by the sheer magic of his persona. What was that magic? Quite simply, it was his ability to stay rooted and unaffected by the trappings of power, a true aam admi in a VVIP khaas admi universe, someone who was above narrow political affiliations. He was till the very end the boy from a little village in Rameshwaram who had risen from a life of poverty through hard work, merit and knowledge. There may have been far greater missile scientists than him but few had been trained in the journey of life like Dr Kalam. Which is why he represented the classic new India aspirational story: rooted in a civilization past where he could play the Rudra veena and recite Tamil poetry and yet live comfortably in a world of satellites and missiles. The combination of the spiritual and the scientific, of tradition and modernity, laced with eternal simplicity, was just irresistible. And when he smiled, he urged you to to smile with him because in Kalam's world the glass was always half full, always looking to the future while being conscious of the past, a world where India 2020 co-existed with a rich cultural heritage.

Post-script: It is perhaps fitting that Dr Kalam breathed his last words amidst the ignited minds of students at IIM Shillong. A karmayogi till the very end, he couldn't have asked for a better audience to say farewell to. And here's a final thought: why don't we declare his birthday as National Students day and offer hundreds of scholarships to poor, meritorious students, many of whom could then dream of making the long journey from Rameshwaram to Rashtrapati Bhavan like Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Kalam.

Bridal Fashion Week To Begin From August 7

Designers like Abu Jani, Sandeep Khosla, Anita Dongre, Ashima Leena, Falguni Shane Peacock, Gauri Nainika and ExCampionite class of '77 Tarun Tahiliani will showcase their creative excellence in bridal couture here from August 7-11. Other names who will showcase their works include JJ Valaya, Jyotsna Tiwari, Rina Dhaka, Shantanu Nikhil and Suneet Varma, said a statement. Sponsored by BMW with Swarovski as the Fashion Partner, the event will be held at DLF Emporio here. It promises to bring alive the latest trends and designs in bridal couture.

HDFC Posts Marginal Rise In Standalone Profit In First Quarter


Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) reported a marginal increase of 1.2 per cent in its standalone profit at ₹1,361 crore for the first quarter ended June 2015. This was helped by a 17 per cent growth in net interest income but limited due to the dividend accounting procedure. Missing analysts’ estimates, the country’s largest mortgage lender said the results were not comparable, as the dividend payment of ₹315 crore from HDFC Bank, received in July 2015, will be accounted for only in the second quarter. In the previous fiscal, it had received a dividend of ₹269 crore from HDFC Bank in June 2014 and accordingly the income was accounted for in the first quarter.

Gross non-performing assets were stable at 0.69 per cent though it increased sequentially, while spreads were also stable at 2.31 per cent (2.28 per cent a year ago). The fourth quarter gross NPAs are always the lowest, it being seasonal and a historical trend, said HDFC Vice-Chairman and CEO & ExCampionite class of '70 Keki Mistry. HDFC’s loan book increased 14 per cent to ₹2.31 lakh crore (₹2.03 lakh crore). The average size of loans was at ₹23.41 lakh with an average term of 12 years and an average loan to value of 63 per cent of the loan. Individual loan book growth after adding back loans sold grew 23 per cent. Non-individual loan book declined as there was repayment of two large loans during the quarter. The bank sold ₹3,870 crore loans to HDFC Bank during the first quarter, while for FY15 it had sold ₹10,949 crore. Mistry said the company will raise ₹5,000 crore through a QIP of bonds attached with warrants which will be converted into shares at a certain period of time yet to be finalised. This will be converted at a premium, the quantum of which will be in the range of 25-40 per cent. HDFC has three major subsidiaries — HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Co and HDFC Asset Management Co. Its main business is lending to individual home buyers and builders.

NSQF Himachal Pradesh Project Records A 524 Strong Placement


40 companies and 833 students participated 524 students placed. Hiring companies from diverse industry sectors - Automobiles, Health Care, IT/ ITes, Retail and Security

Himachal Pradesh State Government’s Education Department and Wadhwani Foundations announced the successful culmination of the first ever National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) led placement drive in the state. The initiative witnessed successful placements of 524 students, trained under NSQF and program managed by the Wadhwani Foundations’ Skills Development Network (SDN). National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), concerned Sector Skill Councils and their affiliated Vocational Training Partners played a key-supporting role along with Wadhwani Foundations, leading to a better future of the students. The placement drive that recently concluded involved 40 companies and 833 students participating across nine different locations, including Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra. Companies like Eureka Forbes, Fortis Hospital, Max Hospital, Platinum Chevrolet, Saini Motors (Tata), Himtex Textiles, G4S Securities were present at the placement drive to select suitable candidates. The students, who secured placement with the companies, have been offered salary package ranging between Rs. 5,000/- to Rs. 9,700/- per month, with the highest salary of Rs. 15,000/- per month.

Congratulating the students and also the officials dealing with the program for launching and sustaining this visionary program, the State Project Director, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Shri Ghanshyam Chand said, “The only way of expanding skill training is to foray in mainstream education. NSQF has opened window of opportunities for secondary school students in Himachal Pradesh. The program benefits students at grassroots level and improves their future, and its success is firmly established by the success of the graduating students getting employment in organized sector. I must thank efforts of the State Education Department and our Knowledge & Technology Partners, Wadhwani Foundations, whose program management has shown commendable results in quick time. The industry has also shown exemplary commitment and vision in undertaking such a path-breaking recruitment exercise.” Vocationalisation of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education scheme aligned with National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) was launched in the state of Himachal Pradesh in 2013 with 100 schools and 5000 students. The vocational courses initially included Automobiles, Health Care, IT/ ITes, Retail and Security. Agriculture and Travel & Tourism were later introduced in the second year with an addition of 100 more schools. Himachal Pradesh’s State Education Department, with support from Wadhwani Foundations and other stakeholders, have trained over 500 vocational trainers in implementation strategies and e-learning programs in the schools.

Exhilarated by the remarkable outcome of the placement drive, Manish Mohan, Executive Vice President, Skills Development Network (SDN), Wadhwani Foundations said, “At Wadhwani Foundations, job fulfillment through transformational technology and digital pedagogy led education is our primary goal and the successful placement of over 524 students is a wonderful indicator of the NSQF’s success in Himachal. I would like to thank the RMSA, State Education Department and NSDC for their unstinted support, and the innumerable students and teachers for making this happen. It is now imperative that we sustain this momentum of student placements.” “The initiative witnessed a dramatic progress with the addition of 300 schools and incorporation of the telecommunication sector in the curricula, taking total strength of schools to 500, with 1200 vocational trainers and more than 42,000 student enrolments in the state, in FY 2015-16.” Manish Mohan further added. Initially, Wadhwani Foundations focused on setting up the program followed by institutionalizing the basic policies and guidelines, and strengthening of a core program management team consisting of technical officers, school coordinators, principals and district coordinators through specialized training and providing technical support. Regular school visits were conducted by specialists from the Foundations to identify fundamental issues, prospects and hurdles. Skill development training was made more informative and interesting by using multi-media based e-content, which has been widely accepted and appreciated by students as well as the vocational trainers.

Shalini Thakur who completed her XII standard along with Level 4 in Healthcare sector from GGSS Portmore, Shimla is now working with Portea Health Care Company with a salary of Rs. 11,500 per month. She is extremely grateful to her teachers and other mentor on her successful placement. Shalini Thakur says, “I come from a lower middle class family and our financial condition is not good so I wanted to take up a job. When NSQF project came to Himachal Pradesh, I was the student of first batch of Healthcare domain. As I took admission in this domain, I was not at all aware about the benefits of this domain. But thanks to the Faculty, Ms. Hemlata Kaundal, I was taught the advantages of Healthcare domain. Moreover she inculcated confidence in our personality and helped in developing our communication skills, always motivating us to give our best. Now I stand on my own feet.” Commenting on this placement initiative, Abhineet Malhotra, Sales and Marketing Head of Swastik Solutions said, “We are pleased with the output of students and confident about their productivity. Quality of students who appeared in interviews has been of high standard. I would like to congratulate NSQF and Wadhwani Foundations for giving the industry skilled students who are ready to take on the private world. We conducted interviews in Shimla, Mandi and Dharamshala and received candidates of high skill potential in the Retail sector. All thanks to HP – NSQF for imparting of knowledge and skills to students across government schools in H.P.”

About Wadhwani Foundations: Founded in 2000 by ExCampionite class of ’62 Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, the Foundations’ primary mission is economic acceleration in emerging economies. With large-scale education led initiatives driving skill development and job creation, the Foundations have launched five high impact education, training and research focused Initiatives in India that will lead to creation and fulfillment of 25 million jobs by 2020. To leverage entrepreneurship as a catalyst for job creation, Wadhwani Foundations established the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) in 2003. NEN inspires, educates and supports emerging entrepreneurs. Since inception, NEN has resulted in 2,000 new start-ups with 12,000+ direct and 50,000+ indirect jobs, and is now tracking 1,500+ new companies each year. For skilling, vocational education and training led job fulfillment, Wadhwani Foundations have set up the Skills Development Network (SDN) which supports multiple high school, college and employer initiatives for entry level mid-skill jobs through a digital/video curricula and pedagogy.

Opportunity Network for Disabled (OND) is aimed at mainstreaming the educated disabled into sustainable high quality corporate jobs through a business value proposition. Research and Innovation Network (RIN) aims to upgrade India’s research eco-system by catalyzing ‘Centers of Innovations’ in partnership with existing research Institutes. Policy Research Centre provides data driven research inputs for informed policy actions towards creating an education led human-capital driven growth economy. Wadhwani Chair on US-India policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C, aims to accelerate India-U.S economic activities primarily through channels of skilling and education.

Keep On Walking Altaf Patel Excampionite Class Of ’64

My heart used to go out to an elderly Maharashtrian woman who habitually walked in my area. Her nine-yard sari tucked efficiently at the ankle, many inches above her shining white trainers, she would walk slowly before stopping every 10 minutes.

I presumed she had a heart disease that produced the disabling symptoms which made her stop every time. Over the ensuing months and years, I noticed she had changed to stopping every 20 minutes to a half an hour - thereby implying that her cardiovascular status had improved. I noticed she had difficulty in resuming her walk, a clinical symptom of Parkinson's disease. Yet, come wind, rain or storm, at 4.30 every evening she would be out walking on Carmichael Road. I often wanted to initiate a conversation with her, but always failed to do so. One day I noticed that she did not arrive at her usual time, and then I did not see her again for close to a month. I wondered where she was and feared the worst. Eventually my walking schedule shifted to the evening and I forgot all about her. Intermittently however I would find time to walk at 400 pm, and one day, after a long lapse, I saw her walking again. This time I noticed that she stopped every 5 minutes or so and I wondered if the gap had cost her her physical fitness. I am greatly in support of walking. In the 1950s and 60s a lot of people walked. Time was not as important as it is today and cars were expensive. Walking was thus a common way to commute. How strange it is now, where the poor man walks because he has to and so conserves his health, while the rich man travels by cars and needs to walk on a treadmill to preserve his.

I used to use a treadmill at my club. At that point of time there were two treadmills in the dressing room of the club. One, much to my annoyance, perennially malfunctioned. In a bid to get to work quickly, I would often have to suffer using the only working treadmill. Often this was occupied by a man in his early sixties, who had the stamina to use the treadmill for more than an hour, and I would have to ask him how long he would be to decide whether to abort the idea. One day he struck up a conversation with me and he told me that he ran every day on a treadmill because his family had a history of untimely death from heart disease. I thought he was doing an admirable job. A few months later I found the treadmill empty on a Monday morning and the dressing room hamal informed me that the man had passed away from a heart attack the previous night. He had been healthy and even worked out for an hour on the morning of his death. It made me wonder whether the treadmill was really as effective as walking.

These incidents have repeatedly raised the question: "How soon does one lose their aerobic fitness after stopping exercise?" I spent these last few weeks talking to my fellow sportsmen and exercise enthusiasts to discover what they think about the issue. Everyone agreed that after a few months of relative inactivity they lost their aerobic fitness, but no one could pinpoint a time frame. Personally, I find that if I miss a weekend of exercise, I find it difficult to perform the same exercise on Monday morning. Studies conducted by the Florida State University attest that there is a rapid fall in fitness in the first three weeks of rest, but a more gradual decline after that. Exercise helps the body in several ways. The heart rate at rest decreases as does the maximum heart rate, and the pumping capacity of the heart increases. Blood pressure and the thickness of the blood decreases, while there is an increase in muscle mass strength and bone strength. Blood sugar and body fat also decrease. Remember to never stop exercising, and if you have to, then continue to do a little exercise as long as you have no serious medical condition.

Dentsu Aegis Network CEO Ashish Bhasin On Reasons Behind Success At Media ACE Awards


The exchange4media Group’s Media ACE Awards were hosted in Mumbai. Of the ten award categories, Ashish Bhasin, ExCampionite class of ’81 & Chairman and CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network took home the Radio City Hallmark Award of the Year, which aims to recognize the CEO/Chairperson/Head of the Network of agencies who has contributed to the growth of their company, and the industry at large. Speaking about his win, Ashish Bhasin said, “This means a lot to me because everyone knows that our group has had a chequered history. In 2008 when I took over, Carat had roughly about 40-45 people. Today we are 1700 people strong and we have the entire gamut of all our global brands represented here, whether it is Isobar, iProspect, Posterscope, Vizeum, Carat and all the Dentsu brands also, which have now come together. It has been a tremendous journey for us; we’ve moved through a lot of difficulties from being nobody in the market to now being the fastest growing agency group for two years in a row.”

He went on to add, “It really means a lot when it does get recognized because the journey obviously is full of a lot of challenges and obstacles so these milestones make you feel that it’s worthwhile.” The exchange4media Group’s Media ACE Awards initiative is an attempt to recognize Indian media agencies for their work and contribution to the Indian media industry. In its inaugural year, the Media ACE Awards took the first step with media service brands. The award-winning work in this area demonstrated leadership and direction that has helped in moulding the nation’s media landscape. Geetu Verma, Executive Director- Food & Refreshments, Hindustan Unilever Limited, was the Jury Chair for the Awards this year.

Ratan Tata Inducted Into Automotive Hall Of Fame 2015


Tata Group chairman emeritus & ExCampionite class of '49 Ratan Tata was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame for his contribution to the automobile industry. The ceremony was held in Detroit, where Tata was joined by former Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemoloand the founder, chairman of Penske Corporation, Roger Penske, who were also being recognize for their contribution to the automobile industry. Ratan Tata was lauded for the growth of Tata Group under his chairmanship, and the turnaround of Jaguar Land Rover under his mentor ship. Tata Group has grown to 96 companies across 56 countries, employing over five lakh people and churning out revenues over $100 billion. By taking over JLR, Tata helped save 33,000 jobs in England, "while preserving the rich tradition of performance and style that are the signature of these marques. Clearly his vision is the reality,” Michael Martini, Automotive Hall of Fame chairman said.

Music Was Probably My First Language: Zubin Mehta


Two years after the controversy over his Kashmir concert, renowned music conductor & ExCampionite class of ’48 Zubin Mehta,79, is set to return to India, this time for a collaboration with Australian World Orchestra in Delhi in October. Over a telephonic conversation from Tel Aviv, he talks about what really happened, his memories of Bombay and why he is in constant touch with his friends from India

Your last visit to India, for the Shalimar Bagh concert in Kashmir, became controversial. Looking back, do you think it could have been done differently? Well, we didn’t do anything wrong except make music there. It was a group in Kashmir that opposed the concert. The people of Kashmir didn’t oppose it. The thing is, that when the concert was televised in Kashmir, 70 per cent of Kashmir saw it. The negative views were aired half-a-week before the concert took place. The state government, of course, was on our side as was the central government. I’m glad we did it. I would do it all over again.

Discord in the Valley continued even after you left. How do you react when arts and politics collide? We played our concert the way we had decided to. The fact that we played Kashmiri music with Kashmiri musicians was very well-received. Kashmiri musicians were threatened before the concert, but not one stayed back. They all turned up and we were very proud. It was a positive experience all through. I know there were negative comments. It came from the separatists and they were not successful in stopping the concert.

You have never shied away from taking a political stand — be it performing with your orchestra in war-torn Sarajevo and Bosnia or playing Wagner in Israel, where his music and ideas are considered anti-Semitic. I happen to be the music director of an orchestra that lives in a state of crisis and has done so for the last 60 years. It’s not that every time I come to Israel, bombs go off. Sometimes, yes. Last year, we had that barrage of rockets from Gaza, which — thank god for the iron dome that Israel has developed — was stopped. Otherwise, half of Tel Aviv would have been in ruins today, considering how many rockets were fired. As for the Wagner concert, we tried that as far back as in the year 1981. We haven’t tried it since then. I’m very sorry that we are not playing it, but it will happen again one day. But one has to consider the emotions of the people there. People are still living with numbers on their arms. They don’t want to be transported back to the days of terror. One can understand that.

You call Tel Aviv home these days. Your designation says you are ‘conductor for life’ for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. What has been your relationship with the country? Initially, when I first came here, after seven years in Vienna, it did seem closer to an Asian atmosphere and that was helpful. My official home is Los Angeles, but I still consider India my home.

You’ve founded the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, a unique Arab-Israel partnership with the Tel-Aviv University to promote music education among Palestinians. How did that come about? It’s a foundation we have in northern Israel, in an Israeli-Arab town. We cannot teach beyond the West Bank, Israelis are not allowed in Ramallah. But in the town of Nazareth and Shwaram, we have about 150 young students, who also study Arabic music and are coached by Arab teachers. They are supervised by members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and we have had great results. I have a music school at the University of Tel Aviv. In that school, there are some seven or eight Arab students from the north, who are being taught full-time by the Philharmonic members. My dream is to have an Israeli-Arab track in the Israel Philharmonic. And it will happen one day. There is no bias in the orchestra against the Arabs. We have an Arabic soloist. A very fine Arabic pianist plays with us sometimes.

How difficult is it for you to invite certain artistes to Israel? Do you see some of them rejecting the idea of collaboration because of the policies of a country you live in? Some great artistes just don’t come because they do not agree with the politics of Israel. They don’t tell us directly, of course. Some don’t come because we are not a rich orchestra and we don’t pay much. But if you look at our season’s calendar, we are fine with world class artistes and conductors. We’ve got to nurture the future generation.

Let’s go back a little in time. Tell me about your years in Bombay in the ’40s and ’50s. What do you remember of that city? I remember everything. That is why it makes me really sad when I go back to Bombay now because of what it has become architecturally. I left when I was 18, so I wasn’t a child. I remember the British leaving. I remember (Jawaharlal) Nehru saying goodbye to Mountbatten. I remember going to the cricket matches, the Parsi pavilion, going to St Mary’s school. It still comes back so clearly. I stay in touch with my friends of those days even now. Sometimes, even on a daily basis. You know why? For the cricket scores. I just have to know those.

Growing up in a home where music was an intrinsic part of life, was taking it up as a profession a natural progression? Did you ever want to do something else? I never really wanted to do anything else. My parents brainwashed me into trying to become a doctor. Obviously, they could never convince me. I studied two semesters of medicine at St Xavier’s college. But I knew it wasn’t for me. There was not one thing in our house that didn’t have music in it. Music was probably my first language. I knew it even before I knew how to speak Gujarati.

You moved to Vienna in 1954, when you were 18, from a country where music was deeply rooted to the oral tradition. Could you take me through that time? How was the music different? I never felt any bias against me in Vienna. I had boys from seven religions in my class at St Mary’s school. We made fun of each other but there was no hatred. When I went to Vienna, I heard anti-Semitic remarks for the first time. It was shocking to me, but as an Indian, I never experienced any bias. I did feel it quite strongly when I was in Liverpool though. The Bombay Symphony Orchestra, founded by my father (Mehli Mehta), was hardly a well-knit orchestra. It comprised Parsi amateurs, Goan folk musicians and some members of the Navy band. So you can imagine the culture shock I got when I heard a real orchestra play in Vienna for the first time. And that orchestra was the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which even today is the world’s greatest orchestra. My ears just popped open.

What goes on in your mind, while you are on that rostrum (for an orchestra) or while you are in the pit (for an opera)? Only the music. Believe me, it’s a combination of presentation and interpretation, of breathing with the musicians. All the work you have done in rehearsals comes to fruition at the concert. So there is immense amount of concentration.We have to have the knowledge, technical command and control to convince 100 musicians of our interpretation. To do that and present a programme in four rehearsals, it takes a lot of expertise and experience.

Do you find time to listen to Indian music? Yes, I do and enjoy it immensely. This month, I’m going to Salzburg for a speech and there, my dear friend Alarmal Valli is performing. I’m quite excited about that.

Why E-Commerce Must Listen To Kumar Mangalam Birla


LimeRoad, the Gurgaon-based online fashion retailer for women, lets users create and share collages – pieces of clothing, shoes, bags, other accessories – to present a complete look. The site calls them scrapbooks. There are more than 1.5 million on the site. Thousands of them are created by women from unexpected places, such as small places in Jharkhand.

Suchi Mukherjee, Lime-Road’s founder and CEO, once spoke to one of those women to say the looks she had created were absolutely lovely. Would she like to come to a press conference the company was holding in Patna? That wouldn’t be possible, the Jharkhand woman said, her family wouldn’t let her travel. But she was happy doing the scrapbooks. Every time she did one, she felt she had soared beyond her place. To Mukherjee, that was a magical moment, the kind that makes her pinch herself. Is it really happening? She need not pinch herself a second time. It is all happening in the world of consumer internet. It has become an avenue for people from Jharkhand to Jorhat to express themselves. This expression takes various forms. A fellow in Jammu, looking for a particular book, just orders it on Flipkart. His father may have had to travel to Nai Sarak in Old Delhi for one that was difficult to find. A rich businessman’s son in Ambala no longer travels to Delhi to buy Ralph Lauren shirts. Any of several e-commerce sites delivers it to his doorstep. The mother of a toddler in Ghaziabad, when she needs baby diapers or wet wipes, just orders it on Firstcry. This writer took a fancy to the Merkur razor, which is made only in Germany and was praised by Esquire magazine. It took 12 days to come, but a dealer in the United States delivered it through Amazon. This convenience manifested itself early in the immense popularity of the railway ticketing site IRCTC, which saved millions the torture of travelling to a railway station, spending hours in sweaty queues, and facing a rude man at the counter. Now it has turned into a people’s movement and is driving the sales of... of nearly everything. Why, you can even order tea on the Internet. It will come to you nice and hot.

The access and convenience are reasons why e-commerce will live forever, at least until a better technology overtakes it. But that is no reason to be sanguine. Online retailers will still do well to pay heed to what Kumar Mangalam Birla, ExCampionite class of ’83 & chairman of Aditya Birla Group, told The Economic Times in an interview. “At the end of the day, the financial investor will also have to make returns. One thing I am sure of is that you can’t have unlimited access to capital funding. Therefore, the question that comes to my mind is whether the deep discount model is sustainable at all.” That strikes a chord with the people who have been wondering whether the success of e-commerce is all about the discounts. It cannot be. The discount model has already been tried out by offline retail, which now finds itself being overtaken, especially in the consumer’s mind, by the online kind. Secondly, there is a reason why some online guys are more successful than the others even though many are playing the same discount game. Even in the new world, the old-world factors of quality, assurance and customer experience count. What’s more, within the world of online commerce, distinct identities are emerging. So while women express themselves on LimeRoad, ShopClues is the Karol Bagh online – you will also find the high-end stuff there, but you would go there to get the best possible at the lowest price and the largest collection of it. Still, sooner or later, investors will want to see returns. Some day they will have had enough of GMV – gross merchandise value, the total value of all transactions – that is now generally accepted as a measure of performance for an online marketplace. E-commerce needs to take the next step and earn the consumer’s loyalty, stop him from site hopping merely in search of a lower price.

G Shankaran Nair, chief strategy officer of Servion, which makes solutions that enhance customer interaction through phone, chat, social media, and email, hits the nail on the head. E-commerce companies have a lot of data, he says. “But they use that data only for customer monetisation. They should use some of it to win customer loyalty.”

A contemporary twist to The Merchant of Venice

If you tickle us do we not laugh? Do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest we shall resemble you in that......the villainy you teach me, I will execute, it shall go hard but i will better the instruction......

Shylock’s dramatic monologue is one of Shakespeare’s greatest piece of writing in The Merchant of Venice. It is a very relevant play not just for showcasing human being’s desire for love and hatred, generosity and greed, forgiveness or the lack of it; it is a deep satire on society then and now. The Jews lived in a ghetto in those times, in Venice and were allowed to ply their trade for only two weeks of the month and were generally despised by the Christians. Shylock, a moneylender, is one of the Jews and he spoke these lines when he was asked to give mercy to Antonio whose pound of flesh he demanded in return for the loan he had given him.

The play is supposed to be a comedy, but it is actually a dark tragedy with the death of evil Shylock who is hated by all. The contemporary twist that the director of the play presented on July 12 by Masque, Vikram Kapadia, ExCampionite class of ’76 professes to give the play is largely cosmetic. By simply altering the characters to represent this age and giving them mobile phones and setting them in contemporary locales does not give the play a new twist. For that characters need to be worked on. Shylock played by Vikram Kapadia himself, was a shadow of the original character in Shakespeare. Antonio was quite good as a merchant, played by Luke Kenny. Neil Bhoopalam, was wasted as a talent playing Price of Morocco and Prince of Aragon. Yuki Ellias as Portia was a dim reminder of the original Portia. Tubal played by Nikhil Sangha, was authentic as the only Jewish man in the play and Shylock’s friend.

The story is a classic tale of love and deception and the final meeting of lovers. Bassanio, a young Venetian, needs a loan to help him woo Portia, a wealthy heiress. He reaches out to his friend Antonia to bail him out. Despite having no liquidity himself, Antonio heavily invested in his fleet of ships at sea and so he cannot refuse Bassanio. He approaches his arch enemy, Shylock. Shylock agrees to Antonio’s demand with a pound of flesh cut off from Antonio, as collateral. Meanwhile, Portia is on display. Her father’s will stipulates that she must marry the man who chooses the right casket out of a trio of gold, silver and lead. The suitors come from far and wide, each more unappealing than the last until Bassanio arrives and selects the correct casket of lead. Antonio’s fleet is shipwrecked and he finds himself at the mercy of Shylock. Even as he is losing the case, and Shylock is preparing to cut out his pound of flesh, Portia arrives and uses her brains to outwit the Jew and save the merchant. Portia then goes back to Belmont and awaits Bassanio who discovers that she disguised herself as a young lawyer to fight the case for Antonio. The play was presented by Aadyam, Aditya Birla Group.

Enjoy The Summer Without The Sunburn

Using the right sunscreen correctly is critical to protecting your skin against harmful ultraviolet rays If you think using a sunscreen with the highest SPF (Sun protection factor) will help protect your skin from the harsh summer sun, think twice.

With temperatures in the UAE soaring as high as 50 degrees in summer, many people go shopping for sunscreen with an SPF higher than 15. However, experts say the difference in protection offered by sunscreens with different SPF’s is not all that significant. Dr Mukesh Batra, ExCampionite class of ’67 founder and chairman of Dr Batra’s Group of Companies in Dubai, said there is a very slight increase in the level of UVB protection between sunscreen with SPF 15, and SPF 30 and 50. “SPF 15 will block 93 per cent of UVB rays, SPF 30 will block 97 per cent of UVB rays, and using SPF 50 will block 98 per cent of rays,” said Dr Batra. For those regular tanners who are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, the negligible difference in SPF levels could make a difference. “If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red as a result of sunburn, using SPF 15 sunscreen will theoretically prevent reddening 15 times longer [300 minutes],” he said. Dr Batra explained that due to this common misconception that using higher SPF sunscreen will offer more protection, may people often spend more time in the sun under the belief their skin is protected. According to experts, the key to saving your skin is quantity and frequency of sunscreen application. The secret to protecting your skin when you’re spending a day under the sun or on the beach is reapplying sunscreen every two hours. Studies show that most people do not use enough sunscreen for it to be effective, said Dr Batra. “Dermatologists suggest applying 1-2 ounce of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15, 20 minutes before going outdoors to help the skin absorb it well, and reapplying every two hours.” Regularly applying waterproof SPF 30 sunscreen should be sufficient if you are spending a day on the beach as activities like swimming and towel-drying could decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen, explained Dr Batra. Another common myth is that people with dark skin can skip using sunscreen altogether. While they may not get sunburn as easily as people with fair skin, those with dark skin are also susceptible to skin cancer, sun-spots, wrinkles and other skin disorders. Dr Batra said research suggests that melanoma, a form of skin cancer, is usually fatal in dark-skinned people because they do not use as much sunscreen as those with fairer skin. “It is evidenced that people with dark skin have an increased amount of melanin, which provides them with natural sun protection, and some have a natural SPF of 13 that filters twice as much UV radiation,” he said. However, using sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 is recommended to all people regardless of skin colour.

Dr Reem Al Kaddah, specialist dermatologist at iCare Clinics in Dubai, also pointed out that other widely-believed myths include the belief that there are different levels of SPF for different skin types, and that applying sunscreen will reduce a person’s vitamin D levels. She confirmed that studies have shown that applying sunscreen has no impact on vitamin D levels, and contrary to popular belief, people should also apply sunscreen on cloudy days. Most sunscreens are made to suit all skin types, she said. For those with dry skin, using cream and ointment-based sunscreens is ideal, whereas people with oily skin should look for water-based sunscreens to avoid exacerbating breakouts. For sensitive skin, using hypo-allergenic and fragrance-free sunscreens is recommended to help sooth the skin. However, the level of sun protection and SPF has the same impact on all skin types and skin colours.

Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2015 Airs On THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, 28/8

Led by guest conductor Zubin Mehta ExCampionite class of ’48, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 12th open-air concert, this time with a distinctly Scandinavian flavor, in the magnificent gardens of Austria's Imperial Schnbrunn Palace. The Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2015 airs on THIRTEEN's Great Performances, Friday, August 28 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Mehta first conducted the concert in 2005, and earlier this year he was again leading the orchestra on From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2015 also seen on Great Performances. The concert soloist on this occasion is the internationally acclaimed Austrian piano virtuoso Rudolf Buchbinder. This free outdoor concert, recorded in May, allows the distinguished orchestra to make classical music accessible to establish a following beyond its usual core audience. The annual event is produced by the ORF, and transmitted live or delayed in more than 80 countries worldwide. In past years, the concert has been conducted by Bobby McFerrin (2004), Zubin Mehta (2005), Plcido Domingo (2006), Valery Gergiev (2007 & 2011), Georges Prtre (2008), Daniel Barenboim (in 2009 when GREAT PERFORMANCES first began airing the concerts on PBS), Franz Welser-Mst (2010), Gustavo Dudamel (2012), Lorin Maazel (2013) and Christoph Eschenbach (2014). The Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder plays Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor, which was first performed in Copenhagen in 1868. That famous work is followed by the piano piece Soire de Vienne (inspired by the waltzes of Johann Strauss) by the pianist and composer Alfred Grnfeld, who was born in Vienna in 1852.

A piece by Christian Sinding, one of Grieg's contemporaries, follows. His songs and symphonies have been largely forgotten, but his 1896 Rustle of Spring endures. Also from Grieg is one of the suites taken from the incidental music he composed for Ibsen's classic play "Peer Gynt." The Swedish-Finnish composer Jean Sibelius helped strengthen Finland's independence movement through his music. His symphonic poem Finlandia, which DATES back to 1900, was used from the beginning as the "secret Finnish anthem" and was so popular that it was even banned by the Russians. The concert ends as it does every year with a performance of the great Viennese waltz Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss II. But the penultimate piece is the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop by Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye who was so in awe of Johann Strauss Sr. that he began to compose in his style, earning him the title "The Strauss of the North." The full musical program is as follows:

Richard Strauss Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare op. 109 Edvard Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16 (Buchbinder soloist) Alfred Grnfeldt Soire de Vienne (Buchbinder) Christian Sinding Rustle of Spring, op. 32, Nr. 3 Edvard Grieg Peer-Gynt-Suite Nr. 1, op. 46 Jean Sibelius Finlandia, Tondichtung op. 26/7 Hans Christian Lumbye Copenhagener Eisenbahn Dampf Galopp Johann Strauss II Wiener Blut, "Viennese Spirit" Waltz

GREAT PERFORMANCES is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America's most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40 year history on public television, GREAT PERFORMANCES has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America's most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.

5 Billionaire’s Daughters Who Are Making It Big In Business


In a country in which killing girl child is still followed as a custom and women empowerment campaigns are a daily scenario the top most billionaires and business groups are making bringing in a change by involving their daughters to their business firms and let them take control of things. Anayashree is the billionaire daughter of industrialist & ExCampionite class of ’83 Kumar Mangalam Birla who is taking a different path in order to develop her business skills. The Oxford University student considers her mother as a role model and dreams of becoming a social entrepreneur. Pursuing her passion, she started the Svatantra Microfin, which provides credits for the women in rural villages of Madhya Pradesh to buy sewing machines and fund start-ups. Svatantra has over 20 branches in several districts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and more than 100 employees. Anaya is looking forward to nationalize her firm.

Realtors Defer Reits On Tax Concerns

Even though the regulatory framework for launching real estate investment trusts (Reits) is in place, taxation issues seem to be forcing developers to postpone Reit issuances.

Last year, market regulator Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI) had published elaborate guidelines for issuance and listing of Reits, yet not a single issue has been floated so far, as tax-related issues are restraining companies from going ahead with their plans. While few developers were said to be considering launch of Reits and getting their commercial properties listed, there is serious hesitation in going ahead with their plans in view of three levels of taxation, industry experts said. Developers have been looking forward to the government doing away with MAT and dividend distribution tax (DDT). While experts agree that doing away with MAT has removed a major policy hurdle, they are divided on the existing regulation over DDT. They anticipate that Reits would take at least a couple of years before gaining momentum. According to regulatory sources, SEBI may soon take up the issue with the government. ExCampionite class of ’66 Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Constructions, told FC, “Everybody was expecting that Reits would be a complete pass through without any taxes to make them attractive for investors. That has not happened.”

Hiranandani said his company has no plan to launch Reits in the near future, but may consider it at a later stage once the issues are sorted out. “While the government is looking into the matter, developers investors are not keen on Reits until more clarity,” said Sanjay Dutt, executive MD, South Asia, Cushman and Wakefield. Dutt said developers were bothered by tax-related procedural issues: Developers usually set up SPVs for individual projects. So, if they have four projects and want to launch Reits, then they would have to register the four SPVs in a new company, for which, they would also have to pay stamp duty and registration free. There was also no clarity on gain on dividends tax and they wanted MAT to be exempted. Major developers who have expressed interest in listing Reits are DLF, Embassy Office Parks — a joint venture between the Embassy Group and private equity behemoth Blackstone, and another joint venture firm between RMZ and Qatar Investment Authority. While the global funds backed Reits aim to raise Rs 5,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore, DLF has said it would launch two Reits, one on commercial assets and other on retail ventures, with plans to raise up to Rs 6,000 crore. “While MAT exemption will encourage developers for Reit listing, the DDT payable will still act as a deterrent for foreign investors,” said Rajeev Talwar, executive director, DLF. He, however, said the company would go ahead with its Reit plans this financial year.

According to a JLL report, dividend distribution tax may remain as one of the key challenges. Current rent yields are not very attractive compared with risk-free investment options like G-sec bonds. However, office rents are 15-40 per cent below the peak rents of 2008. With the economy improving and India gaining more attention from domestic and foreign firms, rents may rise further. Also, with better transparency, coupled with rising demand, cap rates may compress, resulting in higher capital values for office assets. However, this will be a gradual increase and should take at least two to three years. “Since the majority of hurdles have been cleared, we expect the launch of the first Reit in India by the first half of 2016. If the progress takes place at the expected pace, over the next three years, the Reit market has the potential to grow to $15 billion,” according to the report.

Sibling Show


Targeting a turnover of Rs 1000 crore by FY2017, bothers Alok and Anuj are determined to take their father Jagdish Saxena’s vision to the next level. Will the infusion of bold and complementary new strategies from both sons be strong enough to weather the competitive times ahead? Or will sibling rivalry play the spoiler?

Opportunities don’t happen. You create them,” is a common motivational quote which possibly best defines the journey of Mumbai-based company Elder Pharma. It was founded by Jagdish Saxena in 1987 and after his demise in 2013, is currently being managed by his sons: the elder Alok Saxena ExCampionite class of ’81 and the younger Dr Anuj Saxena ExCampionite class of ‘83.

From the archives: Interestingly, company lore has it that the patriarch had no plans to set up his own pharma venture. He joined the Indian Air Force in 1960, and quit three years later to join Sarabhai Chemicals. Two years later, he joined Tata Fison Industries, where he put in a long stint, going from a liaison officer for their pharma products, agro chemicals and industrial chemicals division, to Sales Manager of their pharma division at Mumbai with added responsibility of Delhi. In 1973, he joined Martin & Harris as Marketing Manager and was promoted as Director in 1975. In 1978, he joined Walter Bushnell, as Managing Director. In 1987, the company shocked employees when it announced that it was shutting down its pharma division. Concerned about the future of the 300-odd employees of his division, Saxena senior took the bold step of investing his personal funds to launch his own pharma company. Even though this was his first venture, all the 300 employees, including key personnel from the pharma marketing division, who were about to lose their jobs decided to join him. The company was up and running by 1987.

Story behind the name: While deliberating on many options, inspiration struck senior Saxena when he was on holiday in Australia and saw a trailer truck for the first time, which had the world ‘Elder’ written out along its side. Struck by the sight, he decided to name his company, Elder Pharma. For the next two and a half decades, Elder Pharma came to be defined by his continuous efforts, be it making the company a successful brand or developing new products like Shelcal. After his demise on October 11, 2013, the responsibility passed smoothly onto the shoulders of his two sons, both of whom already had key responsibilities in the business. 20150731ep17

Alok Saxena: Recalling the lessons learnt from his father on business and life, as he joined him after leaving law studies, at the age of 22 years, Alok Saxena, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer avers, “This has been a great journey for me. We started with a small operation and have built great brands. I think this journey for me still has a long way to go.” Till the demise of his father, younger son Dr Anuj Saxena’s involvement in the company’s activities was much lesser as he was pursuing a full time career in the TV and films industry. Today, he is working full time with Elder Pharma. Explaining the division of responsibilities, Alok says, “Anuj is the COO of the company and takes care of all domestic operations while I handle international business.”

Dr Anuj Saxena: Recalling his successful stint on the small screen, spanning TV and ad films, Anuj points out that he waspart of some of the most successful television shows like Kkusum (Sony), Kumkum (Star Plus) Saara Akaash (Star Plus), and Prratima (Sahara) to name a few. Another passion he indulged is was to run a restaurant in Mumbai. Anuj managed to strike a balance between his responsibilities at Elder Pharma and his on-screen career. As he explains,“I was always a part of the Elder team, even while acting and would manage my time in such a way that I could devote six to eight hours to Elder, involving myself in operational and decision making roles.”

Difficult choices: After showing a steady growth graph for several years, the company started facing a financial crisis. Dealing with the issue called for some hard choices, selling off Shelcal and 29 other brands to Torrent Pharma, for Rs 2004 crores in 2014.

Explaining the hard choices before the company Anuj says, “Over the last seven to eight years, Elder grew and spread its wings and invested in various acquisitions in India and abroad, which is expected to generate major revenues and profits – but in the long term. These investments resulted in certain short term fund issues, forcing us to take a practical and business decision of selling off our brands to Torrent; keeping in mind the longevity and future of the group.”

When the announcement broke in the market, the obvious question was why does the company have to sell such an impressive and performing brand like Shelcal? Is it because the company is facing financial issues? Answering such hard hitting questions, Anuj says, “With competition increasing and market conditions getting tough, our company decided to take certain pragmatic decisions which involved selling-off of vour key brands.”

20150731ep18But the company clearly believes in the Shelcal brand, and hence retains the international rights which will help the company in growing further. Expressing the possibilities of regaining momentum from Shelcal among the international markets, Anuj informs, “Elder sold only the rights for the brands in India and Nepal and we still have the international rights for the brands. Currently, brands like Shelcal and Chymoral are under registration in a lot of African and South Asian countries and we expect it to increase in the next two to three years. These brands will grow and will contribute to the business turnover. We will register these brands in more countries in times to come. Our initial response to Shelcal internationally has been extremely positive and encouraging.” According to the company’s press release issued in this June, Elder Pharma has commenced exports of Shelcal to more than 25 countries, and targets to receive Rs 100 crores from global sales. For FY2015-16, the company is likely to notch up sales of over Rs 25 crores with demand coming from countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives, Zambia, Uganda, Yemen, Guyana, Burkinafaso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Papua New Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Burundi, Rwanda etc. Shelcal is currently exported in the form of 250/500 mg tablets and syrup but new line extensions are also being planned which will include Shelcal CT (Calcitrol), Shelcal OS (alpha Calcitrol) and Shelcal HD (high dosage of Vitamin D3). The company is also targeting the markets of Europe, CIS and LATAM. Shelcal’s European thrust will be spearheaded by Neutra Health, its wholly owned subsidiary in the UK which will market it across the EU. Sold through the ethical route, Shelcal has found support from health conscious persons as the source of calcium used in it is from ‘oyster shell’, which provides calcium in its purest form. With international markets under his wing, Alok projects that with the overwhelming response and acceptance of its product in all these markets, the company is looking at a strong prescription base in over 70 countries by March 2017.

Building a new superbrand: A logical and major part of Elder Pharma’s future growth strategy is to develop other products as successful as Shelcal and expand the geographical reach of the company. Spelling out some of this blueprint, Anuj reveals, “Going forward, our mother brand is going to be Eldervit. Eldervit falls in the category of multivitamins and minerals and Eldervit Injection enjoys very strong brand equity in the Indian market. In terms of opportunity and market size, Eldervit has much bigger and better opportunity as it is mass market and the size of the market is much bigger when we compare with a calcium supplement, especially for osteoporosis and other such diseases. The idea is to obviously capture all other markets as well. Currently, Elder Pharma is predominantly present in class I and II towns in metro cities. With products like Eldervit, we would eventually spread our base to the interiors, wherein we would explore the mass population to get maximum returns.” Building Eldervit into a super brand will obviously be no cakewalk, given the profusion of brands in the supplements category. Even more so when you consider the change in management. Perhaps unfairly, but Shelcal’s success is largely attributed to the late Saxena senior’s expertise with marketing and promotion strategies, even though both sons were very much part of the company. But there are already signs that both sons have learnt their lessons well. Predicting the future of Eldervit and other promising brands, Dr Saxena says, “I personally feel the brands like Eldervit and some of the anti-infectives like Formic have the potential to be a bigger brand than Shelcal. We are also working on new molecules and brands in the years to come to increase our market presence, both in size and value. “

An example of this is Anuj’s role in helping the company diversify its business portfolio. According to him, “The Elder Health Care Division/Company took full form under my leadership after 2006, when our company foresaw the huge potential of the fast moving health goods (FMHG) sector. Before that, there were a few brands in Elder Health Care and its team. However, the team and the company came into force as an independent existence in 2006, when I took charge.” Under his leadership, the company launched several products in FMHG segment like mouth wash AMPM, which the company has since re-launched with an addition of a range for smokers/tobacco users. It has also expanded its Solo range of OTC products with the launch of the Solo range of inhalers for nasal congestion. The newly re-launched AMPM has the key ingredient ‘triclosan’, an antibacterial and antifungal agent. The new version of the product is available in three variants: AMPM PLUS, AMPM SPECIAL and the newly launched AMPM NICOFRESH which is specially formulated for smokers/ tobacco users. In addition to triclosan, AMPM NICOFRESH contains sodium perborate which helps remove smoke and tobacco tar. The oxygenating effect of NICOFRESH hits one of the most stubborn sources of sulphur-producing bacteria and stops it at its source. While justifying the re-launch of the AMPM product and the company’s focus to strengthen its presence in FMHG, Anuj says, “The FMCG brands like AMPM and Solo have just been reintroduced in the market. It is too early to comment, but I am hopeful that in times to come we can see the success of the same. In the next one to two years, we will focus on our existing brands port folio, but at the same time we will be doing the homework to keep new products ready and at an appropriate time we will launch them, as and when needed.”

While sharing the company’s business strategies to revamp its presence in both the markets, he mentions, “As we restructure, going forwards, we will obviously concentrate on the prescription market because that has been our strength. However, we will also slowly increase our FMCG/ OTC brands exposure. Till now Elder Health Care was responsible for the sale and marketing of the FMCG/ OTCS brands. Going forward, the brands will now be marketed and distributed through the Elder Pharma distribution chain. The advantage that we have within the group is that a lot of our FMCG/ OTC brands require chemists for placement of the products and this is where we have an edge over a lot of other companies. We will exploit our inherent strength in the years to come.”

Challenges galore: The company has received a considerable amount from Torrent but has it been enough to put an end to the question mark on its financial viability? Going by market buzz, the business environment of the company has not changed much and it is still in the process of settling its debts. Fending off these queries head on, Anuj informs, “The challenges the group faces today are the liabilities that still need to be cleared off, but which are more than sufficiently covered by our assets and brands. The support of employees at all levels has also been a major factor in turning around the cash flow situation of the company. The current products of the company are in great demand and are enabling the company to generate good cash flows. We expect a complete turnaround in our financial position by FY 2015-2016. Every organisation, big or small, goes through such challenges and we are no exception, but it has been a huge learning which we hope will stand by us in the long run. By FY 2017 Elder Group (domestic and international) is expecting a turnover of Rs 1000 crores.”

Bumpy road ahead?: Unfortunately, business is not the only arena where the family is finding it difficult to sustain its identity. There seemed to be some turbulence on the personal front as well. A year after the death of Saxena senior, a legal case was filed for division of his assets. The legal battle pitted Anuj against the rest of the family members ie; Alok, mother Sneh and sister Shalini. Giving an update on the developments of the legal dispute, Anuj says, “Keeping the best interests of the business, employees and the shareholders, the family is working out a solution to settle the matter. Hopefully it will happen soon.”

Nurturing their father’s vision: Saxena senior has played a mentor’s role in his children’s life. Now it’s time for his children to nurture the father’s vision for Elder Pharma to its fruition. Both Alok and Anuj have geared themselves up to take up their father’s responsibilities and are trying their best to improve the company’s present performance. Reminiscing about his father and his advice, Anuj says, “His guidance was crucial to us but we are working along the lines he used to take decisions. In the past two years, I have involved myself in – and successfully restructured – every aspect of the group, from finance, accounts, sales, marketing, HR, administration etc. I think that this is the right way to make the company grow because it was important for me to understand the real situation of the company before I embark on rebuilding the group.” Though the company is a family-run business entity, the promoters value professionals as well. As Anuj mentions, “We have a very professional team led by my brother Alok and by my late father and founder Jagdish Saxena. There is a substantial delegation of authority in our organizational set-up.” While mentioning his father’s dream which he had set long before starting his final journey, Alok unveils the ultimate goal of the founding family saying, “We are looking at making Elder Pharma one of the top companies in the healthcare arena.” Many companies start out as a dream, but it takes executors to weather the challenges and translate a dream into reality.

Elder Pharma is facing several challenges but the founding family has already shown the courage and pragmatism to take difficult decisions as well. Navigating the road ahead will need creativity and courage but above all, a speedy resolution of all tangles on the personal front.

Your Real Learning Starts Now Ratan Tata As Chief Guest At Great Lakes 11th Convocation

Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, held its annual Convocation with Chief Guests Mr. Ratan N Tata, Chairman TATA Trusts participating in the convocation interaction and Mr. Faizal E Kottikollan, Founder and Chairman, KEF Holdings, Dubai deliv.

“Your real learning starts now, the tools, experience and exposure have been given to you, but what you make of it in life is what you do after you graduate Ratan N Tata, Chairman TATA Trusts.”

Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, held its annual Convocation with Chief Guests ExCampionite class of ’49 Mr. Ratan N Tata, Chairman-TATA Trusts participating in the convocation interaction and Mr. Faizal E Kottikollan, Founder and Chairman, KEF Holdings, Dubai delivering the presidential address. The Convocation was held on July 15, 2015. A total of 611 students graduated this year across 5 different full-time and executive programs including PGPM, PGDM, PGXPM, PGPM (Flex) and PGP-BABI. Six best outgoing students and four academic toppers from each program received Gold medals during the graduation ceremony.

Speaking on the convocation as Chief Guest, Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman–TATA Trusts, said, “I express my deepest and genuine congratulations to the graduating class. The purpose of this curriculum given to you at Great Lakes will be realized once you leave this place. And that is when your real learning starts. Just be yourself and be driven by the desire to make a difference. Your real learning starts now, the tools, experience and exposure have been given to you, but what you make of it in life is what you do after you graduate. There will be thousands of occasions when you have to make difficult decisions and you have to ask yourself whether you are taking the right one, however, difficult or unpopular that may be.” Mr. Ratan Tata also took questions from the students and talked about the support young startups need. He mentioned that “I see this as an opportunity to encourage and support young start-ups in new space (e-commerce and e-retailing), which in my view is, going to change the face of the Indian merchandise and marketing. So, in a small way, because I am not a wealthy person, I have invested in some 10 companies. Some of them will succeed.” On being asked by a student about the lessons that can be learnt from the launch of Tata Nano car, he said it was a really an exhilarating experience to produce a car that was affordable and could be purchased for Rs.1 lakh. But, it was a greatest mistake to brand it as the cheapest car instead of most affordable one. It caused a negative impact on the market. People did not want to be seen in a cheapest car.

Delivering the convocation address, Mr. Faizal E Kottikollan, Founder and Chairman, KEF Holdings, Dubai, said, “Today, as you graduate, I wish you all to be different and think different. Just hold on to your values as it is these values that will define you as a good human being.”

Welcoming the gathering, Dr. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean & Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management, said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome our Chief Guests to Great Lakes. I feel proud to be present here on the 11th convocation ceremony of Great Lakes in the presence of our honorable guests. I firmly believe that it is a confluence of diverse thoughts and ideas which makes an institute grow and reach even greater heights. I can say with conviction that today’s graduands stand by this very principle of diversity at Great Lakes. No doubt that these graduates are among the best in the world and have the potential to become catalysts for change. I wish each one of you a great success in your career ahead. The world is out there, awaiting for your contributions and the knowledge that you acquired at Great Lakes will definitely lead you to a positive change. Step out and make your alma mater proud.”

Besides academic toppers, medals and certificates were awarded to nearly 70 graduates in the following categories - Dean’s Merit List, Domain toppers, best Empirical Study and Committee contributors. One of the highlights was, twenty graduating PGPM students from Great Lakes who completed their 6 weeks exchange program with University of Bordeaux, France in July 2015, will also be receiving their MBA (Level- M2) degree in European Business Administration and International Business from University of Bordeaux subsequently during Bordeaux University’s graduation ceremony.

Highly ranked Great Lakes Institute of Management was founded in the year 2004 in Chennai. The B school offers PGPM and PGDM programmes with variety of specializations. Prof Bala V Balachandran, founder and dean of the B school is a J. L. Kellogg Distinguished Professor (Emeritus in service) of Accounting and Information Management, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA; Executive Professor and Strategy Advisor to the Dean, Bauer College, University of Houston, Texas, USA. The institute accepts CAT/XAT/CMAT/GMAT scores for admission. In 2014, Great Lakes was accredited by Association of MBAs (AMBA, UK) for its PGPM and PGXPM programs and became the youngest B-school in India to receive this prestigious international accreditation. In 2015 another international accreditation from SAQS (South Asian Quality Assurance System) has been awarded to Great Lakes Institute of Management.

Keeping It Out Of The Family – Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ’64

A very controversial report on Britain's first Asian woman to receive a peerage, Baroness Flather, appears in the press. In it, she claims that couples should have their DNA tested before marriage to ensure that they are not cousins. Flather states that this practice is rampant among Pakistanis from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and, in an opinion piece for the Daily Mail, warns of "the tragic consequence of causing disproportionately high rates of disability among their offspring because of the far greater risks of genetic disorders".

Baroness Williams, a former Secretary of State for Education and Science and member of the House of Lords has said marriage between first cousins is against the law and the church does not condone them...I pause to think: is Williams referring to religious laws of the church or law of the country? I cannot understand what the law will do if both parties are consenting. To be fair it must be pointed out to such consenting couples the dangers of such union by genetic counseling. It is uncommon in parts of the world to marry your own cousin; although I know several people married to their first cousin. Mating of such close relatives can cause genetic defects. Every one of us carries recessive genes. Only when this piece of genetic material comes across another piece like this does a trait or gene become manifest. This is nature's way of limiting birth defects. Consanguinity or inbreeding is certainly not the recommended thing to do. Marriage between first cousins who share a set of grandparents and the chance that an inherited piece of genetic material is one in eight. In many parts of the world such marriages are not legal. In such marriages the risk of a disorder is 1.7 to 2.8 per cent. The highest rate of consanguinity is in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, according to the European Journal of Human Genetics. Usually, the understanding that such a union entails a genetic risk is low in these marriages and it is imperative that the couples be informed as to the hazards. In a situation where such a marriage takes place by choice, there is little one can do besides counseling. A study from Brazil tells us that people with major histocompatibility complexes which are diverse tend to choose each other - simply put, they tend to choose mates that are different to them genetically. This is an evolutionary strategy and ensures healthy reproduction. Different genetic backgrounds identified in many animal and human species by mating shows preferences for particular kinds of body odor, which is why a person can detect sexual interest from another by proximity. Consanguinity was practiced by royalty. Spain reached its height of power under Habsburg rule and to maintain this royal heritage, they began to intermarry. There were cousin marriages and uncle-niece marriages. This caused the House of Habsburgs to die out with the passing away of Charles II of Spain in 1700. He was physically disabled, mentally retarded and bald at 35 years. He was an epileptic, had a large tongue which made it difficult for him to speak; the result of 16 generations of inbreeding. Similar situations or even closer mating occurred with the Egyptian pharaohs married their sisters.

Cleopatra, whom history described as a woman of beauty and intelligence, was the result of a brother-sister marriage and great granddaughter of another brother-sister marriage. In the tribes and castes of Andhra Pradesh and other Southern States menarikam is a marriage between maternal uncle and his niece or between cousins. Brahmins have a lineage called gotra and it prohibits marriage in the same gotra; presumably to have healthy offspring. The global prevalence of consanguineous marriage was estimated in 2009 as 10.4 per cent. Congenital malformations are often a result of a consanguineous marriage, disorders that make you blind, like retinitis pigmentosa and lebers congenital amaurosis. There are at least 4,968 such genetic diseases of which consanguinity puts you at risk. It is best to go in for genetic counseling when such situations arise, but given the times we live in, such inbreeding is uncalled for.

Small, Medium Manufacturing Sector Gets Very Low Share Of Private Equity Pie

ExCampionite class of ’49 Ratan Tata spoke about his personal investment choices here earlier this week, he was open about his preference for e-commerce and new tech companies. The reason? “They (disruptive tech companies) will change the face of India,” he said. And well, they might — like they did to the US in the 70s and 80s. But in the mad rush pour in the moolah into the fast growing upstarts, private investment is largely by-passing an unglamorous but vital portion of the economy — small manufacturing. Ratan Tata is by no means the only private investor to choose new tech over the latter. When investment is fueled by market economics, the rate of return is king. With the kind of growth figures that new tech service companies are clocking up, it is no surprise that money flows into them. According to figures sourced by Express from VCCEdge, a tracker of Private Equity and Venture Capital investments, manufacturing has cut a sorry figure over the last five years when it comes to attracting investment. From Fiscal years 2010 to 2015, private equity investment into the sector was around Rs 7,916 crore. The same kind of investments into e-commerce, IoT and IT/New Tech was just shy of Rs 17,000 crore — more than double the former. What’s more, the average ticket size of these investments was a lot higher in manufacturing, Rs 16.63 crore, than new tech, Rs 9.75 crore. A clear sign of investment in the former sector flowing into larger concerns — leaving SME manufacturing struggling for funds. “This is a fundamental issue that has stunted manufacturing growth in India for a very long time,” asserted M Suresh Babu, professor of economics in IIT-M. The scale of the problem is huge. There are about 26 million MSMEs in India — most with hardly any access to funding. According to the Union MSME Ministry’s report in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017), 45 per cent of manufacturing comes from the sector. One that suffers from a serious credit gap.

Because, when private equity is barely interested in manufacturing SMEs, these rely almost exclusively on bank lending to finance seeding and scaling up. “Private equity is largely tech biased because that’s where the returns are. They find investing in large concerns easier, but for small enterprises the margins are very low, they cannot provide good exits fast enough,” pointed out P V Sahad, founder of VCCircle Network, “They have to rely mostly on debt financing — from banks.” Bank finance however, is still woefully inadequate. According to Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary, Ministry of Finance who quoted from NSSO data in March this year, the average borrowing by these enterprises through banks and any formal financing channel is a meagre Rs 17,000. And only 5-7 per cent of the total Rs 11 lakh crore capital in the sector came from banks. But banks are leery in lending here, government quotas aside, because of poor returns and credit worthiness. “Most have very low profitability and are not attractive undertakings,” said a banker, who did not want to be named. With both avenues of funding stifled, one because of lack of interest and the other due to constriction, SME manufacturers are a sorry lot. The opportunity in, and importance of, the sector is huge. Because economists say that disruptive technology can only produce sustainable growth in an already industrialized economy. “When the industrialized countries changed into hi-tech ones they already had an established industrial sector. But ours is hardly developed. The rush into service based companies, which is what is happening mostly, is us trying to jump over a vital layer of the foundation,” asserted Babu. “That model can only work in small countries,” he said.

And while service based new-tech companies grow, there is a ceiling to that growth if domestic productivity, wages and consumption is still stagnant — which is what a poorly growing manufacturing sector promises. The government is trying. Initiatives in the last few months — the most important of which is the Mudra Bank — seek to funnel in more funds here. “But government driven investment is what we’ve tried since Nehru. Then the complaint was that there was no space for private investment. Now, there is space, lots of it, and yet private investment is elusive,” stated Babu. That investment, into small manufacturing, is vital if the economy can grow holistically. For SMEs who currently struggle for funds, the only answer lies in differentiation. “There are a very few firms who invest in this space. But for others, if you cannot show innovation and differentiation, you will not be attractive,” advised Sahad. The verdict: Spruce up. Differentiate. Explore less explored sectors, and the investment will flow in.

Designer Tarun Tahiliani Talks About Fashion’s Changing Perceptions


When I came back to India (from the USA; he studied there for a year) over two decades ago, my first challenge was to change Indian preconceptions. For instance, I like simple tailoring, but from an Indian point of view, I did too much beige, khaki and toned-down colours. Indians love colour, and mostly wanted shocking pink, orange and lime green. For me, that was too ‘costume’. So, I astutely took the best of both the east and west, and came up with something unique. India is the embroidery capital of the world, and couture is more about hand embroidery, not so much about shape and form. I just started marrying this aspect with ready-to-wear techniques of pattern and fit. Previously, no one knew how to cut a pattern or a sleeve.

Ten years ago, people were simpler, and even then, they were more used to going to tailors to make their clothes. Today, no one wants to go to a tailor, unless it’s someone who is specialized in doing something. Also, people are much more brand-conscious now. Back then, India was coming out of socialism, and if someone had a Chanel bag, it was a big thing. Everyone was thinking and buying local at that time. So, very few people could even afford to go abroad, especially with the kind of foreign exchange regulations that existed then, forget shopping there. It was the far end or faded reminiscence of the Gandhian values. Top industrialists drove in ambassadors; a Mercedes was a big deal. Today, it’s a different culture.

‘DEMANDING’ FASHIONISTAS: Unlike earlier, Indians now understand western principles of cut and construct, fit and finish, and designers have to deliver. As Indians become wealthier, their standards are more exacting, and the industry is gearing up for just that. India’s propensity to consume is gaining an international audience, and this is changing the competitive landscape. Indians, who live here, are on the cusp of a new way, which is a wonderful fusion of the two worlds we inhabit. This, for me, is the next big thing, where a true confluence in ideas results in a contemporary Indian style that is not completely ‘ethnic’ or ‘western’, but is a true synthesis, and has a global identity and relevance. I think that we come from such a vibrant culture of layering, whether it is through simple elements like tattoos, dots, black threads, kohl in the eyes or fresh flowers, that for me, there is no reason why we should be minimalistic. Even if one wore the simplest white fabric with the right drape, it has a kind of body that very few couture garments can have, if someone knows how to drape them properly. No one can stop the cycle of life and talent. The old order has paved the way for new. One must embrace and encourage this.

There is no doubt that fashion has progressed by quantum leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. There are fashion weeks, trends, glossy magazines, some multi-brand boutiques of note, and a thriving handloom scene now. Designers have started their own stores, and brands have been established. Yet, I have this sinking feeling every time I sit at an airport or at a mall that somehow women looked more elegant 15 years ago. I feel the humble sari, which has been tossed off for the light dress, did much more to soothe the Indian curves. While clothes are more practical today, something of feminine grace is lost. That authenticity is missing as ‘aspirational’ Indians move from juicy couture to ‘jeweled’ Indian couture in a breath, devoid of any style of their own, which everyone seemed to have, before there was ‘fashion’. This was when the humble drape caressed the curve, which I now have to go to the Kumbh Mela to see. Is pop culture the end of civilization as I knew it; I wonder.

(Tarun Tahiliani ExCampionite class of ’77 has been in the business of fashion for almost 25 years)

Getting Ratan Tata To Invest In Your Startup

Ratan Tata is like Gulzar: Gulzar turned lyricist in the 1960s and wrote lines like humne dekhi hai in aakhon ki mehekti khushboo... haath se chhuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do. I have seen the fragrant smell of those eyes, don’t formalise it as a relationship by making it physical. Doesn’t that take your breath away, even half a century later? Gulzar, though, is not lingering on those lines. But, at 80, he still can shake it with songs such as Horn OK Please. Ratan Tata’s first big assignment as a corporate manager was in the 1970s at radio maker Nelco. It shut down because of an economic slowdown and labour problems. He plodded through other assignments, such as Empress Mills and Central India Mill, both textile makers, before being appointed as the head of Tata Industries and eventually as the Tata Group Chairman in 1991. He showed a remarkable capacity to embrace new concepts such as globalization and innovation. Tata companies were among the first to go international by acquiring overseas companies. The Nano is not a great success but it is a remarkable innovation. That adaptability and acceptance has kept Tata, 77 years old now, in business even after he retired as Tata Group Chairman at the end of 2012. Perhaps in a more interesting way now than before. Tata is a great backer of startups. But how does he choose them? How do you make him invest in your startup? Just ask him, according to some stories. According to reports, Nidhi Agarwal’s Kaaryah was rejected by 113 investors before she, at her father’s suggestion, found ExCampionite class of ’49 Ratan Tata’s email and wrote to him. And he decided to invest.

Maybe fairy tales do happen. But it will not be wise to count on them. If you are serious about getting Tata, you should go through every line of what he said at the recent convocation of Great Lakes Management Institute in Chennai. Here is the gist. You must not come across as someone chasing valuations. “Just collecting funds from investors over selling a concept and walking an insensitive way to look at business. There has to be a sense of responsibility.” Linked to that is commitment. “These are the kinds of judgment you make when you meet the founders — what their level of commitment is, will they just walk away at a particular time after making gains, or will they be committed to staying and building an enterprise?” And passion. “You get impressed by those who have good ideas and no support, but great passion to achieve what they do.” Tata walks the talk. You can see that in each of the 12 investments he has made in startups beginning with the first — wind energy company Altaeros — right down to his latest: Coimbatore-based electric bikes maker Ampere. The two are working on solutions to the issues of energy and pollution. That is the theme. Tata prefers those that help improve the common man’s life, typically by working in the areas of health, woman empowerment, access to Internet, etc. “I am interested in supporting anything that seems to have the potential of changing India.” So he has invested in Snapdeal, which gives access to all kinds of goods to all kinds of people in all kinds of places — buyers as well as sellers. Ola, which solves an everyday problem for those who live in a city that has bad public transport — that is, nearly every city in India.

Agarwal’s Kaaryah is an interesting case. It sells a blend of western and Indian formal clothing for women in 18 different sizes — the usual is six — which accommodate differences in proportions of the Indian woman’s body and address issues like gaping buttons on shirts. These creative types usually face the problem of financial support, because their concept often appears vague and esoteric. “It is important to nurture them; it’s important to support them. The creative ones usually face the greatest problems in finding support, because they are doing things others have not done before.” Of course, the startups receiving Tata’s money benefit from it in many ways. The buzz has it that investor interest and valuations shoot up. The founder of a public relations agency was recently kicking herself for letting go of a client in which Tata has just invested. The journalists she used to chase earlier are now chasing her to talk to the founder of that startup. And she has been apologizing saying they no longer work together.

How Driving Virtual Buses On Your Phone Could Help Save Mumbai’s Iconic BEST


A gaming company has pledged to the undertaking one month’s revenues earned from its game based on BEST buses. But the service needs a lot more to revive its declining fortunes.

In 1926, the Bombay Tramway Company ushered a new era in India’s public transport as it launched a bus service from Afghan Church to Crawford Market. As more bus routes were added, the service flourished, transporting lakhs of passengers in just two years. Around 90 years later, that history has faded, as also that success. The tramway company’s successor, the Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport Undertaking, is struggling for funds and passengers, with its fleet occupancy declining by 58% in the first quarter of the current year. The undertaking recorded a loss of over Rs 950 crore last year, and the figure is expected to cross Rs 1,000 crore for the first time this year. “BEST is facing a grim situation,” the undertaking’s general manager Jagdish Patil told Mumbai Mirror. “Statistics reveal that all BEST bus routes have stopped making profits for the last financial year and that the daily number of passengers has come down below 32 lakh.” If this wasn’t all, the non-ticketing revenue has gone for a dive too, with BEST losing almost Rs 8 crore in ad revenues between 2011 and 2013.

To make sure that the beleaguered bus service doesn’t ride off into the sunset, one Mumbai-based mobile gaming company is doing its bit. This week, Games2Win announced that it’ll pledge to the entity one month’s revenues earned from its game based on BEST buses. The game allows players to operate a red BEST bus and park it in BEST parking lots in the city. “We wanted users to drive vehicles that surround them and in conditions that are relatable,” explained ExCampionite class of '85 Alok Kejriwal. In a short period, it has crossed 2.5 lakh downloads across iOS and Android. When news reports highlighted BEST’s problems, Kejriwal said, “we decided that we could simply use the game’s revenues for a month to help out the organisation and the response has been great”. Kejriwal informed that while games on average earn a couple of lakhs a year from advertising, BEST Bus 3D Parking could collect a larger sum because of the “affinity value”. “We want to help BEST out as much as we can,” he said. “It is an iconic street property which you won’t find anywhere else. From London to America, cities pride themselves on such things and use souvenirs to make money and flaunt their services, so why can’t we do it here?” Kejriwal plans to collaborate with BEST to launch merchandise that could boost the buses’ public image and generate some extra cash. “It’s a mode of transport that has a huge historical value and is, at the same time, safe and efficient, so we can’t let it just disappear from Mumbai’s streets.”

Rescue mode: On its part, BEST has decided to inform commuters about its financial situation through public meetings every Sunday. The undertaking, meanwhile, is brainstorming on solutions to help revive the ridership and profitability of its buses, which are losing out to like taxis and shared autos. As an immediate measure, the organization has come up with a handful of “innovative ideas” to woo back passengers. One of these involves BEST ticket checkers and officials screaming into microphones near railway stations in the morning to inform travelers about their inexpensive tickets and the destinations the buses halt at. For the long term, BEST has sought dedicated bus lanes in six parts of the city – to increase operational efficiency and to reduce travel time – aside from concessional passes for students. Meanwhile, it has tweaked some bus routes to accommodate more stops near offices and asked its drivers to halt at stops for a little longer to fill the buses to their capacity.

Gaming the system: Imagined as a tribute to the bus service, the game BEST Bus 3D Parking was launched “four-five months ago”, said Alok Kejriwal, chief executive officer of Games2Win.

Sachin’s Precious Picture With Sara


Very rarely does Sachin appears in public with his children, Sara and Arjun. In this precious capture, a smiling Sachin and his doting daughter Sara pose for a lovely moment. At 18, Sara looks all grownup and graciously complements her legendary father's legacy with her simple charms. The affectionate duo posed for hotshot photographer & ExCampionite class of '81 Atul Kasbekar in support of the Nanhi Kali campaign. The Nanhi Kali campaign, with its tagline, 'Proud fathers for daughters,' aims at bringing awareness towards underprivileged girl children. The campaign encourages fathers and daughters across the country to take part in the initiative and get photographed by the top lens men, Atul Kasbekar, Jaideep Oberoi and Colston Julian. Apart from Sachin, the campaign also roped in stalwarts like Gulzar, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor etc for this year.

Branding Nano As Cheap Car Was Mistake: Ratan Tata


Answering a question on the Nano car, Tata said the mistake was branding the model as the cheapest car instead of affordable car. He said people did not want to be associated with a cheap car. Branding Tata Motors small car Nano as a cheapest car was a mistake and was one of the reasons for the model not taking off as expected, ExCampionite class of '49 , chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, said.

Tata, who was here to participate in the 11th convocation of the Great Lakes Institute of Management, also took some questions from the students. Answering a question on the Nano car, Tata said the mistake was branding the model as the cheapest car instead of affordable car. He said people did not want to be associated with a cheap car. Brand Gurus had earlier expressed similar views to IANS and said a car in India is a status symbol and people do not want their car to be known as a cheap car. Tata urged the graduates to focus on those things that make a difference to people and always ask themselves whether what they are doing is right. Later speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the function Tata, the former chairman of the Tata group reiterated the same point on the Nano's branding strategy. He said the small car was designed by people with an average age of 25-26 and was a success beyond expectations. However, he said the one year delay in the car launch allowed rumours to float around about the car. Tata who is investing in start-ups said he was looking at those outfits that would help the common man. Stating that it is important to nurture start-ups and support them Tata also urged the entrepreneurs to be a long term player and build an institution than cashing out early. According to Tata, he is keen on investing in health and connectivity sectors. He said there is an opportunity in e-commerce and e-tailing in India which are expected to change the face of merchandising and marketing in the country.

Dr. Romesh Wadhwani Announces Commitment to Wadhwani Foundations of Upto USD 1 Billion

Announcement on the occasion of 'World Youth Skills Day'

• Says Entrepreneurship and skilling are the two magic keys to India’s economic and job growth

• Finds the long-standing mission of the Wadhwani Foundations to be fully aligned with the focus of the government on promoting skills development and entrepreneurship

• Cites two MoUs with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) as collaborative efforts with Indian Government for higher impact

Re-enforcing his vision of accelerating economic development in India and emerging economies, ExCampionite class of ’62 Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, Founder and Chairman, Wadhwani Foundations today announced a commitment of USD 1 billion to Wadhwani Foundations. Silicon Valley based Dr. Wadhwani made this announcement via a video address at the SKILL INDIA launch campaign organized by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi as the Chief Guest. This event was held at Vigyan Bhavan today to mark the first ever World Youth Skills Day [15th July 2015]. During the event, Prime Minister formally launched ‘National Skill Development Mission’, unveiling the new ‘National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015’ and rolling out MSDE’s flagship scheme, “Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana - PMKVY” nationally– the pilot phase of which began earlier.

Dr. Wadhwani’s increased commitment to the Foundations comes at the time when the focus of the Government on promoting skills development and entrepreneurship, and the long-standing mission of the Wadhwani Foundations to accelerate economic development through entrepreneurship and skills development seem to be fully aligned. Wadhwani Foundations’ two major ongoing initiatives - National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) and Skills Development Network (SDN), have already had a significant impact on job creation and job fulfillment in India and now the Foundations is looking forward to partner with Government of India and state governments to further scale-up of its initiatives to help India create and fill 25 million jobs, in the organized sector, by 2020. During his video address at the event, Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, Founder and Chairman, Wadhwani foundations said, “Entrepreneurship and skilling are the two magic keys to India’s economic and job growth. Recently, the honorable prime minister said that India has a large number of hands to work and even larger number of dreams to realize. So correct. I am grateful to the honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to Minister Rudy, to other honorable ministers in the audience, to Secretary Sunil Arora and other dignitaries for their support on entrepreneurship and skills development in India.” “India needs to create 25 million high quality jobs over the next few years. So I thought that the best mission for the Foundations will be to accelerate job creation through large-scale initiatives. For example, our National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) and Skills Development Network (SDN) initiatives have already created 2000 new companies, tens of thousands of skill possessions, 500 colleges that now teach entrepreneurship and a 100,000 student entrepreneurs.” Dr. Wadhwani further added.

In Oct. 2014, when Dr. Wadhwani [along with a group of top Indian- American CEOs, venture capitalists and higher education leaders] met Prime Minister Modi in New York, he was extremely impressed by the Prime Minister’s resolve to people’s movement and found his commitment to job creation and skills development extremely encouraging to Wadhwani Foundations’ efforts of accelerating economic development by transforming education to create millions of jobs. The core model of Wadhwani Foundations is to enter into private-public partnerships with Indian government and with state governments on entrepreneurship and skills education, developing new sources of capital, creating a mentor network etc. As a result, the Foundations has signed MoUs with the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) for program management of specific projects relating to Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, and Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) [Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment] to facilitate training and employment of 25,00,000 PwDs by 2022.

Given India’s demographic dividend, it acquires special significance. With 54% of our population below 25 years of age, India is sitting on a massive workforce – an unprecedented resource for wealth creation that has the potential to outpace much of the world and turn India into a global HR engine, if equipped with the right skills.

About Dr. Romesh Wadhwani: Romesh is a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist with passion for wealth creation. After building three large scale successful companies in three decades, the last of which was sold for over $9 billion, Romesh founded the Wadhwani Foundations in 2000 to which he has committed to donate most of his wealth. Romesh envisions high impact social change in emerging economies through sustained economic acceleration. He is a member of the Gates Buffet Giving Pledge. Romesh is also the Founding Chairman and CEO of Symphony Technology Group, a 12 year old PE firm comprising of 23 companies, with a combined revenue of USD 3.5 billion and 18,000 employees. In August 2012, Romesh was appointed by U.S President Barack Obama as General Trustee, Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, a key administration post. Romesh is also a Board Member of Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC. He is a proud recipient of the prestigious 'Non-Resident Philanthropist' award at the Forbes India Philanthropy Awards 2013 and also features in Forbes 400 list. Romesh obtained a B. Tech degree from IIT Bombay and an MS and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie, Mellon University.

About Wadhwani Foundations: Founded in 2000 by Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, the Foundations’ primary mission is economic acceleration in emerging economies. With large-scale education led initiatives driving skill development and job creation, the Foundations have launched five high impact education, training and research focused Initiatives in India that will lead to creation and fulfillment of 25 million jobs by 2020. To leverage entrepreneurship as a catalyst for job creation, Wadhwani Foundations established the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) in 2003. NEN inspires, educates and supports emerging entrepreneurs. Since inception, NEN has resulted in 2,000 new start-ups with 12,000+ direct and 50,000+ indirect jobs, and is now tracking 1,500+ new companies each year. For skilling, vocational education and training led job fulfillment, Wadhwani Foundations have set up the Skills Development Network (SDN) which supports multiple high school, college and employer initiatives for entry level mid-skill jobs through a digital/video curricula and pedagogy. Opportunity Network for Disabled (OND) is aimed at mainstreaming the educated disabled into sustainable high quality corporate jobs through a business value proposition. Research and Innovation Network (RIN) aims to upgrade India’s research eco-system by catalyzing ‘Centers of Innovations’ in partnership with existing research Institutes. Policy Research Centre provides data driven research inputs for informed policy actions towards creating an education led human-capital driven growth economy. Wadhwani Chair on US-India policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C, aims to accelerate India-U.S economic activities primarily through channels of skilling and education.

Will Climate Change Exacerbate India’s Illegal Immigrant Problem?

Drought and incessant flooding in neighboring countries can lead to large scale migration to India, said a report on climate change. Climate change in south Asia could increase illegal immigration into India. Drought and incessant flooding caused by climate change in India’s neighbours such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh could lead to large scale migration to India. Such huge migration combined with the shift from rural to urban areas, putting more pressure on Indian cities already stretched in terms of resources, said a report on climate change, written by energy analysts and experts from the UK, the US, China and India, and released worldwide on Monday. “High degrees of climate change could increase the risks of state failure in countries that are economically underdeveloped, resource stressed, or already unstable for other reasons. In South Asia, drought in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and incessant flooding and loss of land to the sea in Bangladesh, could put those countries’ governments under great stress, and precipitate large-scale migration into India,” said Vice Admiral & ExCampionite class of ‘69Pradeep Chauhan (retired) of the Indian Navy in the report.

“In India, this migration would combine with an internal population shift from rural to urban areas, further increasing demographic pressure in cities—many of the largest of which—including Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai are coastal, and will be increasingly vulnerable to flooding both from sea level rise and from more intense rainfall,” added Chauhan. This may further exacerbate the country’s Maoist problem and the government may face overwhelming temptation to use the military to handle it, added the report that comes five months before a summit on climate change in Paris in December, where global leaders are expected to strike a new global climate deal. Chauhan, who is a former commandant of the Indian Navy and assistant chief of Naval staff, said that both the influx of internal and external migrants, and the increasing variability of the monsoon, could further destabilize the “Red Corridor”. Explaining this as a swathe of economic deprivation and mis governance cutting through almost all the eastern states of India where Marxist-Leninist rebels are waging a campaign of violence against India, Chauhan said, “The temptation to solve this problem through military intervention could become overwhelming.” The main authors of the report include the UK special representative for climate change David King, Harvard University’s Center for the Environment director Daniel P. Schrag, China’s National Expert Committee on Climate Change member Zhou Dadi, CEO of Indian thinktank Council on Energy, Environment and Water Arunabha Ghosh and senior fellow of US thinktank Brookings Institution, Qi Ye. Apart from unprecedented migration, the report highlighted that climate change could increase the appeal of terrorism in failing states.

Jaguar Land Rover Saviours To Be Awarded Coventry’s Highest Civic Honour

Two of the men heralded as saviours of car manufacturing in Coventry are set to be awarded the city’s highest honor. Coventry City Council will agree to make ExCampionite class of ’49 Ratan Tata and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya honorary freemen of the city ahead of a full council meeting at 2pm today. Mr Tata is the owner of Jaguar Land Rover which recently announced a £600million investment in the region, including plans to make its Whitley site the company’s global research and development hub. The Telegraph has previously revealed that the company eventually plans to open additional sites in Coventry with the aim of returning mass vehicle production to the city. Lord Bhattacharyya is chairman of Warwick Manufacturing Group and one of the men behind Tata’s takeover of JLR. A report to councilors recommends the pair be awarded the honor “in recognition of the investment of Tata Steel into Jaguar Land Rover which has enhanced and protected the status of car manufacturing in the region, the Jaguar Land Rover brand and particularly the employment of its employees and many subsidy suppliers, supported by the Warwick Manufacturing Group”. A date for a ceremony to mark the award of the titles has not yet been set.

The award of an honorary freeman title is the highest honor the city council can award individuals. It has only been handed out on 13 previous occasions, the last time in 1999 when late Labour MP Mo Mowlam was recognized for her role in drawing up the Northern Ireland peace settlement. It was first awarded to Andrew Carnegie in 1914, the donor of Earlsdon, Foleshill and Stoke libraries. The full council meeting will follow, including discussion about the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. The council is set to agree to pay £250,000 to fund the bid which could generate tens of millions for the local economy if successful. Plans for Coventry to join Birmingham, Solihuill and the Black Country in a West Midlands Combind Authority are also set to progress. The council will agree to delegate power to Labour council leader Ann Lucas to continue consultation with other councils.

To squat or not to squat – Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ’64

Although they have their advantages, sitting toilets also make way for a host of ailments, particularly piles. Much of our age-related back problems can be blamed on the fact that man was meant to be on all fours. You can look at it as the price we pay for being bipedal or standing up. Women give birth lying down, but this posture, too, has been questioned. In factm in the BC years, it is said that women gave birth standing, sitting, or kneeling. A famous drawing from Egypt depicts Cleopatra kneeling to give birth. The birthing chair dates back to 2000 BC and a 1961 survey tells us giving birth lying down was the norm in 18 per cent of cultures. In fact, laboring upright has been quoted to have various advantages like more efficient contractions, shorter labour, less maternal pain and fewer forceps application. It is also claimed that the baby has better oxygenation because the great veins and aorta are not compressed by the uterus in the standing position. Not a great degree of medical literature exists on the issues, and the national institute for health care excellence in the UK recommends that women should be discouraged from lying down in the second stage of labour and should be encouraged to adopt any other position they find comfortable. It is the obstetricians that find the lying posture most suitable to inspect and monitor delivery

So, as the human moves through time, he chooses to do things for his comfort not necessarily what is best for him. The same situation occurs with toilets. So, for the 60s, when Western toilets adorned the abodes of the Western-educated, you now see them everywhere. They do provide a great degree of comfort — in fact, too much. And, the question arises that is this an ideal position to defecate. I have shared dwellings with several roommates and thankfully all had excellent sanitary habits. However, some spent their time reading, some phoning, and some even drinking coffee. The strangest roommate I had spent his time studying in the toilet and I often joked with him that he should carry a commode to the exam hall and it would be easier for him to perform. I note that the Swiss are annoyed with the toilet habits of Southeast Asians and the Middle Easterners.They are upset about people squatting on toilet seats and disposing used toilet paper in other locations rather than the toilet bowl. In fact, it is funny to see pictorial signs saying 'no squatting on toilet seats'. The Indian toilet is prevalent not only in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, but can be found in South America. I remember vividly an Hinglish film where a Western executive arrives in Delhi. On the way to his hotel, the taxi driver suggests another more convenient hotel and gives him a roadside sherbet to drink. His bowels acting up he has to run to the toilet on reaching the hotel. Ushered into the toilet he stands looking confoundedly into the hole in the ground he sees there, wondering what to do.

It also amazes me how the average Indian manages to squat for long periods while waiting and some villagers are happier squatting then sitting on a chair. In actuality, the squatting posture while defecating helps you to do your business without wasting time. It is often said that sitting is an unnatural position to pass stools. This may be correct in the sense that animal defecate easily while squatting and this provides a natural passage to bowel contents devoid of any major kinks. The Israel Journal of Medical Science, April 1979 , claims that the prevalence of bowel disease such a haemorrhoids, appendicitis, polyps and diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis are commonest with Western toilets compared to squatting toilets. Worse still, Eastern countries replace squatting toilets with Western thrones, such as Thailand and a host of others.... If you have ever been to Japan, not only is there a sitting toilet, but it also massages you and has an automatic bidet to clean you up which is a fancy gadget. It is correct that the squatting procedure given you more of a clear passage and it is possible that a host of ailments, particularly piles, may be due to a sitting toilet. Not a lot of medical literature exists on the other ailments possible, but it does seem logically probable. In fact, constipation may be more common with the Western toilet. In her book, Charming Bowels, a German microbiologist Giulia Enders has praised the squatting position for defecation. The book has sold on a million copies. A small stool is now being suggested to convert the Western-style toilet to a squatting position toilet. Like most situations of life, the human chooses comfort over what is good for him.

So, time to go back to squatting.

I Wonder How The Ecommerce Business Can Be Sustainable: Kumar Mangalam Birla

2015 06 22 Making The Money Business Work At Birla

ExCampionite class of '83 Kumar Mangalam Birla, the renowned Indian industrialist and chairman of Aditya Birla Group, has raised concerns over the sustainability of e-Commerce industry. As per an Economic Times report, the industrialist said that the deep-discount model followed by Indian retailers is unsustainable and will soon come to an end as investors would surely demand returns.

In an exclusive interview, Birla said, "I understand the valuation play. At the end of the day the financial investor will have to make returns. One thing I am sure is that you can't have unlimited access to capital funding. Therefore the question that comes to my mind is whether the deep discount model is sustainable." This is the first time Birla spoke after his name surfaced in the coal mine allocation controversy in 2013. He termed the entire incident as 'shocking' and said that the group had bounced back after that. "It was a shock and was completely unexpected. But it did not come in the way of our growth as we are a resilient group. It is best not to get emotional about these things," he expressed. When asked if the entire incident was a part of political vendetta, Birla responded negatively. Birla, along with former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was summoned in the coal block allocation case but in April this year, the Supreme Court of India stayed the orders by the lower court.

Meanwhile, praising the Narendra Modi-led government, Birla said, "When you get a business or a company that is ailing, I do not think turning it around in one year is realistic. I have a lot of faith in this government...Two sectors have taken off - one is coal in terms of production of coal. For the first time in many years, we are not struggling and have sufficient coal in our plants, which is a very big deal. Roads have taken off, which is big." The ET report also mentioned Birla group's plans in the near future. As per the reports, the $41-billion group will invest more in its non-commodity business, including a $7-billion investment in Idea Cellular, India's third-largest telecom company by number of subscribers. Along with that, the group also plans to get into the health insurance, housing and finance and also garment business. The group would also foray into generation of solar power, one of the priorities of the NDA government

Wadhwani Foundations

Founded in 2000 by ExCampionite class of '62 Dr Romesh Wadhwani, Wadhwani Foundations is engaged in economic acceleration in emerging economies. The Foundation focuses on large-scale initiatives in job creation and skill development. They have five initiatives in India.One of them is the Skills Development Network, which supports multiple college, high school and employer initiatives for entry level-mid-skill jobs. This project works in close tandem with Ministry of Human Resource Development and State governments and provides support to vocational education programmes in 500+ high schools and 200+ UGC colleges and 100+ companies. The programme uses a technology platform for skilling by integrating online/in-class skills education through a digital/video curricula and pedagogy.

Another of their initiatives is the National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), a platform for entrepreneurs to come together, network and reap mutual benefits. The third is Opportunity Network for Disabled, which helps educate the disabled and place them in corporate jobs. Fourth is Research and Innovation Network, aimed at upgrading India’s research Eco-system by catalyzing ‘Centers of Innovation’ in partnership with existing research Institutes. Finally, we have Wadhwani Foundations Policy Research Center, which provides data driven research inputs for informed policy actions towards creating an education led human-capital driven growth economy.

“When I enrolled in Healthcare under Wadhwani Foundation’s initiative, I felt a positive change in many ways. I got the opportunity to interact with doctors, nurses and others, and these kind of networking opportunities are very beneficial for the students who are not financially strong, providing them an opportunity to work,” says Megha Thakur, a Class X student of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Portmore, Shimla.

Says Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundations, “In India, and globally, there is an enormous gap between the skills needed by the industry and what academia is producing, resulting in a deep fracture in the talent supply chain. By 2020, almost 60 per cent of India’s population of 1.3 billion will be in the working age group of 15-59 years. If adequately skilled, this demographic could make India a global human resource powerhouse. To achieve skilling at scale, Wadhwani Foundations is developing multi-media enabled technology solutions while integrating online/in-class skills and self-learning pedagogy that can reach thousands of students simultaneously through the cloud platform.”

The Rajdeep Sardesai interview: ‘Today, you are expected to be a bhakt or a permanent critic’

2015 07 13 The Rajdeep Sardesai interview - Copy

One of the best-known faces on television news says he is neither, as he talks about the state of India and the controversies surrounding him. In his most in-depth interview to date, well-known TV journalist anchor & ExCampionite class of '81 Rajdeep Sardesai spoke about his complicated relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the crisis of credibility in the media, being the favorite target of online trolls, how it has been tough getting over the break-up with CNN-IBN and why it is factually incorrect to label him a ‘Congressi’.

Your chat with Lalit Modi was perhaps one of the most talked about news interviews of the year. After talking to you, he was forced to shun all TV interviews. Do you think the interview damaged his prospects? I don’t think it damaged his prospects, but it surely showed up Lalit Modi and the Indian establishment for what they are. Here’s a person who’s "most wanted" on Indian shores and ministers are being asked to resign on his account. All this while he’s sitting in the luxury of the Aman Hotel by the Adriatic Sea! To my mind the contrast was striking and ironical; it was almost a parody on Indian politics. Someone is living a life of luxury in a foreign country, while back home he’s being called a fugitive – while possibly nothing’s been done to bring him back all these years. The interview exposed this aspect for sure. Did it incriminate him? That only time will tell. However, Lalit Modi is a man who’s made it clear that if he goes down he will take others with him.

There is a perception that the media backed off after Modi named names. That’s rubbish, I don’t think the media has backed off; every story has a shelf life. A story sustains itself based on the credibility of the people at the heart of the story. If Lalit Modi is able to back all he says with hard evidence, then the story will stay relevant. If Modi tweets and scoots and then expects the media will stay on the story, it’s not going to happen. He will have to back all his claims with hard facts that incriminate people, or face the heat himself as the ED goes deeper into his dealings.

Finally, there’s no resignation forthcoming, so did the opposition fail in building pressure on the BJP over LalitGate? I think LalitGate was used by the opposition to build a perception against the government. A government whose prime minister had said, “Na khaoonga na khaane doonga” (I won’t take bribes and won’t allow others to), was for the first time, finding itself on the back foot over the issue of propriety. So the opposition got a handle to beat the government with, especially before the monsoon session of parliament. In terms of perception, the opposition has achieved what it wanted. Interestingly, I think Lalit Modi, too, achieved what he wanted: that he can’t be singled out for his acts, that many in the BCCI and the opposition were also in on it. Meanwhile, the BJP, too, by its strategic silence and unyielding stance also has sent out a clear message: that the media will not dictate the agenda of this government. The PM has made it clear that he’s not Manmohan Singh and will not sack ministers depending on what the media is broadcasting. Will this rigid position harm the long-term perception of the party? That remains to be seen.

Recently Akshay Singh from the India Today Group died under mysterious circumstances while covering the Vyapam scam. Two journalists were also set on fire because they dared to take on politicians and the mining mafia. Has the media lost its ability to work together to generate pressure on the system? I don’t think so. Look at the Lalit Modi and Vyapam cases. There is a lot of concerted media noise. Of course, you will have the occasional one-upmanship; it’s unfortunate, but it happens. My bigger problem is: Does it take the death of a journalist for us to realize the scope of the Vyapam scam? The acronym Vyapam stands for ‘Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal’ but perhaps it’s not seen as good TRP material! Then there is what I call the tyranny of distance; something that happens so far away from Delhi rarely excites the media. So we in the media have to ask ourselves: did it have to take the death of a journalist for Vyapam to become 9 pm news? Similarly the death of Gajendra Singh at Jantar Mantar made farmer suicides prime-time news. While such deaths happen daily and are rarely covered, we in the media also have to ask ourselves the tough questions. What does it take for us to realize the importance of a story?

Are journalists under a lot more threat today? Journalists have always been under attack. We register something when it happens closer to Delhi. But take a look at far-flung areas of India and you will see regular attacks happening. Today, journalists are not only under threat from the gun, but also from a section of people who want to take down the media. On our part, we have to ask ourselves why we have allowed ourselves to face this deeper credibility crisis that makes us soft targets today. Do we stand up united when the profession is under attack? I remember when the Shiv Sena had attacked the IBN office five years ago, many channels didn’t run the story, because the ‘competition channel’ was under fire.

When you say that journalists are not under threat from the gun alone, are you hinting at social media? Has all the negativity of Twitter affected you personally? I guess anyone would be. If there is a large army out there that has decided to take down Rajdeep Sardesai, at some stage I will be affected by it. That said, I also take pride in the fact that I have been able to get under the skin of so many people. The worst thing that can happen to a journalist is being ignored. So if there is a large section on social media that follows me and yet wants to target me, I treat that as a badge of honor. Just like anyone else on social media, I have a right to dissent. But you don’t have the right to abuse me. That has been one point that I am unable to get across to the multitude of people who live under the garb of anonymity or are part of ‘armies’ who are immersed in doing bhakti of their party leaders.

The prime minister recently called a meeting of 150 influencers on social media, many of whom were habitual abusers on Twitter. Does this ploy of calling select followers and asking them to behave work? After all, the BJP’s track record of getting the various Senas to fall into line hasn’t been great. No, they never have, and at the end of the day, leaders have to realise that they are judged by their followers. I am not saying that Modi is actively encouraging his followers to indulge in this kind of behaviour, or that Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi are asking their followers to abuse others, but the fact remains that it is happening. This reveals a growing intolerance in society and the unwillingness to have a genuine dialogue. On Twitter, there is no dialogue. If Modi has asked his followers to stop the abuse, it’s certainly not working. Those who use words like ‘presstitutes’ must realize that they are tarnishing an entire profession. When the prime minister himself uses words like “news traders”, then it almost gives a licence to his followers to abuse. Yes, there is a credibility crisis, but to label professionals as “news traders” because some of us haven't stopped asking questions is crazy.

Do you think a lot of trolls are organized? (Laughs). Well, either Indians have a lot of time on their hands or this is extremely well-organized and well-paying for a few. I am sure it’s organized. Look at the manner in which trends are built systematically, be it feku or pappu. What this has done is bring down the quality of conversation in social media and to reduce it to one-upmanship.

Does Twitter punch far above its weight? It just takes a few hundred tweets to build a #trend, and then it manages to influence newsrooms about what stories to follow. Of course. I believe these days, companies can fix trends for you, and if newsrooms are getting influenced by social media trends then it’s terrible. Twitter is a double-edged sword; it can be a great source of dialogue and information that can deepen democratic practices or it can be a noxious chamber of hate and anger that targets people and builds enemies. Twitter now needs to decide what it wants to be.

After May 2014, has the media space changed in India? Nothing changes in a year. It is a continuing process. There has certainly been a decline in quality and there has been a growing tendency of the ruling dispensation to either co-opt or coerce the media to toeing its line. In that sense, it’s a big worry. But the credibility crisis is the biggest issue for us, and we have to answer for that. We have to ask whether we have become arrogant as media persons. We were supposed to be the cockroaches, always on the hunt to ferret out news. We are not the badshahs. We are the ones who question the badshah. In the past year, we have been happier taking selfies with the prime minister than asking him questions.

After your farewell speech, some of your colleagues asked you to start a venture of your own and you said that you thought CNN-IBN was your own. How hard has it been for you to let go of a channel that you built from scratch? It has been very, very difficult. It still has not fully sunk in. But then you have to move on. Strange how suddenly things hit you. Phil Hughes died on the cricket field playing the game. I was watching it and I said to myself, “Here I was agonizing about what happened to CNN-IBN and there was a guy who was playing the game he loved, and he died.” While the parting has been emotional, personal and difficult, I tell myself that worse things could have happened. So I try to gripe less now.

Do you think that your exit was inevitable after Reliance took control of CNN-IBN? Was the Google Hangout with Kejriwal just an excuse for executing something that was already in the works? I have no idea. These questions should be asked to Raghav Behl and to Mukesh Ambani. I am a professional journalist; for twenty-seven years, that is what I have done. I am not a businessman, so for me to analyses this call is difficult. Maybe the proprietors wanted a particular kind of editor. Maybe I was not that kind of person.

Maybe because you would have proven to be non-conformist in your ways and in your political views? I believe that newsrooms are where ideas are contested, where a reporter can walk up to me and say, “Sir, you are wrong.” I don’t think a newsroom is a place to be a dictator or where business interests collide with the news. There are editors out there who are hatchet men of corporates or are simply there because they are pliable. You said conformist? Well, I am certainly not a pliable person.

Has the incident made you more disillusioned with the profession you have been associated with for so long? Over the past year, I have become more philosophical. A year ago, I was far more idealistic, but my idealism is being battered by what I see around me. Maybe I am a dinosaur in today’s media world, especially with all this grey hair.

Dinosaur? But then you will invite the charge that you are not relevant any more. That is for the viewer to decide. But my core journalistic principles will not change. That much I am clear about. I will still be excited by the breaking news story and a big story that will shake the system, but my cynicism stems from seeing the kind of compromises people around me are making in the industry, compromises to stay “relevant”, as you put it.

Fair point, but even as you remain uncompromising in your principles, are you physically dried and dusted to do what you have been doing all these years? Well, if I were tired, then in the past nine months I wouldn’t have been able to put a book out, market it aggressively and play a small role in the re-launch of India Today Television. So I am not tired, or retired. I am just older and wiser. If a story breaks, like LalitGate, I will stay up all night, reach Montenegro, do whatever it takes, negotiate with Serbian camera persons who don’t get English, but still get the story in.

In your book, 2014 The Election that Changed India, you have said that you’ve been as neutral as possible on Modi and kept the focus on the campaign he ran. How difficult was it for you to remain neutral after covering what you have in 2002? The book is my evidence on where I stand on Modi, the positives and the negatives. I believe that a book is something that is lasting and permanent. I have thought long and hard about it and I have put it all down. I have admiration for all politicians at one level, but as an observer I have the right to question them and critique them. For example, I believe Modi is a 24x7 karmayogi politician; at the same time I also believe that he hasn’t satisfactorily answered a lot of questions on 2002. I also may have questions about the ideology that Modi represents but at the same time I have respect for the fact that he’s someone who’s come through the hurly-burly of politics in this country. Similarly, I believe that Lalu Prasad was one of the flag-bearers of the Mandal agitation that changed Bihar’s landscape. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to criticize him for bringing in family raj and criminalization of politics in the state. Have I got emotionally entangled with the Gujarat riots? Possibly yes, because that was and is a story that I have strong feelings about.

If your coverage of 2002 defined you, has your reportage on Modi shaped your image of how you are perceived as a journalist? Maybe. Please remember this is also because in the past decade Modi has played a large role in the national media discourse and not just my journalistic discourse. From a politician who used to come into our studios [as a BJP spokesperson] at 30 minutes’ notice to the politician whose India’s number one neta, it has been a remarkable rise. I have followed the Modi story and can claim to have a bird's eye-view of the story and an understanding of the man. As a result have I got too closely identified with Narendra Modi? May be.

There seems to be a power play going on between the two of you. At the HT summit you questioned him on his changing the development track. He retorted with a comment on the saffron colour of your kurta. In the election campaign, you interviewed him seated on the footboard of a bus, while Modi towered over you. He and I shared a good journalistic relationship for a very long time. We had a constant dialogue earlier. He was also one of the first people to call me when my father passed away. While the relationship had its ups and downs, I have always seen it as a journalistic relationship in which I am an observer, a critiquer. Unfortunately, society got polarised. You cannot be an objective observer any more; either you are a bhakt or you are a permanent critic. What if I am neither?

You view this as professional from your side, but has Modi been personally affronted by your journalism, questions and critique? I don’t know. That’s a question you have to ask him. From time to time, I am told he has taken offence, but the Modi I knew appreciates the fact that there will be times when a journalist will be a critic, while there will be praise as well. A negative comment doesn’t mean that there is breakdown in the relationship. I keep saying this. Modi became the PM. Mai to wahi ka wahi reh gaya! Mai abhi bhi raat ka show karta hoo, jo 15 saal pehle karta tha. I have remained where I was. I am doing the same night show that I did 15 years ago.

What happened at Madison Square Garden? Did you misjudge the crowd? Did you think this couldn’t happen in America? I should have walked away from the incident. I shouldn’t have got into a slanging match. It was unprofessional of me. I have accepted that. However, I stand by the questions I asked. Modi was in the US, we were having a big show in Madison Square, in the same country that had denied him travel documents for 11 years. Isn’t it valid to ask whether the US was in the wrong for so long?

Was it a valid question to ask, given the situation of frenzied fans? They could have been frenzied fans, but I was not there as a cheerleader. A journalist doesn’t become a cheerleader because there were frenzied fans all around. They didn’t recognise the value of a journalistic question. I didn’t know that they wouldn’t recognise that. But if this was Gujarat there wouldn’t have been a single problem.

You are saying you can raise these same questions in Gujarat without any issues. Are you sure? I am sure. NRIs have another worldview. I have done all kinds of live shows in Gujarat. I just did a show in Gujarat for my book where we raised similar questions. It went on for so long that the organizers had to extend the programme. Combative questions were being asked. Long-distance nationalism is a dangerous thing that affects NRIs, because you can sit in a plush AC villa in Texas and believe that you are more patriotic than me, when I have to breathe Delhi’s polluted air while going to office and deal with the real India here. That makes them lose their perspective.

There have been a lot of changes for Modi too in the past year. From invincible to charges of Maun-Modi (Mum Modi), how long can the PM shun the media? Narendra Modi is a very sharp man. Manmohan Singh’s silence was forced because he didn’t have real power. When it comes to Modi, the silence is strategic. Everything that Modi does is strategic. The opposition will see it as a weakness and play it against him. Will they succeed? We’ll see four years from now, but Modi would rather have his spokespersons take on the opposition right now and not get into a tu-tu-mai-mai (tit-for-tat) battle. That said, this one-way communication through Mann Ki Baat, Twitter, Facebook, selfies, is a gamble, because after a certain point people may start saying that bolta hai, lakin karta nahi hai (he talks, but does not act), or begin to notice that he doesn’t talk about the really controversial issues.

Manmohan Singh didn’t have control and wasn’t a great communicator, but Modi has both; yet he’s not given a single sit-down interview in the past year. We keep saying Maun Mohan, but every time he used to go abroad there were press conferences on board the PM’s aircraft. In his first two years Singh organized two large press conferences at Vigyan Bhavan, where he took direct questions from reporters. Contrast this with Modi’s record when he was CM for 12 years. He never held a single press conference where he could be questioned by journalists. That is Modi for you. But he’s a very good one-way-communicator, one of the best we have, so he never felt the need to get into a two-way street. Even when journalists do get a chance to quiz him, like at the Diwali Mela last year, we didn’t ask questions. We were too busy taking selfies with him.

A lot has been said about your political leanings as well, so according to you, which party’s ideology is best suited to run this country? I am basically a congenital critic, so I see a weakness in all parties. I truly don’t see anyone who fulfils my dream of a liberal, democratic, pluralistic, meritocracy-driven India. All parties fail on one or many of these four basic criteria.

But there have been rumours of you joining a political party, even getting an Rajya Sabha ticket. At various stages, one meets with politicians as a source. Some say, “Come join us!” I have always resisted this because it is a trap. The day you give the political class a sense that you want to join them, you are done. I have seen some first-rate editors and journalists. The moment they became part of the establishment, their journalistic core withered away.

But for you it’s never-say-never on this? Who knows what tomorrow brings? If you would have come to me 14 months ago, we would have been discussing future plans of CNN-IBN. Now we are talking about it in the past tense. But when Walter Cronkite was asked about a political future, he said, "I haven’t done 40 years of journalism to join a political party. I did it because I loved politics and the news.” That is my core belief as well.

Do you think your liberalism and pluralistic values got you tagged as a ‘Congresswalla’. Vinod Mehta faced the same allegation too. In a polarized world this happens. If you are not with Modi, then you must be a Congressi, or the other way around. May be in hindsight, I should never have accepted the Padma Shree from the Congress government. I don’t think journalists should accept state awards. In hindsight, it was a mistake. I think Vinod and I had the same journalistic values as we came from the Mumbai school of journalism, which teaches us to be deeply sceptical of the political class and treat them with irreverence. At CNN-IBN, we did the big story on the de-freezing of Quattrochi’s account. How come we were not seen as anti-Congress and pro-BJP at the time? When we did a story on the mining mafia in Karnataka, the BJP government there targeted us. When we forced a Samajwadi minister to resign, the party summoned me to the assembly, accusing me of a breach of privilege. When we exposed Mayawati in the assets case, our OB van was burnt. So these charges of belonging to a camp or a party are tools to intimidate a journalist or an editor to fall in line with the cheerleaders on both sides. Even in cash-for-votes, I had the Congress accuse me of being hand-in-glove with the BJP and the BJP accusing me of being pressured by the Congress. The fact is that the entire sting was put out in the public domain once we were ready with all the journalistic checks. Yes, we could have handled the issue better in hindsight but to accuse us of being partisan is unfair when you look at the body of work over a period of time.

You views on the declining standards of news media are not a secret. Where do you think news went wrong and is there a reason why the profession attracts so much of negative criticism and ridicule today? While there is no one point when this crisis hit us, there is a fundamental problem in the business model of news television, where we spend less on news-gathering today than we did ten years ago. The number of channels have gone up, and so has the competition, but revenues and viewership have remained stagnant while costs have increased. Second, because advertising revenues are linked to TRPs, news is being governed by what will sell and not what should be aired. A farmer's suicide will not sell but Hema Malini’s accident will. Third, I guess we have lost our moral compass. Why did we become journalists? To inform [the public] or to sensationalise? This is a question that has to be asked by editors and owners because they are ones who take the real decisions. That is where the real responsibility has to rest. I think we need to spend more time on mentoring and working with young journalists; otherwise, we will rapidly become a stagnant pond.

The race for viewership and TRPs is unlikely to change, so what are the chances of quality television journalism surviving? You have often spoken about a trustee model for news TV. I am hopeful that in the next five to ten years we will have a subscription model or that a trusteeship model will ensure that television emerges from the situation it finds itself today, that there will be space for niche, high-quality journalism that won’t be influenced by proprietors or TRPs. The problem is how many people in the industry, government or media are ready to invest in a trusteeship with the sole purpose of creating a genuine public service broadcaster? This is a tough call for India, where we find a large section of media either allied with or co-opted by the government. The space is shrinking for truly independent media that can question the government.

While the fourth pillar of democracy is expected to live up to high standards, the constitution itself does not give the media any rights or protection. Is that not a contradiction? While there is no institutional mechanism to protect or fund the media, let’s not forget that over the past few decades, big stories and exposés have come through the media. Accountability to a large extent still comes via the media. We may be feared more and respected less today, and we have to ask why we have put ourselves in this position. But I disagree when it’s said that the media is not going its job. Despite all its problems we have a vibrant press in India. Individual reporters have great integrity in this country. My bigger problem is with owners and editors. It’s their integrity that I call into question. If there is still independence in the media, it is because of the reporters who are still pushing the system with their idealism and drive for the big story.

What is your Frost-Nixon moment? Or is your finest hour in journalism still to come? Ah! This is not for me to answer. Let the viewers decide this. But I can say that launching CNN-IBN in December 2005 gave me great professional satisfaction. So did live election programming with Prannoy Roy and Vinod Dua, and breaking the story of Sonia not becoming the PM and covering the Mumbai blasts and riots of 1992-1993 as a young journalist. So there is no one moment. I follow the RK Laxman recipe of making great cartoons every day for forty years, i.e. to treat every cartoon as your first one. That’s what I try to do and that outlook sustains you.

Is news your first love or are there others? Let me see. First comes family, kids and friends. I really value them. Then comes cricket and sports. Then comes music, followed by food. Somewhere along the way there’s news. There, too, I battle between the charm of the printed byline and breaking news on TV.

You are a son of a famous cricketer and you studied law. Why journalism? When you are not good at other aspects of life, you become a journalist. But seriously, I wanted to become a cricketer but wasn’t good enough. I went to the Bombay High Court for six months and realised it was not working for me. I used to write for Behram Contractor’s The Afternoon Despatch and Courier. I just loved the sound of the typewriter and the newsroom and that’s what drew me to journalism. That was 27 years ago.

You were the first poster-boy of TV news. Rumour has it that it took 18 takes for your first piece-to-camera. True story? It was a lot of takes for sure. My first TV story involved chasing down Brian Lara, who had broken the record for hitting the most runs, and I barely got it right. I was not comfortable with TV for a very long time. May be I am still not comfortable.

Your nightly song tweets are getting more popular by the day. How does that happen? I always listen to songs on my drive back home. That’s when all the classic Hindi hits are playing. I am a great FM listener and I pick one of these songs. Sometimes the songs are linked to what is happening in the day; often not. Whenever I am low, Hindi retro music really gets me going. In fact, I commented the other day that it would be better for me to do a 10 pm show on radio called Rajdeep Ki Farmayish than the [contribute to the] noise of news every night. Maybe we need to evolve beyond the noise.

What beyond noise? After all, the 9 pm fights won’t last forever. News evolves. First, we just read the headlines on DD, then Prannoy came in and give it depth, Arnab gave it a pugilistic angle, but what will last is credibility. Journalism is not a weekly exercise in TRPs, journalism is a journey where every day is a new day. We will continue to tell the story. The delivery mechanism will vary. I do think that we need to see more positive stories of a changing India on the news. I have made an attempt with a ‘good news today’ segment every night, but we need to see a lot more of that. Also we need solid reporting on health, education, science, environment and gender issues. India is changing. Maybe we in the media are a step behind civil society.

Is the age of the neutral journalist gone? Does an editor or anchor have to take sides today? It’s a change that is taking place globally. Some organizations have decided that being partisan sells. The idea is, ‘Unless I don’t take a stand, the viewer or reader will be confused, so let me take a strong position.’ When I started out in 1988 in The Times of India, it was made clear to us that the news pages were the news pages. If you had an opinion to express, then you go to the edit pages. Today, you have opinion on the front page as well. Today, television forces an opinion on you, either by the position of the anchor or by the way the story is crafted. We have become partisan and participants in the debate, rather than just observers. While the notion of balance is being lost in this cacophony, I still believe in it as a fundamental principal of journalism. Our job is not to deal with black and white. Every story has its complexities in shades of grey and I believe in exploring those. I can also see why many people will turn to an editor who takes a strong position, because the stand will either confirm what they already believe in or might be totally contrary to what they believe in, causing outrage and anger.

It indeed is fascinating that two of the biggest names in television journalism were close friends at one time. We are still friends. I have not parted ways, from my side. One of the happiest memories I have is watching the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa with my father, who was ill, and I wanted him to see at least one World Cup final. My son and Arnab [Goswami of Time Now] were also there and the four of us had a great time. I think what happens in this crazy, competitive world of television news is that we get caught up in this ‘them vs us’ and even relationships that are based on mutual respect tend to lose their core. But I still see Arnab as a friend.

If you were to end this interview with a song tweet, what would it be? (Smiles.) One is my life anthem, which I need to follow more: Maein zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya har fikar ko dhuen mein udata dhala gaya. Chala gaya. Zindagi ke safar mein guzar laate hain Io maqaam woh phir nahin aate, jaate hain jo maqaam. That’s also my caller tune. The other one is Kishore’s classic, Zindagi ke safar mein guzar laate hain Io maqaam woh phir nahin aate, which I think is the most classic song ever made.

Akash Banerjee is a former journalist who worked with Times Now and Headlines Today, between 2004 and 2013. He is the author of Tales from Shining and Sinking India: How News Channels Deliver the Big Breaking Stories. He works as associate vice-president for the Times Group’s Radio Mirchi.

Cedric Martyres No More

We have just received news that Cedric Martyres ExCampionite class of ’74 passed away yesterday in New York. Awaiting further details.

When Tarun Dressed Sita

A Million Sitas, a dance production by renowned dancer Anita Ratnam, has been witnessed by people near and far. A glance at few of the characters in the Ramayana, including Sita were presented by her, at Collage, a boutique on Greams Road recently .Presenting fashion through art, Anita wore the clothes designed by ExCampionite class of ’77 Tarun Tahiliani at her performance. Wearing a coral skirt with a traditional printed jacket, Anita said at the beginning of her performance, “This skirt that I use as the common garment for all my costumes in the performance represents folk, it’s informal, cheerful and slightly flirty. This elegant skirt became the corner stone of an entire wardrobe for A Million Sitas.”

Anita Ratnam in A Million Sitas: The event marked her 10 years of friendship with Latha Madhu of Collage and her 50th dance performance. The tale started off at Sita’s swayamvar where she introduced two creative installations by an artist in Kolkata. The two were Rama, the simple prince of Ayodhya and Ravana whom she described as a mighty ambitious musician, bhakth of Shiva, lover of beauty and the emperor of Lanka. She referred to the women in the court of Mythila as ‘beautiful’ in a glittering array of colours, drapes, fabrics, material, and embroidery. Anita proceeded with the story of the swayamvar and how Rama succeeded. Then entered Sita. She was disapproved of by her mother-in-law for her simple clothes. Here, while Anita changed from her simple jewellery to expensive stones, many of Tarun’s clothes were brought and presented to both Sita and the spectators. “Each one more magnificent then the other. Such colours, such textures...” Sita said. Also portrayed was the tale of Manthara, and how she was told to complicate things by the gods above, so that the world would get an epic story. Transformed from a beautiful butterfly to an ugly, hunchbacked woman, Anita (as Manthara) dressed herself in a faded dupatta, the same skirt that looked just right and with a basket as a prop for a hunchback.

Another highlight of the performance was when the dancer transformed into Ravana’s wife, Mandodari, and with priceless expressions, presented a change in temper of the tale. She was dressed in black palazzos, black jacket and with long, artificial nails. Starkly in contrast to this look, the final scene sees Sita dressed in bridal wear, a green sari and a generous layering of jewellery adorned on her neck and fingers. She made her way to Rama who said that he had no need for her anymore and that she was free. “This epic tale carries Rama’s name but it is my presence that gives life,” said Anitha, as she walked around with a great glass bowl with a lamp inside, her powerful voice booming through the speakers. “I will be imagined, remembered and invoked through time as nature, Kali, wife, sister and daughter. Each time a woman faces the test of fire, I will be remembered. Every time a woman crosses the line of control, I will re-appear. I am Sita and so are you all. We are a million sitas…a million Sitas.”

Looking For A Home? Time To Head For Ghodbunder Road


Once considered a far-off place, Ghodbunder Road in Thane is fast emerging as one of the top destinations for home seekers. With projects by renowned developers like Lodha, Dosti, Hiranandani, Puraniks and Acme Housing, the areas on both sides of the road present the perfect settings to settle.

Twenty years ago, local resident Rajesh Parab said, no one wanted to stay in Thane and, particularly, on Ghodbunder Road. "Ghodbunder was a remote place to stay. After 7pm, everybody, including auto drivers, avoided going that side." However, things have dramatically changed in the past two decades. "Today, there are ample number of townships where a buyer can easily get an apartment of his/her choice. Besides, it is not very far from Thane station. What is special about Ghodbunder Road is that one can reach Western suburbs by road. There is excellent connectivity to Navi Mumbai too. Thane is centrally and strategically located," said Saudhagar Jadhav, a former BMC employee. Jadhav said there is good infrastructure on Ghodbunder Road. "A number of flyovers have come up on it in recent times. As a result, commuting time has drastically reduced. Now, people can travel without any hassle on this road. Going from Thane to Borivli today is fast and comfortable, thanks to Ghodbunder Road." Girish Panse, another local resident, said the area wasn't buzzing when he shifted there. "Now, we have got all sorts of facilities. The malls and shopping centers here have top international brands." One of the primary concerns of people – children's education – has been taken care of, said Panse. "There are several good schools and colleges. We don't have to bother about scouting for educational institutes. Moreover, our property value is also going up substantially." Dosti, a prominent developer, has constructed nearly 5,500 homes on Ghodbunder Road and housed over 27,500 residents in 91 complexes. Dosti has developed an area of 5 million sqft across Mumbai. Another known builder – Puranik Group – has also undertaken several residential projects. The Puranik City has been developed at 35 acres of sprawling plot, Rumah Bali at 10 acres, Home Town at 6 acres while Aarambh has been developed at 1.5 1 acres of plot.

The Hiranandani Group has developed the Hiranandani Estate. "It is a city within a city. We have given a postal address to this area. We always concentrate on quality products even it is a bit costly. The cost of the houses have gone up due high land cost," said & ExCampionite class of ’66 Niranjan Hiranandani, co-founder and managing director of Hiranandani Group.

Property agent Kailash Patil said it is a pleasure to live in Thane. "Few years ago, infrastructure and public amenities were almost missing in Ghodbunder area. Now, it has evolved as one of the most attractive realty destinations. This has emerged one of promising options for residence as well as investment. In the realty market around Ghodbunder Road, we have seen investors gaining in terms of both capital appreciation and rental incomes."

Rahul Yadav: The Sudden Decline Of A Brilliant Entrepreneur

The moment you saw this comment you knew a backlash was around the corner. Not so much because of what was said but because of who said it. These days to be Rahul Yadav is to cop it no matter what. That is not to say that the “mote uncle” comment was great. But it was not really a crime. In fact, it would appear quite funny if made by a naughty child who is otherwise so bright and interesting that you want to indulge him. Which is somewhat the case here, though, at 26, Rahul is no child. Ravi Gururaj, chairman of Nasscom’s Product Council, the writer of that column, will be the first to admit that he cannot be called thin. He had written a column on about a supposed social media spat between Snapdeal’s Rohit Bansal and Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal. Rohit was perceived to be saying in a newspaper article that India did not have enough good programmers. Sachin took a dig at him, suggesting that the fault lay in Snapdeal and not in the country. Rahul’s was the first comment on Gururaj’s article. Others followed quickly, saying all he wanted was cheap publicity. Publicity? By trying to make fun of Gururaj? Come on. There are other ways; Rahul knows some of them. Almost inevitably, an article appeared in ET Panache about how Gururaj was large hearted enough to ignore Rahul’s comment. What was he going to do? Sue? Equally inevitably, Alok Kejriwal ExCampionite class of 85 & an early entrepreneur, jumped to Gururaj’s side to say how much he loved him for his “stature and presence and depth”.

Now, Kejriwal and Rahul Yadav have a bit of background. Kejriwal had clicked pictures of two hoardings and posted it online. According to him, the position of the hoardings was not right for getting the maximum return on marketing expense. That’s founders were dumb to do it. Rahul responded with an explanation about how the positioning was just right. He called Kejriwal’s arguments dumb. For good measure, according to newspaper reports, some people played around with Kejriwal’s Wikipedia page to edit his location and showed him as living under two hoardings. Funny. But Kejriwal waited for his chance. Which came when Yadav resigned — the first time. People who make fun of other people’s houses can’t live in their own, he posted. He also posted a power point presentation, for Rahul, on how to write emails. Still ok. Nobody died. These are just young boys having fun – though Kejriwal, who is 46 and likes to call himself Rodinhood, is less young. Who hasn’t done it in college and hostel? With the internet start-up revolution, all the world is a boys’ hostel. Rahul also got into other unnecessary spats with Deepinder Goyal (he likes to call Goyal a restaurant menu scanner) and Sequoia’s Shailendra Singh (the story is too well known to recount here).

Fine. He is cheeky, at times irritating. He likes to troll people. But he is not just that. This columnist had a chance to talk to him in March. He was then in the middle of the spat with Sequoia. To his credit, Rahul refused to go into any more gory details about Sequoia (confession time: he was goaded). Instead, he wanted to talk about his ideas on how to run the world. All it will take, according to him, is 50 intelligent people. People like him. It was easy to dismiss this as hyperbole. But he made some valid points about the way the human race has messed it up in areas like oil, education, travel, and housing. Why have been just burning oil instead of looking for sustainable energy sources? Why are all houses boxes, boxes and more boxes? Why such little infrastructure? Why has no innovation happened in house construction? Why are so many people in cities like Mumbai forced to spend so much time travelling? Basic questions, you say? It was responding to the basic needs that made such a success: show what it looks like, give her a tour, verify the location, good user interface, data, data and more data.

And now the man — the boy — behind it is gone. The sadness of it was captured in all its delicate sensitivity by Haresh Chawla, an early investor in He brought out Rahul’s personality in all its complexity: a shy, socially-awkward, brilliant soul driven to pain and distraction because he was forced to ride the tiger of investor money. It was tempting to call this article “Boy Interrupted”. But it is not just that; it is brightness, enterprise, spirit interrupted. Until he comes back.

Vikram Mavinkurve No More


We have just received news that Vikram Mavinkurve ExCampionite class of ’88 passed away last night. Awaiting further details.

Old Monk Lives On A Prayer


By Bhaichand Patel Jul 12 2015 : The Times of India (Mumbai)

With sales steadily dipping, nothing short of a miracle can revive the dark rum and uplift its loyalists. Before Old Monk, there was Hercules rum that was distilled exclusively for the armed forces. In the 1960s the navy canteen in Bombay sold it as rations to sailors at Rs 8 a bottle. Much of it ended up with bootleggers who sold it to us at Rs 25 a bottle. If you find the price astonishing, please remember that fifty years ago anyone with a monthly salary of a thousand rupees was doing quite well. I used to buy my bottle from my chemist in Colaba who moonlighted as a bootlegger.

Old Monk was superior to Hercules and it didn't cost much more than what I paid the bootlegger. But those were prohibition days and you needed a permit to buy Old Monk from the licensed liquor shops and not many of us had permits. Hercules disappeared from our lives when prohibition ended and Old Monk entered our drinking habits. It was a good rum then, and it is a good rum today. Some claim it is as good as the dark rums from the Caribbean, Myers's Rum from Jamaica for example, but I wouldn't go that far. Old Monk still comes in a distinctive bottle, fat and short, which the devotees love. A few years back, Mohan Meakin, its distillers, decided to give the bottle a more conventional shape with disastrous results. There was a time when Old Monk had the rum market pretty much sewed up. There were other brands also, of course, but none came close in quality or popularity. About eight million bottles were sold annually. Today the sales are a quarter of that and they continue to decline. What went wrong? First, with the easing of import restrictions other players entered the market. Rums from abroad began appearing in the liquor shops. Biggest of them was the Bacardi brand, an interloper from Puerto Rico. The company is the world's biggest producer of rum. Before you knew it, Bacardi was distilling and bottling it in India itself, in Karnataka. While Old Monk came only as dark rum, Bacardi gave us a choice: you could have it dark (robust), gold (smoother) or white (perfect for mixing cocktails). Now we had something to please everyone.

Old Monk or any dark rum for that matter is essentially a man's drink. I always have a bottle at home and I can't remember when a female guest last requested Old Monk. Women tend to drift towards wine if it is offered, or one of the white spirits which they like diluted, preferably as a cocktail. This is where Bacardi had an advantage. There were few bars around in the days when the sales of Old Monk were at their peak. Men bought a bottle, took it home, mixed it with coke or soda, added some ice and drank it before the food was on the table. Women never touched the stuff, if they drank at all. Now women go to restaurants, bars or clubs in the company of men or with their women friends. They order wine or cocktails. Mojito, a white rum cocktail, became a very popular drink among women as well as men. There were other cocktails like daiquiri and pina colada that required white rum. Old Monk and other dark rums became passé as they were no good for cocktails. Dark rums were something parents drank at home watching television. Not cool. However, Old Monk still remains popular with a certain class of people, mainly painters, journalists and those struggling in the performing arts. Many of them drink it because they like the taste, others because they can't afford Scotch. Old Monk tastes great sit ting on plastic chairs in a barsaati in Delhi or on a beach in Goa with close friends, late at night with smoke from something illegal floating in the air. It is more Press Club of India drink than an Oberoi Hotel drink. Always was.

Let me tell you something wonderful about rum in general. It is the only genuine spirit produced in our country. Almost all Indian gin, vodka and whisky are fakes. Rum is distilled from molasses; a thick, sweetish by-product that is left after the cane juice is crystallized into sugar in the mills. Now let us take whisky. Genuine whisky is distilled from barley, wheat or corn. That does not happen in India. Our whisky producers cheat by using neutral, tasteless alcohol extracted from molasses to which they add flavors’ and colours and, occasionally , a bit of genuine whisky imported in bulk. Indian whisky is a closer relative to rum than genuine whisky. This is also true of Indian vodka, gin and brandy.

McDowell's No 1 Celebration, another dark rum, now outsells Old Monk by a wide margin. McDowell's' success is due to the fact that the label now belongs to an international giant, Diageo, the world's largest producer of spirits. It markets and promotes its labels very aggressively. The contest between Old Monk and McDowell's was one between David and Goliath. This time Goliath won.

Man’s Best Friend At Home Is Chief Cuddling Officer At Work

2015 07 12 Man

 A serious meeting is on. Targets are being tossed around, and spreadsheets revised. The young faces around the table are pensive. Then, in walks Lady Maggie. The Irish Setter is a much loved member of the team that runs Buttercups, an online lingerie store. Lady Maggie plonks herself in a corner and looks around intently, letting out an occasional growl of affirmation. “It's been two years since we started our company, and Maggie has attended most meetings. None of the members have a problem with her, they find her refreshing, “ said CEO Arpita Ganesh.

On the other side of town, at Curley Street Media, an award-winning production house, Bono Bobby J is the CCO (Chief Cuddling Officer). The Labrador attends all meetings, and every person walking in earns the right of passage with a game of fetch and a warm cuddle that helps ease stress at work. He's still a little lacking in conference etiquette, not that anyone minds.“He has a tendency to curl up and snore during conference calls. At times, he wakes up and ventures out to bark but returns fast enough,“ says Pavitra Chelam, CEO and director of the studio. Both Bono and Maggie have reached the hall of fame on the firms' websites and are listed among the founder members. Bengaluru's startups are steadily becoming pet-friendly .Many believe they convert offices from pressure cookers into cool work spaces. “One warm cuddle from Bono can soothe frayed nerves and keep escalating pressure at bay .On late nights at the edit table, and days spent ideating, his calming snore keeps us all in zen mode,“ says Pavitra, who describes the trend to make workplaces pet-friendly as a “healthy and encouraging development“. Prakash Varma and Sneha Iype Varma's Nirvana, the production house behind the Hutch pug and ZooZoo ads, was one of the first to get a permanent spot for a dog in the company. When they started out in 2001 from a little apartment, there wasn't much work. They heard about a dog up for adoption, and brought in Coffee, a labrador. “She became our first recruit and is now as old as our company, “says Sneha. Now, two other dogs and cats keep everyone at Nirvana in high spirits. Magazine Store on Church Street, though no start-up in the modern sense, is also well known for its resident clowder of kittens. These pets are not just ornamental, but pursue full careers at the firm: Lady Maggie doubles as the company mascot for Buttercups online, while Bono has already made his debut in studio productions like the campaign Bleed Hope to promote blood donation.

Bengaluru Teacher’s YouTube School Has 68,000 Students

2015 07 11 Bengaluru Teacher. - Copy

She wanted to do PhD and become a teacher, but after her father's death Roshni Mukherjee had to take up a job in an MNC. But she found a way to teach tens of thousands of school students for free.

Roshni launched to post video lessons for classes 9 to 12 and her YouTube channel has more than 68,000 subscribers. She has shared around 3,700 videos in the past four years, which means more than two video lessons posted per day . “It began when my maid told me her two children were failing in exams because teachers in the government school in Tamil Nadu, where they studied, would rarely come to classes. These were the children I wanted to reach out to,“ she said. As technology offered the best solution, she uploaded a video on YouTube, explaining the concept of motion in physics. Roshni used a Power point slide show and a microphone to explain the concepts. As there was good response, she started making more video lessons. “After seeing the videos, students started asking doubts in the comments section and also requested for video lessons on specific topics. I was happy to help,“ Roshni said. She spent a few hours on weekdays and all her weekends preparing the videos lessons in chemistry , physics, mathematics and biology .

Roshni initially prepared videos for Classes XI and XII, but soon expanded to Classes IX and X. “I refer CBSE syllabus and brush through ICSE syllabus to add any points I may have missed out. The videos are simple: made on Powerpoint (slide shows) with a voice in the background explaining the concepts,“ she said. About eight months ago, Roshni quit her job with HP (which she had joined in the meantime) to focus on video lessons. “The channel was starting to make a little money from Google ads and I added a contribute button for those who wished to do so. I plan to keep the videos entirely free because only then can I reach a lot more students,“ she said. Now, Roshni wants her videos to reach the remotest corners of the country . For this, she has to translate the videos into regional languages. “That is the next course of action--converting these videos into regional languages such as Kannada, Tamil and Bengali,“ she said. Over time, Roshni hopes to expand her classes to junior grades and also to subjects such history and geography . “For me, the chapter on hydrocarbons in Chemistry was very tough. I already had a habit of referring the internet when I had doubts and that's how I found Examfear. The patience with which lessons are explained and the fact that I could watch the videos as many times I wanted to, made it all the more better,“ said Soutrik Bandhyopadhyay , from Delhi, who scored over 96% in Class XII.

Ratan Tata Says Will Invest In Tripura To Support Its Development

2015 07 09 Ratan Tata Invests In E - Copy

 Tata Sons Chairman & ExCampionite class of ’49 Ratan Tata, who visited Tripura recently, has said that the state has great potential, and has not received the recognition it deserves. He promised that the Tata Group will come forward with investments and industries to support for the state's development. "We have been greatly impressed by what one can do in a state like Tripura. It's very refreshing from what you see in the overcrowded parts of the country. I have assured the chief minister that I will go back to Mumbai with a view to see how in fact, we can with whatever little experience I may have, to bring in terms of ideas, or, how we can establish industries in Tripura that can use important natural resources," said Tata. He, however, did not declare the amount to be invested by the Tata Group. All he said was that the focus would be on value addition to various available resources within the state for a holistic development of the region and its people. He assured that his company will not be exploitative, and stand as partner to see prosperity of the state as well as the nation.

On the occasion of his visit, the Tata Trust and the Government of Tripura signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be strategic partners in expediting socio-economic development initiative in the state on Thursday. The joint initiative intends to implement interventions in the field of dairy development, fisheries, skill development, education, nutrition and health, for improvement in the quality of life of the people of the state. The MoU was signed by Tripura Principal Secretary K Rajeshwar Rao and Executive Trustee of Tata Trusts R Venkataramanan in the presence of Ratan Tata, Manik Sarkar and other officials from both sides.

Later, a joint press conference was addressed by Manik Sarkar and Ratan Tata. "Today is a very eventful day for us, because a memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Government of Tripura and the Tata Trust. The MoU has been signed between our departments like fishery, agriculture, education and industries with view to undertake some philanthropic activities so that the quality of the life of the people can be upgraded," said Sarkar. Ratan Tata said: "We have embarked on a partnership with a view to convey in our minds philanthropy, which today is no longer about providing charity. It is being a partner with recipient to raise the quality of life, to create prosperity not by being exploitative, not by taking natural resource or assets from here and developing from outside but creating livelihood for people we are working with a view to make a difference and to increase the dignity and self-respect of the community with whom we work. It is with this we have started the ventures that the chief minister has mentioned." He promised that very soon he will be coming back to the state with investment and industrial sector for development of the state by utilizing the resources and creating employment for the youths of the state.

Omar Sharif, An Arabian Knight In Hollywood, Passes Away At 83


Actor Omar Sharif, best known for his title role as Doctor Zhivago in the Oscarwinning film, has died, Egyptian state television said. He was 83. The BBC also reported his death, citing his agent. In May , Sharif 's agent confirmed the actor, who played a wide range of dashing and dignified characters while building a reputation as an expert bridge player, had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Sharif was one of the few Arab actors to make it big in Hollywood. He won international fame and an Oscarnomination for best supporting actor for his role in the 1962 film `Lawrence of Arabia' with Peter O'Toole. Born as Michel Shalhoub on April 10, 1932, to a wealthy family in Alexandria, Egypt, Sharif grew interested in acting while studying mathematics and physics at university in Cairo. But he worked in his father's timber business for several years before realizing his dream with a role in an Egyptian movie, `The Blazing Sun,' in 1954 opposite the Middle East's biggest female star, Faten Hamama. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Sharif converted to Islam and married Hamama in 1955, taking on his new name. They had a son, Tarek, who played Yuri in `Doctor Zhivago' at age 8, but the couple divorced in 1974. Reportedly fluent in Arabic, English, Greek and French, Sharif became known for his passion for bridge and thoroughbred race horses.

Reviving Tradition Of Dhotis & Drapes


It has been almost two decades since Tarun Tahiliani started his own label. Over the years, while he has shown his collection to varied set of audiences across the globe, and borrowed elements of fashion from different natives, one thing that remained constant was his love for drapes. “I was attracted to the draped form right from the beginning. The saree, as is worn on the body, has had an incredible influence on me, because the way it wraps and moulds on different people is incredible,” says the 50-year-old designer. Called by renowned dancer Anita Ratnam as one of the few designers who understand the Indian women’s body, Tarun’s collection has been updated and modulated with the times. “I think we must live in the present and be fluidly modern. One can be traditional, but I hate the idea of living in the past. Tomorrow must have freshness. Our collections are inspired by the concept of modern India. The textiles and embroideries are traditional. The fit, pattern and construction, and the materials used are modern,” he says. It is probably this combination of old and new that had Anita pick Tarun’s outfits for her widely-presented production A Million Sitas, which she recently performed at Collage.

Tarun talks about what keeps him going back to the Indian roots and bring in modern elements to textiles:

Reviving Traditions: We work with traditional weaves like Kanjeevaram and Benarasee. The former is in vibrant sunset shot with magenta and mehendi, while we are also experimenting with muted tones of gold and shades of beige. I’ve never liked acid colours, but raw mango certainly showed up a new raw sensibility for me. I’m seeing people, including my own wife, going back to wearing handlooms as long as they are soft. Besides handlooms, we have started a separate label called ‘Help Our Heritage’. We are going to use the weaves done by the craftsmen as sarees, dupattas and scarves with a little bit of our detailing. We want to promote their work and make sure they have access to a wider market.

Re-invention of Drapes: The effortless drapes of sadhus and the facile drapes of the fakirs are something that we have always idealized and used as inspiration for numerous collections. The spontaneously billowing dhotis have been wrapped and caressed into sleek silhouettes. We always have our wonderful dhoti inspired drapes — be it dhoti pants, dhoti skirts or dhoti sarees.

Making Dhoti Contemporary: We have taken our structured draping to menswear. This has enabled men to wear silhouettes like never before. The last time I wore a dhoti about 15-18 years ago, it came off. Now, thanks to the draping expertise, one can wear pre-draped pants and dhotis and keep the elegance of another time in a contemporary way. In an attempt to bring world-class fit and tailoring to the edition of ‘Indianesque’ sherwanis, bandhgalas, bundis and other elegant separates, we have teamed up with Whitcomb & Shaftesbury to launch the specially-crafted line of menswear.

Indian Fashion on World Map: It feels fantastic to take Indian fashion global, although I would not say that Indian fashion has gone global at the moment because everyone is so much into the wedding market as it’s a comfort zone. It’s where people spend maximum money and it’s where NRIs spend. There are so many designers who had never sketched bridal slipping into the bridal space.

Ratan-Backed Online Jewellery Firm Bluestone Raises Rs 100 Crore

2015 07 11 Ratan Tata Says Will Invest In Tripura To Support Its Development - Copy

 ExCampionite class of '49 Ratan Tata backed online jewellery company BlueStone has raised Rs 100 crore from a clutch of investors led by IvyCap Ventures, Accel Partners and Dragoneer Investment Group. Kalaari Capital and Saama Capital, which are among its existing investors, also participated in this third round of venture funding. The proceeds will be used to fund expansion and build the brand, said Gaurav Kushwaha, the Bengaluru-based startup's CEO and cofounder. BlueStone had raised Rs 80 crore put together in the previous two rounds - Series A and B. "Raising our initial rounds was difficult, but this round was a cake walk for us," said Kushwaha, an IIT-Delhi alumnus. He refused to divulge the valuation.

Shashi Tharoor— Know Your Firstpost Salon Guest

ExCampionite class of ’71 Shashi Tharoor will be the featured guest of the second Firstpost Salon, a series of conversations with India's best minds and biggest names. From international diplomat to two-time Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor makes for an unusual politician. Whether his party is in power or out of it, the Twitter-happy suave Tharoor always makes news. We will be live streaming "Return of the native- a very personal conversation with Shashi Tharoor" on Monday, July 13 from 5 pm . Do tune in and don't forget to send us (@firstpostin) your questions for Tharoor on Twitter or on Facebook so we can include them in our conversation, which will map the many journeys of Shashi Tharoor, parliamentarian, writer and the native who returned to India. From international diplomat to two-time Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor makes for an unusual politician. Whether his party is in power or out of it, the Twitter-happy suave Tharoor always makes news. This conversation will map the many journeys of Shashi Tharoor, parliamentarian, writer and the native who returned to India. Currently a second-term Lok Sabha MP representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency , Tharoor is an author, politician, and former international civil servant. He has previously served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs. During his nearly three-decade long prior career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker, and administrator, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership of the organization. Born in London in 1956, Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a PhD in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at the Tufts University.

Till 2013 he was the most-followed politician on Twitter in India, until Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, overtook him that year. Tharoor has written a number of books. His famous novels include the classic The Great Indian Novel (1989), Riot (2001) a searing examination of Hindu-Muslim violence in contemporary India; Show Business ( 1992) and The Five Dollar Smile and Other Stories (1990) and his latest book India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in our Time ( Jan 2015)

I Have Never Been So Bullish About India: Bhaskar Pramanik

Pramanik outlines the firm’s strategy as Microsoft readies to launch its new Windows 10 operating system globally. Microsoft Corp. completed 25 years in India. In an interview last week, ExCampionite class of ’66 Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of the India unit, outlined the company’s strategy as Microsoft readies to launch its new Windows 10 operating system globally. Edited excerpts:

Microsoft has seen a lot of changes in the past 25 years. What is keeping you excited? I have never been so bullish about India in the past 40 years. This is the first time I see a confluence in the sense of what’s happening in the economy, governance and the economy—it really feels good. I feel excited about the new technologies that have emerged—social, mobility and analytics—powered by the cloud. It is a game changer. It is going to change the way technology is consumed and it is going to be everywhere. Microsoft is a truly exciting company today. As a company which is 40 years old, it is trying to change and transform not just its products but also its go-to-market (strategy) and processes.

How do you see Microsoft contributing to Digital India? When Satya (Nadella) met the prime minister, he said Microsoft would do three things. First, set up a data centre—huge, highly secure, highly private and flexible enough to run any kind of workload—for use should the government wish to do so. Second, take the national asset Aadhaar and make it available to everybody. Aadhaar is the government’s preserve. Can you extend it to a whole bunch of other services? Right now it is being just used as an identity card. We have got to change that. The third one which he (Nadella) talked about was last-mile access. And one of the technologies we suggested was White-Fi. We have received clearance to run the first pilot in two villages in Andhra Pradesh. In each of these three things, we didn’t ask the government to invest anything—we will be the ones to either make the investment or provide the technology. And that is something which we really want to offer as part of Digital India. It is not about making the government smarter, it is about empowering Indian citizens.

How does White-Fi work? The government is saying it wants 250,000 panchayats connected through national optical fiber. What happens after that? You have got another 300,000 villages. White-Fi uses the TV spectrum which is currently not being used to take the same signal over tens of kilometers and it needs just a simple antenna which can be powered by solar power, which can then be used to provide Wi-Fi access in villages. So after you have put an antenna tens of kilometers away, you could put some customer premise equipment in a kirana store, a bank or a post office and make a village smart.

What happens after the pilot is completed? If the government approves it, we will work with different kinds of partners—could be a telecom operator or a bank or a women’s self-help group. We are not looking at making any money on this. We would just want to have somebody who would then make necessary investments to be able to provide that (service) and investments would be very small.

Microsoft is talking less about devices today and more about how data needs to be moved across devices... We are agnostic about the fact that we only run on Windows. We should run on all devices. Devices play a very important role in overall strategy. And we call it personal computing. It is about personal computing, productivity and an intelligent cloud.

Has cloud, as a technology, matured? Absolutely. Security and privacy are very genuine concerns. When we launch our cloud services in the month of October, we will have certification for security and for privacy. So when we launch our services in India we will be providing sovereignty—no data can move outside the company.

What’s your take on the Internet of Things? Windows 10 now runs on any device—phone, tablet, PC, XBox game console, TV—and it also runs on the Internet of Things. So it doesn’t matter what device you have, Windows can run on any of them. You can create any application or service and it can run on any device. There is nobody else that can offer you the same thing. At the same time, you need to be able to get that information and then take proper steps—whether you want to do another activity or just want to set an alarm. That’s where machine intelligence comes in. That’s what we call an intelligent cloud. So the Internet of Things, powered by Windows 10 and our Azure cloud fabric, is really the story.

What trends do you see as you take Microsoft into the next 25 years? I think the difference between the Microsoft I joined three years ago and today is its focus on collaboration, its focus on how smart the collective is rather that the individual. So we are still going to hire individuals who are smart but we are going to have the additional trait of them knowing how to work as a team. The second big difference is the obsession with customers. Somewhere down the line, the focus was on products and technologies and we lost sight because we were a horizontal company. One thing that Satya (Nadella) has made very clear is that everything starts and ends with our customers and partners. We now have what we call a challenger mindset. You are no longer the number one—you are now the challenger.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve a couple of years down the line? We would like to see our installed base of PCs and tablets move to Windows 10 over the next three years. We expect that 50% of our business in the next three years will be through the cloud. Currently we are at about 25%. The cloud today in India is 1% of the total IT industry and 10% of the software industry. We would expect the cloud to become 20-25% of the total IT industry.

Falling Commodities To Hit Metal, Steel Companies

Indian metals, mining and resources companies such as Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd, ExCampionite class of ’83 Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned Hindalco Industries, crude oil producer ONGC and steel producers such as Tata Steel are likely to be impacted as turmoil in the Chinese equity markets — together with the Greek debt crisis — took a toll on global commodity prices. Crude oil, gold, silver, aluminium, iron ore, copper, zinc, coal and other industrial commodities were on track to finish at their lowest level since late 2001 as weaker demand from one of the world's largest consumers of raw materials (China) led to commodities suffering the worst rout in seven months. China accounts for over 40% of global consumption of such commodities. The fall in crude oil prices is a blessing for the Indian economy as it would reduce India's current account deficit, aid infrastructure development and help in saving precious forex reserves. However, the fall in prices — especially in the base metals sector — will hurt producers like Vedanta Ltd and Hindalco Industries, feel analysts. Tracking these developments, India's metal and mining stocks fell as global commodity prices dropped amid a dimming outlook for China's economy, which is the world's largest consumer of steel, copper and aluminium.

"Softening global crude oil prices will immensely benefit India. Being the major import, it will help narrow the country's current account deficit, while inflation rate will see a downtrend and will also indirectly help in narrowing the fiscal deficit. The fall in other commodity prices will also benefit the economy and aid faster infrastructure development," said Nirmal Jain, chairman, IIFL Group. He added that some sectors and companies benefiting from higher commodity prices may be affected. Naveen Mathur, head of commodities at Angel Research, said, "China consumes around 40-50% of all the base metals and a falling demand in China is impacting the prices of these metals. Secondly, the dollar is strengthening due to the Eurozone crisis as a safe heaven. Since all these metals — including crude — are dollar-denominated, their prices are under pressure." Shares of Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd, one of the world's largest diversified natural resource majors with operations across zinc, lead, silver, oil & gas, iron ore, copper and aluminium, touched its 52-week low of Rs 140 before closing down 8% at Rs 146. Even Kumar Mangalam Birla's metals flagship Hindalco Industries touched its 52-week low of Rs 99.2 before closing down 5% at Rs 102.

Ratan Tata Invests in E-Vehicle Start-Up

2015 07 09 Ratan Tata Invests In E - Copy

ExCampionite class of '49 Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, in his personal capacity has invested in Ampere Vehicles, a start-up co-founded by a woman entrepreneur. Coimbatore-based Ampere makes electric vehicles including e-scooters, e-cycles and e-three wheelers. Hemalatha Annamalai, co-founder of Ampere, told NDTV that the funding would be used to scale up the operations. She also said that Mr Tata made the investment along with Ampere's existing investor Forum Synergies. Spain's Axon Capital is also a co-investor in Ampere. Ms Annamalai told said she started her entrepreneur journey at the age of 27 after quitting a software job. Ampere is her fifth entrepreneurial venture which she co-founded in 2008. Ampere did not disclose how much stake Ratan Tata has picked up in the company or the quantum of his investment. The former Tata Group chief has been steadily investing his personal equity in a number of start-ups, since retirement. Mr Tata has invested in many start-ups including Ola, Snapdeal, Paytm, and Xiaomi. He has also invested in another automobile-related start-up Ratan Tata retired as the head of the over $100-billion conglomerate Tata Group in December 2012 and currently serves as chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group.

Tharoor: State Won’t Lose Vizhinjam Project

Terming reports related to implementation of Vizhinjam international seaport “baseless,” Member of Parliament & ExCampionite class of '71 Shashi Tharoor said the State will not lose the project at any cost. “The Congress party has always put development above politics, and will continue to do so in the case of Vizhinjam project. I stand in solidarity with the people of Thiruvananthapuram, not only as their MP but as a proud Congressman supporting a critical development project, and will do everything possible to take the project to its rightful conclusion,” Mr Tharoor said in a statement. He pointed out that the Left parties and the BJP were desperately trying to politicize the issue. “The Left could not begin construction during their tenure and is, thus, for petty political gains, raising unsubstantiated allegations now to tarnish the good work and development agenda of the UDF government. The BJP, on the other hand, in an effort to appropriate credit without any effort or meaningful contributions, is criticizing the government for technical delays,” he said.

Low Development Cost Sparks Boom In Mobile Banking

The relatively low cost of developing apps has triggered an innovation boom in banking with features being added to mobile apps on a weekly basis as against internet banking where changes have been gradual. On Tuesday, Axis Bank announced the first biometric authentication for mobile transactions while ICICI Bank's mobile app now allows account holders to send cash to contacts through a code which can be used to for card less ATM withdrawals. The two leading private banks announced new features as they relaunched their mobile banking apps. Axis Bank's fingerprint id feature is available on the iPhone and other high-end phones that have the hardware for fingerprint scanning. Axis has also joined ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank in watch banking with a solution for the iWatch. While the earlier trend was for banks to try and squeeze in features of internet banking into the mobile interface, the current year has seen banking apps with features that are native to the mobile platform. For instance most banks now offer location based offers. Also logging in is easier as they can do so with a pin instead of a complex password. According to Rajiv Sabharwal, ED, ICICI Bank, although cost reduction is not an objective, banks are reaping the benefits of lower transaction cost as customers migrate. The bank's new app now allows 100 types of transactions and makes it easier to connect to the helpline through a single click without having to submit any account details to a voice response system. Sabharwal added that growth in mobile banking has exceeded expectations with volumes in the first three months of FY16 exceeding those for whole of FY15. "Over five million customers now use mobile banking. We are today acquiring close to half a million customers for mobile and internet banking every month. By end of the year expect at least one crore customers using mobile banking," said Sabharwal.

Rajiv Anand, ExCampionite class of ’82 & head of retail banking at Axis Bank customers are spending less time on desktops and laptops and more time on mobile phones. "Cost of digital transactions is one tenth of what it costs in the branch. The costs of doing a transaction on the mobile or on the internet is not very different and the cost of developing applications for mobile platform is low which helps in coming out with faster innovation, more features and more apps." said Anand. Although mobile transactions are expected to outstrip internet transactions, Anand says that net banking would continue to be important and is growing at 30-40%.

Internet Saathi, A Initiative By Google, Intel & Tata Trusts To Bring More Rural Women Online


The theme of “Woman Empowerment” has rocked the Indian landscape extensively since the year 2014. With power packed performances on and off screen, today’s woman is pushing for her “choice”. In this awakening, the Digital India Program has also risen to the occasion with its new agenda for the rural women called “Internet Saathi”.

The old adage termed by the American leader, Brigham Young, “You educate a man, you educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation” is still relevant in our country’s context today. This newly formulated initiative wants to bring about awareness on the usage of internet among women in rural India. Statistics analyzed by Google says that though India is rapidly adding internet subscribers by every passing day, only 12% of the rural women population are using internet. This one of the prime reasons why this initiative called “Internet Saathi” has been introduced that will bring internet to their doorstep to educate the rural women. When we say doorstep, we mean it. The deliverance of the basic usage of internet and benefits of using internet will be departed through specially designed cycles which will have the computer equipment fitted on the back of the cycle. This kind of a model will make it easier to carry around and that way, the government estimates it can reach it’s target of 4500 villages imparting education to around 5 lakh women in 18 months. This is a joint initiative by Google, Tata Trusts and Intel to make this proposition a reality. This internet literacy campaign for women was announced on July 3rd and as per the plan these internet enabled traditional carts will start off in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Jharkhand in 1000 numbers. These carts will travel from village to village by halting in a village for 4 to 6 months wherein the basics of the working of the internet will be explained at least for 2 days every week per village. The women will be provided with working knowledge, training sessions and materials so that they can use the internet without any assistance. An elated, Ratan Tata ExCampionite class of '49 said, “I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has decided to give so much preference and priority to the fact that India will be a digitized nation. Internet will help educate India, will give access to livelihood to many women who do not have a formal livelihood, help reach out commerce to far parts of India.” The top business houses have vowed to invest around Rs. 450,000 crores for the Digital India Initiative. Google has been working with the government on many such digitalizing initiatives and is proud to be a part of this internet revolution in India. Intel has been working on the same line with Google on it’s “Helping women get online” initiative which was launched earlier in September, 2014.

Google had roped in Intel, HUL and Axis Bank for it’s “Helping Women get online” initiative which by far has seen a great increase in interest and usage of internet among women in rural areas. Another simultaneous campaign called “Reach for the Sky” was also introduced with actor Farhan Akhtar’s initiative called MARD to accelerate the growth of internet literacy. And now with government too standing up for this cause, we have to wait and watch how it’ll all work out.

What Money Can’t Buy

By Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ‘64

Those of you who have seen and enjoyed Moliere's play The Imaginary Invalid will remember the line, "Give him two pills to cure all his ills". The wealthy, with a fierce awareness of the power that money commands, often wonder why they cannot buy their way to good health. What harm could there possibly be in overriding the lifestyle changes suggested by the doctor when you have at your disposal the most expensive treatments?

For every creation in life, effort is essential. For the creation of wealth, mental acumen and hours of dedicated maneuvering are required. Did the wealthy ever create wealth without any effort? (Not counting those of extraordinary inheritance or fluke luck, of course.) The same logic applies to the creation of good health. Most chronic diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and the like require one to employ distinct lifestyle changes through continued effort. These changes mostly involve a wholesome diet and exercise regimen. Sure, medical science is making inroads into obesity treatment through pills, but we are a long way from perfect. Studies tell us that exercising individuals with chronic heart conditions do just as well as those on medication, barring a subset with cardiac failure. This establishes the immense potential of exercise, which in some cases, is equivalent to medication. Now imagine a combination of both. An article in the American Medical Association's April 2015 journal extolls the value of exercise. The important message in this study is that any leisure-time physical activity is associated with a significantly lower risk of death when compared to no physical activity at all. An evaluation of individuals whose workout was substantially less than that outlined in the American physical activity guidelines of 2008 showed that they still had a 20 per cent lower death rate than the ones who did not exercise at all. Understandably, those who achieved the recommended exercise rate of 7.5 to 15 MET hours per week had a 35 per cent lower chance of dying. (MET stands for metabolic equivalent of the physical tasks performed - a met value of 5 means you are expending 5 times the energy than you would at rest.) It is worth noting that those who exceed these levels had an even greater reduction in death rate - the peak permissible rate determined at 22.5 to 40 MET hours per week. Those who performed this could expect a whopping 40 per cent reduction in death rate.

As a rule of thumb 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise meets the minimum requirement of 7.5 to 15 MET hours per week. I think the heartening message in this study is that even if you don't meet the bare minimum of 7.5 MET hours per week there is a 20 % reduction in death rate. If you can manage two or three times the recommended minimum, which is 280 to 420 minutes of brisk walking or 90 to 135 minutes of running, there is a 39 % reduction in death rate. Beyond this there seems to be a plateau, giving you no extended advantage. Studies of extremely vigorous exercise regimes warn us that death rate can also be increased in the process. Besides mortality, exercise also has several other salutary effects. Studies tell us that women who walk for about seven hours a week are half as likely to develop colon cancer as those who walk for one hour a week. An editorial in the American Medical Association journal by Dr Todd Manini, associated with the University of Florida, states that no single medication can positively influence as many organs as possible by comprehensive exercise. The answer is pretty clear. Put on your walking shoes and go out for a brisk one, if you can, or simply pace up and down the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Some physical activities, no matter how scarce, can go a long way in securing your health. Now that you know of the small wonders of exercise, there is no need to be intimidated by fitness-fanatics and their larger-than-life regimen.

Abhishek Bachchan & Rishi Kapoor’s All Is Well Trailer Crosses Two Million Views!

2015 07 07 Abhishek Bachchan and Rishi KapoorThe trailer of this road trip comedy was released on July 1. Actor Abhishek Bachchan is elated that the trailer of All is Well has earned two million views in just three days of its release. The trailer of the film, directed by Oh My God director Umesh Shukla, sees Abhishek, Rishi Kapoor and Asin embarking on a road journey. The 39-year-old actor, who was last seen in Happy New Year, took to twitter to thank his fans.”And the trailer of #AllIisWell crosses 2million!! Wow! Thank you guys,” Abhishek wrote. Rishi Kapoor tweeted,” Wow. That must be good!” The film was in the making for quite sometime and it began shooting in October, 2013. Actress Asin is making a comeback after “Khiladi 786″ in 2012. Besides Abhishek and Asin and Rishi, the film also stars Supriya Pathak. All is Well is slated to release on August 21.

External Affairs Committee To Visit Kerala Capital

The External Affairs Committee (EAC) of Parliament, chaired by ExCampionite class of '71 Shashi Tharoor, MP, will visit Kerala capital as part of their tour to three states. Fourteen MPs and the officials from Lok Sabha Secretariat will visit the Regional Passport Office (Passport Seva Kendra) and the office of Protector of Immigrants (PoE), both coming under the Ministry of External Affairs, a release said. The committee will also hold discussions with the representatives of MEA, Regional Passport Office, Police, Postal, CPWD authorities, agencies involved in the implementation of Passport Seva Project, the representatives of MOIA and PoE Office on the functioning of the above institutions, it said. The MPs who are part of the delegation are Arka Keshari Deo, Anantkumar Hegde, Jose K Mani, Magantti Venkateswara Rao, Mohammed Salim, Mamtaz Sanghamita, Ram Swaroop Sharma, Sharad Tripathi, Chhedi Paswan, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Ram Kumar Kashyap, DP Tripathi and Pavan K Varma.

Ratan Tata’s Many E-commerce Investments

When Ratan Tata retired as the chairman of Tata Sons after being at the helm for 21 years, everyone expected him to hang his boots. That assumption couldn't have been further away from the truth. Tata, moving away from tradition, first held onto his chairmanship of Tata Trusts, a responsibility he had been assigned when he was anointed chairman in 1991. And second, in an acceptance speech at the Rockefeller Foundation when the was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, he said that his life's work wasn't done yet. When he retired in 2012, Ratan Tata had let it be known that he wanted to reach out to people and have them draw from the trusts' expertise to give a strong push to new businesses. Since then, Tata has been actively working on those words. Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Digital India program this week, Tata lauded the PM's vision of a digitized India and his move to make digital India a priority, and announced a tie-up with Google and Intel to help bring the Internet to more and more women in India. Tata has been investing in various e-commerce portals since his retirement. The extension of his help, however, doesn't end there. He has vowed to mentor these businesses, drawing from his years' of invaluable experience, to help them set sail. The first company that Tata invested in after his retirement was Altaeros Energies, a US-based wind power developer. He later ventured into the e-commerce space by investing in India's e-commerce website, Snapdeal. Ratan Tata or his office haven't yet revealed the financial details of any investments that he has made. An email sent to his office was unanswered at the time of writing. Since then, he has been redefining the meaning of “angel investors” for the e-commerce space. Here's a list of all the e-commerce companies that Ratan Tata has invested in:

August 27, 2014 Snapdeal

Ratan Tata's invested an undisclosed amount into India's e-commerce website that is backed by Kalaari Capital. The portal also has Wipro's Azim Premji as an investor.

September 11, 2014 – Bluestone

An online jewellery portal, Bluestone was founded by Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, an IIT graduate. He is also the CEO of the company. Bluestone is also backed by Kalaari Capital.

November 15, 2014 – Urban Ladder

Leading furniture and home decor e-portal was started by IIM-Bangalore graduates Ashish Goel and Rajiv Srivatsa in July 2012. It soon sprang to popularity and is now one of the most wel-known online portals for furniture.

February 8, 2014 –

Started by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Anuraj and Amit Jain, and cardekho let's users buy, sell and compare prices of various cars in the market. It also reviews cars. The same duo also run

March 13, 2015 – One97 Communications

One97 Communications is the company that operates Paytm, an online payment solution company. Headquartered in Noida, the company also offers the option of an online wallet to its users now. The company's website said that they now have over 80 million registered users, and handles over 60 million orders per month.

April 26, 2015 – Xiaomi

China's largest smartphone maker, Xiaomi got its first Indian investor in the form of Ratan Tata. The company's CEO Lei Jun plans to make India an important market for the phone too, after China.

Amazon Follows Microsoft’s Footsteps, Announces India Region

The Indian subcontinent is fast becoming the hotbed of cloud computing. At the Azure Conference hosted at Pune in March 2015, Bhaskar Pramanik, ExCampionite class of '66 chairman of Microsoft India shared the plans of setting up three data centers in India. Close on the heels, Amazon announced that it is all set to launch India region this year. IBM’s SoftLayer is already in the process of setting up its India data center in Mumbai.

India, which has been the home of global outsourcing giants like Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Infosys, and Wipro is witnessing the rise of billion-dollar startups. According to YourStory, a well-known media company that tracks the startup ecosystem in India, startups in the country have raised over $3.5 billion deals just in the first of half of 2015. Swiggy, PeperTap, Grofers, Simplilearn, Lookup, FirstCry, Holachef , Porter, Instalivly , UrbanClap and Jugnoo are some of the fastest growing startups that have raised funding twice within the first half of 2015. During the last two years, Indian startup ecosystem has witnessed quite a few high profile acquisitions. Bitzer Mobile acquisition by Oracle, Little Eye Labs acquisition by Facebook and Yahoo’s acquisition of Bookpad made the headlines. ZipDial was snapped up by Twitter earlier this year. A majority of these startups rely on the cloud for their infrastructure. From Amazon to Microsoft to IBM to Google, every cloud player is eying for a slice of the pie.

According to Zinnov Management Consulting, a leading market research and analyst firm in India, the cloud market in India will grow at 45% CAGR to $14.8 billion in 2020. The study estimates that the private cloud market will increase to $7.4–7.6 billion in 2020. The public cloud market is expected to grow to an almost of equivalent size at $7.0–7.4 billion in 2020.

Digital India is one of the pet initiatives of Narendra Modi, PM of India. The vision of Digital India is to have inclusive growth in areas of electronic services, products, and manufacturing. Some of the key projects of this initiative include a secure digital locker for the citizens, an eSign framework that would allow citizens to digitally sign documents, and broader availability of WiFi in smaller towns and villages. This ambitious project opens up doors for multinational technology companies to partner with the Indian government. To effectively pitch their cloud platforms, these companies need to have local presence of their infrastructure.

Amazon already enjoys a decent traction in India. It has a vibrant ecosystem that includes partners that have built cloud practices and Independent Software Vendors. The AWS Consulting Partners in India include Accenture, Blazeclan, Frontier, Intelligrape, Minjar, Progressive, PWC, SaaSforce, SD2labs, Team Computers, Wipro, and many others.

A majority of the AWS customers host their applications in the ap-southeast–1 region hosted in Singapore. Enterprises that need dedicated connectivity rely on Tata Communications for configuring AWS Direct Connect. AWS tests the waters by first setting up edge locations before deciding on the full-blown regions. In July 2013, Amazon announced the availability of two edge locations in Chennai and Mumbai in India that serve as Point of Presence (POP) for its CDN and DNS services. These edge locations in India currently support all CloudFront and Route 53 capabilities, including delivery of websites (including dynamic content), live and on-demand streaming media, and security features like custom SSL certificates. Though AWS never discloses the actual location of the data centers, it is widely believed Amazon has partnered with Tata Communications to host its infrastructure. With two years of presence in India, AWS is now confident of running the dedicated region. The company might expand its existing footprint in Chennai and Mumbai for setting up its India region.

Digital India: CEOs Commit to Invest Rs. 4,50,000 Crores

Top CEOs from India and abroad on Wednesday committed to invest Rs. 4,50,000 crores for the Modi government's ambitious 'Digital India' campaign to provide telephony and fast internet for all, with more than half of the promised investments announced by Mukesh Ambani alone.

The Reliance Industries Chairman was joined by top industry leaders like Sunil Bharti Mittal (Rs. 1,00,000 crores), Kumar Mangalam Birla ($9 billion or about Rs. 54,000 crores), and Anil Agarwal (Rs. 40,000 crores) with large investment announcements. His younger brother Anil Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Group, also announced an investment of Rs. 10,000 crores to expand businesses across digital, cloud and telecom space.

The launch ceremony of Digital India week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the packed Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, was attended by who's who of India Inc, as also top executives of a number of foreign companies, who committed huge investments in creation of infrastructure and setting up of manufacturing units.

The investments announced on Wednesday will lead to creation of 1.8 million jobs, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at the event. Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani pledged an investment of over Rs. 2,50,000 crores in rollout of wireless broadband infrastructure and manufcture of mobile handsets. The company is working with leading device manufacturers encouraging them to Make in India smartphones and internet devices at an affordable price, he said. Bharti group chief Sunil Mittal said his group will invest more than Rs. 1,00,000 crores in the next five years in networks and deeper infrastructure for taking 4G connectivity to the masses, e-health and taking e-education in every village. The company will also collaborate with various manufacturers around the world to start manufacturing in the country to provide electronic products at the most affordable and reduce the burden of electronics import in this country.

Aditya Birla group, which owns the country's third largest mobile operator Idea Cellular, will invest $7 billion (roughly Rs. 44,481 crores) over the next five years in network roll out, broadband and Wi-Fi deployment, its Chairman & ExCampionite class of '83 Kumar Mangalam Birla said. Besides, he also announced a $2 billion (roughly Rs. 12,709 crores) investment over the next five years specifically for Digital India plans.

Plan To Invest $9 Billion Over 5 Years: Kumar Mangalam Birla

Aditya Birla group, which owns the country's third largest mobile operator Idea Cellular, on Wednesday, said it will invest $7 billion over the next five years in network roll out, broadband and wi-fi deployment.

Apart from that, the company will invest $2 billion over the next five years in Digital India initiatives. Speaking during the launch of Digital India, Aditya Birla group Chairman & ExCampionite class of '83 Kumar Mangalam Birla said the company has invested over $15 billion in the telecom industry since entering the sector about 20 years ago. "Our investments in the telecom industry have been in excess of $15 billion wherein we have laid 1 lakh kms of further improve this digital infrastructure, we plan to invest an additional $7 billion over the next five years in areas such as network roll out, broadband and wi-fi deployment," Mr Birla said. He further said the company plans to invest $2 billion in the next five years in projects falling within the ambit of Digital India initiative such as electronics manufacturing, energy, internet of things and smart cities. Mr Birla said the group has been involved in digitization of the country in several ways through Idea Cellular. "We have to leverage this (company's) vast network to provide mobile based health care and education services and also provide services such as whether forecasting advisories," he added. The chairman of Aditya Birla group said the company plans to launch a mobile wallet and a payment bank and seamlessly integrate its businesses in three sectors - telecom, financial services and retail - and have a combined customer base of over 200 million across all strata of society. He also said the company is firming up plans to develop 100 acres in suburbs of Mumbai.

Apart from that, the Group will be launching a new initiative to partner and mentor entrepreneurs, which will provide an opportunity over the next five years to more than 10,000 entrepreneurs creating over a million new jobs.

Shashi Tharoor Seeks Review of Delhi University’s Weightage Policy

Congress lawmaker & ExCampionite class of '71 Shashi Tharoor has sought Delhi University Vice Chancellor's intervention in reviewing the marks weight-age policy for state board students seeking admission to its colleges.

The letter to the VC Dinesh Singh has come in wake of a student delegation approaching Dr Tharoor contending that the anomalies in calculation of weight-ages have robbed them off getting admission to undergraduate programmes. "Following our conversation I explained to the students' delegation that the marks - weight-age policy applied to students from several states could not be altered. "But as their representation explains, there is a problem relating to the interpretation of the rules and different calculations of the weight-age differential at different admissions centers. Please have it reviewed so that an injustice is not perpetrated," Dr Tharoor said in an email to the VC last week. The students have pointed out that candidates who have passed out from Kerala State Education Board are facing a deduction of 10 per cent in best of four subjects' marks. According to the university guidelines, all the discipline subjects must have at least 70 per cent component of theory in the qualifying exam for the purpose of being treated as academic/elective subject. Hence, students who have passed from boards, which do not have the 70:30 ratio of theory (rpt) theory and practical, will attract a penalty of 10 per cent.

Even as the varsity had announced to do away with the additional eligibility criteria from this year, the students have also alleged in their representation that when they approached different colleges for admission, their percentage calculation was different in each of them. "There is no centralized system to monitor the admission process and since multiple admissions are happening, there is no choice to select a particular college since at the same time admission process are completing in different colleges," the representation reads. However, the university officials have maintained that the guidelines have been framed keeping larger interest for students in mind. "The university has a cosmopolitan nature and the guidelines have been framed as such to provide a level playing field to students from boards across the country," a senior varsity official said.

After Kalaari Capital, Ratan Tata Joins VC Firm Jungle Ventures As Advisor

Venture capital firm Jungle Ventures, which focuses on investments in Southeast Asia and India, has roped in ExCampionite class of '49 Ratan Tata as a special adviser. This comes after chairman emeritus of the salts to software conglomerate Tata Sons joined Kalaari Capital, a $350 million India focused venture capital firm, in a similar role earlier this month.

Jungle Ventures is an early stage VC fund with a portfolio of 30 startups like Zipdial (recently acquired by Twitter), LiveSpace, Tradegecko, CrayonData, Fastacash and travelmob (acquired by Nasdaq listed HomeAway). In his role as special advisor, Tata "has formally committed to spend time with Jungle's portfolio of companies to help them build category leadership, while being ethically impregnable and culturally strong, in Asian and global markets," said a statement. Some of the other advisors at Jungle and their start-ups include Gokul Rajaram, Product Engineering Lead at Square and Alon Sobol, Director of ISP/ Telco Relationships for Spotify. The VC firm was founded by Anurag Srivastava and Amit Anand in 2012 with a $10 million seed-to-early stage fund and is currently raising a second fund. "As our companies look to become global category leaders in various markets, Mr. Tata will help us and our entrepreneurs understand the economics and dynamics of those markets. It has already been a humbling experience to work with Mr. Tata and we have found him to be astonishingly responsive, insightful and decisive," said Amit Anand, founding and managing partner at Jungle Ventures

Ratan Tata has also invested in a number of tech and internet companies like cab hailing app Ola, online retailer Snapdeal and even Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, the world's most valued startup at $45 billion.

Microsoft To Launch Windows 10 In India In July: Bhaskar Pramanik

"We have already signed 2 deals with Govt under Digital India Mission, Pramanik was quoted as saying.

Microsoft India Chairman & ExCampionite class of '66 Bhaskar Pramanik has reportedly said that it is planning to launch Windows 10 in India in July. "We have already signed 2 deals With Govt Under Digital India Mission, Pramanik was quoted as saying. Bhaskar Pramanik reportedly said that they are not looking at Manufacturing in India, but looking at sourcing. The company said that they are Well Positioned to meet China in Consumer Business in 5-10 Years, says report.

HDFC Bank’s Paresh Sukthankar Tops Pay Hike List


Bankers' pay is always a hot topic of discussion the world over. In India, the Reserve Bank of India has always been keeping an eye not only on banks' operations, but also on pay structures. Still, private banks have been rewarding their executives while their pubic sector peers have been treated like government servants. ExCampionites class of '77 Paresh Sukthankar, deputy managing director of HDFC Bank and V Srinivasan, executive director at Axis Bank, top the list of senior bankers who got big pay increases last year. Sukthankar, the man believed to be behind the conservative practices of the bank, saw his salary double last year, going up to Rs 5.2 crore, filings show. At ICICI Bank, executive director NS Kannan got the biggest increase among the top executives. Kannan's salary rose 15.2% to Rs 4.07 crore, as compared to chief executive Chanda Kochhar's 12% raise to Rs 5.85 crore.

Film & TV School Opens In September On RK’s Farm

Will offer two and three year specialized courses in various disciplines. Last year, on May 16, the World Peace Center (Alandi) and MAEER's Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT), Pune, launched the Raj Kapoor Memorial--The Golden Era of Indian Cinema at their Rajbaug Educational Complex in Loni-Kalbhor. The late filmmaker's sons, ExCampionite class of '64 Randhir and ExCampionite class of '78 Rajeev Kapoor, inaugurated the museum which stands alongside Raj Kapoor's bungalow. It journeys through his repertoire, reviving memories from films like Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Prem Rog which were shot on the 125-acre Loni farm which he had bought in the '60s. There are also tributes to other filmmakers, This September, the MIT School of Film and Television will come up on 25 acres of the same property which also houses the Vishwashanti Sangeet Kala Academy, along with the samadhis of Raj Kapoor, and his parents Prithviraj and Ramsarni Kapoor. The school will offer post graduate diplomas in direction, editing, sound and cinematography. These are three-year courses--one-year foundation course and two for specialisation. "There are also two-year courses in scriptwriting and production design. There will be 20 students in each batch," said Dr Jabbar Patel, filmmaker and chairperson of the institute. Speaking to Mirror just before he flew off to the US to deliver a keynote address at a conference on cinema, Dr Patel said, "The basics of the curriculum will be similar to that at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, but we will offer far more advanced technical training." It all started after the Kapoor family, over a decade ago, donated the property to Vishwanath Karad, the founder president of World Peace Center, because it was Raj Kapoor's wish that the land be used for educational and not commercial purposes. Karad, the founder-director of the MIT Group, built the college there.

Dr Patel's hospital is just 50 kilometers from the farm and he would drop by sometimes to watch Raj Kapoor shoot and chat with him. One day, years later, he was reminiscing with his college mate, Vishwanath Karad, and his son Rahul, when the idea of starting a world class film school came up. "We've been working on the project for the last two-three years, it will open this September," he informed. The governing council of the school includes stalwarts like Mani Ratnam, Shaji N Karun, Mammootty, Girish Kasaravalli, Goutam Ghose and Jahnu Barua. Mentors include Binod Pradhan for cinematography, Resul Pookutty for sound design, A Sreekar Prasad for editing, Jayant Deshmukh for production design, Kamlesh Pandey for scripting, Shankar Mahadevan for music and Samar Nakhate for direction. "There will also be faculty members from the film fraternity, drawn from different disciplines, who will take classes and conduct workshops, along with academicians and technicians from abroad. We are trying to get it affiliated with world class film schools in Europe and America," said Dr Patel. He pointed out that like the memorial, the school too will be a worthy tribute to Raj Kapoor who lived and worked at the farm. "Raj Kapoor saab was one of the legends of Indian cinema, whose name was second only to Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister in the '50s and '60s," says Dr Patel. "He'd be happy to see young talent blooming on his beloved Loni farm."

10 Startups Backed By Ratan Tata

The startup scene in India is booming and is attracting global investors. The world is recognizing high potential of Indian startups and is making big investments into the same to be a part of the growth and success.

ExCampionite class of '49 Ratan Tata, Former Chairman at Tata Group, is one such high profile and distinguished individual who is investing in Indian startups. As the legendary business magnate has stepped down from the responsibilities at the Tata Group, Ratan Tata has invested his money in 10 budding startups.

Microsoft India Boss Bhaskar Pramanik Wants You To Play When You Work

ExCampionite class of '66 Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman, Microsoft India, outlined the three focus areas for the software giant going forward at the launch of a new accelerator program, powered by Microsoft Ventures, in Mumbai.

Here's what you can expect from the company in the days to come. Edited excerpts from Pramanik's address at the launch. Making more computing personal: "The future is really about personal computing. Except, it is not about personal computers. It will come in different shapes, sizes, forms. It is about ensuring that the power of computing is available to all individuals." "Microsoft is re-imagining what personal computing is going to be. Some of you may have heard of Hololens, which we've just created, which is going to be a part of Windows 10. It is the ability to work in a virtual world. It's the ability to create design just by cutting things out of the air, take them together and once you've got the design ready, move it across to the 3D printer and then actually print the object."

Use And Abuse of Hormones

By Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of '64

The world we live in today is one of instant gratification. We want and need things on an ASAP basis. So we have the athletic guy, with a need for immediate physical performance, the middle aged man with the desire to be a sexually-adroit Casanova, the ageing woman who yearns to be young again and the mother who wants her child to be tall and handsome. All of these people are in a position to use or misuse hormone therapy in completing their personal quest.

As an entirely natural part of the ageing processes, our hormone levels gradually decline. The hormone-treatment brigade thinks differently - they assume that we age because our hormonal levels fall. Does it make sense to increase our natural hormone levels by exogenous administration so we may experience the vitality of and vigour of certain replacements? The answer isn't easy. Perhaps the most misused of hormones is the anabolic steroid. It's use was initially limited to competitive sport, but because of effective detection in recent times instances have dramatically fallen. It's major fans include the teenaged gym-buff who aspires for Arnold Schwarzenegger-like ripples and powerful athletic performance. Anabolic steroids increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. One in 10 gym enthusiasts use anabolic steroids and about 1/3 of UK's medical practitioners encounter patients with little knowledge of steroids using the anabolic kind. One endocrinologist is of the opinion that the people who use these potentially life threatening drugs think that they are actually worth it. Such performance enhancing drugs cause acne, facial hair in women, breast development and testicle shrinking in men, along with infertility, depression, insomnia, liver damage and high blood pressure. Mood swings are also known in users. Potential addiction and withdrawal symptoms are other pitfalls. If used during adolescence, it may lead to a permanent stunted stature due to premature closing of bone growth plates. The drug may be injected, taken orally or applied as a cream. Many users adopt a process called 'cycling', where they take the drug and withdraw after a time to give the body rest. Others use the 'stacking' method -- taking more than two or multiple steroids at a time. 'Pyramiding' is a combination of cycling and stacking. It has been estimated that 1 per cent of the US population has misused such medication, often under the belief that their natural body is unattractive and will look more impressive with large muscles. Many amongst these users are high school students. Between 1989 and 1998, use of artificial hormones amongst high school seniors fluctuated between 3 per cent and 1.9 per cent.

Contrary to popular opinion, testosterone neither helps depression/cognitive function, nor ups the risk of fracture. However, there is a large segment of population who suffer from low testosterone levels that are not low enough to warrant a replacement. Is it acceptable to help raise these people's testosterone levels a wee bit to give them the hope of renewed physical and sexual vigor? No large database of evidence exists on this topic. Also problematic is the use of growth hormones, administered to increase children's heights. It is an understandable move if a child's growth-hormone levels are low he/she is stuck with an abnormally short stature. A metanalysis of several studies on growth hormones that was reported in a leading medical journal stated that growth hormones did not increase exercise capacity. In fact, they made it made it worse. Claims regarding the performance enhancement properties of growth hormones are not supported by studies either. The manipulation of hormones to attain height, physical attractiveness and performance will remain an eternal quest for human beings. The need of the hour is to generate more data on the topic. Until then, take care not to misuse hormones.

‘We Kapoors Pay For Our Own Drinks!’ – Rishi Kapoor

ExCampionite class of '69 Rishi Kapoor, while shooting for ‘Wedding Pullav’, surprised his friend and producer of the film Shashi Ranjan.

When a film is being shot, the general norm in Bollywood is that the producer bears all the cost of the actors. And a certain incident surprised the producer. A source told us that post the film’s shoot in the evening, the two good friends would walk down to a nearby popular bar for a round of drinks and hence naturally when bill came Ranjan would pick up the tab. The source said, “This did not go down too well with Kapoor, who insisted on paying for his own drinks. In fact, he even paid for Ranjan’s drink!”

Talking about it, Ranjan says, “After the shoot, we did go for a round of drinks in the evening. And since I was the producer I picked up the tab. This upset Chintu who insisted on paying his own bill saying, “We Kapoors never drink producers’ scotch. We always pay for our drinks and never use producers’ money for it.” He added saying, “I was naturally surprised, because a producer is assumed to be paying for everything for a star while on a shoot schedule, but Chintu never ceases to amaze. He’s a dream to work with for any producer. No wonder the Kapoors are known for their large heartedness!”

This Indian Bank Is Planning Thousands of Hires to Boost Lending

HDFC Bank Ltd., India’s biggest lender by market value, will add thousands of employees and open hundreds of new branches this year to boost lending that’s already growing at twice the national rate.

The Mumbai-based bank, which added 10,000 employees in the year to March after holding back on hiring for about two years, is looking at increasing workers across its businesses in the current year, Deputy Managing Director & ExCampionite class of '77 Paresh Sukthankar said. The lowest nonperforming-loan ratio among the nation’s biggest lenders has allowed HDFC Bank to invest in its business and extend more loans, rather than focus on steps to combat soured debt, as State Bank of India and ICICI Bank Ltd. have done. State Bank’s employee numbers have fallen by 7 percent in the past two years as the company awaited signs of an improving business outlook. “In the base-case scenario, we probably will add a few thousand employees this year and will add a few hundred branches with an even break-up between the urban and rural areas,” HDFC Bank’s Sukthankar said in his Mumbai office on June 17, without elaborating. The firm had 4,014 branches, with 78,000 employees at the end of March, compared with State Bank’s 16,333 outlets. The government lender’s employee numbers fell by 16,000 to 213,000 in the two years through March as it held off replacing workers who retired, exchange filings show.

Profit Growth: Led by Managing Director Aditya Puri, HDFC Bank boosted loans by 20.6 percent in the year to March, compared with about 10 percent for the industry. The company has increased profit by at least 20 percent every year since 1998, a feat unmatched by any of the world’s 200 biggest lenders, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That growth has given HDFC Bank scope to step up hiring at a time when peers around the world are cutting jobs to bolster profitability. Since January, HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, and Standard Chartered Plc have revealed plans to cut more than 25,000 jobs in total in coming years. HDFC Bank’s shares climbed 803 percent in the past decade, almost double the S&P BSE India Bankex Index’s 430 percent increase. The stock trades at 4.2 times its book value, versus 2.4 for the 10-member Bankex. State Bank, the nation’s biggest lender by assets, trades at 1.2 times its book value.

Increasing Competition: “Considering the size it has grown to, and increasing competition from rivals, HDFC Bank may find it harder to maintain the profit growth that they delivered over the years,” said P Karthikeyan, a Chennai-based banking analyst at Cholamandalam Securities Ltd. “There is limited room for the bank to improve” on costs and asset quality, said the analyst, who has a hold rating on the bank’s stock. Karthikeyan is in the minority: 54 of 60 analysts tracked by Bloomberg who follow HDFC Bank recommend investors purchase the stock. The lender had a consensus analyst rating of 4.62 out of 5, compared with 4.5 at ICICI Bank and 4.43 at State Bank, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Five denotes a buy and 1 a sell. Shares of HDFC Bank gained 1.8 percent to 1,065 rupees in Mumbai trading on Thursday. ICICI Bank lost 0.9 percent while the Bankex Index climbed 0.8 percent. HDFC Bank’s stressed-asset ratio was at 1.03 percent as of March, compared with 10.9 percent for the country’s banking system. State Bank’s ratio was 8.43 percent.

Market Share: India has 27 state-run banks accounting for 73 percent of loans outstanding as of 2013. The country’s 20 private lenders, led by ICICI Bank, held more than 21 percent, while 43 foreign banks including HSBC accounted for the rest, Reserve Bank of India data show. Private sector banks’ share of the country’s banking assets is expected to reach 32 percent by 2025 from 12.3 percent as of 2000, a central bank-appointed committee said in a report in May 2014. HDFC Bank, started in 1994, currently has a market share of about 4 percent, Sukthankar said.

“Our growth is based not just on what the industry and economy do, but also on our ability to gain market share by offering better products and service at a faster pace,” Sukthankar said. “There is an opportunity for us.”

While Gay People In America Can Marry, Gay People In India Face Jail Time

When ExCampionite class of '74 Manil Suri left India in 1979 and immigrated to America, he was drawn to the freedoms the country offered. But he was still denied the freedom to marry someone he loved. Until today.

"I was just overjoyed. I mean, it's been such a long time coming," Suri says.

In the US, Suri is a mathematician and author of The City of Devi. He has also written extensively about his experience as a gay Indian American. He and his partner of 25 years can now consider marriage as a next step. But if he'd stayed in India? "If someone is suspected of being gay, [people who find out] try to blackmail them and extort money," Suri says. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. ​Section 377 of the Indian penal code, reinstated by the Indian Supreme Court in 2013, criminalizes homosexual conduct. As a result, hundreds of Indians have been jailed, Suri says. Suri is optimistic the the US Supreme Court's ruling will catch the attention of countries around the world, like India, and will prompt them to take similar actions. "They are bound to really look at what the US is doing," Suri says. "It's one of the largest countries in the world and it's really putting its seal on this, saying marriage equality is here to stay." The worldwide struggle continues, but this is an important milestone, Suri says. "There's back and forth. And I think we're going to see that in other parts of the world as well."

Microsoft To Commission 3 Data Centres In India: Pramanik

Microsoft will be targeting sensitive sectors including government sectors and financial services through these services. "If the government has to address 1.2 billion citizens then it needs hyper-scale data centers at an affordable cost, with technology and flexibility," EBhaskar Pramanik said.

Software major Microsoft on Wednesday said it will commission three "hyper-scale" data centres in India before the end of this year. "Microsoft has already started a private preview of these data centres with over 100 existing customers on board across different segments such as banking and financial institutions, government, manufacturing and start-ups," Microsoft India chairman & ExCampionite class of '66 Bhaskar Pramanik said. "They will be allowed to test it out over a three-month period. We will formally launch the services by the end of the calendar year," Pramanik added. Microsoft will be targeting sensitive sectors including government sectors and financial services through these services. "If the government has to address 1.2 billion citizens then it needs hyper-scale data centers at an affordable cost, with technology and flexibility," Bhaskar Pramanik said. The tech giant has set up a number of initiatives around e-governance, education, last-mile access, the start-up ecosystems, smart cities and will continue to drive them going forward, he said, adding "having our own data centers will make it more real". On the much-anticipated Windows10 launch by next month- end, Pramanik said, "If you think about the coming year, for us it is going to be about the cloud, and it is going to be about Windows10." He said Microsoft India's cloud business is growing at over 105 percent annually and with the establishment of the local data centers he expects to change the market. "In a sense, we will be the market maker and get the Indian clients to move more to the cloud at a faster pace," Pramanik said.

Entrepreneur Network Creates 2,000 New Startups

What was started as a small canteen in the IIT Bombay hostel 2 by serial entrepreneur & ExCampionite class of '62 Romesh Wadhwani, who was then pursuing his graduation there, was the seed of his much larger dream.

Years later, after a successful stint of entrepreneurship that involved building three large companies in three decades and selling them, Wadhwani pledged most of his wealth to the entrepreneurship program in India that has helped create 2,000 new startups, 12,000 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs. Wadhwani foundation’s National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), which aims to create 25 million jobs in India by 2020, through entrepreneurship and skill development is a global non-profit organization established in 2003. “Our mission is job creation in the country by creating new companies through entrepreneurship and skill development to make people more employable,” said Sashi Chimala, executive V-P of National Entrepreneurship Network at Wadhwani Foundations. NEN has built a network with 600 colleges, 4000 mentors and 3200 faculty in India that continue to educate and support emerging entrepreneurs. Healthcare startup, Practo that stands out as India’s renowned entrepreneurial success venture attributes its success to the mentoring it got from NEN.

Along with mentoring wantrepreneur and small and medium sized business owners, NEN’s programme also involves conducting training programs for colleges, which aims to educate students with basics of entrepreneurship and mentor them with methods of pitching ideas, explaining products and convincing investors. Samrat, a final year biomedical technology student at IIT Mumbai and co-founder of a campus company called MedPrime Technologies that creates assertive devices in healthcare sector, said that he attended a two month long session of NEN’s entrepreneurship program where learned the details of making a prototype from an idea and being able to sell the idea to investors. Apart from students and budding entrepreneurs, NEN also focuses on encouraging women entrepreneurship in the country. “Women are better decision makers and more importantly, they have patience, which is an extremely important trait for an entrepreneur,” Chimala said. NEN’s Dream to Destination program identifies high potential women entrepreneurs and facilitates them with scalability, by introducing them within the right network.

Usha Ramani Vemru, founder of Garujada IT solutions, an online learning management system, credits her success to NEN’s Dream to Destination program.

About Anti-Acidity Pills

By Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of '64

Think of acidity, and bang, a phrase most medical students are familiar with comes to mind - hurry, worry, curry. These are the three established causes of acidity.

A number of other causes had been proposed throughout history, and then came the revolutionary theory that argued acidity was an infection caused by an organism called H Pylori. When the original paper was published in 1982 by Barry James Marshall, a Registrar of Medicine at the Royal Perth Hospital, and Robin Warren, a pathologist, the world laughed at the suggestion that a microorganism could survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. Marshall insisted that he was right in spite of strong opposition he received at that point. To that effect, the adventurous Marshall drank a dish of H Pylori and developed a massive stomach inflammation, proving his point. In 2005, the pair was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Whatever the cause of acidity, the mainstay of therapy was antacids, which every layman is known to take from time to time. At one point, every emergency in a public hospital saw one or two patients with a perforated intestine, caused due to a duodenal ulcer (upper part of the intestine). These patients required emergency surgery before they could develop inflammation of the abdominal cavity.

Then came the era of simple pop-ready anti-acidity drugs. These were mostly H2 blockers like Cimetidine and Ranitidine, which blocked the secretion of acid. With the widespread use of these drugs, the stomach ulcer, which was so common, came rapidly under control and surgical instances of perforated ulcers disappeared. By the end of the 70s, a more effective molecule to block the final step of acid secretion appeared in the market - the Proton-Pump Inhibitor (PPI). Molecules like Omeprazole and Pantaprole are effective in blocking acid secretion and a drug composed of these is now widely used. In fact, every patient admitted in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is administered this drug because it helps prevent stress ulcers that can form during hospitalization. Even today, it is rare to see an ICU patient who is not prescribed these drugs. In August 2009 Medsafe Journal published a study stating that these drugs reduced the effect of a common blood thinner used in the ICU. This had the physicians concerned. Several papers suggested that some of these drugs did not affect the thinner; at the present moment there is no clear answer.

The PPI is a common acidity drug sold over the counter. I have known patients advising other patients to take them because they are effective and safe. I have seen people using it before cocktail parties and large Mughlai meals to reduce chances of acidity. Such usage may be innocuous but long term suppression of stomach acidity has its own concern. There have been fears of stomach cancer, although not proven. One must remember the acid of the stomach has as its purpose the destruction of bacteria which may find their way to the lower intestine and cause gastroenteritis, resulting in diarrhoea.

A new study by Dr Nigam Shah, assistant director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, and his colleagues claims that long-term use of these drugs increases the risk of heart attack by 16 per cent. They suggest the general usage of this molecule causes more harm than good. This study involves 2.9 million individuals and they suggest the drug interferes with the chemical (nitric oxide) in the inner lining of the heart arteries. This chemical is necessary for maintaining the heart's health.

What we did yesterday is wrong today and what we do today might be wrong tomorrow. This is evidenced in the evolution of medical theories. As of now, it is safe to say that the easy popping of so-called "can't-do-no-harm" drugs is not as innocuous as it seems.

Model Tenancy Bill Set To Boost Rental Housing: Niranjan Hiranandani

The Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry has readied the draft of the Model Tenancy Bill, 2015, which does away with some archaic rules that govern this sector. The draft will soon go to the cabinet for its approval.

The new Model Tenancy Bill, 2015 is expected to unlock a huge amount of rental stock into the market, thereby giving a major boost to the government's flagship 'Housing for All by 2022' scheme, according to ExCampionite class of '66 Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director of Hiranandani Communities. "Property owners will get encouraged to rent houses," he said, adding, "Housing for All implies a roof over one's head, and whether it is owned or rented should not make a major difference." The Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry has readied the draft of the Model Tenancy Bill, 2015, which does away with some archaic rules that govern this sector. The draft will soon go to the cabinet for its approval. "While landlords need not fear tenants over-staying, and tenants on the other hand will not have reason to worry about eviction - effectively, interests of both will be safeguarded," said Hiranandani said. India is likely to witness urban housing demand of nearly 13 million units by the end of 2018. Of this, about 19% demand is expected to arise from the top eight cities in India, according to property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield. While a supply shortage is anticipated among all income groups, LIG (low income group) housing is expected to witness the highest demand-supply mismatch.

Making The Money Business Work At Birla

2015 06 22 Making The Money Business Work At BirlaA little away from the spotlight, the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group is busy giving shape to Kumar Mangalam Birla's plan of building a financial services powerhouse. The vision has the boss's financial backing and confidence.

Aditya Birla Group chairman & ExCampionite class of '83 Kumar Mangalam Birla has just completed a major consolidation exercise to merge the group’s apparel businesses and become the country’s largest pure play fashion lifestyle company a few days ago. But, as is typical at the multi-diversified conglomerate, other things demand Birla’s attention. On the fifth floor of Aditya Birla Centre—the group’s headquarters—in Worli, Mumbai, Birla is locked in back-to-back closed-door meetings, scrutinising the full-year earnings of group flagship firm Hindalco. It would be difficult to tell that just a few kilometres away, at One Indiabulls Centre in the bustling commercial district of Lower Parel, the vision for the financial services business of the $40 billion group, traditionally known as a manufacturing powerhouse, is being quietly executed by a 12,000-strong army. The conglomerate, the interests of which span from metals to cement and telecom, is currently in the midst of a series of expansions into new financial services ventures which will eventually transform what was a relatively small part of the group into one of its key strategic engines. Leading the charge in this effort are two former Prudential ICICI Asset Management Company heads, Ajay Srinivasan and Pankaj Razdan. Srinivasan, 52, took charge as chief executive (financial services) of Aditya Birla Group in July 2007, having completed a near-10-year-stint at Prudential Corporation Asia where he managed almost $70 billion worth of assets, based out of Hong Kong. His Prudential stint included a term with Prudential ICICI Asset Management, —a joint venture with ICICI Bank— which he headed for a while. The 47-year-old Razdan, on the other hand, had the experience of building large mutual fund-, private equity- and offshore businesses and joined in the same year as deputy chief executive (financial services), and as part of the “core think tank” for strategy and operations. They both came on board with a clear mandate from Birla: To take the financial services business to the next level, given that two of Aditya Birla Financial Services Group’s (ABFSG) core businesses—life insurance and mutual funds—were in the middle of the pile in their respective sectors, despite several years of operations. “We wanted to be leaders but did not have the distribution network. Each of the businesses was at a different level of maturity and needed individual attention,” says Srinivasan. Building the talent pool and scaling up each business in size and reach were the key challenges at the time.

THE TRANSFORMATION Now, nearly eight years on, the report card is fairly impressive: ABFSG—the umbrella brand created for all financial services businesses of the group—has begun staking its claim as a growth driver in its own right within the conglomerate. The group’s stakeholding in financial services is articulated through holding company Aditya Birla Financial Services Limited (ABFSL). Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited (ABNL), the group company which holds stakes in multiple businesses like telecom and, till recently, apparels, holds 100 percent of ABFSL. Just prior to the demerger of the retail apparel businesses, ABFSL contributed 30 percent in revenues to ABNL and 35 percent in net profit. In fact, ABFSL’s revenues have jumped four times to Rs 7,926 crore ($1.3 billion) in FY2015, from Rs 1,897 crore in FY2007, before Srinivasan’s entry, a 19.57 percent CAGR. In FY2007, ABFSG’s portfolio was dominated by life insurance, which then contributed as much as 90 percent to its revenues; by FY2015, it was down to 66 percent, with other businesses contributing the rest. And it is in this diversification of portfolio that the Srinivasan-Razdan duo has really made the difference. During the same period, ABFSL’s average assets under management in the mutual funds (MFs) business have grown over six times to $25.8 billion and the lending book for its NBFC, Aditya Birla Finance (ABFL), soared nearly 30 times. “ABFSL is becoming more and more important for Nuvo, especially after the garments business has been restructured,” Birla, 48, told Forbes India, optimistic about the growth of the financial services business. “Personally, I have always been fascinated by the financial services industry and have believed that there is huge scope for growth in this space.”. And, as Birla puts it, ABFSG has “come a long way”. Through its 10 lines of business—with health insurance set to be the 11th—ABFSG now connects with over 6.5 million customers and manages assets worth over Rs 1,64,995 crore through its asset management company. It has a presence in more than 500 cities nationwide through 1,750 branches and over 200,000 channel partners. The transformation from what was once a fairly unremarkable set of businesses into a potential powerhouse has not gone unnoticed by rivals. “Ajay and Pankaj have done a good job of building a cohesive financial services group. The three engines on which they have grown are the insurance, mutual funds and NBFC businesses. They steadied the insurance and MFs businesses and built up the NBFC. They have imparted a stable management and built a cohesive strategy,” says Rashesh Shah, chairman and CEO of the Edelweiss Group.

Ratan Tata Calls For Guidelines To Monitor Spending Of CSR By Corporates

2015 07 11 Ratan Tata Says Will Invest In Tripura To Support Its Development - Copy

Business tycoon & ExCampionites class of ’49 Ratan Tata has called for guidelines to monitor the spending of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds by corporates. Business tycoon Ratan Tata has called for guidelines to monitor the spending of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds by corporates. According to reports, Ratan Tata raised his apprehension over the utilization of CSR, saying that certain companies might be wasting the funds or siphoning them off. Tata further said that CSR ‘must come from one’s heart’. The Companies Act, 2013 states that any corporation having a net worth of over Rs 500 crore, a turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore or a net profit of Rs five crore or more must mandatory spend at least 2 percent of its average net profits over the three years on CSR activities.

A Good College Ought To Be Able To Take Into Account An Applicant’s Other Qualities: Shashi Tharoor

2015 06 21 A Good College Ought To Be Able To Take Into Account An Applicant

Interview with Member of Parliament

St Stephen's College, New Delhi, released its first cut-off list for admissions last week. It revealed that to gain admission to the English Honours programme, a commerce stream student is required to have scored 99 per cent in the Class XII exams. ExCampionite class of '71 Shashi Tharoor, an alumnus of the college and Member of Parliament, talks to Ritika Bhatia about the marking system that leads to such anomalies as well as the future of higher education in the country

What do you make of St Stephen's College's cut-off point of 99 per cent for commerce students seeking admission to the English Honours course?

Frankly, I find the entire thing wrong at several levels. The whole marking system is such that it leaves out much more subjective areas, and is flawed in principle itself - based entirely on one index - the marks. First, the marks are absurd: you can get 99 in mathematics but qualitative subjects like English or History are marked subjectively and the difference between a 99 and a 95 may have more to do with the grader than the student. Second, relying on marks cutoffs reduces admissions to one criterion - academics - whereas a good college like St Stephen's ought to be able to take into account an applicant's other qualities and extra-curricular activities as well. In my time, a friend was admitted to English Honours who had obtained third division marks in high school but was an outstanding actor and debater - he went on to shine in college and earn a great reputation in the TV and documentary film world. Today he wouldn't get in (nor, for that matter, would Albert Einstein.)

Do these incredibly high cut-offs reflect the quality of today's students? Do you think students now have better knowledge than students of your generation?

Absolutely not. In my time, marks were awarded more stingily, and I broke the record when I topped the University in history (Honours) with 65 per cent! If anything, the standards of marking have slipped.

How has higher education changed from then to now?

Well, the pressure on admissions has intensified with population growth, and with such a large number of candidates to choose from, colleges have ended up using a vulgar yardstick like the mark sheet. A former principal of St Stephen's told me that if he were to call a talented student for an interview even if his marks were two per cent below the cutoff, he would also have to interview several hundred others with the same marks or he would fall afoul of the courts.

Why do you think this is happening? Is it because we haven't increased the number of colleges and seats, especially in the top institutions?

That's partly the case. We should have opened up the higher education space much more to meet the demands of a burgeoning population, and also encouraged high-quality colleges like St Stephen's to increase the number of seats or to open other campuses.

The college is blaming the secondary education boards. Is the marking system unrealistic? What do you think this sort of marking does to children?

The system is too uneven, and there's no real way of weighing the marks given by different boards. I've met parents in Kerala who are switching their kids from the Central Board of Secondary Education to the state syllabus because it's so much easier to score 99 per cent in the latter.

What do you think the way forward should be?

I think we should have a single nationally recognised aptitude test like the American SAT with just one standard of marking for all school children, irrespective of which board they study under. That would level the playing field instantly.

Do you think if you were applying to St Stephen's today that you'd make the cut-off?

Yes, I would. I was inconveniently good at taking exams, and scored "5 points" in my Indian School Certificate or Senior Cambridge exams ("1"s in all five subjects, which ranked me first in the country in 1971). In fact, St Stephen's was so impressed with my marks they admitted me without an interview!

Fashion Industry: The Curious Case Of Pot Calling The Kettle Black

2015 06 19 Fashion Industry

The recent controversy over plagiarism in the fashion industry has brought back focus on the legal battle between ace Indian fashionistas and the small retail store/boutique designers. The recent controversy over plagiarism in the fashion industry has brought back focus on the legal battle between ace Indian fashionistas and the small retail store owners and boutique designers. A few months back, Kolkata-based designer Shantanu Goenka allegedly accused a couple of boutiques of plagiarism and produced pictures as evidence to substantiate his claim. This is not the first time when an Indian designers' work has been replicated with cheap designs. Top designers such as ExCampionite class of '77 Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi Mukherjee have long been plagued by their design replicas that are available in the markets for a bargain price. For them, legal route doesn't seem plausible as our judiciary takes ages to serve justice which would practically kill the brand value of their products over the time. Unhappy with this scenario, Rohit Bal in a recent interview to IANS said, "I think the design fraternity through the FDCI is going to take a strong stand against plagiarism and make sure these people stop doing it now. The designers even struggle with the copyright issue which is not implemented by FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India). Fashion industry needs to ensure that the work of these designers does not get jeopardized owing to the fact that there are no strict rules or action which are enforced on boutiques that copy them. Rohit Bal explained in the IANS report, "Copying is a crime I have been lusting a Rolls-Royce all my life, but that doesn't mean that I will copy one… everything with a certain kind of value is aspirational. Unfortunately, in my business what I do is not for everybody and everybody who wants it… and that doesn't mean they buy cheap copy. I can't stop them but they must understand that it harms our business". And it is just not the small boutiques who are rampantly copying designs of popular designers. There have been major spats between the renowned designers themselves for copying each others' designs. Be it Suneet Varma accusing Aki Narula for copying his multicolored poncho-pants worn by Rani Mukherjee in Bunty or Babli or the rift between Krishna Mehta and brothers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehta over a garment. Many a times, the thin grey line between copying and inspiration leads to conflict. There are many designers in India who get influenced by works of western designers and use them extensively. Nalanda Bhandari can be one such example who used an identical garment of Marchesa in the very same season and blatantly termed it as 'inspired by another designer'. Perhaps she did not learn anything from her first mistake and continued doing so in the next collection by heavily copying Anna Sui. Though the fact is that rampant copying is quite prevalent even in the West. Do you remember Kate Middleton's wedding gown designed by Sarah Burton which was again heavily inspired by Belgian designer Gerald Watelet creation for Isabella Orsini, the goddaughter of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who married Belgian Prince Edouard de Ligne two years before Kate. It is indeed a case of pot calling the kettle black unless the fashion industry charts down a plan and comes down heavily on plagiarism. And not just on small boutiques or designers but the big guns as well.

E-Commerce Startups Asking High Price for Parting Stakes: Ratan Tata

Stating that startups in e-commerce segment are asking for too high a price for parting stakes, Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus & ExCampionites class of '49 Ratan Tata took a dig at the fledgling sector, saying "valuations" and not "evaluations" are driving the play.

"It's true that the valuations (of e-commerce) are very high and valuation seems to driving these companies more than traditional matrix of evaluation," Tata said at the 107th Annual General Meeting of Indian Merchants' Chamber. Interestingly, Tata's personal investment portfolio comprises equity interests in e-commerce start-ups, including Snapdeal, PayTM, Urban Ladder and Bluestone. Mr Tata, however, said the current trend is similar to what has happened elsewhere in other sectors. "We have to give these young entrepreneurs a chance to prove themselves... shoulder to shoulder... with traditional business," Mr Tata said. Asked about whether the e-commerce bubble will burst, the veteran industrialist said this is the new trend in the country's commerce. "It's actually a feeling that e-commerce is really the new trend for the Indian commerce. It serves millions of people. It's my personal money and not company's money. I don't see where the debate is," he said. "I believe that Indian enterprise needs to be encouraged. One needs to lend mentoring to young people, to give them a chance. One feels very proud when this new segment is emerging in the country," he added. Tata felt overseas investors in e-commerce companies will make sure that founders and the management maintain high standards of governance.

"The fact that they have external investors is very good because they will exit if they feel that the company is operating in a grey area," he added.

Dr Batra’s Bets High On Its Foreign Expansion Plan

Healthcare unit plans to open 6 international clinics by this fiscal. Dr Batra’s Healthcare is betting big on its foreign expansion plans with a target of opening six clinics in UK, UAE and Dhaka by the end of this fiscal year. Besides this, the company would continue to expand its footprints in India, said its chairman & ExCampionite class of '67 Mukesh Batra. “We have already set up four international clinics and will be increasing the number to 10 by the end of this fiscal. We want to expand in countries where there is a strong Indian diaspora as our brand is well known to them,’’ Batra told Financial Chronicle. He said Indian expansion topped their agenda. “In India, our penetration would continue in eight major metro cities, which contribute about 60 per cent to our total revenues. Our target is to have one Dr Batra‘s clinic within a radius of 5 km in tier 1 cities and simultaneously expand in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. We will be opening a total of 50 clinics during the current fiscal year,’’ Batra added. At present, Dr Batra’s has 149 clinics, which are company-owned while 51 are franchised. About the sales target for this fiscal, Dr Batra said: “Last fiscal we registered a revenue growth of 33 per cent and achieved a revenue of Rs 250 crore. This fiscal we are targeting a turnover of Rs 300 crore, which represents a 50 per cent growth.” Boosting its expansion plans, the company is also strengthening its presence in other verticals beyond homeopathic treatment such as Dr Batra’s Aesthetic Solutions and Dr Batra’s Positive Health Products. “Right now we have 39 products targeting hair care, skin care and personal care. We will be adding more products. It is a huge growth area for us. Dr Batra’s Aesthetic Solutions is another important vertical for the company,” Batra said.

The IQ Argument

By Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ‘64

Though intelligence and education are used as interchangeable terms and most people think they go hand-in-hand, that's not strictly true. It is correct that to be educated you require a certain degree of intelligence but the fact that you are highly educated or have several college degrees does not ensure that you are intelligent.

Mothers often show off that their children are intelligent because they have achieved a double promotion or received prizes for education and stood first in class. Even then such educational laurels received are no guarantee of intelligence. In my early days of practice, a group of doctors, including me, started an x-ray and pathology laboratory. Some other people, who were not doctors, were also part of this venture. One of them in particular had no formal education and had not completed high school. Nevertheless, he was extremely intelligent and had amazing organizational skills. So much so that he often put us educated doctors to shame with his proposals and efficient ways of running the clinic. He went on to become a good friend of mine and I learnt a lot from his evaluation of many life problems and the remedy for them. Obviously here education had nothing to do with his intelligence. His business skills were so fine that he has grown to become a very wealthy man. Albert Einstein, a Nobel Prize winner, was not a brilliant student and dropped out of school at some point of time. His profound statement was "the only thing that interferes with my learning is my education". Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, was a college dropout. A research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology tells us that 85 per cent of your financial success is due to human engineering skills and only 15 per cent is due to your technical knowledge (equated as education). It is possible to actually measure intelligence. The Binet and Simon Intelligence Scale was actually a scale to measure mental age at a given chronological age. The mental age divided by the chronological quotient is called mental quotient and is used to evaluate a child's learning potential. Frederick Terman of Stanford University revised the Binet Scale calling it the Stanford Binet Scale and with it developed the concept of Intelligence Quotient, still used today; derived by dividing mental age by chronological age and multiplying the result by 100. Scores below 70 are regarded as mentally deficient between 90 and 110 as normal and above 130 as superior. A novel way to measure intelligence was developed by Wechsler called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale which uses a combination of verbal scales and performance skills. The gifted on the IQ scale fall into the upper 2 to 3 per cent and gifted people have creativity, leadership good in performing arts and athletics.

Not too many of the people I talk to make a clear difference between intelligence and education. When I ask my wife this she says I am educated but must not be particularly intelligent since she married me. I hope that is a joke

Programmatic Will Play An Increasingly Bigger Role In Buying

Interview with Chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network & ExCampionite class of ’81 Ashish Bhasin

Programmatic is not very big in India because digital is still a very small portion of the overall advertising pie. Also, not many agencies have invested in understanding digital, Ashish Bhasin tells Alokananda Chakraborty

Dentsu Aegis had consolidated its India business under you. What benefits do you see coming from the move? Globally, as well as in India, we now have one profit and loss (P&L) - that is our strength. If you see globally, in its original form, communication used to be bundled - creative, media etc used to be under one roof. Then, somewhere along the line the whole process of unbundling started and you had media, digital, public relations and so on. Clients started demanding specialization and so agencies offered specialized services under different verticals. In fact, agencies now offer super-specialization - so under digital you have social media, search and so on. But you have to understand that while clients want specialization, they don't want the hassle of dealing with a whole bunch of people who work in silos. You see, in a silo each specialization would want to protect its own P&L and would hard sell its own offering. In contrast we follow the principle of one country, one P&L. We have 1,700 people, of which 700 alone are engaged in digital. So we can offer liquid talent and we can offer an integrated solution keeping the clients best interest in mind, not what each P&L wants to sell. I believe that it is our unique selling proposition.

Every advertising agency worth its salt is focused on digital and every advertiser is looking to divert monies from traditional to social, or so the advertising fraternity would like us to believe. Why and how social media can, in fact, be an effective marketing tool? See, if we look at it as digital versus tradition, we would be taking a very short-sighted approach to the whole change that is taking place. We are already in the middle of a digital revolution, in a few years we will stop talking about digital and traditional, everything will be digital and the mobile is at the forefront of that change. You know the background - handset prices are falling, data costs are coming down, 3G and 4G is here. It won't be more than 18-20 months before we see the mobile revolution sweeping away everything in its way. The tipping point is when smart phones become 30-35 per cent of the overall mobile market. So we are just about a year-and-a-half away from a complete digital explosion. We would like to be prepared for that change and so we don't treat the mobile as an indulgence like other Indian agencies do. As an advertising industry veteran, you would have seen a lot of changes first hand... one of the biggest changes that rarely gets discussed is the change in how advertisers purchase ad space, especially in digital. Today programmatic buying is a big thing in markets like the US and UK. Has programmatic arrived in India? What do advertisers and their agencies need to consider making programmatic buying work for their communications plan? Digital has changed everything, not just media buying and selling. An earlier generation would look at the city pages in the newspaper to look up the moves that are running, then go to the theatre and buy the tickets. Now you would look up that information on your tablet or mobile phone and buy your tickets on That is the digital native way of life and that has made media planning and buying a tad more complex like it happened when you moved from terrestrial to satellite channels-you had 300 channels, 24 hour programming; so you needed different software, optimizer and so on. Now, suddenly, it is not 300 channels but 3 million. So you need completely different skills and software because a lot of it is happening real time.

Programmatic will play an increasingly bigger role in buying. So last month we launched the Amnet trading desk to facilitate the programmatic way of buying and selling. It is a algorithm-based technology, which was created in response to the technology-driven revolution in digital media buying. We use a sophisticated technology stack to target your precise audiences and to deliver better business outcomes. This is one step towards a more progressive and personalized approach. It will combine people, data and technology to deliver real time, targeted ads to the most relevant consumers. The idea is to offer clients a more efficient buy with the help of a team of experts who specialize in platform-based media buying.

Programmatic is still not big in India because digital is still a very small portion of the overall advertising pie. Second, not many agencies have invested in understanding digital. Amnet is a first of its kind solution to offer the kind of data inputs that increases the effectiveness of our clients' digital media investments. You see with so much data floating around, is there any need for advertising research? What value does it bring to the table in any case because advertising is supposed to be more art than science? Developing emotional connections is still the best way to achieve brand success…

Of course, and the need was never greater. In media you would typically have two kinds of inputs - qualitative data that a TAM or BARC would offer, but the bigger need is consumer insight. In an earlier era, when you spoke of an SEC A consumer, you could safely assume their reaction points would be similar. Today, they have very different reaction points. So you need mammoth-scale research to unearth such insights that can make your communication strategy work that much harder. That's why we have chosen to invest in our own global proprietary research, Consumer Connection System, on a huge scale, in India.

Kumar Birla’s Roadmap For A Financial Services Superstore

The Aditya Birla Group is building a financial services superstore despite it being a highly competitive sector. Think of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group and the first impression is of a giant, diversified, manufacturing-led conglomerate, with operations spanning 36 countries. From metals to cement, carbon black to fertilizers and telecom, the group straddles numerous large businesses with growth plans being given shape for each. But shift the spotlight a bit, and another strategy is quietly playing out—that of building a financial services superstore, which hawks a range of financial products and services and is just short of being a bank. Indeed, ExCampionite class of '83 Kumar Mangalam Birla, the soft-spoken 48-year-old chairman of the conglomerate, concedes that he was hugely disappointed at not being given a banking license by the RBI when the group applied for one in 2013. But, as Birla tells Forbes India in this issue’s cover story, one has to move on. And moving on he is, putting in place the various pieces of a major financial services game plan to capitalize on the growth prospects of the Indian economy. The seeds of this plan have already been sown and the group has traveled some distance, morphing from a middling player with five business lines in 2007 to one which now straddles eleven segments within the financial sector; it also contributes 30 percent to group holding firm Aditya Birla Nuvo’s revenues and 35 percent of its net profit. Along the way there have been hiccups; controversy hit the group in 2010 over allegations of mis-selling of derivatives products. But Aditya Birla Financial Services Group (ABFSG), the group-within-a-group, has put that behind it and is looking to chart a serious growth plan, one which Birla is very bullish on. “Financial services are one of the group’s fastest-growing businesses,” he says, admitting he has always been fascinated by the sector. Building such a powerhouse, however, won’t be easy. Financial services is a hugely competitive sector. Besides, the areas in which the group has managed to grow—NBFC, mutual funds and insurance—have all been around for a while. The real test will be whether it can scale up new businesses like housing finance and health insurance. Equally important will be whether Birla will be able to give enough group management bandwidth to financial services as his other (non-financial) businesses grow. Either way, it will be an engaging story to track. This issue also brings you the first ever Forbes listing of America’s Richest Self-made Women, a lineup of some of the most inspiring success stories of our time. This spanking new list adds to the existing one on the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, which has four names from India. If there was any evidence needed of growing woman power, these lists are it.

One Founder, 113 Rejections & Final Yes From Ratan Tata: That’s Kaaryah

2015 06 12 Ratan One Founder - CopyNidhi Agarwal, a graduate from Kellogg and the Founder & CEO of Kaaryah, plans to be the largest brand for perfect fit western wear for women. On a sunny afternoon, this 34-year old lady walks in thanking someone over a call. “It’s my turn today to manage the customer care as we truly want to understand their needs,” explains Nidhi Agarwal, Founder & CEO of Ratan Tata - backed Kaaryah.

The origin story

A graduate from the Kellogg School of Management, Agarwal always faced problems in buying a business suit. “I had it stitched locally because nothing ready-made ever really fit me. While it fit me, it did not flatter me, in fact it looked like a smaller version of a men’s suit. I looked considerably different from my colleagues, which did not bear well during campus recruitment,” Agarwal says. When she came back to India after two years as a Strategy Consultant at Bain & Company, she would again dress formally, mostly for meetings with clients and faced the same issue. She recalls, “One day, I was on my way to the airport for a client meeting. I spilled coffee on myself and stopped at a mall to replace my shirt with a simple white shirt. I tried 3 shirts and saw that even with the most popular brands, some were too short and finished at the stomach, some were very tight on the bust and some were really loose on the waist,” she says. Agarwal wondered if she was the only one or if there were other women who felt similar frustration with the fit of western wear. She surveyed 250 women and found that 80 per cent women had the same unmet need. Now imagine sitting in a board meeting and wondering if your shirt is gaping, tugging at it or putting safety pins so no one sneaks a peak. How will you ever focus on conversations and work, if you’re stuck in these situations?

One size can’t fit all

Agarwal created Kaaryah, an online western, non-casual wear brand for Indian women focussed on providing the best possible fit with its 18 sizes. “What you wear is really the beginning of who you are and what you feel that day. We stand by every woman who juggles between independence and interdependence, just like she tries to strike (a) harmony between looking fabulous and feeling comfortable. Our formal attire has been fashioned such that, when you straighten your shoulders to take on the competition, you won’t have to worry about your buttons gaping. You will no longer have a sartorial reason to hunch your shoulders or cross your arms,” Agarwal explains.

Many brands do not provide for more than 6 sizes because of the significant operational challenge of inventory and rent.

“We decided to circumvent the inventory load by only making it when the order is received thus making for a better working capital investment,” she adds. Power dressing starts with dressing well. A customer can login to the website and look through the catalogue to pick up the design and go to the ‘What’s my size’ section to give some basic measurements. The algorithm of ‘What’s my Size’ promises up to 85 per cent accuracy in sizing, according to Agarwal. The brand cuts, makes, packs and dispatches after receiving the order. It has an in-house team of designers and partnership with a few companies for facilitating the entire process. The brand claims to introduce 150 new designs every month. The target audience is women looking for the perfect fit in the age-group of 23-40 years. The website displays collections ranging from ‘Body Envy’ for curvy women to ‘Not Just Cute’ for petite women.

“We also sometimes do additions to our range as per the customer’s demand. Our agility is driven by customer voice,” she says.

The Indian market for western non-casual wear for women will grow in huge proportions, within the next three-four years. There are many brands offering custom wear in India however, Agarwal believes that Kaaryah’s approach to fashion is different and they are uniquely positioned with the 18 sizes approach. Agarwal made 113 pitches to investors in-person, through emails and on phone to finally close it on the 365th day. But she never gave up. “I learnt a new lesson with each pitch and decided not to surrender so easily because I had strong faith my idea,” she says.

“Why don’t you reach out to Ratan Tata?” (ExCampionite class of '49)

Agarwal’s dad had the habit of giving important newspaper cuttings to her every day. “Every time he read something interesting related to my business, he would cut it and give it to me. One day, he gave me an article about how the industry stalwart Ratan Tata is helping entrepreneurs,” she recalls. “’Why don’t you write to him?’ he said. “I laughed off saying why would he entertain my business. My father explained that there is no harm in giving it a shot,” she states. Agarwal wrote to the email address, thinking she would not get a response. But much to her surprise, she graciously got a proposal from his office. “I was shocked because it was too good to be true. I am only too amazed by his gesture,” she says. The funding will be utilized to expand the team and improve on the technology. She plans to establish Karyaah as the largest brand for perfect fit western wear for women in India first and then move to other geographies. However, she has been shipping orders internationally as well.

A single Founder is always better

Agarwal is the sole Founder of the company and runs the business with a seven member team. She plans to expand the team to 15 soon. She believes, “I run an organist driven by a set of trained and organized people. Every other big company also has a single CEO and when he goes out, the work doesn’t get hampered. There are efficient people managing the business in his absence also. You don’t have two CEOs in a company. Hence, I feel that always look for a very strong second line which is not to be compromised even if you were two Co-founders.”

People assume that women cannot run a business

She believes that, sometimes, it is difficult to be a women entrepreneur in India, but at the same time she feels that the difference exists a lot more in the mind than in reality. Being the only sister to 13 cousins, she says, “If you set your rules right then there is absolutely no challenge.” She adds, “I have been asked questions like what if you start a family tomorrow? And I have very proudly shared my thoughts on it.” Most of the time, people assume that women cannot run a business. “I remember once in our Gurgaon factory, a courier guy had come to deliver a fridge, he refused to give it to me. He kept insisting on calling the boss and only after the watchman came and told him that I was the owner, did he agree to give it to me,” she shares. There are various operational challenges faced by the company but Agarwal feels that these small things should not dampen the spirit.

A Very Fishy Business

By Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ‘64

Medical literature is teeming with articles extolling the benefits of eating fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. Fish boasts of low fat, high quality protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B2. Besides, it is also a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium.

The omega fatty acids found in fish, EHA and DHA, are not naturally formed in our bodies, and hence we must rely on food for their intake. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines are good sources of omega fatty acids, which keep the brain and heart healthy. Eating fish not just helps in preventing a heart attack but also improves the chances of survival after a heart attack. There is also some evidence that it prevents cancer, depression, arthritis and dementia and helps to keep the skin healthy. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine has a study stating that those who ate baked or boiled fish instead of fried fish had larger brain volume, or size, in those parts of the brain associated with memory and cognition. The study however, only encompasses 260 older subjects. It noted that if you ate fish twice a week, you had 14 per cent greater brain volume in areas of memory and cognition as compared with those that ate fish once a week. (The second group had a 4.3 per cent of greater brain volume.) It seemed logical that these changes in the brain be compared with the blood levels of the omega fatty acids in the blood of such subjects. Strangely, there was no relation between the fatty acid and brain volume. It then raised the issue that such subjects may lead a healthier lifestyle, which may also be responsible for these changes. One benefit the researchers can confidently ascribe to the omega acid is that of healthy nerve fibers, or synapses. The omega acids optimise the permeability of the synapse to various factors responsible for neural tissue growth. Fish nutrients are also responsible for the maintaining the healthiness of blood vessels to the brain, thereby improving brain function. Fish oils are known to help reduce inflammation of body tissues. Studies in the neurology journal, performed on subjects who consumed fish like tuna, suggest that eating fish is associated with a lower risk of attacks (infraction) of the brain, which leads to strokes. This study also showed that the benefit was limited to those eating baked or boiled fish, as opposed to fried ones.

That is not to state that one can eat fish on a daily basis. Fish breed in water full of industrial effluent, particularly in the third world. These effluents are high in mercury, an extremely toxic substance whose associated health hazards are now well established. Consumption of mercury by pregnant women may harm the fetus and the substance is also a potent cause of dementia. Mercury was originally used in the hat industry. Hat-makers, on inhaling fumes over extended periods, would become demented - thus the creation of the famously quoted "Mad Hatter" from Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. The World Health Organization considers mercury among the top ten chemicals causing health concerns. No one uses mercury dental fillings as was common in the past. Dentists using mercury have sometimes documented subtle defects in tests of neural function. Predatory fishes like shark and sword fish, which are known to contain higher deposits of mercury, should be avoided. One should limit consumption of fish to 8 to 12 ounces a week, with low mercury fishes, baked or boiled rather than fried, as the preferred choice. Pregnant women and children should be most careful in their selection.

Edgar Noronha No More


Regret to inform you that EDGAR NORONHA Ex Teacher at Campion School passed away this morning. Born on 04 of July 1941 he was all of 74 years of age. Since a long time he has been on a pace maker. The end came due to a massive Heart Attack. Till recently he was Vice Principal Marble Arch School at Oshiwara. He had joined Campion on 11/01/1967 and taught English / Mathematics. During his Campion days he was the Prefect Of Discipline, School representative on the OCA Mgt., Xavier House Master, Moderator-Campion Review, Representative 43rd East Bombay Scout Troop, Member School Council, Senior Games Master, Member School Council, Scouts Master, Moderator: Duke of Edinburgh's Award's Scheme, Interact Club, ICSE Supervising Examiner and Staff representative on the Academic Board. His hobbies included Dramatics / Reading / Comparing and Teaching. He resigned from Campion in 1997. On Behalf of TEAM OCA

Doctors With Boarders

Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ‘64

Ethical, cultural and social values vary from race to race, and in different countries. Recently, the Daily Mirror reported about two English pensioners - man and wife - living at Heathrow Airport after they lost their house due to financial distress. In a short time, the public donated 9,000 pounds for them. In a country like the United Kingdom, the proverbial basics of roti, kapda and makan are taken care of by the government.

The social system is such that people out of a job are even paid a living allowance and the National Health Service provides for all medical eventualities. If only these altruistic lot knew how many people live on the streets of Mumbai. Here's one question that comes up: If ethical and socio-cultural values vary from place to place, is the same true for the medical fraternity as well? There exist many studies which compare and contrast the views of American physicians with their European counterparts. (I found no such conclusive report on Indian doctors.) Certain interesting differences between American and European Physician exist. If the doctors are convinced that a procedure will help you, do they downplay the risks? In the US this is true, but not so in Europe. Doctor responses vary on the issue of life support. This is an issue which poses a natural dilemma for the treating physician. European physicians (25 per cent of them) feel that under the current system, life support must be withdrawn too soon. In India, many factors go into making this decision. Much of it revolves around financial constraints of the family of the un-revivable patient. At some point of time, the relatives ask if continuing with expensive life support might alter their loved one's condition. Such decisions are difficult, in a way only those who have to make them might understand. As for me, I ask two or three of my colleagues for their independent evaluations before taking a final call. The notion of physician-assisted suicide remains a hot topic of discussion. In India, physicians are not pro-assistance. Certain states in the United States have the legislation to assist patients if they are dying. Countries in Europe allow doctors to prescribe but not administer lethal drugs. Occasionally, an arguably harmless error in treatment may occur during therapy. European physicians tend to keep this to themselves but an American doctor tends to discuss it with the patient. I'd say their Indian counterparts tend not to discuss it unless confronted, often brushing it off as inconsequential. Almost 25 per cent of European doctors say that it causes the patient unnecessary anxiety - some even feel that they should discuss the situation with their insurance company before acting.

Another interesting area is the use of placebos. It is true that many Indian doctors prescribe such drugs, and that many patients are happy with the result. Doctors in the USA are more likely to administer placebos, as compared to the ones in UK. Now for the million dollar question: Do physicians hideaway discouraging details of a terminal illness to bolster the patient's confidence? It is important to realize that this is often a difficult stand to take. Obviously, the exact situation is explained to the relatives. But often, even the patient needs to be in the know so he can make a crucial financial decision. The wise way, in my opinion, is to gently remind the patient that life is full of uncertainties - even I, the doctor, in my state of fair health, have drawn up a will as there is always an off-hand chance of unpredictable death. The subject of health insurance is very delicate and many doctors believe that patients with unhealthy lifestyles involving smoking, excessive intake of food, should pay more for health insurance. Others feel that such payments are unnecessary and rightly point out that, by that logic, someone might have to pay for a poor genetic profile. And then there's the matter of making paid appearances. Many pharmaceutical companies routinely ask doctors to do so. In my opinion, this is necessary given the time and effort the doctor expends in researching the subject on which he is to deliver a lecture. Besides, most doctors are confident that their services would continue to be uninfluenced by the money or gifts received for agreeing to such speaking engagements. Physicians' attitudes do differ in various countries. What is considered crass in some cultures is acceptable in others. What is important is to deal with the situation on a case to case basis, mining for, and doling out exact information without undue anxiety.