CBSE & ICSE Kids Still Carry Heavy Bags
Education minister Vinod Tawde has said CBSE and ICSE schools are not doing enough to reduce the weight of school bags. He said there is 80% compliance by state government schools to reduce the weight of school bags of students. “However, ICSE and CBSE schools have work books and other additional things that are a part of their syllabus. We will sit with them to see how the weight of school bags can be reduced without affecting their syllabus,“ Tawde said while replying to a query by Congress's Sanjay Dutt.
He said not all issues can be resolved by taking strict action and that these issues need to be resolved by counselling the schools. Dutt wanted to know the steps taken by the government to ensure school bags are made lighter. “There are many children who are still carrying school bags that are very heavy , which causes back and neck pain,“said Dutt. Following a Bombay High Court order, the state government has taken steps to reduce the weight of school bags carried by students -this rule is applicable to all the schools in the state.
BSE Setting Up An International Exchange At GIFT City: Niranjan Hiranandani
“Media reports mention the BSE ‘ringing its bell’ at its international bourse, which will be located within GIFT City during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017. " Niranjan Hiranandani
described this as a positive development for the IFSC @ GIFT City.
The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) which is coming up within the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), Ahmedabad, will drive global business growth for India’s Banking Financial Services and Insurance sector (BFSI), and create a hub which will power the global growth story for the Indian BFSI sector, said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities. “The growth story will not just be restricted to global banking and finance, it will also include international insurance, reinsurance and stock broking, apart from Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS),” he added. Recently, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Managing Director and CEO Ashish Kumar Chauhan mentioned that BSE having received approval from its Board for setting up of an international exchange in Gujarat's GIFT City. He added that the BSE ‘will apply to the regulator, SEBI’, in this regard. Niranjan Hiranandani described this as a positive development for the IFSC @ GIFT City. “Media reports mention the BSE ‘ringing its bell’ at its international bourse, which will be located within GIFT City during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017. What is exciting is that this is not just about equities, the BSE international stock exchange @ GIFT City has plans to offer all asset classes which will include equity derivative, currency derivate, interest rate derivative, and international and domestic commodities," he said.
The new exchange will also help global companies raise finance from other overseas investors. “In the days following the announcement, we have seen enhanced interest in terms of space being sought at the Hiranandani project, ‘Signature’, which is all set to be the first commercial tower ready for fit-outs by the year-end,” said Mr Niranjan Hiranandani. “Just as the BSE’s international exchange is scheduled to ‘ring the bell’, we are also planning to launch ‘Signature’ in January 2017, during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit,” he added. Sharing information about the fast-pace of progress as regards construction at ‘Signature’, Niranjan Hiranandani said the IFSC would not just provide Indian BFSI sector with an ideal platform to mark their presence in the global markets, but also provide a platform for commodities. “The IFSC @ GIFT City has widened its ambit to also include the IT and ITeS sector, international insurance, reinsurance and Arbitration,” he added.
‘Signature’ is a 400,000 sq ft, 16 storied commercial building, in which 50,000 sq ft of space has been booked by Kotak Mahindra Bank, as also by other leading organizations from the BFSI sector. It dove-tails perfectly into the vision of GIFT City, which offers global firms world-class infrastructure and facilities. GIFT City aims to attract the top talent in the country by providing the finest quality of life all with integrated townships, IFSC and multi-specialty special economic zone (SEZ), he added. “We have welcomed some of India’s biggest players from the BFSI segment to ‘Signature’, the remaining spaces are being picked up. Now, we are evaluating enquiries for space in ‘Signature’ from leading players in equity, commodity as also the insurance sectors. GIFT City is a project which will create leading-edge infrastructure, services and platforms and offer Financial Services Enterprises a significant competitive advantage to operate regionally and globally - with the corresponding success story for Ahmedabad’s real estate as well,” Mr Niranjan Hiranandani concluded.
Zubin Mehta: A Musical Journey; Book Review
ZUBIN MEHTA was “a child of music”, having learned to sing and speak at almost the same time. While growing up, he was attracted not to toys...
Zubin Mehta: A Musical Journey
Bakhtiar K Dadabhoy
ZUBIN MEHTA was “a child of music”, having learned to sing and speak at almost the same time. While growing up, he was attracted not to toys, but to musical instruments, his favorite being a pair of drum sticks. Mehta grew up in Bombay’s Cuffe Parade in a Parsi family, which like other Parsi families, had embraced western classical music.
Bakhtiar K Dadabhoy writes an intense story, weaving together the maestro’s “music and life, history and biography, professional and personal”. Though the first hints of Mehta’s future greatness came from a horoscope reading—“the child would be a leader of a group of people”—his musical foundation was undoubtedly laid by his father Mehli Mehta, “a musician and conductor of no mean merit”. The senior Mehta also founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra in 1935, a year before Mehta was born. So the child was surrounded by classical music, Schubert, Brahms, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc, while growing up. Dadabhoy quotes an interview Mehta’s mother Tehmina gave in 1988 in which she said that, as a child, he had two or three favourite records. When he was sick or in pain, he would be soothed if they played the records. But as soon as the music stopped, he would start crying. The general lack of enthusiasm for western classical music in Bombay—and India—and the prospect of a potential career in western classical music convinced the family to send Mehta to Vienna—which would become his second home—at the age of 18 years. And it’s to Vienna that he owes his “whole concept of sound”. In fact, in 1960, at 24 years of age, he became the conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and, a year later, he was named conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1961, at the age of 25 years, he also became the youngest conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the many firsts in his grand musical career. On January 19, 1968, Time magazine put him on its cover. He was only 31 years old then.
To Dadabhoy’s credit, the book fleshes out Mehta’s musical journey with anecdotes and interviews, not always flattering, with his friends, family and followers. His infamous fallout with Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Georg Solti, his crossover concert with Frank Zappa, the tempestuous relationship with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra musicians, his ‘playboy’ image—we get to know Mehta completely with warts and all. However, nothing scores like his musical journey. We also get a peek into the lives of other influential musicians like pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, who met Mehta in the 1950s in Siena when the former was just 12 years old and both were taking classes at the Academia Musical Chigiana. Their lifelong friendship and other such musical liaisons are celebrated in these pages. For instance, the great conductor Karlheinz Bohm willed Mehta his Nikisch ring—a rare dark-brown pearl set in a circle of diamonds—which he had worn for many years. Mehta kept it locked away and has told his biographer that he has given the ring to Barenboim, who will surely pass it on to another conductor.
But, as Dadabhoy writes, “the biggest romance” of Mehta’s musical life has been with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which he first conducted in 1961 when the famous conductor Eugene Ormandy pulled out. His stage brilliance apart, Mehta has often played in tense areas: on the borders of Israel and Palestine, Sarajevo, Srinagar, etc. Dadabhoy quotes Mehta: “As a conductor, I express myself through music. I try to help, and also to protest or to make people think. This I think is a wonderful responsibility.”
Two ‘overwhelming’ facts hung in the air when Dadabhoy was consumed by the idea of writing this biography. One, much of Mehta’s life is “already in the public domain”. Two, Mehta had himself published his memoirs, Zubin Mehta: The Score of my Life, in 2008. But thankfully, Dadabhoy didn’t banish the idea and decided to launch this biography in April, coinciding with the conductor’s 80th birthday.
Having The Last Word In Healthcare Advertising
India had a great start at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, with Mumbai-based Medulla Communications bagging the Healthcare Agency of the Year in the Lions Health category – a first for the country. ExCampionites Praful Akali
(1992) and Amit Akali
, (1990) former Grey creative chief, front men of the agency, bagged seven Pharma Lions in all: two Golds, two Silvers, and three Bronzes. Their campaign, 'Last Words', for the Indian Association of Palliative Care, hit home. They speak to Anuka Roy about their win, the healthcare advertising scenario in India and what lies ahead.
You are a young agency, having been set up in 2008, but your works have been winning awards over the years. But being 'Healthcare Agency of the Year' is a big deal. Your sentiments as you look back on your eight-year journey…
Praful Akali (PA): We feel proud to have won ‘Agency of the Year’ for India. We are happy to have made India proud. A B-Pharm degree followed by a PGDM from an IIM is a winning formula to lead a healthcare agency. Plus a brother who is among the top creative professionals in the country.
So what would you attribute your success to?
PA: Our success is based on our philosophy of integrating medical, creative and strategy, which is why all our communication -- whether for clients or awards -- has been appreciated. The rest has been about focusing on the advertising basics. If you look at any healthcare advertising agency, either in India or even abroad, they understand healthcare but not necessarily advertising. So the planning pieces of advertising, the basic creative and strategic processes, are not followed. An advertising agency does not necessarily get healthcare and very few have a healthcare arm. We felt that we needed an agency which got both advertising and healthcare. When Amit joined us, we used him as Chief Creative Officer to bring a basic creative strategy and philosophy on board, and also hire great creative people.
Amit Akali (AA): When I left Grey two years ago, I felt that the level of strategy and creativity in a niche industry, was not the same as in mainline agencies. In the healthcare agency that already existed six years ago, called Medulla, while the strategy (coming from Praful’s background of IIM) was world-class, and their medical team was among the best in the world, where creativity was concerned Medulla had benchmarked itself against the Indian healthcare industry. We were clear that with the medical expertise already there, the creativity had to be benchmarked to the best in the world, and so we benchmarked it against Cannes. Last year was the first time we entered at Cannes, and became the No. 3 agency in the world. That is when we decide that we owe it to ourselves to now become No.
What are the challenges of being a healthcare agency as against a regular creative shop?
PA: The communication you have in healthcare can genuinely impact the lives of people. But the regulatory barriers, in terms of more complex messaging, also have to be medically robust. The complexity of medical advertising means that my creative has more pegs to hang things on. And the other things – like medically robust communication, saying the right thing and being ethically correct -- is the same for all kinds of advertising. Agencies from Mexico, South Korea and Indonesia have been telling us that they are glad that an Indian agency won because the work has been truly inspiring for them.
AA: Healthcare has its regulations and restrictions. All your life you work on briefs for cold drinks, chips and chocolates and suddenly, over here healthcare is a completely new sector and the briefs are very specific. For me, coming from mainline, the propositions were really fresh. In healthcare, you also have a medical team that is part of the creative process. They come up with the knowledge of the product and they really give you very sharp briefs to reap off.
Tell us about your client, the Indian Association of Palliative Care, for whose campaign (‘Last Words’) you bagged two Golds and a Silver.
PA: ‘Last Words’ is not a simple campaign. It is a huge project for the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC), and gave us a lot of emotional connect with everyone, including the jury. The campaign has been a personal journey for us. Our mother was suffering from cancer and wanted to die at home, and not in the hospital. At the last stage, she was in such bad shape that we had to move her to a hospital, and she died in the ICU. We were not sure if we had done the right thing since we had not heard of palliative care. Later, when IAPC was looking for a campaign, we were inspired by our own journey. Palliative care reduces pain in the last stage and provides counseling to both the patient and the family to prepare them. You always expect that your last words will be heard by your family, but when we realised that the last words are actually heard by nurses, we did this campaign with nurses, and chose the strongest last words to become a part of the AV and online film. Healthcare advertising is not really big in India.
Do you think winning 'Agency of the Year' will change that?
PA: I think it is already happening. When we were there, we met everyone from the Indian advertising fraternity, and they were all proud of the win. A lot of them may not have heard of Medulla because healthcare advertising was not necessarily on their radar, but they were proud. Realising the potential of healthcare advertising is already happening. Between last year and this year, I think the number of entries from India in the Cannes Lion Healthcare category has increased five-fold while entries from across the world have gone up by 40 per cent. People are realising that healthcare advertising can genuinely change lives and is an opportunity for people to do more impactful communication.
AA: At Cannes, we presented JWT’s Blood Bank project and the Blue Dot project by McCann. Clearly, the focus this year was on healthcare, not just from Medulla but India. Healthcare is a very important sector in a developing country like India. Twenty years back, Ogilvy worked for the Pulse Polio campaign and helped eradicate polio. In a country like India, healthcare and healthcare communication have importance, but specialised healthcare agencies are not doing as much creative work as the mainline agencies. That is something Medulla set out to change two years ago, and that has clearly happened.
Last year was the first time we entered at Cannes, and became the No 3 agency in the world. That is when we decided that we owe it to ourselves to now become No 1.
A Grand Prix still eludes you. Are you aiming for that next year?
PA: The ‘Last Words’ campaign, we were later told, was considered for a Grand Prix. For us the big aim was clearly to become Agency of the Year. I do not think that a Grand Prix is necessarily the peg, but there are pegs of winning even more awards the next year, and making people realise that it was not a flash in the pan, but that Indian advertising is very mature when it comes to healthcare. We want to do some of the best international advertising work in pharma and healthcare, and if tomorrow we do that and people laud the work done by an Indian agency, that would mean more for us than a Grand Prix.
Tharoor on Brexit Vote: Direct Democracy and Dangerous Outcomes
In a historic vote of sorts, Britain decided to quit the European Union, with Prime Minister David Cameron announcing he would not continue after October. As Britain’s referendum takes the entire world by shock, ExCampionite class of '71 Shashi Tharoor
writes on the fallout of direct democracy in a polity. Following is an excerpt of an article on Brexit vote.
One issue that Indians would well find worth asking is whether the sort of “direct democracy” practiced in Britain on Thursday offers more perils than benefits to nations.
Our political system, modelled on the British, requires our people to elect representatives who then, in their wisdom, are entrusted to take decisions and pass laws on their behalf. Other systems, notably the Swiss, refer all major decisions to referenda in which the public as a whole vote to determine policy outcomes. Cameron’s awkward marriage of the two practices revealed a lack of political courage – his inability to face down anti-EU sentiment in his own party. But passing the buck to the general public deprives political leaders of the authority they have earned by responsible practice of their profession.
Power of Decision-Making
Referenda change the basis of national decision-making from politics to popular sentiment, and the sources of judgement from experts to demagogues. The considerations that normally weigh heavily in the minds of finance ministers, for instance, are wholly absent from the thoughts of voters, who are more likely to be reacting to the unaccustomed sound of foreign languages on the bus. But if democracy is rule of, by and for the people, shouldn’t the people get to make the major decisions that affect their lives? Fair question, but the real answer is that in a representative democracy, they do – every five years in India -- by electing their representatives. The people are sovereign in a democracy, but they exercise their sovereignty through a parliament that is meant to reflect their wishes. If politicians become out of touch with the people they claim to represent, they can be tossed out of office at the next election. To make decisions like this by referendum is to abdicate a major responsibility of the political class – to make informed decisions on behalf of the people they serve.
Brexit’s Ripple Effect
The pound sterling has already dropped 10 percent against the US dollar, and investors are bracing themselves for a market crash. The UK economy will wobble, whether or not it recovers soon enough, as Leave supporters optimistically claim it will. Brexit will give new impetus to demands for separation from Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union. Cosmopolitan, European-accented London will change unrecognizably. Borders will spring up where they had disappeared, as with Ireland. But these are not consequences that would have occurred to the grumpy senior who voted to restore Britain to an imagined state of half-remembered imperial glory.
Rule by Referendum
Brexit teaches us the dangers of rule by referendum. Letting policies with wide ramifications be settled by the emotions of a moment will only ensure that popular sentiment holds sway over informed decision-making. That is not what representative democracy is about. David Cameron will have a long time available to contemplate his folly in plunging his country into the vortex of uncertainty out of short-term political expediency. For the rest of us, there are larger things to contemplate – the backlash against globalization, the reassertion of old-fashioned nationalism in the face of eroding borders, the rise of anti-immigrant xenophobia and the risks of making national policy by populism. Donald Trump will be heartened by today’s result. Just a year ago no one would have imagined that Europe, Britain and the US would constitute major threats to global geopolitical stability. Today, thanks to Brexit, they are. Pandora has popped out of her box, and no one knows where she will take the world.
(Former UN under-secretary-general, Shashi Tharoor is a Congress MP and an author)
Global Trade & Business will be Impacted by Brexit: Niranjan Hiranandani
The British people have voted to exit from the European Union (EU). It needs to be viewed in perspective of the impact it will have on global business, as also viewed from an Indian perspective, The dooms-day predictions were out before the vote, and some of those may come true – but not all. The United Kingdom (UK) has effectively brought into focus the worry of globalization impacting localization – and the ‘learning’ from this will take some time to be properly understood.
Indian corporate entities having exposure to either the EU and /or the UK markets, in terms of trade or business located there, will in all probability, face challenging times
From an India-specific perspective, BREXIT will impact global commodity process as also impact volatility in global currency markets – with the results impacting the Indian economy as well. A large number of Indian companies operating across the European Union (EU) are based out of London, and the impact will be felt in terms of location-based shift in taxation advantages. We will probably see London’s commercial spaces getting impacted in terms of pricing, and for Indian real estate, the learning is on the aspect of closing down one’s market versus opening it up to global investments.
ExCampionite class of '66 Niranjan Hiranandani
is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group. His recent initiative is Hiranandani Communities. He is the Founder and First President (Maharashtra), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.
Rishi Kapoor To Attend Indian Film Festival of Melbourne As Guest of Honour.
Veteran actor and ExCampionite class of '69 Rishi Kapoor
will attend the upcoming edition of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne as the guest of honour. According to news reports, the 2016 festival is centred on the theme of women empowerment and has Vidya Balan as its ambassador. Films like Leena Yadav's 'Parched' and Pan Nalin's 'Angry Indian Goddesses' will be showcased at the festival which be held in the Australian city from August 11-21.
‘Not Just Building Square Feet of Space: Being ‘Green’ and Eco-friendly is Part of our Vision’: Niranjan Hiranandani
Sustainable Development is all about being eco-friendly, coupled with an intelligent usage of natural resources, said ExCampionite class of '66 Niranjan Hiranandani,
the visionary who has been the driving force behind real estate projects created under the Hiranandani brand.
Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai; Hiranandani Meadows and Hiranandani Estate, Thane; are path-breaking projects which created the model of integrated townships; something that has transformed Indian real estate. On-going projects include Signature, a commercial tower at GIFT City, Ahmedabad; Hiranandani Fortune City, Panvel and Hiranandani Parks, Oragadam, Chennai. “The Panvel and Oragadam, Chennai projects will offer the signature Hiranandani offering, of an integrated township which offers work-spaces located within walking distance of residential real estate. “These projects make the ‘walk to work and walk back home’ concept a reality,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. The catch-word is creating a project where real estate construction is set amidst green spaces, as opposed to creating constructed spaces and laying out green spots in between, h explained. Being eco-friendly and green is an integral part of this, and this includes community living that is defined by being environment-friendly, he added.
“Water is a scarce resource, and its ‘intelligent usage’ includes rain water harvesting, sewage treatment and well-managed water distribution system within the project. Ensuring that sustainable development is a success, being environment-friendly has always been ‘in-focus’ during the planning and implementation process at our projects,” he added. The Hiranandani Group prides itself on being the first to come up with integrated townships in India which are eco-friendly, and intelligent usage of natural resources is part of the success story. “Water, a scarce resource, has been ‘in-focus’ during the planning and implementation process at Hiranandani Fortune City, Panvel and Hiranandani Parks, Oragadam,” explained Niranjan Hiranandani. “When we look at the creation of an integrated township – or, mixed - use township, as we refer to the same in present day – it has been about making sustainable buildings, with a holistic approach,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. It is not just about building townships. We ensure that the quality of life of people who live in them gets enhanced. Being ‘Green’ and environment-friendly is part of this vision, and saving water, conserving it -- as also recycling and reusing it -- is part of the ‘Magic Mantra’. This process at the Hiranandani integrated townships has created the basis for a verdant green environment, and home-owners within these project are among the lucky few who enjoy the difference,” he added. The world-class townships which introduced integrated lifestyles: Hiranandani Gardens in Powai, Mumbai as also Hiranandani Estate and Hiranandani Meadows in Thane, have become preferred residential and commercial locations; similar state-of-the-art mix-use township projects are all set to follow in locations like Panvel, Pune and Ahmedabad. These mixed-use townships are acknowledged for humanizing the urban environment and striking an attractive balance between greenery and construction. At Hiranandani Parks, Oragadam, water bodies punctuate verdant green ‘naturescapes’, while Hiranandani Fortune City, Panvel offers a verdant green environment.
The aspect of striking an attractive balance between greenery and construction is best explained by the project plan, which is people, economy and environment-centric, he explains. “At Hiranandani Estate, Thane, used water is treated through Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and the water generated is used for maintaining the lush green gardens as also cleaning purposes,” he said. “About 2 MLD is treated at central plants and 2.5 MLD is treated at package plants at different locations. Similarly, rainwater harvesting plants (RWH) have been installed; during the monsoons, around 1 MLD water is reused by the immediate rainwater harvesting method,” he explained. The past record at Powai and Thane has been that on an average, 50 per cent of the water demand of the integrated townships is met by recycling and reusing water through STPs and rainwater harvesting systems. “We have planned to better this at Hiranandani Parks, Oragadam; and Hiranandani Fortune City, Panvel,” smiled Niranjan Hiranandani. “These will turn out to be true, eco-friendly ‘mixed - use townships’ with integrated, intelligent usage of natural resources, which effectively, strikes an attractive balance between greenery and construction,” he added.
"I think the company has now turned into an institution wherein being ‘environment-friendly’ is not only for the management or myself, it has become critical to not just the organization but all stakeholders," said Niranjan Hiranandani. "That definition – all stakeholders - primarily includes residents and intending buyers. Also, our staff, our suppliers, our contractors, and people concerned about the environment. Save water: reuse-replenish-recycle!" concluded Niranjan Hiranandani.
Rishi Kapoor: Producers Shouldn’t Misuse This Freedom
While lauding the High Court's judgment in favour of 'Udta Punjab', veteran Bollywood actor and ExCampionite class of '69 Rishi Kapoor
expresses a tangible fear. Rishi Kapoor is not one to mince words. And as someone who's always on the ball with current issues and quick with his frank and relevant opinions, the actor is delighted with the Bombay High Court censuring the Censor Board for playing 'grandma' with 'Udta Punjab'. He says, "I want to belong to my fraternity. I feel justice and wiser sense has prevailed. Pahlaj (Nihalani, Board chief) has made a mockery of the situation. You can't stifle cinematic voices like this. This is not the '60s when half of India was illiterate. There are far more intelligent people now. Pahlaj was looking for some kind of importance. This is not the way to go about it and I am glad he was pulled up. "But, I am a bit worried now. Producers shouldn't misuse this freedom. I am quite sure they will. This is a bhed chaal waali industry. So, everyone will try and take advantage of the situation. They will start crossing the line, use offensive, unpalatable stuff even if it's not relevant to the film's subject."
Dolly Thakore, Viveck Vaswani Join LIFFI Line-Up
Veteran actress Dolly Thakore and actor-producer and ExCampionite class of '77 Viveck Vaswani
will be a part of the Lonavla International Film Festival India (LIFFI), to be held September 1-5.
Thakore will be a jury member, while Vaswani will be a moderator for Q&A sessions post the film's screenings at the festival, where seasoned actor Naseeruddin Shah will reveal the LIFFI trophy. Interestingly, all awards of the fest are being dedicated in memory of eminent professionals like film editor Renu Saluja, cinematographer V.K. Murthy, music composer Khemchand Prakash and others. Also joining the first time gala will be film critic and director Khalid Mohamed as a moderator for the Q&A sessions. There will also be a screening of a documentary that Mohamed made on filmmaker Shyam Benegal. "I feel extremely obliged and privileged to receive extensive support for LIFFI from Viveck Vaswani, Khalid Mohamed, Dolly Thakore, people who are known to establish some big international film festivals including MAMI," Bajaj said. LIFFI already has Naseeruddin and Benegal's support apart from names like Ketan Mehta, Sudhir Mishra and Hansal Mehta. The opening ceremony will see Benegal present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Govind Nihalani, known for his socially relevant films like "Aakrosh" and "Ardh Satya". A retrospective of his films will also be held.
Cannes 2016: When It Comes To Media, Indian Ads Miss Out..: Ashish Bhasin
“Judging is a lot of hard work… It’s much more hard work than most people give it credit for. However, it’s something I look forward to because it’s always great to see good quality work,” says Ashish Bhasin
, ExCampionite class of '81
and Chairman and CEO, South East Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, who is on jury for Media Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to be held next week.
Bhasin speaks about his approach as a juror,India’s prospects in the media category and much more…
You were a juror at Cannes in 2007, and again this year. How are you approaching it this time?
It’s always nice to be on a Cannes jury, because it helps give a very good perspective on the quality of work across the world, especially when you are only exposed to what’s happening in India or APAC.
There are horror stories about how gruelling the judging process is for jury members…
Judging is a lot of hard work. You are sort of locked in a room from morning to night and on some days, really long nights. It’s much more hard work than most people give it credit for. However, it’s something I look forward to because it’s always great to see good quality work. But it’s definitely not a joy ride.
What would you be looking for in the entries that you judge?
It has to be innovation, creativity, and newer ways of using media. Over the last few years, digital has become a huge trend. But as far as the consumer is concerned, he/she is not seeing it as online, offline, digital and non-digital separately, but is exposed to various elements of media at one go. The separations are more in our minds than in the consumer’s mind. So, I will be looking at brands which have integrated that well.
What are the other trends you see within the media category that must reflect in the judging process?
They are data, digital and technology which have been growing since the last few years and I see that continuing even this year. However, there will be more emphasis on data and technology, besides just digital. I have also noticed a tendency of late of passing off gimmicks as innovations. Just putting something at an angle in a newspaper or doing something which is gimmicky might work as an attention grabbing act, but that’s not called media innovation. As the industry matures, I hope there will be less of gimmicks and more of genuine long term innovations and creative work. Also with the data and digital explosion, there is a very thin line between creative and media, so very hard to see where one stops and the other starts. Therefore, media is becoming creative and creative is deriving from media as well as from data.
Tell us about the exceptional pieces of media work that you have seen this year.
There has been some fantastic work on targeting in search where I have seen use of big data in an effective manner. While everybody talks about big data, very few people actually use it in a simplistic yet effective manner. There is some good work on mobile, particularly out of UK. From an India perspective, we tend to be more television-dominated and our entries sometimes are like events or out of home or melas. So, I am sure we will have entries of that kind as well coming in this time.
What are India’s prospects in the media category this year?
There has been some good work, but generally entries from India suffer on two counts. While we have some amount of gimmickry, we miss out on genuine innovations as far as media is concerned. The second is, as a country we have not yet learnt to present our work as well as we should. The attention span of judges at Cannes is very limited because they are judging hundreds of entries and are literally confined to a room all day. Therefore, it is human nature to pick something that is presented well because it catches your attention better.
Our excuse is that our advertising is in the local language, so the foreign juror does not understand it, which is not true. I have seen outstanding work from South American countries which are not in English, but presented in such a manner that an English-speaking jury understands it.
Rishi Kapoor Has The Most Hilarious Take On The ‘Udta Punjab’ Controversy!
We have always loved ExCampionite class of '69 Rishi Kapoor’s
take on issues. On Twitter, he is one hilarious man! He is one fearless man who doesn’t think twice before tweeting anything. Remember how few days ago he tweeted about Congress for having their names everywhere. This created a huge controversy but it doesn’t really affect him. Udta Punjab controversy has caught social media’s attention and everyone has their own take on it! While it is clearly Udta Punjab v/s CBFC now, Rishi Kapoor has his own take on the controversy.
Think. Jo naam badalne chaiyen,un par amal naheen kar rahen hain! Koi "Udta" hua cheez badalna chahte hain. "Punjab" expose ho jayega na lol.
The Return of Mandrake
Mandrake the magician is making it to film. For those who remember the old Indrajal Comics, the magician and his entourage, including Lothar, African prince and `the world's strongest man', Hojo, the chef and black belt, Narda, his love interest and others, were a source of a lot of fun for kids growing up in the 60s and 70s. Mandrake has appeared on screen before in 1939, Columbia produced a 12-part Mandrake the Magician serial, based on the King Features strip, starring Warren Hull as Mandrake and Al Kikume as Lo thar. Even acclaimed Italian director Frederico Fellini intended to make a Mandrake movie in the 1960s, but the project never got off the ground. Now, Mandrake will be played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
Rough Book In Cinemas – 24th June
Microsoft Opens Centre In Gurgaon To Fight Cybercrime
Technology giant Microsoft has unveiled its Cyber Security Engagement Center (CSEC) in Gurgaon in a bid to drive public-private partnerships to fight cyber crime and strengthen cooperation with Indian businesses, government and academic organizations on cyber security.
“India stands at an exciting threshold today as data becomes a key driver of growth across every sector and industry and cloud based computing become more prevalent. Cyber security is crucial for Digital India. A data driven economy can flourish only when governments, businesses and individuals have access to hyper scale and hyper flexible cloud computing with the confidence that their data is secure,” said Bhaskar Pramanik
, Chairman, Microsoft India and ExCampionite class of '66.
Microsoft’s CSEC will work with the National Cybersecurity Coordinator which would help in reducing malware and digital risk in the country, thus enabling a safe digital India.
How You Can Avoid A Tax Notice
Tax authorities can send you a notice if you commit any of these six common mistakes. There are many reasons why small taxpayers can get into trouble with tax authorities.
In recent months, the tax department has stepped up efforts to ensure tax compliance. New rules have been introduced to plug leaks and officials are cracking down on evasion. Tax records are being scanned and notices being sent to individuals if the computer-aided selection system notices a discrepancy. We look at six mistakes that can fetch you a tax notice. Some mistakes are just calculation errors. But others are serious transgressions that can invite penalties of up to 300% of unpaid tax. We tell you where you are going wrong and the correct position on the matter. We also offer tips to help you avoid falling foul of the tax rules.
1. NOT REPORTING INTEREST INCOME: INTEREST income from fixed deposits, recurring deposits, tax saving bank deposits and infrastructure bonds is fully taxable. Yet, 59% of respondents to a recent online survey believed that interest income of up to `10,000 a year is tax free. The tax exemption of `10,000 a year under Sec 80 TTA applies only to interest earned on bank savings account balance. Another 6% of respondents thought no tax is payable if the bank deducts TDS. TDS is only 10% of the income. If the taxpayer falls in a higher tax slab, the liability is higher. Interest income is often unreported in tax returns. Till two years ago, TDS kicked in when the interest from deposits made in one bank branch exceeded `10,000 in a financial year. Investors used to split deposits across branches to avoid TDS. Now TDS applies if the combined income from deposits in all branches of a bank exceeds the threshold. What's more, TDS also applies to recurring deposits now.
SMART TIP: Calculate how much interest you will get on your FDs, RDs and other fixed income investments and add that to your income.
2. IGNORING INCOME OF PREVIOUS JOB: EVERY TIME you switch jobs, you are in danger of falling foul of tax laws. This is because the new employer doesn't take into account the income earned from the previous job and offers tax exemption and deduction to the employee all over again. Instead of `2.5 lakh basic exemption and `1.5 lakh deduction under Section 80C, you get `5 lakh basic exemption and `3 lakh deduction. However, this discrepancy will be discovered when you file your return. This would translate to a large tax payment at the time of filing returns because the duplicate benefits would be rolled back.
SMART TIP: Inform your new employer about income from previous job so that the TDS is cut accordingly.
3. NOT FILING TAX RETURNS: A LOT OF TAXPAYERS have received notices for not filing their tax returns. Anybody with an income above the basic exemption is liable to file his tax return. The basic exemption is `2.5 lakh per year for people below 60, `3 lakh for senior citizens above 60 and `5 lakh for very senior citizens above 80. The rest of us, including NRIs, have to comply. Keep in mind that this is the gross income before any deductions and tax breaks. If your annual income is `4.2 lakh and you invest `1.5 lakh under Sec 80C, your tax will come down to zero. But you are still liable to file your tax return. Similarly , even if all your taxes are paid, you still need to file the return. For a lot of people, confusion stems from a rule introduced four years ago, where salaried individuals with an income of up to `5 lakh a year were exempted from filing returns. However, that rule has long been withdrawn. Not filing returns is not a serious offence if all taxes are paid. You will get a notice asking you to do the needful. Tax laws allow a taxpayer to file delayed returns even after the due date.
SMART TIP: Don't miss filing your return even if your tax is zero or all your taxes are paid. File online to avoid mistakes.
4. MISUSING FORMS 15G, 15H TO AVOID TDS: MANY INVESTORS try to avoid TDS by splitting investments across different banks. Many others submit Form 15G or 15H so that their bank does not deduct TDS. These forms are declarations that the individual's income for the year is below the taxable limit and therefore no TDS should be deducted from the interest. Misuse of these forms is a serious offence. A false declaration can attract a jail term. You need to meet two conditions to file form 15G. One, your taxable income for the year should not exceed `2.5 lakh. Two, the total interest received during the financial year should not exceed `2.5 lakh. Form 15H, for senior taxpayers above 60, imposes only the first condition. The final tax on total annual income should be nil. Senior citizens whose taxable income is below the `3 lakh limit are eligible to file Form 15H.For those above 80, this limit is `5 lakh.
SMART TIP: File Form 15G if you fulfill both conditions. TDS is an interim tax and you can claim a refund.
5. NOT DEDUCTING TDS WHEN BUYING PROPERTY: THE GOVERNMENT has extended the scope of TDS to property transactions as well. If you buy a house worth more than `50 lakh, you have to deduct 1% TDS from the payment to the seller. In case the seller is an NRI, the TDS will be 30%. This amount should be deposited with the government on behalf of the seller using Form 26QB. Sahay had no idea of this rule when he bought a property last year. He now has to respond to a tax notice, and could be slapped with a penalty of `1 lakh. The rule is applicable even if you pay in installments. In such cases, the TDS needs to be deducted from each payment and the money deposited with the government within seven days. While TDS deduction happens automatically when you buy a new property from a builder, in case of transactions between individuals, it is often ignored. Many are not sure how to calculate the tax. TDS has to be calculated on the total sale price and not just the amount exceeding `50 lakh. The total sale price is the amount payable and as registered in the sale agreement. It does not include stamp duty and brokerage. Also, only the sale price has to be taken into consideration, not the circle rate of the property .
SMART TIP: Make it clear to the seller that you will be deducting 1% TDS from the payment. Make sure you have his correct PAN details.
6. NOT REPORTING FOREIGN ASSETS: TAXPAYERS CANNOT afford to be unsure about their foreign income and assets. Mis-reporting overseas assets will not be taken lightly by the government. You could be prosecuted under the Black Money Act and the penalty can be as high as `10 lakh for even small errors. Taxpayers who have worked abroad often go wrong when reporting foreign assets. Same goes for employee stock options which are often acquired at no cost and sold out, but get missed when you take an account of assets. Not just salary and perks, freelancers who receive money from foreign clients need to report this income under the foreign assets schedule. This should also include gifts, which are deemed to be income. Also, all foreign bank accounts--whether operational or not--need to be reported. You even have to report bank accounts where you are merely a signing authority.
SMART TIP: Start collecting details of your foreign assets much before the last date for filing returns.
Patel Logistics Floats JV With Saudi Firm
The JV eyes Rs 40 cr in revenue over next three years, plans 50 warehousing and logistics points to begin with
Patel Integrated Logistics has partnered Saudi Arabia's Nationwide Group to set up a joint venture to tap the emerging opportunities in the region ahead of the forthcoming Fifa World Cup and the Dubai World Expo. The joint venture, Pivot Logistics, expects to earn around Rs 40 crore in revenue over the next three years and plans to have over 50 warehousing and logistics points to begin with, Patel Logistics said. Under the JV agreement, which does not involve any cash transaction, Patel will share its know-how, manpower and technology to set up and manage end-to-end operations in the highly fragmented Gulf logistics sector which is undergoing radical changes following a big knock on their finances after the steep plunge in crude prices. "With the lucrative margin available in the Gulf countries, the JV is expected to significantly enhance the bottom line of Patel Logistics," company's executive vice-chairman Areef Patel said.
He said the JV will not be limited to Saudi Arabia but will soon have operations in Dubai and then across the Gulf by 2018. "The Saudi logistics sector is highly unorganized with low tech penetration and we see bright prospects of growth, given our track record and initiatives back home," Patel said. The Mumbai-based firm also has plans to enter the Gulf air cargo sector through the JV on the line of Patel On-Board Couriers and marine sector in the third phase. Patel Logistics moves cargo worth Rs 12,000 crore annually with presence in 800 locations. It has recently set up an arm for e-commerce, after partnering Amazon for express delivery. The Nationwide Group set up in 1976 is also in general contracting business, computer education, and also into food & beverages apart from operating and maintaining all military seaports on west coast of the largest Arabian economy. The Nationwide Group was founded by Saudi's first businesswomen Abeer Bint Mohammed, who is ranked 11th on the Forbes 'most powerful Arab women' list and a royal family member, while Patel Logistics was founded by Campionite class of '59 ASGAR PATEL
as a one-truck entity way back in 1959 and since then has transformed it into a global leader.
A Writer Revealed
Located in the Lodhi Estate, one of Delhi's most posh locations, ExCampionite class of '71 SHASHI THAROOR's
residence transports one to a countryside charm, an overwhelming old-world-feeling amid the concrete jungle of the National Capital. It's a special meeting, the high-profile author and politician has agreed to take us through his writing process and his desk. It's a busy day and visitors after visitors are thronging about for all sorts of work, something that a seasoned politician of his stature must be accustomed to. We wait eagerly and at the exact time of our scheduled meeting, we walk inside this lovely room with a sweeping view of the adjoining garden, brilliantly curated with minute details and an overflowing bookshelf to mesmerize one! The room is well-lit and as one looks out of the glass wall to the right of his desk, splendid views of his garden sparkling in the afternoon sunshine sort of rejuvenates one. "I am very fond of sunshine and also I am very blessed as it is hardly possible to find such green view available in urban India. So I like keeping the curtains open, it is rarely that I draw them. Not that I am looking at them all the time and get distracted but I am aware it is there, if I look up it is there and it is a nice feeling," he explained.
One of the first things that catches our attention is the lovely collection of Ganesha that Tharoor has so elegantly displayed in his writing room. He reminds us that Ganesha was the scribe of Ved Vyasa. "I associate him with words. That is a very important connection. The first and foremost reason is that Ganeshji is a divine scribe and so he is an inspiration for all writers," he said.
But Tharoor has been a Ganesha collector for a very long time. "These are just one-third of my collection. I have a larger lot in my bedroom and then there are a few scattered in other parts of the house. Somehow, from a very young age, I was very deeply attracted to Ganesha for a number of reasons. He seems to symbolize our own imperfections, like the pot-belly, which is something I am struggling with too. The handsome son of God, whose head got knocked off, and look what he has got in its place... His vahana is a mouse... I have always have had a view of human beings as God's flawed creatures so that is perhaps psychologically part of it. The other thing is that Ganeshji is the remover of obstacles. I have always approached the obstacles in life with the confidence and the conviction that we can remove them and Ganesh ji symbolizes that with the right will and right thought one can remove and overcome obstacles. Fortunately, each one of these, more than a hundred pieces I have got, each of these are made up of different material and in a different style. So there are ceramic pieces, silver pieces, brass pieces, glass pieces, clay pieces, stone pieces. I have some very unusual ones too. In one such Ganesh is playing golf, in another he is dressed as a lawyer because Ganesh ji in many ways is part of everything. I find him an extremely endearing god," shared Tharoor.
Being tech-savvy, Tharoor moved to the computer very early and bought one of the first personal computers way back in 1981. Even The Great India Novel -- published in 1989 -- was actually written entirely on the computer in 1987-88. Tharoor considers himself lucky, saying, "As my handwriting is so difficult to decipher, if I handwrote a novel and gave it to a secretary to type, I would have to spend so much time correcting her mistakes because inevitably, she would not get it right."
Another factor is related to the nature of his work. "I try and finish articles in one go but when I am writing longer pieces, such as working on fiction, inevitably, at some point or the other, I am interrupted. When I return, I re-read what I have written, I correct it with a fresh and clear mind and then continue. That is actually something very easy to do on a computer," he said heaving a sigh. But then there are disadvantages too. Writing and editing on a computer leaves very few or no original drafts and many writers complain of their previous drafts being way better then the final ones but those are no longer available. Fortunately, this has not been the case with the writer of The Great India Novel. "If you're really one of those people who like to see authors' manuscripts, their papers and manuscripts collection, which is very popular in the libraries in the West, then of course it won't happen because there is very little to see out of a computer generated manuscript in comparison with a handwritten text, which is more full of romance and sentiment and emotional value," he regrets.
Tharoor's busy schedule during the day has compelled him to write at nights -- not by preference but because of the hectic schedule during the daytime. "Even when I have the time at my desktop, it's usually for urgent messages, emails or other kind of work-related matter. The only time when I can comfortably think, to have some clear space and think and write is at night. For example, last night I was up till quite late writing two articles, one on the lessons learnt from the Kerala elections for one website and another one on the way forward for the Congress party for another website. To be honest, this is not ideal because all my life I've been a morning-person more than a night-person and if I had the same peace of mind and silence around me in the morning, I suspect that would be even more productive. I guess I've trained myself to learn to be effective and productive at night also," said the versatile author.
On the day of our visit, Tharoor's desk was least of what a writer's desk is usually imagined to look like. Spic and span with all things in perfect place, it took one a while to actually digest that Tharoor does his writings at it. "First of all, I am a working professional. So most of the times, my desk is pretty much occupied. Today, I had a long series of meetings, so we cleaned up the desk temporarily but most of the times there are papers all over the desk and that is, in fact, for me, a source of frustration, because I am always getting more papers than I can read and process in the given time that I have. I genuinely believe that if your mind is uncluttered for writing, it is better. When it comes to my non-fiction writing, which relies heavily on research, I try to do as much of my research as possible on the Internet. Not that I go for crack-pot sources but there are a lot of reliable sources available on the Internet as well. I do have an extensive collection of research material and books in hard copies and those I could keep alongside me when I am working on something related to it," he explained.
We asked him to show us the contents of his desk and he humbly obliged, picking each by hand and explaining their significance. The powerful orator held us spell bound as he fumbled on his desk moving from the ink pots to small statues, scissors, highlighter, charger and almost every other thing. "I will tell you this desk is fairly functional -- the screen and the keyboard are where I am focused -- pens, scissors, highlighters and others within touching distance and I occasionally like to sign with ink pen so ink bottles are also there. My phone is within striking distance so that my office can interrupt me. I have a charger for my mobile phone because that is one thing you can't afford to have -- the battery dying on you. So it is very practical and functional. In a drawer on my right I have a collection of suparis and that kind of stuff to nibble occasionally, I consume a lot of suparis. I also have these three very special things -- a Natraja, presented to me by a foreign friend, claiming that it was actually from the ruins of Mohenjo Daro. I never had it evaluated or taken it for carbon dating but it is here. I have a bigger Natraja in my prayer room. Then you see this, a little Hanuman for strength. And I have these four little musical Ganeshjis playing an orchestra. So there is a tamborin, a tabla and a mridangam. They are all sitting on a leaf and the big Ganeshji is sitting on them all playing music, symbolic of the music of the words that I hope to be writing."
Despite the heavy rush in the waiting area of his office barely a hundred yards away, Tharoor's study a very quiet and isolated room. There is an amicable silence, just what one needs to focus if one is writing, which Tharoor so brilliantly does. There is no music playing around because he finds it distracting. "I have always felt that words have their own music and so, when other tunes come in, it affects the rhythm of the writing," he added.
As we wind up with some 500 shots of his sanctum -- the room where he writes RsTharoor shows us his overflowing bookshelves with the rack placed right above him displaying all of his works. The shelves are bursting at the seams and we thought Tharoor might have to afford another when he publishes his next title!
Doing Good Is Good For You – Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ’64
Studies suggest that volunteering your time improves not only the quality of life, but also longevity
What really constitutes a healthy lifestyle? A discussion of this could be voluminous. I think in general, the six pillars of health are — a reasonable amount of exercise, smoking cessation, avoiding alcohol abuse, a healthy diet, freedom from stress and a healthy and fulfilling sexual life. Building on the foundation, these elements of a healthy lifestyle have a direct impact on longevity. But, a long life does not necessarily mean a good life. Isn't an enjoyment of life as important — not solely the years in your life but the life in your years? One efficacious mantra for a healthy lifestyle is — all things in moderation. I was recently impressed by a study in the journal, Neurology, where the authors posed an important question. While many previous studies have been undertaken to establish individually, the correlation between factors such as diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity and excess weight with the increased risk of stroke, very few have addressed a combination of these for the prevention of stroke in women. Their results showed that the risk of stroke was reduced by 9 per cent for physically active women and up to 17 per cent for women who'd never smoked, by implementing a few lifestyle changes. The study analyzed 31,695 women. I am confident that if several other such studies were conducted, they would find similar results for males and females.
The dilemma that a strict adherence to a healthy lifestyle raises is whether man is body alone or body and soul? What else affects "lifestyle"? Does mental satisfaction in the form of service to our fellow men help in any way? A vast majority of senior citizens engage in productive activities. Productive activities may be defined as paid or unpaid actions that make a constructive contribution to human life. Many authorities consider these essential to a sense of well being in later life. Research regarding such productive activities tells us that they can enhance mental and physical health and reduce the risk of death. I was also impressed by a paper in Gerontologist, a journal that focuses on human ageing, which evaluated the effects of such productive activities. A paper by Tavares et al in 2013 documented that productive activities lower the risk of high blood pressure in American adults. Similar studies on older Finnish adults tell us that such activities reduce the risk of being institutionalized in later life and of death as well. The message which emerges is that belonging to a group, with common and participatory activities and interests, as well as the opportunity to fulfill a beneficial social role, has a positive input on physical health. The study in question examines the C-reactive protein (CRP) as an inflammatory marker. This marker is linked closely to the risks of heart attack, stroke and death. The findings published by Tavares et al must be one of the fewer deep analyses that addresses the compelling issue of ageing well. It compares death with productive community activity and CRP, the surrogate marker for a healthier life. Such activities can accommodate a range of experiences and hobbies — it could be volunteering, employment, attending meetings, care giving or anything that imparts purpose and momentum to the daily routine.
The frequency of volunteering showed the most robust association with a fall of markers of inflammation, the CRP in this instance. Various other papers also address the issue of volunteers' work and document that volunteering is associated with better health possibly through emotional gratification and increased social integration. Though the population studied in this study were 58 years of age and above, the most beneficial effect on CRP was seen in subjects 70 years or older, particularly those who volunteer frequently. This was surprising because there is data to suggest CRP increases with age. So, in essence, for the many of us who take great care of our physical health by a healthy lifestyle and diet, the message is — invest a little time in productive activities like volunteering — whether it is community work or reading to the blind or other social work. This will go a long way in giving you a better physical health.
Internal Assessment For BA, BCom, BSc Scrapped
Univ Introduces Common Papers, Timetable For 1st, 2nd Year Exams. Five years after it was implemented, Mumbai University is ready to scrap internal assessment for traditional BA, BCom and BSc courses.
The university's academic council approved the decision in a meeting. Now, internal assessment will be replaced by `live' projects in the final year. Internal assessment, though, will continue in professional courses such as BMM, BMS and BAF. In another development, the university has also decided to set question papers for first and second-year exams (semesters I to IV). It will also implement a uniform exam timetable, which means semester-end examinations in first and second year across 750 affiliated colleges will start at the same time. The decisions have evoked mixed reactions from all stakeholders across the university . Many claimed the essence of a choice-based credit system will be lost with no internal assessment. Principals are also wary of rapid changes in the university's academic structure. While some details of the plans are yet to be finalized, the university is slated to implement the two major decisions from the current 2016-17 academic year. Question papers for the semester end examinations for BA, BCom and BSc students will carry 100 marks instead of the current 75, said S T Gadade, university dean of commerce. Instead of internal assessment, the university will introduce two 100-mark projects in the final year for these students. Gadade added that students will have to spend at least 100 hours in each of the projects.The projects may be divided between fifth and sixth semesters, he said and added that the details will be finalized later. What could be constituted as college projects has also been partially decided (see box). Principals and teachers, though, are questioning the change in exam pattern every three to four years in the university , which they say adds to students' confusion.
Principal Manju Nichani from K C College said with only one semester end exam, the essence of continuous evaluation will be lost. “But we will have to see the details of how the projects will be implemented,“ said Nichani. In another major decision, to ensure that the credit system is implemented in a uniform manner, the university has decided to set question papers and send them to all colleges before their examinations. “The credit system was implemented to bring about uniformity in education. It considers the performance of students in all the three years. However, there was no uniformity in the way students were assessed in the first two years in colleges,“ said a university official. A principal said colleges mostly conduct first and second-year exams as per availability of infrastructure. “ A common exam timetable will inconvenience many colleges as they may not have classrooms available as per their convenience,“ said a principal.
Reducing Debt On Agenda; Brussels Attacks Hit Biz: Cox & Kings
Explaining the numbers, PETER KERKAR
, ExCampionite class of '78
and Director, Cox and Kings, said that the company had sold two businesses last year as a result of which the revenues were suppressed. Tour and travel firm Cox & Kings reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 305.53 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2016. The company had posted a net profit of Rs 64.56 crore for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, Cox & Kings said in a filing to BSE. Consolidated total income from the operations of the company stood at Rs 470.96 crore in the quarter under consideration. It was Rs 409.61 crore during the year ago period.
On the plus side, he said the international business grew by 16 percent over the last year, driven by strong UK, US and UAE markets. Hotels were shut down for several weeks owing to the Brussels terrorist attacks last year, he said. “We are committing to a Rs 300 crore debt reduction over this year,” he said. "We can achieve this from the existing operations. Mining and education in India are throwing out cash."
Is Rajdeep Coming To Goa As CM-Candidate of AAP?
The rumor is authenticated by Goa’s oldest English daily The Navhind Times, but he personally refutes it.
ExCampionite Class of '81 RAJDEEP SARDESAI
, Goan-origin ace TV journalist of India, dismissed the rumour at an interview held at Lokmat award ceremony. The Goa edition of Marathi daily honoured him today as Icon of Goa. “I am prepared to come to Goa to become the chief minister if people of Goa want. But I don’t think they would want me to quit journalism”, said consulting editor of India Today TV. According to him, a journalist cannot enter politics without quitting journalism for ever, unlike other professionals like lawyers, doctors etc. “I have no plans to quit journalism, thus there is no question of joining electoral politics”, said Sardesai, son of a veteran Indian cricketer of Goa, Dilip Sardesai. The rumor is on in the background of AAP searching for a face to project in the forthcoming Assembly election. Dr Oscar Rebello, a celebrity social activist who has joined AAP, has refused to provide the face to Goa AAP. “Nothing can be imposed from outside, neither the face nor the party”, says Sardesai, while speaking about AAP. According to the leading political analyst, any political entity has to emerge from within the local soil with grassroot level activists.
Replying to the question posed by Raju Nayak, local editor of Lokmat, Sardesai dismissed the thought of him joining active politics. In a lighter vein, Sardesai also observed that people of India have started preferring single man or single woman as their leader, may it be Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Jayalalita in Tamil Nadu, Sarabnanda Sonowal in Assam or Narendra Modi at the centre. “I am a family man. How will people accept me as the CM in such a situation”, he asked while the gathering at Kala Academy burst out laughing. Incidentally, AAP is having its public rally tomorrow evening, to be addressed by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Ratan Tata Invests in Bangalore-based AI Startup Niki.ai
Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, and ExCampionite class of '49 RATAN TATA, has invested an undisclosed amount in an artificial intelligence startup, Niki.ai.
Niki.ai, owned and operated by Techbins Solutions Private Limited, is backed by Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures Private Limited. In October 2015, Unilazer had invested an undisclosed amount in Niki.ai with a commitment to invest an additional INR5 crore later.
Niki.ai was launched in April 2015 by four IIT Kharagpur alumni - Sachin Jaiswal, Shishir Modi Keshav Prawasi and Nitin Babel. The AI-based chatbot allows users to order a wide range of services using a chat interface. Niki.ai uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) as well as machine learning technologies to talk to users over a simple chat interface.
Currently, Niki.ai has partnered with 25 brands that allow users to make bill payments, recharge their phones, order food, book a taxi, get cricket score updates, and enjoy certain home services. The Bengaluru-based company states that it has 40,000 users across India at the moment. It envisions to become an enabler for everything that is commerce, across various platforms such as iOs, Android, messaging, etc.
Ratan Tata has invested in more than 25 startups so far, but this is the first time he has invested in an artificial intelligence startup.
Naresh Mahtani No More
We regret to inform all of the passing away of Naresh Gordhan Mahtani ExCampionite class of ’69
on 21st May 2016. The Marka will be held between 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday 23rd May 2016 at Gurmandir Shyam Nivas Breach Candy.
Microsoft’s Pramanik Says India Data Centers Drive Cloud Services Adoption; Aims Over 40% Share
The growth in cloud services has been driven by small and medium businesses (SMB) and startups, along with verticals like banking, financial services & insurance (BFSI), healthcare, e-commerce and the government sector, ExCampionite class of ’66 BHASKAR PRAMANIK
, chairman for the company’s Indian unit,
Microsoft has seen higher rate of adoption of its cloud services in the country after setting up local infrastructure, and the company is now aiming for a market share of more than 40% in the next fiscal in this segment, a top company executive said. The growth in cloud services has been driven by small and medium businesses (SMB) and startups, along with verticals like banking, financial services & insurance (BFSI), healthcare, ecommerce and the government sector, Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman for the company's Indian unit. "Cloud adoption is helped by the market itself, which has moved more to the cloud. We feel that we opened our data centers at the right time, and they acted as catalyst and further accelerated the trend. We are also seeing a move to Microsoft Azure," Pramanik said. Conglomerates like Reliance, Essar, L&T, Mahindra's have also migrated to Microsoft's cloud services. Further, the governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are also using the company's services. "A number of ecommerce companies like Snapdeal, PepperFry, besides startups, which has been another phenomenal, have actually moved to the cloud," he said.
The company has 150,000 customers in the SMB space, about 50,000 are acquired, and most of them are SaaS (software as a service) customers. Pramanik said usage is much higher in the SMB space than in large enterprise because they don't want the hassle of owning large infrastructure. As per an IDC report, Microsoft has 30% market share in the overall cloud business, including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. In the SaaS business, the company has a 46% share. As per research firm Gartner, India's cloud services market is expected to touch $1.9 billion by 2018. Competition in the Indian cloud market is rising with the increased focus by global data centre players. Amazon's cloud service arm, Amazon Web Services--Microsoft's biggest competitor in the space--has built its data centers in around five locations in Mumbai. Cloud allows companies to experiment with new businesses in a more agile way without spending too much money or time. It also enables them to acquire fully-functional business capabilities (SaaS) or complete platform capabilities (IaaS or PaaS) where handcrafted solutions can be built. Microsoft offers complete portfolio of cloud services through local data centers - Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and will soon announce availability of CRM Online. It claims its cloud penetration has reached 50% of top 100 Indian companies by market capitalization in the first 200 days of local data centers becoming functional.
The company has 100 data centers all over the world in 19 regions in over 40 countries, including India. As the first public cloud provider from India, Microsoft had opened centers in three regions - central India (Pune), southern India (Chennai), and western India (Mumbai). Pramanik said local data centers have allowed companies in the financial sector, which earlier couldn't adopt data centre service based out of India due to security and privacy issues, to join and use Microsoft's services. "The biggest advantages of having local data centers are security, privacy, and more importantly latency," he said. Microsoft, however, has only launched a fourth of the data centre capacity in India. "As we continue to utilize the capacity, we will launch remaining capacity. We built data centers for the long term," Pramanik said.
Brands Face Higher Costs For Celebrity Endorsements
Celebrity endorsement legislation can lead to new clauses in endorsement contracts, a new insurance scheme, and costlier brand ambassadors. Fashion photographer, film producer and ExCampionite class of ’81 ATUL KASBEKAR, known for his Kingfisher Calendar shoots, has been busy making calls to lawyers after a parliamentary panel on Tuesday suggested that celebrities be held accountable for the brands they endorse.
Kasbekar hasn’t been seeking advice for himself but for a bunch of celebrities managed by his company Bling Entertainment Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Among them are Bollywood actors Sonam Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Shruti Haasan and Vidya Balan, and cricketer Yuvraj Singh. In its recommendations, the parliamentary panel said that if ads which show celebrities endorsing a brand are found to be misleading, the brand ambassadors could be fined as much as Rs.50 lakh or given a jail term of up to five years. Even though the Bill is yet to be formalized, the proposal has sent shivers down the spines of the brand endorsement industry. Once implemented, the new rules could impact the way the business of brand endorsements is conducted in India. Experts in the business say that new clauses could find their way into the endorsement contracts that brand ambassadors could start charging more and a new insurance scheme could become the industry norm. “Holding celebrities accountable for endorsement does not make any sense. But if the government makes it a law, the only thing that we can do is to find ways to protect celebrities who can be easy targets,” said Kasbekar. “Insurance is inevitable. So is an additional clause (in the contract) to reinforce protection measures.” By insurance, Kasbekar means “legal expenses insurance” or “professional liability insurance” —products that are common in markets like the US.
These insurance schemes, usually availed when a celebrity signs an endorsement contract with a brand owner, cover legal expenses, litigation charges, out-of-court settlements (if required), and also presumptive loss of brand value of the celebrity in case of a future litigation. “All future endorsement contracts are bound to include this where the brand owners pay the insurance premium. For the existing ones, we’ll have to look for a way out, considering that they are close-ended contracts. We may, however, suggest them to avail insurances on their own, if that is legally permitted,” explained Kasbekar. The existing endorsement contracts will have to be restructured if the law is enforced, said Shailendra Singh, joint managing director at Percept Ltd. Percept has managed brand deals for filmstars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor, and cricketer Sourav Ganguly. “All these contracts already have clauses of obligation (that take care of celebrities). Celebrities actually have an easy way out as they can further draft the contract to include (a clause that) they are in no way responsible for the product and its quality standards. They already have a legal way out,” said Singh, adding that celebrities are likely to renegotiate and restructure their existing contracts. “Insurance, if that offers a safeguard, is bound to be included in the new contracts. We’ll obviously suggest to our clients to consider this seriously,” he said, adding that the government risks complicating the existing system of celebrity brands endorsement contracts even further. Ashni Parekh, a Mumbai-based media and entertainment lawyer who has given legal support to a number of Bollywood actors, including Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen and blockbuster films like 3 Idiots, Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey, believes contracts will change because the celebrities will need stronger protection measures as the risk factors multiply.
“After the Maggi issue, celebrities became aware and they have already put in necessary clauses for protection in the endorsement deals,” Parekh said. The accountability of celebrity brand endorsers came into focus after Nestle India Ltd’s Maggi Noodles, whose brand endorsers included Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta, was banned by the food regulator for allegedly containing excess lead and the additive monosodium glutamate. The ban was later overturned by the Bombay high court. Some celebrities have been criticized for endorsing brands that are alleged to have misled consumers. Recently, the Indian cricket team’s limited-overs skipper M.S. Dhoni resigned as the brand ambassador of realty firm Amrapali Group after residents of a housing society launched a protest against the builder, highlighting the cricketer’s endorsement, on social media. Rhiti Sports, the firm managing Dhoni, declined to comment on the issue. Anirban Das Blah, managing director of Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which manages brand deals for actor Deepika Padukone, said that celebrities are already protected by a clause covering legal costs in case of a controversy. “The celebrities have indemnity. The brands are legally liable for not lying—otherwise celebrities have a right to pursue litigation both in a civil and a criminal court. We don’t want brands to lie. We say that there has to be civil and criminal liability,” said Blah.
According to Sasikumar Adidamu, chief technical officer (non -motor) at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd, there are products in the international markets that provide coverage for reputational risks and this cover could soon become a part of Indian insurance policies too. “So far, we have not received any request by brand ambassadors or celebrities for such a cover. However, in the future, it could be an important cover for celebrities,” he added. The company has sold professional liability insurance to medical practitioners, media persons and engineers, besides similar products to companies to safeguard directors. The premium for these insurance covers is not high. For the director and officers, it ranges between 0.25% and 1% of the sum insured, while professional indemnity policy premium is around 0.4% to 2.5% of the sum insured and sometimes higher depending on the potential risk. According to data available with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, the total premium for the liability-related insurance industry in India was Rs.1,768 crore in the year ended 31 March. Insurance products covering celebrities can be purchased by brand owners, or the company that manages the celebrity, or the celebrities themselves, said Adidamu.
K. Sanath Kumar, chairman and managing director of state-run general insurer National Insurance Co., didn’t respond to calls. “Prices of the celebrity contracts are bound to go up as they will include possible penalties and litigation charges. All these prices have to be borne by the brand itself,” said Harsha Joshi, executive vice-president (group trading), Dentsu Aegis Network Ltd, a global media and digital marketing communication firm.
The NDZ & Salt Pan Land Proposal has Potential to Create Homes: Niranjan Hiranandani
'The NDZ & Salt Pan Land Proposal has Potential to Create Homes for LIG and EWC Segments, as Also a Slum-Free Mumbai. The Mumbai Municipal Corporation has proposed opening up 5,189 acres of land which at present is in the ‘no development zone’ (NDZ) as also 642 acres of salt pan lands within Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s limits. This is part of the new Development Plan which should be submitted to the BMC's general body shortly, said NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI ExCampionite class of '66
and MD, Hiranandani Communities. Last year, the Maharashtra Government has appointed a committee to supervise a plan for optimum utilization of salt pan lands in Mumbai. There was a suggestion that the salt pan lands in the city and the suburbs could be used for building affordable houses and civic amenities, such as open spaces. “Any good move on part of the powers that be, either the Municipal Corporation or the State Government, is welcome,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities. “The fact that the DP will look at the possibility of housing projects, to build affordable houses for people, on areas that are not ecologically sensitive is also welcome. Beyond the positive aspect, my thoughts are on how this also has the potential to help meet the challenge of a slum-free Mumbai,” he added. Media reports suggest the proposal has the potential, considering both, NDZ and salt pan lands, to provide a much needed boost for development of about 1 million affordable housing units. Plus, the unlocking of these lands, on areas that are not ecologically sensitive, has the potential to help develop more social amenities in Mumbai.
“If one looks at the past decade, the story of Mumbai’s real estate has largely, remained constant: high demand for affordable homes, not enough support in form of restrictive rules and regulations, zoning and permissible FSI norms, excessive time taken for permissions and clearances. I have always felt that the powers that be, from the Center to the State and the Local Self Bodies – not to forget bodies like Environment Clearance, or the DGCA for height clearance of structures from a flight path perspective – were more of ‘regulators’ than ‘facilitators’,’ explained Niranjan Hiranandani. This has always resulted in directly impacting land availability for real estate development, he said. “To give an example, NDZ and salt pan lands, if allowed change in usage - on areas that are not ecologically sensitive - can be used for creation of low cost housing for LIG and EWC segments. This is why the proposal has the potential to be positive, utilization of NDZ and salt pan lands for building homes should be welcomed by Mumbaikars, said Niranjan Hiranandani. “The proposal definitely has the potential to impact availability of land for real estate development, and if taken in sync with the proposed additional FSI for such projects, this should have a positive impact on making homes available for affordable and budget home seekers in Mumbai,” he added. How will NDZ and salt pan lands in the city and the suburbs being used for building affordable houses impact Mumbai’s real estate? “The answer is simple,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “If implemented properly and in a time-bound manner, things always work out better. But, any such proposal needs to be supplemented with other ‘positives’, such as infrastructure projects and policy decisions which help make it a reality,” he added.
“So, the proposal on NDZ and salt pan lands has the potential for not just enhancing the availability of land for real estate development, but it also needs support from citizens, as also time-bound infrastructure development to create the possibility of Mumbai’s LIG and EWC segment of home seekers finally getting their dream homes become a reality,” he concluded.
Now Aditya Birla Group Joins The Defence Equipment Manufacturing Party
After at least seven Indian corporate houses ventured into the defence sector, The Aditya Birla Group also has decided to take the plunge and add value to Indian government's 'Make in India' initiative.
The conglomerate is controlled by ExCampionite class of ’83 KUMAR MANGALAM BIRLA
, and its interests range from metals to mobile telephony, now plans to enter into joint ventures with US, Israeli and Russian companies to make components for aerospace and combat vehicles. Exploratory talks with companies such as Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defence contractor, US helicopter maker Sikorsky and Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have already been initiated. Not only this, they have also appointed one of the Big Four global consultants to help them with strategies and identify partners for their new division, which would be headed by former strategy head Dev Bhattacharya. It was only after the government took several policy measures so that armed forces equipments can be locally manufactured that private Indian companies entered into the defence sector.
Other Indian business houses that have already started their defence businesses include the Tata Group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bharat Forge, L&T, Godrej and the Anil Ambani controlled Reliance Group.
Schools Must Video-Record PTA, Exec Committee’s Fee Hike Meets
Schools will now have to video-record meetings of individual Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and executive committees as per the new rules framed under the Fee Regulation Act , to bring in transparency in fee hikes. An executive committee, which comprises the school principal, teachers and parents, must be presented with a fee hike proposal at least eight months before it can be implemented.
The Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act, 2011, rules state: "Proceedings of the meetings shall also be video-recorded and made available to members of the association. The video-recording of the meeting shall also be made available to the regional deputy director or education officer or any other representative appointed by him or the government as and when required." Besides, a report on the meeting must be prepared within 15 days and displayed on the notice board or website. Rules require that private educational institutions keep separate accounts of monetary transactions. Schools, though, say these requirements are extreme. "We understand that there are some Schools that may manipulate the PTA and may have vested interests but not all schools are like that. Then why should we be made to record all the PTA proceedings? This is fine if only fee hike meetings are recorded," said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary's School (ICSE), Mazgaon.
"Those who have not followed the rules but hiked fees must give a refund," said Jayant Jain, president, Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-government organization. The state recently set up a five-member panel headed by retired district court judge Krishnaprasad Warrier, to hear fee hike-related disputes. Ramchandra Jadhav, deputy director of education, Pune, said PTA elections and meetings must be conducted in the presence of an education official. However, B B Chavan, Jadhav's counterpart in Mumbai, said this would not be the case in the city. "We will send officials only in case of disputes. We won't have the manpower."
Rajdeep Sardesai ‘Honoured To Be Honoured’ @ Sakshi Excellence Function
Popular journalist and ExCampionite class of ’81
, RAJDEEP SARDESAI who was the chief guest at Sakshi Excellence Awards 2016 held at the JRC Convention Center, says he was honoured to be honoured at the function. Persons with excellent performance and contribution to society were honoured by Sakshi Media Group.
The awards were presented in Education, Social Development-NGO, Healthcare, Agriculture, Young Achiever of the Year-Education, Young Achiever of the Year-Social Services and Business Person of the Year besides in ten selected categories of popular cinema. Rajdep later turned to his twitter account and tweeted that he was honoured to be the only non-Telugu present at the special evening celebrating real heroes. In another tweet, he said that he felt honoured to present the bravery award to Widow of Mushtaq Ahmed, martyred at Siachen. Sakshi Media Group chairperson YS Bharati and Sakshi Editorial Director Ramachandra Murthy were also present on the occasion. The winners were selected based on public opinion and also by a special jury consisting of eminent persons constituted for the purpose.
Don’t be Placid About Being Flaccid
- Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of'64
Indians are peculiar in the sense that they are inordinately private about disclosing their symptoms - they will not volunteer information on their sexual history even when they are having problems. What is worse still is that women may sometimes feel affronted and think it rude if their physician asks about their sexual history. Two decades ago if men of 65+ approached a physician complaining of sexual weakness, they were told that their age for these things was over. Only if they insisted would they get supplements, be advised on lifestyle changes and prescribed the hormone testosterone. In these times, sexual ability is considered to be part of a quality of life and there are not only medicines but devices which can help the patient. Now 75 per cent of men above the age of 70 suffer from erectile dysfunction. As the human life span increases, the expectations regarding quality of life also increase. Strangely, as the incidence of erectile dysfunction increases with age, sexual desire remains unchanged. Research also tells us that continued sexual activity in the elderly has additional health benefits and sexual dysfunction can have negative effects on moods and emotional health. The National Institute of Health defines sexual dysfunction as the inability to achieve or maintain a satisfactory erection for sexual performance. Other recent studies also tell us that 61 per cent of men in the 40- to 69-year age bracket have erectile dysfunction, yet a vast majority will not discuss this with their health care provider. The cause of erectile dysfunction [ED] may be physical, psychological, or a combination of both. The older man is more likely to experience natural symptoms such as a decreased blood supply in the arteries of the penis and age-related diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
Obesity in particular is associated with erectile dysfunction. The Massachusetts Male Aging study (MMAS) conducted in the US evaluates erectile dysfunction via a questionnaire. Another, more practical, way of doing this is by a five question survey designed by the International Index of Erectile function questionnaire (IIEF-5). Basically, this questionnaire deals with confidence to get and maintain an erection, whether you are hard enough for penetration, whether you can maintain your erection after penetration, and whether intercourse is satisfactory. High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high blood fats, thyroid, and other hormonal disorders also affect ED, as do various diseases of the nerves. A history of prostate cancer and the treatment received for it is also important - studies tell us that the ED rate is 59.9 per cent at 18 months after the procedure. A detailed investigation into the Drug list used by patient is important. Blood pressure medication, antihistamines used for cold, tranquilisers, cardiac medication and antidepressants may all contribute to ED. Disorders of mood, anxiety and depression may also be potent causes for ED. A commonly described link between ED and heart disease exists and studies tell us that ED makes its appearance three years before the onset of heart symptoms. Interestingly, a "do it or lose it" situation exists with ED - men who regularly have intercourse have a low incidence of ED. Various vacuum and other devices, injections into the penis, or insertion of drugs into the urethra are out of scope of this review The therapy for ED should involve counseling. It is important to note that sexual intimacy should not be interpreted as penetrative sex and it is important that the person explores other options to achieve sexual fulfillment as this is important for mental health.
Lifestyle modifications, in particular avoidance of tobacco, regulation of alcohol, and an exercise regimen cannot be over-emphasized. Pharmacological therapy in the form of Viagra type drugs is effective. I find most men in the 30 to 40 age group ask for these prescriptions to better their sexual performance. It is not at present clear whether this should be used as a recreational drug, as all drugs have side effects.
How Math And Engineering Interact
MANIL SURI ExCampionite class of '74
(A note to accompany my NYT op-ed of Apr 25, 2016.)
According to Google Scholar, Ivo Babuška’s most cited paper (as of April, 2016), was “The partition of unity finite element method: Basic theory and applications,” written jointly with his student J.M. Melenk (and published in 1996, when Ivo was 70 years old*).
What is the idea behind this paper? In particular, what does it have to do with engineering?
Here’s the gist. A lot of engineering design is now done using computer simulations. For instance, everything from small machine parts to large airplane components might be designed entirely on a computer screen, so that kinks are worked out and shapes and sizes optimized before such objects are actually built and physically tested. A commonly used method used for such design is called the “finite element method (FEM),” which was invented by engineers, but has been analyzed by mathematicians in a rich series of engineering/mathematician interactions. This is Ivo’s primary field of research (and mine as well).
What the FEM does is to approximately solve the systems of equations that determine how the machine parts (or airplane components or other mechanical objects) will deform when subject to loads. This is crucial: one wants to design objects which will not fail under stress (think airplane wings subjected to strong weather conditions, for instance – you want them to remain attached!). The solution of these equations gets particularly complicated in areas such as corners, joints, small holes, etc. These are generally areas which can be particularly susceptible to high stresses, and where cracks or other problems could easily develop. So the usual strategy is to put in a lot of computer power to analyze such sections (essentially, one “zooms in” on these sections by really cranking up the degree of approximation). This can be expensive, inefficient, and sometimes ineffective.
But here’s the thing: mathematicians can actually use their paper and pencil formulas to predict the underlying structure of the solution in such areas! Remember that everything’s governed by equations, after all. While these equations are too complicated to solve completely, they do yield some of their basic secrets – secrets that mathematicians have managed to carefully coax out through classical modes of study. For instance, they can predict that at any corner, the mathematical formula determining the solution will be of a certain special kind (let’s call this special formula type a “singularity”). They might not know the exact strength of such “singularities,” but they can come up with a bunch of them and then assert that the solution will be largely determined by some (unknown) combination of them.
As a consequence, several methods have been developed to incorporate this already-determined knowledge of singularities into the solution process. Instead of an unknown combination of these singularities, the calculations find (almost) exactly what combination is present. This can be a smarter way to attack the problem, rather than subjecting it to sheer “shock and awe” computer power. However, there are some problems: inserting these special “singularity” formulas can be very messy, and give rise to matching and compatibility problems that reverberate through the rest of the calculation.
This is where the above paper comes in. The MAIN IDEA is to present a very simple method (the so-called “partition of unity” FEM) that easily facilitates the insertion of such singularity formulas (or any other solution features one knows in advance) into select localized areas of the problem. Finite element software can be modified to easily allow such insertions, thereby giving engineers a smooth and efficient way of practically utilizing the intuition that mathematics provides. As a result, the computer simulations are much more effective, making the whole design process more efficient and reliable. This idea can be applied to such objects as gears and bolts, just as it can be made to work for joints between (say) the fuselage components of a plane.
Let me also mention that there’s another aspect to this symbiosis between engineering and mathematics. Strains and stresses in machine parts, crack formation, component failure, etc, all have been mathematically modeled. These models, when abstracted, give rise to some deep and complex questions in mathematics – which can often lead to some very elegant solutions. These solutions, in turn, generate several more “what if?” games – the kinds of questions mathematicians love to play with. And some of these games, when “solved,” end up having practical applications, which give rise to more questions, and so on. The wonderful cycle of interactions between mathematics’ beauty and its utility continues.
*NOTE: Ivo first published his “Partition of Unity FEM” idea in a 1994 paper with collaborators Caloz and Osborn – this was later elaborated upon in Melenk’s Ph.D. thesis and in various other papers. The mathematics in these papers was frequently cited to explain the related “XFEM” method, developed later by engineer Ted Belytschko and his group.
Zubin Mehta: Just Another Parsee Boy…! – Shobhaa De
A nervous, awestruck gentleman had been granted fifteen precious minutes of the Maestro's time. My friend, the gentleman in question, had spent a sleepless night memorizing what to say to the great man. The moment arrived. They met. Fifteen minutes flew by. My friend emerged walking on air.
His first reaction said it all: "My God! I can't believe how simple he is! He speaks Parsee English, with so many Gujarati words thrown in...And sounds like any other normal Parsee boy!" We both laughed at the observation. Zubin had just been paid a huge compliment that said more about the man than all the effusive gushing one reads about the world famous, 80- year-old conductor. For that's exactly what Zubin Mehta (ExCampionite class of 48) is - a normal Parsee Dikro. No airs. No pretensions. And we in Mumbai were indeed blessed that the Maestro chose to kick off his birthday celebrations (his actual birthday is on 29thApril) in the city of his birth, when he could have picked any other great city of the world. But this column is not about Zubin Mehta's genius. It is about friendship. Friendship of the truest kind. A friendship that has endured over seven decades, and grown in strength over time. So much so, that when Zubin Mehta is in town, his best friend from 1938 (!!!), is right there at every concert, happy to applaud his childhood buddy along with the wildly cheering audience. Dr Yusuf Hamied (better known as Yuku to friends), is an extraordinary man himself. As the Chairman of Cipla, a $1.45 billion dollar pharmaceutical giant, Padma Bhushan Yuku established himself as a global leader, years ago. Well respected in his field, and loved by a wide circle of friends, Yuku is the quintessential Bombay Boy - relaxed about his success, confident enough not to demand attention, and generous enough to 'share' his famous friend with fawning fans, who may be too intimidated to approach the Maestro on their own. Sportingly (and most expertly, I might add!), Yuku clicks dozens of pictures on his mobile phone, and takes the trouble to email them the very next morning to grateful, over-the moon Zubin devotees. Tell me, how many people would do that for eager strangers?
But the pictures that spoke the loudest about this unique friendship, were the ones Yuku shared with old friends. These are shots of the two of them standing outside Zubin's childhood home - a handsome stone bungalow on Cuffe Parade. It is one of three that still exists - the others were pulled down by rapacious developers ages ago. This is where Zubin grew up. This is the spot he goes back to every time he's in Mumbai. Yuku mentioned they have chronicled (and immortalized!) that spot since 1941! When you see these two Cathedral School 'boys' standing in front of the gate today, and compare this image to the black-and-white snapshot of them in 'half-pants' aged 3- years- old, your heart skips a beat. The pure emotion in that faded print, reminds you of the fragility of modern relationships. There is innocence, trust, affection and understanding between these two besties that transcends everything else. And here we are, most of us, struggling to juggle our ridiculously mundane lives (compared to Zubin's and Yuku's), claiming we don't have the time to nurture and cherish our relationships. Those pictures set me thinking. Why has that friendship between two enormously successful individuals worked brilliantly, while most other high profile friendships fall by the wayside at some point or the other? I guess it has to do with trust. That's where everything begins and ends, in a way, doesn't it? It appears to outsiders that both of them would blindly trust the other with their lives.
That, plus the clear absence of ego. No ego automatically means zero jealousy. If Yuku can play down his own importance and happily oblige Zubin groupies by introducing them to the maestro, it shows Yuku's own humility and refinement. Contrast that with the rudeness and arrogance of some others in the same circle, who 'guard' Zubin like they own the man, and you immediately see the difference in upbringing. Class tells. Ditto, for the 41- year-old Siberian classical pianist - once a child prodigy Denis Matsuev has enthralled audiences across the world with his virtuosity. As his fingers flew across the keyboard at lightning speed, effortlessly spanning notes very few pianists ever have, there were audible gasps in the audience. And yet, Denis playfully chose jazz as his encore, and went to the extent of including the Nokia ringtone into the repertoire, as a sharp reprimand to listeners who had forgotten to switch off their dratted cell phones during the concert! Later, at a posh charity dinner in honour of the Maestro, Denis obliged one and all who sought selfies and autographs, exchanging warm greetings and a few asides with each person. Watching these extraordinary individuals during and after the highly demanding performances, it was abundantly clear why they are where they are. I am sure there are more talented conductors in the world than our adored Zubin Mehta. I am sure there are pianists who play better Tchaikovsky than Siberia's Denis... and there must be pharma giants with more money than Cipla's Hamied.
None of this matters. These men demonstrated they also have a huge attribute in common - a big heart. And that has no price tag on it
Of Genteelness & Gentlemanliness – Telling It Straight
- Suhel Seth
They don't make men like Ratan Tata any more. The reason is because in today's time, you are defined by your wealth and not by your worth as a human being. They don't make men who believe in values and are willing to sacrifice pecuniary gains for remaining steadfast on their values. They don't make men who take a stand and see it through.
They don't make men who believe in giving back to society in such measure as Ratan Tata has and will continue to do as long as he steers the Tata Trusts. I first met Mr Tata several years ago and in fact I wrote an article in protest when the fracas over Russi Mody erupted: for me it was an emotional outburst; for Mr Tata, it was keeping the sovereignty of the group intact. He was the man who, when he took over the mantle from the iconic JRD Tata brought the group together: from fiefdoms created one composite whole. Many years later, I visited Jamshedpur and then wrote an article saying what India needed was more Jamshedpurs and the thrust of the article was once again compassion above commerce. I then received a hand-written letter from Mr Tata thanking me for my kind words. But those weren't kind words, they were a genuine reflection of the work that the House of Tata was then doing. Many years later, Mr Krishna Kumar, who was then Mr Tata's deputy and confidant, asked me if I would be keen on working for the House of Tata and thus my working relationship began with the House of Tata and in many ways with Mr Tata. Not once did he ever make anyone feel he was the chairman and that the others were employees. Not once did he shy away from taking a bold and public stance and Singur is one amongst many examples. Many people talk about rolling their sleeves: Mr Tata led from the front and exuded passion with perfection. I still recall him debating the stitching on the seats of the Land Rover. He was the man who inspired the forays of the House of Tata into consumer-facing businesses, be it retail; Starbucks, Croma and so on. So for those who believe he was not fond of consumer businesses need to think again. He was the one who made the House of Tata traverse the globe: be it Tetley or Glaceau or JLR or for that matter Corus. There has been enough recent debate on whether the Corus acquisition was indeed the right one. At that time it was. And those who were on the board then agreed with him. In hindsight, it is easy to highlight faults but these were the people who agreed and with vigour.
Planted articles don't and will not take away from Mr Tata's immeasurable contribution, both to India and to the House of Tata. Which is why last Saturday was special. I popped over to his spartan home to gift him a copy of my book: the Mantras for Success: India's Greatest CEOs Tell You How To Win. His essay is the first in the book. I arrived early evening and there was no fanfare; no scurrying staff and instead the home was as simple as its occupant. We talked like we never have. My working relationship with the House of Tata ended with Mr Tata's retirement because in my heart I knew I had to respect the man. We talked about the Tata Trusts, which even now disburse Rs 700 crores annually; he talked about his enormous faith in the youth of this country and which is why he had re-invented himself as a believer in Startup India and was investing in a lot of start-ups. He talked about global alliances, which the Trusts were entering into in order to alleviate the plight of the poor and those who were denied opportunities.
Ratan Tata had retired from the House of Tata but not from the responsibilities of being a humanist and someone who deeply cared about India and its unique place in the comity of nations. Here is gentleness and a genteelness, which he will always have, and something that will always inspire generations. That is what I came away with when I left his home. Seen off by him and not some staff member.
Atul Kasbekar ExCampionite Class Of ’81 – On His Changing Career
The veteran fashion photographer on his changing career as a celebrity manager, producer, scriptwriter; and his everlasting love for faces and photography.
How did photography happen for you?:
My love for capturing people in moments developed into a love for photography. Before I knew it, I had quit my course in chemical engineering.
Do you think fashion photography is taken seriously?:
Yes! Most photographers who end up becoming famous are often connected to the glamour business.
Why did you start celebrity management firm Bling Entertainment?:
I was looking for a representative to manage my work, so I started a service with qualified professionals.
Is celebrity management as maniacal as it sounds?:
Maniacal is a good word to describe it. A good artist representative should be able to wear many hats.
Any interesting incident you recall of managing celebrities?:
That’s a book in itself, on the release of which I’ve to ensure I’m in a foreign country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with India!
Tell us about your recent dip into production for Neerja.:
Neerja Bhanot’s story was one that needed to be told.
You juggle many careers.:
I don’t like wasting time; I am a reasonable multitasker and a very good time manager.
Has photography taken a backseat?:
After over two decades, I still feel most alive when there is a camera in my hand.
Are you writing the script for a film?:
I’m not qualified to be a professional writer, not as yet. I wrote a concept note on an original idea which Ram Madhvani loved.
What career move is next?:
Both my kids are planning to spend all my money at colleges abroad, so whatever it is, it had better be lucrative and fun!
Twin Standing Ovations For Zubin Mehta
K Rusom’s ice cream shop was catering to a very different clientele. Young students, ladies dressed in regal saris and Parsi families crowded around to catch a quick ice-cream sandwich before Zubin Mehta began his performance at the Brabourne Stadium with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as well as opera singers Maria Katzarava and the internationally renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli. Mehta performed for a crowd of 8,000. “You know, this isn’t Zubin’s first time at Brabourne,” says Shyam Khansaheb, a 72-year-old consultant for a chemical engineering firm who was there from Chembur. “He performed here in 1994 with the Israel Philharmonic. I wish I could have seen that.”
As the concert got underway, many moved to the public stands — at Rs 500 a seat, these are a considerable distance from the action, but provide a 180-degree view of the grounds. The show kicked off with a piece by Verdi, followed by pieces from La Boheme, and an opera composed by Puccini. Katzarava and Bocelli duet performed songs including O MIo Babbino Caro, or Oh My Beloved Father, from the opera Gianni Schichhi by Puccini. The two singers at one point broke off from the song to dance around the stage briefly. The concert marked the last of three conducted in the city by Mehta as the first part of a multi-country celebration ahead of his 80th birthday. Sneh Sunil Baxi, a 22-year-old chartered accountant came from Kandivli. He left for the concert — which began at 8 pm — at 4.45. “I studied the piano for six years till I gave up to focus on my studies,” he said. “I love Mehta, and this is one of the best orchestras in the world.” There were also those for whom Mehta was not the star attraction. “I am here for Bocelli,” said Maya Kumar, a 34-year-old architect from Malabar Hill.
The concert concluded with two standing ovations, two encores and a rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song by the orchestra for their conductor.
Meet Zubin’s Jabra Fan For The Last 80 Years
97-year-old Hilla Pocha hasn't missed a single Zubin Mehta concert in Mumbai. There were still 20 minutes to go for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to commence, and the city's nattily dressed, high profile audience - Shireen Gandy, Adi Jehangir, Smita Chrishna, Pheroza Godrej - were still making their way to Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA. But Hilla Pocha was there well before time, waiting for Zubin Mehta to take center stage. Seated on the first seat of the first row (A-11) - "it offers the best view," she says - the 97-year-old is arguably the maestro's biggest fan. "I have held Zubin when he was two months old," says Pocha, a musician herself, who played with the Bombay Symphony Orchestra since its inception nearly eight decades ago. "I would play with his father Mehli Mehta (violinist). We used to have sectional rehearsals. And Zubin's mother once requested me to look after the baby for five minutes. Mehli came up to me and asked, 'have you come here to play the violin or to look after Zubin?'".
Pocha rushed back to her rehearsal but the day remained etched in her memory. "When I was 80 years old, I met Zubin at the Cricket Club of India and told him, 'I held you in my arms when you were two months old', but he wouldn't believe me. He thought I was younger than him," she says. "And I can't believe he's turning 80 on April 29." Pocha, whose love for music was encouraged by her father, first learnt the violin with an Italian professor and then a German professor. "And because I was at the Cathedral School, the organist from the St Thomas Cathedral was our music teacher," she explains. "He encouraged me to join the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. I was only 15 or 16 years old then." "Mehli," she says, "was the leader of our group. And without him nothing would have happened. He would get everyone together."
On The Small Screen, The Big Picture Isn’t Always Visible
With so many different versions of breaking news, it’s hard to get perspective. Television news is stressful business. I didn’t know until recently just how traumatic it can be as a spectator sport. It’s not even a question of weeding out your favorite news channel from the wealth of choice available (about 400 channels at last count).
English news channels are constantly amping up their game, trying to find new ways to convey excitement. If multiple screens, blues and reds, and tickers and capitalized headings weren’t enough, graphics are constantly swishing across channels so that you know that Things Are Happening. Presumably, a seizure is a small price to pay to know what the breaking news of the day is. It’s been a while since the last bastion of calm and reason – the news anchor – has crumbled. It’s not just 9pm anymore. The daytime is also being prevailed upon to be forceful and shout-y. Perhaps the re-branding of post-lunch shows – long presumed to be the time when people are watching on mute – as Afternoon Prime Time is a sign of the times. With so many different versions of breaking news multiple times a day, it’s sometimes hard to get some perspective. If you’re not a news junkie, you’re probably not flicking channels obsessively to see what the big news is.
For instance, in the space of one afternoon, there was a heated commentary on the fate of Indian prisoner Kripal Singh, dubbed “Another Sarabjit”, on Times Now, CNN-IBN focused on the Bombay High Court as it deliberated on the IPL issue, while India Today was breaking news of a secret K4 ballistic missile launch, which, we learned, had been carried out the previous month. It was breaking on this day because the channel had accessed unpublished images of the launch. (I found the golden mike distracting, but perhaps I’m not yet used to it). Perspective is a tricky business, but if you do channel surf, you’re likely to get a fuller picture. The news is mainly bad news. While channels do their part to convey the scale of the problem, say in Marathwada, where Rajdeep Sardesai went for India Today to chronicle the drought, television cameras sometimes very powerfully bring home what is happening across our country. But television news doesn’t always give you the full picture. The decision of where to point your camera or where to release resources for your reporters and star editors to travel is a very calculated one, and takes into account audiences and potential ratings as much as the given news peg.
Boxers or briefs? What television does well is present a developing story. We tend to turn to the news when there is genuine breaking news (a fact that has kept CNN a portentous force in the United States of America even when it normally lags behind its competitors). When an earthquake recently struck Myanmar, causing massive tremors in Kolkata, Guwahati and Patna, the instinctive tendency was to tune in to television to hear what the experts were saying. Increasingly, we supplement this with our dependence on print or digital, or social media, though the latter is notorious for not always being reliable. But television also gives us access to people we want to know more about even if we didn’t know we wanted to. On April 1, I watched a fabulous interview by Shekhar Gupta for his Walk the Talk show on NDTV with the Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal at their school campus at DPS RK Puram in Delhi. It was unexpectedly free-wheeling and full of laughter. These guys have been friends since Class XI and clearly understand each other. This was an interview in which everyone was at ease and appeared to enjoy the conversation without trying to score brownie points or come off as cleverer than the other. More recently, the other riveting interview was by Prannoy Roy on NDTV24x7’s India Questions with the very watchable Shah Rukh Khan. Not just because SRK took questions from the audience, including “Boxers or briefs?” Khan’s reply: “Depends who’s wearing them.”(Briefs, if we must know. “Death before boxers,” apparently.) The light-hearted banter was a bonus, including Khan telling Roy that he wasn’t doing much work that evening. The production wasn’t as spiffy as one would have expected, with some lighting issues, but even so, it pales in comparison to the fact that Khan had apparently decided not to go to any other English news channel. Khan did riff about wanting to get NDTV good ratings. His appearance itself would have done the trick, if not his attempts to get the venerable Dr Roy to shake a leg, or even remove his shirt, which Khan promised to get him to do next time round.
Amrita Tripathi is a recovering news junkie. She has worked at CNN-IBN for nine years and The Indian Express for two years. At times, she may have a glancing familiarity or more with the news players mentioned.
How Liberalization Brought In A New Era For Business Families
Liberalization allowed the best-run family businesses to reclaim their rightful place in India’s business space. Liberalization caught India’s business families much like a deer in the headlights of an onrushing car. Mostly, it left them confused and wary of what it would mean to their fortunes. After all, the licence-permit raj that the reforms of 1991 sought to dismantle had been put in place with these same businessmen in mind. The politicians of the socialist era needed the moneybags of corporate India. Elections then, as much as now, were won with hard cash and the promise of largesse later. Torn between the urge to preserve and protect on one hand and exploit the many new opportunities on the other, many wavered, fatally in some cases. The Bangurs, Singhanias, Thapars, Modis and Mafatlals, such an integral part of the who’s who of Indian business in the 50 years since independence, have all but disappeared from similar rankings today.
The best among them, however, seized the moment, first looking inwards to see what had held them back. What they saw was a cornucopia of legacy issues—vast bloated work forces, rows upon rows of inefficient middle managers, business portfolios that seem to have been assembled in the lost-and-found section of a children’s school and a general fear of the forces of globalization. The companies were mostly led by men (almost always men) who had no other qualification for the job except their family connections.
The Tatas under new chief Ratan Tata (who in a great bit of coincidence became chairman of the group in 1991) showed how to do it. Satraps such as Russi Mody and Darbari Seth were swiftly replaced and the companies they had run as personal fiefdoms were hauled, often kicking and screaming, into the modern era. The Birla group led by Aditya Birla worked on its strengths in commodities and showed how to make successful ventures abroad by setting up plants in South-East Asia and Egypt. Aditya Birla’s untimely death in 1995 brought his son Kumar Mangalam Birla into the leadership position at the young age of 28 and he too embraced the tenets of a competitive modern economy. The best example was the Reliance group, which straddled both eras equally successfully. Set up in 1966 by Dhirubhai Ambani, the company began as a manufacturer of textiles, but driven by his adrenalin and audacity it grew rapidly, and by 1991 was already the largest producer of polyster yarn in the country. But post-1991, it grew wings and was soon exploiting emerging opportunities in those sectors of the economy that the government opened up to the private sector. Today, with interests in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail and telecommunications, it is a $62.2 billion behemoth under the stewardship of Mukesh Ambani.
In 1991, Mukesh Ambani was 34 years old, and Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra group, 36. Young inheritors like them went on to become the global face of the new India and in turn drew the attention of the world to the country’s potential as a market for products and a sourcing base for managerial talent.
The big winners, of course, were what can now be dubbed “the children of liberalization”; businesses that were born, grew and scaled up thanks to all the opportunities thrown up in the course of the next two decades as the reforms of 1991 picked up pace. But interestingly, the reforms actually ended up restoring the primacy of Indian business families in the economy of the country.
Till the 1960s, when the government took a markedly socialist stand on economic development, family-owned businesses were robust. They were the principal engines of growth and were among the best-in-class businesses across the world. Tata Airlines, for instance, was among the top 10 airlines in the world. But government policies, particularly through the turbulence of the 1960s and ’70s, brought the Indian business family to its knees by penalizing both growth and profits. By dismantling the discretionary controls that impeded innovation and entrepreneurship, the reforms allowed the best-run family businesses to reclaim their rightful place in the country’s business space. Today, 80% of Indian businesses are either entrepreneur-driven or family-owned-and-managed.
It was strange, therefore, that the initial reaction to the reforms from some of the large, established business groups was that of disapproval. A “Bombay club” came up, opposing in particular the decision to open up sectors to multinationals. The fear was that with their might and muscle as well as the lower cost of capital, large multinational corporations (MNCs) would kill domestic players who would take some time learning to cope with competition after years of functioning in a cosseted environment.
That’s where the first-generation Indian businesses scored. With no baggage of the past and no legacy businesses to drag them down, entrepreneurs such as Uday Kotak, Sunil Mittal and Subhash Chandra seized the moment, displaying audacity and chutzpah, which allowed them to compete and in many cases win battles against much mightier Indian and foreign competitors.
Mittal, for instance, started off as a David lined up against a dozen Goliaths from India and abroad. Today, Bharti Airtel Ltd is India’s largest telecom company, having seen off competition from storied Indian companies and MNCs.
The reforms of 1991 and the gradual opening up of the economy didn’t as much as offer the more adventurous of Indian business families the opportunities for growth as they removed the artificial shackles that had held back their predecessors. Now, however, a new and vastly different set of challenges face these same families: leadership issues in an era of far more stringent corporate governance standards and shareholder activism, the pressures of increasingly globalized businesses where the headwinds are both unpredictable and uncontrollable, the need to take cognizance of environmental and social factors, a vastly more complex workforce and, of course, the ever present political uncertainties magnified by the fractured polity and increasing federalism.
The Influence Of Insulin – Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ‘64
In 1920, scientists figured out how pancreas secretions controlled blood sugar and changed the lives of diabetics forever. Among the most deserved Nobel prizes was awarded for the discovery of insulin. The altruistic motives of Fredrick Banting, medical scientist, physician and painter, and Charles Best, a medical student at the University of Toronto, need to be commended. Before the discovery of insulin, Diabetes Mellitus was a feared condition, inevitably leading to death with the patient literally wasting away. One of my uncles died of diabetes years before I was born and my grandmother detailed to me her anguish, as he disappeared right in front of her very eyes. Much of Banting and Best's work was with dogs. In fact, Banting was a surgeon with a bachelor's degree in medicine. He had an idea that he wanted to explore — that pancreatic digestive juices were harmful to other pancreatic secretions produced by the islets (a portion of tissue distinct from, but part of the pancreas itself). In 1921, Banting discussed the idea with Dr John McLeod, who despite not being in total concurrence with Banting's hypothesis, gave him a dog laboratory. Banting, aided by Best, realized that when they removed the pancreas from a dog, its blood sugar rose and it became thirsty and drank lots of water, urinated frequently and became weaker and weaker — the classical manifestation of Diabetes Mellitus. When they removed the pancreas and sliced it up, they isolated a substance called isletin. When this was injected into a diabetic dog, its blood sugar dropped and the dog became healthier. By giving a few injections a day, they could keep the dog healthy and free of symptoms. In fact, Marjorie, Banting and Best's famous dog, lived for 70 days with insulin injections, even after having her pancreas removed. With these encouraging results they were given more funds and a larger laboratory and they started working on the pancreas of cattle. In late 1921, a biochemist, Bertram Collip, was inducted into the team. His specialized task was to make the insulin pure enough to inject into humans. When Banting and Best had injected themselves with insulin, they had gotten dizzy.
In January 1922, in Toronto, Canada, a 14- year-old boy Leonard Thompson, was chosen as the first diabetic person in the world to receive insulin. Before this, he was emaciated and near death. He recovered rapidly. In 1923, the Nobel committee gave Banting and McLeod the Nobel prize in medicine. Banting was furious at his other colleagues being neglected, and shared his prize with Best, while McLeod shared the financial reward with Collip. The patent for insulin was sold to the University of Toronto for the princely sum of half a dollar. The world owes these great physicians and researchers, who so generously gave their research to the world for free. There's a misconception that other parts of the world did not know about diabetes. It was well documented in India as Madhumala and the Greek physician, Aretaeus, was the first to have named the disease 'diabetes'. Insulin has come a long way since its discovery. Until the 1980s, insulin was extracted from the pancreas of cattle and pigs. Porcine insulin resembles natural human insulin closely and therefore, was the preferred one of these early insulin varietals. Beef insulin, however, survived a long time despite the better porcine insulin being available. I think this was because Jewish and Islamic people had religious objections to the use of porcine insulin. In fact, I am told that in New York, the use of beef insulin persisted for a long time due to its large Jewish population. With the advent of human insulin, the other forms of insulin disappeared. While 'human' insulin might imply it is extracted directly from the human pancreas, this is not so — it is engineered genetically.
There are certain situations in which a diabetic needs regular bouts of insulin, such as The Type I diabetic, who is grossly deficient of insulin from the start. It's also necessary when there is infection or failure of oral drugs. There is a great reluctance on the part of the patient to take an injection or two for the rest of his life. In a busy practice, the physician has little time to explain to the patient the value of insulin and this constitutes a major drawback to starting the regimen of insulin. The fear of the needle led to the discovery of inhaled insulin where it was absorbed from the lung, but this was withdrawn because six of 4,740 patients, who used the drug, developed lung cancer. Incidentally, they were all cigarette smokers. Unfortunately, insulin is digested when taken orally and is therefore not suitable to swallow. Buccal insulin delivery, which is sprayed into and absorbed from the mouth cavity, has also been tried and innovations to try oral insulin are still ongoing. In today's times, with thin needles and various pens in the market, injections of insulin are virtually painless and the diabetic need not be afraid.
Delhi Applauds International Entrepreneurs
Padma Shri recipient and ExCampionite class of '67 Dr MUKESH BATRA, Founder-Chairman of Dr Batra's® Group of companies, has been awarded the 'Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Healthcare' at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2016, organized by Enterprise Asia in Delhi. With operations in Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and 12 more countries, the awards are one of Asia's most prestigious. This year, the awards witnessed participation from over 8,000 applicants from 32 countries and had three levels of company screening by an eminent jury, which included screening for a company's financial ability for sustainability, site audit and personal interviews.
Accepting the award, Dr Batra said, "We are extremely proud and grateful that our achievements have been recognized globally. This is not just recognition for us but for homeopathy and homeopathic doctors all over the world, as this is the first time that a homeopathic doctor is the sole winner in the healthcare category at a global platform."
Kal Aaj Aur Kal Will Always Be My Favourite: Randhir Kapoor
Actor-director and ExCampionite class of ’64 RANDHIR KAPOOR
has said that his first film as actor and director, Kal Aaj Aur Kal, will always remain his most favorite film. “I remember my first picture Kal Aaj Aur Kal in which my father (Raj Kapoor), my grandfather (Prithviraj Kapoor) and my wife (Babita) was there... a lot of dedication and love was in it. “It will always remain heartwarming and my favorite film,” Kapoor said at the launch of Geeta Dass’ book Kal Aaj Aur Kal. The book boasts of paintings made on various members of the Kapoor family. Released in 1971, Kal Aaj Aur Kal was Kapoor’s first film as an actor and director after his work as a child artist in the film, Do Ustad. The film was produced by Raj Kapoor and the success of the film turned out to crucial to the banner, after the failure of Mera Naam Joker. It is also said that he fell in love with Babita during the shoot of the film. About the book, Kapoor said: “I remember all the memories looking at these pictures in which my grandfather, my father, my uncle and brothers are there. I’m grateful to Geeta ji, she always embarrasses me by praising me and putting me on a pedestal, I’m not worthy of the love she is giving me, but I’m grateful that she considered me worthy of this love...”
Celebrating Maharashtra Day
Indian Nationalism Pluralistic, Not Domain Of Any Religion: Shashi Tharoor
Congress leader and ExCampionite class of '71 SHASHI THAROOR
was addressing a convocation ceremony at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). The idea of Indian nationalism emerged from ancient civilisation and youngsters should strive to preserve pluralism which is essential for "survival" of the country, senior Congress leader and former minister Shashi Tharoor said in Mumbai. "The magic of Indian nationalism is that its not based on a particular language, a particular geography, a particular religion or even a particular ethnicity. Indian nationalism is an idea emerging from ancient civilisation, united by a shared history and sustained by our pluralist democracy. As young Indian and future leader you must aspire to preserve this pluralism, which is so essential for India's survival," he said while addressing a convocation ceremony at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in suburban Vile Parle. Tharoor said India is fast becoming an "entrepreneurship- driven economy" which has changed its perception on global stage. "India is increasingly becoming an entrepreneurship- driven economy. Indians abroad have already proved themselves in a number of start-ups they have helmed in places like Silicon Valley. And I know that there is a place not too far from here being called Powai Valley for increasing number of start-ups that are located there. All these have gone on to change our outlook of world," the Thiruvananthapuram MP said. He told students that they have abundant opportunities in present era compared to the 1970's. "I remember very few options were available to graduating students in India of 1970s. In early 1970s, our economy was still very close, sociologist protectionist, international exposure was limited and the word 'globalization' had not even been heard. But today world is smaller and the opportunities are far greater. Today's graduates have a wide variety of choices in India or outside," Tharoor added.
A total of 349 students of MBA, MBA (Pharmaceutical Management) and MBA (Human Resources) were conferred degrees on the occasion.
Zubin Mehta Launches His Biography
World renowned conductor of western classical music, and ExCampionite class of '48 ZUBIN MEHTA launched a biography based on his life and work. Titled “Zubin Mehta: A Musical Journey” by Bakhtiar Dadabhoy, the book narrates the story of nearly six decades of career of the maestro. Mehta will turn 80 on April 29. “Well, I couldn’t have dreamt that this book could exist until last year when Bakhtiar reached me. I cooperated with him. We spoke many times on phone and then it happened,” Zubin told reporters here at the book launch. Dadabhoy said Mehta wasn’t initially too keen with the idea of another biography, as he had written one in the past, but came on board eventually. “This man led a very interesting life. I wrote to him asking if I could write a book about him and he said ‘no I just wrote a biography, I don’t see the need of another book’…,” he said.
“In December 2014, I thought a biography on his 80th birthday in 2016 will not be a bad idea…I contacted him again and he agreed…I started updating the book, rewriting it. He then corrected a few things,” Dadabhoy added. Mehta said the book captures his life correctly and that he was impressed with the author’s “incredible” research. “When I went through the book, I thought it had incredible research. I don’t know from where he got those facts but most of it is correct and I was very impressed,” he said. Mehta was born in Mumbai and now is a permanent resident of the United States. The acclaimed conductor, who retains his Indian citizenship, feels he never left the city. When asked how does it feel to be back to Mumbai, he said, “It’s like I never left. But every time I come I get frustrated with the condition of the city. When I lived in cuff parade, it was heavenly…”
CEPT University Set To Expand, To Add New Buildings
With an eye on future expansion, the CEPT University plans to add new buildings to its existing infrastructure by investing about Rs 10 crore each year. Ahmedabad Education Society (AES) will fund the expansion, allocating Rs 10 crore to CEPT for the next five years, said Bimal Patel, CEPT Director, on Friday. “We will be constructing a series of buildings in the next 2-5 years in the campus. The CEPT library building is being designed by noted architect and alumnus ExCampionite class of '74 RAHUL MEHROTRA
for which work has already commenced. We are also looking to add a workshop building adjacent to the GIDC building at CEPT which will be around 12,000 sq feet. It will be designed by Gurdev Singh, a CEPT alumnus who heads the Navrachna School in Vadodara. The Shrenikbhai Plaza will be built in an area of 3,500 sq feet and is being designed by Rahul Mehrotra. An academic facility will also come up in the north-west quadrant of the campus which will have additional classrooms and seminar halls etc. It will be designed by Christopher Benninger,” said Patel, who was speaking at the launch of Christopher Benninger: Architecture for Modern India. Indo-American architect Benninger is one of the founder-directors of the School of Planning at CEPT University.
Fashioning An Adventure
All know him as a pure aesthete, known as much for his corset blouses over chiffon saris as he is for his signature interiors. But when ExCampionite class of '77 TARUN TAHILIANI
indulges in a little me-time, that's when you want to know him most. The fashion guru is currently in South Africa with sister Tina and their friends on a pleasure trip. The 'pleasures' they are pursuing are indeed of the wild and wanton sort. It's a pure adventure trip, Tahiliani informs. They are flying gliders, landing on desolate beaches, canoeing, trekking. "I want to spend more time in Africa. Alone," Tahiliani adds. "It's untouched, untamed and divine. I wonder why I live this absurd life in fashion?" Eeps! We need him to come back pronto.
Tharoor Shadow On UN Chief Hunt
ExCampionite class of '71 SHASHI THAROOR
has been long gone from the UN, but memories of his contest for the UN secretary general's job 10 years ago are deeply influencing the ongoing election of a successor to Ban Ki-moon, who defeated Tharoor shaking up the temperamentally complacent world body in multiple directions.
Tharoor is obviously not a candidate this year: after 10 years of the UN being headed by the former foreign minister of South Korea, it is not Asia's turn in the geographically rotational process of choosing a secretary general. But the charismatic Thiruvananthapuram MP, who was for decades a prominent public face of the UN, is a tall presence at every election-related huddle in Turtle Bay, where the world body is headquartered. Because of the fallout from Tharoor's campaign, the General Assembly, in a historic departure, will vet secretary general nominees for the first time since the job was created in 1946. Also because Tharoor's out-of-the-box candidacy seriously upset the Apple Cart at the UN exactly this time 10 years ago, those who control the UN have ruled that prospective candidates must be formally nominated by their governments before they can be considered by the establishment in New York. Tharoor, in reality, had stood that process on its head. Nirupam Sen steered the Tharoor campaign as the then Permanent Representative of India to the UN. A closet Socialist and a career-long insurgent in the Indian Foreign Service, Sen used that campaign to shame members of the world body for allowing a secretive election process for 70 years now. That process, inviolate until now, allowed the big powers to make deals behind closed doors in the Security Council and tyrannise countries like India which were colonies when the UN's charter was adopted. Sen campaigned - often without any support from the pro-status quo UPA government which he represented - for the real stakeholders at the UN, members of the General Assembly, to have a say in the election of the secretary general.
The UN Charter says "the secretary general shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council". But the big powers have got around this clause and protected their supremacy by recommending only one candidate to the General Assembly to choose from and make the appointment. If the General Assembly could directly elect the secretary general, Tharoor would have won hands down because of his large support base among the Arab bloc at the UN and his numerous IoUs from foreign ministers the world over who were his colleagues in New York and Geneva during the long years when he was an international civil servant. Sen's spirited campaign a decade ago has now borne fruit. Those fruits may not be ripe yet but they are on the UN tree all the same. The first-in-history process of candidates appearing before the General Assembly and making presentations before the entire UN membership on their qualifications and what they will do as the next secretary general will be spread over three days. Each candidate has been allotted two hours to make his/her presentation and to be questioned by member states. If there is any time left after UN members have assessed each candidate, the public and civil society representatives can also ask questions in an unprecedented concession to transparency in the selection process. A well-organized campaign is under way globally to create the groundswell necessary to elect a woman as secretary general for the first time. Among the formidable feminist organizers of this campaign is Charlotte Bunch, who played a major role at the 1980 Copenhagen, 1985 Nairobi, and the 1995 Beijing "World Conferences on Women". A global organization calling itself the "Campaign to Elect a Woman secretary general" is supporting a process to identify the best possible female candidates.
Several leading women have already thrown their hat in the ring and will make their case before the General Assembly this week. They include Bulgarian Irina Bokova, currently director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Helen Clark, administrator of the UN Development Programme and the first woman Prime Minister of New Zealand, Natalia Gherman, two-time deputy Prime Minister of Moldova and Vesna Pusic, former first deputy Prime Minister of Croatia. Waiting on the sidelines to see how these women's candidacies shape up is Chile's President, Michelle Bachelet, who was the founding head of UN Women, an entity for gender equality and empowerment of women. The current General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft told reporters at the UN headquarters here that the job interviews beginning today in front of the whole world are "historic and potentially game-changing for the way the secretary general is appointed". Many of these candidates have the one qualification that Tharoor did not have: a boring blandness that makes them opaque. The next three days will reveal if that temperamental advantage for the top UN job clashes with a need for charisma during interviews televised worldwide for a job that has no parallel in today's world.
Writer and divisional railway manager Bakhtiyar Dadabhoy believes that his book on ExCampionite class of ’48 ZUBIN MEHTA
captures the essence of all that makes the world renowned conductor a veritable superstar
Bakhtiar Dadabhoy, former chairman of the railway recruitment board, moved to Pune last year as the divisional railway manager. But that would hardly explain him being in the news of late. Try this though. The 52-year-old government official will be releasing Zubin Mehta: a Musical Journey, an authorized biography of world renowned conductor Zubin Mehta. A surprisingly prolific writer — he already has six titles like Barons in Banking and Sugar in Milk: Lives of Eminent Parsis to his credit — Dadabhoy juggles his hectic day job and his passion for writing with practiced ease. "I work on weekends and on holidays. And, of course, it helps that I am a bachelor," he guffaws, adding: "I am very disorganized. I have no fixed time for writing. It has been just a hobby... though now I am afraid it's becoming a little serious." Clearly so. This biography was eight years in the making. Dadabhoy put pen to paper in 2009, visiting, as part of his research, online archives of hundreds of publications and ending up with two huge cartons and almost Rs 1 lakh worth of paid-for research material. Mumbai Mirror met him for a chat about his most cherished project so far.
Why Zubin Mehta?: I first came in touch with Zubin Mehta while researching my 2008 release Sugar in Milk: Lives of Eminent Parsis. His was the last profile in the book. I had contacted him through his secretary, Natalia, with a few questions, which he answered graciously. He even got a copy of it from a common friend, Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, the chairman of Cipla. When he visited Mumbai in 2008, I had the opportunity to meet him and he complimented me on the book. By then, I had started thinking how this man is an iconic Indian, with such an interesting life. He is so talented and dedicated to his craft. He is a living treasure. But funnily enough no one had written about him. There was one early biography in the 1970s and his own memoirs, The Score of My Life, in 2008. And that too was not very detailed.
How did you get him on board?: When I asked him in 2008, he wasn't interested. Perhaps because it was too soon after he published his autobiography. But I continued my research and writing anyway. By 2010 my first draft was ready. And there it stayed. But although other book projects took up my attention, I never really forgot about it. Then, in 2014, I learned that Mehta would be coming to Mumbai with his Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2016 for his 80th birthday and I thought — what could be a better birthday gift than a biography. So I mailed him in early 2015 and he agreed to answer my questions. I met him next in Mumbai in October 2015. In the course of that conversation he probably realized that I wasn't just another fan. "You seem to know a lot," he remarked. But he refused to authorize the biography. "I have no clue what you will be writing," he said. In January this year, when I called him in Tel Aviv for some clarifications he asked for the manuscript. I asked him again if he would authorize, to which he said: "No - I want to read the whole book." It was sent to him. In March, he called me and said: "Congratulations on the immense work and research that you have done!" Then he pointed out some changes and factual corrections about his childhood, old concerts and the like. But he never asked me to delete anything. Finally, on March 18, Natalia confirmed that he would authorize the biography. I got my happy ending.
Was he guarded about his life, which has clearly been much talked about?: He wasn't. He has always been open about almost everything - even his children outside marriage. While that is not in the book, I have written about his two marriages and how his first wife ended up marrying his brother, Zarin Mehta. In fact, he joked about it when he said, "The children haven't called me uncle yet!" His son, too, had once said: "It was a bit like Hamlet except that nobody died." But it is true that his autobiography was very understated. I have tried to bring in more details in my book though. For example, he barely wrote a paragraph on his 13 years in New York, as a conductor, which weren't very happy because the press really got after him. Critics lambasted him. Although his orchestra members liked him. Initially, however, it was a stormy relationship. He'd put his foot in his mouth earlier when he said that musicians in the NY orchestra liked to walk over conductors and that if you want to finish somebody, send him to New York. That was quoted. And he had to apologize for it.
What did you get to know of Zubin Mehta as a person in this process?: I'd be lying if I said I know him well enough as a person. Most of my correspondence was via email. But, yes, I discovered facets. I have yet to come across a man who works harder than he does. Keeping up with him even through letters makes one breathless. He works around the clock... does almost 150 concerts a year. And he's a huge cricket fan. He owns a Donald Bradman bat, two bats signed by two Indian cricket teams and one from Sachin Tendulkar. But he doesn't like the T20 and ODIs. He's more the old-school Test Match type. Besides, I know he reads. I believe he likes history and biographies. But I doubt he gets enough time. Also, as a conductor, he has to handle all kinds of musicians in the orchestra, some of whom are exceptional, and may have issues with being just a part of a bigger whole. And he's done a great job of that. Whichever orchestra he has been with he's raised the bar, despite all the criticism that's come his way. Although when I asked him about his most trenchant critic — American music critic Martin Bernheimer — I realized that even now, Zubin is sensitive about it. He tried to be dismissive first. But then told me what, he believed, triggered Bernheimer's dislike. When he was a young critic and came to meet him for first time, Zubin thought all went well over their 30-minute chat. Later the president of LA Philharmonic called him. She was angry and wanted to know why he'd treated Bernheimer badly by not asking him out to lunch!
And is he conscious of all the adulation he inspires?: No. And he isn't vain at all. He treated me, an uninvited stranger, so well. Although he still doesn't know what I do. He thinks I am writer (laughs).
POP CULTURE REFERENCES TO MEHTA IN THE BOOK:
♦ When he was with LA Philharmonic, Mehta did a rock concert with Frank Zappa. Critics took it apart. So did he. "It was the worst piece of music I'd ever heard, but I'd given him my word so we performed it," he said about Zappa's composition.
♦ A Muppets character is called Zubin Beckmesser, who gets electrocuted when he sticks his baton into an electrical outlet. According to doctors, 'he would have died instantly had he not been such a poor conductor.'
Shaking Out The Bath Math
Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of '64
A question I am frequently asked these days is how often one should have a bath. I am a little flummoxed at this because I am not sure an appropriate answer exists. One must draw out the difference between a bath, which is literally immersing oneself into a tub versus a shower which involves standing under running water. Bucket baths are very popular in this country, and how those fit into the schemata uncertain—anywhere between a tub bath and a shower, though it is probably more akin to a shower. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that in the tropics where the heat makes you sweat, either a bath or a shower is refreshing.
Perhaps a daily morning bath at least would be recommended and in fact many people shower again if they are going out in the evening, before changing into fresh clothes. The impact of water on skin makes one feel good. Perhaps this is attributable to the fact that we spend most of our fetal life in water - the so called amniotic fluid - before we are born. If a bath or shower refreshes you, relaxes you and brings about a change of mood, that feeling of freshness readies one for work at the start of the day. In colder countries, many do not have a bath daily because sweating is not an issue. There is sparse medical literature on the benefit of a bath. A warm bath is said to sooth muscles and also to help them heal after exercising. Scant literature also suggests that it increases blood circulation to the limbs, which helps in nourishment and repair to the lower limbs. There have also been indications that baths reduce blood pressure. I think if this happens, it is because a bath brings you to a relaxed state of mind. I am also surprised by a Colorado study that suggests that diabetics who immersed themselves into a hot tub for half an hour over three weeks lowered their blood sugar by 13 per cent. I think this deserves more medical scrutiny. There are certain advantages designated to a cold shower as well. Again, here the medical evidence is scant. A cold water shower is said to improve the immune system and a single study suggests that it helps treat depression as well. A study by the Thrombosis Research Institute suggests that cold water shower increases the level of the male hormone testosterone, which translates into an increase in libido. A bath can also putatively lower the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps to lower the levels of stress. A hot bath is also said to lower the sperm count in men, though the effect is only temporary. Bathing also helps to remove the bacteria and viruses from the skin and clears away the body toxins excreted in sweat. In the case of insomnia, it is recommended to have a bath before sleeping as this can help put you in a tranquil state.
A cold water bath is also said to improve lung function. How often one showers or bathes is actually cultural. Before the advent of ensuite showers, people bathed less often. In the tropics, one needs at least one bath a day and in the west or cooler climates one can get away with alternate day bathing. Studies with an Australian population sample set tell us that 90 per cent of women and 80 per cent of men bathe once a day. There are problems to frequent showering as well. Over showering leads to a removal the body's natural oils that protect the skin cells. This makes them more liable to attack with bacteria and viruses, and may make the skin itchy or dry. There are also good bacteria on the skin, and frequent showering alters the natural distribution of such bacteria, which may predispose the skin to infections. It is recommended to spend three minutes at the most in the shower. Alkaline soaps tend to dissolve the skin's barrier and the good bacteria on the skin that protect us, tend to grow in an acidic medium. A view that vitamin D3 levels may be reduced by showering is still controversial. Katharine Ashenburg, the author of The Dirt on Clean, says advertising by soap brands push people to frequent unnecessary baths. In essence, if you are in the tropics, and exposed to dirt and filth then a daily bath seems wise. On the other hand if you are in the West or a cooler climate then a bath every alternate day is fine unless you are gymming daily. There are downsides of bathing too frequently.
Expansion! Dr Batra To Open 20 Clinics In FY17
“We plan to add 10 clinics in India and 10 abroad during the current financial year,” Dr Batra’s Healthcare Founder Chairman MUKESH BATRA
and ExCampionite class of '67
was quoted by PTI as saying. As per its expansion plan earmarked for financial year 2016-17, Dr Batra’s Healthcare is planning to add around 20 new homeopathy clinics across India and abroad, reported PTI. “We plan to add 10 clinics in India and 10 abroad during the current financial year,” Dr Batra’s Healthcare Founder Chairman Mukesh Batra was quoted by PTI as saying. At present, most of the clinics are company-owned but in tier-III and tier-IV cities, the company has franchise partners, he added. The group will also focus on expanding the reach of its FMCG products in India by doubling the number of outlets to 10,000 from 5,000 at present, he added. “As we already have a substantial presence in India with 219 clinics, the emphasis here will be more on consolidation while in overseas the focus will be on expansion,” Batra said. The markets that the company is looking abroad for expansion are the UK, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Oman, Bahrain, Doha, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Switzerland, among others, he added. The company is also diversifying its product base, Batra said: “We are entering the nutraceuticals market with launch of four products.”
Goa Fest: Rajdeep Sardesai In Talks With Arjuna Ranatunga
For the first session on the day two of Goafest, the audience was amused with the presence of minister of ports and shipping and former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga in conversation with senior journalist, author and founder of the IBN Network and ExCampionite class of ’81 RAJDEEP SARDESAI
The session kick-started with Sardesai asking Ranatunga about ICC World Cup win in 1996, at a time the country was faced with internal issues. Recalling the mindset at the time of the tournament, “I wanted a team of 14 cricketers who would give their life and dedication to the country. Winning the World Cup did not happen overnight. I asked my players if they wanted to win. I only picked committed players and not the best players. We didn't care about the money. I led the team like a school principal. I would order my players to get back to their rooms at 10 pm, even if they couldn't get sleep early, said Captain Fantastic. It could be well remembered that during the Sri Lanka-Australia final of the World Cup, Ranatunga hit Shane Warne for a six and then stuck his tongue out. A puzzled Sardesai asked the reason behind his reaction and whether the captain is supposed to be this aggressive. Putting blame on his size which makes him pant, pretending to be innocent he riddled, “I don’t remember sticking a tongue out to Warne. I walk between the wickets”. He further noted that this issue was created by two Indian journalists who had come to interview him. “Two journalists met me post our semi-finale win and said ‘Rana you need to give Australia a short before you start. The two guys told me where they'll be sitting in the audience, during the press conference and told me to answer their questions. One of them asked me about Shane Warne. I said he was mediocre bowler, highly rated in his country and I don't think he's a match winner against us.Then the other asked me about the Waugh brothers. I said the same about them and said that there were better cricketers in Asia”. Ranatunga used to analyse all his reactions and believes that a captain has to be aggressive. “If they push us, you have to push them twice or thrice. If I do something like that now, I would be suspended. At that time, we did not have such realistic rules at that time. I knew if all of us left, the match would be abandoned and they'd win. I don’t want young guys to do this. I love and respect the way Kapil Dev and Imran Khan managed their teams. I have learned a lot from them. Even they were aggressive captains.” Going further, Sardesai asked Ranatunga whether a captain in the subcontinent needs to be a politician. “We have created unhappiness to a lot of western teams but that did not hamper my credibility back home.”
When asked about which job is the most challenging that being a captain for a cricket team winning a world cup or a minister who ensures policy change. He asserted, “Being a minister is the toughest assignment. Ports is one of the most corrupt industries with more than 90 per cent people being corrupt. But I love challenges and want to have them in life; to go on bad roads and not the highways”. The question on different ways to deal with corruption has never been answered. Rana strongly opposes any kind of corruption done by the 10,000 people working in the industry. “I'm not going to go to the past and drag things out. But from the day I join, I want you to be clean. Don't make me push you to the wall. I feel I can get things right provided I don't get shot”, he said. A buddhist follower by nature, Ranatunga trusts that Buddhism does bring calmness to him despite all the controversies and pressure. “When I was struggling or went through pressure, I used to talk to the top priests and still do that. I do a bit of meditation. It's not just Buddhism. All religions have enough good areas where you can learn and observe.” Majority of the players endorse brands which could affect a cricketers game. A question that often strikes our mind is whether endorsements affect performances. “I have never done an ad.” Recalling his first test at the at of 18, he said that a boss from a leading company had approached him for a commercial. Going back to that time, he remarked, “I don't know anything about this; why don't you talk to my mum? My mother was a teacher and listened to him for half an hour. Her answer was ‘sorry Michael, my son is not for sale.'” One thing that my mother told me at that time was, “Don't sell your talent or body for money.” “There are players who are interested in sacrificing play time or family time to do ads. I believe you need to identify what you are good at. Don't do toilet ads to earn more. I've done three charity ads. I may have lost a lot of money not doing ads but these are the things that kept me going”, asserted the minister. At the end of the session, the table was made open for Q&A sessions. One of the questions asked was on the T20 format. Ranatunga compared 20-20 to a brand of instant noodles. “T20 matches are quick, and filling but not healthy. Test cricket is what a mother cooks. It's healthy, but might not be very filling.” He further added, “We will lose our identity because of T20. India and Pakistan were among the best at hockey but now they play on artificial grass, it's all about power. These days you don't need brains and technique. Behind the walls they are creating another sort of cricket for them to go to the top”. A question was thrown at Sardesai whether he will choose to become a cricketer or continue with being a journalist. Answering the question, he commented, “Cricket needs talent, journalists don’t need talent.” Ranatunga added further, “If you have money, you can be the president but cricket needs talent."
The session concluded with Sardesai questioning Ranatunga whether he would endorse a brand ever to which he replied, “Only if you convince the three important ladies in my life i.e. my mother, wife and daughter, I will do anything that you want me to do.”
I Miss My Father Being In The Audience And Criticising Me Later: Zubin Mehta
ExCampionite class of ’48 ZUBIN MEHTA
, who returns to Mumbai to celebrate his 80th with three grand concerts, says he could still do with a bit of critiquing from his father With six decades of work behind him, Padma Vibhushan Zubin Mehta has been hailed by many as the world’s greatest living conductor in classical music today. World leaders, royalty and music lovers have run out of superlatives to describe the power of his performances Mehta returns to the city of his birth on his 80th birthday to helm three concerts — two at the NCPA, and a third at Brabourne Stadium — organized by the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation (MMMF), a non-profit and classical music school set up in honour of his father. Some of the world’s most accomplished musicians and vocalists, including tenor Andrea Bocelli, will join him on stage.
Edited excerpts from an email interview.
Q. Are you excited about performing in Mumbai once again?
A. I am very pleased to come back to the city of my birth, where I always feel so much at home. Joining me is my beloved Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and wonderful soloists like Pinchas Zukerman, Denis Matsuev, Andrea Bocelli and Maria Katzavara.
Q. The concert at Brabourne Stadium on April 20 will mark Bocelli’s first performance in India. You’ve collaborated with him before on a fantastic album. What is it like working with him?
A. I love working with him. I have made quite a few recordings with Andrea Bocelli, including operatic repertoire like Turandot and Aida. It is my greatest pleasure to work with this wonderful musician and finest tenor, who always comes superbly prepared to all our collaborations.
Q. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is also celebrating its 80th birthday with you. This is a rather special moment for the both of you.
A. When I was first engaged by the Israel Philharmonic, I went there at the age of 25. The leader of the Orchestra prophesied to me that we were both 25 and he was sure that we would both be there even when we were 50. And now it’s come to 80. At this point, every single member has been engaged by me, with a committee of advisors, of course. They are all like my children.
Q. In 2008, you performed with Placido Domingo in Mumbai to celebrate the birth centenary of your father Mehli Mehta. An interesting collaboration would have to be when Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti came together as The Three Tenors, and worked with you. Could you share some memories of that?
A. To work with these great artists twice — in Rome and Los Angeles — was a delightful experience for me, both artistically and personally. All three were so nice with each other, and not just as colleagues, but as friends.
Q. In more recent times you’ve performed with Pt Ravi Shankar’s daughter Anoushka. How did that come about?
A. Panditji and I were close all our lives. When I was in the New York Philharmonic, I asked him to write a concerto. The result was a great piece of music which I played with him in New York, London and Paris. After we would finish the concerto, which was one hour long, the public would go crazy. Today, I have the great pleasure of interpreting his concerto with his daughter. She has played it with me in Israel and Florence to great success, and we will perform again in the future. She has named her son, Zubin, after me, which is such an honor.
Q. Your father was an accomplished conductor and musician, who performed well into his 80s. What was the best advice he shared with you on conducting and collaborating?
A. My father was a very strict and disciplined artist and I am proud to say that I inherited these qualities from him, which have helped me in my working life. I miss him very much. I miss him being in the audience and criticizing me later.
Q. The MMMF has initiatives to teach young children and promote classical music in India. They also have outreach programmes to teach underprivileged children across municipal schools. Your thoughts on the same?
A. It’s a wonderful music school set up in my father’s honour in Mumbai. It was my dream with Mrs Mehroo Jeejeebhoy, who now heads the school. There are wonderful volunteers who help her, and I’m so grateful to all of them. We have an incredible amount of talent; one day we’ll have many great Indian musicians or instrumentalists coming out of this school.
Tharoor Launches Lulu-DC Book Fest In UAE
The UAE’s initiative to promote love for books in the Year of Reading got a big push with renowned Indian author, orator politician and ExCampionite class of ’71 Dr. SHASHI THAROOR
inaugurating a 10-day reading festival in Abu Dhabi. The festival is launched by Lulu Group and DC Books. Huge crowds thronged the shopping arcade to meet the Congress MP (Member of Parliament) from Kerala and former UN diplomat who has authored 15 best sellers. The Indian MP signed copies of his books at the festival. Talking about the role of art and culture in strengthening India-UAE ties, Tharoor said it is a mistake to ignore the importance of cultural bonds and see things only from the prism of economic cooperation. Very few Arabic books are being translated into Indian languages, and Indian books into Arabic. That should change. I would like to see more cooperation between Indian and Arab publishers. There should be more effort to persuade Indian publishers to translate titles into Arabic so that we offer a slice of India to this region,” said Tharoor. UAE has declared 2016 as the Year of Reading, and Lulu Group said they are doing their bit to promote reading by hosting the festival in cooperation with DC Books. “The idea of hosting a book festival in a shopping mall is to take books to where the crowds come. We want to make books more readily available at competitive prices,” said Nandakumar V., chief communications officer Lulu Group.
“Rate Cut of 25 bps in RBI’s Policy Review Meet a Good Move, Could Have Been Better”: Niranjan Hiranandani
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, in the first bi- monthly monetary policy for 2016-17 on Tuesday, 05 April 2016, cut the repo rate by 25 bps to 6.50 per cent. The CRR was kept unchanged at 4 per cent. “The RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has restarted the rate cut cycle after a six-month pause; it is a good move for the economy – but could have been better,” said, ExCampionite class of '66 Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities and Founder - President National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO - Maharashtra).
From a real estate perspective, the RBI move has a potential to reduce the overall burden for home buyers; and can potentially, boost real estate sales by enhancing positive sentiment for home seekers, said Niranjan Hiranandani. The RBI’s bi-monthly policy review suggests it is focusing on liquidity management. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s stance appears to be ‘accommodative’, and I see further scope for rate cuts going ahead, subject to good monsoon and improved transmission of rate cuts to end users, Niranjan Hiranandani added. “From a home buyer’s perspective, I expect significant rate transmissions by banks and HFIs to enhance positive sentiment in the next few months. The last time the RBI Governor cut key rates was on September 29, 2015; when the repo rate was cut by a larger-than-expected rate of 0.5 per cent to 6.75 per cent. This was a move aimed at boosting the economy and to spur demand,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “Post the Budget, I expect monetary policy to be supportive of economic growth. Declining inflation and negative industrial outlook seem to have strengthened the case for the rate cut, although market expectations were that it could have been higher, at 50 bps,” he concluded.
Niranjan Hiranandani is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group, his recent initiative is Hiranandani Communities. He is the Founder and First President (Maharashtra), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.
Who Is The Stronger Sex? – Altaf Patel
As a young house physician at a public teaching hospital I managed a large outpatient department. It never failed to amaze me that the majority of the patients were females. Even today, at the free out-patient department for indigent patients which I service, I point out to my juniors that it is difficult to find a male in the long lines outside the door. When I used to conclude my duties at the outpatient department as a student physician, I would walk back to my room and often see the many young burkha clad females sitting in the garden, playing with their young children and buying them snacks from the road side vendor.
What perfect bonding, I thought. I also faced great difficulty in understanding the many medical problems that the women came to us with. They seemed innocuous, and insignificant— hardly of a severity to stand in long lines and see a specialist physician in public hospitals. Ionce asked the senior physician after my first few months, about which diseases were prevalent among these women. He enlightened me - many were young housewives who with their imaginary complaints played hooky from home, leaving the mother-in-law to do the housework. They regularly reported that the doctor had summoned them, leaving no room from argument at home. In any event much of medicine is good history taking. I find this much easier to do with the male who tends to be direct and precise. Females on the other hand, are more verbose and cloud their important symptoms with so many inconsequential statements, that their impact is obscured to the physician. I remember once reading an article that heart disease in women was more common than one thought, a decade or two ago. The authors made it clear that physicians ignored women's real symptoms because they were wrapped in so much padding, that they lost their impact. Females live longer than men and their bodies are better at fixing wear and tear, and that is because they need to have healthy offspring. In the UK, women now live 4.2 years longer than men. In the past this gap had been 6 years and it has been long postulated that female hormones may prevent certain diseases in women. Research from the Ghent University in Belgium also tells us that females not only live longer than males but are more able to withstand shock, sepsis, infection or trauma. Women have two 'X' chromosomes in their genetic make-up and it is in this chromosome that 10 per cent of the micro RNA (genetic protein acid) is found. This is likely responsible for important functions, such as the maintenance of immunity of the person, and for fighting cancer. There are certain situations however, where the women is more frequently affected.
According to the American Headache Society, women experience migraine headache more frequently then men. Before puberty both males and females are almost equally matched for migraines but after puberty, migraines affects females at almost 3 times the rate of males. Another situation is arthritis. Females are more often affected with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and its sister diseases. Midlife asthma appears a little more commonly in females. Eating disorders are another situation when females are grossly affected, far more than males. Mental depression is also more common in females as well. Researchers are quick to point out that women's hormonal influence could be responsible. This may not be the only factor that holds sway. Several decades ago, heart disease was far more rampant in males. Of late, the female has been catching up though studies show that heart disease develops 7 to 10 years later in the female than the male. Though the male is physically the stronger sex, because of his build and hormonal make up and musculature, it certainly seems that when disease is concerned females are the stronger sex, barring a few instances. In several conditions, however women are rapidly catching up.
Want A Career In Celebrity Management? Atul Kasbekar Tells You What It Takes
Ace photographer, and ExCampionite class of ’81 ATUL KASBEKAR
who is the front man of Bling Entertainment Solutions--the celebrity management company that manages clients like Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Lisa Haydon--tells us the what and how of the field. While the grandeur and resplendence of the glamour world, and those associated with it, is enough to fill one with wishful thinking and intimidation--there is a set of people who exist to ensure that it continues to look that way. The above-mentioned species of super humans are known as celebrity managers. A fairly young business in India, the field of celebrity management has--for a long period of time--been a necessity for celebrities abroad. Following their lead, our country too is moving towards a direction where the need for representation is no longer a want, but a need. But if you're still not sure exactly what the field entails, let us help you.
Kasbekar, known for his work in Kingfisher Calendar shoots, recently turned producer for Sonam Kapoor starrer, Neerja. While donning several hats is no less than a hobby for Kasbekar, he tells us how becoming a celebrity manager is not all play. Here are 5 things he feels you should know about the field.
People increasingly feel the need to be represented: According to Kasbekar, celebrities nowadays increasingly feel the need to be represented and don't mind paying a certain sum of money to have someone else talk for them. "These days people believe that their interest will be better served if someone else does the talking on their behalf. Earlier, they did not feel the need for such representation. They would be like, 'Oh you've come to take my money', whereas now, celebrity managers make their money, and not take their money--to a certain extent."
The best way to get into the field is to dive right into it: Kasbekar says that one can't be taught how to become a celebrity management. "I don't know of any institution in the country that has set aside a specific course for this branch of management. The field requires you to learn on the job. And even though there isn't a formal course I know of, it would be a good one to have."
Celebrity management is not the same as PR: The fields of public relations and celebrity management are totally different, says Kasbekar. "We don't do any PR work at all. It's a separate service altogether."
And what are the prerequisites?: "One should be resourceful, patient, ego-less--and fairly thankless," he says on being asked about the traits that are expected in a celebrity manager. "You will be expected to be an agony aunt, a punching bag, and a parent as and when the situation demands. You can't expect a pat on your back for everything you do--it's your job," he adds. "If a client tells you that he/she needs a pink elephant for a joy ride within two hours, the only question you should ask is 'What shade of pink do you need?'" he quips.
Self respect is paramount: But having said the above, Kasbekar also goes on point out the importance of being true to one's self esteem. He mentions that even though you will be expected to be an audience to the tantrums, emotions, and demands of your client--you should not be dishonest to your ego and self-esteem. "If a client has changed three managers, the problem might not be with you--but with him/her. Take the hint and leave--your respect is paramount."
How Ratan Tata’s Family History Influenced His Flawed Decision To Buy A British Steel Giant
Who in their right mind would invest in the British steel industry? In 2007 India’s leading industrialist, Ratan Tata, did so to the tune of £6.7 billion (Dh48.8bn at the time) when he bought the Anglo-Dutch company Corus, which was basically all that remained of the once mighty British Steel and its Dutch equivalent Hoogovens. It was probably the worst deal ever done by an Indian company, and pretty high up the order for industrialists of any other nationality, too.
Today, faced with losses of £1 million a day, Mr Tata’s successors have announced the potential closure of its works in Port Talbot, South Wales, and have offered the rest of the corpse to whomever might be foolhardy enough to buy it. For those who have not been following it, the future of Port Talbot, an emblematic symbol of Britain’s former industrial might, has become the hottest political issue in the United Kingdom in the past few weeks, forcing the prime minister David Cameron to cut short his Easter break to chair a series of crisis sessions to determine its future – if it has one. The British government is now considering everything from slapping penal tariffs on Chinese imports to nationalization. Shortly after he had done the deal, I asked Ratan Tata why he bought Corus. We were in the bush in South Africa, attending a meeting of the International Advisory Board set up by the president at the time, Thabo Mbeki (Tata was on the board; I was a humble adviser). Was steel not, I asked him, a sunset industry, dogged by union issues, ferocious international competition and high costs? That, he said firmly, was all out of date. The British steel industry, he asserted, after billions of pounds of state money had been poured into it, was a slim, super-efficient, highly profitable and technologically advanced industry that could take on the world. But he then confided something else.
The Tata family had been in the steel industry since the 1850s, starting in a small way in Gujarat but growing rapidly under his entrepreneurial ancestor Jamsetji Tata, the founder of India’s most famous business dynasty. When the British embarked on a major programme to extend the railways in the early 1900s, Ratan’s grandfather approached the British colonial official in charge and suggested that he provide some of the steel for the thousands of miles of track that would be needed. The official, according to Tata, looked down his nose and replied: “Mr Tata, these railways will be built from the finest British steel made in Wales, Tyneside and Scotland. We don’t want your cheap, inferior Indian stuff." Later, it turned out, there was huge corruption on the part of the British officials who bled the railways to the point of collapse by 1920. Two generations later, Mr Tata took great pleasure in buying the whole – literally – of the British steel industry, and spent £2bn upgrading it. It was not all he bought at the time: between 2000 and 2010 he embarked on a near-US$20bn acquisition spree, transforming his family’s business into one of world’s top conglomerates. He scooped up Tetley Tea and Jaguar Land Rover in the UK, New York’s Pierre Hotel and the South Korean lorry maker Daewoo. But his most ambitious acquisition was Corus, which at the time was a successful FTSE 100 company, and he hailed it as “the first big step that Indian industry has taken in the international marketplace … as a global player".
Last week his successor, Cyrus Mistry, convened a Tata board meeting in the old colonial building in Mumbai, where the industrial conglomerate has its headquarters. The picture presented was a bleak one: Tata Steel’s debts stood at £7.9bn, Standard & Poor’s had downgraded its rating to junk status and there was a £15bn liability in the pension fund. Worst of all, Tata, along with half the world’s steel industry, was being killed by impossibly cheap, subsidised Chinese steel that is being dumped on the global market in enormous quantities – China last year produced 803 million tonnes of steel and exported 105 million tonnes of it; the total British production by contrast was 15 million tonnes, down from a peak of 28 million tonnes in 1970. How do you compete with that? The decision that emerged was to “restructure" Tata Steel in Britain, which basically meant the closure of Port Talbot’s blast furnaces, with the loss of up to 20,000 jobs, ending steelmaking in South Wales after more than 200 years. After the meeting, an adviser was quoted as saying: “If Ratan Tata had been here today, I think the decision would have been very different". Mr Tata is a visionary and, in many ways, an industrial genius. The success he made of Jaguar Land Rover is stunning – last year it made a profit of £1.5bn, which is more than he paid for it. British Steel was a step too far. But the real culprits are the Chinese.
If they are not stopped, they will kill off steelmaking across half the globe. And that is in nobody’s interests.
Watch Indian, Not Just Hindi Films, Urges Rishi Kapoor
Veteran actor and ExCampionite class of '69 RISHI KAPOOR
urged a viewer, who enjoyed "Kapoor & Sons", to not just watch Bollywood films but other Indian movies too as the country makes "very good films". A Twitter user, who rarely watches Hindi films, praised "Kapoor & Sons" in a post to Rishi Kapoor during a virtual chat on social media. “Don't watch Hindi movies but saw 'Kapoor and Sons'-superb! Such a sensitive portrayal of an Indian family. Rishi Kapoor, Fawad Khan and Karan Johar,” the fan tweeted. To that, Rishi Kapoor responded: “Start watching not only Hindi but Indian films. We make very good films too. Return to your roots." "Kapoor & Sons" stars Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra in lead roles, with Rishi Kapoor playing a 90-year-old grandfather.
Saga Of The Crowning Glory What All You Need To Know
There are 40 health reasons why your hair is falling out. And heart diseases are just one among them, says trichologist Akshay Batra, a leading expert on hair and managing director of Mumbai based homeopathy clinic Dr Batra's group. The President of the Trichological Society, London and son of renowned homoeopath Mukesh Batra, Akshay was in the city to release the Malayalam translation of his book, 'Hair, Everything you ever wanted to know', a quirky yet detailed description of human hair, one of the prime characteristics of the human anatomy.
In his book, Akshay explains that hair is an accurate barometer of one's health and states how it is also luscious proof of one's quality of life. "People are very concerned about their looks and are willing to spend bucks to groom their hair. However, what is alarming is how the business of hair care has bloated to a multi-billion dollar industry invaded by cosmetic companies with a host of self-grooming and style products. With a motley crew of self-styled hair gurus, remedies are often worse than the hair disorders they claim to cure," he says. In his tryst as a hair 'doctor', he says that the first sign of illness can be detected in the hair. "Diabetes, ovarian cysts, you name it...we can identify your illness by testing your hair much better than your blood. Trichologists are often roped in for tests to study behavior of criminals, among many others," he said. Akshay goes on to say that people with unhealthy hair especially receding hair lines tend to have low confidence and exhibit difficulty in taking decisions. "This is mostly common in men. 75 per cent of men feel less confident following the onset of hair loss especially while speaking or interacting with women. An interesting study reveals that 40 per cent of women with hair loss have marital problems," he says. So, does less hair have anything to do with determining your career graph? Apparently it does. Dr Akshay in his book adds that 63 per cent report career-related problems. For men, those with hardly any hair in the crown of their head find it difficult to climb the ladder of success in their jobs. But things are changing now, thanks to the success of hair transplants. "At least ninety per cent of patients who arrive at Dr Batra's for hair transplants are men. We charge just Rs 90,000 for the treatment, where we take a portion of the hair at the back of their head and place it in the front crop where it grows gradually.
CYBER CLINICS: Dr Batra's homeopathic clinic is credited to be the first centre to have started a cyber clinic where people can receive prescriptions and treatments through the internet. "We use Skype to give out diagnosis. This is the most effective way to reach the rural areas of the country. Any house which has a computer can take appointments with us and then we can deal with our patients through Skype," says Dr Akshaya. There are over 20 doctors who dedicate their time for cyber treatments alone. He adds that cyber clinics could be the future of the country.
Facts in the Book: There are hair files, which give you interesting tips on hair- like who are more prone to baldness, the Europeans or Asians? It also pooh-pooh's myths - when you pluck a white hair, two will grow back to replace it. Boxes and picture illustrations also add colour to the book. The book is priced at Rs 250
Ratan Tata, Unbridled At 78, Meets His Young Self In Start-Ups
Ratan Tata has been devoting himself to start-ups, using his rock-star status to become India’s most famous venture capitalist. For all Ratan Tata’s success, his early years at Tata Group were fraught with frustration. No one at the business empire founded by his great grandfather in 1868 would listen to his new ideas. Colleagues told him to keep quiet and stick to the traditional way of doing things.
Even after he became chairman in 1991, it was an uphill battle to steer the behemoth into new ventures, Tata told a forum of business leaders in Singapore on Tuesday. When he started the Nano affordable-car project, some employees concluded their stubborn techie leader had lost his mind. Now, the 78-year-old is free from the shackles of a business that he turned into a global conglomerate, he’s rediscovering his younger self. Since he retired in December 2012, he’s been devoting himself to start-ups, using his rock-star status to become India’s most famous venture capitalist. Many of the enthusiastic entrepreneurs he meets and backs remind him of when he was a young man who wanted to make a difference by breaking new ground. “There was an in-built frustration that carried through most of my career,” Tata told the forum. “Interaction with start-ups is so exhilarating to me because it allows me to relive that kind of freshness.”
INDIAN ICON: Tata’s rise as an iconic Indian business leader paralleled the country’s own emergence on the world stage. He transformed Tata Sons Ltd into a $100 billion global powerhouse, with products from Land Rover cars to Good Earth tea, leading other Indian businesses like Bharti Airtel Ltd and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd to also expand abroad. Now, some of that growth is in jeopardy, caught by China’s slowdown. Tata Steel Ltd said this week it’s looking to sell its UK steel business that Tata bought for $12 billion a decade ago. Several quarters of losses and £2 billion ($2.8 billion) of write downs have left the division with an asset value of almost zero. And while Tata Motors Ltd is cashing in on the success of Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, the Nano has been a commercial disappointment, hit by bureaucratic red tape that delayed a dedicated factory for two years, and tarnished by an image as the world’s cheapest car. Those frustrations during his half-century career at the family business surfaced in a talk that followed the hour-long meeting in Singapore with 29 founders of start-ups backed by Jungle Ventures, where he serves as a special adviser. “In the corporate world, there is a tremendous amount of control,” he said. “In the new world, no one is asking you, ‘Who’s tried this before? Who’s succeeded in this? Are you sure you can make it happen?’ That’s the kind of change that exhilarates me when I interact with a startup.”
‘FREE AGENT’: Since his retirement, he’s invested in more than 25 ventures, including mobile payment venture Paytm and Teabox, a premium tea retailer.“When I retired, I was a free agent. It was my pocket, my money that was used,” said Tata. “So I went into that with a manner of freedom.” Veterans like Tata bring knowledge and networking to start-ups, said Arcot Desai Narasimhalu, director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University, which has helped foster 150 start-ups, including Teabox. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs who are fortunate enough to have gotten his attention.” After graduating from New York state’s Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in 1962, Tata returned to India and joined the family company, Tata Industries, on the advice of his uncle, J.R.D. Tata, whom he succeeded as chairman in 1991.
LAND ROVER, TETLEY: Over the next two decades, Ratan Tata propelled the conglomerate onto the world stage by making multibillion-dollar acquisitions to add global brands such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Tetley tea. Today, Tata group has more than 100 companies and operates around the world. Yet the lifetime bachelor counts the Nano car project, which started in 2003, as the highlight of his career. “My colleagues in the car industry overseas said, ‘You know, we tried this and it doesn’t work. Don’t waste your time’,” Tata said. “The most exciting moments in my life were the development of the Nano -- to see it come to be.” He has a simple strategy in selecting startups to invest in: great ideas and founders who are willing to stick with the business and expand through ingenuity and innovation. The barriers to entry have come down, and the era where ideas can blossom into new businesses has arrived, Tata said. The “glorified valuations” of some startups will inevitably come down and many ventures will fail before a small number of enormous successes emerge, he said.
And what advice would Ratan Tata give to his 18-year-old self? “I started my career in a traditional set of companies. People considered that to be a good place to work, but not one that led to innovation,” he said. “If I were that young Ratan Tata, what I would have enjoyed most is somebody saying that we provide you an environment that is more open.”
Fears Of Shift To Bond Market Overdone: Paresh Sukthankar – HDFC Bank
is an ExCampionite class of '77
Even as it rolls out a slew of digital products HDFC Bank has grown its corporate book smartly at a time when market growth has been subdued. PareshSukthankar, Deputy MD, HDFC Bank, tells Shobhana Subramanian the gain has come from higher exposure to both existing borrowers and the addition of new customers. Sukthankar believes that while companies looking for plain funding may move to the cheaper bond market, banks can retain corporate clients by providing a holistic solution. Excerpts:
Where is corporate loan growth coming from?
We would have added a few new names that weren’t there earlier but most of it has come from increasing share with the customers with whom we already have a relationship. We might have weaned away loans as well and, in whatever incremental requirements the customer had, we may have had a larger share. We have also digitalised solutions on the corporate side; for instance, corporate treasurers don’t need to come to office to authorise transactions.
Given that a lot of corporates have moved to bond markets, how do you compete? Do you offer lower rates?
We must be doing something right. I guess there must be three or four large banks that are competitive from a base rate perspective. But it’s also the speed of response. It’s also that when you have the customer’s borrowing linked to some sort of transaction processing, it becomes much more compelling. You can always borrow through Commercial Paper; it will always be cheaper than a bank. But the fact that the bank opens a letter of credit or discounts a bill, that matters.
So is HDFC Bank now competing with the bond market?
It’s absolutely right when you look at the funding piece, it is. When people talk of disruption it’s not from within the system; it’s the new fintech kid on the block or whoever else. Again, it’s not just the product, it’s also a value proposition for the customer because the products don’t change so much. Ultimately, he’s getting term funding but does he get it at a lower cost and is that the real piece?
So are banks going to compete by adding services?
It could be the bundling of products but it could also be that money is not the only piece that the customer is looking at. For instance if he needs to pay a supplier, whether he borrows or does a bill discounting or he does a transaction linked to the supply chain, there are different ways of servicing him. But I agree that if you look at pure stand-along funding, she is going to go to the markets. Having said that, this whole thing about customers moving to the bond market and banks being substantially sidelined is overdone. At the shorter end you have multiple players. But at the shorter end, if you look at the disintermediation that was happening, other than MFs which had some appetite, the rest of the paper was being picked up by banks. So some corporates will say I will take some cash credit but you must subscribe to my CPs. Corporates also look at a blended cost that they are getting from banks. But, there’s no doubt that as the market evolves there will be some cannibalising.
Is banking becoming easier for private sector banks? With the way state-owned banks are being treated, they’re going to turn more risk averse…
I know a lot of people keep asking whether the market share risk will accelerate. One, I don’t think private sector banks gaining share has to do with public sector banks being in a spot. The market has grown and this is because the private sector banks offered something superior. My basic point is that our ability to gain share is predicated on our strengths and not on somebody else’s weaknesses. Your point is that if the competition is constrained in some manner, will the shift accelerate? I think it is possible for a brief period of time, depending on how long this transition takes place. The real competition is with large public sector banks like State Bank of India which are still very active.
That’s not true. Bank of Baroda has not grown its corporate loan book, the book has actually shrunk.
The fact is that the overall system itself has grown at just 8-9% this year, slowing down; maybe some smaller banks have looked to grow in double digits. The point I am making is that when you look at large corporate transactions—PSUs or something— let’s assume everyone has appetite, a couple of the large public sector banks and large private sector banks will all be competing tooth and nail for that business. Maybe what you’re saying is true that five years back it might have been six public sector banks and two private sector banks. Unfortunately, during this period, total market growth has shrunk. And shifts in market share, when the system is growing at this kind of a pace, are never very rapid.
What about the liabilities side? Will CASA shift?
I would say, in the case of assets and certainly so in the case of CASA, one should avoid generalising across customer segments—public sector, private sector. Even within segments there are players gaining share in CASA and losing share in CASA. If you look at the total private sector, banks have gained market share, even in CASA.
Given that you have the digital edge, will new customers be drawn to private sector banks?
You’re right, when it comes to new customers, coming into the banking fold, aspirational, from a convenience perspective, will they get drawn to banks which offer these new services? Absolutely. Since you have a larger number of private sector banks that are strong on technology that shift which is taking place may accelerate. Certainly for some customer profiles. That is a reality. Some public sector banks may get share, like SBI and some others, because they do have the full range. Will there be a slightly faster shift if public sector banks don’t respond? I think that is certainly the case.
Therefore, technology and digital is equally a threat and an opportunity depending on where you are. Those banks that are not gearing up and not giving customers a choice, forget not acquiring customers at the same pace, they will lose some of their best customers because customers will move to where there is greater convenience.
For players who are making that transition, relationships are becoming stickier. When people ask, what about the threat from independent wallets, well, they have their strengths but from a limited perspective.
How fast is digital technology changing the way banks work?
The change in the way customers interact with banks has happened over a period of time. In the last year or so, the number of transactions enabled on the mobile has gone up significantly.The part we now call digital is about how the customer is dealing seamlessly across channels. From a bank’s point of view, if you look at the lifecycle of a customer, even before you have sold her a product you have a database telling about the customer. It’s a different customer experience altogether and that’s the power of digital—rather than transacting via an ATM or via net banking on a stand-alone basis, it’s across all channels.
Given that IT is accessible to all banks, what will be the differentiator?
It’s a question of how each player structures the product around technology; essentially going beyond the basic product, understanding the customer’s needs. Also, the larger part of anything that is retail is the sheer execution. For a large number of customers you need to get them to use it. The execution part of technology is sometimes underestimated.
In this digital era what is the role of branches?
It’s true that in Europe, branches have been rationalised. But everyone now accepts it’s not one or the other, but an Omni channel. Also, it’s hard to say what kind of ratio—of branches to customers—we should have. For new customer acquisition, the branch is important not necessarily because you’re originating everything there but because the customer will not start a relationship without one. So, if I go to a new city, and don’t have a branch but I say the bank has ten ATMs, the customer won’t be happy. He would say I need to go somewhere to bang the table, if I need to.
Where is HDFC Bank adding branches?
If you look at the branches, we have added last year and this year it’s roughly 50:50 between those in semi-urban and rural areas and branches in urban metropolitan centres. And if about 55% of our branches are semi-urban and rural, it means their disbursements would be 25%. Although the ticket sizes may be smaller and the overall revenue potential smaller — given the market potential —the costs are also lower. So from a profitability point of view, or time to break-even or a cost to income ratio point of view, they would be as good as those in an urban location.
At 78, Ratan Tata Goes To Startup School
“I don’t know.”
That was basically Ratan Tata’s response to many of the questions tech founders asked him during a day spent with Singapore’s tech community.
An upstanding business magnate in India who’s frequently compared to Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett, Ratan spoke on two separate occasions: an intimate and private session with startups, and a much more formal event held at Shangri-La Hotel. Both were organized by VC firm Jungle Ventures. Naturally, founders clamored to take selfies with him, but also to marinate themselves in his wisdom. But Ratan didn’t pretend to know all the answers. Or even that he understood all of the questions asked, some of which were laced in tech lingo. “I don’t think I could answer this,” prefaced Ratan. A founder had asked him for advice on how CEOs should manage their time. He answered anyway:
“It depends on the individuals, it depends on the variety of issues you’re dealing with, it depends on the personality you have. Some people delegate, some people roll up their sleeves and get involved. Both examples have their plus and minuses.” Another entrepreneur asked how he should convince skeptics to buy his products. “I don’t see how I can answer that,” Ratan repeated. But he continued:
“Because that’s very much an issue of your capability of being able to convince the person, and the openness of the person you’re trying to convince,” he said. “The world is full of people who are one way or another: those who are open are better people to work with, and those who are confined to their comfort areas.” He had harsh words for the latter, who will “live and die and fade away without making a difference.” Ratan speaks in a rhythm. He espouses long sentences as complex as his grey hair. He kept emphasizing that he knew nothing, then proceeded regardless to draw anecdotes from his decades of experience as the head of Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate with over 600,000 employees.
Ratan may be old, but he’s a student of startups. His angel investments are his tuition fees. So far he’s backed over 20 tech companies in India. “This is a learning experience for me, not a giving experience,” he said, dashing the imagery of an Indian Santa Claus shoving cash down startup chimneys. “The willingness to sell your home and sell your car and make some start in life, to do something differently – that appeals to me. In those cases I have chosen to take small positions to support those founders.” He characterized his appointment as Jungle Ventures’ “special advisor” in a similar fashion – he’s there to learn from its portfolio companies. “As far as advice is concerned – that was [Jungle’s] idea,” he quipped. While Ratan was known to be numbers-driven in his time at Tata, he relies more on intuition when backing startups. Numbers don’t excite him. Rather, he enjoys working with founders pursuing great ideas that may not work but have a certain “freshness.” Another criterion: founders who build companies for the long haul, who want to see their ideas reach their fullest potential and have real impact on society. “If he sells [the company], he sells because it’s good for the business, and not because he can cash out and start again.”
The troublesome notion of ethics
Ratan is not only known as a steady captain of a vast conglomerate. Attendees at both events praised him as a paragon of ethics, and he spent some time dwelling on the topic. He believes businesses should never compromise on their beliefs, even if it may come at a heavy cost. Ratan narrated how Tata started a process control company in the 80s, and had to bring in an external CEO to run it because the group had no one with such expertise. The CEO came into his office, and told him the only way the business would work is if they paid bribes. But Ratan didn’t give in. “We’re not going to do that,” he said. “Well, Mr Tata, we’re not going to be able to run this business,” replied the CEO. “Then we’ll close it down.” Eventually, the CEO stuck to Tata’s principles and – according to Ratan – that business prospered. This steadfastness extends to employees who break ethical rules. Such staff must be dealt with “ruthlessly and without exception,” as that’s the only way to signal to the rest that compromise is unacceptable. Ethics comes at a cost, Ratan emphasized. “We’ve lost business opportunities, we’ve been disadvantaged by government policy,” he said. He acknowledged that companies have risen to prominence because their ethical standards have been looser. “But it was nice to go home at night and say that you didn’t succumb,” he said. Nonetheless, Tata Group accrued benefits by staying on the right side. People stopped asking it for bribes because they learned it would not yield. They’ve also won deals by cashing in on their integrity. But, arguably, staying ethical is relatively easier when you’re a massive group with 100 subsidiaries.
Founders asked Ratan: what happens when you’re in a startup which is surviving month-to-month, with no certainty of paying employees beyond a year? And shouldn’t the survival of the company and feeding your employee’s families be the priority, even if it means knifing someone in the back, or paying bribes in Indonesia or Vietnam?
Ratan turned pensive. “I’m afraid I have to take a view that there’s no difference. Because it’s not a band that you cross, it’s a thread. You cross that line, and you’re on the other side.” He then seemed to vacillate. “Having said that, that’s what I would reply and I don’t want to say that you go out of business because you’re in a survival mode. I wouldn’t [compromise], but maybe I have deeper pockets.” Eventually, he found his way back where he began: nope, no compromise. “I don’t want to sound too pious or unyielding to someone else. But I think each little compromise you make adds a drop in a bucket which eventually comes back to haunt you,” he said. A history, abridged In the short two hours he spent in the spotlight, he packed in a lot personal history. A Tata scion who began his career as an architect, he restarted from the bottom on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and feeding the blast furnace. Before he took over Tata Industries in 1981, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He took a leave of absence and flew to a hospital in New York to spend time with her. With little to do, he sketched out what became a strategic plan for the Tata Group. After his mother died and he returned to India, he was “told very politely” that the plan was rejected. “Rather defiantly I implemented that plan for Tata Industries,” he said. His ascension to the top of Tata Group was met with challenges every step of the way. First was the economic downturn in India in 1991, which saw Tata’s business shrink. Ratan, the newly minted chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group, felt it was time to transform the business into a global one. This was so that its fate wouldn’t just be tied to one economic cycle – India’s. Tata Group needed to hedge its bets. To pull that off, Tata acquired a series of foreign companies, including Jaguar Land Rover, an odd mix of a luxury car and SUV maker. He only wanted the Land Rover business. But despite a “series of secret meetings” to work things out, in the end he had no choice but to take both.
Then the European economy collapsed, and Jaguar Land Rover’s business buckled. “I used to carry this title of the stupid guy who went to buy these companies and didn’t know what he was doing.” Jaguar, however, has since paid the Tata Group back many times, claimed Ratan. Another highlight in Ratan’s stint at Tata was when he spearheaded the development of the Tata Nano, the group’s stab at producing a budget car under INR 100,000 (US$1,500 in today’s currency). The idea came to Ratan when he saw how families of four or five would ride dangerously on a single scooter, sometimes in the rain or at night. “Being a little bit restless, I started doodling – in board meetings that were boring – on how to make a scooter safer.” The idea evolved into a four-wheeler, and then a full car. “We concluded that people wouldn’t like to have a half-car,” he said. Things began promisingly. 300,000 orders came in, all paid in full. “We were building something no one thought was possible.” But in Ratan’s telling, the Nano’s factory construction got delayed by factors beyond his control, including government politics. Tata couldn’t deliver the vehicles for two years. The excitement among consumers died. Enthusiasm about the project waned within the company, resulting in a flawed sales strategy that drove the last nail into the Nano coffin. Ratan, however, remains hopeful that the vehicle can make a comeback. An electric-powered version is in the works.
Leadership is lonely
Ratan’s history seems to lucidly inform his present opinions, actions, and the general advice he dished to his audience. While he doesn’t believe in government grants, he thinks governments should simply provide an environment free from little obstacles that plague businesses. “What this industry needs is an environment of ease. Not subsidies. Not schemes that are complex and almost not worthy of the time spent, but an ease of setting up a company, the ease of a taxation system that doesn’t hurt you when you’re new,” he said. He pointed out how many Indian startups have moved to Singapore precisely because of the contrasts between the two countries. On leadership, Ratan believes one of the CEO’s roles is to create a sense of excitement in the company and convince employees they’re making a difference in society. True leaders, he added, can only be identified when you’ve spent time working alongside them. Key traits include the ability to get around obstacles to completing tasks, to conjure up good ideas, and to overcome crises either by getting their hands dirty or by delegating work. True leaders are also not afraid of making lonely decisions, he said. Often, leaders will be alone in thinking their decision is the right one. Even those they turn to for support may voice disagreement. In the end, leaders should follow their “inner selves” – as long as the action stands up to public scrutiny.
“Decide what you want to do, and pay the price to do it.”
It seems the objections he encountered, as a young man brimming with ideas, is what motivate him to invest in startups today. “All through my early years in Tata I faced this frustration of having ideas which nobody wanted to listen.” Even worse, they told him to shut up, only wanting ideas that’ve worked in US or Europe. His investment spree, then, comes with a social mission. He’s passing the torch and enabling a new generation of Ratan Tatas by providing not just money, but also an affirming environment to realize new ideas. “I’m not looking for multiples on my investment as yet. I’m looking for the enjoyment of dealing in an environment that’s invigorating, and supporting those founders who want to make a difference.”
That’s what a young Ratan Tata had wished for.
Fashion Lensman Atul Kasbekar To Float Film Production Venture
Noted fashion photographer and ExCampionite class of '81 ATUL KASBEKAR
, who made his debut as a producer with the Hindi movie Neerja, is all set to float a separate film production venture in collaboration with former Balaji Motion Pictures CEO Tanuj Garg. The new production company will be formalized by April.“It was important to have a separate company so that it should not be perceived as an extension of the celebrity management business, as we won’t be just working with the talent that we manage under Bling,” Kasbekar told BusinessLine.
The first two projects, which will be produced under the banner of the new film production company, are in the process of being finalized. “We are already having conversations around seven-eight movie projects. We believe the first two movies will fructify soon and will go into production before the year-end,” he said. Asked about funding for the new venture, Kasbekar said: “The new venture will be backed by our own individual funds. We will work out a development fund. The first two movies will be co-productions and we are in conversation with the studios.”
On his new venture, he said: “We want to build a reputation first. We want to continue to back great stories. Neerja was an unusual movie project that has done well. This diversified country has incredible amount of stories and one just needs to look for them. The essential factor has to be that no one should lose money in the entire value chain.”
The Virtues Of Chocolate – Altaf Patel
ExCampionite class of ‘64
A decade ago, when a patient sought advice on what to eat, the answer was actually simple. It basically boiled down to--don't eat what you enjoy. A lot has changed since then. I think doctors in their prime at that time, had a strange Presbyterian attitude, in the sense that if you're enjoying yourself you must be doing something wrong. The realization that your patient requires a quality of life, and not simply a sum total of years to live, has been very important. The other interesting fact is that dietary advice has changed over a period of years.
What was taboo yesterday, is now not only permitted, but occasionally, even good for you. The bogey of dietary fat has swung its pendulum arc to dietary carbohydrates - today, doctors desperately try to fit a diet or lifestyle around your preferences. I think that is what good medicine is about, to try and let the patient do the things that he does enjoy within limits, if the medical condition allows it. There are certain foods and universal pleasures such as chocolate. I have yet to come across someone who does not enjoy a chocolate though many do not eat it because they feel it is bad for health.
One gets several types of chocolates, light, dark, a host of delicious chocolates, particularly from Belgium and Switzerland that the world enjoys. The Aztec Indians believed that cocoa seeds were a gift from heaven and gave you wisdom if you ate them. The Journal of Nutrition in 2000 stated that the medicinal use of cocoa has been known for at least 500 years. The raw seeds of the the obroma cacao bean are referred to as cocoa. According to Latif R in an abstract in the Netherland Journal of Medicine, these seeds are rich in flavonoids, known to be of antioxidant value - in particular the catechin and epicetechin.
When these seeds are roasted and ground cocoa is formed, which when further processed by adding sugar, fat and other ingredients results in what we know as chocolate. The Journal of Nutrition in 2004 ran an article that stated that these agents reverse heart disease and, surprisingly so, even cancer. Many studies have documented this inverse relationship - more flavonoids, less heart disease. Cocoa is the richest form of flavonoids and but processing it reduces the potency. The Kuna Indian of the San Blas islands hardly suffers from any high blood pressure.
They migrated to these islands traversing the heavy jungles of South America and had a higher death rate before the migration. In the San Blas Islands the Kuna eat about 1 gram of flavonoids and their death rate has decreased considerably, which cannot be attributed to genetics alone. What exactly flavonoids do is increase the level of nitric oxide, which helps counter ageing, heart disease, stroke and cancer and diabetes. Studies from the University of Panama tell us that in mainland Panama heart disease and cancer were the leading cause of death.
In contrast, for the island based Kuna the incidence of heart disease was less by 9.2 per cent and 4.4 per cent for cancer. The rate of death from diabetes is also much lower in the San Blas Kuna Indians. The data strongly suggests that all this is flavanoids induced. A study reported in the Archive of Internal Medicine conducted by Brian Buijsse confirmed that a cocoa eating elderly male population had lower blood pressure compared to a control group that didn't consume cocoa. Though it is generally believed that dark chocolate has the highest flavonoid content, this is not true.
The processing or 'dutching' of cocoa to enhance its flavour and texture and reduce its bitterness also eliminates the flavonoids, as does alkalization which produces a dark chocolate with low flavanoids. Though the evidence favouring cocoa is encouraging we must remember that chocolate is calorific - it increases weight which makes you more prone to diabetes and blood pressure. A large study initiated through Brigham and Woman's hospital and the National Institute of Health is going to assess the value of cocoa and multivitamins in cancer, heart disease, and other ailments. Till then chocolate in moderation, is the answer.
Tata’s ‘Inbuilt Frustration’ Turned Him Into Prolific Investor Post-Retirement
The ‘inbuilt frustration’ of not being able to invest in new ideas and sectors, as often as he wanted to during his five-decade-long career, led him to become one of India’s most active investors post retirement in 2012, ExCampionite class of 49 RATAN TATA
, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons revealed at an event in Singapore.
“I faced this frustration of having ideas but nobody wanted to listen….the only ideas that were listened to were those which have been successful somewhere else. I never could make investments in activities myself, because there’s always a prospect of a conflict of interest with a Tata Group company, and I held back,” Tata said, replying to a question by Piyush Gupta, chief executive at DBS Group Holdings, at an event in Singapore.
Tata says that retirement made him a ‘free agent.’ The chairman emeritus of Tata Sons says candidly: “It was my pocket, my money. It was a matter of freedom.” Tata’s personal investments include online wallet and retailer Paytm, cab aggregator Ola, smartphone maker Xiaomi, and tens of other companies in India and abroad. While Tata may have wanted to invest in more sectors, as chairman of the $108-billion conglomerate, that had interests in everything from tea to steel, he is best know for a string of bulge-bracket acquisitions from Tetley Group to buyout of units of Korea’s Daewoo Motors as well as Jaguar and Land Rover businesses from Ford in the automobile segment, and Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group. Tata, who is also an advisor to Jungle Ventures, was speaking at the event hosted by the Singapore-based VC firm. Edited excerpts of his conversation with DBS CEO Piyush Gupta.
What brought you to this world (of venture capital), having spent a lifetime running Tata Group?
All through my early years in Tata, I faced this frustration of having ideas but nobody wanted to listen. Not only did anybody not want to listen, but they had advised you to keep your mouth shut, and they said that I did not have the experience – the only ideas that were listened to were those which have been successful somewhere else. Every time you had a thought it got thwarted. There’s an inbuilt frustration that got carried through most of my career. I tried to rectify that when I was the Chairman, where we started a series of new ventures… That frustration was that we were not really using our time to enter new fields that no one had entered before. On the investment side, I never could make investments in activities myself, because there’s always a prospect of a conflict of interest in a Tata company, and I held back. When I retired, I was a free agent. It was my pocket, my money! It was a matter of freedom, if you’d like. This (investing in startups) has been a learning experience for me, not a giving experience. I’m still learning about the culture that’s very refreshing for me, and new. And some of the innovations (I’ve invested in) are more risky than I would have expected in my years at Tatas, but very refreshing because it has the vigour and that passion….the willingness to sell your home and sell your car….to do something differently. And that appeals to me. So, in those cases, I have chosen to take small positions – not major positions – but to really support those who are really trying to make a difference.
When you think of supporting founders, are you backing the idea, the person, or passion?
Bit of both. The idea, of course, should be the main driver to bring us together, because when an idea is refreshing and interesting, be it in e-commerce or whatever, it appeals to me and interests me. But it’s not by itself because the founders play an important role. Founders who are interested in just valuations and selling it to a larger company are not those who interest me so tremendously. I’m not looking for multiples of my investments as yet. I’m looking for the enjoyment of dealing in an environment which is invigorating, and supporting those founders that want to make a difference, not those that want to flip their companies over to a larger company and walk away with a cash-out. Those have their place, it’s not in my book.
What’s your general sense of the entrepreneurial climate in India at this point of time?
There’s a huge amount of entrepreneurs (in India). Much of it is because of some of the success stories. I think one of the main drivers of this new wave is the smart phone. So many of the startups are driven by the growth of the smart phone. Today, we may have about 500 to 600 million smart phones in the country, probably moving to a billion in a period of time. And growth of many of the new ideas, of the new applications, of the new platforms, are dependent on the smart phone. So, the real driver in India, which is not alone in terms of the way the country is digitizing itself, is the smart phone. Yes, there will be failures. There will be exploiters, a lot of ups and downs. Some of the glorified valuations will be adjusted downwards in the course of time, and I think the industry will become more mature as it goes on. India is an entrepreneurial country – we could call ourselves a country of shopkeepers, small entrepreneurs, whatever it is, but everybody seems to have an entrepreneurial instinct. Whether it be a little guy in a paan shop in the corner, or a small manufacturer.
Do large companies have to look outside for innovation?
Large companies interact with startups and innovative companies for different reasons. Some corporations acquire or embrace small companies because they feel that innovation is done by a small group of people and they may not be able to do that themselves, so they encompass the small company into their midst and allow them the freedom to grow. A lot of companies, unfortunately, also invest in startups to kill them. They see startups as potential competitors endangering their legacy, so they acquire them and put them in a drawer so that they don’t see the light of day. I think that’s a horrible way to move forward, but many corporations do that. Some of them endeavor to create their own startup environment and unless the person at the top is willing to throw some traditional structures away, that doesn’t seem to work at a large corporations, as they are full of controls and systems, which has its own strengths for the large corporation. I think the only way (innovation) could be promoted is for the large corporation to create sub-systems within themselves that are run differently from the rest of the organisation, and then elect an innovative leader, which they may have within their midst or go outside (to get one).
In a 100-year old company, how were you able to innovate and create the Nano?
I became a project leader for creating the Nano. That sounds a bit pompous but let me explain what happened. I used to keep seeing families of four and five riding on a scooter and it seemed to me that this was a fairly dangerous kind of thing. I considered families going in the night or in the rain, and being a little bit restless. I started working on how to make a scooter safer – altering the wheels, creating a frame around them and so on. I started that project in the manner of innovating a scooter, making it safer. I created a small group around me which I led, and that evolved into a four-wheeler that didn’t look like a car at all. The first ones didn’t have doors, they had a safety bar. People could add a door…add on to the vehicle. But we concluded that people wouldn’t like a half-car – finally we would need to produce an affordable car. That’s when the Nano project started – it was on how we can push the cost of a car down. We set ourselves the task of being able to sell it for 100,000 Rupees, and that became the task of the group. We met that task and launched that car. The launch gave the group more visibility that it had got in the last 150 years because we did something that everyone said was not possible.
What followed that, which made the Nano project not so successful, was a series of things that were outside our control – the political thing of stopping us from producing the car in West Bengal, led to the the loss of one year, as we had to build a new factory, and this killed the enthusiasm and excitement around the Nano. We had 300,000 orders with full payment for the car. When you couldn’t deliver it for two years, that excitement kind of died. The other area where we made a great mistake in the company was that we became complacent. The sales people called it the ‘cheapest car’. This term did the most damage to the image of the Nano. Instead of being an affordable car, it became the cheapest car that had the stigma of “will my neighbors think I don’t have the money to buy a car”. It’s probably what drove the last nail into the coffin and made it into a “me too” kind of product sold in a unremarkable way into the marketplace.
We’re now trying to relaunch the car, a more up market car, and also an electric version of the Nano, which will resurrect to some extent the excitement for the project.
The Day That Changed Indian Cricket
The 25th June 1983, the home of cricket, Lords cricket ground witnessed one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport. India, 50-to-one outsiders at the start of the Cricket World Cup, achieved the impossible, not only did they reach the final, they beat the great West Indies team full of stars, from Gordon Greenidge to Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards to Malcolm Marshall, to name a few.
The final at first looked like an anti-climax, India, who had beaten England by six wickets in the semi finals at Old Trafford, were bowled out for 183. When Viv Richards led his team to 50 for 1 in reply, it looked like another chance for the Caribbean camp to celebrate, but then all was about to change for India. Captain Kapil Dev and the rest of the team became national heroes overnight
I was there when India won the World Cup: Indian TV presenter Rajdeep Sardesai was one of the 20,000 fans who witnessed India win. Rajdeep Sardesai, India fan at Lords in 1983: "There was no plan to go watch the final because there was no question of India getting to the final and frankly one day cricket had never taken off in India. 1983 was the turning point." Sardesai was an 18-year-old student living in the UK in 1983, now a well-known TV presenter in India, he's one of the twenty thousand spectators that really can say "I was there when India won the World Cup." "It was easy to get tickets because mainly Englishmen were giving up their tickets. In the first two World Cups, India only won one match against East Africa in 1975, we were otherwise no-hopers. "There are two or three things you keep with you to tell your grandchildren and this is one of them. It was one of the best days of my life."
Balwinder Singh Sandu, Indian cricketer who played in the 1983 Final: "We were confident we could beat West Indies, since we had played against them in West Indies and beat them in the one day game and that gave us the confidence, we can beat them if we put them under pressure. "Maybe the viewers or the media (were) not expecting us to win, but we in our heart we believed we could beat this team. "The whole team had that self belief." "Most of India didn't expect us to reach the Final" India's World Cup winning captain in 1983 Kapil Dev says they didn't expect win. Sandhu played a significant role in the Indian team that day, not only as a bowler but with the bat. Batting at No.11 in the final, he went to the crease alongside wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani, India were on 161 for 9, and Sandhu was desperate to get some more runs.
Balwinder Singh Sandu, Indian cricketer, 1983 Final: "When I went in to the middle I said to Kirani, don't throw your wicket, I'm going to stick around and if we can bat, we can put 30- 35 runs on the board, that was my plan, to stick around and we got those crucial 22 runs, I'm proud of those 22 runs and what I did as a bowler." India were all out for 183, it's a score line that's synonymous now with the history of Indian cricket. Now walking back to the Lords pavilion, they were about to face one of the most formidable battling line-ups in cricket, West Indies were chasing 184 for victory from 60 overs:
"Kapil said okay boys we have got 183 they have to make it 183, let's go out there and fight it out and enjoy the game, that reduced the pressure, he just made us relax." India captain Kapil Dev: "It wasn't a winning score, we were only thinking to get a couple of wickets. I think most of India didn't buy tickets because they didn't expect us to get to the final."
Rajdeep Sardesai, India fan at Lords in 1983: "My friend Yajurvindra Singh (former Indian Test player) decided 183 (total), I might as well go shopping for the afternoon than see India being humiliated by the West Indians. They were such a formidable team, I can actually understand where my friend was coming from." Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar would go on to be household names in cricket, but for Sandhu he created one of the stand out moments in the final. He grabbed the key wicket of West Indies legend Gordon Greenidge, a wicket that appeared to give them confidence they could defend their meagre total:
Balwinder Singh Sandu, Indian cricketer, 1983 Final: "I think that was the wicket of hope. In low scoring games if you get a wicket early it creates a self belief, it made us more determined that we can win this game. "Gordon got out to me three times before that ball (in my career), what I had observed when I bowled my inswinger, he was not picking it up. I was bowling downhill and that day the wicket had a lot of juice and the ball was swinging. "When Gordon came to strike I bowled my inswinger just to surprise him. Gordon tried to put his pad to stop the ball, but it hit the bails. "He's a great player, I'm his fan, but even great players can get out and you can out think him." "It was the wicket of hope" India's Balwinder Singh Sandu says 1983 World Cup "was a turning point" in Indian cricket "I prayed to God, get this wicket for us"
Balwinder Singh Sandu, Indian cricketer: "I was fielding at fine leg and West Indian spectators were pestering me, you won't win the World Cup, West Indians will win the World Cup and that's when I prayed to God, we have got nine batsmen out, now just get this wicket for us" Sandu's prayer came true. Michael Holding was bowled lbw by Mohinder Armanath. West Indies were bowled out for 140, sparking huge celebrations: India's 1983 winning team reunited in 2008. "God listened to those who like to fight and was kind on us. As the last wicket got out, I ran to pick up a wicket and got hold of a stump, which is still with me and still has the English soil on the stump. I was caught in the middle of the crowd, the crowd was trying to pull the stump from my hands, but I pushed my way through to the pavilion and everyone was celebrating."
Rajdeep Sardesai, India fan at Lords in 1983: "You're 18 and India has just won the World Cup beating the mighty West Indians, it took some time to sink in. I abandoned all pretence of being a gent and ran on to the pitch." Kapil's Devils had changed the landscape of cricket in India forever.
Balwinder Singh Sandu, Indian cricketer: "When we landed in Bombay airport, the crowd was huge and then it hit us that we have done something big for Indian cricket. That 1983 win was a turning point in Indian cricket, until that time the belief was that we can't win big matches, but after that we started believing and lifted the self belief of all Indians."
Marc Carvalho No More
We regret to inform you that MARC CARVALHO ExCampionite class of ’81 expired on 27 March 2016. Marc born on 05th of May 1964 was the founder and CEO of Carver Aviation. He was an highly enterprising person. The Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday 31st March at 3 p.m. at the St. Teresa’s Church Next to Hinduja College. The Burial shall follow at Mahalaxmi.
A Boutique With A Library
Couturier Tarun Tahiliani’s Mumbai store mixes artistry with adventure. It almost feels like a walk across the courtyard of a childhood paradise: a little tropical, a lot classical and infinitely magical. The gilded universe of master couturier and ExCampionite class of ’77 TARUN TAHILIANI
’s brand new flagship boutique in Mumbai promises the luxury of intimacy—it is visual poetry in motion.
Interestingly, the space, in its previous avatar, stocked the designer’s ready-to-wear pieces. Tahiliani and his interior design partner, Bindu Vadera, refurbished the space in a span of just three months. Located in a majestic heritage building in Colaba, the boutique’s view of the soaring horizon is painted with the Gateway of India and boats docked at the marina. This particular building, Tahiliani tells us, was designed by an Italian architect. The 4,000 sq. ft boutique is reflective of Tahiliani’s vision of couture: drama and decadence, classicism with contemporary opulence. Filled with nostalgia for a simpler time, Tahiliani says, “I wanted to create a space that would be reminiscent of the Bombay I grew up in: a tropical home with terrazzo tiles, Indian stones and palm trees swaying around us.” The boutique, with its mix of flooring ranging from Indian marble to sagar black, kadappa stone and natural wood, is a masterfully executed example of reimagining this space with a modern architectural elegance. Tahiliani’s Midas touch is evident in every corner of the sun-drenched boutique. A wall of antique mirrors greets you, while the floor-to-ceiling brass sculpting of “T-jaal”, the ornate jaali pattern printed on the tissue paper used to wrap the clothes is a sensorial treat. The space is a celebration of dramatically inventive detailing. Case in point: the extraordinary inlay work of mother-of-pearl motifs, resembling a peacock’s plume, on taupe-coloured walls across one section of the store. Tahiliani is a fan of a neutral colour palette that includes beige, sand and mud. He says it is the “patina of the subcontinent”. One of the other rooms in the boutique has custom-made wallpaper from British manufacturer Zoffany, which makes for guilty viewing pleasure.
Tahiliani’s private art collection, portraits of Indian nobility and works from acclaimed photographer Rohit Chawla’s series on the Kumbh Mela and Kutch line the walls. The store is built around a central library—the idea is referenced from the designer’s home study, which is an enviable repository of quirky collectibles from around the world. At the boutique, the library is the central spot leading to each section: ready-to-wear, bridal and bespoke. The shelves, made of glass on lacquered panels with fabric, stock objets d’art, accessories and jewellery. Designed like a sumptuous private salon, the boutique has spaces marked meticulously to highlight the different sections of the ready-to-wear lines and men’s collections. However, the most beautiful feature of the boutique is the uber luxe fitting rooms with sensual mood lighting by Singapore-based specialist Suman Agarwal. “I wanted to create a space where I can maintain the sanctity of couture,” says Tahiliani. This is where “by-appointment-only” clients can sink their toes in soft “Agra” carpets—made by the designer, of course—and take a deep breath before bracing themselves to comb through an exquisitely edited curation of the collections. But the real masterpiece here is the intricately hand-painted Danielesque mural of a royal procession across a 15ft wall.
“Redoing this store has helped us understand how we want to approach our next level. We were keen to develop an honest identity that defines our ethos and expresses our voice, one that is attuned to the times we live in,” says Tahiliani. Step in and surrender to a soul vacation.
US Seventh Fleet Band & Brian Peck
We are pleased to announce that ExCampionite class of '71 Brian Peck's photographs - taken of the US Navy 7th Fleet Band in Singapore are being used for promotional purposes with his name in the credits
To View Pictures Click Here
Brian Peck can be contacted on email@example.com or Mob : +65 8717 8005
This Is The Cruelest Cut
- Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of '64
The young mother sitting across the table from me carries a small baby in her lap. I wonder why she is here. She has a relevant and important question to ask, she has come to seek advice regarding circumcision. Though much circumcision in this country is done on a religious basis, if there is no medical advantage to this, would it seem cruel? The barbaric issue of female circumcision practiced surreptitiously has raised its ugly head recently. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the fore skin (prepuce) from the penis. It could be classified as the world's oldest planned surgical procedure and according to certain historians may be up to 15,000 years old.
The earliest historical record comes from a tomb in Egypt, which dates to 2400 BC or so where an image of a circumcision is carved into the relief. According to a 2007 World Health Organization report, about one third of all males are circumcised. This practice is most prevalent in the Muslim world and among Jews because it is a religious obligation. It is also an established practice in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and for Coptic Christianity. There are several circumstances under which a patient must be circumcised and the most important one is when the foreskin cannot be pulled back over the penis. Though the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, it does not recommend routine circumcision for all male children. There are several types of circumcision. In normal circumcision the line is one inch behind the head of the penis. For a high and tight circumcision the line is more than one inch behind the head of the penis, and very little skin movement occurs on the erect penis. In high and loose circumcision, though the line is more than one inch behind the head of the penis, there is more skin movement over the penis when erect. For the low and tight circumcision the line is less than inch behind the head of the penis and there is little movement of skin over the erect penis—and in contrast low and loose, is similar but with more skin movement over the head of the penis. There are several advantages to circumcision. It helps to keep the penis clean, and prevents recurrent urinary tract infections. It can also prevent the occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases. In particular, it reduces the transmission of HPV, the human papilloma virus to the female, which can cause cancer of the cervix. Removing the prepuce drastically reduces the risk of HIV, because the virus attaches itself to the receptor on the prepuce. But there is some literature to suggest that circumcision reduces the sensitivity of the penis. The more serious issue is female circumcision, which is actually genital mutilation. No religion supports this but supporters of the practice give it a religious connotation. There are various types of female gentile mutilation and the WHO clarifies them as Type I—the removal of the clitoris, and Type II—in addition, the labia minora or opening to the vagina is excised. Another type of genital mutilation, Type III, called infibulation, involves narrowing of the vaginal orifices with a covering seal and Type IV includes all other forms of female genital damage such as piercing, incising etc.
It is surprising to note that 100 million to 140 million girls have been subjected to this mutilation and most of them are in Sub-Saharan African and in the Arab states. Such a procedure in the female certainly has no advantage. It takes away sexual stimulation, makes child birth more difficult and in fact increases the risk of contracting HIV during the procedure. It is a shame in my opinion that this practice exists in the world today. In conclusion, though there are several advantages of male circumcision, there can be no reason for female circumcision, which to my mind is a barbaric practice.
ExCampionite class of '71 SHASHI THAROOR's personal attempts to de-criminalise homosexuality in India are indeed commendable. No other politician has strived so hard to change the law as Tharoor has. On Friday, 11 March, the indefatigable Tharoor once again introduced a private member bill in Parliament to amend Section 377. But alas, only 18 members voted in favour of the bill, while 58 members voted against it, or abstained from voting.
A TV channel interviewed Shashi Tharoor on Friday night and asked him why MPs from even his own party, the Congress, were not present in the House when the bill came up for discussion. After all, we know that both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are outraged by the existence of Section 377. To this, Tharoor's somewhat diplomatic answer was that private member bills always came up for hearing on a Friday afternoon and that was a time when most MPs were already preparing for the weekend. Thus, Tharoor's bill did not have the numbers he expected and got thrown out.
But is the fact that the bill was tabled on a Friday afternoon the only reason for its not being passed? I don't think so. The fate of Shashi Tharoor's bill, the second time round, clearly points to the homophobic mindset of our members of Parliament. It is not as if they were not present in Parliament merely because it was a Friday afternoon. It is much more likely that they knew that the bill was coming up for discussion, and purposely stayed away from attending.
There is a limit to optimism. Going by his interview on TV, Shashi Tharoor seems to have finally realized what I always knew, namely that Section 377 would never be amended by the legislature, at least not as long as the BJP was in power. It was only recently that the reactionary Subramanian Swamy dared anyone to meddle with Section 377 and alter the status quo on it. Thus, Shashi Tharoor declared that no; he would not introduce a private member bill to abolish Section 377 for the third time. He categorically stated that, as far as he was concerned, the parliamentary option to change India's anti-gay law was not an option any more.
Then Shashi Tharoor said something that we gay scholars and queer theorists have been saying for a long time. He referred to the Kamasutra and Khajuraho and said there was no evidence that homosexual love was outlawed in precolonial India. On the contrary, it was outlawed by the English Victorians in the 19th century. Thus, if the BJP was really a pro-Hindu (and Hindutva) party, it ought to legalize homosexuality in keeping with the thinking on the subject in ancient India. Their present stand on the issue makes them out to be, instead, a pro-colonial political party.
A little over a month ago, I gave a reading from my new work at Bombay's Queer Ink. When the issue of Shashi Tharoor's private member bill came up for discussion at the end of the reading, a lawyer, who was present in the audience, asked why Tharoor only introduced private member bills. If Tharoor was really interested in amending Section 377, the lawyer said, why couldn't he route his bill through the Congress? I must confess that I had no answer to the lawyer's question.
In his TV interview, Shashi Tharoor did not say anything about the judicial option to scrap Section 377, now that the legislative option was out. Perhaps his optimism about the judiciary too was waning. In the history of the Supreme Court—and I have written about this earlier— there isn't a single instance where a curative petition has reversed an unfavorable judgment given earlier by a smaller bench. Moreover, there are very few instances where a curative petition has been admitted in the first place. We are no doubt lucky that our curative petition has been admitted, but that in itself means nothing. The Indian mindset is the same, judiciary or legislature. Unless a crash course on LGBT Studies is offered to our judges and parliamentarians—and I am willing to offer them one for free with a reading list of over hundred books—it is not likely that they will jettison their Received Notions on the subject. The judges, who will hear the curative petition, whenever it comes up for hearing, which could be the year 2025, MUST take such a course. It is bound to influence their judgment.
India Is Not Just Hindi, Hindu And Hindustan: Shashi Tharoor
Taking a dig at ruling BJP over its stand on the JNU row, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said nationalism is now decided by whether one can say 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' or not. He said people should have the right to choose what they believe is correct and still be tolerant of others' ideas in a democracy. "Today nationalism is decided by whether or not one can say 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'. I am happy to say it, but should I also oblige everyone to say it? "Our Constitution gives people the right not to say it just as it gives people the right to say it as well. I will choose when to say it and that's democracy," Mr Tharoor said addressing students at JNU .
Mr Tharoor said our country is not just 'Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan' and called for an India 'more accepting of diversity' which he said has been the tradition throughout history. "India is not just Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan. We want an India with both Krishna and Kanhaiya Kumar. We want in India people from every corner of this vast land an equal stake in our future. "If we understand that the Indian civilisation allows many religions, celebrates range of opinions and is today sustained by constitutional democracy which stands for certain values that all of us claim as our own, if this is the Indian legacy we can live, then we can all stand under that flag and celebrate," he said. He was speaking on 'JNU and Nationalism' outside the administrative hall of the university which has been the centre of protests ever since sedition charges were slapped on three students over an event held where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
Mr Tharoor appreciated the students for stirring a debate on vital issues in India, saying student days are the days "to expand one's consciousness". "You may have come here for education but you are also educating the nation. What is happening here has given the whole nation an education in the vital issues of dissent and democracy, sedition and of course of 'azaadi' (freedom)," he said. Mr Tharoor's nearly 40-minute long speech was dotted with historical anecdotes and personal experiences and he repeatedly quoted personalities like Jawaharlal Nehru and Everlyn Beatrice Hall to drive home the idea of tolerance and diversity and their importance in India.
Blood pressure: Silent killer – Altaf Patel ExCampionite class of ’64
It's crucial to monitor the variations, but strike a balance with medication for its regulation. Doctor, how can I have high blood pressure, I have no symptoms. That's a statement, we, in the medical profession often hear. That blood pressure produces symptoms is far from true. In fact, it is silent at most times and therefore, called the silent killer. Extremely elevated blood pressure readings are often without symptoms. Worryingly, a stroke, a heart attack or kidney failure may be the first presentation of high blood pressure.
I think this constitutes the strongest arguments for routine check-ups. Blood pressure is actually variable from time to time in the day and is not a static entity like height or weight. I think what is important here, is to ensure that most readings are in the acceptable range. Acceptable ranges are modified by the joint national committee (JNC) for high pressure control. They make their observations and change what is acceptable blood pressure, through the years. The guiding concept in my student days, that systolic blood pressure was in the formula (100 + age) was common for many years. This has been dispelled by the recommendation made by JNCs over the years. On the other hand, every physician knows that pushing the patient to an 'ideal blood pressure' often produces side effects that the patient does not tolerate. Often, the standing blood pressure falls more than the lying blood pressure when the patient is on medication and many do not tolerate this. Many physicians try various combinations of drugs to override this and often there is no answer but to draw a balance between blood pressure and symptoms. Several medications for blood pressure have side effects and the patient will often ask for drugs without side effects. The ideal drug that is effective for the disease and yet produces no side effects is still to be discovered and perhaps it does not exist. The aphorism goes — drugs without a side effect also have little effect. It has long been known that blood pressure is characterized by an array of spontaneous variation and that blood pressure varies markedly. This happens not only because of day to night variations but even because of differences in hours or even minutes — therefore, we have a 24- hour reading called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The monitoring may give us more information on control of blood pressure. A more significant problem is that your blood pressure, when measured by the doctor, is high by 10 mm systolic or so and 5 mm diastolic or so, while when measured at home, it is always normal. This is the so-called 'white coat' effect. I think the term should have been named differently — the white coat usage by doctors has fallen so much in the city that you, rarely see a white coated person in a hospital and that too, is usually the technician. It used to be thought that this white coat hypertension was benign. It is now known that this is not at all true and white coat hypertension has significant morbidity.
Another important point to be aware of, is that blood pressure falls at night and by 10 per cent of mean blood pressure. The failure of blood pressure to decrease during sleep is associated with increased risk of damage to the heart, brain and kidneys and as per at least one study, even an increased risk of death. The concept of 24-hour monitoring of blood pressure seems important to me as blood pressure changes from time to time and it's good to find out if your blood pressure is controlled all through the day. The 24-hour monitor has a small cuff to put around your arm and a digital blood pressure machine attached to a belt connects with the cuff. With this, the BP is measured through the day, while you go about your activities. It also helps to determine if you have white coat hypertension. It is wise to do home BP measurement. Studies tell us this is a better predictor of cardiovascular outcomes. The digital machines available today, though highly criticized by some physicians, are reasonably accurate. According to the British Hypertension Society, in some countries, 70 per cent of the patients use such equipment. Though lower levels than the accepted standard have shown to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, take advice from your physician. One must clearly draw the line between ideal and side-effects. Maintaining a quality of life is important in any situation.
Want To Be Top Games Company From India, Not Just In India, Says Alok Kejriwal Of Games2win
Having started his own business after getting frustrated with a "stuffy family business environment", ExCampionite class of ’85 ALOK KEJRIWAL
has come a long way in the past 26 years. He is not only the founder of companies like Contests2win, Mobile2win, Media2win and Games2win, but has also founded an online community for entrepreneurs called The Rodinhoods. In an interview with Business Today, Kejriwal shares his journey through the years.
BT: You founded Games2win in 2007. What inspired you to go into the gaming business?
Kejriwal: No matter how much you innovate or create a good idea, brands always want to put themselves first. They don't care about engagement. Therefore I thought, let's create a company where we only make games for consumers and when these games become very popular, the brands will come running. We already have around 73 million downloads and see about 70-80,000 downloads a day. Our company has 45 apps in the app store and we operate globally as we don't believe in an India-only story. Our most popular game is Parking Frenzy and has about 20-25 million downloads. Besides Parking Frenzy, another 15 of our games have 1 million downloads now. We are more anxious to get many small successes than one large success. At one time we were a very popular online games company. According to Comscore data, we were among the top 20 games companies in the world but now we have become a mobile games company.
BT: You have not been a very strong advocate of mobile-only approach and you have written columns against it. So why have you adopted the same approach for your company?
Kejriwal: Many companies went app-only and now have gone back to the desktop version. My business is very different. My argument always has been that you cannot dictate to the consumer that you can only buy through the app. In gaming, the format has changed to the mobile gaming because consumers are no longer gaming on their PCs. Even today our online business is very robust, we still have 700 games online and almost get 100,000 views a day, we have not shut it down. We were amongst the top 20 in 2010 but our traffic was not growing. It wasn't falling but it was not growing. And then we realized that gaming is going to be big on phones. So we started mobile games and in 2013 we totally moved to it and stopped making online games in 2014.
BT: You say you are building a games channel and not a single game. What does it mean?
Kejriwal: No one in the world has succeeded as a single game company. Angry Birds came and went, then the same thing happened with FarmVille. Candy Crush was very popular at a time but it seems to be dying now. So we have learned a lesson that while one of your games may become successful, it may also destroy you. We have decided we would like to become a channel. We want to become a destination for gaming. We have a vision to be top games company from India, not just in India.
BT: 'Top games company from India not just in India.' How will you make this a success?
Kejriwal: In India, we are already the top games company in terms of downloads and global footprint. Three things will work to our advantage. We have a very talented engineering pool, a very large English speaking talent and they are not expensive. Which means we have lower cost of making games and therefore we can try many games before they succeed. A very high quality game like Parking Frenzy takes about $300,000 to be made in America, but in India it costs about $10,000. So we can make 30 more games in the cost an American company would make one game. Also because we have been in this arena for long and predominantly our business comes from outside of India, we understand mobile gaming better than companies in their own market. India is going to be the largest gaming country in the world. By 2019, given our Android population and English speaking audience, we will have the largest gaming market in the world. So that itself will help us.
BT: What are emerging trends in the gaming world?
Kejriwal: There are four or five emerging trends:
1. Everything is becoming very casual. It's becoming like the music business, every day there is a new 'No. 1'.
2. A lot more girls are playing games now, which is giving birth dressing up games etc.
3. People play many games in a day, so no single game is going to dominate the market.
4. App stores are completely democratising the success of games. The best games come on top no matter how much money you have spent.
BT: What's the next phase for Games2Win?
Kejriwal: We had our first positive in December. It's not that consistent but now we are seeing more positive months than negative months. FY17 would be completely profitable for us. We are also looking at the opportunity of launching games from other companies on our platform and cracking the China market, which is a big opportunity. Also someday we want to list as a full-fledged gaming company.
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