Biz and Eco

kingfisher-Vijay-Mallya

By Kriti Rathore:

I am sitting on my seat and watching the movie Namesake. The red clad women, wearing fitted skirt and a smart red blouse suddenly asked, “Ma’am what would you like to have in the dinner? Vegetarian or non-veg?” I went for the first option. The ambience is captivating, service flawless and the air hostesses have got pretty faces, moreover they are impeccable in their service not like the ones in Air India. Precisely, my journey to Vienna was splendid.

Literally, I was in a state of awe when I came to know that Mr. Vijay Mallya is going through heavy debts and the flying license may get ceased too ,crores of debt in foreign banks adds to his trouble. What went wrong with the airlines? Where were the loopholes in management? Why couldn’t Mallya resolve the mystery around? These questions haunted me and through the news papers and internet I got the basic idea that Mallya’s airline dream is falling like cards. I could not ingest this fact without a hitch as I loved Kingfisher airlines and the epitome of Mallya’s king size style completely.

With losses of about 5 crore a day, ₹6250 crore debt, bank accounts almost frozen by the tax authorities , everything is on the verge of a collapse. It seems the wings of Mallya in the aviation sector are being slaughtered bit by bit. Acceptance is hard but u can’t drift from the bitter truth, turmoil is everywhere around. Mallya’s flying empire is collapsing and the worst part; he can’t recollect the falling bricks.

Is it Mallya only who could not cope with the problems plaguing this industry or it is the whole aviation sector of India? Sectors other than aviation are accelerating at a fast pace but the growth in aviation sector is still less that 3%.We all are aware of the fact that GDP won’t grow and the economy won’t prosper if aviation is not a part of it. Air fuel is very expensive and then at the same time, government has imposed heavy taxes on the imported aircrafts and other aviation imports (spare parts etc.). It becomes challenging for the companies to administer everything at the same time.

Mallya’s case was alike; still he did some greater blunders which later added to his agony. Actually, Mallya is a versatile man; he had hands into many places like:

1. He is the liquor baron and the UB group is the second largest liquor company in the world by volume. Brands like bagpiper whisky and kingfisher beer are under this flag. Acquisitions made under Mallya are Whyte & Mackay.

2. Formula One: Mallya and a Dutch family bought the Spyker F1 team for 88 million Euros in 2007.

3. Football: he invested in the football clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

4. Cricket: Royal Challengers Bangalore cost him $111.6 million in 2008.

5. And other expenses like, 26 properties across the world, owns cars, sword of Tipu Sultan worth Euro 175,000, bought the personal effects of Mahatma Gandhi for $1.8 million, owns luxury yacht and more.

That is why Mallya got deflected into so many pat’s and invested more and more in spite of going through heavy losses in Kingfisher Airlines. As stated by The Week Magazine, Mallya knew how to become big, global but he didn’t take care of revenue generation and cost control. Also, G.R Gopinath, founder of Air Deccan said that Mallya chose a model where cost is more than revenue (His model was hub and spoke where small towns are connected with the large metros and then connecting them to larger destinations across India and abroad).

Lastly, I would say that the airline business is really intricate and very cutthroat. we can term it as dog eats dog types, which is capital intensive with a very low profit margin. As the air traffic in India is prospering at a large scale, in the same respect government should reduce the taxes on the air fuel imported and all the other aviation products. Because if the aviation sector does not grow hand in hand with the GDP and the economy in general, India cannot keep pace with the other fast growing economies like China, Brazil and more.

A simple yet a captivating quote by Claude Grahame White, which will add a fuel to my thought of engine says:
“First Europe, and then the globe, we will be linked by flight, and nations so knit together, that they will grow to be next-door neighbours .What railways have done for the nations, airways will do for the world.”

Apple-Twitter-logo

By Pradyut Hande:

After conquering the electronic realms of computers, portable music players, smart phones and tablets; Silicon Valley behemoth, Apple Inc. has trained its sights on “biting” into the social media pie. At a time when communal networking is growing in popularity the world over, and competition in a nascent albeit fragmented market is enhancing exponentially; venturing down strategically diverse avenues, keeping the company’s core competencies in mind, is critical to maintaining a market stronghold. Having floundered in its endeavour to make a dent in the social media space thus far, Apple is now contemplating a strategic investment in Twitter to further its efforts at galvanising its social network market presence. The impact of social media on consumerism and buyer behaviour cannot be undermined in a global economy. Thus, Apple’s impending foray into this domain promises to open up a plethora of opportunities at both a macro and micro level.

Apple doesn’t have to own a social network. But does Apple need to be social? Yes!” said CEO, Tim Cook recently; words that are reflective of a potential investment down this channel. An impending stake purchase in a market leader like Twitter would create far reaching consequences for both companies alike.

What’s in it for Apple?

For starters, one must note that it is not as though Apple hasn’t tried to make inroads into the social media market in the past. It is just that its efforts have fallen flat in the face of mounting competition from perennially proactive rivals. For instance, Apple’s relationship with Facebook got off to an inauspicious start when attempts at integrating key Facebook features into its own music-oriented social network, Ping, came undone owing to mutual disagreements. Additionally, the fact that a major competitor, Microsoft, already owns a stake in Facebook; makes Apple’s position in this space all the more vulnerable. Add to that the mounting pressure being exerted by an upwardly mobile Google with its own social network, Google Plus, and Apple’s “social media market experiment” thus far, pales in comparison.

However, fortunately for Apple, its attempts at priming Twitter as an integral partner has spawned a more mutually rewarding relationship in the past. The company has incorporated the latest Twitter features in the robust Apple OS that runs on its computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets. Over time, the Apple – Twitter alliance has treaded the path of calibrated stability. Perhaps now is the time to take the relationship to “the next level“.

With over 117 billion USD in liquid assets in its coffers, a financial investment in Twitter at this juncture in time appears to be a prudent move. It would mark a departure from its prevalent strategy of primarily buying out upcoming start ups that can be strategically integrated into its global supply chain. Furthermore, a potential deal would help Apple leverage Twitter’s competencies, reach and marketing prowess to gain a valuable foothold in the social media arena. It may not bestow Apple with the market leader position it is so accustomed to, but it would definitely pave the way for bigger and better things to come. While its competitors (and allies) attempt to enter the mobile phone and tablet markets (read Google and Facebook), Apple’s proactive surge in social media would serve as an effective “counter“. With mergers, acquisitions, strategic investments and an expanding portfolio of competencies fuelling greater possibilities; the tech market remains in the throes of perennial flux and caprice. Apple’s potential move thus, is not just prudent, but also necessary.

What’s in it for Twitter?

With almost 150 million monthly active users, micro blogging site, Twitter has been at the forefront of the “social networking revolution” in the last few years. It may have carved a niche for itself, but in an unpredictable market it ought to remain vigilant and receptive to change. A potential investment oriented alliance with Apple would further augment its strong financial position. Twitter has more than 600 million USD liquid assets, primarily accrued through advertisement revenue.

Furthermore, it would prop up its valuation from USD 8.5 Billion to approximately USD 10 Billion. Being closely associated with a technology giant like Apple would consolidate its market perception and position. It would also come as a much needed shot in the arm in the face of widespread conjecture surrounding the over valuation and inflated potential business projections of social media companies. In the wake of Facebook’s lacklustre showing on the share market, investors are liable to tread with caution.

An investment by Apple would also prop Twitter up suitably till its impending IPO a few years down the line.

Thus, a potential deal would spawn and augment a mutually beneficial relationship in an increasingly dispersed market landscape. The fact that Twitter does not plan to venture into Apple’s traditional markets, lends credence to the partnership’s solidity. This is unlike the situation with companies like Google and Facebook that have stepped up efforts to challenge Apple’s supremacy in its familiar stronghold of the mobile phone market.

Whatever be the case, all these company directed undertakings are symptomatic of a gradually changing consumer mentality. A strong consumer focus coupled with a vigilant eye on the competitor in the rear view mirror and sound strategic sense will be the name of the game moving forward.

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By Subhayan Mukerjee:

The economic and political success of the United States of America, since the end of the Second World War had prompted their cousins across the Atlantic to dream of an entity that could be called the United States of Europe. But between this vision and its implementation lies a plethora of political, linguistic, financial and nationalist borders, that cut up and divide Europe into small nation states, many of which are similar in physical and economic size to the states of America. This proliferation of borders in Europe has had a crippling effect on its economic wellbeing, especially after the European states lost the colonial hinterlands in Asia and Africa whose natural resources were the bedrock of their economic health. To compensate for the loss of the colonies, European nation states have been dreaming of an economic and political union that would rival the Russian confederation of the East and the United States on the other side of the Atlantic.

The path to this final union was supposed to lie through three steps. The first is the European common market that would dissolve trade and customs barriers across Europe and convert it into one economic entity. The second step was to give this economic entity a common European currency called the Euro. And the third step which has not been fully implemented is the creation of a European parliament in Strasbourg which would create an entity where individual European nationalities will be subsumed.

This glorious vision of European political unity could have been realized if the laws of economics and that of human behavior were not so obstinately complex. Between the proverbial cup and the limp, between the monetary union of Europe and the vision of a unified political entity based out of Strasbourg, Europe suffered a major slip, or rather, stumbled and fell flat on its face, precisely because the economic union was not supported by the underlying political union. The behavior of a currency, in terms of its valuation with other global currencies is closely governed by the nature of the economy, which in turn is governed by underlying political decisions regarding government spending, fiscal deficit and public indebtedness. If governments behave with reckless profligacy, the worth of the currency decreases. But in the case of Europe, we have the paradoxical situation of a currency which is supposed to have the same value across all of Europe, but is supported by political and economic policies that are vastly different from each other. These internal inequalities are the cause of economic distortions that have brought Europe to a position where a single economic currency seems to be an impossibility.

Countries like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain have run up huge national debts which they have no way to repay. Usually this would have meant their currencies would be devalued. But this is not possible because the same Euro is also being used by Germany and France, where the economy is stronger and where the currency is more valuable. There is no easy answer to this conundrum. Either the Euro must be broken up or each country should return to the use of its national currency. Or, each individual European country must surrender its political sovereignty or at least its economic sovereignty, which is its right to print currency, to a unified central bank. Surrendering sovereignty at the altar of a unified Europe is something that the countries of Europe are not yet reconciled with. On the other hand, the break of the Euro is an equally frightening possibility that threatens to unravel the carefully assembled work of European unity that Europeans have been striving for since the end of World War 2.

Europe is caught between a rock and hard place, between Scylla and Charybdis, and between the devil and the deep blue sea. No one knows what the answer to this predicament is. So everybody has stopped thinking and is now waiting for Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening to the London Olympics.

no_offshore

By Shobhit Agarwal:

What has been India’s greatest export to the USA in the past decade? It is not cotton yarn and fabrics; it is not drugs and pharmaceuticals and it, most certainly, isn’t gems and jewels. It is a vast mix of white-collar professionals, particularly Doctors and Engineers.

Bangalore has long been making waves for being the city that brought about the IT renaissance in India. But, its existence was taken to an all new level after being mentioned in one of the policies of the US president, Barack Obama, dubbed as the ‘Say no to Bangalore and yes to Buffalo’ policy, wherein, tax-incentives given to American companies that created jobs overseas in places like Bangalore would be scrapped and instead, be given to those creating jobs inside the U.S., in places like Buffalo. Since then, Obama has made frequent calls to the American companies to stop their overt reliance on India and China for man-power and skilled labour, and to look for employment from within the country.

Plagued by insufficient infrastructure and policy paralysis, year by year, there is a mass exodus of skilled professionals from India, looking to make it big in environments that are more conducive to work. With its technological advancement and resource availability, America is seen as a hot destination. Hence, every year, we have a whole bunch of fellow Indians, armed with visas and work permits, flying across the globe to live the great American dream.

The IT boom at the turn of the century was followed by a number of American companies looking to set offshore centres in growing economies like India. That resulted in a plethora of job opportunities for the country with the highest youth population in the world. Youngsters, who otherwise were afraid of staying unemployed, due to lack of resources in the country, found themselves working in BPO’s; call-centres in particular. Although it meant they had to put up fake accents and at times be subjected to abusing foreigners, they were happy to be in a position where they received pay checks.

But with the latest change in stance, the Indian outsourcing industry will be hit and hit hard. Not only will the companies in America be apprehensive about setting up centres at new shores, but also this sudden feel of national empowerment will lead to lesser issue of work permits to people from other countries.

However, looking at it from a different angle, this change in American policy can also do wonders to our own country. With the increment in the number of unemployed youth, the government, which all this time has been unable to rest the growing divide between inflation and unemployment, will be forced to retort to drastic measures and come up with strong, sustainable policies. But judging by the current political scenario in the country, a realist wouldn’t bet too many hopes on such positive changes.

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By Shajan Samuel:

Self explanatory, nobody need explain the meaning of ‘Demographic Dividend’. India’s trump card during the recent high growth period – the so-called ‘demographic dividend’ was the result of a mistake, and that mistake is about to come back and whistle in our ears. We need our youth to become productive quickly, with more than 93% of jobs being in the unorganized sectors; implying that we need more jobs that require employees to provide manual labour, than mental labour. This Demographic Dividend which comes once in a life time, can very soon morph into a Demographic headache if we fail to skill our youth quickly. India’s sector wise GDP is split 17%, 28%, and 55% in agriculture, industry and services, respectively. The employed workforce is split 52%, 14%, 34%, correspondingly. The disproportionate services GDP contribution is an anomaly in a poorer country like India. The vast majority of service employment in India is in low-level and low-paying industries. The contribution of higher-level industries to the services GDP is driven by the information technology and software sectors which do not employ large numbers of people. We need the likes of states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to fire up. These are the states where the demographic explosion is going to come about from but will contribute insignificantly to the GDP. The laggards will have to become the front runners in every sphere, though the challenges are insurmountable.

That’s the good news. In the not-such-great news, finding the right people for all these new jobs may be harder than it appears. On the face of it, there is enough supply to supplement demand. After all, there are 12.8 million new candidates on the job scene every year. But when you delve deeper into their skills and qualifications, you wind up with a large subset of people who are inadequately trained and deficient in several core skills. Clearly, the need of the hour is skills-based training that can boost employability.

Stringent hiring standards in recent years have thrown the employability gap into sharper focus. Today’s employers are looking for candidates with well-developed communication skills, including proficiency in spoken English. While industry knowledge is vital, companies also value employees who can demonstrate adaptability, innovativeness, and the ability to think on one’s feet. Also high on their wish list are candidates with people-friendly skills who can successfully interact with customers and with their own team members.

Unfortunately, many in the current crop of candidates lack these critical skills. They find it hard to cope in a fast-paced environment that puts importance on effective communication and independent thinking.

How do we begin to address this issue? What can we do to ensure that our candidates are job-ready from Day One? The answers lie in one direction: our education & training system.

Traditional colleges are currently not meeting expectations when it comes to delivering quality training. Their textbook approach to education doesn’t provide the practical perspective that students need in order to be workplace ready. The classroom experience in many colleges is stuck in time and based on outdated curricula. When course offerings are changed, it is not based on a dialogue with companies to ensure that the changes are relevant to the business environment.

Perhaps because of this disconnect between degree-based colleges and employment, many of today’s youth don’t pursue higher education. Currently, out of the 15 to16 million students enrolling in colleges every year, barely half a million go on to graduate. A look at the broader population presents an equally grey picture. In 2009, out of the 232 million youth in the 20-34 age group, only 10 million opted to join a college-level program.

Traditional institutions, thus, have their work cut out for them. They need to work harder to improve their programs while showing solid results in employment outcomes.

In the meantime, it is up to the vocational training industry to pick up the slack in the system by supplying what it does best: practical and job-oriented training.

There is a real need for institutes that can accurately assess students’ strengths, develop their core skills in related areas, and then connect them to potential employers. Vocational training can then serve as either a substitute or as a supplement to traditional college education.

Currently, organised vocational training is still evolving in the country. Many institutes that focused solely on technical training in the initial years have tried to branch out into other areas but with limited success. They have largely operated as islands of training that are only weakly linked to the working world, and that has been their problem.

In order to be truly effective, vocational training should always have a finger on the pulse of industry. This requires ongoing interaction with companies to understand their hiring requirements and their candidate wish lists. By processing this input, institutes can gain deep insights into what employers are looking for in the people that they hire. They can then design programs that are truly aligned with industry and workplace needs. When combined with tools such as on-the-job training and e-learning, this will very quickly translate into greater employability and job preparedness for all of their students.

There is no denying that a candidate skills gap is weighing down India’s employment system. Quality vocational training can be part of a quick and nimble response to the problem. Done right, it can help to bridge the gap and bring supply in line with demand in the marketplace.

Inclusive growth can only happen when we uplift more students reeling under the BTL line and give them training leading to employment. The dichotomy between the public and private is pivotal to bringing both scalability and skill to move things at a faster pace. We need speed in execution.

State Governments run various schemes in this direction. One such scheme run by the A.P. Government is the “Employment Guarantee Marketing Mission Scheme” where the Government partners with education agencies to train and place students from BTL Line. The Government reimburses the entire fee including boarding. The programs are for 400 hours predominantly in retail, sales, marketing, customer service etc. The highlight of the Program has been the placement success which is currently clocking at 70%, Companies like Café Coffee day and Macdonald’s in the Hospitality sector, Big Bazar and others in Retail, Hindustan Lever’s in FMCG hire massively. We need many more such state Government led and funded programs. 58% of our graduates suffer from some sort of skill deficiency, and require last mile intervention to make them employable. Companies don’t want to pay for trained man power, and students want to pay for jobs and not for training.

Highest leverage solutions:

– Reforming the Apprentices Act. It is a matter of shame that India only has 2.5 lakh apprentices while Germany has 6 million and Japan has 10 million.
– Need a shared framework between employers and academia; e.g. TNEF, ICP’s
– Making government money available for private delivery. This needs contracting skills. The task can be accomplished through vouchers or by routing social spending like NREGS to skills.
– Vertical mobility. Need NVEQF to create a corridor between certificated, diplomas, associate degrees and degrees.
– Performance Management. Need to create the fear of falling and the hope of rising.

indian-rupee-vs-us-dollar

By Anuja Tandon:

After the international financial crisis of 2008, the great economic analysts of our country had promised a continuously increasing growth rate, thus bringing in disappointment. After the 8.4% growth rate of 2010, India faced a disheartening growth of 6.5% in 2011-12. The persistent inflation, continual depreciation of the rupee against dollar, has brought down our expectation for the growth of 2012-13 down to around 7.6%. It is like going back to the 90s again.

From the time of the British, we have been trying to depreciate our currency to support our exports. What with our increasing fiscal deficit, a depreciated (to an extent, of course) rupee and increased exports, we got a good new accelerated growth rate in the mid 90s and from 2003 to 2007. Then what is it about this current depreciation that is so bad for us?

Isn’t arguing that the depreciated rupee is good for our exports and thus good for our output production valid? So let us start taking everything step by step. It is like playing a macroeconomics game. To increase growth we need to increase our output production. For this we need Foreign Institutional Investment. But due to our persistent high inflation, two digits, since the last two years, our foreign investors are running away despite high interest rate in our country.

Now you could say that shouldn’t our government provide us with the investment required to improve our dilapidated infrastructure to increase production? But you have to keep in mind that the fiscal deficit of our government is already very high, what with all the subsidies like food, oil etc. Controlling this fiscal deficit is also crowding out domestic investment since the interest rate is high.

So to sum up the government investment (excluding their conversion of public sector enterprises to private sector enterprises) cannot be increased further and foreign investment is decreasing due to fall in confidence in rupee due to continuous depreciation and inflation. Encouraging domestic investors is also hard because of high interest rate and low infrastructure facilities.

Moreover, the thought that depreciated rupee could encourage our exports is true only to some extent as the international demand is low.

Also our huge import bills which include oil import and gold import (although it has reduced to some extent) are worsening our situation.

All in all it is not a good situation for our country. So this time depreciation is becoming a huge backdrop for India’s growth. To make it stable RBI is selling some of its foreign reserves but too much will further lower investor’s confidence in our rupee. Such a complicated scenario.

In my opinion, strengthening our internal economy is the best way to get back on the track. Reducing corruption will go a long way in decreasing our fiscal deficit! Also further privatization of public sector enterprises is the need of the hour! At least increased competition will improve efficiency. Decentralization that is dividing the central roles and giving it to the people who are actually living at the grass root level will also help. Proper working institutions selected competitively will work better in supervising that the various subsidies and their distribution is efficient. Also research and development in agriculture, alternative energy source etc should also be encouraged. So whenever you see an M.Tech or PhD in Engineering or related field, boost them up.

All this is very hard for such a big and democratic country like India but not impossible. Already the first steps have been taken. It is the continuation, side by side a turbulent outside world, that is posing a problem. But hopefully we will see get out of this bad weather with a more balanced and self- sufficient (to the maximum extent possible) economy.

financial quotient

By Pallavi Dani:

Financial management in India has largely been an area of concern for accountants, bankers and those closely involved in the Financial World. A common man would hardly ever bother about the nitty-gritty of the complex financial matters. This is astonishing, keeping in mind that we trade in money in its various forms – cash, loans, credit, and stocks – with people around us every single day. Yet most of our knowledge about money comes from sources just like us, from our families, friends, through random tips etc. And without the right information, we keep struggling to make our ends meet. In this increasing volatile world economy, the need to have financial intelligence has been felt like never before.

Financial Quotient (FQ), just like intelligence quotient or emotional quotient is a measure of financial intelligence. It is your FQ that helps you to make informed decisions about your money and lowers the risk of loosing it in a stumbling global market. It opens up a whole new world with numerous opportunities to increase our wealth. While care has been taken by our education system to improve our IQ and by the rising business setup to develop our EQ, little has been done in the area of FQ.

When it comes to money, a vast majority of population in the country is still ignorant. The concept of saving is still foreign to most of the people, nor have we ever been taught how to manage our finances when growing up. In such a case, a growing number of youngsters with access to money through well-paying jobs still struggle financially when its time to take up responsibilities.

On one side, a subject with so much significance in our day-to-day life is being ignored and on the other, there is huge outcry over harsh economic conditions, rising prices and drowning bank balances. We lament over the Euro crisis and cry when stock market crashes, cursing our luck; but miss out on the most important aspect- developing our know-how on managing our personal finances. Only the person equipped with financial intelligence will be able to glide through our turbulent economy. Now is the time to develop your FQ.

The Tragic Fibre

By Pallavi Dani:

India has a rich culture of arts and crafts that has evolved through the centuries into a flourishing trade. One of the oldest industries that has gained a lot of attention and popularity in recent years marked by rising awareness on global warming is the jute industry. The advent of jute production and export on a large scale started during the British rule with the setting up of the first jute mill in West Bengal. From then on, the industry has grown to a commendable size comprising of 76 jute mills mostly concentrated in West Bengal with a few in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura and Chhattisgarh.

The Indian Jute Industry today, accounts for a turnover of Rs. 6500 crore annually, contributing to exports to the tune of nearly Rs. 1000 crore and alone provides direct employment to approximately 0.26 million people, while about 4 million people are associated indirectly to the industry.

The excessive use of plastics in the Indian market stalled the demand for jute for some time but it is back on track with the growing consciousness towards the environment in recent years. Jute has been reinvented from its traditional avatar of being used in making sacks for storing grains in the agriculture sector to making stylish accessories for home décor and personal use. Jute is no more just the rough golden fabric we are so familiar with. With the utilisation of advanced technology, very fine quality and soft jute is being produced, which is being used in t-shirts and hand bags. Other jute products that are finding market in the domestic as well as global landscapes are wall hangings, baskets, upholsteries, bags, rags, carpets, hangings, footwear, coasters, jewellery, show pieces, etc.

Though there is a rising demand for jute products globally, its supply management is still in the nascent stage in India with the producers following the traditional methods of manufacturing and distribution despite a highly competitive global market. Jute industry in India has emerged as a huge, decentralised and unorganised industry which is one of the major challenges in the path of its growth.

Costly products and high export prices poses a threat to the Indian jute industry from the neighbouring jute producing countries. The government of India has recognised the huge potential and contribution of jute industry to the overall economic development of the country and has introduced many policies and schemes to promote and help its advancement. Workshops and fairs are organised across the country to showcase the ingenuity and skills of jute artisans and develop a market for their products. The evolution of jute industry in the current scenario is only possible with the introduction of proper management and marketing strategies to support the rich and diverse craft. This eco-friendly and highly sustainable fibre will not only help the economy but also give us an alternative to environmentally harmful materials such as plastics.

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By Sanchita Khurana:

The idea of “empowerment” can be empowering only with cognizance of the difference in agency it brings about or is supposed to bring about. For rural women of the Purulia district of West Bengal, this cognizance has been complete, their self-confident narratives and beaming faces are testimony as they speak of their realised self-sufficiency. The exemplary story of these tribal women- who with forming Self-Help Groups supported by NGO’s like Pradan, and more importantly by believing in the concept of self-help, have risen from being mere secondary help to efficient livelihood makers- is a story not just of skill and determination but also of the tremendous dynamism that accompanies a belief in oneself.

The women in some tribal communities (for instance, the Jhalda and Burrabazaar blocks of Purulia) are more self-aware and in charge of themselves, since they hold decision-making power and other privileges in the social life of the community. This has come about by the (re)handling of agricultural practices (water-harvesting, horticulture,etc.) by the women of these communities. The double responsibility of productive as well as reproductive labour on them has made revolutionary change-makers of them, and they have successfully generated, as in the case of this traditional production economy, self-sustained livelihoods, changing possibly for ever the drought hit face of Maoist-inflected Purulia.

What I find more encouraging and endearing than the logical methods applied to water-harvesting techniques by these ever so ordinary and by-far unvalued workers resulting in the double-crop productivity of their lands, is the role the success of these SHG’s create for women in such communities. Those that had no voice in a patriarchal society now find themselves powerfully responsible for productive work. The agency that comes with such a role has implications for the social status of women in a larger context.

While it is true, observed statistically, that the households with their women working with SHG’s see more domestic violence, it is also a significant pointer towards the unsettling power-equation such involvement of the women has generated. The mere confidence brought about from being able to change a whole district’s economy, is enough to make these women question other social ills plaguing that society.

Like the federation leader Sadmoni Hembram, pleasantly assured of her new status, says “These days men take the cattle for grazing while we attend a meeting.”

It is time for this all-female initiative to change the overall status of these tribal women, just as they have changed their economic status. It is clear that breaking this economic/ecological binary that is usually associated with the men/ women divide, will also necessarily mean shaking the public/ private divide, as women go out in society independently, confidently and not to mention, purposefully. The constraints on their social presence can be seen lifting as the three strands of nature, culture and economy are merged and used for developmental work, much in the strain of eco-feminism. In addition to the usual role of SHG’s as micro-creditors, Sadmoni’s self-help group ‘Petre Madwa’, for instance, instils women not just with useful skill and knowledge but also with the basic conceptual idea of self-help groups, that each (poor) villager can do something and is enough to help her community.

Even if empowerment holds a different meaning for each community and even if it would be wrong to say that these women are totally “empowered”, what brings efficacy to their effort is the hope that they have the power to do something, to be able to bring to pass dignified conditions of living for themselves and for their tribe. With this awareness, the major part of the empowerment, I believe, has already happened.

Marketing

By Shashank Bhasker:

For many decades the marketers were challenged in reaching their target groups (TG) with the right media mix for converting top of mind recall at the store level into purchase intent. Let’s revisit the journey cycle. The product is ready and shipped to the store. The marketer thinks of a compelling campaign; brings in a media mix so that his target group sees it on the medium but far away from the place of action. The TG visits the stores and while shopping for other things has to recall his purchase intent for the marketer’s product and take a decision. Don’t you think the journey is too long? This traditional journey of buying behavior is getting outdated with a plethora of options available in the hands of the consumers.

Traditionally certain sectors like clothing, groceries relied more on human resource for selling their products. The personalized human touch was regarded as of prime importance but the scenario is changing rapidly. With the amount of time being spent on smartphones, tablets, social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, Instagram, MySpace etc. the need of the hour is to give the consumers abilities to multi task — seek information online — take decisions and act accordingly. Let us now take a quick look at the upcoming platforms which will be exploited abundantly in near future by all companies:

Location Based Services:

Social apps like Foursquare, Path etc. are going to play a pivotal role in collecting consumer data in near future. These apps can be used by the shopkeepers to send personalized SMS to their target customers if they are there in the vicinity to inform on the latest offers.

Near Field Communication:

It is a set of rules that define the way smartphones or any other NFC device interacts through radio communications by touching them together or placing them in close proximity. Google Wallet allows customers to store their credit card details in a virtual wallet and carry out transactions through NFC enabled devices. This technology can be exploited to share photos, files, have multiplayer gaming and lots more. For marketers it spells a new way to interact with their target group.

Augmented Reality:

It has a huge potential to change the way customers make decisions to buy online especially clothes or jewelry. Online stores should start offering an augmented view of how the dress would look on them. In fact it should not be limited to online shopping even the retail stores can have PCs where they use augmented reality. Saloons can also use this to show how the haircut or style would finally look so that the customer can make an informed decision.

YouTube’s going to lead the way-
Here’s a statistic:

33 Tarzan movies have been made since 1933 while 8950 Tarzan YouTube Videos have been made since 2005. This clearly shows the popularity of this medium today. We find ourselves spending an increased amount of time surfing on the net mainly through our smartphones, tablets or PCs. A large number of trailers are being previewed for upcoming movies and are first aired on YouTube. Even social campaigns are being taken to the next level by sensitizing the audience through interactive videos.

Integrated Marketing:

Brand recall can be improved by showcasing relevant advertisements about your product in every possible front. This includes print media, TVs, mobile phones, apps etc. Bombarding the customer with relevant, catchy & innovative ads will surely pave out a positive impact on the brand for the company. QR codes are a novel way to make the customers interact with the company.

Change the Game is the new platform for marketers to market their products and for consumers the way they interact. Dollar costs of reaching the right audience through traditional medium are increasing by the day. Hence laser sharp advertising and reaching the right audience is the need of the hour.

euro

By Mohit Dayal:

In the midst of renewed calls for Greece to step out of the Euro-Zone over the past few days, several vantage situations have been contemplated and cited. Analysts have argued that a Greek Exit is a matter of ‘When’, rather than ‘Whether’. But while these arguments are legitimate and reasoned, they exhibit only one side of the coin. The consequences of a Greek exit from the Euro-Zone can be catastrophic not just for Europe, but the entire global economy. It can, and probably will lead to a break-up of the Euro-Zone, and its consequences will be grave.

Setting the Clock a couple of Decades back

When we do consider a disintegration of the Eurozone, one needs to go back in history and look at the reasons as to why it was established in the first place. A congregation of a number of countries, and economic integration without political integration, it’s a concept which has been questioned time and again. Deemed flawed by more than a few analysts, it seems more and more likely that they were right. The vision of an empowered block of countries, rejuvenated by common market policies, brought all the major economies together to institute a shared currency in 2000. The dream was shared and lived for almost a decade, until it turned into a nightmare. Analysing the concept itself, the idea of economic integration and common market dynamics, coupled with political incoherence and policy diversion, is a recipe for disaster.

Together We Rise, Together We Fall

But this concept, even though flawed, was realised for more than a decade.  And the Eurozone is, and shall remain to be, the largest economy in terms of GDP, if we were to consider it as an economic block as a whole.
A Greek exit will lead to many more countries contemplating the same, and countries like Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy may follow suit. A Eurozone break-up will take a region a couple of decades back, as far as international geo-politics is concerned. And Europe’s might, in an increasingly multi-polar world, will be considerably diluted, something which no country or leader wants.

The Economic Fall-Out

Whatever the geo-political consequences might be, the economic aftermath is bound to be a Pandora’s Box. As and when Greece leaves the Euro-Zone, it is expected to revert back to its domestic currency, The Drachma, which would be relatively devalued. Now the good part is that reverting back to your domestic economy will help wipe off the enormous public debt. The bad part is that it will cause erosion in the bank deposits and savings of millions of people in Europe. That then will lead to a credit crunch, and lack of liquidity in the markets. The anticipation and the speculation around such a situation is another nightmare. All this will affect the global economy adversely, and contagion to other major economies would be inevitable.

So, while Greece goes to elections on June 17th, and while Euro-Bonds are seriously considered, and while the ECB and the IMF firefight this sovereign debt crisis in the best way possible, it would be wise to excogitate a worst-case scenario for a Greek exit, rather than a best case scenario, which is projected by the proponents of a Greek exit. For a Eurozone Exit is a path traversed never before, and no one is sure what lays ahead, not even those who are at the helm in Europe.

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GDP Bihar

By Manisha Chachra:

Ranked amongst the Bimaru states, regarded as the hub of potential resources but with no hope of development- Bihar, recently achieved an economic growth of 13.1%, which was the highest among the all the states. No wonder, the figures did astound many of us. As a matter of fact, one couldn’t believe that a state which sometime back was a laughing stock for many of us, owing to its former Chief Ministers, has created a history. The economic figures very well elucidate the lessening gaps between incomes and are a sign of egalitarian society.

The reasons for such enormous developments lay in the effective governance of Bihar under Nitish Kumar.

The growth rate of Bihar becomes more astonishing if one comprehends that Bihar has toppled even the national capital — Delhi, which stands at the economic growth of 11%. The prime reasons for this growth is the better law and order situation in Bihar compared to what it used to be. The pre-stagnant economy has now become an area of investment. The state is more concerned about the internal problems than merely focusing on corporate sector. In this way, the state has set a good precedent for other states as well.

Privatization and liberalization – the key tenets of liberalism have obtained a new shape in Bihar. The state isn’t merely concentrating on the hype of gross domestic product. It has rather envisaged a greater role in solving the problems of the ‘aam aadmi’.

The state famous for its Liquor ban campaign and innumerable schemes- Gujarat under Narendra Modi has obtained a growth of 9.1%. Known for its tourism industry, Gujarat has failed to gain the status among the top five Indian states.

The model of green revolution– Punjab has achieved sheer 5%. The basis again lies in more concentration of central government on the schemes of liberalization where farmers are the first to get victimized due to withdrawal of subsidies. The other reasons can be the prominence of caste in political mobilization, where leaders are more engrossed in caste and class mobilization than development initiation.

The story of the most populous state —Uttar Pradesh is very similar to the grain bowl of India.

The growth rate in Uttar Pradesh is lower than 6% and the obvious grounds are that of prevalent caste, class and religion mobilization. The Yadav- Muslim formula in Uttar Pradesh and the widespread Dalit mobilization has created a nexus of vote bank politics, where a handful of people are gaining prominence over others. This further leads to a gulf in society between winners and losers.

The history of Bihar is a model for other states to follow. Nevertheless, only ‘GDP’ should not be a point of attraction, the states must focus on effective governance which will indefinitely lead to economic acceleration. The policy making shouldn’t merely concern itself with investments and foreign capital where the elite class defines the rise in income standards. The aim really should be on creating equality, where liberty of every individual is preserved with respect to the other. Thus, creating a compatibility between liberty and equality.

Business meeting

By Neelima Ravindran:

The decision is made. You have chosen to leave your old job for good and move on to richer and greener pastures. And the one last gesture of conclusion to your employer-employee relationship is giving an honest and constructive explanation about the job experience and reason to quit. Or is it?

Exit interviews on paper seem to be a solution to providing insights that might increase the productivity and decrease the attrition rate. Feedback from the employees is a powerful development tool in the hands of the organizations. But for an employee who has decided to leave his present job it mostly ends up being a pain in the neck. No one likes explaining a reason for the choices they have made in their career especially to a team they are parting with. Long exit interview processes and venting your emotions about your bosses might help you to heave the burden off your chest for a short period of time, but it might lead to unlikely down sides in your professional life. It is much more practical to keep the conversations short and sentiments in check. Many of the superiors find it hard to take criticisms in their stride which may adversely affect your climb up the ladder especially if you are sticking to the same industry. Being honest may be the right thing to do but most employees wind up sugar coating their answers so as to make the break up clean and concise.

Which, of course, doesn’t serve the purpose of any organization? For most companies exit interviews have become an unwanted process that is being followed because it has to be followed. Most of the feedback from soon to be ex-employees are either diplomatic responses or emotional outbursts, both of which cannot be taken at their face value. What would help an organization affirmatively is conducting surveys about employee satisfaction or work culture every six months or so, preferably anonymously, which helps the members put forth the truth. Exit interviews should be limited to lending a compassionate and caring gesture to an employee who helped in uplifting the productivity and upholding the name of the organization instead of prodding him/her with uncomfortable questions and surveys. Let it be a positive note from the side of the organization to assert that the employees are treated with equal respect on their way out as on their way in. Let it be a sign of closure from the side of the employee to move on from any negative feelings and ensure a smooth transition into a new world.

1295614063ppe1Ub

By Nikhil Borker:

At a time when the country is under a severe financial crunch and the rupee is resting at all- time low levels, following the “keep the change” policy is definitely not the wisest idea for the common man. However, the irony is that we are forced to follow it whether we like it or not. With the extinction of the ‘chavanni’ and the ‘atthani’ and the virtually weightless coins in circulation these days, the demise of coinage in India looks imminent.

Isn’t it embarrassing when you are flaunting all the red and green in your wallet but don’t have any silver to buy a cup of tea. This is a minor but highly irksome problem faced by all of us almost every day. It is frustrating when the shopkeeper, with his smarmy smile, hands you a few candies. You are left with no choice but to leave with a disgruntled face. It is disheartening that India has the brightest minds in the worlds, still, as consumers we repeatedly prove that we are fools. The perfect example is the ’99 phenomenon’. Don’t we get excited when we see hoardings showing something being sold for 99 or 999? Yes, we do! And may go on to buy it later even when we know that we are not going to get the extra rupee back. Suppose a company sells 1, 00,000 goods in a month, it will make a profit of a lac at your expense. This has been a recipe for profit-making over the past ten years.

Why have we been suddenly struck by this situation? In the last few years two devils have tormented the country- corruption and inflation. These are the primary causes for reduced circulation of coinage. Corruption increases the amount of black money in the economy. This results in an increase in the ratio of higher to lower denominations. Thus, there is a relative decrease in coinage. Inflation leads to goods becoming more expensive. This implies that even the price levels of the goods that were earlier costing the bare minimum (like a matchstick) have increased. This is a clear indication of the rupee getting devalued. This is the macro side of the issue.

Just blaming the government won’t solve the problem. Now you would argue what can we do? I would say that it is only we the youth who can bring about a change. A foundation stone is required for the construction of any building. In the same manner we need to take the starting step if we are to save our currency. The most basic step could be to not give up any ground when it comes to rendering of balance. Try to amass as many coins as possible and always keep them with you for transactions. This will disseminate to others around you about the fact that coinage is an integral part of any economy. It’s still not too late. Start today so that you don’t have to lament tomorrow.

new-business-sales-marketing-leads

By Awanish Shahi:

It’s time to sleep and we reach for the remote to switch off TV, flipping channels furiously. “Kya aap motape se pareshan hai?” a Hindi-dubbed non-Indian ad flashes on screen and we watch it slumbering. We see anorexic blonde girls lined up, selling body slimming tea to sex power booster powders. No matter what they sell, they ardently bring delight to a seedy man resting in his bed room and needless to say give food for his dreams. So right from pesky calls to late night funny Hindi-dubbed foreign ads, telemarketing ever-present in our lives, both irritating and benefiting us.

Telemarketing revolution has swept Indian subcontinent as today we live in a mobile information society. Having more than 900 million mobile subscribers, India has witnessed a great upsurge in teledensity in both urban and rural area. So with this great increase in teledensity, telemarketing too is witnessing a great time. With changing economy, targeting the new customer groups is making telemarketing more effective and thus aiding them in keeping pace with the taste and likings of customers. Which age group likes what? – Such queries are the priorities of these telemarketing companies and customized product based on needs are developed.

A customer can be happy receiving such calls or may be unhappy, agitated or mentally frustrated by many such pesky calls during a working day. A research conducted on telemarketing revealed following results:

– Approximately 50% people prefer ignoring any kind of telemarketing calls.
– Recorded voices and SMS are frequently received.
– People targeted by telemarketing companies are usually young.
– Majority of people find the telemarketing calls irritating and time consuming.
– Those who respond most to these calls are then called even more often.
– Young people are more comfortable in dealing with pesky calls than elderly people.

Telemarketing besides impacting customers also has a socio-psychological side. This side helps the telemarketing companies to decide the potential customer keeping in mind factors like taste, purchasing power, their background, social setup etc. All these factors assist the telemarketing companies to increase their market.

It basically is a low cost solution to direct marketing and it’s a customer response based process. Robocalling too is telemarketing as it is a form of voice broadcasting which is commonly associated with political messages. So telemarketing has now emerged as a cardinal tool for marketing and understanding the consumer behavior. Dynamically changing Indian consumer behavior is the biggest challenge for the Indian telemarketing companies.

Image courtesy: http://new-business-lists.com/

neuromarketing-bild1

By Abdul Wahid Khan:

Several devices to record brain waves were already there and used but they are getting more detailed with the advancement of technology. Even though they are getting more sophisticated, scientists say that we have still very little knowledge of brain and our map of our brain is as unexplored and vague as the map of the world in the 16th century.

The field of neuromarketing is an application and extension of neuroscience. The Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology called in short as fMRI as used initially for examining brain. Ale Smidsts of the Erasmus University in 2002 coined the term neuromarketing while the first marketer to use this technique was Gerry Zoltman at Harvard in 1999. Basically, it is mainly about which parts of the brain become active when subjected to different stimuli. Then comes the interpretation stage and various dependent variables are analyzed using correlation.

The development of this field started long ago when brain scientists used to have Pupilometer for observing and measuring pupil movements in response to a TV commercial or a print ad. They said this was not as effective as direct response of words. Coca cola used it up to some extent. Then came Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) which checked the skin response instead of pupil. Later also came eye tracking technology which could trace exactly which part of the TV screen the eyes were looking at.

Finally in 1970, Herbert Krugman and Flemming Hansen started studying brain processes using Electroencephalograph (EEG). An advanced version Magneto-encephalograph (MEG) is used to show which areas of brain light up in response to different actions. It has been tested in various experiments at London Business School where they found various important areas like location of brand equity in brain. Such locations are called as known centers and neuromarketing focuses on these centers. But the problem is that some centers are active with various stimuli and it is hard to determine relation between such stimuli and generalize them. For example, insula light up during price-pain as well as smoking addiction. So, research needs to come to a conclusion about such areas and confirm which is basic activity or a set of activities for activeness of insula. A lot of studies have appeared in the press but a very few of them have been published.

Various problems with the neuromarketing exist. The field is quite new and it is still under development. Various studies in this field are going on and the views are varied. It gives opinions and views in lots of directions while marketing needs simple answers based on Keep It Simple (KIS) philosophy. So, it needs solid proofs to drive marketing campaigns. News and media have also made lots of hyper claims about it which has given it a miraculous brand image. Neuromarketing is sometimes considered unethical because some critics say it read minds of consumers and then make such ads so as to make them buy. It is a topic of debate and there are different views. Various consulting firms have started which make marketing strategy using this technique. Among all such discussions, one important use can be for the benefit of society to show ads to abandon smoking or let people have some good habits.

Air India

By Anannya Roy Chowdhury:

To fly high is not that easy a task. Not only does gravity become your enemy, but also do other obscurities weigh you down. This was exactly what happened with the idyllic Air India flight management that metamorphosed ghastly; from a bird roaring high up to what it today is… a slum dweller. The story of the debacle of Air India and the current disposition of it is certainly not a happy one. 10 lips are mouthing 10 different things and I too feel that in the basest of manners, the problem has a plethoric angle to it. What I deduced and what you should know (we all know them somehow, but not in the right places) is written along as you continue.

Road to fiasco; a general overview of the problems

Before we start digging deeper and jot down different points that possibly give us linkages to the strikes, it only makes sense to gauge the current situation. News headlines all over the country and the world to some extent are blazing out the event of the massive strike by the members of the IPG, the Indian Pilots Guild that has made the scenario worse for AI (Air India). The already dwindling economy that caused shrunken pay packages, untimely services and an overall mess for the company has exacerbated, owing to this full bodied walk out by the pilots. The situation is not sudden, as is the case with all mutinies that have happened in the past, and over the years that followed the historic tie up between the two major Indian Aviation services, the Air India and the Indian Airlines have witnessed sequential falls that summed up to the monster it is today. The following few points can be rightly asserted to the ultimate fall of AI —

  • Social organization: This is indeed one of the biggest problems that posed a threat to AI. Instead of being a capitalist institution or at least adopt a few principles of it, AI till today continues to be a strictly public sector. This cringes down its profit value.
  • Continued benefits in times of crunch: Now, this might come as a biased point but the whole point of downsizing or facing an economic upheaval makes no sense if, at the same time, top employees keep getting richer! Unnecessary reimbursements for them proved to a gargantuan set back.
  • Lack of international tie-ups: Unlike other successful aviation companies such as Lufthansa and the Emirates, AI never initiated such link-ups, making it a solitary player and now a solitary loser.
  • Too many recruits: Although in the short view, a high recruiting rate indicates better popularity; in a situation as what AI is in, it fails to provide work to the all-huge army of talented pilots and other employees that it calls on board. As a result, the company profile goes down, along with the spirits of the hundred plus pilots who work there.

These were the generic reasons and now let us look at the cause that ignited this mini mutiny. But before that there are a few things that you ought to know to make the understanding of the complex situation somewhat easier.

Before 2008, there were primarily two aviation bodies in India, (of course excluding the dozens of private companies), namely the Air India and the Indian Airlines. The former was the international carrier flier while most of the domestic tagging was done through the Indian Airlines planes. With the tie-up, it came under one joint administration that had top members from both the individual sectors.

  • IPG: the Indian Pilots Guild is one of the oldest and most reputed of all pilots’ associations, and was formed by the working pilots of the AI of the pre-merged state.
  • ICPA: Short for Indian Commercial Pilots Association, it is the parallel body from the pre-merging state of the Indian Airlines.

While these two bodies continue to remain, their existence is shaky for all practical purposes following the administrative tie up.

The IPG vs. ICPA conflict, Survival of the Fittest

Historically, the pilots of AI were paid more than the ICPA members, while the latter received an equal and sometimes greater advantage in terms of faster, time-based promotions and longer sick or personal leaves. These distinctions were constructed completely by AI administrators, thus causing a general discontent among the likes about its unfairness. A point in favour of AI went due to their wider exposure to airplanes with innate training and polishing with wide-bodied jetliners and Boeings.

The discrepancies were, in a way, balanced before the merge but after it, things changed. When AI recently took delivery of the Boeing 787s, there was a huge hue and cry over who should be given the greater preference in piloting them.

First hand treatment of the strikes; a take on the Media 

Owing to the above-discussed situation, some odd 150 pilots of the IPG feigned sickness and refused to pilot the planes. On this account, after following a methodical investigation (doctors actually went and personally examined the sick pilots) by the ministry, Ajit Singh (the Aviation minister) decided to call it off by sacking 10 pilots who got busted by the investigation. It was alleged that IPG forgot the basic rules of conducting a strike and it was heralded “illegal”. IPG’s demand for complete riddance of ICPA pilots from piloting the 787 Series came out as a base and greedy move. The media followed these exchanges closely, but the sad fact was that neither party actually initiated conflict-management and discussions, and most of the verbal exchanges were done through the media.

What the ICPA had to say

In the simple sense, why should they be dealt as refugees in their own lands? This is precisely what ICPA had to comment on the uncanny strikes by IPG. Just because IPG is traditionally the coherent union under AI does not mean that pilots from ICPA should not be given a chance to pilot the Dreamliner. A move such as preventing ICPA pilots from flying 787s would certainly slack a chunk of their careers! Also, they said most of the comments made by IPG revolving around the dismissal of ICPA were gross overreactions.

IPG’s take

Now, this is where the side taking comes. Although I was convinced by the former set of justifications, mostly because the master tool, Media propagated the same, after going through their side of the story I feel it was too gore to call the Union greedy. Somehow from the beginning of its instillation, ICPA pilots have gotten an upper hand on an overall basis and hence, giving them the parity in flying the Boeings seemed discrimination redefined. Also, one of the logics that IPG bases its renunciation on is the fact that the commanders with ICPA do not have a practical knowledge about widebody jets, and hence training them will only cause harassment, which is totally baseless because trained pilots already do exist.

Among other demands, the IPG has also expressed its dissatisfaction over discriminatory treatment of its pilots, compared to the ICPA. IPG has, for a long time now, been facing problems with respect to employee treatment. For example, IPG pilots are bound to penalising for availing their sick leaves or casual leaves, while their ICPA counterparts enjoy advantages of having more leave allotments. While IPG pilots were earlier paid greater wages, almost as a form of compensation for these inequalities, however, ICPA pilots were given pay rises in order to appease them during the strikes last year, a situation, when viewed now, only increases the discriminatory treatment between the two associations. The strikes were thus a cumulation of unmet demands of the IPG pilots, the ones mentioned above being only a few of the many other grievances voiced by them.

No matter what sides we take or stay neutral over the issue, the point that remains stoned is that due to this mess, it is the general public and the employees themselves who are adversely affected. When the company is losing a few odd crores each day, the problem of No Salaries still remains. Strikes are only aggravating the concern and hence, it makes all the sense to talk…now how tough can that be is a question left unanswered.

INR vs Dollar

By Guha Rajan:

With Indian rupee depreciating, it paints a grim picture of our economy. The instability is attributed to many factors including the Euro crisis. Since 2006, economies around the world are in turmoil, if one country attempts to come out, it impacts directly or indirectly the other country. It started of with US mortgage crisis in 2006/07, which was followed by the infamous Lehman brothers crisis and other financial institution collapsing then in 2008. Then came the crash of stock markets, Euro crisis which was followed by appreciation of gold. The news coming out these days is quite conflicting, in one month we would see economic recovery being projected and the following month, one would see depressing news about the economy.

What does rupee depreciation mean to the Indian economy and who could be the probable Gainers or Losers?.

The Gainers:

  • Exporters, particularly who are using the resource and raw materials by paying them in INR and getting return in USD.
  • Companies earning in USD and reporting and exchanging to INR would stand to gain.
  • Indian Origin people sending foreign currency to India and converting them into INR and making permanent investment in India - The reason being they would be getting more INR for lesser amount of USD.

A 100 USD with exchange rate of 56.5 will fetch more INR compared to 100 USD with exchange rate of 40 INR.

The Losers:

Importers, more particularly India Government importing large volume of oil is bound to suffer. Normally such increase in Oil cost is passed on to the customer and naturally, people of India would have to burn more money (as is already evident from the increase in petrol rates). This would eventually continue the spiraling of inflation, which is already high.

Foreign equity investors who are looking for gains might lose, if they attempt to pull out their money.

In short term for India, it will be good if the money does not flow out of India, however, in long run if INR is volatile and continues to depreciate, foreign investors would lose interest in Indian markets.

Lets hope the INR bounces back.

food

By Nupur Dogra:

Since the advent of industrialization in India we have witnessed setting up of many new industries in various sectors. Indian industrialists after the 65 years of independence have come a long way. Some sectors have developed and some are still developing. Most of the sectors have even attracted foreign investments to the country. Following is an insight to some of the top increasingly booming industries in India.

Tourism

Tourism is one of the most important industries to any country as it is the best source for inflow of foreign currency into the country. A tourist, with him brings foreign currency and thus his every little spending is contributing in a better way to the country’s economy. Its contribution is around 6.23 % to the national GDP and generates 8.78% of the total employment. It is estimated that around US $375.5 billion will be generated by this particular sector by 2018. India being such a large and diverse destination has become a major attraction for tourists all over the world. The fact that it has 28 different states, and each one has a different and a unique culture of its own, adds to the curiosity of the tourists. There have been efforts to increase new forms of tourism such as rural, medical and eco-tourism. Medical tourism over the years has attracted a large chunk of tourists to Asia especially for plastic surgeries. India, despite having some of the world class medical facilities has suffered due to its low levels of sanitation. This remains one of the biggest hurdles in development of medical tourism here. But one of the major challenges is of security of the tourists. Domestic tourism is over 800 million. Another challenge is shortage of hotels and tourist accommodation places in the country. Lately, government has also started promoting tourism and awareness about tourism in country under the programme of “Incredible India”.

Power Generation

Electricity has become one of the most basic necessities of one’s life today. India has the 5th largest power consuming market in the world. In the 11th five year plan, the planning commission displayed “electricity for all till 2012” as the aim of government but 2012 has arrived and we are not even close to this goal. Power generation sector provides great opportunities to the investors as it promises higher returns. Coal, despite being termed as major pollutant still continues to generate 55% of total power generated. Though government has taken steps to generate electricity from hydro, nuclear and solar energy but there share is still very low as compared the thermal energy.

Hospitality industry

With increasing tourism and with the advent of modern life styles and westernization this particular sector has witnessed a sudden and massive boom.

Hospitality industry is one of the world’s largest service generating sectors. In India though it is new but people are investing in it and also more people are opting for hotel management course to enter this promising industry.

This sector can be divided into two; the entertainment and accommodations sectors. Discs, bars hotels have become part of the urban lifestyles. On the other hand with an increase in tourism in India has lead to need of more hotels and infrastructure.

Animation industry

This particular sector has witnessed a much required boom over the past few years. With the increasing use of 3D technology in movies and many other animation technologies, this industry has managed to create a demand for creative animators, and other technicians.

According to a study this industry is growing at rate of 30% annually.

A slight government help to the animation industries in terms of loan can provide a futher increase and profit to new but rapidly growing industry.

Food processing industries

Food processing industry is another rapidly growing industry in india. The central government has taken many steps to increase the growth of this sector for eg they treat all the agro processing industries with a greater priority and responsibility. This has to some extent brought more organisational factor into the food retail and agricultural sector. This is one sector which has faced a rapid increase in the foreign direct investments. Also, over the time there has been an ever increasing demand of such goods in the Indian market. This industry is growing swiftly and is estimated to cross $200 billion till 2015. This sector currently faces major problem fetching proper investment at various stages of supply. More upgraded technology is the current need of the hour.

SEZ

By Vaibhav Srinivasan:

This article is based on a true experience and some introspection, I encountered a few days back in my “Air-conditioned” and creatively designed office campus, which stands erect as a beauty of modern day steel structure completely glossy and amusing in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) outside city limits. Yes. The very same office building, a perfect capitalist in terms of current consumption when the whole state sacrifices their needs for few thousand machines and professionals working inside.

The incident was very simple. Late night post 11:30 pm, cleaners were allowed to clean our floors and one young fellow, probably of my age pick up a small glass article kept on a table. Soon he saw his supervisor approaching and his ability to enjoy the artistic beauty of the fancy doll was kindled and when he tried to put it away from the eyes of his supervisor, he failed and in tension he dropped the same on the floor.

It resulted in a fuss created by his superior. Scolded and abused, the poor fellow was sent out of the office, tagged as misfit. I met him at the corridor when I was on my way for a late night coffee. I took him along with me when I saw the tears rolling down his cheeks and asked him if he was okay.

He started speaking…

(Pointing out to a distant place) “There can you see sir? Some small hill kind of thing… I am coming from a village near that hill. We were, of course, a happy family with my father and mother working as farmers, and I was busy with my schooling. We had very little money. I was like all other village kids who were benefited by the free education from Govt.

Rains betrayed us. Tractors and other Farm equipment completely ruined us. Just when the farms had failed, the announcement from our Govt arrived. Our Village, safe away from the sea, was identified as a hot spot for the SEZ. We were assured of regular jobs, development, infrastructure, connectivity and what not. For the first time in my life, we all had dreamed of seeing our village turning into a developed place like MADRAS!!

Cars, internet, Tar roads… Facilities to come and cater us… It’s going to employ us as well, we thought. We were asked to leave our lands and we left our huts. An asbestos sheeted accommodation was given to us. Land owners gave away their land to Govt. for money. We, the landless laborers were either taken as security guards, or house-keeping assistants. Initially, my mom worked as a maid in the cafeteria of this office and my dad was the security guard at Gate-2.

Now that competition came for us from North and those guys were ready to grab our chances for very less wages we lost even those little jobs we had. My father is now out of job and he has turned into a lunatic and my mother falls ill very often. My beautiful dreams of learning something artistic because of the SEZ development have now been tarnished. All I am left with is the option of do this job to feed my family.”

He continued with his story. After a while, I came back to my seat and did some research about this issue he had faced.

Suicides have become common nowadays. Be it IITian or a farmer… It is a serious problem now. In Tamil Nadu alone, the number of farmer suicide occurrences were 500 in 2008 and 1260 in 2009 (officially). For a quintal of paddy, manufacturing cost is Rs. 1500 and the acquiring cost by Govt. itself is Rs. 700-1100.

Tamil Nadu’s demand of food grains annually is 170 Lakh tonnes while the production is just 80 Lakh tonnes. If Karnataka and Andhra don’t supply us food, my friend, we are on the verge of starvation. The cost of fertilizers is increasing and the land is losing its productivity – gradually due to chemicals.

Statistics shut me down. I started wondering is SEZs are qualified enough to exploit our agriculture and small-scale industries.

And then I realized how I am eaten up by present-selfishness rather than future worries. I want to eat today and so I earn. But when the fear of tomorrow’s food availability comes in me, I get worried. My community should not stay hungry. I am currently developing software which in no direct means would feed a hungry person. And in due process I am sure I would have indirectly exploited farmers to whom the land originally belonged to.

By all means, I tried to justify my stand. But despite doing that. I admit, I feel guilty…

I am not sure what the solution to this problem is. May be it lies in our better decisions, standing up for the right – or may be in just making sure the right information about these problems is right out there.

fair trade

By Shruti Shreya:

How often do you buy a product that bears a special blue-green logo or think about the writing on your take-away coffee cups that says “Fair Traded” or even pay extra attention to placards in departmental stores that say “We only sell Fair Traded products here”?

It is the so-called “First World” countries’ crusades to help the producers of the “third-world” nations get the best price for their produce – that is called the Fair Trade policy. Be it handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers or gold, the organized social movement ensures a transparent and fair trade partnership to achieve a greater equity in international trade.

With a similar vision in mind, India too has the Fair Trade Forum neatly in place. The society that was started in September 2000 currently has a network of 70 Fair Trade promoting organizations in India. With the aim of empowering the producers from the weaker sections of the society, the organization mobilizes 100 students at 75 colleges in four major cities to be Fair Trade supporters and consumers among other activities.

To promote their cause various events are also being rolled out. While Sanyojan, carried out at Siri Fort, New Delhi in March this year was held to enlighten the youth of the country on the Fair Trade issues, “Creative Cut” was a documentary film screened to promote the initiative of Fair Trade.

While measures are being taken to increase knowledge about Fair Trade in India, there still lacks efforts from the government to reduce the hardships of the producer families and ensure they get the best price for their produce or so much as protect their lands. There are no official government policies in place that may help guide a proper development of the Fair Trade phenomenon in the country. The biggest paradox being that despite all the promotion being carried out for issues, the aware consumer seeking fairly traded product is not able to find it in the market. There clearly are some missing links in the Fair Trade supply chain in India.

The UK Fair Trade Chief, John Fingleton, however feels that India may be on the right track with certain new government policies that include competition. He feels that competition-enhancing policies are beneficial for fair trading, especially since it is a magic formula that works in all economic conditions.

Meanwhile, although it is too early yet to say whether or not such moves will help the producers in India, the phenomenon of Fair Trading worldwide is being criticized by economists and the likes for being yet another means to mint money by blindfolding consumers into believing that the amount being raised from fair trades are going towards the betterment of the producers of the developing nations. With no official control or guidelines to be followed, the retailers unfortunately are charging insane prices for products that bear the Fair Trade logo. The extra amount earned however is not always reaching the actual producers and their families, which just makes it even worse than the actual exploitation of manual labor. It is time a globally centralized organization be erected to regulate the Fair Trade prices before retail companies end up making much more than the MRP on the very same products.

vodafone-logo

By Madhav Gupta:

The apex court gave its verdict on the Vodafone-Hutch case which has been going on for last 5 years. The Supreme Court gave it judgement in favour of the UK telecom giant Vodafone and ordered Indian Government to refund Rs. 2,500 crore along with 4% interest.

On Tuesday, Supreme Court even dismissed the review petition filed by the government. “You can only tax on the basis of existing law. We have no right to tax them, current law will prevail so long [as] law is not changed,” Salman Khursid said after a meeting with the Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and other top ministers.

It is clear that the verdict given by Supreme Court is as per the Book of Law. And the current law book doesn’t have much sight on overseas deals like this. But as soon as the Finance Bill 2012 will be in action, which would be covering latest enhancement of the Business world, the apex court will have to follow it. Any decision on the IT will obviously affect similar foreign deals and a strict act may even lead to high fiscal deficit.

The main problem being faced by the government in the current scenario is of dismal foreign trade and increasing Current Account Deficit. And in the current global scenario, any decision which is not fruitful for the overseas investors is not advisable. Vodafone is the single largest overseas investor in India. So any decision which doesn’t go their way will have an intense impact on the Indian economy.

The only way to get over this scenario is to make the domestic economy strong, especially by giving a greater importance to the primary activity of our country i.e. agriculture and reducing taxes on the domestic companies, providing low interest rate loans to small and medium scale industries, encouraging the youth to start-up their own business i.e. encouraging entrepreneurship and educating youth about the service industry.

Whatever the verdict is, the government has to take corrective measures and make sure the foreign investment is not lost.

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