Monday, May 25, 2009

Mint Launches in Kolkata

Mint, HT Media's business daily in exclusive content partnership with The Wall Street Journal, is now going national. With the launch of the Kolkata edition on 25 May, the daily now has a national footprint that includes Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Pune as well. With an introductory price of Rs. 3, Mint will target the key business and policy leaders in the metropolis, in line with its reader profile nationally.

In just over 2 years, Mint now has a readership of 200,000 daily. With a readership of 175,000 in the Delhi and Mumbai editions alone (IRS R1 09), and a circulation of 25,000 in the other cities, Mint is a strong and growing No. 2 player in the category. With a one-third share of readers in the cities that matter, Mint is now the choice of advertisers for reaching decision makers across markets.

Mint was created to the address the growing reader demand for Clarity in Business. "The spectacular readership numbers have validated our belief that there is a market for unbiased, jargon-free reporting and analysis in the business news domain, across formats", says Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media Ltd. With its accent on clarity in reporting, stand-out design and printing, and the exclusive WSJ section, the daily has been embraced by senior decision makers across industry and government. There is no better proof of this than the fact that 4 out of 5 Mint readers do not read another business paper.

The new edition in provides discerning readers in Kolkata the same Clarity that the rest of the country has so overwhelmingly embraced. "The clean design and printing quality, premium and contextual content environment, an array of innovative advertising options and events, and the large unduplicated reader profile with the best audience makes Mint the choice of premium advertisers. The addition of Kolkata gives advertisers yet another reason to partner Mint", added Vivek Khanna, Publisher and Business Head, Mint.

Every weekday, Mint comes with a special section of international news and analysis from the 1,900 global journalists at The Wall Street Journal, the world's leading business newspaper. These are the articles that are selected by Mint editors with the Indian reader in mind. Mint also comes with Markets Watch, a Tuesday to Saturday pullout that offers comprehensive and relevant market data on stocks and funds. Campaign, on Tuesday, offers readers insights into strategy and marketing. On Saturday, Lounge, the magazine-style weekend edition of Mint, takes reader beyond business. With its emphasis on lifestyle and life aspirations of the well-heeled discerning leader, the magazine is a window to life that is both comprehensive and stimulating.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Google Powerpoint Presentation | Everything about Google

Powerpoint Presentation - Global Voices Online

Global Voices Online - Bringing the world to you via Translation - Presentation Transcript

1. So who are these people following your blogs and blogs from more than 100 countries? ___
2. Global Voices Online
3. Native English Language
4. How can you use GVO content?
5. How can you help? GVO needs aggregators and translators for Japan twitter: @preetamrai
6. The Business of Aggregation

MyWay IPTV | All about MyWay IPTV

MyWay IPTV brings to your homes a truly digital TV service with richer-than-DVD picture and sound quality. Experience on-demand movies, a user-friendly electronic programming guide, interactive learning games for the kids and lots more.
With a huge selection of channels across various genres, MyWay IPTV enhances your TV experience like never before with features such as favourites, reminders, alerts and parental lock.

High Quality Transmission
Delight your senses with a stunning audio-video quality that remains unaffected by weather conditions. MyWay offers consistently superior quality of reception across all channels.

Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
The EPG provides you with a proactive and ‘intelligent’ way of watching TV. Reach your desired channel by browsing through genres and catching a glimpse of the current programme being broadcast.

Using the MyWay remote, you can easily create your set of favourite channels that you watch most frequently. You can add or delete channels from your Favourites list at any time.

On Demand
MyWay is all about watching what you want and when you want. The On-Demand service lets you set up your favourite movie, music track or even a cookery show at any time convenient to you. You can pause, rewind or forward your on-demand movie or ‘programme’ as easily as in a DVD player.

Programme Reminders
An important soap episode, your favourite movie, or a crucial realty show…Don’t miss any of them! Set up a quick reminder and let MyWay remind you minutes before the programme is about to start.

Parental Control
MyWay’s intelligent technology ensures that your kids get to watch only those programmes that are suitable for them. Using the convenience of your MyWay remote control, you can easily restrict programmes/channels based upon their rating levels.

MyWay Subscription Packages

Junior: Rs 100/month
Economy:Rs 150/month
Value: Rs 200/month
Super Value: Rs 280/month

Launch Offer for BSNL Customers

Purchase Model

* Installation free of cost
* Upfront payment for PVR-ready Set Top Box – Rs. 2000
* Super Value Pack worth Rs. 280 (126 ch.) free for three months
* Free view of all On-Demand content like Movies (Welcome Pack plus PPV), Games, Karaoke, Comics, Documentaries, Radio and iServices (iLearning, Rail Info, etc) for 3 months

Rental Model

* Installation free of cost
* Security deposit of Rs. 1500* (Refundable) and a monthly rent of Rs. 50 per month for non-PVR Set Top Box
* Super Value Pack worth Rs. 280 (126 ch.) free for three months
* Free view of all On-Demand content like Movies (Welcome Pack plus PPV), Games, Karaoke, Comics, Documentaries, Radio and iServices (iLearning, Rail Info, etc) for 3 months

*Security Deposit for Chennai customers will remain Rs. 1000 till May 31, 2009. Customers who sign up on or after June 1, 2009 will pay Rs. 1500 as Security Deposit for STB.

For More Info on MyWay IPTV

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

All about Blu-ray discs | Powerpoint Presentation

This ppt is the final project for the 99-100 "Computing @ Carnegie Mellon"
Copyright belongs to them.
In this project, they researched and examined the Blu-Ray Disc media standard, its history, and background information on High-Definition media. They looked at the format that had been the primary competitor to Blu-Ray, HD DVD and wrote about the formats that have led up to the adoption of Blu-Ray like Betamax, VHS, and DVD. All of this reasearch has been compiled into final presentation.

More About Blu-Ray
Blu-Ray Movies
Blu-Ray Players
Blu-Ray Gaming Systems
Learn About HDTV

Monday, May 11, 2009

Import your Orkut friends to Facebook | Facebook's latest trap to catch Orkut users.

Facebook seems to be quiet interested in Orkut users, if you are one of the Orkut as well as Facebook users, Facebook now gives you the option to directly find your orkut friends on Facebook or invite them to Facebook, this seems to be a well thought of stratagy to catch hold of Orkut user, which seems to be haunting Facebook in India and Brazil, where Orkut still leads the race of Social networks.

Connect Orkut with Facebook

  1. Drag the Facebook bookmarklet on to the bookmarks bar of your browser.
  2. Login to your Orkut account and click the bookmarklet button.
  3. The Facebook Friend Finder tool now scans your Orkut contacts list and will then show you a subset who are also on Facebook but aren’t friends with you yet. Click "Add Friends" and you are done.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Awarded the Prestigious 'Nikkei Asia Prize' 2009 for Regional Growth

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Limited has been honoured with the 'Nikkei Asia Prize' 2009 for Regional Growth. Japan's prestigious business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) awards Nikkei Asia Prizes annually to individuals or institutions from Asia Pacific region recognizing outstanding achievements that improve the quality of life in Asia. In addition to Ms. Shaw's Regional Growth category, prizes are given in the categories of Culture and Science, Technology & Innovation.

Lauding her role as the head of India's leading biotechnology enterprise, Biocon, Ms. Shaw was nominated by the prize committee for her pioneering work in the field of biotechnology in India, by establishing a business model that believes in innovation and intellectual excellence, her achievements as a first generation entrepreneur and her status as an icon of entrepreneurship in India. Under her stewardship, Biocon has evolved from its inception in 1978 as an industrial enzymes company to a fully integrated Bio-pharmaceutical enterprise encompassing a well balanced business portfolio of products and services with a research focus on Diabetes, Oncology and Auto-immune disease.

Cisco Appoints B. Raghavendran to Head India Channel Operations and Commercial Strategy

Cisco® today announced the appointment of B. Raghavendran as Vice President, Channel Operations and Commercial Strategy, Cisco India & SAARC. In this role, Raghavendran will build and lead Cisco's partner efforts in the region. He will also focus on reinforcing Cisco's presence in the commercial segment, which is among the key growth markets for Cisco in the region.

Raghavendran will succeed R. Dhamodaran, who headed Cisco India's channel operations and commercial strategy over the past year and has recently taken on a new role at the Cisco Globalisation Center East.

Raghavendran will be based in Mumbai and will report directly to Naresh Wadhwa, President and Country Manager, Cisco India & SAARC. Prior to this, Raghavendran was the Strategy and Operations Lead for Cisco India's sales organisation.

Commenting on the appointment, Naresh Wadhwa said, "Channel partners are key enablers in expanding Cisco's market reach. Raghavendran has already proven to be an asset to the company. We believe his rich experience will help us deepen our relationships in this community."

Naresh further added, "Cisco's channel strategy is also tightly integrated with our Commercial business, and we believe that Raghavendran's extensive knowledge and understanding of the industry will be invaluable to the company."

Raghavendran is a graduate in BE and has over 15 years of experience in the technology industry. He joined Cisco India in 1998 as an Account Manager for the company's banking and financial services vertical, and has played a key role in achieving several strategic wins for Cisco India. Subsequently, Raghavendran headed the IT Services vertical, Western region where he grew the business significantly. Prior to joining Cisco, Raghavendran was a Regional Manager at Wipro Infotech.

Sony Ericsson Gives you the Freedom to Design Mobile Themes with Themes Creator 4.0

Sony Ericsson's Themes Creator 4.0 brings unique personalisation options to consumers' fingertips. Packed with engaging features, the latest version of Themes Creator invites you to design your ideal 'signature style' right on your mobile desktop.

Available as a free download, the simple three-step wizard gives you instant access to an easy-to-use editing suite. For those who want to experiment with wild splashes of colour, the integration of Adobe® KulerTM gives you the freedom to play with a wide range of colours.

Themes Creator also allows you to choose dynamic and intuitive animations based on Adobe Flash® technology that vary according to the time of day, alter their appearance according to the seasons, or even change colour to signal when you're running out of battery power.

"With Themes Creator 4.0, you can use your phone as an extension of your personal style," said Christopher David, Head of Developer and Partner Engagement at Sony Ericsson. "It's designed to enable you to make eye-catching themes that you can show off to your friends. You can now treat your 'mobile desktop' as a place to experiment and show your creative flair!"

To design your mobile desktop, follow the three-step wizard:

--Select colour scheme using automatic colour combinations, colour wheel tool or import saved colour palettes

--Import any background image or animation for standby wallpaper, desktop and navigation screens

--Select style using pre-defined shapes and screen areas

More information on Themes Creator 4.0 is available at:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Air India to launch daily Ahmedabad-Frankfurt flight

Air India is set to launch a daily direct flight from here to Frankfurt from June 1, the airline said Saturday.

Flight AI-120 Ahmedabad-Frankfurt, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft with a passenger capacity of 291, will depart the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at 2.05 a.m. June 1 and will reach the German city at 6.50 a.m. (local time).

The daily return flight will leave Frankfurt at 11.10 a.m. (local time) and reach Ahmedabad at 10.25 p.m., an Air India official said.

Air India had recently opened an operational hub for west-bound flights in Frankfurt, he added.

SBI net profit up 35.5 percent in 2008-09

State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has posted a net profit of Rs.9,121 crore for 2008-09 as against Rs.6,729 crore the year before, a rise of 35.5 percent.

"Net profit for the fourth quarter (January-March) of 2008-09 increased 45.62 percent to Rs.2,742 crore from Rs.1,883 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2007-08," SBI chairman O.P. Bhatt told reporters here.

The net non-performing asset (NPA) ratio for 2008-09 stood at 1.76 percent, compared to 1.78 percent in 2007-08. The total amount restructured during the year was Rs.8,310 crore.

The capital adequacy ratio of the bank is above 14 percent, he said.

The net interest margin (NIM) was at 2.93 percent as on March 31, 2009, compared to 3.07 percent in March 2008.

SBI's total income for the fiscal rose 33 percent to Rs.76,479.2 crore from the previous year's Rs.57,645.2 crore.

Consolidated net profit was at Rs.10,955.2 crore, a 22 percent increase from Rs.8,960.6 crore in 2007-08.

The group's consolidated net income crossed the trillion rupee mark to Rs.113,093 crore (Rs.1.1 trillion) in 2008-09, 25 percent up from the previous fiscal's Rs.90,218.8 crore.

Asked about the impact of the economic downturn, Bhatt said: "The worst is over for the economy. Auto and housing loans have started picking up already."

On the overseas operations of the bank, he said SBI would concentrate on "consolidating the existing business network". The bank is already present in 33 countries.

SBI has plans to increase its Singapore operations from the present five branches to 12 this year and to 20 next fiscal.

Asked about its plans of starting general insurance business, Bhatt said: "We hope to start it anytime within this calendar year or latest by this fiscal end. We are yet to receive some final approvals."

Worst is over for Indian economy: SBI chief

The worst is over for the Indian economy and credit has again started flowing into key sectors, O.P. Bhatt, chairman of the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI), said here Saturday.

"The worst is over for the economy. Auto and housing loans have started picking up already," Bhatt told reporters after releasing the bank's financial results.

SBI, which accounts for about 25 percent of all loans and deposits in the country, has posted a net profit of Rs.9,121 crore for 2008-09 as against Rs.6,729 crore the year before, a rise of 35.5 percent.

"Net profit for the fourth quarter (January-March) of 2008-09 increased 45.62 percent to Rs.2,742 crore from Rs.1,883 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2007-08," Bhatt said.

On the overseas operations of the bank, he said SBI would concentrate on "consolidating the existing business network". The bank is present in 33 countries.

It has plans to increase its Singapore operations from the present five branches to 12 this year and to 20 next fiscal.

Asked about its plans of entering the general insurance business, Bhatt said: "We hope to start it anytime within this calendar year or latest by this fiscal end. We are yet to receive some final approvals."

The net non-performing assets (NPAs) ratio of SBI for 2008-09 stood at 1.76 percent, compared to 1.78 percent in 2007-08. The total amount restructured during the year was Rs.8,310 crore.

The capital adequacy ratio of the bank is above 14 percent.

SBI's total income for the fiscal rose 33 percent to Rs.76,479.2 crore from the previous year's Rs.57,645.2 crore.

Consolidated net profit was at Rs.10,955.2 crore, a 22 percent increase from Rs.8,960.6 crore in 2007-08.

The bank declared a 290 percent dividend at Rs.29 per share for fiscal 2008-09 that ended March 31.

India to lose $160 bn due to work-related ailments: Report

Work-related ailments like heart diseases, strokes and diabetes will likely cost India's exchequer around $160 billion between 2009-15, an industry lobby study has said.

The paper, jointly prepared by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and auditing major PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), said: "Due to tensions arising out of transitional liberalisation and current working environment in private and government sectors, the number of people with hypertension in India is expected to see a quantum leap of over 135 million."

Though India is a fast-developing country, it is yet to create facilities to mitigate tension and high blood pressure from work-related stress, which often leads to cardiovascular diseases, said Assocham president Sajjan Jindal in the report.

According to the paper, the number of deaths from chronic diseases in India would exceed seven million by 2015.

The country's national income is hard hit as it does not have adequate health centres even for routine check-ups. On the other side, most of the employers are under huge pressure at their work places and are working over-time to retain their jobs, Jindal said.

This breeds tension and hypertension that cause heart attacks, he added.

According to the report, to prevent chronic diseases, Indians should reduce tobacco intake, eat healthier diet and exercise regularly.

India is the world's second largest consumer of tobacco.

According to government estimates, by 2020, chronic diseases would be the major reason for almost 66 percent of the deaths.

India's total health care expense is less than 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), lower than the world average of 9 percent, Assocham added.

Manufacturing sector recovering marginally: CII

India's manufacturing sector showed marginal signs of recovery in the second and third quarters of the last fiscal as compared to the corresponding quarters in 2007-08, says a report by an industry lobby.

A Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-Ascon survey said five sectors - fertilisers, low and high density polythene, pig iron, steel and mopeds - moved from negative to moderate growth.

However, the year-wise comparison shows the manufacturing sector growth has significantly slowed during 2008-09 as compared to 2007-08, the report released Sunday said.

"While on a yearly basis the manufacturing sector has slowed down, there are some green shoots from a few sectors that have demonstrated a marginal pick-up during the second half of 2008-09 when compared to the first half. These demonstrate a cautious optimism on signs of recovery," said director general Chandrajit Banerjee.

Sectors reporting high growth are asbestos cement, switch gears, power cables, capacitors, industrial gases like argon, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

Sectors like bus and truck tyres, commercial vehicles (medium, heavy and light), capital goods, distribution transformer, industrial valves, energy meters and motor starters registered negative growth, CII said.

Sectors in the moderate growth category included cement, passenger vehicles, and white goods and electronic items.

Industrial gases like nitrogen and oxygen, power transformers, and electric two-wheelers showed excellent growth.

We went too far with Jaguar Land Rover: Ratan Tata

Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata says he may have overstretched himself in paying 1.15 billion pounds for Jaguar Land Rover just as a recession loomed.

"If one had known there was going to be a meltdown, then yes [Tata went too far] but nobody knew," he told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview.

Tata bought the iconic British car manufacturers for 1.15 billion pounds in April 2008 - just over a year after he paid 6.7 billion pounds for acquiring the steelmaker Corus.

"Both the acquisitions were made, I would say at an inopportune time in the sense that they were near the top of the market in terms of price," Tata said.

However, Tata squarely blamed the British government for not doing enough to help JLR secure credits to help it tide over the current slump in demand for cars, saying a further delay could torpedo plans to develop fuel-efficient hybrid cars and resurrect the Jaguar E-type model.

"I would like to see us coming out of the recession with these new products in place. What would be sad - remorseful - is if the meltdown continues and we can't get access to funds.

"I would like to see the British government playing only one role. It controls the banks and all I seek is the facilitation to provide access to credit on commercial terms. Its not a bailout," he added.

Tata, one of the largest foreign investors in Britain, warned: "We're responsible for the fortunes of the company but it is a bone-dry situation in terms of access to credit. Nobody can operate on that basis unless you have large cash balances, which we don't.

"My concern is that the government doesn't appear to care about manufacturing."

However, Tata exempted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from criticism, saying: "He is a very sincere person and has been very supportive."

Corus and JLR together employ some 40,000 people but a global slump in demand for both steel and cars has seen Corus shut down facilities in Britain, laying off 5,000 staff and JLR making hundreds of redundancies.

Chandigarh planning multi-level parking lots

Multi-level parking facilities may come up soon in this city known for its architecture and urban planning, which also has the maximum vehicle density in the country.

"A site of nearly five-acre area has already been earmarked for the construction of multi-level parking in Sector 17 that is the commercial hub of the union territory," an official spokesperson told the media Sunday evening.

"Other sites (for parking facilities) have also been identified in the industrial area and at those places that are frequented by maximum number of people," he said.

The administration, the spokesperson said, would also develop the existing surface parking facilities.

Chandigarh has maximum density of vehicles in the country with over 700,000 registered vehicles. Its total geographical area is around 140 sq km, with 114 sq km of land and 25.42 sq km of the Sukhna lake and wildlife sanctuary.

Friday, May 8, 2009

COPC Launches 7 New Certifications, QAI Continues to be Exclusive Implementation Partner in India

COPC, the world's leading Business Excellence certification in the contact center industry worldwide, has recently launched 7 new certifications in association with QAI, their exclusive implementation partner in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Starting April 2009 companies have the flexibility of going for certification for specific processes like hiring, training & skills verification, transaction monitoring, forecasting, staffing, scheduling and metrics Management.

COPC, the de-facto standard for BPOs and Customer Contact Centers worldwide has gained immense popularity in India. Nine out of top 10 Indian BPO companies (as per Data Quest's rankings) have implemented COPC in India. Over 35 organizations, with over 45 entities have been certified and many more are in the process of the same.

COPC has now introduced certifications that will address the huge request of the industry. CSPs need not go for a comprehensive COPC certification. And yet, this allows them to get certified by specific process level certifications. This also helps channel efforts to a few, high impact processes and has a faster ROI.

Court pulls up Prasar Bharati CEO

The Delhi High Court Wednesday pulled up Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer (CEO) B.S. Lalli for allegedly bypassing the public broadcaster's board and making it virtually redundant.

"We will not let the CEO work in this manner. Some eminent persons are on the board and he cannot bypass the board," a bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Neeraj Kishan Kaul said while asking Prasar Bharati to file a response on the allegation.

"The board has become virtually redundant because of the conduct of the CEO. There has to be some accountability. You file a detailed affidavit by the next date of hearing," the bench said.

The court's observations came while it was hearing a public interest petition seeking its direction to the central government to remove the CEO whose tenure has been extended.

It was alleged that Lalli, who was appointed in 2006, was to retire in April this year after attaining 62 years of age, but his tenure was extended after the government applied an amendment with retrospective effect.

The petitioner, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO, also sought an independent investigation into the allegations of financial irregularities by the CEO.

"He is acting with complete impunity and disregard for the directions and concerns raised by the board regarding the instances of financial irregularity and his autocratic functioning," advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said.

For political comedians, Obama is not a 'subject'

Few would have noticed the Great Presidential Comedy Drought but American political satirists have quietened down after George W. Bush passed the baton to Barack Obama, inviting the charge of hero worship and misplaced political correctness.

Stand-up legend Jackie Mason says his peers are "panicky" about "being called a racist" in targeting the first African American president. He adds too many once-fearless satirists are settling for "hero worship" of Obama.

The new trend cannot be due to any lack of fodder, comedian Jeffrey Jena, founder of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy blog, told the Washington Times.

"(David) Letterman used to do a 'Bushism of the Week'. Why hasn't he started one with Obama?" Jena said. "There's plenty of those moments, the 'Ohs, and 'Umms' or 'I don't speak Austrian'."

"Late Show" host Letterman, known for his scathing mockery of Bush, recently scolded those who would mock the new president's reliance on the teleprompter for "political nitpicking". He said on his show that Obama is "at least out there trying" to cope with "impossible" political challenges.

Letterman rhetorically asked "what really can you say wrong" about the new president, as he introduced a short film, "Teleprompter vs. No Teleprompter".

The video clip contrasted a fluent passage of rhetoric from a formal Obama address to Congress with one of a tongue-tied Bush trying to extemporise in a televised informal question-and-answer format.

Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show", who too used to target Bush, has morphed into a political loyalist, the Washington Times said.

But then there are those who see political comedians simply deferring to the sensitivities of audiences who may not be ready to a laugh at a president who is a historical symbol of black achievement.

"In New York, nobody wants to hear anything anti-Obama," said Linda Smith, a stand-up comic and teacher at Caroline's School of Comedy in New York.

"And even if they do, right-leaning comics must walk through a historical minefield to mock the first black president."

Radio and Fox News Channel talk show host Glenn Beck believes that both fear and political calculation are inhibiting factors. The likes of Letterman are "either afraid, or they know the power of comedy as a weapon and they like using it as that", he was quoted as saying.

"We're now into biased comedy. We can't even laugh without a political agenda," Beck said.

'Election contests are like marketing new products'

The Mumbai terror attacks may not have prodded Mumbaikars to stir out and vote in large numbers in the Lok Sabha polls but prompted E. Sarath Babu, who was raised in a slum and went to the Indian Institute of Management, to enter the electoral fray in Tamil Nadu.

"Entering politics was in my scheme of things. But the Mumbai terror attacks acted as the triggering point. All these years the political parties and politicians have been successful in keeping the upwardly mobile educated out and the illiterate and poor involved in the political system," 29-year-old Babu, CEO of Foodking Catering Services, told IANS at the end of a hectic day of campaigning.

On Nov 26, 2008, 10 armed militants unleashed a blood bath in Mumbai killing over 170 people. Nine terrorists were killed after a 60-hour gun battle with security forces while one, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was captured alive.

For Babu, whose company has a Rs.70-million-a-year turnover, the incident was an eye-opener. Son of a roadside idli seller from a city slum, Babu through hard work and brilliance went to BITS, Pilani, and then the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Spurning lucrative job offers, he turned entrepreneur in 2006.

Babu is contesting from the South Chennai constituency as an independent candidate and is pitted against the DMK's R.S. Bharathi, the AIADMK's S. Rajendran and the Bharatiya Janata Party's L. Ganesan. Tamil Nadu goes to the polls May 13.

Babu said: "Contesting elections and marketing a product or service are similar. Both involves communication to the target audience. In politics there are lots of intangible factors in a candidate that have to be communicated."

Believing his dream and inspired by his achievement, around 1,200 volunteers including students and professionals are working for Babu's success in the poll.

The campaign has also been given a corporate makeover. Teams are formed and targets are given to reach out.

"Core groups and sub-groups were formed with rigid tasks (to achieve) and professional service providers were hired for design activities," said R. Vijaykumar, an engineer interning with a software company and part of Babu's electoral team.

Just as in the marketplace, Babu also faced the threat of fakes in politics.

"A leading political party threatened to prop up many candidates named Sarath Babu as independents to confuse the voters," said Vijaykumar.

Babu looks at the acronym of a political party's name as its brand, its voting symbol as its logo. "Realising that, I decided to ask for 'slate' as the symbol. Slate is the first brush with literacy for any person. It is also down to earth and popular. From the beginning I wanted that logo."

Babu says that he can relate to all the sections of society from slum dwellers to the educated middle class to the businessmen.

Mapping out his strategy to target 1.15 million voters in his constituency, Babu said: "The average voter turnout is around 55 percent; of that 75 percent hail from families below the poverty line. There are nearly 100,000 young voters. To romp home, a candidate should get 30 percent of the votes polled."

Babu's personal interactions are concentrated on the poor families while the online promotions are targeted at youth and the educated middle class.

He says his campaign budget is around Rs.1.2 million, raised mainly through donations. The Election Commission stipulates that a candidate can spend up to Rs.2.5 million.

"Major political parties have surrogate candidates to spend more. But I don't have any surrogates."

His service level agreement with his voters is simple.

"I will strive to spread computer and English literacy amongst the slum children, upgrade the facilities in government schools, attend all Lok Sabha sessions and participate in the debates and facilitate access to micro finance."

He said: "Communicating with the masses and launching an intensive marketing campaign in a short time is the lesson that can be applied in this business."

AIG reports $4.4 bn loss

Insurer American International Group Inc (AIG), whose near collapse in September fanned the global financial crisis, said Thursday it lost $4.4 billion in the first quarter.

The New York-based insurance giant said it lost $4.35 billion, or $1.98 per share, during the quarter ended March 31, compared with $7.81 billion, or $3.09 per share, during the same quarter last year.

AIG lost $61.7 billion during the fourth quarter - the most ever in a quarter by a US corporation - amid the mushrooming credit crisis and shortly after its near collapse.

The US Federal Reserve rescued AIG in September, acquiring some 80 percent of its shares.

Pandit's Citi to raise $5.5 bn with stock conversion

Ailing US banking giant Citigroup led by Indian American CEO Vikram Pandit plans to raise $5.5 billion by converting more preferred stock to common shares as prescribed by government stress tests.

"The government's stress test was a rigorous process that assessed our capital and confirms our view that Citi's plans and actions will give it the financial strength to weather an adverse stress scenario," Pandit said in a statement Thursday.

"The results also reflect 15 months of continuous work, tough decisions and steady execution towards a strong and stable Citi with a clear strategy for the future," he said.

Citi will expand the exchange offers previously announced in late February by increasing the maximum amount of preferred securities and trust preferred securities that it will accept in exchange for common stock from $27.5 billion to $33 billion.

The move will further increase Tier 1 common without any additional US government investment or conversion of US government securities into common shares, it said.

The transaction could increase the banking institution's Tier 1 capital to as much as $86.2 billion from $22.1 billion at the end of the first quarter. Citi's tangible common equity would rise to as much as $91.3 billion from $30.9 billion.

The news came in conjunction with the results of the Supervisory Capital Assessment Programme (SCAP), in which the US government said that Citi would need an additional $5.5 billion as a "buffer" in case of a "more adverse scenario."

Citi had said last month that it had delayed the exchange offer until after the stress tests were completed.

The conversion price of $3.25, the exchange factors and the priority of trust preferred securities accepted in the exchange offers will remain unchanged from the transaction terms as previously announced, it said.

Based on the maximum eligible conversion, the US government would own approximately 34 percent of Citi's outstanding common stock and existing shareholders would own approximately 24 percent of the outstanding common shares.

After being pressured by regulators, Citi split the company into a good bank-bad bank structure under Citicorp, the good bank, and Citi Holdings, the bad bank.

Citi also noted that since early 2008 it has reduced expenses by 25 percent and headcount by almost 20 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007. The company has also shaved 23 percent off its balance sheet from the third quarter of 2007.

Citi has also completed 23 divestitures, most notably with its Smith Barney joint venture with Morgan Stanley and its intended sale of Nikko Cordial to Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial.

44 years after Satyajit Ray's Ang, India gets the Zoozoo

Forty-four years after legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray created the iconic dwarf Ang, which was adapted by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg as the E.T., a crew of 25 admen has given India a new cult of queer beings - the Zoozoos.

The dwarf egg-heads who are almost everywhere - on television, billboards, at the Indian Premier League venues and in the minds of millions of viewers - are Vodafone's new brand ambassadors with one of the highest TV viewership ratings during this poll and IPL season.

Thanks to the aliens created by an Ogilvy and Mathers (O&M) crew, Vodafone with a share of 12 percent is leading the top five commercial brands that have contributed to 26 percent of the overall commercial advertising share, according to television audience measurement (TAM) figures.

The Zoozoos also have one of the largest fan bases on the social-networking circuit Facebook with two sites, one official and one unofficial, featuring more than 100,000 Zoozoo buffs.

But the Zoozoos, who resemble aliens, are not Ray's ET from the planet Cranius who befriended the Bengali school teacher Banku Babu.

For one, the Zoozoos are real beings in body suits who shot the commercials over 10 days in Cape Town, South Africa. And they are up to something new each day. Vodafone will release 30 Zoozoo commercials thoughout the IPL season.

"The Zoozoos are not animated characters. They are human beings in body suits made of foam so that they stay in shape. We used young women of slight build, mostly ballet and theatre dancers," Rajiv Rao, the executive creative director of O&M, told IANS from Mumbai.

Ad-filmmaker Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films, who directed the commercials for O&M, says Zoozoos were a big challenge to create. "The practical aspect of how they would talk, gesticulate and emote were very important. It took me three weeks of pre-production work to understand how it would work."

There were two fabrics that were considered for the body suits. One had too many wrinkles and was shiny.

"The wrinkles would have shown when the characters moved. So, we chose the more practical thicker fabric," Varma said. The production team divided the fabric into two parts - the body and the head. The body parts of the outfit were stuffed with foam, while the head was attached separately.

"To make it look bigger than the human head, we used a material called Perspex. We wanted to keep the hands and the legs thin, which was why we cast women," the filmmaker explained.

The objective of the campaign was to refresh the consumer's memory every day during the IPL season with one commercial a day. "We wanted to make one film a day and create a common character, which would come and go every day but have a steady recall. The verdict was that a cartoon character would be the most inspiring," Rao said.

The makers of Zoozoo might return with a fresh lot of ads - if the ratings climb. "But we have not given it any specific thought," Rao said.

OPEC oil price rises above $56

Optimism about the US economy has increased the price of oil produced by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), pushing it up by nearly $2 to $56.05 a barrel, the group announced Friday.

One barrel (158 litres) of OPEC crude oil rose by $1.96 Thursday, the Vienna-based group announced Friday, after having reached a six-month high already at mid-week.

"It's mainly the optimism," said Eugen Weinberg, chief commodity analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. US petrol stocks were lower and there was an expectation that consumers would start to buy more fuel, he said.

Another factor was this week's news that US job losses had slowed down in April, as well as a review of the country's banks which showed that capital shortages were lower than expected.

In addition, there were tentative signs that economic activity in India and China was accelerating, Vienna-based analysts JBC Energy said.

OPEC calculates an average price based on 12 brands produced by its member states.

India's inflation rate inches up to 0.7 percent

India's annual rate of inflation inched up to 0.7 percent for the week ended April 25 from 0.57 percent the week before, official data showed Friday.

Among the three main commodity groups, the indices for manufactured products and primary articles rose 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, during the week under review.

The index for fuel, power, light and lubricants remained unchanged at its previous week's level of 323 (provisional).

The inflation rate based on official wholesale price index had declined for eight consecutive weeks to 0.27 percent for the week ended March 14, but marginally rose to 0.31 percent for the week ended March 21.

It then declined for two consecutive weeks, before rising again for the next three weeks to stand at 0.7 percent for the week ended April 25.

Between April 18 and April 25, the wholesale price index rose 0.2 percent to 230.7 from 230.2 the week before, as per the provisional data released by the commerce and industry ministry.

Sriram Khanna, head of the commerce department at Delhi School of Economics, predicted the inflation rate to continue to rise and cross 5 percent by October-end during festive season. "But it will stabilise at 4 percent by the end of this fiscal."

Khanna said despite good crop production, consumption is yet to pick up. "We expect it to rise only in the second quarter of this fiscal," he said.

Dalip Kumar, head of projects at the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), said though the economy was growing at a very slow pace, the marginal rise in the rate of inflation did not match the exorbitant prices of food commodities and vegetables.

Air Deccan founder Gopinath to launch freight carrier

After launching India's first budget carrier, Air Deccan founder G.R. Gopinath Friday announced another first for the country - a door-to-door international freight and cargo service with its own fleet of aircraft.

The freight carrier 'Deccan 360', which has inducted one A310 freighter and plans to add two more next month, would begin operations May 27.

"We will start with one A310 freighter. We expect two more to be inducted by next month and three ATR aircraft later. There is tremendous scope for freight operations in India," Gopinath told reporters here. (ATRs are smaller regional transport aircraft).

The cargo carrier would operate on the Delhi-Chennai-Hongkong-Dubai sector in the first phase, and would target multiple industry verticals such as automotive spare parts, textiles, pharmaceutical, machinery and heavy equipment, banking and organised retail.

Gopinath, who owns around 8 percent stake in the merged Kingfisher-Deccan entity, said in Hong Kong alone, 200 cargo aircraft land and take off at the airport in 12 hours.

Maintaining that this was more than double the operation level at all Indian airports, he said: "Unlike in the west or even China, manufacturers and traders in our smaller cities or farmers growing cash crops are unable to compete in the international market because of limited transportation facility and connectivity."

Gopinath went on to add: "It is therefore critical that we create logistics that integrates the whole country seamlessly on a transportation and delivery network."

Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines too are planning to start dedicated cargo operations.

Similarly, smaller and new entrants such as Hyderabad-based Flyington Freighters, Bangalore-based Quikjet Cargo, New Delhi-based Aryan Cargo Express and Mumbai-based Avicore Aviation are also eyeing the sector.

Jude Fonseka, the chief executive of Deccan Express Logistics, the company that owns Deccan 360, told IANS the company would set up a state-of-the-art cargo hub in Nagpur, the first dedicated cargo airport in central India.

"Besides the 100-acre hub being developed by us at Nagpur, we have also signed up with the GMR group for setting up express cargo operating facilities in Delhi and Hyderabad airports," said Fonseka, who is also former managing director of the Indian operations of Federal Express Corp (Fedex).

"Definitely, the cargo business is more profitable than passenger business and we are enthusiastic about it," says Fonseka.

India's international and domestic cargo market grew by 10 percent in 2006, accounting for 1.5 million tonnes of cargo.

SBI may review rates by May-end

State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, may review rates by May-end as it has seen a steady rise in deposits last fiscal, a top official said here Friday.

"Our deposits are growing at fantastic rates; we see an excess of supply over demand," SBI chairman O.P. Bhatt told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of the bank's inward remittance division.

"We will see if further tweaking of deposit rates is required," he said, adding that in 2008-09 the bank increased its market share of deposits phenomenally.

"Our increase in the market share of deposits last year was the highest seen by any bank anywhere and we are currently getting $200 million a day," Bhatt said.

Asked if the bank was planning to cut its prime lending rate (PLR), he said SBI's lending rates were the "lowest in the industry".

"Tell me which segment of loan offered by SBI is not cheaper than the industry levels?" he asked.

However, Bhatt expects interest rates to fall further.

"In general, there seems to be a softening of interest rates on deposit and advance sides," Bhatt said.

Talking about the credit demand, Bhatt said the prevailing sentiment was resisting credit offtake.

"I am today giving the cheapest home loan at 8 percent but still people are not coming forward as they expect interest rates to fall further," he said.

Profit booking pulls Sensex below 12,000-mark

Investors sought to book profits at the Indian equities markets Friday, pulling down a key index 240 points and below the 12,000-mark after touching an intra-day high of 12,180.07 points.

The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), which opened at 12,092.97 points, lost 240.51 points or 1.98 percent from its previous close to end trade at 11,876.43 points.

Similarly, the S&P CNX Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) lost 1.72 percent to close at 3,620.7 points.

The broader market indices also closed lower, with the BSE midcap index moving down 0.17 percent and the BSE smallcap index gaining 0.32 percent.

The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 12,180.07 points and a low of 11,765.06 points.

Of the 13 sectoral indices on the BSE, the indices for banking and metals took the biggest hit while consumer durables stocks gained the most.

There were only four gainers on the Sensex: Jaiprakash Associates, up 2.53 percent at Rs.142.10; Hindustan Unilever, up 0.98 percent at Rs.232.90; L&T, up 0.42 percent at Rs.990.80; and Grasim, up 0.03 percent at Rs.1,775.20.

Losers included Wipro, down 6.59 percent at Rs.355; ICICI Bank, down 5.19 percent at Rs.520.60; Reliance Infra, down 5.07 percent at Rs.769.15; and Sterlite, down 4.93 percent at Rs.491.95.

The market breadth was uncannily mixed, with both advances and declines at 1,266 while 91 stocks remained unchanged.

Companies that were most traded in rupee terms included HDFC, Reliance Industries, ICICI and Tata Steel.

In other Asian markets, the Hang Seng, a key index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, ended trade 171.98 points or 1 percent higher at 17,389.87 points.

The Nikkei, a key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gained 47.13 points to shut shop at 9,432.83 points.

European markets were trading marginally higher with the FTSE in Britain ruling 67.45 points up at 4,466.13 points and its French peer CAC 40 trading 71.65 points higher at 3,323.17 points.

Data with the market watchdog, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), showed foreign funds were net buyers Friday lapping up scrips worth $79.9 million.

US economic downturn losing steam

It might be too early to celebrate but the severest recession in the US economy, impacting the world, is showing signs of losing steam with encouraging signs on various fronts this week.

Among positive indicators, the number of first-time jobless claims fell sharply and bargain-hungry shoppers gave a boost to April sales for discount retailers, and a report showed the pace of decline in the service sector slowing, the Washington Post reported Friday.

These signs come after Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke's somewhat optimistic assessment of economy Tuesday.

"The bottom is forming," Joel L. Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, told the Post. "It doesn't say we're out of the woods... but I think things are turning."

However, analysts pointed out that though the panic following the collapse of Lehman Brothers is over, a recovery is still months away and is likely to be slow and unemployment could keep rising for a while even after the recession ends.

While the Labor Department said first-time jobless claims dropped to 601,000 last week, Arpitha Bykere, lead analyst for RGE Monitor, said the figure is likely to remain over 500,000 for a while even if it continues to fall.

Despite such warnings on various fronts, many economists are now hopeful, the post added.

Bernanke this week underlined that optimism when he said the economy's "pace of contraction may be slowing", consumer demand "may be stabilising" and the housing market has "shown some signs of bottoming".

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Honeywell bullish on India for business growth

Global technology and manufacturing major Honeywell International is bullish on driving its business rapidly in India, a country that offers "huge opportunities" in its manufacturing and industrial sectors, a top official said here Thursday.

"We see huge opportunities in harnessing the potential of Indian manufacturing sector and meeting the country's diverse industrial requirements to improve the standard of living through aerospace, automation and control solutions, transportation systems and specialty materials," Honeywell chief executive David Cote told reporters here.

Unveiling the company's largest research and development (R&D) facility outside the US in this Indian tech hub, Cote said Honeywell's operations in India became an integral part of its global growth strategy, with a manufacturing location, export hub and a centre of engineering excellence in the sub-continent.

The $50 million (Rs.250 crore) R&D facility features laboratory, simulators and a training centre for about 3,000 engineers.

"India will continue to play a major role in our operations worldwide. The fact we have grown our headcount to 11,000 from 1000 in 2002 and sales to $600 million from $50 million in the same period demonstrates that we have tremendous scope to scale our business to $1 billion in the next three years," Cote said.

Positioned strategically in growth areas, including aerospace and defence, public safety and security and infrastructure development, Honeywell is collaborating with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to manufacture TPE331 aircraft engines.

The US-based $37-billion firm has bid for a lucrative order from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to retrofit its Jaguar fighters with F125IN turbofan engine.

The company is also eyeing the security systems business with wireless applications, fire detection system and automation and control systems for managing the entire petrochemical units in the country.

With five manufacturing facilities across the country, Honeywell's Indian subsidiary is offering specialty materials for oil and gas refineries and petrochemical projects.

"We have also developed green diesel, which is a creation of a drop-in diesel fuel and different from bio-diesel. Our green diesel can be processed from jatropha plant or algae and need not be blended like bio-diesel. It is non-corrosive," Cote said.

The company has also come up with new fertiliser with non-explosive ammonium nitrate to ensure the material is not misused for making low-intensive bombs.

"In aerospace and transportation, we see a huge market for our turbo-chargers, a smart version of jet engines that uses 25 percent less fuel but produces 25 percent more power as jet engines," Cote stated.

Honeywell Technology Solutions president Krishna Mikkilineni said his team of engineers was working on developing critical technologies for global and Indian customers ranging from safe landing systems for aircraft to security solutions.

"India's intellectual capital is a competitive advantage. We are building a world that is safer and more secure, more comfortable and energy-efficient, more innovative and more productive," Mikkilineni affirmed.

BBC to cut 90 jobs in news by 2010

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News has announced its decision to sack nearly 90 jobs by 2010.

The Mirror online reported that the bulk of the cuts are to take place in the news gathering team that will help save the group around 155 million pounds.

The BBC also plans to plough over 70 million pounds into areas such as foreign coverage and on-demand news.

"The BBC is working hard to minimise compulsory redundancies. It is a tough, but necessary process," said a channel spokesperson Wednesday.

General Motors posts quarterly loss of $6 bn

Threatened US carmaker General Motors posted a quarterly net loss of $6 billion Thursday, its eighth quarterly loss in a row.

GM's loss figure for the same period in 2008 was $3.3 billion. Analysts had feared even worse quarterly news this year.

Revenue dropped by 47 percent, to $22.4 billion. GM, the mother company of similarly struggling European manufacturer Opel, is operating under a US federal bail-out plan.

The largest US carmaker is threatened with bankruptcy, as has already happened to competitor Chrysler. US President Barack Obama has given GM an ultimatum of the end of May for a new restructuring plan to be implemented.

Anil Ambani firm enters media outsourcing business

Adlabs Films, a cinema and entertainment services company in the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Thursday announced its entry into the outsourcing industry for the media space with plans to employ 1,200 people within a year.

The new venture will primarily focus on two segments, digital restoration and content processing, as per the norms of Motion Pictures Association of America, and proposes to work out of 90,000 sq ft of space here. Some 300 employees are already on its rolls.

The group already has secured orders for 1,000 films preserved by the Pune-based National Film Archives of India and will help the valuable footage to migrate from analogue to digital and from physical to digital media, the company said.

"Globalisation of media services is well underway," said Adlabs chief executive Anil Arjun. "Coupled with the optical fibre network, the comprehensive services of media outsourcing enable a distinctive and complete offering to Adlabs' worldwide clients."

Over the past four months Adlabs has been transmitting several films over its optic fibre network to distribute films in the US. This opens the gate for similar services in India for global clients.

"The fibre backbone also means greater encrypted security, more flexibility, time savings and price advantages," the company said.

Adlabs also has one of India's largest chain of cinemas with 430 screens spread not just across the country but also in Malaysia and the US. It also has a major presence in film distribution space with offices in London, New York, Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur.

Jet Airways to launch low-fare Jet Konnect

Leading private carrier Jet Airways will launch a new economy service, 'Jet Airways Konnect', from Friday on select sectors, the airline announced Thursday.

The company said in a regulatory statement that Jet Konnect would offer almost all services of the parent carrier and would help the airline cater to the needs of the consumers opting for low-fare services.

"The only difference will be that Jet Konnect travellers will have to buy their meals on-board," the company said. Both Jet Airways and its low-cost carrier JetLite now offer food to their travellers on-board.

The ground and in-flight services of Jet Konnect will be handled by the airline employees, the statement said.

Initially, it will operate with two 737 and six ATR aircraft in sectors like Chennai-Coimbatore, Chennai-Madurai, Chennai-Kochi, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Bhopal, Mumbai-Udaipur, Bangalore-Pune and Bangalore-Mangalore.

"Consumer demands are changing rapidly in a dynamic global environment. We believe Jet Airways Konnect service will give us the flexibility and speed to deploy capacity to meet these changing trends," Jet Airways chief commercial officer Sudheer Raghavan said.

The company late last month had slashed salaries of its senior employees as part of its cost-cutting measures to cope with the slowdown.

Jet Airways' market share in the first quarter of 2009 stood at 25.3 percent, while Kingfisher Airlines was ahead of it with 27.2 percent.

Birla expects 10 mn tonnes cement capacity in two year

Birla Corp Ltd, part of the MP Birla Group, expects its cement capacity to rise to 10 million tonnes in two years from 6 million tonnes now, the company said in a release Thursday here.

"The second and final phase of expansion at the Satna plant is likely to be completed by March, following which total clinker production capacity will increase by 2,200 tonnes per day (tpd) to 9,600 tpd," the release said.

By the end of 2009-10, the capacity is expected to touch 7.5 million.

Birla in April expanded clinker capacity at Chanderia plant in Rajasthan from 3,450 tpd to 4,050 tpd.

It is currently executing several other expansion projects like a 1.2-million-tonne plant at Chanderia, and grinding capacity hike at Durgapur in West Bengal and Satna in Madhya Pradesh.

Captive power plants of 30-MW each in Durgapur and Satna are also being set up and the company expects to complete these projects in two years.

A three-million-tonne cement plant has also being planned at Satna. The company plans to invest Rs.1,200 crore over there, the release said.

However, the execution of the project would depend upon Birla being granted a limestone mining lease, which has been contested in the court.

"Once the issue is favourably resolved, the company plans to set up the cement plant," the statement said.

Birla reported a turnover of Rs.2,038.84 crore in 2008-09. The net profit was Rs.323.51 crore for that fiscal.

Small towns hold big promise for India's housing boom

For two years, Ratnesh Gupta, a software engineer with IT major Birla Soft, has been trying to fulfil his dream of buying a house of his own, either in the national capital or in Chandigarh. But his budget of Rs.2.5 million (Rs.25 lakh) was making it beyond reach.

Now, he has finally zeroed in on his dream house, though he has settled for Rudrapur, a small town in Uttarakhand. In the process, he has joined thousands of house hunters who are buying properties in smaller cities, fuelling a housing boom in them.

Rudrapur is among a host of towns like Almora, Bhiwadi, Neemrana, Haldwani, Meerut, Moradabad and Karnal that have started attracting new home buyers, bringing a lot of cheer to the realty industry that is otherwise facing one of its worst crises in decades.

"My budget was very small to buy a house in Delhi or even Chandigarh, my native place. Even a one bedroom apartment was not available in a decent colony. Now, I will own a decent house and also manage to save some money for other investments," Gupta said.

"In Rudrapur, a two bedroom apartment is costing me Rs.14.6 lakh (Rs.1.46 million). It is within reach. And I feel it is a very good investment proposition for future as the city is opening up for development," he told IANS.

"The main reason for realty development at these places is that metros and even many big cities have become overheated and oversaturated," said Anuj Puri, chairman and country head of global realty consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

"Property prices in larger cities have gone beyond the reach of the middle class. So people are looking at new destinations. Prices there are reasonable, where the pace of development is fast and it makes for good future investment," Puri told IANS.

"Land at these smaller places is still available at reasonable rates. Industries are coming up. There is overall development. So real estate companies, so also investors, have very good future in these places."

According to Jai Mawani, head of real estate with global auditing and consultancy major KPMG, smaller cities in India offer a huge potential, making them the most happening places for real estate development now and for the future.

"But there is no empirical basis yet to establish the actual market share of these towns in the overall realty sector as it is still unorganised," Mawani said.

The Planning Commission, which estimates a shortage of 22.4 million dwelling units in the country, says some 80-90 million new units will need to be created over the next 10 years to adress the demand, a majority for middle and lower middle income groups.

Interestingly, rather than the big players, the smaller developers are the ones that are benefiting from the realty boom in smaller cities and towns, which have shown no sign of being affected by a slowdown that has otherwise gripped the country's realty industry.

"The slowdown, in fact, is helping us. The big developers are staying away from these cities. They are selling land to smaller players so that they can raise cash for bigger projects in large cities," said Mahim Mittal, managing director, Shivkala Developers.

Take Rudrapur. The town has good connectivity, with Pant Nagar Airport just 11 km away. Delhi is 254 km away, the famous Jim Corbett tiger reserve is 95 km away and a drive of 60 km takes you to the popular hill station of Nainital.

Developers say that in the past two years, more than 100 plots in Rudrapur have been sold to employees by companies like Tata Motors, Bajaj, Escorts, Voltas, Britannia, HCL, Nestle, Parle, Dabur, Hewlett-Packard and Kores India.

"Nearly $2 billion investment has gone into the real estate business in Rudrapur," said Mittal, adding this would go up once the overall realty market in the country stages a recovery.

The story is similar in towns like Meerut, Moradabad, Manesar, Bhiwadi and Neemrana. For them the unique selling proposition is the proximity to the national capital. Another attraction is they fall along the dedicated freight corridor project.

Tata Housing | Ratan Tata: A Messiah for middle class

New channels and internet were abuzz with the talks of the new Tata ‘Nana’ housing project yesterday. It seems Ratan Tata has planned to tap the still neglected low cost product market (untapped in the sense that no known company has entered this sector). Be it the recently launched Tata Nano or the Tata Housing project at Boisar, about 120 kms from South Mumbai.
In a country like India, where we have such a large middle class, It is ought o the middle class deciding the future of a product in the market. It is the middle class which is going to make Tata Nano, a big hit or a flop and it was the same class which led to the record sales of Maruti 800. So, when you launch a product, you need to keep in mind this middle class. This middle class can also be easily divided into three categories: Upper Middle Class, Lower middle class and Typical Middle Class and lower middle class remains the biggest in number in the middle class segment.
So the products like Tata Nano and Tata housing are surely going to be a big hit amongst this segment, which lives in rented accommodations in these metros and dreams about having their own homes and obviously a car for the family. Ratan Tata has surely taken a big risk by entering this sector, but if it pays off, he will be become the best businessman ever, which India produced.
Which lower Middle class family can dream of having a home and car for just 5 lakhs, its like playing God and making their all dreams come true? With rents touching their all time highs, in normal circumstances, a middle class family pays around Rs. 3000-4000 per month for house rent and spends more than Rs. 2000 per month for commuting. So a family spends a total of around Rs. 6000 on housing and commuting. Calculating in normal mathematics, this family will spend Rs 5 lakh in around 83 months, if they pay same amount every month. But it is not the same, costs increase, inflation is always there.
For such a family buying a Tata house and a Tata car is going to be the first priority.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

HDFC'S Financial Results for the Period April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009

The Board of Directors of Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) approved the thirty-second annual accounts of the Corporation for the year ended March 31, 2009 at its meeting held on Monday, May 4, 2009 in Mumbai.


Financials for the year ended March 31, 2009

For the year ended March 31, 2009, HDFC's profit before considering profit on sale of investments and exceptional items and tax stood at Rs. 3,193.81 crores as compared to Rs. 2,603.98 crores for the previous year. After providing Rs. 934.98 crores for taxes, the net profit after tax for the year ended March 31, 2009 increased by 23% to Rs. 2,258.83 crores as compared with Rs. 1,834.55 crores in the previous year.

The total profit before tax for the year ended March 31, 2009 stood at Rs. 3,219.04 crores. After providing Rs. 936.50 crores for taxes, the profit after tax stood at Rs. 2,282.54 crores.

The Board of Directors recommend payment of dividend for the year ended March 31, 2009 of Rs. 30 per share as against Rs. 25 per share in the previous year.

Certiport ICł and Microsoft Office Certifications Help Connect India

Certiport today announced the launch of a pilot that will enable 500 eighth- through twelfth-grade students with little or no computer experience to develop and certify critical digital skills in Certiport Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³®) and the official Microsoft® Office certification programs. Developed by Rotary Club of New Delhi through corporate sponsorship from Intel®, SpiceT Telecom and CyberLearning, the program aims to help students to stay in school and arm them with employability skills.

"India is experiencing astonishing growth in technology-enabled professional services," said Ray Kelly, president and CEO of Certiport. "Certiport is delighted to provide certified skills to a population that might not otherwise have the opportunity to support the growth of the country's digital economy."

Beginning this week, qualified trainers from CyberLearning will provide instruction to students on essential aspects of computing, the Internet and Microsoft Office applications at participating schools. After completing the required Certiport IC³ curriculum, which includes extensive hands-on computer training, students will be trained to earn the globally recognized Microsoft Office certification for proficiency in one of five business applications. The top two performing students from each participating school will be rewarded with an Intel-powered Classmate PC donated by the company. The lightweight, easy-to-carry device helps integrate technology with all other student learning to promote 21st Century skills development.

Great Opportunities for Broadband in India and South Asia

India and South Asia's operators are very much in the news this week, with broadband launches announced by some of the most dynamic players in the region: Indian operator Bharti Airtel has launched its 16 Mbps broadband service in India (delivered through a fibre backbone carrier ethernet network with last mile delivery on copper using ADSL2+ technology), Indian mobile operator Reliance Communications has launched its CDMA-based mobile broadband service in Kolkata, and Pakistani wireless service provider Wi-Tribe announced a contract for the deployment of its IP backbone, to fulfill its objective of launching WiMAX services in Pakistan this year.

Broadband access is one of the most talked-about topics in the region, as a great tool to launch new services (including high-revenue content), and to boost access to communications in under-served areas. It is therefore fitting that it will be a major topic of discussion at the forthcoming India & South Asia Com, just a month away from now. The congress is the annual meeting place for the region's operators (GSM, CDMA, fixed-line, wireless), regulators, suppliers and all other stakeholders in the booming telecommunications market.

Over two days, leaders from the sector and expert speakers will discuss market strategies, investment, broadband technologies, rural markets, content and entertainment services, cost-effective network and commercial strategies. Among the key speakers will be Kuldeep Goyal (Chairman of India's incumbent BSNL), Sanjeev Aga (Managing Director of Indian GSM operator Idea Cellular), Sugato Barnge (Chief Marketing Officer of aforementioned Bharti Airtel), Anand Dalal (Addl Vice President of Tata Teleservices Ltd, India), Anoja Obeyesekere (Chief Executive Officer, Dialog Global, Sri Lanka), Sandeep Keshkar (DGM(NSS) Mobile Services, MTNL Mumbai), Sanjeev Chachondia (Director & CEO, BPL Mobile Communications), and representatives of Grameenphone, Vodafone Group, Banglalink, Reliance, Zong (China Mobile Pakistan), Virgin Mobile India and more. In addition, partner association COAI is strongly supporting the event and confirming official addresses by senior representatives of India's Department of Telecommunications, to give updates on the latest policy decisions in the region's largest markets, and one of the world's fastest-growing.

Now print from your BlackBerry anywhere!

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has announced a strategic tie-up with Hewlett Packard (HP) to provide "a portfolio of solution"' to businesses on its smartphones.

Under the tie-up, Hewlett Packard will unveil HP CloudPrint to enable BlackBerry users to print emails, photos, web pages and other documents from their smartphones to the nearest printer - at home, in the office or on the road.

The California-based PC maker will also unveil HP Operations Manager for BlackBerry Enterprise Server during the Wireless Enterprise Symposium at Orlando in Florida this year.

This manager (software) will "centrally monitor and manage the extended BlackBerry solution ecosystem.'' The ecosystem comprises the BlackBerry Enterprise Server software, mail servers, databases, Microsoft Active Directory and server operating systems such as Windows Server.

In a statement Monday, the Waterloo-based Canadian wireless giant said the solutions, including support for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, will raise service levels, cut operations costs and improve productivity for customers.

The statement said RIM and HP will "design and launch offerings to increase the productivity levels of the growing number of mobile employees, enabling businesses to extend the return on their investments in mobility.''

RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said, "RIM and HP are working together to deliver solutions to customers that weave mobility into their daily operations - from innovative new services in the cloud to managed mobile services for the enterprise.

"Through our collaboration with HP, businesses will have access to an expanded set of applications and services for their BlackBerry smartphone deployments.''

HP executive vice president said, "As businesses look for new ways to increase service levels, reduce operational costs and improve productivity, they can meet these challenges by transforming how they manage the infrastructure that powers their mobile workforces.

"Emerging models of communications and collaboration have created an opportunity for RIM and HP to provide service-based mobile solutions that deliver value to customers."

BlackBerry shares jumped up $1.68 to $87.48 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after the announcement of the tie-up.

Obama plans tax crackdown on firms setting shop in India

Contending that the current US tax system gives US-based multinationals shipping jobs to places like India an unfair advantage over domestic rivals, President Barack Obama has announced plans to reduce tax breaks for them.

"It's a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, NewYork," Obama said Monday spelling out his proposals to close corporate tax loopholes and crack down on overseas tax havens.

"I want to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world. But the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens," he said in a White House announcement.

The goal of the Obama plan is to help create new jobs in the US and make the tax code fairer, officials said. All told the changes would raise $210 billion in tax revenue over 10 years, they said.

But tax policy experts and corporate lobbyists cited by CNN said such measures, unless accompanied by a reduction in the corporate tax rate, will push more companies to move their operations-and jobs-overseas to more tax friendly countries.

The White House and Treasury Department laid out three proposals, some of which would require congressional approval to take effect, that they say will eliminate the current tax advantages US-based multinationals get for investing and creating jobs abroad.

Tax deferral rules: A reform of the "deferral" rule, which lets US-based multinationals deduct expenses for overseas operations, but defer paying income tax on the profits from those operations. That gets paid only if and when companies bring that money back to the US.

R&D credit: A tax cut for companies that do their research and development in the US by making permanent a "research and experimentation" credit that already exists and would cost $74.5 billion in tax revenue over 10 years.

Foreign tax credit: Make it harder for companies to "abuse the foreign tax credit. Currently companies may claim a credit against their US income taxes for taxes they paid to another country. Amending that rule would raise an estimated $43 billion over 10 years, according to the administration.

Several lawmakers, including US House of Representatives Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, signalled support for Obama's proposals.

But one crucial player, Senator Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called for more study of how US businesses would be affected.

The proposed changes to the deferral and foreign tax credit rules will make for a tough sell to the business community too.

"These aren't loopholes. These were put into the code with full knowledge and full discussion," said US Chamber of Commerce chief economist Martin Regalia.

"This is only about raising more money - it's not about making the tax code simpler or more efficient or easier or anything else."

Google's Internet bus rolls into Karnataka

How to browse the net, search, e-mail, social networking, browse maps or track stock market trends - this is what global web-based search engine Google is going to teach people as its custom-built Internet bus drives through 15 towns of Karnataka to expose the people to the digital world.

The bus, which began its journey Monday, will course through the state for the next 50 days.

After a successful two-month tour of 17 towns across Tamil Nadu from December to February, the Google bus began its Karnataka leg Monday from Kolar, a backward district, about 100 km from India's tech hub.

"The Internet bus project is an attempt to educate the people, especially the younger generation about the worldwide web and how Internet serves as a platform to step into the digital world for information, communication, entertainment and education," Google India research and development (R&D) head Prasad Ram told IANS.

The Interent-enabled bus has a video-driven content to showcase how people can make their everyday life simpler by accessing information in multiple formats - data, audio and video through English or local language (Kannada).

The content is tailored to familiarise the common folk with the basics of Internet. The online tool facilitates access to multiple services such as search, e-mail, social networking and browsing maps.

Among the Karnataka towns the Google bus will travel through over the weeks are Mandya, Mysore, Hassan, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Hospet and Tumkur.

"Tamil Nadu was a big learning for us. It was inspiring to see the people wanted to know about the Internet and share their needs with us. The experience has reinforced our belief that awareness is the key challenge in the growth of the Internet in India," Ram recalled.

In this phase, Google will focus on how mobile phones can be used to access even local information without data plans. Access to the Internet in local language will be its thrust area.

The benefit of the bus project is evident from a couple of instances during its sojourn in Tamil Nadu. A short tour of the Google bus made elderly parents at Krishnagiri to buy a computer for chatting and emailing with their son working overseas.

Similarly, a young businessman at Cuddalore, once a school dropout, learnt to track the stock market movements by browsing the relevant information or data links through the Internet.

"In Coimbatore, a boy who sold flowers for a living and had no exposure to the Internet learnt about Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Search in his native language (Tamil) by stepping into the bus," Ram noted.

The project is in line with Google's global strategy to make access to information, education and entertainment universal and relevant to end-user in English or multiple languages.

"Search has become more local with useful information on business listings, railways and flight status, cricket scores, movie review and et al. Our applications like SMS search, SMS channels and map maker have made Google the most sought after vehicle (engine) for millions in India and the world over," Ram claimed.

Access to information over mobile devices has become easier with mobile maps, mobile search, and mobile Orkut.

Google has also created platforms like the 'Be NetSmart' campaign to educate students, parents and teachers on Internet safety.

After travelling through Karnataka towns, the Internet bus will drive into other states across the country for similar exposure over the ensuing months.

USIBC names Mythili Sankaran to advance ties in western US

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has named Mythili Sankaran, former CEO of Telecom/Web startup, Koollage, as director of its coast operations to advance US-India commercial ties in western US.

The California office is dedicated to advancing US-India commercial ties in the western region of the US, including developing a more robust "two-way street" that enables US companies to succeed in India, and Indian companies to succeed in the US, the trade lobby announced Monday.

Coming from the business world of the Silicon Valley, Sankaran brings to USIBC a wealth of experience in IT and venture capital, it said. Earlier, Sankaran was CEO of a Telecom/Web startup, Koollage. Prior to this, Sankaran was an executive at the American India Foundation.

"The western United States has tremendous links to India and is presently under-represented by a business advocacy association of the calibre of USIBC. We are delighted to have Mythili head-up our operations in California," said Ron Somers, president, USIBC.

"USIBC could not have made a finer choice for the position of Director, West Coast than Mythili Sankaran," said Arun Kumar, partner - KPMG, who also serves as a member of the USIBC board of directors.

The USIBC, which seeks to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties between the two countries, is hosted under the aegis of the US Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organisations of every size, sector and region.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Yahoo! Cricket, India's #1 Cricket site, gets cricket fans closer to the real game

Yahoo! Cricket, India’s #1* Cricket site, brought digital cricket enthusiasts closer to the real game through the ‘Clued2Cricket’ online contest held to test the cricketing IQ of the sport enthusiasts. Ten lucky winners won an all-expense paid trip for two to watch the live action of the ICC World Twenty20 England 2009 finals on June 21. Also, 21 daily winners and 3 weekly winners took home high-end watches. See Winners list here

Over 250,000 users took the contest over a period of 3 weeks, between March 26 and April 15, on Yahoo! Cricket, The contestants had to crack 10 clue-based, multiple choice questions. They were allowed multiple attempts and the last submitted score was recorded as the final score. Winners were chosen among the contestants with the highest scores.

“We are delighted with the response to the contest. Clued2Cricket provided a platform for passionate cricket fans to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the sport and gave them an opportunity to watch the ICC World Twenty20 2009 finals at the Mecca of cricket “Lord’s” said Nitin Mathur, Director – Marketing, Yahoo! India.

Yahoo! Cricket enjoys patronage by over 2 Million unique visitors, which gives it the enviable status of being the number 1 Cricket site in India*

Recently, Yahoo! India entered into a 3-year partnership with the International Cricket Council (ICC) becoming the exclusive online partner for all ICC events. The partnership gave Yahoo! India users access to exclusive images, videos, interviews and player chats around all major ICC events — ICC World Twenty20, ICC Champions Trophy and ICC Cricket World Cup.

Brand pril gets bigger and better

Henkel India Limited today announced the re-launch of its flagship dishwash brand Pril, a key player in the utensil cleaner category. Pril Liquid is re-launched as Pril Perfect with new Triple action formulation which removes tough grease, kills 99.99% germs & removes residual food odour. Sonali Bendre to be the new face of the brand.

Pril has already taken the property of redefining cleanliness as “not only looking clean but also smelling clean.” Pril Perfect is an extension of Pril Liquid’s superior product delivery & high quality that takes cleaning to the next level. The all new Pril Perfect will provide additional benefit of anti-bacterial protection with the promise of killing 99.9% germs. Pril Perfect is the result of an intensive research which highlighted the growing concern among the consumers about health and hygiene.

Pril’s transformation to Pril Perfect will be reflected in its new logo design, packaging and brand ambassador. The new logo of Pril Perfect has taken the shape of the drop- communicating ‘The Power of Pril Drop’. The “Perfect” sub brand communicates Pril’s commitment towards perfect cleaning and covers all the cleaning problems making it the only product the category to provide triple benefits to the consumers.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Jayant Singh, Managing Director, Henkel India Limited said, “Launched in 1999, Pril for 10 years has been delighting our consumers with an unbeatable performance on tough grease cleaning for kitchen utensils. Pril is the first international liquid hand dishwash brand in the mass market which made sure that our consumers got the best cleaning performance with best care of their hands. The new ‘Pril Perfect’ range, an outcome of consumer research, is an even better product with triple benefits of degreasing; deodorizing and germ kill which is sure to further delight our consumers”

Pril has also roped in eminent Bollywood actress Ms. Sonali Bendre as the new Brand Ambassador. As part of the deal, Sonali will feature in the new Pril commercials, the first of which will hit the leading TV channels.

Says Mr. Singh, “We are happy to sign up Ms. Sonali Bendre as the new face for Brand Pril. Over the years Pril has stood for best quality that our consumers can depend upon. We believe Ms. Sonali epitomizes the values of Pril and we are confident of the success of this relationship.”

Speaking about the tremendous potential of the brand, Ms. Sonali Bendre said, “Today, a product like the new Pril Perfect is invaluable to every household. I'm proud to be associated with Pril, a brand that provides top notch quality and constant innovation in every drop. Pril is a must have in my kitchen.”

Pril Perfect is available in exciting variants like Lime (green), Lemon (yellow), Orange and Natural Anti bacterial with Neem (Blue). Pril Perfect is priced at Rs.19 for 120 ml, Rs. 35 for 225 ml, Rs.59 for 425 ml and Rs.95 for 750ml.
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