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Research for results - A unique industry-institute collaboration
Saint-Gobain Research India (SGRI) heralds a new era in industry-institute collaboration. It’s a massive jump in application-oriented research, and is carried out jointly by Saint-Gobain and IIT-Madras. Yes, the researchers and engineers of the building-materials major work jointly with the faculty and scholars of India’s top engineering school. The investment is close to Rs.200 crore. Currently home to hundred plus top notch scientists, SGRI will ultimately employ over 250 of them drawn from across the globe. This team will help support existing businesses, develop new businesses and provide future talent for the company. The way forward is by building academic relationships and developing transversal competencies, even as it maintains key linkages with other R&D centres. A key vision is to be the onestop ‘reference’ for sustainable habitat.
Saint-Gobain Research India located within the research
DHO saal baad
In 2014, the chorus Abki Baar Modi Sarkar reverberated India. So much so that for the first time since 1984, the citizens voted a party to power with an absolute majority. Narendra Modi promised a lot and the nation chose to eat out of his hand with alacrity. Two years on, it is work-in-progress. He is at full throttle without a doubt. Two years is 40 per cent of his five-year term as Prime Minister. It’s time to take stock, like we did last year. And heads up, I would say it’s like a curator’s egg: good in parts. This is the fourth in a series. The first three were Tasks before the new government: Baker’s dozen (April 2014), History Beckons Modi (June 2014) and NDA Anniversary: 365 degree appraisal (June 2015)... When he took over office as India’s first ever post-independence born Prime Minister, we listed our expectations from the new government in our cover story of June 2014 issue. Here’s a reality check.
A.  ECONOMY
The 3 Loves of RT
R Thyagarajan (RT) was a year senior to me in the hallowed precincts of the famous Vivekananda College. I have had fleeting glimpses of the lanky, dhoti-clad undergrad in the crowded classes of some of our renowned math professors. We pursued our post-graduation in Mathematics because the two of us had an instinctive fascination for figures; I mean numbers. That’s where our similarities end. RT went to work for an insurance company and then metamorphosed into a businessman extraordinary. That was natural, given his incredible vision and his relentless drive towards it. I taught for a couple of years at the Madras Christian College before taking the plunge into journalism.
In the years that I have known him, RT continues to be
THE WAR AGAINST BLACK
A man in his early forties whom I had engaged in professional work walked into my office to discuss the modalities of payment. “I suppose you will pay me in cash,” he asked. A shade taken aback, I said, “Nope. We pay by cheque.” “Why so?” His voice had an edge. I smiled. “Because we have no one to draw cash.” I thought the response was clear enough. Far from it, as he said, “My office guy can draw for you.” “Well, we don’t work that way. We pay by cheque.” “Okay, let the payment go in my wife’s name.” “But she is not the one who is rendering professional service to us. Is she?” “That’s okay since I am asking you to do so.” “What if tomorrow another lady walks into our office saying she is your wife?” I thought my attempt at bad humor would unsettle him. He wasn’t yet done. “Fine. Pay me. But let there be no tax deduction at source.” “Sorry, that’s not the law of the land. The law is that if you earn Rs 100, you keep Rs 70 and the government takes Rs 30. We deduct TDS on behalf of the country as an honest middleman.” Grudgingly he agreed. In the space of a year or so, we parted ways. That was not surprising, as our wavelengths didn’t match. The irony: this man was a chartered accountant. Cash payment, surrogate income, no TDS. Phew.
 Date:
MEGA MERGERS......
If someone had slipped into a coma in 1992 only to wake up 25 years later, he would find India’s telecom sector unrecognisable in more detail than what Rip Van Winkle found America following the Revolutionary War. It’s wartime now. First up came the announcement of a merger between Vodafone and Idea. By the time one digested this news, Bharti Airtel had announced it was gobbling Telenor’s India operations. Then comes the merger of RCom, Aircel, MTS and Tata Telecom. Phew. Clearly, the big boy of corporate India, Mukesh Ambani, has their hair lock firmly in his hand, following Jio’s capture of a 100 million users in 100 days. There is the prospect of yet another big ticket. The multi-pronged merger is the biggest wave of consolidation in telecommunication after the sector was opened to private players, 20 years plus ago, in 1995.
The idea fone...
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