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Airlines in India: cost and space Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model The sea- saw battle continues... CII projects higher growth… Gas is the way forward The rise and fall of Annamalai University Roaring Ro-Ro facility China invests in India Things happen by accident and not by design... An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... IPL - no surprise this scam Marketing expert Balagopal is no more More heat than light Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Funding the un-funded Five star activism stalls development activity Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS Maximising the micro pricing … Paytm karo... Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi Haul over the coal Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Valli, they are more marginalised GM Technology at last! Should we change the official year? West Bengal: mindless malignancy An enemy’s enemy is a friend A rich pool of talent not utilised…. Waning interest in public discussions… Shipping woes of Chennai companies Sri Lanka votes for change All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Multi-faceted Venkat Editor's Notes CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Parliament in paralysis... Cement prices continue to rise… Fuel for thought More Shakti to resource mobilisation... Breaththrough in malaria control A think tank for Chennai Tax agriculture Rahman at CIC Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet A more liberated TN… A welcome initiative by the judiciary Engineering seats go abegging Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria No engine for this car Revving up the manufacturing sector Align crops to agro climate endowments… Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... PC’s preference for professionals He saved millions from starvation... The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu A yen for wastage… Tough task taking states together Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Build close rapport with business leaders Shanti and Sadhana through Music New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… When Ratan Tata visited SRM Mu Sigma – is no more Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Polls and promises Fortune 500 review EEC at the National Media Centre CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. Why land prices zoom in TN? Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Put expensive assets created to use... Gay abandon in pricing Demise of a media baron... A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Adharma of opposition politics Welcome focus on core competence Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Moily’s bold thrust Tribute – M V Murugappan When online building permits work…. Where a state respects its litterateurs… Auto components surge… Muffled voices for merit… Delhi is distant Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! Delhi is distant… Quality silica from Neyveli The nuclear option Protest masters... Cutting the nose to spite the face Editor's Says Why this malaise in medical education? Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Sweet news for TN sugar mills There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! Nuclear power at the nucleus For whom the bell tolls? Kulandai was a giant Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Modi and the lady More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Make standards certification mandatory... 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B H Kothari - a tribute TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Medical costs hit the roof... A professional at the helm of IRDA... Intellectual of rare qualities The why of tax incentives PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Another Indian music maestro at the UN Music happens Recognition to role of NBFCs.... …and of a popular trade leader The Swadeshi Trump This scant respect for Law Sweeter prospects for sugar L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Solar thermal shines… No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu Excel Generators provide the vital back-up The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ A friendly business group Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... TELANGANA at last…BUT Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform Banning booze... The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more A proud Madrasi Plummeting profits of PSBs An inexplicable neglect How Air-India loses customs... Delhi returns to BJP When nations steal growth from one another… Small units prefers to remain small... Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School Which side are you, Montek? Boy, can you beat these? Robber barons everywhere Road development slows down Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai Silver Years of Madras Musings GNS - 100: our first subscriber More tributes to GR Permanent secretariat for TN GIM Where is Rajaji? IAS invades NDDB... IPL type auction for VCs? Preserving for the future Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra The Jan Dhan bonanza Pharma – overdose of copying EVM is tamper-proof Revive development banks... London, London Narayan Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara Strengthen the base... Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Kudos to NDTV... Tatas moving out of urea production... ONGC at KG Basin Poor quality of university VCs A glass full of corruption Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Shale gas and its shallow future The power-full Hindujas Building loyalty through the stomach Kinetic Karnataka Streamlining mandatory third party cover When small is no larger beautiful.. Discoms deserve better… Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt WTO Meet: resolved to meet again Contrarian cousins The rise and rise of KCP Welcome GST A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science Secularism and anti-Hinduism Lalu’s envy, India’s pride Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami Tatas moving out of urea production... Vibrant Gujarat Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Come elections, come advertisements... Telangana in top gear… Quality education through the PPP mode F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... TGS- The king storyteller Remembering Indira Sivasailam... Noble nonagenarians... Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Fortune for Indian Airlines to the lack of interest on the part of these to focus on original research. This despite the much lower costs of such research in India. The industry which thrived on the protection of a closed economy and the advantage of a vast domestic market, has failed to organise its evolution on healthy lines TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... TIAM turns a full cycle Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW He continues the focus on social amelioration Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai The balancing act SoA @ 80 The few handicaps... 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Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW

“Roof tops should not be measured in sq.ft or sq.m. but as KW or MW of solar power they can produce. At Saint Gobain Glass India (SGGI), we have rooftops worth 10 MW. If 10-25 neighbouring companies bigger than us join in the solar power effort, we can install 200-250 MW of power.”

This is from B Santhanam, President-SGGI and Chairman-CII (SR).

Speaking at the dedication of the 25 KW solar power facility at Economist House, Santhanam suggested a four-point agenda: to harness solar power; to manufacture the panels in large scale within the country; imparting skills for this green industry and effectively utilising the massive free electricity extended to agriculture for switching to solar pump sets.

An IIT-IIM alumnus actively involved with IIT-M Research Park, B Santhanam is known to walk his talk.  A decade ago when rainwater harvesting (RWH) was mooted by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to tide over the severe water crisis, BS swung into action and installed extensive facilities to harvest large quantum of rain water falling over the acres of roof tops at his sprawling SGGI facility at Sriperumbudur. The company did not get the quantum of water promised from the nearby Chembarambakkam Lake and thus knew the value of water. The quick installation of RWH facilities including the creation of a large pond helped the company meet a third of its water requirements from this single step.

Santhanam further expanded the concept. The availability of water and large land area acquired to meet expansion, lent for agriculture. As a trustee of the Agriculture Consultancy Management Foundation (ACMF), promoted by IE to improve agriculture productivity, he invited ACMF to develop SGGI land for vegetable cultivation, which has a ready outlet in the company’s canteen. In quick time, farming operations got stabilised to good effect. Corn, brinjal and other vegetables were raised. In this process, he also trained a number of his managers and staff in agriculture practices.  

The logic was simple: agriculture is a short-term operation and does not require permanent structures. The moment industry needs the land for manufacturing, it can be released in quick time.

I do hope as Chairman - CII, Santhanam will persuade thousands of CII members in the southern region to measure the roof tops in terms of KW/MW.


Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai-Aur Ek Choli

In 1993, the then reigning diva, Madhuri Dixit, danced in Kalnayak to the sizzling lyric Choli ke peeche kya hai (What is behind the jacket). It aroused a sense of outrage amongst the purists while the neo-class felt that the song was innocuous; it concluded with the answer Dil (Heart). Like her Ek, dho, theen, char in Tezaab, this was a run-away hit.

 More than others, leading English newspapers the jacket idea. Leader Times of India (TOI) popularised the cover jacket advertisement. Other papers, also hungry for advertisements, followed suit. The Hindu now led by several ex-TOI managers, has also adapted this like fish to water. Last year, for a full month, The Hindu invited prospective advertisers and offered them liberal terms for volume advertising. The campaign seems to have been effective if you notice the flourish of such jacket covers in the subsequent months.

The practice seems to have turned a full circle. For decades, TOI and The Hindu featured only classified advertisements on Page 1. Then came the realisation that a newspaper should give prominence to news. Thus dailies turned to featuring topical news, global, national and regional on Page1. That was as it should be. With TOI’s Sameer Jain  re-defining the purpose of a newspaper as business and advertisements, there has been a swift change: advertisements became the be all and end all of the media world. The cover jacket became an important component of the print medium. One soon came across yet another innovation by TOI:  during the 2010 festive season of its Mumbai edition, TOI came with three jacket ads! On 28 April 2013 TOI Chennai edition came with two jacket ads. At this rate one may expect TOI to come out with a series of cover jackets and perhaps some space for news too. One can expect The Hindu and the other dailies will follow the leader.

So, Choli ke peeche aur ek choli.


Can ET become FT?

Presenting the Shriram-Sanlam awards for excellence in financial journalism, Finance Minister P Chidambaram(PC) said that he considered Financial Times of London as the best business newspaper. He pointed to the expert knowledge, analysis and a strong complement of writers, correspondents and columnists FT has  drawn globally. “Our business papers should strive to reach the standard set up by Financial Times,” he suggested.

The recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award Swaminathan Aiyar pointed to the handicaps suffered by Indian media: their heavy dependence on the advertisers that conditions objectivity and also widen the coverage, he said.

Aiyar, known for his sharp comments and global perspectives, has worked with Times of India, Eastern Economist, Financial Express and is now a Consulting Editor of Economic Times. With his experience spanning close to five decades, he is familiar with the increase in the clout of advertisers. His boss Sameer Jain, more than others, demonstrated the dispensability of the editor. Remember his showing the door for Dilip Padgaonkar when the latter attempted to assert the rights of the editor? He has also seen the same Padgaonkar returning to the paper as a Consultant Editor /Columnist on terms suggested by the boss.


Inlaws and outlaws

With the power of the advertisers, today one does not come across many critical stories of corporate shenanigans. Aiyar pertinently pointed out that the Ranbaxy story emanated in the US media and not in India.

I remember a similar yearning: at a Madras Management Association (MMA) meeting, Dr  S P Thyagarajan, then Vice Chancellor  Madras University,  made a brilliant presentation on the record of the university. Renowned educationist Dr. M Anandakrishnan, former Vice Chancellor of Anna University who presided over the meeting, was asked: when can an Indian university - academic institution gain the reputation of a Harvard or a MIT? His answer was poignant: in a system where appointments of vice chancellors were directed by political leaders and when university vice chancellors are the sons,daughters and daughters-in-law of the promoters/proprietors and most of whom are politicians or small time businessmen, how can this happen?


MSP, the Association Man...

For over four decades M S Parthasarathy (MSP) was the voice of small scale enterprises. Establishing close rapport with policy makers, MSP forcefully represented the needs of the small sector, that was for long much touted for its priority status. With the benign patronage and lead of R Venkataraman in the 1950s and 1960s Tamil Nadu emerged the leader in the development of the small scale industry.  MSP was essentially an association man.  He revelled in his advocacy of the sector through hectic lobbying. He headed the Industrial Estate Manufactures Association, Guindy, the Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association at the state level and the Federation of Association of Small Industries of India at the national level. His services were sought and liberally utilised by the state and national level policy makers. When his term as president ended at FASII, he formed new associations like the Small Industries Business Entrepreneurs Association and the National Confederation of Small Industries. He continued his links with policy makers.

On the liberalised era much of the sheen of the small industry enjoying priority status had vanished. Banks and financial institutions quietly withdrew the priority status in terms of lower rate of interest and other subsidies. For its part the small sector also failed to graduate into the medium sector; it opted to multiply the number of units and retain its status as small-scale unit to enjoy the exemption limits. These again lost their value when the country opted for a market economy doing away with reservation for the small sector.

MSP would be remembered for the passion and the fervour, with which he promoted the cause of the small sector. Today the situation has changed so drastically that industry associations seem to have lost much of their importance.

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