Rising executive salaries and consumption trends among the rich become conspicuous when there is something that is sharply in contrast to compare them to. So, when median CEO salaries swiftly breach the Rs 2-crore mark and India emerges as a fast-growing market for the world's priciest luxury brands, it is not surprising to hear voices - including that of the Prime Minister - advising restraint.
It is true that, as compensations to top Indian executives have skyrocketed, there are still as many as 700 million Indians living on less than two US dollars (or Rs 82) a day. Should the plight of poor be the reason why companies should pay their CEOs and top managers less? Or should these things be better left to economics and market forces, like the profits that companies make and the demand and supply of managers? Or should the government have any say in how much private sector companies want to pay their CEOs?
There was a time, not long ago, that the government imposed ceilings on how much directors and CEOs at Indian companies could be paid. Every appointment (along with terms and conditions) of a director at a publicly listed company had to be approved by the government, which imposed ceilings on salaries that were, to say the least, unrealistic. That practice has gone out the window and companies are pretty much free to pay their CEOs what they like.
As we say in our cover story (Are Indian CEOs Overpaid?), it is true that CEO salaries have been rising but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are out of whack with reality. Indeed, while one reason for the rise in CEO pay is linked to the supply and demand for managers, the rising trend also mirrors the growth in profits of their companies.
India has approximately 110,000 hotel rooms. That's less than the 150,000 rooms that a single US city, Las Vegas, can boast of. Anyone who has tried to make a booking in Bangalore's five-, four- or three-star hotels will know how serious the crisis is. It isn't much better in the other cities. In the special report by Assistant Editor Tejeesh N.S. Behl, we focus on the $3-billion investment that players have lined up for the hospitality sector and whether it can mitigate the shortage of rooms.
A $2-billion plan has been drawn up to transform one of Asia's largest slums, Dharavi in Mumbai, into a contemporary township but the slum's 6 lakh squatters could resist such moves. Special Correspondent T.V. Mahalingam's feature (A Foggy Castle In the Toxic Air) investigates the grand plan to transform Dharavi.