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Cover Story

  • By drawing on ITC’s strengths in businesses as diverse as cigarettes to hotels to agri-business, Chairman Y.C. Deveshwar has built an FMCG machine that’s become the market leader in several segments. Now, it’s eyeing the No. 1 slot.
  • In a long and freewheeling chat with Business Today’s R. Sridharan and Arnab Mitra, Y.C. Deveshwar discusses this transformation and his plans for the future. Excerpts:
Dec 02, 2007
Editors note From the editor

From the editor

It was back in 2000 that ITC took its first small steps into apparel retail, launching its first Wills Lifestyle store in Delhi. A year later, the Kolkata headquartered conglomerate entered food retailing.
Features Small agencies big pitch

Small agencies big pitch

The hot-shops are back. And, unlike in the nineties, there’s plenty of restless talent going around—and plenty of business for the taking, too.

Manufacturing's vanishing jobs

Millions of jobs in the manufacturing sector could vanish due to the dearer rupee hitting exporters across industries. Will things get worse before they get better?

UPA's social sector scorecard

Taking advantage of an upbeat economy the central government has launched or revamped major schemes aimed at rural India. But have they really worked for the aam aadmi? Shalini S. Dagar finds out.

How safe Is India's IT network?

A few months ago, hackers brought Europe’s most wired country, Estonia, to its knees. India’s IT network is rather modest in comparison. So, who would bother messing with it, right? Wrong.

Makeover at Manipal

From inducting professionals to private equity, the Manipal Group is preparing its education and healthcare businesses for the big leap.

Variety healthcare

Growing consumer expectations and the need for more cost-effective delivery are spawning newer models of healthcare.

Builder of fortune

The Godrejs’ property business has the potential to propel the group—so far best known as a maker of soap—into the elite league of India’s most valued businesses.
Editorial Emulate ITC's model

Emulate ITC's model

India is on the threshold of a retail revolution. In fact, it has, in some segments, already traversed some way down that path.
BT More Stereo Blues

Stereo Blues

The new generation of Bluetooth headsets is all going stereo— thanks to some interesting tweaks in technology.

The Big Sound

We took a Rolling Stones disc to check out these home-grown audio systems and came away impressed.

Smooth, Quiet and Powerful

The Volvo’s new S80D5 is easy to handle and at 183 horsepower, an extremely powerful machine. Yet, this executive sedan can sneak into a party quite unnoticed.

'Lock'ed to Perfection

Wondering where you can get that exclusive haircut that will make you stand out in the crowd and make heads turn? Look no further and read on…

In the Lap of Luxury

Combine business with pleasure while travelling or experience visual delights sitting at home. Indulge your senses this festive season with these brand new products and make your neighbour turn green with envy.

Cut the Chill!

We bring you a selection of winter clothes - from cardigans to sweaters; from leather jackets to suede. Look sharp with our winter style guide.

5 Best Driving Holidays

Feel the adrenaline rush whenever you drive out on the highway? Here are some of the best driving holidays for you to try out.

Five best extreme adventure holidays in India

Skiing, white water rafting, trekking up steep hills, scuba diving and mountain biking—if you have that streak of adventure in you, try out one of these extreme holidays and come back all set to take on the world.

Most exclusive holidays in India

Who needs a Roman Holiday? Hop on for a royal ride or go tiger spotting in the land of the Maharajas. Better still soothe your senses amidst the tranquil backwaters of God’s Own Country.
Drive i-Catching?


A former executive at Hyundai Motor India used to say: “Maruti needs three cars to compete with our Santro”. He meant the Alto, Zen and WagonR. But not any more, since Hyundai now has three cars to fight Maruti’s four products in the compact car segment.
Event 'Climate change & the corporation'

'Climate change & the corporation'

Some remarkable facts about Indian industry’s green initiatives emerge during a panel discussion on climate change. See video of the BT event on climate change
Book This also, that also

This also, that also

It has been more than a decade since the first wave of consumer marketers came to India in the wake of a newly liberalised economy. Talk to them, and they’ll tell you that they are still searching for the promised El Dorado.
Back of the Book Beauty and the beach

Beauty and the beach

One of Vijay Mallya’s colleagues asked if this magazine would like to go and attend the last phase of the 2008 Kingfisher calendar shoot with ace photographer Atul Kasbekar and some very good-looking girls, out in the Andamans.

A long way home

When Dr Aloma Lobo, a paediatrician in Bangalore, decided to adopt her first daughter 28 years ago, it took her no time to bring Trishia home. In the next 20 years, she adopted two more daughters, Lee and Nisha.
Treadmill Two killer moves for your abs

Two killer moves for your abs

I like to look at the winter months as a preparatory period, a time when you can actually adopt a good workout regimen to prepare for spring and summer when those jackets and pullovers will be off and you’re able to show off your buffed and in-shape self.

Five tips for holiday health

It’s the same story each year. AS the holidays approach, thoughts turn to parties and all the treats and drinks promoted during the season. It might be a good time to review what’s good for you and what’s not.
Money The best MF tax savers

The best MF tax savers

Although it's an all year activity, many of us leave tax planning for the last minute. So if you haven't started yet, though we're still a good four months away from the March 31 deadline, it's better to avoid the last minute scramble.

Burdening your dreams

The worst fears of people holding ESOPs (employee stock option schemes) have come true. As it is, they have been reeling under the anxieties of an overstretched Dalal Street that could see a sharp correction.

Enjoy now, pay later

Bharat Sangani was itching to do a tour of historical Europe as he had already been to holiday hotspots like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. After a bit of homework, he enrolled for a 14-day package offered by Raj Travels along with his wife Mayusha.

Profit from dips

It’s not easy to time the markets, but it’s sure easy to spot a dip in this market and cash in on the opportunity. The recent knee-jerk reaction of the market after SEBI announced changes in its P-note guidelines created exactly the type of buying opportunities investors should be looking for.

Power your portfolio

The energy sector is abuzz with activity. AS new oil and gas finds are announced from the Krishna-Godavari basin, Cauvery Delta and in the North East by various private and public sector companies, the Indian energy scenario is slowly changing.

Striking it rich

The sensex is gyrating wildly but that has not dented the enthusiasm of IPO (initial public offering) investors, both institutional and retail. They are busier than ever lapping up shares on offer.
Jobs Managing across cultures - Building bridges

Managing across cultures - Building bridges

As India Inc. racks up acquisitions overseas, it’s come square up against a new challenge: managing across cultures. Here’s how industry vanguards are dealing with it.

Help, Tarun!

I can understand your dilemma, but what you need to understand is that journalism and hospitality are two very different fields.
Leadership Spotlight The man who would be king

The man who would be king

Anil Agarwal has shot to fame over the past 15 years. Like all first-generation entrepreneurs, he started small and turned his metals trading business into a conglomerate of copper, zinc and aluminium assets. Sometime back, he raised $825 million (Rs 3,300 crore) by listing his Vedanta Resources on the London Stock Exchange.
60 minutes "We prepare for the worst things we can think of"

"We prepare for the worst things we can think of"

Last year Lloyd Craig Blankfein was nominated as Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs by his predecessor Hank Paulson, now Secretary of the US Treasury.
People Strategy iconoclast

Strategy iconoclast

On the University of Michigan’s website, C.K. Prahalad’s faculty profile is two sentences long.
Printed Circuit Loud, but we want the games

Loud, but we want the games

The N81 has arrived, N-Gage sadly has not. The n-gage gaming devices from Nokia were never bad. The problem was that the N-Gage phone was a bit difficult to use.

Touch and interact

The way humans interact with devices is changing. In the past 12 months, two devices— the Apple iPhone and the Nintendo Wii—have fundamentally changed the way we interact with machines.
Reporters Diary Power struggle

Power struggle

Karnataka has hit a ‘green’ hurdle; environmentalists are vociferously protesting its last few mega power projects.
Special 20 companies to watch in 2008

20 companies to watch in 2008

Check out Business Today's annual listing of companies you need to keep your eye on.

How the 20 companies to watch in 2007 have performed

Performance of 20 companies to watch in 2007 in alphabetical order.
Trends "India is a top base for talent"

"India is a top base for talent"

Mike Wareing, Ceo of KPMG International, visited India for a couple of days in October to get an update on the company’s operations and to meet the firm’s business and technology partners.

Cracker of a season for durables

This Diwali has brought happy tidings for the Rs 22,000-crore consumer durables industry.

Indians get best increment

This could be another reason why global workers might just want to relocate to India.

To be precise

“Our vision is to be part of the monthly budget of one million families”Krishnan Ganesh, Founder, TutorVista, in New York Times

Numbers of note

319 million: The number of Indians who live on less than a dollar a day, according to the World's Most Deprived report

Economy watch

The gradual decline in the WPI is good news, but rising international crude prices can still spoil the party.

Gold may touch $1,000

Gold prices have shot to over $800 (RS 32,000) per ounce (31.103 gm) in the first week of November for the first time since January 1980 on the back of consistent demand.

Mad, ad world of Josy Paul

He has threatened to jump off the window, uprooted a vision-statement plate at a client’s office, and just when you wonder if the story about him jumping on the table and falling on the client is urban legend, Josy Paul, 42, National Creative Director, JWT, puts a stamp of authenticity on it.

Early signs of recession?

Showing early signs of slipping back into recession, Indian industry recorded dismal growth for the April-September 2007 period with almost 60 per cent of the 91 sectors surveyed recording a low growth rate of below 10 per cent.

Bond markets fail to rally

Despite a soft stance by the US federal Reserve, the Indian bond markets have failed to rally significantly over the past few weeks.

Steel prices head north

Steel prices are rising again. Reacting to an over 40 per cent rise in freight and other input costs, public sector steel majors, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL), have hiked prices for the third successive month.

The new PE El Dorado

PE funds are pouring money into infrastructure, and real estate companies.
In This Issue Cashing in on insurance

Cashing in on insurance

Before the Stock market boom and until unit linked insurance policies (ULIPs) came on the scene, money-back policies were preferred by buyers who planned for the various milestones in their lives.

Crystal gazing with big blue

How tough is it to strategise for a company that sells everything from supercomputers to blade servers to plain vanilla software services—a company that’s more than a century old and has a market capitalisation of over $150 billion?
Current Buyer's regret

Buyer's regret

With crude oil prices kissing the three-figure mark, several oil and gas rich countries are now busy renegotiating terms with their contractors, asking for more share than before.

Early bird takes wing

Google’s keenness to fund innovation out of India only seems to be growing. In what it calls “partnerships that further commitment to fostering innovation in India,” Google has invested in early-stage venture capital fund Ventureast TeNet Fund II, a seedstage fund run by the TeNet Group of IIT, Madras and Ventureast Fund Advisors.

Cross connections

Spectrum delayed is growth denied—that may be exactly the thought running through the minds of some of the country’s biggest telecom czars, as well as the 46 promoters who have applied for new licences and spectrum.

Choppy season begins

After the initial fireworks that propelled the market to beyond the 20,000 mark in end-October, things have suddenly taken a volatile turn.

Taking guard

Mumbai champs, Chandigarh Lions, Chennai Super Stars, Delhi Jets, Hyderabad Heroes and Kolkata Tigers. These are the names of the six teams that the Essel Group-promoted Indian Cricket League (ICL) has readied for a 20-20 tournament to be held at Chandigarh later this month.

Sporting chance

Russell E. Wolff, Executive Vice President & Managing Director, ESPN International, chose an interesting venue to talk up the network’s plans for life beyond cricket.

Beyond pester power

No kidding: The biggest influencers of buying decisions are the 30 million children— aged between 4 and 14—that are running riot in urban India.

UTC gets a move on

Of its various products—in categories like air-conditioning, aerospace, elevators & escalators, aircraft engines, helicopters, fire & security systems and fuel cells—the most visible brands of the $47.8-billion UTC are Otis (elevators & escalators) and Carrier (air-cooling systems).

Airport 2008

Those planning a trip to Bangalore by air next year may do well to avoid it for some time. The new international airport at Devanahalli will open on March 30, but the roads connecting it to the city will take some time to shape up.

New name on the door

The india growth story continues to impress multinational investment banks, who are queuing up for a slice of the Indian pie. The latest to join the bandwagon is US investment bank Jefferies.

Is search hurting Rediff?

It has 59.8 million registered users, it leads in page views, and its revenues grew 18 per cent last quarter. Not the sort of statistics one needs to worry about, but some analysts say all may not be well at

Family feud II

Family disputes are not new at Apollo Tyres Ltd. (ATL) or for its Chairman and Managing Director Onkar Singh Kanwar. Back in 1995, Kanwar was locked in battle with his father, Raunaq Singh, from whom he was trying to wrest control of the company.

Google and social networks

One of the things that make the social networking site Facebook popular is the nifty widgets that it offers users. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, recently said that more than 80 such widgets have more than 1 million users each.

A matter of class

By one estimate, some 365 new hotels will open in the country by 2011. As in other industries, many of the announcements will remain just that. But that’s not the only reason why the Oberoi Group, which runs the Oberoi chain of hotels, is taking it cool.

Aamar mobike?

Five years ago, when Xenitis Group launched a PC for less than Rs 10,000, it created a ripple. Aamar PC (which, in Bengali, means, “My PC”), launched first in West Bengal and then nationwide, last year notched up sales of Rs 620 crore.

M for music, N for next

It’s a bit of a stretch, but then Venugopal Dhoot has never hesitated taking a long shot. Last fortnight, the consumer durables-to-oil and gas giant—via its retail arm, NEXT—snapped up Bennett, Coleman & Co (which publishes the Times of India)-owned music retail chain Planet M for Rs 200 crore.

Beyond a billion

Two years ago, networking equipment giant Cisco Systems hogged the headlines when it announced plans to invest $11 billion across its India operations and then backed up these plans by announcing plans to locate 20 per cent of all its staff in India.
Policy Watch Streamline the Bureaucracy

Streamline the Bureaucracy

Recently, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram gave away sops worth Rs 5,300 crore to the export sector, but not before quipping that trimming staff strength was a short-sighted approach.

Tale bearer

White smoke getting the government to raise prices of mass consumption products like petrol and diesel is as difficult as electing a Pope.

Curbs on ECP to hurt

Indian companies, inclined to borrow abroad to benefit from cheaper interest rates, may soon have to contend with rising debt servicing costs, since RBI is planning to introduce further curbs on ECBs to regulate capital inflows.

Shifting gear

Idle funds are bad for business, and worse still for the economy. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has finally sorted out the issues to set aside a portion of the swelling foreign exchange reserves for developing the country’s weak infrastructure.

Tamil Nadu woos industry

Employment-linked incentives to woo investors are gaining momentum in states. Sometime back, it was Andhra Pradesh. Now, it is Tamil Nadu.

Now, a GPS-based navigator

MapmyIndia Navigator, a GPS-based real-time turn-by-turn navigation device with visual map guidance and voice instructions that can operate across India and help people to reach their destinations.
Top Mind Android will power your Google

Android will power your Google

What is it? Android is a recently announced subsidiary of Google that will create a free operating system for mobile phones based on the Linux operating system
News Maker Yaga Venugopal Reddy

Yaga Venugopal Reddy

Reddy, a 1964 batch officer of the Indian Administrative Service, has been trying for the last six months to preempt the menace of “hot FII flows” and had even suggested a tax on these as a deterrent some time ago.
Noted Noted


An out of court settlement reached between Ranbaxy Laboratories, Japan’s Astellas Pharma and Germany’s Boehringer Ingelhelm.