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Cover Story

Jul 27, 2008
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Editors note From the editor

From the editor

With inflation at 11.63 per cent (at the time of writing) and rising, it is hardly surprising that the Indian middle class consumer is pinching her pennies. With sharply rising interest rates on loans to finance everything-from homes and cars to two-wheelers, personal computers and holidays-it's no wonder that the credit culture embraced by consumers in a happier, low-interest rate regime not so long ago is now finding few or no takers.
BT More Limping tiger wins race

Limping tiger wins race

Former major winner and now commentator Johnny Miller thought Mediate looked like somebody who would scrub Woods’ swimming pool. And Mediate didn’t blink an eyelid when he heard of these comments. Goes to show that this guy can not only play golf, he has character, too.

Buy yourself a golf home

They may watch cricket, but when it comes to playing a sport themselves, India’s rich and famous choose golf over all others. So, why not invest in a luxury home with a private golf course?

Designed To Suit

There is a reason why you would want to pick up designer threads instead of branded ones.

From South Africa to Karim's

Unlike most New World wines, which open up almost immediately after you uncork a bottle, Meerlust wines take some time to develop their personality. You’ll be better off asking for a 2004 Merlot, which slithers like silk down your palate.

Sheer luxury in tiger country

Being pampered in five-star comfort in ‘Asia’s best resort’ in the Ranthambhore National Park is sheer bliss. Chasing the Royal Bengal Tiger on a safari just adds to the fun.

Melting Pot

World Music has always been about compelling music that connects the common joys, fears and hopes of men everywhere. Here’s a look at the genre and some of its biggest stars.

The pocket rocket

Our auto expert tries to tame the extremely powerful, brand new Yamaha R15 on the race tracks of Chennai and ends up shaken but safe. The verdict: India has never had a bike as good as this one.

The Hybrid challenge

Not only do hybrids utilise energy more efficiently, they also store some of the extra energy generated by the combustion of fuel and use it at times when the internal combustion engine is not running at optimal capacity.

The Desperados

When it comes to indefatigable heroes, Hollywood has some of the best, and the same goes for daft but enjoyable plots. Here are three new releases on DVD which fit the bill perfectly.

Spoil yourself silly

Check into these fabulous spa resorts around the world to get pampered like royalty. Maybe, the experience will tempt you to buy an island resort or a spa in the mountains.

Just Arrived!

Check out all that’s brand new in the world of luxury this fortnight.

Spare ribs to die for

There’s nothing like a well-done rack of juicy spare ribs to go with your glass of Pinot Noire on a cool, monsoon evening. But making perfect spare ribs is no easy art.We cornered David Tilli, the talented French chef of The Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, to get a few great recipes out of him.

Best Bites

There's nothing quite like a double shot of espresso and a perfectly grilled sandwich as you sit on a leather sofa or a bar stool admiring the rains outside. Check out these cool cafes where you can do just that.

India's most luxurious spa

A Hawaiian massage as you look at the Taj Mahal, a yoga session up in the Himalayas, sipping wine on a private beach—there’s nothing quite like a luxury spa holiday. Here are seven of the very best.

The travel guru

At 38, Deep Kalra says life is good at the top. The CEO of MakeMyTrip shares his life outside the office, as we catch up with him after work.
Current When the deal goes down

When the deal goes down

An erosion in market cap makes cross-border buyouts more difficult.

Rough weather

While a recent report by consulting firm KPMG believes that airlines in India will be raking in profits by 2011 once most infrastructural issues have been sorted out, it is the present that worries most airlines.

Advantage Anil?

A change at the Centre could allow R-ADAG to step off the back foot.

Global generation

GMR has also undertaken half-a-dozen road projects, of which two in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are ready. But power is something Rao never lost sight of. Indeed, till December 2007, power accounted for two-thirds of the GMR group’s revenues.

Shaky foundations

When it rains, it floods—and one is not just talking of India’s financial capital Mumbai, which has reserved one day of the calendar for a deluge. But that’s the least of the worries for the financial hub; it’s more concerned with the never-ending slide of the realty index on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Strategic checks

Fidelity likes to keep managements on their toes. The US-based global fund house, with assets under management of over $300 billion, has a separate team to look at the interest of Fidelity investments relating to corporate governance and vision of the managements.

IT, SMEs & an SEZ

If it all goes as intended, in the next 8 to 10 months Hyderabad could have a place in a special economic zone (SEZ) for small and mid-size IT and IT-enabled services companies, arguably the first such initiative in the country.

No dearth of spice and ideas

There’s still room for consolidation in mobile telephony and the biggest factor that will trigger further consolidation is a spectrum crunch.

Axe effect

Keane Inc. rationalises its workforce in India the US way. The $1-billion US company with software development and BPO operations in India was in news, but for the wrong reasons. Its decision— more so the sudden manner in which it chose to do it—to retrench some of its workforce, is creating ripples both within the company and in the industry.

Of mice and women

Disney isn’t just a kiddies’ brand. Disney Consumer Products (DCP), the merchandising arm of The Walt Disney Company, is venturing into the high-end couture space with clothes and fine jewellery for women

Original Angel returns

Silicon Valley pro takes another stab at VC funding in India. Kanwal Rekhi's new firm is called Inventus and plans to raise around $125-150 million (Rs 537.5-645 crore) and invest in around 15-20 early stage IT companies.

Chinese aggression

The $18-billion (Rs 77,400-crore) Chinese telecom equipment giant is trying to leave its early years in India (when it was prohibited from applying for contracts on security grounds) behind and is instead trying to compete on an even footing with its western rivals, including market leader Cisco, Nortel and Juniper.

HP's route to the top

The computer maker, which half a decade ago was in the doldrums, losing market share to more nimble competitors, got its act together by making computers “relevant” to people again.

Betting on IP

Nasscom, India’s famous IT industry lobby, and ICICI Knowledge Park in Hyderabad are in the process of setting up what will arguably be the first-of-its-kind early stage fund in the country, meant for the IT and life sciences sectors but with a clear focus on IP development.

3G pay dirt

Three spectrum slots of 2.5 megahertz on one side and five national private cellular telcos and many more international telcos on the other. The bids for 3G spectrum in India promise to be interesting—and a windfall for the government of India.

Listing through the back door

Subhiksha has bought a stake in Blue Green Constructions & Investments, a small NBFC listed on the Madras Stock Exchange, into which it plans to reverse merge soon.

Direct-to-loss television?

DTH players are bleeding, but the wannabes aren’t worried.
Editorial The last straw?

The last straw?

Marginalised politicians have very often played the reservation card to avoid slipping into obscurity. It was V.P. Singh who first initiated this trend in 1990 by implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations for quotas for OBCs in government jobs.

Missed opportunity

When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power in 2004, there was a good deal of expectation, particularly in the business community, that this would probably be a term marked by version 2.0 of India’s economic reforms.

Uncertain consumer

If you are one of India’s middle class consumers, chances are you are beginning to tighten your pursestrings. After all, we’ve gone from ‘India Unstoppable’ to ‘India Plummeting’ in just a few months.
Trends Bleak economic scenario

Bleak economic scenario

Executives acroos the world say that their companies can't raise prices to match inflation. Energy costs and the ongoing crdit crunch have made planning difficult, says a recent survey.

The BT 50 index

The BT 50 index

Deal watch

Every month, we bring you a listing of the biggest deals struck by Indian companies in India and abroad. Our partner: global professional services firm Ernst & Young. Here are the deals that were struck in June 2008.

ITAS launches Auto Bild India

ITAS Media unveiled Auto Bild India at a glittering ceremony on June 27. ITAS Media is a joint venture between the India Today Group and German media powerhouse Axel Springer.

Just wondering ...

What’s up at BPL? The erstwhile market leader in the country’s consumer durables market seems to have disappeared from the public radar.

To be precise

“I don’t think anything so important happens after office hours that cannot wait till tomorrow... If it does, we just stay in office”Sanjiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj FinServ, in Business Standard

The most active PE firms in India

Even as FIIs pull money put of the country, private equity investors continue to see value in Indian businesses and are funnelling money into a range of businesses.

Numbers of note

$1.27 billion: Amount raised by 30 Indian companies through ECBs and Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds in May 2008

Talebearer

With the inflation rising, mandarins at North Block now seem to have adopted a wait and watch policy. They are hoping that RBI’s monetary measures will have an impact over the medium term.

Economy watch

The inflow of invisibles has been rising quarter-on-quarter and is helping offset, albeit only partially, the higher outflows on account of the higher oil import bill.

India Inc. on a steely voyage

Since the landmark acquisition of Corus by Tata Steel, Indian steel companies seem to have developed a hunger for acquiring steel companies and raw material assets across the globe.

Instant tip

The fortnight’s burning question. Will the BSE Sensex drop to 10,000 this year?
Letters Functional autonomy for IIMs

Functional autonomy for IIMs

The BT-Nielsen ranking of India’s top business schools (BT, July 13) highlights the state of B-school education in the country. Barring the top dozen B-schools or so, and these include the IIMs, there are not enough quality management schools in India.
Book Fast Manager

Fast Manager

Two Bain consultants on what managers need to know to produce results quickly.
In This Issue Not just a paper king

Not just a paper king

He’s in expansion mode. After reconquering the paper market, which BILT, his flagship company, had long dominated and then lost, he has branched into agriculture and farming. From being a fringe member of the Thapar family to the head of its most powerful branch, Gautam Thapar has come a long way.

A time for caution

IT and ITES companies will step up recruitments, while financial services and telecom firms will hire less.

Fleeting fragrance

Once touted as India’s counterpart to France’s Grasse region, Kannauj’s perfumery industry doesn’t smell so sweet anymore. Business Today's Tejeesh Behl reports.

Robust pipeline

Massive investment-led demand may help the economy tide over the slowdown.

Premji's other baby

Away from the arclights, Wipro’s Consumer Care & Lighting division is expanding its market share and challenging the established players in the business. K.R. Balasubramanyam reports.
Money A cover for terror

A cover for terror

Why a cover for terrorism can be a good option for you. Given the increasing acts of terrorism, an insurance policy that covers terror acts might just be what you need.

MF scoreboard

The top performers category-wise.

Let's get together

Mutual funds are increasingly bundling insurance covers with SIPs to counter the growing popularity of ULIPs.

Banking on the move

Mobile banking is fast catching up as an alternative channel for banking services. Here’s what you should know about it.

Where is the bottom?

The stock market’s massive fall has been swift, sharp and painful. Experts believe there’s going to be more pain before it settles down. Yet, predicting its bottom is like catching a falling knife.

Up it goes again

As interest rates rise, borrowers are going to get hit. How should you manage your loans in this scenario?
People Logging back on

Logging back on

Microsoft India’s former Managing Director Rajiv Kaul; Great Lakes Institute of Management’s Bala V. Balachandran; R-ADAG’s Anil Singhvi; Lakshmi N. Mittal, Chairman and CEO, ArcelorMittal; Quatrro’s Raman Roy and SPIC Group’s A. C. Muthiah.
Printed Circuit Great speakers for your laptop

Great speakers for your laptop

The Bose Computer MusicMonitor delivers great sound, compactness and ease of operation, but it is a tad expensive.
Special How we did it

How we did it

Like in the previous four years, the survey was conducted among equity fund managers of top mutual fund houses and life insurance companies in India, with minimum assets under management of Rs 1,000 crore.

Last year's best analysts

Last year’s best analysts.

India's best equity analysts

Fortunes are made or lost on Dalal Street every day. So, who are the analysts fund managers swear by? BT presents its fifth annual survey of India’s Best Equity Analysts.
Top Mind Privacy? Not if you're on YouTube

Privacy? Not if you're on YouTube

What happened? A US Federal Judge in California ruled that Google would have to hand over all user logs of people’s video viewing on YouTube to media company Viacom. Google bought YouTube in 2005.

Now, Diesel from Insect Poop

What it is not: It is not the millions of insects that came with the monsoons, which have been crunched in an oil press.
Policy Watch Widening the ambit

Widening the ambit

The coverage of the employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is being widened. The newly constituted Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO has recommended an increase in the coverage of the fund to establishments that have more than 10 employees.

Goodbye, export sops

The government is all set to withdraw the concessions extended to embattled exporters last year in the wake of the rising rupee.
News Maker Mulayam Singh Yadav

Mulayam Singh Yadav

A former wrestler, who  has been floored several times in the political arena, Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav suddenly appears to have found redemption for his sagging political fortunes, which were being singed by UP Chief Minister Mayawati.
Noted Noted

Noted

Risen: By 38.6 per cent, direct tax collections during the first quarter of 2008-09, to Rs 57,373 crore, compared to 28 per cent and Rs 41,391 crore for the corresponding period last year.
Treadmill All about tech addiction

All about tech addiction

Texting or yakking on the mobile while driving can be seriously unsafe, and being the most wired person can be equally harmful for you. Read on to find out how.

Machines vs. free weights

Dumb-bells and barbells, the two main constituents of free weights, are believed to help maintain proper form during workouts.
Features Is this man for real?

Is this man for real?

It's impossible to ignore Nikhil Gandhi and his grand game plan of sinking $20 billion into a clutch of big-ticket infrastructure projects. BT’s Virendra Verma deconstructs the man.

Cisco's heavy lifting

A decade after Cisco came to India for low-cost talent, the networking giant now wants to make the country a hub of innovation and its second global headquarters. Will this novel initiative be successful? Business Today's Rahul Sachitanand finds out.

The UPA report card - A mixed bag

The Manmohan Singh government’s performance can, at best, be labelled ‘middling’. With general elections due within the next 6-8 months, we take a look at the UPA's report card.

Radically different

Suguna Poultry sold Rs 2,000 crore worth of live chicken, eggs and processed meat last year, by sourcing birds from 15,000 small and medium poultry farmers. Now, it is planning a pan-Indian roll-out and even a foray abroad. Can its model keep delivering results? BT's N. Madhavan finds out.
Reporters Diary India's detroit

India's detroit

It could well be the most sought-after stretch of land in India. Five global car majors, two commercial vehicle companies, one tractor manufacturer, three earth moving equipment companies, a tyre major and over 100 auto parts producers have either made it their home or will do so soon. A 45-km-long corridor near Chennai is on its way to becoming one of the largest automobile centres in the world. N. Madhavan checks it out.