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Felix Padel's book Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis helped build the case for the Ministry of Environment and Forests' rejection of the project for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills.

Print Edition: Nov 28, 2010

No Tin Ear Here
Charles Darwin invited the ire of the Church with his seminal book On The Origin of Species in 1859. More than 150 years later, greatgrandson Felix Padel's book Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel did not anger the Church but won him few friends in the Orissa government.

The book helped build the case for the Ministry of Environment and Forests' rejection of the project for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills. The bauxite was intended for the Rs 36,000-crore Vedanta refinery expansion project at Lanjigarh.

Padel, who, like his illustrious ancestor, is a distinguished academic but in anthropology, believes that the system of corporate largesse as proposed for most large industrial projects is a recipe for disaster.

"There is no way to hold them (the industry) accountable in this model," he says. Padel is also a trained western classical musician, who carries his violin wherever he goes. He learnt dhrupad, the north Indian style of classical singing, at Benaras, and even gives classes on Indian music in London. It is, however, doubtful that Anil Agarwal, owner of the Vedanta Group, will be attending one of Padel's performances anytime soon.

- SUMAN LAYAK

The Digital Doyenne
Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond
As more Indians get connected online, marketers are rushing to take advantage of this digital dividend. It is this opportunity, along with a chance to meet her Indian clients and colleagues, that brought Laura Desmond, Chief Executive of Starcom MediaVest Group, or SMG, one of the world's largest brand communications companies, to India for the first time.

"Digital is not one size fits all. Internet, mobile and social networks are all different," she says. Digital is not a threat, she argues, instead returns will be better as digital is more effective.
- ANUSHA SUBRAMANIAN

Keep Truckin'
Dheeraj Hinduja
Dheeraj Hinduja
The Hindujas have been in business for over nine decades and in that time they have been on a roller-coaster ride. Fortunes seemed to have hit rock-bottom when the family was forced to flee their headquarters in Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Since then, the family has been caught up in controversies in India and Britain.

But the appointment of Dheeraj Hinduja as the Chairman of flagship Ashok Leyland could turn out to be a masterstroke. The first third-generation member of the family to take the helm, the London educated Dheeraj, 39, wants the Chennai-based truckmaker to be in the global top 10 within five years. But does he have a plan to combat the vice-like grip of Tata Motors on the truck industry?
- N. MADHAVAN

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