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Newsmakakers this past fortnight, featuring Hardik Patel, Ashwani Lohani and more.
Team BT        Print Edition: September 27, 2015
Activist Hardik Patel
Activist Hardik Patel's rallying cry is that the Patidar community, comprising 15 per cent of Gujarat's population, needs the OBC tag and the benefits of reservation that go with it.

People who made news this past fortnight:

RALLYING SUPPORT

Gujarat, for long peaceful and marching ahead with rapid industrialisation, is now on the boil. Hardik Patel's rallying cry is that the Patidar community, comprising 15 per cent of the state population, needs the OBC tag and the benefits of reservation that go with it. Patel, 22, is fast turning out to be an astute politician too, seeking support from Jat leaders in Delhi, who have been demanding inclusion in the Central OBC list, and speaking in Hindi to reach a wider audience. Over the years, the OBC list in Gujarat - with 27 per cent reservation - has gone up to 146. It remains to be seen whether Patel can force recalibration of the reservation policy but he has shaken up the establishment. Patel's voice may find an echo among other Patel groups across the country.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has just kicked off the budget exercise, has shuffled his team. In the musical chair exercise, Shaktikanta Das is the new economic affairs secretary. The post he vacates, that of revenue secretary, has gone to Hasmukh Adhia, former head of the department of financial services. Anjuly Chib Duggal, earlier secretary of Corporate Affairs ministry - also headed by Jaitley - is the new financial services secretary. The new Finance Secretary Ratan P. Watal will continue to head the expenditure department.

Had it not been triggered by the vacancy arising out of the appointment of former finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi as the new home secretary, the change of roles would have remained more of a reshuffle in the run up to the Union Budget 2015/16. Mehrishi's appointment has given a political twist to the developments in North Block, which houses both finance and home ministries.

TOUGH FLIGHT

Ashwani Lohani, the new CMD of Air India, has his work cut out. He has a gargantuan task of reducing the losses of the national carrier while keeping its debt under control. In 2012, the government approved a turnaround plan for the loss-making carrier, which included infusion of significant capital annually. Subsequently, the airline showed marginal improvement in operational and financial parameters. For instance, the net losses dropped from Rs 7,559.74 crore in 2011/12 to Rs 5,547.47 crore in 2014/15. A lot more needs to be done but Lohani's recent track record of reviving the fortunes of tourism in Madhya Pradesh bodes well.

GLOBAL DREAMS

Pharma giant Cipla is thinking big, roping in seasoned hands to meet its global aspirations. The appointments of Umang Vohra as Global Chief Financial and Strategy Officer and Prabir Jha as Global Chief People Officer will be effective October 1. Jha will also lead the Corporate Communications and Administration functions. Vohra will also be responsible for strategy, portfolio, business development, M&As and business technology. Vohra and Jha have earlier worked with Dr Reddy's Labs.

POWERHOUSE PERFORMER

NTPC's stalwart Arup Roy Choudhury is moving on. A bit early, say his admirers. His five-year tenure saw the PSU doubling its installed capacity and dominating the country's power generation arena. Today, most power companies are bleeding as issues related to fuel supply and poor offtake by distribution companies plague them. NTPC is, however, sitting pretty with a 45 GW capacity, which it is planning to take up to 130 GW in the next seven years. Days before Choudhury's retirement, NTPC achieved the highest single day generation of 733.12 million units. The flamboyant Choudhury was the youngest CMD of a PSU when he took over the reins of NBCC at 44. He will now don the role of a teacher at prestigious management schools.

(Compiled by Joe C. Mathew, Manu Kaushik, E. Kumar Sharma and Anilesh S. Mahajan)

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