Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bombay: One Year On

Images: Outlook India

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Lakshmi Mittal

In India, the rich just got richer. Despite one of the worst global recessions in history, the number of billionaires in the subcontinent has almost doubled since last year.

Figures show that there are now 52 billionaires in India, compared with 27 last year.

Over the course of the year, the stock market has gained more than 75% and the economy has grown at almost 7%, pouring billions of dollars into the bank accounts of India's richest people.

But with 0.00001% of India's population now accounting for around a quarter of its trillion-dollar gross domestic product, fierce debate about the polarisation of the country's society has begun.

Mukesh Ambani, the chief of Reliance Industries, India's biggest private company, remains its richest person with a net worth of around $32bn (£19.2bn).

He is followed by the London-based steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, with $30bn, with the net worth of both men rising by half.

Ambani's estranged brother, Anil, was India's third wealthiest person, with a fortune of $17.5bn.

The combined wealth of India's 100 richest people was put at $276bn – considerably more than China's 100 wealthiest, who have $170bn.

These two Asian giants have been the bright spots in the global economy, and analysts expect India, Asia's third-biggest economy, to expand by 6.4% next year – the fastest pace among the G20 nations after China.

By contrast, the rich in the US have got poorer. The Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, lost $7bn, shrinking his personal wealth to $50bn.

The investor Warren Buffet was down to his last $40bn, while almost 100 billionaires in the US were reduced to being worth millions last year.

In a sign of how wealthy Indian billionaires are, Mukesh Ambani, whose oil to supermarkets empire is ubiquitous in the country, is now almost three times richer than the Microsoft chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer, a classmate at Stanford University.

There has been increasing concern about the emergence of a super-rich in India, a country in which 800 million people live on 20 rupees (50 cents) a day.

Last month, the corporate affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, called for a cut in the "vulgar" salaries of top bosses in India, who have seen their pay rocket.

Soon after his call for restraint, Reliance announced a 66% pay cut for Mukesh Ambani to "set a personal example of moderation".

The elder Ambani will take home $3.2million) in salary and a share of profits for the year.

However, Professor Abhijet Sen, a leftwing academic who also is a member of the Planning Commission – India's advisory panel on government spending – said: "I am certain that inequality is increasing and nothing is being done to curb grotesque amounts of wealth building up."

He said the government was "sincere about doing something for the poor, but not about capping the rich".

"I can see a major problem, because money is corrupting politics," he added. "People are able to buy power in a way that is not healthy.

"You have to be a millionaire to contest even local elections. So there are problems with rising inequality."

He said that, as a first step, India "should institute a death tax. In America, there are inheritance taxes. This would be a good first step to immediately reducing inequality."

However, other experts say inequality, as measured by the government, has not risen.

"This is just a few headlines, not a serious look about wealth distribution in the general population," Surjit Bhalla, of Oxus investments, said.

"Forbes' billionaire list allows for leftwingers to talk up poverty. The [government] surveys show that, for 20 years, inequality has not risen.

Six women made the rich list, with Savitri Jindal, the head of Jindal Steel, listed as the richest businesswomen in India. Her wealth rose from $2.9bn to $12bn.

Forbes magazine said the list showed India was a land of opportunities.

"Happy days are definitely back again for India's richest," Nazneen Karmali, the India editor of Forbes Asia, said.

"This year's list shows that, when conditions in the financial markets and the economy are right, India has the scale and resources to produce billionaires faster than most countries."

Source: TheGuardian

Tata looks for successor

RATAN Tata, the 72-year-old chairman of the $71-billion Tata Group, is looking for someone like him as a successor. But his choice is plainly not as straight and simple as that of the grand old ruling Congress party, which is grooming Rahul Gandhi.

The second most keenly-awaited succession announcement in India became the topic of discussion in corporate boardrooms on Wednesday, after Mr Tata said in a conference that he has hired consultants to choose a successor.

As always, Mr Tata is not in a hurry. He has given himself two years to finalise as to who would step into his rather big shoes, people familiar with the matter said.

“The successor, I would hope, would have integrity and our value systems in the forefront and hopefully would carry on the path that we have tried to set for the company’s growth,’’ Mr Tata told a conference organised by the Wall Street Journal. Mr Tata will retire in 2012, whenheturns75.Heisthechairmanof Tata Sons, the group’s holding company, and non-executive chairman of group companies like Tata Steel, Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services.

The choice of successor may be at the top of his mind, as he may prefer to leave behind a conglomerate, where the next chairman does not face the challenges he did when he was called in to head the group after his uncle JRD Tata.

Ratan Tata, after taking over in 1991, spent the initial few years asserting his control over a group dominated by senior executives like Russi Mody and Darbari Seth, widely referred to as ‘satraps’.

As the world knows Mr Tata succeeded, transformed the group from a bunch of India-focused companies to one reaching out for business opportunities across the globe.

The process of succession planning is much more dignified than at the time of JRD Tata,’’ said Gita Piramal, management writer and author of ‘Business Maharajas’. “Nobody knew JRD’s mind. There seems to be an inclusive exercise going on, as Ratan Tata is consulting within and outside to find the successor.”

Neither Ratan Tata, nor anyone else in the group, is talking about who would succeed. But the choice seems to be as huge as the group’s business empire.

As has been for many years, the first name that crops up in any debate about it is Noel Tata, a natural heir with the surname. What strengthens the argument for him is that he is the son-in-law of the biggest shareholder of Tata Sons, Pallonji Mistry, popularly known as the Phantom of Bombay House.

Noel Tata is building the retail business under Trent, which runs the Westside stores. Some say he has not proved his mettle by running the biggest of the companies in the group. But this was also the case with Ratan Tata when he took over. An external spokesperson for the group said it had “nothing to add” beyond what had been stated by Mr Tata.

But Ratan Tata, in his own words, is open to anyone at this point of time. “We are looking both within the organisation and outside,’’ he told the conference. “It would certainly be easier if that candidate was an Indian national.” In the same breath, he said, “It could also be an expatriate sitting in that position,’’ with nearly 65% of the group’s revenue coming from overseas markets.

Many names, including Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and former Vodafone Group CEO Arun Sarin, have done the rounds. But none of them seem to be interested, say people in the know who did not want to be identified.

Some experts are notconvinced that an expat, particularly a person who is not of Indian origin, could lead the group. “There are complexities with a diversified conglomerate which not many expats are used to or exposed to. Where as Indian CEOs may be routed through several companies and may be more prepared to take over as the head of a conglomerate. But that’s not the only reason, there are cultural nuances they (expats) need to adapt to,” said Arvind Mahajan of KPMG.

There is also a galaxy of leaders in the group which makes Ratan Tata’s choice difficult. There is RK Krishnakumar who has been involved in the plantations and hotels businesses for many years, though at 71, age is against him.

R Gopalakrishnan, a former Hindustan Lever executive; B Muthuraman, former managing director at Tata Steel who lead the nation’s biggest overseas acquisition, that of steel company Corus, and Ravi Kant of Tata Motors who steered the takeover of Jaguar Land Rover, are the other top leaders.

But Mr Tata is not taking chances. He may be seeking advice from the best of the global expertise in head hunting.

John Ward, author of many books on family businesses and a visiting lecturer at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, is being speculated as one of the advisors, though there is absolutely no confirmation of this. Others rumoured to be involved are McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group.

According to Rajiv Memani, country head for Ernst & Young, which has worked with various Tata group companies, a typical external consultant for a group like the Tatas would have to be one with the least conflict of interest. “The firm should also be capable of matching intellectual wavelength with the group’s senior executives and be able to visualise the group’s objectives.”

Source: The Economic Times

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Slumming' to the tunes

Monday, November 16, 2009

Conceptual Photography | Martin Bogren

Published by Journal, a small publisher in Stockholm, in a first edition of just 1,200 copies, Martin Bogren's Ocean (2008) is the photographic equivalent of a great short story: 16 black-and-white images of a group of Indian men frolicking in the sea.

Bogren's introduction tells you all you need to know. "There is no sea in Rajasthan. The journey from the inner [sic] of India took almost one day and a night. Thousand miles on lousy roads. The bus arrived an hour ago. A new day breaks over the Indian Ocean. It is the first time they touch the sea."


Martin Bogren lives in south of Sweden. His work is concentrated to
documentary / personal photography and he has been exhibited in
Sweden and in France recent years. He started up in the early
90s - first as a young musician, but he soon started to photograph
other bands and concerts for local newspapers and later on for
magazines and record companys.

In 96 he published his
first book - The Cardigans - Been it (Tidens Forlag), based on his
tour photographs with the band.

The book ”Ocean” was released
by Journal in 2008 and is now exhibited at
the Stockholm Kulturhus and at Dunkers Kulturhus in Sweden..
Lately Martin has won recognitions with silver in
Sony World Photography Awards and with upcoming exhibithions
in Warsaw and Portland during 2009.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Terror In Mumbai HBO Documentary | तेर्रोर इन मुंबई डॉक्युमेंटरी

On the evening of November 26, 2008, ten young Pakistani men reached Mumbai in a small hijacked fishing boat, having slaughtered its captain and crew, and glided unnoticed into the teeming Indian port city. Over the next three days, armed with cell phones, machine guns, and fruit and nuts to sustain them, they unleashed coordinated attacks across the city that left at least 170 people dead and more than 300 wounded, sending shockwaves of fear around the world. Narrated by Mumbai-born Fareed Zakaria, CNN host and Newsweek International editor, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Reed (HBO's "Terror in Moscow"), TERROR IN MUMBAI provides a 360-degree view of a terrorist act, recounting in harrowing detail the bloody events of that 60-hour period. Premieres Thursday, November 19 at 8pm (ET/PT).

Made In India | Books इंडिया

© Abhinit Khanna, 2009
कॉपीराइट: अभिनीत खन्ना, २००९

Friday, November 13, 2009

House of Waris

House of Waris

Tag along for the ride as actor, jewelry designer, and avatar Waris Ahluwalia travels to the Indian factory where his Love Conquers All collection is made.

Note: Best Viewed on Firefox.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To India With Love: From New York To Mumbai | Book

Ask people who have been there, and they’ll all tell you India is like no other place in the world, a land that stirs every one of the five senses and stays in your heart forever.

It is this India that brought together three friends, Waris Ahluwalia, Mortimer Singer and Tina Bhojwani to raise funds, spirits, and awareness for the victims of the attacks in Mumbai in November, 2008.

The editors set out to create a scrapbook–collecting personal photos, stories, and memories from people who, like themselves, love India.

The contributors include Wes Anderson, Adrien Brody, Francesco Clemente, Anthony Edwards, Jeanine Lobell, Natalie Portman, Yves Carcelle, Jean Touitou, Owen Wilson, Laura Wilson, Cynthia Rowley, James Ivory, Matthew Williamson, Rachel Roy, Tory Burch,
Padma Lakshmi, Shobhaa De, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani.

This book declares to
Mumbai and the whole country that we are all thinking of them and support them: hence To India, with Love: New York to Mumbai. Profits from the sales of the book will go to support families affected by the attacks. This book can truly make a difference, by opening eyes to the wonders of India and by once again letting the pen—or a camera—dominate the sword.

Proceeds from the book, which was inspired in part by last year’s attacks on Mumbai, will benefit the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

General Knowledge with Lola Kutty

'For Real' | Film by Sona Jain

MIACC New York's Film Festival 2009
Written and Directed by Sona Jain.
India/US, 2009, 86 min. Sneak Preview.
November 11 - 15

Dhruv Dhawan | Documentary & Commercial Filmmaker

Directing Showreel - Dhruv Dhawan - Documentary & Commercial Films from Dhruv on Vimeo.

Dhruv dhavan nurtured his passion for documentary filmmaking, studying cultural anthropology at Duke University and film direction at the new york film academy.

Dhruv employs his skills as a documentary film maker to replicate a credible and emotive fabric in the advertising and corporate work. He has also harnessed the prowess of internet video to create interactive marketing and recruitment tools for his clients website.

His documentary work has garnered critical acclaim from the International Press, Human Rights Groups and the Film Festival Circuit. He is two time nominee for the best international documentary award in New York and Toronto and the recipient of the MIPDOC Co-Pro Challenge Award at the Cannes.

Kiran Ahuwalia | Songlines Music Award Winner

“This is the first time you’ve had the Songlines Music Awards, right?” asks Kiran Ahluwalia down the phone from the US.

She’s the winner in the Newcomer category, inevitably the one that’s going to throw up interesting new names. “Wow,” she gasps, “I’ve been part of history-making with Songlines.”

Sometimes a record turns up that just gets under your skin. There’s the warm, silky voice which twists and slips seductively around a yearning melody and the sweet tingling sound of Portuguese guitar and accordion. And that’s just the first song. Other numbers on Wanderlust are accompanied by more typical Indian instruments like tabla and sarangi, as the voice swoons and subtle harmonies slip one to another. Ahluwalia creates an intoxicating world of heightened emotions – something that ghazal singers in India have been doing for hundreds of years. But Wanderlust is different.

She was born in India, but moved around between Patna, the capital of India’s poorest state, Bihar, and New Delhi. Her family is Sikh, but she was educated in a Catholic school. “We listened to the radio and a lot of records at home – ghazals and Bollywood,” Ahluwalia recalls. “My mum would write down songs from the radio and I would try and memorise them. Some were quite erotic and my mother got embarrassed about the words.” At the same time she was singing Sikh hymns in the temple every Friday.

Courtesy: © Simon Broughton, originally published in the June 2009 #60 issue of Songlines

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abu Dhabi Art | (Nov 19-22)

Confirming Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a new hub of the art market, around 50 Galleries from the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the United States will present displays at Abu Dhabi Art, including some which will be exhibiting in the Middle East for the first time.
.Indian art on view at the following gallery booths: 1x1, Nature Morte, Pundole and Gallery Ske .

International Patron Committee includes:

Anupam Poddar, from India, is a leading contemporary art collector. Along with his mother Lekha Poddar, he has set up the non-profit Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi; which displays the family´s extensive contemporary art collection from the Indian Sub-continent. He has also been actively involved with the development of Devi Garh - a restored all suite boutique hotel within an 18th century fort place, located outside the city of Udaipur (Rajasthan) India.

Sudobh Gupta, from India, probably his country´s best known contemporary artist. He made his reputation building sculptures out of gleaming pots and pans, the most famous of which is A Very Hungry God, a one-tonne skull.

& H.E. Dr Anwar Gargash, H.E. Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Jeff Koons, François Pinault, Norman Foster, Fabrice Bousteau, Hu Hanru, Peter Sloterdijk

Monday, November 9, 2009

PAA | Starring Amitabh Bachchan

Cabernet Sauvignon | By Priya Singh

South Asian International Film Festival

And the Winner Is… SAIFF!

The South Asian International Film Festival came to a close with a bang last night. Featuring the North American premiere of India’s official entry to the Oscars for 2010 ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’ — a beautiful Marathi film which chronicles the struggles of the man who made India’s first motion picture in 1913 — the evening started with the momentous awards ceremony. The event sparkled with the presence of such stars as filmmakers Rajat Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla, producer Anadil Hossain, composer Simon Taufique, actor Samrat Chakrabarti and rhythm queen DJ Rekha.

kaviThe night started with a brief but powerful red carpet, which introduced the director responsible for the evening’s feature presentation, Paresh Mokashi, and shined the interview lights on personal favorite director/actor/writer and producer Rajat Kapoor. You will have a chance to watch AVS’ own Jitin Hingorani chat with these two personalities, as well as Saurabh Shukla, ‘Kavi’ filmmaker Gregg Helvey and many, many more on this weekend’s edition of AVS TV.

raatgayeeRajat Kapoor had not one but two films in the festival — ‘Fatso’, his funny, yet truly poignant, at times sad and always romantic directorial effort and ‘Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi?’ directed by Saurabh Shukla and starring a dashing Kapoor in a role that will leave you re-evaluating the meaning of true love… The film, produced and co-written by Kapoor, took home the Audience Choice Award for Favorite Feature which is, in my view, the only vote that counts. The kind and unbelievably humble Saurabh Shukla accepted the award by saying “The biggest award for me is that I got to see my film with an audience”. I personally believe that making films is about satisfying that audience, allowing them to walk away from the picture inspired and fulfilled by what they saw on the screen. The audience of the jam-packed SVA theater witnessing the World Premiere of ‘Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi?’ on Monday evening obviously felt like their lives had been changed by their viewing experience. I certainly did.

projectkashmirOther awards included Audience Choice for Favorite Short, which went to Gregg Helvey and his film on modern slavery in India ‘Kavi’. The award was presented by Anadil Hossain. Audience Choice for Favorite Documentary went to ‘Made in Pakistan’ and was accepted by the film’s co-producer Ayesha Khan. The film was recently shown to a sold-out audience at the Mumbai Film Festival, which is quite a step in the right direction towards the mutual understanding India and Pakistan must achieve in order to bring the semblance of peace to their interaction. Producer Amelia Hanibelsz presented the Award for Best Documentary to‘Project Kashmir’ while writer Grady Hendrix awarded the Best Narrative Short prize to ‘Boond’.

redalert_sunilThe Best Music Award went to ‘The Last Thakur’ and Samrat Chakrabarti awarded the Best Acting Performance prize to Suniel Shetty for his role in‘Red Alert: The War Within’. Note to self, must watch the film as I never thought of Shetty as an award-worthy actor, but do admire him as a hunk…

manjadikaruThe most — in terms of numbers — awards went to Anjali Menon’s directorial debut‘Manjadikuru’ AKA ‘Lucky Red Seeds’ which took home the Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Narrative Feature - Jury Award - and Best Emerging Talent award - this for the young Vyjayanthi. A film to add to the must-watch list also, I guess…

All in all, everyone present at SAIFF was a winner. From festival founder and director Shilen Amin, who managed great attendances and wonderful world premieres at this year’s edition, to the filmmakers who presented their latest and greatest, to the audiences, who were privy to some fantastic films and got a chance to rub elbows with a few true Indian cinema superstars. If you missed SAIFF this year, don’t worry. There are plenty of great films coming up in the next few weeks, so stay tuned to AVS for all that. And, the South Asian International Film Festival will be back next year, same time, same place, for more fab films and stellar appearances.

Source: AVS TV

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