Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
09 October 2020

Mercedes-Benz teases 'highest-efficiency electric car in the world' with over 750 miles (1200 km) of range.


Mercedes-Benz teases a new super-efficient electric car concept, the Vision EQXX, with more than 750 miles of range on a single charge.

At Daimler’s latest company update, the automaker teased a new technical program to develop “the longest-range and highest-efficiency electric car the world has ever seen.”

Mercedes-Benz’s head of research and development, Markus Schafer, commented:

We have set up a group of our engineers to take on an extraordinary task: to build the longest-range and highest-efficiency electric car the world has ever seen. This is a serious project, chasing next-generation technologies. We intend to incorporate the learning into the next generation of series production cars.

The project takes the shape of the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept, which the company teased with a few images:

This incredible range will be achieved through efficency improvements rather than just a bigger battery pack.

Daimler noted that the program will be used to test new technologies to improve efficiency and bring those to production cars:

While Vision EQXX is a technology program, it is expected to result in innovations that will quickly make their way into series production cars.

The automaker said that its Mercedes-Benz F1 HPP group in the UK is also working on the project:

Mercedes-Benz also announced an exciting next step in electric vehicle development today, with the Vision EQXX technology program. The aim is to build an electric vehicle with spectacular efficiency and range. Mercedes-Benz has tasked its engineering group with pushing the boundaries of electric range and efficiency with a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary team based in Stuttgart, supported by specialists from the Mercedes-Benz F1 HPP group in the UK, who bring expertise in eMotors plus motorsport-inspired development speed.

They haven’t disclosed when they plan to unveil the Vision EQXX electric prototype.

19 May 2015

Large Cardamoms from NE Pose Stiff Challenge to Kerala Growers

Kochi, May 19 : Kerala, which has lost out to Karnataka in terms of domination in pepper production, is now slipping in cardamom too. North Eastern variety of large cardamom, which commands nearly double the price of Kerala’s small cardamom, is likely to outstrip Kerala production in coming years, going by the Spices Board’s effort in NE region.
The Spices Board has plans to set up a Centre of Excellence in large cardamom research, common facility centre, training centre and quality testing lab in 25 acres of land in Arunachal Pradesh. The board also plans to set up cardamom auction centres in Namsai and Kimin in Arunachal Pradesh.

States like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram are suitable for spice farming, experts point out.

“Compared to other parts of the country the North East India is underutilised in terms of spices production. The potential to cultivate large variety of cardamom is huge there. The NE region has the potential to grow as a major hub of cardamom production in the country. Bulk of production in the area is consumed within India,” said Spices Board Chairman A Jayathilak.

The price of small cardamom, which is available in Kerala, now trades in the range of Rs 620-870 per kg. Whereas the price of large cardamom is in the range of Rs 1,650-1,750 per kg. For the Kerala variety the price at the same period a year ago was Rs 750-1,030/kg.

Interestingly the price of large cardamom, which is the major variety produced in the North East, was in the range of Rs 1,275-1,350 per kg last year. The prices have increased by almost 30 per cent for the large variety this year mainly due to low availability and increased demand.

The cultivation of cardamom comes under the mandate of Spices Board. It is estimated that around 75,000 hectares of land in India is under cardamom farming. The major areas are Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu (small cardamom) and Sikkim, West Bengal (large cardamom).
29 April 2015

Motorola Eyes Tech-Savvy Northeast

By Saurav Bora
Guwahati, Apr 29 : Mobile handset manufacturer Motorola plans to ride on the growing smartphone market and a tech-savvy population in the Northeast to boost sales of its customised variants in the region.

"The Northeast is a priority region for us. Looking at the demographics here, with a growing population in tune with the latest technology, we plan to expand our footprint here. Service/care centres will be put in place wherever necessary and our marketing will be focused on the region. We also look to engage with our clients through the social media," Marcus Frost, senior marketing director, EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa) & India, told The Telegraph here today.

Motorola, which was acquired by Chinese technology giant Lenovo from Google last year, sells its devices in India through e-commerce firm Flipkart.

"We have assessed the situation and preferred the e-commerce platform over brick and mortar. But we also know the importance of touch-and-feel and plan to set up at least nine brand experience centres in the country and Guwahati is in our scheme of things," Frost said. Motorola, as of today, has over 150 service centres in the country. "We will also be launching motor care vans to take our service to the client's doorstep," he said.

The company today announced the launch of the 3G and 4G versions of the new Moto E range of smartphones. "The new Moto E with 4G network will provide amazing speed with increased bandwidth. Packed with an array of customisation options, the variants are value for money (the 3G version priced at Rs 6,999 and the 4G at Rs 7,999) and suitable for those who choose to migrate from feature to smartphones or opt for an additional phone," Frost said.

The handset manufacturer had last year sold three million units in the country with its Moto E and Moto G variants making up almost 80-85 per cent of the sales.
20 March 2015

Northeast Region Projected As Business, Investment Hub

By Ipsita Panda 

New Delhi, Mar 20 :  A wide range of issues pertaining to development, connectivity and investment figured prominently during the 10th Northeast Business Summit.

The Northeast Business Summit was organized in the national capital by the DoNER Ministry in collaboration with the Indian Chamber of Commerce under the theme of 'Development through partnership with ASEAN and BIMSTEC countries'.

Minister for State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju were among the dignitaries who attended the event, besides the representatives of different industries and ministers from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar respectively.

Addressing the inaugural session, Jitendra Singh highlighted the various initiatives being undertaken by the Centre to bring development in the northeast.

Describing the region as the 'Economic Corridor of India', he appealed to the business community to come forward to support the effort to bring development in the northeast.

"In today's meeting also, we not only had representatives from top industrial bodies from the country, but we also had senior ministers from the governments of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Bhutan because we know that we have a potential which if we exploit to the maximum, we would be able to attract investment not only from the rest of the country but also from the neighbouring countries," said Singh.

"In fact, the eight northeastern states are an economic corridor and it can earn the distinction of India's most illustrious economic corridor to the rest of the world on that side. We have potential in food processing, organic farming and we have a huge human resource potential in the form of youth energy which has not been exploited to the maximum," he added.

M.K. Saharia, Chairman, Indian Chamber of Commerce Northeast Region, said the northeast is attracting investment.

"We have been able to attract investment. We have been able to focus the potential opportunities of northeast. There are challenges and we do highlight the challenges at the same time. There has been a lot of interest and few investments that have come up in the northeast," said Sharia.

"In terms of traditional industries, there are many investors who have set up cement plants and things like that. But there are many more industries that are likely to come up," he added.

The two-day long conclave gave a platform to eminent achievers, government officials, investors and entrepreneurs from a variety of fields to interact with each other and deliberate on various issues related to the region through panel discussions and interactive sessions.

Highlighting the region's rich natural and human resources, the various sessions emphasized on the growth potential in various sectors such as tourism, organic farming, connectivity, infrastructure and education.

The meet also stressed on the need to facilitate skill development of the youth in the northeast and encourage entrepreneurship so as to utilize the maximum potential.

Former chief secretary of Manipur, D.S. Poonia, emphasized that the skill development programmes are essential.

"The northeast has this advantage of English literate and literacy being very high. This is something that the new Ministry of Skill Development and the other ministries which impart skilling program can leverage. Over all this country and the northeast has this demographic dividend where we have a large working and young population," said Poonia.

"At the same time, what is being churned out by the colleges and universities, they don't have adequate skills. On the other hand, there is a whole lot of emerging skills which we need to take advantage of. So, there is a whole lot of opportunities opening up if we can skill them," he added.

Lezo Putsure, an executive member of Youth Net, said it is very important for the government and the young people to harness this energy into something that is productive and that can prosper the northeast.

"And the only way to go towards this is entrepreneurship. Look at the domestic stuff that we have-agriculture, buildings, construction, there is so much that can be done and that is why we advocate entrepreneurship because it is one of the main solutions that can lead to prosperity for the northeast," he added.

A special session titled 'Youth decide: Youth empowerment in Northeast India' focused on the scope for harnessing youth energy of the region and the need for formulating schemes to encourage youth in various fields.

The potential of economic growth through 'Make in Northeast' initiatives was also highlighted.
The session, which had footballer Baichung Bhutia as its special guest, witnessed the participation of a large number of students from the northeast as well as north India.

Bhutia on his part said the people from the northeast have excelled in sports and lots of sportspersons have made the nation proud.

"But at the same time, we need more support. I had to come and play in Kolkata and make my name outside of northeast. I think there has to be opportunities and we have to create that platform just in northeast so that they can make their name and get success by playing in northeast as well," said Bhutia.

"We don't always need to come out of northeast to make a living, brand or name. It's important to create those kinds of facilities, infrastructure and opportunities in the northeast region itself," he added.

Manisa, a student, said there is need to focus on developing the northeast region.
"Since we don't find much development in our area, most of us go outside to try and find opportunities. Instead of that we should really start thinking of developing our own area and instead of trying to make more money, we should focus on developing our own area," said Manisa.

Events like this help highlight the investment and development potential of the region, besides serving as a platform to bring people together to exchange ideas and address various impediments to growth.
06 February 2015

Online Retail Comes to India's Northeast

New Delhi, Feb 6 : For India's thriving ecommerce firms, the country's remote north east region is turning out to be one of the fastest-growing, with products that were difficult or impossible to find now relatively easily available.

Situated between Burma, Bangladesh and China, India's north eastern states make up around 8% of the country's landmass and 4% of the population, but they are punching above their weight in ecommerce terms, with both mass and niche players reporting significant growth here.

"It is the ideal use case for e-commerce where customers are not buying because of discount but because of lack of availability of options and variety" said Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, founder and CEO of e-jewellery business

Some 11% of Bluestone's revenue comes from the region, while for apparel retailer Fashionandyou the figure is even higher at 15%.

Among the major companies, Snapdeal and Flipkart have been investing in the supply chain in order to improve the customer experience in a part of the country that has been poorly served by offline stores and branded goods, thanks to its hilly terrain and poor transport infrastructure.

In the future, however, Snapdeal regards the north east as having the potential to match the leading metros of Delhi and Mumbai.

"The region is among the fastest growing markets in the country for us," said Ashish Chitravanshi, vp/operations.

"We have been steadily growing in double digits month-on-month," he told the Economic Times. "As we take our reach deeper into the region we anticipate [the] number [of orders] to grow phenomenally."

Addressing the logistical challenge can bring instant returns, according to fashion e-tailer Myntra, which has established distribution centres in Guwahati and Aizwal.

"When we started the Aizawl centre, it showed us [a] 500% jump in sales," said Ganesh Subramanian, the company's head of new initiatives.

And if the region's IT infrastructure can be developed more quickly, the growth will really take off according to the eCommerce Association of India.
14 January 2015

Mahindra Group eyeing sizable share of scooter market in Northeast India

By Bikash Singh

Presently the company has 50 touch points which include dealers, sales and service points. The company is planning to increase it to 75 by December 2015.
Presently the company has 50 touch points which include dealers, sales and service points. The company is planning to increase it to 75 by December 2015.
GUWAHATI: Mahindra Two Wheelers Limited, a part of the US $16.5 billion Mahindra Group is eyeing sizable share of the scooter market in Northeast India.

Presently around 9000 scooters are sold in Northeast India every month, Mahindra two wheeler commands 14 to 15 percent share of the Northeastern market.

Dharmendra Mishra, Vice President Sales & Customer Care, Mahindra Two Wheelers said, "In Northeast India the sell of scooter is higher. In two wheeler segment across India, motorcycle accounts for 75 sale while rest 25 percent is made up by scooter. In Northeast India scooter commands 40 percent of the two wheeler market and 6o percent is motorcycle."

Mahindra has launched new 110cc scooter. Mishra added, "The Company is working on several formats. With the launch of Gusto we are aiming to increase our market share considerably in Northeast India."

Presently the company has 50 touch points which include dealers, sales and service points. The company is planning to increase it to 75 by December 2015.
12 November 2014

Accenture building mobile governance platform for Arunachal Pradesh

The contract, worth $70,000, also requires Accenture to develop a web-based portal for the health, police, tourism, disaster management, agriculture, land management, social welfare and employment departments. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Hyderabad, Nov 12 : Consulting and outsourcing company Accenture Plc is building mobile platforms and a website for 21 government services of the Arunachal Pradesh government.

Called Arunachal m-Seva, the mobile government system, when completed, will give citizens access to government services ranging from safety and health alerts to employment services and pension benefits, Accenture said in a statement on Monday.

The services of eight state departments will be available on marketplaces such as Google Inc’s Play, Mirosoft Corp’s Windows Phone Store, Apple Inc’s iPhone App Store and Nokia Oyj’s Nokia Store.

Emergency, safety and health alerts will also be shared by text messages (SMS). The contract, worth $70,000, also requires Accenture to develop a web-based portal for the health, police, tourism, disaster management, agriculture, land management, social welfare and employment departments.

“The new mobile government system will provide increased opportunities to help us meet the needs of our citizens in new ways,” Er. Gaken Ete, secretary of Arunachal Pradesh’s information technology department said in the statement.

Arunachal Pradesh, India’s most far-flung state in the north east, has a population of 1.3 million with 66.95% literacy rate.

Its official language is English. The north east, a long-neglected region, has recently seen a spurt in tourism and hydro-electric power projects.

“Arunachal m-Seva is an exciting move toward a more citizen-centered government for the state,” G. Sethuraman, managing director of Accenture’s health and public service business in India said.

15 September 2014

Toyota looks to enhance operations in India's North East

Toyota looks to enhance operations in India's North East
Guwahati: Japanese car giant Toyota plans to increase operations in India's North Eastern region, where its sales have grown at double the national average of 3 percent annually.

The company, which is present in India through a joint venture with Kirloskar group, is looking to set up an area office in the North East considering its rising importance.

"The North East market is currently growing by 6 percent in our representative segment against a national growth of 3 percent. It is expected that in the second half of the year, the North East market will show much healthier growth," Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Senior Vice President and Director (Sales and Marketing) N Raja said.

The North East market contributes 20 percent of the total eastern market, therefore making it very significant region for TKM, he added.

Last month, TKM sold 11,215 units in India, down 6.6 percent as compared to 12,007 units in August 2013.

With rising sales in the eight states of the North East, the auto maker plans to strengthen presence in the region.

"We do intend to establish an Area Office in Guwahati at the right time in future," Raja said without giving any timeline for having the establishment.

Currently, the entire North East market is being addressed out of the East Regional Office in Kolkata.

The company, however, has exclusive sales, service and customer relation personnel in the region.
When asked if the company planned to invest in the region for building capacity or other activities, Raja said: "...We will study the market and decide accordingly."

Talking about sales, Raja said petrol variants of TKM models contribute to around 45 percent of sales on an average, while diesel ones contribute to about 55 percent.

"Innova, Etios, Liva, Cross and Fortuner have seen very good response in the North East region. We also have seen growing demand for premium vehicles like Camry and Land Cruiser," he added.

Comparatively a new entrant in the region, TKM is selling approximately 150 cars per month in North East with Assam contributing the highest at an average of 110 units a month.

Talking about future roadmap, Raja said: "We are in the process of establishing and stabilising our network in North East. The customers are now getting the touch and feel of world-class quality of Toyota vehicles and at the same time, the exposure to international sales and service infrastructure."

TKM has six dealerships in the region at Guwahati, Nagaon, Silchar and Dibrugarh in Assam, Dimapur in Nagaland, and Shillong in Meghalaya.
11 June 2014

This Startup Wants to Turn Your Old Electronics Into Solid Gold

By Issie Lapowsky  

Image: BlueOak
Image: BlueOak
Sometimes, numbers say it all.

About 50 million tons of electronic waste were generated worldwide in 2012, according to a United Nations report. The same report predicted that number would grow to 65.4 million tons of e-waste by 2017. To put that in context, that’s about 200 Empire State Buildings or, for the more worldly, 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.

While some of that waste—from old televisions to smartphones—is refurbished and recycled, a troubling amount of it is shipped to landfills around the world, where often it’s incinerated, leaching toxic chemicals into the environment. In Guiyu, China, a now infamous dumping ground for electronics, studies have found startlingly high levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams.

But Priv Bradoo believes she can change things with the promise of gold and silver
Sometimes, no amount of sick kids and loaded landfills can convince the world to change its dangerous behavior. But Priv Bradoo believes she can change things with the promise of gold and silver. Bradoo is the co-founder and CEO of BlueOak Resources, a Burlingame, California-based startup that wants to help the country mine precious metals from its stream of e-scraps. The hope is that we’ll soon see our e-waste as a source of revenue, instead of letting it tumble into landfills.

As it turns out, a lot of the world’s e-waste is stuffed with valuable metals like gold, silver, and copper. One ton of circuit boards has anywhere from 40 to 800 times the amount of gold in it than one ton of mined gold ore, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, the mining industry spends a fortune extracting these metals from the ground. Corporations spend even more buying the materials and molding them into a highly concentrated form. Then, after all that, we dump them by the ton back into the ground like so many chewed up wads of gum.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Bradoo says. And that’s why she and her co-founder, Bryce Goodman, started BlueOak to focus on what they call “above the ground recovery” of high-value materials. Yes, there’s already a booming recycling and refurbishing industry worldwide, and in places like Europe, Asia, and Canada, there are already large-scale smelters who can extract these precious materials from e-scrap. But Bradoo says there’s a gap in the system. Many of these smelters only deal in mass quantities of scrap, she explains, meaning some smaller collectors can’t even send their scrap abroad. Those who can, Bradoo says, are effectively sending potential profits overseas. So, on Tuesday, BlueOak is breaking ground on the first urban e-waste mining refinery in the United States.

Turning Trash Into Treasure

Bradoo is not new to the waste recovery industry. Before launching BlueOak, she was vice president of business development for LanzaTech, a startup that turns toxic waste gasses from factories into high-value fuel. She was working as a faculty adviser at Singularity University, an educational organization for socially conscious tech entrepreneurs, when she met Goodman, who was a student at Singularity. They bonded over a shared interest in the concept of “upcycling,” or converting waste into value, and in 2011, they launched BlueOak.

Image: Bryce Goodman and Priv Bradoo
Image: Bryce Goodman and Priv Bradoo
By building a refinery in the United States, BlueOak is launching a new industry here, one that Bradoo hopes will encourage more American consumers and corporations to think twice about tossing their used electronics out with the trash. The first refinery in Osceola, Arkansas is set to be completed by next year and will start off processing 15 million lbs of scrap per year and grow from there. BlueOak will partner with collectors who gather used electronics primarily from corporations. Those collectors separate the plastics and other materials from the waste, and send BlueOak the parts that contain high value metals. The company charges these collectors an upfront processing fee.

Then, after the precious metals are extracted and sold, it returns the majority of the profits to the collectors. This model has attracted investor interest from the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, which participated in BlueOak’s seed round in 2011. More recently, the company raised another $35 million from the Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement Fund and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to build the Osceola facility. “I liked the fact that it’s an acute problem, and it has exponential growth potential to it,” says Amol Deshpande, a partner at Kleiner Perkins. “All these devices and their obsolescence creates an issue around waste toxicity that needs to be addressed, and it can’t be addressed with landfills.”

‘A Wicked Problem’

Still, some experts argue that BlueOak, and indeed the rest of the e-waste industry, may be overstating their potential for impact. According to Josh Lepawsky, who has studied the e-waste problem as associate professor of geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the vast majority of waste in the world actually comes from manufacturing and production. Used materials, he estimates, make up about 3 percent of the waste in the world. Used electronics are just a fraction of that.

“It’s not that I don’t think what they’re doing might be positive,” he says of BlueOak’s work, “but it’s going to be directed at that roughly 3 percent of all waste and within that, an even smaller slice. And yes, that slice is growing very quickly, but it’s still a thin slice.” A better approach for BlueOak, he says, would be to collect the waste that’s coming out of the manufacturing process, itself. “Anything that moves material and energy recovery up the value chain prior to purchase is going to have a much more substantial impact,” he says.

It’s an intractable issue, and Bradoo admits that what BlueOak is doing is only part of the solution.
Still, Lepawsky argues that to truly solve what he calls a “wicked problem” like e-waste, there would need to be a massive reduction in the volume of gadgets and devices that are currently being produced. “We all know the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle,” he says. “It’s incredibly telling that almost all of our focus is spent on recycling and nothing on reduction.”

Bradoo, for one, agrees that the glut of new products in the market is the real culprit. Tech companies are under tremendous pressure from Wall Street to roll out the “next big thing” every few months, and as a result, the lifespan of the “last big thing” gets shorter by the day. It’s an intractable issue, and Bradoo admits that what BlueOak is doing is only part of the solution. “As long as you’ve got the companies developing these devices and consumer behavior that propagates the proliferation of devices, you’re going to see an exponential rise in electronic waste,” she says. “We need to be thinking about how we want technology to impact the world, not just in our utilitarian use, but at the end of life, too.”
09 June 2014

NRL May Export Fuel To Myanmar

By Surajit Khaund

Guwahati, Jun 9 :  Taking advantage of the ‘Look East Policy’, the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) is now exploring opportunities to export its products to Myanmar and is understood to have initiated a process to ink a deal with the neighbouring country.

“We have already started a discussion with the Ambassador of Myanmar to India and he is positive in this regard. But the discussion is now at an initial stage,” P Padmanabhan, Managing Director (MD) of NRL, said while sharing his future plan with this correspondent here today.

He, however, admitted that the deal would take some time to materialise. According to a study, the demand for oil products in Myanmar is expected to reach 60,000 barrels per day, and, therefore, major oil companies are now targeting the Myanmar market to fuel their growth.

Asked whether the deal would be possible given the current law-and-order situation along the international border, especially in the Moreh area, Padmanabhan replied in the affirmative, saying the Indian Petroleum Ministry is optimistic about the deal.

After signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN, Myanmar has now become a strategic business point for India, and during the last couple of years, the Indian Government has extended soft loans to Myanmar in the energy and IT sectors. “We have a mega expansion plan from the current level of 3 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA) to 9 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA).

So, we will be able to export our products to Myanmar and Bangladesh,” the MD of NRL said, adding that NRL has already signed an agreement with the Nepal-based Birat Petroleum Pvt Ltd (BPPL) for sale of motor spirit (MS) and high speed diesel (HSD).
05 February 2014

The twin down South

Vim recently released a campaign featuring a Mizoram-based family with 160 members. The campaign comprises two identical films featuring different brand ambassadors - one famous in the North and the other in the South. A look at the geography-sensitive, dual-celeb route, something other brands have also taken of late.

Vim, dishwashing brand from HUL, recently launched two 30 seconders. The Hindi ad features Sakshi Tanwar, TV actress of Hindi GEC fame and the Tamil ad features Devayani, film actress down South. What caught our attention is that both ads are identical, except for the celebrity and of course, the language.
Vim Hindi TVC featuring Sakshi Tanwar
Vim Tamil TVC featuring Devayani
Santoor TVC featuring Saif Ali Khan
Santoor TVC featuring Mahesh Babu
Oreo TVC featuring Ranbir Kapoor
Oreo TVC featuring Karthik Sivakumar
R Sridhar
Mahuya Chaturvedi
Few weeks back, Santoor, soap brand from Wipro, did the same with Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and Telugu actor Mahesh Babu. Not long before that Mondel─ôz International's Cadbury India, launched a couple of ad films for its cookie brand Oreo; Ranbir Kapoor featured in the national campaign and Tamil actor Karthik Sivakumar (aka Karthi) featured in the TVC that was aired across Tamil Nadu and Kerala-specific media. Just like in the case of Vim, in these cases too, both ads were identical on all fronts - script, overall treatment, creative execution, costumes and actors' expressions.

Pan-India Ideas?

R Sridhar, founder, brand-comm, a brand consultancy, says that while brands have historically been launching separate campaigns for the South market, the point to be noted here is that today, the national and South campaigns are identical. This, he notes, is possible only if the core theme is very broad. "While Coca-Cola has been endorsed by Aamir Khan nationally and by superstar Vijay in the South, the scripts of the ads featuring each were completely different. The trend we see today is that the themes brands are selecting for their campaigns are very generic and inherently pan-India." Oreo's brother-sister play or Vim's utensil cleaning challenge are not ideas that are intrinsically rooted in a particular geography. "Brands seem to be coming up with 'general' ideas such as these," Sridhar says.
This also solves the problem of translating the script at a later date. Often in translation, the essence of the original script gets lost. But as is seen in this trend, the two scripts are thought of right at the inception stage itself and are then executed simultaneously; not as an after-thought that goes, 'Now let's translate and dub this Hindi ad into Tamil.' "In the future, I do see more ads with such general themes, that is, themes good enough to hold nationally," predicts Sridhar.

The "cultural contexts" in the North and South, as Mahuya Chaturvedi, managing partner, Cogito Consulting (independent consulting division of the Draftfcb Ulka Group) points out, are believed to be opposite. The flamboyance and high decibel entertainment of the North is in direct contrast to the disciplinarian and information-hungry stance of the South. "Likewise, in advertising," she says, "while the South would like to know 'what benefit?', 'why?', and details about ingredients, the North enjoys the narrative, the humour and the music."

"Which is why, when marketers hit upon an emotional hotspot, like women's quest for eternal youth (read: Santoor), the transferability across borders is more effortless," she says, about the trend.
Chaturvedi shares an example of a brand that, in the past, has created entirely different campaigns for the North and South markets: Tetra Pak conveyed its 'protection proposition' to its Northern audience by using the black tika (dot) on a new born baby, while in the South the same end was achieved by demonstrating the actual stamina and energy of a kid. While the current trend of creating identical ads with different celebrities is a sustained admission that the two markets are indeed different, it is also a time-effective way out, from an effort-and-execution perspective.

She points out yet another trend: The use of 'South characters' and 'South lingo' in pan-India campaigns. For instance, Idea Cellular showed a South Indian dad playing Holi with kids in an ad film not too long back and Mahindra's ad for the Duro featured Kareena Kapoor - a star with far less appeal in the South than the North - liberally using 'Romba Nalla' as the catch phrase all through the Tamil commercial. "These ads caught a chuckle because of the surprise value," Chaturvedi says. Some experts attribute this ancillary trend to "media overlap" between the South and other markets.
According to experts, the 'dual-celeb, identical ad' trend is here to stay. Chaturvedi alerts us to a study by Millward Brown, a research agency, which suggests that only one in seven ads travels well across the country and has similar likeability/enjoyment scores; in all, 1,000 ads were studied. Maybe the dual-celeb route was born out of such findings. Come to think of it, the only endorsers left with national appeal are perhaps cricketers. So would a Dhoni have appeal in Chennai? Yes. But whether it is because cricket surpasses state boundaries or because he is captain of Chennai Super Kings is anyone's guess.

Vim Story
The Vim commercials feature the world's largest family (160 members) that resides in Mizoram. The ads are shot in and around their home.

Joshua Thomas, creative director at Lowe Lintas & Partners India, stumbled upon information about this family, while working on a Vim brief. The agency then went ahead and presented a campaign idea, centered on this family, to the brand team. "Vim communication is always set in a 'challenge' context. This family seemed like a perfect fit for a 'torture test' brief. The brief came first and the idea of using the family came later," informs the HUL company spokesperson.

In a sense, the campaign takes the brand out of the kitchen and onto a larger canvas. Will going back to the previous 'kitchen imagery' be a challenge for the brand in the days ahead? "When you view the advertisements, you will notice that the brand is still shown in and around the kitchen. It is just the context and story that take place in a larger setting. Dirty utensils exist everywhere and this was just one way of conveying the brand's message. So in that sense, we don't really see any problem for subsequent campaigns," says the spokesperson.

The shoot took around four days to complete, although a dialogue with the family was initiated a few months back. A lot of the shots in the films are candid shots of the family members going about their daily routine. Understandably, both logistics and language were challenges the agency was faced with. The family speaks Mizo and the services of an interpreter were availed for this campaign.

Interestingly, the extreme North and North Eastern parts of India don't get featured much mainstream ad campaigns, unless of course, the effort is to show that the product/service is available in every nook and corner of India - like in the case of the recent Tata Sky commercial, shot in Leh Ladakh, in the Northern most state of J&K; "India ke kisi bhi koney se..." went the voice-over artist.

While integration was not an agenda - ("This advertisement was made with the sole aim of communicating the brand's message and hence should be viewed through that lens only," goes the HUL spokesperson) - it may well be a welcome byproduct of the Vim campaign.

The media agency is Mindshare and the production house is All in the Family. The ads have been directed by Vishal Gehani.

11 December 2013

Myanmar Starts Biggest SEZ Project

Yangon, Dec 11 : Myanmar began implementing the first phase of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project, the country's largest SEZ of its kind of international standard, on the outskirts of Yangon.

The first phase of the project covers 400 hectares out of the overall 2,400 hectares.

The Thilawa SEZ is jointly developed by Myanmar and Japan. Two Myanmar companies and two Japanese companies have established a joint venture under the name of Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development Co Ltd in Tokyo to operate the project, reported Xinhua.

The company's share ratio is 51 percent by Myanmar and 49 percent by Japan.

The project includes factories, high-tech industry, textile, labor intensive industry and manufacturing industry.
20 November 2013

NE Business Summit to address development issues of region

The Union Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER), along with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), has organized the ‘North-East Business Summit’ in Dibrugarh, Assam from November 22-24.

This will be the ninth edition of the summit, which is the largest trade and investment conference-cum-exposition on India’s North-East Region (NER). 

This is the first time that the event is being held in the interiors of the region, in Dibrugarh in Upper Assam, making it an ideal forum to address grassroots-level developmental issues, an official press release said.

Two Chief Ministers from the neighbouring country of Myanmar - U Thar Aye of Sagaing Region and U Ye Myint, Chief Minister of Mandalay Region - will attend the inaugural session of the summit.

This visit is extremely important, given that Myanmar is India’s true Gateway to the ASEAN markets, and that it has opened up its economy to Asia and the world, the release said.

The Ministry of DoNER is responsible for matters relating to the planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North Eastern Region. Its vision is to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the region so that it may enjoy growth parity with the rest of the country.

One of the prime objectives of the Ministry is to showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strengths of the North East Region as well as to mainstream the region with the country.

The ICC has been assigned by the Ministry of DoNER to organize this summit as the nodal chamber for the North-East.

The Ministry of DoNER, over the years, has strived to showcase the economic potential of the NER to domestic and international investors through meaningful, and strategic initiatives with the help of ICC.

So far, the Ministry of DoNER has organized eight North East Business summit in various part of the country.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce has also organized mega trade and investment shows on the North-East abroad, particularly in South and South-East Asian countries having potential to be natural trade partners of the North-East region because of its strategic location and proximity to these countries.

More than 500 delegates from across the country, and also from neighbouring countries are expected to attend the event, which will be chaired by Union Minister of DoNER Paban Singh Ghatowar.

Union Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers of North-Eastern States, policy-makers, industrialists, economists and analysts are also expected to attend the summit.
04 October 2013

Mother Dairy Enters Northeast, Launches ice Creams in Guwahati

Guwahati, Oct 4 : Mother Dairy entered the North East on Thursday with the launch of its ice creams in Guwahati and plans to expand its reach to over 1,000 outlets within one year.

"North East has big potential as none of the existing players has tried to expand the categories here. We are here not only to capture market share, but expand the segment," said Subhashis Basu, business head of the dairy products division at Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable Pvt Ltd.

To start its journey in this region, the company has launched ice creams and frozen vegetables in Guwahati.

Talking about Mother Dairy's sales plans, Mr Basu said, "We want to tap all the potential. Our target is to reach to 1,000 retail outlets within next one year, besides 300 street vendors."

Mr Basu also said that the company aimed to sell 15-20 lakh litres of ice creams every year in Guwahati.

He said the products will be sourced from its facilities in Kolkata and Delhi. The company has already set up two cold storage units here.

The New Delhi-based firm, a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Dairy Development Board, was commissioned in 1974.
20 September 2013

The Price Of Beer At Oktoberfest Completely Defies Economic Logic

By Roberto A. Ferdman
Beer is what economists call an elastic good; the more it costs, the less of it people buy. But at Oktoberfest, Germany’s debaucherous annual beer festival in Munich, the rule doesn’t exactly hold. In fact, it gets flipped on its head.

When this year’s beer festival kicks off on Saturday, more than 7 million beer drinkers will gather to drink some 15 million liter glasses. If they are sober enough, they will notice that their lagers, ales and stouts cost more than they did last year. As is the case almost every year, the price of beer at the Oktoberfest has risen faster than inflation, according to UniCredit Research’s Oktoberfest 2013 report. The average beer at this year’s festival will cost €9.66 ($13)—3.6% more than it did last year.

Considering that inflation in Germany is currently hovering somewhere closer to 1.5%, festival goers should be outraged. And yet, like they have virtually every year before this, they will buy and drink more beer per head than they did the year before. Beer consumption per capita at the annual beer festival (the red line in the chart below) has been rising steadily since the mid 1990s.

UniCredit Research
And it isn’t as though beer prices on the whole in Germany are outpacing inflation. Bottled beer prices have been rising at a much slower pace than Oktoberfest beer prices.

UniCredit Research
Normally, beer buyers shy away from this kind of price-hike craziness. “On average, a 1% increase in the price of beer triggers a roughly .3% decline in the demand,” according the report. But Oktoberfest, it appears, is anything but average. Dating all the way back to 1980, a 1% increase in beer prices at the event has, rather incredibly, corresponded with a 0.3% increase in demand. Oktoberfest beer, the report explains, falls into the category of what economists call a Giffen paradox, whereby the demand for and price of a good increase simultaneously.

The festival as a whole follows a similarly peculiar pattern of behavior. Oktoberfest-goers have continued to spend more per capita, despite hikes in the price of, well, everything. UniCredit’s Wiesn Visitor Price Index (WVPI), which tracks the cost of visiting the event by accounting for public transportation, beer and food prices, has increased by 4% every year since the bank began to track it in 1985.

UniCredit Research
As with so many other festivals, Oktoberfest has become something very different to what it once was. When originally conceived back in 1810, it was held to celebrate the marriage of Bavaria’s Crown Prince. Over 200 years later, it has become something of a beer-drinker’s mecca, and economic wonder. Without a detailed understanding of the costs involved in hosting the event—and, really, whether they have been rising quickly as the festival’s beer prices have—it’s probably safest to say that until beer-drinkers stop celebrating the price hikes, Oktoberfest is going to keep pouring them on. (The organizers of Oktoberfest didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
13 September 2013

Arunachal Pradesh Beats Karnataka in Investment

By Asha Rai
Bangalore, Sep 13 : Karnataka is a classic case of a state supposedly set on a trajectory of fast growth finding itself decelerating. In this sense, it mirrors India's growth story where projections for sustained, long-term growth have been abruptly reversed.

According to RBI data for the fiscal 2012-13 , Karnataka was placed a miserable 12th in terms of attracting investments, slipping from its second position the year before and fourth in 2010-11 . Last year, Karnataka managed to attract just 20 projects and accounted for just 1.5% of the envisaged cost of projects for which institutional assistance was sanctioned in 2012-13 against 12% the earlier year.

It's galling that a small state like Arunachal Pradesh, more in the news for Chinese incursions than for industrial enterprise, is two ranks ahead of Karnataka in the investment sweepstakes. Worse, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh - which is being split into two, and which has been racked by violent protests - has consistently stayed in the top 5.

Andhra Pradesh has managed to remain at the top in terms of attracting investment in the past four years, whereas Karnataka has slipped in and out of the list.

The reasons for Karnataka's fall from grace as a favoured investment destination and a showcase for modern India are not far to seek. Policy paralysis and political instability the state has witnessed in recent times are coming home to roost.

In particular, the past two years have been bad as the state has had no administration to speak of. With the BJP government trying to hang on to power at any cost amid ballooning corruption scandals, a jailed chief minister and a breakdown in civic services, there was no interest in governance. With politicians engaged in survival, the bureaucracy went into slumber, resulting in the current pathetic scenario.

It looks like the second rank in 2011-12 was courtesy the empty hype of the Global Investors' Meet of 2010. As TOI reported earlier, it transpires that less than 5% of the total Rs 4 lakh crore investment was actually implemented. The story of the second edition of GIM (in 2012) is worse: less than 0.5% has been implemented.

Doing business in Karnataka is getting increasingly difficult, says industry. Single-window clearance, in reality, means approaching more than a dozen agencies; it takes 4-6 months to get a company started; and land acquisition is well nigh impossible. The South Korean giant Posco pulled out its $6-billion steel investment due to a gridlock over land acquisition.

"It's becoming practically impossible to do public-private partnership projects honestly at scale. There have been dishonest ones at scale and honest ones that are popcorn stands. But the grid box of honesty at scale is missing," says Manish Sabharwal, chairman, TeamLease Services, a temp-staffing company.

The government's failure to be an enabler is another issue. Says civic analyst Ashwin Mahesh: "In the past, we used to focus on enabling investments by the state - in science and technology, infrastructure, policies -and left it to others to develop the society and economy using these inputs. In recent years, this has changed. Now, the state itself wants to be the developer of the economy, or leading politicians in the state government want to do it themselves. This is mired in illogic and conflict of interest."

It's not a stretch to link this lack of enablement with the massive scams our politicians have found themselves mired in recently.

All of which means that the country's seventh largest economy is less attractive than those of its less-fancied neighbours. Instead of spurting ahead, Karnataka will first have to pull itself out of the hole that it has dug for itself.
03 September 2013

EXIM Bank To Focus On Horticulture And Handloom Sector, Northeast India

EXIM bank to focus on horticulture and handloom sector, Northeast IndiaEXIM bank to focus on horticulture and handloom sector, Northeast India

Guwahati, Sep 3 : Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) will aggressively promote the horticulture and hand loom sector of the eight states of Northeast India.

TCA Ranganathan, Chairman & Managing Director of EXIM bank who in Guwahati on Monday to attend a programme on promoting horticulture sector in the Northeast region said, "Northeast India has the advantage of going for high end horticulture and handloom products."

He added that there is some problem somewhere as these sectors are not developing in the desired level. "We have roped in companies including ITC, Godrej Agrovet and Emami Group to figure out as why the sector is not developing to the desired level."

He said that the bank will work for improving the distribution- marketing and positioning of the horticulture products. "Across the world there is going craze for organic agriculture produce and ethically branded textile. The region can take advantage of both this aspects to position itself."

Ranganathan said, "We will draw a road map for sustainable production while also identifying avenues to create markets and linkages for farmers and entrepreneurs from the region."

India is the second largest producer of both fruits and vegetables globally after China accounting for 14 percent and 12 percent respectively of world production. However India's share in global export of horticulture products is low.

According to EXIM bank, India's export of horticulture products is US$2.7 billion (1.3 percent of global exports) as compared to china's export of US$ 18 billion (9 percent of global exports).
29 August 2013

Decline in Citrus Orchards in Northeast India

Nagpur, Aug 29 : Despite a sharp rise in area and production of citrus in northeastern hill (NEH) region in seven years (2005-12), there has been huge decline in citrus orchards in this region due to climate change and weather vagaries. The NEH region includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

The area under various citrus crops has increased from 71.8 thousand hectares (TH) in 2005-06 to 139.86 TH and the average production in region in the same period increased from 289.1 thousand tons (TT) to 737.08 TT. Yet there has been little increase in productivity during these years as the productivity increased from 4 tons per hectare (t/h) to 5.27t/h.

"Northeast is the primary source of citrus biodiversity in the country. Yet due to climate change the productivity levels are the country's lowest here. Climate change and natures vagaries have led to a severe decline in citrus orchards in region. There is a strong need to conserve all the 23 species of region," said SV Ngachan, scientist, NEH Indian Council of Agricultural Research at Umiam in Meghalaya.

He was in the city recently for the National Citrus Meet hosted by the National Research Centre for Citrus. Ngachan said that research was needed especially to protect and improve the Khasi mandarin of the region.

Talking about constraints and strategies, Ngachan pointed out that acidic soil, high humidity, and climate change are environmental constraints. But non-availability of quality planting material, farmer's mindset which does not allow them to use pesticides and adopting modern technology has added to the decline in productivity.

Production of elite disease-free planting material, development of new citrus-based integrated farming systems, sequential replanting of senile orchards through participatory approach and rejuvenation of dying orchards could prove to be good for the region.

In addition, Ngachan said that setting up processing units with pre-planned marketing strategies and proper extension can reverse the scene.
28 August 2013

Rupee Sinks to 68 Against Dollar

Market mayhem continues, rupee breaches 67 against dollar The partially convertible rupee was trading at a record low of 67.40/45 per dollar.

Mumbai, Aug 28
: Continuing its free-fall, the rupee on Wednesday breached the 68-mark against the dollar on strong demand for the US currency amid rising concerns over fiscal burden after the passage of the food bill.

The rupee also dragged the BSE sensex down by over 400 points in early trade, following persistent selling by funds.

The sensex was trading at 17,539.28 points at 10.25am.

Stocks of banking, oil and gas, PSUs, realty, FMCG, auto and capital goods sectors were major losers, dragging down the benchmark sensex.

Brokers said sustained selling by funds and other participants triggered by sliding rupee which breached 68 to a dollar and a weakening trend on the other Asian bourses, tracking overnight losses on the US market as the West stepped up preparations for a military strike on Syria, mainly dampened the trading sentiment here.

The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty was also down almost 100 points.
At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the local currency opened lower at 67.06 a dollar from its previous close of 66.24 and breached 67-mark to trade at a fresh low of 67.42, down by 118 paise, or almost 1.8 per cent.

It later breached the 68 mark.

Forex dealers said besides strong month-end demand for the American currency from importers, concerns related to subsidy burden after the passage of Food Security Bill and capital outflows mainly weighed on the domestic currency.

Further, rising crude prices in the global market also put pressure on the rupee, they said.

The rupee had recorded a steep fall of 194 paise, or 3.02 per cent to close at record low of 66.24 against the dollar in the previous session.
26 August 2013

What Is Money?

One of our favorite questions from readers for Economics in Plain English was deceptively simple: What, after all, is money? And what sets it apart from something that's simply valuable? A big abstract idea like this called for a hands-on experiment.
In this episode, business editor Derek Thompson pays a visit to a branch of EagleBank in Arlington, VA, to bother the world's friendliest bank teller with a series of dumb requests. As goofy as it seems, this little experiment is a helpful way to illustrate three essential functions of money: a store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange. But you'll have to watch to see why.

What Is Money? from Atlantic Video on Vimeo.

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