|Bhattacharjee: Sole voice of reason
in the Left
Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is emerging as the
sole voice of reason among the country's Left leaders. The latest
proof: his opposition to the introduction of trade unions in his
state's fledgling IT industry. Even as the CPI(M)'s labour wing,
the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), gets ready to launch
the West Bengal Information Technology Services Association on
November 14, Bhattacharjee, is distancing himself from the move.
"I am in touch with the senior IT executives to remove any
apprehensions they may have," he says.
It's falling into a pattern. Bhattacharjee
proposes, his party disposes, but the Left Front government still
(usually) goes ahead and carries out his wishes. The disagreement
with his party over the IT sector is the latest in a long list
of stand-offs. Bhattacharjee, who has become a poster boy for
economic reforms, has had to take on powerful local leaders over
his decision to allot 1,000 acres of farmland to the Tata Group
for its Rs 1-lakh car venture. Then, he embarrassed his party's
leadership by publicly declaring that he wanted private sector
participation in the modernisation of Kolkata's Netaji Subhash
Chandra Bose International; he also sparked off an ideological
debate in Left circles when he invited Indonesia's Salim Group
to invest in the state.
Bhattacharjee's commitment to reforms and, indeed, the extent
of his writ over the state he rules will be put to the acid test
on December 14, when the Left Front has called a Bharat Bandh.
Bhattacharjee ducks the issue. "See what happens on that
day," he says. India Inc. will be all eyes.
22.15%: The proportion of
people living below poverty line in 2004-05 compared to 26.09
per cent in 1999-2000, according to the National Sample Survey
The number of engineers India produces every year
$78 billion (Rs 3,58,800 crore): The amount
Airbus needs to break even on its A380 superjumbo project. The
A380 has a list price of about $300 million (Rs 1,380 crore).
The Toulouse-based company has so far sold 159 of this double-decker
aircraft in the six years since its official launch
(Rs 4,14,000 crore): The amount US citizens spend every year
on obesity-related healthcare, according to University of Pennsylvania
researcher Adam Gilden Tsai
(Rs 92,000 crore): The current two-way trade between India
The total number of employees at Infosys at the end of September,
2006, compared to 46,196 in September, 2005
(Rs 16,560 crore): Chinese software exports in 2005, a rise
of 28 per cent year-on-year
The number of cups of coffee drunk every day worldwide. In
terms of being a world commodity, coffee is second only to oil
Rs 300 crore:
The sales target set by Godrej Appliances for this festive
season. The corresponding figures for Videocon Industries, LG
Electronics and Samsung are Rs 500 crore, Rs 2,500 crore and Rs
850 crore, respectively
(Rs 1,00,740 crore): The amount the Industrial & Commercial
Bank of China aims to raise through the world's biggest IPO
The number of iPod users worldwide. The iPod was launched
on October 23 five years ago, and now has a 72 per cent share
of the US portable MP3 player market to be precise
By Indian Railways, the launch of the second Palace on
Wheels train with more luxuries and facilities. This will make
it the most expensive train in Rajasthan. The 21-coach train will
have special suites, foreign exchange counters, exclusive kitchens,
mini bars, gym and steam bath facilities and a conference hall.
India, a 37 per cent rise in merchandise exports in the first
half of the current financial year, to $59.3 billion (Rs 2,72,780
crore), compared to $43.2 billion (Rs 1,98,720 crore) in the corresponding
period the previous year. Imports grew 32 per cent to $83.9 billion
(Rs 3,85,940 crore) against $63.5 billion (Rs 2,92,100 crore)
in the first half of 2005-06.
MTNL, the One India plan that offers STD rates of Re 1 per minute;
the rental: Rs 180. The One India tariff will be applicable throughout
the day and does away with the system of peak and off-peak charges
that is now in vogue. Local calls will also cost less. Local calls
to other MTNL phones will cost Re 1 per 180 seconds. But those
made to phones of other service providers will continue to cost
Re 1 per minute.
a US court, Ranbaxy's bid to revive the Lipitor case. The Indian
pharma giant's attempt to bust Pfizer's monopoly over its cholesterol-lowering
pill, Lipitor, has suffered a major setback following a US court's
decision not to rehear Ranbaxy's case challenging Pfizer's patent.
Lipitor is the world's largest selling drug.
By the Aditya Birla Group a 25 per cent stake in Idea Cellular
to Providence Equity Partners, ChrysCapital, Citigroup and TA
Associates. The deal, which will bring the Aditya Birla Group's
holding in Idea down to around 73 per cent from 98.3 per cent,
is believed to be worth over $550 million (Rs 2,530 crore).
CLEARED: By the
commerce ministry's Board of Approvals 46 more Special Economic
Zones. Seventeen of these are IT-related. This takes the number
of SEZs approved to 236. Another 169 such SEZs have received in-principle
IN RELOCATION SERVICES
booming business environment and the increasing influx of expatriates
into India is resulting in increased demand for service providers
who can help such professionals-and also Indians on transferable
jobs-relocate from their home base to new cities. "Companies
want one-stop end-to-end relocation solutions-this includes finding
the right kind of housing, educational facilities for children,
familiarisation with social bodies like clubs and leisure facilities
and other orientation programmes," says Rohit Kumar, Managing
Director, IKAN Services, which operates in this space. There are
about half-a-dozen companies offering such services, like Writers
Relocation, Crown Relocations and Global Adjustment.
GETS ROLLING AGAIN
Pawan Ruia group-owned Dunlop India proposes to roll out tyres
from its Sahagunj unit near Kolkata from October 31. "Dunlop
still has a strong brand recall. There's a huge demand both in
the OE and replacement market (the Indian tyre market is clocking
a CAGR of 8 per cent) and we've received enquiries from both the
domestic and the export markets," says P.K. Ruia, Chairman
of the company.
The Sahagunj plant in West Bengal, which
has been shut for eight years, has now been spruced up and refurbished,
and will begin operations with 1,200 workers. When it downed shutters,
it had 2,700 workers; some of them have died or have gone past
the retirement age. Ranjit Guha Neogy, President of the INTUC-affiliated
employees union, has no complaints. "We are extremely happy
that the plant is reopening after so many years," he says.
Dunlop India now has an entirely new executive
team led by Samir K. Paul, former MD of Falcon Tyres. "We
hope to touch an output level of 90 tonne/day at each of the two
plants (the other plant is in Ambattur in Tamil Nadu) soon, and
have set a reasonable turnover target of Rs 350 crore for the
current financial year," says Ruia. Dunlop is also eyeing
acquisitions in India and abroad.