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JANUARY 28, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Taxing Times
The phase-out of central sales tax is yet another move towards ushering in the national goods and services tax (GST). The compensation to the states, in lieu of CST phase-out, will include revenue proceeds from 33 services currently being taxed by the Centre as well as 44 new services of an intra-state nature that will be traded by the states. However, VAT is the way forward, though much needs to be done to iron out the anomalies in the current VAT regime.

India, Ahoy!
Indian investments overseas are growing and how. For instance, total Indian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean has topped $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) so far. The latest investment is by ONGC Videsh, which acquired an oilfield in Colombia for $425 million (Rs 1,912.5 crore). Earlier, ONGC bought an offshore oilfield in Brazil for $410 million (Rs 1,845 crore).
More Net Specials
Business Today,  January 14, 2007
Is He Cashing Out?


It's been six months since Jerry Rao and the private equity investors in his IT-ITEs company MphasiS BFL decided to hand over the ownership to American it giant, eds. And ever since, Rao watchers have been expecting an announcement of his exit from the company, which is now called EDs India. But Rao, 55, surprised everyone by accepting the role of Vice President and General Manager of EDs India (in addition to his non-executive Chairman title). It, however, seems Rao, who writes poetry when he isn't tending to his company, is quietly working his way out of EDs India-at least, in terms of ownership. In June and December last year, he sold in two tranches 26.86 lakh shares of MphasiS, raising Rs 62 crore. That brings down his stake in the company to 2.45 per cent from the pre-sale level of 3.98 per cent (directly and through MphasiS Holdings). It's easy to see why Rao needs money. He's been busy investing in everything from a literary journal to a vineyard to a hotel. Retirement, then, should be no problem for Rao.

Raha & Co.

Subir Raha may no longer be a hotshot PSU chieftain, but he's not walking into the sunset just yet. The chain-smoking, workaholic and charming raconteur has now donned the cap of a consultant. Raha, 58, has bounced back to launch a consulting firm TrIdea, whose strange name is explained by the fact that it stands for 'Team Raha Ideation'. Perfect springboard you would think. But Raha might well dive into a dry pool going by a good part of the firm's mandate: corporate consultancy in the areas of internal and external communications, team building, executive nurturing, problem-solving and corporate governance. Says Raha: "The consulting firm offers operational flexibility in terms of manpower management." But don't forget that Raha is no ordinary technocrat. At ONGC, he survived (for long) despite taking on bureaucrats and politicians. Snagging a few consultancy mandates, then, should be a cinch.

The Loss of Inheritance

Did Santosh Desai quit Mccann-Erickson as its president and CEO because a much younger Prasoon Joshi got elevated to a notch higher as the agency's Executive Chairman? Both men in question have denied the theory, but there's no doubt that Desai, a 20-year veteran of the industry, is quitting over the sorry state of affairs in the business-thin margins, uninspiring work and hard-to-please clients. "I am leaving because I have done pretty much everything I wanted to do in the industry. I don't want to go on doing the same thing any more. My new job is more challenging and my sense is that it will be more gratifying," says the 44-year-old. The new job, by the way, is at Kishore Biyani's Future Group, where Desai will be in charge of a proposed marketing and branding company, Future Brands. And in this job, Desai will get to play the hard-to-please client.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

...Actually, it will be neither but a new Indian comic superhero in the form of an 18-year-old Sikh with a magical ring that gives him super power and whose first adventure will involve trying to bring back the Kohinoor diamond to India. Bringing you the adventures of Ballay Shera is Prashant Singh, a former (Fidelity and HSBC) investment banker, who's given up high finance for writing. "I think it's about time India got its own Super Hero," says the IIM Calcutta and MIT alumnus. Singh's handiwork will hit the bookstores by end of January, and the author, who also owns a software start-up called Quick Dude, is already busy writing the next installment of Ballay Shera's adventures, which will feature him in an engineering college. Will Ballay Shera be India's Harry Potter? We'll find out soon enough.

Rude Lesson

If import duties on cameras, newsprint and printing machinery go up in Budget 2007, media will have no one to blame but itself. After all, it has gone ahead and broken a toe of the most important man-at least, around this time of the year-in India. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was out for a quiet dinner with family in Bangalore recently when an overzealous photographer tried to take pictures of the man with his family. Chidambaram, 61, understandably, did not want the photographer to spoil what he had hoped would be quality outing with his family. But this shutterbug wouldn't listen, and in a bid to step out of the camera's focus, Chidambaram tripped and fractured a toe. Subsequently, the photographer and the newspaper's editor apologised to the fm, who-being a perfect gentleman-forgave. Just for being such a sport, we think, Chidambaram deserves all our votes.

A Positive Force

At 27, when most men still have their raging hormones on their mind, Samir Modi was busy launching a Foundation to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. Over the years, Modi, now 37, has rolled out a variety of HIV-related programmes such as the HIV/AIDS Workplace Intervention Programme and Ambassadors of Change, spending close to Rs 4 crore a year on Modicare Foundation's initiatives. Soon, the foundation will be celebrating its tenth anniversary and the KK Modi group scion, who runs a 7-Eleven-type convenience chain called Twenty Four Seven besides being an Executive Director with Godfrey Philips, is planning the next level of initiatives. "We've run programmes for truckers, migrant labourers and commercial sex workers, but we need to do a lot more," says the Doon School alumnus. After all, there are 5.7 million HIV positive Indians who need help.




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