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APRIL 8, 2007
 Cover Story
 BT Special
 Back of the Book

Mobile Security
Today, it is all about information and how the right information is sent to the right people at the right time and right place. Uncertainty about how to secure mobile phones in the face of increasing threats is slowing individual adoption of mobile applications. There are many facets of mobile security, including network intrusion, mobile viruses, spam and mobile phishing. Analysts expect big telecom companies to develop security solutions on various security platforms.

Rough Ride
These are competitive times for the Indian aviation industry. As salaries zoom, players are scrambling to find profits. Even the state-owned Indian is now seeking young airhostesses to take on the competition. It is planning to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme for airhostesses above 40 years. On an average, they draw a salary of Rs 5 lakh a year. The salaries of pilots, too, are soaring. According to industry estimates, the country needs over 3,000 pilots over the next five years.
More Net Specials

Business Today,  March 25, 2007

Broadcast Binge
Owning a TV channel is (once again) the rage.
INX Group’s Mukerjea: In the news
Over the past four decades the Delhi-headquartered Triveni Group has earned its spurs for the machinery it manufacturers for the sugar industry and the plants it puts up for sugar producers. Now the Rs 3,000-crore group is diversifying into the media business, for which it has set up a company called Triveni Media. Speaking to BT from Singapore Madhur Mittal, Joint Managing Director, Triveni Group, explains the reason for this foray. "There is lot of vacuum in the entertainment and news genre." The group plans to invest Rs 200 crore-via internal accruals and via debt-to launch 18 channels in the next two years, 12 of which will be news and six entertainment. The first channel, for news, will be flagged off on August 15. "We have also entered into two international strategic tie-ups-one purely for packaging and branding and the other for content and production," adds Mittal. For the time being, the group is busy revamping a 'socio-spirtitual' channel, Sadhana TV, it recently acquired.

Meantime, Indrani Mukerjea, promoter of the INX Group, has floated INX Media and INX News, which in turn will launch a bouquet of channels in the general entertainment, news and music space. By the year-end Mukerjea-who will be later joined by her husband Peter, the former CEO of star TV India-says: "INX will launch channel for Hindi general entertainment, music and English news. Nine more will be launched in two years. INX Media has received funding of nearly $300 million (Rs 1,320 crore).

Existing broadcasters are also in expansion mode. NDTV has recently got approval to raise Rs 585 crore for its proposed channels NDTV Imagine (General Entertainment) and NDTV Lifestyle through its UK-based subsidiary. And Ronnie Screwvala's UTV has joined hands with Malaysia's Astro Measat to launch a youth broadcast venture 'Bindass' which will include youth entertainment channels. Says Smitha Jha, media analyst with PricewaterhouseCoopers: "With the economy on an upswing, the allocation of ad revenues is getting larger. Television will be one of the major mediums where this ad spend will get diverted."

New, Improved and National
Nirula's has a fresh team and a countrywide rollout plan.

Nirula’s Kuckreja: New order
A new logo, swanky interiors with comfortable dining space, designer uniforms and Disney toys are just a few of the obvious additions that one notices when entering the new Nirula's outlet in Connaught Place's K block in the capital. The company's flagship restaurant changed more than just the address since its takeover last June by Malaysian private equity firm Navis Capital Partners and Samir Kuckreja, Nirula's 40-year-old Managing Director. Almost 10 months after it took over Nirula's in June, Navis has invested Rs 20 crore in the chain. Another Rs 80 crore will be invested over three years. Along with the new look, also significant is the new team of heavyweights managing Nirula's. These include Ajit Chauhan, Vice-President hr (ex-ITC Marriott); Roger Narula, Head Operations Training (ex-Burger King and Yum! USA); Sanjay Sachdeva, Head Business Development (ex-Pizza Hut); and Sudpita Sengupta, Senior VP, Marketing and Sales (ex-Cafe Coffee Day).

Kuckreja has also set the ball rolling for the chain's national-wide foray. "We will open 25 more outlets this year, reaching a total of 70 outlets by December," says Kuckreja. The chain, which has 45 outlets, 35 of which are in the national capital region, plans to grow to 150 outlets in the next three years with shops in cities as small as Pathankot and Moradabad. The outlets will vary in size and formats-from family-style restaurants, ice-cream kiosks to express counters. The company plans to open shops in hypermarkets (already one in Spencer's in Gurgaon), petrol pumps, convenient stores, highways and transit points like railway stations and airports. "Localisation is the key," says Kuckreja. "For our outlets in different parts of the country, we will introduce different menus."

Massacre at Nandigram
The killings set back the government and industry.

SEZ saga: Protestors in Nandigram
March 14, 2006 might have been just yet another day for the rest of the world, but for Rosomoyee Bagdi, Pupendu Mondal, Rana Sardar and many more in Nandigram (in the East Mednipur district of West Bengal, 183 km off Kolkata), the day changed their world. Some of them lost their sons, some their wives, and some their brothers in the bloodbath in Nandigram over a battle over land acquisitions for a special economic zone (SEZ). The official death toll varies between 14 and 18, but the locals claim the figure is much higher. Last fortnight, when the administration decided to "restore normalcy" in Nandigram, a 4,000-strong posse of policemen, armed with Insas and Kalashnikov rifles, set out to "liberate" Nandigram from the clutches of the Jami Uchched Pratirodh Committee (Save Farmland Committee). This body was floated by farmers resisting forcible land acquisition, and who launched a three-pronged protest from Tekhali, Bhangabera and Nandigram. Villagers, too, had gathered in large numbers, forming a defensive cordon with women and children in the front. At first sight, the police fired several rounds of tear-gas shells. Next, they began shooting at the villagers who retaliated by hurling stones. Eyewitnesses claim that bodies have been thrown into the Haldi river to destroy evidence of police barbarity.

The Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe into the incident, which is being labelled a state-sponsored massacre, reminiscent of the slaughter at Tiananmen Square. Under mounting pressures from the Left Front and from political opponents, the state government has scrapped the SEZ plans in Nandigram. Clearly, this is an acid test for the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government's industrialisation endeavours. Post-Nandigram, there has been fresh violence in Singur, the site for Tata Motors' Rs 1-lakh car unit. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee accepted the onus but has justified the police action at Nandigram. Time will tell whether the cm is made a scapegoat, and whether industrialisation in West Bengal has taken a step backward into the dark ages.