Ford’s President and CEO Alan Mulally was all wit and charm while addressing the media in Chennai recently. Answering a question on how the EcoSport and other new vehicles will increasingly have more electronics to enable drivers to use their mobile or play music using voice commands, Mulally said he was asked to deliver the keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest such show. “I apologised to Bill Gates at the show that I had taken over his part!” he said. Next day, the headline in one of the papers read thus: ‘Ford working like MicroSoft, acting like Apple’! Another headline, referring to the ‘apps’ in the cars’ electronics, said: ‘Ford, the mobile apps of choice’ chortled Mulally, adding “‘you’re going to see more and more of that in our cars”.

All’s fair in business?

If the induction of Rohan Murty, son of N.R. Narayana Murthy, into Infosys has generated a debate, what if daughter Akshata also joins the company? That’s exactly what a shareholder from Mumbai wanted Infosys to consider during its recent AGM. The lady from Mumbai believed Akshata could also help the company get out of the woods. An amused Murthy listened to her suggestion in silence, probably leaving many shareholders wondering why the lady left out mentioning his wife for a job with the IT major.

Mall manners

Shopping malls are not the best places to hold press conferences. Ask Volvo. At the launch of the Volvo Cross Country V40 car at the Express Avenue mall in Chennai recently, Tomas Ernberg, Managing Director, Volvo Auto India, found himself caught in the middle of a series of announcements on the public address system. Each time he opened his mouth to speak, he was interrupted by the PA system. Just when he thought it was over and started to speak, the announcement blared again. First Ernberg thought it was funny, but after five or six such constant interruptions, the whole thing did get to him a bit. But Ernberg could do precious little except wait patiently for his turn to speak.

Tuesday blues?

Of all the ministers given new portfolios in the Cabinet reshuffle last Monday, everyone barring Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge took charge the very next day — a Tuesday. Kharge took charge Wednesday morning. Was it because many in South India consider Tuesday an inauspicious day to start things? And that too with the Railway Ministry, which has seen many ministers in UPA-2 — as many as seven in four years?

Monsoon, the leveller

The south-west monsoon has been a great leveller for airports operated by the Airports Authority of India as well as those managed by the private sector. At the start of the monsoon season, a part of the roof at the Chennai airport managed by AAI caved in due to heavy winds and rain. For many, this was enough to say the government should not be in the business of running airports. Little would they have thought that an airport managed by a high-profile infrastructure company too would be affected a few weeks later. As the monsoon progressed, it was the turn of Delhi airport, which is managed by a consortium led by the GMR group, to get flooded. Nature does not discriminate in its fury.

Hands and feet

Dramatic scenes followed the recent reshuffle of the All India Congress Committee. The party’s headquarters at 24, Akbar Road in New Delhi has become a hub of activity. Party workers from across the country flocked to meet the new general secretaries and secretaries in charge of their States. Senior leader Madhusudan Mistry, who holds the charge of Uttar Pradesh and the most important Central Election Committee, had to deal with most number of visitors. Workers competed to touch his feet. The otherwise composed Mistry had to raise his voice to rein them in. “Don’t touch my feet, you can shake my hands,” he was heard pleading with Congress workers.

Parrot talk

Fortune-tellers in Hyderabad have fallen on bad times. Have they failed to predict what is in store for them?

Citing cruelty to parakeets, officials have rescued about two dozen birds from these fortune tellers.

These trained parakeets, housed in a small cage, pick out a card from a pack from which the fortune teller reads out his predictions to clients. Officials have taken away these birds citing cruelty as per provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The conspiracy theory

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee doesn’t take kindly to criticism. Her political opponents have often been branded “conspirators” or “Maoists”. College students bore the brunt of her fury at a media meet. But this time she has stretched the “conspiracy theory”. CPM, Congress and Maoists apart, Banerjee has alleged that a section of the media and journalists are conspiring to eliminate her. And that social workers and civil society members — who have often criticised her — are involved in “pornography”.

I’m still standing

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has a new minister in Girija Vyas. However, many in the media referred to her as Minister of Urban Development. This resulted in a lot of heartburn at the Ministry of Urban Development where veteran politician Kamal Nath is the Minister. The Urban Development Ministry staff was at pains to clarify to the media that Kamal Nath had not been shifted.



(This article was published on June 23, 2013)
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