Unwritten story

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on February 15, 2011 Published on February 13, 2011

Perhaps the most disconcerting occurrence in a journalist's life is to be called to a meeting and then be asked “who asked you to come here?”. When the infrastructure company Afcon called for a press conference at the office of Chennai Metro Rail Ltd, from which the company had secured a Rs 2,500-crore order, it may not have imagined the oncoming disaster. Chennai Metro officials were apparently annoyed that a press conference that they had not called for was happening on their premises — hence the “who asked you to come here.” Afcon officials, and their PR agency (Adfactors), kept stressing that they had secured Chennai Metro's permission to hold the press conference. Caught between Chennai Metro and Afcon were the disappointed journalists, who had landed there on Monday morning, hoping to get a good story to start the week with.

A pitch too far

Mr Atulya Mishra, Chairman of the Chennai Port Trust, apparently is not one to let go an opportunity to make a business pitch. Seated on the dais at a seminar on ports in Chennai recently, he patiently heard a participant's rant on the Ennore port and told him benignly, “If you are not satisfied with them, come to us.” But as soon as the titter subsided, a fellow bureaucrat, Mr G. Santhanam, Secretary to Government (Highways & Minor Ports), Govt of Tamil Nadu, who was sitting next to Mr Mishra, quietly reminded him that it was the Chennai Port Trust that had promoted Ennore Port Ltd.

Where is the icon?

No matter how good you are, you also have to ensure you've got that top-of-the-mind recall. Mr Harish Lakshmanan of the Rane group was giving a presentation on the opportunities for sourcing auto components from companies in Tamil Nadu, to a group of visiting Japanese companies. In his long list of automobile companies that have pitched tent in Chennai, who do you think was missing? Ford — the first foreign automobile company to choose Chennai.

Does not quite perk up

Keeping everybody happy in an organisation is a tough task. About 40 ‘F' grade officers (Chief General Managers) in the Reserve Bank of India have been stagnating in the same position for the last few years.

The central bank has tried placating a few of these warhorses with ‘P&P's (pay and perks) of the rank of executive director. But the move has been likened to a mirage. Maybe it is time the regulator heeded the growth aspirations of senior officers by creating more room at the top. Did someone not say happy employees make productive employees?

Land grabbing

Journalists who gathered in large numbers to cover the third day of the recently concluded Nasscom India Leadership Summit, were in for a rude shock. The media centre was hijacked for a good hour by a business channel that wanted to do a live feature, although there was another room meant for that purpose. While journalists from the print media did not think too much about this, reporters from the wire services and other TV channels could not hide their chagrin. Moreover, the PR representatives of Nasscom turned a deaf year to these concerns saying, “it is just a matter of an hour.” The issue was finally settled after the Nasscom spokesperson intervened and told journalists that they could walk into the media centre even as the live show was on — something that no reporter in the right frame of mind would do.

Tailored to display

Mr Phil Taylor was not just-another-foreign-delegate at the Nasscom India Leadership Forum. What clearly distinguished the Assistant Dean of the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, was his vast knowledge of the BPO industry in both India and Scotland. “Did you know that of the 5 lakh working population of Scotland, one lakh are in the BPO industry,” the Scotsman told Indian journalists, giving them a veritable crash course on the BPO industry.

And, as the day wore on, he gave another lesson too: that one should not baulk from flaunting his culture, no matter where he is. Mr Taylor presented himself at the evening function, like a good Scot, in a kilt.

Onions and Jains

Jains, as we all know, are shrewd businessmen. But if you need any more convincing, read on — this is what one Business Line correspondent chanced to overhear at the recent Jain International Trade Organisation's annual convention in Chennai: “The best business today is an NBFC styled ‘Onion Finance Company Ltd.'

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Published on February 13, 2011
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