When Bangkok scores over Mumbai

OUR BUREAUS | Updated on January 31, 2011

Construction work of Dhamra Port, a joint venture of L&T and Tata Steel, is in progress near Bhubaneswar. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty   -  The Hindu

Scene at the Sanchar Bhawan (DoT) during a CBI raid, in the Capital. Photo: Ramesh Sharma   -  Business Line

Marriages are made in heaven is the common adage, but Mumbaiites seem to prefer Bangkok. Mumbai five-star hotels bill no less than Rs 2,300 per plate, apart from a host of other charges, complained a businessman.

And usually, the minimum number of invitees would be more than 1,000, (being the home country, the groom and the bride tend to invite more people), and several meals would have to be served.

Instead, two-way tickets for a 200-member family entourage to Bangkok, and stay at a star resort for three days works out far cheaper, he said. In fact, two of the top city hall decorators are full-time on this business.

Unearthing telecom policy

Having announced that a New Telecom Policy 2011 will be formulated within 100 days, the Telecom Ministry recently asked the Department of Telecom to study the procedures followed when NTP 1999 was formulated. However, it was discovered that the Policy Section of the department had no records pertaining to NTP 99. The Cabinet Note on the basis of which the policy was approved was also not available. After much searching across the 14 floors of Sanchar Bhawan, 11 files with some links to NTP 99 were unearthed. At this rate, one wonders whether the new telecom policy can be finalised in 100 days.

Inappropriate award ?

Tobacco is a product that gets the maximum flak as a health hazard around the world. There are instances, in the US and in other countries, of tobacco manufacturers being sued for causing cancer. Tobacco ads are banned in India. Yet, the boss of the largest cigarette maker in India has been conferred with a Padma award. No wonder, the Delhi-based Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth has written to the Prime Minister, and to the Ministers of Health and Home Affairs, saying that the nomination of ITC's Chairman “for the country's most prestigious civilian awards is inappropriate and undermines the very sanctity and significance of these awards.”

Small town take-offs

It is a growing trend among corporations to seek employee buy-ins for big projects. It's time the government-run Airports Authority of India did the same. A colleague who sat next to an Airports Authority engineer on a flight was surprised to hear him rage about some of the airport projects taking off in the country, especially the one in Jalgaon (Pratibha Patil's home turf). “Which private airline would want to fly to Jalgaon?” he queried.

He had his point — as confirmed by a colleague from Chennai, who struggled with train connections to Jalgaon despite there being an operational airport there. But the AAI official's rage was also because of frequent transfers to the hinterland. With airports being talked about in places such as Phaltan, Dhule, Karad and Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Bhatinda in Punjab, and so on, AAI employees are an uneasy lot!

PM's motorcade

Within a few minutes of the Prime Minister's motorcade arriving at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, twitterati were tweeting indignantly about the 18 cars, which included 10 BMWs, in the cavalcade. At a time of fuel price hikes, how could the economist PM arrive in “non-green” cars was the refrain!

Awards in abundance

With almost every publication, news channel and sundry other organisations instituting corporate awards, there are winners announced almost on a monthly basis. At a recent press conference to announce the quarterly results of a leading public sector bank, a senior official with the bank said, “Our bank has such a long list of awards and achievements that I could not accommodate them all in a single slide of my power point presentation.''

Dhamra's rival

The Dhamra Port in Orissa, a joint venture between Tata Steel and L&T, which was expected to pose competition to Kolkata and Paradip ports may face competition soon. The Shipping Ministry has extended the limit of Kolkata Port to cover Kanika Sands, an island off Orissa coast, close to Dhamra port. Kolkata proposes to start bulk cargo operations from Kanika Sands; large bulk carriers which cannot navigate through Hooghly river can unload their cargo at Kanika and then transship them to Kolkata or Paradip. This is not very comfortable news for the promoters of Dhamra port.

Costly aircraft (or airline)?

At a recent awards function to felicitate Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways, for his contribution to the civil aviation sector, an official introduced him as— ‘Goyal who buys expensive airlines' but immediately corrected himself to say ‘expensive aircraft'.

Just a slip of tongue or otherwise, only time will tell, considering that Jet Airways is in a legal battle over the acquisition of Sahara Airlines.

CoCo retail

If a retailer says ‘CoCo', do not assume that he means ‘Cocoa'. Like RoRo for ‘roll on-roll off' in logistics parlance, ‘CoCo' in retail refers to ‘Company-operated, company-owned' outlets.

Investors' interest

It was a meeting of potential entrepreneurs and private equity investors. Pre-lunch session: the hall was packed, investors shared their views and expectations of entrepreneurs and what would induce them to bet their money on a project. Post-lunch: it was the turn of those sharing their experience of raising funds. The hall was noticeably less packed.

The moderator, while remarking that the moneybags appear to have left, indicating their priorities, consoled the audience “maybe they have gone looking for more like us to fund!”

Published on January 31, 2011

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