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BELOW THE LINE

Our Bureaus | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on March 29, 2015

Cricket mad A national pastime

Who’s batting for GDP?

No one, or so it seemed to a chief executive who was in the capital for business meetings during the World Cup semi-final between India and Australia. The city appeared to have come to a standstill; cricket buffs were glued to the tv. Won’t this affect India’s output and its GDP, the executive wondered. But who was listening?

Minister in tune

The launch of the online Coal Project Monitoring Portal coincided with the semi-final. Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had his finger on the pulse of the participants when he prefaced his remarks at the opening of the event with “I know there is an important match today”, and went on to give them an update.

Death by rubber

Last week, a middle-aged farmer hanged himself from a rubber tree on a rubber plantation near Eerattupetta in Kottayam district, Kerala’s rubber heartland. The reason? The drastic fall in rubber prices.

He had bought a small rubber estate in Kannur district, raising funds by selling his home, borrowing from friends and taking bank loans. Because of the fall in price — currently it is ₹132 a kg, a fall of ₹100 from ₹232 in March 2011— he could not pay off the debts, nor could he sell off his estate. “If the price does not go up to at least ₹150 a kg, thousands of small rubber farmers like me will be forced to follow my path,” his suicide note warned.

Drink to this

The Kerala government has issued a stern warning to its employees against drinking and smoking in the office. Though this is a misconduct defined in the code of conduct for employees, it has never been strictly enforced. The government order comes in the wake of several complaints. Kerala is among the highest per capita consumers of alcohol in the country.

The first day of every month is a closed day for bars and alcohol outlets in the State — ostensibly to prevent the splurging of salaries on drink. The irony is that the State government often dips into the deep pockets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), the monopoly dealer of liquor in the State, for quick money to pay salaries and pension to employees.

Dishonourable oversight

Ever heard of a dividend cheque from a company, that too a public sector Navratna company, being dishonoured? A shareholder of the Container Corporation of India deposited a dividend cheque from the company, for ₹400, drawn on ICICI Bank. To his surprise, it was returned the next day: “Papers not received”. However a senior official of CCI clarified that it was an isolated incident, and the bank had returned the cheque by oversight, and had since apologised for the error.

Playing it safe

TRA Research Pvt Ltd has stopped including political parties in its brand analysis. CEO N Chandramouli said that last year some members of a political party had come over to collect a copy of the brand trust report, even though they had been told the company would deliver a copy to their party office. They insisted on coming to the TRA office so they could burn the copy in front of the office.

Grounded before take-off

At least one new domestic airline which was all set to take off has apparently run out of money. It has delayed the launch and is hiring top managers at salaries lower than the market. The airline is learnt to have approached some high networth individuals for funds; they have agreed to fund it only if the maiden flight takes off. This has left the founder scratching his head because he doesn’t even have the money for that.

Published on March 29, 2015
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