The CEO of Tata Advanced Systems, Lieutenant General Davinder Kumar, said he wants his company to become the next Lockheed Martin by building a new defense-oriented business in the coming decades.

India has to retool its whole navy and air force, and spending for homeland security is rising fast too, acknowledges Kumar. The country is aiming both to import large amounts of defense equipment and to lay the groundwork for producing more on its own. At present India produces about 30% of its defense goods domestically.

That India is beginning to flex its muscle in defense underlines the county’s fast-rising economic power and perceived increases in security threats.

Tata Advanced Systems already is in a joint venture with Sikorski Aircraft to build military and civilian helicopters in India. The two-year-old partnership ended the monopoly on domestic production held by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics. In addition to meeting some domestic needs, Tata is also exporting some aircraft cabins, Kumar said, which will help to finance new production capabilities at home.

These initial forays are expected to lead to decades-long relationships with foreign contractors in which defense production will move from a transactional basis to more joint-venture-like arrangements. That should allow the kinds of technology transfer India needs to develop the specialized skills typical in many parts of the complex, high-tech defense industry.

According to Kumar, this could mean “hundreds of billions of dollars” worth of business over several decades for foreign defense contractors who cooperate with India in creating a sophisticated, domestic defense production capability. For example, a bid for 126 fighter jets worth about $10 billion that India has on tender now could lead directly to additional deals up to “$40 billion or $50 billion.”

As an example of how defense programs could be mutually beneficial, Kumar pointed to Boeing, noting that it “outsources 93%” of its work. India could become a bigger part of those supply chains and also a bigger Boeing customer. Right now, Boeing is expecting about $14 billion in defense contracts from India for jet fighters, helicopters and reconnaissance planes. Boeing is among the companies bidding on the $10 billion contract for those 126 combat planes and it is also bidding on a $650 million contract for 22 attack helicopters and another $700-million contract for 15 cargo helicopters. The U.S., meantime, says it is open to having India participate in the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter program and might allow purchases of its fifth generation F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.

Advertisements

On a short trip to Singapore for holidays got to see the modern beauty of Singapore. Has only heard how advanced Singapore is, and the experience was even better. This makes me think where India should take lessons from Singapore. The suggestions are not on the economic,strategy or governance issues or hard facts but on the more lighter/softer side.

By the way, the purpose of this list does not imply India is lame.  In fact, it just means that if Singapore can go from a third world country to a developed and modern nation, then, well, why can’t we hope/expect/wish/demand the same for India?  Anyway, read on… and if you find yourself heading to Singapore, feel free to get in touch for some reccos!

 8.  Smile.  I’ve never seen so many helpful, kind and happy people in one place.  If it wasn’t the kind lady who taught me how to break through the fancy lids on plastic cups or the hawker stall owner who gave Mal a free drink when hers fell on the floor, people were so nice and always smiling.  India, don’t be afraid to smile… it’s contagious!
 

7.  Language equality.  In Singapore, or the Lion City as it is commonly referred to, all students must learn English in addition to one “mother-tongue” language.  For instance, if you are Malay, you must learn English and Malay.  This means everyone in Singapore speaks awesome English and all the sign boards have at least two languages on them, most had four (English, Tamil, Malay and Cantonese/Mandarin).  India, on the other hand, does not have a national language and while the primary official language is Hindi and secondary primary language is English, Tamilians still love their Tamil. Okay, I get it Tamil Nadu.  You do not want to speak Hindi, but for God’s sake, learn English!  India, pick a language medium!
 6.  Ownership + Pride is cool.  Singaporeans seem to take responsibility of themselves and their surroundings.  No one leaves trash around, no one spits, and no one needs to be constantly chastised, either.  Take the MRT train for instance…it’s nice to offer your seat to an old lady, it’s nice to let people get off before you get on the train, and it’s nice to stand on the left of the walkway so people can pass you on the right.  Singapore works because Singaporeans have a lot of pride… and some of the cute signs help, too.  India, love your country!
 5.  Escalators that operate…faster. The escalators in Singapore are actually faster than the average escalator…seriously…like they just operate at a faster speed to get you where you need to go. I mean, if you gotta use them, it might as well be as fast as possible right? Oh, and of course they always are functional and even have escalators that take you from the ground floor straight to the 4th floor of the Iluma mall so you can proceed directly to the food court.  Ingenious.  India, use some technology!

4.  A new national “flower.  As I headed towards the Singapore Changi airport, I noticed that there was nothing more ubiquitous than the site of construction cranes dotting the skyline.  In fact, more than any flower or bird, I noticed cranes everywhere.  While the Indian lotus (thank you, Wikipedia) is quite a pretty sight, there are other ways to beautify muddy water. Also, using construction cranes is actually faster, more efficient, and just plain more humane than making old men and women lug stones on their head any day.  India, don’t be afraid of moving beyond manual labour!
 
3.  Toilets toilets everywhere.  A recent study done by the Transparent Chennai team at Centre for Development Finance found that there are 715 public toilets in Chennai, a city with a population of over 4.6 million people.  I think I saw more than that in my short, jam-packed 4-day visit to Singapore, a country with a similar population.  I’m not only talking quantity here, the quality of the toilets was amazing.  Regardless of the time of day (Clarke Quay’s toilets at 4:30 am outside the delicious late night Mexican food joint were better than most of the movie theatre toilets I’ve been to in Chennai) they were usually immaculately clean.  They also had so many different options – the squatter for indos, the child seat for little children and special handicapped toilets – to accommodate the diverse melting pot of cultures.  India, build more toilets!
 
2.  Play more Hindi music.  After a night at The Butter Factory, a club near the famous Merlion (yes, as mer-lion) statue, Mal and I decided we needed some Bhangra music in our lives.  We found ourselves at the Rupee Room at midnight on Saturday trying to bargain with the bouncer to let us in.  When Mal nudged me and reminded me I was in Singapore, I sadly acknowledged that my bargaining was useless here.  We walked in and immediately ran to the dance floor, where we remained for the next 4 hours, dancing to every Bhangra hit from the last 15 years, every Bollywood hit from the last 5 years played at least twice and the ever-popular Black Eyed Peas…every Punjabi’s dream.  All of a sudden I realized that no night in Chennai was complete without my favorite Tamil song so I pleaded with the DJ to play it to which he replied, “Sorry M’am, only Hindi music.”  While I sulked and pouted for the next two minutes, I realized that even in India I could not go to a club and hear this amazing music since normally it would be mixed with house, electronic, or even worse, it would only be on “Desi Night” on a random weekday (mind you, while I don’t mind, my boss probably does).  India, “Desi Nights” are cool!
1.  Hygienic and incredibly delicious street food.  When I first heard the term “hawker centre” I was totally uninterested.  Now, if you mention it to me, I’d probably freak out and hop on the next 4 hour and 5 minute flight to Singapore.  Hawker centres, which are everywhere in Singapore, are the best way to eat.  Still owned by individual families, the feeling is of an old-school mall food court where all types of cuisine are cooked fresh with unique home-cooked tastes.  The food is romba delicious, romba cheap and romba sanitary.  As in, I never feared for my small intestine when I drank fresh dragon fruit juice, ate heaps of malaysian food off of a banana leaf or stuffed my face with the ever famous chicken rice dish all for usually less than 120 Rs ($2-3).  The hawker stalls were given a health code rating and many were improved by the Hawker Centre Upgrading Programme which promotes sanitation, modernization and well, eye-pleasing goodness.  Imagine if all India’s delicious street food was under a clean roof with toilets and sans fear of giardia, typhoid, random disgusting bacteria and mosquitos… ah!  (Romba = super in Tamil, the official language of Tamil Nadu).  India, build hawker centers!


Delhi’s New Airport Terminal 3

Posted: September 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Delhi becoming a hotspot in the Global map. Things are changing here for Good”.

This statement flashed exclusively because of the astonishing T3 Terminal which is both a domestic Terminal & the International terminal too. GMRs have really done a good job in building this Airport. Cheers!!!

I am very proud to be a part of the project involved in Passenger Boarding Bridges (Aerobridges) and Airfield Ground Lighting.

Check the video for the details about the project.

Further Info/Highlights about T3 Airport:

• World’s 8th Largest Airport

• Asia’s 3rd Largest Airport

• 1118m Travelators

• 78 Passenger baggage belts

• 1.2km end to end lengthy airport.

• 64 Aero bridges for Travelers entry.

• Car Parking- 3 levels

• Travellers Capacity- 34million Travelers/year . Other Asian Countries 12 to 16 million

• Singapore Airport was built in a Time span of 57 months. T3 was built in 33 months only.

The Car parking, Cabs for pick up & drop, Arrivals & departures, Lounge, Food Court, and Boarding pass counters, Domestic terminal & International Terminal keeping them aside, Shopping area & Internet. This post is about the T3 Terminal, its convenience & conveyance via Metro & other facilities they have offered.

Highlights for Appreciation:

1. Metro –itself

2. Local Metro & Airport Metro –Connectivity

3. City Check in (KF/Jet Airways/Air India Only)

4. Travelator

Metro –Itself:

The City growing big & bigger the traffic is growing exponential to it. The Metro is a must & savior for the public. Over & Above, if you have a Metro card, it would still save your time.The Metro card can be availed at any metro station by 100 rs deposit & further charging it.Every time you use a smart card for traveling, you would be charged 10% lesser compared to Counter price for the Metro Token.  The Metro is designed such a nice way, that you can travel with in the city with much convenience, fast & ultimately connected. There are no chairs or resting places. This keeps the crowd keep on moving.

Airport Metro Express:

This Metro is operated by a Private Player (I suppose it is ADAG Reliance). They charge INR 80/- for one passenger to travel from New Delhi Railway station to Airport Terminal T3. I feel this is very much acceptable compared to other modes of transport. The Airport Metro Express & the Local Metro interconnection happens at New Delhi Metro station.

                                        Detail Map

The City check in is very convenient, you can check-in your luggage in New Delhi Metro Express & you have a 2 hrs break time, for roaming around.

Note: This check in opens only for Flights departure within 6 hrs

80 Rs will be charged, which you will be using for commuting till T3 Airport. The same token will be used for traveling though the Metro.

Women in urban India have easy access to domestic help: A full-time maid, cook or driver are not uncommon in their households. Of course, these are luxuries that most working women in the rest of the world can only dream about.

But a recent survey by global research firm Nielsen illuminates another picture. Covering 6,500 women across 21 developed and developing countries, the study’s results show that women in India are the most stressed out. Of the respondents in India, 87% said they felt stressed most of the time. They are followed by women in Mexico (74%), Russia (69%), Spain (66%), France (65%) and Italy (64%). In the U.S., the number is at 53%.

What exactly is weighing on women in one of the fastest growing economies in the world? The Nielsen survey’s respondents point to the requirement of managing multiple roles.

One could well argue that this particular condition exists for women across the globe: Juggling roles at home and work are a given. There is a difference in India, however, says Nirmala Menon, founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a Bangalore-based firm that focuses on diversity management and inclusiveness in the workplace. Menon notes that even as career opportunities for women in India are on the upswing, the support structure and social mores have not kept pace. “Nor has the internal psyche of the Indian woman,” adds Menon. “Despite ‘modern’ times, traditional expectations of women are still conveyed in subtle but consistent ways. The Indian woman has far more familial interfaces to manage than her western counterpart.”

According to Hema Ravichandar, human resources advisor and formerly the global head of HR at IT firm Infosys: “Regressive mindsets in society and the workplace; a culture that rewards performance based on effort — with the number of hours spent [working] as proxy indicator — rather than result; rigid work policies which do not factor in the need to spend extra time at home during critical phases like childbirth, adoption, etc., are unique to India.”

There are other reasons, too. Technical infrastructure support and enablers are at a nascent stage in the country as compared to the developed economies. Options like working from home, flex-time, telecommuting and so on have arrived only in the recent past in new industries and are still evolving. “Even in companies which have these facilities, it is not construed as the right thing to do if you are serious about going up the corporate ladder,” says Ravichandar.

A lack of women in executive roles mirrors this. A report by Standard Chartered Bank points out that women constitute only 5.3% of the total number of board members in the top 100 Indian companies by market capitalization on the Bombay Stock Exchange. This is much lower than in other countries, including Australia (8.3%), Hong Kong (8.9%), the U.K. (12.2%), the U.S. (14.5%) and Canada (15.0%). The number of Indian women in middle and senior management roles is not much higher.

Meanwhile, the latest employment data show that worker participation (the ratio of workers to population) fell to 39.2% in 2009-2010 from 42% in 2004-2005. While the decline is marginal for men — from 55.9% to 55% — it is significant in the case of women — from 29.4% to 23.3%. Analysts say that one reason for this is that as men in the family start earning more, women, especially in the lower middle class, opt out of the work force for reasons of social status. In his column in the daily newspaper Times of India, Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyer noted: “Social mores, especially in the lower middle class, give superior social status to households where women don’t work. When a family with rising income decides to keep females at home, it literally buys social status with the income foregone.”

But the survey’s implications go beyond individuals or families. All of this has wide ramifications for India’s continued economic growth. If the support structure and attitudes towards women, both in the workplace and in society at large, don’t change, women will either simply opt out of the workforce or — faced with endless stress — be far less productive than their true potential. This will result in a sharp blow to the country’s demographic dividend, which though touted as a key factor in India’s growth, is under its own stress. The window for growth is small and, as Ravichandar points out: “Having women as part of your workforce is no longer a nice-to-do but a must-do.”

In essence, the job of the strategist is to understand and cope with competition. Often, however, managers define competition too narrowly, as if it occurred only among today’s direct competitors. Yet competition for profits goes beyond established industry rivals to include four other competitive forces as well: Customers,  Suppliers, Potential Entrants, and Substitute Products. The extended rivalry that results from all five forces defines an industry’s structure and shapes the nature of competitive interaction within an industry.

As different from one another as industries might appear on the surface, the underlying drivers of profitability are the same. The global auto industry, for instance, appears to have nothing in common with the worldwide market for art masterpieces or the heavily regulated health-care delivery industry in Europe. But to understand industry competition and profitability in each of those three cases, one must analyze the industry’s underlying structure in terms of the five forces. (See the exhibit “The Five Forces That Shape Industry Competition.”)

 

If the forces are intense, as they are in such industries as airlines, textiles, and hotels, almost no company earns attractive returns on investment. If the forces are benign, as they are in industries such as software, soft drinks, and toiletries, many companies are profitable. Industry structure drives competition and profitability, not whether an industry produces a product or service, is emerging or mature, high tech or low tech, regulated or unregulated. While a myriad of factors can affect industry profitability in the short run—including the weather and the business cycle—industry structure, manifested in the competitive forces, sets industry profitability in the medium and long run. (See the exhibit “Differences in Industry Profitability.”)

Differences in Industry Profitability

Understanding the competitive forces, and their underlying causes, reveals the roots of an industry’s current profitability while providing a framework for anticipating and influencing competition (and profitability) over time. A healthy industry structure should be as much a competitive concern to strategists as their company’s own position. Understanding industry structure is also essential to effective strategic positioning. As we will see, defending against the competitive forces and shaping them in a company’s favor are crucial to strategy.

Forces That Shape Competition

The configuration of the five forces differs by industry. In the market for commercial aircraft, fierce rivalry between dominant producers Airbus and Boeing and the bargaining power of the airlines that place huge orders for aircraft are strong, while the threat of entry, the threat of substitutes, and the power of suppliers are more benign. In the movie theater industry, the proliferation of substitute forms of entertainment and the power of the movie producers and distributors who supply movies, the critical input, are important.

The strongest competitive force or forces determine the profitability of an industry and become the most important to strategy formulation. The most salient force, however, is not always obvious.

For example, even though rivalry is often fierce in commodity industries, it may not be the factor limiting profitability. Low returns in the photographic film industry, for instance, are the result of a superior substitute product—as Kodak and Fuji, the world’s leading producers of photographic film, learned with the advent of digital photography. In such a situation, coping with the substitute product becomes the number one strategic priority.

Industry structure grows out of a set of economic and technical characteristics that determine the strength of each competitive force. We will examine these drivers in the pages that follow, taking the perspective of an incumbent, or a company already present in the industry. The analysis can be readily extended to understand the challenges facing a potential entrant.

Bollywood Movies For Free-Sounds like a magic formula, doesn’t it? Add Internet to the mix and one would imagine that the anyone who can package Free Bollywood Movies over the Internet should be able to attract the attention of a fast increasing internet savvy user base in India.

Well, Youtube did it a while back with Youtube Box-office, so there is some validation to the theme. Now, to further the hypothesis, Yahoo India has bit the bullet and has launched a brand new service- MoviePlex.

Movieplex is a platform which will allow users access to licensed full-length Bollywood movies for free on the internet

 yahoo multiplex1 300x160 Yahoo India Launches MoviePlex, to Compete with Youtube for free Bollywood Movie Streaming!

The rationale to launch a service might make sense from Yahoo’s perspective as it is constantly evolving into a media company.

Yahoo India on its part has been aggressively building content partnerships and Movieplex is another attempt at building a rich content repository and ensure user stickiness.

There are those obvious similarities with YouTube’s Box-office and it might be too early to compare the two but there might be a few things Yahoo might have in its favor.

  • The battle will be won to a certain extent based on who is able to acquire more licenses and offer an extensive library of Bollywood movies. Yahoo is known to be the online partner for a lot of Bollywood productions and I am assuming it might help Yahoo to secure new title licenses. I am not aware of YouTube being involved with online partnership/sponsorships with Bollywood projects in the past
  • Yahoo has a slew of other services which can help it monetize Movieplex indirectly. Think Yahoo mail and a lot of content links strewn around the Movieplex page. Youtube Box-office is essentially a video-only page and even though a lot of people know it’s a Google property, there are no links to promote other services. Not sure how much can this help but I am assuming there are significant costs involved in user acquisition for say Yahoo Mail

In terms of the movie experience on Movieplex, the experience is pretty neat and with my broadband connection, the streaming was near perfect even in full screen.

However, in parallel I ran another movie in Youtube Box-office and found the video clarity better. But that could purely be a matter of different titles so it may not be easy to judge and compare the two.

Only time will tell whether Youtube or Yahoo wins the race of acquiring more users to its free Bollywood streaming service but there are significant challenges on both user adoption and monetization front.

As far as bollywood producers go, I wonder if streaming services will give them some respite from the rampant piracy in India and the huge revenue loss from the same.

Even as the broadband speeds have increased in India to allow for streaming services approach to work, the internet broadband caps and Fair Usage Policies makes one wonder if people would be keen enough to watch movies via online streaming. If there aren’t enough takers, no amount of movie titles is going to work.

The other challenge is obviously monetization and there have been lot of discussions centered around the same. As reported by Medianama earlier, cost of streaming a movie online comes around $1-2 which makes it difficult to earn enough profit margins from the service.

Additionally, the entry of another player might take away the buying power from Youtube to a certain extent making the cost equation even tougher for either player.

One might question if Yahoo has enough cash to burn before it sees profits coming out of the Movieplex platform but as far as Yahoo’s focus on content goes, this seems like a prudent move.

What are your thoughts on Yahoo India’s Movieplex? Do you prefer watching movies via online streaming?

Change in Indian Education System

Posted: September 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Every established system in the country always attracts severe criticism. The Indian Education System especially has been the target of many allegations from students, parents and teachers. Students think they are overburdened, teachers think they are not paid enough and parents want their children to get 99.99 percentage. Where does the buck stop?

Yes, in recent times there have been some steps taken on education reforms, but it needs lot more than that

Check out top things about the Indian education system that we hope changes sooner rather than later!

IndianEducation 5 things about the Indian education system that we hope changes

Rote learning

Yes, we do know that many IB schools across India are trying to bring in interactive education and we laud that immensely. But the evil of rote learning is yet to be wiped out from a majority of Indian schools. Owing to the fixated style of question papers that have been doing the rounds in board exams from time immemorial, rote learning has continued.

We’re very sure that most students won’t be clear about many of the basic foundation concepts taught in school even after they’ve graduated. Ever heard of students mugging up balanced equations? This is one fundamental change that needs to come about in our Indian Education System!

Marking System

All the other evils of the Indian education system ultimately come down to the method in which students are marked.

Is it justified that a student is evaluated only on the basis of his/her performance for the duration of three hours of the exam? If the axis of grading and marking is shifted to classroom participation, project work, communication and leadership skills and extracurricular performance, only then will a genuine student shine out.

This might sound like a utopian proposition but the Indian education system badly needs to bring about this change.

Respect for all streams

“Oh has she done a MA in English? She’ll end up becoming a teacher”

“What good is a diploma in hospitality management? It ultimately means doing a job in a hotel as a cook right?”

If you’ve heard these lines time and again from you elders, don’t you think it’s time you stop them?

How long are we going to look down upon vocational streams and look up to medicine, engineering, the IIT’s and the IIM’s? Students at the school level need to be educated through career counseling regarding the kind of streams that exist and what importance each of them plays to make an economy diverse.

Variety in education streams

Why do we always see students being envious of their counterparts in the USA?

It’s because there are just three options that student have after Class 10 – they’re stuck with Science, Arts or Commerce. If they’re not good enough for either of these, they jet set straight into diplomas and certificate courses. Don’t you think the Indian education system needs to introduce combination courses in which students can opt for a major and a minor subject? If students in America can pursue Physiotherapy with Art History and Biological Science with Photography, why not in India?

The system of tuition classes

Commenting on this subject is like plunging one’s hand into a vicious cycle which seems to have no beginning or end. Reasons for tuition classes mushrooming are because students say that the teaching in schools is lax and not good enough for them to clear exams. Whereas teachers say that students jump ahead many chapters in the tuition classes before they are even taught in school.

This makes them loose all motivation and steam to attend school in the first place. Forget all of this, what about the poor parent who’s hard earned money gets drained in school and tuition fees alone?

Although the picture does seem dismal, there is hope because some of these changes are slowly being made by select education providers. But how quickly will these changes percolate down to common man in India, only time will tell.