Mar 25, 2007

Hips Don't Lie. Amul Butter's Take

When Shakira shakes her hips, a crowd of 20,000 will do it with her. 23,000 tickets have been sold already through retail outlets and the Internet. And if you're wondering why watching Shakira is such an expensive affair, (Rs 3,650 and Rs 2,650) then the organisers assure that it will be worth every paisa. "With dancers, musicians and performers filling up the stage with her, the costs are justified. Ticket prices are often related to the current popularity of the performer. Roger Waters (Rs 3,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs 1,000) may be a better artiste but currently Shakira is more popular. So the ticket pricing is higher," said an organiser.

"I love India, its people, culture and food. I have a lot of fans in India," said Shakira when she arrived at the Mumbai international airport yesterday, after performing at Dubai. The dance troupe of about 25 people arrived in the city a day prior to her.

The Colombian singer known for hit singles like Whenever Wherever and Hips don't lie will be performing at the MMRDA grounds, as part of her Oral Fixation tour, for which she is covering 141 cities across the world. Leaving Mumbai tomorrow, she is off to Spain, followed by Egypt.
Amul butter has its own interpretation of the tour.

Mar 20, 2007

Cricket Burger

The Indian Cricket Team has lost to Sri Lanka in a very convincing manner. Now it is a billion person outrage. Indian's are very creative in protesting. Here the fans are going through a mock funeral procession for the team.

India is in the midst of cricket fever. Here's what the fans are holding for the Indian cricketers. Get to the second round or don't bother coming back!

People are eating Cricket Burgers in Mumbai.

Mar 19, 2007

TCS image lift

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is embarking on a branding drive in a bid to raise its profile, as the IT services company expands its business.

Already India's largest IT service company, TCS reported consolidated revenues of US$2.97 billion in its fiscal year 2006, ended Mar. 31. The company is expected to rake in revenues of US$4 billion in fiscal 2007.

Asked if the marketing initiative marks a competitive strategy against bigger IT services rivals such as IBM and Accenture, Ramadorai, CEO of TCS noted that competitors will definitely keep an eye on what TCS is doing. "But more importantly, customers are the ultimate testimony," he added.

Mar 16, 2007

Visiting Bollywood Movie Studios in Mumbai

Here is a list of Movie studios in Mumbai. Bollywood is big in Mumbai. Visiting a movie studio or perhaps getting a role as an extra might be some one's dream.

Filmistan Studio,
S. V. Road, Goregaon (West), Mumbai – 400 062. Tel : 28722207 – 08 / 28722124. Fax : 28722207 – 08, 28722124.

Kamal Amrohi Studio,
Mahal Pictures Pvt. Ltd.,6, Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai – 400 093. Tel : 28371160, 28200826. Fax : 28371160. E-mail :

Mehboob Studio,
100, Hill Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai – 400 050. Tel : 26421628 / 30. Fax : 26421626

Natraj Studio,
194, Andheri Kurla Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai – 400 069. Tel : 26831970, 26843975, 26823443.

R. K. Studio,
Sion Trombay Road, Chembur, Mumbai – 400 071. Tel : 25200234, 25203250-2. Fax : 25203533.

Film City is not open to the public, but you can request permission to visit the site.
Film City,
Goregaon (East), Bombay/Mumbai 400 065. Phone: +91 22 8401533

If you are visiting the studios, be aware that Bollywood is hiring foreign tourists as extras.

Women Elected as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Mumbai

Two Days after the International Women's Day was celebrated in the City, two women were elected to head the civic body. Shiv Sena nominee Shubha Raul -- a doctor from Dahisar became the fourth woman mayor of the city while Vidya Thakur of Bharatiya Janata Party was elected deputy mayor in the elections held on Saturday.

Raul will get a two and half year tenure. Soon after the election, Raul said that her priority will be adequate water supply, better health services, and providing clean city. She also said that BMC will keep in mind environmental concerns while undertaking development works in the future.

Indian Job Market Heating Up

Inflation in India is hovering above 6.5%. However, India is the hottest job market in the Asia-Pacific region. Salaries are expected to rise 14.5% on an average. Banking, finance, insurance, hospitality, telecommunications, and engineering sectors are fueling this rise. The IT sector is not as hot. The lowest raised will be in health care, non-profit, pharmaceuticals, electrical and electronics industries.

Domestically owned organizations are awarding higher increases that the multinationals. Performance based pay is the way for the higher level executives. 99% respondents have linked their raises to performance. Stock options were the favored way to retain the employees especially as a result of the new tax on fringe benefits imposed in the latest budget.

Mar 14, 2007

Clean Mumbai Campaign

The civic body is taking the clean Mumbai campaign very seriously. Anyone caught littering on the streets has to pay a fine of Rs 200. There are alternatives to get out of paying it. The person can clean up the place himself.

This drive began on Saturday and has netted 130 people, of which 56 have been fined. The total amount of fine collected is Rs 11,500. Citizens feel that it is a welcome move towards making Mumbai world class.

The city currently has 8,000 dustbins against the 36,000 needed. The shortage of staff continues to plague the civic body. Currently, 94 Nuisance Detectors.

Rs 200 fine does not compare with the $1000 (Rs 28,941) in Singapore, $50-300 (Rs 2,211 - Rs 13,265) in NYC. Hopefully it will make and impact and educate the people.

Mar 11, 2007

Haapus Mango

Mumbai streets will be filled with hawkers selling the sweet fruit -- the king of fruits -- Mango. Haapus Mango to be exact.

Alphonso (Haapus in Marathi) is a Mango cultivar that is considered by many to be the best in terms of sweetness and flavor. It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in western India. It is in season April through May. Weighs between 150g to 300 grams each.

The district of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra state, and the southern districts of Valsad, Navsari in Gujarat state and particularly Alphonso from the Amalsad region including the villages like Dhamadachha,Kacholi and all villages of town Gandevi provides the world best Alphonso mangoes and are particularly famous for its ripe and delicious golden Alphonso mangoes.
The variety grown in Devgad region in Kokan region in Maharashtra state is supposed to be the best. Its also the most expensive amongst the sub-breeds of Alphonso.

The Alphonso is generally referred to as 'hapoos' throughout South Asia.

Starting 2007 or soon thereafter, the ban on import of Indian mangoes, including the Alphonso, into the US, is expected to be lifted, as part of a deal struck by US President George W. Bush during his trip to India in March, 2006.

Haapus is used to make sweets, candies and smoothies - Mango Milkshake, Mango Lassi (both smoothies), Aamba-Wadi (a mango brownie), Aam-Ras (Mango pulp which is eaten with puris - an Indian Bread), Sakhar Amba (Marathi word for a home-made mango jelly/jam), Mango barfi (a type of Aamba-Wadi), etc.

Mar 10, 2007

Forbes 2007 Rankings of India's Richest People

Top 11 of India's richest. India has surpassed Japan as an Asian nation with the most Billionaires. India has 35 in the list with US $188 Billions worth of wealth.

Number 5, Lakshmi Mittal, (age 56) US $32 Billion
Controls world's largest steel firm.

Number 14, Mukesh Ambani, (age 49) US $20.1 Billion
Split family fortune, increased wealth.

Number 18, Anil Ambani, (age 47) US $18.2 Billion
Controls telecom, finance, power firms.

Number 21, Azim Premji, (age 61) US $17.1 Billion
Chairman of tech services giant Wipro.

Numbar 62, Khushal Pal Singh, (age 75) US $10 Billion
Heads real estate giant DLF.

Number 69, Sunil Mittal, (age 49) US $ 9.5 Billion
Runs the growing Bharti empire.

Number 86, Kumar Birla, (age 39) US $ 8 Billion
His AV Birla group is expanding globally.

Number 86, Shash & Ravi Ruia, US $8 Billion
Diversified from steel to telecom.

Number 114, Ramesh Chandra, (age 67) US $6.4 Billion
Chairman of Unitech reality firm.

Number 137, Pallonji Mistry, (age 77) US $5.6 Billion
Up-and-coming realty czar.

Number 210, Adi Godrej and Family, (Age 64) US $4.1 Billion
Godrej empire. Consumer foods, agri products, engineering, pesticides, software, chemicals, and real estate.

Trouble with India

Business Week: Trouble with India Cover storyThis week's cover story in Business week. It talks about lack of infrastructure in India to support the growth. World class infrastructure is an absolute necessity to attract world class talent on a long term basis.

Here is what Mumbai is doing to stay competitive.

A Plan to transform Mumbai into a world class city is being executed. It includes

1. Freeing up salt pans and space occupied by closed cotton mills for new residential buildings.

2. Metros to provide additional options for the mass transit.

3. West Island Freeway Project to reduce traffic congestion. It will reduce the time it would take to travel as well as the pollution caused by slow moving traffic.

Mumbai is critical for India's success. It contributes disproportionately to the Country's tax collection. The residents of Mumbai are determined to get this money back invested into making their lives better.

Amul's take on the continuous dig going on in Mumbai is as usual hilarious.

Mar 8, 2007

Bom Bye!

Bombay's name was changed to Mumbai in 1996. This is an Amul Butter poster contemplating life after Bombay.

Bill Gates Slams US Visa policy. More H1-B?

Slamming American immigration policies, Microsoft Chairperson Bill Gates has said the US was shutting the door on the best and the brightest at a time when the country needed it the most. Gates, one of the most vocal in the industry to constantly plead for an increase in skilled worker visas, told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions that the United States must also come to terms with the issue of permanent residency over and above what it intended to do with the H1B visas.

The Senate panel headed by Senator Edward Kennedy was focused on Strengthening American Competitiveness for the 21st century with Gates as the principal witness.

The Microsoft chairperson slammed the visa policies that have now come to heavily restrict foreign-born US college graduates from working in the US and limit citizenship or permanent residency opportunities for scientists and engineers.

It makes no sense to tell well-trained, highly skilled individuals-- many of whom are educated at our top universities -- that they are not welcome here. We have to welcome the great minds in this world, not shut them out of our country,” Gates said.

Unfortunately, America's immigration policies are driving away the world's best and brightest precisely when we need them most,” he went on to say. He also made the point that if the federal government did not make it easier for foreign scientists and engineers to obtain permanent US residency, the talent would flow to India and China.

Gates was especially critical of the manner in which the United States has gone about the H1B visas that has come down from a high of over 200,000 in the 1990s to about 65,000 in present times and efforts to step up the numbers have failed. "Scientists like Albert Einstein were born abroad but did great work here because we welcomed them," Gates said. "The contributions of such powerful intellects have been vital to many of the great breakthroughs made right here in America."

He pointed out that the allotments of 65,000 H1B visas in 2007 ran out some four months before the year began and for 2008 the allotments will be exhausted before graduation ceremonies. Gates also called for simplification of procedures to obtain permanent residency or the so-called Green Card. “We should expedite the path (for foreign workers) into our workforce and into permanent resident status,” he went on to say.

Here's Amul Butter's take on Bill Gates Generosity.

Mar 7, 2007

Continental to fly non-stop between Newark and Mumbai from Oct 31st.

Continental Airlines, the world's fifth largest carrier on Wednesday announced launching daily non-stop flights between Mumbai and New York from October 31.

The flights, subject to government approvals, will be the second such service by Continental which is operating Delhi- New York non-stop flights since 2005, Continental Airlines Managing Director Timothy J Kennedy said here. Mumbai will be the 30th city in Continental's trans-Atlantic route network.

The flight will offer passengers, same airline and same terminal onwards connections to cities throughout the Americas from the New York's hub airport Newark Liberty International Airport.

The Mumbai-New York/Newark flights will be operated with 283-seater Boeing 777-200 aircraft, carrying a 48 passengers in the BusinessFirst cabin and 235 in economy. Flying time will be approximately 16 hours 15 minute westbound and 14 hours 50 minutes eastbound.

"In Mumbai we are looking at different segments including the business travellers and students," Kennedy said adding that the airline was very pleased with its Delhi operations. "Our Delhi-New York flights have an average passenger load of 80-85 per cent and we give at least a year to spool up similar load for the Mumbai-New York service," he added.

Air India will also start a similar service one it takes possession of its 777-200LR and 787.

Aishwarya Rai

Amul Butter Ash and Abhishekh Here's an interesting Amul poster. Aishwarya Rai and Abhishekh Bachchan are engaged and this poster is so timely.

Bechain (unsettled) is a nice take on the last name Bachchan. Real AB -- Amul Butter is a nice pun as well.

They have also captured the fawning father in law Amitabh in here as well.

I would not be surprised if Ash is indeed a bit unsettled. Since she is a mangalik (more here) and marrying the trees and what not...

Class act!

Mar 6, 2007

Sealink Part 2. Two bidders.

A 14 km bridge over the sea, almost three times the length of Bandra - Worli sealink, will be able to move traffic from Worli to Nariman Point in less than 20 minutes.

Two bidders, Anil Ambani's Reliance energy teamed up with South Korean Hyundai consortium, and Malaysian firm Garuda -- have been shortlisted to develop the sealink on a build-operate-transfer basis. The cost is expected to be Rs 3.551 crore.

Read about the Phase 1 of the sealink Project here.

Mar 5, 2007

Indian IT labor Pinch

A scarcity of young, college-educated engineers has turned recruitment in India's fast-growing tech sector into a free-for-all

A few years ago, it would have been unheard of for job recruiters to pay a visit to India's Government Engineering College in Ujjain. The college, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, isn't anywhere near the top of the nation's technical school rankings, and it's not part of the traditional circuit during the job-hunting season. But these days, corporate types are swarming the Government Engineering College campus, and they're starting to pop up in surprising locales at lesser-known schools.

Consider Shreyans Mehta, who joined Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) last August. The 23-year-old GEC grad had his pick from some of the big names in India's technology sector, including Infosys Technologies (INFY) and Wipro (WIT), but decided to go with TCS, India's largest tech company. "It's a dream come true for me," he says, beaming.

Boom Times

It's certainly a good time to be a young, college-educated techie in India. The country now accounts for 28% of information-technology and outsourcing jobs among 28 developing countries, according to a recent Nasscom-McKinsey report. And it's adding new jobs fast as India builds itself into a global technology-outsourcing hub.

The result: Businesses are whipping themselves into a hiring frenzy. India's Big Three—TCS, Infosys and Wipro—are looking to add a combined 100,000 to their workforce globally. Similarly hungry for talent are giant multinationals such as Cisco Systems (CSCO), Accenture (ACN) and IBM (IBM), which have been beefing up their India-based software development and services.

Cisco aims to staff its Globalization Center in Bangalore with 4,000 new hires. IBM has announced plans for 100,000 new jobs by 2010, while consulting firm Accenture will add another 8,000 to its head count of 27,000 in the next six months. Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which acquired Indian company MphasiS BFL in June 2006, is expected to double its staff of 17,000 software engineers and outsourcing jobs in the next two years. "If you have a business growing 40% year-on-year, boosting manpower is only a given," says Alok Shende, vice-president at research firm Frost and Sullivan.

Hiring Hunt

The competition has become fierce as companies fight over the most qualified college grads. "It has been tough to get people," admits Amitabh Ray, IBM India's vice-president for global delivery application services and consulting.

Corporate recruiters say the process used to be a simple matter of flying to the top colleges and meeting with grads who had the best grade-point averages. Not anymore. "Now we travel by train and rickety three-wheelers to way-out destinations to unearth talent," says a human resource manager at an IT company.

You would think that finding talent in the world's second-most populous nation wouldn't be too hard. An estimated 7 million Indians enter the workforce every year. (In China, it's more than double that, at 18 million.) But there are few engineers among them. That's partly because fewer than 8 million of the country's 200 million students make it through high school, and even fewer finish college. At the nation's 1,200 technical colleges, just 400,000 engineers graduate each year, estimates the National Association of Software & Services Companies, an industry trade body. Among those, only a fourth have the skills to immediately start work at a multinational or major Indian IT firm. Contrast that to 35% of engineers in Malaysia and 50% in Poland and Hungary who can perform the offshore IT jobs that are now migrating to countries where labor costs are low.

Outreach Efforts

Some companies are starting their recruiting efforts early, interviewing college students a year or two before they get a degree. Asha Bhat, 23, who attended Bangalore's Ramayya Engineering College, says that while still in her third year, she went to hear the presentations of visitors from Dell (DELL), IBM, EDS, Accenture and i-Flex Solutions before finally choosing IBM.

Other companies are sending managers as guest lecturers or to help educators improve curricula. For instance, Infosys has begun sharing its training manual with some colleges, while TCS sponsors a masters program at IIT Kharagpur in the eastern state of West Bengal. The wealth of new programs has made it an exciting time to be a human resources chief in India. "It's a bit like changing your car wheels when the car is in motion," says Prathik Kumar, executive vice-president of human resources at Wipro Technologies, India's third-largest software exporter.

Even Kumar's boss, Chairman Azim Premji, has been pitching in. Premji says he's been extending his search to more campuses overseas. Premji travels to colleges in the U.S., Japan and Europe, and plans to add Australia to his itinerary soon. "Now it's a huge thing to have the India stint on your resumé," he says.

Application Overload

The downside to such aggressive recruiting is the deluge of job applications. Last year Infosys received 1.3 million, but picked just 26,000, or 2%. "It's a tough task to filter" through all the applications, says Infosys CEO S. Gopalakrishnan.

And even as companies continue to ramp up their recruitment, they will have to find ways to retain talent. "It's a universal management challenge," says Jerry Rao, EDS vice-president. At many companies that will mean training programs, work opportunities overseas and the fast track for the best and brightest. Says TCS Executive Vice-President S. Padmanabhan: "Everyone here has a new role in 10 to 12 months."

Mar 4, 2007

Holi, Bhang in Mumbai

Bhang is synonymous with the festival of Holi. Associated with Lord Shiva, it is an official Holi drink. Bhang is a derivative of the leaf and flower of a female cannabis plant. It is used for making beverages and sometimes is smoked.

This very intoxicating drink, bhang escalates the spirit of holi - Culled from the leaves and buds of cannabis - a festival which does not recognise any restrictions. Bhang was first used as an intoxicant in India around 1000BC and soon became an integral part of the Hindu culture.

Typically buds and leaves of cannabis are squashed and ground into a green paste. This is then added to milk, ghee (reduced butter), and spices to create a drink. The drink is accompanied with pakoras, barfi, jalebis, lassi, and kulfi.

Bhang made from un-pollinated female cannabis plant is especially more potent.

Cultivation of cannabis is illegal in many parts of the country, but bhang is widely available, and there is only a mild social stigma attached to it compared to smoking marijuana outright. While most conservative or more puritan-minded families in North India abstain, it is an accepted tradition for many Hindus to drink bhang on special occasions, such as during the Holi festival.

This festival occurs at the onset of spring. This period, during which the weather changes, is prone to cause viral fever and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of the coloured powders has a medicinal significance as the coloured powders are made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurveda doctors. However, current Holi colors are chemical concoctions that are in fact toxic. There is a movement in Indian metros to make Holi safe again.

Here's what exists in current commercially available Holi colors.

Black contains Lead oxide and can cause Renal Failure.

Green contains Copper Sulphate and can cause Eye Allergy, Puffiness and Temporary blindness.

Silver contains Aluminium Bromide which is Carcinogenic.

Blue contains Prussian Blue which can lead to Contract Dermatitis.

Red contains Mercury Sulphide which is highly toxic and can cause skin cancer.

Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen the secular fabric of our country. The festival is celebrated by Hindus and non-Hindus. The tradition of the Holi is that even the enemies turn friends on Holi and forget any feeling of hardship that may be present. Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrate the festival together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood.

In the evening people visit friends and relatives and exchange gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps in revitalising relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people.