Dec 16, 2007

Banyan Tree

banyan tree ficus sacred strangler benghalensis

Banyan Tree is a sacred tree of Mumbai.It is interesting to know how the tree might have gotten its name.

Early travellers to India had observed that Indian traders and merchants frequented the tree for the shade. Indian merchants are called Banias in local languages. The Portuguese picked up the word and passed it on to the English. Eventually, the name Banyan became the name of the tree.

The tree's scientific name is Ficus Benghalensis. It's a Fig. Its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree, although cracks on buildings and structures are fine as well. The seeds germinate and send down roots to the ground. The host tree is enveloped and starved for light. This is why these trees are also known as strangler fig trees.

Older banyan trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots which grow into thick woody trunks. With age, these become indistinguishable from the main trunk. These trees can spread out laterally using these prop roots to cover a wide area. left alone these trees can survive eternally.

Dec 15, 2007

Oil Money Flows into Mumbai

Gulf Finance House Promo Mumbai SEZ Special Economic Zones Ivan RaszlAn investment bank from Bahrain announced the biggest ever ($8 Billion) foreign investment in Maharashtra to build three cities -- one each for telecom, software, and entertainment -- sprawled across 1600 acres along Mumbai-Pune expressway. Although the zone is not revealed, the land acquisition has already begun.


This commitment is in addition to the bank's commitments early this year to build an energy city for $2 Billion.

The bank wants to develop a world class business and related social infrastructure in the heart of the state's business corridor. It is interesting to know that the previous biggest investment in the state was made by now bankrupt Enron Corporation.

Energy, Telecom, Software, and Entertainment are the key drivers within the Indian economy. India's software leadership is well known, however, it is interesting to know that the country has been adding 8 million new telephone connections each month.

These specific business districts will offer holistic live, work and play environments and will include schools, villas. apartments and several four and five star hotels.

Founded in 1999, Gulf Finance House is one of the Middle-East's most-respected investment banks. It has several infrastructure investments, worth $12 Billions, across the world. These are spread across Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, India, Germany, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, China, USA, UK and France.

Dec 13, 2007

Air India to Join Star Alliance

Air India 747 777 787 airbus 321

Air India is planning to spread its wings. The national carrier will be joining the Star Alliance, as a part of its global expansion plans. The membership will allow coordinated flight schedules with other airlines on a single ticket. It will also allow code sharing, splitting of the traffic to other destinations and special fares and other comforts for the passengers.

Star Alliance has Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines as its members. Air India had previously halted talks with Star Alliance during its merger with Indian Airlines. Air India has arrived at this decision to join the international alliance after months of deliberation and negotiations with Star Alliance, a grouping of 17 leading global airlines.

Air India had held talks with two other groupings – One World and Sky Team -- before deciding to join Star Alliance. While Star Alliance had airlines from the US, Europe, South-East Asia and the Far East, geographically there was a void in the Indian region, which would disappear with AI joining the alliance. For AI, benefits to its customers would include lounge facilities at various airports, better fares and being able to avail of frequent flier benefits by getting them redeemed on any member airline. By joining hands with Star Alliance which has Lufthansa and Austrian as its members, there is a feeling in aviation industry circles that Air India might zero in on either Munich or Vienna as its choice for an European hub.

Dec 12, 2007

Probiotics in India

probiotics digestion immunity lactobacillus bifidus

Traveller's diarrhea is one of the first issues facing the visitors from the western world to Mumbai. It is an easily avoidable situation if one follows basic rules related to food hygiene. Another nutritional supplement that can really help is probiotics. Inclusion of probiotics in diet can really help the visitors enjoy the trips to Mumbai.

Proboitic means “ for life”. Probitics are defined as “live beneficial culture administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host”.

In the US and Europe there are brands from Dannone such as Activia and DanActive (Actimel in the Europe). There are also pills and capsules that can remain stable at room temperature -- Kyo-Dophilus being one such brand. Visitors can carry these on there trips.

There are similar brands available in India.

Jarro-Dophilus, Bifilac, ViBact, Binifit, Becelac PB, Gutpro being some of them. In addition to managing the diarrhea, these supplements also help with regularity, immunity, calcium absorption, and general wellness through detoxification and synthesis of nutrients.

Brands available in India.

B-Active dahi
By Mother Dairy. Taste and texture like regular yogurt. Smaller pack is convenient for single person’s consumption.
90 gm for Rs 6,
200 gm for Rs 14.

Nesvita dahi
By Nestle. Familiar taste like regular yogurt.
200 gm for Rs 15,
400 gm for Rs 25.

Yakult
A sweet concentrated probiotic drink. Fermented mik product. Has its own unique strain (lactobacillus casei strain Shirota) of probiotic bacteria.
100 ml for Rs 10

Nutrifit
Mother Dairy’s concentrated probiotic drink. Available in strawberry and mango flavours.
Available in Delhi.
100 ml for Rs 10.

Prolife
Ice cream by Amul. Great in taste. Available in 5 flavours.
125 ml for Rs 15,
1.25 litres for Rs 120.

Dec 8, 2007

Laughter Yoga!

Laughter Yoga in Mumbai


Each Year I visit Mumbai, I see groups of middle to old aged people gathered in a group of 10-20 and laughing for no apparent reason. The groups have increased in number. The basic ideas are that the Laughter is good and emotion will follow the motion.

Try it out. Just start laughing out for no reason and you will find yourself laughing for real.

Day after day hundreds of Laughter lovers from all over the world are visiting Bombay, the city of Laughter Clubs, to experience phenomenal Laughter Clubs where hundreds of people gather in public parks, factories, offices and laugh their hearts out for NO REASON first thing in the morning and start the day by releasing happy chemicals.

Dr. Madan Kataria, Bombay based physician has developed a new yogic technique of group laughter where anyone can laugh for 15-20 minutes eveyday without resorting to jokes. Each laughter session starts with deep breathing and the Ho-Ho, Ha-Ha exercise, followed by a variety of stimulated laughter like hearty laughter, silent laughter, medium laughter, lion laughter, swinging laughter, one meter laughter, cocktail laughter, gradient laughter and many other kinds. Not only we laugh but also practise ways and means of sensible living, in a group, by removing negative emotions like anger, fear jealousy and sadness.

At present there are 70 laughter clubs in Mumbai and nearly 450 all over India. Scores of people are enjoying a health benefits from this wonderful nature cure. This concept has been widely accepted all over the world and appeared in prestigious publications like National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Sunday Times (London) and Colors Magazines in Italy. It also flashed on BBC, CNN, NHK (Japan), Star TV and ABC News in United States. Recently he along with his wife Madhuri visited many cities in USA, Australia, Singapore and the concept was highly appreciated.

To teach how ancient yogic practices blend with science of laughter for removing NEGATIVE EFFECT OF STRESS, achieving peace of mind, improving morale, interpersonal relationship and productivity at workplace, fecilitate healing of illness, remove inhibitions and achieve self-confidence he has started workshops and Teachers' Training Programmes in Bombay as well as many other countries.
If you are interested, then read the following or at http://www.laughteryoga.org/

New Self Cleaning Public Toilets for Mumbai


Mumbai may just begin to look like Stuttgart or Paris, at least as far as the public toilets are concerned. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is seriously considering an international toilet design to improve the city. Last month, Mumbai delegation visited Stuttgart in Germany and Paris in France for a civic seminar where they were very impressed by the ultra-clean, ultra-modern design of toilets in those cities.

The toilets look like huge pillars with doors that slide open. They are also fully automated, which means they can be programmed to automatically clean up after the user has left. The toilets can be pay-per-use or free and can also be used as advertising billboards on the outside, the revenue of which can go towards maintenance. Also, the toilet is automated which means as soon as the sensor detects that a person has left, the cleaning mechanism will start. This process takes just one minute. The cost of one toilet block is about Rs 4 to Rs 5 lakh and will be installed at a distance of 200 metres. This will make it convenient for citizens and will help keep the city clean.

BMC has already started talks and correspondence with the France-based company J C Decaux. The plans will be finalised by the next month. BMC officials also attended a seminar on waste water treatment and sanitation, water supply plant, parking systems, public health and hospitals during the tour. Now the BMC is going to exchange information on the workings of the systems with the other two cities.

Dec 7, 2007

India vs. China Markets

In the Goldman Sachs BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) portfolio, China and India are often compared and contrasted. China is clearly ahead in terms of industrial output and current account deficit. China has been the factory of the world and the basic numbers would always make China look formidable in the BRIC countries.

I would pay attention to the following.

  1. India has a much larger percentage of younger population.
  2. Both countries have economic disparities in their population, but India is already a democracy. When China becomes a democratic country, we don't know how these disparities will play out. Could there be another social revolution?
  3. China's industrial pollution problem.
  4. India is building a service economy. China is building a labor and manufacturing economy.
  5. Chinese population also has a thrifty-gene. Westernization and fast food will create a similar metabolic syndrome based health care crisis as in the US.
  6. China does not have an open media.
  7. China is a military superpower. Transfer of technology from the western world is limited to non dual use nature. India just got the nuclear accord with the US.

If India can get out of in attitude of being satisfied with the Hindu growth rate and accept that there is no limit to the productivity increase and compete, India will come ahead.

Mumbai is microcosm of India. Granted, it does not have the farmers, but it has a fair percentage of displaced farmers traveling for jobs. I like the way it works. I am studying how Mumbai works.

So far, I like it what I have seen.

Dec 2, 2007

Anil Ambani to get 50% Stake in Bollywood Studio

N D Studio Reliance

Anil Ambani's next big move in the entertainment industry has finally taken shape. After months of negotiation, the younger Ambani has sealed the deal with one of the leading Bollywood production designers of India, Nitin Desai. ND Studios boasts of shooting films such as Lage Raho Munnabhai, Saawariya, Gandhi My Father, Salaam-E-Ishq and many more.

Reliance Entertainment has picked up 50% stake in ND (Nitin Desai) Studios, which is located in Karjat, on the outskirts of Mumbai for about Rs 150 crore, according to Reliance executives close to the deal. While Mr Desai will continue to manage operations, Reliance Entertainment will focus on scaling up the studio. The long-term goal: to make it the biggest studio in the world on the lines of Universal Studios in Hollywood.

A Reliance Entertainment spokesperson confirmed the development to ET. “The move is clearly in tandem with the plans of Reliance Entertainment, which is aiming to be an aggressive player in the film production arena. We will ramp up the studio significantly and cater to both Bollywood and Hollywood needs,” the spokesperson added.

The studio for the time being will be now called BIG ND Studio. Mr Desai said, “It’s a perfect fit between ND Studio and Reliance Entertainment as both entities share the same vision. The studio size, currently, stands at 32 acres and we will ramp it up to 150 acres by 2010. We have done a lot of work for Hollywood as well, and we are looking at line production for Hollywood in a very serious way.”

In fact, the studios, currently, has two shooting floors and post the partnership with Reliance Entertainment, the plan is add 12 more floors, and town squares that mirror European locations, Mumbai, and Singapore. Apart from Bollywood, the other focus is to attract a lot more Hollywood productions to shoot in the studio, on the back of cheap labour and technical expertise.

Line production, which essentially means outsourcing of shooting operations, is an emerging concept in the Indian film industry. Reliance Entertainment sees it as big opportunity by scaling up existing studios like ND. To transform them into a world class production facility, ND Studio is also building a 400/240 feet tall shooting floor, which will then qualify as the largest in the world. The largest today is the Bond Stage of Pinewood Studio which is 582/160 feet tall. With a shooting floor this size, ND Studio could shoot an entire football match indoor.

Reliance Entertainment also sees ND Studio evolving into a tourist attraction over the next few years, much like iconic studios like Universal Studios, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, one of the biggest American studios.

BEST going to Green Electrictiy Sources

Mumbai at Night

BEST which supplies electricity to Mumbai is turning to the greener energy sources to augment its supply to meet the demand from the malls. In doing so, it is also going to reduce its dependence on Tata Power Company (TPC).

The new sources of energy will be from wind and biogas and will come through three joint ventures. The wind energy will come from Suzlon Energy Ltd for setting a 51 MW wind farm in Bramhanvel in Dhule district. The cost will be Rs. 335 crore.

Spark Green Energy Ltd. will come up with two plants to generate power using biogas. The two plants will be 25 MW each in Pandharpole in Ahmednagar and Laandan in Satara district, both in the sugarcane belt of western Maharashtra. Both these projects will require Rs 115 crore.

In addition to this 8 MW biomass project with Yash Agro Industries is also on the drawing board.