Mar 29, 2008

TATA's buying spree

TATA Motors has purchased Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motors.

If Tata is so powerful, why have so few Americans heard of it? In large part, because so much of its fortune has been made selling to its home market and to other developing countries, rather than to the U.S. and Europe. Tata—with some exceptions, such as its steel and consulting (TCS) businesses—has taken a very different approach, becoming tremendously rich while selling to people who are still pretty poor.

Here's what the TATAs have been doing in terms of acqusitions so far.

Group CompanyAcquired CompnayCountryValue $milYear
Tata TeaTetleyUK4072000
TATA MotorsDaewoo Commercial VehiclesSouth Korea1022004
VSNLTyco Global NetworkUS1302004
TATA SteelNatsteelSingapore2852005
TATA MotorsHispano CarroceraSpain15.52005
TATA ChemiclesIndo Maroc Phosphore S.A.Morocco382005
TATA IndustriesIndigene Pharma IncUS--2005
Indian HotelsThe PierreUS452005
TATA TechnologiesINCAT International PLCUK91.32005
TACOWundsch WeidingerGermany--2005
TATA TeaGood Earth CorporationUS322005
TCSFinancial Network ServicesAustralia262005
TCSPearl GroupUK232005
Indian HotelsStarwood GroupAustralia1772005
TATA ChemicalsBrunner Mond Group LtdUK--2006
TATA InteractiveTertia Edusoft GmbhGermany--2006
TATA TechnologiesCEDIS Mechanical Engineering GmbhGermany--2006
TATA SteelMillenium SteelThailand4042006
TATA TeaJEMCACzech Republic--2006
TATA CoffeeEight O' clockUS2202006
TATA TeaJoekels Tea PackersSouth Africa--2006
TCSTKS TechnosoftSwitzerland802006
Indian HotelsRitz Carlton (Boston)US1702006
TATA SteelCorus SteelUK121002007
TATA PowerPT Bumi Resources TbkIndonesia11002007
Indian HotelsHotel Campton place SFUS602007
TATA TeaVtax and FlosanaPoland9.42007
VSNLTranstel TelecomsSouth Africa332007
TATA TeaTea and Chocolate CoSouth Africa--2007
TATA SteelRiversdale Mozambique CoalMozambique842007
Indian HotelsOrient Express HotelsUS212.52007
TATA ChemicalsGeneral Chemical Industrial ProductsUS10052008
TATA MotorsJaguar, Land RoverUK23002008

Views of Mumbai of the past

Views of Mumbai from the past. Malabar Hill, Gateway of India, and Victoria Terminus. No traffic, tall buildings, Taj hotel. Just a dreamy little island.

Malabar hill, mumbai, old pictures, bombay

gateway of india, british time, mumbai, bombay, old picture

Victoria Terminus, Mumbai, central railway, bombay

Mar 23, 2008

Public Toilets in Mumbai

In an attempt to prevent defecation in public and provide hygienic toilet facilities to residents of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will construct 30,000 stateof-the art plush and modern toilets, which will be free of cost for users.

The project, which has been embarked under the Nirmal MMR Abhiyan, will cover five municipal corporations and 13 municipal councils excluding Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, where the BMC is already undertaking a similar project. The toilets which will cost the MMRDA Rs 250 crore will be completed by the end of December 2008.

“For the first time anywhere in the country, construction of swanky toilets on this scale and magnitude has been undertaken. We are spending Rs 250 crore for this project to provide clean, hygienic community toilets and bathrooms as these are basic rights of people” Ratnakar Gaikwad the MMRDA Commissioner said.

MMRDA officials said that these toilets are different from the community toilets seen in the city as they have been designed keeping in mind today’s modern world. There will be a separate toilet for children, senior citizens, handicapped people and a special arrangement for women. These toilets will be built using the new Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) technology and will have all the essentials of today’s modern households.

Depending on the availability of land, there will be one block of 10 to 20 toilets, which includes bathrooms also. The feature of these communities toilets are their ground-plus-one structure providing even a staying facility for the caretakers of these toilets. Officials said that the construction work would begin shortly and that there has been a longstanding demand from several communities to build the same near their colonies.

According to a recentlyconducted survey, there are requirements for 9,750 seat toilets in Thane, 2,400 seats in Ulhasnagar, 4,000 in Kalyan-Dombivali, 4,000 in Mira-Bhayandar, 6,000 in Bhiwandi, 2,000 in Ambarnath and 2,200 in Nallasopara.

As per the municipal council’s demand, major construction work of the toilet blocks will soon begin in Thane. In some areas, work has already been commenced and demolition of dilapidated old toilets is on. MMRDA will provide temporary toilets to residences when the demolition work of the old toilets gets underway.

The cost of construction of these toilets will be borne by the MMRDA on a grant basis and the funds will be allotted to the urban local bodies. It will be the responsibility of the urban local bodies to get work done by NGOs — Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centre, Yuvak Pratisthan and Janseva Labour Co-operative Society — which have been appointed to execute the work.

Related story New self cleaning public toilets for Mumbai.

Mar 13, 2008

Amul Butter's Take on Dhoni's Young Team

In form Sourav Gaguly was left out the Indian one-day cricket team competing against Australia and Sri Lanka. The reason given was to focus on the future with the youngsters. Only senior retained in the side was Sachin Tendulkar.

The team won the three way tournament trouncing Australia 2-0 in the finals. This leaves Sourav and Dravid (bellow) wondering what they need to do to get back.

The youngsters shown in diapers are too funny!

Mar 10, 2008

Is Mumbai Really That Filthy?

The city's civic officials are mighty offended by the Forbes magazine survey that lists Mumbai as the seventh dirtiest city in the world.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) says the survey took into consideration only the viewpoints of the expatriate population of the city and not the common man's. Most people questioned in the survey, say the civic officials, were foreigners employed in the city’s various embassies.

Forbes evaluated Mumbai's degree of cleanliness taking into account 29 civic criteria such as the contamination levels of the water supply, air pollution levels, efficacy of the waste collection system, etc.

Additional municipal commissioner R A Rajeev says, "It is unfair to compare Mumbai according to expatriate standards and the study cannot be used to blame the civic body. In 2003, Forbes had conducted a similar survey with almost identical results. Does this mean there has been no development since then, despite all our projects?"

Here's what the survey found.

  • You cannot drink tap water directly — it needs to be either boiled or filtered. The water is filthy and not potable.
    The water is treated at plants in Bhandup and Panjarapur near Thane to make it potable before it reaches homes. Every month, BMC tests nearly 2,600 water samples to check contamination levels. If the levels are high, they take immediate action. Almost 1.60 crore Mumbaikars, including a floating population of 30 lakh, drinks tap water without boiling or filtering it. So far, not single case has been registered of a person falling ill as a result of drinking tap water.

  • The city is infested with stray dogs and insects that spread diseases and are dangerous.
    According to BMC's latest survey, there are 79,000 strays dogs in the city. The civic corporation has purchased 25 acres of land to construct dog pounds. To mitigate the danger that stray dogs pose, a sterilisation project, undertaken with the help of NGOs, is in full swing. Cases of stray dogs biting citizens are very rare.

  • Infectious diseases are widely spread among citizens and the population of HIV+ citizens is more than that of foreign cities. This makes dwelling in the city for long periods of time dangerous to one's health. It is also harmful to the environment.

  • Hospital services are satisfactory, but most hospitals are located in the island city while the suburbs lack specialised facilities.

  • The garbage collection system is ineffective, and garbage piles are a frequent sight on city roads. However, South Mumbai is comparatively cleaner.

  • Fifty per cent of city's waste is dumped into the sea without undergoing any sort of treatment. This poses an environmental hazard.

Four Indian in Top eight in Forbes Billionaire list

The most surprising news in Forbes’s latest Global Billionaire list isn’t that Bill Gates has been toppled as the world’s richest man.

The surprise is the rise of the Indian rich — four of the top eight billionaires in the world are from India. Topping the ranks is steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, whose worth Forbes puts at $45 billion. Next up are the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, with $43 billion and $42 billion respectively, largely from petrochemicals, telecommunications, and entertainment. Rounding out the list is KP Singh, the real-estate magnate of DLF, at $30 billion.

This is an encouraging sign for the Indian economy. It shows that a country long known for brutal poverty can now compete with the U.S. and others in creating personal wealth. The Merrill Lynch/Cap Gemini report says that India’s population of millionaires grew 20% last year, to about 100,000. That rate of growth was more than twice the growth of millionaires in the U.S.

In future, greater and greater share of the world’s millionaires and billionaires will come from India, China, Brazil, and Russia. That’s not to say the U.S. won’t keep producing rich people of its own. Rather, it’s that the most rapid growth, and the billionaire “market share,” will move to emerging markets.

Indian wealth has a different flavor than American wealth. All four of the Indian billionaires inherited substantial fortunes, suggesting that in India, wealth is still determined more by your parents than by your career or your ideas. While that’s changing, the number of large fortunes made by purely self-made entrepreneurs still lags far behind the U.S. And many of the biggest fortunes in India come from old-fashioned industries such as oil, steel and real estate. Yet over time, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an Indian takes over Warren Buffett’s spot atop the list.

Mar 2, 2008

Divorce rate booming in Mumbai, an online matchmaking service for Indian divorc├ęs, debuted last year. Its executives assumed that most clients would come from big, cosmopolitan cities. Instead, in a reflection of how widespread divorce now is, 60 percent of its more than 25,000 customers came from outside India's five largest cities and 36 percent from outside the 20 largest cities.

The Great Indian Wedding is succumbing to the Great Indian Divorce. In courtrooms across the subcontinent, Indians are fighting in growing numbers to separate. Words like "alimony," and "pre-nup" are finding their way into the vocabulary of a society where marriage has traditionally been highly venerated. The annual number of divorce petitions filed in Mumbai has more than doubled since 1990. The Mumbai Family Court is where these petitions are received.

Traditional Indian marriages had little to do with romance. Often but not always arranged, they were mergers between families of similar backgrounds and beliefs, and their principal purpose was baby-spawning. Love was strong but subliminal, expressed not in hand-holding and utterances of "I love you," but in a sense of mutual sacrifice and tolerance.

The divorce boom partly reflects changes that have made it easier to leave marriages everywhere: taboos waning, laws loosening and women gaining financial independence. But there is perhaps another, more amorphous factor behind the change. Conversations with marriage counselors, divorce lawyers, social scientists and couples themselves suggest that, if divorce is rising, it is because of an underlying transformation of love.

Consider the microcosm of Mumbai. Since 1990, around the time that India opened its gates to the world, the annual number of divorce petitions filed in Mumbai has more than doubled to reach 4,138 in 2007, far outpacing population growth, according to data culled for this article from musty, hand-kept records at the city's family court.

Oshiwara River of Mumbai

To most people it comes as a surprise that there are rivers in Mumbai. This has more to do with the misleading official nomenclature than the lack of awareness. The city’s development plans and municipal authorities refer to them as nullahs – literally small water channels, but conveniently interpreted to mean open drains. And that is exactly how they are treated. Sluggish with raw sewage, chemical and other untreated waste, these rivers have been reduced to noxious quagmires.

The city has four rivers – the Oshiwara, or the Jogeshwari, the Dahisar, the Poisar, and the Mithi, or the Mahim. Varying in length from 10 to 12 kilometres, they have their origins in the forested areas around the city. They also serve as tail-water discharges of the freshwater lakes that supply water to the city. In fact, the location for the lakes (which are manmade) was selected based on the presence of the rivers so that overflow from the lakes would be channelled into the rivers and then out to the sea.

The Oshiwara gets filled at Andheri, a suburb that had suffered extensively during the floods. The river originates in the Aarey milk colony. On its 10-km journey through the relatively unspoilt environment of the national park it is a clean stream. A cocktail of industrial pollutants empty into it as it crosses the Oshiwara Industrial Estate and slums and cattle-sheds lining its bank pour in raw sewage.

As the Oshiwara nears the sea there is a small mangrove forest. It is a shadow of its former self, constricted as it is by housing colonies that are literally squeezing it out of a region that it once sprawled across – a process that continues with debris being dumped into the river on a daily basis. In the past three months debris dumping has narrowed the river and created approximately 20 square metres of new land. About 200 metres downstream, a bridge is being constructed on land reclaimed similarly. As always, lack of accountability makes it easier to carry out illegal activities.