IIPM Admission

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Given a free run, can the PM reproduce the 1991 magic?

"The last time we faced this problem was in 1991. Nobody was willing to lend us even small amounts of money then. We came out of that crisis by taking strong, resolute steps. One can see the positive results of those steps. We are not in that situation today but we must act before people lose confidence in our economy," said Manmohan Singh in his earnest effort to lift the anti-people label that the Congress has been stuck with recently. His emphatic claims of 1991 reforms' success is meant to drive home the point that he and his team will be able to recover India’s clout squandered by the recent slowdown.

However, the economic scenario of 1991 is not even remotely similar to today. The foreign exchange reserves in June 1991 were below $ 1 billion, barely enough to sustain a couple of weeks of import, whereas today it has crossed $ 290 billion, enough to cover seven months of imports. The GDP growth in 1991-92 was barely 1.3 per cent; in stark contrast, last five years' growth trajectory stands at 7.95 per cent. The domestic savings have bettered from 20 per cent of GDP in 1991 to 31.6 per cent in 2011; and FDI flow, that had a modest figure of $ 500 million in 1991 has reached $ 42 billion today.

In spite of two decades of rigorously implemented reforms, the economic state is not at all stable today mainly due to policy paralysis and truculent opposition and coalition partners, who often flex their muscles on reforms measures. The opposition and Trinamool Congress’ stand on liberalising retail, where a justified Manmohan Singh has asserted that in a growing economy there is economic space for everyone, is blatant populist politics. His effort to boldly state that money doesn’t grow in trees, as a justification to insulate the country from oil subsidies, has met with ridicule from NDA and TMC. It’s not that there was dearth of policy oppositions with the Narasimha Rao government, when reforms were announced in 1991, but opposition lines didn’t cause stalemate in the government functioning. The Left and the third front leaders staged protests against privatisation of public sector manufacturing units and labour reforms – but at least the allied parties gave tactic support.

The economic condition that time was such that any party jeopardising those reforms would have taken the country to total disaster, while today it’s more of a constructive give-and-take realpolitik situation. Moreover, that time India was passing through an economic turmoil while today the entire world is engulfed into it. The economic downfall led to several protests even in the most advanced countries, from Occupy Wall Street in US to the anti-austerity drive in Southern Europe to Arab Spring in Middle East. If India's economy continues to tumble, India might even witness a similar mass uprising. Already, currency free fall, untamed inflation and plummeting industrial production are significant whiplashes faced by our economy. It is a litmus test that Manmohan Singh and Co must pass.

IIPM Mumbai Campus
IIPM - Admission Procedure

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Maheshwar project is a telling account of why privatisation in power projects has not worked. Raju Kumar reports

Why is it that economic reforms have not worked in the power sector as they have in the others? The sordid answers to this complex question are best reflected in India's first private power project, pegged to generate 400 MW of power, which two decades down the line has been unable to produce even a flicker.

The Maheshwar dam project on the Narmada river was billed as the life-saver for Madhya Pradesh which, at its peak was expected to generate 400 MW of power. As part of the many electricity projects in 1978, the Maheshwar Power Project was proposed under the aegis of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). The state government changed plans in 1989 and planned to construct it under the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board but after economic reforms the project was handed over to private players.

Since then, this ambitious scheme expected to be a trailblazer for private investment in the country's power sector, has been mired in a dreadful saga of mismanagement, financial irregularities, rehabilitation and assessment issues.

The latest spanner in the wheels of activating this project is a decision by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to grudgingly allow a total of 154 meters of water storage capacity in the dam's reservoir.

In the normal course of things, it would be considered good news, but environment activists would have us believe that at this height, hundreds of people would meet a watery end. The company in charge of building the project and the district administration, on the other hand, say that 154 metres is fine and that fears are unfounded and unsubstantiated.

The confusion has been compounded because the technical expert Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has been quoted as saying that at this height, it would be impossible to generate even 40 MW of power! If that was not enough chaos and confusion, it is believed that if the height is raised to 154 metres, rehabilitation issues for those who are affected would take on drastically different proportions, compensation for which will necessarily have to come from the company.

The project had been handed over to the rromoters of the company S Kumars in 1992 and it became the first private investment in India's power sector, weaving dreams of a superbly-lit India.

S Kumars in turn set up a new company, Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd to execute the project. Privatisation in the power sector was based on the premise that private players would force a pace of execution which was unknown in government companies.

However, that never happened. Foreign investors who had shown initial interest in the project backed off realising that it did not look a promising enough investment.

Says Khargone District Collector Navneet Kothari, "The NGT has allowed that under the guidance of experts, 154 metres of water can be stored in the dam. A three-member committee will decide on the modalities of filling in the water after which we will begin work.'' Till date, no notification has been issued for setting up this expert committee.

Alok Agrawal of the Narmada Bachao Andolan says the company and the district administration have furnished bogus surveys to the NGT in an effort to deliberately lessen the impact of rehabilitation. "On August 7, when the Maheswar Dam had about 154 metres of water, about 400 families in nearby villages were affected, submerging a lot of cultivable fields. A similar situation had arisen in August 2011 as well. No compensation or land has been paid to farmers affected by the project. It also goes against the Supreme Court order which has made it clear that before the farmers can be removed from their lands, a comprehensive rehabilitation plan has to be in place.''

But key questions remain unanswered. Will 154 metres suffice or should the storage capacity be pushed further up to 162.5 metres, as in the original proposal, so as to guarantee the total power generation?

Says Antar Singh Patel, resident of Sulgav village, "We four brothers have 18 acres of land submerged under water. The company is not willing to compensate us by providing an alternative land site.'' Points out Umrao Singh of the neighbouring Jalud village, "Some of the villagers got compensation in the beginning but now they are being told that they are not original residents of the village.'' There are numerous such tales of neglect that abound in the area.

Activists are not amused. Says Alok Agrawal, "The government believes that only 22 villages will get submerged. Our information is they number 61. What option do the people have except to approach the courts? The other issue is a question of ethics. Why should the government be hell bent on promoting a private company overlooking all irregularities? Why should the state government offer counter guarantees, as it has done in this case? According to information culled from a RTI reply, the company proposes to sell electricity at Rs 10 per unit, assuming it begins generating electricity. Who will bear the cost of this costly power.''

Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd's Corporate Communications chief Gulab Gupta is quite cool. "After the NGT's directives of filling in water, the company will keep its three turbines running. All civil works have been completed. The height of the water will determine entitlement for compensation for those are hit.''

But even the company is in no position to say when power generation would begin. With such splendid uncertainties dogging its way, it is not difficult to see why private investment in the power sector in the country is not likely to take off for a long time to come.


IIPM Mumbai Campus

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Madhur Bhandarkar's brand of slickly-packaged-realism cinema is one that is all his own.

Madhur Bhandarkar
Madhur Bhandarkar
In a conversation with Pratishtha Malhotra, the director of Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion, and now Heroine, attributes much of his success to luck even as he admits to being sensitive to box office returns.

Looking back, there were a lot of hurdles you faced in the course of making Heroine. Do you consider this to be one of the toughest films of your career?
No, no... I think all’s well that ends well. The film is very essential for me. I am very happy with the way the movie has shaped up, very excited…

What is the budget of the film like? What about promotions and marketing?
The budget of the film is about 22-23 crores. Promotion and marketing is very important in today’s day and age. Marketing was estimated to be another 10 crore. We hope to get good price from the satellite, and we have also joined a lot of brands that Kareena endorses, so expecting at least 13-15 crores from there. We are safe that way.

Which aspect of a heroine’s life intrigued you the most?
I think a lot of aspects; there is not just one. The film is not about a single celebrity. It is about coping with people on a day to day basis – the love interest of their life, the media, the marketing people and the PR agencies. So there are a lot of things which they have to handle on a day to day basis.

After Fashion, why the subject of Heroine?
It was always there on my mind. I always wanted to make a film talking about the politics in today’s film industry. I did not want to make a film on a yesteryears actress or a period film. I wanted to make something contemporary.

Between critical acclaim and box office success, what is it that you focus on when envisioning a film?
The first and foremost priority is box office success. I am sitting and giving you this interview because my film is successful at the box office. Success is very essential for me. The film should work at the box office, and then critical acclaim will follow. The awards are definitely later on. But it cannot be a conscious decision. You cannot customise a film thinking that this will work well with the audience and this will work well with the critics and this will get a national award. No. A film is made with a lot of conviction and hard work. I have made different films, but I am lucky that I got both box office success and critical acclaim. It is very difficult to get all aspects right for any film maker.

Do you feel your films have proven to be turning points in many an actor’s career?
I do not know. I just work with my instincts. It has been almost 11 years for me in the industry. I am very happy with the kind of success, the kind of appreciation, the kind of box office successes, and the four national awards that I have received. I think it has been a great journey. I always make a film the way I want it.

Did you have any trouble with the Censor Board over Heroine?
No, I did not face any problems with the Censor Board at all with Heroine. There was an instance when they wanted to put a warning about cigarette smoking at the bottom of the screen, but we won the case at the Delhi High Court. The Censor Board liked the film. They did not cut even one single shot, nor did they mute any dialogues. There are some words used in the film which we thought would be muted or some scenes that we thought will be cut. But absolutely no changes were made. They did not touch a single frame!

I think that the Censor Board has been very liberal and moderate about this film.

What, according to you, is the best thing about your heroine?
The best thing about my heroine Mahi (played by Kareena) is that it’s the first time I’ve made a very complex character. She’s very complex, very edgy; she is layers within layers; she reacts to situations: at one moment, she’s very fragile and lovable and in the next, she’s cunning and manipulative. So I have changed the character according to my situations. This is something new for my actress as it has never been done before in my movies. It always has been one-dimensional. But in this movie, all of a sudden you’ll feel ‘Oh my god! What is she up to’, while you also notice her fragility. That’s the beauty of this character.

When is your next film expected?
I don’t know. Let me see the reaction that Heroine gets. I really don’t know. I am so much into Heroine right now. I want to get feedback and responses. For the first time, it is a completely different cinema. It obviously has the Madhur Bhandarkar stamp on it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

From Hindutva poster boy to a mellow right winger, Narendra Modi wants to wing it from regional to national politics.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
22nd September, 2012
Sankheda, 50 kms. off Vadodara

Modi: “Are you all satisfied with development in Gujarat in last 10 years?”
Crowds: “Yes”
Modi: “You receive water for farmlands? Are you happy? Be louder?
Crowds: “Yes”
Modi: “Roads and flyovers are across Gujarat now. Are you happy?”
Crowds (now screaming in frenzy): “Yes”
Modi: “But I am not happy.”
The crowd is stunned into silence.

Modi continues: “Last 10 years I only made up for the mess created by Congress regimes. From January 2013, I will begin building a Divya, Bhavya (sacred, glorious) Gujarat.' The crowd breaks into resounding cheers. Modi is not finished: "I removed all dirt from the state in 10 years. Now it is your turn to remove the dirt in these elections". The 9,000 plus crowd goes berserk. They laugh, slap each other’s backs and applaud the implied pun and sarcastic delivery of Modi's punch line ahead of the assembly elections later this year.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi plays the crowd like a piano. He is a master of crowd management, a theatrical Pied Piper mesmerising people with his studied gait, rasping voice and careful weaving of oratory with provocative statements, and made-to-order pauses. This gift of the gab combined with a slew of ‘visible’ development initiatives such as roads, highways and industries has won him two terms as chief minister despite the stigma of 2002 riots always hovering in the background.

That Narendra Modi has a clear chance of a third shot in the corridors of power at Gandhinagar is certain. Despite accusations of a dictatorial working style and arrogance, anti-incumbency seems to be just an irritating fly to be swatted away by Modi. Many believe that it is only a matter of how many seats will the BJP corner in round three. Pundits indicate that it may be a tall order for BJP to surpass their earlier record of bagging 127 seats in 2002, and 117 seats in the 2007 assembly polls. But Modi has a different plan.

Party insiders say that the man is hoping for his biggest seat tally yet in the upcoming assembly polls which will help consolidate his position in the state and also in national politics. Modi, known to micro manage every election, has his eyes set on 151 seats in the 182 seats assembly. He dreams of surpassing the record 140 seats won by former Congress CM Madhavsinh Solanki in post-Emergency elections. An overwhelming mandate in the state will likely give Modi the power and the glory to drive all the way to New Delhi and the prime minister's office in 2014.

Everything that Modi has done for the last one year is tailored to achieve this ambition. It began with the Sadbhavna Mission which Modi flagged off in September last year after the Supreme Court appointed SIT gave him a clean chit in the 2002 riot cases. It was an attempt to build bridges with the minority community, shed his saffron persona, and effectuate a secular makeover – a must for realising any political ambitions at the national level.

The makeover is not merely cosmetic. The last year has seen Modi meet a slew of Muslim delegations to understand the issues affecting the community. He has also attended Muslim functions, praised the community for its role in Gujarat’s success story and even inducted some Muslim faces into his party.

Likewise, Modi’s campaign this poll season is built around Swami Vivekananda, a known secularist. The Yatra which kicked off on September 11 has already seen Modi address over 50 large public meetings across Gujarat including Saurashtra, a region known to be the stronghold of rebel BJP leader and former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel. A life size statue of Vivekananda travels with Modi’s impressive fleet of some 40 SUVs, cars and buses wherever he goes for public meetings. His party mangers say that Modi will reach out to almost one crore people directly in under a month during the Yatra.

The text of Modi’s speeches in 2012 has also undergone a sea change from 2002 and 2007 in keeping with his ambitions. His 2002 speeches had overt Hindutva overtones. Remember the infamous remark about polygamy among Muslims and family planning? 'Hum paanch hamare pacchis,' Modi had said to frenzied crowds, many of whom had still not forgotten the flames of the post-Godhra riots.

Cut to public meetings in 2012 and his stinging communal brickbats are conspicuous by their absence. He credits himself and the BJP for development in Gujarat and slams the Congress for price rise and corruption. The rest of the time he plays to the gallery but plays it safe. “He is taking his personality above communalism. He knows that only AB Vajpayee like secular credentials can take him to the prime minister’s chair,” explains Ahmedabad based columnist Vishnu Pandya.

The manner in which Modi refuses to even acknowledge local Congress leaders in his rallies – training his guns only at Manmohan, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi lends further credence to his burning desire to play a role at the national level. All of Modi’s scathing remarks and repartees about the functioning of UPA II have come at his public meetings.

But the more things change, the more they remain the same. It will not be easy for Modi to corner the desired 151 seats this time and procure a one way ticket to New Delhi. In the cold, harsh world of realpolitik there are three things working against Modi’s national ambitions. Much water has flown in the Sabarmati since the 2002 riots but its spectre still haunts Modi. Decade long trials such as the Naroda Patiya case are winding down now and Modi is finding himself tarnished with the same communal brush he has tried to do away with. This is a far cry from the image of growth and development that Modi wanted to convey with the polls so close.

Secondly, what was an almost decimated opposition at the state level is fighting for a comeback. The Congress is playing the populist card ahead of the assembly polls with sops such as free land and more. Modi in turn is also playing the same game especially in rural areas where there is widespread discontent over handing of large tracts of pasture land to big industrialists. “Giving away of gochar or pastoral land of villages for industrial use has become a big issue in Gujarat. There is huge resentment among Maldharis (cow breeding community) due to this,” says Gautam Thakar, secretary, PUCL, Gujarat.

There is also Modi’s acceptability as a potential prime ministerial candidate among the BJP top brass and NDA allies. NDA ally Janata Dal (U), for instance, has publicly announced that they would walk out of NDA if Modi is projected as the prime minister. JD(U) is also fielding candidates in the assembly polls, polarising BJP votes. Despite all the negatives, a third consecutive term in Gandhinagar is not an impossible feat for Modi. Sheila Dixit in Delhi and Naveen Patnaik in Orissa have already shown the way. His development agenda has ensured that Modi continues to shine as the blue eyed boy for Gujarat’s ever expanding middle class. Terms such as Vibrant Gujarat and his latest Divya, Bhavya Gujarat further pander to Gujarati parochialism – making Modi’s persona synonymous with Gujarati pride. The jury is still out on whether the national middle class will embrace Modi with the same fervour come 2014. 

Real These link also:

IIPM: Placement 

IIPM Contact Us

IIPM, Management Institute India

IIPM: Infrastructure

The IIPM Think Tank