THE ECONOMIC TIMES ON SUNDAY KOLKATA 9 JANUARY 2011
FACES IN FOCUS
Punjab Governor’s killer keeps Pakistan on edge
As India gets its own Formula One Student event this year, it is turning out to be an unlikely R&D success story. Pallavi Singh traces the Indian students’ quest for the perfect F1 car
HE shortest distance between two points is usually a straight line. Now, try taking the Formula One route instead. In an attempt to raise the enthusiasm for automobile engineering among bright young minds, that’s exactly what corporate giants like Airbus and Shell have been doing for some time now. And now it’s India’s turn to jump on the bandwagon. Formula Student (FS), Europe’s biggest educational motorsport event, uses the cult following motorsport has among the youth to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. A partnership between industry and motorsport professionals like Ross Brawn, Team Principal , Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team, Formula Student has been testing the skills of budding engineers at the legendary Silverstone circuit since 1998. With the synergy of engineering talent from nearly 130 countries and major companies in the automobile sector, it’s the perfect soft launch for bright young minds. Cut to India. The India chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is now organising the SupraSAE India in July, which presents undergrad and postgrad engineering students the task of designing, modeling and fabricating a Formula One type racing car. The concept behind SupraSAE India 2011, the same as that behind the Formula Student competition, is that a fictional manufacturing company has contacted a design team to develop a small Formula style race car. It provides the students with a real-life exercise in design and manufacture and the business elements of automotive engineering. It teaches them all about team work, working under pressure and keeping to tight timescales, apart from the design challenges. I V Rao, head of the SAE North India section and managing executive officer engineering, Maruti, said: "This is the first time such an event is happening in India and in keeping with Maruti's close association with motorsport, it is sponsoring the engine and transmission of all the participating cars.
AS Pakistan reels under the impact of the assassination of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, one man has come to represent the turmoil in the nation. Twenty-six year old Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the member of the late Governor’s special security guard, fired nine bullets at close range at Taseer on Tuesday. Qadri has denied he was under any outside influence and said he killed Taseer for his opposition to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. As Qadri was being led to court, 400 lawyers clamoured with each other to represent him. Moreover, a section of religious clerics have hailed him as a ‘Ghazi’ or holy warrior . According to reports in the Pakistani media, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has found him mentally fit and there are chances he was instigated to commit the murder. Sources said Qadri’s relation with an extremist organisation based in Kohat has been traced.
Hero executive second link in Citibank fraud
MEN AND THE MACHINES: Clockwise from top: IIT Delhi team’s car at the 2009 Formula Student competition; The chassis of the IIT Delhi car for
FS 2011; The IIT Kharagpur Formula Student with the Institute’ s Director Damodar Acharya (seated to the right of the car) With Indian students participating in foreign competitions like FS, 70 to 80 percent of their funds go into transporation and import of parts. We wanted such an event to happen in India itself for them to be able to give their best shot." Teams from India’s premier engineering institutes have been testing their mettle at the UK chapter of the Formula Student competition for some time now. The Delhi Technological University (formerly Delhi College of Engineering) which began the trend of participating in Formula Student in 2005 was soon followed by IIT Delhi, IIT Kharagpur, Thapar University, among others. The IIT Kharagpur Team, the only Indian team that was shortlisted for the Airbus Teamwork award last year, is pulling out all the stops for the forthcoming FS competition in July. "We have imported a brand new Honda CBR 600 cc engine and are the only Indian team to use a new engine. The institute has given us a 9.5 lakh grant but transporting tne car will cost around 15 lakhs,”Siddartha Khastgir, the team principal of the IIT Kharagpur team, says.
Puneet Singhal, the manager of the IIT Delhi team, the only Indian team to score points in the dynamic section of the event (Formula Student is divided into the design or static section and the dynamic), emphasised that the lack of interest by corporates put them at a huge disadvantage. With companies like BMW and Mercedes sponsoring European teams and the need to import suspension parts and tyres for the Indian teams, the experience of designing the car is that much tougher for them. Moreover, Indian participants are usually undergraduates taking out time from their hectic academic schedules and are up against European PhD and M Tech students who include the competition as part of their research activity. However, despite the odds Indian students have been slowly and surely making strides. The DTU Formula Student Car developed last year stood out for its low weight of 205 kg, achieved through the use of carbon fibre body and other chassis innovations. And there’s no denying the leg up original research and design has received from the experience.
Professor Naresh Bhatnagar, IIT Delhi’s faculty advisor for the project, said," The most important part is the learning process. Students from all branches come together in this effort and it provides a platform to work as a team. They are encouraged to take advantage of current research and take related courses like those on composite materials to combine learning with their passion for cars." The last word as usual belongs to the missionary zeal of the students. Students at IIT Delhi have put together 3.5 lakhs from their pocket even as they hunt for sponsors. Vishnu Dusad, chief executive officer of Nucleus Software and a 1980 IIT alumunus who backed the IIT Delhi team with nearly Rs 50 lakhs for two consecutive years, said, "The original design happening in the country is very limited. We threw our weight behind this initiative so that original thinking gets institutionalised." As India gets ready host to the Formula One Race later this year, watch out for these budding F1 enthusiasts!
IT SEEMS to be a textbook case of partners in crime. Sanjay Gupta,the chief financial officer of Hero Corporate Services Ltd (HCSL), arrested Monday for his alleged connivance in defrauding Citibank customers, including his own company, of an estimated Rs.300 crore. According to police, Gupta was in the know of the massive fraud perpetrated by Sanjay Puri , Citibank's relationship manager. Police said that the fraud was "done in his (Gupta's) knowledge". Puri is accused of siphoning Rs 4 billion by selling financial products that were not authorised by the bank. He is believed to have transferred the funds to his personal accounts.It is also believed that Sanjay Gupta has been running many small financial firms which have nothing to do with the Hero Group. Gupta is believed to have also cashed in commissions worth Rs 15 crore. However, Gupta's counsel C L Kakkar pleaded before the Court that he is not the accused, but is a victim, and he could turn a witness if required.
Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan are girls unplugged
WANTED: A fresh approach to advertising The man behind the topical Airtel rebranding on how to change the concept of product marketing in India
Creativity in India hasn’t been fully explored on the visual side as all ads look the same with too much talking ADRIAN MILLER CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, JWT
AFTER TAKING THE baton of the chief creative officer at J Walter Thomson last autumn, there has never been a dull moment for Adrian Miller, who’s been working non-stop on rebranding Airtel. Now that the brand is getting established, his new year focus will be getting Pepsi its iconic status in advertising back. “I’ve been hearing not-so-pleasant things about the Pepsi ad campaign since a long time. So I will now step in with full focus to rebuild its creative,” he says. So what changes does he envision in JWT India? “Well, I am trying to get a sense of balance at JWT India between the creative and servicing. Here the culture isn’t built on the creative product,” says the candid Miller, who’s taking baby steps to make the agency that is reputed to be more inclined towards the servicing side, well poised. “There has to be enough team work and the clients need to be involved in the whole process, like here in the case of Airtel, we have an open plan service that gives us enough creative freedom to get the best work out.” About other brands, he observes, “Next year, Pepsi will be the brand to focus on.” When enquired about the new-fangled Airtel logo that received mixed responses from all quarters, Miller categorically denies any role-
play in it. “Whether it’s liked or despised is not our concern as the agency was not involved in the design process,” says Miller. London-based design agency Brand Union designed the logo for reportedly a lump sum amount. Talking of his key role in JWT India, WPP’s third largest agency in the world, Miller who is known for turning around the working system in his previous stint as executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Malaysia has his plans well chalked out. “The Indian work culture is unstructured, we need to get a structure in place and get an open system to work ferociously. There has to be a balance towards both the creative and clients,” says Miller. Miller still feels there is lack of creative talent in the country. “Creativity hasn’t been explored on the visual side as all advertisements look the same with too much talking. Visually these films are not appealing,” he says . The Indian creative professionals should be in sync with the world’s best advertising trends, and connect with the audience through blogs and social networking sites, observes Miller, who received an incredible response Airtel ad - ‘Endless Goodbye from all sections of society, especially youth.
Despite Indian advertising shining in the countless advertising festivals, winning international acclaim in the past years, the fact remains Indian creativity still is nowhere close to Brazilian, South African or Danish advertising. So how long will it take for us to get closer to these creatively brilliant countries? “If you compare their best award winning ads to the best ones here, which is definitely better,” says Miller who justifies saying, “There are pro-active ads being made in India among all the South-East Asian counterparts with big money pumped in by companies, yet India is better than its South Asian counterparts”. Miller too gears up to pick the best work of his agency for the Goa AdFest in March. “The most deserving will fill in the entries this year,” says Miller. With big money there is huge opportunity to experiment with creativity but certain clients believe in calling the shots, and that is where creativity falters. The need of the moment is for the clients to be brave, Miller emphasises. As Miller prepares to tour many cities for Airtel campaigns, he says “Everyday is a new challenge and that’s what keeps me ticking.” Monica Behura
AS NO ONE KILLED JESSICA hits the marquees this Friday, the Jessica Lall case is back in news. And so are Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan. While Vidya Balan has carved a niche for herself in the sexy thinking aunty roles post Ishqiya and Paa, Mukherjee would be thanking her lucky stars for this movie. After all, even a hot makeover in her last outing Dil Bole Hadippa couldn’t resurrect her by now dead career. Mukherjee, after a long time, had some promos to attend and something to talk about besides her forever-impending nuptials with the Yash Raj Films scion Aditya Chopra. The movie where Balan is cast as slain model Jessica’s sister Sabrina who carried on a relentless fight for justice and Mukherjee as the feisty journalist is getting rave reviews, as was expected. The duo is seen in all red carpets make huge fashion gaffes (which they are famous for), in chat shows or even sharing a mock kiss at a media event—all for publicity. The movie was in the news right from the making and its not just because of its controversial topic. NOKJ came under fire with the Censor Board over the fact that Mukherjee’s character uses foul language. It was claimed that the real life Sabrina Lall would also make an appearance which she later denied. Hopefully director Raj Kumar Gupta will be second time lucky after his first Aamir opened to a good response. At least Mukherjee is keeping her fingers crossed.
REVIVAL PLANS FOR THE ROYAL CALCUTTA TURF CLUB ARE IN FULL SWING
‘The Calcutta derby circuit is all ready to get, set and gallop’ The 160-year old Royal Calcutta Turf Club is in revival mode, with plans of a bigger derby, night races and a heritage club. In an interview with Anuradha Himatsingka, MD, Eveready Industries India Deepak Khaitan, a member, says he is hoping for exciting times ahead. Khaitan’s flashy chestnut Hall Of Glory is running for pride at Sunday’s Calcutta Derby. Excerpts from the interview Where do you see RCTC headed towards in the near future? I am very upbeat about Bengal and about RCTC. In three years we will see the Turf Club becoming a premier club in the country and regain its past glory. Today, it is already a major centre of interest. So much so that the Calcutta Derby is offering a total prize money of `1.07 crore, the highest offered for a race here this season. The winner will receive `62.68 lakh and a trophy of `1 lakh. What initiatives are being taken to make it a premier club? We are in talks with the defense department
for renewal of the lease for the 153 acres race course which houses the club. Some financial restructuring, additional income from its Russell Street property, which is being converted into a heritage club in collaboration with upcountry real estate major Emaar MGF Land has infused a fresh lease of life into the club. The club intends to use the proceeds to renovate the heritage building within the premises. Part of the work has already begun. We improved training facilities, refurbished the galleries as well as the existing stables and increased the number of stables from 370 four years ago to 770 now. Any other initiative to make it the country’s best club? Since the lease is up for renewal, we have requested defense authorities to allow night racing. If that happens, there would be evening racing with live television coverage shortly. The move will also transform the race course into a major social gathering spot. In
In three years we will see the Royal Calcutta Turf Club regaining its past glory DEEPAK KHAITAN MD, EVEREADY INDUSTRIES AND MEMBER RCTC
foreign countries, race courses offer restaurants and bar as well as various outlets for various social activities. These race courses are actually part of social lives in countries like HongKong Singapore, the UK as well as the USA. We are also contemplating setting up restaurants within the premises for all. Located near the Victoria Memorial, race course with its wonderful surroundings and serene atmosphere, I feel, is the best place to spend the afternoon instead of window shopping at a mall. Do you plan to introduce horse betting ? Of course, betting would also be introduced soon four outstation betting terminals
having received the state government approval for the same. These are outlets outside the city where terminals project various races and individuals can place their bet and win prize money. Other metros like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad already has betting centres across the country. There would be no online betting. How long have you been associated with horse racing and RCTC? I have been coming here since I was 19, that was sometime in 1974. But I became passionate about it only in 1985. I owned Romantic Dancer at the time. Today, I have one of the best colt, Dandy Fied. My father led in his first winner as early as 1949 and I tasted my first success on the turf in 1984. My family has enjoyed a long association with RCTC. I remember when Elusive Pimpernel ran in the Invitation Cup of 1995, people flocked from far and wide to get a glimpse of this wonder horse.