WILL INDIA BECOME A SUPERPOWER? HERE ARE 12 HINTS
With its abysmal poverty levels, its rampant corruption, and surprisingly low per capita income, India still doesn’t come across as a superpower in the making. But a closer look at recent developments hints at several unique strengths that can offset these intrinsic disadvantages for India in the coming days.
Medicine’s Foundations 9 Soft Skills That Create Shaking! Career Success Dummy sugar pills – placebos – work as fine as many high-tech medicines, and medical industry is desperate to know why.Placebos are all set to rock the foundations of modern medicine!
You are talented. You work hard. But is high success still eluding you? These nine soft skills might be the missing links.
Indus International School
Grows in Size and Substance THE BEST & WORST FEATURES OF
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They have been credited with protecting Indian economy during the global recession. But was it a regulated Indian economy - as personified by RBI controls - that protected these banks? Find out. Whether they have been strongrooms or deadweights to India's growth concerns.
Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences
Vying for a Bigger Role in Medical Education
Oriental School of Hotel Management
Learn Hospitality in Malabar Gyno Speciality Hospital
A Whiff of Fresh Air on the IVF Front JSS Group of Institutions
Education for All
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Award Winning Projects, Award Winning Promoters Adi Shankara Institute of Management Studies
A Gurukula for Engineering & Management
See Through Weather Phone
The translucent cellphone concept is not a new one, but the Window Phone incorporates an extra, gimmicky but fascinating element—weather. Sure, when it’s sunny, the window looks clear. But when it’s cold, the window looks frosty. And when it’s raining, oh man, it looks like tiny droplets are all over the screen. I mean, what a pain, but what a fantastic pain. And here’s the kicker: You can fog up the cellphone with your breath, then write a text message in the window. (From Gizmodo)
This ‘glass’ cell phone is a window not just to your friends - but to the weather outside. Feel sun, rain, or fog on this Window Phone!
SEASONAL MAGAZINE cmyk
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Will India Become a Superpower? Here are 12 Hints WITH ITS ABYSMAL POVERTY LEVELS, ITS RAMPANT CORRUPTION, AND SURPRISINGLY LOW PER CAPITA INCOME, INDIA STILL DOESN’T COME ACROSS AS A SUPERPOWER IN THE MAKING. BUT A CLOSER LOOK AT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS HINTS AT SEVERAL UNIQUE STRENGTHS THAT CAN OFFSET THESE INTRINSIC DISADVANTAGES FOR INDIA IN THE COMING DAYS.
World’s First CEO-Style Prime Minister Who introduced professional leadership in politics? Barack Obama? Of course not. For all his NGO work, his oratory powers, and his professional education, the fact remains that Obama is a political leader and not a seasoned professional in economics or governance. He has to consult Ben Bernanke and others economists to understand the complex challenges. Contrast this with India’s once makeshift Prime Minister. He will never win a Nobel Prize for Economics, but Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Oxford education, and his professional career with UNCTAD, India’s Ministry of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Finance, and as the Governor of Reserve Bank of India, make him more than enough to understand the complex economic challenges on his own. In a world where the political challenges are all increasingly economical, that is a definite plus for India. More than that, Dr. Singh’s repeat success in 2009 has forced other political combinations like the BJP-NDA too to consider professional leadership, which is a development that can transform India into a superpower much earlier than anticipations.
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Cricket Fosters the Competitive Spirit
2 Yes, it is India’s cricket. Not an Englishman’s game anymore. Don’t be fooled by Pakistan and Sri Lanka battling it out for top honors recently, while India watched on the sidelines. That is Indian complacency, Indian overconfidence. But India will rebound. If Ramayana, Mahabharata, & Gandhiji were the only things holding this diverse nation together once, today India has cricket. Whether you like it or not, Sachin and Dhoni are as revered as characters from the epics or India’s freedom struggle. And not without reason too. It was cricket that defined India’s competitive spirit. The man on the street can’t understand India’s philosophical uniqueness
or the country’s software prowess. But the moment he watches Dhoni & Co playing the Australians, he realizes – India can! India’s population strength will ensure that the cricket industry will be more and more India centric, even while forcing traditional sporting giants but non-players like USA, Brazil, and the European nations to adopt the game. Cricket is something that made India shrug off its non-competitive attitude from the ancient times. Every superpower needs its brand of nationalism, and cricket is India’s version.
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Family Values Drive Savings & Entrepreneurship Nobody knows for sure whether family as an institution will survive as long as the earth, but if it does, India will be family’s last bastion. It is not just a matter of allowing or not allowing gay and lesbian sex, but a matter of children, children’s children, and transcending one’s existence. Struggling to have children, struggling more to bring them up, and struggling even more to keep them from fighting each other like Kokilaben, and forcing them to have families of their own are all chapters of the Great Indian Story. 22 years is considered late for a girl to get engaged, even if she is Sania Mirza. Here children never grow up, at least for their parents. And reverse mortgage will never become fashionable. Here homes and houses are for keeps, for generations. How this will translate to a booming India is simple – India’s entrepreneurship and its savings culture are rooted in its family. Grandparents, uncles, or parents run joint families almost like a small business. Family is India Inc’s smallest unit. And family keeps India young. If nations like USA, UK, & Japan had once reached superpower status relying on their strong families, and started withering based on their weakening families, India has an unbeatable long-term edge in this regard.
Passionate About Information Technology If anybody thought India’s information technology is only about business applications programming and outsourcing, they are going to be wrong. TCS, Infosys, Wipro, and the hundreds of smaller IT companies are only part of the story. Indian engineers have a noticeable presence, if not a dominant presence in the world’s top IT products and consumer applications companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, IBM, HP, Adobe, and lots more. Imagine a scenario where India somehow taps into this talent base. That day we will wonder what we used to call IT until now. Information Technology will achieve for India what automobiles did for making USA a superpower, what electronics did for making Japan a superpower, and what military manufacturing did for making Russia a superpower.
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No Enmity With Any Nation Not exactly Gandhi’s non-violence, but India still is one of the most non-violent nations on earth. And it is a mature, seasoned non-violence. Because, India had its experiments with strategic violence, be it Bhindranwale or Prabhakaran. But India was fed up soon. Violent means to achieve anything is not just Indian. India is interested in the world, but not terribly interested in Middle East, Afghanistan, or North Korea, thereby freeing enormous energy and resources for development. Even the response to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks was superb, something only India was capable of. Had India responded immaturely then, Pakistan would have been torn apart into two nations by the Taliban, which would have been an even dangerous scenario for India. India’s patience with Pakistan has ultimately forced the world and Pakistan to admit its experiments with terrorism, including owning up the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The country’s eventual superpower status will be unique in that India will be the first non-violent superpower, not resorting to violent means in its past, present, or future.
Of The People, By The People, For The People The good news is that the world’s largest democracy is working. If showing the door to the flashy types is one parameter of a vibrant democracy, Indian democracy is alive and kicking. Lalu, Mayawati, & Buddhadeb learnt it the hard way. Indian voters can’t be fooled easily. They reiterated many things that were always true. Like for example, Advani is no replacement for Vajpayee. Best performing Chief Ministers from all sides led their parties to thumping victories in the last general elections. With 33% and 50% reservation coming for women in parliament and local governments soon, India’s democracy looks just unstoppable. Isn’t it just a matter of time before the world’s largest democracy becomes one of the world’s superpowers too?
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A Talented Race It is not just APJ Abdul Kalam, AR Rahman or Saina Nehwal. Indian talents are getting noticed in diverse fields like business, technology, governance and what not. It is a sort of coming off age for Indian talents now. Agreed, not many like Ram Charan, Indra Nooyi, Padmasree Warrior, Arun Sarin, Sanjay K Jha, or Rajiv Ouseph are working or playing for India. But the message is clear. Indians are supremely talented. If USA became a superpower by attracting talents from worldwide, India has plenty inside.
Communalism is Getting Weaker Leaders like Gandhi and Nehru harped on about secularism with a definite agenda. Because, they were smart enough to realize that communalism is the country’s only bane. But India is finally showing definite signs of growing up on this front. The miserable failure of the Ayodhya Temple plank during the recent election is a definite sign that the people are more Indian and less Hindu or Muslim now. With one of the largest Muslim and Christian populations in absolute numbers, India’s secular credentials will only get stronger by the years. Ongoing economic development will make secularism stronger and stronger, thus taking India closer and closer to superpower status.
Not a Lawless Land Anymore One of 2009’s most startling Indian images is of Maya Kodnani, a Gujarat Minister, getting arrested for her alleged involvement in post-Godhra communal violence. Whatever be the court verdict on her eventually, that simple act proved a profound lesson – this country which is often tarnished for its lawless pockets, is not just the same anymore. Kerala’s CPM Party Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan also learnt the bitter lesson recently, when CBI charge-sheeted him on a major corruption case. India sometimes resorts to strange tactics to ensure rule of law. Prabhakaran was wanted for killing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and India maintained an aggressive silence when neighbor Sri Lanka finished off Prabhakaran and his LTTE systematically. A similar tactic is now pursued by US against Taliban , Al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden, by using Pakistan. The fact that India can decisively move against the guilty, however mighty they might be, and whether they are inside or outside the country, speaks about the country’s emerging superpower-class power.
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Natural Aces Like the Himalayas & Coastline The natural resources of India are still to be realized. Just two examples would suffice – the country’s long coastline and the one and only Himalayas. Today’s technology may not be enough to fully tap these resources, but a day will come when India will be looked upon as a much more resourceful country than ever thought before. And just as in the case of USA, natural resources will be an ace up India’s sleeve in the days to come. India’s possession of two-thirds of the global occurrence of thorium, the alternate nuclear fuel to uranium, is just one hint.
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International Native English Speakers, Competition is Almost More Like Tug-ofOne hundred years from now, there is every reason that English will be identified with War Now Yes, there was a time when India used to think of her children as one billion mouths to feed. Not any more. Today it is like playing tug-of-war. Each nation’s youthful working class is their team. And India has a pretty growing team. With a burgeoning working middleclass – that is larger than USA’s population - it is only a matter of time before many teams slide against India. For the second-largest population in this globe, becoming at least the second-most powerful superpower might be easier than imagined.
No other aspiring superpower has all the core drivers of a superpower – population, democracy, leadership, nationalism, talent, youth, language, and resources – as much as India has. If India takes on its triple challenges of alleviating poverty, eliminating corruption, and ensuring growth, it will enter the superpower league effortlessly.
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India and not England or US. With a population more than double that of English strongholds like USA, UK, Canada, & Australia combined, this should be a reasonable projection. Middleclass Indian youth are not learning English anymore; it is almost their native language. If English is the international language of business and collaboration, this poses some problems to India’s competitors like China & Brazil to be the next superpower.
Keeping children unspoilt he saddest thing about the tale of the former wife of a rich City financier denied access to their three children after she was found to be turning them against him (as recounted in the Sunday Times in London) was not that she has been legally barred from seeing her children for three years, or that she was jailed for approaching one of them in the street and telling him she loved him in breach of a court order, but that she was judged to be “too indulgent a parent.”
I’m not a dad but most of my friends and relatives have children, and it strikes me that it has become impossible not to spoil kids. Why? Well, leaving aside the collapse in discipline, which means that parents put up with the kind of behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated in Third World dictators, and that parents indulge their attentionseeking, manipulative offspring as compensation for not spending enough time with them, there are three fundamental reasons, the first being the speed at which ideas about child –rearing have changed. No matter how pampered and privileged your upbringing was in the Seventies or Eighties, there’s no way you can compare it with a 21st – century childhood without sounding like a street urchin from a Charles Dickens novel. You can test this out yourself: grab the nearest child and tell them about how you used to “play in the street” unaccompanied, record pop songs from the radio, wait five or ten minutes for computer games to load (if they loaded at all), lose contact with school
mates during holidays owing to the absence of social networking and mobile phones, be whacked by teachers across the legs/hands with rulers for minor demeanors, be forced to run across fields in pants if you forgot to bring your PE kit to school, be forced to swim in your pants if you forgot to bring your swimming costume to school, consider Rentaghost and Grange Hill great entertainment, and eat Angel Delight and Spam for pleasure…. And watch them recoil in bemusement and horror. All kids nowadays, with their mobile phones, MP3 players, DVD players, organic food ranges and 24 hour children’s television are, by definitely spoilt. Then there is peer pressure. No parent really sets out to spoil their children. After all, there are more than a few warnings of what can happen if you do so in the form of John Hervey, the 7th Marquess of Bristol, who died at the age of 44, having squandered a reported $35 million on partying and drugs; Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, who passed away broke and unloved; Paris Hilton, Britney and Lindsay. But neither do parents want to deprive their children – and when your children’s friends are having mobile phones, MP3 players and cash lavished on them, when many aspects of kiddie culture that used to be functional, such as food, clothing and hair, are now subject to fashion, you don’t want them to feel relatively impoverished, so you give in and go with the crowd. Which brings us the main reason it has become
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impossible not to spoil children: love. I have lost count of the number of friends and relatives who approach parenthood with all sorts of good intentions to set clear lines of discipline and spending, but the moment the baby pops out they turn into the parental equivalent of the Milky Bar kid. This used to variously perplex and enrage me but, now that I have more children in my life than the North Korean Army has soldiers, I think I have worked it out. Parents can’t help indulging their children because kids are not independent people, with brains and personalities of their own, but extensions of the best bits of the parents – and to deny them is tougher than denying themselves. There are countless illustrations of the phenomenon in public life. You quite often find successful people saying that they are determined not to spoil their kids: if you are self made, inevitably you will want to pass on your go-getting spirit to your children.
Similar contradictory statements have been made by the billionaire American investor Warren Buffet, who has said that he will leave his children “enough so that they feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing”; Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder who has ruled that his children will inherit “only” several million dollars because he does not want them to live “a paranoid, pointless life”; and Richard Farleigh, the Aussie entrepreneur who has appeared on Dragons’ Den, who recently remarked that he had told his teenage son not to bank on a big inheritance – but in the same breath conceded that he would probably “do the right thing” when it came to it. As it happens, the right thing is the wrong thing. Even the least wise know that the key to happiness is not the destination but the journey, that denying your children the chance to look back and say “I did that” is a kind of abuse. But when it comes to their kids, most parents are irrational and I know that if I had wealth or children, for that matter – I’d probably do the same thing.
But when you look closely behind their remarks, these rich parents, like the majority of parents, just can’t help themselves. Here we have Nicola Horlick, for instance, who has amassed a mini-fortune in the City, saying: “I think the kids should have a nice place to live and some money but too much is bad for them.” But somewhere “nice to live” can stretch to half a million pounds in London. For most people building a home is a life’s work, and is surely “too much” by almost any standard.
Bill Gate’s family
Warren buffett’s family
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And here we have the billionaire Lord Ashcroft, who last year pledged that 80 per cent of his wealth will be left to charity. But “only” 20 per cent of a fortune estimated by the Sunday Times Rich List at $1.1 billion still leaves an awful a lot of money for his three children to be spoilt by.
INDUS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL BANGALORE
INDUS GROWS IN cmyk
SIZE AND SUBSTANCE Bangalore page 12
he world may be in recession, but at Indus International School there is surprising momentum. Growing in quantity and quality, a third Indus International School has started functioning in Hyderabad, on the heels of its Bangalore and Pune Schools. The next ones in line are at Chennai and Kolkata, and soon to follow is an ambitious expansion to tier-two cities with low-cost international schools. Quality-wise, the groupâ€™s flagship Indus International School of Bangalore continue to impress, with excellent IBDP / IGSCE results, its recent tie-up with French American School of San Francisco, its passionate community initiatives to bridge the digital divide with less fortunate schools in Bangalore, and its powerful response to HIN1. CEO Lt. General Arjun Ray and Principal Mrs. Sarojini Rao are brimming with ideas to keep the school one step ahead of the competition, always. Mrs. Sarojini Rao, Principal
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Lt. General Arjun Ray, CEO
With IBDP and IGCSE results out, Indus International School is on a roll. In IBDP more than 80% of the students scored 30 points or above, with some students managing to score 3 Grade-7s. On the IGCSE front, against last year’s 69 A-Stars, this year Indus produced 128 A-Stars. All round performer and Green Peace activist 16-year old Shaurya Saluja topped the list with 9 A-Stars. Indus International School’s was perhaps the most effective response, among all schools, to H1N1 fears. Indus sent its resident doctors to Bangalore’s Manipal Hospital to train them to recognize the flu symptoms and how to handle them. The students were then screened by the doctors, with students who have been abroad required to submit medical certificates as an additional precaution.
Adding to its international credentials - that already included international curricula, international promoters, international faculty, and international students - Indus International School of Bangalore has entered into an educational tie-up with the French American School of San Francisco. The move follows Bangalore’s recognition as a sister-city of San Francisco. The two schools will collaborate on research projects, community initiatives, seminars, workshops, and, of course, students
and faculty exchange programs. The MoU for the same was signed by Indus Principal Mrs. Sarojini Rao and the French Americal School Principal Ms. Jane Camblin on 27th May 2009, in a prestigious ceremony at San Francisco that was attended by Mayor Gavin Newsom and Indus co-founder Kumar Malavalli who is a celebrated technopreneur based in Silicon Valley. Indus students, faculty, and management, even while enjoying elite facilities at this premium school, haven’t been oblivious to the plight of less fortunate students in their neighbourhoods in Bangalore. Their earnest attempts to help neighbouring schools by donating computers, even whole computer labs, and peer-training, have won acclaim, and was recently featured in International Baccalaureate Organization’s official publication. Following the resounding success of their first school at Sarjapur, Bangalore, The Indus Trust had started another school at Pune, and now the latest Indus School to start functioning is at Hyderabad. While Chennai and Kolkata will be the next metros to have an Indus International School each, the Trust is also looking to set up a string of low-cost international schools in tier-2 cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry etc as well as the suburbs of Bangalore and Hyderabad. These schools will run Indian curricula with some modifications. Other upcoming plans include setting up a leadership development school at Hyderabad. Earlier, The Indus Trust had set up a teacher development school in Bangalore. Each school has its UVP. At Indus, the Unique Value Proposition is leadership development. Their motto – In Omnia Paratus – meaning ‘Prepared for All Challenges’
Indus Day 2009
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Indus Principal Mrs. Sarojini Rao and French American School Principal Ms. Jane Camblin preparing to sign the MoU in the presence of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on 27th May 2009 at San Francisco.
Silicon Valley technopreneur and Indus co-founder Kumar Malavalli (center) during the MoU signing ceremony in San Francisco.
reflects this philosophy. Such ideas are not just educational jargon at Indus, but actively pursued frameworks. Once again proving this commitment, Indus deployed two world-class systems in the academic year that started on August 2008.
Indus International School excels in all-round performance of its students by incorporating other strategies too like Personalized Learning, Self Governance, Systematic Feedback, and a powerful Parents’ Advisory Committee (PAC). With over 950 students from 28 countries, imaginative co-curricular programs, and excellent performance in international exams, the School is surging ahead in its mission to create better leaders for tomorrow. Imagine study tours to Leh & Ladakh. Climbing atop battle tanks, and river rafting in the Indus River. Or imagine assisting less-privileged students in other schools, with camps and training. Or imagine writing science articles for the in-house Science Magazine. These are just samples of the kind of ‘beyond the classroom’ education being followed at Indus International School, Bangalore. The School has also started collaborating with Singapore International Foundation (SIF) on various initiatives. The Indus Graduation Day 2009 had as its Chief Guest, Prof. Shivaram Malavalli. Indus is a full-spectrum IB School. The Principal of Indus, Mrs. Sarojini Rao, is a University Gold Medallist and a double postgraduate in Education & Economics.
Indus Day 2009
She is trained in all the three IB Programmes (PYP, MYP, & DP). The Indus Trust operates on a powerful idea – that those who are aspiring to groom future leaders should be exceptional leaders themselves. Indus International School embodies this towering vision in promoters like high-flying Silicon Valley technocrat Kumar Malavalli, noted industrialists HB Jairaj & Sushil Mantri, and a CEO like soldier-scholar-author-speaker Lt. General Arjun Ray. While Malavalli was the first Indian to be inducted into the celebrated ‘Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame’, a select club of 48 outstanding engineers; Lt. Gen. Ray, a recipient of Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), the highest award in Indian Armed Forces, has an exceptional academic & military track record behind him. Together with an equally illustrious group of Trustees & Executive Team, they created an exceptional school in every sense – ranging from outstanding values to sheer architectural beauty. Admission to the Indus International School for grades 6 and above is based on written aptitude tests. Indus believes that all children possess specific intelligences in which they are strong. Consequently, admissions will be based on the proclivity of the student especially mental organization, creativity and critical thinking skills. This concept is based on the idea of multiple intelligences. Indus has developed assessment yardsticks which will be applied to determine the proclivity of each child. The school accepts both boarders and day scholars.
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One of these systems, the Balance Score Card, is a cutting-edge software that is used by several leading organizations worldwide. Balance Score Card helps to monitor the Key Result Areas across the different departments in the school. Indus has deployed the software’s school version called Independent School Review. The second system that was implemented from last year onwards is the Pipeline Model of Leadership. The Model revolves around 3 core techniques essential for leadership – Values, Skills, & Time Application. Its beauty is that it can be used to develop leaders at all levels.
Print Magazine with Embedded Video Arrives
It was first predicted in the Harry Potter series – print media with moving pictures. Now it becomes real in USA with tiny embedded chips and screens showing TV excerpts and video ads!
The first-ever video advertisement will be published in a traditional paper magazine in September. The video-in-print ads will appear in select copies of the US show business title Entertainment Weekly. The slim-line screens - around the size of a mobile phone display - also have rechargeable batteries. The chip technology used to store the video - described as similar to that used in singing greeting cards - is activated when the page is turned. Each chip can hold up to 40 minutes of video. The first clips will preview programs from US TV network CBS and show adverts by the drinks company Pepsi. They will appear in the 18th September edition of the magazine distributed in Los Angeles and New York. It’s believed the new technology will cost much more than normal print ads. However, BBC correspondent Rajesh Mirchandani said that in an increasingly competitive market, advertisers have realized that it is more important than ever to create attention for their product. He likened the technology to the Daily Prophet - a newspaper with moving pictures - described in the Harry Potter books. It is not the first time that publishers have experimented with digital technology in magazines. Last year, for example, men’s lifestyle magazine Esquire published the first, using e-ink technology, with a cover that flashed in alternating patterns. E-ink is the technology used in the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle electronic books. Americhip, the developer of video-inprint, has also created magazine technology that appeals to various senses, including smell. (From BBC)
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Terrifying view from glass box balcony jutting out from skyscraper’s 103rd floor.
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(From Daily Mail)
f you’re scared of heights, it may be time to look away now. Not content with having the tallest building in America, the owners of Sears Tower in Chicago have installed four glass box viewing platforms which stick out of the building 103 floors up. The balconies are suspended 1,353 feet in the air and jut out four feet from the building’s Skydeck. Designers say the platforms - collectively dubbed The Ledge - have been purposely designed to make visitors feel as they are floating above the city. The reward is unobstructed views of Chicago from the building’s west side and a heart-stopping vista of the street and Chicago River below - for those brave enough to look straight down. ‘It’s like walking on ice,’ visitor Margaret Kemp, from Bishop, California said. ‘The first step you take you think “Am I going down?”’ ‘At first I was kind of afraid but I got used to it,’ 10year-old Adam Kane from Alton, Illinois, said as clouds drifted by below. ‘Look at all those tiny things that are usually huge.’ John Huston, one of the owners of the Sears Tower, even admitted to getting ‘a little
queasy’ the first time he ventured out on to the balcony. However, after 30 or 40 trips, he seems to have got used to it. ‘The Sears Tower has always been about superlatives - tallest, largest, most iconic,’ he said. ‘The Ledge is the world’s most awesome view, the world’s most precipitous view, the view with the most wow in the world.’ The balconies are 10ft high and 10ft wide, can hold five tons, and have glass which is 1.5 inch thick. Inspiration came from the hundreds of forehead prints visitors left behind on Skydeck windows every week. Now, staff will have a new glass surface to clean: floors. Architect Ross Wimer said: ‘We did studies that showed a four-foot-deep (1.2 metres) enclosure makes you feel like you’re floating since there’s only room for one row of people, not two.’ The Skydeck attracts 25,000 visitors on clear days. They each pay $15 to take an elevator ride up to the 103rd floor of the 110story office building that opened in 1973.
MAXIMIZING NET FOR YOUR BUSINESS:
WORST FEATURES OF
From cloning to bearhugs to street-fights, every trick in the trade is being employed in the new fight for mindshare between the internet giants and the wannabe giants. But it is also really amazing how little they learn from each other.
Who is fighting whom, and who is cloning whom in this newly intensified fight between the net giants? Facebook is cloning key Twitter features like micro-blogging and publishing, as well as bringing Google-like search capabilities into their until-now private user pages. Twitter is aping Google with an integrated search of tweets on their homepage, while Google is cloning Twitter’s real-time features with their now easily accessible ‘Recent Results’ as well as with Followers in Blogger. Yahoo and Microsoft have forever been following Google’s moves in the internet space, and Google on their part was wise enough to quickly incorporate some of Bing’s only advantages like news results and newer results into their search.
But what they miss out in reading others strengths is also amazing. Here is a list:
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WHAT FACEBOOK DOES RIGHT
WHAT FACEBOOK DOES WRONG
1 Asking Your Email Password
2 Sophisticated Interface
It was not Facebook that invented this audacity, but it was they who made maximum gains from the impudence of asking for your email password. They won’t spam or scam with your email account, but be prepared for Facebook’s neat bag of tricks with your address book. Thanks to this feature, even if you haven’t logged on to Facebook yet, the day you do, be prepared to receive many real-world friend-requests waiting – whether you like them or not!
If some web service has defined the Web 2.0 interface, it is Facebook. It not only wins in sophistication, but in sheer beauty. Facebook’s appeal before the young has a lot to do with its subtle cleverness in interface design that requires young brains to figure out. It is something still missing in competitors.
3 Spam Proofing If you love spamming, you will hate Facebook. And if you hate spam, you will love Facebook. The efforts and controls that have gone into making Facebook spam-unfriendly are commendable. Most competitors are still to learn of its importance.
1 A Ticking Privacy Bomb Facebook might prove to be a major privacy problem in the not too distant future. With access to millions of address books, and clever ways of finding friends and friends’ friends – whether the user needs it or not – Facebook’s current levels of ensuring privacy might not be enough.
2 Too Much Sophistication Facebook is a bit too sophisticated for older users, who entered internet in the email-age or even before. Not too evident navigation, and almosthidden key features are not attractive to even people in their 30s.
3 Too Much Friend Focus Facebook’s focus on friends, friends, friends, and nothing else, might prove to be a dampener in the long-term. People also get on to internet for escaping real-world friends! Facebook is yet to awaken to this fact.
4 Lagging in Search Facebook with search used to be an oxymoron until recently. Now there is a better search feature in beta, but it is no match to Google Search, and tons of content is lying waste in Facebook, undiscovered.
5 Lagging in Tweets
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook
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Similar to its attitude towards search, was Facebook’s attitude towards tweets. But they can’t be blamed for this. Much like most internet giants they too underestimated the power of a 140-character tweet. They are trying to remedy it now, but it is too little, too late.
1 Believing Limited is Valuable We all thought that something needs to be unlimited for it to be valuable. The web was about unlimitedness – unlimited space, unlimited emails, unlimited search, and what not. But the guys at Twitter realized that for something to be valuable, it has to be limited first. Enter the 140-character tweets. It was a paradigm shift like no other in recent web history. The 140-character limit forced the twitterers to at least think before they type, and edit before they send!
2 Focus on Real Time Twitter also deserves credit for inventing the real-time web. While Google, Yahoo, and other search engines focused on delivering more credible but historical results, tweets represented the current buzz around everything – at least everything worth tweeting about. Agreed, tweets are not exactly reliable as search results, but what the heck if what you want is just buzz?
3 Followers Another of Twitter’s almost original ideas, the concept of followers is the most blatant self-promotion tool that exists in the web today. With its clever mix of chosen celebrities with huge followers, Twitter gives off the impression that you too can be a guru, thoughtleader, or celebrity whom others follow. Getting more followers is the craze in social networking today, much like the once popular link-exchange and click-exchange in search and web advertising. It doesn’t matter that many of your followers are automated porn-peddling robots. The concept of followers provides Twitter with something most other competitors don’t have – a reason to use it regularly.
4 Developer Support It looks like this is a lesson Twitter directly picked up from Microsoft. Much like the simple DOS which kickstarted Microsoft’s huge success with developers, Twitter was something too simple to have a developer community around it. But just like DOS, Twitter too came with a neat and well-defined Application Programming Interface (API) that enabled a huge community of developers writing programs and hosted services for all kinds of devices to access and extend the core Twitter service. The advantage? Tomorrow, somebody might invent another clever way to extend Twitter.
Jack Dorsey, Chairman Evan Williams, CEO Biz Stone, Creative Director Twitter
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WHA T T WITTER WHAT DOES RIGHT
WHAT TWITTER DOES WRONG 1 Spam Hell Competition won’t kill Twitter, but spam would. If spam on Twitter continues to grow unabated as of now, it will soon be Spitter, not Twitter. Almost every other tweet you meet is to sell some junk. And it won’t be long before a twitter snapshot looks like your spam mail folder.
something enjoyable in Twitter - as passive as checking your inbox or viewing television.
3 Too much focus on Followers In Twitter, life is not worth living if you don’t have an ever-increasing follower list. It is a good initial bait, but it can be tiring too. Soon, twitterers are going to wear themselves out in trying to be a bigger Guru. This too much focus on followers is bad for Twitter, as even without many people following you, what you say has a reasonable audience on Twitter.
4 Tweets are not everything 2 Got nothing to say? This is a problem peculiar to Twitter. For many people, there is nothing to say to anyone. They don’t need Twitter. Even worse, they will never understand Twitter. The service is unattractive to such an audience – and that audience is the biggest - and Twitter needs to urgently invent
WHAT YAHOO DOES RIGHT
Tweeting was a good invention, as it married micro-blogging with instant publishing before a sizeable audience. But micro-blogging is not the end, but just another tool that aids more established communication channels. Tweeting was a paradigm shift, but to believe that it is going to stay unchallenged forever would be foolish on the part of Twitter.
and Yahoo Answers. Both were pioneers in their category while Yahoo identified and bought them, but it is to Yahoo’s credit that they are still undisputed leaders in their segments.
1 Bells & Whistles
3 The Best Spam Filter
Trust Yahoo to deliver the best interfaces. Filling up any Yahoo form is not only a breeze, and not only pleasing to the eyes, but surprising for its user-friendly features like intelligent suggestions and pleasant instructions. And these bells and whistles are available across their wide range of products.
Yahoo Mail’s spam filter continues to be the best spam filter around. While some competitors still bring some spam mail to your inbox, some others filter it to your spam mail folder, it is Yahoo Mail that blocks most spam mails from even entering your account.
2 Identifying & Nurturing Great Services
Yahoo continues to be the leading news aggregator, and their bet with content is not at all misplaced. At Yahoo, you will never be short of content – almost all of the world’s best content is syndicated there. Content will be one of Yahoo’s last bastions to fall.
As things stand today, Yahoo’s only business strength seems to be this – they have been very successful in identifying and nurturing great services. Just two examples are enough – Flickr
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CAROL BARTZ PRESIDENT AND CEO YAHOO
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SEASONAL MAGAZINE cmyk
Steve Ballmer CEO, Microsoft
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WHAT YAHOO DOES WRONG 1 Search is Getting Worse Something is going wrong with Yahoo Search, or something is going great with Google Search. Once the de facto leader, then a viable alternative, and now just an also-ran, Yahoo needs to invent something big in search before they will be forgotten as a search company.
2 Portfolio Now Seems Smaller Once the web’s largest portfolio of services, Yahoo is shrinking or competition is expanding. Yahoo can’t
be pardoned for the too many missed buses. Blogger, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, or even Google could have been theirs, once.
3 Poor Tools for Small Businesses & Publishers Yahoo is fast ceasing to be of any use to the websites of small businesses and small publishers. Yahoo just doesn’t seem to have the tools or interest to support the new entrants into web. On the other hand, Google is quickly building up an unimaginably complex network of services for small businesses.
WHAT MICROSOFT DOES RIGHT 1 Focus on Sales
3 A Different Take at Free
Microsoft first figures out how to make money. Then they do whatever it takes to make that money. Their model is a far cry from the first-free-then-struggle model of internet entrepreneurship. The core focus is sale, and on that focus they have built up the formidable Windows and Office franchises that are not going to die anytime soon.
So, what if Linux is free? Windows was always free in some of the biggest emerging markets like China & India. Through a clever strategy of ignoring piracy for long, Microsoft ensured that Windows is the platform for the PC, worldwide. Now, with an equally clever strategy of bundling with computers, and a strict anti-piracy stance, Microsoft is making up for all that lost sales.
Microsoft not only make money themselves, but through their support for developers and computermakers have enabled thousands of software and hardware companies to make money. Once an alsoran in even the Windows Application Development space, today their portfolio of .NET has become the most preferred development platform not only in Windows, but several cross-platform niches.
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4 Never Stops Trying Nobody believes that Microsoft stands a fighting chance against Google in search. Still, Microsoft carries on the fight. Bing might be just another round of effort, but remember, it is their best effort yet. And it never stops trying – after Bing’s lackluster performance comes a further effort to see whether pairing with Yahoo would help.
2 Focus on Developers
WHAT MICROSOFT DOES WRONG 1 Everything can’t be brought
2 Can be outwitted
There was a time when Microsoft thought that anything fancy on net could be brought with hard cash. But Hotmail remains the only major consumer product successfully brought by the software giant. It missed out on major buys like Blogger and YouTube, and now finds itself faced with smart developers like Facebook and Twitter who won’t sell that easily, especially to Microsoft. Similarly, there was a time when Microsoft thought that a cloned piece of software could be given away for free to kill competition. But the anti-trust case has ensured that Internet Explorer is the last such victor, and Netscape is the last such vanquished.
The biggest blow to Microsoft in the web space is the fact that a much smaller and less resourceful company like Google could outsmart it. And that shows a great vulnerability. If Google can do it from a startup status, many other startups or reinvented companies have a fighting chance against Microsoft.
3 Where is the innovation? Though Microsoft is trying hard in bettering search and other such problem areas, the company continues to suffer from a lack of groundbreaking innovation. If it needs to fight with the likes of Google and Facebook, they have to be very innovative.
WHAT GOOGLE DOES RIGHT 1 The Biggest Provider of Free Is there any other company offering this much for free? It continues to be Google’s ace. The fact that their services are largely free, doesn’t affect their quality a bit. In fact, the quality is more because they are free, as the free status is for a bigger aim – to conquer the world of information. Coming second in their core business of search is unthinkable at Google.
2 Active Where the Action is
Google has been successful in identifying some of the web’s biggest trends like text ads, video and social networking. And when new services like Twitter and upgradations like Bing appear, Google is quick to upgrade their own features
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for being competition ready. The length and breadth of Google’s offerings are unparalleled.
3 Well Integrated Offerings All Google products are tightly integrated with the concept of Google Accounts and seamless transfer of information. For users it translates to an unbelievable ease of access to all Google services, and when the services become more complex like AdSense or AdWords, this integration is mightier.
4 Supporting All Google is not just there for the big business websites or big publishers. In fact, small businesses and publishers will be pleasantly surprised at the Google tools at their disposal. That too, for free.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin Founders, Google
WHAT GOOGLE DOES WRONG Don’t expect many bells and whistles in the Google interfaces. Google excels in the core functioning and not the interface. In fact, the slow upgradation of the Google products’ interface is now more noticeable due to slickly designed competitors like Facebook and Yahoo.
2 Too Many Missed Buses Google too has missed many important buses. If any company could develop such runaway
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successes like Wikipedia, Facebook, & Twitter, it was Google. But the fact that it didn’t happen that way should be troubling for the company.
3 Great Features Remain Undiscovered Google is not too good at teaching its customers how to best use their services to the full. Users often have to stumble upon key features, despite having an extensive help as well as discussion forums.
1 No Bells & Whistles
VYDEHI INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES & RESEARCH CENTRE BANGALORE
VYING FOR A BIGGER ROLE IN MEDICAL EDUCATION cmyk
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verything was big at Vydehi from 2001 onwards. From the 65 acres campus, to the 5 lakh sq ft of built-up space, to the 1000 bedded multisuper-speciality hospital, to the first MBBS batch’s university leading performance, everything was larger-than-life from day one. Vydehi also had a big heart, with 30% of facilities earmarked for poor patients who are provided free treatment. Eight year later, things have got only bigger and better at this integrated medical complex – more institutes, more seats, more superspecialities, more courses, more research, more peer respect. The 1500 outpatients coming to Vydehi daily include executives from the hospital’s corporate clients to villagers from neighbouring villages. Multifaceted leader and Chairman of Vydehi, DK Audikesavalu, has sowed the seeds of greatness, Director Kalpaja DA knows how to grow Vydehi in greatness, and administrators like Major General Dr. Anju Manchanda apply their robust experience in ensuring these visions. Through a Rs. 200 crore expansion, Vydehi is now vying to be a Health City, even while going in for the latest in e-enabling.
Kalpaja DA, Director
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ydehi Institute has kickstarted a Rs. 200 crore expansion plan that will see patienthandling capacity double, and the campus being upgraded to a Health City. Vydehi is open for JVs and is known to be in touch with Parkway Group of Singapore. Vydehi has started e-enabling its campus with the first phase being online campus management including online attendance. The system will use biometric identification. Vydehi’s web portal - www.vims.ac.in - is also being relaunced and will feature 70 microsites. All relevant information on students, faculty, courses, assignments, & grades will be available through over 60 modules, complete with mobile/SMS access as well as 24X7 Interactive Voice Resonse (IVR). Vydehi founder Audikesavalu is expanding the group’s healhcare operations by acquiring Bangalore-based Lakeside Hospital having 200 beds. The Group already manages the Mallya Hospital and Medinova chain of diagnostic centres. Current academic year – 2009-10 – is special for Vydehi. Their flagship unit, the Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences, is increasing its MBBS seats to 150 from 100. Earlier, Vydehi had obtained the approval for this from Medical Council of India (MCI). This year is also witnessing a new course, Diploma in Paramedicine. This move by Vydehi Institute of Paramedical Courses is in tune with the healthcare sector’s increased demand for paramedical professionals. During the November of 2009, Vydehi will host the annual Karnataka Medico-legal Society Conference. The selection of Vydehi signals the bigger role the medical education fraternity of the state is willing to give to this relatively young institution, just eight years old. The last couple of years have seen Vydehi attracting more and more students from abroad – both non-
It is not only that Vydehi is attracting international students, but its graduates – both domestic and foreign - are putting up an impressive performance worldwide. They have performed consistently well in international exams like USMLE & PLAB, and have secured good residency positions in countries like USA, UK, & Canada. Director Kalpaja DA has contributed the most in Vydehi getting ample international exposure. A dynamic leader, she is widely travelled and knowledgeable. Vydehi’s faculty and research scholars are quite active, thanks to a proactive culture of research at the institution. Published papers by Vydehi scholars – many of them in international journals of repute – belong to all core domains of medicine like anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, pharmacology , forensic medicine, community medicine, dermatology, psychiatry, general surgery, ENT, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, OBG, oral medicine etc. At the heart of VIMS & RC is the Vydehi Hospital, a 1000 bedded multi-superspeciality hospital offering tertiary, secondary, & primary levels of healthcare. Patients include corporate customers from Bangalore and Whitefield, to local patients from the
SEASONAL MAGAZINE cmyk
resident Indians (NRIs) and people of Indian origin (PIOs). There are many reasons for this international interest. Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre (VIMS & RC) is included in the directory of World Health Organization (WHO), which is a prerequisite for the educational qualifications to be recognized internationally, as well as for worldwide employment opportunities. Vydehi also has international tie-ups with US majors in the field – University of Georgia, University of California, and Harvard Medical International. These tie-ups help Vydehi students and faculty by way of exchange programs, seminars, workshop, and collaborative research. Foreign students at Vydehi are dominated by NRIs & PIOs from USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and, of course, from several Middle East countries. Vydehi advises its prospective foreign students to get their PIO Card from Indian Embassy and their clearance from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, so that the college can easily take care of all other formalities.
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Dr. Anju Manchanda Administrator
Dr. NT Venkateshaiah, Principal, Vydehi Institute of Dental Sciences
Dr. KV Janardhan, Principal, Vydehi Institute of Biotech Sciences
Prof. LE Madhumathi, Principal, Vydehi Institute of Nursing Sciences
Dr. Sandhya Belwadi, Principal, Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences
several villages nearby. The hospital serves nearly 1500 outpatients daily. Administrator of Vydehi, Major General Dr. Anju Manchanda was the Commanding Officer of Military Hospital, Rajouri, and later of Military Hospital, Shimla. For exemplary service she received Visisht Seva Medal (VSM), one of the top honours of the Indian Army. Later, as a Brigadier in Delhi, she was in charge of admissions to the prestigious Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), where she undertook her work with remarkable fairness, bending before no pressure. The departments, specialities, and super-specialities at Vydehi Hospital include general medicine, pulmonology, dermatology, psychiatry, paediatrics, general surgery, orthopaedics, ear nose throat (ENT), ophthalmology, obstetrics & gynaecology, anaesthesia, radio diagnosis, cardiology, oncology, nephrology, neurology, urology , neurosurgery, plastic surgery, paediatric surgery etc. Vydehi students gain from these wide specialities, as well as from the high-tech equipments & facilities like Cardiac Cathlab, MRI, Spiral CT, Cardiac Echo Machine, Ultrasound, Linear Accelerator, & IGRT etc.
Today, Vydehi Group of Institutions at EPIP Area in Whitefield consists of four individual academic institutions - Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Vydehi Institute of Dental Sciences, Vydehi Institute of Nursing Sciences, and Vydehi Institute of Biotech Sciences, as well as two specialised treatment centres â€“ Vydehi Institute of Rehabilitation, and Vydehi AyurvedaGram. All these six institutions share the 65-acres Vydehi Campus. What is noteworthy is that only 10% of the campus is covered with concrete structures, and the rest 90% is landscaped with gardens, lush greenery, and vast play areas. Facilities exist for such sports like Cricket, Basketball, Volleyball etc, and the indoor recreational infrastructure includes swimming pool, multi-gym, badminton courts etc. The hospital is at an enviable neighborhood in Whitefield; neighbors include International Tech Park Bangalore (ITPB), healthcare organizations like Sri Satya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, and high-profile technology companies like IBM, Dell, SAP, GE, GE
The 300-bedded Oncology Department at Vydehi deserves special mention as it has all the four important super-specialties of Oncology namely, Radiation, Surgical,
Medical and Palliative Oncology. The centre is also home to South Asiaâ€™s first Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), imported from Germany, and costing Rs. 14 crore.
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Medical Systems, Intel etc. – some of them Vydehi’s corporate clients too. Vydehi has everything that corporate clients are looking for. For example, special suites at Vydehi include facilities like Cable TV, Room Service, Hot Water, & Multi-cuisine Diet. Apart from the medical college, the other teaching institutions in the Vydehi Campus are Vydehi Institute of Dental Sciences, Vydehi Institute of Nursing Sciences, & Vydehi Institute of Biotech Sciences. Vydehi Institute of Dental Sciences is approved by the Dental Council of India, and is affiliated to Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences for the BDS course. The dental college is noted for its curricular stress on compulsory rotational internship at the hospital as well as the outreach programs to neighbouring rural communities – thus providing Vydehi BDS students with an unmatched scope for experiencing diverse dental cases.
Vydehi Institute of Nursing Sciences offers both BSc Nursing and General Nursing & Midwifery Course. The former is affiliated to Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, and the latter to the Karnataka Nursing Board. Learning Biotechnology at Vydehi Institute of Biotechnology might be an experience of a lifetime – for Vydehi has gone all out to build an exotic Medicinal Plants Park and a world-class Tissue Culture Laboratory. The Medical College is also the venue where various paramedical courses are conducted. These include BSc programs in 4 subjects – Operation Theatre Technology, Radiology, Renal Dialysis Technology, & Anaesthesia Technology.
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The two specialised treatment centres at the Vydehi Campus – the Vydehi Institute of Rehabilitation and Vydehi AyurvedaGram speak about the passion with which the management regards these offbeat yet holistic areas of help to the patient population. One of the most sought after centres of its kind in the country, Vydehi Institute of Rehabilitation offers an array of treatments ranging from those addressing the most difficult of the disabilities to early intervention programs. The marvellous infrastructure for rehabilitating children and adults, use therapies like Occupational Therapy, Speech and Auditory Training, Vision Therapy, Sensory Integrative Therapy, Music Therapy, Aquatic Therapy, Early Therapy, and Biofeedback. Vydehi is associated with California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) to bring the latest of Rehabilitation Therapies to the Institute. Vydehi stays at the world’s cutting-edge in clinical competence and research; partnerships with California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) for Rehabilitation, and University of Georgia for Biotechnology, are just two examples. Vydehi’s AyurvedaGram uses the ancient principles of Ayurveda to discover the underlying nature (Prakriti), to create tailor-made treatments designed to bring relief from various diseases & conditions. The Centre offers Panchakarma, Rejuvenation, Slimming, Stress Management etc. Vydehi is the only such medical campus in the country to offer both modern medicine and Ayurveda.
They have been credited with protecting Indian economy during the global recession. But was it a regulated Indian economy - as personified by RBI controls - that protected these banks? Find out. Whether they have been strongrooms or deadweights to India's growth concerns.
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
S Sridhar, Chairman & Managing Director
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CENTRAL BANK OF INDIA
India’s 3rd largest bank, Central Bank of India, has indicated through its first quarter results, the direction it wants to move. Though the 350% YoY growth was aided by a strong surge – of nearly 145% in non interest income like treasury, there is no denying the fact that its core business also grew strongly as indicated by the 21.21% surge in net interest income. Under Chairman & Managing Director, S Sridhar, the Mumbai headquartered bank is currently executing ‘Operation Navachetana’ through which it plans to consolidate its core strengths in educational loans, home loans, and farm loans, and provide more focus to corporate and MSME sectors. The bank which is noted for its customer-friendliness and social commitment, is banking on these very factors to survive and thrive in 2009-10.
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t 3541 branches spread across the country, Central Bank of India is the country’s third-largest bank by branches. After a rather modest year of 200809, Central Bank has bounced back in the first quarter of this fiscal. While net interest income (NII) grew by 21.21%, business per branch rose by 11.66% and business per employee surged by 23.88%, with some of these productivity figures even better than private sector banks like ICICI, HDFC, & Axis.
start from as low as 7%. Farmers can avail this for both farming and no-farming activities. Central Bank is planning an innovative route to tackle underperforming loans in the commercial sector – by bringing in Private Equity (PE) funds with investment and management skills into these units. The SMS alert facility is available for all Central Bank savings account holders for transactions of Rs. 5000 or more, as well as all fixed deposit customers, and will be available across the 1200 Core Banking Services (CBS) branches of CBI.
Anticipating credit picking up significantly, Central Bank recently raised Rs. 850 crore, and has reintroduced products like MIBOR-linked notes. The bank is planning two restructuring programs this year – to increase its stake in its home finance subsidiary, and to convert one of its subsidiaries into a merchant banking division. During the difficult year of 2008-09, Central Bank of India continued to put up impressive growth in total business, above 18%, in 2008-09. This growth is not bad considering the little room that exists for growth – at over 3500 branches and 2.5 crore customers, Central Bank is already a banking behemoth. Central Bank’s top management comprises of its Chairman S Sridhar, and Executive Directors Ramnath Pradeep and Arun Kaul. CMD S Sridhar was earlier the fulltime Chairman of National Housing Bank (NHB), and has chalked out an ambitious plan to double Central Bank of India’s customer base to 5 crores. Currently Sridhar has additional charge of NHB too.
Recent customer-centric new initiatives from Central Bank include Cent Kisan Gold Card for farmers, bringing in private equity (PE) power into sick units, an SMS alert facility for savings and fixed deposit account holders, a subsidised home loan scheme for the urban poor, and a proactive involvement in public policy formulation by its Chairman S Sridhar. The Cent Kisan Gold Card from Central Bank of India (CBI) provides a credit limit up to Rs. 10 lakhs against land for a five year term at interests that
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Central Bank, Mumbay main office
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The bank was also quick to offer home loans at a fixed rate of 8% to tide over the current crisis in the real estate market.
entral Bank of India has always been noted for its social commitment, and the new initiatives also reflect this. It has tied up with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for development of low-cost housing units, and Rs. 120 crores is being sanctioned for loans at subsidized interest rates.
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After a lull in recruitment for several years, Central Bank of India is now active on the recruitment front to drive growth as well as to bring down the average employee age. The new recruits will join a nearly 40,000 workforce, a quarter of which comprises MBAs, CAs, & LLBs. Central Bank has always been noted for its social commitment, and the new initiatives also reflect this. It has tied up with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for development of low-cost housing units, for which Rs. 120 crores has been sanctioned towards loans at subsidized interest rates. In tune with the Government’s vision of making banking more accessible to minorities, Central Bank of India has opened 40 new branches in minority concentration districts of the country, and has come up with top honours in this regard – second only to State Bank of India (SBI). Chairman of Central Bank, S Sridhar is known for his proactive participation in forming public policy, and his recent cautionary remarks on the move by a section of the real estate industry to hike prices, gathered popular support. Sridhar
termed the move short-sighted and explained that the time was ripe for a recovery only if the real estate prices adjusted a bit more downwards or at least stabilized. The Mumbai headquartered Central Bank of India’s loan portfolio has a significant 18% exposure to agricultural loans, ahead of many of its peers. May be due to such initiatives, RBI had recently allowed Central Bank of India to deduct floating provisions from gross NPAs. It is not only in agricultural loans, that the bank shows its customer friendliness. Even in a difficult year like 2008-09, Central Bank was ranked as the ‘Best Education Loan Provider’ and the ‘Second Best Home Loan Provider’. The bank has tie-ups with 76 educational institutions to provide student loans. Central Bank of India was also quick to offer home loans at a fixed rate of 8% to tide over the current crisis in the real estate market. The bank has a healthy exposure to the retail segment at 34.45%. Central Bank is also aiding India’s state governments to kick-start growth – the best recent example being the Rs. 11,000 crore corpus fund that has been readied to assist Madhya Pradesh’s Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation (TRIFAC). The bank is mulling a right issue or a follow-on public issue this year to raise capital. The Central Bank scrip is, according to some noted analysts, the banking stock to watch for in 2009-10. Central Bank’s recent move to sell off Rs. 102 crore worth of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) will largely be from their corporate loan book. Unlike many other banks, CBI is still hopeful of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARC) to manage their NPAs.
This year, Central Bank of India plans to scale up their retail loan book from 9% to 15%, and their Medium & Small Scale Enterprises (MSME) loan book from 8% to 10%. With an already fat farm loan book of 18%, these are clear indications that Central Bank of India is not only looking at the big corporates for growth.
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Central Bank had recently participated in the $1.1 billion syndicated loan to Air India.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Balancing Social Support & Profits: The Bank of India Way
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BANK OF INDIA
When it comes to Indian banking, there are certain notions regarding private sectors banks and public sector banks. Profits, for one example. Which is the most profitable bank? A new-generation private
operator like Axis Bank or a traditional public sector bank like Bank of India? BoI beats the likes of Axis Bank with a 15.50% profit level. In fact, the 103-year old Bank of India is the countryâ€™s second most profitable bank. But the real achievement is that while private banks donâ€™t care much about social commitments, Bank of India is a top performer on that count too. Now with Alok Kumar Mishra, its new Chairman, who knows BoI inside-out, the bank can expect a fulfilling year ahead.
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Alok Kumar Mishra, Chairman
Karthik, a college student in Madurai, was upset when most banks turned down his application for an educational loan to study abroad. He approached Madurai MP and Union Minister MK Alagiri who in turn passed it on to Bank of India’s Madurai operations for consideration. On August 23rd, it was a happy day for Karthik and Bank of India, when Minister Alagiri publicly congratulated the bank on favorably considering his directive for the boy. And Karthik was not the only beneficiary that day. Alagiri handed over educational loan cheques from Bank of India to many students, as well as to 41 selfhelp groups (SHGs). However, meeting such social commitments has never affected BoI’s profitability. Bank of India (BoI), one of the country’s largest banks, has for some time enjoyed a unique sobriquet. For 2008-09, it was India’s most profitable bank at 15.50% profit, even ahead of private sector player Axis Bank at 13.22%. It is also something to always live up to. Expectations are always high when it is about Bank of India. The bank performed modestly in Q1 of this year with net profit going up by 3.98%, but with net interest income up by 10.14%, their core business seems to be growing safely. Bank of India has a new Chairman & Managing Director in Alok Kumar Mishra. But he is not exactly new to Bank of India, as he started and spent much of his career in BoI, before taking up overseas assignments and later leadership roles in Canara Bank as Executive Director and in Oriental Bank of Commerce as its Chairman & Managing Director. Mishra’s inside-out knowledge of Bank of India is expected to be a major plus for the bank as it takes on bigger players in the public and private domains.
BoI Executive Directors BA Prabhakar and M Narendra are veteran bankers of India’s public sector banking system, and have exposure to all intricacies of the system. Preceding Chairman TS Narayanasami has been appointed as the MD & CEO of the newly formed United Stock Exchange (USE) of which Bank of India is, incidentally, a significant partner. USE has been formed by a few Indian banks and Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), and will focus on financial derivative contracts.
BA Prabhakar and M Narendra, Executive Directors
Now BoI is embarking on a grand plan that will see a business mix of Rs. 4,00,000 crore by the end of this fiscal. For this plan to succeed, deposits should grow by 20% and advances by at least 22%. But BoI finds the target achievable, as so far it has managed to grow at a rate above the industry-average – 26.5% YoY in deposits and 27.5% YoY in advances. 2009-10 would be a tougher year, but BoI plans to tackle it with creative initiatives like expansion in highmargin overseas markets – Kenya, for one example, a nationwide co-promotion with Tata Motors for commercial vehicles, and of course, the latest in technology implementation. Recently, tech major Hewlett-Packard completed Core Banking Solution (CBS) implementation in 100% of BoI branches; its greatness being that not only were there 3023 branches to cover, but the remotest of them were powered by Solar UPSs and VSATs. Although not in need of recapitalization, especially of Tier-I type, Bank of India is planning for a demanding year that is expected to feature significant credit pickup. Recently BoI has raised Rs. 500 crore in Upper Tier-II bonds, to aid in servicing this credit growth. Carrying a coupon rate of 8.45% and a call option to the bank at the end of 10 years, these debt-type Tier-II bonds are flexible as it has a long-term maturity of 15 years. Bank of India is also working hard to grow their net interest margin from 2.42% to between 2.85 – 3%. The main strategy for this will be repricing of its deposits. Bank of India could grow its home loan business by 31% in Q1, compared to 15% growth in the just preceding quarter. The bank has been proactive in restructuring loans to companies going through a difficult phase, and was one of the six banks who agreed to the challenging
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The Bank of India scrip has been a good performer in the bourses, with it enjoying ‘BUY’ or ‘HOLD’ recommendations from key analysts.
At the same time, BoI is doing everything possible to keep their gross non-performing loans below 2%.
BoI’s free credit counselling service ‘Abhay’ deserves special mention for its grassroots approach. Debtridden customers – of home loans, car loans, credit cards, or personal loans - of all banks are welcome here, and BoI’s officers would not only counsel them, but negotiate with individual banks for restructuring their debt by way of increasing repayment term or lowering interest rates.
Bank of India had entered the life insurance sector in February 2009 through Star Union Dai-ichi Life, in which it holds a majority stake of 51%, with the other players being Dai-ichi Life Mutual Life at 26% and Union Bank at 23%.
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corporate debt restructuring (CDR) program to the troubled retailer Subhiksha, even while seven other banks decided to play safe and avoid the CDR.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
10 Reasons Why ICICI Bank May Turnaround in 2009-10 common page 28
Nobody needs to teach ICICI Bank how to compete or fight. But this time, ICICI Bank is fighting its own old paradigms to effect consolidation and turnaround. The first-quarter results may be buoyed more by cost-cutting and treasury income, but Chanda Kochhar has unleashed several measures for a healthier turnaround by the year end. Here are 10 reasons why this strategy might succeed.
1 RBI Control What prevented the failure of many Indian banks during the 2008-09 global financial crisis – RBI control - is true in the case of ICICI Bank too. In fact, it is more true, considering the size of the bank – the country’s second-largest lender. With economists like Dr. Manmohan Singh and D Subbarao at the helm, India and RBI are just not going to let ICICI Bank fail. Even better, RBI will force ICICI Bank to turnaround soon.
2 Cost Cutting Under Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank seems to have understood the importance of cutting costs deeply. Her late-2008 decision to disallow operating expenses growth further is one of the main reasons why ICICI Bank could register reasonable Q1 results in 2009-10 even while failing to grow their core interest-income business. Aggressive growth targets had, for many years, forced ICICI Bank to have a high expenditure model.
ICICI Bank was India’s fastest growing bank for many years, often growing at 40% year-over-year. But for now, ICICI Bank has decided to take a breather and consolidate their position before engaging in mindless competition with State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, and others. It will no doubt affect ICICI Bank’s topline growth this year, but there is equally no doubt that it will create a better bottomline in 2009-10.
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3 Not Bullish on Growth
4 Going Slow in Foreign Markets ICICI Bank is India’s No.1 player in international business. But this proved to be a liability – actual as well as perceived – with the global financial crisis. ICICI Bank’s exposure to failed foreign investment banks like Lehman Brothers and others proved to be a financial and public relations challenge. During 2009-10, ICICI Bank has decided to go slow on growing their international business further. They can afford to, being the leader in this segment.
5 Exiting Unsecured Credit Cards During the last boom, no bank – domestic or international – was successful in toppling ICICI Bank from their No.1 position in the credit cards business. But that highly successful boom-time model relied heavily on credit cards to non account-holders, and backfired as soon as doom-time hit. Now ICICI Bank knows better, and has almost exited this unsecured credit cards business, focusing only on providing cards to customers whose credit-worthiness is known.
6 No More Unsecured Personal Loans
Mr. Sandeep Bakhshi, Deputy Managing Director
Ms. Chanda D. Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO
ICICI Bank has recently obtained permission to open 580 new branches.
N. S. Kannan, Executive Director & CFO
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K. Ramkumar, Executive Director
ICICI Bank had the most aggressive sales team, complete with youngsters calling up middleclass Indians every-ther week to ask why not take a hasslefree personal loan. But like unsecured credit cards, this too proved to be a boom-time-only business. With the country’s largest non performing assets (NPA) level, largely driven by such unsecured personal loans, ICICI Bank has finally called it a day on this kind of business.
7 From an ATM Bank, to a Bank With Branches
8 Winding Up DSA Operations Just like ATMs, Direct Sales Associates (DSAs) was one core strategy that ICICI Bank adopted to compete with giant banks. Though it was initially successful, this was one model that started bac kfiring even during the boom. Too attractive incentives prompted these DSAs to adopt aggressive selling tactics that resulted in acquisition of poor quality customers with even poorer quality loans. ICICI Bank has already wound up 70% of the DSAs.
ICICI Bank has already wound up 70% of the DSAs. 9 Building a Reputation There was a time period in their history when ICICI Bank didn’t care much about public relations. Reputation was often put at stake, in lieu of growth and profits. This proved to be costly during the economic crisis when ICICIbashing became a favourite pastime of its aggrieved customers, resulting in mass withdrawals of deposits. But now ICICI Bank has realized the importance of a blemish-less reputation in this industry.
10 No More Strong Arm Tactics ICICI Bank was pulled up by courts, RBI, ministers, and other authorities repeatedly for their strong arm tactics in loan recovery. Now with DSAs and unsecured loans out, and a new focus on building reputation, it is almost sure that ICICI Bank wouldn’t resort to such strong arm tactics. The fact that aggressively sold products need a more softer approach in recovery seems to have dawned on ICICI Bank.
To compete with public sector banks once multi-times their size, ICICI Bank resorted to a highly KV Kamath cost-effective business model of fewer branches and more ATMs. It was successful too, with ICICI Bank coolly overtaking some public sector banks with twice or thrice their branch network. But when bad times hit, this faceless ‘ATM Bank’ model was responsible for much panic among customers. ICICI Bank has recently obtained permission to open 580 new branches.
Sonjoy Chatterjee, Executive Director
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
A Sharp Focus on Next ‘Baroda Next’ is not just a catchy slogan. Relying on its No.1 position in overseas banking – it has 74 offices against SBI’s 52 – Chairman MD Mallya is trying to make the Mumbai-based Bank of Baroda (BoB) roll out a grand expansion plan across territories and businesses. The current fiscal will witness BoB opening 10 more foreign branches, finalising its life insurance venture with British giant Legal and General Group, and of course, trying to continue its performance despite the global slowdown. The proof is in the Q1 results.
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BANK OF BARODA
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For the uninitiated, the name ‘Bank of Baroda’ might seem too regional. They would be surprised to know that Bank of Baroda (BoB) is this vast country’s third largest public sector bank. What is more, BoB is the country’s largest in overseas operations – with around 20-25% of the business coming from 75 countries across the globe. Bank of Baroda serves its 3.3 crore customers across India and globe, through a network that is 3000 branches strong. Majority owned by Government of India – 53.8% - BoB’s asset base of over Rs. 2,25,000 crore makes it the third largest PSB, behind State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB), and the fourth in overall ranking, behind private player ICICI Bank. Tracing its roots to royalty, and later to nationalism, Bank of Baroda takes pride in the fact that their better ethics have made them survive world recessions, world wars, and financial scams of all kind. Having its corporate office in Bandra-Kurla Complex, the financial district of India’s economic capital Mumbai, Bank of Baroda keeps its head office still at Baroda, from where everything started. Bank of Baroda is one PSB that has quickly adapted to the competition provided by new-generation private banks, and has even contemplated a performance-based pay structure for itself.
Always a team player, BoB has been quite active on the loan syndication front, and was proactive in sharing a loan for the beleagured Kingfisher Airlines. Recently BoB also came to the help of Tata Motors as a co-guarantor with JP Morgan, Standard Chartered Bank, and GE, for their loan from European Investment Bank. Bank of Baroda’s performance has not gone unnoticed – even across the globe – with the bank enjoying one of the highest (permitted) ownership stakes by foreign institutional investor (FII). BoB had come up with a good performance in the first quarter of this fiscal with all key figures –
MD Mallya, Chairman
headline as well as component figures – improving. Net profit rose by 55%, net NPL improved to 0.3% from 0.5%, restructured loans were limited to 2.9%, return on assets improved to 1.2%, and Tier-I ratio improved to 8.81% from 7.6%. BoB which recently started full-fledged operations in New Zealand, is also the only full-fledged Indian bank operating in UAE. This year BoB plans to enter markets as diverse as Canada, Kuwait, Mozambique, Qatar, Russia and Saudi Arabia through direct operations, while for Malaysia and Thailand, it is eyeing acquisitions. Chairman MD Mallya has recently indicated that he is working for a 22% rise in loans, riding on the demand from sectors like infrastructure and housing. The banking industry estimates to grow credit by 20%. Bank of Baroda’s upcoming joint insurance venture is expected to be an outright winner with expertise from their British partner, as well as the combined customer and branch base of BoB and its partner bank.
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
SK Goel, Chairman & Managing Director, UCO Bank
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Social Commitment, In New Generation Style UCO Bank was always there for social upliftment and poverty alleviation. Under Chairman SK Goel, UCO is becoming more customer-friendly with new-generation features like no-holiday branches and express services, even while not losing its social focus.
Even in this challenging times, during FY 08-09 the Bank has clocked 26% growth in its operating profit at Rs.1202 crore and 35% growth in its Net Profit at Rs.558 crore, over last year. Its CRAR as on 31.3.09 is comfortable at 11.93 as per prevailing Basel-II guidelines. For the first time in recent past, during FY 08-09 the Bankâ€™s Total recovery from NPAs other than write offs at Rs.702 crore (Rs.583 crore) was higher than fresh accretion of NPA at Rs.666 crore(Rs.1035 crore), thereby achieving a reduction in absolute amount of NPA despite the economic slowdown. To improve its profitability the Bank is pursuing the policy
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espite the prevailing global turmoil in the financial sector UCO Bank is one of the 8 PSBs whose rating has recently been upgraded by the credit rating agency CRISIL. CRISIL upgraded its rating on the UCOâ€™s lower tier-2 bonds from AA to AA+.
of tight control over cost of funds, strict monitoring of expenditures and making all out efforts to mobilize lowcost deposits. Side by side, its social commitment to ensure financial inclusion for all is worth mentioning. Kolkata headquartered UCO Bank is one of India’s leaders in banking that meets the country’s complex social commitments. For example, UCO’s advances to the priority sector during 2008-09 constituted more than 50% of its total advances, and this public sector bank (PSB) also met all its lending commitments to the agricultural and weaker sections of the society. UCO Bank is also a two-time national award winner for lending to micro enterprises.
is trying to be more customer-friendly with new generation features like no-holiday branches and express services. Chairman Goel is also known to think from customers’ shoes, and his recent advice for existing home loan customers – a disenchanted lot in India as elsewhere – were enough to evoke a smile, if not renew hope. He asked home loan customers burdened with a high interest rate to try bargaining with their banks for a lower rate or move the loan elsewhere that offered better rates. Goel further explained that these were not unfeasible options as no bank would opt to lose a customer in whole, but would prefer lesser profits.
UCO Bank’s Chairman & Managing Director SK Goel is a veteran banker of India. Under his leadership, UCO UCO Bank, Kolkata
UCO’s advances to the priority sector during 2008-09
constituted more than 50% of its total advances, and this public sector bank (PSB) also met all its lending commitments to the agricultural and weaker sections of the society.
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Mr S.K. Goel, Chairman and Managing, UCO Bank, Executive Directors Mr B.N. Mittal (right) and Mr V.K. Dhingra
One of UCO Bank’s main challenges is to better its Net Interest Margin (NIM) that stood at 1.98% in 200809 as against the desired level of 2.5 to 3%. The bank is hopeful of moving its NIM to at least 2.25% in 200910. To meet this and other challenges, UCO is focusing more on productive markets like the Indian state of Gujarat. The bank already has a significant presence there, but wants to double it within the next two years. To better the financial health of UCO Bank, it has already been infused with Rs. 450 crore by the Government in 2008-09, and will receive another Rs. 750 crore this year. As part of the ongoing restructuring, UCO Bank is planning to raise Rs. 136 crore from a Follow-on Public Issue (FPO) late this year when the market conditions improve. To diversify its operations into non-fund based areas, UCO is getting into the general insurance business this year by floating a new company that will have other domestic and foreign entities in this sector. The bank plans to hold a 30% stake in the new entity. UCO Bank grew its total business by 25% in 2008-09 to reach Rs. 1,69,890 crore, and plans to grow it on
similar lines to Rs. 2.02 lakh crore this year on an expected credit growth of 25%. Profitability for the first quarter is already up by 15% over the corresponding quarter last year. UCO’s footprint in India is significant, both geographically and sector-wise. The 66 year old bank has 2065 branches (as on 31.3.09) across the country and lends to all sections of the Indian economy - micro, small, medium & large enterprises, and spanning all sectors including retail, agriculture, services and infrastructure. UCO Bank has presence in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Malaysia, and correspondent arrangements all over the world. Seasonal Magazine explores Chairman SK Goel’s strategies for meeting UCO Bank’s challenges through an interview: You had recently remarked that during Non ? Performing Assets (NPAs) sale, UCO prefers cash over Security Receipts (SRs). Is this viable, considering the poor interest shown by Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs)? Sale of NPAs depends upon the quality of the assets. It is not entirely true that ARCs show poor interest in cash transactions. Where the asset quality is good, UCO Bank does prefer and can demand cash sales over security receipts as SR is a long-term process and offers no certainty of realization. UCO has been quite successful in negotiating good terms with ARCs.
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SK Goel’s leadership qualities have influenced UCO Bank positively, and it was with great pride that UCO, the lead banker (head of the State Level Bankers Meet) for Himachal Pradesh, announced that the state has become the country’s first in ensuring 100% credit inclusion for all households.
? How do you assess the financial health of UCO Bank vis-à-vis its peers? UCO has challenges on both the Net Interest Margin (NIM) front and the Non Performing Assets (NPA) front… There are challenges, but UCO Bank has made headway on both fronts, lately. Speaking about NPAs, for the first time in recent past, in FY 08-09 UCO’s total recovery from NPAs other than write-offs was higher than fresh accretion of NPAs thereby achieving a reduction in absolute NPA numbers. Our NNPA to Net Advance Ratio which was 1.98% as on 31.3.08 has come down to 1.18% as on 31.3.09. This has been achieved despite difficult economic condition prevailing in India arising out of the global financial meltdown. And UCO Bank continues to employ a two-pronged strategy on NPAs – firstly, better NPA management through recovery from stressed assets, and secondly, prevention of further slippages of assets. On the NIM front too, we are pursuing a dual strategy of putting maximum stress on mobilizing low-cost deposits, even while reducing our cost of funds. Concerns have recently been raised about PSBs including UCO Bank resorting to mass restructuring of loans to temporarily clear NPAs from the balance sheet. But won’t they come back to haunt you in the next balance sheet? What is your take on this? Restructuring was a one-time initiative declared by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the second half of financial year 2008-09 to counter the spillover effects of the global downturn which affected the otherwise viable industrial units and projects. This enabled banks to maintain credit quality. Most of the restructuring exercises undertaken by UCO Bank were outcomes of RBI guidelines on this matter. As a follow-up measure UCO has also put in place proper monitoring mechanism to keep the restructured accounts under strict vigil and prevent slippages to NPA category. ?
How will you counter the allegation that public sector banks’ (PSBs) performance is largely driven by government compensating for non-performing agricultural loans, as well as large government funds like the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) switching to PSBs for disbursement, thereby forcing millions of hitherto unbanked to open accounts?
UCO is trying to be more customerfriendly with newgeneration features like no-holiday branches and express services.
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One has to understand that public sector banks in India are instruments of social change for the country apart from being business organizations. PSBs are mandated to undertake priority sector lending of which agriculture lending is a part. The Governmentâ€™s relief measure to farmers by way of ADWDRS is a welcome relief to farmers who have been struggling to repay their loans for various reasons. For UCO Bank the proportion of NPAs out of the eligible amount is relatively small. Regarding the second part of your question, it is a universally accepted fact that financial inclusion is a prerequisite for upliftment of the poor and the marginalized. Taking banking to the unbanked is a part of that process and disbursement of funds under NREG scheme through banks is meant to ensure proper delivery and prevention of leakages. UCO Bank was one of the first banks to be recapitalized by the Government as soon as the downturn happened, and reportedly needs another round of fund infusion shortly. How did your Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) come to be lower than some of your peers? During FYâ€™08-09, UCO Bank continued to remain BASEL-II compliant with Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) at 11.93 per cent as on 31.3.2009. It is relevant to observe that UCO is Basel II compliant as we have international presence. RBI has also concurred with us that only Basel II CAR is applicable for UCO Bank from 31.3.09. There has been a change in the overall capital structure of UCO during the financial year 2008-09. UCO Bank has during the year restructured its capital as per the Capital Restructuring Plan approved by the Government of India. In accordance with the plan, a sum of Rs. 250 crore out of the total equity capital of Rs. 799.36 crore has been converted into Perpetual Non-Cumulative Preferences Shares (PNCPS), thereby reducing the total equity share capital of UCO to Rs. 549.36 crore and resulting in the consequential reduction in the percentage shares held by the GOI from 74.98 per cent to 63.59 per cent. As per this plan, Government of India would be subscribing a sum of Rs. 1200 crore in innovative capital instruments of UCO Bank , in two tranches of Rs. 450 crore and Rs. 750 crore during the years 2008-09 and 2009-10 respectively, to strengthen the capital base of the bank. UCO has already received Rs. 450 crore during March 2009 and has accordingly allotted NCPS to the GOI.
UCO Bank, Salt Lake, Kolkata
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Why is Axis Bank a Distant Third Against ICICI & HDFC?
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ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, & Axis Bank started out at the same time – around 1994 – when RBI allowed private banks to be set up. While all three thrived, there is no doubt that Axis Bank (then UTI Bank) has always been the distant third.
ll three banks had lots in common, like their strong parents, but while ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank moved with decisive momentum throughout these 15 years, UTI Bank even had to undergo a painful name change to Axis Bank.
Even recently, while there was smooth leadership change at both ICICI & HDFC with home-grown executives, Axis Bank had to bring in ICICI veteran Shikha Sharma for the top post. Axis Bank needs to move much quicker with painful decisions like what ICICI Bank did with their PoS terminal division recently. After a rapid innings of growing their Point of Sale (PoS) business to 1.8 lakh terminals – the country’s largest, ICICI Bank decided to sell the entire business to First Data, citing increased pressure from shrinking margins. Axis Bank is still to take a call on this, even while having only lower margins, and a PoS business of 1.2 lakh terminals.
One problem with Axis Bank seems to be its split ownership between - LIC, GIC, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance, United Insurance, & Specified Undertaking of UTI (SUUTI). Even recently, Government had to intervene when most of the partners protested LIC’s bid to take over the stake of SUUTI.
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And even while Axis Bank finds it challenging to compete with ICICI Bank and HDFC, it is facing increased pressure from public sector banks (PSBs). PSBs are lending at 11 – 12.25%, against Axis Bank’s 12.75 – 16%.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Dr.V.A.Joseph, MD&CEO, South Indian Bank
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SOUTH INDIAN BANK
Dr.V A Joseph receives the award for the best bank in asset quality among all private sector banks in India from Mr.James E Thompson, GBS Chairman & Chief Executive, Crown Group of companies on 18th February 2009 at Mumbai.
Dr.V.A.Joseph receives the award for the “Best Bank” in the old generation banks’ category - ‘fe India’s Best Bank Awards’ from Hon: Union Finance Minister Mr.Pranab Mukherjee .
redundant and making it competition-ready with new generation banks multi-times its size. Being a Kerala headquartered bank, SIB enjoys the distinct advantage of having a booming NRI customer base that amounts to 17-20% of its total deposits. Further strengthening this business, South Indian Bank is tying up with a major commercial bank in Qatar. Widening its portfolio of services, SIB has also recently tied up with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to sell the insurance major’s diverse marketleading products. The bank is also starting an online share trading facility. Eyeing a growth of 20% in both deposits and advances this fiscal, SIB is opening around 30 new branches across the country. The bank’s four-year plan is to open 250 new branches across the country, of which 150 will be out of South India, mainly in the Northern States. All that ambition seems achievable as SIB has several firsts to its credit in the country’s private sector banking – first to become a scheduled bank, first to open a currency chest, first to open an NRI branch, first to open an industrial finance branch, and SIB is now also the third largest branch network among all private banks having all its branches under Core Banking Solution (CBS).
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years might sound too long to garner 550 branches and 31,000 crores in total business for a private sector bank. But South Indian Bank (SIB) is not just a private bank, but a traditional private bank. In fact, not just a traditional private bank, but awarded as India’s best performing traditional private bank according to a recent study by Ernst & Young / Financial Express. The award was recently handed over by none other than Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. So what makes SIB tick even without it being a grandiose private bank on the line of HDFC or Axis? Some clues are evident from the latest quarterly results. Net profit is up by 55.64%, net interest income has gone up by 67.40%, and net interest margin has gone up to 3.11%. With such solid results, Managing Director & CEO VA Joseph, an outperforming banker, is embarking South Indian Bank upon a growth trail that will make its ‘South Indian’ tag
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
INDIAN O VERSEAS BANK (IOB) OVERSEAS
Reliability, Banking on Creativity
Indian Overseas Bank had a difficult 2008-09, which it doesnâ€™t want to repeat this fiscal. Major measures are now on to tap lucrative overseas markets like Malaysia, focus further on its creative business of film-financing, toughen its battle on the NPA/NIM fronts, and solidify its reputation of reliability with a 3-Way Disaster Recovery facility. Seasonal Magazine gets inside IOB through an interview with Chairman SA Bhat.
SA Bhat, Chairman, IoB
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Indian Overseas Bank, the Chennai headquartered public sector banking major is now just 50 short of 2000 branches, with a business mix of 1.75 lakh crore. Under Chairman & Managing Director, SA Bhat, IOB is taking the difficult year of 2009-10 head on, with a lot of innovative measures.
Combining its might with fellow banks, Bank of Baroda (BoB) and Andhra Bank, Indian Overseas Bank is starting a new banking subsidiary in Malaysia this year. It is also applying consortium-finance together with Exim Bank to fund a mega movie – the Rs. 70 crore ‘De Dhana Dhan’ starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, and directed by Priyadarshan. Earlier IOB had financed the
Rajanikant starrer ‘Sivaji’ which went on to become the highest grossing Tamil film ever in history. When banks collapsed one after the other in US, the government there had turned to some of the most reliable banks like JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America to save them by mergers. A similar situation had arisen with Pune-based Shree Suvarna Sahakari Bank (SSSB) three years back, and it was Indian Overseas Bank that Government of India chose to take over SSSB. On 20th May 2009, IOB wound up the protracted steps of takeover, and the SSSB branches became Indian Overseas Bank branches. Everyone in the banking industry expected customers of SSSB to rush to IOB on day one to claim their deposits which had been frozen for three years. But
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it was the reverse that happened. The SSSB branches of Indian Overseas Bank attracted new deposits worth Rs. 6 crore, 1000 new accounts, and renewal of 10,000 fixed deposits, all in just the first five days of operation. Indian Overseas Bank, though a moderate performer in the stock market, has garnered recent attention with LIC buying nearly 50 crore worth of IOB shares. Chairman SA Bhat has been a Bank of India (BoI) veteran, before moving on to UCO Bank as its Executive Director, before taking over IOB’s reins in June 2007. Seasonal Magazine quizzes SA Bhat on Indian Overseas Bank’s challenges and strategies: What prompted Indian Overseas Bank to go for a new banking subsidiary in Malaysia this year? And why is it a joint effort with two other banks? Overseas expansion is expected to be a major growth avenue for Indian banks this year. Malaysia was a natural fit as the country has a significant ethnic population of South Indian origin. Indian Overseas Bank being headquartered in Chennai, has a natural flair to address these customers of South Indian origin in Malaysia. We already have a smaller presence there, the feedback from which was promising. Coming to the second part of your question, the main reason for a joint effort with Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank was as a means to manage the high costs of setting up a bank there. This way, each of us can bear the required capital load better.
Indian Overseas Bank is now applying consortium-finance together with Exim Bank to fund a mega movie – the Rs. 70 crore ‘De Dhana Dhan’. Isn’t it a risky proposition? Financing movies are not something new to Indian Overseas Bank, as you might know. Our movie finance portfolio includes Tamil hits like ‘Sivaji’. But our exposure to Bollywood has been rather limited. However, we are confident on this front as there is a due diligence that is followed in selecting the right project. An IOB panel examines aspects like the producer’s and director’s track record, who all are starring in it, and other factors. For example, ‘De Dhana Dhan’ is by Priyadarshan and stars Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, which shows it is an ambitious project. And even if a movie doesn’t do as well as expected, the bank is covered by way of primary security and collateral security. The primary security is the rights (prints) of the movie, and collateral is something unrelated like property etc. I think that film financing is just another arm of conventional financing that can be highly prospective if done correctly. It is just a case of matching the risks and rewards. See the case of ‘Sivaji’ that Indian Overseas Bank financed. This Rajanikant starrer
IOB has always been a moderate performer in the stock market. With LIC recently taking up Indian Overseas Bank shares worth Rs. 50 crore, do you expect a better positioning? I wouldn’t agree that IOB was always a moderate performer. But, yes, the scrip encountered some problems when a foreign institutional investor (FII) offloaded his 10% stake in the bank. Now, that is what we call a huge volume sale, and it reflected in the scrip’s further performance for some months. But soon other investors realized that that sale was a oneoff case, and that the IOB stock is basically strong. As of LIC taking a significant stake, I would say that it has been good for them as they could buy IOB cheap, and now it is soaring.
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went on to become the highest grossing Tamil film ever. By registering just 10% growth rate in fiscal 2008-09, IOB has become one of the slowest growing banks in India. How do you plan to overcome this challenge? When you say 10% growth rate, please remember that it is only in profits. Because, Indian Overseas Bank’s overall growth rate was much higher, much in tune with the industry. On the profit front, yes, we were hit due to the economic downturn, NPAs, and other factors. We need to work more on our margins. But overall we are confident. We play the game systematically. IOB won’t be like some aggressive banks who grow at 40% one year, and struggle with 0% growth the next. We prefer to grow with the industry.
On the loan front, is Indian Overseas Bank battling low demand for high-quality loans? Recently, you had opted to part-finance the beleaguered Jet Airways to the tune of hundreds of crores. Not many banks were willing for the risk… I don’t agree that IOB is facing a dearth of high-quality loans. Due to the economic downturn, maybe, many conventionally good loans have turned riskier. And I
How do you assess the financial health of IOB vis-à-vis its peers? Very few banks are challenged like Indian Overseas Bank on both the Net Interest Margin (NIM) front and the Non Performing Loan (NPA) front? Well, our NIM has improved to 2.84% which is not as bad as you think. I think that it might improve even more to reach 3% this fiscal. But on the NPA front we have suffered a lot during the past year. That is where the downturn hit Indian Overseas Bank hard. But we are systematically tackling this, and you can expect a significant change next year.
Serious concerns have recently been raised about PSBs resorting to mass restructuring of loans to temporarily whitewash Non Performing Assets (NPAs) from the balance sheet. Won’t they come back to haunt you in the next balance sheet? What is Indian Overseas Bank’s take on this?
don’t agree that many banks were unwilling to take risk with Jet Airways. In fact, Indian Overseas Bank is not going on this alone – a consortium is funding Jet. I agree that the element of risk is there. The airline industry is down and Jet is also struggling with the industry. But at IOB we have faith that both will bounce back. As I told you, it is a matter of balancing risks with rewards. Without such risks our Net Interest Margin (NIM) will continue to suffer.
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But the temptation is always there, isn’t it – to classify some NPA-class loans as restructured loans to bring down the NPA numbers? Well, if that is the case, why should I declare these much NPAs as we have done? IOB doesn’t resort to such tactics. We are very transparent.
Do you mean to say that you don’t expect none of IOB’s restructured loans to come up as NPAs next year? Yes, we don’t expect that, because we will work with them towards that end. But as you can imagine, we should also expect a tiny percentage of them not making it due to now unforeseeable factors.
How will Indian Overseas Bank counter the allegation that public sector banks’ (PSBs) performance is largely driven by government compensating for non-performing agricultural loans, as well as large government funds like the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) switching to PSBs for disbursement, thereby forcing millions of hitherto unbanked to open accounts? Regarding NREG, I wouldn’t like to comment. About your first question, yes, when a loan waiver is in place, the government would compensate. If we had got the full compensation, what you had said would be correct. But it is not the case. I think at IOB the compensation stands at around 10% now. That means, if we had lent Rs 500 crores for agriculture, we have been compensated for only Rs 50 crores until now. When the full compensation arrives, yes, it will help our numbers.
Indian Overseas Bank has recently commissioned a second disaster recovery site at Hyderabad. Can you explain the need for this facility? Yes, IOB has become one of the few banks in the country with a second disaster recovery site. It is a major step in the 3-Way Disaster Recovery set up we were implementing. Under this, we have a Primary Data Centre (PDC) and Command Centre in Chennai at different sites, and a Disaster Recovery Centre hosted at Hyderabad. Using technologies like auto fail-over and asynchronous replication, Indian Overseas Bank will ensure business continuity and uninterrupted service to our customers.
K. Gnanadesikan, Finance Secretary (left); S.A. Bhat, Indian Overseas Bank chairman and managing director; K.S. Sripathi, Chief Secretary (second from right); and G. Narayanan, executive director, Indian Overseas Bank (right), at a meeting in Chennai
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I feel that such assessments are not entirely true. As far as Indian Overseas Bank is concerned, we have never mixed up these two issues – restructuring and NPAs. When the going got tough for many companies this year, we too went for loan restructuring as per RBI guidelines. Each case was assessed for their current problems and future viability. IOB believes in all our restructured loans, that they can rebound once the economic situation in India and the world improves. Only where we have no faith left, have we classified as Non Performing Assets (NPAs). It might be easy to brand something an NPA. But as socially responsible bankers, it is our duty to ensure that all viable companies and feasible loans are supported. Because, even though they might seem private projects, they are national assets when we take into consideration factors like their employment potential. It is Indian Overseas Bank’s duty to ensure that they succeed and not fail. Restructuring is a tool to help them bring back to viability as soon as possible.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Vijaya Bank, Head Office
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he turnaround that started from the second quarter of last fiscal is now complete at Vijaya Bank. Waging formidable battles on both the yield-on-advances front and the cost-of-deposits front – that too in difficult years like FY’09 and FY’10 – Vijaya Bank has come up trumps on the crucial figure of Net Interest Income (NII) in Q1. The bank is betting big on their substantial presence in NRI hotspots like Mangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, & Chandigarh to achieve a fourfold rise in NRI deposits to Rs. 5000 crore. Though Vijaya Bank’s performance on the NPA front leaves room for improvement, the bank finds
solace in the fact that it is not a mass issue but an issue with a very few large accounts like the PSU STCL. Both recovery efforts and monitoring of restructured accounts to prevent fresh slippages have been undertaken. Chairman Albert Tauro and Executive Director SC Kalia realizes that treasury gains won’t be this good next time, but believes that their better credit deposit ratio would help reduce the impact. Vijaya Bank is pinning much hope on expanding their alternative delivery channels (ADCs) to achieve this fiscal’s growth target of Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. The bank is already 100% CBS. Seasonal Magazine interviews Chairman Albert Tauro and Executive Director SC Kalia:
Vijaya Bank to BuildUpon the Turnaround
With the June 30 results out, Vijaya Bank has made a dramatic turnaround to profitability on a year on year basis – from a 76.64 crore loss to a 143.38 crore profit. Are the quarter-on-quarter results equally promising?
The results are certainly promising and make us feel upbeat about the coming quarters. Let me also make it clear that the turnaround started from the second quarter of last fiscal and we moved consistently and progressively thereafter till the last quarter. On stand alone basis, growth in our core earnings every quarter has been one of the highest among the PSBs. Our Net Interest Income for Q4 of last fiscal clocked a 62% growth, followed by a 54% growth in the June quarter this year. Concomitantly, our earning efficiency also improved progressively from 2.07% in the second quarter of last year to 2.38% for the June quarter. I am sure, with likely pick up in quality and stable business, the current and subsequent quarters show a lot of promise. Unlike many bigger PSBs, Vijaya Bank has managed a 53.75% growth in Net Interest Income (NII). What were its key drivers? Is it sustainable in the coming quarters?
The key drivers of our NII growth is better yield from our advances portfolio and to some extent, interest cost containment. Our yield on advances, at 10.72%, is quite comparable to the best in business while on the cost front, we have managed to bring down cost of deposits to 6.82%. Managing cost of deposit was quite a challenge, I must say, especially in view of the volumes contracted during the second half of 2007-08, a common feature of the banking industry then. For us, it is possible to sustain the NII growth in the coming quarters. Our focus on CASA deposits, broad based advances and quality loan assets is likely see us maintain the growth in core earnings. You have embarked Vijaya Bank upon a campaign to increase your NRI deposits four-fold within the next couple of years. Apart from starting overseas branches, how do you plan to achieve the target of Rs.5000 Crore.
Albert Tauro, Chairman the second half of the current financial, we should further this goal with even greater vigour. We don’t have any overseas branch as yet, which we make good with the aid of tie-ups with our correspondent banks. We are also in the process of tying up with leading Exchange Houses in the Middle East to step up our nonresident deposit growth. Vijaya Bank continues to suffer on the NPA front, with a increase from 1.71% to 2.94%. With NPAs coming in all the crore lending sectors like commercial real estate, personal loans etc, how do you plan to combat it in the coming quarters?
NPAs are not an exception to Vijaya Bank alone, more particularly if you consider the last few quarters marked by recessionary pressures. About the June quarter as
Campaign “Mission NRI – 5000” aims to increase our NR deposit base to Rs.5000 Crore by the end of this financial. We have got good presence in high potential centres like Kochi, Mangalore, Chandigarh and Hyderabad and we are confident of realizing this goal. As brought out by a recent report, India receives the highest inward remittance in the world and with the global market sentiments slated for improvement from
Our recovery efforts are being reinvigorated in the form of more V-Adalats, Baaki Vasuli Camps and recourse to various legal provisions.
We are ready to launch an Online Loan Processing System that will help us improve our advance volumes further. 69 bps rise in our NIM quarter on quarter. That way, our core earnings significantly augmented our treasury income and as such, we are confident of sustaining our overall earnings.
well, almost all the banks have seen rise in the NPA level that was on expected lines. Let me also add that in our case, the addition has been on account of very few large accounts and we are making all efforts to turn those around. Otherwise, our NPA level in sectors like agriculture, education loans etc are quite reasonable and manageable. We have an action plan in place to improve our asset quality. In the first place, we are targeting our restructured loan books and keeping a close vigil so as to prevent fresh slippages. Our loan appraisal and monitoring systems have also been strengthened further to contain the accretion to the bare minimum. Finally, our recovery efforts are being reinvigorated in the form of more V-Adalats, Baaki Vasuli Camps and recourse to various legal provisions.
Your STCL account is particularly troubling. How do you plan to solve the issue?
I would not like to comment on any individual account for obvious reasons. Do you foresee treasury gains slowing for Vijaya Bank in the coming quarters, due to Indiaâ€™s mounting fiscal deficit and your low credit deposit ratio?
First of all credit deposit ratio exceeding 67% probably does not merit to be termed as low as against the industry average of about 70%. What is more heartening is the fact that despite relatively low growth in advances, we could notch up 54% growth in Net Interest Income and
From the current business levels of Rs.92000 Crore you plan to move Vijaya Bank up to Rs.1,10,000 Crore by fiscal end. What role will alternate delivery channels like IT play in this growth ?
I.T. enabled Alternative Delivery Channels (ADCs) will be one of the key drivers in our business growth. We are already 100% CBS and we have the wherewithal to draw new tech savvy clientele and augment our top line. We offer today any-branch banking as well as remote banking options which are good value propositions for customers who prefer to conserve time and energy by not going for physical branch banking. We have internet banking modules for both corporate and retail segments, offering SMS enabled facilities, bill payment, tax remittance and so on. We are very soon launching Mobile Banking and Phone Banking as also an e-enabled Trading Portal aimed at our niche segments. We have plans to increase our ATM network to 500 by this fiscal and at the moment, our ATM hits are quite encouraging though there is still a lot of upside to it. Besides, ADCs are going to be our competitive advantage as far as our NRI customers and HNI customers are concerned. Lastly, we are ready to launch an Online Loan Processing system that will help us improve our advances volumes further.
SC Kalia, Executive Director
Treasury gains in the coming quarters may not be as buoyant as they were in the last quarter. This is applicable to the entire banking industry, given the current trend, likely inflationary pressures and recovery in credit demand and the Governmentâ€™s borrowing plan. Benchmark yields are likely to undergo some hardening, especially from the latter part of the second half. We must also appreciate that the RBI may withdraw its accommodative stance once the revival takes effect. In such a scenario, treasury gains may feature slackness in the coming quarters.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Hardwork Shows Results
With most growth figures including Net Interest Income (NII) up, and most problem figures including high-cost deposits down in the first quarter, Syndicate Bank is refocusing its efforts on the remaining challenges like its Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and its Net Interest Margin (NIM). Beyond the conventional measures, the bank is kick-starting further growth with its single-window ‘Synd Yuva’ campaign as well as the upcoming mobile banking / mobile commerce facility across 2000 branches. The bank will also be a major beneficiary of this fiscal’s farm loan compensation.
he results for the quarter ended June 30 was one that made India’s banks as well as financial markets nervous. Have the growth figures gone up? Have the loss figures gone down?
As the results for the country’s public sector banks poured in one after the other in recent weeks, two things were clear – first looks were good for all, while second looks exposed the chinks in their armor. Karnataka based Syndicate Bank was, however, an exception. Of course, they too suffered from the too-good-first-look phenomenon – net profits were trebled to 261.56 crore – but they had good constituent numbers to report. The extremely good first-look of a 198% increase in net profit was driven mainly by a ten-fold increase in treasury income over the past year’s same quarter. But the real excitement was from core constituent figures with net interest income growing by 16%, global deposits moving up by 27%, global advances by 30%, and credit-deposit ratio moving up by 1.84%. The only good figure that moved backwards was Syndicate Bank’s net interest margin that moved down from 2.34% to 2.23%.
Mr. Vinod Kumar Nagar Executive Director
Mr. R Ramachandran Executive Director
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But the bank has reasons to cheer as even while most growth figures advanced, it could cut some key problem figures. The
bank shed high-cost deposits by 44%, and the gross NPA levels declined by 93 percentage points to 1.91%. Under the leadership of its Executive Directors VK Nagar and R Ramachandran, the bank is aware of treasury income’s help this time, and has embarked on bettering the financial performance with a slew of recent measures like mobile banking and faster single-window customer signup. Headquartered at Manipal once, Syndicate Bank moved its corporate office to Bangalore some years back, reflecting its ambition to establish itself as a leading public sector bank in the country. But respecting traditions, the bank still holds its Annual General Meetings (AGMs) at the smaller town of Manipal, often called the cradle of Indian banking.
Syndicate Bank will shortly receive the remaining two-thirds from the Government’s net farm loan waiver to banks.
Keen to shed off the lethargic image associated with India’s public sector banks, Syndicate Bank recently launched the ‘Synd Yuva’ campaign. A unique scheme that will challenge even new generation banks in its rapid and single window service, Synd Yuva will provide a customer with instant ATM card, Internet banking account, SMS banking facility, and credit card application.
Keen to shed off the lethargic image associated with India’s public sector banks, Syndicate Bank recently launched the ‘Synd Yuva’ campaign. A unique scheme that will challenge even new generation banks in its rapid and single window service, Synd Yuva will provide a customer with instant ATM card, Internet banking account, SMS banking facility, and credit card application.
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Syndicate Bankâ€™s Executive Directors VK Nagar and R Ramachandran assumed office in late 2008. While Nagar is a Punjab National Bank veteran, Ramachandran has a similar experience with Indian Bank. Both have undergone training in several niche banking areas in reputed financial institutes in India and abroad. On the NPA front, Syndicate Bank has moved decisively to strengthen its in-house infrastructure for loan recoveries.
By 1928, Dr. Pai came up with the idea of mobilising funds for these weavers from encouraging the habit of thrift & small savings from among the local community. This tiny Udupi bank would send their agents to collect daily deposits as low as 2 annas from each doorstep. In this way Dr. Paiâ€™s bank got the funds to finance the weavers, and the daily depositors started saving â€“ many of them for the first time in their lives.
Dr. Pai named his innovation as Pigmy Deposit Scheme, and this is the same name, this bank which we now know as Syndicate Bank, uses to this day. The only difference is that Syndicate Bank nowadays collects through 3700 Pigmy Agents, from 12.32 lakh depositors, a total daily sum of over Rs. 2 crores. Interestingly, Syndicate Bank still collects a daily amount as low as Rs. 1, but the current Pigmy Deposits of the Bank runs to thousands of crores.
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The bank has reasons to cheer as even while most growth figures advanced, it could cut some key problem figures. The bank shed high-cost deposits by 44%, and the gross NPA levels declined by 93 percentage points to 1.91%.
Syndicate Bank traces its history to 1925, when Dr. TMA Pai, together with two socially sensitive friends, Upendra Ananth Pai, a businessman, and Vaman Kudva, an engineer, started a small bank in Udupi with a capital of just Rs. 8000. Their objective was to extend financial assistance to local weavers who were then crippled by a crisis in the handloom industry.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
What Dena Bank’s
Core Numbers Speak
Dena Bank - Corporate Office Mumbai
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ena Bank showed significant optimism when it recorded one of the largest percentage rises in advance taxes among banks this fiscal. However, there are several serious challenges before the bank.
Dena Bank is in need of recapitalization by Indian Government to shore up its Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR). But World Bank, from where the Government hopes to get funds for recapitalizing public sector banks (PSBs) like Dena Bank, has put forth certain conditions that is difficult to meet. It is a sensitive issue for Dena Bank as its government ownership is among the lowest of all public sector banks at just 51.2%. Dena Bank Chairman DL Rawal’s previous stints were with Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Canara Bank. He is widely expected to have a definite mandate till October 31st 2011 for pursuing growth avenues. Chairman Rawal’s aim is 400 more branches and a business-mix of Rs. 1,26,000 crores.
include government compensating for nonperforming agricultural loans, as well as large government funds like the National Rural Employee Guarantee (NREG) scheme switching to PSBs for disbursement, thereby forcing millions of hitherto un-banked to open accounts. Though headquartered at Mumbai, Dena Bank has a sharp focus on Gujarat, which can affect the prospects of the bank positively or negatively in tune with the prospects of Gujarat, its current administration, and the state’s relationship with the new government at the Centre.
But against a net profit growth of 79% in fiscal 2008, Dena Bank’s net profit growth declined to 18% in fiscal 2009. This was quite unlike many PSBs, and hints at possible problems specific to Dena Bank.
Like some other PSBs, Dena Bank too had recently restructured many loans – a move which is alleged to prevent some NPAs from appearing in the last balance sheets of these public sector banks. Dena Bank’s recent performance might also
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DL Rawal Chairman, Dena Bank
The overall financial health of Dena Bank also needs to be significantly improved as the bank is challenged on both the Net Interest Margin (NIM) front (around 2.5%) and the Non Performing Assets (NPA) front (above 1%). Very few PSBs share this dual risk.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
India’s Exim Bank at Crossroads
TC Venkat Subramanian, CMD
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The Export Import Bank of India was created for two core objectives – one, to finance the country’s exporters and importers; and two, to finance those financial institutions aspiring to finance exporters and importers. But somewhere down the line, Exim Bank got into unconnected businesses like film, SME, and agricultural financing.
Exim Bank is facing difficult prospects in its core business as overseas investments by Indian companies have witnessed a decline of 14.90 per cent during 2008-09. If this trend continues, Exim Bank stands to face a tough 2009-10 in areas like export credits, EOU finance, overseas investment finance, lines of credit, & export services. CMD TC Venkat Subramanian had recently cited the gloomy economic situation making the availability of export trade finance a major problem. It is not known how the bank plans to address this.
Exim Bank’s diversifications into SME and agri finance, however, don’t carry even the synergies found in film financing.
Exim Bank got into film financing through the related domain of cashflow financing for film distribution in overseas markets, but it soon led Exim Bank to produce films too. The bank has financed successes like Kabul Express, Dhoom, Dhoom-2, Fanaa, Veer Zaara, The Rising etc, but with the stakes getting higher with each production, risk might be just round the corner. Exim Bank’s diversifications into SME and agri finance, however, don’t carry even the synergies found in film financing.
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Exim Bank was recently pulled up by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for lacking compliance to its guidelines regarding loan syndication or multiple banking arrangements, as it was being exploited for major fraud. Exim Bank was originally hived off from RBI as a separate bank for Export-Import.
Exim Bank is now considering funding a major Jatropha plantation project in Ethiopia by Emami Group of India. Queries by Seasonal Magazine regarding the risks of this move considering the risk-profile of the country as well as the plant, remain unanswered from Exim Bank at the time of publication. It is not known whether with the current Chairman’s exit, the Government is planning a return to original objectives at Exim Bank.
ith its homegrown Chairman & Managing Director TC Venkat Subramanian facing retirement after a long stint, and its chief promoter Government of India (GoI) looking at somebody from outside to replace him, Export-Import Bank of India appears to be truly at crossroads.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Betting on Allahabad Bank
Allahabad Bank Head Office
ALLAHABAD BANK nder Chairman KR Kamath’s charge, Allahabad Bank’s non-performing assets (NPAs) have gone down, and the bank faces no emergency recapitalization. However, Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) recent directive to stop lending below prime lending rate (sub-PLR) may affect Allahabad Bank’s prospects adversely. Its loan book is currently dominated by sub-PLR loans at 64%. Allahabad Bank’s net profit growth declined to 19% in fiscal 2009, compared to previous year’s 30%. This was quite unlike many PSBs, and hints about possible problems specific to Allahabad Bank, apart from the ongoing downturn. Like some other PSBs, Allahabad Bank too had
KR Kamath, Chairman
recently restructured many loans – a move which is alleged to prevent some NPAs from appearing in the last balance sheets of these public sector banks. Allahabad Bank’s recent performance might also include government compensating for nonperforming agricultural loans, as well as large government funds like the National Rural Employee Guarantee (NREG) scheme switching to PSBs for disbursement, thereby forcing millions of hitherto un-banked to open accounts.
Not many banks have seen all three – 19th, 18th, & 20th centuries. Established in 1865 by European bankers, this Kolkata based public sector bank (PSB) is the country’s oldest joint stock bank. Chairman KR Kamath who took charge in late 2008 is the youngest CMD ever of a state-owned bank, and is known for his articulation.
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Allahabad Bank recently faced major embarrassments in the form of two fraud cases – one by EOW and another by CBI, possibly caused by failure in due-diligence by some of its frontline officers.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Can Indian Bank the Turnaround?
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Sustain MS Sundara Rajan, Chairman From neck-deep in trouble a few years back, there is no doubt Indian Bank has managed a turnaround under Chairman MS Sundara Rajan. But Indian Bank is still a poor performer in the bourses, despite having attractive P/E and P/ BV ratios. There are chances that this has got something to do with the massive trust erosion the bank started facing around a decade back. While many of the country’s top performing banks in public and private sector drastically reduced their realty exposure growth in 2008-09, Indian Bank registered a substantial growth in realty exposure to the tune of 34%. The wisdom of this step is doubtful, taking into account the numerous reports appearing throughout 2008-09 about the impending realty slowdown. And this growth is also speculated to include not just fresh disbursals, but a significant loan restructuring component. Most public sector banks (PSBs) have resorted to such restructuring, and this move might have temporarily removed some Non Performing Assets (NPAs) from Indian Bank’s balance sheets too for the time being.
Like some other PSBs, Indian Bank’s performance also might include benefits from agricultural loan waivers and large disbursements like the National Rural Employee Guarantee (NREG) scheme.
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
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Federal Bank Catholic Syrian Bank Why
Merger is Bad For Both With reports coming in about the proposed merger of Federal Bank and Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB), the big question in the minds of public stakeholders – both investors & employees - of both banks is who needs such a merger.
ot a Merger Though touted as a merger, there is no doubt that this is going to be a buyout of the Thrissurheadquartered Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB) by Federal Bank. Because, profit-wise, Catholic Syrian Bank is less than one-tenth the size of Federal Bank. However, this is not a distress sale, or a purchase motivated by any banking regulators. That means, the main motivation for the move is from some Directors in the Board of Aluva-based Federal Bank. But why?
Branch Network Overlap Firstly, both banks mainly operate in the same field – Kerala, and some cities of South India. Federal Bank has 615 branches against CSB’s 375. They have similar branches – often nearby to each other – in the same villages, towns, & cities. In other words, a serious overlap of branch networks. For either bank, a tie-up with another with a different geographical spread would be the ideal thing. In fact, Federal Bank was trying for long to find such a match in North, West, or East India.
Venugopalan Nair Chairman, Federal Bank
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SEASONAL MAGAZINE cmyk
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atholic Syrian Bank’s Weak Fundamentals Secondly, CSB is not at a hot-buy as it has so many negatives – it hasn’t completed core banking implementation, it is not a listed company, and is generally looked upon as a not very professional setup. In fact, not many – except for Federal Bank - have come up to buy Catholic Syrian Bank’s largest shareholder Surachan Chawla’s 21% stake in the bank for more than an year now, despite an RBI directive for this NRI to sell to a domestic investor as soon as possible. vervaluing Catholic Syrian Bank Thirdly, CSB is reportedly asking for a huge price – estimates vary between 1.25 to 2 Federal shares for 1 Catholic Syrian Bank share – in lieu of Federal retaining its name in the combined entity and Catholic Syrian Bank losing its name entirely. This has been a sticky issue with Kerala’s Catholic Syrian Church, CSB’s original promoter, and still an influential minority shareholder. In other words, Federal is seriously overvaluing CSB to get over such hurdles.
mployee Dissatisfaction The employees of both banks are also not happy with the move, with Federal employees fearing fewer avenues for promotion, and Catholic Syrian Bank employees panicking about job losses. Such fears are valid since the branch network overlap will make many branches and employees on both sides redundant. Catholic Syrian Bank Officers Federation led by Jose Antony has already approached RBI to block the merger move.
ederal Bank Too is Lethargic Lastly, for CSB shareholders too, Federal is not such a good buyer. The efficiency of Federal Bank is questionable since its total annual business of less than Rs. 55,000 crore is tiny compared with its net worth. For example, excess capital is restricting Federal’s Return on Equity (RoE) to just 13%.
usiness Ethics Federal Bank’s business ethics is also questionable, a point which came to light when Gujarat’s State Dispute Redressal Commission (SDRC) recently charged Federal Bank with unfair trade practice for revising upwards the fixed interest rates of 58 long-term housing loans. Federal had attracted these floating-rate customers from ICICI & HDFC promising a fixed-rate, but later revised it upwards. ederal Bank’s Foreign Identity Federal Bank is also facing another hurdle ever since the new FDI guidelines came into effect in February. Reserve Bank of India has pointed out that under these guidelines Federal Bank should be classified as a foreign-owned bank as its foreign ownership is now 50% or more.
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
ANIL AMBANI EYEING
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani
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Is Reliance - Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) again eyeing Dhanalakshmi Bank? If the rumours are true this time, Dhanalakshmi Bank will become the second Kerala based bank after Catholic Syrian Bank to develop insecurity, despite having a not-so-bad history.
And Dhanalakshmi Bank is no ordinary small bank. It has a history of 82-years, an uncommon feature in the country’s private sector banking. However, after Amitabh Chaturvedi took over the helm, Dhanalakshmi Bank has been trying to shrug off its traditional roots and re-brand as a new generation bank. The wisdom of that move is doubtful, considering their traditional and community-oriented shareholders and customers, as well as the unreliable brand image of many new generation banks. If the Reliance-ADAG takeover rumours are true, Dhanalakshmi Bank will be the second Kerala based bank to face a similar situation, with Federal Bank trying to take over Catholic Syrian Bank. Amitabh Chaturvedi has expressed plans to grow Dhanalakshmi Bank even by 100% to bring it within the first-five segment of private banks. But with no inorganic opportunity in the horizon, the achievability of this plan is doubtable. Dhanalakshmi Bank recently announced a venture fund with Rs. 2000 crore corpus, a move that will
give it a better long-term investment view in selected companies. The fundamentals are also good with profit for 2008-09 nearly doubling over the previous year, making it attractive for deep-pocketed investors like Reliance-ADAG. However, some recent strategies of Dhanalakshmi Bank are enigmatic. Even in a recessionary environment, Dhanalakshmi Bank has announced plans to double its employee base by recruiting 1300 new people. The safety of this move is not clear, taking into account the level of performance-linked wage structure in place at the bank. Dhanalakshmi Bank had also recently entered into an exclusive deal with Bajaj Allianz to distribute their insurance products. It was a rather strange strategy as no other private bank is relying on a single insurance brand. Moreover, many peer banks are entering the insurance management business and not just the insurance distribution business. Until recently, Dhanalakshmi Bank exhibited surprising lethargy in decisively moving forward. The Board’s reluctance to reduce a major shareholder’s stake below 10%, as well as to increase their net worth above Rs. 400 crores were surprising, as it prevented further branch expansion as per RBI norms. Similar was the case with the long delay in removing the chit clause from Dhanalakshmi Bank’s MoA. Now these three issues stand solved. But investors and customers can’t be blamed for suspecting that further such surprises might be there in the bank’s books.
ver since he changed over to Dhanalakshmi Bank from Reliance Capital Asset Management Company, a Reliance-ADAG company, Managing Director Amitabh Chaturvedi has battled suspicions that a buyout by R-ADAG is imminent. Despite many refutals, the controversy refuses to die down, taking into account the advantages Anil Ambani would have with a small bank in his fold.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
A Risky Year Ahead for PNB?
Punjab National Bank, Head Office
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PUNJAB NATIONAL BANK
MV Tanksale, KC Chakrabarty, Nagesh Pydah
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Punjab National Bank (PNB) had the second-largest portfolio of restructured loans among all public sector banks in percentage terms during 2008-09. Even worse, the quality of this portfolio is worrying, as the provisioning PNB has set aside for these accounts in case they turn into NPAs this year is the highest in the industry – 90% is PNB’s provision control ratio (PCR). The country’s second-largest public sector lender also needs to improve in its overall business efficiency, as, despite having India’s second largest branch network, it is only third-largest in total business – behind ICICI Bank - when considering both public and private sector banks. PNB’s businessper-employee is still lagging peers like State Bank of India and Central Bank of India, which have better ratios than even private banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, & Axis Bank. 2009-10 will be a momentous one for PNB, as it battles these challenges.
ndia’s ongoing tussle in the banking sector – the fatherly advice of RBI to lower rates, and the free-thinking defiance of public sector banks – doesn’t affect one player much, because, at 11%, Punjab National Bank (PNB) already has the lowest prime lending rate (PLR) among all banks in the country. It goes without saying that it is a feature that makes PNB a favoured bank among India’s businesses, farmers, and consumers.
The bank has a good source of low-cost funds in its CASA deposits that amount to nearly 40% of its total portfolio. Punjab National Bank which lost its last Chairman KC Chakraborty recently to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), since he was the senior-most banker in India, is now led by its Executive Directors MV Tanksale and Nagesh Pydah, both veteran bankers from India’s public sector banking.
At 11%, Punjab National Bank (PNB) already has the lowest prime lending rate (PLR) among all banks in the country.
Punjab National Bank also excels on Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) – perhaps the only parameter where many Indian banks fall short, much like their global counterparts. While many Indian Banks are struggling to keep their heads above the floor-levels of 9-12%, PNB’s CAR is at a very comfortable 14%, a distinction that it shares with only one other PSB. This also makes PNB in no need for recapitalization by the government, something that is plaguing many other peers.
According to Tanksale, the bank is eyeing a profit of Rs. 3700 crore for the current fiscal, based on an anticipated loan growth of 22% and maintenance of Net Interest Margin (NIM) at 3.5%.
PNB is a good performer on the bourses, with most analysts assigning ‘BUY’ or ‘KEEP’ recommendations, and the scrip commanding a significant premium over spot-price in Foreign Institutional Investor (FII) transfers. Punjab National Bank had also put in a good performance during 2008-09, which saw net profit going up by nearly 69% over the previous year. And it was a sustained, all-quarter performance, with even the
New Delhi headquartered PNB, India’s second-largest public sector lender, has over the years acquired some unique strengths vis-à-vis its peers, which can make this public sector bank take on bigger players from both the public and private sector, provided it can manage some key challenges. The bank produced a Dalal Street beating Q1 financial performance which was noted not only for its headline profit growth of 62% aided by a sharp rise in treasury income, but for its several constituent and other key figures. Loans were up by 38%, total income was up by 34%, operating profit was up by 59.7%, but the biggest surprise came by way of interest income which was up by 26%.
The performance on the net interest income (NII) front is especially good, taking into account their low PLR and how other comparable banks have performed. It also enabled PNB to manage margin pressures better.
MV Tanksale, Executive Directors
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choppy Q4 producing a 59% jump in net profit. Buoyed by the development, PNB was also quick to declare a generous 200% dividend. 2009-10 will be a momentous one for PNB, as it battles some of its core challenges and handles some divestments.
With 100% CBS, the largest ATM network among all PSBs, and Internet Banking, PNB has implemented truly ‘Anytime Anywhere’ banking. In fact, it goes even beyond to facets of ecommerce like booking of tickets, payment of bills etc.
PNB has a huge portfolio of restructured loans, which is the second-largest (as a percentage of its loan-book) in the public sector category. The bank needs to keep a close watch on these accounts lest they fall into the non-performing category next year.
Punjab National Bank also need to improve in its overall business efficiency, as, despite having India’s second largest branch network, it is only third-largest in total business, when you consider both public and private sector banks. A part of this seeming inefficiency is directly due to meeting their social commitments as a public sector bank, something private sector players are not burdened with. For example its ratio of priority sector credit to net bank credit is 41.53% as against the national goal of
40%, and its ratio of agricultural credit is 19.72% as against the goal of 18%.
PNB is divesting a 26% stake in its wholly owned subsidiary PNB Housing Finance to international major Dawnay Day for an amount estimated to be between Rs. 70 – 80 crore. The sale’s due diligence is going on and PNB expects to wind up the process within two months. The bank continues to garner international recognition and partnerships, with the latest being Ex-Im Bank of USA recognizing it for partnership in its $2.45 billion India Infrastructure Facility, a mega loan facility for India’s infrastructure projects. On the technology front, PNB has not only completed implementation of Core Banking Solutions (CBS) throughout its vast network, but has also completed CBS in all its affiliated Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) – a sector that is normally shy of technology.
With 100% CBS, the largest ATM network among all PSBs, and Internet Banking, PNB has implemented truly ‘Anytime Anywhere’ banking. In fact, it goes even beyond to facets of e-commerce like booking of tickets, payment of bills etc.
PNB has operations in UK, Norway, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, & Nepal, and is now planning to enter markets like Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Bhutan, & Fiji, as well as strengthen its presence in UK, China, Dubai, & Singapore. In UK alone, it plans to pump in $50 million more to multiply its thriving business there.
Nagesh Pydah, Executive Directors
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The bank is an outperformer in socially inclusive banking, and has kick-started several initiatives in sectors like microfinance, self-employment loans, kisan credit cards, rural smart cards, enabling technologies for the handicapped, support for the economically challenged etc.
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Hiding Behind Headline Profits? Is there anything hiding behind Canara Bank’s 352.7% YoY rise in net profit? Unlike some of its peers, it is not just stupendous treasury income, or the corresponding last quarter’s poor performance. The sequential or QoQ growth has been, in fact, a de-growth of 22.7% at Canara Bank. Though suffering from an exposure to the troubled carrier Air India, Canara Bank continues to be approached by the likes of Tata to help with their JLR blunder in UK. Canara Bank’s recent changes in their home loan procedures have attracted flak for making customers run from pillar-topost - architect-to-evaluator-to-contractor - multiple times.
hough Canara Bank is trying to grow organically at 23% this year to reach a business-mix of Rs. 4,00,000 crore by opening 200 new branches as well as 10 overseas braches, Chairman & Managing Director AC Mahajan had recently opined that mergers and acquisitions are the only way to grow. This hints at the pressures the bank is facing in competing with players one rung above them like State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, and Union Bank of India.
Canara Bank is one of the four public sector banks (PSBs) that has a significant exposure to the troubled national carrier Air India. The airline has sought more time from Canara Bank to repay its existing loans. A medium-sized public sector bank (PSB), Canara Bank has completed selecting 1800 new employees, which might add strain in a recessionary environment, especially since there is still no performance-based pay structure in place. Canara Bank needs to put such a
structure in place as nearly 20% of its 45,000 workforce will retire within three years. Canara Bank’s Net Interest Margin (NIM) is still below the comfortable 3%, unlike many of its peers. The bank faces an uphill task in improving NIM. Canara Bank has recently put on hold a plan for selling its Non Performing Assets (NPAs) as there were no takers from the Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs). But it might cause Canara Bank some strain, with the worsening loan-to-value (LTV) ratios, especially in commercial properties. Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has recently halted trading in derivatives of Canara Bank. The public sector bank apparently couldn’t meet the guidelines set forth by BSE. Canara Bank is the only bank to have this trading facility stopped. Moody’s Investors Service has placed Canara Bank’s rating on watch for a possible downgrade.
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AC Mahajan, Chairman & Managing Director
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JM Garg, Chairman
INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS
Where Safety and Innovation Meet SEASONAL MAGAZINE
Corporation Bank is trying to have the best of both worlds, under Chairman JM Garg. Marrying public-sector class safety and privatesector type innovation, this award-winning bank can take on both public and private banks multi-times their size. It is a long string of innovations at CorpBank, covering facets like technology, payment collection, branchless banking, accounting, strategic tie-ups etc.
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CORPORATION BANK ndia’s public sector banks are not much known for their innovation, as much as they are known for their safety and reliability. Of course, there are exceptions. Mangalore headquartered Corporation Bank has time and again proved to be one such exception in innovative practices. How can it be otherwise when even the founding of Corporation Bank is one big innovation that defined the country’s banking history? But more about it later.
Chairman & Managing Director JM Garg deserves congratulations for this masterful stroke. A veteran of Indian Bank, Garg was the Executive Director of Punjab National Bank (PNB), when he was appointed as CMD of Corporation Bank in November 2008. He has extensive exposure to most facets of banking, as well as significant overseas exposure during his tenure in Singapore. Chairman Garg is ably assisted by Executive Director Asit Pal, who also joined in 2008. Pal has been with Allahabad Bank and Bank of Baroda, and was an integral part of BoB’s European operations based out of London & Brussels. CorpBank had a robust first quarter to report during this fiscal. On a YoY basis, net profit was up by 41.8% and net interest income (NII) by 23.7%. But even better, unlike many of its peers, Corporation Bank also came up with a decent 9.2% growth on a QoQ or sequential basis. Though the overall growth in profit was more effected by treasury gains of 46 times, most core constituent figures continued to be robust. For example, due to CorpBank’s strong technology platform as well as better pricing of services, the core fee income grew by 38.3%. By the end of the first quarter, CorpBank could better its Basel II Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) to 16.29%, thus maintaining its leadership position in CAR among peer
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Asit Pal – Executive Director
PSB banks, and even some private banks. With a Tier-I ratio of 9.63%, this enabled the bank to raise further capital, which it did recently to the tune of Rs. 100 crore. No wonder, Corporation Bank is one among the 10 PSU banks that have been granted operational freedom by Government of India. The bank has recently been part of a soft launch that may prove to be a silent revolution in the making. Country’s insurance giant, LIC, has launched its credit card in tie-up with CorpBank. The card is intended for LIC’s agents and employees, and due to the huge size of this potential customer base, it may prove to be a major step for Corporation Bank. The business volume is also slated to be huge as LIC plans to use the card for enabling payment of premium through PoS terminals. Such innovations are a kind of second-nature at this public sector bank. During 98-99, CorpBank became the first Indian bank to publish its financial results conforming to the US GAAP accounting standard, thereby proving its transparency. A couple of years back, CorpBank became the first public sector bank (apart from SBI Group) to implement 100% Core Banking Services (CBS). Proving its technological edge further is CorpBank’s ATM network – numbering more than 1035 ATMs across India, which is comparable to public sector banks much bigger than Corp.
The latest innovation from Corporation Bank gets two birds with one stone – it pleases its customers as well as its main owner – Government of India. Corporation Bank has become the first bank in the country to accept payment of income tax through its ATMs. It offers CorpBank customers a hassle-free experience – much like companies who pay tax online – to pay tax in time and be responsible citizens. And it offers GoI better tax collection through better compliance from the tax payers, and a best practice that can be emulated in other public sector banks.
SEASONAL MAGAZINE cmyk
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In the upcoming issue, Seasonal Magazine gets inside the following banks to unravel their challenges, and gets into their top brains to weigh the strategies.
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INSIDE INDIAN BANKS STRONG ROOMS OR DEADWEIGHTS A regular award-winner in the banking industry, the titles that CorpBank has won speak volumes about its commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. ‘India’s Best Public Sector Bank’ (2003), ‘India’s Strongest & Asia’s Second Strongest’ (2003), ‘Best User of IT in Retail Banking’ (2007), ‘Best Implementer of STP’ (2007), ‘Second Best in IT Security Policy & Practise’ (2007), ‘SKOCH Challenger Award for Customer Relationship Management’ (2008), and ‘SCOPE Meritorious Award for Best Managed Bank’ (2008), are only some of them. CorpBank traces its roots to the Swadeshi movement before India’s Independence. Cradle of Indian Banking - the undivided Dakshina Kannada District of Karnataka - has given birth to more than a dozen national banks including heavyweights like Canara Bank & Syndicate Bank. But, today, not many would know how the erstwhile Dakshina Kannada (today’s DK + Udupi) started being this Cradle.
CORPORATION BANK leadership – something that the bank was blessed with during most of its existence. Today when almost all MNC banking giants are reeling under the tsunami of a global financial debacle, all are wondering how banks like Corp is managing milestones like 102 years of existence and more than 1,00,000 crore of business. The secret, however, is quite simple – CorpBank has learned and adapted from mightier challenges. How about surviving two World Wars? The Great Depression? An unexpected nationalization? Corp has gone through all these and emerged stronger. Not only in quantity, but in quality, and with social commitment. The latest example from CorpBank is its high-tech Branchless Banking initiative for the rural sector
The year was 1906.
A small group of philanthropists led by Khan Bahadur Haji Abdulla Haji Kasim Saheb Bahadur started a tiny bank at Udupi targeted at commoners, based on the principles of thrift, as well as Swadeshism that was sweeping across the country then. Today you know this institution by the name of Corporation Bank – the first banking institution of the region that kick-started the banking revolution there.
Soon, others followed, including Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, Karnataka Bank, Vijaya Bank, and nearly a dozen more. Some of them have since then overtaken CorpBank in sheer size, but this pioneer continues to prove that coming first matters and that small is still beautiful. The bank’s medium size lends itself to superb customer service, provided there is effective
that is taking many South Indian villages by storm. ‘Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu’ (Prosperity for All) is not just a motto here, but something that the nearly 12,000 CorpBankers try to live up every day. Chairman JM Garg is planning for Corporation Bank to cross the Rs. 1,50,000 crore mark in total business and Rs. 1000 crore in net profit during this fiscal. For this the bank needs to grow at 25%, even while the banking industry is expected to grow only at 20% this year. But CorpBank might just be able to do it. The bourses are often seen betting on the stock with ‘BUY’ or ‘HOLD’ recommendations from noted analysts.
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SK Garg, Chairman, Eldeco Group
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oted North Indian developer Eldeco Group is shifting to high gear, inspired by some recent award-winning performances. While its Gurgaon project, Eldeco Mansionz was selected as a top-25 project in the sprawling NCR, Chairman SK Garg was recently felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award by an industry body. Eldeco is celebrating these achievements by announcing grander projects – Eldeco Austina in Greater Noida, Eldeco The Studio in Noida, Eldeco County in Jhansi, Eldeco Mansionz in Ludhiana, and a new township in Jalandhar. The Group is North India’s first DR2 rated developer by ICRA/Moody’s, and its success is taught as a Business Case Study at Harvard Business School (HBS) - a singular achievement for an Indian realty brand.
SEASONAL MAGAZINE SEASONAL MAGAZINE
Award Winning Projects, Award Winning Promoters
here were 438 projects fighting to be included in the Top-25. The market being India’s National Capital Region (NCR), the whois-who of Indian realty were there. The odds were not in favour of a medium-sized developer like Eldeco. But finally, when the awards were announced, everyone were surprised, except, perhaps, the residents of Eldeco Mansionz, Gurgaon. With unique features like a classic English design, and row-houses expandable up to 6 bedrooms, the residents of Mansionz knew they had moved in to a winner. Eldeco Group, led by its Chairman SK Garg and Managing Director Pankaj Bajaj, is sharply focused on two realty markets – National Capital Region (NCR-Delhi) and Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, the Group is now also active in Haryana and Punjab.
Eldeco Austina in Greater Noida’s Sector Omicron, is one of the Group’s most prestigious recent apartment launches. Starting from its rapid accessibility - just 35 minutes from Delhi via the six-lane expressway - Austina is destined to be a winner. Coming up inside Eldeco’s Aurum township spanning 17 acres, Austina will benefit from the larger-than-life master planning of the township by USA’s Bose International. Extensive greens and unbelievably broad tree-lined avenues are just two of the distinguishing features of this township. Eldeco County, recently announced at Rajgarh in Jhansi, is a prestigious integrated residential township that features Eldeco’s trademark expandable villas having 1-5 bedrooms. Luxury facilities at Eldeco County will include swimming pool, gymnasium, indoor games, banquet hall, and high-security gated features.
It was during this downturn that the real mettle of many developers was exposed. Most real estate companies were quite young, not having completed ten years, some even not five. But at Eldeco, three decades and over 110 projects are behind. This fact was again in the limelight, when
Eldeco founder SK Garg was recently awarded for Lifetime Achievement by CIDC at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
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In NCR, the Group is famed for its luxury housing projects for the upper-middleclass & upperclass, while in UP, Eldeco is more known for their middleclass offerings. In all their markets, the Group is more keen on minitownships and townships, rather than smaller condominiums. Eldeco was founded in 1975 by Garg, a civil engineer, and has delivered more than 100 projects during its more than three decades of existence. However, the Group was almost
reinvented, around 9 years back, when Pankaj Bajaj who did his MBA from IIM-A joined the firm as its Managing Director. Ever since then, Eldeco has undertaken larger and larger projects. The Group, which has over Rs. 3500 crore worth of projects in their hands now, was North India’s first DR2 rated developer by ICRA/ Moody’s. Eldeco’s success is taught as a Business Case Study at Harvard Business School (HBS) - a singular achievement for an Indian realty brand. Currently Eldeco has operations in Uttarakhand, Punjab, & Maharashtra, apart from its core areas of NCRDelhi and UP/Haryana. The Group’s UP operations are largely focused in Lucknow, where it is the market leader with several projects. The most recent and noteworthy among them are Eldeco Elegance at Gomti Nagar and Eldeco Eden Park Estate at Kursi Road Crossing. Eldeco projects have distinguishing features like multi-block design, large open areas, abundant greenery, extensive landscapes, clubhouse, swimming pool, banquet hall, gymnasium etc. Eldeco’s luxury projects have features like sky gardens, coffee table size balconies, multiple parking options including basement parking, state-of-the-art security etc.
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Following its award-winning Mansionz in Gurgaon, Eldeco is following it up with two similar townships in Punjab’s Ludhiana & Jalandhar.
ORIENTAL GROUP OF HOTEL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTIONS
Learn Hospitality in Malabar,
The Orient’s Cradle of Hospitality
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When you learn hotel management under Oriental Group, you not only learn it from India’s largest private hotel management group, but get to study in Malabar, the Oriental land that has mesmerized all – the Westerners, the Arabs, the Chinese – with its spontaneous hospitality, since the days of yore. No wonder, Oriental students enjoy 100% placement and are found across the world’s best hotels – in Europe, Middle East, India, and more.
tudents opt for hotel management courses dreaming about landing a career with international hospitality brands like Hyatt, Taj, Oberoi, Trident, Radisson, Park Hotels, Leela, Metropolitan, ITC Welcomgroup, Holiday Inn, Quality Inn, Club Mahindra, Le Meridien etc.But, needless to say, many students fail to make it. But at Oriental Group of Hotel Management Institutions, such placements are second nature. In fact, Oriental students have been placed in each and every one of these hospitality legends, and more – altogether, in more than 50 renowned star properties, across India, Middle East, & Europe.
The difference starts from the land. Oriental Group of Institutions is promoted by Malabar Hotel Management & Catering Promotion Trust (MHMCPT), a coming-together of hospitality promoters based in Malabar, the cradle of hospitality in this part of the world, from time immemorial. Led from front by NK Mohamed, one of Malabar’s most successful hoteliers – his ventures include Kadavu Resort and The Greeshmam Resort – MHMCPT has made Oriental Group of Institutions the country’s No. 1 player in hotel management in the private sector in less than 15 years.
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The Group runs three institutions located along the Calicut-Ooty-Mysore-Bangalore route. Altogether, the campuses measure up to 28 acres, in scenic locations of Wayanad District like Lakkidi and Vythiri. Oriental School of Hotel Management was the group’s first venture that started in 1995 and is affiliated to University of Calicut. The School’s Lakkidi Campus offers BSc Hospitality & Hotel Administration (Ministry of Tourism / IGNOU), while its Vythiri Campus offers two degrees – Bachelor of Hotel Management & Catering Technology, BHMCT (AICTE / University of Calicut) and BSc Hotel Management & Catering Science (University of Calicut). Oriental Institute of Hotel Management’s campus is at Vythiri, and offers BA International Hospitality Administration. The course is affiliated to IGNOU. However, the most prestigious of the Group Institutions is the 1.5 lakh sq ft Oriental College of Hotel Management & Culinary Arts, that offers two three-year degrees affiliated to University of Calicut – BSc Hotel Management & Catering Science, and BSc Hotel Management & Culinary Arts. The College is India’s largest hotel management college in the private sector. The Group’s strength in this field is that their students get to train extensively at the two group-owned resorts. While Kadavu in Calicut is a 5-star resort, Greeshmam in Wayanad is a 3-star property. Another 5-star resort, ‘Vythiri Village’, attached to the group institutions, is all set to be opened in September.
Admissions to all courses are now open.
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A Whiff of Fresh Air on the IVF Front
Dr. Anitha Mani
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GYNO IVF HOSPITAL
Dr. Anitha Mani and Dr. S Mani
Recently in news for a miracle gifting babies to a 50-year old woman - Cochin based doctorcouple Anitha Mani and S Mani run a compelling infertility/IVF practice near Cochin International Airport. They changed the rules of the game with an in-house fulltime embryologist and superior embryo transfer technologies that result in better success rates and fewer risks. Gyno IVF Hospital’s charges are also among the lowest in India. Dr. Anitha Mani, trained and experienced in UK, is a specialist in infertility treatment, high-risk pregnancies, and laparoscopic surgeries.
It was 50-year old Saramma’s first delivery. Wife of KM George of Kizhakkambalam, Kochi, the couple’s efforts at reputed hospitals to conceive and deliver a baby had failed for 25 years, until they met Dr. Anitha Mani. On a case that no other IVF Centre would readily bet, Dr. Anitha not only succeeded, but succeeded in helping Saramma & George make up for lost time. Theirs was a triplet – one baby boy and two baby girls! Seasonal Magazine quizzes Dr. Anitha Mani on her clinic’s uniqueness: You started off as a high-risk pregnancy centre and soon branched out to infertility treatment. What was the reason? Is high-risk pregnancy a too niche area to focus upon, or is infertility a too big area to ignore, or is it both? We are still quite active in high-risk pregnancies, but yes, our focus on infertility has increased. I would say our decision to branch out was natural, I mean, it was spurred by demand. I was qualified and experienced
KM George, Saramma
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What is your unique value proposition as an IVF centre? Aren’t they all the same? We do many things uniquely. The most important is that unlike most IVF clinics, we have our own fulltime embryologist. This is a huge advantage, as whenever the patient is ready, we are ready. This sharply ups the success rate. At most of the other clinics, they rely on an embryologist to come from Mumbai or Delhi to do the critical work. It can take time, and even worse, it is a periodical affair. That
is, when the embryologist comes, the patient should be ready, or else it is another long wait for the next cycle. Secondly, relying on our better in-house expertise, we grow the embryo up to 5 days outside, that is, it is at the blastocyst stage that we transfer. This also betters the survival chances. Most clinics do it at the second or third day. Another uniqueness in our service is that we ensure international levels of privacy and confidentiality. Is it true that IVF or similar technologies can increase the risk for birth defects and the chances for twins, triplets etc? The IVF birth defect hypothesis is still not proven. In my experience here and abroad, I have almost never come across any serious cases. The other factor, the slightly higher chance for a twin, triplet, or even quadruplet, is there, but is considerably lower at our centre. Since we can afford to transfer at the blastocyst stage, we generally go in for Single Embryo Transfer (SET), which means the chance for even a twin is remote. Even in the toughest cases, we never go beyond 2 or 3 embryos, while most clinics have to transfer 5 embryos since they do it before the blastocyst stage.
How do you assess Gyno IVF’s charges compared with competing clinics? We have kept the charges to the bare minimum possible, so that a wider crosssection of couples can go for this miracle technology. Cochin is not a big metro or anything. For one cycle IVF, our charges range between Rs. 60,000 to Rs.
1,00,000. And that includes medicines. I don’t think any clinic charges this low in Cochin or Kerala. And that doesn’t mean we are short on facilities. In keeping with the international trend, we provide stress-free family suites for those looking for such conveniences. Infertility clinics largely rely on success statistics to prove themselves. When you were a new entrant to this field in Cochin, did you face stiff challenge against much established players? Not really. When you are confident about your work, and you are diligent in everything, there is no need to be wary of the competition. We have achieved 60% success rate in IVF, from our initial days onwards. That is good according to international standards. We don’t believe in artificially inflating the success rate.
Can you tell us some evidence about Gyno IVF’s superior results in this field? Well, we do a lot of over-age cases, where the woman is past 40, or the couple being childless even after 20 years of marriage. They are the most difficult to treat. We do that fairly successfully.
What are the latest technologies in infertility treatment that you have
from UK to treat infertility, and we were more than confident that we could assemble the medical team and the infrastructure to start a topnotch IVF centre. We also had spare capacity by way of rooms and other facilities, and we were anyway not interested in being a bigger delivery hospital. Even in high-risk pregnancies, the higher risk is during the first trimester, and that is the time our services are essential. Later, high-risk patients can opt for any hospital as per their convenience. We are not too keen to grow a classic gynaec practice.
implemented in Gyno IVF? Technologies like Cryopreservation, LAH, PIGD etc? Yes, we keep ourselves updated on the technology front, because, often technology increases the success rate, even while helping to bring the medications and costs down. We do cryopreservation and laser assisted hatching (LAH) in-house, but for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PIGD) we depend on national leaders in this field. I guess most clinics in India still outsource PIGD because it is complex even while its widespread utility is low. IVF and similar technologies are increasingly facing ethical concerns – issues like tampering with biological property of others without consent etc. How do you ensure ethics at Gyno IVF Hospital? Only law and law administration can ensure ethics in this field. Because, the stakes are so high for a woman or a couple without a child. Societal pressures are such. Most of the time, the temptation to go unethical comes from the patients and not the doctors. Women cry on your shoulders, begging for a pregnancy at whatever cost or risk. In such a scenario, only strict laws and stricter monitoring can prevent
unethical behaviour from the part of clinics. At Gyno IVF, we are proud to say that we comply by all rules in prevalence, and also obtain all consent letters from patients and spouses. We don’t want anybody coming back to us on a legal or ethical claim, later. How has your UK education and experience helped Gyno IVF Hospital? Well, United Kingdom was – and is – the cradle of infertility treatments, especially IVF. Also, until recently, there was no specialisation or post-graduation possible in this field in India. Even now, it is quite difficult in our country. These factors combined to create a scenario, where almost all of India’s best infertility specialists have had their specialisation or training in UK. I did my MRCOG and DFFP in UK, and later worked in this field at six hospitals there. The education and training you get there is so systematic that it equips you for a lifetime of adaptation and innovation.
Gyno IVF Hospital has started prenatal classes for couples. How does it contribute? Well, expecting couples are always ready with doubts, but there is no one to answer. That is, except for
the periodic visit to the doctor every month or so. Our prenatal classes clear all such doubts, and prepare the couples for parenthood. Such support is all the more essential in the case of IVF or high-risk couples. They also double up as forums where couples can discuss and exchange personal experiences between themselves. Are infertility cases on the rise in Kerala? If so, what are the reasons? Is stress a major factor? I am not sure it is on a rise, but more couples nowadays come forward for treatment, thanks to the better awareness. The Gulf factor is a major cause for the seemingly rising levels of infertility in Kerala. Work stress is a major factor, its effect seen more drastically in men, as poor quantity and quality of sperm. Among lifestyle factors, smoking and overeating is especially bad. Obesity is bad for fertility as it causes all sorts of hormonal problems, especially in women, like PCOS.
Apart from assisted reproductive techniques, what all services are provided by Gyno IVF Hospital? We do laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, and alternate treatments for heavy bleeding periods and uterus removal. We are pioneers in treatment with Mirena IUS, a Swiss made implant for heavy bleeding that is effective for five years. On the infertility front, we treat both female and male infertility, and offers everything from ovulation induction and IUI, to complex procedures like PESA, TESA, TESE, GIFT, IVF, ICSI, vasectomy reversal, embryo cryopreservation, frozen embryo transfer, assisted embryo hatching etc. I also visit Dubai and Muscat every month where I consult for two clinics, and consultation is also provided over email.
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ADI SHANKARA INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY
A Gurukula for Engineering & Management
Despite the downturn, Adi Shankara students performed well at this year’s placements with over 160 of them succeeding with companies like Infosys, TCS, & Hexaware. One secret behind this performance is Adi Shankara’s inspired leadership that have brought engineering and management luminaries like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Prof. Thomas J DeLong of Harvard Business School, to interact with its engineering and MBA students.
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di Shankara’s 20 hectare campus near Kalady is holy land. Not only due to its proximity to the seat of His Holiness Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamiji, but also due to the visit of several revered minds in engineering and management. Starting from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the list is filled with illustrious personalities – Prof. Thomas J DeLong, Harvard Business School; G Madhavan Nair, Chairman of ISRO; Dr. AS Pillai, MD & CEO, Brahmos Aerospace; Dr. Kasthoorirangan, former Chairman of ISRO; Dr. MB Athreya, world-renowned management guru; Dr. MV Pailee, former Vice Chancellor, CUSAT; Dr. B Mahadevan of IIM Bangalore, so goes the list. Inspired also by such interactions, Adi Shankara students have put up an impressive performance in this year’s placements. Despite the economic downturn, more than 160 Adi Shankara students bagged placements with tech-giants like Infosys, TCS, & Hexaware. Adi Shankara students can also be found at such respected companies like Perot Systems, Sonata Software, Reliance Communications, and many more.
Right from its start, Adi Shankara has tried to remain one up on competition, by being one up on quality. Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering & Technology (ASIET) was Kerala’s first newgeneration engineering college to be certified under ISO 9001:2000. Promoted by Adi Shankara Trust, which has been a pioneer in the state’s education field, with some of its institutions crossing the 50-year mark, ASIET truly has visionary education in its genes. Established with the blessings of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sri Sankaracharya Mahaswamikal of Sringeri Sarada Peetham, Adi Shankara Group institutions include Sree Sankara College, Sree Sarada Vidyalaya, Adi Sankara Institute of Engineering & Technology, Adi Sankara Institute of Management & Technology, & Bharathi Theertha Education Society. Professionally managed, ASIET has always been in safe hands like that of its Managing Trustee Dr.
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BS Krishnan, an ace advocate and multifaceted leader, and its Principal Dr. SG Iyer, a renowned Electronics professor. Affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University of Kottayam, ASIET offers BTech in six engineering disciplines - Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Electronics & Communication Engineering, Information Technology, Applied Electronics & Instrumentation, and Mechanical Engineering. The management side is headed by professors with both industrial and academic experience like Prof. H Venkitachalam and Prof. Govinda Bhatt S. The two-year full-time MBA at Adi Shankara offers specialization in three streams â€“ Finance, Marketing, & Human Resource Management. Adi Shankara excels in its excellent faculty, guest lectures by industry experts, comprehensive international library, excellent networked computer labs, broadband internet connectivity, Wi-Fi campus, well-equipped workshops, modern engineering labs, classrooms equipped with hightech boards & LCD projectors, air-conditioned seminar hall, option of air-conditioned hostel rooms etc. The college is managed by a well-rounded Board of Trustees having lawyers, chartered accountants, other professionals, and businessmen. Led by Dr. BS Krishnan, the Board includes such noted figures of Kerala and Tamilnadu like KNV Ramani, N Ramachandran, M Raja, S Dasaratharaman, J Krishnan, KS Nelakanta Iyer, & SN Varadarajan.
Community outreach programs are also implemented for building social awareness in students. One such noted program was when a Fact Finding Mission from Adi Shankara visited three adivasi colonies near Kuttampuzha (Kothamangalam) after crossing Pooyamkutty River on ferry and a long trek through deep forest.
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The college grooms students not only for excellent academic performance, but for an all-round performance. Initiatives on this front include personality development programs, spoken English training, technical associations, and extensive facilities for various sports.
Education for All For most educational institutions, it is difficult to live up to their mottos, let alone a lofty one like ‘Education for All’. But at JSS Mahavidyapeetha, such ideas seem possible to one and all. When you are part of a 300-institution pan-India operation with over 5000 teachers and 60,000 students, such ideas seem achievable. Having survived and thrived for 55 years in India’s educational sector, JSS Mahavidyapeetha is home to everything in education – from a university, to a medical college, to a community of schools. Not that 55 years is anything for Suttur Mutt, the spiritual organization behind JSS. Located near Mysore, Suttur Mutt is Karnataka’s pre-eminent cradle of Hindu philosophy, and estimated to be over 1000 years old! Under the visionary leadership of Mutt’s current Pontiff His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, and the executive steering of former IAS officer BN Betkerur, JSS is spreading its wings even more – to Dubai, Mauritius, to international schooling, to tie-ups with US Universities and tech-majors, and to unbelievable faculty like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who is now a distinguished professor at JSS.
His Holiness Jagadguru late Dr. Sri Sri Shivarathri Mahaswamij
His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji
rom crèche to research, goes the JSS saga. JSS gets its name from Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara, the name by which its founder His Holiness Jagadguru late Dr. Sri Sri Shivarathri Mahaswamiji was known. The Mysore headquartered JSS Mahavidyapeetha (JSSMVP) runs everything from playschools to research institutions where you can do doctoral research! And, of course, everything in between – public schools, engineering colleges, medical colleges, postgraduate colleges…practically, everything in education. JSSMVP is also international – running an engineering college in Mauritius, an academy of online learning in Dubai’s Knowledge Village, and an international school also in the emirate. JSS International Public School, Ooty, is the Group’s most prestigious school, in a schooling system of over 100 schools including CBSE Schools, State Syllabus Schools, & Junior Colleges. Under the leadership of the present
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dental college, an ayurvedic college, a naturopathy college, a physiotherapy college, an institute of speech & hearing, a college of nursing, a school of nursing, and a few pharmacy colleges.
BN Betkerur, Pro-Chancellor & Executive Secretary
BN Betkerur, Executive Secretary of JSS Mahavidyapeetha and Pro-Chancellor of JSS University, has had a chequered career after his BA, LLB, & MA. He started off as a lecturer in English at two noted colleges in Karnataka, but later entered Karnataka Administrative Service as a Class-1 officer. After holding several important positions there, he was selected to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1972. There also he held several noted positions, and after retirement, joined JSS in 1991. Seasonal Magazine in conversation with BN Betkerur:
Pontiff of Suttur Mutt, His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, who is also the President of JSS Mahavidyapeetha, the Group expanded vastly, adding many high schools, several colleges of arts, science, law & commerce, a Medical College, two pharmacy colleges, one dental college, four engineering colleges, a few polytechnics, and several industrial training Institutions. In India, JSS institutions have spread across four states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Uttar Pradesh. The Groupâ€™s foray into UP, JSS Academy of Technical Education, Noida, has become one of the best engineering colleges in the state. Franceâ€™s Ministry of National Education and the French tech-major Dassault Systemes have jointly set up a Product Life Cycle Management Competency Centre at JSS Academy. The engineering college has also entered into a collaboration with Wilkes University of USA for student exchange and other programs. The Group also includes a University under which all the medical institutions are functioning. JSS University is today home to a medical college, several hospitals, a
Your latest major initiative is of an international school in Dubai. Are you targeting Indian students or a truly cosmopolitan mix? And will Indian values dominate at this school?
The international school in Dubai is intended for all persons studying in Dubai. As you know, there is a very large population of Indian expatriates in Dubai and they would like education in a school which, while being international, still nourishes Indian values. It does not target any particular group or community.
? JSS University is mainly a medical university. Will this focus continue or are you planning to bring all your college streams in arts, science, and engineering under this university? JSS University is a medical university, for the present. It is proposed to make this a University
in the real sense where, in addition to professional courses such as medical and engineering, courses in Arts and Science, etc., also will be introduced.
? Can you tell us something
about President Pratibha Patilâ€™s recent visit to one of your campuses? What was it for, and can you explain how the visits of numerous political luminaries over the decades have benefited JSS students and faculty? President Pratibha Patil, as you know, visited JSS Free School to inaugurate the girlsâ€™ hostel and also the Silver Jubilee of the JSS Medical College, Mysore. JSS School has been visited not just by political luminaries but also by Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court and Scientists. The purpose of these visits is to place before the students role models who have succeeded in life and have made remarkable contribution to society. We believe that this has inspired the deprived students of Suttur schools to hope for a better future.
are the main advantages and challenges of running this wide a chain of educational institutions? How does the backing of Suttur Mutt help JSS?
The main advantage of running a wide chain of educational institutions is that we take the benefits of education to a large number of people, particularly in the rural areas. Since education in JSS institutions is not very expensive, it is available to even the middle and lower middle classes. The challenge, Vice-Chancellor
Dr B Suresh JSS University JSS Medical Institutions Campus
Dr Mruthyunjaya P Kulenur JSS Medical Institutions Campus
JSS MEDICAL COLLEGE
of course, is to find funds to run these institutions and also to find sufficient motivated personnel to take various positions in JSS. The Suttur Math has been providing financial support to JSS Mahavidyapeetha. The Head of the Math, who is also the President of JSS Mahavidyapeetha, has been the guiding spirit of the Mahavidyapeetha. I do not think that the Mahavidyapeetha would continue to exist unless it receives support and leadership from the Math.
? Despite its huge size, are you
satisfied with the level of branding in JSS? Do you plan to further strengthen the JSS brand in education? We are satisfied with our branding in JSS so far as Mysore District and Karnataka are concerned. Most of this is by word of mouth which perhaps is the best method of getting approval from society. We would naturally like to strengthen the JSS brand in other areas too.
Principals of constituent colleges
Dr Raghothama Rao JSS Medical College
Dr B Nandlal JSS Dental College
Dr H G Shivakumar JSS College of Pharmacy
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Dr K Elango JSS College of Pharmacy
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HOME CAN POWER ITSELF!
INDIAN INVENTS HOME POWER GENERATION IN USA
Sounds unbelievable? But so were laptops when mainframes were the only computers. A new generation of deep-storage battery pioneered by Dr. Ashok V. Joshi proves that your home’s personal power-station can be tucked away in your basement. Powered by this globe’s largest energy source – the Sun - it is also clean, pollution-free power. Yes, this new battery can change the world, one house at a time. Welcome also to the future’s largest industry and business opportunity. An inspiring story from Utah, USA, on Pune educated Dr. Joshi’s breakthrough.
By Randy Wright
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The prize is the culmination of 10 years of research and testing - a new generation of deep-storage battery that’s small enough, and safe enough, to sit in your basement and power your home.
he was painfully close to the mark. It’s an inefficient, aging relic of a century-old approach to energy and a weak link in national security in an age of terrorism.
It was in 2000 that Ashok Joshi, a native of India, took the helm at Ceramatec. His international reputation in ion technology and fuel cells kept the company among the first rank of innovators. Joshi did his engineering from Pune, and has been an award-winning entrepreneur in India for setting up the country’s first button-cell battery unit.
It promises to nudge the world to a paradigm shift as big as the switch from centralized mainframe computers in the 1980s to personal laptops. But this time the mainframe is America’s antiquated electrical grid; and the switch is to personal power stations in millions of individual homes. Former energy secretary Bill Richardson once disparaged the U.S. electrical grid as “third world,” and
Ceramatec President Ashok V. Joshi and his team John Gordon (from left to right), John Watkins, Grover Coors and Anthony Nickens at Ceramatec in Salt Lake City. The team has been working on developing a storage battery for homes and businesses.
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Taking a load off the grid through electricity production and storage at home would extend the life of the system and avoid the expenditure of tens, or even hundreds, of billions to make it “smart.”
The battery breakthrough comes from a Salt Lake company called Ceramatec, the R&D arm of CoorsTek, a world leader in advanced materials and electrochemical devices. It promises to reduce dependence on the dinosaur by hooking up with the latest generation of personalized power plants that draw from the sun. Solar energy has been around, of course, but it’s been prohibitively expensive. Now the cost is tumbling, driven by new thin-film chemistry and manufacturing techniques. Leaders in the field include companies like
In a modest building on the west side of Salt Lake City, a team of specialists in advanced materials and electrochemistry has produced what could be the single most important breakthrough for clean, alternative energy since Socrates first noted solar heating 2,400 years ago.
Arizona-based First Solar, which can paint solar cells onto glass; and Konarka, an upstart that purchased a defunct Polaroid film factory in New Bedford, Mass., and now plans to print cells onto rolls of flexible plastic. The convergence of these two key technologies - solar power and deep-storage batteries - has profound implications for oil-strapped America. “These batteries switch the whole dialogue to renewables,” said Daniel Nocera, a noted chemist and professor of energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who sits on Ceramatec’s science advisory board. “They will turn us away from dumb technology, circa 1900 - a 110-year-old approach - and turn us forward.” Why not just upgrade to a so-called “smart grid” as President Obama has proposed in his economic stimulus package? There are complications, Nocera said. “First you have to rebuild the grid because the one we have now is a creaky machine from the 1920s, and we keep trying to retrofit it,” he said. “Then you’re going to have computers trying to manage the energy, which brings up issues like security. You have to make it really secure so you don’t have people hacking into things. And then politics. Just wait until you try to run power lines through someone’s backyard. “I can’t imagine anything more secure than generating my own energy with the sun at my house, and now I’ll have a way to store it. It’s the ultimate in security, and the ultimate in control.” With small-scale electrical generation taking place at millions of individual homes - as opposed to today’s large-scale power generation from a handful of giant power plants - there would be less worry about what’s called “point failure” on the grid. That’s when a single component gets knocked out and shuts off power to a whole region. California-style rolling blackouts would be history.
hours of energy into a package about the size of a refrigerator, and operate below 90 degrees C. This may not startle you, but it should. It’s amazing. The most energy-dense batteries available today are huge bottles of super-hot molten sodium, swirling around at 600 degrees or so. At that temperature the material is highly conductive of electricity but it’s both toxic and corrosive. You wouldn’t want your kids around one of these. The essence of Ceramatec’s breakthrough is that high energy density (a lot of juice) can be achieved safely at normal temperatures and with solid components, not hot liquid. Ceramatec says its new generation of battery would deliver a continuous flow of 5 kilowatts of electricity over four hours, with 3,650 daily discharge/recharge cycles over 10 years. With the batteries expected to sell in the neighborhood of $2,000, that translates to less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery’s life. Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour. Re-read that last paragraph and let the information really sink in. Five kilowatts over four hours - how much is that? Imagine your trash compactor, food processor, vacuum cleaner, stereo, sewing machine, one
Anthony Nickens shows a ceramic membrane panels that work like a battery in recharge mode. The process produces sodium methylate, which is a catalyst for producing biofuels. The device in the foreground is designed for that purpose but is approximately the size envisioned for Ceramatec's new battery technology using solid sodium at low temperatures. Four units of this size would produce roughly 20 kilowatt hours of electrical storage for a home or business.
The threat of terrorism has heightened the worry. But wide distribution of batteries in homes would virtually eliminate it. Inside Ceramatec’s wonder battery is a chunk of solid sodium metal mated to a sulphur compound by an extraordinary, paper-thin ceramic membrane. The membrane conducts ions - electrically charged particles - back and forth to generate a current. The company calculates that the battery will cram 20 to 40 kilowatt
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With small-scale electrical generation taking place at millions of individual homes - as opposed to today’s large-scale power generation from a handful of giant power plants there would be less worry about what’s called “point failure” on the grid. surface unit of an electric range and thirty-three 60watt light bulbs all running nonstop for four hours each day before the house battery runs out. That’s a pretty exciting place to live. And then you recharge. With a projected 3,650 discharge/recharge cycles - one per day for a decade you leave the next-best battery in the dust. Deep-cycling lead/acid batteries like the ones used in RVs are only good for a few hundred cycles, so they’re kaput in a year or so.
How do you recharge? By tapping your solar panels or windmills. It’s just like plugging in your cell phone or iPod, only you plug in your house. A small three-bedroom home in Provo might average, say, 18 kWh of electric consumption per day in the summer - that’s 1,000 watts for 18 hours. A much larger home, say five bedrooms in the Grandview area, might average 80 kWh, according to Provo Power. Either way, a supplement of 20 to 40 kWh per day is substantial. If you could produce that much power in a day - for example through solar cells on the roof - your power bills would plummet. Ceramatec’s battery breakthrough now makes that possible.
“This changes the whole scope of things and would have a major impact on what we’re trying to do,” Shepherd said. “Something that would provide 20 kilowatts would put us near 100 percent of what we would need to be completely independent. It would save literally thousands of dollars a year.” Shepherd is connected to the grid through Rocky Mountain Power, which charges a variable rate for power depending on demand during a given 24-hour period. With his windmill setup, Shepherd has what’s
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Clyde Shepherd of Alpine is floored by the prospect. He recently installed the second of two windmills on his property that are each rated at 2.4 kilowatts continuous output. He’s searching for a battery system that can capture and store some of that for later use when it’s calm outside, but he hasn’t found a good solution.
called “net metering” - an electric meter that spins both ways. He pays for electricity coming in, but gets a credit from Rocky Mountain for any excess power generated by his windmills that flows back onto the grid. Already, he’s cut his power bills in half, and with good storage batteries he thinks he could reduce the bill to zero.
technology. He currently sits on Ceramatec’s advisory board with Nocera. No longer burdened by the pressures of Washington, he’s using his experience in energy, manufacturing and government to carry the message of innovation and help move research to reality.
While Shepherd opted for windmills over solar at the time he was planning his alternative energy installation, he said he would reconsider that decision today as the bottom continues to fall out of the cost of solar cells.
“What I choose to concentrate on now are things that will make the world a better place,” Cannon said, “and Utah is an incredibly good place to do that.”
“Batteries and PV are about to merge,” said MIT’s Nocera, using the shorthand for “photovoltaic” or solar power. “First Solar is now saying that it takes $1 a peak watt to manufacture, and another 80 cents for installation. So they’re saying that you can get PV for under $2 a watt. That’s a reduction of cost by a factor of four. Only a few years ago, it was $8. If CoorsTek and Ceramatec come up with a good battery, the market will develop quickly.” The long-term impact of home electric generation for a power company’s business model could be huge. After all, you can’t stay in business if nobody’s paying for power. Exactly how that will play out remains to be seen. Fifty miles south of Ceramatec’s laboratories, Chris Cannon, the former congressman from Utah County, is on a crusade to transform the world through
Clyde Shepherd stands next to one of his two windmills in his Alpine back yard. Currently he has no way of storing the energy that he creates with the windmills.
Approached by Ceramatec after he left Congress, Cannon fills a complementary role in a group of smart engineers and academic types. With extensive Washington contacts and an understanding of the inner workings of power generation, he hopes to be able to make connections that will push the new battery technology forward for the benefit of the country. “I have an energy and manufacturing background, so I understand the process,” he said. “Ceramatec had a gap in their experience which I think I filled pretty well.” On top of that, there was “good chemistry” from the start. While Cannon’s six terms in Congress representing what is arguably the most conservative district in America means keeping a somewhat jaundiced eye on the Obama administration, he’s far from negative. He thinks of himself as a “post-partisan Republican” willing to run with good ideas regardless of their source. And when it comes to energy policy, he’s anything but discouraged. “If you look at the President, he inherited some really difficult things,” Cannon said. “But he hired a guy to be the Secretary of Energy who is a scientist. And we
Ceramatec’s formulation is a trade secret. With trademark modesty, Dr. Joshi observes, “We feel confident it’s a good material.” “It’s a miracle material,” corrects Grover Coors.
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are on the verge of so many scientific breakthroughs that no matter what the President’s ideology is, if we do the right thing scientifically, America is going to do well. Many of the innovations that are coming out of Utah that I’m involved with are likely to be really important, regardless of the leadership.” Last month, Obama introduced a raft of broad energy proposals that were sharply criticized by conservatives as economic back-breakers. Proponents hailed the plans as progressive. Either way the administration appears to be This labratory prototype that is intended to prove the concept that solid on a path that could soon drive the cost of sodium metal can be mated to sulphur through a thin, ceramic membrane to conventional energy higher - some say as generate electrical current. Photo taken at Ceramatec in Salt Lake City. much as double. Electrical generation at home using solar panels, coupled with storage in the world, the word ‘Coors’ means technical ceramics effective batteries, could soften the financial impact of extraordinary quality.” on many homeowners’ utility costs. That hasn’t changed. Cellular telephones, car engines, The new Ceramatec battery could also change the way computer chips, soda dispensers, semiconductor private enterprises invest in energy, Cannon said. casings, blood processing pumps, bulletproof vests and Instead of building another power plant, for example, armor for military vehicles, to name just a few items in maybe they buy 100,000 or a million batteries and a dizzying high-tech product array, all use ceramic distribute those around the service area of a utility to components produced by Coors enterprises. And so it reduce loads and eliminate expensive “spinning was natural in 2008 for CoorsTek to purchase the hottest reserve,” the supplementary power generation that’s ceramics R&D firm going - Ceramatec, with its 165 fired up in response to daily spikes in electric demand. employees in Salt Lake City.
CoorsTek’s manufacturing roots go back to the early 20th century, when Adolph Coors diversified his beer brewing empire based in Golden, Colo. He set up a ceramic manufacturing business called the Herold China and Pottery Company, whose early product line included dinnerware and utensils but later moved to high-tech industrial products made of ceramics. With World Wars I and II, the company stepped up to provide needed ceramics for industry and the military, including materials used in the production of the atom bomb. “To most Americans, the word ‘Coors’ means beer,” wrote Business Wire on the ceramic maker’s 75th birthday. “But to scientists and industrialists throughout
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Ceramatec was founded in 1976 by a group of University of Utah professors who made important contributions to the sodium-sulphur battery technology being pursued by Ford Motor Company for vehicles at the time. Those early liquid-core batteries didn’t pan out well for transportation, though, because of their size and weight, and because of the extremely harsh internal chemical conditions required for them to work. In the years since, electric cars have remained on the sexy-tech list, with substantial industry efforts aimed at developing various flavors of zippy batteries to power them. Ceramatec had other ideas, recognizing a vast potential market for a different sort of power - for homes. “With a house, you don’t need to get energy in and out instantaneously. You need huge amounts of storage capacity,” says MIT’s Nocera. “That suggests a different commercial market and different technical restraints and opportunities.” In 2000, Ashok Joshi, a native of India, took the helm at Ceramatec. His international reputation in ion
“The technology could mean a lot of things,” Cannon said, “but it certainly means that we change the way we invest. It also means that we shift our expenditures on terrorism, because our infrastructure for power transmission is probably the weakest link in America today. If you have local batteries with local control, that gives terrorists a more difficult target. And local control systems are much simpler than a vast national transmission grid.”
technology and fuel cells kept the company among the first rank of innovators. Joshi (he prefers A.J.) looked to the potent combination of sodium and sulphur for the basic components of a new battery. That was known chemistry. But while he wanted to achieve a high energy density offered by those elements, he also wanted to get rid of the extreme heat, corrosion and toxicity of liquid sodium batteries. The key would be found in a paper-thin, yet strong and highly conductive, electrolyte material - an advanced ceramic - to serve as the barrier between the battery’s sodium and sulphur. The thinner the barrier, the cooler the battery can operate. If you can get below the melting point of 98 C, sodium stays in its solid state, and you’ve got enough energy to run a house with safety.
With the batteries expected to sell in the neighborhood of $2,000, that translates to less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery’s life. Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour.
Charged particles of sodium and sulphur - ions - now scoot so effortlessly through the new ceramic wafer that the sodium doesn’t even approach 98 C, let alone 350.
The ceramic that made this possible was dubbed NaSICON by chemists. That stands for “sodium super ion conductor” - “Na” being the code name for sodium in chemistry’s periodic table.
Ceramatec’s formulation is a trade secret. With trademark modesty, A.J. observes, “We feel confident it’s a good material.”
“It’s a miracle material,” corrects Grover Coors. He’s the great-grandson of Adolph Coors, the brewmasterindustrialist who started all this. Grover has a Ph.D and specializes in solid-state ionics and advanced materials. He’s working with Ceramatec as a sort of research fellow to evaluate technologies and advise senior management. A.J. stayed on as President after the sale to CoorsTek. “There are two classes of ceramic materials that are good conductors,” Coors explained. “One is what developed here in the early days - beta-alumina solid electrolyte, or BASE. It’s temperamental, brittle. A.J. thought of a better material. It’s a better conductor, easier to manipulate and process, and of lower cost.”
This is where the earth moves for renewable energy. The new electrolyte enables the development of an energydense, inexpensive and safe storage battery for use at home. Combined with the rapidly emerging thin-film solar cells, it presents an unparalleled business opportunity. Grover’s brother, John K. Coors, is CEO of CoorsTek, the manufacturing company that applies what the scientists at Ceramatec dream up. Their nephew, Doug Coors, oversees R&D. With some 21 plants producing advanced ceramic products worldwide, the expectation is that full-scale production of ceramic sheets for the new batteries could be tooled up in short order. In fact, only a handful of CoorsTek facilities would likely be employed. The order of magnitude pencils out along these lines: a target of 20 gigawatt hours of storage in 20 kilowatt-hour battery increments equals 1 million batteries. Or using a different metric, 1 million square meters
Chris Cannon during a meeting at his office in Provo.
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of thin ceramic electrolyte would yield 20 gigawatt hours of batteries, equal to California’s entire spinning reserve. Nobody at CoorsTek even blinks at such figures. The company already produces 3 million pounds of ceramic material per month. “Once we have a working prototype battery with all the standards and cost requirements met, it will come up quickly,” said Grover Coors. “It would scare people to know how quickly we can bring this up.” They’re about six months away from initial scale-up toward a commercial product, he said. Lots of sodium will be needed to make the new batteries, and Ceramatec proposes a symbiotic relationship with the federal government to get it. Enormous quantities of sodium metals, the byproducts of nuclear weapons manufacturing, just happened be available for cleanup at Hanford nuclear reservation near Richland, Wash. It’s a ready-made source of material that CoorsTek can recycle. In a laboratory at Ceramatec, a small battery - a NaSICON sandwich in silver foil - has been cycling up and down since October to prove out the electrochemistry. Engineers are confident the tests will support a projected useful life of 3,650 cycles, which meet the standard of one discharge/recharge cycle per day for 10 years. It’s a tall challenge, according to Coors, but doable. “It’s very efficient in terms of watthours per kilogram,” he said. “We’re now in excess of 200, which puts us in the sweet spot for all the applications we’ve been talking about.” There are a handful of small hurdles yet to cross in the science, but nobody seems terribly concerned. One is
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Grover Coors peels thin, unfired ceramic material from a plastic backing. In its "green" state, the ceramic is a little thicker than a business card. When fired it becomes a highly efficient transmitter of ions from sodium metal to sulphur matrix a process that generates electrical current. The ceramic material is laid down like latex paint on the plastic in a clean room environment. The surface must be perfect with no flaws from dust or other materials when it is fired.
the fact that when two solids are joined along flat surfaces, there will always be at least a 1-micron gap between them. That needs to be closed somehow. Nocera is making some suggestions for suitable fillers, but neither he nor Ceramatec developmental scientist John Watkins feel that the problem will be a difficult one. “I want to say, this is no big deal,” Nocera said. “But sometimes little things can bite you in the butt. So we’ll just work it out.” Meanwhile, heavyweight liquid sodium-sulphur batteries from Japan are making an inroad into the United States at Luverne, Minn. They’re part of a demonstration project by Xcel Energy, an eight-state power utility. In February, Xcel began testing a 1megawatt battery installation intended to capture power from a giant 11-megawatt wind farm owned by Minwind Energy, LLC. It’s said to be the first attempt to store wind-generated power at a large-scale. Contrasting with Ceramatec’s vision of many small home-based power centers with refrigerator-size batteries, this project is another mainframe - albeit fueled by wind. Hot liquid sodium-sulphur batteries from NGK are intended to move a lot of energy to the grid. The 50-kilowatt battery modules - 20 cylindrical cells - are roughly the size of two semi-trailers and weigh 80 tons. They’ll store about 7.2 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 500 homes for seven hours, according to company data. The test is intended to validate greater penetration of wind energy on the Xcel Energy system. It’s one of many efforts by industry to cut down carbon dioxide emissions and move to a more sustainable energy model, but it’s not without hurdles.
The company calculates that the battery will cram 20 to 40 kilowatt hours of energy into a package about the size of a refrigerator, and operate below 90 degrees C.
“One of the big problems with the NGK system is that it’s megawatt-scale storage,” said Ceramatec’s Coors. “It has to be on top of the 10 kilowatt side of the utility transformer, meaning that there is a lot of step-down transformers and what not involved in hooking those things up — a lot more system complication.” “If you go with a smaller system like the 5 kilowatts for four hours system that we’re contemplating, that’s all done on the 110-volt side of the transformer, and so all the switching can be done with solid-state relays very inexpensively.” Such comparisons are batted around frequently by Ceramatec insiders as they seek to optimize the science and develop business models. A recent Sunday dinner with several board members was a popcorn machine of problemsolving and technical musings.
Hunter is a former deputy assistant secretary in the Department of the Interior and was Cannon’s chief of staff. In Hunter’s world, large dams typically don’t employ batteries on-site because the torrent of juice a hydroelectric plant generates is overwhelming. Glen Canyon Dam, for example, produces close to 1,000 megawatts, which is comparable to a big coal-fired power plant. In eastern Utah, Flaming Gorge churns out 150 megawatts. The advantage of a dam over a wind farm, however, is predictability. Water must be released continuously to support fisheries and other environmental systems downstream. That’s essentially wasted power. If small energy generation and battery storage could piggyback on such flows, the community could benefit at low cost. Inexpensive batteries could be used economically in areas serviced by many dams, Hunter suggested.
How do you recharge? By tapping your solar panels or windmills. It’s just like plugging in your cell phone or iPod, only you plug in your house.
Over dessert, Cannon suggested a new angle: Was it possible to use the thin ceramic membrane developed at Ceramatec to reduce the production costs and improve efficiency of NGK’s existing hot liquid batteries - replacing the old beta-alumina electrolyte currently used in those devices? After all, the new ceramic membrane is cheaper and a better conductor. That got Nocera’s attention, and the idea then bounced to A.J., whose mental wheels were rolling.
The exchange was typical of the collegial atmosphere and dynamic thinking processes that characterize Ceramatec. Joe Hunter envisions applications for a new generation of batteries in his specialty of hydroelectric power - not massive banks of batteries at dam sites, but maybe something along the lines of the 1 megawatt battery array at Minwind’s Minnesota wind farm. Alternatively, many small batteries could be distributed throughout a community.
Take Deer Creek at the head of Provo Canyon, for instance. Generators at the dam can produce up to 5 megawatts, but they run mainly in the irrigation season. But water to sustain the Provo River has to be released all the time, and local residences, with batteries trickle-charging continuously, could benefit.
It’s another value proposition added to others, like the net metering enjoyed by the Shepherds in Alpine. The idea in all this is to ease pressure on the grid while moving people toward greater energy independence. “What we’re talking about is the ability to take the edges off,” Hunter said. “We’re at a tipping point for alternative energy.” In Salt Lake City, Grover Coors agrees: “This will be the largest industry of all time,” he said. “But it’s all about cost and reliability.”
(From Daily Herald)
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How to Swing the Cricket Ball Better NASA scientist Dr. Rabindra Mehta shows why the cricket ball really swings – and it is not what most swingers thought! hen clouds roll in over Headingley, swing bowlers smile in expectation. The venue for the fourth npower Test has long been known for extravagant movement in the air and James Anderson, Graham Onions and Ben Hilfenhaus will be hoping for overcast conditions.
Science, however, has a different view of swing. Its causes have been well established by experiments that explode the myth that cloud cover and humidity have an effect. Rabindra Mehta, a NASA scientist and schoolfriend of Imran Khan, the former Pakistan allrounder, has studied the aerodynamics of cricket balls for three decades and has advised Troy Cooley, the Australia bowling coach. And he has been watching the Ashes on television from his California home in exasperation. “What the commentators, cricketers I much admire, have been saying about swing is plain wrong,” he told The Times yesterday. “They’ve been talking about the clouds, how the new ball won’t swing until the lacquer has come off, and it’s just rubbish.”
he said. Seam position and bowling speed are critical to achieving all of them, but overcast weather conditions are not. As the ball moves through the air, a thin “boundary layer” of air hugs its surface before breaking away. If the boundary layer breaks later on one side of the ball than the other, pressure will be reduced, causing the ball to swing that way. For conventional swing, the ball is gripped with the seam angled towards slip for an out-swinger and fine leg for an in-swinger. Part of the shiny side must face the batsman with the bowlers’ fingers resting next to the seam. As air catches the raised
Contrary to common belief, there are three types of swing bowling, not two, Andrew Flintoff
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The notion that the ball swings when skies are grey is part of cricket folklore and players and commentators have invoked the weather to explain why the ball moved ferociously on the second and fourth mornings at Edgbaston, but not at other times.
seam, it creates turbulence on that side only. The boundary layer breaks later on the other side of the seam, causing swing in that direction.
The key to normal and reverse-swing is to bowl the ball with backspin so that it revolves along the seam. A bowler such as Anderson, with a high action and strong
Reverse-swing works, as the name suggests, in reverse. The seam is pointed away from the direction in which the bowler wants swing and part of the rough side of the ball faces the batsman.
The roughness means the boundary layer starts off turbulent on both sides. The seam, however, weakens this turbulence on its side, causing the boundary layer to break earlier and sending the ball swinging in the other direction.
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wrist, will achieve this more reliably than one with a low arm such as Mitchell Johnson. The condition of only one side of the ball is important: the shiny side for conventional and the rough side for reverse. “The new ball is perfectly capable of swinging this way: that the other side is shiny doesn’t matter,” Dr Mehta said.
Also critical is speed. For conventional swing, the optimum pace is about 70mph and balls of above 80mph will not move at all; very fast bowlers must rely on reverse-swing. Dr Mehta thinks the radar used in the present series is exaggerating the pace of all bowlers. Reverse-swing works with the new ball only at high pace, of 90mph or more, but as one side roughens, the speed at which it will reverse drops. The third type of movement, often confused with reverse-swing, is contrast swing. This is achieved with a vertical seam and works when one side of the ball is rough and one smooth, and speed of delivery determines which way the ball moves. Slower balls move towards the rough side, because of greater turbulence on that side. Faster balls, however, will move towards the shiny side: as with reverse-swing, there is initially turbulence on both sides, but this weakens over the rough surface. “Commentators often say it’s reversing when it’s actually contrast swing,” Dr Mehta said. “True reverse-swing occurs only when the ball moves in the opposite direction to the seam.” Pitch conditions can help: a grassier wicket protects shine for longer, assisting conventional swing, while an abrasive one will cut it up, promoting reverse-swing. A prevailing wind can alter turbulence around the ball, which may explain why some grounds and ends are better for swing.
“My latest theory is that when bowlers show up and the conditions look ideal, maybe they subconsciously orient their wrists better and bowl a bit fuller,” he said. “Perhaps they just bowl better.” (From Times Online. By Mark Henderson, Science Editor)
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Dr Mehta says the reason why it is believed weather conditions matter is psychological. The idea that the ball swings under cloud is so ingrained that we remember occasions that confirm this impression and forget those that do not, and overcast conditions may also affect bowlers’ confidence.
Diabetes Symptoms Revisited:
Are They Too Vague and Too Late? he diabetes symptoms too vague or too late? Here is how you can be more precise with the classic diabetes symptoms, as well as about more reliable ways to be sure whether you have diabetes or not. We have all heard the list – fatigue, thirst, hunger, urination, weight loss – all in excess. Yet, it will be interesting to analyze how many people have actually found out about their diabetes through such symptoms.
55-year old Theresa was shocked not as much with the news that she had diabetes, but when her doctor told that she had probably contracted it 15 to 20 years back. A pregnancy that happened in her late 30s would have sounded it off, but she had suffered an early miscarriage.
And finally, when she came to know it, it was not due to recognizing any diabetes symptom on her own, but her ophthalmologist getting alarmed at her eye condition. How could she probably have missed all the symptoms for 20 years? On hindsight, she did recognize many diabetes symptoms, but all of which she had put down on aging. Anthony was 42 when he went for a varicocele operation. His pre-operative diabetes test was fine, but the incision failed to heal even after a week.
Suspicious, the doctors tested him again, and were alarmed at what they saw. Anthony was quite fit, not feeling any diabetes symptoms at all. The problem is that while some of the diabetes symptoms are vague, some other diabetes symptoms appear too late, and some other diabetes symptoms don’t appear at all. Take for example diabetes symptoms like excessive fatigue, thirst, or hunger. Any or all of these diabetes symptoms can appear due to a variety of reasons, of which hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is only one reason. But a diabetologist can help you be more precise – is your fatigue increasing in evenings or getting worse with sugary stuff? That kind of fatigue is a defining diabetes symptom. On the other hand are diabetes symptoms like blurred vision, tingling sensation in the extremities, erectile dysfunction etc – none of which appear as soon as you develop diabetes. It might take years to develop these serious diabetes symptoms, as they are not direct symptoms due to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), but symptoms arising out of organ damage brought about by diabetes. But by the time one diagnoses through such diabetes symptoms, the damage is done. Some other commonly mentioned diabetes symptoms like excessive urination or weight loss may not appear
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in everyone with diabetes. Even worse, many people who develop Type 2 diabetes are overweight, not underweight.
Some quirky diabetes symptoms like irritability and dry mouth are harder to pin down, but a physician can educate on the typical diabetes breath. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patients are often found to have different smelling breaths. Similarly, a physicianâ€™s help is needed to ascertain whether wounds that refuse to heal or peculiar skin infections are diabetes symptoms or not in your case. The nature of diabetes symptoms being such, the question is whether there is any easier way to know for yourself. Nowadays there are many inexpensive home glucose monitors and their test strips are also cheaper now. They are ideal for self-use and donâ€™t require drawing blood into a syringe. A simple prick with the lancet would do. If you prefer not to invest in a home glucose monitor,
you can check for diabetes at a local clinic or hospital. It would be ideal to check for HbA1c and not the usual fasting, postprandial (PP), or random blood glucose tests. Unlike these regular tests that give only a snapshot of the current glucose level, checking for Glycosylated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) gives an estimate of how your blood glucose levels have been over the past 1 to 3 months. HbA1c is also ideal to detect insulin resistance or pre-diabetes, much before the actual disease sets in. If you think you have one or two diabetes symptoms, you need to verify it by visiting a doctor or going for a test at your home or clinic. Though not all reasons behind developing diabetes are known, some factors make a person more susceptible to the disease. These risks include genetic factors (mom or dad or both having diabetes), obesity, lethargic lifestyle, high stress levels, and existence of other diseases like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. People with such multiple factors should never rely on self-diagnosing diabetes symptoms and should check their blood sugar often (every three months or so) and seek medical help if tested positive.
Medicine’s Foundations Sh ak in g!
Dummy sugar pills – placebos – work as fine as many high-tech medicines, and medical industry is desperate to know why. Placebos are all set to rock the foundations of modern medicine!
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erck was in trouble. In 2002, the pharmaceutical giant was falling behind its rivals in sales. Even worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generics to flood the market. The company hadn’t introduced a truly new product in three years, and its stock price was plummeting. In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck’s research director, laid out his battle plan to restore the firm to preeminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company’s reach into the antidepressant market, where Merck had lagged while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. “To remain dominant in the future,” he told Forbes, “we need to dominate the central nervous system.” His plan hinged on the success of an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive’s dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested brilliantly early on, with minimal side effects, and Merck touted its gamechanging potential at a meeting of 300 securities analysts. Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in clinical trials to gauge how much more effective the real drug is by comparison. The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people’s health—the so-called placebo effect—has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology.
MK-869 wasn’t the only highly anticipated medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. From 2001 to 2006, the percentage of new products cut from development after Phase II clinical trials, when drugs are first tested against
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Ultimately, Merck’s foray into the antidepressant market failed. In subsequent tests, MK-869 turned out to be no more effective than a placebo. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the futility boundary.
The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people’s health the so-called placebo effect has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of medicine.
placebo, rose by 20 percent. The failure rate in more extensive Phase III trials increased by 11 percent, mainly due to surprisingly poor showings against placebo. Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007 - the fewest since 1983 - and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills. The upshot is fewer new medicines available to ailing patients and more financial woes for the beleaguered pharmaceutical industry. Last November, a new type of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, championed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, was abruptly withdrawn from Phase II trials after unexpectedly tanking against
placebo. A stem-cell startup called Osiris Therapeutics got a drubbing on Wall Street in March, when it suspended trials of its pill for Crohn’s disease, an intestinal ailment, citing an “unusually high” response to placebo. Two days later, Eli Lilly broke off testing of a much-touted new drug for schizophrenia when volunteers showed double the expected level of placebo response. It’s not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late ’90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since
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the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time. It’s not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It’s as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger. The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. In today’s economy, the fate of a longestablished company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.
The roots of the placebo problem can be traced to a lie told by an Army nurse during World War II as Allied forces stormed the beaches of southern Italy. The nurse was assisting an anesthetist named Henry Beecher, who was tending to US troops under heavy German bombardment. When the morphine supply ran low, the nurse assured a wounded soldier that he was getting a shot of potent painkiller, though her syringe contained only salt water. Amazingly, the bogus injection relieved the soldier’s agony and prevented the onset of shock.
Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills.
In a 1955 paper titled “The Powerful Placebo,” published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Beecher described how the placebo effect had undermined the results of more than a dozen trials by causing improvement that was mistakenly attributed
Why are inert pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings—and potential therapeutic applications—of the placebo effect. At the same time, drug makers are realizing they need to fully understand the mechanisms behind it so they can design trials that differentiate more clearly between the beneficial effects of their products and the body’s innate ability to heal itself. A special task force of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health is seeking to stem the crisis by quietly undertaking one of the most ambitious data-sharing efforts in the history of the drug industry. After decades in the jungles of fringe science, the placebo effect has become the elephant in the boardroom.
Returning to his post at Harvard after the war, Beecher became one of the nation’s leading medical reformers. Inspired by the nurse’s healing act of deception, he launched a crusade to promote a method of testing new medicines to find out whether they were truly effective. At the time, the process for vetting drugs was sloppy at best: pharmaceutical companies would simply dose volunteers with an experimental agent until the side effects swamped the presumed benefits. Beecher proposed that if test subjects could be compared to a group that received a placebo, health officials would finally have an impartial way to determine whether a medicine was actually responsible for making a patient better.
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to the drugs being tested. He demonstrated that trial volunteers who got real medication were also subject to placebo effects; the act of taking a pill was itself somehow therapeutic, boosting the curative power of the medicine. Only by subtracting the improvement in a placebo control group could the actual value of the drug be calculated. The article caused a sensation. By 1962, reeling from news of birth defects caused by a drug called thalidomide, Congress amended the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requiring trials to include enhanced safety testing and placebo control groups. Volunteers would be assigned randomly to receive either medicine or a sugar pill, and neither doctor nor patient would know the difference until the trial was over. Beecher’s doubleblind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial - or RCT - was enshrined as the gold standard of the emerging pharmaceutical industry. Today, to win FDA approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials.
Beecher’s prescription helped cure the medical establishment of outright quackery, but it had an insidious side effect. By casting placebo as the villain in RCTs, he ended up stigmatizing one of his most important discoveries. The fact that even dummy capsules can kick-start the body’s recovery engine became a problem for drug developers to overcome, rather than a phenomenon that could guide doctors toward a better understanding of the healing process and how to drive it most effectively. In his eagerness to promote his template for clinical trials, Beecher also overreached by seeing the placebo effect at work in curing ailments like the common cold, which wane with no intervention at all. But the triumph of Beecher’s gold standard was a generation of safer medications that worked for nearly everyone. Anthracyclines don’t require an oncologist with a genial bedside manner to slow the growth of tumors.
Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late ’90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them.
What Beecher didn’t foresee, however, was the explosive growth of the pharmaceutical industry. The blockbuster success of mood drugs in the ’80s and ’90s emboldened Big Pharma to promote remedies for a
growing panoply of disorders that are intimately related to higher brain function. By attempting to dominate the central nervous system, Big Pharma gambled its future on treating ailments that have turned out to be particularly susceptible to the placebo effect. The tall, rusty-haired son of a country doctor, William Potter, 64, has spent most of his life treating mental illness - first as a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health and then as a drug developer. A decade ago, he took a job at Lilly’s neuroscience labs. There, working on new anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, he became one of the first researchers to glimpse the approaching storm. To test products internally, pharmaceutical companies routinely run trials in which a long-established
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geek named David DeBrota to help him comb through the Lilly database of published and unpublished trials including those that the company had kept secret because of high placebo response. They aggregated the findings from decades of antidepressant trials, looking for patterns and trying to see what was changing over time. What they found challenged some of the industry’s basic assumptions about its drug-vetting process. Assumption number one was that if a trial were managed correctly, a medication would perform as well or badly in a Phoenix hospital as in a Bangalore clinic. Potter discovered, however, that geographic location alone could determine whether a drug bested placebo or crossed the futility boundary. By the late ’90s, for example, the classic anti-anxiety drug diazepam (also known as Valium) was still beating placebo in France and Belgium. But when the drug was tested in the US, it was likely to fail. Conversely, Prozac performed better in America than it did in Western Europe and South Africa. It was an unsettling prospect: FDA approval could hinge on where the company chose to conduct a trial.
medication and an experimental one compete against each other as well as against a placebo. As head of Lilly’s early-stage psychiatric drug development in the late ’90s, Potter saw that even durable warhorses like Prozac, which had been on the market for years, were being overtaken by dummy pills in more recent tests. The company’s next-generation antidepressants were faring badly, too, doing no better than placebo in seven out of 10 trials.
Mistaken assumption number two was that the standard tests used to gauge volunteers’ improvement in trials yielded consistent results. Potter and his colleagues discovered that ratings by trial observers varied significantly from one testing site to another. It was like finding out that the judges in a tight race each had a different idea about the placement of the finish line. Potter and DeBrota’s datamining also revealed that even superbly managed trials were subject to runaway placebo effects. But exactly why any of this was happening remained elusive. “We were able to identify many of the core issues in play,” Potter says. “But there was no clear answer to the problem.” Convinced that what Lilly was facing was too complex for any one pharmaceutical house to unravel on its own, he came up with a plan to break down the firewalls between researchers across the industry, enabling them to share data in “pre-competitive space.”
As a psychiatrist, Potter knew that some patients really do seem to get healthier for reasons that have more to do with a doctor’s empathy than with the contents of a pill. But it baffled him that drugs he’d been prescribing for years seemed to be struggling to prove their effectiveness. Thinking that something crucial may have been overlooked, Potter tapped an IT
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When the morphine supply ran low, the nurse assured a wounded soldier that he was getting a shot of potent painkiller, though her syringe contained only salt water. Amazingly, the bogus injection relieved the soldier’s agony and prevented the onset of shock.
After prodding by Potter and others, the NIH focused on the issue in 2000, hosting a three-day conference in Washington. For the first time in medical history, more than 500 drug developers, doctors, academics, and trial designers put their heads together to examine the role of the placebo effect in clinical trials and healing in general. Potter’s ambitious plan for a collaborative approach to the problem eventually ran into its own futility boundary: No one would pay for it. And drug companies don’t share data, they hoard it. But the NIH conference launched a new wave of placebo research in academic labs in the US and Italy that would make significant progress toward solving the mystery of what was happening in clinical trials.
produces its own analgesic compounds called opioids, released under conditions of stress, and naloxone blocks the action of these natural painkillers and their synthetic analogs. The study gave Benedetti the lead he needed to pursue his own research while running small clinical trials for drug companies. Now, after 15 years of experimentation, he has succeeded in mapping many of the biochemical reactions responsible for the placebo effect, uncovering a broad repertoire of self-healing responses. Placeboactivated opioids, for example, not only relieve pain; they also modulate heart rate and respiration. The neurotransmitter dopamine, when released by placebo
Visitors to Fabrizio Benedetti’s clinic at the University of Turin are asked never to say the P-word around the med students who sign up for his experiments. For all the volunteers know, the trim, soft-spoken neuroscientist is hard at work concocting analgesic skin creams and methods for enhancing athletic performance. One recent afternoon in his lab, a young soccer player grimaced with exertion while doing leg curls on a weight machine. Benedetti and his colleagues were exploring the potential of using Pavlovian conditioning to give athletes a competitive edge undetectable by anti-doping authorities. A player would receive doses of a performance-enhancing drug for weeks and then a jolt of placebo just before competition. Benedetti, 53, first became interested in placebos in the mid-’90s, while researching pain. He was surprised that some of the test subjects in his placebo groups seemed to suffer less than those on active drugs. But scientific interest in this phenomenon, and the money to research it, were hard to come by. “The placebo effect was considered little more than a nuisance,” he recalls. “Drug companies, physicians, and clinicians were not interested in understanding its mechanisms. They were concerned only with figuring out whether their drugs worked better.”
Part of the problem was that response to placebo was considered a psychological trait related to neurosis and gullibility rather than a physiological phenomenon that could be scrutinized in the lab and manipulated for therapeutic benefit. But then Benedetti came across a study, done years earlier, that suggested the placebo effect had a neurological foundation. US scientists had found that a drug called naloxone blocks the painrelieving power of placebo treatments. The brain
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treatment, helps improve motor function in Parkinson’s patients. Mechanisms like these can elevate mood, sharpen cognitive ability, alleviate digestive disorders, relieve insomnia, and limit the secretion of stress-related hormones like insulin and cortisol. In one study, Benedetti found that Alzheimer’s patients with impaired cognitive function get less pain relief from analgesic drugs than normal volunteers do. Using advanced methods of EEG analysis, he discovered that the connections between the patients’ prefrontal lobes and their opioid systems had been damaged. Healthy volunteers feel the benefit of medication plus a placebo
boost. Patients who are unable to formulate ideas about the future because of cortical deficits, however, feel only the effect of the drug itself. The experiment suggests that because Alzheimer’s patients don’t get the benefits of anticipating the treatment, they require higher doses of painkillers to experience normal levels of relief. Benedetti often uses the phrase “placebo response” instead of placebo effect. By definition, inert pills have no effect, but under the right conditions they can act as a catalyst for what he calls the body’s “endogenous health care system.” Like any other internal network, the placebo response has limits. It can ease the discomfort of chemotherapy, but it won’t stop the growth of tumors. It also works in reverse to produce the placebo’s evil twin, the nocebo effect. For example, men taking a commonly prescribed prostate drug who were informed that the medication may cause sexual dysfunction were twice as likely to become impotent. Further research by Benedetti and others showed that the promise of treatment activates areas of the brain involved in weighing the significance of events and the seriousness of threats. “If a fire alarm goes off and you see smoke, you know something bad is going to happen and you get ready to escape,” explains Tor Wager, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. “Expectations about pain and pain relief work in a similar way. Placebo treatments tap into this system and orchestrate the responses in your brain and body accordingly.” In other words, one way that placebo aids recovery is by hacking the mind’s ability to predict the future. We are constantly parsing the reactions of those around us - such as the tone a doctor uses to deliver a diagnosis to generate more-accurate estimations of our fate. One of the most powerful placebogenic triggers is watching someone else experience the benefits of an alleged drug. Researchers call these social aspects of medicine the therapeutic ritual.
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Dr. Beecher’s doubleblind, placebocontrolled, randomized clinical trial - or RCT - was enshrined as the gold standard of the emerging pharmaceutical industry. Today, to win FDA approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials.
A pill’s shape, size, branding, and price all influence its effects on the body.
In a study last year, Harvard Medical School researcher Ted Kaptchuk devised a clever strategy for testing his volunteers’ response to varying levels of therapeutic ritual. The study focused on irritable bowel syndrome, a painful disorder that costs more than $40 billion a year worldwide to treat. First the volunteers were placed randomly in one of three groups. One group was simply put on a waiting list; researchers know that some patients get better just because they sign up for a trial. Another group received placebo treatment from a clinician who declined to engage in small talk. Volunteers in the third group got the same sham treatment from a clinician who asked them questions about symptoms, outlined the causes of IBS, and displayed optimism about their condition.
doses too low to produce actual benefit - in order to provoke a placebo response. The main objections to more widespread placebo use in clinical practice are ethical, but the solutions to these conundrums can be surprisingly simple. Investigators told volunteers in one placebo study that the pills they were taking were “known to significantly reduce pain in some patients.” The researchers weren’t lying.
Not surprisingly, the health of those in the third group improved most. In fact, just by participating in the trial, volunteers in this highinteraction group got as much relief as did people taking the two leading prescription drugs for IBS. And the benefits of their bogus treatment persisted for weeks afterward, contrary to the belief - widespread in the pharmaceutical industry - that the placebo response is shortlived. Studies like this open the door to hybrid treatment strategies that exploit the placebo effect to make real drugs safer and more effective. Cancer patients undergoing rounds of chemotherapy often suffer from debilitating nocebo effects such as anticipatory nausea conditioned by their past experiences with the drugs. A team of German researchers has shown that these associations can be unlearned through the administration of placebo, making chemo easier to bear.
Meanwhile, the classic use of placebos in medicine - to boost the confidence of anxious patients - has been employed tacitly for ages. Nearly half of the doctors polled in a 2007 survey in Chicago admitted to prescribing medications they knew were ineffective for a patient’s condition - or prescribing effective drugs in
These new findings tell us that the body’s response to certain types of medication is in constant flux, affected by expectations of treatment, conditioning, beliefs, and social cues. For instance, the geographic variations in trial outcome that Potter uncovered begin to make sense in light of discoveries that the placebo response is highly sensitive to cultural differences. Anthropologist Daniel Moerman found that Germans are high placebo reactors in trials
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of ulcer drugs but low in trials of drugs for hypertension - an under-treated condition in Germany, where many people pop pills for herzinsuffizienz, or low blood pressure. Moreover, a pill’s shape, size, branding, and price all influence its effects on the body. Soothing blue capsules make more effective tranquilizers than angry red ones, except among Italian men, for whom the color blue is associated with their national soccer team - Forza Azzurri! But why would the placebo effect seem to be getting stronger worldwide? Part of the answer may be found
“Is it time with your children? Is it a good book curled up on the couch? Is it your favorite television show? Is it a little purple pill that helps you get rid of acid reflux?” By evoking such uplifting associations, researchers say, the ads set up the kind of expectations that induce a formidable placebo response. The success of those ads in selling blockbuster drugs like antidepressants and statins also pushed trials offshore as therapeutic virgins - potential volunteers who were not already medicated with one or another drug became harder to find. The contractors that manage trials for Big Pharma have moved aggressively into Africa, India, China, and the former Soviet Union. In these places, however, cultural dynamics can boost the placebo response in other ways. Doctors in these countries are paid to fill up trial rosters quickly, which may motivate them to recruit patients with milder forms of illness that yield more readily to placebo treatment. Furthermore, a patient’s hope of getting better and expectation of expert care - the primary placebo triggers in the brain - are particularly acute in societies where volunteers are clamoring to gain access to the most basic forms of medicine. “The quality of care that placebo patients get in trials is far superior to the best insurance you get in America,” says psychiatrist Arif Khan, principal investigator in hundreds of trials for companies like Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb. “It’s basically luxury care.”
in the drug industry’s own success in marketing its products. Potential trial volunteers in the US have been deluged with ads for prescription medications since 1997, when the FDA amended its policy on direct-to-consumer advertising. The secret of running an effective campaign, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Jim Joseph told a trade journal last year, is associating a particular brand-name medication with other aspects of life that promote peace of mind:
Big Pharma faces additional problems in beating placebo when it comes to psychiatric drugs. One is to accurately define the nature of mental illness. The litmus test of drug efficacy in antidepressant trials is a questionnaire called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. The HAM-D was created nearly 50 years ago based on a study of major depressive disorder in patients confined to asylums. Few trial volunteers now suffer
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Placebo-activated opioids, for example, not only relieve pain; they also modulate heart rate and respiration. The neurotransmitter dopamine, when released by placebo treatment, helps improve motor function in Parkinson’s patients. Mechanisms like these can elevate mood, sharpen cognitive ability, alleviate digestive disorders, relieve insomnia, and limit the secretion of stressrelated hormones like insulin and cortisol.
from that level of illness. In fact, many experts are starting to wonder if what drug companies now call depression is even the same disease that the HAM-D was designed to diagnose.
Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson & Johnson, and other major firms are funding the study, and the process of scrubbing volunteers’ names and other personal information from the database is about to begin.
Existing tests also may not be appropriate for diagnosing disorders like social anxiety and premenstrual dysphoria - the very types of chronic, fuzzily defined conditions that the drug industry started targeting in the ’90s, when the placebo problem began escalating. The neurological foundation of these illnesses is still being debated, making it even harder for drug companies to come up with effective treatments.
In typically secretive industry fashion, the existence of the project itself is being kept under wraps. NIH staffers are willing to talk about it only anonymously, concerned about offending the companies paying for it.
What all of these disorders have in common, however, is that they engage the higher cortical centers that generate beliefs and expectations, interpret social cues, and anticipate rewards. So do chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, Parkinson’s, and many other ailments that respond robustly to placebo treatment. To avoid investing in failure, researchers say, pharmaceutical
One of the most powerful placebogenic triggers is watching someone else experience the benefits of an alleged drug. companies will need to adopt new ways of vetting drugs that route around the brain’s own centralized network for healing.
Ten years and billions of R&D dollars after William Potter first sounded the alarm about the placebo effect, his message has finally gotten through. In the spring, Potter, who is now a VP at Merck, helped rev up a massive data-gathering effort called the Placebo Response Drug Trials Survey. Under the auspices of the NIH, Potter and his colleagues are acquiring decades of trial data - including blood and DNA samples - to determine which variables are responsible for the apparent rise in the placebo effect. Merck, Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline,
For Potter, who used to ride along with his father on house calls in Indiana, the significance of the survey goes beyond Big Pharma finally admitting it has a placebo problem. It also marks the twilight of an era when the drug industry was confident that its products were strong enough to cure illness by themselves. “Before I routinely prescribed antidepressants, I would do more psychotherapy for mildly depressed patients,” says the veteran of hundreds of drug trials. “Today we would say I was trying to engage components of the placebo response - and those patients got better. To really do the best for your patients, you want the best placebo response plus the best drug response.” The pharma crisis has also finally brought together the two parallel streams of placebo research - academic and industrial. Pfizer has asked Fabrizio Benedetti to help the company figure out why two of its pain drugs keep failing. Ted Kaptchuk is developing ways to distinguish drug response more clearly from placebo response for another pharma house that he declines to name. Both are exploring innovative trial models that treat the placebo effect as more than just statistical noise competing with the active drug. Benedetti has helped design a protocol for minimizing volunteers’ expectations that he calls “open / hidden.” In standard trials, the act of taking a pill or receiving an injection activates the placebo response. In open / hidden trials, drugs and placebos are given to some test subjects in the usual way and to others at random intervals through an IV line controlled by a concealed computer. Drugs that work only when the patient knows they’re being administered are placebos themselves. Ironically, Big Pharma’s attempt to dominate the central nervous system has ended up revealing how powerful the brain really is. The placebo response doesn’t care if the catalyst for healing is a triumph of pharmacology, a compassionate therapist, or a syringe of salt water. All it requires is a reasonable expectation of getting better. That’s potent medicine.
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9 Soft Skills That Create Career Success
You are talented. You work hard. But is high success still eluding you? These nine soft skills might be the missing links.
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uccess in life is always relative. Some people are happy with small achievements while there are others who won’t be satisfied until mountains are moved.
Regardless of our ambitions, our careers span through a series of jobs and experiences that truly polish our personality and will. While we all have defining moments that will determine our core beliefs around hard work, persistence, determination, etc, these are all simply components of a greater foundation that defines ‘you’. A rocking rise through corporate ranks involves a radical understanding and possible change in your attitude and behaviors. There are millions of brilliant people who pursue aggressive career paths and have their sights set on great achievement. While their ability is nothing short of genius, many lack the soft skills that could put them over the top. These traits, qualities, and understandings are what make good people great. Practical and time-
tested, mastering and practicing the following qualities will make if difficult for success to elude you.
1. Out-of-Box Thinking Many dislike this term but the concept is for real. All it requires is thinking about problems though a different set of eyes, or different dimension. This is why many brainstorming sessions fail; most people sit and think of work problems in the context of what it means to the company, not the user, not the environment, etc. Sit back and try to solve the problem from the eyes of a 6 year old, turn things upside down, and absolutely challenge the norm. Go outside and sit in a subway station (or somewhere you generally don’t sit to work) and think about why other solutions not worked? What has worked? Remember that the best ideas come from people who are hands-on with their work. When everyone thinks and recommends a lackluster way, lackluster results will follow. Change your surroundings, change your
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believe they have thrown in the towel and are satisfied with a status quo life and career. If you really want to move ahead, don’t get into this rut. Don’t tune out. Always remain eager to learn; you never know what knowledge or capability will push you up in your career. Remember, you need an open mindset and positive attitude to approach work. If you are constantly learning, it will be tough to be - or appear to be - interested in mediocrity.
4. An Eye for Detail If you are hands on with your work there is no reason why you won’t know the intricacies involved. Therefore, have the confidence needed to make difficult choices. When you master something and know the minute details, your logic and ideas will be highly regarded. While people love to argue, they get easily impressed by intelligent reasoning too.
5. Willingness to Help Much of life is give and take. Work is no exception. If you are the person that is constantly stepping out of your comfort zone in order to help others, people – well, most of them - will return the favor when you
views, change your thought process and come up with a killer idea!
2. Taking Ownership When no one is willing to own it, be the first to grab the opportunity. A process involving various stakeholders normally loses vision and momentum. A process with a good leader, input from others, and true direction, has a much better chance of success. Be the person that jumps in and takes on a new project (just don’t over-commit). An ability to own and work towards success is a skill which gives long lasting returns.
After a certain period, most jobs become monotonous and people become bored and eventually even lazy. They lose all zeal to learn new things and although they won’t admit this, their actions would make you
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3. Eagerness to Learn
ask. Thatâ€™s the key, though you have to be willing to help someone and not too proud to ask them for help when you need it.
6. Networking Your network should never be restricted to people in your domain but it should span other departments too. Again, break away from comfort and get engaged with someone from a different department. When you sell yourself in the market, you need people who can vouch for you and the broader the network, the better. A strong network always gives you an upper hand, not only to receive but also influence the information flow.
7. Solution Seeking Mindset People love to mention and talk about problems. However, when you ask for their solutions to those problems, they arenâ€™t willing to go on record with sweeping changes. The majority of employees lack an attitude to solve issues and love to keep them burning for long time, almost to encourage sympathy. It is these times that a positive mindset can send the right vibes across and can really give you a lot of attention. Donâ€™t avoid complainers, listen to them just long enough to hear the problem, then try to come up with a solution.
8. Humility Arrogance has its own advantages but it never attracts more people than the magic done by humility. When you know your work, and is humble about it, then there is no reason that you would not get the desired appreciation. Humility needs to be pitched with much care lest it lets people take undue advantage of you. Strike the right balance and you would see its real magic.
9. Being Practical Human beings are emotional and many fall for popular decisions. A practical decision made at the right time with the right attitude has the ability to shower you with long lasting fame. Remember, the people who are at the top are nothing but practical. It is a jungle out there where you not only need to survive but flourish too. Develop the killer attitude for success and no one would ever dare to stop you. Always, work hard, make sure the world knows about it, and make sure to sell it to the right people in the right manner. Go, get success!
(From DumbLittleMan. Amit Gupta is the author of Mystic Madness, a personal development blog related to professional life.)
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Published on Sep 8, 2009