Month: October 2010

Weekly Business Quiz # 50

Q1. Connect filmstars Vikram, Mohanlal, Venkatesh, Punit Rajkumar and Akshay Kumar to a NBFC brand

Ans. Manapppuram Finance

Q2. Which MNC has taken a patent for Red Herbal Dentrifice ( Lal dant manjan) in US and may do so in India soon ?

Ans. Colgate Palmolive

Q3. The jeans brand Flying Machine will have a new brand ambassador. He replaces Abhishek Bachchan.

Ans.. Ankit Fadia, ethical hacker

Q4. India is a dubious # 1 as per Global Retail Theft Benchmark study :-). Which countries are # 2 and 3 ?

Ans. Morocco and Brazil

Q5. What is TIJORI a service launched by NCR and FINO in Gujarat ?

Ans.  A micro remittance service operated from groceries etc.

Q6. Bob Guccione’s empire began in ’65 from london with 1170 $ an idea and a mailing list. Name the brand.

Ans. Penthouse the adult mag

Q7. Which is India’s largest rubber plantations co, ? To which group it belongs to ?

Ans. Harrisons Malayalam RPG Group

Q8. As Coal India created a new record in India, which co raised a record 17.8 Billion $ through an IPO in Hongkong ?

Ans. AIG

Q9.With which brand would you associate the listed company PAGE Industries ?

Ans. Jockey

Q10. If Shahrukh : Nokia, Aamir: Samsung , Hrithik : Sony Ericsson , Abhishek : Motorola , Amitabh : which brand ?

Ans. Zen mobiles

Q11. ” I saw web usage was growing at 2300 % p.a. I had not seen anything like that. ” Who said and what did he create ?

Ans. Jeff Bezos

Q12. Which brand has the tagline “the best or nothing” ?

Ans. Mercedes Benz

Q13. With whom will you associate media brands OWN, Dr Phil, Dr Oz and Nate Berkus ?

Ans. Oprah Winfrey

– Compiled by G.Mohan

LCD TVs are the flavour of this festival season

If you have been wondering this festival season, what consumer durables Indians are buying, it is not difficult to find. One look at the daily newspapers will give away the answer. In today’s Deccan Chronicle, out of 18 pages, a full 4 pages are numerous ads for LCD TVs. Ads from the manufacturers, ads from big retailers and ads from local retailers. This is not just today’s papers, it has been the same almost everyday, last week.

The advertisements all look alike. Lots of different models with an alphabet soup alongside indicating the model name, price and an EMI value. A contest scheme with a car or a gold bar as the big price is the inducement.  The ads do not have any information that will help the potential buyer to choose either the brand or the model.

In India, the festival season is the season for big purchases. Consumer durable manufacturers step up their advertising and sales promotions budget to seize this opportunity. LCD TVs seem to be the focus for most of the big consumer durable companies’ this season.

LCD TVs have reached a point where it is ready for take off. The debate between LCD vs plasma has been clearly won by LCD TVs in India. A combination of price , lower energy consumption and no visible difference in the picture is being cited as some of the reasons in favour of LCD. With 30 % decline in prices year on year, the LCD TV prices have clearly reached the price point within reach of the value conscious middle-class buyer. 

In addition, the DTH market has made sufficient inroads in the urban markets. Already, the DTH market has reached 22 million as of March 2010. All the DTH providers have launched High Definition (HD) service along with Digital Video recorder ( DVR) capability. A few channels like Nat Geo, Star Plus have begun HD transmissions in India. The FIFA 2010 was a HD transmission. The real value of HD transmission can be only observed in flat panel TVs like LCD or Plasma.

All these points to a boom in LCD TVs. Between 2008 and 2009, the market grew 10 times from 438,000 units to 4.5 million units. In 2010 it is expected to grow another 80 to 100 %. By 2012 , 23 million Indians are expected to own LCD TVs, as per a ORG-GfK survey.

In India, each decade is marked by a popular model and trend. The ’80s was the decade of the 51 cm Black and White TV sets. In the ’80s government decided to set up one transmitter every day and TV moved beyond the metros. Parallely, Doordarshan started improving the content with the introduction of soap operas like Hum Log, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi etc.

Although colour TV came in to India during Asiad in 1982, it reached critical volumes only in the ’90s. Launch of DD Metro and Satellite televison happened in the ’90s. The most popular TV set sold was a 20″ colour TV with a curved CRT, with or without remote. Indian brands like BPL, Videocon and Onida ruled the roost.

The first decade of the 20th century was just a subtle shift. Flat picture tubes with 100s of channels,( therefore remote was a standard ), became popular. Indian brands made way for the foreign brands particularly the Korean ones, LG and Samsung. In content, there was  explosion of satellite channels.

This decade appears to be the decade of the LCD TV, HD transmission through DTH. A note of caution is in order here. With the shortening of technology life cycles, a decade may be too long to make any prediction.

This Diwali present yourself an LCD TV. It is the flavour of the season.

Fiat’s travails in India

At a time when the car market is booming, one company that is reporting declining sales is Fiat. Fiat announced today that it plans to create its own retail network to push Fiat cars. Currently, Fiat cars are sold through Tata motors’ dealer network.

Fiat is a well-known brand in India, having been one of the 2 big car brands in India right through the ’60s and ’70s. Fiat cars were manufactured by Premier Automobiles, a Doshi group company. Even after PAL decided to rename Fiat 1100 as Premier Padmini, the man on the street always called the car Fiat.  

Despite this headstart, the history of Fiat in India is one of misses after misses. Post liberalisation, Fiat set up a JV with PAL their earlier partner and launched UNO. It was an unqualified failure. The JV itself had its set of problems.

Then Fiat came on its own and launched Fiat Palio, Siena and Petra. After tasting some initial success with Palio, the sales started declining. Poor after-sales service, low mileage and limited dealer network were some of the reasons cited for this failure. Siena and Petra were bad products.

In 2007, Fiat realising the need for a dealer network signed joint venture deal with Tata Motors. Fiat Automobiles India Ltd is a 50:50 JV between Fiat and Tata Motors. After this deal, Fiat launched some good models and backed it up with a visible marketing campaign. Fiat Grand Punto and Fiat Linea were definitely vast improvement over its earlier products and definitely in consideration for any car purchaser looking for a premium hatchback ( Punto) or a sedan ( Linea).

The journey of Fiat in India is not unlike Yuvraj Singh, its brand ambassador for Linea. Both have been underachievers. The talent is unquestionable, but somehow performance leaves much to be desired. Sometimes it is an injury, some other time it is a relationship issue and indifferent form at times.

Yet, in the April- Sept 2010 period, Fiat has reported a decline in sales when the rest of car market is booming. This must have forced the Italian bosses to look at a new strategy.

From the experience of Fiat and also Mitsubishi, it is pretty evident that having partners like PAL or Hindustan Motors, who had lengthy experience in Indian markets is more of a liability than a strength. Car companies who have come on their own like Hyundai, Honda ( JV with SIEL , a passive partner) and Skoda/Volkswagen have done much better.

Weekly Business Quiz # 49

Q1. Who said ‘Other than Enron, I do not think anyone came close to the complexity and magnitude of fraud as we have here.’ 

Ans. Vineet Nayyar on SATYAM

Q2. How did Hyundai SANTRO get its name ?

Ans.  From St Tropez where the strategy session was held

Q3. Which global CEO describes his management philosophy as ‘whatever works’?

Ans. Jeffrey Immelt of GE

Q4. After Anand Mahindra’s 10m $ which Indian business house has given 50mn $ to Harvard ?

Ans. Tatas

Q5. The commonwealth has 54 sovereign nations. Yet in CWG 2010 there were 71 teams. How ?

Ans.  Each colony has a team

Q6. Which GOI dept recently released ads where in a cut paste job they have shown airplanes emitting Italian tricolour instead ?

Ans.  Income  Tax deptt

Q 7.Mukesh Ambani will soon be moving into his own 27 storey mansion in south Mumbai. What is its name ?


Q8.  Which US fashion retailer brought back its original logo after receiving flak in Twitter and Facebook for its new logo ?

Ans. GAP

Q9. Name the new Tata model which is a crossover. A cross between a sedan, MUV and SUV.

Ans. Tata Aria

Q10. Endiran / Robot is the most exp indian film at 40mn$. What is the budget of HOBBITT the most expensive film being made ?

Ans.  500 m $

Q11. Name the largest movie rental chain in America. It filed for bankruptcy this September.


Weekly Business Quiz # 48

Q1. Who acquired the video hosting site youtube 4 years ago from its founders ?

Ans. Google

Q2. Indian banking system will soon have CTS , cheque truncation system. How will it help the customers ?

Ans. Outstation cheques will be credited faster

Q3. Why has the cabinet secretary issued a note to ministries to go slow on using ‘GANDHI-NEHRU ‘ name for govt schemes ?

Ans. Poor implementation damages the family ‘brand’ name

Q4. Chicken manchurian is a popular dish in chinese restaurants in india. It cannot be found in china. Who has created it ?

Ans. Nelson Wang of China Garden

Q5. Last week we had the date 10.10.10. Tan tana tan. Name the DTH brand that uses this sound in its ads.

Ans. SUN Direct

Q6. Name this Ahmedabad. based co that became famous for giving HLL a scare in the 80s. Now a pale shadow of its former self it is delisting from NSE & BSE.

Ans. Nirma

Q7. Which sport star owns the company FOOTWORK PRODUCTIONS ?

Ans. David Beckham

Q8. In the context of employee diversity who are G,L,B,T ?

Ans.  Gays, lesbians. Bisexuals. Trans sexuals

Q9. Who struck the gong at BSE when the film co EROS media got listed recently ?

Ans. Shahrukh Khan

Q10. What is the wonder material for which the 2 Russian scientists have been awarded the physics Nobel this year?

Ans. Graphene

Q11. Which computer manufacturer has launched a tablet computer called Streak in India ?

Ans.  Dell

Q12. Fortune magazine has been launched in India. This is only the 3rd country edition besides US. Name the other 2 countries.

Ans. China and Turkey

Q13. Who struck the gong at BSE when the film co EROS media got listed yesterday ?

Ans. Shahrukh Khan

Q14. The SCHENGEN visa is a common visa for many european countries. How did it get its name ?

Ans. The treaty was signed at Schengen Luxembourg.

Q15. Name the film star behind the production house and charity BEING HUMAN.

Ans.  Salman Khan

Q16. The 1983 film AGAR TUM NA HOTE had the first in -film advertising in hindi cinema. Name the brand advertised.


Q17. As per the latest figures released by govt which city or town attracted the largest no of domestic tourists last year ?

Ans. Tirupati

– Compiled by G.Mohan

Engineers as SBI clerks

In my daily quiz posted on Twitter, I posted a question ” Which bank will have 3000 graduate engineers and 200 post graduate engineers joining as clerks ?” The answer of course is SBI. This was based on a news item which appeared in many newspapers including Economic Times.

This may surprise those aspiring to be engineers, and may even cause a rethink among job seekers: Over 3,800 graduate and 200 postgraduate engineers are set to join State Bank of India (SBI) in the clerical cadre.SBI had a year ago advertized for over 27,000 posts in the clerical cadre. While 38 lakh aspirants from across the country applied for the jobs online, 28 lakh of them appeared for the written exam. There were 88,000 successful candidates and 27,000 were finally selected after personal interviews. “It was the biggest such exercise for us,” a senior SBI official said. 

The question generated lots of comments on Linkedin, which has prompted me to write this post. This news item has triggered a variety of responses ranging from bewilderment to pity to anger. Some also see this as a positive happening which will bring in innovation in the dull and staid bank clerks’ job.   

In my humble opinion, this is a reflection of the Indian job market in 2009-10 just after the slowdown. There is a premium for stability and security. In the minds of Indian middle class, an SBI job, it cannot get safer than that. Secondly, there is a glut of engineers in many states. Private engineering colleges have sprung up in such big numbers that annual output of engineers is nearly seven lakhs. The hope of jobs in the fast growing IT industry is a mirage for many engineering graduates, with IT industries slowing down their recruitment and also giving many a certificate of ‘unemployability’. (Just like Rajiv Gandhi’s famous quote of only 15p out of a rupee spent in Delhi reaching the common man, NASSCOM’s finding (?) that only 15 % of Indian graduates are ’employable’ has been accepted as popular wisdom.)

My message to the engineers who have been chosen is , first of all, congratulations. Being in the top 1 % of any national selection is an achievement. The decision to appear in the SBI clerical examination was a pragmatic one, given the circumstances. Now, that you have been selected make the most of it. It is true that a B.Tech or an M.Tech is an overqualification for the clerks’ job. You will have batchmates, who may be less qualified. Instead of sulking about the circumstances , prove that by performance you are more capable than the others. Learn banking and acquire whatever professional qualifications are required for getting promoted in banking.

Please do not look down upon the tasks that are assigned to you, because you think you are overqualified. In many foreign and new generation private sector banks, many of the tasks usually handled by clerks in SBI like being a teller or handling counters in the front desk are handled by MBAs. It is just incidental that they happen to have fancy designations like Asst Manager or AVP and get paid higher. Remember, the private bank jobs carry much higher risks.

As for the recruiter SBI, my opinion is that they have done a great service by recruiting in such big numbers in a poor job market. They have perhaps got a relatively superior batch of clerks which includes so many engineers. Accepting engineering as basic graduation, rather than a specialised professional degree, reflects a pragmatic approach to current Indian reality. Rather, than feeling smug about it, SBI needs to design jobs and create a conducive environment so that these talented clerks are able to perform well. Otherwise, in a growing economy, these engineers would leave them as easily as they have joined.

Weekly Business Quiz #47

Q1. Indian railways is a sponsor to CWG. Their new ad carries an old classic ‘RAILGADI’. Name the singer and film.

Ans.  Ashok Kumar &Aashirwad

Q2. Which brand of sports wear is seen as a curse because of poor run of Tiger Woods, Ronaldo, Rooney etc ?

Ans. Nike

Q3. How did the car stereo brand BLAUPUNKT get its name ?

Ans. It means blue dot in german. Early products had blue dot after quality checks

Q4. With whom did the ordnance factory collaborate to build the SHAKTIMAN trucks ? Clue it is in the name itself

Ans. MAN GmbH Germany

Q5. Which bank will have 3000 graduate engineers and 200 post graduate engineers joining as clerks ?

Ans. SBI

Q6. There are over 62000 ATMs in India today. Which bank set up the first ATM in india in 1987 ?

Ans.  HSBC

Q7. Which brand has announced a contest for suggesting new ideas for increasing family time ?

Ans. Kurkure

Q8. In the ongoing ‘JOY of GIVING’ week how are Salman, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan etc raising money to give ?

Ans. Auction a lunch date

Q9. What is the new start up from Sabeer Bhatia which claims will do to Office apps what Hotmail did to email?


Q10. In line with the Buffett Gates pledge which indian billionaire has announced 10% of his wealth to charity ?


Q11. With which hospital chain has Aircel tied up to provide a mobile health service? It provides instant consultation for Rs 45.

Ans. Apollo

Q12. With which co was Venkatesh Mysore the new chief executive of IPL team KKR associated with before ?

Ans. India country head for METLIFE

Q13. Which project of national imp is being launched today by PM and Sonia from Tehsil Sahada, Dist Nandurbar, Maharashtra ?

Ans. UID Aadhar

Q14. Which co has launched PLAYBOOK a tablet comp in direct competition to Apple’s iPad?

Ans. RIM of blackberry fame

Q15. Which co will be the first to issue infra bonds eligible for Sec 80CCF relief ?