Friday, September 14, 2007
Currently most consumption goes on in public, separate from a meal. Ad campaigns are trying to widen common used of Coke from a treat while out to something to be enjoyed at home, using special occasions as a route into the home. This has been difficult because India has many different subcultures with their own food and drink traditions that are very difficult and slow to change. On the upside, Cokes target market in India is 12-35 year olds, and 10% of the world is an Indian under 25. This gives them time to work and change perceptions. Currently operations are focusing on getting current product offerings accepted, although there has been some experimentation with different fruit flavors under the Fanta brand.
Coca Cola has faced many interesting challenges in the Indian market over the years, which have lead to innovative methods for coping. As a large, well known, United States based company, they are a lightning rod for criticism from environmentalists, communists, anti-U.S. and anti-western groups. Some of the precautions taken to disarm these groups include maintaining a low-key headquarters (the logo does not appear anywhere outside the building), and engaging with critics in dialog when the critic is willing.
At times NGO’s have used Coke as a target when they did not want to engage, but only wanted a large, very public scapegoat. This happened in 2003 when a librarian, working for an environmentally focused NGO publicly accused Coca Cola of having too much pesticide in its products. The group was clearly uninterested in talking to coke to solve the alleged issue, so Coke ignored her because they would always come off as the villain for taking on a librarian in court for liable. Instead they sent out products for testing, and proved that Coke products in India met European safety standards for pesticide, no more than 9 parts per billion. A cup of tea in India has 50,000 times as much pesticide as a coke product.
Other challenges have included accusations that Coke takes too much water to make its products (it takes 2.7 liters of water to make a liter of Coke). Coke has mitigated this by working to recycle water in bottling plants and provide rainwater reclamation projects in areas affected by their plants. Coke is also in the process of attempting to see that all the bottles they send out make it into recycling plants at the end of their lives, especially as the 200 ml glass bottles can be washed and refilled, saving production costs.
ActionAid India’ Vision
An India and world without poverty and injustice, one in which every woman, man, girl and boy enjoys the right to life with dignity.
ActionAid India’s Mission
To work with poor and excluded women, men, girls and boys to fight poverty and injustice.
ActionAid India’s Goals
1. Poor and excluded people and communities will exercise power to secure their rights
2. Women and girls will gain power to secure their rights
3. Citizens and civil society across the world will fight for rights and justice
4. States and their institutions will be accountable and democratic and will promote, protect and fulfill human rights for all
With this background we were given an introduction by Ms. Srimati who was the director of HR at ActionAid India. Following this, the director of Action Aid India, Mr. Babu Mathew, gave us a brief overview of Action Aid’s mission, goals, and overview of current projects. In addition he gave us a brief introduction of why Bangalore was picked as the IT center instead of another Indian city. Shown below are the reasons:
1. 5 major public undertaking projects
2. Private companies
5. Production Centers
6. Self-Reliant push manifested in Bangalore.
As India has developed a huge portion of the country has been left out. Action Aid as stated earlier looks at India from the point of looking at excluded groups. Shown below are the key categories and brief descriptions:
1) Dalits (“untouchables”) – They have been discriminated against (employment, education, social status, etc.) for some time and are extremely difficult to work with. Dignity is a key factor.
2) Indigineous/Tribals – Tribal people that are getting affected due to corporate greed, etc. For example Vedanta aluminum company has found a bauxite site near a tribe and without any concern, they have almost eradicated the entire tribe by polluting their water and exploiting them.
3) Muslims – The largest minority in India feel that they do not have a voice or social status in India. Things have become difficult especially after 09/11.
4) Urban Poor – The slums are constantly being moved due to cities expanding and the poor are never allowed to settle down.
5) Women, Children and Disabled (HIV/AIDS focus) – HIV/AIDS education is lacking and there is a large stigma attached to affected persons.
Action Aid works by using the Indian Constitution as a basis which states that basic needs are guaranteed to everyone. They work to address the needs of the excluded using the following strategies:
1) Human rights framework -> Socio/economic cultural rights are as enforceable as the rest.
2) Focus on basic needs of the above excluded groups (food, rights, education)
3) Mobilize community from below.
4) Health Care (Every village needs primary health centers)
a. Majority of the population has growing unemployment.
b. Public Distribution System
The talks that were given showed the other side of India, not commonly visible outside of India, and were pretty somber, highlighting the plight of the people that have been left behind despite current hi-tech developments. However, I would like to point out that the representation of Hinduism being the root cause of the plight of the Dalits and the root cause of the caste system was inaccurate and the presentation was more emotional than factual at times. This NGO seems very well organized.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Our day started early at 6:00am at the train station in Delhi and we quickly learned how unreliable the trains can be in India. Our train was delayed by almost two hours but it gave us the opportunity to see first hand how everyday locals travel to and from work.
Upon arriving in Agra, we boarded a bus for a 45min ride out to our first stop Fatipur Sikri. Fatipur Sikri is a fortified palace built in red sandstone in 1571 and briefly shared imperial duties as a capital city with Agra during the Mughal Empire until being abandoned due to lack of water.
Our next stop was back to Agra to see the Agra Fort. Similar to Fatipur Sikri, the Agra Fort (built in 1565 and later remodeled) is a fortified palace built in Red Sandstone but in greater scale and contains mosques, assembly halls, and a dungeon. A massive wall approximately 70ft high and 1.5miles long surrounds the fort. It also includes a moat that served as a barrier to entry. One of the highlights at the Agra Fort was the view of the Taj Mahal which sits just down the river from the fort.
Our final and best stop of the day was the Taj Mahal. Completed in 1650 A.D., the Taj Mahal (one of the 7 wonders of the world) was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of the love of his life, his favorite Queen Mumtaz Mahal. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years to build and required an army of over 20,000 workers, masons and jewelers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. It was an amazing site to see in person but perhaps even more amazing is that it sits in an area that is not very commercialized. You won’t find nice gift shops or restaurants surrounding the site, instead you see many small mom and pop shops along with street hawkers.
After spending several hours exploring the Taj Mahal grounds it was time for us to head back to Delhi. Unfortunately, we still had to deal with the unreliable trains in India and didn’t make it back to our hotel until 1am, which made for an incredibly long but exciting day.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Bharti Foundation works in conjunction with state and local governments, and at times other NGOs i.e. Azim Premji Foundation, Plan India, etc… to meet its education initiatives to educate children up to grade 5. Bharti estimates approximately $50K to build a school and $25K to teach 200 kids per year. All teachers are from local communities with salaries based on ensuring decent living. The goal of the Satya Bharti School Program is to set up 1000 new schools that will create temples of learning radiating knowledge and excellence for underprivileged children. Bharti is also looking to expand the program beyond grade 5.
Sam, a retired Dow Corning engineer, heads the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society which also recognizes that the India Shining initiative has yet to reach rural India, where 70% of its population lives. Sam argued that no amount of pity or doling out of money is going to solve the problem. The solution he postulates is a business model geared towards ensuring that every child (particularly the more vulnerable girl child) is socially and financially independent. The Society provides food, clothing, books, paper, pen, pencil, and 10 rupees per day per child (class attendance) in a bank account. With this personalized business model, upon completion of high school, the child would have 30K-40K rupees in the bank, and a guaranteed job in the village or neighboring village.
As the president of the Bharti Foundation is Badri Agarwal, Professor Naren Agarwal’s uncle, the Santa Clara Study Abroad India Team had the connections and the pleasure to have dinner and the opportunity to talk on a one on one basis about the works of Bharti Foundation and the Educational Society at Mr. Agarwal’s home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Agarwal, and their daughter Nithi were very gracious and hospitable. We marveled at the rich collection of Hindi religious artifacts, art, and Baby Ganeshas, and the interesting fact that Sam was also providing match making services for the girls that his program was educating. The home cooked vegetarian food was delectable and the evening ending on a warm, insightful, and hopeful note.
-- Joan Simon
One of the most interesting points of the presentation focused around the type of subscriptions that mobile carriers in India are selling and how the subscriptions models differ from the U.S. In the U.S., it is common to give away a phone to encourage subscribers to sign a long-term contract. In India, however, this is very difficult to do that. Many companies tried this out at first but lost quite a bit of money because consumers would take the free phone and “not come back.” As a result, 94 percent of the mobile phone users in India today have pre-paid subscriptions. This means there are very few long-term contracts, which in turn, creates a whole different type of challenge for mobile carriers. How do you keep your customers? Competition for subscriptions is very fierce and presents a totally different challenge than in the US. This is not too much of a problem at the present time because carriers are adding almost 7 millions subscribers a month, but when the market will be more saturated, mobile carriers will have to find new ways to retain customers.
Dr Virmani gave us a very insightful presentation on Ranbaxy history, vision, and challenges. Dr. Gupta talked about R&D and clinical testing.
Ranbaxy is India’s largest drug developer and manufacturer company with strong international presence at Asia, Europe, US, and Africa. The company was incorporated in 1961 and went public in 1973. Today, Ranbaxy exports its products to 125 countries, has ground operations in 46 counties, and manufacturing facilities in 7 countries. The company’s core competency is in producing a wide range of quality and affordable generic medicines. Ranbaxy is ranked among the top 10 global generic companies and has the goal of ranking in top five by 2012.
Ranbaxy has a ground breaking anti-malarial candidate in phase III trails. This would be the first drug for Ranbaxy and India if it makes it to the market. The main challenge Ranbaxy faces in entering new molecule R&D space is the high cost of moving a molecule from an idea to the market.
India’s pharmaceutical space offers tremendous opportunities to big US and Europe pharma companies by offering cost advantages, skilled labors, and manufacturing competencies. The cost of drug development in India is 1/5 of the cost in US. Another big opportunity is in outsourcing the clinical trials to India. The challenges are finding principal investigators and enforcing the ethical principals that are required for clinical trials.
I was very impressed by Ranbaxy’s vision and pharmaceutical sector growth potential in India. I suspect that there will be more and more clinical trial, research, manufacturing, and documentation outsourcing to India in years to come.
And this is what you have been asking since our Ranxaxy visit.
Reference terms brought to you by POPULAR demand!
Pharmaceutical: companies AKA “drug companies” focus on researching, developing, and manufacturing branded and generic drugs. A drug starts from a molecule discovery, found primarily through trial and error, to treat the symptoms of a disease or illness.
The molecule goes through pre-clinical phase (tested on animals), phase I (tested on small group of patients for safety, toxicity, and tolerance assessment), phase II (tested on a group of patients for efficacy and short-term and long-term side-effects, and phase III (tested on larger group of patients at international level) before a new drug could get final FDA approval to be marketed to public. Examples of branded pharmaceuticals are Pfizer, Roche, and Merck. An example of generic pharmaceuticals is Ranbaxy.
Biopharmaceutical: companies focus on developing large biological molecules known as proteins that target the underlying mechanisms and pathways of a disease. While pharmaceutical companies use chemistry to discover or design primarily molecule for a drug, Biopharmaceuticals develop molecules using technology and living cells such as bacteria cells, yeast cell, animal cells. Genentech and Eli Lilly were pioneers in this space.
Biotechnology: companies focus on discovering methods to manipulate and manage microorganisms or cells and tissues of higher organisms to benefit humans. Biotechnology has been around since 1980s. Biotechnology has applications in four major industrial areas, including health care, crop production and agriculture, non food uses of crops (e.g. biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, biofuels), and environmental uses. The modern biotechnology has been around only 50 years and focuses on decoding human genome to gain a deeper understanding of the root causes of some diseases and find cure for these diseases. Celera is one of the pioneers in the modern biotechnology space.
Posted By Shabnam Karimi
The visit to the Planning commission in New Delhi was very different from all the company and NGO trips that we had been doing because this is a government office. I think this is a very key organization that people doing business in India need to watch for two reasons. Firstly, in addition to policy, the sustainability of the infrastructure has to be understood in any business plan involving a developing country – and more so for India because of it’s socialist roots. Secondly, one of the successfully used models in India today is the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model which uses a combination of public and private sector investments to fund infrastructure initiatives. Public funds are primarily aimed to be utilized in areas where the private sector is unlikely to invest and then the governing body ensures that revenue generating models are established to bring in private funds in the future. PPP initiatives provide new investment opportunities for foreign investors (like U.S. companies) and therefore, it helps to understand the government planning process, commitments and organization.
The Chairman of the Planning Commission is the Prime minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Deputy chairman is Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Both men are credited with a lot of the Indian economic reforms implemented in the last couple of decades.
We were looking forward to meeting Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia but he was called away in the last minute and our meeting was set up with Mr. B.K Chaturvedi instead. We were quite fortunate despite the change because Mr. B.K.Chaturvedi is a recently retired Cabinet Secretary and is now a key member of the Planning commission. The Cabinet Secretary post is typically held by India's most influential and powerful bureaucrat reporting to the Prime minister and I was very pleasantly surprised that he took the time to meet us and enthusiastically answer all our questions.
Mr. Chaturvedi started by giving us a brief introduction to the planning commission’s functions. The Planning Commission is a formal body for civic and economic planning in India. One of its primary functions includes formulating the ‘Five year plans’ outlining the national economic planning for that term. It also assesses, prioritizes and monitors the country’s resources to ensure the successful execution of the plans.
Mr. Chaturvedi highlighted some major issues in the current five year plan (2007 to 2012) and acquainted us with the magnitude of the problems/projects they are covering for the nation as a whole
• Maintaining the GDP rate of growth (currently just above 9%)
• Telecom infrastructure – Planning for the addition of seven million new telephones every month.
• Utilities – India currently has an unsustainable model for Utilities with 40% lost in theft and transmission problems!
• Energy – India has a 9-10% capacity shortage in electricity and power. They are nowhere near the wattage goal set in the 5 year plan.
• Public Private Partnership (PPP) models – Aviation, railways and ports opened up to private investments. This model has been working very well and several airport and railway functions have been privatized.
The commission’s main focus now is to identify places of low productivity, but good capacity and focus on improving that. He listed several farming initiatives such as the ‘Agriculture Produce and Marketing Act’ which educates farmers on usage of better quality of seeds and irrigation facilities, and the ‘Horticulture mission’ which encourages cultivation of produce like fruit, vegetables, spices, medicinal & aromatic plants, flowers etc. that have a better contribution to GDP.
Another topic we covered was on the provision of access to potable water. Many of us on this trip did not really experience the water shortage India is facing because all our nice hotels and company visits had uninterrupted hot and cold water supply, but I found through several sources that most cities and rural areas operate under severe water shortages. India has very few sources left providing potable water. Mr. Chaturvedi commented that they had already contained the water problems to a large extent in the past, but water sources that were once operational are drying up or getting contaminated which has reintroduced the issue in a big way. Moreover, during the recent years which did not have favorable monsoons, many farmers switched to siphoning groundwater to make up for the lack of water in canals and other irrigation sources. This lowered the ground water table and dried up wells and pumps which are key drinking water sources for many in the rural regions.
For me, discussion of such basic infrastructure issues really brought home the management intricacies of the government planning process. This applies in any country, including the USA which also has to account for resource usage across the diverse state policies, topologies, weather and technology availability. All this needs to be accomplished in a holistic and sustainable way when thinking about newer technologies as well, such as solar or hydrogen power.
It was interesting to hear all the alternative energy and low pollution projects India was working on especially the hydrogen car initiative, but even Mr. Chaturvedi acknowledged that the scale of all the alternative energy projects was not enough to address the needs of the rapid economic growth in a country already so strapped for energy and water.
Balancing growth with resource capacity was not a new topic to most of us. As we are residents of southwestern USA, topics like pollution, water shortages and water allocation politics are quite relevant even if on a smaller scale. Watching, learning and perhaps helping India address some of these issues over the next few years could be very pertinent for us.
What is the retail market in India? Who are the main players? What are the characteristics of consumers? How will it be transformed in the next decade?
These were the questions that were asked by Sawhny Vinod, the recently appointed head of Bharti Retail. According to the Hindu Business section, "Mr Sawhny will look after the new retail initiatives of Bharti Enterprises including the operations in Hypermarkets, Neighbourhood stores and Super Centres on a pan-India footprint."
Bharti Retail has made a strategic alliance with the world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart. As described by Mr. Sawhny, Bharti will run the front-end operations of the business which includes three different store formats, Hypermarkets, Super Centres and Neighbourhood Stores. The back-end operations of the business, where Wal-Mart excels such as the supply chain and logistics will be run by Wal-Mart. This arrangement is due to Indian regulatory restrictions not allowing multi-national companies be the front end business.
Mr. Sawny described a formal modern retail "channel" as non-existent in India. The majority of retail is dominated by smaller "mom and pop" stores. The idea of customers coming into a store and picking products did not exist, but the game is changing. Today, 4% of the market is organized, with 96% considered unorganized, consisting of fresh food markets and Kirana stores (mom and pops).
Mr. Sawny predicts the next boom industry in India will be retail. Mr. Sawny cited a projection in which by 2020, India will be the second largest economy in the world. In India, 64% of income goes to private consumption; this consumption will drive GDP and retail growth. He also noted a dramatic shift in social-economic status and demographics that shows that 65% of the Indian population under 35.
Mr. Sawny also discussed the challenges for retailers in India:
*** India is very fragmented, difficult to service and hard to find economies of scale.
*** Supply chain peculiarities in India, with a system with many intermediaries that have no value add. As an example of the effect of intermediaries, he gave an example that for a 1 rupee potato, 8.45 rupees are added to the price due to costs added by intermediaries.
*** Real Estate in Urban areas is very expensive
*** Talent is difficult to attract, many lured toward IT
Throughout the trip, we've about the incredible growth of India's economy and the projected wealth of its population. Wal-Mart will be around to ensure that the beneficiaries of globalization will have a place to spend their money.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
After visiting so many big companies – software firms, banks, insurance companies, etc., this visit was a marked contrast to what we had seen previously. Instead of taking an elevator and being shown into an air-conditioned, well-appointed boardroom, we found ourselves walking up several flights of stairs into a small, cramped, and very hot school classroom. Instead of reiterating all the wonderful growth opportunities in India that we had heard about from all the companies, this presentation focused instead on some of hard realities of Indian society that pertain to children: 20% of children not in school (a staggering 80 million children), children account for an estimated 20% of India’s GDP through child labor in “unorganized” work, only 2% of children with disabilities receive any sort of service, stigmatization of children with AIDS, disadvantage of girls, huge population of street children… and the list goes on.
After the presentation, we saw a film created by children as a part of one of Plan’s programs that addressed the issue of child labor in India. In the film, we saw children interviewing and documenting other children weaving rugs to support their family, tending goats as part of bonded labor, and “rag picking” through a garbage dump. The film was quite moving because it made these issues real and personal, rather than just statistics.
The second part of our Plan India visit was a trip to one of the slums of Mumbai (New Tank Road) where we were to see one of their programs – Doorstep Schools – in action. Going into the slums of Mumbai was unlike anything we had seen thus far in India – tiny, self-made dwellings, sometimes stacked two or three high with a ladder going to the upper homes, where a family of ten might live, were all crowded together into a big maze with no proper sanitation system or clean water.
All in all, it was a very interesting - and eye-opening - visit.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Monday afternoon we visited Sharekhan, one of the leading retail stock broking firms in India. In 2007, annual revenues were 62.5 million USD (2.5 billion Rupees). We were treated to an overview of the India market opportunity, followed by an in-depth presentation and discussion regarding Sharekhan's evolving business model and given a peak at some future innovations currently being launched.
We met with Naresh Agarwal - Chief Financial Officer, Sandeep Nanda - Head of Research, Jadeep Aroda – Technology, and Shrikanth Iyengar who leads the Alternative Investments group.
Stock markets were first launched in India 143 years ago. Trading was conducted at a set time and place in Bombay and in other regional markets in various cities across India. It was not until liberalization in the early 1990s with the launch of the National Stock Exchange did stock market investing become a growing retail phenomena. The NSE established a computer-terminal based trading network, and in 2000 Internet trading became available for end-users.
Tax rules in India are favorable for trading and investing, with short-term capital gains at 10% and gains on investments with at least a one year holding period completely tax-free.
Sharekhan was originally launched with an exclusively online business model shortly after Internet trading was allowed. However the leadership quickly recognized the need to build a network of retail locations due to slow adoption of in-home Internet connections, and adopted a franchise model to accelerate the expansion of retail outlets beyond the pace of opening exclusively company owned outlets. This successful strategy enabled Sharekhan to expand to 679 retail offices in 234 cities in 2007 from zero just four years earlier. Today franchises outnumber company owned locations 4 to 1.
Sharekhan has a growing client base which consists of over 400,000 accounts, and over 50% of client transactions are performed through the online portal. Typical daily transaction volumes exceed 250,000 per day. India has a savings rate over 25%, and savings are expected to fund much of the capital needs of India's rapidly growing economy.
In the current environment, with their extensive retail presence, lower costs of labor, and the high lifetime value of clients, Sharekhan has chosen to employ a large number of “feet on the street” representatives who provide live demonstrations of the trading platform at prospective customers' homes. At this time, building a customer base organically is economically more attractive then a consolidation through acquisition-based approach.
This approach is working at Sharekhan, which has captured significant share in India's retail brokerage market. The firm consistently receives positive reviews from customers and recently Citigroup Venture Capital took note and acquired an 85% controlling interest in the firm.
The last presentation of the day, regarding the Alternative Investments group at Sharekhan, was quite interesting to those of us interested in finance specialties. This group focuses on derivatives and developed methods to profit on market inefficiencies through arbitrage and hedging strategies.
Sharekhan's leadership treated the SCU Study Group to fascinating look inside the markets of India and the daily excitement and challenges of leading such a rapidly growing firm. India's modern stock market is relatively young and has experienced several waves of expansion and contraction, usually triggered by a scandal and new regulations to correct. In the midst of this dynamic environment, Sharekhan continues to grow by excelling in customer service and providing superior information and trading tools for their clients.
ICICI Bank Ltd.
After entering tower one, we were guided to the elevators and instructed to go to the 10th floor where the boardroom was located. The windows from the large and stately room provided views of two kinds. The view from one side consisted of other financial institutions such as the State Bank of India, the largest Indian bank, with ICICI being the second. On the other side, smaller buildings were scattered below and in the not so far distance, the haze of one of the many slums in Mumbai, a common sight due to the lack of space and organized housing within the city limits.
Dr. Samiran Chakraborty, Chief Economist and GMG Treasury Research began the discussion by providing an overview of the Indian economy. Some items he discussed included the inflation rate, which in the ‘80s, doubled that of the growth rate, however today now corresponds the growth rate. Although the government has published that 13%-38% of India’s people are in poverty, Dr. Chakraborty explained that the definition of poverty varies. One definition is based on the people who wear shoes. Many in India don’t consider this a necessity; therefore, if one can afford shoes, they are not in poverty.
Dr. Chakraborty also reviewed some history of the monetary policy in India and the “India Shining” campaign, which he stated was a terrible disaster because only the people who saw the improvements could believe in the campaign. Unfortunately, most were not seeing the improvements in the roads and water supply and therefore wouldn’t vote for the campaign.
Ms. Prerana Langa, Chief Manager, continued the discussion around the mortgage situation in India. She stated that in the last 9 months, there has been a drastic reduction in mortgage loans as no one I selling their house and that the housing demand is concentrated in pockets due to infrastructure issues. She recognized the fact that India needs more cities, but that there is no plan to build more as India is still trying to maximize the use of the current cities, which are constantly being expanded.
The merger of ICICI Ltd and ICICI Bank evolved the company from being a development financial institution to now offering a wide variety of financial services including life insurance, corporate financial services, as well as other banking services. Ms. Langa explained that from 2001 53% of the Indian M&A financing deals have gone through ICICI Bank.
Another topic Ms. Langa discussed was that of how ICICI Bank is involved in micro-banking in the rural areas. To reach 600,000 villages, it would be too expensive to build thousands of branches. Therefore, ICICI created many partnerships with banks that were already established in the rural areas. ICICI bank has been involved in financing the poor through group loans and they have been able to reach out to over 3 million households.
ICICI promotes “inclusive growth” however, full participation is challenging. Ms Langa quoted that 600 million people don’t have access to finance and so ICICI is trying to build the next generation of customers by reaching out to those who formally did not have financial access.
Ms. Langa also explained that ICICI is involved in a philanthropic exchange with GiveIndia. This group connects with the rural areas with enterprise through handicraft sellers and vocational training for the people in these villages. ICICI Bank has been involved with the financial side of this group by providing the people involved access to basic financial services and is trying to bridge the missing market gap with the rest of India.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Having spent the Saturday and Sunday in Bangalore, some of us arrived in Mumbai on Sunday afternoon while others had already arrived and had taken the city tour and were fairly comfortable with the place and the neighborhood. We all assembled in the hotel lobby to board the bus for a short ride. It was then that we realized that the Intercontinental Hotel was walkable from our hotel. More interestingly the ten-minute walk was on the Marine Drive also known as the Queen's Necklace. The meeting with Bharti AXA was in a way different than all the previous ones we had in Bangalore. It was a dinner hosted Mr. Nitin Chopra, CEO of the Bharti-AXA Life Insurance. Appetizers and drinks were being served on the table, while Mr. Chopra presented.
The presentation took us through the evolution of Life Insurance Sector in India. Following are some of the milestones
- 1870 - Establishment of first Indian Life Insurance office - Bombay Mutual Assurance Society
- 1912 ; 1938 - Life Insurance Sector regulated - Indian Life Insurance Companies Act enacted; Insurance Act 1938 passed
- 1956 - Life Insurance Nationalized through Life Insurance Corporation of India Act - LIC becomes a State monopoly
- 2000 - Opening of the Insurance sector for private players. Presently Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permitted upto 26 %
- 2005 - 14 companies offering life insurance - one dominant nationalized player and 13 pvt companies
- 2006 - 15 private sector companies - 2 wholly Indian owned.
Bharti AXA Life Insurance is a joint venture between Bharti, one of India’s leading business groups with interests in telecom, agri business and retail, and AXA, world leader in financial protection and wealth management. The joint venture company has a 74% stake from Bharti and 26% stake of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (APH).
The company that launched its national operations in December 2006 has over 3000 employees across over 12 states in the country and their business philosophy is built around the promise of making people "Life Confident".
The following quote from their website and other press media did make a connection to what we got as an answer to one of the questions about their expansion strategies and customer acceptance.
"As we expand our presence across the country to cater to your insurance and wealth management needs with our product and service offerings, we continue to bring 'life confidence' to customers spread across India. Whatever your plans in life, you can be confident that Bharti AXA Life will offer the right financial solutions to help you achieve them"
The Bharti group is very popular across the length and breadth of the country as leading cell phone service provider - Airtel and if marketed as Airtel Insurance, people easily recognize the brand name. Also marketing message and bundling could very well be done with the backing of Airtel.
The market as of 2006, is dominated by LIC with 63 % share while ICICI Prudential and Bajaj Allianz are leading private players with market shares of 10.6 % and 7.4 % respectively. Bharti AXA has the challenges of second wave entrant while it has the advantage to learn from the existing players and enjoy the already created insurance awareness.
Some of the interesting facts about Life Insurance Sector in India
- Contributes 4.1 % of India's GDP
- Second largest financial service after banking
- Total number of lives insured and on books as of March 31, 2006 - 198,466,127
- As of same date above, Rs. 5,496 billion is the total Assets under Management of Life Insurance Corporations
- A statutory requirement exists to reach rural areas
- Shesh Vasudevamurthy
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The first stop was just outside the beautiful Taj Hotel where we would board a ferry at the historic Gateway of India. A one hour ride into the Arabian Sea would take us to our first destination of the day, Elephanta Island. As we looked back on Mumbai's skyline, it really did remind us of New York in its expanse and varied buildings. A short tram ride and 120 some odd steps straight up later, we reached the mouth of the famous Elephanta Caves. Four columns looked like they might be holding the mouth of the cave open, but on the contrary, we learned they had been carved right out of the rock. The columns, the beautiful statuesque carvings of the Hindi god, Shiva, and the temple in the middle all literally were carved from one rock. The caves reminded us all that though India is a very young nation with 50% of the population under the age of 25, the civilization is an ancient one.
The next stops on our tour (after a visit to the local McDonald's for lunch and a much needed break from the spicy Indian food we have been enjoying) included a Jain temple built of marble and filled with the sweet smell of flowers everywhere. Next, we saw the site of the men who clean the clothes of the people of Mumbai. Our guide told us most people have a washing machine now, but they still use these services to make sure everything is perfectly washed. These men clean the clothes by hitting them on a rock and then hang them up in the sun to dry. This truly was a sight you had to see to believe. A little village of men, bright white clothes hanging above the shanty roof tops, and what looked like outdoor baths smoothed by years of hitting clothes against the rock was another bustling business right in the middle of the city. There must have been thousands of items being washed, dried, or folded; Jyothi told us not one piece is ever lost or delivered incorrectly! These men make as much as a cab driver or hotel security guard and so are happy with their work.
Finally, we had the opportunity to see Mahatma Ghandi's house and his simple style of living. His bedroom consisted of a mat, a small desk, a journal and his sandals. It was quite amazing to see the humility of a man who changed the course of a country! I thought this quote, posted on the wall, was especially fitting to describe all that we are seeing, "I want to work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; India in which there shall be no high class and no low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony."
- Becky Blevins
Friday, September 7, 2007
At Intel's campus in Bangalore, Naresh Sehgal, lead architect of the EPSD group, provided us with an overview of his group and IIDC (Intel India Development Center). IIDC is Intel's largest non-manufacturing site outside of the United States. Previously just a sales and marketing organization, Intel India has evolved into a research and development center due to the engineering talent pool in the country. Currently, Intel is one of the top ten employeers of choice in India. Intel's EPSD group works on developing unbranded server platforms (hardware & software) which it sells to channel customers and local OEMs. With the help of this group, channel customers can better compete in the market because most of the ground work and research is provided by the Intel team. These customers merely brand and sell the product without dealing with any of their own R&D costs. This program also provides a two-fold benefit to Intel. First, by supporting channel customers, Intel is able to dilute customer power. As described by Porter's 5 forces, by increasing the customer base, no one customer can squeeze Intel on prices. Secondly, since larger customers are slower to adopt new technologies, Intel focuses on getting their new technology to market through its smaller channel customers. This in turn forces larger customers to jump on the bandwagon. After the initial group presentation by Naresh Sehgal and his team, the students formed three breakout groups where they interacted with a few Intel managers and individual contributors. The key learnings of these sessions are presented below based on the feedback from the three team leaders. Challenges: Solutions: Group 2 (Team leader: Dang Nguyen) Topic: Work-life Balance and the global collaboration How does an Intel employee in India deal with time zone differences? Intel provides laptops and where possible home broadband connections to allow employees to reduce the impacts of both traffic and time zone differences.Intel also stated that they also try to share the pain by rotating the time when the conference calls occur. Why an MBA and what value does it have? Retention of Talent? The managers discussed ways to retain employees by ensuring employees saw the value in what they were doing. Even though it may mean changing some lines of code, they should know the impact of their work. The Intel manager also discussed how titles and positions are important in India, as employees are looking to fast track their careers. Also, Intel being a MNC, is more competitive from a salary point of view than Indian companies. Another challenge is that the sense of ownership is not as evolved in Indian workforce as compared to the US. Managers have to implement many checks, balances, and contingencies planning in to project planning. In addition to human behavior, environmental factors play a big role. Family obligations, traffic, and many other shortcomings interfere with task delivery. A manager needs to understand all the human and non-human issues and find a way to work through them to have a successful project. Currently, the attrition rate ranges between 15-20%. The average salary in India is 1/3 of the same role in US. If this gap decreases, it will not be worth it for global companies to come to India. Therefore, India needs to improve its worker knowledge and efficiency to ensure more than just a cost benefit. -- Ritu Manocha
Topic: Challenges and Solutions of Managers from an Indian Cultural Perspective
Similar to the structure of technology companies in the U.S.A., the career path for Intel India in Bangalore is like that of two rungs of a ladder where an employee can either follow a management or technical path
There are three types of managers at Intel, India:
First Level Managers – manage 9-15 individual contributors
Middle Level Mangers – manage first level managers
Senior level Managers – manage middle level managers
One of the challenges that first level managers face is that their individual contributors want to be managers after a short amount of time. This is due to peer pressure as the individual contributors from a small company like Intel, India compare themselves and the rate of their career growth to peers of much larger companies that can handle the infrastructure of having many managers.
The individual contributor in the group asked about the value of an MBA degree and if that has implications on reducing their technical abilities (i.e. reduced focus). The Santa Clara students gave multiple view points on this, including examples of the MBA improving their analytical skills and their ability to view technical issues in a different way. The Intel middle-manager, had a different opinion, as he believed technical contributors should continue to focus on their technical training.
Group 3 (Team leader: Shabnam Karimi)
Topic: Management Model
Two out of three Intel participants had management roles in US before moving back to India. The first challenge they faced was that the management model they we accustomed to in US was not applicable in India. In US, management by objectives is fully enforced as opposed to India where the focus is on relationships and feeling. Since the average age of the workers is relatively low, managers need to focus on coaching and developing their employees
IIDC is Intel's largest non-manufacturing site outside of the United States. Previously just a sales and marketing organization, Intel India has evolved into a research and development center due to the engineering talent pool in the country. Currently, Intel is one of the top ten employeers of choice in India.
Intel's EPSD group works on developing unbranded server platforms (hardware & software) which it sells to channel customers and local OEMs. With the help of this group, channel customers can better compete in the market because most of the ground work and research is provided by the Intel team. These customers merely brand and sell the product without dealing with any of their own R&D costs. This program also provides a two-fold benefit to Intel. First, by supporting channel customers, Intel is able to dilute customer power. As described by Porter's 5 forces, by increasing the customer base, no one customer can squeeze Intel on prices. Secondly, since larger customers are slower to adopt new technologies, Intel focuses on getting their new technology to market through its smaller channel customers. This in turn forces larger customers to jump on the bandwagon.
After the initial group presentation by Naresh Sehgal and his team, the students formed three breakout groups where they interacted with a few Intel managers and individual contributors. The key learnings of these sessions are presented below based on the feedback from the three team leaders.
Group 2 (Team leader: Dang Nguyen)
Topic: Work-life Balance and the global collaboration
How does an Intel employee in India deal with time zone differences?
Intel provides laptops and where possible home broadband connections to allow employees to reduce the impacts of both traffic and time zone differences.Intel also stated that they also try to share the pain by rotating the time when the conference calls occur.
Why an MBA and what value does it have?
Retention of Talent?
The managers discussed ways to retain employees by ensuring employees saw the value in what they were doing. Even though it may mean changing some lines of code, they should know the impact of their work. The Intel manager also discussed how titles and positions are important in India, as employees are looking to fast track their careers. Also, Intel being a MNC, is more competitive from a salary point of view than Indian companies.
Another challenge is that the sense of ownership is not as evolved in Indian workforce as compared to the US. Managers have to implement many checks, balances, and contingencies planning in to project planning. In addition to human behavior, environmental factors play a big role. Family obligations, traffic, and many other shortcomings interfere with task delivery. A manager needs to understand all the human and non-human issues and find a way to work through them to have a successful project.
Currently, the attrition rate ranges between 15-20%. The average salary in India is 1/3 of the same role in US. If this gap decreases, it will not be worth it for global companies to come to India. Therefore, India needs to improve its worker knowledge and efficiency to ensure more than just a cost benefit.
-- Ritu Manocha
Mr. Vyas gave us a quote that he felt described India well, “Politically one country, socio-culturally many countries in one”. He compared India to Europe, as far as the number of languages, people, and cultures found in one geographic area. He explained that even people from neighboring states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra are as different as trying to compare Karnataka to Italy when considering language, style of dress, cultural dances, etc. They say in India the language and culture changes ever 100 kilometers.
From a media planning perspective, Mr. Vyas explained that there are 5,600 daily newspapers, 15,000 weekly newspapers, and 20,000 magazines in 21 languages across the country that planners must negotiate through when planning their media buys. Along the same line, advertisements generally cannot be used even from state to state. Celebrities are frequently used to promote products in the country, as is done in the U.S. However, apparently movie stars and comedians from one state will not be easily recognized by those from another state. Mr. Vyas showed us two Santoor commercials that were identical, with the exception of the celebrity featured in the commercial, the language it was broadcast in, and the way the female protagonist was dressed. All of the actors, storyline, and product messaging remained the same.
Mr. Vyas then showed examples of the differences in product preferences across the country. In the south, the sandalwood fragrance is preferred in soap products, and Wipro’s Santoor soap is orange. In the north on the other hand, non-sandalwood fragrances are preferred, as are natural products, so the soap is instead colored white. Similarly, due to differences in climate across the country, consideration must be given to how the product is used regionally when creating advertisements. In the south, where the women are darker skinned, talcum powder is used as face powder for beautification to make their skin look lighter. In the northwest however, where the weather can be humid, talcum powder is used as a deodorant. Obviously an advertisement showing talcum being applied as a face power would be very confusing to women in the northwest.
To address all of these different demographics, Wipro typically conducts market research in at least 3-4 different regions in the country before launching any new products to ensure that it matches most of the country’s needs. This is definitely the key message of marketing to diverse cultures. You really need to do the extra research in the areas you plan on launching your product or service to understand the key differences between the populations. Wipro CPG for example makes new brand managers live in the region they will be supporting for at least two months to ensure that they understand the nuances of the culture before allowing them to manage a product line in the region.
The key learnings that Mr. Vyas described definitely apply in the U.S., and even more so for U.S. companies trying to launch in new countries. Taking for granted that a new cultural will easily accept and use your product just because it works at home can be a costly mistake. KFC made this mistake when launching in India without doing any market research beforehand. They failed to recognize that most of the population in India is vegetarian, and initially provided almost no vegetarian dishes on their menu. In addition, they didn’t realize that the country’s own home cooked tandoori chicken would be a major competitor in the region. Simple taste tests and consumer research could have prevented these fatal errors, and saved millions of dollars re-creating the menu and revamping their image.
- Eileen McSweeney
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The crowd of vendors was the first to welcome us everywhere we stopped. Our first stop was the summer palace of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatnam. The palace looked more like a summer villa made of wood. The most interesting feature of this palace is the series of murals, which depict scenes from Tipu's military career, in which he crushed the British forces under Colonel Bailey. The kings who owed allegiance to Tipu are also featured in these paintings.This lavishly ornamented building now houses a museum of Tipu memorabilia. Srirangapattana remained part of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1610 to after India's independence in 1947; as the fortress closest to the capital city of Mysore, it was the last bastion and defence of the kingdom in case of invasion. Under Tipu Sultan's ruling Srirangapatnam become capital of the powerful tate of Carnatic.
The second attraction we visited was the famous Srirangapatnam Fort defended by a double wall. The river Kaveri borders with one side of the fort forming a natural moat, which is fed by water from the river. In ancient times the moat was a filled with snakes and crocodiles which prevented enemies from entering the fort. The original bridge, which was the only link with the fort, is still in use. Near the bridge, one can still see the breech on the fort wall made by the British forces. The fort has four gates. Along the battlements, there are two dungeons in which prisoners of war were kept and which we had the chance to visit and explore.
Our next stop was the famous Mysore Palace in city of Mysore, southern India. It was the official residence of the former royal family of Mysore, and also housed the durbar (royal offices). As we entered in the garden in front of the palace we saw those beautiful temples and the huge palace which was the first palace we visited that looked like a palace in terms of my expectations. This palace was first built in the 14th century, but this palace was partially damaged by a lightning strike in 1638. It was repaired and expanded, but fell into neglect by the late 18th century. It was demolished in 1793, and a new palace was built in its place in 1803. This palace was destroyed in a fire in 1897 during the wedding of Princess Jayalakshmanni. Based on the previous experience, the Queen-Regent of Mysore at the time, commissioned a British architect, Henry Irwin, to build yet another palace in its place made of fine gray granite with deep pink marble domes stones. The architect was requested to combine different styles of architecture in the construction of the palace. The construction was completed in 1912 and the only sign of the previous palace are two doors made of silver which are mounted to the wall as part of the big art collection in the palace. This palace is a must see place! With 200kg gold royal throne of the Wodeyars with beautiful artwork, a ceremonial wooden elephant howdah (carriage kept on top of the elephants to carry royalty) decorated with 84 kilogram of 24 carat gold and other souvenirs, the gorgeous marriage pavilion with centre octagonal gabled ceiling, covered by multi coloured stained glass with peacock motifs arranged in geometrical patterns and beautiful chandeliers from Belgium(!!!) and so much more.
After a very fulfilling day we got back to the hotel in the late evening. It was a truly memorable experience.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Azim Premji Foundation is a non-profit focused on improving Indian education by providing long term developmental programs to teachers, principals and schools. The Foundation begain working with the state of Karnataka, where it is headquartered, and has expanded operations to work with over 25 social organizations across the country and, to date, has engaged deeply with over 8,000 educators and 900 schools across 17 states of India. The foundation is named after the sole benefactor, Azim Premji, one of the wealthiest entreprenuers in India and Chairman & CEO of BPO heavy-hitter, Wipro Technologies.
The vision of the foundation is to significantly contribute to quality universal education as a foundation to a just, humane and equitable society through three principles, access, equity and quality. Their mission is defined as:
- Develop world class human resources in the field of education.
- Catalyze a national movement for Universalisation of Elementary Education in India.
- Achieve significant improvement in the quality of education as a sustained method for attracting and retaining children in the school
- Work with existing government initiatives and create new ones to improve access, content and delivery of education.
- Build active, sustainable partnerships with individuals, community at large, government and other organizations committed to the field of education to leverage the effort for optimum results.
- Enable schools to guarantee learning
Upon this basis, the foundation has implemented three key programs:
- Learning Guarantee Program - To build a voluntary spirit of accountability among schools, community and Government functionaries and study factors that influence learning
- Child Friendly Schools - To demonstrate comprehensive and sustainable quality of education in identified schools in partnership with the schools, parents, Government and UNICEF
- Computer Aided Learning - To create excitement and interest in children about school and learning and provide teachers with interactive material to supplement teaching of difficult subjects
This was the first of the NGO visits and provided a glaring contrast to the high tech companies we had visited thus far. Previously, the concern for quality education had been discussed by Professor Gowda and many of the executives, at the university level. This was the first exposure to the larger problem of primary education, principally from grades 1 through 8.
The Indian public school system follows the British metric system where the equivalent of high school would be the 10 grade, or Metric standard. To provide a point of reference to the scope of the education crisis, 1 out of every 3 children in the 5th grade cannot read, and only 31% of children reach the 10th Standard, of which only 40% pass. Shocking numbers for a country that is being touted to rival China which boasts 91% literacy!
The largest challenge facing the Azim Premji Foundation is not how to increase enrollment, or disseminate best teaching practices, or even ensure quality eduation to each child. The largest challenge is actually scalability. There are many proven methods to improve education, but how do these methods actually work when the implementation scope covers 1.3 Million schools, 5.5 Million teachers and 200 Million students?
The Azim Premji Foundation takes a practical approach by partnering with the state government. Implementing change in each school one by one is impossible, instead, they take over government schools and deploy the three key programs, making adjustments as necessary for the local environment. Once they have proven the concept on at least 1,000 schools, the state government must agree to take back ownership of the schools, adopt the model and deploy it throughout the state.
The visit to the Azim Premji Foundation was sobering, but I felt it was a welcome dose of reality to temper the high-flying optimism and energy I felt the tech boom created in Bangalore.
On Wednesday, September 5, 2007, we visited Maini Precision Products in Bangalore. We had a very interesting and highly interactive discussion with Mr. Chaitanya Koranne, VP Marketing at Maini Precision Products. We had a tour of their manufacturing facility (machine shop) and we also had the opportunity to see REVA car which is an environment-friendly, cost-effective electric car specially designed for Indian urban conditions. Overall, the visit was very interesting, informative and a different kind of experience for most of us who rarely visit machine shops with metal turning lathes and machine tools all around.
The Maini Group started in 1973 in Bangalore as a small scale manufacturer of high precision automotive components exclusively for MICO-BOSCH. The Maini Group has evolved into a highly diversified manufacturing entity, and a major outsourcing partner for several multinational corporations including companies like GM. There are four primary companies that make up the Maini Group and the company that we visited (Maini Precision Products - MPP) is one of them. MPP manufactures over 1500 types of components specialized in engine application parts, sub-assemblies, casting & forging, material handling, shafts and axles.
The following are some of the main topics Mr. Koranne focused on in his presentation:
Maini Group, sub groups & Maini Precision Products
6 manufacturing units in India each focused on a specific product line
Sales performance of Maini Precision Products
Sales distribution for MPP (Industry wise from India)
Advantages for MPP based on experience & core knowledge in high-quality manufacturing, packaging, shipping etc.
Sales distribution for MPP (Customer wise from India)
Sales distribution for MPP (Region wise from India)
MPP technologies in the market (# of pieces Vs. Complexity in end-application)
MPP’s emphasis on high-quality
Mr. Koranne explained the importance of managing foreign exchange risk for MPP. Also MPP uses standard hedging techniques to offset price fluctuations of various metals needed for manufacturing by MPP. The futures market for metals is not very well developed/organized in India and this certainly presents problems to MPP.
The overall sales performance of Maini Precision Products has been very impressive with CAGR of 26% since inception and 51% for the past 4 years. In terms of the industry-wise sales distribution from India, the main industries for MPP components are as follows: material handling (15%), transmission (13%), assemblies (26%), hydraulic (17%) and automotive (15%). MPP components are also used in the Aerospace industry (6% sales). Mr. Koranne explained that the MPP products used in the Aerospace industry are essentially low-tech components. The high-complexity, high-tech products from MPP are mainly used in cars and other automobiles.
MPP has a very strong focus on quality and it has received several prestigious awards for quality and excellence. MPP has consistently maintained zero defect in products delivered to various customers (zero PPM). Mr. Koranne mentioned that their manufacturing yields are also high with an internal PPM of 1700 – 2600.
One of the highlights of our visit to MPP was the REVA electric car that we saw there. In 1994, REVA Electric Car Company, based in Bangalore, was established as a joint venture between the Maini Group and AEV LLC of Irvindale, California, USA. The REVA car is India’s first zero-polluting electric car for city mobility. It was commercialized in June 2001 and is specially designed to cater to the Indian urban conditions with potential for city commuters across the globe. Currently, REVA car can go up to 80 kilometers in a single charge. A full charge can be attained in 8 hours while 80% charge can be attained in 2.5 hours. The battery-pack has a life of 2-3 years. In the future, REVA is expected to offer ranges of up to 200 kilometers in a single charge with reduced charge-time.
The tour of the manufacturing facility was also interesting. It was a typical factory environment with several machine tools and metal-turning lathes for manufacturing Maini’s precision products. Mr. Koranne mentioned that the average wage for the factory worker at MPP ranged from $3 - $6 per hour. We also saw MPP’s classroom training facility and the packaging facility.
We concluded our visit with good south-Indian lunch hosted by MPP on the top floor of the office building with a nice view of Bangalore city from the balcony.
- Satish Salagame
Unbelievably, Accenture has experienced purely organic growth in headcount - that is, growth that is not acquisition-based. Accenture India grew from just 100 employees in 2000 to over 35,000 employees in 2007. In fact, Accenture India has the most headcount of any office in the world for Accenture. This staggering number of employees was reinforced to us by the multiple floors of cafeteria and U.S. mall-like food courts we walked through to get to the conference room where we were hosted.
Accenture was the first international consulting firm to open in India, and is currently focusing on managing and optimizing their clients' networks, without ownership of their networks. Accenture India recently handled the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines. Mr. Vaish discussed that Accenture's talent strategy is highly centered around specialization of skills, as their clients are beginning to demand more risk from Accenture - asking that they not just bill time, but more importantly to deliver extraordinary results in highly specialized and senior outsourced roles.
In addition to the presentations by Mr. Vaish and several of his esteemed collegues, we were given impressive demonstrations by various Accenture specialists on R&D projects focused on human health diagnostics, network diagnostics, and videoconferencing that highlighted the advanced and specialized skillsets available at Accenture India.
-- Eileen McSweeney
Fortunately, the nice manager did not charge me for another ticket. There were only 32 seats in the gold class theater and we struck a deal where I would leave my seat if another customer purchased a ticket. So I was not allowed in until 5 seconds before the movie started. Upon finally being able to enter the theater, I noticed that all my classmates had kicked their feet high in the air while they lay completely flat in their individual la-z-boy recliners. Now that is what I am talking about, that is the well deserved break we longed for and we need to move these la-z-boy recliners over to AMC Mercado. I also noticed that waiters were coming around to take drink and food orders, this was included in the gold class tickets we purchased. When I sat down, I was lucky enough to select a seat that was broken. Given my good fortune thus far, I decided to sit still and make do with what I had since I did not have to pay twice. The movie started with the 3 main characters at a dance club. Within 10 minutes it was obvious that this was the Bollywood version of “3 men and a baby.” Then the waiters delivered the food and drinks about 15 minutes into the movie. Please refer to the following link (http://heyybabyy.erosentertainment.com/) for a synopsis of the movie and to view the trailer. I do not want to spoil the movie for those yet to see the film. I will however say that the movie did incorporate many dance routines and the sound system was at full blast throughout the whole movie.
After about an hour and a half, the movie suddenly halted with an intermission break. It was then that everyone took the anticipated washroom break and I searched for a working recliner. Not everyone ran to the bathrooms, there were a few individuals who were found sleeping in the recliner. I was able to locate the 1 empty seat in the front row of all places, but who was I to complain. I did check to see that it reclined and I could kick my feet up as my fellow classmate had for the first half of the movie. Now that I was ready to relax, the waiters came back around to take orders for the last half of the movie. Again, they delivered the food and drinks about 15 minutes into the second half. I was so relaxed in the working seat that 15 minutes before the movie concluded, I noticed that my wallet was no longer in my back pocket. I was certain that I had it when I moved locations.
Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong … it got worst. My credit cards, driver’s license, and most importantly, my SCU student ID were now engulfed by this recliner. I sat there anxiously waiting for the movie to finally end. After, what felt like a 30 minute long final dance routine number, the lights finally turned on. I quickly dropped to the floor in search of my wallet and given my luck, it was not there. I looked around and was ready to tear this recliner apart. After searching for 15 minutes with no luck I was ready to give up. It was then that a fellow classmate found my wallet in one of the crevasses in this recliner. This day finally ended and I was glad to reach the hotel without misplacing anything else. Thereafter, the day captain was responsible for my plane tickets and the roommate check now included my wallet.
-- Eugene Cabanban