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Rohin Dharmakumar
Rohin Dharmakumar
I love writing about underdogs, disrupters, innovators and enablers across technology and business.

Milind Deora addressing a Google Hangout session (Source:www.MilindDeora.in)

[Update: The article has been edited to update the correct spelling of BJP M.P Prakash Javadekar. The original version of this article used the spelling "Javadkar" based on the Rajya Sabha's official records, which we understand may not be correct.]

Milind Deora, the Minister of State for Communications, Information Technology and Shipping, isn’t your typical politician.

At just 36, he’s way younger than the average cabinet minister (64) or Member of Parliament (53). He’s also richer (Rs.17.5 crore compared to Rs.5.3 crore for the average M.P.)

He’s got his own website - www.milinddeora.in - which unlike most of his peer’s websites, is fairly well-designed and constantly updated. He’s also an avid user of social networks like Twitter (@milinddeora) and Facebook.

Oh, he’s also a Blues fan and a pretty good guitarist.

In short, he’s the kind of politician or minister many Indians would like to vote for.

And vote they do, in fact. Deora’s won the Mumbai (South) parliamentary constituency two times in a row, garnering nearly twice his next opponent’s votes during the 2009 elections.

Which is why it’s surprising, and saddening, to see Deora trot out a patently false set of answers to how America’s global dragnet of Internet surveillance is affecting the privacy of Indians.

On 16th August Deora responded to a question from Rajya Sabha M.P. and BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, asking the following:

(a) whether it is a fact that India was the fifth most tracked country by the United States intelligence, particularly on the internet;
(b) if so, the details thereof;
(c) the impact of USA”s surveillance program-Prism and Boundless Information on the country; and
(d) the steps Government intends to take to protect country”s interests and the privacy of its citizens?

Javadekar’s question was sorely needed in light of the near-daily disclosures being made about the scarily omnipresent extent to which the US Government spies on global Internet users through a myriad of ways.

India, as Javadekar rightly pointed out, was indeed the fifth most monitored country under the “Boundless Informant” data mining tool that tracks the NSA’s (the US’ lead communications spy agency) global surveillance efforts. In just March 2013 alone, according to a leaked presentation on the tool, the NSA collected 6.3 billion pieces of information from India. Suffice it to say, the information would have come from Indian citizens, businesses, ministries, bureaucrats and of course, members of Parliament (most of who now use webmail and social network from the likes of Google and Facebook).

The only countries that were spied upon more than us were Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt. Some sobering company, that!

One would thus expect Deora to be seized of the urgency and concern behind Javadekar’s questions. His answer was:

(a) & (b) In June 2013, Media reports have disclosed that India is the fifth largest target of United States electronic surveillance programmes, in terms of interception of communications on fibre cables and other infrastructure. As per media reports, United States agencies used a number of methods to gather intelligence including intercepting communication on fibre cables and infrastructure, collecting information from servers of global internet and Telecom Service Providers. Such companies include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, AOL,Youtube, Paltalk and Skype.

Here we have a member of Parliament asks India’s Minister for Communications & IT about the extent to which Indian citizens and businesses are being spied upon by the US – ostensibly a friendly country – and all the Minister could do was cite newspaper reports?

What about your own investigations Mr.Minister? What is the opinion of your leading spy agencies like the NTRO, R&AW and IB? Are they also relying on newspaper reports?

But wait, Deora does go on to provide a few more answers:

(c) & (d) Government has expressed concerns over reported United States monitoring of internet traffic from India. Concerns with regard to violation of any Indian laws relating to privacy of information of ordinary Indian citizen as well as intrusive data capture deployed against Indian citizens or government infrastructure have been conveyed to the United States. The issue of United States Cyber surveillance activities was discussed during the Indo-US (India United States ) strategic dialogue meeting held in New Delhi on 24.06.2013.

Whew. That was reassuring. We expressed “concerns with regard to violation of any Indian laws relating to privacy of information” to the US during a “strategic dialogue meeting”.

Let me guess what the US side responded: “Sure. We’ll do that. Come back to us when you have a privacy law. Ha ha!”

As Sunil Abraham, the director for the Center for Internet & Society points out in Forbes India, India has no modern and comprehensive privacy law. And the government is working on a new one for only the last three years:

What would an ideal privacy law for India look like? For one, it would protect the rights of all persons, regardless of whether they are citizens or residents. Two, it would define privacy principles. Three, it would establish the office of an independent and autonomous privacy commissioner, who would be sufficiently empowered to investigate and take action against both government and private entities. Four, it would define civil and criminal offences, remedies and penalties. And five, it would have an overriding effect on previous legislation that does not comply with all the privacy principles.

The Justice AP Shah Committee report, released in October 2012, defined the Indian privacy principles as notice, choice and consent, collection limitation, purpose limitation, access and correction, disclosure of information, security, openness and accountability. The report also lists the exemptions and limitations, so that privacy protections do not have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression and transparency enabled by the Right to Information Act.

The Department of Personnel and Training has been working on a privacy bill for the last three years. Two versions of the bill had leaked before the Justice AP Shah Committee was formed. The next version of the bill, hopefully implementing the recommendations of the Justice AP Shah Committee report, is expected in the near future. In a multi-stakeholder-based parallel process, the Centre for Internet and Society (where I work), along with FICCI and DSCI, is holding seven round tables on a civil society draft of the privacy bill and the industry-led efforts on co-regulation.

Which brings me to the final part of Deora’s response to Javadekar:

United States official responded that PRISM dealt only with Meta Data (related to the direction and the flow of the traffic) and only broad patterns of telephony and internet traffic are monitored. United States Officials maintained that data content/content of emails are not accessed or not monitored under these surveillance programmes; therefore, it is not a violation of privacy. It was stated by United States that its agencies need to get separate authorization from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, if they want to access the content of any of the data intercepted by these surveillance programmes.

Dear Mr.Minister, either you have been lied to by your friendly “United States Official”, or, well…

Firstly, by limiting the answer to only PRISM, which happens to be just one of the NSA’s secret tools for online surveillance, you are willfully or inadvertently narrowing down Javadekar’s question which specifically mentions other tools like Boundless Informant.

Almost all of the big Internet companies revealed to be part of the NSA’s global spying mechanism have also used the same tactic to tailor their denials. I suppose they got the cue from the NSA, which loves using the “Under This Program” dodge to derail specific questions about its secret programs, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Another tried and true technique in the NSA obfuscation playbook is to deny it does one invasive thing or another “under this program.” When it’s later revealed the NSA actually does do the spying it said it didn’t, officials can claim it was just part of another program not referred to in the initial answer.

In case you weren’t aware of the NSA’s obfuscation tactics Mr.Minister, here is another great piece on it from the Slate – “How to Decode the True Meaning of What NSA Officials Say”

Thus when your friendly US official tells you that “only meta data (related to the direction and the flow of the traffic) and only broad patterns of telephony and internet traffic are monitored” under PRISM, not “data content/content of emails”, he or she is technically right.

Because the NSA has other programs that capture all of that. For instance, XKeyscore, which according to leaked presentations, it can capture “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet”. This includes emails, visits to websites, web searches and Facebook chats & private messages.

Did you also know, Mr. Minister, that the XKeyscore surveillance program has servers located inside India?

Finally, you make a statement that is patently false. You say that US spy agencies need authorizations from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts (FISC) in order to access the data collected by various surveillance programs.

FISA courts almost always approve any request made to them (they apparently rejected just 11 requests out of 33,900 made by the US government in the last 33 years), so that’s that for oversight.

And in the NSA’s Orwellian world of doublespeak, large scale interception and storage of Internet communications isn’t considered “collected” till such time one of their agents has had a chance to look at it. Which means if you’re reading this post – the NSA’s secret servers over the world and in India can coolly capture that and store it in vast databases for posterity – without it ever registering as a “collection” or requiring any approval from FISA courts.

Fact is, Mr.Minister, we “foreigners” (unless you belong to one of the four other countries that are part of the “Five Eyes” alliance, in which case you’ll be treated with a wee bit more caution) , that is, us, are fair game:

The intelligence data is being gathered under Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the NSA authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.

The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases. That process is known as “incidental collection” in surveillance parlance.

We expected better answers from you Mr.Minister – sorry, expect better.

Alas your recent answers don’t inspire much trust, for instance when you tell us constant surveillance is “good for us” and “will enhance the privacy of citizens”.

Or when you tell us that “Google Hangouts” – a service provided by a company that looms over nearly everything Indians do online – is a better medium to reach out to people than Parliament or Television.

We deserve the truth from you Mr.Minister. Just like Prakash Javadekar.

“India’s iconic Chandni Chowk market…now online!” screamed the blog post from Google India on December 17th, 2012.

Inaugurated by Rajan Anandan, Google India MD and Kapil Sibal, the union minister for IT and Communications, the website was Google’s first (and as far as I can tell, only) local market-specific aggregation under its larger “India Get Your Business Online” effort.

Kapil Sibal and Rajan Anandan launching Chandnichowkonline.com (Image: Google India)

But then, there aren’t any other markets in India that also happen to the parliamentary constituency of its union IT and communications minister too.

Nonetheless, the iconic market is now…offline.

A great majority of the 2500 small and medium businesses and shops in Chandni Chowk that Google helped created, now lie dead. I clicked through roughly 50-60 websites under different categories like “Apparel & Clothing”, “Footwear”, “Home Appliances” and “Electronics & Accessories” but I couldn’t find a single one that was working.

There are two possible explanations – either no one bothered to reach out to these businesses and remind them to pay the Rs.1300-Rs.1600 per year to renew their domains and hosting plans with Hostgator.in, Google’s hosting partner.

Or, very few hard-nosed Chandni Chowk businesses men and shopkeepers saw value in spending even that trivial an amount on having their own websites.

I wrote to Hostgator, wanting to know what had happened. A representative, apparently part of the “India Get Your Business Online” team at Hostgator passed the buck to Google India, saying the program was their initiative (I’m surprised why Hostgator doesn’t consider the potential revenue Rs.32-40 lakh in hosting fees as something worth pursuing themselves).

So on Tuesday I wrote to the person at Google referred to by Hostgator. I’ve yet to hear back from him.

I think Medianama nailed it the very day Google launched the initiative:

“The challenge with taking small businesses online and shops, is to ensure that businesses continue to renew their domain and hosting contracts even after the free period, and that’s when Google will start to reap the benefits of such mass initiatives.

[...]

Frankly, for google this is an attempt to bring more and more SMBs online, with the objective of eventually getting them to advertise on Adwords. Chandni Chowk online might be just PR, but it’s a bigger part of Google India’s sales focused approach under Rajan Anandan.”

 

Flipkart-CIC LogosOne is the largest E-commerce seller in India, founded by two plucky friends who studied together at IIT-Delhi and worked together in Amazon, India. Easily India’s most respected and loved E-commerce site, Flipkart’s revenue is estimated to be somewhere between $500 million to $1 billion, to create which it has had to pull in around $200 million in venture funding over four rounds till now. (Disclaimer: Flipkart is a competitor to Homeshop18.com, a company owned by Network 18, Forbes India’s parent company.)

The other is the $500 billion sovereign investment fund of a country that seeks to reclaim its pole position in the global pecking order, a position it feels was stolen from it through a global conspiracy led by western imperialist powers and Japan.

But since early this year, the two firms have been struggling to fill in a critical leadership position.

In Flipkart’s case it has, since February this year, been unable to find  a Chief Financial Officer after its erstwhile CFO Karandeep Singh resigned unexpectedly. Singh, an experienced professional had joined Flipkart just over a year before his resignation. He was widely regarded as sort of the “grown up” hired to steer Flipkart towards a successful IPO, akin to, say, Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook.

Needless to say Singh’s exit came as a huge shock to entrepreneurs, investors and keen observers of the E-commerce sector in India. Worse, Flipkart has been unable to find a capable replacement for Singh as CFO in the ensuing months. And yesterday it appointed Kalyan Krishnamurthy, an employee of Tiger Global – arguably Flipkart’s biggest, if not majority investor – as interim CFO. While co-founder and COO Binny Bansal told VC Circle that “in the meantime, the company has already started the search for a full-time CFO”, the fact that an interim CFO needed to be appointed nearly 4 months after the previous one’s resignation means that Flipkart estimates it might be some more months before it can fill such a critical position. A well-funded, market-leading and much-loved firm not being able to find a good candidate in what is currently a buyer’s market isn’t ever good news. Moreover, Flipkart’s stupendous growth has always been accompanied by rumours and news about its less-than-stellar organizational culture where who-you-knew mattered more than what-you-were.

Cut to CIC, China’s grandiose plan to kill two birds with one stone – generate better returns on its gargantuan foreign exchange reserves through investment, and gain boardroom seats in large global firms. But, as a Financial Times article pointed out yesterday, CIC too has been struggling to find a new head since March this year.

“China Investment Corporation has been without a chairman since March when its former head Lou Jiwei became finance minister. The search for a replacement appears set to continue as the latest nominee, Shanghai vice-mayor Tu Guangshao, is very reluctant to take the job, the people said. They added that Yi Gang, a central bank deputy governor, had already declined the post.

“Those with the right qualifications don’t want the job. Those who want the job don’t have the right qualifications,” said one CIC executive, who confirmed that the fund was having a hard time finding a new leader.”

Since it’s launch in 2007, CIC has made a series of dud or low-return investments. FT reports than it generated 3.8 percent cumulative annualized returns between 2007 and 2011.

But low returns are only a symptom that CIC’s prospective candidates might at best be wary of. The really smart ones might even view that as a great opportunity to show improvement. Instead the underlying disease that most are running away from is this:

“The concern for those who have been asked to run CIC is that the wealth fund may have nasty surprises on its books and they are afraid it will prove a poisoned chalice if they bear the blame for investments that fare poorly, the people said.”

In Flipkart’s case, for a company that generates and utilizes enormous amounts of money (its monthly losses, though falling, are privately estimated to be a few million dollars), the Finance function ought to be super critical. And yet, it has never managed to retain people who led that function.

For nearly a year before Karandeep Singh’s appointment, Flipkart didn’t have a formal head for its Finance function. And Tapan Kumar Das, the person who led the function prior to that, resigned after just over a year, after expressing his unwillingness to sign the company’s financial statements.

Could it be that Flipkart and CIC, two very different organizations, share a common cause for their inability to attract a financial leader – a “poisoned chalice”?

Japanese companies are not known for washing their dirty linen in public, but I suppose pleading guilty to civil and criminal charges in the world’s largest and most lucrative pharmaceuticals market, the USA, and agreeing to pay a $500 million fine, could cause some abnormal behavior.

On 22nd May, one week after Ranbaxy, the company it bought in 2008 for $4.6 billion, pleaded guilty with the US FDA, Daiichi Sankyo, said the following in a press release:

“Daiichi Sankyo believes that certain former shareholders of Ranbaxy concealed and misrepresented critical information concerning the U.S. DOJ and FDA investigations.  Daiichi Sankyo is currently pursuing its available legal remedies and cannot comment further on the subject at this time.”

As corporate press releases go, that was about as close as one can get to a cruise missile. And in case there was any doubt who they were referring to, the answer was provided the very next.

Again, via a press release. In the erstwhile owners of Ranbaxy, the “Singh Family” comprising Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, retorted:

“Daiichi Sankyo’s allegations of concealment and misrepresentation are false and baseless.

[...]

The belated suggestion, made years after the fact, that information was concealed from and/or misrepresented to Daichii Sankyo is false and designed to divert attention away from Daiichi Sankyo’s own failures to protect itself and its shareholders in the negotiations and agreement with the Singh family shareholders of Ranbaxy.

[...]

It was recently reported that Ranbaxy had entered into a settlement agreement with the US FDA and DOJ in relation to their investigations and that under that settlement agreement, Ranbaxy agreed to pay large penalties to the US FDA and DOJ. The decision to enter into that settlement agreement was made by Ranbaxy and had nothing to do with the Singh family which was not even consulted by Daiichi Sankyo/Ranbaxy.”

In essence, Ranbaxy’s previous owners were saying that they had not hidden anything from Daiichi Sankyo during the due diligence prior to June 2008 (when the sale was inked). And, more importantly, they seemed to imply that the decisions to plead guilty before the FDA and agree to pay $500 million was not something they would have recommended, had Daiichi Sankyo consulted them.

A somewhat similar press release went out from Ranbaxy on 15th February, 2007, a day after the FDA raided their offices in the US, infamously called “The Great Valentine’s Day Raid” by its employees. It said:

“Ranbaxy Inc., said today that federal officials conducted a search at its New Jersey offices on Feb 14, 2007.

Ranbaxy said that this action has come as a surprise. The company is not aware of any wrongdoing.”

That was nearly one and a half years before Daiichi Sankyo would buy Ranbaxy.

To unravel the sequence of events, the best resource would be Katherine Eban’s fantastic feature story, “Dirty medicine”, in Fortune magazine. Pieced together using reportage spread over years, dozens of conversations and multiple Freedom of Information (FOI is the US equivalent of India’s Right to Information act) requests, the story is quite simply, superlative. If you haven’t read it till now, do so immediately.

In order to establish the timeline of events, I drew out the key dates and events from Eban’s story and correlated it with data on who was CEO, Chairman of the Board and majority owner. Ranbaxy pleading guilty on May 13th was the culmination of a series of lapses and outright fraud, much of which seems to have started years before Daiichi Sankyo was even in the picture.

 

The figure below presents a colour-coded snapshot of the different stages in Ranbaxy’s life, and who were at the helm during each of them.

Ranbaxy Control Timeline

 

With 78 million monthly active users – up 50 percent over the last year – Facebook is growing like gangbusters in India. But evidence from its home market – the US – and other developed countries seems to suggest that its growth there may have plateaued.

A Pew Research study on Facebook’s US users –  67 percent of the country’s population – found that 61 percent of users had voluntarily taken a break from the site ranging from a few weeks to more. Of the people who aren’t current Facebook users, 20 percent said they were once members, before deciding to quit the site.

Meanwhile another study by SocialBakers, a Czekh startup that analyses social networks, says that in December 2012 Facebook’s monthly active user base fell by 1.4 million in the US and 600,000 in the UK.

And remember the “Facebook Phone”? The co-branded phone Facebook released with HTC that modified the default Android home to put Facebook bang-and-center? In less than a month the phone’s price was reduced from $99, to 99 cents!

But the worst data came from investment bank Piper Jaffray, which in April published a detailed research study on US teens, a key group for social networks, advertisers and brands. The study showed that US teens were actively disengaging themselves from Facebook at a rather alarming rate.

"Taking Stock with Teens", Spring 2013, Piper Jaffray

In the one year between Spring 2012 and Spring 2013, Facebook – the clear leader among teens – fell in popularity from 32 percent to 23 percent. This tied it for first place with YouTube, which was a clear number two earlier. Twitter followed the two.

Of course many other social networks – YouTube, Google+and Tumblr – also fell in popularity during the same period, but none as much as Facebook.

Now teens are very important audience for marketers and advertisers around the world. Firstly because they are huge spenders, especially in categories like apparel, smartphones, beauty products and eating out. And secondly because they are often the early adopters of most trends, whether it be fashion or technology.

But if teens are ditching Facebook, where are they headed for?

According to Piper Jaffray, the five relative gainers from Facebook’s exodus are Reddit, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine and 4chan.

To the lay, or maybe the middle-aged and the old, some of these sites can appear chaotic and unstructured. A Reddit for instance has oceans of posts under its various “sub-reddits” that can literally envelope your brain. As Simon Dumenco at AdAge says, “Reddit has become, simply put, mainstream media.” Twitter is a never-ending stream of information, news and opinion that doesn’t stop for anyone. Vine, Twitter’s micro-video sharing service, is too, rather unexpectedly some would say, exploding in popularity.

SnapChat, an app that allows people to send each other photos that “self destruct” after 10 seconds, is massively popular with teens and young adults, never mind the engineering flaws that supposedly allow deleted photos to be recovered. And 4Chan? Well, what does one say about 4Chan!

Do you know what’s common between all five of them? The freedom to be anonymous.

It would appear that US teens are seeing the risks of exposing all of your personal information online, even within closed social networks. Instead, they’re heading for sites where they can use interact with others without giving up their privacy or identities (by using pseudonyms).

Photo courtesy: @zigazou76/Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zigazou76/6824175422/)

Photo courtesy: @zigazou76/Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zigazou76/6824175422/)

Facebook was the social network that started the trend of forcing users to use their real names, which alas even Google has now adopted across its social networks like YouTube and Google+. Many of us thought giving up your anonymity would be okay within the closed walls of a network where only our real friends could interact with us.

But over the last few years Facebook has progressively eroded or convoluted privacy controls in an attempt to make sharing, and no doubt advertising, seamless. But during the same time we’ve come to realize that nothing we say on Facebook is really anonymous, or even restricted.

Say you post a critical post about the government, or your local politician on your Facebook wall. Each of your 500 friends can of course see it, but as one of them interacts with your post by either commenting or liking it, so can (in most cases), their own friends. So the post you thought was meant for 500 people may, by design, be reaching tens of thousands of people you don’t know.

And in India when you run afoul with the government or political parties, God help you. For instance:

I would argue that Facebook users in India ought to reconsider their loyalty to the site even more than those in the US, where freedom of speech has much more meaning.

From a distance and up from the air, the rows of white, cylindrical tubes lying in an open 5-acre field in Goharganj, a small town about 40 kilometers east of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, look like giant earthworms that have somehow burrowed their way out of the earth.

Silo Bags

Silo bags belonging to Panama Agritech stored in Goharganj, Madhya Pradesh

They’re not worms, of course. They’re “Silo Bags”, ingenious and giant polythene bags filled with hundreds of tons of wheat and locked airtight. In January a high-powered government committee recommended that these bags be considered for grain storage across the country, especially when facing problems of plenty.

Now India as a country faces a multitude of problems all the time, but problems of plenty aren’t usually in the list.

And yet that is exactly the problem that the Madhya Pradesh governments faced in May last year. After “procuring” – the process by which governments purchase grains and pulses from farmers at a pre-determined “minimum” price – around 4.9 million tons of wheat the year before, they were faced with a nearly 8.5 million tons of wheat to procure.

Now even if they managed to somehow buy a stock of wheat that was nearly twice the size from the year ago, where were they to store it?

Because a perfect storm had cast its shadow over most storage options. There was a massive shortage of jute, used to make the bags in which grain is packed before storing. Even if they did manage to find the bags, most of the traditional storage spaces like warehouses and steel silos were nearly full, leaving only the option to leave the grain out in the open with some flimsy covering – a recipe of spoilage.

Meanwhile farmers were getting worked up, sitting on hundreds of tons of wheat that could not be bought by the state government because it had no place to store them. Protests soon turned violent, with the police having to resort to firing on agitating farmers, killing one.

The government had to do something.

Cloud Storage, On the Ground

Originally invented in Argentina, silo bags were used to provide temporary buffer capacity for the country’s crops during years of bumper harvests. Mechanized equipment is used to fill grain into large bags which are then sealed shut on both ends to create a dry and near-airless storage that naturally acts as a barrier to pests and insects. Once filled up and sealed, the bags can be left on flat and open land for 18-24 months, says Parag Agarwal, the director of Panama Agritech, one of the two companies that offer silo bags in India today. The other company is called Silobag India, and tellingly, both currently operate in Madhya Pradesh.

Unlike most other countries around the world where farmers purchase the silo bags and use it themselves, in India they are offered as an on-demand, pay-per-use service where customers don’t need to be bothered with the machinery or operational skills required. Of course, the land on which the silo bags are stored often belongs to the customers.

To take the comparison with cloud computing a bit further, here are a few similarities:

  • Pay-per-use based on fluctuating usage: Unlike warehouses or conventional silos where storage capacity needs to be bought and paid for in the long term, regardless of actual usage, silo bags are rented on a per ton, per month basis. Customers can increase or decrease their usage even on a monthly basis.
  • Get up-and-running fast: Customers, whether government or private, can buy storage capacity in as little as 2-4 weeks compared to the months and years that it takes to plan and erect warehouses or conventional silos.
  • Reduced operational and labour costs: Silo bags allow for farmers to deposit their loose grain directly for storage, eliminating things like transporting and weighing the grain multiple times; bagging; and 6-8 percent losses due to pilferage and wastage. “In Madhya Pradesh Silo Bag sites are temporarily declared as “Mandis” by the state government, so farmers can directly bring their grain to us from their farm, weigh it once, and be done with it,” says Aggarwal.
  • Multi-tenancy: The surplus grain that is procured in states like Madhya Pradesh is then sold to the central government, which transfers it to its own warehouses and storage facilities before shipping it to other states. Aggarwal says Silo Bags now allow only the ownership of the grain to be transferred from the states to the central government, without any change in the storage location. This saves a lot of unnecessary transportation of grain, which in India’s context is also a pretext for more pilferage and wastage.
  • Reliability: The sealed, pressurized and oxygen-depleted air inside the Silo Bags acts like a natural pest barrier, reducing the need for fumigation and losses due to infestation.

 

Silo Bags

Silo Bags being binned by Panama Agritech in Madhya Pradesh

An Inflection Point?

With another bumper harvest expected this year in Madhya Pradesh, and with the center indicating its willingness to include Silo Bags as another valid method of grain storage, the sector is likely to see a lot of uptick.

Aggarwal says he is targeting 1.5 million tons of storage using Silo Bags by 2014, up from the 25,000 tons he is currently being paid for by the Madhya Pradesh government. “We’ve already got a commitment for 275,000 tons for this year,” he says.

Even on the pricing front, the rate being paid per ton per month has apparently increased from Rs.42.9 last year, to Rs.58 this year.

Though primarily a short term storage technique, Panama and its peers are offering multi-year storage to governments by undertaking to replace deteriorating bags every 18-24 months on their own, so long as the governments continue to pay the agreed monthly rate.

With Madhya Pradesh alone set to procure 13 million tons of wheat this year, or 165 percent higher than two years ago, the problem of plenty is ready to revisit many Indian states.

This time though, there might be someone to bag it.

Earlier this week, Ofcom, the British communications regulator, announced the beginning of a consultative process to free up spectrum for the launch of “5G” telecom networks in the UK. Interestingly, the UK just completed its spectrum auctions for 4G services in February this year.

Though the “5G” nomenclature is still not official, we’re talking about networks that can transmit data at rates between 200 megabits per second (mbps) to 1 gigagbit per second (gbps). There aren’t simply theoretical figures, because news reports also suggest that there will be 5G trials in UK this year, with speeds of up to 200 mbps.

India conducted its 4G auction in 2010. How many people do you know today who are on a 4G network?

Stuck in the theatre of the absurd that is Indian telecom, where each day we see regulators and operators shadow-boxing with each other in newspapers and courts, its hard to remember how rosy things were just a few years back.

The toast of the global telecom world, India was seen as the “soney ki chidiya”. From profits to innovation to talktime usage to investments, there was no metric we weren’t totally killing. And in less than 5 years we’re the laughing stock of the world.

Here are four areas where the current reality is in start contrast to the future predicted in 2007:

Competition: ”There is space for 10-odd telecom operators in India simply because of the large population. In that way, India is vastly different from most other countries that have four to five operators,” said the head of Ernst & Young’s telecom practice a few years back.

Instead today we have 3 credible and long-term competitors in most states –  Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. Depending on the state, some of the supporting cast – state-owned and bleeding BSNL; debt-addicted and decaying Reliance Communications; ill-fated Tata DoCoMo which has just a year before either Tata of DoCoMo pulls the plug on it; Aircel; MTS, Uninor and Videocon – fight each other for the leftovers.

And as is to be expected, when competition comes down, prices tend to go up.

Convergence: Last week Dish Network, the second largest satellite TV provider in the US, bid $25.5 billion for wireless operator Sprint Nextel. Something like that, a DTH service provider bidding for a mobile operator, is probably outside the realm of even imagination in India. Because we are eons away from telecom convergence.

Dish’s bid for Sprint makes sense because it is aiming to put together a “Quadruple Play” of services for its customers combining fixed broadband, TV, telephony and high-speed wireless data.

In India our regulators take pride in deliberately thwarting any such integration. Which is why even “Triple Play” hasn’t yet become a reality, or cable TV companies are missing the wood for the trees by focusing on “digitization” alone instead of a converged quadruple play opportunity.  Converged offerings make sense for the consumer who now has to deal with one firm that provides a seamless offering; businesses because they can’t plan for and build future-ready networks capable of doing anything and everything, instead of piecemeal ones; and the country, because we’re not wasting money replicating the same infrastructure across dozens of companies, all of who can never be profitable on a long-term basis.

Investments: “Have you ever heard of a country where operators shut down live (telecom) networks? It’s like building bridges, then blowing them up later. Nearly 95 percent of the people managing these networks are being given pink slips, while the equipment either sits in warehouses or is resold at 5-10 percent of their original value,” said Vsevolod Rozanov, the CEO and President of MTS India to me in December.

Very few operators, even leading ones, are investing any money into upgrading their networks beyond short-term requirements. For equipment makers too, India is nowhere close to the promising market it was a few years ago.

So while the world’s leading telecom operators try to upgrade their networks for the future, we’re woefully falling behind in India.

The “Post-voice” void: Just like in the computing space the world is moving to a “Post-PC” world filled with smartphones, tablets and wearable devices, the telecom world too is moving to a “Post-voice” world filled with Skype, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook.

Unfortunately our telecom operators are ill-equipped to make that transition. For one, regulations conveniently prevent them from offering some services, like VOIP, only till some cynical purpose is found for allowing that by the babus sitting in regulatory bodies.

The operators are also at fault. They practically killed India’s mobile VAS sector before it had a chance to thrive, by imposing usurious fees and charges of their independent partners and by sanctioning corrupt practices that fooled money out of consumer’s wallets.

As a result, any reasonably talented mobile app developer today would rather target a global platform like iOS or Android, instead of working with Indian operators. Consumers too, have lost trust in their operators because of a pattern of fraudulent behaviour in how they were “sold” VAS services.

IndiaCan, the 50:50 joint venture (JV) between Educomp, India’s largest educational services company, and Pearson Plc, the $9 billion global publishing and education services major, is set for a change of control and ownership.

At least four well placed sources, all of who did not want their names to be used in this context, told Forbes India that the deal transferring most, if not all, of Educomp’s 50 percent shareholding in the vocational training company to Pearson has been closed. Though the exact details of what Pearson will pay Educomp for its share is not known, it is understood to be significantly lesser than what Shantanu Prakash, founder and CEO of Educomp, had apparently been holding off for the last few years.

Rumours of Pearson buying out Educomp from the JV have been circulating for well over a year. But the two sides never managed to reach an agreement on the valuation. Educomp of course wanted a premium in return for ceding control in the company, while Pearson was wary of paying that because the business has yet to start making any profits.

Why IndiaCouldn’t

In June 2009 Pearson invested $30 million across two Indian companies that it felt were promising.

The first was TutorVista, a Bangalore-headquartered company headed by K.Ganesh that cannily used the Internet to enable teachers in India to coach students in countries like the US and UK.

Something must have clearly clicked on that investment, because in less than two years Pearson upped its stake from 17 percent to 80 percent by investing an additional amount of nearly Rs.600 crore. And in February this year it acquired the remaining 20 percent in TutorVista, making the company its wholly owned subsidiary.

Meanwhile its other investment was in IndiaCan – an equal joint venture in the vocational training space with Educomp, a pioneering and fast-moving company led by Shantanu Prakash.

Suffice it to say, things didn’t go very well on that front.

Educomp’s star would start fading within a few months as the overall slowing down of the global and Indian economies would constrict the availability of cheap debt – the fuel for the company’s numerous engines.

Like an insatiable and self-replicating organism, Educomp had spread itself across every single sector even remotely related to education, from vocational training to schools and colleges to online coaching to digital classrooms and even TV channels. (Disclaimer: Network 18, the parent company and publisher of Forbes India, has a joint venture with Educomp called Topper Learning)

Unfortunately the sheer scale of its ambition to become the number one player in every single educational segment imaginable was stymied by an equally sheer shortage of capital and management bandwidth to devote across all the businesses.

With its two ‘primary’ businesses – SmartClass and K-12 schools – sucking in vast amounts of capital, the company was running out of cash faster than it could raise it.

And IndiaCan was one of the victims.

In a way it was perplexing, because Indian industry has been clamouring for trained & skilled talent for years together. Take for instance this account of a recent panel discussion organized by Mint. It is as if every business with some scale is desperate to find suitably trained talent.

And yet, every single vocational training company in India is slowly atrophying away, chasing a mirage of business models.

“NIIT was worth Rs.10,000-plus crore when I passed out of college. Today they’re worth around Rs.390 crore which is less than the value of land on their books. Aptech is worth just Rs.200 crore. There is an inherent birth defect in the vocational training space,” says Manish Sabharwal, the founder and CEO of Teamlease Services, India’s largest staffing and HR services firm.

In typical Sabharwal fashion, he rattles away problems, metrics and solutions to this vexing problem – how can vocational training companies be in the doldrums even as their prospective clients are all desperate for trained talent?

- “Four key labour variables – 12% manufacturing employment, 50% self employment, 55% agricultural employment and 90% informal sector employment – have all been the same since 1991. Thus 100% of job creation has been happening in the informal sector.”

- “Companies are now realizing that skills like curiosity, team play, communication etc. are more important than last mile skills. And if someone hasn’t learned those in 12 years, you can teach them in 3 months. You have to first fix the education system.”

- “There is a market failure in skill development because companies will not pay for training but they will pay for trained candidates; candidates will not pay for training but they will pay for a job; and finally banks & micro finance institutions are unwilling to lend money for training unless jobs are guaranteed at the end of it. Innovation has to lie at the intersection of jobs and employability.”

- “Prof. Gary Becker (at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) has done pioneering work to show that companies can’t be expected to “manufacture” their own talent by investing in training. For one, the benefits mostly go to society and individuals, not companies. And even they do invest in training, they need to handle three risks – learning (a person is un-trainable); productivity (a person is unable to apply his or her training effectively); and attrition (a person simply quits after training).”

 

IndiaCan also suffered from the lack of clear government or trade body policy that would compel poor and unskilled workers to acquire formal trade skills.

It was a chicken-and-egg problem, says a senior executive from IndiaCan who did not want to be quoted because he is not authorized to speak to the press. “On one hand as Indians we chase degrees more than skills, even if it from a distance learning university. On the other, most employers will keep crying about the lack of skilled labour but are yet unwilling to pay a premium for them, preferring instead to hire unskilled labour,” he says.

Smart businesses often fight sectoral headwinds by rapidly investing in newer services that might work, but that too didn’t happen at IndiaCan. With neither profits (it is yet to turn one) nor adequate equity capital coming in from its two owners, the business was forced to shy away from new training offerings that required capital investments, say, for instance a machinery course requiring a CNC lathe.

Instead it shifted its focus on low-hanging ‘soft skills’ programs like test preparations for the Chartered Accountant and Civil Services exams. Even then the monies weren’t enough. Salaries and even statutory dues were delayed many times.

“The vocational training sector in India is yet to discover right business model. But the good part is that every year IndiaCan is losing less money than the year before,” says Prakash.

That isn’t much consolation for the founders of PurpleLeap, a college training company that Educomp bought in 2008 before merging it under IndiaCan in 2011, who have yet to be paid out their full dues.

Many of these issues have apparently been escalated to Pearson’s global management, but it has till now been constrained by the equal partnership clause in the venture that mandates both partners bringing in equal amounts of capital.

“PurpleLeap was only an “investment” of IndiaCan and we expected the management team to deliver results. The founders still run the company and if there has been any financial stress, it has to do with them,” counters Prakash.

Now with Educomp and Prakash close to exiting the business, Pearson will need to figure out where to take the company.

“But even if or after Pearson takes control, IndiaCan doesn’t have a path to the moon. Cost, quality and scale are the impossible trinity in their business, and a linear programming problem no one has been able to solve till date,” says Sabharwal.

“Blessed are the geeks: for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5 (Not!)

Geeks, once considered socially awkward and uncool, have pulled off a remarkable image makeover during the past few years. From popular TV series to city makeovers to revolutionary uprisings to, well, ruling the world, geeks seem to be mankind’s last great hope.

Today practically everybody wants to be called a geek of some kind.

The real geeks, like Kiran Jonnalagadda for example, chuckle to themselves and keep chipping away at popular wisdom.

Team HasGeek

Jonnalagadda (in black), along with the rest of the HasGeek team at their office in Bangalore

Jonnalagadda runs HasGeek, a two and a half year old Bangalore-based company that organises technology events.

Chances are you may not have heard of them, unless you’re a developer. Because the kind of events HasGeek organizes aren’t the generic variety around mobile technology or startups that one seems to run into Bangalore every other weekend.

Instead their events are about things like user interfaces, Big Data and JavaScript. Not the  kind of events you’d attend just to “network”.

Jonnalagadda himself is as hardcore a geek as they come. Before starting HasGeek in October 2010, he spent over a decade tinkering around in careers ranging from tech journalism, rural technology access, volunteering and community events.

The idea for HasGeek came to him after experiencing first hand the travails of sustaining community-driven events.

“Community events were just not sustainable. Proto, Barcamp, LUG (the Linux Users Group), MoMo (Mobile Monday) Bangalore and OCC (Open Coffee Club) were all community-driven events that died in one way or the other. Not because there was no need for them, because learning from your peers in a bottom-up, community-driven manner still has value. But because its tough for a few committed volunteers alone to keep organizing those events year after year,” he says.

What if someone could take away the pain of actually organizing the events, leaving the community free to learn from each other?

“I realized then that if you do these events as a full-time commercial activity, they can become sustainable. HasGeek came in not as a representative of the community, but as a “community service provider”,” he says.

HasGeek events are based on an unsubsidized user-pays model with prices ranging from Rs.1000-2000 per day of attending. Sponsors funds are used in non-core areas like t-shirts, swag or upgrading the quality of food served. “Doing this has freed us from being sponsor-driven, which is a radical achievement in the events space. For our last two major events, the majority of our revenue came in from participants, something unheard of,” says Jonnalagadda.

 

“REAL ARTISTS SHIP”

Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO is said to have scrawled those three words in 1983 when the release of the first Apple Mac was getting delayed. Those words are in the framed poster hanging on the first floor wall at the Center for Internet & Society in Domlur, Bangalore, where HasGeek works out from.

For the non-geeks, the words refer to delivering actual products or software to customers, as opposed to having endless discussions or meetings around how best to proceed. In the software programming world, “shipping” refers to code being written and delivered to customers.

The poster serves as a great metaphor for the way Jonnalagadda and his 5-member team organize their events. By borrowing concepts of software programming, HasGeek is doing events in seemingly counter-intuitive ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Open-source: while most conferences are top-down, meaning a few organizers and sponsors get to decide topics and speakers, HasGeek events have a decidedly open-source flavour. Topics are proposed and voted upon via an online “funnel” accessible publicly. “Most events are around conversations of what vendors want to sell, not what individuals want to learn. Which is why we don’t decide what topics or speakers will feature at an event, the community does,” says Jonnalagadda.
  • Rapid prototyping: instead of spending an inordinate amount of time preparing for a “flagship” event, HasGeek spreads its energy across multiple events over the year. Doing that reduces their dependence on the success (or failure) of one or two mega events. Last year the company did 10 “major” events, according to Jonnalagadda, and several smaller ones. After a controlled retreat in 2013 where they’ll do 4 major events and many smaller ones, Jonnalagadda says his target is to do one event every week in 2014!
  • Data-driven design: while Google may be getting over its famously data-driven design, HasGeek has been applying the concept to their events in order to understand what works and what doesn’t. For instance, after initially starting with events that featured multiple and parallel “tracks”, HasGeek realized that attendees would switch between tracks to the better talk at any particular time. “So we eliminated multiple tracks in favour of just a single one over one or two days,” says Jonnalagadda. Similarly, their ticket prices gradually climb up over the weeks preceding an event, but don’t ever drop. “If there are unsold tickets left in the end, we just won’t sell them. It’s a confidence game we have to play with attendees,” he says.
  • Dogfooding: in large companies like Microsoft and Google, dogfooding refers to employees using the company’s products as a sign of belief in their capabilities. Often it also means learning how to solve problems internally, before bringing customers into the equation. Surprisingly for a small startup, HasGeek manages almost all aspects of their events in-house. “We’re vertically integrated, right from hiring of venues to marketing to decorations to recording & production to access control. At first we did it to discover the true cost of doing these in-house, but over time we realized we can produce the kind of quality no vendor could,” says Jonnalagadda. HasGeek’s in-house technology includes a Rs.1.5 lac lecture recorder; NFC attendee badges & scanners that do away with the need for visiting card exchanges at sponsor boots; and custom code for managing events online.
  • Freemium: Coming from the world of software engineering, Jonnalagadda realizes he cannot keep on adding more employees to generate more revenue. So his idea is to also create easy-to-use tools like interactive websites or DIY recorders for the tech community that can be rented from HasGeek. BVP (Bessemer Venture Partners) organized a ”Hackathon” for over 200 developers in Bangalore featuring companies like LinkedIn, Sendgrid and Twilio using our software,” says Jonnalagadda. Though the revenue potential from such activities might be limited, over time they can become a steady source of paying customers for HasGeek’s bigger events.

Jonnalagadda says HasGeek’s goal to organize an event at the scale of Google I/O, Google’s annual flagship developer event, “which sets an agenda for the world.”

Of course, he still has a long way to there. Self-funded till now, the company delayed their financial break even to 2014 in return for capital investments in technology and operations. “We talked to some VCs informally, but they were skeptical about B2C (business to consumer) events and asked us why we weren’t do B2B (business to business). I guess it’s a bit of herd mentality,” says Jonnalagadda.

True. But that is the eternal plight of a geek, isn’t it?

 

“There is a difference in a company being a multinational, and being global. Technology companies may be incredibly multinational by operating in more than a hundred countries, but that doesn’t mean they operate with a global mindset,” says Ravi Venkatesan.

Given that during 2004 and 2011 Venkatesan was the chairman of Microsoft India, arguably one of the best-known and largest technology multinationals in the world, the statement sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it?

But first, a bit of context.

Last month we decided to take a look at how some of the leading technology multinationals in India were treating their India operations and CEOs in their global organizational hierarchy. An initial analysis seemed to show that India was often multiple levels removed from the C-suite in these organizations, with reporting structures wading through 3-4 levels and across multiple geographical groupings (India to South Asia, to Emerging Markets, to Sales, to Operations, to the CEO).

On first glance, it appeared as though India, for all its economic growth during the last decade, still remained a minnow for most of these companies. And the India CEO role was in some ways, a glass ceiling, beyond which growth wasn’t that easy.

We also promised to do a follow-on post analyzing the “reasons” why this was so. Hence Venkatesan’s quote.

“Most technology multinationals see India as just one more market to sell their products, therefore they replicate the same model, pricing and operating procedures like in any other country. It’s a very sales-oriented approach with a a mid-level sales guy in charge who reports to APAC which in turns reports to the worldwide head of sales who reports to COO who finally reports to the CEO. Every major decision has to be taken outside India. In such a setup India and, say, Austria are the same because they both produce the same revenues. They don’t see that India could have 100 times the current potential,” says Venkatesan.

Venkatesan is currently writing a book, “Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere”, due out in a few months, in which he warns multinationals from following such an approach.

But the fact still remains that India is a rather insignificant market for most technology companies, with the revenue contribution ranging from just around half a percent (Oracle) to around 6-7 percent (SAP).

Big on talk, small in revenue

“India is a key growth market, but it is still relatively small at present in terms of both the market size and margins. Which is why even firms like Infosys still don’t do that much business in India,” says Rajiv Kaul, CEO of domestic IT services and outsourced business services firm CMS Infosystems. Interestingly, Kaul too has worked at Microsoft. During his decade long career at Microsoft he also spent 5 as the managing director in India between 2001 and 2005.

Most large technology multinationals are listed, and are therefore answerable to shareholders on a quarter-to-quarter basis. In that kind of a scenario its almost impossible to justify spending inordinate amounts of money or management talent on India today, when investing the same in a proven market like China would be much more beneficial.

So India ends up becoming one of the countries in the “Asia Pacific” organization, just like Brazil (another long term country) ends up falling into the “Latin America” one.

“But these are just timezone-driven groupings. In Asia Pacific for instance, there’s nothing common between India, Vietnam, Australia and Singapore. Across all these countries a one-size-fits-all approach is then applied,” says Venkatesan.

Instead, he says, high potential countries like India, Turkey or Brazil (China is far too advanced in its own right to not be treated individually today by any company) should be spun off into a “high growth markets” business unit, with a common president. And that president, says Venkatesan, should ideally be reporting directly to the company’s global CEO, to be able to draw enough influence and power to make a difference.

“I agree that grouping India along with APAC may not make sense, but bunching it together with other emerging markets like Brazil and Russia is also tough. All these countries have different dynamic and very different with little in common. Also, where will a person who manages these countries be based out of? But if and when they are bundled together, the idea should be to drive new innovation business models and structures while fostering stronger competition between them,” says Kaul.

Big fish, small pond

When CEOs of Indian operations are promoted beyond India, they usually transition into senior middle management roles in multinationals.

To answer the question why they don’t seem to grow as rapidly subsequently, Kaul suggests turning the question around on its head – could it be that Indian CEOs might not be interested in moving beyond India?

“That’s not an easy switch – You were earlier the boss of a country with in depth understanding and a lot of independence and now need to work daily with peers and prove yourself all over again in a broader role. And because you did well in India doesn’t mean you will do well in, say, Europe or Indonesia,” says Kaul.

Which is why there is the peculiar issue of MNC CEOs in India who keep jumping from one company to the other, in sort of an incestuous closed-loop.

“If you are in a senior role in India and are earning well, you want to stick here given the growth opportunity and career potential. Combined with the dearth of senior talent this leads to the issue of “revolving doors” among senior leadership positions in multinationals,” says Kaul.

How then, do companies like Intel, manage to have a significantly larger proportion of Indians in its senior management ranks then?

R.Anish, the head of HR for Intel India says it ultimately comes down to the guiding corporate philosophy of each company. Intel, he says, has a strong philosophy of rotating its leaders across multiple geographies and functional areas. It would be easy to dismiss this as standard corporatespeak, if not for the fact that both of Intel India’s previous presidents were rotated in from international locations, and after their India stints, went back to the US with Intel itself.

Finally, Forbes India asked all the companies mentioned to validate our research and to tell us how many of their erstwhile India heads from the last 10 years were still working for the company. Here are their responses:

  1. Accenture: Accenture did not provide any responses to Forbes India’s questions, nor validate the following organizational hierarchy put together by Forbes India from publicly available sources: Avinash Vashistha, its Chairman and Geography Managing Director for India reports to Karl-Heinz Floether, International Chairman who reports to Jo Deblaere, COO who reports to Pierre Nanterme, CEO. It is not known which of its senior executives from the last 10 years are still working for the company.
  2. Capgemini: Aruna Jayanthi, Capgemini’s India CEO reports directly to Paul Hermelin, its global CEO. A direct reporting line to the global CEO is unprecedented in our analysis. [Updated on 12th February]: Salil Parekh, Jayanthi’s predecessor, was promoted to CEO, Application Services North America, UK, Asia Pacific, and global Financial Services and continues to work for Capgemini.
  3. Cisco: Jeff White, Cisco’s new President for India and SAARC reports to Jaime Jaime Vallés, President, Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China who reports to Chuck Robbins, EVP, Worldwide Operations who reports to Rob Lloyd, President, Development & Sales who reports to John Chambers, CEO. Naresh Wadhwa, Cisco’s outgoing President, resigned from the company. The company did not specify if any of its former India heads are still working for it.
  4. CSC: CSC did not provide any responses to Forbes India’s questions, nor validate the following organizational hierarchy put together by Forbes India from publicly available sources: Neeraj Nityanand, CSC India’s Managing Director, reports to Thomas Hogan, EVP & GM, Global Business Services & Regions who reports to Mike Lawrie, its President & CEO. The company did not specify if any of its former India MDs are still working for it.
  5. EMC: Rajesh Janey, President, EMC, India & SAARC reports to David Webster, President Asia Pacific & Japan who reports to Bill Scannell, President, Global Sales & Customer Operations, Senior Vice President who reports to Joe Tucci, Chairman & CEO. Of Janey’s two predecessors during the last decade, Manoj Chugh, is currently the Regional President, Global Accounts-APJ. Alok Ohrie, his successor, quit EMC after a year and is currently is a Vice-President with IBM India.
  6. Google: Rajan Anandan, its India Managing Director reports to Karim Temsamani, President, APAC Sales & Operations who reports to Nikesh Arora, SVP & Chief Business Officer who reports to Larry Page, CEO. Anandan’s predecessor Shailesh Rao quit Google and now works for Twitter, but in an international role.
  7. HP: Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director of HP India reports to Jim Merritt, SVP & GM, ESSN, APJ who reports to Dave Donatelli, EVP & GM, ESSN who reports to Meg Whitman, CEO. A spokesperson for HP India confirmed that none of its past managing directors are still working for the company.
  8. Intel: Debjani Ghosh, Managing Director, Intel South Asia reports to Gregory Bryant, VP & GM, APAC who reports to Tom Kilroy, SVP & GM, Sales & Marketing who reports to Paul Otellini, CEO. Ghosh’s predecessor Sivakumar Ramamurthy, as well as both of Intel India’s ex-Presidents (who headed its development and R&D efforts), Frank Jones and Praveen Vishakantaiah, are both still with Intel in its corporate headquarters.
  9. Lenovo: Though the company said it was unable to respond to Forbes India’s questions, we estimate the following hierarchy: Amar Babu, Managing Director, India reports to Milko Van Duijl, SVP, Asia Pacific & Latin America who reports to Yang Yuanqing, CEO. The company did not specify if any of Mr.Babu’s predecessors are still working for it.
  10. Oracle: Oracle did not respond to Forbes India’s questions, but we estimate the following hierarchy: Sandeep Mathur, its Managing Director for India reports to one of seven SVPs in Asia Pacific (we were unable to verify which one, given Oracle’s smorgasbord of product roles) who reports to Steve Au Yeung, EVP, Oracle APAC who reports to Mark Hurd, President who reports to Larry Ellison, CEO. Two of its former MDs – Bhaskar Pramanik and Shekhar Dasgupta – resigned from the firm.
  11. SAP: SAP did not provide any responses to Forbes India’s questions, nor validate the following organizational hierarchy put together by Forbes India from publicly available sources: Suprakash Chaudhuri, its acting Managing Director, reports to Stephen Watts, President, Asia Pacific and Japan who reports to Robert Enslin, President, Sales who reports to Bill McDermott, Co-CEO. Two of Chaudhuri’s predecessors, Peter Gartenberg and Alan Sedghi, both resigned from SAP.
 
 
Rohin Dharmakumar
After relatively underutilized degrees in computer sciences engineering and an MBA followed by a decade of tangential career choices ranging from technology outsourcing to public relations, I realized my passion lay in connecting the dots between market opportunities, technology, entrepreneurs and the ecosystems that bind them together. A big fan of underdogs and of possibilities, I try my best to tell stories the way my brain sees them.
 
 
 
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you can see all about silobag system in www.silobagcongress.com
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Very innovative and thoughtful indeed . Why FCI who wastes lot of food materials and gets pulled up by supreme court occasionally do not adopt this method ?
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