Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Highway Construction target revised

April 27, 2010: Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath, in a statement here announced that the Indian government has revised its target for building highways to 12-13 km a day this financial year, down from its ambitious target of 20 kilometers a day.

Nath was speaking at the inauguration of the 'India Infrastructure Summit 2010' organised by FICCI. Elaborating on the lowering of targets, he clarified, “To do 20 km of highways a day, you need to have in place 20,000 km of work-in-progress. We still have a long way to go in this regard and we need to ensure that roads that are built are not at crossroads with the people... For that (target of 20 km per day), we need to develop a system which requires adequate infrastructure, manpower and technology.”

He also assured the government is taking up infrastructure development on a war footing, and that it has proposed to introduce a national permit scheme for freight movement by road next month for hurdle-free transportation of goods across India.

The government had, last year set a target of building 20 km of highways every day as part of its plans to improve infrastructure, and has allowed 100 percent foreign direct investment in the sector. But so far, it has been able to achieve a rate of less than 10 km a day, due to problems in acquiring land and awarding contracts.

Nath also said the government will award contracts to build 15,000 km of highways by March 2011, including a backlog of 6,000 km.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Israeli Consulate to gift 200 Nanhi Kalis a brighter future

Presents a cheque of Rs. 3,60,000 to the KC Mahindra Education Trust on Israel’s 62ndIndependence Day

Mumbai, April 22, 2010: The Consulate of Israel in Mumbai commemorated the Israeli Independence Day today by sponsoring the education of 200 Nanhi Kalis. Ms. Orna Sagiv, Consul General of Israel presented a cheque of Rs. 3,60,000 to Mr. Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra Group at an event organized to mark the special occasion. Nanhi Kali is a national girl child sponsorship programme run jointly by the KC Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation. Ms. Sheetal Mehta, Executive Director, K.C. Mahindra Education Trust and Head, CSR, Mahindra & Mahindra was also present on the occasion.
A select group of Nanhi Kalis celebrated the Israeli Independence Day with the Israeli Consulate. This was followed by a special art competition on the theme - “Peace” that had the children reflect their views on peace through art.
Speaking on the occasion Ms. Orna Sagiv, Consul General of Israel said, “While working in India we consider ourselves as part of the Indian society. We commend the declaration by the Indian government to make elementary education as the Fundamental Right of every child. That is one of the reasons behind donating our Independence Day budget to Nanhi Kali programme. We would also like to participate in the upbringing of these girls and in promising them a better future.”
Appreciating the Israeli Consulate’s gesture, Mr. Anand Mahindra, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra Group said, “The Mahindra group firmly believes that education, especially of the girl child, is of paramount importance to ensure a better quality of life. My congratulations to the members of the Israeli Consulate on Israel’s Independence Day, and I am glad that they have chosen to celebrate by gifting the light of education to Nanhi Kalis, which will empower them to lead independent lives.”

About Nanhi Kali:
Project Nanhi Kali was initiated in 1996 by K C Mahindra Education Trust (KCMET) with an objective of providing primary education to the underprivileged girl child in India. In 2005 KCMET entered into a partnership with Naandi Foundation, a reputed NGO, to jointly manage the programme. Through this partnership the two not-for-profit organizations aim to extend 10 years of quality education to the under-privileged girl children. Nanhi Kali has successfully evolved over the years into a national girl child sponsorship programme, which supports the education of girl children by providing not only academic support but also direct material support in the form of uniforms, clothes, note books etc.
The project currently supports the education of over 56264 underprivileged girl children.
Israel celebrates 62 years of independence:

Israel's 62nd Independence Day was celebrated on April 20. This year, Israel marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism, who was born in Budapest in 1860. The day preceding the Independence Day was devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leh-Srinagar Highway to open up for heavy vehicles, starting June 22

April 20, 2010:  Giving in to people’s demands for reopening the Leh-Srinagar Highway earlier this year, J&K Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Abdul Rahim Rather in a high-level meeting held here today  said that the Highway, after remaining closed during the winter months, would be reopened for heavy vehicular movement from April 22 this month whereas the light vehicles have already started using the road from April 17th.

The Convoy timings approved by the meeting are:
Heavy vehicles to cross Drass-Gumari stretch between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. 
Heavy vehicles from Srinagar to cross Sonamarg-Drass stretch between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No time restriction for light vehicles except during road repairing, which will be undertaken by the BEACON between 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

As per estimates, 18300 truck trips are required to build bumper stocks of food grains and other essential commodities including construction material and fertilizers. 

The meeting also proposed various initiatives including plans to put in place a comprehensive disaster management plan including first aid facilities to meet any exigency of emergency situations in the wake of routine weather vagaries on the highway, setting up of a monitoring cell at Sonamarg to oversee flow of essential commodities and quality of food grains and exploring all possibilities to install an additional weighbridge at Sonamarg to cope up with the rush of vehicles.

As per records, about 250 to 300 trucks pass through the existing weighbridge per day. The Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department and Food Corporation of India have planned to complete stocking/dumping of foodgrains and essential commodities for 18 months by the month of September this year as compared to 16 months last year.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mahindra- NBA Challenge 2010 launched in Mumbai

April 19, 2010: M&M in collaboration with the NBA, launched the first community basketball league in the country-The Mahindra-NBA Challenge 2010 this Saturday, in the presence of Basketball legends A C Green and Teresa Edwards.

The event, a joint venture between the Mahindra Group and the US-based National Basketball Association will be held for seven weeks every year starting mid-April in three cities nationwide- Mumbai, Bangalore and Ludhiana.

The Mumbai city-based league, in its introductory avatar, will have 16 boys and as many girls teams in two age groups, 14-17 and 18 +. The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) will assist the NBA in implementing and supervising league operations across all centers.

Eminent Basketball personalities Green and Teresa, who imparted coaching lessons to participants in the league here, will now travel to Ludhiana, and then to Bangalore to launch the league there.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indian vehicle sales to go through the roof, again.

For the second year in a row, Indian vehicle sales are expected to reach a record high in 2010/11, as rising expendable incomes in a rapidly growing economy boosts consumer demand.
Dr. Pawan Goenka, President of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), and COO, M&M (Automotive sector), in a statement this Friday said, "If we don't get any major surprises, we expect a growth of 10-15 percent for the industry,"
The Indian economy is projected to expand 8.5 percent in the financial year that started on April 1, is one of the few regions in the world where consumer demand for automobiles has been rising in double digits. Consequently, sales of vehicles including cars, utility vehicles, trucks, buses, motorcycles and scooters jumped an annual 26.4 percent in 2009/10 to 12.3 million units, according to data collated by SIAM.
This is a new high over the previous record of 10.12 million vehicles sold in 2006/07, before the global financial crisis affected consumer demand the following year.
Dr. Goenka also projected Sales of passenger vehicles, which include cars and utility vehicles, are expected to rise to 4.5 million units by 2015/16, and the total value of the auto industry to be $145 billion by the same time. "For this we need to grow at 16-17 percent annually," he said.
Dr. Goenka also cautioned that rising commodity costs, possible increase in taxes, hardening interest rates and new emissions norms pushing vehicle prices higher were the risks for the industry in the upcoming years, 

Monday, April 12, 2010

India to follow the China model: Hikes Infrastructure spending

India’s new found focus on Infrastructure development has alerted industry experts, who believe it might replicate the Chinese growth model. To bear the burden of expectation, India will need to work extra hard to get support from investors at home and abroad, and to deliver on past promises.
 A comparison with China is unfair in many ways. India has weaker government finances and a democratic government that lacks China's authoritarian discipline. Government clearances for roads or power plants in China are way easier to obtain in China, rather than India, where land rights are often hugely contentious. Government-backed companies have led China's infrastructure revolution, whereas India's push will depend heavily on the private sector. India, with its history of murky and investor-unfriendly rules on infrastructure investment, has a record of disappointment.
But under PM Manmohan Singh, the government is prioritizing Infrastructure development, with a special focus on roads. Kamal Nath’s appointment as Union Minister for roads and highways is widely seen as a sign of the post's new importance. His goal is to build 20 kilometers of new highway a day, for which he is seeking $41 billion in private-sector investment over the next three to four years.
Addressing the root of the problem at a conference co hosted by The Wall Street Journal Asia in New Delhi last month, Mr. Nath declared that of India's 70,000 kilometers of highways, 16,000 "aren't worth driving on," and that 40% of India's fruits and vegetables rot before reaching market because of delays from poor roads and rail lines.
But things seem to be looking up. Infrastructure companies have raised about $6.3 billion since the beginning of 2008 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, according to Dealogic. Most of that has been for power projects, though road companies have gone to market as well. Recently, a company raised a modest $138 million in an offering that began trading from March 30.
Wary of the risks involved, some foreign investors are showing interest in companies that have already taken on the greenfield risk. Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd. recently announced an investment of $200 million to fund existing projects. Last month, a consortium of global investors led by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners agreed to invest $425 million in the infrastructure sector.
To attract other big investors, the Government is offering incentives that include a 10-year tax holiday and allowing foreign investors to take up to 100% of projects. New highway projects will come up for bidding soon; as many as nine megaprojects in the next few months, as confirmed by Mr. Nath. Terms such as those that set caps on tolls need to be attractive enough to attract quality builders, but tough enough to enforce quality control. As the government seems to have realized, building roads isn't enough. Building them to last and maintaining them is the key.
As Maggie Lee, who lead manages the Invesco Asian infrastructure fund put it, “In India, historically, they overpromise and underdeliver." However, if infrastructure investment takes off, she added, "India, over the longer term, could be theoretically more exciting" than China. The Indian Government would love to meet her expectations.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 9, 2010

India offers $600 billion Investment Opportunity to US Investors

New Delhi, April 9, 2010: The Indian Government, on Tuesday, invited US investors to participate in its USD 600 Bn. Infrastructure programme to be implemented over the next five years.

Outlining the opportunity, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "Immense opportunities are there for investment in the infrastructure sector. As much as USD 600 billion can be invested in ports, communications, road infrastructure development in the next five years." 

The statement came during US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s two day visit to India, where he met both PM Manmohan Singh and FM Mukherjee. They later addressed a joint press conference to announce the launch of the India-US Financial and Economic Partnership, which would help strengthen bilateral engagement and understanding on macro-economic financial sector and infrastructure related issues. 

In his statement, Mr. Geithner emphasized India’s importance to US policy. He said, “Deepening our ties with India is critical to the broader global effort to develop a framework for strong and balanced growth and will facilitate more trade, investment and job creation in our two countries.”

Geithner's first visit to India as Treasury Secretary, comes ahead of Manmohan Singh's visit to the US on Sunday for a nuclear security summit. US President Barack Obama had earlier described India as an "indispensable partner in securing the future prosperity and security of the world." 

The US Treasury Secretary, spent part of his childhood in Delhi's posh New Friend's Colony, appreciated the robustness of the Indian economy. He said, "India has navigated the financial crisis with a steady hand and has emerged from the global recession stronger and faster than most other large economies." 

He appreciated India's commitment on policy reforms and said: "During our discussions the Minister (Mukherjee) and his colleagues outlined the opportunity and challenges ahead for the Indian economy and the policy reforms they are undertaking to raise the rate of overall economic growth." He also held discussions with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. 

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mahindra Navistar Print Campaign Adjudged Best in India

The Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) adjudged the Mahindra Navistar print campaign as the best in the country from among 835 entries in the fray.
The PRCI is a registered national body, a non-political organization of professionals in the field of public relations, communications, advertising, education and many other allied services. It is based out of Bangalore and has, for the past 4 years, pioneered the process for Accreditation of PR and Advertising work in India. It has a separate cell for social action to look at developmental and social issues.
The PRCI has instituted awards for excellence in PR, Communication and Advertising to recognize superlative efforts by the corporate companies and the community at large, at an all India level. The awards event attracts guests from all over India, as also from abroad.
The performance of the Mahindra Group in the year end awards was exemplary. It entered the awards through many of its campaigns launched during the year, and besides winning the award for the Mahindra Navistar “OK is no longer Ok” campaign, it also won awards for Mahindra Lifespaces, its sustainability project as also the group’s electronic newsletter.
Nearly 300 corporate companies were in the fray for the awards. The awards ceremony will be held on April 3rd at the India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

 The award winning ads

Ms. Roma Balwani was honoured with the prestigious Hall of Fame 2010 award by the Public relations Society of India (PRCI) at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on April 3, 2010. 

The Mahindra Group also won the following awards from PRCI:
  1. Silver - Overall performance for the Year 2010
  2. Gold - Online Newsletter - Mahindra Spectrum
  3. Silver - External Magazine - Refresh -
  4. Silver - Multimedia Campaign - Sustainability Campaign
  5. Bronze - Table Calendar - Mahindra Navistar
  6. Bronze - Corporate Advt. - Mahindra Navistar
  7. Tabloid – Big – Bronze
  8. Appreciation - Diary 2010 - Mahindra Navistar

Monday, April 5, 2010

NHAI to set up round the clock call centre

 The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is planning to set up a round-the-clock call centre which will help road users lodge grievances and report accidents.
The authority has been facing criticism for the rising number of road fatalities and sloppy maintenance of highways. Its latest initiative will enable road users to keep it informed about the condition of roads.

This proposal was recently endorsed by Union minister for surface transport Kamal Nath. The universal number for the entire country can come handy in reducing highway deaths. People can call up the number as and when they see any accident on highways. The centre will pass the message to the nearest toll plaza. Ambulances can rush to the accident site. Provision of immediate medical attention is sure to drastically reduce fatalities.

 The authority will invite tenders for the administration of the proposed call centre soon. Leading BPO operators might also be allowed to run the call centre. To ensure that complaints are addressed, a compliance status report of every three months will be uploaded on the NHAI website.

The complaints recorded would be stored for three months to ensure that officials concerned take necessary steps. In doing so, the authority is making an effort to increase its accountability in the eyes of the general public.

Image Courtesy- Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mahindra achieves its highest ever monthly sales of 31698 units in March 2010

Mumbai, April 1, 2010: Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M Ltd.) today announced its highest ever monthly sales in March 2010 at 31698 units, a growth of 20.3% as compared to 26360 units for the same period last year.
Exports registered a 280.5% growth at 1754 units, the highest ever in a month. This is as compared to 461 units for the same period last year.
Total UV sales in March 2010 which includes the Scorpio, the XYLO, the Bolero and Pick-Ups stands at 20914 units, as against sales of 19973 units in March 2009.
Mahindra’s YTD sales stand at 298280 units, as against 230326 units for the same period last year, a growth of 30%.
Sales Summary Mar-2010

Mar F10
Mar F09
YTD Mar F10
YTD Mar F09
3 Wheelers,
Gio & Maxximo
MRPL Logan
Domestic Total
M&M Exports
MRPL Exports
Sector Total

Feel free to download and distribute this press release:

Mahindra achieves its highest ever monthly sales of 31698 units in March 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Truckers’ strike deferred as government promises action

 April 1, 2010 The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) yesterday said it is deferring the proposed strike to next month on the assurance given by the government on its demands.

AIMTC President G R Shanmugappa told reporters, “Transport Minister Kamal Nath has personally intervened in the matter and given us written commitment to have the system of one national permit for trucks from May. This was our major demand. So we have decided to defer the strike till next month”.

The AIMTC managing committee, after a meeting, decided on the course of action. Earlier this month, the truckers’ body had threatened to go on a nation-wide strike from April 5, if their demands were not met.

Photo Courtesy-Wikimedia commons