D K Shivakumar: Congress' money and muscle man

D K Shivakumar: Congress’ money and muscle man

D K Shivakumar: Congress’ money and muscle man

BENGALURU: Karnataka Energy Minister Doddallahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar is wearing many hats. It is the money bag +, the human muscles, the mobilization of crowds and above all a reliable store for the high command of the Congress. In short, man to go for all things and all seasons.

Not surprisingly, given that 55 is the country’s second richest minister, with assets worth Rs 251 crore, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms in 2016.

Popularly known as the “DK” in political circles, it has so many enemies as supporters. His critics are seniors mostly in the party – the main reason he lost the race for the position of KPCC President and was appointed head rather than the congressional campaign committee for the 2018 Assembly polls .

“He is relentless, he does not respect the elders and pushes his ideas on everything,” said a party official.

An ambitious man, self-made, Kumar has taken on the rungs of the political ladder. He admits tirelessly to be an aspiring Minister claiming in the same category that he will wait his time and let his old man complete his rounds first.

For now, his goal is to emerge as a leader in the Vokkaliga Karnataka Congress, filling the spot with his mentor and former Minister of State and Foreign Minister of the Union, SM Krishna, who recently joined BJP.

His biggest political opponents are former PM Prime Minister Deve Gowda and his son, the state chairman of JD (S), HD Kumaraswamy.

The reasons are mainly related to the fact that both belong to the same powerful political Vokkaliga community in the ancient region of Mysore. The two rush towards political and business support in the same urban district of Bangalore.

Both have a policy in the active family. Kumar’s brother, DK Suresh, is a member of the Bangalore Rural Premium and S Ravi is a MLC.

Coming from a Sathanur bourgeois family farm, 30 km from Bangalore, the initial matriculation Kumar was in the recognized national public school, which was asked to be out of class 8 does not meet the academic requirements.

In 1985 he was unsuccessfully contested against Gowda of the Sathanur district assembly and in 1989, he won the seat.

Kumar and controversy go hand in hand and he easily recognizes his entry despite the publication made.

In 2002, he was invited to a congressional official who takes into account the nomination papers signed by deputies for candidates Rajya Sabha from the party that used them to become the candidate himself.

Upon learning of this, Kumar, minister, rushed to Vidhana Soudha and took the officer by the collar before the chairman of election table and asked him to withdraw.

A true believer in numerology, the favorite number is six, which he says is ruled by the planet Venus and gets the energy.

CLASH OF HINDUTVA ANDTRADE POLICY

ITH INDIA’S EXPORTS shrinking for the third straight month, the commerce ministry rushed the publication of its long- delayed five-yearly foreign trade policy. The ministry tried to make up for its tardiness by presenting a rather ambitious plan: to double exports to $900 billion by 2020. It expressed pride that for the first time, India’s foreign trade strategy would be aligned with other government economic pro­grammes like Make in India, Digital India and Skills India. What it has not factored in, is the Hindutva agenda, which threatens to put a spoke in the wheel of development.

The B JP-led state governments’ imposition ofban on cow slaughter in Maharashtra and others runs smack into the commerce ministry’s plan to create jobs and increase exports by promoting trade in leather goods. This clash of economic policy with religiosity provides yet another example of the ruling B JP’s penchant for culture war, threatening to undo Narendra Modi’s development plan.

The trade policy was unveiled days after the ban on cow slaughter and beef import introduced in Maharashtrabegan to spread to other B J P-ruled states. Placing the imprimatur of the central government on that trend, home minister Ra- jnath Singh declared that “cow slaughter cannot he allowed in this country. We will use all our might to ban it”. Another BJP stalwart even demanded the humble cow be renamed as “Rashtra Mata” — mother of the nation. A misplaced re­ligious sentiment (Hindus have been consuming beef for centuries) has now been raised to the level of state policy — negating the brave rhetoric of progress for all Indians.

It is thus ironic that the newly unveiled foreign trade policy singles out leather export as an area deserving special sup­port. The leather sector already employs 2.5 million workers and the rising value of Indian leather and footwear exports

Ban on cow slaughter in BJP-ruled states negates the Modi govt’s intent of supporting the leather industry

for important destinations as the US. While entirely laudable, whatthe ministry neglected to note is that pliable cow hide, rather than harder buffalo leather, is needed to manufacture quality garments andfootwear. By shutting down abattoirs for cows and bulls, the government is threat­ening to stunt growth in of one of its self-identified promising areas. India does not lack skilled workers in leather goods, but growth has been blocked by a shortage of raw material. Last year, industry officials said that in order to meet the export target of $14 billion by 2016 -17, the sector would have to double its production of 2 billion square feet of leather Instead, thanks to the ban, the industry will face a reduced supply (Maharashtra alone supplied over 15 per cent of cow hide) and meeting its existing commitments may require it to import semi-processed cowhide from Africa at more than double the price. Not a recipe for success in any business.

India’s chaotic policy-making offers a remarkable contrast with China’s sure-footed planning. As the world’s number one exporter, China accounts for 11.74 per cent ofthe world’s merchandise trade (compared with India’s 1.66 per cenfi and has launched new initiatives to boost trade in order to support its slowing economy. Prime Minister Li Keqiang said the government would adopt policies “to allow our industries to charge out into the world unfettered and rise up through facing competition on the global stage”.

While India, lacking infrastructure, technology and skilled workers, struggles to grow its manufacturing indus­try, the Chinese government at different levels is proactiveh planning for the coming labour shortage. Recently Guang­dong province announced plans to offer sops to 2,000 manu­facturers intending to install robots on their production lines. Though seen as a random coincidence, the divergen: concerns of the two nations over cows and robots, perhaps explains their different growth trajectories.

 

FICCI FRAMES MISSES THE BUS

HEN AN INDUSTRY holds an annual jamboree, it should turn the spotlight on itself and frankly recognise its pluses and minuses. Unfortunately, ‘Ficci Frames’, the annual three-day conclave of the media and entertainment (M&E) industry, held this year in the last week of March, lacked any serious introspection. Over the years the forum has become a net­working site where people exchange business cards. They also listen to suspect ra-ra figures from management consul­tants about the performance of the different segments such as television, cinema and print.

The one person who spoke sense and disturbed the audi­ence’s smugness was Aamir Khan. Pointing to the research that he had delved into during the making of his TV show, SatyamevJayate, the actor said he had realised the country was good at its ‘hardware’ — everybody had the latest phones and gadgets, and information technology was booming; but there was a‘software’ weakness. There was a real weakness in understanding the ‘fabric’ that makes people and their feel­ings. For instance, the kind of content children watch today is scary; that is because no relevant cinema or TV content is being produced for them, he said. Rubbing in the point, he said: “… If you look at the matrimonial columns, you will realise that we have not moved an inch.”

After Khan, came the outpouring of statistics that tried to convince us that 2014 was a great year, and that future pros­pects are equally bright. The KPMG report on the perfor­mance of the industry described 2014 as “a watershed year, with advertising bouncing back”. It estimated that Indian advertising grew 15 per cent in 2014, while digital media was expected to gallop at 30 per cent over the next fewyears. The report predicted that the Rs 1,09,400 crore M&E industry is poised to grow at 13.9 per cent over the next five years to reach

Rs 1,96,400 crore by 2019 (See M&E graphics on Page 130).

What was lost in the noise was KPMG’s data on the perfor­mance of cinema, the heart of the country’s entertainment industry. Revenues from films grew less than one per cent to Rs 12,640 crore in Calendar 2014 from Rs 12,530 crore the previous year. This year holds poor prospects too, with growth for filmed entertainment pegged at less than 8 per cent.

Why did the conference not focus on the regulatory and licensing regime, which is key to the growth of the sector? The B JP government, like its UPApredecessor, has kept up the dubious reputation of using film stars on stage when it suits them, but doing nothing for the health of the industry.

Take radio. It has shown robust growth of 18 per cent, with more than 200 channels in 70 cities. Forthelastthree-and-a- halfyears, the Centre has been promising to take radio com­munication to another level with the auction of839 stations across 227 cities and towns, but postponing on one count or the other. Finally, after many false starts the Union cabinet in January this year announced it would go ahead with its third phase of radio auctions by the end ofFY2014 -15. That has not happened. At ‘Frames’, J.S. Mathur, additional secretary. Union information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, said the government had “started proceedings” into the auction of FM channels for 135 channels in 69 cites, and “we hope to auction 1,000 new FM channels by 2016”.

Again, on digitisation of cable TV, pending for over a de­cade, the B JP government got cold feet last year: It pushed back by more than two years the deadlines for implementing Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the Digital Addressible System that will cover over 80 per cent of the population —December 2015 for Phase 3 and December 2016 for Phase 4. What’s the bet that these deadlines too, will not go begging?

Why were I&B minister Arun Jaitley and I&B secretary J.S. Mathur not grilled on the government’s pussyfooting? Instead, the conclave discussed: Print media versus digital: and arrived at the ‘weighty’ conclusion everybody knows — ‘yes’ the two will coexist! ‘Ficci-Frames’ should do everyone a favour by either examining why the industry is showing such dismal growth and investment; or it should hang its boots. E

TRANSIT LOUNGE

‘We want to be India’s Oxford’

Tim Barton, managing director, Global Academic Publishing, Oxford University Press (OUP), talks to BWs JOE C. MATHEW on publishing in India

Q: How do you rate India’s academic publishing in­dustry? What provides an extra edge to OUP?

A: India’s publishing industry is astonish­ingly vibrant and varied. OUP’s contributions he in providing both quality and service. The press’s rigor­ous review process ensures that our publications have

been vetted by experts and assessed by scholars of high repute in India who are our delegates. We have established networks and resources that ensure our authors’ books reach vari­ous audiences, both within India and globally.

Q: How promising is In­dia’s market for the global academic publishing divi­sion of OUP?

A: We are encouraged by the recent experiences in expanding our publish­ing in India. We have been aggressively add­ing resources across our editorial, marketing, and sales functions, and are taking steps to ensure that our Indian authors benefit from the advantages that come with being an Oxford author. OUP is already a well known and respected imprint here, but we are still seeking out options to make its experience abet­ter one. OUP will always behave like a 100-year-old startup, with a focus on the needs of Indian authors and customers. We want to be India’s Oxford, not simply Oxford India.

Q: What are the chal­lenges India poses?

A: India poses the same challenges as any other country. Frankly speaking, authors and readers want the same thing — excellent, well-produced books that are accessibly priced — and we know how to publish well. While we are not complacent about the chal­lenges that piracy poses, our current emphasis is on building our business by
doing the best possible job.

Q: Will allying with In­dian universities work as a business strategy?

A: OUP often collaborates with universities on their research dissemination priorities. We enjoy fruitful relationships with univer­sity centres, and are keen to explore in India. It needs a mutual benefit to such alli­ances, where the union cre­ates value for both, mainly, for our constituents.

Q: How fast is the growth of digital products?

A: At Oxford, we be­lieve print and digital go hand in hand, and publishers should strive to be ‘format-agnostic’, meaning that we provide the works of our authors in a manner preferred by readers. This can be an expensive proposition for a publisher, so we need to time our expansion into various formats with the development of the market. Print is a wonder­ful, durable technology that has served us well for centuries but, we can’t un­derestimate the benefits digital can provide for re­searchers and readers. CD

Upping The Game

BLOOMBERG is moving to make Bloomberg Televi­sion India a more ‘premi­um’ product that will focus on long-term business trend stories rather than on stock market coverage aimed at retail traders.

In an exclusive chat with BWabout the business channel — ajoint venture with the Reliance ADA Group — Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, said Bloomberg TV has always positioned itself differently from market- based TV networks such as CNBC and ETNow.

When asked why Bloom­berg TV had been lagging behind in audience share, Smith said: “We want to be the business channel for business leaders. Becom­ing No.l in viewership is not necessarily our obj ec- tive. We want to become the most influential among the business leaders.”

Smith, who was in India to attend a board meeting of Bloomberg TV India, said the agenda was to discuss product position­ing; and the consensus that emerged was to make the channel more ‘premium’ in days to come. “Our part­ners agree that Bloomberg brings more premium global focus; rather than the traditional day-trader focus others have. We are going to double down on that strategy,” he said.

Before Bloomberg, Smith was in-charge of Atlantic Media, a 156-year- old hugely influential print and magazine company in the US. “When I joined, Atlantic’s print and digital audience was at half a million. Today, print is 400,000, while digital has soared to 25 million.”

At Bloomberg, the digi­tal faces ofBloomberg.com and Businessweek.com

50%

Of Bloomberg LP’s rev-
enues come from the
digital platforms, which
the company wants to
replicate in India

were merged two months ago to create Bloomberg Business as a new destina­tion primarily for mobile use. “We are exploring the possibility of Bloomberg Business India,” he added.

Smith revealed that digital platforms are generating nearly 50 per cent of Bloomberg LP’s revenues. Advertisers, who earlier suspected digital formats, are now beginning to move their money out of print. What digital offers advertisers is better ‘targetability’ and ‘measurability’. “The
combination of context, content and ‘geo-targeting’ is phenomenal, and that’s the Holy Grail; it is much better than buying an ad in a newspaper.”

Bloomberg Media Group, which accounts for a little less than 10 per cent of Bloomberg LP’s annual $9 billion revenue, was carved out as a subsidiary in March 2011 putting together Bloomberg’s tele­vision, print, radio, mobile and digital media proper­ties. “Our vision is to create the biggest global media company and capture the consumer in every stage of the media consumption cycle by surrounding him with all these platforms.” He said newspapers like Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are print centric; they are moving to digital, but are hanging on to print. Competition is mainly from what he calls ‘legacy’ media and their business models are under pressure. “The idea is to disrupt the traditional newspaper and television businesses, and create the next generation media company; and the heart of our strategy is digital with Bloomberg Business as our flagship destination,” he adds. — Gurbir Singh

 

Trade Truths

INDIA’S FOREIGNTRADE

policy (FTP) 2015-20, an­nounced on April 1, in ad­dition to regular features like market and product incentives and sops, talks about leveraging Modi government’s flagship pro­grammes Make in India, Skill India and Digital India to push the country’s foreign trade in the next five years.

On the face of it, there is nothing new about linking major policy announce­ments with the Prime Minister’s pet initiatives. The railway budget had its share of Make in India plans, while the Skill India and Digital India pro­grammes found prominent mention in the Union Budget speech.

A closer look, though, tells a different story. While the Make in India campaign aims at improv­ing the manufacturing capabilities of Indian industry, Skill India is all about providing necessary workforce to aid increased industrial or manufactur­ing activity. Digital India is expected to speed up business transactions, regulatory clearances and payments by use of elec­tronic channels.

By emphasising the need to link FTP with these programmes and create an Export Promotion Mis­sion, the government is of­
fering long-term solutions to the three problem areas — manufacturing capa­bilities, skilled manpower and trade facilitation, all key to overall competitive­ness — before the Indian exporters.

The candid admission that there is a lot of room for improvement in these areas also explains another assessment made in the FTP statement: That government subsidies and sops alone cannot push for­eign trade beyond a point in a globalised world.

The FTP goal of dou­bling India’s merchandise and services export from $465.9 billion in 2013-14 to $900billion and raising

The target India has set to increase its share in global trade to over the next five years

India’s share in global trade from 2 per cent to 3.5 per cent in the next five years would be possible only if Indian exports become globally competitive. The role of the nodal ministry

  • the commerce ministry which prepares FTP — in fulfilling these aims is limited. Hence the attempt to involve state and Union territory governments and various Central depart­ments and ministries

in the process of foreign trade through the Export Promotion Mission.

The ministry has also hinted that the policy is a pointer to the direction export promotion efforts will have to take in future

  • towards tackling more fundamental problems than announcing incen­tives and subsidies.

The FTP statement reveals that India has not been able to take full advantage of its free trade agreements with Korea, Japan and ASEAN. And the reason was not always tariff difference. It was competitiveness or rather lack of it. What FTP reveals was never a secret. We always knew the problem, and the solution. What was missing was concrete ac­tion. —Joe C. Mathew