Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s portfolio: One up on Dalal Street – Rediff.com Business


Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
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Jitendra Kumar Gupta in Mumbai

Even as the markets are weighed down by global and domestic concerns, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala has been relatively busy churning his portfolio.

He has bought stake in three companies, increased and shed holding in some others, while sitting tight on the rest.

Among the most successful investors in India, he recently bought stocks of Pipavav Shipyard, Sterling Holidays and Subex.

While exploring the reasons that led the much-reported investor to buy these companies, we also look at the past to gauge his strategy.

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Rudolf Elmer: The man who blew the whistle on Swiss banks – Rediff.com Business


Former Swiss private banker Elmer.
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Toral Varia

A former employee of Swiss bank Julius Baer, Rudolf Elmer shot into limelight as a whistleblower in 2008.

He shared secret documents with WikiLeaks on the tax evasion activities of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands.

Elmer was arrested in January this year for handing over a CD with 2,000 names of tax evaders to Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks in 2008.

It had details of bank accounts between 1997 and 2002. The names of several Indians also figured in the list.

Meanwhile, Julius Baer alleged that Elmer tampered the evidence to suggest tax evasion.

Rudolf Elmer in an interview with rediff.com talks about the dark side of black money, financial secrecy and lashes out against Swiss banks who are encouraging tax defaulters.

Ravi Pillai: Amazing journey of ‘Ambani of the Gulf’ – Rediff.com Business


Ravi Pillai, founder-managing director of Naseer S Al Hajri Corporation, and Petrochem, Saudi Arabia.
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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Ravi Pillai, is the founder-managing director of the Bahrain-based construction services major Naseer S Al Hajri Corporation (NSH), and Petrochem, Saudi Arabia.

With 60,000 people working for him, he is the largest employer of Indians in the Middle East. His company has a turnover of $2.5 billion.

He is also the recipient of the Padma Shri and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.

He spoke exclusively to rediff.com when he was in Chennai for a business acquisition, before flying back to Bahrain.

Steve Jobs: What we can learn – The Times of India


Very early this morning my iPhone popped up the news that Steve Jobs passed away. Naturally, it was a shock, though not unexpected, as he was critically ill. I opened my iPad and spent the next hour reading more details. What was striking was the fact that most of us (several hundreds of millions like me) were reading Steve’s demise on devices created by him. As President Obama pointed out in his message what can be a better tribute to this geek hero, whose key decisions changed the computing landscape.As I started writing down this article (on Apple Mac, of course) the following are uppermost in my mind

1 Why can’t we be ourselves (not imitate others)?

Steve Jobs, throughout his amazing days at Apple (and earlier), was by himself. He did what he believed in. He did his best. He accepted his mistakes and kept excelling in whatever he did! Very early Apple decided to drop floppy disks; recently Steve decided to bet on solid state disk (in place of hard disk) and very recently he decided to remove optical disk (CD/DVD). The recent Apple OS (Tiger) was completely delivered over the net (wire or wireless, but no installation CD). I can go on but the point is simple, he was by himself . He did not “flow with the stream” . In the process he excelled.

2 Create what consumers will love, not what market researchers tell you what consumers want

This is another area Steve was decidedly different. Apple iPhone when launched had dozens of established players, including the leader Nokia (then). Market research folks had a lengthy list of “features” that users wanted from the phone. Steve did not care a bit about those market researchers, but instead bet on “touch technology” and delivered “user delight” . The rest is history.

3 Do not be afraid

Steve was not afraid of anything or anybody. In fact, he wasn’t afraid of death either; he embraced it gracefully. iPhone did not support Adobe Flash, as Steve felt iPhone’s battery life will be compromised if he supported Adobe Flash. It was not sure if he was fully correct, but he took a stand. Later on he was vindicated. In his days at NexT he decided to sell his products only to academics & researchers; it was not a wise decision, but Steve alone could be bold enough to take such a decision that went against mainstream thinking.

4 Eye for details

I vividly remember Steve launching Mac Book in 1999 in New York when Apple introduced a very simple idea – a small light will glow in amber & red colour depending on whether the laptop is getting charged or the charge cycle is complete . Apparently it was a $1 solution , but it made a huge difference.

5 Make great products and they will sell

iPad was not the first MP3 device (there were so many from Creative alone). iPhone was not the first smart phone (Nokia had many such in 2007 when iPhone was launched; Palm made the first smart phone perhaps). iPad is not the first tablet (Microsoft made one 7 years ago). Yet iPod, iPhone and iPad created history and continue to ride the market, because they were all great products. Steve had a similar story at Pixar Animation too.

(The writer is the director of IIIT-Bangalore )

Why true leadership involves less talking and more listening | SmartBlog on Leadership


Why true leadership involves less talking and more listening

This post is by contributor Mary C. Schaefer, a speaker, coach, trainer and consultant specializing in creating manager-employee communication breakthroughs and functional and positive work cultures. View and connect with Schaefer via her Re-Imagine Work blog or @MarySchaefer Twitter profile.

Have you heard of the book “The One-Minute Manager”? I know a guy I call the 18-Minute Manager, or Jake, for our purposes. Jake was having a hard time getting through to his employee, Sophie, about significant problems in her performance. I agreed to sit in the next meeting he had with her.

Less talking, more listening. Jake started the meeting and talked for 18 minutes. He did not pause. He did not ask Sophie one question. Soon he dismissed Sophie from the room. As she left, I asked her what she heard Jake say. She said, “I don’t know what he’s talking about.” I seriously doubt that, but I don’t blame her for saying it.

As human beings we can be uncomfortable with conflict or confrontation. Despite the temptation to avoid a conversation that raises defenses, leaders guide employees through it. It is both unkind and irresponsible not to.

It takes a leader to do it well. To conduct these conversations as a leader would, it is your job to invite the other person into the conversation, keep their defenses down, and create a space for them to see how they are accountable and show you are on his or her side at the same time.  How can you too achieve this?

  1. Get it all out. Like Jake, you might have a certain level of frustration. Don’t take this for granted. If you have a lot to say, write it out or vent to an appropriate partner. Do this before you get in front of the employee.
  2. Keep your part brief. Practice and plan to only say two sentences and one question at any one time. The longer you talk, the more they build up their defenses. The more airtime you use, the less likely you’ll uncover what is going on in the employee’s head that you need to address.
  3. Get them talking as quickly as possible. After appropriate greetings and getting comfortable, a manager in Jake’s position could start with: “Sophie, you and I have talked about an aspect of your performance a few times now. I want to make sure you understand the impact it’s having on both your co-workers and your own performance. What have you been thinking about this?”
  4. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. Don’t just plunge forward as if with a script. Ask questions building on their responses. Be curious. If you offer two statements, use them to summarize what you heard. An opinion or fact may be appropriate at some points. But remember, you are to lead them through a discussion to where they can examine their own thinking and behavior that is causing them problems.
  5. Inspire hope and action. Keep going with the good questions and assertions, using their responses until you have a plan of action you both can go forward with. It should not all end up on your to-do list. The person in front of you should leave the room encouraged and realize one action they can take immediately to improve.

This approach, to me, is true leading. When people are sitting there, already feeling defensive, we as humans can only take in so much at one time.  Taking that into consideration, by planning and putting your own frustration aside will allow you to lead an employee through a discussion that helps them think through what got them there and how to see their way to success.

Image credit: ia_64, via iStockphoto

US drags India, China to WTO over subsidy programmes – PTI –


The United States on Thursday dragged China and India to the World Trade Organisation over subsidy programmes implemented by the world’s two fastest growing economies, with a top Obama Administration official terming the situation as intolerable.

“The situation was simply intolerable,” US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.

Noting that every member of the WTO is required to come clean on their subsidy programmes on a regular basis, Kirk said China has not notified its subsidy programmes in over five years.

“India only recently filed its first notification in almost ten years and even then, notified only three of the many subsidy programmes we know to exist,” he said.

“Because China and India have failed to meet their respective obligations, we had to act — as we are entitled to under the WTO rules — and provide the voluminous information we have developed regarding subsidy programmes in these two countries,” he said.

Kirk announced that the US has submitted information to the WTO identifying nearly 200 subsidy programmes that China has failed to notify as per WTO rules.

Information was also submitted on 50 subsidy programmes in India not previously notified, he said. Through these actions at the WTO, the United States is seeking the prompt provision of detailed information and data from China and India regarding the operation of these subsidy programmes, the USTR said.

Under WTO rules, every member is obligated to submit information about all of its subsidy programmes on a regular basis. This information is required so that members may assess the nature and extent of the subsidy programmes of others.

The notification obligation is particularly significant for members like China, where inadequate transparency in so many areas places a tremendous burden on other WTO members seeking to better understand China’s trade policy measures, the USTR said.

China has submitted only one subsidy notification since becoming a WTO Member in December, 2001. That notification was noticeably incomplete, it said.

In the last ten years, India has submitted only one notification, which was also noticeably incomplete.

Previously, over the course of numerous meetings of the WTO Subsidies Committee, the United States has requested that China and India make full notifications of all of their subsidy programmes, it said.

Kirk said the lack of transparency severely constrains the ability of WTO members to ensure that each government is playing by the rules.

“The United States would have preferred to avoid today’s filings, but we have done so to hold China and India accountable and to enforce the rules that all WTO members must follow,” the US Trade Representative said.

“It is past time for China and India to be transparent about their subsidy programmes and that includes meeting their notification obligations like other WTO Members. China and India are among the largest exporters in the WTO and it is simply not acceptable that they continue to evade their transparency commitments,” Kirk said.