Kurkure train ready to embark on snacky trip

In a creative new marketing strategy, PepsiCo has collaborated with the Indian Railways to flag off an eight-day journey on a special train called the Kurkure Family Express. The idea is to bring families across the country together on a single platform to chat and enjoy eating snacks while travelling.

Popular TV foodshow anchors Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma will host 40 different families in this journey across India that will leave Delhi on May 16 and cover 12 stations including Sawai Madhopur, Surat, Lokmanya Tilak Terminal (Mumbai), Pune, Tirupati, Chennai, Vijaywada, Bhubaneshwar, Chitpur (Kolkata), Mughalsarai and Kanpur Central. The train was inaugurated by actors Parineeti Chopra and Kunal Kapoor on Thursday.

The journey will entail different recipe contests where families will compete with each other to win. Four winners from the four zones (north, south, east and west) will then be sent on an all expenses paid culinary trip to Europe. Families will get the chance to be the face of the Kurkure brand and get featured on television commercials and other marketing initiatives. “Families bonding over snacks and conversations have always been at the core of Kurkure,” said Partho Chakrabarti, vice president-snacks category, PepsiCo India.

The 800 sq ft exterior, as well as interior design of the Kurkure Express has been done by selected art students across the country, through a contest to bring alive their interpretation of consumers’ love for Kurkure.



Hitachi, Johnson Controls target Rs 2,000 cr revenue

The joint venture between Johnson Controls and Hitachi is eyeing Rs 2,000 crore turnover in FY16-17. The company is targeting the Number 2 slot in the Indian market within the next five years, and aims to achieve that target using a unique eco-friendly technique in air conditioning.

The global CEO of the newly christened entity Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning, Franz Cerwinka, said on Wednesday that these energy efficient solutions would be the main impetus behind the company’s future growth strategy. “In the last six months since we formulated this joint venture, we have been making a huge progress globally. And here in India, we are breaking records for which I must credit the sizzling heat as well,” Cerwinka said.

Taking about the present market share in India, Gurmeet Singh, executive director (sales, business planning & marketing) said,“In the room AC segment, our total market share in volumes is 11 per cent which makes us a clear number three in the market today. We have around 10 per cent market share in split AC and around 22 per cent in window AC which we intend to grow by increasing the product portfolio and penetration of our distribution network in tier II and tier III towns.”

“VRF (variable refrigerant flow) is one category which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17 per cent, so we have invested in infrastructure and technology to get big growth in this segment. With 20 per cent YoY growth, and present turnover of Rs 1,700 crore, we expect to grow around Rs 2000 crore by FY16-17,” he added.

On the significance of the Indian market and how the joint venture is going to benefit consumers, Cerwinka said, “India will be the third-largest economy in the world by 2030 and it has always been a very promising and fast growing market. Post this joint venture, we have upped the ante for our business expansion plans here and are focusing on developing more advanced technologies and products that surpass others in terms of their energy efficiency.”

The company also introduced new air conditioners, claimed to be “highest” efficient currently in the Indian market. Atsushi Ohtsuka, managing director, said that, “Keeping in view our customer’s need and our I-Care philosophy, this year we have launched Kashikoi 5400i, Kashikoi 200i H&C, I-Connect and Toushi Range in the room AC segment.” He attributed the high efficiency to I-Clean Plus technology which automatically cleans the AC filter every five hours.

“Today, we have India’s best energy efficient split inverter AC range – Kashikoi 5400i. Its 1.0TR-5 Star with 5.75 ISEER and 1.5TR- 5 Star with 5.00 ISEER are the highest in the market as of date. About 36 per cent of our inverter AC range have BEE 5- star rating, which is again the highest in the industry,” he said.




Becoming a doctor

With 6.67 lakh students taking the national eligibility-cum-entrance test (NEET) on May 1, its first phase is over. Though the single all-India entrance is a welcome judgment from the Supreme Court, I have reservations about two dates for the entrance test.
I believe, whenever there are multiple exams, the chances of corruption are greater. So, the apex court has simplified the task by making MCI and CBSE monitoring authorities. I believe this is an efficient system, as the admission process will be completed by September and the classes are likely to start in October. However, if the exam is meant for making things easier then why two dates?
Now, there will be only one examination with NEET, as state exams will merge into the all-India test. Many states have expressed reservations about the system out of ignorance, despite NEET respecting both the central and state quotas.
Under the previous system, students declaring multiple domiciles had the advantage of appearing in many state medical exams. This choice was made possible because while some states gave eligibility to all those born there, others granted eligibility to all students clearing their matriculation from the state. So, NEET will trim domicile corruption at the root.
It must be noted that the new system does not interfere with the reservation process, but only makes the system accountable to a transparent selection process. While several states and minority institutes have not understood the process, the private institutes oppose the system as they are earning crores of rupees from capitation fee, which is corruption in bright light.
Though SC has not decided on PG medical entrance, it is common knowledge how seats are being sold for crores, in the absence of a proper admission system. Will the national eligibility-cum-entrance test change the system for selection of medical students? Only time will tell!


Question of law

In a country, where its chief justice breaks down in public before the premier, one question surely arises: “Are we serious about judicial reforms?” The blame game won’t do. It is no longer a question of who is more responsible for the plight in which the Indian judicial system finds itself today — the government or the judiciary. Instead, the time is here when both need to sit down and look into the matter.
The problem is worrisome because of the enormous number of pending legal cases at 3.14 crore . Of them, 2.76 are in the lower courts, 38 lakh are pending in the high courts and around 60,000 cases in the apex court. And these are only the cases in formal courts. What if we include cases pending in tribunals like consumer courts, NGT, etc? The number could then rise to five crore or more. Though the tribunals were set up to lessen the burden of formal courts, unfortunately that didn’t happen. This is because the tribunals too have also been transformed into formal courts and in a country of a billion people, with the majority reeling under poverty, the entire issue of pending cases ultimately becomes one of “access to justice”.
If we compare the numbers, there are 13 judges per million Indians against Australia’s 41 judges, Canada’s 75, Britain’s 50 and 70 judges for the US.
Way back in 1987, the law commission had suggested the induction of 40,000 more judges and going by the current number of pending cases, the requirement must be over 50,000 now against a bench str­ength of only 21,000. Other issues that also need ref­orms are adjournments allowed by courts, multiple appeals and the enormous time taken to resolve disp­utes. If many cases are decided in 90 minutes in the US, why can’t we curtail the period of argument here?
The government also needs to keep in mind that legal disputes will keep rising with higher literacy and prosperity. Kerala, with a literacy rate of 90 per cent, has 28 cases filed per thousand citizens each year against only four cases filed in Jharkhand.


WB, AIMA in pact for hindi e-learning

World Bank will partner with India to streamline government procurement of goods and services across sectors. As part of the plan, World Bank has concluded a pact with the All India Management Association (AIMA) to offer public procurement courses in Hindi.

World Bank-AIMA tieup is aimed at capacity building of officials who take part in Rs 5,00,000 crore public procurement every year.

Professional courses, to be offered through 10 channel partners, would include certificate and diploma programmes in the contract management.

World Bank also laun­ch­ed the online procurement business portal procurementlearning.org here on Thursday.

“English language teac­h­ing was started in 2012. Now Hindi language learning has also been laun­ched,” said A K Kalesh, capacity building coordinator, South Asia procurement, at the two-day procurement summit here.

Over 10 billion officials across the globe are involved in the procurement process and the professional courses are aimed at improving the processes in contracts handled by them.

According to Abduljabbar H Al-Qathab, lead procurement specialist, even one per cent saving in procurement could pay for the poverty alleviation schemes.



For a drop of water

Water scarcity is becoming the most concerning problem for urban India. Data from the ministry of water resources reveals that 22 out of 33 major cities have to deal with a daily shortage of water. Coming to Delhi, I have realised that even the capital city is no different when it comes to coping with water shortage. India faces huge challenges from water scarcity, because per capita availability is going down, while demand is going up due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.
At independence, we had a population of 360 million with per capita water availability of 5,000 cubic metre. Since then, while our population has grown exponentially by four times, per capita water availability has decreased by one third.
We don’t get rains throughout the year, but only for about one or one-and-a-half months, while the rest of the year goes practically dry. This has lead to a situation of where only 30 per cent of the citizens have access to water and the rest have to trek up to around 5 km and or beyond for their regular requirement.
Cities depend on surrounding areas for ensuring uninterrupted supplies, as with Delhi, which is almost entirely dependent on the flow of Yamuna water from Haryana. Leakages are high at even up to 30 per cent, while transporting water. This must be minimised urgently.
The good news this year is of a bountiful monsoon, but this is not the solution. The country must have a well-meaning water policy. The government must also revisit the national water policy and focus on a common integrated perspective around planning and management of water resources. This is because, in India, water is considered to be owned by a particular state, which might be unwilling to share it with its neighbours. Rain harvesting can be very handy, as more than 90 per cent of rainwater goes waste at present. At an individual level, all of us have to be responsible enough to not to waste water or we are heading towards a much worse situation.


Rise in Kashmir

The period of 10 months that I spent with and within the Rising Kashmir newspaper was beautiful. “With” because I worked in the organisation and “within” because I received a lot of love from its players. I wish, I had a choice to continue with you for lifelong. Though the love that I received is sufficed for lifelong.

Last week, Daily Rising Kashmir celebrated its completion of 8th year of its publication. I remember, I was in the 9thclass when the paper hit the market on March 10, 2008 with its enticing design and fabulous reportage under highly skilled guidance of Shujaat Bukhari sir—top journalist from the Valley, who previously worked with The Hindu as Kashmir correspondent.  When I resigned in November, 2015, I can’t forget how helpful and loving the he  was to me. Those inspiring lines still echoes in my mind. I wish every journalism student could work under such a mentor for atleast once in his/her lifetime.

Next was, Suhail sir, with whom I had a relationship since before the newspaper. He was my editor and also my teacher in the university. He was the best in both forms. I credit my hard news reporting skills to Suhail sir’s lectures in the university, where he laboured more than we did. I miss his guidance a lot.

Gowhar sir began inspiring me the day he edited my first feature story about “drug de-addiction”. It was amazing when he trimmed that from 3000 words to 1200 words within half an hour.  Later, he became my mentor in journalism field and I benchmark my ideology with him.

Faisul sir was brilliant at ideation. I still wonder how quickly he could think of better ideas about simple things than anyone else and would insist reporters to do a story on that.

I owe a lot to Nazir sir too. He was more like a big brother to me rather than my page editor and would always give me freedom to work on my own.

Coming to colleague circle of reporters; I surely miss dry jokes of Manzoor baya, love of Saleem baya, sisterhood of Sumaiya, smile of Haika and Omar, who were interns that time.

I wish all the best to this highest institute of “fair” journalism in the valley.