Politics | Business | Entertainment
The Indian banking circles in the UK are witnessing dramatic changes at the top level. Pratap Singh, the No 2 in ICICI Bank quit the bank after a 15-year stint to join SBI UK as the Head of Retail & Digital Transformation two months ago. Now, the latest news is Singh has quit SBI UK. Eyebrows are being raised about his sudden departure. Was it the public sector bank’s work culture, (read rules and regulations) that made it tough for the private sector banker? Going back to ICICI Bank is ruled out as Gaurav Arora has replaced him. Meanwhile the management of ICICI Bank has asked Dr Lok Mishra, MD & CEO, to hold the fort as his replacement Raghav Singh is yet to get the green signal from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This delay has seen ICICI Bank quietly withdrawing Singhal’s application from FCA. In another development, the Birmingham-based West Midlands India Partnership has suddenly shut shop.
Executive Director Ghanshyam Nabar has turned an entrepreneur. He has set up UI Connect offering strategic consultancy between India and the UK and Europe. Shehla Hasan has quit Manchester India Partnership to head CII‘s UK and Europe operations as its Executive Director. MIP and WMIP were set up as a strong “living bridge” between the two nations, but its current defunct states are an ironic reflection of the growing India-UK relations and FTA around the corner.
(By Rahul Laud)
Do Good Looks Matter In Bollywood?
Historically, audiences went to the theatres to see stars for their looks. Rewind to 60s, 70s, 80s and you will see all Bollywood actors were handsome, good looking, macho. Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna to name a few. In the case of actresses it was their ravishing beauty, the dream girl of every man. Sadhana, Saira Banu, Hema Malini, Rekha, Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia. Chocolate heroes and dream girls were synonymous with Bollywood. It was only in the art cinema that looks were secondary – Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah. The advent of hinterland cinema brought the ordinary looking boy and girl center stage. Says a Bollywood’s senior casting director, “Those days of having a conventionally good looking actor are gone. If you see most of the actors today who are doing well especially on the OTT are far from being that.” Today the audience is more open to looking at realistic characters whom they can connect, relate and identify with. Today being a good actor is far more important than good looks. “Acting and talents are the first two criteria of casting today, if the actor is good looking then it’s an added advantage,” says the casting director. Hrithik Roshan called the Greek God did not mind to wear brown make up for Super 30. If you look at OTT stars — Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jitendra Kumar, Pankaj Mishra –then it is clear today acting matters not looks.
(By Our Entertainment Editor)
First Family Of Faith Contradictions Helps Temples In Tamil Nadu
The first family household of Tamil Nadu may be a bundle of contradictions with an atheist head, a super faithful Hindu better half, a son tending to atheism with a wife from another faith and a daughter who is apolitical. It must cope with various demands in an intensely political life under a spotlight, which is why chief minister MK Stalin is going all out to stress that his party DMK, an offshoot of the non-believing Justice Party, is not against Hindus. He took umbrage at the Union Finance Minister’s statement that the government and the party were stealing from temples by usurping their lands. While assigning party loyalists and functionaries as chairpersons to temples that are in great public demand like Tiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, Srirangam and Palani, the government has gone all out to help temples recover lands alienated decades ago. The HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu, who goes on every temple run with the first lady to ensure she is received with honours, put out a statistic saying that so far Stalin’s government had reclaimed lands worth Rs 5,500 crore in two years. The figures are not in dispute, but what is also relevant is Union Minister Murugan’s statement that while TN temple lands were recorded in 1986 to be 5.25 lakh acres, now there are only 4.78 lakh acres in their possession. There may be some way to go in enabling temples to repossess their property, but the Stalin government is at least trying and the faithful must accept things are better now. (By Tamil Raja)
A Handful For White-Ball Captaincy, But Just Rohit Sharma For Test Cricket
For small mercies, there is not even a whispering campaign to sack Rohit Sharma as captain of the Indian team following the men in blue’s disappointing show and defeat to Australia in the World Cup. In fact, the “cricket diwane” have been quite sympathetic towards him because of the blistering and engaging ways of his batting, and leadership right through the quadrennial event campaign. But news in the grapevine is rife about the BCCI looking out for captains for white ball cricket. Still in the rehabilitation process after a left leg impairment that happened in the match against Bangladesh, Hardik Pandya has been replaced by Suryakumar Yadav for the five-match Twenty20 series against Australia. The selectors have also named Shreyas Iyer vice-captain for the last two matches at Raipur and.Bengaluru. It is not known if Pandya would be fit for the white ball (3 T20s and as many ODIs) series in South Africa to be played before Christmas: in his absence will the selection committee split the captaincy and give it to Yadav and KL Rahul? The two-Test series will be played from December 26 at the Centurion and Cape Town from January 3, 2024. And Rohit is certain to lead the team in these two matches. He had missed the previous series in South Africa that India lost 1-2 because of a hamstring niggle. India’s new WTC cycle starts with this two-Test series followed by the five-Test home series against England. India has captaincy options for the white ball format, but just Sharma for the Test rubbers.
(By G Viswanath)
Mamata Sabre-Rattles To Assert Her Position Within TMC
When Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee launched an all-out attack on the BJP this week warning that central agencies would target it after the 2024 general elections, it seemed more a bid to assert herself within the TMC rather than taking an aim at the national party. Yes, her warning that if central agencies arrest four of her party leaders, the West Bengal police would arrest eight state BJP leaders seemed plain bluff and bluster. TMC watchers pointed out that Mamata was compelled to do some sabre-rattling at a party event as she wanted to put her nephew and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in his place. It was on Didi’s orders that Abhishek’s posters had gone missing. It is being said Mamata had taken a tough view on Abhishek only to reassure old-time TMC backers. For some time now Abhishek has been asking Mamata to dump those TMC leaders who have fallen foul of the law. At least five high-profile TMC leaders, including four legislators of whom two were state ministers, are now in judicial custody after they were arrested by the ED and the CBI in multiple corruption cases. The jailed leaders are all die-hard Mamata loyalists. With Abhishek having handpicked all next generation TMC MLAs in 2021 polls, Mamata is feeling increasingly isolated in the party.
( By Lakshmi Iyer)
Consumers In Tamil Nadu Up In Arms As Aavin Stops Distribution Of Popular Green Pack Milk
Aavin, the largest dairy cooperative controlled by the Tamil Nadu government has hit headlines. Set up in 1981, this popular brand like Amul in Tamil Nadu has stopped distribution of its popular Green pack milk which enjoys 40% market share. Green pack which contains 4.5% fat content has been replaced by lavender coloured Delite which has 3.5 % fat content. This move has sent consumers and Opposition parties into a tizzy of anger. TN’s former CM Edappadi Palaniswami and AMMK’s supremo TTV Dinakaran condemned the move to sell less fat content Delite at the same price. This move is to popularise private milk brands through the back door says BJP leader K Annamalai. It may be recalled a few months when Amul was making inroads into TN, the DMK government raised hue and cry how local brands are being cannibalized. Neighbouring Karnataka during elections time saw similar protests by politicians saying how local brand Nandini was being killed with the entry of Amul. Interestingly, TN’s minister for milk production, Mano Thangaraj has come up with an ingenious justification, “Look how health conscious people are…they don’t want fat in any form. We have public health as our main concern.” Aavin which processes 30 lakh litres of milk every day ranks eight in consumer packaged goods category of 10 most famous brands. Several private sector players have tried to compete but are unable to sustain Aavin’s reach, price point and popularity. (By Padma Ramnath)
Is It Gita Jayanti Celebration Or BJP’s Lok Sabha Poll Campaign Launch For West Bengal?
BJP is set to prepare a centre stage at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Gita Jayanti Celebration on December 24. It is apparent that the programme is the initiative of various organizations of the Sangh Parivar, yet the official organiser is Akhil Bharatiya Sanskrit Parishad. Several functionaries of the organisation including central committee member of Vishva Hindu Parishad, Swami Nirgunananda Maharaj met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 17, officially inviting him to attend the programme. Over lakhs of monks across several Sanatan Hindu organisations such as Bharat Sevashram Sangha and others will be chanting Gita Sotras to mark the occasion named ‘Laksh Kante Gitapath’ (Gita Chants by Lakh Voices). The organisers along with BJP Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar presented the PM with the official invite on a silver plaque with Devnagari script written in copper. Manas Bhattacharya, member of the organising committee says that the PM has expressed his desire to chant Gita Sotras along with the monks. Even the President Draupadi Murmu has confirmed her presence. Claiming it to be a non-political event, Bhattacharya informed that they will also invite West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the chief guest and other MPs and MLAs of the state across political parties. It may seem a non-political event but BJP will not let lose the opportunity to use the platform to drive home its Hindutva agenda in Bengal ahead of 2024 general elections. ( By Tanya Bagchi)
Has Murugappa Group Bought Out Valli Arunachalam’s Stake In Ambadi Investments?
TVS and Murugappa are not just iconic names but also venerable brands in the Chennai business world. TVS has seen the four families, part of the group, go their separate ways legally. Each one of the four families in the erstwhile TVS is now chalking out its own independent business strategy. The Murugappa group, too, has many family branches. This one too appears to be letting the individual families pursue their own business interests. Still, the family holding company is intact and appears to bind the Murugappa families together. The open revolt by Valli Arunachalam, the elder daughter of late MV Murugappan, however, put the spotlight on the Murugappa group. Fortunately, both Valli and the Murugappa group have chosen to smoke the peace pipe. Coming as it does against this backdrop, the decision by Ambadi Investments (the holding company of the Murugappa group) to sell its entire 2.27% stake in EID Parry has set tongues wagging. The open market sale has fetched Ambadi Rs 190 crore. Does the stake sale have any connection with the peace pact with Valli? One tends to quickly correlate the two. Has the Murugappa group chosen to let Valli cash out? That option remains the realm of possibility with the stake sale by Ambadi in EID Parry. ( By KT Jagannathan)
Uddhav Rejigs His Strategy, Keen To Teach Opponents A Lesson
With general elections few months away, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has rejigged his strategy that will see him increasing his public appearances. For now, he has declared that he will be visiting Palghar district outside Mumbai soon, admitting that he had not paid attention to the area which had elected his candidate to the Lok Sabha in 2019. Uddhav has been constantly criticised for not venturing out Matoshree, his family residence located in suburban Bandra. The criticism was sharp when he was the chief minister for over two years. “You have not visited Mantralaya even two and a half times,” his arch detractor Narayan Rane would say over and over again. Besides undertaking a few trips within the state and except for attending a couple of I.N.D.I.A meetings, Uddhav has stayed mostly in Mumbai and in Matoshree in particular. But it seems he will now become more active by appearing in public. Another possible reason for his aggressive posture could be the frequent media interactions his cousin Raj Thackeray has been enjoying, the latest regarding his victory on the issue of displaying Marathi boards in Mumbai by commercial establishments. Uddhav felt particularly aggrieved as some posters describing chief minister Eknath Shinde as “Hindu Hriday Samrat,” came up a couple of days ago. As the title was bestowed upon Balasaheb Thackeray by his admirers, an enraged Uddhav said, “The saboteurs will be taught a fitting lesson by the people in the coming election.” ( By Dilip Chaware)
BJP’s Odisha MP Aparajita Sarangi In Campaign Mode, Puts Poster Seeking One More Chance
Firebrand BJP MP from Odisha Aparajita Sarangi is in the news for two reasons. First, for her effort to protect netizens from loan sharks. Second, even though her party is yet to give her the Lok Sabha ticket officially, she has already swung into campaign mode by putting up posters in her constituency in Bhubaneswar which says “One more chance to Aparajita”. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s party Biju Janata Dal is yet to decide who will fight against Aparajita. Meanwhile, it is learnt that former Mumbai’s top cop Arup Patnaik who lost to Aparajita Sarangi in 2019 by a small margin has decided not to contest citing health issues. Her party sources say Aparajita is focussing on battle of ideas, how issues are interpreted, and how she can control the narrative to swing vote bank politics. For instance, she wrote to chief minister seeking his intervention to bring back peace and normalcy in group clash-hit Padmakesharipur village at Patia, Bhubaneswar and release 150 local residents from jail. Aparajita is also urging government actions against money lenders charging exorbitant 20% interest per month which led to the recent community unrest at Patia. (By Sangram Mohanty)