Quiz Miscellany – I

28 07 2008


Q 1: What is the Carbon Grove project and how is it connected to Microsoft?  


A: Carbon Grove project is a virtual forest in which you can plant a tree and thereby bring down Carbon-Dioxide. Microsoft has sponsored the project and only if you download Internet Explorer 7 could you technologically plant a tree in the virtual forest. 



Q 2: The Howrah Bridge is one of the finest cantilever bridges in the world. It was built way back in 1937. The interesting thing is that out of 26,500 tonne of steel used in making the bridge TISCO (now Tata Steel) supplied 23,500 tonne. Which company built the bridge?



A: Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd. of Darlington.



Q 3: Which is world’s oldest Business School?



A: The Ecole Supérieure de Commerce of Paris (now ESCP-EAP European School of Management) was founded. In 1819. Today it is the oldest Business School worldwide.However, Harvard Business School was the first business school to offer a degree called the “MBA” in 1910.



Q 4: India born Arun Sarin resigned from Vodafone as its CEO in May this year. Who replaced him?



A: Vittario Colao



Q 5: Jagdish Khattar retired as the MD of Maruti this year. Who has succeeded him?



A :  Shinzo Nakanishi 



Q 6. In Google terminology, who or what is a “Noogler”?



A: A new Google employee



Q 7.  Expand MTN, the company which is in news these days. ( If you don’t know, you will kick yourself why you did not work it out)



A: Mobile Telecommunication Network



Q 8: What is bluecasting?



A: Proximity marketing in mobile phones using “Bluetooth” technology. This technology has been used effectively during IPL matches to push messages to spectators’ mobile phones and also by Vasavi temple in Coimbatore to push wallpapers of Gods and Goddesses and ring tones of Bhajans to the visitors of the temple through bluecasting.



Q 9: Which company’s advertising slogan was ‘Geography is History’?



A: Iridium, the satellite phone service launched by Motorola.



Q 10. What is common to the following: Jewel, Footprint, Wellness, Timeout and Fresh? 



A:  They are different sub-brands of Reliance Retail for different types of merchandise.


– G. Mohan and Rajib Sarkar. 


Urban Mobility: The Bicycle Option

14 07 2008


Paris has demonstrated how the traditional bicycle could be an interesting option for improving the urban mobility. In a project called VELIB (bicycle freedom), Paris has initiated a public bicycle rental program. This program will complete its first anniversary on July 15, this year.


In this program, there are 20,000 bicycles and 1450 automated stations, about one station every 300 m throughout the city centre. Each Vélib station is equipped with an automatic rental terminal and spots for 15-40 bicycles. Maps showing the station locations are available at all kiosks.


The rental terminals have a feature that allows to view the locations and numbers of available bicycles and free spots of the neighboring Velib stations. If a user arrives with a rented bicycle at a station without free spots, the terminal grants another 15 minutes of free rental time. Twenty vehicles are used at night to redistribute bicycles to high-demand stations.


Citizens can become a member of Velib by paying an annual subscription of 39 Euros (approximately Rs. 2600) or subscriptions can also be purchased by the day, week or year, at a price of, respectively, 1, 5, or 29 euros. With a subscription, bike rental is free for the first half hour of every individual trip; an unlimited number of such free trips can be made per day.


The system is financed by the JC Decaux (World No. 2 in outdoor advertising) advertising corporation, in return for Paris signing over the income from a substantial portion of on-street advertising.


The company paid start-up costs of about $115 million and employs the equivalent of about 285 people full time to operate the system and repair the bikes for 10 years. The city receives all revenue from the program as well as a fee of about $4.3 million a year. In return, JCDecaux receives exclusive control over 1,628 city-owned billboards; the city receives about half of that billboard space at no charge for public-interest advertising.


This system has been extremely well received by the citizens of Paris. Within one month of its launch, one million trips were clocked. Also, citizens have to often walk two stations, before they get a bicycle.


Interestingly, the world leader in outdoor advertising Clear Channel has financed a similar bicycle rental program in Washington DC. They have plans to launch similar programs in other cities in the US.


Outlook Business has reported that Pune, the number one bicycle city of India, is preparing to launch a bicycle rental program by end 2008.


Indian cities and towns are anything but bicycle friendly. Shouldn’t municipal bodies/ corporations and town planners in India do their damnedest now to find space for bicycle trails?


The power center of the outdoor media industry in India is now in the organized sector.Madison Outdoors, Street Culture, Laqshya, Times OOH, News Outdoor India, Percept OOH and JC Decaux India – are you listening?


– G. Mohan.

General Motors: From Making History to Becoming History ?

8 07 2008

The venerable General Motors, the largest automobile company in the world is having the toughest year in its 100-year history. The stocks of GM are trading at a 54-year low.  The market capitalization of this 181 billion USD company is just 5.73 billion USD. Yes, less than 6 billion USD!


Bond markets have already reduced  GM bonds to the junk bond status.


As someone who grew up studying how GM had developed and put in practice so many stellar ideas of business management, I can not but feel sad about the state of affairs in this legendary company. May Rick Wagoner get all the support needed to pull GM out from the brink of bankruptcy.


– G. Mohan.

Crash Landing of Air Hostess Training Institutes

5 07 2008

The growth in aviation sector has created a brand new business – air hostess training. These institutes have mushroomed all over the country, more so in North India.


These institutes have been luring the youth to get a glamorous job in the fast growing aviation sector. The minimum eligibility for joining these courses is 10+2 and age between 17 to 24 years. With such a low entry criteria and prospect of a glamorous career, no wonder thousands are signing up. More so, in small towns, where job prospects otherwise are few.


Most of these institutes offer a one-year diploma in after higher secondary (+2), which prepares the candidates to become join the cabin crew of an airlines. The titles of the course are usually snazzed up to delude the impressionable youth. For example, the course at Frankfinn  is called “Aviation Hospitality and Travel Management.” The course content is a mix of soft skills, some industry specific skills like ticketing and reservation, some domain knowledge about aviation industry, followed by a project. These are typically part-time courses, two hours a days, 5 days a week. The annual fee ranges from Rs 1 to 1.25 lakh per student for the program. The course provides 100% placement assistance. Mark the word –  it is only assistance and not assured placement. But to be fair to them, many of their students have got placed in the various airlines and 5-star hotels. 


Frankfinn  is the market leader in India. Promoted by a Supreme Court advocate K.S.Kohli, Frankfinn has no French or Finnish connection.  It is headquartered in Mumbai and has over 115 centres across the length and breadth of the country. I spoke to one centre and I learnt that they have nine batches of 25 students running concurrently. Extrapolating the same, annual output would be probably in the region of 20,000 from across India. No wonder, Frankfinn claims to have a turnover of Rs 250 crore and has expressed an ambition of starting an airline  – Air Frankfinn. It has even leased an Airbus for training purposes.Currently it is a private limited company. It has proposed an IPO sometime soon.


Air Hostess Academy  is another national player. Promoted by a husband and wife team. Sapna Gupta is the public face of this institute which  has been in existence for over 10 years. Now it has a network of 35 centres with 8000 students.


Flying-Cats, a regional player from North-India, has all-India ambitions. It uses high profile Bollywood stars like Malaika Arora and Kareena Kapoor to promote the course. This institute has tied up with Annamalai University to offer a dual course. A BBA from Annamalai and Air Hostess training from Flying Cats.


Aptech, one of the leaders in Computer training also has entered this business recently through its Avalon Aviation Academy. They also offer a variety of diplomas in various aspects of aviation. They have a unique promise, 100 % job guarantee or 50% money back.


Kingfisher Training Academy has been promoted by Kingfisher Airlines. This academy started in Mumbai, but has now become operational in all metros. Besides, the one- year program, they offer a six-month program too.


A back of the envelope calculations tells me that this business would easily be training 40,000 students annually and generating Rs. 500 crore revenue for the promoters.



If the Indian aviation industry grows at 25% p.a, like it did till 2007-08 and it implements its aircraft acquisition plans, there will be 40,000 vacancies of cabin-crew jobs by the year 2010. Typically, such jobs pay Rs 15,000-Rs 16000 per month. During last two years alone, over 60,000-70,000 trained students from these institutes have been found waiting for placement. Some may be employed by the hospitality industry, but that is most likely a stop-gap job for most.


With the fuel prices going through the roof and the industry reeling under losses, many Indian airlines have cut down their flights. Laying off cabin-crew will follow. If the crude prices come down and the Indian aviation gets back to its growth path, there will be jobs for these aspirants. I do not expect more than one out of three to get an airline cabin-crew job.


A  violent shake-out is imminent. Readers may recall what happened to the IT training industry in 2001-02. The entry barriers to these businesses are low, so are exit barriers.


– G. Mohan.



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