February 24, 2020
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Competition has really made BSNL up the ante in its ongoing telecom war with the private sector. Recently, in Calcutta, BSNL changed the STD lines of all STD/ PCO booths with a number that starts with 8. The reasons aren’t clear yet, but many feel this is to block private players from tying up with booth owners or persuading them to dial through their networks. Also interesting is the strange Calcutta corporate connection with PCOs. Just eight ‘PCOs’, all at 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, generate Rs 3 lakh of revenue every month for BSNL, against an average of Rs 20,000 for other PCOs. Surprised? Don’t be, for the address belongs to the Oberoi Grand, the metro’s premier 5-star hotel! Similarly, do you know who the largest agent of BSNL’s virtual calling card here is? Berger Paints!

Seems like Sanjeev Goenka, the outgoing CII president, is awfully fond of the word "outstanding". He used it at least a dozen times at the CII annual session late last month. Every speaker was an outstanding this or an outstanding that—whether it was a bland Sushma Swaraj speech or a sentiment-driven Pramod Mahajan, Goenka described every oration, discourse or lecture as, invariably, outstanding. Such praises unnerved the media cell of CII, which had a hard time while composing a press release on, especially, Swaraj’s speech which had nothing new to offer.

Style Bhai
When it comes to organising its annual do, CII sure knows how to do it in style. This year, the organisation had a cyber cafe for participants and also used the lunch hall at the venue to display advertisements on large screens. Alongside were stalls to display wares made and sold by member-companies. With the recent appointment of BJP MP Vinod Khanna to head its entertainment committee, CII doesn’t need advice in such areas. But the last word for style at the conference was ITC chairman Yogi Deveshwar in his coolest sartorial best: tall and elegant in white shirts with Nehru collars, khakis and Peshawaris. Quipped an amused industrialist: "Yogi can afford to enjoy himself, he has hardly any competition!"

Quiet Entry
Warring giants—refer to the Bombay Dyeing-Reliance tussle—are an integral part of the annals of Indian corporate history. Now it seems even the Tatas have entered the fray, discreetly. Recently, when the Standing Committee on Finance rebuked the government for allowing RIL to bid for IPCL, officials from Vaishnavi Communications—the PR outfit that handles the Tata account—called up journalists explaining the significance of the matter and trying to persuade them to carry the story. Now wasn’t that digressing from the brief?

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