Category Archives: Manila Manohar

Kochi Corporation All Geared For Metro Status

Kochi-night-660x330Kochi, The Queen of Arabian Sea has turned grander and glorious over the last century. As Kochi Corporation celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year, the city has a lot to narrate about its evolution from a very small princely state in India to one of the fastest growing cities in the country today.

The history of Kochi is quite intriguing. For centuries now, Kochi has served as a seat for many foreign rulers who have contributed in shaping the city. The King of Kochi always remained as a title head only, as the city persisted under foreign invasion for several years. Prior to independence and joining the Indian Union, the city was being colonized by Portuguese, Dutch as well as English. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry still cherish the reminiscence of its eventful past by preserving its antique essence even today.

The progress of the city post-independence is indeed envious to many a tier II city of the country. In the recent days, Kochi has marked its place in global sports map by being the venue of Under 17 World Cup of 2017 and the most electrifying ground of ISL seasons. The city’s annual tourism influx equals about four times its population. The International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam, makes Kochi the premier port gateway to South India. Greater connectivity, first Indian tier II city to propose metro rail, venue of two submarine cables landing in India etc; the chart of credits goes on. CBRE has termed Kochi as the next real estate hub of the country scrutinizing the fact that the city has outstanding facilities and it the favorite tier II destination of International IT Corporates.

Kochi which is a cocktail of modernity as well as ethnicity, still has a lot more to achieve; especially when it comes to some basic facilities like housing, waste management, water supply and roads. Other projects like Kochi-Mattancherry-Central City, Inland Waterway Development, Integrated Public Transport Mode, Smart City (Second phase) which are in pipeline is expected to add pride to the Queen, who over the years and still continue spreading her splendor, bestowing wealth and welfare to her folks.


Kerala to Create Land Bank of 5,000 Acres to Promote Industries

industryThe Dearth of industrial land has been a major hurdle that kept the investors aloof from the state of Kerala. Now, the Government of Kerala is finding a new way out to sort out the issue.Mr. A.C. Moideen, Minister for Industries, said the state will be rolling out a comprehensive solution for the land scarcity and would create a land bank of 5,000 acres. An Investor Promotion and Facilitation Act is being planned to catalyze the process as well.

Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) will be the nodal agency to eradicate obstacles faced by the industries in the State and Kerala Investment Fund Board (KIFB) would be brought into for the financial support of the programme.

This announcement is against the backdrop of several engagements to turn Kerala the most investor-friendly state in the country.It is anticipated that, using the land bank, integrated manufacturing clusters would be developed at key locations across the Industrial corridors with world class infrastructure, road and rail connectivity for freight movement.

The statement sprinkles hope on the upcoming endeavors which essentially require a considerable area of industrial land. The announcement which is likely to boost up the industrial atmosphere of the state has opened up vast opportunities to those players across sectors such as Petrochemical, IT & Electronics, Power, Infrastructure, Manufacturing & Allied industries.

Blue Whale Suicides: India Needs to Focus More on Teen Mental Health

bbbb.jpgIn the last few weeks, many of the Indian cities were shaken up and taken aback by a series of teenage suicides that all linked to the deadly blue whale game. The shocking reports have created reasonable alarm among parents as well as authorities. The questions raised by these ill-fated incidents aren’t trivial. The teen suicides point to a carelessly overlooked portion of our public health agenda – teen mental health.

Teenagers generally take up deadly risks because they are vulnerable and prone to seek attention as well as acceptance. Apparently, the teenagers who were addicted to such lethal games might be going through psychological issues like lack of focus, interest, feeling inadequate or incompetent. Such individuals are tempted towards the so called deadly adventures that give them a sense of self-satisfaction. This particular urge for the teens to defy the socially accepted norms might end up in disasters.

Parents and schools have a very vital role play in supporting the disturbed teen minds. If a child is seemingly lost, lonely and depressed, parents and school managements must be potent enough to identify it and discuss it with the child. All possible measures to get them involved socially and divert their mind by providing activities or giving them something new to learn.

World Health Organisation (WHO) survey in 2007 in India revealed that 25 percent of boys and 24 percent of girls between 13 and 15 years of age experience depression. The suicide rate among the age group 15-29 is 35 per 100,000 people. India’s National Mental Health Survey released in 2017 revealed that 150 million Indians including teenagers need mental health services.

All these figures underpin the need of allocating more funds on teen mental health service. Though there are counseling departments working in a few district hospitals and medical colleges, its number has to be considerably increased. Opening more health departments to address adolescent mental health disorders is thus the need of the hour.  The government is suggested to seriously look into teen mental health, a disregarded yet a very important aspect in building up a psychologically healthy country.




Can Celebrities Take the Responsibility for Erroneous Endorsing?

Female writing on paper

Celebrity branding has been a time tested campaign mode for the last several decades. Direct endorsement and even surrogate ads create a sense of authenticity for the product. At the same time, there have been several criticisms against these celebrity endorsements. The major allegation was that the celebrities take little responsibility for the quality of the product, whether it is a safety pin, soap, shampoo, beverage or a high end Sports Utility Vehicle. Moreover, they may not be even using the brands they are endorsing. But at the other end, the customers go after the product, blindly attracted to his or her popularity and believing the words of the sports star or film stars in the ad. When we analyze it closely, a certain amount of cheating is involved in these endorsements.

Numerous issues related to celebrity branding have led to a thought of even establishing a censoring mechanism for ads. There have been several law suits in the courts, challenging the quality of products and hollow claims in advertisements.

Do brand ambassadors be made liable for misleading ads? When the company and advertisement agencies are solely responsible for the service/product quality and the ad concept respectively, the celebrities stands as an appropriate medium to promote the concept. A large number of customers tend to blindly believe brands promoted by celebrities, purely out of the emotional bonding with them.  Owing to this reason, the stars cannot runway from their responsibility to these customers. In this scenario, whether stars have to be penalized for the misleading advertisements need to be pondered over by considering every side of the topic. Noting that celebrities honoured with Padma awards are brand ambassadors of several products, the subject has to be well-considered to eradicate this unfavorable inclination in the advertising industry.

Reportedly, the government has said that a Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation of penalties against endorsers of misleading advertisements is under consideration. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution recommends a fine of Rs. 1 million and imprisonment up to two years or both for first time offence and fine of Rs. 5 million and imprisonment for five years for the second time offence for celebrity endorsers.

The crux of all these is that, stringent provisions to tackle misleading advertisements, as well as to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities are soon to be enforced. An execution wing of the government will be entrusted to monitor the credibility of the advertisements as well as it would not be open to a consumer to independently press charges against the ambassador in a court for false and misleading ads. Prior to implementing all these measures, it is very significant for the government to clarify the definitions relating to misleading, false and objectionable advertisements.





Digital Marketing Surges as Traditional Ads Face Brunt of GST

AdsAdvertising is a high-demand requisite to promote business growth. Markets use this unique tool to educate customers about the brands. Goods and Services Tax (GST), the revolutionary tax reform, would probably result in major transformations in India’s advertising trends. Advertising agencies that come under the broad umbrella of service sector are liable to pay 18 percent tax for traditional advertising under the GST regime, up 3 percent from the previous rate of 15 percent.

GST has indeed negatively impacted on print and TV advertising in the country.  The brands that are the ultimate benefactors of the service are the obvious payers of this tax. Thus, traditional advertisements have turned out to be an additional expense for several companies.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Thus the burden of extra tax on traditional advertising unlocks the endless opportunities of a much cost effective alternative – digital advertising.  Reportedly, digital advertising which is growing at a fast pace of 14 percent per annum in India has entered the club of $1 billion or above industries.  With the decline of traditional advertising, the overall advertising share of the digital media is expected to double by 2020, means 100 percent more of the Pre-GST era.

As India is celebrating a digital revolution, the nation is expected to have 800 million smartphone users by 2020 and this is likely to catalyse digital advertising in the coming days. Having an edge over TV and print advertising on the basis of more interactive and engaging content, advertising on a digital platform becomes cost effective as well as highly penetrating. Moreover, the unprecedented progress of social media, native advertising, and content marketing on a comparatively low cost is luring both customers and marketers towards digital advertising.

Advertising industry have been facing certain hiccups and teething problems after the rollout of GST. The leading brands have already felt the major drift in the advertising sector. It’s high time for emerging brands to turn into utilizing the seamless opportunities of digital advertising and marketing. In this scenario of extra tax on conventional advertising, digital advertising can play a counterbalancing act as it is equipped with smart and cost effective solutions. In order to rationalize advertising goals, big and medium companies are ready to spend their major chunk of advertising budget for digital advertising, thus opening up new vistas.

NITI Aayog’s PPP project, an excellent slot for private players in health sector

Indian policy think-tank, the National Institution for Transforming India or NITI Aayog, has recently unveiled a grand plan to effectively privatize district hospitals in Tier-I and Tier-II cities. The new strategy is in the light of the realization that the current capacities in public facilities to manage disease conditions in cardiology, pulmonology and oncology are practically insufficient in Tier-I and Tier-II towns. Most civil hospitals in many states are not equipped to effectively address the medical requirements of many non-communicable diseases prevailing in the country. It is understood that the scheme will be initially piloted in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc.

The project will be a prospective opportunity for private health service providers who wish to strike a public – private participation or PPP. In this scheme, private partners will be able to cherry-pick the most lucrative districts where patients have a higher paying capacity. Addressing the major financial concern in PPP model, the scheme will also provide an escrow account for private partners that would reduce the risk of delayed reimbursement by the government. Providers would also secure access to utilize all public facilities such as ambulance services, blood banks, mortuaries etc.

In a nut shell, the new initiative of NITI Aayog is government’s solid attempt of handing over public assets to private partners and a clear abdication of the risky duty of providing service where government capacities are totally insufficient. As Health care is primarily a state subject, state governments are expected to soon look into adopting PPP projects in association with respectable private hospitals. Given the large presence in the sector, a well-defined role in the provision of NCD care is welcome but has to be accommodated within a well-designed framework of Universal Health Coverage that integrates pre-paid primary, secondary and tertiary care through a combination of tax funding and social insurance. The proposed PPP model will not only improve the deliverance of appropriate and equitable care to the public but also will prove how the private partners can effectively intervene in reviving the health sector of India.

NHP 2017 revives PPP model to achieve global health standard

National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 envisioned to build on the progress made by the last NHP, is primarily to address problems with respect to the three A’s, ie, access, affordability and accountability of healthcare services in India. Since the last 15 years, the healthcare context of the country has drastically changed in four major dimensions. The country witnessed a growing burden of some non-communicable and infectious diseases and a rise in catastrophic expenditure of health care. At the same time, India has also observed a considerable progress in the healthcare sector and also enhanced fiscal capacity due to size-able economic growth. In this scenario, NHP 2017 was the need of the hour to address these factors effectively.
NHP 2017 foresees to widen primary healthcare network in India, enabling to cover a larger section of people. Primary health packages are upgraded from a very basic one to a comprehensive package including geriatric, palliative and rehabilitative care services. Up to two-third of the fund has been allocated to resource primary, secondary and tertiary care. The guidelines on finding sustainable solutions to defend the surge of lifestyle disease are another notable annexures in the document.
This is the first time in India; a national policy has so intensely recognized the role of private sector in taking the healthcare sector of the nation to the next level. Realizing the scale of PPP model in the sector, the government proposes to help private hospitals subsidize costs for people below the poverty line. Combining the advantages of less expense to the government and better service from a private partner, the goal of universal healthcare could be achieved faster and more comprehensively.
“I am quite hopeful about the outcome of the implementation of NHP 2017 since it looks at problems and solutions holistically with the private sector as strategic partners. As a private entity, we are wholeheartedly willing to extend all support to this policy;” says Dr. N Pratap Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Meditrina Hospitals, pioneers in PPP model SIH cardiac care units across India and Maldives.
When most of the foreign countries including the UK and Australia follow an approach to hospital PPPs focusing on facilities, India on contrast has initiated more comprehensive service delivery PPPs. Reportedly, India will end up with a total bed density of 1.84 per 1,000 people against the global average of 2.9 and WHO guideline of 3.5 in 2022. If the figures has to be improved, the private sector has to be successfully intervened not only in investments but also in project planning and optimum of capital at all income levels, especially the rural and urban poor sectors.
Text by: Manila Manohar |
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