Companies & Sectors
Auto Expo Delhi 2012—a second look

The Auto Expo is likely to deteriorate into a melee from the mela it currently is if the organisers—CII, SIAM and ACMA—do not take steps to work on the larger picture. Maybe there need to be two distinct fairs, one for the crowds and one for the serious

The crowds as well as most of the reportage on the Auto Expo in Delhi tend to concentrate on new vehicle launches. This time around, mismanagement and sheer sloth seems to be getting centre-stage in the perception management arena, mainly because the organisers—both the private and public sector—are visibly still stuck in the Socialist era. Resources are set aside to squire so-called VVIPs around while the rest of the Expo rots.

But there are great stories waiting to be written as well as reported on, and if they are not making the cut, then the reasons are many.

Location - enter from Gate 2, closer to the Bhairon Road side, instead of the more popular Gates 5 and 7 on the Mathura Road and Delhi Metro side. This is where you find the tech and component pavilions and stalls.

Press Conferences - business media reports largely about subjects when invited by PR companies, and would seldom go walkabout. Besides, ‘selection’ for press conferences is still what most media hankers for, for obvious reasons.

Pretty Girls - or rather, models displaying their wares, draw the crowds. That’s a simple fact, as discussed with friends in the security business, looking on at the hordes entering the car and bike pavilions.

Lack of Knowledge – that’s the biggest reason. Most in the motoring and business media would not know a variable drive from a valve seat, and tensioner means the HR department. And they don’t seem to be paying for their own cars and bikes lately too.

Unless all of us have been asleep, the real story in India not being written is about the growth by leaps and bounds, quality and quantity, in the components industry, and now it seems to have caught up as well as overtaken the infotech industry, too. This may be the non-glamour part of the automobile industry, but their stalls display a finesse and sleekness which reveals much more than core engineering capabilities—as a senior person at one of the older component companies explained, even the smallest active component they now make has more embedded and variable software in it than the computers they used had 10 years ago.

The other common tendency in this industry is a request by even the senior-most employees not to be quoted—or photographed. One reason for that is many of these companies are either family-owned, in which case a sure way to get fired is to take the individual publicity route, as many in the other automobile and component companies have discovered over the last decade or so. The professionally-managed and owned companies are even stricter, with their corporate communications and PR minders hovering around, reducing all sensible discussion to zero.

But old friendships and strict confidentialities work—and fact also remains, these companies are at the exhibition not just for business but for other reasons, too. And for that they do need the thinking media for propagation. However, the media is currently on a storyline about a recession, so the simple fact that India’s component industry is soaring upwards does not fit. Blue and red pencil strikes again. So the industry keeps quiet, treads softly, and goes about what it came to Auto Expo for with minimal fuss.

Scouting for talent is one purpose for example, and keen spotters have their eyes open for aspirant young people looking at making a life in the core automobile industry further. At four different component pavilions I was told that they take such bright youngsters aside, chat with them and maybe do a cup of coffee and snacks while they quietly video record this and obtain their bio-datas, and then take things further on. Brilliant—so if you are young and looking for an opportunity, this is where you need to go. But you have to know what goes inside a modern motor vehicle. Even I am surprised—and I was taking engines out and overhauling them 40 years ago.

Another one, more interestingly, is the inner compulsion by some of the components manufacturers to grow into the automobile industry themselves. More than a few have a better pulse on the realities of the Indian automobile consumer than the so-called marketing whiz-kids at the auto companies, and are also looking at manufacturers like Sonalika, AMW, TVS and others who have emerged as automobile manufacturers in their own rights from the components route. Most automobile manufacturing is, in any case, about supply chains and aggregation.

And for that, they need that publicity, as well as exchange of ideas with other component, technology and sub-assembly manufacturers. Which is also why a typical fabric and garments manufacturer like Raymonds is present as a components manufacturer.

Yet another reason, very valid this time around, is that the China story on automobile components appears to be going through some sort of an undefined shift, in cost and quality. This has resulted in foreign as well as Indian interest in sourcing from Indian component and sub-assembly manufacturers, who also double up as technology and design facility providers. One-stop-shop for many and it was interesting to see how many of the component stalls had quiet conference rooms and meeting areas on top of their stalls, away from the noise and distraction—where the real work of such exhibitions was being carried out.

For the serious visitor, this is the place to be. Go for it, relatively uncrowded, and a real look into the core of the automobile industry. And from that point of view, hats off to the organisers, though so much more could also be done for a larger good. CII, SIAM and ACMA—for this, take a bow.

Important sector absentees from the Auto Expo:

1) The insurance industry. For a cost of ownership that is close to 3%-4% of cost of vehicle per annum, one would have thought that at least some of the private and public sector automobile insurance companies would have been present.

2) The training industry. Fact—there is a great shortage of good professional drivers in India. While there are high-end training camps for aspiring race drivers, where is the industry on this important subject? Who is going to drive your modern trucks and buses?

3) The automobile associations. When it comes to utilising benefits from the public exchequer, the automobile associations are right there. But with this motoring boom, where are they lately, other than at political functions?

4) The various elements of safe driving on the roads include better road engineering, emission management, traffic discipline and design for safety of other road users. In addition, the issue of rampant misuse of tolls, social aspects of better public transport and much more—all these need to be displayed and brought to the fore too.

Auto Expo, and I have been covering it for 15+ years now, is likely to deteriorate into a melee from the mela it currently is if the organisers—CII, SIAM and ACMA—do not take steps to work on the larger picture. Maybe there need to be two distinct fairs, one for the crowds and one for the serious.

And the larger picture is simple—we, the consumers, and our holistic needs, require to be placed first and foremost. We need both.

That is not happening at the Auto Expo, where vast sums of money are collected at every juncture from entry to hiked-up food prices and rentals, and delivery standards are miserable as well as pathetic. Wake up call, CII, SIAM and ACMA...

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.) 




5 years ago

Your Information is so Informative.
online business Delhi

pinakin mamtora

5 years ago

there is a simple solution: let all auto companies resolve to abstain from displaying female models & focus on only automobile how only the serious auto-lovers come to the exhibition while the skin-gazers keep away. But, will they do it...or just keep cribbing?



In Reply to pinakin mamtora 5 years ago

Dear Pinakin Mamtora, thank you for writing in, and I couldn't agree with you more.

Matter of fact have suggested this often enough to the champions at CII, ACMA and SIAM - where the ladies who work are certainly dressed in a far more professional manner, especially bearing in mind the winter here, but they are in another world it seems. Ticket sales and revenue generation is the only yardstick here, everything else be damned.


Is the SHG Bank Linkage program, version 2, to be rolled out from January 2012?

If SHG version 2 is pushed through without a proper and objective understanding of how the SHG Bank linkage program currently functions at the grass-roots (and the path that it has traversed in the past), it could become a recipe for disaster as has happened with much of Indian microfinance lately…

I recently heard it through the grapevine that SHG Bank Linkage program version 2 is to be rolled out, beginning this month. According to official sources that requested anonymity, the new avataar of the SHG Bank Linkage Program (called as SHG version 2), is to be piloted in 30 districts. I am rather perplexed that this is happening so suddenly and without, the necessary stock taking of version 1 of the SHG Bank Linkage program. In my opinion, the SHG Bank Linkage program (as it is currently implemented) suffers many serious shortcomings that would need to be addressed before another expensive experiment begins in India.

Talking about experiments, I have a very innocent question—what is the relationship of version 2 of the SHG Bank Linkage program to the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), which is supposedly spending huge amounts of public money towards building peoples’ institutions at the grass-roots?  Readers of Moneylife may recall that yet another program for revitalizing peoples’ institutions is already underway in the guise of co-operative reforms. And all of them are trying to achieve almost similar (if not the same) impact at the grass-roots. Therefore, I sincerely believe that much can be gained from convergence of these different efforts to build local peoples’ institutions at the grass-roots. Without any doubt, the “powers that be”, must look towards achieving this mandatory convergence so that—mistakes are not multiplied and—synergistic benefits accrue to the country

 If preventing duplication and ensuring convergence is one aspect, a second crucial issue is learning from past experience. Take the case of SHG Bank Linkage program version 2. If indeed it is to be rolled out as a pilot in 30 districts beginning January 2012, it is about time that we had a serious and honest evaluation of the SHG Bank Program (version 1) so that not only appropriate lessons are learnt (going forward) but more importantly, they are also (subsequently) factored into the design of SHG bank Linkage program version 2. Otherwise, we stand to lose precious public money as has happened over the last 60 years in several such programs. And self-evaluation by NABARD or its funders/donors or SHG promoting institutions or related partners/stakeholders will not constitute a fair assessment of the SHG Bank Linkage program (version 1) as there is so much conflict of interest. Therefore, I do hope that NABARD, which has pioneered the SHG Bank Linkage program, will facilitate a candid evaluation by a neutral (and eminent) group of people so that real problems are identified and dealt with and critical issues are not swept under the carpet, as has usually been the case.

The need for an objective evaluation is best exemplified in the words of Dr YSP Thorat, former chairperson of NABARD, who used to repeatedly argue during his tenure, "We need to introspect with integrity as far as the SHG Bank Linkage program is concerned".

Likewise, as a former director of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) argued in an e-mail to this writer,

“It would be useful to focus also on the sarkari and the bank-linked SHG programme that was pioneered by NABARD. Their number is very large and so are the amounts involved. The sarkari SHGs are also getting large amount of bank loans under government pressure, and the lines between the two are getting blurred to the disadvantage of the genuine and healthy non-government SHGs. The state-sponsored SHGs are widely sponsored by local party functionaries, who rake off a part of the loans they broker, and there is a strong widespread impression that these loans don’t need to be repaid. How widespread this is, and how it has affected the health of the whole movement remains to be documented.”

My own personal experience of the SHG Bank Linkage program in the southern states suggests that the famous micro-finance agents—who caused the 2010 AP Microfinance crisis and also led to the downfall of the decentralized commercial NBFC-MFI model are now slowly but surely gaining a foothold of the SHG Bank Linkage program, as well. And please note that agents are just a tip of the iceberg and there is so much more happening there in terms of burgeoning growth of not-so-good practices.

Therefore, I hope that an honest evaluation will ultimately happen soon and in a subsequent article, I shall attempt to raise some critical questions on the SHG Bank linkage program (version 1) that would need to be answered by such an evaluation. Make no mistake. If SHG version 2 is pushed through without a proper and objective understanding of how the SHG Bank linkage program currently functions at the grass-roots (and the path that it has traversed in the past), it could become a recipe for disaster as has happened with much of Indian microfinance lately…

(Ramesh Arunachalam has over two decades of strong grass-roots and institutional experience in rural finance, MSME development, agriculture and rural livelihood systems, rural and urban development and urban poverty alleviation across Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. He has worked with national and state governments and multilateral agencies. His book—Indian Microfinance, The Way Forward, is the first authentic compendium on the history of microfinance in India and its possible future.)



brijesh patrik

5 years ago


gobinda thakuria

5 years ago

it may work . SHG monitoring should be regular and some financial aid to be added to the linked SHGs.

Headed nowhere: Weekly Market Report

Nifty is an indecisive phase

Positive cues from the global arena and higher economic indicators helped the share market close higher in the week. However, cautiousness prevailed ahead of the earnings season, which is expected to come in subdued, due to higher costs and interest rates. Besides, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) policy review will also be keenly watched.

The market closed the week with a gain of 3%, up from a 2% decline in the last week of December. The Sensex gained 413 points to settle at 15,868 and the Nifty closed the week at 4,754, up 130 points. The Nifty is an indecisive phase, with the events of next week giving it a direction.

The stock market started the New Year on a buoyant note following the Indian government’s announcement to allow qualified foreign investor (QFIs) to invest directly in the Indian stock market, a move which will help in attracting more foreign funds. Across-the-board buying by institutional investors helped the market log gains for the second day in a row on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the market snapped its two-day winning streak on mixed global cues, which resulted in a high degree of volatility. A setback in the PSU disinvestment process also weighed on the investors.

The market closed unchanged on Thursday even as the food inflation for the week ended 24th December turned negative as a weak opening of the European bourses saw the indices giving up their gain in the second half of trade.  The market closed flat with a positive bias on Friday on buying support in select blue-chips like Reliance Industries and Reliance ADAG stocks.

Among the sectoral indices, BSE Bankex and BSE Capital Goods closed with gains of 6% each while BSE Auto and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods settled unchanged.

Tata Motors (up 14%), ICICI Bank (up 10%), Larsen & Toubro, Tata Steel (up 8%) and HDFC Bank (up 6%) were the top Sensex gainers. The key losers on the index were Hero MotoCorp (down 9%), Bajaj Auto (down 8%), DLF (down 5%), Mahindra & Mahindra and Bharti Airtel (down 4% each).

The key gainers on the Nifty were Tata Motors (up 14%), Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Communications (up 11% each), ICICI Bank (up 10%) and L&T (up 9%). The losers were led by Hero MotoCorp (down 9%), Bajaj Auto (down 8%), DLF (down 5%), M&M and Bharti Airtel (down 4% each).

Manufacturing activity posted its best growth in six months at 54.2 in December, as per the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Commenting on the growth, Leif Eskesen, chief economist for India & ASEAN at HSBC said, “Manufacturing activity rebounded in December led by higher demand from both domestic and foreign clients, suggesting that the momentum in the sector is not quite as weak as official and more dated industrial output data would suggest.”

Food inflation entered the negative zone at (-) 3.36% for the week ended 24th December. This is the first time in almost six years, for which data with base year 2004-05 is available, that food inflation has shown a decline on an annual basis. With improvement in food price situation, the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council has favoured rate cuts by the RBI and hopes headline inflation, too, will fall below the projected 7% by March-end.

On the international front, developments in Europe, economic data from the US and the beginning of the earnings season will dominate the global markets next week. The meeting of French and German leaders on Monday will be closely watched. The US retail sales data, weekly jobless claims and consumer sentiment are due next week, but stocks will get direction from the earnings reports.


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)