Mexican Carlos Slim richest in the world; Mukesh tops India

Although China has more billionaires than India, ten of Asia's top 25 are Indian

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has emerged as the richest person in the world with $53.50 billion in assets, while Indian industrialist Mukesh Ambani ranks fourth with $29 billion in the US magazine Forbes annual list of world's top billionaires, reports PTI.

Mr Slim is followed by William Gates III (popularly known as Bill Gates) with a net worth of $53 billion and Warren Buffet at the third spot with assets worth $47 billion.

Non-resident Indian (NRI) billionaire Lakshmi Mittal with a net worth of $28.70 billion ranks fifth while Mukesh's younger brother Anil Ambani is at the 36th spot with $13.70 billion.

There are 1,011 billionaires in the world now, up from 793 a year ago.

Mr Gates has held the top spot for 14 of the past 15 years in the past. "The Microsoft founder is now worth $53 billion, up $13 billion from a year ago," Forbes said.

There are just two Indians in the list of top 10 richest persons across the world.

The only woman to be on the top ten list, at number ten, is German entrepreneur Karl Albrecht, who founded the Aldi supermarkets and has a net worth of $23.50 billion.

The United States has 403 billionaires—the most in the world, followed by China that beat out Russia to grab the second spot. Although China has larger number of billionaires than India, ten of Asia's top 25 are Indian while China has one. Hong Kong and Japan each have five and China has one in Asia's top 25. New York has more billionaires than any other city.

The youngest billionaire who has a net worth of $4 billion is 25-year-old Mark Zuckerberg who created Facebook.

The list of Indian billionaires include Mukesh Ambani and LN Mittal in the top two along with Azim Premji ($17 billion), Anil Ambani ($13.70 billion), Shashi and Ravi Ruia ($13 billion), Savitri Jindal ($12.20 billion), Kushal Pal Singh ($9 billion), Kumar Birla ($7.90 billion), Sunil Mittal ($7.80 billion) and Anil Agarwal ($6.40 billion).


Polo: The car with a hole?

Volkswagen is indulging in an expensive innovation in India when the brand salience doesn’t exist

I am all for media innovations. The route helps smash the raging clutter, and more importantly, it helps provide a great opportunity for a brand to further embellish its core values, and enhance the brand salience. In my many years in the advertising biz as a creative director, I would DEMAND that the team think out of the box when it came to innovations. So that the idea for the brand could find interesting new avenues to breathe in.
What also helped our cause was this: scarred by the sizzling competition, and fighting over crumbs from a limited ad pie, the media proprietors were only too willing to offer time and space for wild innovations. And in recent times, this desperation has become even more evident. In fact, these are days of paid news!! 

In this context, Volkswagen’s strategy of digging a hole on every page of The Times of India’s supplement to announce the launch of their hatchback called Polo caught my attention. Clearly dug by the German carmaker to be heard above all the din being made by so many auto giants. Fair enough. It got noticed. And talked about. But here’s my problem with this so-called innovation: apart from an inconvenient (for the reader) gimmick, what does the car cut-out achieve for the branding? I mean, that hole, cut to the shape of a car, can be used by any auto-maker, right? How is that trick distinctive for Polo? Completely beats me. Why indulge in an expensive innovation when the brand salience doesn’t exist? Unless they are planning to sell Polos with holes on the windscreens! (Okay, that’s a bad joke). Methinks this idea would have been a cool innovation for Nestlé’s Polo, the mint with a hole. Now that makes immense brand sense. In fact, during my stint with Lowe, Delhi, where I was handling Polo, we used to dabble in various innovative ideas for the brand. And now I feel like kicking myself… why didn’t I think of it?
So, aside from the fact that the holes carry little value for the brand, there’s also the minor detail that it doesn’t augur well for publications to be digging holes in their pages—it’s a huge irritant for the readers. Recession or no recession. Already those damned half pagers make it very inconvenient to hold the newspaper. So then what next? A cut-out of a skyscraper when a loaded builder wants to innovate? Why not? Anything’s possible these days. As long as there are no holes in the news itself! But that, as they say, is another story altogether! 



sanjeev tiwari

7 years ago

though the car in the whole might have been a un usual idea, and surely it got noticed even though it was a major irritant. But i am sure TOI must have charged them a bomb and surely it was not cost effecetive. i feel these days the news papers are simply not bothered about reader's convenience. what with those half page ones.


‘Most people don’t prefer to fight with their bankers’

The former deputy governor of the RBI says that training of banking staff can help change their attitude

The questions and answers (Q&As) below are part of a discussion that took place on International Women’s Day at a financial literacy workshop organised by Moneylife Foundation. Kishori J Udeshi, Chairperson of the Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) answered the questions asked by the audience. Earlier, the Moneylife Foundation felicitated three women activists who have made a difference to society, fighting for various causes and standing up for the middle class. Ms Udeshi, the former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, felicitated Ms Indrani Malkani of the Malabar Hill Residents Association, Ms Anandini Thakoor of the Khar Residents Association and Ms Sumaira Abdulali of the Awaaz Foundation. Here is the second part of the Q&A.

Audience (ML): In many cases, there is no cash in bank ATMs. What does the customer do? How do we hold banks accountable for this?
Kishori J Udeshi (KJU):
This is unfortunate. I do not have an answer to this. I am sure this not a regular feature that they (the ATMs) don’t have cash every day. If they don’t, then you should file a complaint. I don’t think you’ll have written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on this, which can put it to rest. Honestly, I have never heard of this issue, but since it is of recent nature, we could look into it. What we used to hear, and that was addressed by us, was that customers were withdrawing cash and the debit went through but no cash was dispensed. Sometimes, they would get the cash and then there would be double debits and then the accounts would go below minimum. Therefore, we addressed that issue and said that banks must compensate within 12 days and also pay interest on the delayed portion if necessary.

In an unrelated matter, some banks insisted that all fixed deposit holders must insure. The problem is that people don’t fight for their rights. Only when BCSBI took it up did they (the banks) make it optional. Anything that is forced is violating the code principles. Remember, the principal right of a banking customer is choice.

ML: What is the procedure for getting a complaint resolved with a bank?
Each bank has a grievance redressal policy. Each bank has some pointers that (spell out) what you should do, if you have a grievance. It is on their websites, if you want to read it. Having said that, if you have a complaint, (and) you take it up with the bank, the branch manager is required to address it within a month. If he does not do so then he is required to escalate the matter to his higher authority. And if he does that and it is still not addressed within say, six weeks’ time, you can take it up with the banking ombudsman. They are all over India, in every state. But if you go to a banking ombudsman without doing the earlier procedure, then they are not required to take (up) your complaint. But now the RBI has said, as most people don’t prefer to fight with their bankers (they prefer to cry on the shoulder of the banking ombudsman), even if they come directly, attend to it. So the banking ombudsman does see to a complaint even if you have not complained to the bank. Now after that if the matter is not settled in your favour, you can appeal because there is an appellate authority. And then after that, if you still are not satisfied, you can go to the consumer court.  

It is only after the BCSBI was set up and only when the codes were evolved that service conditions and negligence has fallen within the banking ombudsman. This was not the case earlier—it was only loans and charges-related disputes between a customer and a bank, which were being considered, but now the whole ambit has widened. So whatever your rights as enshrined in the code, if they are violated, the banking ombudsman has to adjudicate.

You can file a complaint online also. Actually, every branch is required to display the name and address of the banking ombudsman—it is compulsory. And if you don’t find it in your branch, you can complain.{break}

ML: Are transactions through Internet banking safe?
Let me tell you about credit-card transactions. If you know you have not carried out such a transaction, then I suggest that you see the code. It is written there that the bank will have to prove that you undertook those transactions. Please read the code.
ML: How can we open accounts in the names of say, our maids or servants?
The easiest way would be if one of you (husband or wife) had an account with the bank for six months then if you were to say that I know this person, then from your reference they should be able to open the account. But that account is a no-frills account. But if you have an account with a private bank, let me tell you they don’t want maids to come into their air-conditioned portals. So if you are willing to have an account with a public sector bank or any other bank then maybe your maid will be able to open an account. I am sorry but that is the ground reality. I don’t know how to tackle this issue. It is difficult but that divide and disconnect is still there and they don’t want some class of people to enter. For the present, avail an account from where you can get it.

ML: We have seen cases where bankers have robbed pensioners of their savings through various deductions...
I feel very disheartened by this because we have reviewed the code and in 2009 we have included this point. It had hurt me to the core, when I have seen pensioners come to me with complaints saying that they were never told about the deductions. In the case of one woman who could not walk, she said that she did not know this and that the banker told her to come after five years when she would get her amount. And happily she went after five years, when the banker told her not to worry as the amount is entirely credited to her account. When she got her passbook and checked, she saw that the amount she received was not what was told to her. It was less by at least Rs5,000 or Rs7,000. For a pensioner, even Rs7,000 makes a big difference. So she went from pillar to post—she went to the Indian Banks Association (IBA) and the banking ombudsman. I was so upset with the whole thing, I phoned up the chairman and told him to give her the Rs7,000. But that’s not the way to do things normally. So now, we have reviewed the code and have introduced it as a system. If the banker doesn’t explain and check if the customer has understood it and the customer is given an option form, then they are liable, because they can’t just deduct an amount like that.

ML: What do we do when banks lose our crucial documents?
They are required to not only make good the loss of documents, but also compensate (the customer) if necessary. We have also said that if your dues have been settled, every bank has to return your documents within 15 days or compensate you for the delay.

ML: In my case, one bank asked me to provide my wife’s separate residential address proof under the KYC norms. Is this required at all?
I have not heard of this. But actually, it is not necessary. Some bankers will forget everything and set up accounts. It all depends on that individual. We find many people at the bank counter, people down below with attitude or negligence that contributes to bad service. It is baffling why no action is taken. It is because there is no system of reward and punishment so this continues. No action is taken at the ground level. What is the use of saying we stand for the code or financial inclusion and then you do this? They ask her 50 questions on her age, address and what not, then who would want to hold an account? Something should be done about staff attitude and it can come through training. You need to have the right people operating those posts.

ML: How can single women protect themselves against discrimination while taking loans?
Banks can get (off) by doing this because they do not write (down) such things on paper. They can’t have it is an official policy. They feel there is a risk in lending to women—whether they are credit-worthy, whether they will get their money back. Where there is no proof, it’s very difficult to fight and file a complaint and take it as a grievance redressal, because this becomes a credit decision and I cannot interfere in a credit decision. To say there is discrimination, I need proof. I can take up the case informally, (with) no guarantee of success.

ML: Can banks charge certain fees for updating passbooks?
Banks cannot charge any fee for updating passbooks. Only if you ask for a second statement of account because you have lost your first statement then they may charge some fee. They cannot charge you for the first time. If you go to another branch other than your home branch of the same bank and they are charging some fee for updating your passbook, it is wrong. I will look into it.




6 years ago

Well complaining against a banker becomes easier with the address of a redressal forum.However anyone who has ever done so will tell you they are an eyewash (HDFC BANK)they will send you an automated response make you wait for 3,4,7 days .Then they will be in a position to tell you that that the matter is being reveiwed.Wherein actually they will tell the respective branch to issue a half apology letter that will say this was not our intention/understanding.The actual truth being , they are just waiting for you to tire out and accept their miserable explanation.My experience being know fully well you are going to get an honest response but stand up and let them know what they are,truthfully .Integrity appears to be a word most Bankers must have at some point heard ,with your problem do remind them.


7 years ago

My experience twice with the Banking Ombudsman in Mumbai has made me realise that they are either in the pay of private banks or have no concern to look after the complaints of small customers. In my case, the Ombudsman would not make HSBC make it MANDATORY for the bank to send the customer a statement of accounts on the breaking of a FD prior maturity. I would have lost about Rs.5000 if I had not been vigilant and caught HSBC. The bank said it was not their policy to automatically send the statement to the customer but the latter could REQUEST for it. Why should the customer be made to be obligated for his own money? The creation of these worthless Ombudsmen is at our expense after all.

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