Hyderabad: Telecom watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will issue guidelines that would address the problem of unsolicited mobile calls and SMSs later this month, reports PTI.
"We have held consultations on that (unsolicited calls and messaging). We issued a consultation paper also and held an open house discussion. We are finalising our regulation on unsolicited commercial communication. It should be out during the course of this month. We will issue guidelines," Dr J S Sharma, TRAI chairman told media persons on Monday.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had to face an embarrassing situation recently when finance minister Pranab Mukherjee himself got an unsolicited call form a telemarketing company.
A Raja, Union minister for telecommunications and IT immediately instructed the ministry to take steps against such calls that "encroach" into the privacy of telecom consumers.
TRAI's earlier attempts to curb the menace did not yield any results.
The Do-Not-Call registry introduced three years ago by the telecom regulator proved ineffective for various reasons.
"It is true it did not work (Do-Not-Call registry). We are looking at that. I do not want to give any points at this stage. We have to strengthen the do not call registry so that it is efficient and effective. Wait for few days. By the end of this month we will have necessary regulation in the place," Mr Sharma said on the sidelines of a discussion on the consultation paper on national broadband plan.
Replying to question on the BlackBerry issue, he said the TRAI was not consulted on the issue.
Speaking on the broadband plan, he said the TRAI has projected that by 2014, the country will have one billion mobile subscribers.
The idea is that we will be able to reach broadband connections to everybody including all the 220 million basic telephony subscribers, Mr Sharma said.
Auto companies are busy producing more and more vehicles to meet increasing demand in the domestic market. However, many dealers,sub-dealers are asking buyers to cough up 'on money' or premium for immediate deliveries
Remember the heady days of the mixed economy when an Indian who wanted to buy a bare-boned Bajaj scooter - or any other vehicle for that matter - had to wait for a few years to get actual delivery?
History - of sorts - seems to be repeating itself in the Indian automobile market. Only this time, it's a problem of plenty. Manufacturers are notching up impressive sales figures, but many customers, who want to buy a vehicle, are finding it difficult to get possession even after making full payment in cash. That's because various automobile dealers also want to earn some extra bucks in the boom.
Therefore, if you pay extra 'on money' (read premium) then you can get any vehicle that is being sold in the country immediately. If you would rather not spend the extra money, then you will have to wait for almost eight months (in a few cases) before you get possession. The scenario is the same for some top-selling cars and two-wheelers (especially scooters).
Moneylife contacted various dealers in Mumbai to ascertain the ground reality. If you wish to buy Toyota's 'Innova' diesel version, then it takes at least a month to receive the delivery of your car. Toyota Innova's petrol versions are not readily available with dealers in Mumbai and buyers have to wait for two to three months. This is surprising, considering that the demand for the petrol variant of the car is supposed to be on the lower side because of comparatively higher fuel cost and low mileage.
The wait for Toyota's sports utility vehicle 'Fortuner', which was launched on 24 August 2009, is even longer. The company had an order backlog of 6,000 units for its SUV within a month of its launch. Dealers have kept bookings on hold and there is a waiting period of six to seven months for new buyers. The Toyota Fortuner is the latest favourite toy among politicians and other well-connected individuals.
Toyota is not the only company whose vehicles are in good demand. From Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors to new entrant Nissan, all automakers are finding it difficult to meet the demands from markets.
"There is huge demand in the Indian automobile market. Our manufacturing facilities are coming up with around 1,00,000 vehicles a month. This is around 20% more than our capacity, every month. In fact, in the current fiscal, our production is around 24% more than last year. At the beginning of this fiscal, the growth estimates were around 12%-15% for the industry but much greater bounce has been seen in recent times, resulting in a shortfall in delivery and a (supply) mismatch in the market. As a counter-measure, we are trying to increase production at all our facilities by 'de-bottlenecking' operations and streamlining processes," said a Maruti Suzuki official, preferring anonymity.
During April-July, Indian automakers produced 898,429 passenger vehicles, an increase of 31.7%, while they sold 899,795 units, including 756,659 units in domestic markets. This represents a growth of 33.8% in domestic sales and 9% growth in exports from the year-ago period.
The mismatch between the automobile industry's expected growth rate and the higher-than-expected demand from consumers is believed to have led to this situation of customers having to wait for the vehicle of their choice.
However, what is the ground reality? If you are ready to pay the extra premium in cash, then you can buy and take delivery of almost any vehicle from dealers. In fact, we made a few unannounced visits to the warehouses of various dealers - where there is absolutely no space to stock existing inventories. On the other hand, auto manufacturers, riding high on current demand levels, are speeding up production schedules.
According to a Tata Motors official, the company has built up stocks to ensure that the demand for the forthcoming festive season can be met immediately. "Production is matched with demand, but at times a waiting period does develop for exceptional models in a range," the official said.
Consumers wanting to buy the Nissan Micra's variant 'XL' have to wait for one month while for the top-variant 'XV', the period is two to three months - depending on the city from where you want to make the purchase. "We hope to reduce the waiting period to less than two months. We had not factored that in our initial production period schedule but now because of our flexibility in the manufacturing line we are able to amend the production schedule. We have an order book of around 4,000 cars, out of which we have already delivered 2,000 cars," said an official from Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd.
To meet the increased demand, while auto manufacturers are ramping up production, others are setting up new plants at a faster pace. The Maruti Suzuki official said, "On a longer-term basis, we have invested in a new manufacturing plant that will add 2.5 lakh units to our capacities, by 2012. Efforts are underway to complete this new manufacturing plant faster, in view of the market demand situation."
The demand-supply mismatch and 'extra premium' scenario is prevalent in the two-wheeler segment as well. Surprisingly, scooters (almost all of which are gearless now) are in huge demand, even compared to the booming motorcycle market. The delivery period for scooters is also much more than motorcycles, with Honda's 'Activa' having a delivery period ranging from two months to eight months across the country. Many dealers across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are citing non-availability of stocks as the primary reason for the delivery problems, purposefully overlooking their overflowing warehouses.
A sub-dealer of Honda told Moneylife, "The on-road price of the Activa is Rs50,800, but if you want the delivery tomorrow then you have to pay (a) premium of about Rs10,000. For a new Activa, there is a waiting period of seven months. Earlier, there was a premium of Rs4,000 to Rs5,000 but now it has gone up to Rs10,000 due to supply problems."
This sub-dealer says that authorised dealers are not charging any premium for immediate delivery. He says, "You don't have to pay the premium if you buy it from authorised dealers but you have to book the bike first and wait for seven months. They will not take a single (extra) paisa on (the on-road price) but will put you on the waiting list."
According to other sub-dealer, who deals in all kind of two-wheelers, for an Activa, the delivery period is almost six months. If you want urgent delivery, then you can pay Rs63,000 and take possession of the vehicle. The other option is to pay 80% of Rs63,000 and take delivery in three days by paying the balance amount.
So have Indian automakers grossly underestimated demand for their products? With stronger rural demand expected due to the good monsoon and the festival season coming up, would delivery schedules hit more bumps on the road? Or are a few middlemen going to play spoilsport by creating an artificial scarcity for vehicles - further muddying the waters, on and above the production constraints that Indian Big Auto seems to be facing?
According a report by brokerage Sharekhan Ltd, "We expect dealers to utilise the festive period (24th September to 7th October) to step up inventories to feed the festive demand. The industry has been vocal about vendor-side constraints limiting the final output. Almost all the players indicated a 10%-15% volume loss during the month because of component shortages. Our channel check revealed shortages primarily in bearings, tyres and castings," the report added.
The commercial seems to be finally back on track, totally slice-of-middle-class life, totally credible. Unlike the earlier juvenile attempt
So, Cadbury Dairy Milk seems to have settled down with the 'Shubh Aarambh' idea for the upcoming festive season. The thought, of course, is that ancient Indian quirk: Make new beginnings by sweetening the mouth, diabetic or not. The second commercial just went on air.
Readers will recall that a few weeks back(http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/7766.html), we discussed their first commercial in the 'Shubh Aarambh' series, and that one left me quite disheartened. It featured a couple at a bus stop. A young, teenage-ish girl is seen munching on her Cadbury Dairy Milk. The chap, also apparently waiting for a bus, demands to have a bite from the choc. The girl refuses. The mama's boy then uses that silly pick-up line. That his mummy says to start all new adventures with a Cadbury Dairy Milk. And that's it, the girl falls for it! I found the situation quite juvenile and predictable. And I got quite bearish on the idea.
However, I totally adore the new commercial, and this one targets the elderly citizens, while being pretty young in its approach. It's set in a middle class household. An aged couple is preparing to visit their relatives. Ma'am is decked up in a pair of jeans, and appears paranoid of being seen in that attire. Especially by her saas. The hubby, who perhaps knows his missus will be demolished, reassures her by offering her a bite from his Cadbury Dairy Milk. (Though I suspect she would have welcomed a cigarette in this situation!) So that they can make a 'Shubh Aarambh' for this precarious journey. Later, inside the building society compound, a young chap admires the aunty for her jeans. And all's well. What the ma-in-law would do is left to our imagination. My guess: She'll light the Cadbury Dairy Milk wrapper and set the poor woman's jeans on fire.
Okay, jokes apart, I really like this commercial. It's totally rooted in our desi tradition, totally slice-of-middle-class life, totally credible. And a plump-ish elderly Indian lady worrying about being spotted in a pair of jeans is a totally charming idea. One hundred times better than the previous bus-stop commercial.
So, great. Looks like 'Shubh Aarambh' is back on track. I do look forward to watching more ads in this series. Hope from now on the advertiser and its agency will stick to featuring surprising situations. And ones that are very, very 'hum log'. Just as the one above.