VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd (VECV) would invest Rs290 crore at its Pithampur plant in Madhya Pradesh for the production and final assembly of the Volvo Group's new global medium-duty engine platform. VECV is a joint venture between India's Eicher Motors and Sweden's Volvo.
VECV is already producing about 40,000 engines per year in its existing Pithampur plant. The new investment in Pithampur will result in an annual production capacity of an additional 85,000 engines. In addition to production of the base engine, the facility will also conduct final assembly of engines for India and all of Volvo Group's global markets with Euro III and Euro IV emission requirements.
Apart from VECV's investment in India, the Volvo Group is making an additional investment of Rs2,766 million in Volvo Powertrain's (VPT) production plants in Ageo, Japan and Venissieux, France. The new medium-duty platform comprises 5,7 and 8-litre engines in configurations for 215 to 350 horsepower.
On Friday, Eicher Motors’ shares ended 15.62% up at Rs921 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.84% up at 17,064.
With a severe shortfall of manpower looming large, bank unions have made demands with IBA and the AK Khandelwal committee for restoration of BSRB and bringing salaries on par with private sector banks and other industries
It is estimated that public sector banks (PSBs) are likely to witness a shortfall to the tune of 3 lakh employees in the next three years. Senior level employees on the verge of retirement constitute a chunk of this outflow. With such a shortage expected to hit PSBs soon, bank employees' unions are raising a hue and cry about its implications and calling for immediate alterations in the salary structure and recruitment procedures.
Commenting on the anticipated shortfall, Subhash Sawant, general secretary, Indian National Bank Employees' Federation, said, "Three lakh people will leave in the next three years. One lakh people went out in 2001 under voluntary retirement schemes (VRS). In the last two years, there has been pickup in recruitment, but only nominal-not enough to fill the gaps. Now that the pension option has been given, 10%-15% of employees will definitely leave. This means that 60,000-70,000 people will be exiting banks soon."
Mr Sawant also highlighted the problems with current recruitment process followed by PSBs. "Under the current recruitment procedure, it takes a long time (roughly 9 months) for the entire process. They first issue the advertisements, call for applications, take the exam, call for interviews and then announce the results.
In the meantime, the candidates appear for other bank exams. Until and unless a board like BSRB (Banking Services Recruitment Board) is not revived, this problem for banks will persist."
Mr Sawant cited the example of the recent recruitment drive conducted by Central Bank of India where the bank recruited 800 people, of which only 600 reported for duty. Of these, 400 people left the bank after joining and now, only 200 still serve the bank.
Employee unions are also demanding that the government take a closer look at the current salary structure, which is acting as a huge deterrent for employees to remain with the banks. Shekhar Kadam, secretary of the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), Maharashtra, confirmed that it is becoming increasingly difficult for banks to retain talent. "Though banks are recruiting people, we are not able to retain them. The attrition rate is very high in PSBs. People are leaving immediately after training. They jump to some other banks or sectors with better salary packages. Our demand with IBA is that the initial package should be good so that more people join this sector. The incremental growth is also slow and nobody is willing to wait it out for so long. Recruitment is underway in many banks, but still acute shortage is there, particularly at the officer level. Now, after this pension option is given to these officers, many will be opting for that and submitting their papers."
Mr Sawant agrees, "Even if they (employees) join after passing the exams, the starting salary is so low that there is no attraction to stay. Also, the bank may post you in places you don't want to be and hence, you think of shifting jobs the moment you get something you desire."
Also, to make the recruitment process more efficient, unions are calling for the revival of the now defunct BSRB, which used to conduct examinations across all PSBs under its aegis. It was abolished in 1998, after which banks started recruiting on their own.
Explaining the efficacy of having the BSRB system, Mr Sawant said, "Earlier, banks used to come and recruit people in one go. Banks were asked on their requirement, based on which exams used to be conducted for all banks under one board. If required, they used to empanel more people, because of which we never used to see this kind of difficulty."
Vishwas Utagi, secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) says that this issue has been raised with the government and that there has been a positive response. "We want the BSRB to be restored to ease the recruitment pressure in all cadres, not just clerks and officers. Very recently, we have highlighted this aspect to the Khandelwal committee. We want that recruitments should be regulated properly through the BSRB. Recruitment has started now, but the pace is very slow. Almost 35% of the bank employees will be leaving by 2013. So to that extent, recruitment must take place in a faster way. But it should be institutionalised, not pretentious and haphazard."
A top-level committee under the chairmanship of former CMD of Bank of Baroda, AK Khandelwal, has already been appointed to make recommendations on the human resources (HR) issues of PSBs. When Moneylife contacted Mr Khandelwal, he confirmed that various suggestions have been received from several unions and that these were being looked into. He declined to comment further on this issue.
Several banks like Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Union Bank and others have either already started recruitment on a large scale or have drawn up plans to do so.
While unions are painting a bleak picture, there is also a contrarian view. After the recent economic crisis, private sector recruitment, especially in glamour sectors such as retail, BPOs and services has not picked up significantly. Hence, banks, specifically PSBs, which offer better job security and benefits have become more attractive as employers.
Seek and you shall find. If Steve Jobs comes to India, he can pick up an iPad of his choice
The department of justice in the US has formally opened an investigation to determine whether Apple is refusing to sell its iPads to consumers of Asian origin, as the company is apparently trying to prevent the device from being smuggled into China, reports Consumer Affairs. But if Steve Jobs is petrified over his precious tablet being shipped to other countries where it has not been officially launched, then he sure should visit one of Mumbai's many grey markets, where Apple's product is being blatantly sold.
In one of Mumbai's famous hubs for all kinds of smuggled products, Heera Panna (in south Mumbai), the iPad is being sold. We called up one such shop, asking for an iPad. We were told that the iPad 3G (64 GB) was available for Rs70,000.
"It's not officially launched in India, but we have (the iPad). We don't sell copies, it's original. But there is no warranty. If there are any issues you will have to take it up in the US or send an email to Apple's official website," he said.
"I have started calling Heera Panna as I-Panna. When the iPad was launched in the United States, it was available a week later at Heera Panna for Rs1.25 lakh, now of course the prices have come down," Irfan Khan, a technology buff told Moneylife.
Not far from Heera Panna is Mumbai's IT hub-Lamington Road-famous for its wholesale and retail market in electronics goods. Here we called a shop and asked if it had any iPads. A person said he did have them, but only iPad Wi-Fi and the iPad Wi-Fi+3G would only be available next week. Unlike the seller at Heera Panna, he did assure us a one-year warranty. "Right now it is available. Once there is demand, we will raise the prices," he told us.
In suburban Mumbai, at Vile Parle is Alfa. We called up a shop but we received a guarded answer. We were directed to another number for details. The person answering the call told us that he had the iPad, also gave us the price range for the various iPad versions. But when we pried a little more, he banged the phone down. We tried again to ask about the warranty and other related details, but this time we were told that these details could not be revealed over the phone.
Peter Almeida, a re-seller for Apple products says that the product will be launched in India by September or October. The grey market is unsafe, cautioned Mr Almeida. "In the grey market, it is freely available but you won't get a warranty, it will be from the official place of purchase," he added.
Since the introduction of the iPad, smuggling has been a major concern for Apple. In the US, the product has been officially launched; however, there is a waiting list for the product as it is not available off the shelves. This is not the case in India, the iPad has not been officially launched, but it is gracing many grey market shelves and is ripe for the taking. "If you walk into these shops, you can see the iPads all lined up and they are being sold like hot cakes," Mr Khan said.