Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kammas selected for IAS, IPS and IRS 2012

Malapati Pavan (Rank - 53) selected for IAS, Mandava Harsha Vardhan, S/O Mr.Manndava Vishnuvardhan Rao IPS, IG - Jarkhand (Rank - 165) selected for IPS and Kotapati Vamsi Krishna (Rank - 197) selected for IPS but choosed IRS.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kamma factor plays spoiler Kamma daughter Purandareswari

HYDERABAD: The Kamma lobby in the Congress seems to have played spoilsport with their own `muddu bidda.' Daggubati Purandeswari, who was hopeful of elevation to the cabinet rank till a few minutes before Manmohan Singh effected the much-needed cabinet reshuffle on Sunday morning, was left to fend for the crumbs. If sources are to be believed, her chances were scuttled by a strong Kamma troika led by senior MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao who put in his papers on Saturday after he was denied a berth.

Party insiders aver that the high command was forced to beat a hasty retreat following vehement opposition from the MPs -- Kavuri, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Renuka Chowdary -- who were already sulking after being ignored by the PM.

Purandeswari's "short-lived dream" fell apart thanks to the strong opposition put up by Kavuri, Rayapati and Renuka, sources said.

"They made their position very clear to the high command that their supporters would be let down and could invite a strong reaction if Purandeswari were to be elevated as they are the senior leaders in the community," the sources said. Insiders said Renuka was livid within the closed walls of the party and the high command had to toe her line. Kavuri, a five-time MP and staunch loyalist, has already sent his resignation in protest against his non-induction in the cabinet.

In fact, the disappointing news came a bit late in the day for Purandeswari as she was all gung-ho to take oath as there was clear communication from the party top brass about her elevation as cabinet minister. She was also `promised' the high-profile commerce portfolio. But Purandeswari, the prodigal daughter of TDP founder NTR, was in for a shock when AICC president Sonia Gandhi reportedly called her up at around 10.30 am to inform her about the sudden `change of plan'.

"Sonia Gandhi called me up and explained the situation. I am convinced with whatever my leader has reasoned out for me. I am grateful to her and the Prime Minister for considering me worthy enough to handle the important commerce portfolio," Purandeswari said, betraying no emotion. Though she declined to elaborate any further, she said she was prepared to take up the responsibility of the commerce portfolio as a minister of state. "I would discharge my duties as a disciplined party worker," she added. Now, Purandeswari as MoS without independent charge will have to work under Anand Sharma.

Insiders said another factor which played dirty with Purandeswari was Sharma's reluctance to move out of the commerce ministry. "Anand Sharma was not ready to move out of the commerce ministry and the party high command kowtowed to him. It could play ball with a junior minister like Purandeswari but not with Anand Sharma who is a senior leader," a highly placed source in the Congress told. 

While the internal caste dynamics put paid to the hopes of Purandeswari, sources said the high command was none too happy with her for going around publicly celebrating the news of her possible elevation much before the PM could announce it. "Purandeswari has to blame herself for putting foot in her mouth," a senior leader said.

Meanwhile, Kavuri, it is learnt, has been assured of a `bigger role' in the party. "He could be made a general secretary making him in-charge of a couple of Congress-ruled states," sources said. Serious efforts are already on to calm the nerves of Rayapati and Renuka also. When contacted, Rayapati said: "I have made my position clear to the high command and it is up to them to take a call." Curiously, he tried to extend support to Purandeswari. "I feel sorry for Purandeswari," he said.

Ignored for Cabinet, Kavuri Sambasiva Rao resigns

Congress MP from Eluru, Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, Saturday resigned from the Lok Sabha after getting hints that he won’t be inducted into the Cabinet.

“Time and again I have been ignored though I am a five-time MP. People several years junior to me are being chosen while I have been ignored though I have faithfully served the party for 40 years and have been an MP for over 20 years. I have sent my resignation letter to Speaker Meira Kumar and PM Manmohan Singh expressing my disappointment,’’ he said in a statement.

Last year, Kavuri had threatened to resign as, he had said, he was being ignored for a ministerial job. This time, Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel tried to pacify him and talk him into withdrawing his resignation, but Kavuri refused, saying he was expecting a call this time but the Congress again let him down.
For long, Mr. Rao had been aspiring for a Cabinet berth every time there was talk of expansion. This time round he was very confident of finding a place.

Party sources said the high command had decided to keep away from the Cabinet MPs having business interests or those who were industrialists and circulated this message to those who matter.

The Eluru MP has extensive business interests in infrastructure development.

It is understood that Ms. Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary, Ahmed Patel, spoke to Mr. Rao and promised that his services would be duly recognised by giving him a key party post. Chief Minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy also telephoned Mr. Rao and requested him to withdraw his resignation.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Purandeswari may become Commerce Minister

New Delhi, Oct. 27: The exercise for affecting a reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, probably the last for the UPA-II regime before the 2014 general elections, appears to be on in full swing.
Speculation is rife that Commerce Minister and Sonia Gandhi loyalist Anand Sharma will move to the Ministry of External Affairs in place of the just resigned S.M.Krishna, while Daggubati Purandeswari from Andhra Pradesh will be made the country's next Commerce Minister.
Purandeswari, the daughter of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao, is currently the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development. Sunday's proposed revamp of the Cabinet may also see Dinshaw Patel, who represents Gujarat's Kheda constituency, being upgraded from Minister of State to full Cabinet rank.
Purandeswari, who has been a Lok Sabha MP since 2004, said she was happy to hear the news, and would like to thank Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi for giving her a new opportunity and honor.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NRI doctor Kodali Siva Rama Krishna Prasad bags two awards

Orthopaedic surgeon Kodali Siva Rama Krishna Prasad received the awards in London recently.

A native of Guntur district and now an orthopaedic surgeon at Prince Charles Hospital, United Kingdom, Kodali Siva Rama Krishna Prasad received the “Mahatma Gandhi Samman” and “Gem of India” awards recently.

The awards, he received on behalf of the NRI Welfare Society of India International Friendship Society, were presented in the Global Achievers Conclave in London. “All my awards are dedicated to the memory of my parents”, said the doctor.

Expressing his happiness on receiving the awards, he said that he feels it a part of his destiny that his life is intertwined between India and United Kingdom. He finished his schooling in George Coronation Higher Secondary School, Thurumella before joining Guntur Medical College in 1966. Later he obtained ECFMG and VQE from Philadelphia and has been settled as an orthopaedic surgeon in United Kingdom.

He has been the recipient of many awards like the “Glory Achievers”, “Rashtriya Pragati”, “Vidya Ratna Puraskar”, “Glory of India”, “Indira Gandhi Seva Ratna”, “Shining Image of India” and many more.

It was indeed a great honour to play a small part in the impending re-emergence of the image of India, said Dr. Kodali Siva Rama Krishna Prasad. It gives me great pleasure in contributing towards the positive image, he said.

Friday, October 19, 2012

7Seas Entertainment's www.onlinerealgames.com wins 9th International Gold Stevie Business Awards

7Seas Entertainment Ltd (Lingamaneni Maruti Sankar, Chairman and MD) has won the 'International Gold Stevie® Business Award 2012' for its free online gaming portal www.onlinerealgames.com under the 'Best Website Design' Category.

Recipients of International Stevie Award trophies were selected from more than 3200 entries received from organizations and individuals in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Notable Stevie® Business award winners this year in various other categories include SAP AG. Germany, HSBC U.K, Qualcomm Inc., USA, Samsung Electronics, South Korea etc.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

4G Identity Solutions (4Gid) Ranks 4th in Inc. India 500 Rankings for the Fastest Growing Companies

Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh: 4G Identity Solutions, a pioneer and global leader in providing large scale identity management solutions, has been ranked as the 4th fastest-growing company by Inc. India, the Indian edition of Inc., the leading US magazine that focuses on entrepreneurship and growth. The listing consists of India’s 500 fastest growing mid-size enterprises. 

The rankings are based on the Net Sales CAGR (Continuous Annual Growth Rate) from April 2007 to March 2011 and certain subjective parameters like innovations, leadership, and credibility so on. 4Gid stood 4th in the ranking with a Net Sales CAGR of 395% during the period of evaluation. 4Gid has done significantly well to achieve this ranking in which more than 5000 companies from 40 different industry sectors participated. 

Dr. Sreeni Tripuraneni, Chairman & CEO, 4G Identity Solutions speaking on this achievement said, “We are honored to be listed 4th amongst the fastest growing 500 companies. This recognition shows that 4Gid has been evolving constantly since inception in the biometric identity space and has its foot firmly pressed on the growth pedal to take identity solutions to next level on a global scale.” 

PVP ventures keen on bagging IPL franchise of its own

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) terminating Deccan Chargers' contract and floating a tender for a new franchise in the Indian Premier League(IPL), top corporates have shown keen interest in bagging a team of their own.

While the Jaypee Group and leading industrialist Gautam Adani have made no bones about their interest, one man who could hold the edge is Potluri Vara Prasad - owner of PVP Ventures.

Although the BCCI have kept the bidding process pretty straightforward, it is believed that PVP Ventures - who had earlier tried to help the financially crippled Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL) and buy Deccan Chargers - have a top board official backing them.

A senior BCCI official said that PVP Ventures could well end up owning the new franchise after their attempt to buy Deccan turned futile.

"PVP Ventures' plan to buy Deccan Chargers might have been foiled after DCHL didn't like the terms of payment, but it won't come as a surprise if  they end up winning the bid and own the new franchise. Even when they had bid for Deccan, their tender was in complete accordance with IPL rules and regulations," the Board official told Mail Today.

"The very fact that a formal announcement was made that PVP Ventures' bid met BCCI's eligibility and suitability criteria was an indication that the board wanted to keep the door open for future negotiations with them. There was discussion within the board that the offer made by PVP -Rs.90 crore over five years - was a good one even under normal circumstances, let alone while bailing out DCHL," he said.

The release from BCCI had read: "The bid that was received by DCHL met the BCCI's eligibility and suitability criteria.

The bid was then reviewed by DCHL who, in its discretion and with no role being played by BCCI, rejected the bid on the basis of the payment terms offered by the bidders."

The official further said that the process of floating the tender document and rushing up matters with regard to inviting bids for the new franchise was done keeping in mind PVP's case.

"Generally these things take a little time. But this time round, the board swung into action immediately and the tender was floated and closing date for submission of bids announced. The whole course of action was hastened keeping in mind PVP's keen interest to buy an IPL team," the official said.

On the issue of where exactly the new team will hail from if PVP won the bid, the official said: "One shouldn't be too surprised if the new team hails from Hyderabad. Vishakhapatnam is another option that PVP Ventures could look at."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pranjala Yadlapalli crowned champion

NEW DELHI,October 13, 2012: Pranjala Yadlapalli bt Tarrannum Handa 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 in the girls under - 18 final of the Fenesta National tennis championship at the DLTA Complex here on Saturday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pharmexil Awards for Bharat Biotech, Granules and Suven Life Sciences

Hyderabad-based corporates — Bharat Biotech, Granules and Suven Life Sciences (All companies belongs to Kammas) — have bagged awards for 2011-12 from the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexil).

The winners were presented with the awards at the recent India-Asia-Pacific pharma business meet and annual general body meeting of the council.
Bharat Biotech won the silver patent award in recognition of its contributions in biotech products and research.
The company has filed several novel patents.
Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, said the award recognises the innovation at Bharat Biotech, and the credit goes to the researchers who have worked hard to make it happen.
Suven Life Sciences Ltd received the platinum patent award for securing the most number of product and process patents for the fourth year in a row.
The company secured 96 product patents for their New Chemical Entities and 9 process patents during 2011-12 from several countries including US, Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada. So far, the company has got a total of 541 product patents globally, said Venkat Jasti, CEO.
In another development, Granules India Ltd,  has been recognised as India’s most-admired company in exports & bulk drugs at the 5th Annual Pharmaceutical Business Leadership Awards, organised by Pharmaleaders, in association with BSE, Pharmexcil and IBEF.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kamma IRS (Indian Revenue Service) Officers list

Kamma IRS (Indian Revenue Service) officers (Past and Present) 

1. P.A.Chowdary
2. Muthuluri Narasimhappa
3. Kata Chandrahas
4. Kotha Hari Prasad
5. Kosaraju Veeraiah Chowdary
6. Koripalli Nageswara Rao
7. Venigalla NagaPrasad
8. Jasti Krishna Kishore
9. Bathina Ramesh
10. Vemulapalli Ramu
11. Bodduluri Hareram
12. Sunkara V.S.S.Prasad
13. Yalavarthi Rajendra
14. Kondaveeti Purnachandra Rao
15. Chirumamilla Venkanna Chowdary
16. K.S.Rajendra Kumar
17. M.Subbaiah Chowdary
18. Katragadda Haritha
19. Vadlamudi Raghavendra Rao
20. Athota Satyanarayana
21. Edara Ravi Kiran

22. Kalyanam Rajesh Rama Rao
23. Dinesh Paruchuri
24. Vinaya Kumar Kantheti
25. Vikram Chand Meka
26. Venkata Siva Prasad Chirala
27. Siripurapu Padmaja
28. Cherukuri Srinivasa Rao
29. Vootla Appa Rao
30. Nuvvula Lakshmi Prasad
31. Uppalapati Anjaneyulu
32. Kotapati Vamsi Krishna
33. Ravi Anuradha
34. Valluri Srinivas
35. Vasantha Vijaya Babu
36. Kancherla HariPrasada Rao
37. Kantipudi Krishna Rao
38. Panda Gangadhar
39. Anumala Mallikarjuna Rao
40. Tummala Reddi Sekhar Naidu
41. Sompalle Gurukumar
42. Nuthalapati Sowmya
43. N.Ramkumar (Tamilnadu)
44. D.P. Naidu (Tamilnadu)
45. Seerani V Vidaysagar (Tamilnadu)
46. M.Prabhakaran (Tamilnadu)
47. Venkataswamy (Tamilnadu)

48. D.Kumutha (Tamilnadu)
49. Sivanna Reddy (Karnataka)

50. Goli Srinivasa Rao
51. Kotapati Vasmsi Krishna
52. Attaluri Alankrutha

Friday, October 5, 2012

Infosys Honors India’s Best Student Programmers (B Sai Aishwarya, Nekkanti Anudeep and Sindhura Katta) at Aspirations 2020

Bangalore: Infosys, a global leader in consulting and technology, announced on October 1, the winners of Aspirations2020, a nationwide online programming contest. The Campus Connect program, a unique industry-academia partnership organized by Infosys, administers the Aspirations2020 awards. 

This year's Aspirations2020 drew registrations from more than 32,000 teams in 517 engineering colleges across 20 Indian states. The contest's exciting finale on September 28, 2012 in Bangalore culminated with 14 three-member teams competing for top prizes. B Sai Aishwarya, Nekkanti Anudeep and Sindhura Katta from Anil Neerukonda Institute of Technology and Sciences, Visakhapatnam won the top prize and each member received 64GB iPads. Ajeet Kumar Jha, Ameen Mohammed Talha and Coca Sai Prajeeth from M. S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology bagged the runners-up prize and each member took home 32GB iPads.
Aspirations2020, now in its fifth year, aims to enhance problem-solving, algorithmic-thinking and logical-reasoning skills among pre-final and final year of Master of Computer Applications (MCA) and engineering students. 

"Aspirations2020 provides budding, young engineers an opportunity to put their skills and abilities to test," said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys. "I congratulate the winners for displaying top-notch programming skills and an ability to deliver under extreme pressure - both of which are critical to thriving in an increasingly competitive and globalized work environment." 

Added Srikantan Moorthy, Senior Vice-President and Group Head, Education & Research, Infosys: "Our aim has been to bring together the best student engineers from across India and provide them with a platform to do problem solving, to interact, to network, and to learn from each other. We look forward to building on this platform in the years ahead." 

The Infosys Campus Connect program aims at aligning the talents of engineering students with industry needs. Launched in May 2004, working with just 60 colleges, Campus Connect now reaches out 500 engineering colleges across the country.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dr.Krishna Kasaraneni among UK's top 50 family physicians

Four doctors of Indian origin have been featured in the list of 50 most influential family physicians in Britain by a magazine, and among them is Dr Krishna Vardhan Kasaraneni from Andhra Pradesh.

The Kasaranenis are well-known in Guntur and almost everyone in the family is a physician or a surgeon. Dr Krishna’s grandfather, Dr Kasaraneni Sadasiva Rao, was a famous surgeon, a philanthropist and an elected representative to the State Legislative Assembly.

“I did my initial schooling from Vignan High School in Guntur and moved to the UK when I was 15,” says Dr Krishna adding that it was his parents’ decision to move; he recalls that it was the only time he had seen his grandfather cry.

He graduated in medicine from the Leicester Medical School in 2005 and was elected to the chair of the General Physicians Trainees Committee in 2011. “As the chairman of the GP Trainees Committee, I represent 10,000 doctors in the UK. I was elected to this position in 2011 and was re-elected last week,” he says.

This is no small responsibility. He says, “Being responsible and accountable for that many doctors is by no means an easy task and takes up most of my time. It is a great privilege that comes with immense responsibility.” Although medicine was almost like a family profession, Dr Krishna was still given the freedom by his parents to choose whatever he wanted to do. “I was given a free rein by my parents. All they ever wanted me to be was good at what I did,” he recollects.

Though it has been 17 years since he left Guntur, the memories are still fresh. “It was a small town and I still remember the day Guntur was declared a city and elected its first mayor, Dr Kolli Sharada. I loved everything about the place, my family, friends, the streets, the vendors, the colours, and so much more,” he says.

So now after the experience of medicinal politics in the UK and his grandfather’s legacy in Guntur, does he think of a political career in the state? “Politics in India is way too complex. I believe in unity and equality — this doesn’t seem to be the flavour of the political scene in India and particularly AP at the moment,”he says adding that he, however, still dreams of coming back to India.


IMAPS Announces Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr.Rao R Tummala

At the 44th Annual Symposium on Microelectronics, IMAPS (International Microelectronics And Packaging Society) announces Lifetime Achievement award to Dr.Tummala R Rao the highest honors the Society can bestow.

Dr. Tummala’s leadership and contributions that are a cornerstone of the microelectronics and electronic packaging industries. Rao is a legend in their community having made valuable and extensive contributions to both packaging technologies and the training of future leaders.
Dr. Rao Tummala is a Distinguished and an Endowed Chair Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and in Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech. He is also the Founding Director of an NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) called the Microsystems Packaging Research Center (PRC) pioneering the Second Law of Electronics (the first being Moore ’s Law) by his System-On-Package (SOP) vision. The PRC is currently the largest and most comprehensive micro-systems packaging research, education and industry collaboration Center involving 200 students and 15 faculty from ECE, ME, ChE and MSE departments, and 40 global companies from the U.S., Europe and Asia. He is also an Eminent scholar for the State of Georgia.

Dr. Tummala has published over 320 technical papers, holds 71 U.S. patents and inventions, and authored the first modern reference book for microsystems packaging in 1988, and the first undergraduate textbook in 2001. He is a fellow of the IEEE, IMAPS, and the American Ceramic Society; a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and was the President of the IEEE-CPMT Society and IMAPS Society. He is a consultant to many of the Fortune 500 electronics companies in the U.S., Europe and Asia

Confessions of a beauty queen

Confessions_of_a_beauty_queen_postnoon_news_1Anne Aneesha Chowdary , who was the only Telugu girl to make it to the top five finalists at the recent ‘I Am She’ beauty paegent, recounts the experience and how she missed the crown by a whisker.

There’s a reason why filmmakers in the Telugu film industry hardly cast Telugu speaking actresses in their films and instead look for aspiring actresses or models from Mumbai. Acting in films and modeling is still considered a taboo in most Telugu households. No wonder, it was a pleasant surprise when people realised that one of the finalists in the ‘I Am She’ beauty pageant, which was recently held in Hyderabad, was a Telugu girl from Hyderabad. Aneesha Chowdary impressed a lot of people at the contest and she was within touching distance from ending up in the top three contestants, who’ll represent India, at Miss Universe, Miss Globe International and Miss Asia Pacific World beauty pageants later this year.

Born and brought up in Hyderabad, she completed her schooling from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public school and later, when she got admission in BITS-Pilani, she chose to stay back in Hyderabad. “I was a good student in school and in my intermediate first year, I got 4th rank in the entire State. I had got an admit in a five year programme at BITS-Pilani; however, I am the only child and I didn’t want to pursue the five-year programme, so I decided to stay back in Hyderabad,” Aneesha says.
She graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Muffakham Jah college of Engineering and Technology and went on to work with Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) in Singapore for almost three and half years. Quite rarely does one come across a Telugu girl like her who would leave a lucrative job and take part in a beauty pageant. So how did her parents react? “I come from a conservative family and I had to convince them a lot,” she smiles and adds, “they wanted me to do an MBA from ISB and I convinced them saying that taking part in this beauty paegent will really help me build a diverse profile.” A smart move, indeed.
As cliched as it may sound, Aneesha says that she never wanted to be a model. What made her change her mind? “I have always wanted to represent India at an international level. I wanted to play cricket but I was told by NCA that I was too old to take up sports. I was quite
disappointed, but I Am She seemed like a good option to represent India. I won’t deny that I want name and fame that comes along with representing India, but it also gives people a great platform to follow their heart,” she says.
So what did she really want to do? “On my 18th birthday, I went to Sishu Vihar and I was heartbroken to see that out of 30 babies, 27 were girls; all of them healthy. It was a disturbing sight and ever since I have been contributing some part of my income for their well being. For a long time, I had been thinking about quitting my job, be actively involved with NGOs, raise funds and do something for the underprivileged,” she reveals.
Naturally, her decision to take part in the beauty paegent came as a huge shock to her parents. “I didn’t tell them when I applied for the initial round last year,” she says. But the most discomforting part of the whole journey was the bikini round. “I had no idea that there was going to be a bikini round on stage in the final round and it got worse when I came to know that the media was going to be present. At one point of time, I wanted to quit, but the I Am She team convinced me to stay back,” she reveals.
How did her parents react? “My friends told me after the show that my father was restless and he had walked out during that round,” she says, teary eyed. “I really wanted to win this for my father. He has always been my biggest support, be it a banking job or a beauty paegent.”
The biggest learning experience, she says, was walking on the ramp and being comfortable in a bikini. “I lost nearly 10 kg in six months for the beauty paegent. Most of the training sessions revolved around improving our diction and etiquette. I was very good at both of them, so it was a breeze when I made it to the top 5,” Aneesha recalls.
Judges at most beauty pageants are notorious when it comes to asking contestant questions, which can range from how will she change the world to how she’ll help bring global peace. But Aneesha faced a trickier question – What came first – The Egg or the Chicken? “According to me the egg came first because as a child, I ate egg first and until a certain age, I didn’t taste chicken” was her reply, which received a thunderous response. “It really was a spontaneous reply. Sushmita Sen had specifically told us to be honest with our answers and not give cliched ones. Unfortunately, most contestants do not follow such instructions,” she laughs.
In the final round, which she thought would be a cake walk, she was asked “What are the three qualities that a woman should possess to represent India, that you have learnt from I Am She?” There was an echo which cost her dearly. “I couldn’t hear the last part of the question, so I answered — self confidence, self belief and traditional values from parents. The last one was out of context, which worked against me,” she recalls, and adds, “Sushmita had told us that confidence and how you talk are more important than what you say. There’s a lot of partiality throughout the show because the winner made it from top 10 to top 5, despite stammering and giving irrelevant answers ”
So what’s next? Is acting on the cards? “I haven’t thought about anything. I’ve been approached for a lot of fashion weeks. Every one came and told me that I was a winner for them and I deserved to win,” she says, adding, “but I would try to convince my parents again, if I get a chance to act alongside Mahesh Babu or Prabhas.” Those final words are proof enough that she’s a quintessential Telugu girl.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Riding On White Gold

Nuziveedu has quickly become India’s largest hybrid seed company — and it has Bt cotton to thank for its fortunes

From biotech labs to germplasm banks to seed farms and processing factories, seeds travel a long way before they finally sink into the moist soil tilled by a farmer. One of the best places to discover this nearly invisible fact is Nuziveedu’s seed factory in the outskirts of Hyderabad, where massive conveyer belts, funnels, mixers and separators operate with a non-stop din under a cavernous shed. “For most people, seeds grow just like that,” laughs an official, as he demonstrates the sorting and coating of corn seeds with a pinkish layer of pesticide. Seeds, it seems, often pass through as many stages and processes as an FMCG product! Nuziveedu has research facilities sprawled over 650 acres of farmland to test the genetic purity of its hybrid seeds, and the seeds themselves are sourced from 100,000 contract growers as per Nuziveedu’s specifications. It’s these seeds that are processed at its factories before they are sold. Hybrid seeds account for more than 60% of the Rs 10,000 crore total seed market in the country, and they are being preferred by more and more farmers.

All of which is helping one man rather nicely. Mandava Prabhakar Rao, Chairman, Nuziveedu Seeds, smiles easily, and why not? An Able (Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises) study has named Nuziveedu the country’s number one seed company. In fact, its numbers are raising eyebrows — Nuziveedu’s annual output of 600,000 quintals of hybrid seeds gets deployed over 89,000 acres and matches what the Rs 700 crore Mahyco manages on 100,000 acres. What’s more, Mahyco has a tie-up with Monsanto, licensors of Bt cotton technology in India, but it’s Nuziveedu, which is only one of its 30 licensees, that has marched ahead.

We just crossed the Rs 1,000 crore revenue mark in FY12,” exults Rao, whose flagship business is seeds although his Rs 3,500-crore NSL Group, has interests in infrastructure, power, sugar and textiles. What’s more, Nuziveedu almost doubled its size in a matter of four years, expanding rapidly from Rs 500 crore in FY08 to Rs 1,072 crore in FY12. But the company’s COO Ramesh Vishwanathan admits ruefully: “Most people who aren’t farmers haven’t heard about the largest seed company in India.”

Time to sow
It was Rao’s father, M Venkatramaiah, a graduate in agriculture, who launched the seeds business in 1973, naming it after his ancestral village of Nuziveedu in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, 300 km from Hyderabad. Rao, who completed his Masters in agriculture from Banaras Hindu University, joined his father in 1982. Their business remained within the Guntur region for some years.

The seeds sector in India was highly regulated and dominated by the public sector back then — no foreign investment or collaboration was permitted and the National Seed Policy of 1988 was to open up the sector much later. “R&D was not a big part of the business in those days,” Rao recalls. “But we developed some cotton hybrids and expanded our area of operations.”
After the mid-1980s came the diversification into hybrid sorghum, which crop farmers rotated with cotton. Later still, they got into other seeds like castor, maize and bajra, and several vegetables were added recently. Today, Nuziveedu sells in 17 states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa and Karnataka.

Then came 2002 and a decade of breakneck growth. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), India’s regulatory body for biotech crops, allowed Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), a 50:50 JV between Mahyco and Monsanto Holdings, to commercialise Bt cotton in the country and sub-license the technology to Indian seed companies. Bt cotton contains a bacterial gene obtained from bacillus thuringiensis, which is genetically introduced into cotton seeds to protect the plants from bollworm, a major cotton pest. Such inbuilt anti-pest mechanisms are said to ensure higher yields.

Rao wasn’t convinced initially even though competitors like Rasi and Kaveri started using Bt cotton technology for their hybrid seed brands. “We took some time before we understood that it was good technology,” he says. Two years later, Rao applied and received his licence. Nuziveedu, which released its first Bt cotton hybrid seed in 2005, never looked back.

Beady eyed
Bt cotton was and remains a highly emotive subject in Indian agriculture. The raging controversies and intense suspicions surrounding it could be the reason why Rao hesitates to accept that Bt cotton has propelled the company’s exponential growth. Nuziveedu, like other seed companies, pays Monsanto royalty for its Bt technology. It then infuses the anti-pest characteristics into locally developed hybrids, which are better suited for cotton farming in India. Rao believes it is this win-win combination that accounts for Nuziveedu’s share of the ‘Bt cotton’ market. “There are around 30 companies that have a Bt licence,” he says. “The market share of some of them may not even be 1%, while some of them may have 8-9% of the market. We have over 30%.”
Rao’s hesitation to come out unequivocally in favour of Bt cotton, which has clearly brought him plenty of profits, is puzzling. But that does not faze other believers. “Developing hybrid varieties has been Nuziveedu’s strength,” observes Vaishali Chopra, senior manager, food and agri-business, at Rabobank. “They have been running a breeding programme for a long time and have developed good hybrids of cotton.”

Bt technology will continue to have a stormy future in India — approval for Bt brinjal, only the second GM crop launched after Bt cotton, was suspended soon after it was granted in February 2010. Rao chooses to take an apparently tranquil view of things: “It is for the government to decide and legislate. We only follow the policy they set.”

Sale season
Rao’s company may have got the recipe right, but how does it have the farmer community eating out of its hands? “You go out with a product, which may not even be on sale right now, but you build it for the next season,” says Vishwanathan, adding with a laugh, “It’s like an election campaign before the sowing season.” But doesn’t every other seed maker do that? Yes, that is why Nuziveedu runs dedicated assistance teams to guide farmers. Farmers are guided with everything, ranging from seed-bed preparation and fertiliser application to irrigation and harvesting.

It’s a very instinctive business, Vishwanathan says, before pausing to add, “We have to get right which products to bet on and how much capacity to dedicate.” Going by market reports, Nuziveedu has been getting its mix consistently right. Mallika, its hybrid-Bt cotton market leader, is a good example — Nuziveedu ramped up its production from FY05-FY08 despite being a late entrant to the business, and Mallika now makes up 40% of the company’s sales volumes. Vishwanathan says Nuziveedu has also been creating its own markets: “A recent example is of Raghav, another of our hybrid-Bt cotton seeds. With it, we went to northern India, where we didn’t have any market share, and we ramped up in two years.”

Buying to lead
In its quest for leadership, Nuziveedu has also not shied away from acquisitions. It acquired Yaaganti Seeds in 2008, Pravardhan Seeds in 2009 and Prabhat Agri Biotech in 2011, all Hyderabad-based enterprises. Rao doesn’t want to give away the cost of these acquisitions but newspaper reports says the 51% stake in Yaaganti and Pravardhan came for a total of Rs 25 crore. These two companies, which are strong in maize, sunflower and bajra seeds among others, helped Nuziveedu diversify beyond cotton, its mainstay. Prabhat Agri, which is strong in cotton hybrids, was acquired because it made perfect sense to absorb a competitor. Even today, Prabhat has an independent sales turnover of Rs 100 crore, plus 10 regional offices, more than 200 distributors, and over 20,000 retailers across 10 Indian states. Rao says all of it helped Nuziveedu expand its germplasm bank, product offerings, customer base as well as the sales and distribution network.
In fact, a robust distribution infrastructure is a must-have for a seed company. “We have higher distribution and reach than any other company in India now,” claims Vishwanathan. Nuziveedu has over 3,000 distributors and 60,000 retailers who are supported by eight regional offices that claim to serve 10 million farmers.

Arvind Kapur, CEO of Rasi Seeds, a Rs 550-crore Tamil Nadu-based company that has a 14% share in hybrid seeds, feels Nuziveedu is also able to beat Mahyco because the Monsanto partner is geographically more dispersed and present in several crops. He adds, “That’s why Mahyco doesn’t have leadership in any one crop.”

Besides, Monsanto, which also operates as an individual seed company in India, has other objectives — it’s a seed technology company first, so it would rather earn royalty than compete with the likes of Nuziveedu and Rasi. “If Monsanto starts competing aggressively against local players, they will use some other technology and not Monsanto’s,” points out Rabobank’s Chopra. “So they let them expand and earn more through royalty.” The profit margin for seed companies like Nuziveedu is said to be range of 18-20% despite the royalty burden.

Soft trouble
Nuziveedu’s dependence on central and southern India, key cotton growing areas, has a downside to it. 80% of its seed turnover comes from cotton and this has made the company way too reliant on one crop. Vishwanathan admits that there is no possibility of a dramatic expansion as far as the acreage of cotton is concerned. The challenge for the company is to get more yield and productivity out of the same amount of land. However, cotton yields seem to have hit a ceiling at 500 kg/hectare.

Nuziveedu has other worries as well. The seed brand is barely recognisable outside its central-southern belt. “What’s that?” ask a group of farmers at Fazilka, Punjab. “I had to make calls to various seed agents to find out about the company,” says Vikram Ahuja, an agri-entrepreneur.

Vishwanathan, however, is hardly deterred and says there is space to grow where they are lagging. “We are weak in some pockets of eastern and northern India — in fact, we are in the sub-20% range even in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh,” he says without hesitation. Geographical expansion into new markets is also the answer to Nuziveedu’s dead-end with yields.

In 2010, the company also entered international seed markets, exporting maize, sunflower and vegetable seeds to countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Turkey. The focus is on SAARC countries and sub-Saharan Africa, which offer good potential for the seeds sector, but Nuziveedu’s export revenues are not substantial as of now. The international markets surely won’t be easy: competition in cotton is more localised but MNCs like Dupont and Monsanto will compete with Nuziveedu in other crops and regions that are as yet unfamiliar to the company.

The focus is also on moving away from cotton, “We have strong products in maize and paddy,” Rao says. Sale of vegetable seeds, where the company is focused on chillies, tomatoes and okra, are also seeing a 30-40% growth rate. Rao hopes that, with diversification, Nuziveedu will be among the first three seed companies in all these crops.

In any case, Rao needs more capital to expand into newer crops and regions. There have been reports that he is planning a Rs 900-crore IPO but right now he’s playing his cards close to his chest. “We are considering options but there is nothing to announce as of now,” he says guardedly.

Not that funding has been thin on the ground or there is a lack of suitors. Blackstone Capital invested Rs 250 crore in Nuziveedu in August 2010. “We were impressed with their capability across the whole value chain, and Prabhakar Rao’s understanding of the seeds business,” explains Richard Saldanha, vice-chairman and executive director, Blackstone.

Rao’s mind, though, is simply fixed on the farmer. He says firmly, “The Indian farmer has realised that there is a significantly improved return when he buys quality seeds.” That insight should surely help Nuziveedu sustain its growth in the times ahead.

Nuziveedu Seeds conferred with 'Agriculture Leadership Award 2012'

Nuziveedu Seeds Limited (NSL), the leading Indian Seeds company has been conferred with Agriculture Leadership Award 2012 for its pioneering work in the area of agriculture extension which has positively impacted the lives of large number of farmers and rural economy of the country. The prestigious award instituted under the Chairmanship of Prof. M S Swaminathan, the Father of India's Green Revolution, was presented to Nuziveedu Seeds at a function in New Delhi.

Speaking about the award, Mr. Mandava Prabhakar Rao, CMD, Nuziveedu Seeds Limited said, "It is a great honour for our Company to receive this prestigious award. We are both humbled as well as excited. The awards celebrate the spirit of innovation and leadership, which are also the inherent traits of Team NSL. It feels extremely satisfying to consistently deliver innovative products to empower farmers and at the same time, contributing to the economic growth of rural Indians through research, technology and quality seeds to the farmers in our country".

NSL had earlier won this award for the year 2009. The company provides more than 340 hybrid seeds and varieties of 30 field crops and vegetables and its modern technologies to Indian farmers through its extensive sales and distribution network in 16 states in India. With strong R&D capabilities with one of the largest germplasms in the country, company produces and markets other field crops like Corn, Rice, Sun flower, Sorghum, Pearmillet and vegetable crops. Nuziveedu Seeds' marketing team conducts farmer education programs on new agronomic practices to increase productivity.

The Agriculture Leadership awards were started in 2008 to recognise the leadership roles played by individuals and institutions, in empowering lives of farmers and rural masses and partnering inclusive growth through instilling progressive agricultural practices. The awards are presented in the areas of Policy, research, extension, farming, industry, environment, innovation, entrepreneurship, CSR, development and state leaderships.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Humpy wins Ankara Grand Prix

Grandmaster Koneru Humpy won an attacking final round game against Monika Socko of Poland to win the final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix which concluded at Ankara on Friday.
On course to her brilliant final round win, Humpy had sacrificed a rook and perched her other rook on the offensive path, to pin and win huge material and the game in 40 moves.
Humpy tallied 8.5 points from her 11 games to top the 12-player, all-play-all which followed the Chess Olympiad held in Istanbul.
Overall, in the six Grand Prix events held at Rostov, Shenzhen, Nalchik, Kazan, Jermuk and Ankara, world women’s champion Hou Yifan of China had won three already with a maximum 480 points. Each player took part in four of the six events with the best three counting for Grand Prix points.
Humpy’s victory in Ankara helped her overtake Muzychuk and win the second place with 415 points. Muzychuk was third with 405 points. Humpy won in Ankara, tied for first in Kazan with Muzychuk and finished third in Jermuk. She did not do well at Rostov. This brilliant showing should help Humpy gain rating and climb back from the minor loss she had suffered in the last two years.