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ST Team
Monday, October 1, 2007
India tops Forbes list of Asia’s Fabulous 50
In the recently published Forbes’ Fabulous 50, a list of the best of Asia Pacific’s biggest companies, India outnumbered other countries with 12 Indian firms making the cut, including its big four information technology outsourcers.

Of the other eight that make the U.S. business magazine’s third annual list, companies such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Bharti Airtel are growing fast by reaching out to India’s rural customers, not to Western markets. Others, such as Grasim, Larsen & Toubro, and Reliance are shoring up the country’s infrastructure at a furious pace.

One needs to note that the Fabulous 50 companies are an acquisitive lot. Tata Steel bought Britain’s Corus Group to a chorus of cheers back home, despite the $13 billion price tag.

Seven of the companies on the Forbes list come from China but all its companies featured rely on domestic customers.

To compile the list, Forbes scanned the long-term profitability, sales and earnings growth, stock price appreciation, and projected earnings for every company in the region with revenues or market capitalization of at least $5 billion.

India’s dozen among ‘The Fabulous 50’ comprised of Bharat Heavy Electricals, Bharti Airtel, Grasim Industries, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Infosys Technologies, Larsen & Toubro, Reliance Industries, Satyam Computer Services, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel, and Wipro.

Global investment for R&D shifts to Asia
Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Aston Business School have found that global investment in research and development is rapidly shifting from North America and Europe to Asian centers such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Beijing.

According to the research the shift was resulting in a small elite club of regions, in both the advanced and developing world, that dominate the global knowledge economy. The companies in advanced regions such as Silicon Valley in the U.S., Cambridge in the U.K., Ottawa in Canada, and Helsinki in Finland are increasingly establishing partnerships and networks with companies and universities in fast-developing Asian regions.

The researchers found that of the $50 billion invested by multinational companies in R&D projects around the world between 2002 and 2005, Asian economies received 58 percent, while Europe received 22 percent and North America 14 percent. The research has been published in a report titled ‘Competing for Knowledge’.

The major part of the investment in Asia is concentrated in a small number of locations such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai in India and Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai in China.

Four Indian-Americans make it to Forbes list
Forbes has included four Indian Americans in its list of richest Americans this year. The elite list includes acoustics pioneer Amar Bose, Google founder director Ram Shriram, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and Bharat Desai, CEO of an info-tech outsourcing firm.

The 77-year-old, Amar Bose, referred to as the sultan of the sounds, shares the 271st place in the list with Ram Shriram with a net worth of $1.8 billion. Both Bose and Ram Shriram shared the 242nd spot last year, and went down the list this year though their personal fortunes have gone up from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion.

Bose, an acoustics pioneer, formed his company Bose Corporation 43 years ago, which today thrives on the latest iPod speaker docks, home theatre systems, noise-killing headphones, with a sale of $2 billion.

While 51-year-old Ram Shriram, an India-born financier, is an early investor and a board member of Google and owns 1.7 million shares worth $870 million despite selling over three million shares in 2004, when it went public.

Another NRI Bharat Desai, and his wife Neerja Sethi, founders of the info-tech outsourcing firm Syntel, have been ranked 286th with a fortune of $1.7 billion in the list. While Indian-American venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who had made his presence in the list almost continuously, this time figured at 317th place with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

The 54-year-old Desai, who was born in Kenya but moved to India at the age of 11, studied engineering at Indian Institute of Technology and took a programming job in the U.S. at Tata Consultancy Services in 1976.

The price of admission to America’s most exclusive club, courtesy Forbes, is now $1.3 billion, instead of one billion.

Young Indians happiest in the world
When it comes to happiness, Indian youths are the world’s happiest, with career being their top priority. According to a new global survey by Swedish research and consulting firm Kairos Future, compared to other nationalities young middle-class Indians are the happiest people of all and much more satisfied with all aspects of their lives. Work comes as top priority for Indian youth, followed by a good career and higher-status. In contrast, for those in Europe, a good living environment comes on top and above all work-related aspects, says Kairos Future.

The survey reveals that the priorities of Indian youth reflected in their values such as endurance and entrepreneurship. “Indian youth are also strikingly more optimistic about their future and also about the future of society. The general picture in other countries is that young people tend to be personal optimists but societal pessimists,” according to Kairos Future Group CEO and Founder Mats Lindgren.

However, the study said that even though family is a strong focal point in an Indian society, youth here showed little interest in having a family and children of their own. As per the study, there are many other important things for them in life other than having a family and children.

U.S. companies save $9.9 Bn through outsourcing
There has always been an anxiety among businessmen to know how the U.S companies achieved the level and shine of rock stars in outsourcing. Estimating that the U.S. businesses could be sitting on $9.9 billion in potential infrastructure savings through outsourcing, a latest Forrester study has found that companies that have outsourced, in the past, ended up with 12-17 percent cost savings.

In the latest report, Dr Paul Roehrig, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research says that, “The few dozen TPI, an outsourcing advisory firm, clients analyzed have unlocked at least $3.3 billion of total commercial value. Firms at the high and low ends of the deal sizes saved close to 12 percent, while firms in the middle of the bell curve saved more than 17 percent.” Forrester partnered with TPI.

While price remained a key driver, mature clients were seeking additional benefits such as access to skills, better service delivery, predictable delivery cost and sharper focus on the core business.

“Outsourcing can be the force multiplier that helps firms focus on the core business rather than ancillary support functions,” says the report.

Forrester concluded that the U.S. companies, which spent close to $150 billion for all IT services and outsourcing in 2006, could reap more rewards by crafting better contracts.

Motivated by previous survey results showing that about 70 percent of 615 technology decision-makers are hoping to reduce their budget spend on IT services, Forrester teamed with IT outsourcing advisory firm TPI to calculate potential savings.

India may lose $200 Bn due to sick workers
In 2005, the estimated losses to national income from diseases like heart ailments, stroke, and diabetes were a staggering $9 billion. In the next 10 years, according to the newspaper sources, India may lose as much as $200 billion due to employee sickness.

Due to illnesses in their workforces, some firms are already losing about 14 percent of their annual working days, more than 51 days in a year. Though India is home to nearly 600 million youngsters, double the total population of the U.S., the per-capita government health expenditure is one of the lowest in the world, at a dismal $7 against $2,548 in the U.S.

According to a study done by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) on ‘Impact of Preventive Healthcare on Indian Industry and Economy’ across 15 states, 12 percent of blue-collar workers are at high risk of getting a debilitating disease compared to four percent of the medium and senior-level employees.

The study also reveals that nearly 71 percent of the employees and 82 percent of CEOs were overweight. In addition, 48 percent of the employees and 69 percent of CEOs were physically unfit.

The impact of staff sickness is reflected in man-days lost. The ICRIER survey shows almost a quarter of the firms lose approximately 50 man-days in a year due to sickness. Another 34 percent lose 10-50 man-days. To mitigate the cost, two-thirds of respondents have introduced preventive healthcare. However, less than one third make a provision for the whole range of preventive healthcare measures.

The report also suggests a well-designed employee wellness program could lead to 25 percent reduction in the firms’ health plan costs, sick leave, disability pay, and workers’ compensation. Reducing just one health risk increases an employee’s productivity by nine percent.
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