Maruti Suzuki Now Enters Into Car Leasing

In order to find newer ways to attract buyers and recover from the current slowdown, Maruti Suzuki will venture into car leasing and fleet management service to offer all-inclusive services like vehicle acquisition, insurance, maintenance and value-added services.

Crux of the Matter

After a 3-month lockdown, Maruti Suzuki India which had recorded zero sales in April has resumed its manufacturing operations from May 12. As the economic activities resume and come back on track, the car manufacturer recorded domestic sales of 51,274 units in June 2020 which is a 54% drop in sales volume compared to June 2019.

Car Leasing – A New Business Model
Maruti Suzuki has tied up with ORIX Auto Infrastructure Services Limited, Japan to introduce #MarutiSuzukiSubscribe vehicle lease subscription service in the Indian market. The company in the initial phase will offer cars like Swift, Dzire, Vitara Brezza and Ertiga, Baleno, and Ciaz for subscription as a pilot project in Gurugram and Bengaluru. All the cars leased will be brand new.

Key Features Of The Service
Maruti Suzuki Subscribe will allow individual car buyers to choose from a variety of Maruti Suzuki cars with flexible lease tenure options of 24, 36, and 48 months. Once you decide the tenure, you pay the pre-determined monthly amount with no additional maintenance, service costs, or down payment required. There are two categories of subscription: Corporate Leasing and Retail Leasing.

How To Avail The Service?
The customer has to fill up an application form with the choice of vehicle and once the application is approved, the vehicle is made available within 15 days of the booking. The lease amount will be determined on the basis of documents submitted for credit appraisal. Before the delivery, an agreement is signed and all necessary documentation formalities will be completed. After the delivery, all post-sales operations like maintenance, service, insurance claims will be taken care of by the leasing partner, Orix

Customers also get access to 24×7 roadside assistance with their monthly payment and the company has also provided an option to extend the lease tenure if required. There is a lock-in period depending upon the tenure while leasing cars and if you wish to return the car before the lock-in period is over, you will have to pay for the remaining months of the period and additional 1-3 months’ cost.

Existing Players in the Market
Vehicle leasing services are popular in the US and Europe markets whereas, in India, its penetration is less than 1% of the total volume. Maruti’s rival Hyundai Motor India already offers leasing services in collaboration with ALD Automotive India.

Even Mahindra has rolled out a subscription-based passenger car ownership model in partnership with Revv which is a startup that operating in the car-sharing sector. China based SAIC-owned MG Motor India and Volkswagen also offer subscription services allowing customers to lease all BS6-compliant cars with a minimum lock-in period of 2-4 years.

Experts believe that the vehicle subscription model has immense possibilities in the India market as it will provide an alternative to owning a car and it will fulfil the need gap of the requirement of cars for any kind of individual and business applications.

  • A novated lease is a motor vehicle lease that has been novated, that is, the obligations in the contract have been transferred from one party to another. A lease is novated with a three-way agreement between the lessee, the lessor, and a third party.
  • Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation. In 2016, Suzuki was the eleventh biggest automaker by production worldwide and Suzuki’s domestic motorcycle sales volume is the third-largest in Japan.
  • The Maruti Omni was a microvan manufactured by Maruti Suzuki. Sold simply as the Maruti Van, this was the second vehicle to be launched by Maruti Suzuki. In April 2019, Suzuki announced they would discontinue the Omni after 35 years of production.

Global Brands Revamping In Light Of Anti-Racism Protests

Global Brands Revamping In Light Of Anti-Racism Protests

After a wave of protests following George Floyd’s death, global brands are rebranding age-old products which once signified racism and also showing their support towards the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Crux of the Matter

Evolving Names, Logos & Tag Lines
The past few weeks have seen an international wave of apologies and product removals. A number of consumer-goods companies are rebranding old trademarks following weeks of anti-racism protests in the U.S.

For decades, Indian advertisers have propagated an association between skin fairness with career success and social status. Unilever patented Fair & Lovely in 1971 after patenting niacinamide, a melanin suppressor which is the cream’s main active ingredient. Melanin is the natural skin pigment. To revamp its identity, Unilever announced to drop the word fair. Fair & Lovely has an average sales of over ₹3,400 crores/year in India

If we have to make our brands contemporary then we have to keep innovating and renovating them.

Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman Hindustan Unilever

After an Indian-American woman named Hetal Lakhani launched a campaign against the very popular website, they announced the removal of its skin-tone search filter option which allowed users to search for those with fair or dark complexions.

Johnson & Johnson after being accused of systemic racism they have announced to take all skin-lightening products like Neutrogena Fine Fairness off their shelves. Other brands like Loreal are also now being criticised for their products.

Brands know that it is bad business to be antagonizing large segments of vocal consumers who have the power to sway public opinion for or against them.

Karthik Srinivasan, Indian Branding & Communications consultant

Quaker Oats is changing the name of its 130-year old Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup whose brand logo features an African-American woman named after a character in 19th-century minstrel shows and is rooted in a stereotype of a friendly black woman working as a servant or nanny for a white family. 

Uncle Ben’s owned by Mars Food and Mrs. Butterworth syrup owned by ConAgra Brands have announced to revamp and evolve the brand’s packaging in response to ongoing protests against racism. Cream of Wheat owned by B&G Foods Inc. also will review its current packaging which depicts a character named Rastus, a derogatory term for Black men.

Nestlé has decided to review its portfolio of more than 2,000 brands and 25,000 products to ‘identify any required changes to our use of imagery or language.’ It will rename its Red Skins, Chicos, and Beso de Negra products.

More Efforts by Brands To #BlackLivesMatter
Nike has inverted the brand’s tagline to ‘Don’t do it’ and also released a powerful video encouraging people to resolve the issue of institutionalised racism. Google added a message of support to the BLM along with a black ribbon. Spotify created a silent playlist that lasted for 8mins 46seconds, the time for which George Floyd was choked by the American policeman. Nickelodeon went off-air for 8:46 minutes.

Amazon & Netflix celebrated the role of black artists, writers, and producers by putting out messages on their social media handles. Doritos gave Black artists major outdoor ad space to promote their messages as part of new investment in the #AmplifyBlackVoices effort. It also aired a 30-second spot, “Do You Hear Us Now?”

Twitter changed its profile picture to a black version of its logo and also real Tweets from Black users around the world were transformed into OOH boards in U.S. cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland and Philadelphia where major protests occurred.

Mississippi Removes Confederate Emblem
Mississippi House and Senate passed a bill on June 27 to remove the Confederate emblem from their flag which was originally used by the slave-owning states that lost the US Civil War and was seen as a racist symbol. It was the only remaining US state flag to feature the Confederate emblem and the recent protests reignited a debate over its use.

Mississippi was the only remaining US state flag to feature the Confederate emblem which was originally used by the slave-owning states that lost the US Civil War and the recent protests reignited a debate over its use. On June 27, Mississippi House and Senate passed a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from their flag which was seen as a racist symbol.

  • Lakmé is named after the French form of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It was started in 1952 famously because then PM Jawaharlal Nehru was concerned that Indian women were spending precious foreign exchange on beauty products and personally requested JRD Tata to manufacture them in India.
  • Unilever patented the brand Fair & Lovely in 1971 after the patenting of niacinamide, a melanin suppressor,[1] which is the cream’s main active ingredient. Melanin is the natural skin pigment that gives colour to the skin.
  • 8:46 is a 2020 performance special by American comedian Dave Chappelle about violence against African-Americans. The special was released via YouTube on June 12, 2020. The performance is not a traditional stand-up comedy special, as it was recorded at a private outdoor venue due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Ohio and features long stretches without humor.

Top Brands Pull Out of Facebook Ads

Top Brands Pull Out of Facebook Ads

Growing concerns over the rampant spread of false information and hate speech on Facebook has started the #StopHateForProfit campaign prompting hundreds of advertisers to stop spending on the platform resulting in $56 billion loss of market value in a single day.

Crux of the Matter

#StopHateForProfit Campaign
After the death of George Floyd and subsequent anti-racism protests, a coalition of civil rights groups namely Color of Change, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, Anti-Defamation League, and Common Sense Media accused Facebook of not taking efforts to control the spread of racist content online.

The coalition urged businesses to pull their ads from Facebook and Instagram and this movement is now widely known as the ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ campaign. This campaign is now not limited only to the US but also is spreading globally as nearly 160+ companies have decided to not advertise on Facebook for the next 30 days.

99% of Facebook’s revenue is generated from its 8 million advertisers. Though many of them are small companies, there are several big corporations like Unilever Group & Verizon, which alone spends nearly $42 million & $2 million respectively yearly on Facebook ads, that have halted advertising. Some also have stopped ad-spends on Twitter and other social media sites.

Some major brands who have paused advertising on Facebook include CocaCola, PepsiCo, The North Face, Starbucks, Unilever Group, Honda Motor Co, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnolia Pictures, The Hershey Company, REI, and Verizon.

We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.

John Nitti, Chief Media Officer Verizon

After the announcement by giants like Unilever and Verizon, the shares of Facebook dropped by 8.3% along with Mark Zuckerberg losing $7.2 billion of his net worth. Even in the past Facebook has faced backlashes over its handling of user data but its revenue was never seriously impacted by any of the protests. Facebook has lost nearly $56 billion in revenues.

The advertisers are unhappy with Facebook’s laissez-faire attitude towards posts from US President Trump. The organisers of the 2020 US presidential election fear that a highly polarised audience on social media could increase the potential for spreading misinformation and discriminatory content.

Unilever in India has dropped the word ‘fair’ from its popular skin-lightening product called Fair and Lovely. The outrage over the death of Floyd has led to an unprecedented reaction from corporations around the world.

Response by Facebook
Facebook conducted a conference call with over 200 of its advertisers and informed that they were working towards addressing the ‘trust deficit‘. The founder Mark Zuckerberg announced changes in content moderation policy via a live stream.

Facebook will now necessarily not take down posts that may violate its policies, but will instead begin to label them. The posts that ‘may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote ‘will be taken down regardless of who has shared it or whether it is newsworthy. It will also label political speech that violates its rules and take measures to prevent voter suppression and protect minorities from abuse.

I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues. But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that content, no matter where it comes from.

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder Facebook
  • Facebook’s main color is blue because Zuckerberg has red-green color blindness. In an interview, he said that “blue is the richest color for me — I can see all of blue.”
  • In finance, FAANG is an acronym that refers to the stocks of five prominent American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google). The term was coined by Jim Cramer, the television host of CNBC’s Mad Money.
  • Facebook users in the U.S. will have the option to “turn off” all political advertising on the platform. The new feature will give users more control over what they see — at least for users who decide to flip the new setting to “off.”

Space Now Officially Open To Indian Private Sector

Space Now Officially Open To Indian Private Sector

The recent union cabinet meet has decided to open India’s space sector for private players and has announced a new autonomous body IN-SPACe – Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre under the Ministry of Atomic Energy and Space to encourage private players to invest in the space industry.
Complete Coverage: Private Race For Space

Crux of the Matter

IN-SPACe will be a new autonomous body formed to regulate and permit the entry of private players in the space industry. Having its own directorates for security, legal, promotion and monitoring purposes it will act as a national nodal agency for hand-holding and promoting private sector in space endeavours.

We believe that private players should play a larger role than just supplying the parts and components. India is among a handful of countries which have advanced Space technology and this can play a significant role in boosting the industrial base of the country.

K Sivan, ISRO Chief

Till now ISRO was the only player working in the space research, missions, launching, and management of the satellites but with this significant reform, private players will be allowed to launch and control the broadcast satellites and provide end to end space commercial services.

Private players can now undertake the research activities and work with ISRO in various science and interplanetary missions and also will be allowed to build rockets and satellites, provide launching services, and own satellites.

Recalibration Of NSIL
New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO which had the primary responsibility of enabling Indian industries to take up high technology space-related activities now has been recalibrated to transform its approach from a supply-driven to a demand-driven model.

NSIL will take over ISRO’s responsibilities of operational launch vehicles, satellites, and commercial activities and will now handle all future technology transfer of small satellite manufacturing as well as SSLV and PSLV on behalf of ISRO.

Challenges & Role of ISRO
India barely has a barely in the global space economy which is already worth $360 billion. 95% of this market is related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems whereas only 2% of this is for rocket and satellite launch services requiring large infrastructure and heavy investment.

Currently, the private industry involvement in India’s space sector is limited to the manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites. Private players have also been unable to compete because they lack the technology to undertake independent space projects like SpaceX and have a limited role of being suppliers of components and sub-systems.

The demand for space-based applications and services is growing even within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to this. The need for satellite data, imageries, and space technology has been growing tremendously and to meet the demand ISRO would have to be expanded 10 times the current level.

With IN-SPACe focusing on private players, the ISRO Chief clarified that ISRO’s activities will not be reduced and it will continue to work on advanced research and development, interplanetary missions, human spaceflight, and capacity building in the space sector.

Industry Reactions
Space industry experts have welcomed the reforms but have also voiced out the need to handhold the new players in the initial period till they establish their own costly setups. It is seen as an excellent move which not only will unlock the full potential of the Indian space sector but also will contribute to providing employment and increasing exports.

“This will enable private players to participate in the space programme independently or in collaboration with ISRO and also enable them to access ISRO”s facilities.”

Dr Tapan Misra, Senior Advisor, ISRO & Former Director, Space Applications Centre, ISRO

An anonymous ISRO official has cautioned about the friction that will arise until the mechanisms are put in place and there is clear identification of responsibilities, resources, and manpower.

Former ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishan points out to the fact that elsewhere in the world the private industry and space-start-ups are becoming the drivers of the new space age whereas India is ridden with challenges in international marketing of strategic high technology products and services.

We should look forward to preserving the ‘soul of ISRO’ and its exceptional traits while implementing this historic and significant transition.

K. Radhakrishnan, Former ISRO Chairman
  • Late actor Sushant Singh Rajput had bought a piece of lunar land on the far side of the moon. The region that he bought is called the Mare Muscoviense or the ‘Sea of Muscovy.’ He had bought the property from the International Lunar Lands Registry.
  • The Outer Space Treaty is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law. Among the Outer Space Treaty’s main points are that it prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space, it limits the use of the Moon and all other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes only, and establishes that space shall be free for exploration and use by all nations, but that no nation may claim sovereignty of outer space or any celestial body.
  • Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was an Indian physicist and astronomer who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India. He is internationally regarded as the Father of the Indian Space Program.

What Is The Ghatak Platoon?

Indian Army's elite force Ghatak

Ghatak, meaning ‘lethal’ in Hindi, true to its name is one of the two elite forces present in every infantry battalion of the Indian Army that act as shock troops and spearhead assaults ahead of the battalion. In the recent Indo-China skirmish, the Ghatak platoons played a vital role in fighting the Chinese side.

Crux of the Matter

Strengths & Capabilities
Ghatak platoon consists of 20 soldiers in approximately every 350 infantry battalions of the army i.e. nearly a total strength of 7000. Every platoon consists of a Commanding Captain, 2 non-commissioned officers and some specialised soldiers along with assault troopers.

Ghatak Commandos are capable of carrying out tasks such as special reconnaissance, raids on enemy artillery positions and directing artillery and air attacks on targets deep within enemy lines. Their operations are similar to the Ranger Regiments of the US Army and the Commando Ranger Regiments of the Republic of Korea Army.

They undergo a 6-week Commando Training course in Belgaum, Karnataka. There is an upper age limit of 30 years in this 2 phase training of Acclimatization and High Altitude. They are rigorously trained for heliborne assault, rock climbing, mountain warfare, demolitions, bomb diffusion, advanced weapon training, and infantry tactics.

Some of the qualified soldiers are even sent to the High Altitude Warfare School and the Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Kashmir. The most physically fit soldiers either volunteer or are selected to be a part of the Ghatak platoon and it is mandatory for all infantry officers to pass the Commando Training Course.

Ghatak Commandos are armed with INSAS Assault Rifles, AKM Assault Rifles, Pika General Purpose Machine Gun, M4 Carbine, B&T MP9 Submachine Gun, IWI Tavor TAR-21 Assault Rifles, Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle, SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle, MP5 Submachine Gun and INSAS Light Machine Guns.

They are equipped with standard-issue camouflage and body armour along with sniper teams, light machine gunners, medics, and radio operators. Depending on the mission, they may carry ropes, climbing gear, grenades, rocket launchers, laser target designators, and night vision equipment.

Other Special Forces
Special Forces of India are organised, trained and equipped to conduct special operations in extreme conditions on land, water and air. Three branches of the India armed forces have separate special forces unit namely: Para SF of Indian Army; MARCOS of Indian Navy and Garuda Commando Force of Indian Air Force.

Para commandos recognised with their maroon beret uniforms were formed in 1966. This regiment has the honour of being conferred the Bravest of Brave distinction. Garuda Commando Force established in 2004 has over 1500 personnel. They have been deployed for UN peacekeeping missions in Congo.

MARCOS also called the Marine Commando Force was formed in 1987 to provide support to amphibious operations. They are also reputedly called the ‘Dadhiwala Fauj’ (The Bearded Army) by militants in Kashmir. Apart from these three forces, Indian forces also include COBRA Force, Special Frontier Force (SPF), and National Security Guard (NSG).

Stories of Bravery
Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked the Army’s 12th Brigade in Uri on 18 September 2016. After which the Ghatak platoon from 6th Bihar and 10th Dogra battalions led by 4th and 9th battalions of the Special forces conducted surgical strikes on terror camps in PoK. The Ghatak platoons were used in the flanking role as they are well versed with the areas across the LoC and are better acclimatized.

Captain Neikezhakuo Kenguruse was the Ghatak platoon commander during a night operation during Operation Vijay in 1999 during the Kargil War. After sustaining a bullet wound, he continued the operation and shot two men and killed two others using his knife in hand to hand combat. He was posthumously awarded the Mahavir Chakra.

In the very recent clash between India and China, the Ghatak commandos were part of the patrolling and backup team on the LAC.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Mitali Madhumita, commissioned in 2000, is the first woman officer in India to receive a gallantry award, who received the Sena Medal in 2011 for exemplary courage shown during the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by terrorists in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • General Bipin Chandra Joshi, PVSM, AVSM, ADC was the 17th Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of the Indian Army. General B. C. Joshi has been a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service of the most exceptional order. He gave the name to Ghatak Platoon.
  • INSAS. an abbreviation of INdian Small Arms System is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun (LMG). The INSAS assault rifle is the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces and manufactured by the Ordnance Factories Board.