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MAKING THE WORLD MOVE

Architect Dikshu Kukreja discusses design and its function across cars and construction with industrialist Gautam Singhania.

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Two supercars can be polar opposites of each other, while a car and a building can be approached in a similar way by a designer. Chairman and MD of the Raymond Group and founder of the Super Car Club of India, Gautam Singhania, provided such interesting insights in a conversation led by Dikshu Kukreja, spanning automobiles, architecture and how design guides both. Excerpts:

Dikshu Kukreja (DK): I’m really enjoying my visit to the Super Car Club Garage and it’s been fascinating to see what all is here. I know that you have a real passion for not just cars but all kinds of vehicles. But let’s talk about cars first. How did you make your first foray, if you still remember, into super-fast cars? Where did it start?

Gautam Singhania (GS): I think I’ve had a passion for cars all my life, starting with go-karting when I was a kid. Subsequently, in the past several decades my passion for cars grew. And it’s not only one form of cars that I have a passion for; probably the most unique range of cars—from go-karts to Formula 1 and from cars that are from the 18th century to those from 2020. I have cars from about 2 horsepower to 1800 horsepower. So it is a very diversified range of cars that I have a passion for.

DK: That is quite a range! So when we talk about supercars, what is it that really attracts you the most in terms of priority? Is it the design side of it or the engineering side? Or is it about features such as aesthetics and speed? 

GS: So, when we talk about supercars, I think that word is a very broad one. I don’t think two brands or two supercars are even remotely close to each other. They are as different and as dynamically opposite to each other than they can be. I’ll give you an example – 7-8 years ago, the Ferrari 458, which was the iconic Ferrari, and the Lamborghini cars were targeted at exactly the same market, but they were very different to drive and overall too. There are differences in every little aspect of a car; one wouldn’t be able to gauge the differences even if they were standing next to each other. The Ferrari was a softer car to drive, while the Lamborghini was a much harder one to drive. The Ferrari was a two-wheel drive, the Lamborghini with four-wheel drive. 

DK: Really interesting. Somebody who knows a lot more about cars can probably tell the difference. Otherwise just looking at it, one can’t understand the nitty-gritties. 

GS: Both the cars have different market shares. If one just looks at them architecturally or design-wise, standing next to each other, they are very different. Lamborghini customers have always been very different from Ferrari customers

DK: What’s interesting is when you talk about it architecturally. For me, it’s interesting how a vehicle, whether a car, yacht or an aeroplane, is similar to a building, because just the way you have parameters for designing a building—plot size, how much you can build, height, etc—there are certain similar parameters for cars—like the size of an engine or the four wheels, the overall limited space one is designing in. And yet you have to give a personalised touch with regard to the space that you are dwelling in, because like you are living in a building, you are also spending time inside a car!

GS: Yes, but I believe you touched a larger subject. I believe designing a home is different from designing a plane or boat or a car due to the fundamental difference of weight. In the design of a building, you don’t worry about the weight, but if you design the interiors of an aircraft, weight is a big issue. Not only weight, but fireproof materials and other limitations are also issues. In a yacht, the more weight you add, the faster you are going to sink. Now in cars, it really depends on the safety of what you doing with the car. If you are modifying the engine, what is the actual capability of the engine that you want to stick into the car? If we are going into a race car zone, then we have to figure out what safety features we want – do you want a roll cage in it, what kind of seat belts you want, what kind of safety equipment you have (fire extinguisher, etc.). All of my supercars have a fire extinguisher. I pay extra money but I get it done because these are high performance cars. So there’s a lot of delta between the different kinds of cars. I have a Mustang Fastback standing here and it’s a piece of art! I could put it on a ramp and show how even the last nut and bolt on the undercarriage is shining.

DK: I know that you have a passion for yachts as well. I believe there is a yacht which has been completely indigenously designed by third generation boat builders from Gujarat. It has interiors which have Burma teak. When you choose to have this kind of a yacht for yourself, how important is the level of artistry and craftsmanship when you have somebody design it for you?

GS: When you build a hybrid yacht, it’s never been done before. It’s going to be a challenge. I design a lot of projects – boats, planes, cars, and now buildings – we’re doing a very large-scale real estate project here. So, it depends on what you want it for. If you want a super yacht and if you want luxury and to spend time on it, you are probably looking at very high-quality finish and utilities, as per your wants. 

DK: So when you are actually trying to finalise that design direction for your real estate, is there something where your love for and understanding of design comes through? 

GS: I think my love for life comes through!

DK: Fantastic! That’s also the way I see it. If you are passionate about it and have a love for it, it starts showing through in all design aspects, so to speak of. There are these different facets to you—people know you as The Raymond Man, some others know you as the one and only drifting champion of India—there are so many interesting things in your personality. I want to talk about something though which goes a while back—we are talking early 1990s—where you were also instrumental in bringing the Kamasutra condoms to India. Can you tell us a little bit about how you thought about that being very important as far as sexual awareness goes? And even there I find significant design elements because of the whole advertising. Was there an idea for the design of that whole project?

GS: Way back in the early 1990s, there was only the contraceptive called Nirodh. You can talk to me about condoms today but it was not something you could talk about 30 years ago; it was taboo. And we really had to get sex out of the closet! I think the whole campaign with Pooja—the borderline high sensuality, more than sexuality—the design of the campaign was just to keep you on the edge—it’s great! I think it brought the subject out of the closet and I think the controversy gave us tremendous free publicity that established the brand. And from there, we have gone down the design route. There’s been so much variation in design – lots of new products coming out in the offering – so it’s been a fun journey.

DK: When I heard about that, I was not completely aware of you being behind this. But talking about technology, when I look at buildings today, I realise how technology is a fundamental aspect driving them—smart homes, intelligent buildings. Design is now evolving around technology. It’s not an exterior element that needs to be incorporated into the design but rather its starting point. 

GS: It’s all about technology today. If you take construction technology, in the good old days, one did shuttering and you made a slab and it took 30 days. Today, we are doing five and a half slabs a month and that’s all driven by technology.

DK: We are doing a project in Sri Lanka which is the tallest building of South Asia, with 120 storeys. And the speed of construction turns out to be mind-boggling! Everything is actually designed off ground. So it’s not that one imagines a building being built and contemplate the direction it will take or not. Technology has it all sorted before—whether it’s BIM and all the other ways that we design, where all these aspects are already thought through and seen 3-dimensionally, then it simply is all about execution. In India, of course, we all love to see the F1 and when it came to the country there was a huge excitement that we actually and eventually had the brand in India. Unfortunately, that lasted only a few years, but do you see anywhere in the country this design movement, through your involvement in designing houses and working on supercars? 

GS: I don’t think you’re going to see that movement in this country because I strongly believe that for an industry to be successful in any country you’ve got to have a massive culture for the industry. 

DK: But the way I see it, we both share a common passion which is towards design. And I think as that comes into the mainstream, there will probably be a change. Because as you see it, we, in India, have been extremely creative people—look at our craftsmanship, our architecture.

GS: Architecturally, India’s got great architecture. I always make this argument. Just yesterday I was talking to someone and they said it’s Dubai. And I replied that Dubai has no architecture! It’s a mix and match—if you were to ask me what is Dubai architecture, there is no Dubai architecture! It’s a hotchpotch! While if you say Indian architecture, there is so much depth in it. Whether you take the Victoria Terminus or the Taj Mahal, whether you compare Rajasthan or Kerala, it’s very different. But that’s also because we have our culture in heritage.

DK: With your love for travel and machines, would you ever book yourself on the spacecraft that Elon Musk is talking about?

GS: Maybe at the right time. Maybe once they do it a little bit better and probably if I still have the nerve to do, I might do it. I’m an adrenaline junky and I’ve done a lot of stuff. It’s on the bucket list but it’s not a priority at the moment.

DK: Thank you so much, Gautam. It’s been wonderful.

Watch Deciphering Design with Diskhu Saturday 7:30 pm & Wednesday 7:30 pm

Follow:

Instagram – @dikshukukreja

Twitter – @DikshuKukreja

Facebok – @DikshuCKukreja

Koo details – @dikshukukreja

DDWD handle:

1. Facebook (primary) – @designwithdikshu

2. Instagram- @cpkukrejaarchitects

3. LinkedIn – C P Kukreja Architects

4.Koo details – @cpkukreja

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NCPCR going to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse in Chandigarh

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The National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is going to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse. On 26 July 2021, NCPCR is going to instruct Chandigarh Administration to utilise all mediums to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse using medical tests in case required. This whole program would be managed under the recently launched Joint Action Plan (JAP), in which the Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Education are actively involved as stakeholders. NCPCR is going to start such initiatives under JAP across India.

NCPCR has identified 272 such vulnerable districts across the nation where State stakeholders would extensively work on Children who are substance abused and would wean away drugs from their lives while adopting various mediums. A recent study by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment identified 4.6 lakh children in the country who are addicted to inhalants, the only category of substance in which the prevalence was higher among children than among adults. The five states with the highest prevalence of inhalant abuse among children were Uttar Pradesh (94,000 children), Madhya Pradesh (50,000 children), Maharashtra (40,000 children), Delhi (38,000 children), and Haryana (35,000 children).

Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of NCPCR told The Daily Guardian, “We introduced to have exclusive De-addiction and Rehabilitation Facilities for Children in 272 Vulnerable Districts. The MoSJE shall expedite the process to establish exclusive de-addiction facilities meant for children. However, if there are any constraints or lack of space, a separate portion in the existing facility has to be identified and partitioned for the children. Also, there has to be a provision of separate toilets; and safety and security of children have to be ensured.”

“The action plan mandates that ‘Prahari Clubs’’ be set up in schools in collaboration with Gandhi Smriti Darshan Samiti, in which children will discuss issues related to drug abuse and become monitors of the abuse,” he added.

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TECHNOLOGY WILL BE A KEY PART OF FASHION INDUSTRY’S GROWTH: SUNAINA KWATRA

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Fashion & lifestyle leader Sunaina Kwatra spoke to NewsX India A-List about doing business during the pandemic, the impact of technology in the fashion industry and more. Sunaina has proven expertise in international retail management, brand positioning, and turnaround execution. She has almost 20 years of work experience, the majority of which has been leading fashion brands at the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesey (LVMH) group in the Asia Pacific. Sunaina began her career as an entrepreneur in the homeware and lifestyle industry working with retailers in the United States including Barneys New York and Pottery Barn. She pivoted into luxury fashion brand management after completing her MBA and has held strategic positions to expand and reposition brands within LVMH’s Asia Pacific portfolio.

In her most recent role, Sunaina was the country head of Louis Vuitton in India and legal director for all operations in the country. She was responsible for developing and expanding Louis Vuitton’s omnichannel retail operations, people and brand equity in this high growth market. She successfully led her team to achieve the highest sales, client experience and brand growth that had ever been achieved for the brand.

Excerpts:

Q. Tell us more about your background and how your Indian roots brought you back to India?

A. I’m from Thailand. I am ethnically Indian but fourth generation, born and brought up in Thailand. I was very blessed to have an international upbringing. I have worked in five continents, travelled extensively. My last few roles have been within the LVMH group based out of Hong Kong.

My first role within the group was as the Regional Head of Asia Pacific for Emilio Pucci. In this role, I managed the entire scope of the brand’s direct retail business in Hong Kong and China as well as franchise, department store and multi-brand distribution in the Asia Pacific. My next role within the LVMH group was as the Commercial Director for Givenchy to identify and execute growth strategies to maximise brand development and repositioning. In my tenure, I oversaw 61 locations, opened 24 stores in line with the brand vision and improved productivity across the network. When they offered me the position to come back to India to amplify the Louis Vuitton business in India, I was thrilled at the opportunity and I am very proud of all we did to build the business and our team in India.

Q. What are the tools that have allowed you to succeed?

A. While growing up my father always said that travel is the best form of education. I had a very international education in Asia, Australia, and Europe and have worked in five continents. This allows me to be sensitive to people and cultures while executing different strategies to grow businesses. I am a commercially driven leader and am passionate about people and delivering excellence. My general management and end-to-end experience overseeing teams, networks, finance, logistics, merchandising, client development, and marketing allow me to be detail-oriented yet see and set the big picture.

Q. What have we learned in retail during the Covid-19 pandemic?

A. The biggest learning is that we have to embrace e-commerce and the online experience. The word ‘omnichannel’ was a buzzword a decade ago. I think successful businesses during the pandemic had to integrate different methods of shopping available to consumers. You have had to expand the supply chain through localities, fulfilment centres or direct consumers. E-commerce has been a key to successful businesses in the pandemic. Businesses had to be agile and responsive to different means of reaching consumers. The lockdown has also led to less physical interaction with consumers. Brands have had to re-think the consumer experience and how they engage with clients. The big thing is how we engage with clients in a number of different ways.

Q. How do you think technology will impact the fashion industry in the future?

A. Technology will be a key part of the growth of the fashion industry. Coming out of the pandemic, sustainable materials are important and a key focus for a lot of brands. Opting for materials that are good for the environment as well as good for us: non-toxic and more breathable. We know that there are now going to be ways to bridge e-commerce and the successful physical presence of stores. We can have VRs, augmented reality to help you try out clothing; jewellery, fashion and many brands have done it successfully. Just the engagement of technology and digitisation is the key to the success and supply chain management. This is an exciting time for us and technology will enable future growth in retail.

Q. What advice would you give to business owners in India as we come out of second Covid-19 wave?

A. I am sitting in the US right now and we are starting to see lines in retail stores again. People really want to embrace human connection. I would just like to say that there is hope and light. I hope that businesses now use this time to strategise and further activate their omnichannels, integrate, and improve their e-commerce presence, engage with their communities on social media platforms and really use technology to enhance the supply chain and logistics to better prepare them for the future.

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Time out: Yoga asanas amid busy work meetings

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Work from home means longer working hours, with more emails and even more work meetings. Attending those long back to back video calls can be boring, hectic, and it definitely makes your body stiff and sore due to long sitting hours at the work desk. It also affects your focus and productivity. Obviously, how can one properly concentrate while in pain? However, a little movement and stretching in between busy work meetings can save you from unwanted mind and body stress.

On International Self-Care Day, let’s decide to prioritise a healthy lifestyle amid busy schedules. 

Try these simple yoga asanas that you can do while sitting on your chair or while standing in between breaks:

1. GARUDASANA

This asana can be done while sitting on a chair or while standing. It is a great shoulder and upper back opener. It also works towards removing stiffness from the lower body as well. Remember to repeat this asana on both sides.

STEPS

· Sit up tall on the chair with your spine erect and feet flat on the floor 

· Bring both your hands together, elbows touching each other. Take the right arm around the left and bring it around so both palms are facing each other

· Lift your right leg and place it over your left thigh, tucking your right toes around the left calf

· Gaze straight and breathe normally. Remove the bind to come out of the pose

· Repeat on the other side 

2. SITTING SIDE BENDS 

Sitting at the desk for a long time can make the upper body very stiff. Hence, it is important to engage in some simple movements like side bends.

This pose can also be performed while sitting on a chair or hile standing.

STEPS

· Sit comfortably on a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the ground

· Inhale, raise both your arms up in the air and palms facing each other 

· As you exhale, take your right arm over your head, stretching it over to the left

· Simultaneously, bring your left arm down to the right side

· Breathe normally, feeling the stretch in your right-hand side of the body

· Hold this pose for 30 seconds

· Repeat on the other side 

3. TADASANA 

This is one of the most simple and effective poses. It is beneficial for overall health. It helps with aligning body posture, relieves back pain, increases focus, and balance.

STEPS

· Stand straight on the floor and keep a small gap between your feet

· Inhale and raise both your arms

· Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms upwards

· Now come on your toes, raising your heels 

· Feel the stretch in the sides of your body and be in this pose for a few seconds

· Release your arms and come down on your heels

4.  SHOULDER OPENER

This is an excellent stretch for the shoulders as well as the upper back. This stretch not only helps with stiff shoulders but also calms the mind as you fold forward.

STEPS

· Sit comfortably on the chair with your feet flat on the floor

· Take your arms behind your back, interlacing your fingers 

· Bend your torso forward, bringing your hands over your head, straightening it as much as possible

· You can place your head on your lap if that’s comfortable or else, just gaze towards the floor 

· Be gentle and know your limit 

Remember to do deep breathing during these asanas. It will help you relax and destress. Take out at least a few minutes every day to rejuvenate and recharge yourself.

The writer is a Yoga Instructor at SARVA.

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WORLD ORDER AND INDIA: NEGOTIATING THUCYDIDES TRAP & GREAT CONVERGENCE

Standing as a gateway between Western hegemony and Chinese authoritarianism, India holds a global promise that is much more sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, and economic growth-centric.

Rudra P. Pradhan

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Harvard Professor Graham Alison’s ‘Thucydides Trap’ and Geneva School of Economics Professor Richard Baldwin’s ‘Great Convergence’ are two dominant geopolitical perspectives today that guide and capture current global geopolitical transitions and turbulence of our times. Thucydides Trap and Great Convergence are recent propositions. There is, however, a very interesting third perspective too that was prophesied back in 1940s by former Director of London School of Economics, Sir Halford John Mackinder. 

Mackinder’s perspective centred around the imagination and theoretical construct of China and India rising to world centre stage. Back in 1943, Mackinder, writing the last article of his life, prophesied that “the Monsoon Lands of India and China holding a thousand million people of ancient oriental civilisation will grow to prosperity and balance the remaining great geographical regions.” Mackinder further added, “They will then balance the other thousand million who live between the Missouri (River in the USA) and the Yenisei (Russian River).  A balanced globe of human beings, and happy, because balanced and thus free.” In the midst of the World War II, Mackinder wrote this piece at the request of Foreign Policy magazine and imagined a great geopolitical turning point emerging from the Asian highlands where China and India shall hold and define the thread of international geopolitical balance. 

After over 75 years of Mackinder’s hypothesis, while China’s rise has greatly ruptured the global power balance and distorted world order today, the rise of India into the world stage offers an alternative narrative. Away from the communist jingoism and carefully balanced from Western political prescriptions, India, as Mackinder imagined, has indeed emerged as the largest democratic polity in the world with a world view that is entirely native of India and flows from the civilisational values of the subcontinent while being organic in character and symbiotic with larger aspirations of the world.

RISING MULTIPLEX WORLD ORDER

Bretton Woods system is under great stress today symbolising a visible decline of American eminence in international affairs. The United Nations — the largest organ of Bretton Woods — is unable to respond to conflict situations in Syria, Afghanistan, Crimea, South China Sea dispute, terrorism, and radicalism issues. Demand for UN reform is quite rightfully growing. Indo-Pacific Region (IPR) emerging as new frontiers of conflict, newer security alignments and counter alignments like QUAD, joint military exercises like Malabar and MILAN, Sea Guardian et al are new strategic security experimentations. Given Chinese infrastructure investments in several Island Chain countries, long-neglected Island nations have suddenly emerged as critical investment destinations and phenomena of Island shopping by big powers. 

Bretton Woods financial architecture is also under stress. BRICS Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are seen as alternatives to World Bank. While the dollarised world economy is threatened by the Eurozone, cryptocurrencies, and the Chinese digital Yuan, the international trade regime is vacillating between trade liberalism and aspiration for protectionism. New players and economic clusters demanding and competing for power and influence, it’s new world order of pluralism and multipolarity which Professor Amitav Acharya captures as phenomena of multiplex world order. While the political analysts from Robert Keohane to Joseph Nye, and Kishore Mahbubani et al are largely in agreement with the multiplex world order hypothesis, economists have far too matured explanations of this change and the change drivers. 

GREAT CONVERGENCE HYPOTHESIS

‘Thucydides Trap’ sensitises all of us of a visible war. Baldwin’s ‘Great Convergence’ hypothesis on the other hand squarely simplifies this puzzle. Baldwin argues that a fundamental shift in the world’s mode of production has occurred leading to the emergence of wealth in many parts of the world — a critical structural shift. Baldwin calls it as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ where North American and Western European capital has integrated with cheap labour in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Vietnam et al. The net result — the erstwhile capitalist block is rendered de-industrialised and at their cost and expense, several countries of the world have become wealthier and correspondingly aspirational too. Knowledge economy and its critical arsenals like AI, algorithm, big data, digital currency, and decision tree et al have become new factors of production. 

While China took great advantage of this shifting mode of production to build the Chinese economic power and its corresponding geopolitical influence and ambition, several other countries like India, East Asian countries, Brazil, and Mexico et al also prospered as growing economic powers. Goldman Sachs former Chairman Jim O’Neill spotted this transition and coined the BRIC acronym in 2001. Baldwin called this a phenomenon of ‘Great Convergence’ that led to the pluralisation of the wealth of the world which was earlier limited to industrialised G-7 countries only. Several cluster economies like BRICS, ASEAN, and EU et al also emerged as sovereign country clubs to share the benefit of this change and better negotiate their fortune and influence.   

INDIA AS A SWING STATE

Meanwhile, Richard Fontaine and Daniel Kliman’s hypothesis of ‘Global Swing States’ is yet another explanation that captures countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey as the possible Swing States of the world and its transition. Global Swing States, as Fontaine and Kliman would see, are those nations that possess large and growing economies, occupy central positions in a region or stand at the hinge or gateways of multiple regions, and embrace democratic governments at home. They are increasingly active, aspirational, and desire changes in the existing international order. They greatly represent the aspirations of the developing countries that were systematically marginalised in the Bretton Woods arrangement.

DOES INDIA OFFER THE WAY?

India, in many ways, offers a very proactive and positive way forward towards a smooth transition of international order. In spite of being a nuclear power, India traditionally has downplayed military adventurism or musclemanship in foreign policy practice and choices. As a country of civilisational value order, India champions participatory and inclusive international governance order. While India’s democratic polity is an assured global value, as a critical representative of developing countries’ aspirations, India symbolises consensus than conflict. Since 1947, India has always advocated respect for territorial sovereignty for all nations and demanded strategic autonomy for itself in foreign policy choices. As the second-largest global market, India boasts of a huge labour force and attracts much more global interest than all other Swing States put together. In the Indo-Pacific Sea lanes, India talks of rule-based governance and ‘security and growth for all’ — a cooperative development module than predatory hegemony. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, India acted as a benevolent vaccines supplier than monopolising or profiting out of the crisis. 

India characteristically holds a ‘goodwill value’ which is beneficial to the world at large. While Mackinder imaginatively predicted the rise of China, he was equally apprehensive of the rise of ‘Yellow Barbarian’ and anticipated that the rise of India shall beneficially balance the world order. Standing as a gateway between Western hegemony and Chinese authoritarianism, India, undoubtedly, holds a global promise that is much more sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, and economic growth-centric.

Rudra P. Pradhan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, KK Birla Goa Campus and serves as a Distinguished Fellow, Political Economy at Centre for Public Policy (CPPR), Kerala.

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Fashion & lifestyle leader Sunaina Kwatra advises on changing modes of doing business in pandemic

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Sunaina Kwatra

Fashion & lifestyle leader Sunaina Kwatra speaks exclusively to NewsX India A-List on a host of issues including doing business during the pandemic, impact of technology in fashion industry and the future of luxury inc.

Sunaina has proven expertise in international retail management, brand positioning, and turnaround execution. She has almost 20 years work experience, the majority of which has been leading fashion brands at the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesey (LVMH) group in Asia Pacific. Sunaina began her career as an entrepreneur in the homeware and lifestyle industry working with retailers in the United States including Barneys New York and Pottery Barn. She pivoted into luxury fashion brand management after completing her MBA and has held strategic positions to expand and reposition brands within LVMH’s Asia Pacific portfolio.

In her most recent role, Sunaina was the country head of Louis Vuitton in India and legal director for all operations in the country. She was responsible for developing and expanding Louis Vuitton’s omni-channel retail operations, people and brand equity in this high growth market. She successfully led her team to achieve the highest sales, client experience and brand growth that had ever been achieved for Louis Vuitton in India.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Congratulations on all you have achieved. Could you tell me more about your background and how your Indian roots brought you back to India?

A. I’m from Thailand. I am ethnically Indian but fourth generation, born and brought up in Thailand. I was very blessed to have an International upbringing. I have worked in five continents, travelled extensively. My last few roles have been within the LVMH group based out of Hong Kong.

My first role within the group was as the Regional Head of Asia Pacific for Emilio Pucci. In this role, I managed the entire scope of the brand’s direct retail business in Hong Kong and China as well as franchise, department store and multi-brand distribution in Asia Pacific. My next role within the LVMH group was as the Commercial Director for Givenchy to identify and execute growth strategies to maximise brand development and repositioning. In my tenure, I oversaw 61 locations, opened 24 stores in-line with brand vision and improved productivity across the network.

When they offered me the position to come back to India to amplify the Louis Vuitton business in India, I was thrilled at the opportunity and I am very proud of all we did to build the business and our team in India.

Q. What are the tools that have allowed you to succeed?

A. Growing up my father always said that travel was the best form of education. I had a very international education in Asia, Australia, and Europe and have worked in 5 continents. This allows me to sensitive to people and cultures while executing different strategies to grow businesses. I am a commercially driven leader and am passionate about people and delivering excellence. My general management and end-to-end experience overseeing teams, networks, finance, logistics, merchandising, client development and marketing allow me to be detail oriented yet see and set the big picture.

Q. What have we learned in retail during the pandemic?

A. The biggest learning is that we have to embrace e-commerce and the online experience. The word ‘omni-channel’ was a buzzword a decade ago. I think successful businesses during Covid had to integrate different methods of shopping available to consumers. You have had to expand the supply chain through localites, fulfillment centers or direct consumers. E-commerce has obviously a key to successful businesses in Covid. Businesses had to agile and responsive to different means of reaching the consumers. The lockdown has also led to less physical interaction with consumers. Brands have had to re-think the consumer experience and how they engage with clients. The big thing is how do we engage with clients in a number of different ways.

Q. How do you think technology will impact the fashion industry in the future?

A. Technology will be a key part of the growth of the fashion industry. Coming out of Covid, sustainable materials are important and a key focus for a lot of brands. Materials, that are not only good for the environment, but good for us being non-toxic and more breathable. We know that there are now going to be ways to bridge e-commerce and successful physical presence of stores. We can have VRs, augmented reality to help you try out clothing; jewelry, fashion and many brands have done it successfully. Just the engagement of technology and digitization is key to the success and the supply chain management. This is an exciting time for us and technology will enable future growth in retail.

Q. What advice would you give business owners in India as we come out of our second Covid wave?

A. I am sitting in the US right now and we are starting to see lines in retail stores again. People really want to embrace human connection. I would just like to say that there is hope and light. I hope that businesses now use this time to strategize and further activate their omni-channels, integrate and improve their e-commerce presence, engage with their communities on social media platforms and really use technology to enhance the supply chain and logistics to better prepare themselves for the future.

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Wanted to explore something other than film music: Sunidhi Chauhan

Singer Sunidhi Chauhan recently joined NewsX for a candid conversation wherein she talked about her new single ‘Ye Ranjishein’, besides sharing her incredible journey.

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Singer Sunidhi Chauhan recently joined NewsX for a conversation as part of NewsX India’s special A-List series. She talked about her new single ‘Ye Ranjishein’ and also shared insights from her incredible singing journey. 

Sunidhi Chauhan began by telling her side of the story, answering why it took 20 years to launch her new single and said, “Yeah, I know it sounds weird, right? I didn’t want it to be that way. But actually film music just generally kept me busy. So I didn’t have the time to think about what I wanted to do other than film music. During this lockdown, I happen to sit down and think about, what is it that I want to say in my own song? Because film music will keep happening and I am a product of the film music and I love it but on the side, I did want to explore something different and I just met the right people at the right time. Which was during the lockdown and I’m happy that something productive has come out of it.”

When asked about her new song, she began by praising the music video’s director, Ranju Varghese and said, “The credit for the music video is totally our director. We shot in a barren land, there was nothing that you could see too far. I don’t know how he put all of that together on the table of the Edit and it just looks so brilliant right now. None of those things were there while we were shooting, except for some properties. There was nothing and he’s really brought it to life and done a fab job. I met Shruti Rane, who’s this amazing young composer and sings very well, through Gaurav Dasgupta, a friend of mine who I’ve worked with. He himself is a music composer and I have really liked singing for him. So I thought maybe he’s meeting me for a song that he has composed and Shruti is one of the singers he is introducing me to but when I got to know that it’s her song written by her as she’s a songwriter. I was blown away, she’s a very sweet cute little girl and I didn’t think a serious song was coming out of her. I was really taken aback and I complimented her and I was like, let’s do this song.”

She urged people to be more responsible in these difficult times and said, “Through the song, I’m sending all the good vibes, positivity, love and prayers. Of course, we are losing a lot of people and these are crazy times. I urge everyone to be more responsible, you’ve been doing great, but I think we need more because it has hit us for the second time now and this wave is even more dangerous. It’s almost airborne now, you have to be more responsible and take care of each other. And it just takes to wear a mask properly. That’s all.”

Speaking about how she managed with the obstacles she encountered last year, she said, “We were just grooming, mopping, and dishes at home, and nothing else. And a few songs here and there. Which were recorded from home for the movies. Because even movies were shut, nobody was really working, but whatever little was happening was this and then after that, when I started getting used to the new norm, which was staying at home and doing nothing and days would just pass by just OTT and housework and that’s all and of course, a kid to look after. Then finally I got some space for myself where I could think about the fact that I have to do something different other than music. I am a product of film music, of course, and I love it.”

“Thanks to the lockdown it did give me a little place where I could think about who I want to work with. Like I did a single with Shalmali recently, it’s an English song called here is beautiful. I did one song, One non-film song with Daboo Malik and he was the first one to actually approach me during that time for me to sing a non film song and I did that and that was such a humble attempt. We couldn’t even make a nice video out of it. We just shot some portions at home and just made a video but we received such great response so that kind of gave me a boost to keep walking in that direction. And now here I am with three songs out already and I’m very excited. I plan to do a lot more songs not from songs because that’s like a little different side of me which is coming solely from completely from heart,” She added.

She also shared her defining moments from her career and said, “I’ve been lucky to receive a lot of love and a trophy, of course, because I won that competition, which was produced by Lata ji. And I had participated in that show, because I wanted to see her once in my entire life and I didn’t know if it was ever going to happen. But luckily, I won the competition. And she was the one who gave me that trophy. So that was one moment which I can never forget. Of course, then my child who completely changed my life. Now I’m very happy about this new, independent space. So I think it’s a rebirth. I actually feel that.”

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