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.
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ICDMA FOUNDER TO INTRODUCE AI PLATFORM FOR IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING DIGITAL RISKS
ICDMA is a provider of IT services such as Cyber Forensics, IT Audit, IT Risk Evaluation, and Digital Security. In recent years, it has become a tried-and-true standard for businesses looking to defend their brands, enterprises, and reputations from crippling cyber attacks. They develop and deploy information security platforms and services, both standard and personalised, to protect, evaluate, and respond to cyber threats such as security breaches that occur in your systems and networks. The services they provide include Application and Web Development, Graphic Design, Security Audits, Cyber Security Services, Vulnerability Assessments, Fraud Risk Management, and IT Consultancy.
In addition, the firm achieved awards for being the best Cyber Forensics firm preventing businesses from external threats. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business, or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible and practical solutions to protect you.
Being a cyber security expert and analyst, Dheeraj Kumar has years of experience and stays up-to-date with the current crimes and security trends. He believes that like many other professions, this is a never-ending learning field. They monitor your networks and then analyse them to find common threat patterns or trends. Further, they design software that suits the needs of the problem at hand and ensures that these measures are maintained properly. If, in any case, they encounter a new problem, they utilise their years of experience and knowledge to produce a unique solution.
Witnessing the increased cyber threats, Cybersecurity analyst Dheeraj advises people to use the Internet wisely and productively. Dheeraj is currently working on an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core. Dheeraj’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks.
A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible solutions.
EXPO 2020 A GLOBAL PLATFORM TO HIGHLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS OF SPACE SECTOR: EMM PROJECT MANAGER
The six-month Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial window for the participating countries to present their accomplishments across different sectors, and the space sector is one of them. The event will shed light on the development of this sector around the world, emphasising its importance for humans in particular and the planet in general.
Expo 2020 has devoted a full week to space, from 17 to 23 October, during which a dialogue session will be held with Emirati astronauts along with entertainment, art and science activities. Also, information related to space sciences will be disseminated among other related space activities. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said, “This year, the UAE has achieved milestone accomplishments in the space sector by its arrival to Mars, and before that, it had played a key role in stimulating this sector besides the science and technology sectors.”
On the role of Expo 2020 Dubai as a prominent global platform to highlight the country’s achievements in the national space sector, Al Sharaf pointed out that Expo is not only a global event to showcase the cultures of other countries, but rather a platform for presenting scientific, technical and cultural achievements around the world.
He added that one of the reasons for the quick establishment of the space sector in the country “is because this sector depends on international cooperation, and the UAE did not consider its space programme as a race with other countries, but viewed it as an opportunity to cooperate with different nations, which contributed to activating the role of the sector and speeding its development, thus placing the UAE at the forefront of countries in this sector.”
Regarding the most nationally prominent projects in the space sector during the current period, Sharaf said, “The space sector is going through a very important and sensitive stage today, as the UAE has previously invested through the ‘Hope Probe’ project and other related projects to attract knowledge to the country from abroad and build on the capabilities of Emirati youth through knowledge transfer programmes.”
“Today, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the upcoming mission, which is a new space programme to explore planet Venus and seven other [asteroids] in the solar system, the focus will be on transferring knowledge from the UAE space sector to the private sector to create a stimulating environment and support the science and technology sector in the country, and at the same time serve the UAE’s economy is facing various challenges, including water resources and food resources, among others,” he added.
When asked regarding the sector’s participation in the Space Week at Expo 2020, Sharaf said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the various specialised authorities have a great role in Expo. As for Space Week, there are various participations, including lectures, seminars, or receiving various delegations to discuss cooperation in the space sector.
“This is a great opportunity for countries to work together, and we, as the Emirati space sector, have decided to take advantage of this opportunity at Expo to build and strengthen these relations, and it will be the beginning of greater cooperation and ambitious projects across the world and the region.”
IIT KANPUR STUDY EXPLAINS THE SUCCESS OF COVID-19 CONTROL MODEL OF UTTAR PRADESH
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the health system across India. Most states struggled to prevent the surge in cases and ensure adequate supply as the virus created a situation of upheaval. However, a recent study led by Padma Shri Awardee Prof. Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur elaborates that with careful planning, multiple strategies and close monitoring Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 response model turned out to be more effective in comparison with many other states.
TABLE 1: NTPR DURING THE SECOND WAVE
The data points out that the daily case count was brought down to just 1,497 on 31 May after the peak of 38,000 was recorded on 24 April. It can be noted that the reduction in numbers happened quite fast in the state as compared with many other ones, for example, Maharashtra and Kerala, which supports the study’s arguments.
Beginning with the foremost concern of reducing the spread, the UP model followed the Test, Trace, Treat, Tackle (TTTT) approach. Under the strategy, the TTTT teams were instated in rural UP to conduct door to door testing, enabling early detection and ensuring isolation and treatment. These TTTT teams covered around 97,941 villages. Niti Aayog and WHO also lauded the efforts of the state in conducting a mammoth house-to-house testing and tracing drive, supported by micro-planning and concurrent follow-ups. As highlighted by the IIT-Kanpur study, other measures of the state involved capacity building through intensive training on all major aspects of Covid-19, provision of infrastructures like ICU beds, ventilators, and creation of safety nets and incentives via state and central funding schemes (PMJJBY, PMSBY, AKBY, etc.).
While preventing the surge in cases was one aspect of the model, the government also managed the high demand crisis of oxygen resounding throughout the nation then. To tackle the surge in demand the government set up an oxygen monitoring system to track oxygen tankers and rolled out a stringent oxygen audit which saved around 30 MT of oxygen per day. Also, the state’s strategy to airlift empty tankers with the help of IAF lessened the turnaround time saving 10 hours. Apart from ensuring these, the model also addressed the concerns regarding the livelihood of the people. With the commitment to save the lives and livelihoods of people, the UP government did not resort to strict lockdowns and opted for partial curfews to break the Covid-19 chain. And, adapting to the situation of the pandemic, the government supplied policies for ease of mobility (separate buses and trains for migrant workers), employability (DBT 1000 to migrants) and sustenance (cash transfers to marginalised sections). The study also states that such measures helped in keeping the unemployment rate below the national average as depicted in the graph below.
Formulated on the four essential pillars of protection of livelihood, optimisation of economy, facilitation of healthcare services and restriction of virus spread, it has been pointed through the study that the UP Covid-19 model has created a benchmark. The study then draws a comparison among the states based on the Normalised Test Positivity Rate (NTPR) which is the ratio of Test Positivity Ratio and percentage of active cases. It shows that the strategy of the UP model was to aggressively change the pandemic which helped in the control.
Furthermore, the study also found that the timing of the containment measures was near-optimal, which in any other situation could have caused a peak of more than 70,000 daily cases as shown in the graph below.
Nonetheless, the second wave has dealt a heavy blow to not just India’s but globally existing health infrastructure, unveiling a systemic failure that led many to conclude that no model or strategy is perfect. This points towards a large scope of improvement for all state administrations and governing bodies.
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
LIFE SKILLS COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHED TO CHAMPION SKILLS FOR INDIA’S YOUTH
Eighteen organisations have come together to announce the launch of the Life Skills Collaborative (LSC) with the aim to support government agencies and education institutions by building a life skills platform that can aid in the transformation of India’s learning ecosystem. In the first phase, the LSC will work in tandem with state governments across Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Mizoram to bring contextual, social and cultural inputs to the development of life skills among the young people of India.
The Collaborative comprises organisations with diverse and global expertise in education, skill development, health and gender with a commitment to collaborate in deepening the understanding of life skills, designing learning tools that nurture life skills, and developing context-relevant assessments to measure progress, share learnings and inform system change India. The current collaborators include Breakthrough, Centre for Science of Student Learning, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dream A Dream, Echidna Giving, Gnothi Seauton, ICRW, Kaivalya Education Foundation, Magic Bus, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Omidyar Network India, Porticus, Pratham, Quest Alliance, Room To Read, Sattva Consulting, Shantilal Muttha Foundation and The Teacher Foundation. Speaking about the launch, Vishal Talreja, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder of Dream A Dream, said, “One in three children in India live in extreme poverty and have stunted and/or wasted growth. Children from vulnerable backgrounds are exposed to a combination of adverse experiences causing an irrefutable impact on their physical and mental health. Empathy-based transformative pedagogy, experiential learning, and mentoring can help young people immensely.”
The Life Skills Collaborative will focus on three core areas:
1. Voices, a nationwide engagement with youth, parents, and teachers to capture their voices and translate them to insights that can drive the integration of life skills within public education systems.
2. Glossary, a set of definitions that serves as the vocabulary to discuss life skills in India and establish the foundation for discussing and aligning on outcomes, designing assessments across community, practitioners, and government.
3. Assessments, will focus on creation, establishment, and dissemination of an assessment repository for adolescents, teachers, and the system. At the adolescent level, this will assess student’s capacities and strengths in the age groups 11-14 years and 15-18 years; at the teacher level, it will assess the ability of the teacher to foster life skills in an adolescent; at the system level, it will assess the readiness of the system to deliver life skills.
Rathish Balakrishnan, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder and Managing Partner at Sattva Consulting, said, “Young people often struggle to access education and employment opportunities, limiting their engagement in society and stunting their potential to live a full life. Equipping them with life skills can change this immensely. While there is a lot of interest in life skills, there is a lack of a common vocabulary and effective assessments, which limits its potential. By building credible and system-ready public goods, the Life Skills Collaborative can accelerate the effective adoption of life skills across the ecosystem.”
In recent times, the need for developing stronger life skills has become more acute. Focusing on building life skills in the next generation is imperative in enabling them to handle different situations capably. In a country like India, where a vast majority of the population is young, life skill development enables young people to direct and manage their lives positively.
Geeta Goel, an LSC Collaborator and Country Director, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF, India), added, “The Life Skills Collaborative is an innovative attempt to solve a wicked problem – the development of life skills among the young people of India. To achieve this goal, it is essential to support organisations, institutions and government agencies in building a more inclusive learning environment suited towards promoting life skills.”
RED FM launches World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao India Ko Jeetao’
93.5 RED FM has kick-started its World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’. Capturing the passion and craze of fans, RED FM will celebrate the ‘totkas’ and will have RJs follow some of these tricks shared by listeners as part of the campaign.
Witness the best of entertainment with ‘Nand Kishore Bairagi’ aka RJ Kisna taking a spin on the ‘totkas’ in his unique style. The campaign will also have Bauaa aka RJ Raunac calling up opponent teams as part of his prank calls series. Keeping the passion of the World Cup alive, RED FM will also launch the anthem, ‘Totka Wala Gana’ capturing the craze of cricket fans across the country. Speaking on the campaign, Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM and Magic FM, said, “Cricket generates a kind of excitement that cuts across all sections of the society in India. Fans have been eagerly waiting for the mega tournament to start after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to all sporting activities. Over the years, cricket has united fans and radio has been a crucial part in bringing them together. There’s no denying that luck and superstitions go hand in hand with a cricket fan and this year we are bringing some of those practices the fans have subconsciously picked up over the years and now cannot let go. Our campaign, ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’ will highlight some of the crazy ‘totkas’ that cricket fans follow across the country. We hope that you will share your favourite ‘totkas’ with us and cheer for team India with RED FM.”
MICHAEL KORS TO LAUNCH MK MY WAY IN-STORE POP-UPS THROUGHOUT INDIA
Michael Kors has announced the launch of an exciting new pop-up store activation throughout India to celebrate MK My Way—the popular interactive experience that immerses customers in the luxe world of Michael Kors and lets them customise their Signature logo print handbags with their initials.
The MK My Way activation will take place in stores with a colourful pop-up kiosk. Equal parts elevated and high-energy, the pop-up’s countertop and facade are splashed with metallic hues and punctuated by oversized, graphic takes on the brand’s signature print. After selecting their Signature print handbag, customers have the chance to have their bags hand-painted by Bangalore-based artist and illustrator Srishti Guptaroy (@srillustrator) with either their English/Hindi initials or with one of four unique motifs designed specifically for Diwali.
As an extension of the in-store program, the motifs will also be made into gify stickers available for all Instagram users. Supplies are provided by Angelus Paints, a California paint company and world leader in luxury customisation. To celebrate the launch, the brand has also created a digital campaign starring Bollywood actress Janhvi Kapoor (@janhvikapoor).
The pop-up store activations will take place in several cities throughout India, including:
Jio World Drive in Mumbai (from 8 to 31 October)
DLF Emporio in Delhi (from 11 to 31 October)
UB City in Bangalore (from 23 to 30 October)
Tatacliq Luxury (online) (from 18 to 31 October)
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