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.
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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AICTE AND MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S INNOVATION CELL CELEBRATE NATIONAL START-UP DAY
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) today celebrated the ‘National Start-up Day’ and highlighted 75 innovative technologies with start-up potential to receive grants assistance, mentorship, and incubation linkage support.
These innovations were part of the e-exhibition held during the Innovation Week that started on January 10. During the Innovation Week, more than 500 innovations and startups showcased their work virtually. The Innovation Week concluded today with an announcement of marking the day as ‘National Start-up Day’ by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
The innovations and start-ups were selected from a host of programs like the National Innovation Contest, Smart India Hackathon, and Toycathon that were conducted by the Ministry of Education. These 75 innovations and start-ups have developed a range of technological solutions and services that will work across 16 different themes and sectors.
Among the start-ups, ‘BioMANS’ (Bio-Based Biodegradable Advance Material) produces a wide range of utility products for daily use like carry bags, medical bibs, cotton earbuds, disposable cutlery, etc. from agricultural waste. The start-up is working to curb single-use plastic pollution.
Another start-up named “Fenice Technical Solutions” incubated at Dr. MGR Educational and Research Institute offers solution in Robotics and Drones segment. Their innovative product ‘Clog Removing Autonomous Bot’ (CRAB) is to clear blocks and clogs in underground sewer and metro pipelines.
“Motion Sensing Glove” is a unique technical tool to assist the physiotherapists has been developed by a team of students and is currently being incubated at Punjab University. The device suggests the best and optimal moves for a patient undergoing physio rehabilitation treatment. The founding team is working in the direction to use AI and ML-based data analysis to further improve its usability.
The MoE’s Innovation Cell and AICTE offers a wide range of policy programs and handholding initiatives to promote and support innovation and startups in educational institutions
Prof. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE emphasised that: “Toycathon and Toy Business league (TBL) are best platforms for both school and college students to collaborate with industries to commercialise their creative outputs. So far 55 toy manufacturers have collaborated with Toycathon winners to refine and manufacture their products”.
Commenting on the success of the programme, Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), MIC, said: “We started with 30,000 ideas from students and faculty. After multiple levels of screening, scrutiny, and training, we have now identified 75 innovations that have really good start-up potential. We are offering them funding support up to Rs.10 lakh each and will monitor their progress for the next two years”.
Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Prof. M.P. Poonia, Vice-Chairman, AICTE, said: “The AICTE has already introduced and institutionalised a new academic program at master’s level on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Development (MBA/PGDM in IEV) for technical institutions with incubation units to offer this program. So far 21 HEIs are running this program and helping young minds to undertake the career of innovation and start-up as part of the academic. This academic program is a reformative step and aligned with NEP’s multidisciplinary approach and to produce job creators from academic institutions”.
Seems like unfinished business: Akasa on her Bigg Boss 15 journey
In this exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more.
Singer Akasa, who was recently seen in Bigg Boss 15, joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more. Read excerpts:
Talking about her Bigg Boss 15 journey, Akasa said, “The journey was interesting. It took me a while to adjust to the kind of people or the surrounding that I was in. I don’t think I have ever been in such a situation or such vibes before. In the first week, I was like I just want to go home because there are a lot of things that I have not experienced in life yet. I have never had to just use people’s emotions for a game, play with relations and ruin friendships. It was difficult for me to do that and I could not do that till the end. I was like I am just not letting go of morals or my beliefs just for something that will get me more footage. Having said that, there were a lot of things that I learnt much later in the show. It is unfortunate that when I did start opening up or showing my personality, speaking up, playing the game, it was time for me to go home. Overall, the journey was interesting but it seems like unfinished business.”
Addressing rumours of her re-entering the show and whether she would like to re-enter the show, Akasa stated, “I would, for sure. I feel like I got out and I was like ‘No, let me back in. I just started playing’. It changed because next week I was like ‘Do I really?’ A lot of my friends and family said that we are so glad you are out of there because they could see how uncomfortable I was. I do feel a lot. I can’t let go of things. Having said that, overtime watching it, I learnt so many more things. I learnt what it is about, what I should not have done or who is who. I feel like there is so much more untapped potential, there is so much more I have to give and it is unfair that I haven’t yet, whether to the audience or myself. I would definitely like to go back and play my game.”
“Apparently other people know of some things that I don’t but the makers haven’t approached me yet. There are some talks that were going on but not really, nothing is confirmed yet,” she added.
Speaking about her connections with the housemates, especially with Pratik Sehejpal, Akasa said, ‘For me, because I didn’t do anything according to the game, I don’t know. I couldn’t bitch about people. Even if it was required of me, I used to walk out. I don’t know how to fake something, which is why you saw me with some people and didn’t see with some people. I thought even the friendship with Tejasswi was real. They only showed my connection with Pratik but I made more friends than Pratik. I had a close bond with Simba, Umar. Even with the amount of fights I had with Afsana, we did have a Punjabi connection. With Pratik, it was more than just the game. When we spoke, we were not strategizing or thinking about the game. We used to talk about life and we genuinely formed a friendship. Hell yes, the friendship will continue with Pratik for sure.”
A CHRONICLE OF INDIA’S MODIFICATION
The following has been extracted from ‘The Modi Gambit: Decoding Modi 2.0’ written by Sanju Verma. The excerpt is the book’s Foreword and is written by T.V. Mohandas Pai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with an overwhelming majority. People voted him in with very high expectations of change and development which sixty-seven years of Independence had not yielded. And PM Modi and his NDA government delivered. Many Indians saw development – road connectivity, pucca housing, LPG cylinders, sanitation, electrification, and financial inclusion, come to their vicinity for the first time in their lifetimes.
The perceptible upliftment in citizens’ lives prompted them to vote PM Modi back in 2019 with an even larger majority. Citizens had embraced the change, especially the previously underserved – women and rural Indians. They perceived the lack of corruption in the Modi 1.0 regime. They appreciated his prioritizing execution of development, above all else. Several structural reforms of Modi 1.0 have positively impacted the economy. Demonetization has cleaned up the black money economy leading to increased tax collections and placing cronies under bankruptcy. The GST reforms have unified tax protocols and cleaned up the system. Despite the empty rhetoric of the Lutyens media that predicted PM Modi would lose badly, in 2019, citizens voted him back based on his strong performance record in the first term and expectations of continuity in the second.
Modi 2.0 started off with a strong impetus on continued development and empowerment. Access to clean water was one of the first priorities; the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched and has already impacted four crore households. Socio-political measures like the Citizenship Amendment Act and abrogation of Article 370 are addressing long-standing issues in India. From banning the instant triple talaq to putting the houses constructed under PM Awaas Yojana in the name of the woman of the house, women empowerment continues to be a major pillar of socio-economic development. Modi 2.0 was strongly following the PM’s vision of Modi 1.0 – that by August 2022 marking 75 years of the Republic of India, no Indian would be deprived of the necessities of life. India surpassed both France and the UK to become a Top 5 economy in 2020.
The Modi government has fared well on the inflation front, with average CPI rising 4.8% per annum against 7.8% during the first seven years of the Manmohan Singh government. The former performed better on the foreign exchange front too, with Forex reserves rising from $313 billion in May, 2014, to over $600 billion in June, 2021.
Today, India hosts the third-largest startup ecosystem, after the US and China. From around 24,927 companies recognized as startups in November 2019 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the number has risen to 50,000 startups in June 2021. The Modi government’s flagship scheme to promote the Indian startup ecosystem, namely Startup India, has witnessed a 100%+ growth in the number of government-recognized startups in the Modi 2.0 era. With over 26 startups being recognized by the government every day, New India is rapidly growing as a startup hub; commendable, given that the Startup India initiative was launched only as recently as January 2016.
DPIIT’s Vision document of 50,000 new startups, 20 lakh direct and indirect jobs by 2024 along with 500 new incubators and accelerators, 100 innovation zones in urban local bodies and seven research parks to help startups, is certainly on track. The SIDBI Fund-of-Funds (FoF) does not invest directly into startups but offers capital to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) as daughter funds, who in turn fund startups through equity and equity-linked instruments. Out of the existing Rs 10,000 crore FoF, as of February 18, 2020, SIDBI had committed Rs 3123.20 crore to 47 AIFs. These AIFs have invested Rs 3378.47 crore into 320 startups, out of which Rs 912.91 crore was drawn from the FoF. This is a great start towards channeling domestic capital into India’s accelerating startup ecosystem.
On the food and agriculture front, the Modi government broke all records with respect to foodgrain production, with 300 plus million tonnes of output in FY21 – a first in over seven decades. In the meantime, policy makers are working overtime to boost demand, support MSMEs and invest more in health, agri-infrastructure and the rural economy. These initiatives will augment productive employment and work towards increasing incomes across India.
Amid this unprecedented development trajectory in Modi 2.0, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Lives and livelihoods were at stake at a level unheard of in our lifetimes. The Modi government was under tremendous stress to save both – lives and livelihoods. It took a courageous decision to enter a nationwide lockdown to prevent large-scale losses and buy the time to set up the necessary infrastructure. The production of critical items like PPE, ventilators and masks were ramped up from near-zero to near-export-surplus levels in a matter of months. A Rs 30 lakh crore relief package (Central government’s stimulus plus RBI’s stimulus) consisting of a slew of fiscal and monetary measures was launched. Atma Nirbhar Bharat – the vision of a self-reliant India was launched after decades of Independence, along with an imperative to spur local manufacturing with a Vocal for Local flavour.
The second wave of Covid-19 this year has been devastating for every major country. In any country, capacity and infrastructure will always be unprepared for peak stress events such as this unprecedented pandemic. Any other leader would have thrown in the towel. But PM Modi showed extraordinary grit. The Modi government has been taking all possible actions, including launching one of the world’s fastest and largest vaccination programs. Over a billion doses were administered by October21, 2021, with a goal of vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of the year. Meanwhile, foreign policy efforts continue to successfully place India as a top, strategic ally beyond the neighbourhood.
Sanju Verma has been a keen observer of the social, political and economic changes propagated during both the Modi 1.0 and Modi 2.0 regimes. Her previous book “Truth & Dare – The Modi Dynamic” is a detailed chronicle of the Modi 1.0 era where she bases her observations and conclusions on data and facts. Sanju has made a stellar contribution with this new book as well; factual and based on data, not conjecture. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the detailed strategies and vision behind PM Modi’s measures, and the impact of governance on the socio-economic development of 1.38 billion people. India requires more chronicles like this one so that citizens can track the progress of the economy and society.
T.V. Mohandas Pai is Chairman, Aarin Capital.
This book talks at length about various milestones achieved in last two years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarkable second term at the helm.Path breaking reforms like labour code, banking consolidation,denationalisation of coal, making of a V-shaped recovery the PLI scheme, eRUPI, Gatishakti Masterplan, privatization of Air India, unrelenting fight against Covid and of course, historic milestone of crossing a billion doses under world’s largest vaccination drive, reflect PM Modi’s resolute determination.
Abrogation of Article 370,Ram Mandir verdict, banning instant triple talaq, QUAD summit, victories in Bihar & Assam, massive seat-share rise in West Bengal, National Education Policy and of course, PM Modi’s massive contribution to climate justice have been discussed threadbare.
The Congress Party ruled India for decades together but even basics like toilets, sanitation facilities uninterrupted electricity and access to banking facilities remained a mirage. Prime Minister Modi’s biggest legacy is the incorruptible nature of his government where tolerance for corruption is zero.
Introduction of the book has been written by one of the tallest leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), B.L.Santhosh who is the National General Secretary (Organization) of the BJP. Foreword has been written by the erudite Padma Shri Mohandas Pai while Afterword has been written by ace journalist, Anand Narasimhan Managing Editor at CNN News 18. The book has some very interesting takes on Modi 2.0 by Padma Shri, Dr. Sanjeev Bagai and one of India’s most reputed wealth managers Porinju Veliyath, who also shares his insights on PM Modi’s path breaking work. Apart from the fearless journalist and now entrepreneur Rohan Dua testimonials from Padma Bhushan Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty and Ashish Chauhan CEO of Bombay Stock Exchange are worth a read and endorse the brilliant work done by the author Sanju Verma in capturing every mega achievement of Modi 2.0.
I am my biggest critique: Avinash Dagar
As part of the exclusive conversation, Avinash spoke to us about his journey from TikTok to Instagram, the challenges he faced, and much more.
Comedy Content Creator Avinash Dagar recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. As part of the conversation, Avinash spoke to us about his journey from TikTok to Instagram, the challenges he faced, and much more. Read excerpts here:
Avinash started the conversation by talking about the kind of content he makes. He revealed, ” I started making content when I was in school. And since school, I have been the goofy kind who cracks jokes to entertain the entire class. When I found that there was such a thing as content creation on the internet, I decided to widen my audience from the classroom to the country. I was 16 years old when I started making videos and my first medium was YouTube.” The creator further said that the ban on TikTok was a major setback for him. “However, my journey has been full of experiences. I had to start over on a new platform but I wasn’t starting from scratch. I had learned a lot on TikTok. I had already posted a shoutout on TikTok to follow me on Instagram and in no time my followers increased from 7k to 35k. “
The influencer then spoke about the challenges that he faced during the transition from TikTok to Instagram. He exclaimed, ” I personally did not face any such issues while shifting to Instagram. The only thing that bothered me was the YT vs TikTok row that took place some time ago. Because of a few people’s opinions, all us content creators were being dragged into the controversy.” Talking about the backlashes he has faced over the years, Avinash said, ” We can’t keep everyone happy. My fans must not like all of my videos. I only posts the videos that I find funny because I am the first consumer of my content.” The creator went on to say that he is his biggest critique. ” Just like I am my first viewer, I am my critique. I take at least 15-20 takes for one single video.”
When asked how he earns through making content on Instagram, he replied, ” Instagram doesn’t monetize its content yet. We only earn through brand collaborations and advertisements. Getting promotions and ads depends on your work as well as your team. One thing is for sure that I wouldn’t be earning so well from any job out there. I feel extremely lucky to have chosen this field. “
Lastly, Avinash advised suggested other budding content creators to make relatable content for the audience.
The goal is to make people smile: Yuvraj Dua
Comedy Content Creator Yuvraj Dua recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. As part of the conversation, Yuvraj spoke to us about his journey, his social media growth, content creation on Instagram and much more.
Speaking about his journey, Yuvraj said, “I did my graduation BSC Physical Science & Electronics then I dropped one year to attempt UPSC. Post that, I did my diploma in English Journalism because I had a lot of interest in cricket presentation, as I wanted to become Jatin Sapru. I wanted to stand in the ground and talk about cricket. After that, there comes a point when your heart says that my 100% passion is not in this. Comedy has been my second nature. Not just me, but most of the people in my family have this. We talk like that. I said why not explore that. I liked camera. I used to stand in front of the camera, analyse the game, and always bring humour into it. I thought there are so many influencers and content creators. Why can’t I do what they are doing?! For me, influencing and content creation is secondary. First and foremost, my passion is to make people laugh. I want to spread smiles among millions of people.”
Talking about the growth of his social media presence on Instagram, he added, “I uploaded my first video on 21st March, 2021. It was 5-10 second video. After that, I started uploading these kinds of videos. You learn with the process. There is no other way of content creation. You upload videos, check the response and take feedback. With time, I started getting more creative. I started giving more time to it. Slowly, as it became a fun thing, then it became beautiful. Especially when you have an external motivation of gaining more and more followers, then everything works out.”
When asked where and how does he find motivation to create content amid a phase when there is less engagement on posts, Yuvraj responded, “I am a firm believer of belief. If you have the belief in your ability, like I have the belief that I am producing good content, then that should resonate with people. I have the belief that I am doing good work. It is different thing that I haven’t gained that kind of recognition yet. I have a few thousand followers but I know my work is good. If I keep doing this consistently, then I shouldn’t have two thoughts about it and my belief in myself. There comes a moment of self doubt but you got to make yourself understand the importance of consistency and good, decent and honest work. If you keep doing it, you will get there one day. Consistency is very important and self doubt comes anyways. That is how the human mind is.”
Watch the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:
STUDY FINDS SELF-PERCEPTIONS OF STRESS, AGEING HAVE SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
According to a recent study, dwelling on negative aspects of ageing can have a measurable negative impact on your physical health and ability to respond to stress.
The research has been published in the ‘Journals of Gerontology’. Using daily survey data from older adults over a period of 100 days, OSU researchers found that people who reported more positive self-perceptions of ageing were more insulated from the physical effects of stress compared with people who felt more negatively about their own ageing.
“Better self-perceptions of ageing are good for your health, regardless of how much stress you have, or how much stress you perceive you have,” said Dakota Witzel, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Research on stress has long found that daily and chronic stress is linked to physical health symptoms, including higher blood pressure, heart disease, and loss of cognitive function. These effects are linked not just to objective stress, but to perceived stress: people’s subjective appraisal of an experience as stressful.
Using responses from 105 Oregon adults aged 52 to 88 who took part in daily online surveys in 2010 via OSU’s Personal Understanding of Life and Social Experiences (PULSE) study, researchers measured participants’ perceived stress and physical health over a period of 100 days, along with an initial set of questions to gauge their self-perceptions of ageing.
The questions asked participants to agree or disagree with statements like “Today, I felt difficulties were piling up so high I could not overcome them,” and “As you get older, you are less useful.”
On average, higher perceived stress was related to worse self-perceptions of ageing and worse physical health symptoms, while more positive self-perceptions of ageing were related to fewer health symptoms.
On days when individuals with more negative self-perceptions of ageing reported more stress than normal, they reported almost three times more physical health symptoms than individuals with more positive self-perceptions of ageing. In other words, positive self-perceptions of ageing had a protective effect against the physical health implications of stress.
This meant that thought patterns or conversations that reinforce or exaggerate various stereotypes of ageing physically impact people’s lives, Witzel said.
“These things are truly important for our health and well-being, not only long-term, but in our day-to-day life,” she said.
“The likelihood of reporting these physical health symptoms is significantly decreased, on average, when you have better self-perceptions of ageing,” she added.
Self-perception of ageing is an area where simple interventions can make a difference, Witzel said. An easy step is to acknowledge that putting a positive spin on the ageing process will have a real impact on your physical health. That doesn’t mean adults should dismiss real health concerns or plaster on a fake smile, she said, but they will see benefits if they consciously work to be more positive about ageing.
“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Witzel said.
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