Tag Archive for 'Vijay Mallya'

City in a bottle: How Bangalore’s liquor industry has shaped its destiny

Raghu Karnad in The Caravan:

Long before information technology made Bangalore famous, alcohol was the city’s defining industry—shaping its identity for outsiders as well as residents. Though Bangalore is often called India’s “Pub Capital”, the pubs are just the frothy head on the pour.

Alcohol printed the city’s newspapers, produced its movies, put down hospitals and schools and sports teams—and ruled the men who ruled its people. It caused the worst medical emergencies, sweetened the long evenings and created the brands to which Bangaloreans feel truest loyalty. Yet Bangalore’s identity as a liquor city has always stayed in the realm of folklore. It has never been recognised in urban histories, only in jokes and in its hazy self-image as a town of “guzzlers”.

The city of Bangalore was born divided, as a colonial Cantonment and a native city, white and black twins. From the start, they had a divided drinking culture, of “foreign” and “country” liquor; alcohol has helped define the city’s split identity ever since. After the British left, the two halves of Bangalore were merged. They came together like two strangers with their backs to each other, not knowing whether to embrace or wrestle. As the two cities grappled, so did the two liquor industries.

This is the story of how beer, arrack, rum and whiskey—and the companies that made them—irrigated the growth of Bangalore from a quaint colonial outpost to a regional capital, and onwards to the promised land of the globalisation era. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, country liquor reigned, and its profits patronised a surge of cultural pride in the capital of a newly unified linguistic state. In the 1980s, beer and foreign liquor broke the ranks of country liquor, pouring out across the city from the former Cantonment. As a new consumer economy arose in the 1990s, foreign liquor seized the chance to name and claim city institutions. The battle of booze made the city, and today we drink inside the victor’s castle.

Right here is where the story begins. The ground now pressed under the mass of UB City was once the site of the Bangalore Brewery, which opened to ease the thirsty work of maintaining the British Raj from a remote, inland hold. In 1807, a small imperial garrison near the native pete (settlement) of Bangalore was expanded into a full Civil and Military Station. Similar cantonments were being built across the subcontinent, but the Bangalore Station was an especially powerful symbol, built on the site of a major battle, very soon after the defeat of a defiant ruler, Tipu Sultan.

The native “City”, to the west, was a dense, unplanned commercial cluster, filled with the clatter of silk and cotton looms and the vapours of cowdung. The “Cantt”, to the east, was a wide, spacious sprawl of parade grounds, church spires, barracks and bungalows, with great spaces given over to equine sports, like the racecourse and polo grounds. But Cantt and City were not only different, they were strictly separate. The border between them was topographic, administrative and, obviously, ethnic. The British troops, settlers, Anglo-Indians and Eurasians in the Cantt were served by an imported population of Tamilians and Telugu-speakers. To avoid being dependent on the native population, labour was never sought from the City. So the two areas remained aloof and mutually suspicious, until long past the end of British rule. More:

Decadence and the IPL

In Times of India, Mukul Kesavan says it’s not just dumbing down, not just monstrous but IPL is a celebration of utter decadence.

In the beginning, the Indian Premier League (IPL) seemed just a new kind of tournament. At worst, it was a dumbing down of cricket, at best, it was inspired event management. In the five years since its inception, though, it has become monstrous.

The tournament is historically interesting because it is republican India’s first public celebration of decadence. One charac- teristic feature of decadence is a contempt for convention and procedural scruple. Indians are familiar with this in everyday life, but the IPL is a departure in that the people involved with it legitimise and defend conflicts of interest explicitly and in full public view.  more

India’s newest export: Whiskey

Shivani Vora at India Ink / NYT:

Tony Bedi, president of the UB Group in the United States, says that the company wants to sell Royal Challenge in areas where there are large Indian communities, and he plans to expand sales to Houston and parts of California. Besides Indians like my father, who are sentimental about Royal Challenge because they think of it as the brand from back home, the liquor has found unexpected fans in the Caribbean community in Queens, because of the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team in India, named for the liquor. “The biggest interest in the whiskey has come from the Caribbeans who love cricket and associate it with the sport,” said Mr. Bedi.

The Royal Challenge brand has existed for more than 100 years, though United Breweries bought it in 2005 from Indian liquor manufacturer Shaw Wallace & Company. In the United States, a bottle sells for between $14 and $17, slightly higher than the 500 to 600 rupees it goes for in India. United Breweries produces 1.4 million cases of it annually, which is sold mostly within India but also in parts of the Middle East. The number is small compared to the 19 million cases of Bagpiper it produces annually, which is India’s highest-selling whiskey, but the company considers Royal Challenge a more premium brand. More:

The rise and fall of a castle in the air

Two excellent articles on the Kingfisher Airlines mess by K Giriprakash in The Hindu and Shankkar Aiyar in the New Indian Express. First, in The Hindu, K Giriprakash on how an airline obsession put a liquor baron on the rocks.

Never has the flamboyant Vijay Mallya been in such a tight corner before.

He took over the UB Group even before he turned 30 after his father, Vittal Mallya, passed away suddenly in 1983. Since then, he has consolidated the group holdings, shed those companies, including a car battery making venture, which didn’t make sense to his business, won a corporate battle — and a war of words — with the pugnacious Manu Chabbria, wresting from him Shaw Wallace, once among the top companies in the liquor industry. Today, his beer business controls half the domestic market while the liquor business controls three-fourths of the market.

But as the saying goes, the quickest way to become a millionaire is for a billionaire to invest in the airline sector.

Kingfisher Airlines was set up in 2003 but hasn’t seen a single year of profit since it got listed in 2006. Today, accumulated losses stand at about Rs 8,200 crore and the money to pay for fuel, salaries and airport fees is running out, prompting Mallya to approach the government for a bailout. more

And here is Shankkar Aiyar’s piece in The New Indian Express:

The ides of excess have come home to roost. The shadows trailing the arc lamps have caught up with Vijay Mallya. Branded the Indian Branson at one time, the ‘King of Good Times’ is pleading before the government and banks, crown in hand, to save his kingdom. Just last week, he was arguing in favour of a tax exemption for the hi-luxe F1 event, and this week he is screaming “Mayday, Mayday”, petitioning for a bailout funded by the taxpayer. Make no mistake, the bailout will be politically inflammatory. The BJP has already declared its opposition. The optics would suggest nationalisation of costs of F1, the IPL team, the Kingfisher Calendar and indeed bad business decisions. The social networks are lathering in glee and prime time television is spewing righteous rage. Predictably, online and SMS polls are voting against any bailout. more

The house that Vijay Mallya built

Yet another billionaire gets his own pad. Anshul Dhamija in Times of India.

Mumbai can boast of Mukesh Ambani’s $1 billion Antilla, Delhi has its Lutyens’ patch, and now Bengaluru gets a billionaire’s wonder – a White House in the sky.

Kingfisher Towers-Residences at UB City, the new home of India’s flamboyant business tycoon, Vijay Mallya, as well as other billionaires is under way and will be completed in the next three years.

TOI, in its July 11, 2008, edition, was the first to break the news that Vijay Mallya was razing down his ancestral home on Vittal Mallya Road to make way for a ultra-high end 34-storey millionaires ‘ paradise on top of which he would have a penthouse. Now, TOI gets you the first-ever visuals and details of Vijay Mallya’s ‘White House in the sky’. In all probability, Mallya will be the only man in the city who can boast of having a 1-acre parcel of land that’s situated in the sky, and not on the ground below.  more

Bhajji ke paas maa hai

Posted by Namita Bhandare:

Ah, yes, let’s see. This is the same gentleman who got away with charges of racism by calling his opponent a ‘monkey’. Oh, said an injured Harbhajan Singh back in 2008, he had never called Andrew Symonds a monkey. He had merely used that common expression favoured by macho men who live north of the Vindhyas: maa ki….  

Symonds (who in case you hadn’t noticed is of African descent) heard otherwise and complained and the man known variously as Bhajji and The Turbanator was slapped with a Level 3 offence; the match referee ruled guilty and banned him for the next three tests. Threatening withdrawal from the series, the Indian team filed an appeal, keeping a chartered plane on standby – later denied by the Indians — presumably if the hearings went against their bachcha. The racism charge could not subsequently be proved since Bhajji said he had been misheard – though that didn’t stop him from making simian gestures at a match before the second hearing. Strangely, this reference to Andrew Symond’s mother’s, umm, delicate parts, was deemed ok even though Sachin Tendulkar had the decency to blush while trying to explain it to an Adelaide judge. Bhajji forfeited half his match fee (small change compared to his ad endorsements), and the games went on.

In a strange and ironic (is there any other kind?) twist of fate, Bhajji’s mother has now jumped into the fray to protect what she sees as the family honour. The provocation, for once, is not her son’s behaviour. Rather it is a spoof, an ad that has a Bhajji look-alike trying hard to ‘make it large’, a reference to the tagline of Royal Stag whisky, a product endorsed by HBS. The ad, which can be viewed on Youtube, has a young Bhajji working in his dad’s steel ball bearings factory, making humungous ball bearings in an attempt to ‘make it large’. An enraged fictional dad (in real life, Singh senior did indeed have such a factory) gives him a resounding slap. Cut to MS Dhoni, endorser of rival whisky brand McDowells, saying the important thing was not making it large, but doing it differently. Size in other words doesn’t really matter, this is coming from your captain.  

Leave aside the potential of big balls and size, the ad has so upset Bhajji’s maa reportedly for three reasons: the references to her son, to her late husband and to the Sikh community at large.

Whaaat?

Continue reading ‘Bhajji ke paas maa hai’

The drama and logic of IPL auctions

The IPL 4 auction saw corporate egos, passion and a little bit of lunacy. Siddharth Mallya and Ness Wadia almost got into a fight. But you could also sense an inarguable logic at play: team owners just can’t afford to be sentimental about ex-greats. Ayaz Memon in the Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye.

Ten multi-millionaire franchise owners, their heirs/ cohorts/advisers being cooped up in a hall for long periods is a spectacle in itself. With so much money under one roof, you would expect the Godzilla-sized egos to play up every now and then. But an event like this demands civility — never mind that each was trying to scuttle the ambitions and plans of the other.

I can report — I was part of the Set Max team that covered the auction live — that there was no untoward incident, though at one point, it seemed that Siddharth Mallya, son of Royal Challengers Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya, might just roll up his sleeves to settle the who-gets-Saurabh-Tiwary issue with Ness Wadia of Kings Xl Punjab.

Fortunately, the conflict ended with smiles all around, after the brief altercation that had everybody in the room watching in pin-drop silence, and Navjot Sidhu breaking into one of his dohas, even if only remotely connected to the issue. Meanwhile, somewhere in Ranchi, I suppose the Tiwary household would have erupted into noisy celebrations.

Heck, $1.6 million for a guy just starting out in international cricket! Is this for real or what? More:

How to be a culinary show-off

Posted by Shekhar Bhatia:

I had the privilege of working with Tushita Patel, whose book of recipes, “Flash in the Pan,” will be published this month by Westland Books. I also had the privilege of working with her husband Aakar, now an eminent columnist. (You can find links to some at Asian Window).

After many happy and successful years in journalism Tushita joined Vijay Mallya, billionaire owner of Kingfisher Airlines and many breweries in India and abroad, and also a politician, as his political secretary. Mallya is said to be a workaholic. Some years back, in a profile of Mallya, The Telegraph of London quoted Tushita: “Even before his aircraft can touch down, his core team is summoned over the satellite phone to the airport. Half the office shifts to the runway – with papers, phones, laptops. We work in the plane, then in the car, then in the office, continue at home, pool, disco, back to the car, back to the plane…”

And yet she managed to write a book!

Below, her recipe for what she calls Mustard Fish 101 excerpted in Mint Lounge.

This is such an exotic dish with so many variations that I had to, absolutely, include it.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 cup mustard seeds

1 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt

2 + 2 + 1 green or red chillies

1kg fish (ideally river fish)

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp + 1 tsp + extra to taste mustard oil

Method

Soak the mustard seeds in 1K cups of water, with 1 tsp salt and 2 chillies for 20-30 minutes. Drain and pulse grind. If the fish is large, cut it into pieces about K-inch thick and 2-inches long. If the fish are to be kept whole, and are about 3-4 inches long, just trim them. Wash the fish and pat dry. Coat fish with K tsp of salt and the turmeric and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. When hot, fry the fish in batches, on each side for a minute. The idea is not to make crisp fries, just remove the rawness. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Add 1 tsp of oil to the pan and heat. Slit 2 chillies and add them to the pan. Dilute the mustard paste in water, and holding a strainer over the pan, filter it through. This I do to keep the rough mustard skin out and make the gravy smoother. Once it starts bubbling, lower the heat and put in the fish. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat.

To serve, pour the fish and the gravy into a dish. Swirl a little oil on it for a sharp kick. Split the remaining chilli and place it in the dish. This should not be runny like a curry, but just the fish coated in the mustard.

There are some more recipes in Mint Lounge

Prohibition and the king of good times

Namita Bhandare in Mint: Prohibition has failed wherever it has sought to be enforced. But alcohol-related deaths are a serious problem — and not all occur after drinking illegal hooch. What’s the middle path, then?

Vijay Mallya is just not my type. Bal Thackeray—perish the thought—is even less of my type. Yet, last week I found myself in the bizarre position of actually being in partial agreement with these two bearded gentlemen, of course, with the usual qualifications.

First, Mallya. Following the hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad, where at least 122 people died after drinking illegally brewed liquor, Mallya came down hot and heavy on Gujarat’s prohibition policy (it’s the only state in the country where prohibition continues to be enforced) and on the “political hypocrites” who control that policy. A few days later, Saamna—the Shiv Sena-run newspaper—carried a lead edit that said it was in complete agreement with Mallya. “Pursuing Gandhism is pointless as the prohibition policy has been a monumental failure in the country, and Gujarat as well,” declared the editorial. more

Beer baron gets some glasses

Posted by Namita Bhandare: My column in DNA (Mumbai) on why the hoo-haa over ‘saving’ Gandhi’s legacy is a load of crap

The controversy over the auction of Mahatma Gandhi’s meagre possessions –his glasses, a pair of leather slippers, a pocket watch and a brass bowl and plate — has ended in a bleeding shame.

First, is the irony of a liquor baron ‘saving’ Gandhi’s ‘legacy’. The ‘king of good times’, Vijay Mallya, is hardly the model of the Gandhian ideal of renunciation and sacrifice. And I’m certainly not suggesting that prohibition is the way forward but unless the Indian government has had a change of heart (and it is high time — pun unintended –it stopped serving apple juice instead of wine at official banquets), surely there is some awkwardness in getting Mallya to act on its behalf.

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Gandhi’s sandals, glasses go for $1.8 million

And the highest bidder is … read Mathew Price’s story at BBC World to find out who paid $1.8 million for Mahatma Gandhi’s meagre possessions.

_45475540_006870042-1I am not sure the New York postman was particularly pleased. The doorman at 595 Madison Avenue certainly was not. Nor the women trying to wander through one of New York’s main shopping areas with their designer purchases.

For a time it seemed the chaos of the average Indian street had come to Manhattan. Camera crews pushed and shoved. Crowds moved in on wealthy businessmen from the subcontinent. And postmen trying to do their job got pushed to one side – literally.

Why? Because after days of rising anger, and therefore interest in the sale of a handful of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal possessions, they were finally about to go under the hammer.

Or were they? Not if the seller – of all people – had anything to do with it.

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India’s “King of good times” buys Gandhi effects

Airline and liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya bought Gandhi’s personal effects in a New York auction and said he would give the items to the government of India. Mallya, chairman of the conglomerate UB Group, Vijay Mallya paid $1.8 million (Rs9.27 crore) for Mahatma memorabilia.

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

Says Mint: There is rich irony in the fact that a liquor baron, who is described as the king of good times, has bought the sandals, glasses and other personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi, a frugal and abstemious soul.

From NYTimes: His Kingfisher Beer unit publishes an annual calendar featuring swimsuit-clad models, he collects Mercedes and Jaguars, and he owns a Formula One racing team. “Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation, and there could not be anything more important historically or culturally than his belongings,” and their return home, Mr. Mallya said in a telephone interview from France.

From The Indian Express: The auction of Gandhi-related memorabilia in New York brought out the most delightfully hubristic side of everyone concerned. Egged on by TV news, which apparently has never yet come across an issue that isn’t worth running an SMS campaign over, the Indian Government seems to have decided that anything that Bapu ever touched was the Patrimony of the Nation, and having it in the possession of icky, capitalistic foreigners (imagine, selling a used pair of glasses for a profit!) would mean trampling, unacceptably, on Indian sovereignty.

But who allowed Gandhi’s personal possessions to get out of India in the first place?

From The Indian Express:

Did a German scholar sneak these out on the pretext of exhibiting them abroad, and palm it off to an American collector? Or were they sold to a foreigner by members of the Mahatma’s own family?

Gita Mehta, the adopted daughter of Abha Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandniece in whose lap he breathed his last, signed the vital authentication that made Gandhi’s pocket watch and the humble brass bowl from which he had his last meal, auctionable property. But Mehta told The Indian Express today that she had not sold them to James Otis, the collector who put them up for auction, or authenticated them for him.

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The 40 richest Indians

Lakshmi Mittal is no longer the richest Indian in the world. According to the latest list out by Forbes, that position now goes to Mukesh Ambani (photo). But the global financial crisis has hit the subcontinent hard — with the wealthiest Indians being 60 per cent less wealthy than they were a year ago. Naazneen Karmali has the story in Forbes.

mukesh1

These are painful times for India’s richest as the ongoing global turmoil drastically reshapes their fortunes. The country’s once soaring stock market fell 48% in the 12 months, the rupee depreciated 24% against the dollar and gross domestic product growth is expected to slow down to 7.5%, partly owing to double-digit inflation.

All of this conspired to knock 60% off the combined fortunes of the nation’s 40 wealthiest. Their total net worth fell $212 billion, to $139 billion, down from $351 billion a year ago.

Last year’s No. 1, U.K. resident Lakshmi Mittal, dropped $30.5 billion amid plunging steel prices, but he slips only a bit, to No. 2. Mukesh Ambani, who oversees petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, grabs the top spot for the first time, despite losing $28.2 billion in the past year. His estranged brother, Anil, ranked third, is the biggest dollar loser, down $32.5 billion.

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The flamboyant tycoon behind Kingfisher Airlines

He built a £4 billion empire with beer and now hopes to rule the skies. Vijay Mallya is India’s high-flying tycoon. Hilary Rose in The Times:

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

It’s the jewels you notice first. Before you clock the surprisingly dainty shoes, apparently handmade; before you tot up the four BlackBerrys and the three briefcases (metal, Louis Vuitton and crocodile) and the bottles of Fiji water and expensive red wine on the sideboard; before any of that, it’s the sheer bling of Vijay Mallya, business tycoon, Kingfisher beer owner and India’s King of Good Times, that grabs you. There’s the enormous diamond in his earlobe, the multicoloured gold-set gems on one finger and the diamond the size of a small pebble on the other. There’s the outsize watch snuggling up to the religious prayer string. Understated he is not.

In India, schedules are rarely made and always broken, a principle the Mallya entourage carries overseas: meetings start late, overrun and day merges into night. Today, Mallya, 52, has taken up temporary residence in a suite at the Four Seasons, appropriately London’s least minimalist hotel, while he waits for an end to the building and wrangling over planning permission for his house in Regent’s Park. The suite reeks with the smoke of his small, dark cigarettes. Everything about him points to a man used to getting his own way, and not to be crossed.

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Bollywood embraces size zero

Kareena Kapoor’s weight loss has a global resonance. Rhys Blakely looks at the slimmer picture in the Sunday Times.

For years a fleshy physique was considered a must for an actress aspiring to break into Bollywood. Now its first “size-zero” female star has the sub-continent’s cinematic purists in a tizzy, amid fears that an imported Western fondness for slim women threatens to debase the country’s culture.

The Indian press has of late been preoccupied by the newly svelte body of Kareena Kapoor, one of the country’s biggest – if now skinniest – leading ladies. Kapoor had lost several pounds for Tashan, her latest film, the result, she said, of “power yoga” and a special diet. Critics, a little unkindly, suggested that she resembled a “barely alive cadaver”.

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India’s game, U.S. spice

Tunku Varadarajan in The New York Times:

In the blink of an eye, India has gone from faith, prudence and chastity to … Brittany, Courtney and Tiffani. On Sunday, a team of Washington Redskins cheerleaders landed in Bangalore to help create India’s first cheerleading squad.

According to the Redskins’ Web site, the cheerleaders will “conduct a national audition of Indian women.” The aim of the exercise is to set up a squad of indigenous pompom wielders for the Bangalore Royal Challengers, one of eight teams that will play in the Indian Premier League, a rich new Indian cricket league.

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The story on the Redskins’ site:

The reverse Raj: Indian businesses turn tables on imperial master

Britain took commercial and cultural advantage of India as its imperial master. Now a new generation of wealthy Indians is reversing the roles. Dean Nelson in The Sunday Times, UK:

The assembled businessmen wore black ties and listened politely to a string quartet under crystal chandeliers in a magnificent ballroom. The room buzzed with talk of the old country, but more importantly with commercial speculation about their new domain. What was to be their next takeover target in the local economy?

It could have been a sepia print of the British East India Company, which effectively ruled India as a private colony for 100 years, but a closer look revealed a different kind of burra sahib. More Chandigarh than Cheam, the men gathered at the Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair, central London, last year were the representatives of a new Indian raj, powerful men intent on buying up chunks of the homeland of their old imperial masters.

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Is this the Indian century?

Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian, UK:

Shishir Bajoria is meant to be talking about India’s rise and the world economy, but first he wants to raise the really big stuff. “Have you seen the cricket?” he asks, and launches into an unkind description of the Australian player he saw whingeing on telly this morning about the bullying Indian cricket board. “A white man – a white man! – complaining about racism.” And he throws up his palms as if to say, how upside down can you get?

That’s not the only topsy-turvy thing around here. Take our location: the Bengal Club, the leading social club in Calcutta, former capital of British India. There was a time when it wouldn’t have let the likes of Bajoria through the door. “In the Bengal Club, they don’t allow dogs or Indians,” reported Somerset Maugham in 1938, “but in the Yacht Club in Bombay they don’t mind dogs; it’s only Indians they don’t allow.”

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India’s F1 dream: Force India

India’s liquor and airline billionaire Vijay Mallya is now a serious player in Formula 1. In October 2007 Mallya and Michiel Mol bought the Spyker F1 team and renamed it Force India. The team will make its debut at the Australian Grand Prix on March 16. From sportinglife.com:

forceindiatest.jpg

forceindia.jpgVijay Mallya is no miracle worker, but it is fair to say he has transformed the fortunes of a once ailing grand prix team. Despite the fact Force India have yet to compete in a Formula One grand prix, Mallya has overseen a remarkable transitional period during the last six months. The Indian billionaire has pumped his vast wealth into reviving a marque that in its previous guise as Spyker was virtually on its knees financially.

The team has endured a rough ride during the past couple of years since Eddie Jordan decided he had had enough of bankrolling his own outfit, and enough of the politics that occasionally sees the sport itself play second fiddle. First there followed Midland, then Spyker, and now in has come Mallya like a knight in shining armour, proudly introducing India to the most lucrative sport in the world.

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More at Force India’s official website forceindiaf1.com:

Force India team driver Giancarlo Fisichella is relishing the challenge

Q: You are taking on a new challenge with Force India. What are your thoughts on this season?

Giancarlo Fisichella: It’s a fantastic project, and they have nearly double the budget of last year. The wind tunnel is running 24 hours a day and they are already looking at 2009. There is Mike Gascoyne, there is Mark Smith, people with a lot of experience who are very focused on this job. So I believe in this project. I think it’s going to be difficult at the beginning of the season, and maybe again we’re going to be in the last couple of rows. But we can make a big step forward from now until the end of the season, and especially for 2009. So far we’ve done a few tests and we’ve already made a step. The car balance was better and the set-up much better. The car has good potential. It’s very promising.

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India’s king of good times

On Bloomberg, Abhay Singh and Subramaniam Sharma profile India billionaire Vijay Mallya.

vijaymallya.jpg

Vijay Mallya touches down at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport in his Airbus Corporate Jet on the afternoon of Jan. 19. Stepping off the plane after flying in from his home in Sausalito, California, the 52-year-old Indian billionaire dives into a Mercedes-Benz to drive to a meeting with a government minister. The next stop is the Metropolitan hotel to interview flight attendants for his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

Back in his house on New Delhi’s Sardar Patel road by 8 p.m., he nurses a tumbler of whisky distilled by Glasgow, Scotland-based Whyte & Mackay Ltd., his latest acquisition, as Accenture Ltd. consultants advise him on Kingfisher’s merger with India’s Deccan Aviation Ltd.

After replacing jeans and jacket with a dark suit, white shirt and pink tie, Mallya heads to a dinner hosted by his liquor company, United Spirits Ltd. He’s home by midnight, then off to Mumbai at 2 a.m. to bid $112 million for — and eventually win — a new cricket team in Bangalore.

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