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Catching the bus in time

Phanindra SamaIn 2006 Phanindra Sama, a BITS Pilani graduate and working in Bangalore, wanted to visit Hyderabad to spend time with his family during Diwali. Like most people trying to make reservation at the last minute during the festival season he was unable to get a seat on a bus. However, every travel agent after making a few calls would tell him to try a different travel agent as they could possibly secure him a seat. Intrigued by this behaviour, Sama did some research and designed software that bus ticket agents could use to check availability. That was how the country’s largest bus ticketing company was started.

Redbus since than has launched operations in 22 states, offers services on over 25,000 routes and has built a network of over 12,000 bus operators. They have also tied up with five RTCs an have many more in the pipeline. “If you buy any printed bus ticket in the country it is most likely that Redbus makes a profit from it as we have sold out software as well as tied up with the largest online ticket sellers,” says Sama. was started with Rs. 5,00,000 that was put together by Sama and his friends but received funding from venture capitalists as also mentoring from TiE. “The mentors really helped us set up the company and gave us direction. We would have not been here without their help. Many people come up with various modes but it is necessary to be given the correct navigation by incubation centres,” says Sama.

Talking about safety of buses in the light of the recent incidents that have taken place, Sama says that one of the ways to control the speed of buses is that they are now planning to ask android users to keep their redbus android application on during the journey and by this they will be able to track the speed of the bus by using GPS. If a bus is found to be speeding they will then inform the company that runs the bus. In June this year was bought by Ibibo, a South African group for a large sum and Sarma is now looking for further study. At being asked if he has the next start-up idea in his head already he just smiles. Sama has been selected as a high impact entrepreneur by Endeavour that is run by the alumni of Harvard University and is only the second Indian to do so.


Scholarships presented to children of railwaymen

East Coast Railway Women’s Welfare Organisation (ECoRWWO), Waltair, presented scholarships to the meritorious children (students) of Railway employees at a function held at the Visakha Rail Club near the Railway Station.

Prizes were also distributed to the children, who excelled in the drawing, painting and essay-writing competitions organised by the ECoRWWO, according to the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager M. Yelvender Yadav.

A 29-inch LED colour TV was presented to Railway Institute at Araku.

ECoRWWO branch officers and other members were present at the occasion.


The road to romance

Chat Harlequin’s Amrita Chowdhury has tread varied paths before finally finding her niche in romantic fiction

Amrita Chowdhury, must truly believe in Tolkien’s adage that not all who wander are lost. She has worn several hats successfully over the years. A B.Tech from IIT Kanpur, MS from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon- Tepper Business School, she has led the education portfolio for Harvard Business School in India, worked as an engineer at Applied Materials in Silicon Valley, in strategy consulting with Oppeus in Australia and AT Kearney in the US and is currently the Country Head & Publishing Director of Harlequin (the publisher of Mills & Boon books). Over an e-mail interaction, she details her journey, her passions, interests and experiences. Excerpts.

Can you tell us a little about your journey?

My role as Country Head & Publishing Director at Harlequin brings in complete alignment my varied experiences in different areas and countries. It has been a rewarding journey.Working in engineering and later management consulting and Board advisory in the US and Australia has taught me the importance of strategic planning, structured thinking, processes and communication. Working in India has taught me how to be responsive under truncated timelines.In addition, my love for books and personal journey as a published author gives me a different vantage point into understanding the publishing industry.

Why did you choose to switch your career? Have you ever regretted it?

Switching to Harlequin was a conscious decision. This dual role looking at the business and the publishing side of Harlequin India brings into synchronicity my varied strengths and experiences. What I do miss are my exceptional colleagues and the friendships I developed. But, a new place provides an opportunity to build new relationships in a new industry.

Tell me about your book Faking it. What was the genesis of the novel? Is there an autobiographical element to it–at least in terms of the newly-returned Indian aspect of it?

Faking It was published by Hachette India, and my second novel is expected to release in 2014. Writing the book was the culmination of a long-held dream. It is an art crime thriller about a fake Amrita Shergill painting, a reflection on the world of modern and contemporary Indian art and the art circuit, and is full of high jinks, humour and drama. The protagonist was a ‘newly returned Indian’ and I did draw inspiration from mine and friends’ experiences of returning to India after many years of living overseas; however, the book is fictional.

Can you throw some light on the Indian publishing industry and what has your experience in it been so far?

The Indian publishing industry is at an exciting cusp. From the content perspective, Indian writing is perfect melting pot. Authors are experimenting with books and themes that span multiple genres or combine different genres. New readers are emerging, creating a space for a variety of voices to exist.

Literary fiction authors have carved a space for India in the global pantheon of writers, garnering plaudits, awards, and readers. Commercial fiction authors have opened up the Indian market to a broader swathe of people, many of them first time readers. Non Fiction is particularly exciting as it is allowing business leaders, thinkers, subject matter experts, artists and auteurs to write books on a variety of topics from the Indian perspective. From the technology perspective, we are at the tip of a revolution. Print is expected to grow over the next five years. Simultaneously, we will also see growth escalating in various digital and mobile platforms.

Do you read Mills and Boon novels?

Yes, I do read Mills & Boon books, and have read them through the years. I find them fun and relaxing, like sinking into the couch with a glass of wine amid all the stresses that life offers.

You were instrumental in the Indian author programme which has Indian women writing Mills & Boon books set in India with Indian protagonists. How has the response to it been so far? What changes/what remains the same when regionalize the books?

The books written by Indian authors have been very well received, perhaps because our readers can identify with the protagonists and the settings. While the overall format of the romance novel is age-old, the Indian books feature strong female protagonists that reflect the wonderful set of writers we have, many of them professionals doubling up as writers. However, what is typically different from global romances is the entire cast of characters, the family and friends, surrounding the hero and heroine which is reflective of the strong family culture of our country.

What next?

I am excited about Harlequin India and our journey as an organization. I am looking forward to working with our team to further strengthen our business in the country and build a strong Indian writing portfolio.


Shanmukh Madhav – India Book of Records.

The boy Named P.Shanmukh Madha who is studying 7th standard in Basham school, vizag set a record in the event of clay mould held on 8th August @ AGE OF 12 YEARS OLD. He can do so many things like paper toys,electronic toys,with water bottles. Looking for Sponsors to set new horizons in an Innovate and passionate way.

Wishing Him, his Parents and the Faculty,Management of Basham all the best.


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