#Focussing on your #strengths to #Grow

Growth is the ultimate test of business vitality, yet questions about it haunt business leaders. How much will we grow this year, and beyond? How much growth do we need? What kind of growth do we need? How should we balance revenue growth against margin improvement? How far afield from our current business should we look for new customers? Once we know where we want to be, how do we get there?

The best recipe for sustained, profitable growth is simple in its basic concept. It requires a capabilities-driven approach — making the most of what you already do well — that goes well beyond traditional market-back approaches, which try to deliver whatever the outside world seems to need.

It is also devilishly difficult in its details, because it assumes you will use any means at your disposal to achieve your goal. There need be no trade-off between current markets and adjacent markets, or between organic methods (such as marketing and innovation) and inorganic methods (such as mergers and acquisitions). You can and should blend all of these, ideally in a dynamic and fast-paced way, as long as they are aligned with the proficiency and advantages you already have.

Thus, before you pursue growth directly, you should have in place the three elements of a clearly defined, coherent strategy: (1) a value proposition that resonates with customers, supported by (2) a system of distinctive capabilities, combined in a way that competitors can’t match, with (3) a portfolio of products and services that are all aligned to the first two elements. You must also be able to deliver on that value proposition, translating concept into competitive position with a viable, sustainable business model that generates profits and cash flow.

You can grow profitably and sustainably only from a position of strength. If your enterprise is struggling to maintain its economic lifelines, then foundational work on strategy, organization, cost optimization, or other factors is needed before any new growth strategy can succeed. Companies that enter new businesses to escape a weak position generally become weaker still, because they move into markets where they lack the capabilities needed to succeed.

Companies that enter new businesses to escape from a weak position generally become weaker still.

Typewriter maker Smith Corona, for example, understood the needs of students and self-employed typists better than anyone else; this helped the company develop a successful line of word-processing computers in the 1980s. But the company couldn’t sustain that business, because its efforts to expand into office supply distribution, kitchen appliances, daisy-wheel printers, and paints had left it without the resources to compete against other types of personal computers. Blockbuster Video sought to protect itself from disruption in the early 2000s by buying Circuit City — an effort to create synergy from two weakened businesses without a clear logic for creating value together.

Let’s say you have that position of strength to start from: a capabilities-driven strategy and the wherewithal to exploit it. From there, you can chart a course toward sustainable and profitable expansion by combining four approaches to growth:

1. In-market leverage: seeking out new growth opportunities among your existing customers in your core market as currently defined.

2. Near-market expansion: pursuing opportunities in unfamiliar sectors or with new products. This approach is also known as expansion through adjacencies.

3. Disruptive growth: responding to dramatic change with entirely new business models and capabilities if and as appropriate. Though important at times, this is rarer than many businesspeople think and should be undertaken only if you have a clear idea of how to link your existing capabilities system to the new one you will need.

4. Capability development: building distinctive organizational proficiency in a way that supports the other three forms of growth. This can be accomplished through a variety of means, including M&A, innovation, and operations improvements.

All four of these topics may seem familiar; they have been discussed over the years at most companies. But the linkages among them are often overlooked. By strengthening those linkages, your company can enter into a cycle of ongoing self-renewal. Most companies exhibiting consistent long-term growth — Amazon, Apple, Danaher, Disney, General Electric, Hyundai, Nike, Novo Nordisk, Oracle, Starbucks, and Walmart among them — have followed and continue to follow this path.

Headroom for Growth

Companies frequently overlook the growth opportunities that are right in front of them. Sometimes they are tempted by attractive-looking opportunities in other markets, or lured by the idea of diversification into other businesses. Sometimes, they simply haven’t spent enough time trying to imagine how their approach in an existing market could be changed to unlock additional growth. The answer lies in finding headroom: potential new business in an existing market.

The headroom for in-market leverage is the customer revenue a company could have beyond its current business, minus that which it is unlikely to get. For example, some fast-food restaurant chains have increased their revenues by selling premium coffee, espresso, and other specialty drinks to their regular breakfast or lunch customers, rather than ceding that business to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Their headroom is the total potential premium coffee drink sales, minus the revenue from people who are unlikely to switch to them. Meanwhile, coffee retailers have added more meals to build headroom at the expense of the fast-food chains. Two food and drink businesses that were originally very different have thus evolved into competitors.

Similarly, some cable and telecommunications companies are finding headroom in their current customer base. They are shifting from being TV or telephone service providers to becoming comprehensive sources of digital, information, and value-added services (by offering home control systems, for example). Their investments in broadband lines, stretching into customers’ homes and offices, and their monthly interactions with a broad consumer base (developed over years of being regulated monopolies) give them a platform for this in-market leverage that is very hard for other companies to compete with. To be sure, these new businesses require strong capabilities in customer acquisition and service, in an industry that has often been accused of ignoring consumer complaints. But some cable and telecom providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Cox Communications, are now developing these capabilities to help them enter new lines of business.

Determining the size of your headroom in existing markets is a three-step process. First, find gaps between what other companies in the market offer and what customers need, and devise a way to close those “needs–offer” gaps with new or better offers. Second, identify the factors (such as features, incentives, or messaging) that would lead customers to switch to your new product or service. Finally, redeploy, leverage, and improve your capabilities — or, in some cases, add new ones — to close the gap and propel your customers to switch.

Needs–offer gaps can be found in any market. Enormous opportunities for in-market leverage are often hiding in plain sight, accessible to those who can look with fresh eyes at existing customers. One large pharmaceutical company expanded sales by identifying patients who were not taking their medications as frequently as prescribed, and then encouraging them to do so. Video game producers sell additional apps or special in-game bonuses to customers already playing their games. Manufacturers have successfully targeted customers who want more quality at an affordable price (such as those who seek out reviews of more durable appliances), or who want access to features currently available only to top-tier customers (such as smartphone purchasers seeking better-quality built-in cameras). Regional banks have offered customers access to credit with more engagement than global financial institutions could offer.

The levers available to close a needs–offer gap include adding or redeploying capabilities. For example, in retail, making incremental improvements in assortment and packaging, increasing access via a new distribution channel, or simply upgrading the customer experience in a way that outpaces competitors’ offerings. Amazon’s Prime membership is a good example. It doesn’t change any of the products Amazon sells, but it offers free two-day shipping on all purchases in return for an annual fixed fee, further leveraging Amazon’s distinctive supply chain capabilities.

Near-Market Opportunities

When companies think about growth, they often start by looking for “adjacencies” (new nearby markets to enter) that stand out primarily for their market potential. But by rushing to the most seemingly attractive opportunities — the places with hot new technologies or burgeoning consumer populations — they risk diversifying past the point of no return, just as Blockbuster and Smith Corona did. But those high-growth opportunities have probably risen up in response to another company’s successful capabilities play, which will be very hard for another company to compete against.

A better approach is to look for opportunities where you can leverage your own distinctive capabilities, find new customers for your existing products or services, or apply your strengths to new offerings. Begin with a thorough assessment of your own capabilities and their relevance for near-market opportunities. A capability is relevant because either it creates a distinctive economic advantage, such as eliminating costs, or it creates a customer-acquisition advantage, helping you capture prospective purchasers. If you don’t see that direct relevance, be cautious. Some apparent advantages, such as the ability to offer customers a single bundled source for purchases used together, won’t necessarily create real synergies. Summer barbecues may involve the purchase of grills, food, and charcoal briquettes or propane, but it’s hard to imagine a manufacturer in one of these sectors expanding successfully to the others, because of the disparate capabilities required for them.

In your assessment, give yourself credit for non-obvious strengths that will help you grow. For example, you may have overlooked capabilities you can apply in your operations infrastructure — your sales force, financial back office, or IT system — or your customer insights and logistics network. American Express had exactly this type of asset in its loyalty program, which it originally built to enhance its core business, and then extended into a platform that enabled other companies to offer similar services.

When you seek growth in near markets, be wary of stretching your capabilities system so far that the linkage breaks, and your current business model doesn’t apply the way you hoped it would. Leading companies in the chemicals industry, for example, traditionally expanded by leveraging the production system they already had in place. This reduced the costs of both product streams. However, this approach led commodity chemicals companies to enter specialty businesses, whose customers demanded custom manufacturing, hands-on service, and rapid-response design that they couldn’t easily deliver. They had crossed a capability boundary, as we call it, in which the old capabilities no longer provided economic or customer acquisition advantages. As a result, over time the industry has specialized, evolving away from multicompetency conglomerates. Some companies returned to commodities while others migrated to a focus on agricultural products or specialty chemicals.

Capability boundaries also often arise when companies seek geographic expansion. For example, consumer product and retail companies moving from Europe or the U.S. to emerging markets such as India must adapt to radically different requirements and build new types of relationships. Retailers may have to modify store formats, assortments, logistics approaches, and brand positioning for local markets — sometimes to the point where their capabilities system may not easily stretch to accommodate distant locations or cultures, and still take advantage of the same value propositions and capabilities systems that make them successful at home.

In general, you should cross capability boundaries consciously and cautiously. The secret to successful near-market expansion is balancing creativity in how you extend your capabilities with a judicious view of when you are overstretching. Companies that use traditional adjacency definitions or ignore capability boundaries can easily find themselves in an adjacency trap. One famous example involved Sears Roebuck’s acquisition of the brokerage house Dean Witter Reynolds in 1981. This proved that customers didn’t necessarily want to “buy their stocks where they buy their socks,” as one critic put it. In some industries, companies are choosing to cross capability boundaries to survive. For example, as shown in Exhibit 1, convergence among the computer, telecommunications, and entertainment industries is forcing companies to expand their business definitions. Each company carves out its own path: Thus, Google and Netflix are moving from their established software businesses to generate digital television content, whereas other companies such as Apple and Microsoft have resisted the temptation to cross that capability boundary.

Disruption vs. Evolution

A casual look at the business media would suggest that disruption is everywhere, but disruption has become one of the most overused words in the business lexicon. Too often, a rapid, innovative evolutionary change in an industry is confused with disruption. Knowing the difference has significant implications for your growth strategy, capabilities system, and business model.

Most industries evolve continuously, through technological change, business model innovation, and improvements in everyday practices. Evolution affects companies and their customers — lowering costs, creating new needs–offer gaps, and enhancing products or customer experiences. Even breakthrough innovations, which deliver a step change in costs and benefits but do not require fundamental changes in capabilities systems, are not necessarily disruptions.

True industry disruptions are rare. They happen when a technological or business model innovation thoroughly changes or obliterates existing business models and their associated capabilities systems. Disruptions create situations in which every company has to reexamine its capability boundaries, or risk losing its livelihood.

In the music business, the introduction of the compact disc in the early 1980s was a breakthrough innovation that led widespread evolutionary changes throughout the industry. But it was not disruption; it did not fundamentally change the prevalent talent development, promotion, and physical distribution–based business model. Most of the companies that were prominent before the compact disc held on to their positions and practices after it was introduced.

The introduction of digital music files in the mid-1990s, on the other hand, was disruptive. (See “The Portable Music Saga”.) It utterly changed business models, capabilities systems, and supplier–buyer relationships throughout the industry. Internet-enabled innovations have driven many similar disruptions, in businesses as varied as book retailing, journalism, and on-demand dispatch and use of taxis and limousines.

The Portable Music Saga

In-market, near-market, and disruptive growth opportunities often happen in the same market over time. One of the most compelling examples is the market for portable recorded music and sound over the past 50 years.

It started in the 1950s at the dawn of rock-and-roll music, when teenagers desperately wanted music that they could take with them to their rooms and to parties. They carted around portable record players and boxes of vinyl 45 or 33 RPM discs. When the cost of the transistor fell in the mid-1950s, Texas Instruments and Sony capitalized on this needs–offer gap by offering radios that could be easily carried and mounted in automobiles. This manufactured product also helped build the market for recorded music, in the form of vinyl record albums that people could play at home.

But recorded music and the convenience of portability did not exist in a single package, and thus a further needs–offer gap existed. In 1979, Sony showed that it had found a cycle of continuous renewal when it filled that gap with the introduction of the Walkman, a compact device for playing cassette tapes through miniaturized headphones. This dramatic new play for headroom led the category for many years. Sony’s capabilities in designing and marketing small radios served it extremely well in the world of small audio, even after compact discs supplanted cassettes.

Sony faltered in the late 1990s, when its capabilities system, based on consumer devices, was upended. The shift to digital music file formats, such as MP3, required capabilities in computers and software. Downloadable music files had a clear advantage over compact discs in convenience, selection, and price. By 2001 there were 50 different portable MP3 players for sale on the U.S. market. None of them, however, quite fit the bill. Device interfaces were kludgy, downloading and managing music files could be haphazard and difficult, and online platforms could be quirky and unreliable. Some were downright sketchy (remember Napster?).

Enter Apple. This was one of the very few companies with capabilities in user-friendly product and interface design, technological integration, stylish fashion-forward marketing, and the coordination of creative media (which, along with Steve Jobs’s personal star power and friendships with musicians, helped it negotiate with record labels in the extremely insular music industry).

Apple was thus well positioned to make a dramatically successful near-market move; the iPod hit the market in 2001, at first for Macintosh users only, and was soon outselling its competitors. The company didn’t stop there: It pursued headroom within that territory, by opening the iTunes online music store, enabling consumers to buy and manage digital music simply and reliably and syncing with Windows-based computers as well as its own.

With these innovations, Apple filled a needs–offer gap that few other companies saw: It provided a reliable, standardized system that made purchasing, keeping, and listening to music relatively easy. By 2008, Apple had claimed nearly 50 percent of the market for music players. Its nearest competitor’s share was in the single digits. Adding video, games, publishing, and lifestyle apps, along with the iPhone, represented a series of natural in-market growth moves. For the next five years, Apple had a virtual lock on its customers; they were unwilling to switch because of the compelling nature of the company’s seamless offering.

Since 2013, however, a new needs–offer gap has been identified: Streaming media is even more convenient and less expensive than downloads. The online radio service Pandora was the first to fill this gap, and others are rushing to compete: Amazon with a near-market move, and Spotify and Netflix as new entrants. Apple pursued an in-market move with its Apple Music service, introduced in 2015. Apple Music builds on the acquisition of Beats, a startup founded by music industry veterans, which improved Apple’s capabilities for curating and enhancing audio and video content. This new needs–offer gap is still only partly understood, and it’s not clear which companies will be favored. But it is likely that the headroom is not yet exhausted and further needs–offer gaps will be discovered in the audio–video market as technology continues to evolve.

The impact of biotechnology on pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals is another good example of the difference between evolutionary and disruptive innovation. Advances in biotech have provided major innovations in pharmaceuticals since the 1980s, enabling life science companies to develop entirely new kinds of genetically engineered drugs for treating diseases such as diabetes and cancer. However valuable these innovations have been, they simply provide another way of introducing molecules into the established regulatory, commercial, selling, support, and reimbursement systems. No major changes in the business models or capabilities systems have been required, at least so far. (Personalized medicines may turn out to be more disruptive.)

In agricultural chemicals, however, biotech has been disruptive. The advent of genetically modified plant cells completely changed the roles that seeds and chemicals played throughout the industry’s value chain. Companies that provided genomics had to extend themselves upstream, downstream, and horizontally. Companies that provided agricultural chemicals had to integrate upstream into seeds, and to combine or partner with downstream companies in the processing and delivery chain. In some cases, agricultural companies had to create new brands at the end-user level to capture the value of their innovations.

Companies can respond to evolution and even step-change innovation by improving, and in some cases by adding to, their capabilities systems. But to respond to a true disruption, companies often need to intentionally cross capability boundaries, adding entirely new capabilities to survive. The Lowe’s hardware chain did this successfully in the 1990s. Traditionally, Lowe’s sold construction materials, mainly to professional homebuilders, through small, full-service outlets. In 1982, Home Depot introduced a disruptive new business model — “big box” stores in a home improvement center format. These outlets were much larger than Lowe’s stores (90,000 square feet versus 15,000) and had much lower operating costs, mainly thanks to labor savings from scale and self-service. Lowe’s struggled to compete for nearly 10 years. Then in 1992, Lowe’s converted its own stores to the new home improvement format and became a strong, successful competitor.

If you respond to disruption by changing your business model and capabilities system, as Lowe’s did, you can’t dabble. You have to commit fully to a new business model, and build the necessary capabilities as soon and as thoroughly as possible.

A Cycle of Continuous Renewal

The goal of a growth strategy is to create continuous renewal so that your top-line revenue increases steadily. As we’ve seen, you need a single viable strategy combining in-market and near-market growth, backed up by the right group of capabilities. In-market growth converts your capabilities into increased wallet share, providing returns that fuel investment. Near-market growth makes the most of the investment by using your capabilities more broadly. Capabilities development makes both kinds of growth more successful. Success in each of these areas reinforces success in the others, and the cycle continues to accelerate as long as you stay in practice.

But where to begin? That depends on where you are right now. The possibilities are best visualized as a matrix, in which the horizontal axis represents the distinctiveness of your capabilities system and its relative fit with the opportunities you have or wish to create, and the vertical axis represents the headroom for growth in your current markets. Most companies fit squarely into one of the four resulting quadrants (see Exhibit 2).

The “poor prospects” lack distinctive capabilities and apparent opportunities, and thus are in a weak position. If you are in this group, your only path to organic growth success — assuming your business survives — is to do foundational work on strategy and execution. Focus on improving your core capabilities systems and value propositions. Only then can you consider either in-market or near-market growth strategies.

If you are in the “capabilities-challenged” group, you have ample headroom for growth, but your capabilities aren’t a good fit for the opportunities. This can happen when a company lets its performance drift, or when its market changes, creating new upsides that require different capabilities. Your growth challenge is adding or enhancing capabilities to capture your available headroom, not chasing unrelated markets.

Other companies are “headroom-challenged.” They are successful in their markets as currently defined, but have little upside: Growth prospects are leveling off. If you are in this group, start looking for previously unnoticed opportunities for in-market growth, and leverage or improve your distinctive capabilities to exploit them. Alternatively, seek near-market opportunities by redefining or reimagining your business. A hardware or software supplier may redefine itself as a solutions provider (many tech companies have done this). A search-engine company can become an information management company, as Google has. A food company can recast itself as a nutrition company (consider Nestlé). Redefining your business puts you in the “capabilities-challenged” group, where new skills will be required, and risk may increase — but so will opportunities. As your capabilities systems improve in response to their deployment in your new near-market expansion, you will move into the “growth leaders” category.

If you are already among the fortunate companies in that quadrant, the key to sustained, profitable growth is a balanced mix of all the levers we have discussed, tailored to your company’s needs and culture. Continue to mine in-market opportunities, to use your insights and talent to capture valid adjacencies, and to reimagine your capabilities as necessary. From time to time, you’ll hit ceilings to your headroom and need to expand into new markets or build new capabilities. You may even face genuine disruption. Then you’ll move around the cycle again — identifying new headroom for growth that represents a good potential fit, developing the distinctive capabilities you need, and returning to your position as a growth leader (see Exhibit 3).

Sustainable growth requires building this type of continuous renewal cycle. Your pace around the cycle may be set by the clock speed of your industry: Technology firms cycle more quickly than chemicals companies. But no matter how fast or slow your industry, your potential for continuous growth depends on how well you can manage these dynamics — how skilled you become at seeing potential for growth, and building capabilities to realize that potential.

Successful companies avoid getting stuck in the “headroom-challenged” category, or drifting into “poor prospects” territory, by continuously renewing their capabilities. You can build or expand some capabilities through organic methods such as innovation and marketing, you can “borrow” other capabilities through alliances with other enterprises, and you can buy still other capabilities through mergers and acquisitions.

What about M&A?

Mergers and acquisitions are so closely associated with expansion that the term inorganic growth is frequently used to refer to such deals. But this terminology can be misleading. Inorganic methods, such as acquisitions, are not actually a form of growth. They are capability acquisition tools. An M&A deal does not automatically expand a company’s customer base or revenue stream beyond what the two merged companies previously had available to them. It may increase potential for growth, but the company still has to put its new capabilities to use to realize that potential.

Thus the most successful acquirers are those that acquire with a capabilities mind-set. They outperform those who are not capabilities-driven by more than 14 percentage points in total shareholder returns. (See “Deals That Win,” by J. Neely, John Jullens, and Joerg Krings.)

Sustainable Growth in Practice

One way to ensure this cycle of continuous renewal is through capabilities chaining: developing new capabilities that complement your existing ones, so that you can use all of this proficiency to enter a new line of business. For example, to expand from the photography industry to healthcare, Fujifilm is using its existing capabilities in material science, engineering, and quality manufacturing. To complement these, it bought two firms involved in regenerative medicine research: Cellular Dynamics International (based in the U.S.) and Japan’s Tissue Engineering Corporation (J-TEC). In March 2015, Fujifilm chairman and CEO Shigetaka Komori told the Japanese newspaperNikkei, “If we combine the three companies’ technologies [those of Fujifilm, J-TEC, and Cellular Dynamics], they can be put to use in a variety of…applications, such as tissue and organ regeneration…. We’re aiming to become the world’s top regenerative medicine company.”

When you create your own prospective capability chain map, draw pragmatic linkages between what you do well now and the opportunities you see ahead. The map shows what capabilities are needed for each new step, and identifies ways to take that step successfully.

The art of growth is balancing and sequencing all the levers we have discussed: in-market leverage, near-market expansion, and capability development; organic tools, alliances, and mergers and acquisitions. Capabilities chaining brings your innovation and inorganic options together into one coherent make-versus-buy framework. As an example, we have mapped the growth of some of General Electric, which has used capabilities chaining in this way since the 1950s (see Exhibit 4). You seek an approach tailored to your company, combining insight and creativity with pragmatism and execution. And whenever you become too settled and secure, you look for new headroom and begin the cycle all over again.

Cintas Corporation, which provides uniforms and specialized services to companies, is an example of a highly successful company that has created this type of continuous growth cycle. Cintas began in the Great Depression as an industrial laundry that reclaimed and cleaned rags for local factories around Cincinnati. The company later began renting towels to customers, replacing them or repairing them as needed. Over time, Cintas created a distinctive set of capabilities and its own business model — “The Cintas Way” — combining excellence in plant operations, a highly refined logistics capability, and service innovation with customer knowledge and sales and service networks. The company has grown steadily through an integrated evolutionary approach. Cintas’s cycle of continuous growth included three major approaches to expansion (see Exhibit 5).

1. In-market leverage. Growth accelerated as the company pursued in-market opportunities, first renting (as well as laundering, repairing, and replacing) uniforms for factory workers, and then additionally offering uniforms for front-office personnel and specialty items such as flame-resistant garments for specific needs. At the same time, Cintas worked with manufacturers to develop new materials that would be resistant to staining, that would stand up to repeated washing and need little ironing, and that would provide protection as well as style.

2. Near-market expansion. Cintas enters new markets and geographies by cautiously testing whether its core business model will prosper before committing to those opportunities. The company has leveraged its capabilities system by adding other clearly linked services, including renting and cleaning floor mats; providing washroom supplies; and managing, cleaning, providing, and servicing first-aid kits and fire extinguishers. The company moved into adjacent businesses by offering services to existing customers such as employee safety training, and by expanding its customer base to include companies in other industries such as hotels and airlines.

3. Capability development. Cintas was also able to realize when it had reached the limits of its capabilities system. After entering and building a successful document storage and imaging business to offer additional services to customers, the company figured out that this new business was driven as much by commodity prices and real estate as by Cintas’s own strengths in logistics, services, and operations. In 2014, Cintas sold this business. Finally, Cintas has used mergers and acquisitions to access and test new capabilities and new services, and expanded by rolling up smaller companies in similar businesses, where the company could further leverage its capabilities.

This cycle of continuous growth has given Cintas strong and consistent financial performance over the decades, and enabled the company to successfully weather the post-2008 downturn. Today, Cintas is one of the largest business services suppliers in North America; it employs 30,000 people, serves more than 900,000 customers, and maintains 430 facilities, including six manufacturing plants and nine distribution centers.

Companies that have struggled to grow consistently tend to think about growth in terms of contradictions: sticking with their current markets versus moving into new ones; leveraging versus enhancing their capabilities; growing their current business versus expanding via M&A; “staying true to themselves” versus leaving their corporate identity behind — but these are all false choices. The art of continuous growth involves reconciling activities that only seem to contradict one another. Combining them will yield a capabilities-driven strategy that will generate continuous growth.

How to set your ##dining ##table for ##guests

How to set your dining table for guests

Have a fancy dinner table don’t know how to set it for formal occasions? Here are a few tips on how to make it look aesthetically nice…

Go for crisp linens: If you want to spread a table cloth, make sure it’s in linen, as this material hangs well on any surface. You can also place napkins and table mats in the same material.
Invest in Chinaware: Though expensive, the look that dainty Chinaware provides on a table during a special or festive occasion is unmatched. Invest in a set that can be used sparingly whenever you have guests over.
A sleek centerpiece: If you have a big dining table, you can decorate it with a creative centerpiece, complementing it with the decor or even with the cuisine that you’re serving. From candles and potpourri to bulbs.
Name cards on the table: For a large, formal dinner party, if you’ve invited many people, you can even keep names cards on the table, so that people know where they are expected to sit, without causing any chaos and confusion.

Top 75 #companies #spent Rs 4,000 crore on #CSR in 2015

Big CSR spenders include Reliance Industries with Rs 760 crore, ONGC with Rs 495 crore, Infosys with Rs 239 crore, NTPC with Rs 205 crore and TCS with Rs 220 crore, according to company filings.

The country’s top 75 companies spent more than Rs 4,000 crore towards corporate social responsibility in the last fiscal, the first year after the government mandated bigger companies to give away a part of their profits for social work, early estimates of the government show.

Big CSR spenders include Reliance IndustriesBSE -0.31 % with Rs 760 crore, ONGC with Rs 495 crore, InfosysBSE 3.13 % with Rs 239 crore, NTPCBSE -0.08 % with Rs 205 crore and TCS with Rs 220 crore, according to  ..

Dr Reddy’s acquires Habitrol brand

"With this closure, the company has assumed responsibility for the product and will commence shipments of the product in the market shortly," DRL said.

City-based drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has acquired Habitrol brand, a nicotine replacement therapy transdermal patch, from NovartisBSE -0.74 % Consumer Health Inc.

According to a statement issued by the drug major, the acquisition of Habitrol brand (an over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy transdermal patch) from Novartis Consumer Health Inc was done following issuance of the proposed consent order from the US Federal by TotalPlu ..

Lokpal bill passes Rajya Sabha test, Lok Sabha to consider it tomorrow

Since the anti-graft legislation underwent amendments during its course in Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha will consider it afresh on Wednesday.

After Lok Sabha’s approval, it will be sent to the President whose assent is necessary for it to become a law.

After an intensive debate during which the Opposition suggested changes and the only dissenting voice, the Samajadi Party, walked out in protest, the bill was put to clause-by-clause voting before it was cleared.


It became the first bill to be passed during the ongoing winter session of Parliament.

The proposed law provides for a Lokpal or national ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries.

Among the amendments accepted by the government are delinking of the mandatory creation of lokayuktas by the state governments, one of the provisions which had stalled the passage of the bill in December 2011.

Law minister Kapil Sibal called it a historic moment, but stressed that corruption could not be removed by the lokpal alone. He said the government will deal with the “supply side” of corruption, as pointed out by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.

During the debate, leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley pointed to the “changed political atmosphere” he said had prompted the lawmakers to pass the bill.

He was possibly referring to Aam  Aadmi Party’s stunning victory in Delhi polls and its strong anti-graft activism in collaboration with Anna Hazare before it became a political party.

“We must strive to bring a viable and credible lokpal bill… We need to remove all its faults and introduce a bill that is credible and functional,” Jaitley said.

The bill was brought back to the Upper House after being considered by the Parliamentary Select Committee which recommended several amendments to make it widely acceptable among political parties.

Renewed support for the bill came after civil servant turned corruption fighter Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party trounced Congress in state polls in Delhi this month in a key test ahead of general electionsdue by May.

Kejriwal pushed Congress into a distant third place, and even deprived the BJP of a majority in Delhi, underlining his potential to damage both of India’s main parties when the country goes to the polls next year.

Kejriwal, who campaigned on a promise of cleaning up dirty politics, was a key member of the grass-roots movement that demanded the tough law back in 2011.

The campaign was spearheaded by Anna Hazare who led countrywide protests that tapped into a rich seam of public anger at corruption and caught Congress unawares.

ReadAnna Hazare thanks Rahul Gandhi for Lokpal commitment
Hazare was Tuesday into the eighth day of a hunger strike to push for the bill’s passing, a successful move back in 2011 when his 12-day fast led to its introduction into Parliament.

The main provisions of the amended Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill


States to set up Lokayuktas by a law within 365 days

States have the freedom to determine the nature and type of Lokayukta


Imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh for false and frivolous complaints

Public servants can face imprisonment up to 7 years

Criminal misconduct and habitually abetting corruption can attract jail terms up to 10 years


Included: The Prime Minister, ministers, current and former MPs and MLAs, government employees, employees of companies funded or controlled by the Central government
Societies and trusts that collect public money, receive funding from foreign sources, and have an income level above a certain threshold

Excluded: Bodies creating endowments for or performing religious or charitable functions


Inquiry to be completed within 60 days and investigation to be completed within 6 months

Lokpal shall order an investigation only after hearing the public servant

Inquiry against the PM has to be held in-camera and approved by two-thirds of the full bench of the Lokpal


Lokpal can superintend the CBI in relation to the cases referred by it to the investigation agency

CBI officers investigating cases referred by the Lokpal can be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal


Lokpal can initiate prosecution through its Prosecution Wing before the Special Court.  Trial to be completed within two years


All expenses to be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India (Funds available to the Lokpal will not be dependent on the annual budget voted by Lok Sabha)

Delhi election result live: Cong to be kingmaker for BJP, AAP?

Image from PTI2.12 pm: Can Congress save BJP from AAP? With the AAP and BJP locked in a neck and neck battle, the nitty gritties of forming government is now down to single candidates. Even if the BJP is invited to form the government because it is the single largest party, it may have trouble actually forming the government. The Aam Aadmi Party has already categorically declared that it will not ally with the BJP. The hope for the BJP if it comes down to counting numbers seat by seat, Rambir Shokeen could well be a king maker. The independent candidate looks comfortably placed to win the seat of Mundka. He was denied a ticket by the BJP. Will the party have to now eat crow and beg him to help them form a government? Or will he also act on his disillusionment and move towards AAP? There is also the option of taking away MLAs from the Congress. The party is leading in 8 seats, and if at least 4 of these MLAs move towards Congress, they can form a government. Given that the party is a clear third, will the disillusioned MLAs save BJP? Meanwhile sad news for the party, Shazia Ilmi loses the RK Puram seat by just 340 votes. 1.52 pm: AAP, BJP neck in Delhi Now with the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party looking like they are locked in a head on tussle for supremacy, the key seat battles will have to be watched extremely closely. RK Puram, where AAP leader Shazia Ilmi is contesting is nail bitingly close. She is trailing the BJP candidate, Anil Kumar Sharma, by just 205 votes at the moment. Manish Sisodia from AAP is also ahead in the Patparganj constituency. Other key battles include Bijwasam, where the BJP candidate Sat Prakash Rana is leading AAP candidate Devinder Kumar Serawat by 2414 votes and Burari, where the AAP candidate Sanjeev Jha is leading BJP candidate Shri Krishnan by just 1,190 votes. 1.15 pm: Official results trickling in: AAP, BJP  win 3 seats each The Aam Aadmi Party and BJP have won 3 seats apiece, according to the official tally oRn the EC site. Meanwhile in terms of trends, the Aam Aadmi Party is edging towards 30 seats. The party is now ahead in 29 seats as opposed to the 32 in which the BJP is leading. The Congress is struggling to make it even to double figures, leading only in 8 seats. The BJP is still confident though. “We will get a complete majority”, said Vijay Jolly to media. 12.54 pm: Must analyse defeat, says Sheila Dikshit Outgoing Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit issued a brief statement in which she said that the party needed to analyse its crushing defeat in the Delhi assembly polls. “We have to analyse what went wrong later, I would like to say a thank you to the people of Delhi for supporting me for the last 15 years. I would also like to thank the media”, she said. Asked whether she failed to read the public mood she sarcastically said, “Bewakoof hai na hum?” Meanwhile another official seat result has been announced – AAP has won Ambedkar nagar. 12.43 pm: First official seat result out – BJP wins Mehrauli  And we have the first official seat result and it goes to the BJP in Mehrauli. They are also leading in another 35 seats, according to the official tally by the Election Commission.   12.30 pm: BJP up to 34 seats, but AAP makes significant gains The Delhi result undoubtedly belongs to the Aam Aadmi Party, but the question now is whether or not the BJP will be ultimately able to form the government on its own. The BJP leads are now at 34 seats, but AAP is making spectacular gains – showing leads in 27 seats. The Congress is now only showing leads in 7 seats. The BSP for its part, is holding on to leads in 2 seats. Dikshit continues to remain holed up inside her residence. Journalists are requesting the staff to urge Dikshit to make a statement. She is expected to make a statement in some time. Meanwhile the discussions have predictably swung to what these results mean for Rahul Gandhi. Jayanti Natarajan of the Congress has said that Rahul Gandhi cannot be blamed for the results, but hastened to credit him for the results in Chhattisgarh. Sigh. 11.55 am: Sheila Dikshit resigns as CM Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has sent her resignation as Chief Minister to the Lt General of Delhi. The news has been greeted with great joy in the AAP office: Sheila tai bhag gayi is the slogan. The three time Chief Minister is set to lose the New Delhi constituency as well, as she is trailing AAP’s Kejriwal by a significant number of votes. The latest update is that she is trailing Kejriwal by 15,000 votes. And sweet irony – she won the same seat by a whopping 14,000 seats. Meanwhile reason to worry for the BJP – their leads have dropped again. They now only lead in 32 seats. The magic number, as we have kept reiterating, is 36. Here is a quick look at AAP supporters celebrating: 11.48 am: Arvind Kejriwal leading Sheila by 10k votes – buzz from AAP More AAP celebrations in the wake of reports that Arvind Kejriwal has won by 10,000 votes. EC website doesn’t confirm this yet but AAP workers are convinced Kejriwal has won. According to Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola, “AAP worker tells us EC has declared election and Kejriwal has won”. Not quite, but that doesn’t mean the party should not celebrate. They have every reason to do so. 11.38 am: “Sheila Ko haraya hai, Modi Ko harayange’, shout AAP The celebrations at the AAP office are reaching fever pitch. Supporters are dancing to dhol drums waving brooms in the air and are shouting slogans, the most catching of which seems to be, “Sheila Ko haraya hai, Modi Ko harayange” ( We defeated Sheila, we will defeat Modi next). Meanwhile the BJP is stretching its leads. The latest trends show the party leading in 37 seats now. 11.28 am: BJP leads at magic number of 36 The BJP is now leading in 36 seats – the magic number they need to form a government in the Delhi legislative assembly. The Aam Aadmi Party leads have dropped from 25 to 22, while the Congress party is leading in 8 seats. 11.19 am: Congress accepts defeat The Congress party has accepted defeat in the state assembly elections, IANS reported. The agency also quoted Congress leaders as saying that they would ‘introspect’. Meanwhile interesting AAP fact – the brother of Santosh Koli – the AAP leader who was killed in an accident, is sweeping the Seemapuri seat. Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola says the Congress candidate walked out of the counting centre from there. The AAP candidate – Dharmendra Singh – is leading by 10,000 votes. 11.00 am: BJP reaches the halfway mark The BJP is now leading in 35 seats, which is the halfway mark. If it can hold on to this tally and get one more seat, it will not need to look for allies to form the government. This is just as well, given that the Aam Aadmi Party has conclusively ruled out any chance of an alliance with the party. 10.58 am: AAP leading in key constituency of Malviya Nagar The Aam Aadmi Party is leading the key Malvia Nagar constituency, considered to be a key seat. The contest was between Kiran Walia (current minister for Education, Social Welfare, Women and Child Development,Languages) It was largely thought that Arti Mehra would sweep the polls. Here is a look at the way things stand so far: SHRI SOMNATH BHARTI Aam Aadmi Party 6023 MS. ARTI MEHRA Bharatiya Janata Party 3811 MS. KIRAN WALIA Congress 2779 10.48 am: BJP now lead in 34 seats, can they still form the government? The leads are constantly changing as counting continues, and the BJP seems to be pulling a little closer to the magic number of 36 in Delhi. The party is now showing leads in 43 seats, while AAP is leading in 24 seats. The Congress leads have fallen even further to 9 seats. It looks like the party will struggle to even make it to double digits. Meanwhile in worse news for the Congress, Sheila Dikshit is now trailing Kejriwal by 7,000 seats in New Delhi. According to Firstpost reporter Pallavi Polanki, there is a stunned silence at Diksit’s residence. The office is deserted and there are only reporters waiting for Sheila Dikshit to make a statement. “The youth has gone in Kejriwal’s favour. The AAP wave has taken over delhi,” says a disheartened Congress worker 10.42 am: AAP will never never never support Cong, BJP Thrilled AAP supporters have said that the party will ‘never never never’ ally with the BJP even if it falls short of a clear majority in the Delhi legislative assembly. Amid the cheering, party members emphatically told reporters that they would ‘never never never’ ally with the Congress. Meanwhile the Congress admitted that it was disappointed with the assembly results from four states where it appeared to be headed for defeat. “We are disappointed with the results that have come in,” said a crestfallen party leader, Randeep Singh Surjewala. But he quickly added that a defeat in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi might not reflect on national mood ahead of Lok Sabha polls due next year. 10.26 am: BJP is single largest party, but don’t have majority As counting goes on, the BJP looks like it is losing some of its early momentum to AAP. BJP leads have dropped to 30 seats, while AAP is leading in 25. The Congress has upped its tally to leads in 14 seats. At the AAP headquarters, brooms are being waved in the air in celebration. 10.15 am: Leads for all 70 seats out, BJP just shy of magic number The leads are now out for all 70 seats in New Delhi and the BJP looks like it is just shy of the magic number – 36. They are leading in 32 seats, while AAP is a clear second in 24 seats. Congress is leading in 13 seats while the BSP is leading in 1. The BJP will now be hoping that once results get a little clearer, that they will see more seats coming to them. BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman has meanwhile gone out of her way to reassure the Aam Aadmi Party that there is no party initiative to approach AAP and lure MPs on to their side. This comes even as AAP leader Kejriwal alleged that some of his party MPs had already been approached by the BJP. While Sitharaman’s assertions are admirable, no one can rule out some strong horse trading. Expect a lot of allegations and counter allegations in the next few hours and days. 10.00 am: With 2 seats to go, BJP looks set to form govt Leads are out in 68 seats and the BJP looks like it will form the government on its own. The BJP is leading in 34 seats, while AAP is behind, showing leads in 24 seats. Congress is postitvely floundering in third place with leads in just 8 seats. Others – in this case the BSP – are leading in 2 seats. Here are some early trend specifics: AAP leader Manish Sisodia is leading from Patparganj, Kejriwal is leading Dikshit in New Delhi, and AAP has ruled out any alliance with the BJP. AAP leader Shazia Ilmi has echoed Kejriwal’s statement in the morning that there would no question of allying with the BJP, reports Firstpost’s Pallavi Polanki. “We have taken all adequate precautions against our candidates being poached. We are not poachable. There is no question of joining hands with the BJP or Congress. The idea is not to come to power by hook or crook,” says AAP’s Shazia Ilmi on arriving at the Gol market counting centre in Delhi . Meanwhile here is some early morning cuteness: 6 year old AAP supporter Gauri who’s been up since 7 am & is waiting for results. #delhielections pic.twitter.com/HnYxb7OFwO — Shruti Dhapola (@ShrutiDhaps) December 8, 2013   9.50 am: Sheila losing New Delhi seat? The unthinkable has happened. Sheila Dikshit is trailing Kejriwal in the New Delhi seat by 2,000 votes. Will the incumbent Chief Minister be unable to hold on to her own constituency? We can only wait and see. But the good news for Kejriwal fans is that he has actually caught up to her. A few hours ago, she was leading the votes. 9.43 am: Leads out in all but 4 seats, Congress set to lose The BJP is edging closer to the halfway mark, leading in 31 seats. AAP is leading in 22 seats, while the Congress is leading in 10 seats. The BSP is leading in 2. Of course it is early days, but this much is certain – the Congress is set to lose. BJP CM candidate Harsh Vardhan looks as pleased as punch, but he’s not celebrating yet. ‘I will not celebrate till all the results are out’, he says. 9.30 am: 60 out of 70 leads out, BJP ahead The BJP is now ahead in 28 seats, while AAP is leading in 20 seats. The Congress is absolutely getting decimated – there is no other word for it – with leads in just 10 seats. Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi is putting a brave face on, saying that although the BJP is leading all four states, there is no Modi wave in the country. 9.20 am: Leads out in 50 seats, AAP celebrates exceptional performance The Aam Aadmi Party has everything to celebrate this poll. BJP is ahead in 21 seats, but AAP is right behind them with leads in 18 seats. Congress struggling in third with leads in just 8 seats, while ‘others’ are ahead in just 3 seats. Lots of shouts of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ outside the AAP office in Connaught place. ALl the pundit discussions are now focusing on whether or not AAP will ally with the BJP. AAP cheering in full force as the results pour in. #delhielections #delhiresults pic.twitter.com/52j0rFkkDw — Shruti Dhapola (@ShrutiDhaps) December 8, 2013   9.11 am: Leads out in 40 seats, BJP ahead Leads are now out in 40 seats and AAP looks like it is giving the BJP a good run for its money. The BJP and AAP are leading in 16 seats each, while the Congress is a distant third, leading in just 6 seats. 9.00 am: BJP pulling ahead, Cong, AAP, BSP jostle for second More leads coming in and the BJP is well ahead now, leading in 12 seats, this is a gain of 7. The Congress is leading in 5, AAP is leading in 7 seats, and BSP is leading in 3. Meanwhile in Rohtas Nagar, widely considered a bellwether state, is showing a gain for BJP. BJP CM candidate Harsh Vardhan tells Firstpost reporter Soumik Mukherjee that he has always been very certain that the party was clearly ahead of Cong and AAP. “They were fighting each other”, he said. “I am certain of the party’s win in at least 40 seats. The credit goes to cadres and all the leaders in Delhi BJP”, he added. Here is a picture of the buoyant AAP office courtesy Shruti Dhapola AAP supporters outside the office cheering at results. #delhielections #delhiresults pic.twitter.com/TaoUUQcHvt — Shruti Dhapola (@ShrutiDhaps) December 8, 2013   8.53 am: Sheila Dikshit leading Kejriwal in New Delhi Contrary to the results of all the major exit and opinion polls, incumbent Congress CM Sheila Dikshit is leading Kejriwal in New Delhi. Leads are out for 20 seats now, Congress ahead in 4, BJP ahead in 7, AAP ahead in 4 and others ahead in 5. 8.49 am: Leads out in 15 seats, BJP pulls ahead Congress lead in 3, BJP leads in 6 and AAP leads in 4 so far. The ‘others’ meaning independent candidates are also leading in 3 seats. However the usual caveats, these are very very early trends. 8.44 am: AAP leads 2 seats, BJP, Cong 1 each Results coming in thick and fast again, AAP is ahead in 2 seats and the BJP and Congress lead in 1 each. However the bad news for the Congress, is that they won all these seats in 2008. AAP is leading in Narela and Seemapuri. Narela is just north of the Haryana border, somewhat rural in character and very poor. Seemapuri in East Delhi is the constituency in which Santosh Koli, the AAP member who was killed in an accident, was running for the party. 8.34 am: First lead out, AAP ahead The Aam Aadmi Party is leading in the Narela constituency, which the Congress won in 2008 with a 0.8 percent margin. The cheers outside the AAP office make it sound like a cricket match, says our Firstpost reporter. However this is just a very early lead, and is likely to be only a postal ballot. AAP leader Ypogendra Yadav has a huge smile on his face, but cautions that these are still very early days. The Congress is also leading in a seat. Nothing for the BJP yet. 8.21 am: Kejriwal says he is confident of win Arvind Kejriwal has arrived at the AAP office in Connaught place, and has told his supporters and the media that he is confident of a win. The AAP leader sparked off some controversy earlier this morning, by saying that his party members were being approached by the BJP in the wake of exit polls that showed AAP emerging as the second largest party in the state. “No matter what happens the people would have won, Arvind Kejriwal said in an interview with CNN-IBN. “We are not thinking about particular posts like the CM or PM. We are working for the nation”, he added. Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola who is at the AAP office, says that the biggest complaint outside AAP office is that the tv is displaying the election result is not big enough. Some AAP supporters leave as TV is not big enough. They’re going to watch results at home. Meanwhile on the Congress side of the camp, party workers have resorted to prayer: Congress workers conduct prayers outside Sheila Dikshit’s residence pic.twitter.com/WUlTEjPVyo — ANI (@ANI_news) December 8, 2013   8.00 am: Counting begins for Delhi election It’s 8am, and counting has begun in the Delhi assembly polls. We will soon begin to see emerging trends from the various districts, and the fates of various political leaders will be decided. The most attention is of course, on Sheila Dikshit, the three term Chief Minister who looks like she is on her way out. And the Indian Express has a feature detailing what she did on Saturday. She told the newspaper that she spent some time reading, first the newspapers and then a few pages of Ramchandra Guha’s India After Gandhi. “A major part of my time goes in reading paper after paper, to read how people are dismissing me with biased reports,” she said, While staffers, all old-timers, were still preparing her favourite dishes and pottering about the house, Dikshit herself found time for classical music. After previous elections, Dikshit would sometimes promise her family more time to do what they want her to. This time, however, says the report, she has never discussed the prospect of a defeat. Meanwhile here is a look at Delhi’s districts: 7.48 am: Outside the AAP office, party workers are set for business Full set up at AAP office on day of election results. #delhielections #Delhipolls #Delhiresults pic.twitter.com/WHQpuFqrZE — Shruti Dhapola (@ShrutiDhaps) December 8, 2013 The AAP office is a hive of activity in Delhi, says Firstpost reporter Shruti Dhapola. According to exit polls, AAP is set to outperform the incumbent Congress party, grabbing between 13 -21 seats and 27 percent of the popular vote. Meanwhile Kumar Vishwas has arrived at the AAP office and is immediately mobbed by reporters. He tells people that they are confident of victory. 7.00 am:  Are Sheila Dikshit’s hours numbered? With the counting of votes in the Delhi assembly elections scheduled to begin at 8am, we will soon know how the state has voted. And the big question on everyone’s minds of course, is whether the exit polls are correct, and three time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be ousted after 15 years in power. Image from PTI Dikshit herself has put on a defiantly brave face, saying that she is not swayed by exit poll results and still believes she will do well, even leading the Congress party to victory. But given public sentiment and the consensus of various exit polls conducted after voting ended on 4 December, it looks like her 15-year term at the helm of the Delhi legislative assembly is for all events and purposes, over. In fact, shockingly, A Lokniti (CSDS) exit poll for CNN-IBN and The Week even predicts that she will lose her own seat – New Delhi – to political upstart Arvind Kejriwal. Only 13 percent of voters polled from the constituency said that they had voted for her, as opposed to 38 percent for Kejriwal and 22 percent for Vardhan. Diskhit’s popularity has also plummeted from 41 percent in 2009 to a paltry 15 percent. This is opposed to a 27 percent popularity rating for Kejriwal and 22 percent for BJP candidate Harsh Vardhan. The exit poll has predicted that the ruling Congress party are likely to emerge a paltry third in the Delhi assembly polls, winning between 9 and 17 seats and just 23 percent of the vote, behind the BJP (32-42 seats and 33 percent) and Aam Aadmi Party (13 -21 seats and 27 percent). This is a marked fall from its previous 2008 high of 43 seats. As Firstpost editor R Jagannathan pointed out, the exit poll results point to four possible scenarios in Delhi: 1: The likeliest possibility is a clear win, or even a sweep, for the BJP. In a three-way vote split, the party with the largest chunk of the vote often gets a disproportionate number of seats – especially if its votes are concentrated in the right areas. This is what happened in Uttar Pradesh in 2012, when the Samajwadi Party got a clear majority with a vote share of less than 30 percent, and with the BSP just three percentage points behind. By raising its vote share by just 3.7 percent to 29.15 percent, Akhilesh Yadav saw his seat count rise from 97 in 2007 to a record 224 in 2012. 2: The second possibility is that of the BJP emerging as the single largest party. In this case, it will have AAP breathing down its neck – resulting in a hung house. This could happen if the BJP’s vote-share is evenly distributed while AAP’s votes are concentrated in critical pockets. In this eventuality, it is not inconceivable that AAP could form a government with some of the smaller parties like the BSP or independents, who have a 17 percent vote share between them. It is, however, not clear if this will get them a proportionate number of seats. Some of the vote share may just be wasted among also-rans. 3: The third possibility is of the AAP actually emerging as the biggest party. Despite a lower vote share, it may end up with a higher seat share because it may have concentrated its vote-gathering efforts in the right pockets. If this happens – but it is not likely – it will be a tribute to AAP’s ability to micro-manage its voter messaging in the areas most hospitable to its debut. 4: The only outcome that seems unlikely is that of Congress springing a surprise. Not only is the Congress not likely to win, it is even less likely to emerge as the single largest party in the Delhi assembly given the huge disenchantment of the voter with both Sheila Dikshit’s government and the UPA government at the centre. Voter dissatisfaction was high, with 56 percent of those polled saying they were unhappy with the Delhi government and an even larger 63 percent saying they loathed the Congress-led UPA government. RELATED:

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/delhi-election-result-live-cong-to-be-kingmaker-for-bjp-aap-1273079.html?utm_source=ref_article

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela dies, world mourns

Johannesburg: Nelson Mandela, a colossus in his lifetime who dismantled the apartheid regime and served as South Africa’s first black president, died at his home here on Friday at the age of 95 after a protracted illness.

Placed on par with civil rights icons Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King and often called the “Gandhi of South Africa”, Mandela was hailed by leaders across the world as a towering personality and a beacon of hope.

He strove hard for a better future for everyone in South Africa and became famous for his fight against poor governance and racial prejudice. As a leader, he was respected for his courage and wisdom in bringing people together to live in peace.

Also Read: Nelson Mandela no more: As events unfolded on Friday

South African President Jacob Zuma addressed the nation to inform them of the passing of Mandela. A sombre Zuma said, “Fellow South Africans, our beloved Nelson Mandela, the founding president of our democratic nation, has departed. He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20:50 on the 5th of December, 2013. He is now resting. He is now at peace. Our nation has lost its greatest son.”

Zuma announced that all flags will fly at half-mast from tomorrow until after the state funeral.

Also Read: Nelson Mandela in his own words
The body of Mandela was taken to a military hospital here as preparations for the December 15 state funeral of the peace icon began.
Escorted by military motorcycle outriders, a black SUV carried Mandela’s coffin, draped in South Africa’s flag, to the military hospital’s morgue from his home.

Mandela will lie in state at the seat of government the Union Buildings in the capital city of Pretoria.

Also Read: Nelson Mandela’s magic: The shirts, humour and empathy

Mandela inspired by Mahatma Gandhi

Born four years after Mahatma Gandhi’s two-decade-long civil rights campaign in South Africa ended in 1914, Mandela was deeply affected by the incident in which the young Gandhi was thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg.

Mandela was inspired by Gandhi in his long struggle and often turned to his ideals in his bid to defeat the oppressive apartheid regime.

A recipient of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 1990, Mandela was getting medical care at his home in the suburb of Houghton here since September, after three months in a Pretoria hospital for a recurrent lung ailment.

Madiba, the clan name by which Mandela was lovingly called by South Africans, was born Rolihlala Dalibhunga Mandela July 18, 1918, in the village of Mvezo on the banks of river Mbashe in Transkei, South Africa, to Nonqaphi Nosekeni and Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the acting king of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo.

Also Read: RIP Nelson Mandela: Tributes pour in, ‘Madiba’ trends on Twitter

Mandela was elected the first black president in the first open election in South Africa April 29, 1994, and assumed office May 10 that year.

In 1999 he stepped down from the office after serving one term.

He married his present wife, Graca Mandela, in 1998, after his first two marriages to Evelyn and Winnie had ended in divorce in 1958 and 1996 respectively.

South Africans ‘celebrate’ Mandela’s life

Hundreds of South Africans across the country huddled in groups from early this morning to mourn the death of Mandela. In the black township of Soweto, the scene of a student uprising in 1976 that was brutally crushed, people gathered near the house where Mandela once lived, singing and dancing to mourn his death and celebrate his life.

The mourners, draped in the green, yellow and black flags of Mandela’s ANC party, formed a circle and sang songs from the anti-apartheid struggle. They said they were celebrating Mandela’s life.

Outside Mandela’s home in the leafy suburb of Houghton, the mood was lively and not sombre as some mourners sang and a man blew on a vuvuzela, the plastic horn used in World Cup soccer games.

Mandela, a lawyer and ex-boxer, spent 27 years in prison, most of them on Robben Island, after being convicted in the Rivonia trial with several others 50 years ago.

He stepped down in 1999 after serving one term as President following the first democratic elections in 1994.

As president, Mandela worked to unite a polarised South Africa dominated by tribal politics. He devoted his energy to moderating the bitterness of his black electorate and to reassuring whites with fears of vengeance.

Also Read: Mandela, the man once branded a ‘terrorist’ by the US

World bows in respect to Mandela

Nelson Mandela worked his magic once more on Friday, uniting friends and foes alike in a global outpouring of grief as they mourned the death of the anti-apartheid icon.

Palestinians and Israelis, Beijing and the Dalai Lama, Washington and Tehran all joined together to remember a man whose message of equality inspired millions across the globe.

Foreshadowing the guest list of what will surely be the most important funeral of recent decades, foreign dignitaries as well as celebrities, sports figures and religious leaders queued to issue solemn tributes to the 95-year-old peace hero who became South Africa’s first democratic president.

“He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages,” Barack Obama, America’s first black president, said in a deliberate echo of an early tribute paid to Abraham Lincoln, the president who emancipated the slaves.

Also Read: Nelson Mandel dies: Who said what

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared Mandela a “giant for justice”.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who in 2006 apologised for what he said were the “mistakes” of his Conservative Party in its response to apartheid in Britain’s former colony, said: “A great light has gone out in the world”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised the former statesman as “one of the greatest politicians in modern times” and China’s President Xi Jinping honoured his “historic contribution” to South Africa and the world.

Also Read: Mandela, the “Gandhi of South Africa” had strong Indian connections

India pays tribute to Mandela

India paid rich tributes to anti-apartheid hero and former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday after a prolonged illness.Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day after paying homage to the Nobel laureate, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as a “giant among men” and “a true Gandhian”.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari also condoled the death of the iconic fighter for justice whose 27 years in prison turned the anti-apartheid fight into a global campaign.

In a piece written for Time magazine in 2000, Mandela noted that the Father of the Indian Nation’s non-violent struggle had its roots in South Africa.

“India is Gandhi’s country of birth; South Africa his country of adoption. He was both an Indian and a South African citizen. Both countries contributed to his intellectual and moral genius, and he shaped the liberatory movements in both colonial theaters,” Mandela wrote about Gandhi, whom he referred to as “The Sacred Warrior”.