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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blog Round-up

The BBC does a roundup of Cricket themed blogs in the Blogosphere. Looks like they missed out Prem Panicker. The BBC has a disclaimer saying that it is not responsible for the content in the external sites. This disclaimer might answer Anand’s question.

Fellow Blogger Samanth’s article is published in Centre Daily Times. Samanth says that blogs have taken off in a big way in India and China. He cites SEA-Tsunami Blog and Cloudburst Mumbai as excellent collaborative efforts by the Blogosphere. Samanth goes on to say that some Asian bloggers are making money through ad revenues and corporate blogging. I would like to know whether he is referring to any Indian bloggers.

ToI had an article on the Kolkata Blogosphere. Alfred Prufrock and Nandita Das have been mentioned.

India Daily quotes some Blogsites and reports some gossip about Shamita Shetty. The term “According to some blogsites” is as vague as it can get. Can’t they quote the blog / blogger? They can even write some rumours and get away with it by using terms like “According to some blogsites”.

The Sunday Express has a story on the male gazers in the Blogosphere. Kitabkhana and Bridalbeer are some of the blogs mentioned in the article. Looking at the weird comments in Bipasha Basu’s Clog you tend to feel that there are lots of male gazers out there. I feel Rediff should have moderated some of the comments there.

In an article titled the “Shadowy World of the Internet”, ToI brought us some memories of Jivha’s blog.

Happy Blog Day to everyone. I have a long list of favourites and hence I refrain from posting any blog recommendations here. Anyway most of them are listed on the right side.

I guess most of you would have heard of DesiPundit. We scan the length and breadth of the Indian Blogosphere and present some of the best posts to you. Please spread the word so that DesiPundit reaches a wider audience.

Simonworld has a comprehensive post on the A to Z of Blogging. One thing that I learnt from the post was that you don’t need to have Wordpress / Movable Type to send Trackback pings to other Blogs. There is something called a Manual Trackback pinger.

I’m six months young in the Blogosphere. This blog was born on 1st March. It has been a long and interesting journey. Thanks for your continued support to SambharMafia.

Public Service Announcement

Sumit Dhar had posted about some cruel treatment meted out to Lt. Saurabh Kalia during the Kargil War. As bloggers we can do our bit by voicing our discontent against such dastardly acts. If you feel strongly about this incident do sign the petition.

ML to Rock Mumbai & B’lore

MLTR is planning to Paint their love in B’lore and Mumbai. The man who taught us to count our chickens before they hatch is organizing the event. When did he turn event organizer / manager? What happened to good old Venkat Varadhan of DNA Networks?

I suggest the following tag line for the concert:-
Dare to think beyond DNA Networks?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blondes with Blogs – Whom are you bluffing?

Rediff has a ToI/ET style presentation claiming that Hollywood celebrities like Britney Spears, Anna Kournikova & Pamela Anderson have blogs of their own. Don’t these celebrities have better things to do? When one or two celebrities started blogging it was seen as a novelty. The novelty factor is not there anymore. Let’s vent our anger by calling them CLOGS (Celebrity bLOGS).

Statutory Warning: Stop Clogging, it’s injurious to the Blogosphere.

Sify.com needs a proof reader...wanna apply?

Desired Profile: Prior experience in F&B / Hospitality industry preferred. Gartner’s Partha Iyengar wouldn’t like it if his name is misspelt as Paratha Iyengar.

Hospitality Minus Tea = ?

Veteran journalist V Gangadhar (more famous for his “Slice of Life” columns in the Sunday edition of The Hindu) laments that visiting faculties in Mumbai colleges don’t even get to sip a free coffee / tea. Being a journalist he was atleast able to write about it. If the visiting faculty belonged to some other Department, he/she might not even be able to write about it. Those who know Mumbai might be able to name the colleges as he has left some clues for us.

India Empowered Series

Financial Express has been running this series called the India Empowered Series. Biotech Queen Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has written the latest article. Her thoughts are similar to that of Director Shankar in the Tamil flick Anniyan.

The India factor is now a force to be reckoned with and something that is building national pride through amplified job opportunities that are reversing the brain drain. Apart from industry, success in other realms like sports, entertainment, the visual and performing arts and heritage are also great contributors to pride and empowerment. Today’s youth are inspired by successful icons, be it business, sports or the performing arts.

A recent visit to Malaysia left me with a lasting impression of what nation building and empowerment is all about. Only a few decades ago, Malaysia was a country that suffered a deep inferiority complex from its highly-advanced and progressive neighbour, Singapore.

As a Bangalorean, I remember feeling mighty proud of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s revealing statement that he would like to develop Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia’s Bangalore! Today, it is just the reverse: KL is a city of the future that has left Bangalore far behind. The infrastructure is impressive, the people are confident, the economy is booming and there is an immense sense of national pride and, more importantly, the political will to move on and build even further on this success. What Malaysia has demonstrated is the power of political will to transform an uninitiated mindset into a progressive, dynamic nation on the move. Against this backdrop, I despair at the abysmally slow pace of change in our country. I am envious of countries who have outpaced us in development.

Laloo Rakhi’s – Fun Unlimited

According to Telegraph, Laloo rakhis were quite popular this year. Looks like there is a big opportunity in Laloo merchandise. We heard about the Laloo teddy bears sometime ago. What next?

Heard of Laloo rakhis? Well, rakhis with Laloo Prasad Yadav’s face on it was a rage this year and sold a record-breaking number last week. It sold three times more than Amitabh Bachchan rakhis! The sales figure is estimated to have touched an awesome Rs 11 lakh which is far ahead of the second highest seller Amitabh rakhis at Rs 3 lakh, in Raipur alone. This is the third consecutive year that Laloo rakhis have done great business. Other stars like Aamir Khan, Sunny Deol, Hema Malini and also TV actress Smriti Irani have rakhis in their names that did great business but no abhineta could get even close to the neta.

Desi Blogs focused on Advertising

I used to frequent Adlova quite regularly. I thought Anantha was doing a great job. Adlova closed shutters recently. Around the same time I discovered another ad-focused blog. If you like ads, please support Creative Criminal.

Monday, August 29, 2005

NYSE site doesn't support Firefox

Sometime ago I had mentioned that Indian news portal Asian Age was not accessible through Firefox browser. I was trying to access NYSE Marketrac site and it said that the site supports only IE and Netscape.

Hindustan Times on pan-IIM alumni event

HT has a report on the Pan-IIM Alumni Meet:

The alumni of India's top business schools have launched a drive to promote strong growth in trade, investments and financial services with Singapore, a top envoy said in a report on Monday.

More than 500 graduates of the six Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), are convinced that their collective clout can help boost other ties as well. "With their unique combination of global and Indian experience, this talent pool can act as a catalyst in enabling the two nations to drive strong growth," the Straits Times quoted Indian envoy Alok Prasad as saying.

The IIMs are regarded among Asia's foremost and most exclusive business schools. Their MBA programmes have produced international managers and entrepreneurs for decades. No other world-class business school has such a large foreign talent pool in Singapore.

"They are a conduit for ideas and entrepreneurship and makers of a network of excellence between our countries. They help build a win-win future for us all," said Singapore Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

In a related development SP Jain has decided to set up base in S’pore. You might recall that SP Jain has already established a branch in Dubai.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Gate Gourmet crisis

It has been widely reported that most of the people who have been fired by Gate Gourmet, an airline caterer in London’s Heathrow Airport, were Indians. A more careful reading of all the news reports revealed that the firm behind Gate Gourmet is private equity investor Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Vivek Paul is going to join TPG as a partner. Wonder whether he could have prevented this in some way.

Sanjay Suri, Outlook’s London correspondent has more on the developments at Gate Gourmet

Like the Gate Gourmet workers, those who struck work at Heathrow were largely Indian. The sympathy strike was an indication of how closely networked the world of Indian workers is around Heathrow. Within hours, illiterate women from Punjab found that they had the power to break London's strongest connection with the world. The airlines world was reminded that it takes more than just a pilot, fuel and passengers to fly an aircraft. It takes staff that checks you in, baggage handlers to ensure that the right suitcases get into the right plane, it takes some bland food on a plastic tray that a passenger must have soon after lift-off. At Heathrow, all this is usually the forte of an Indian from Punjab.

"Very simple. Apne bande who came to Heathrow started to settle in Southall because it was cheap and very close to the airport," said Sohan Lal, a Punjabi Londoner of 1967 batch seniority. Through days of protest on a grassy roadside near Heathrow, there was plenty of time to talk about these things. "They started calling relatives and people from their villages who came to stay with them. They got jobs at the Ford assembly here, in a rubber factory, in daliye (porridge) di factory, biskutaan di factory. And Heathrow."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Funny / Unique / Creative Blog names / URL’s

TGIF and it’s time for a lighter post

I have come up with my own list of funny / unique / creative blog names / URL’s which I have come across in the Desi Blogosphere.

Few Disclaimers

The selection has been made purely based on the name / URL and not based on the content.

The List is not comprehensive by any means.

The List is purely based on my judgement.

Excuse me if I have missed some of your URL's. Any such omission is not intentional.

Do you have more of such Blog names / URL’s? Hoping that this might also be a likely contender.

Chutney Spears

Salman's Shirt


Cerebral Shangrila

Magix n Curses

Singapore – India Air Pact might improve frequency of flights and reduce airfares

Business Standard reports on the latest India – Singapore air pact. Looks like there will be no impact on the SIN-MAA sector.

With no restriction on the type of aircraft to be used, carriers from Singapore will be able to operate smaller planes to small Indian cities, depending on traffic. Most of these cities are expected to have twice-a-week flights to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines, which flies twice a week out of Mumbai and daily from Delhi, would have liked more flights to connect these two cities.

The official reason for opening up Delhi and Mumbai is the lack of capacity at the two airports and that the two cities are already well covered. However, civil aviation ministry officials say the two cities are likely to be covered in the next round of negotiations.

According to sources, Singapore wanted over 200 additional flights to India. The Indian side apparently thought that a sudden spurt would jeopardise the prospects of Indian carriers.

Rajini to take home Rs. 40 crore from Sivaji

If the ToI is to be believed Rajini will get as much as Rs. 40 crore from his next venture. Few days ago ET reported that Rajini had already obtained an advance of Rs. 15 crore. AVM must be hoping that this movie will boost their sagging fortunes.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pan-IIM Alumni Meet in Singapore

Alumni Associations of the various IIM’s are coming together to organize the IIMPact Singapore Signature Series. The first event in this series is called "Access India - The Indian Professional in Singapore". This event is happening today (25th August) and the keynote speaker is Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Education Minister). This event will also have a Panel Discussion and the panel comprises of some senior IIM Alumni and the Indian High Commissioner. The Singapore Government wants to build a good relationship with the Indian educational institutes and these kind of events will help in furthering the cause.

If the current developments are any indication, more such pan-IIM events are likely to take place across the globe. The first one happened in Bay Area sometime in June 2005.

Here is a short write-up about the event from Universitas 21 Global website:

The IIMPact Singapore Signature Series"Access India - The Indian Professional in Singapore"

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are widely acknowledged to be among Asia 's foremost business schools. Over 500 IIM alumni live and work in Singapore in diverse fields ranging from financial services to education, business to social services, and technology to management consulting. To commemorate the long and successful association between the IIM Alumni and Singapore , the Singapore Chapters of the IIM Alumni Associations is organizing a private Seminar-cum-Cocktail. The program comprises addresses by distinguished panel members and represents a unique opportunity to associate and interact with top Singapore-based managers.

Date: 25 August, 2005

Venue: Island Ballroom , Shangri-La Hotel , Singapore

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

iFarm to sell apples in Chennai

Don’t get misled by the headline. I was trying to see how ToI would report this.

Apple Computers has appointed iFarm Chennai as a distributor / reseller for Apple products. iFarm has been started by alumni of GLIM. Their site doesn’t give much information. (via Vijayakrishna)

If Indian retail prices continue to be artifically high, domestic consumers will continue to rely on their friends, relatives returning from overseas to get the latest gadgets (Mobile phones, digital cameras, handycams, DVD players, PDAs, MP3 players) at reasonable prices. By the time some of the models reach Indian market, they might already be outdated in the international market. In recent times the mobile phone prices have started crashing in India and hence the price differential between an imported model and a local product is not that much. I understand that a differential exists in the higher end models. Why should we endorse such brands, which don’t give much importance to the Indian market? If the price anomalies vanish the Burma Bazaars might go out of business and the kuruvis (hand-carriers) will lose their jobs.

During my trips to India I have noticed each flight from South East Asia has atleast 20 big Yamaha keyboards and all these are brought in by the so called hand-carriers. Back in the 90’s I have bought two Yamaha keyboards from the Burma Bazaar and there is always the risk that the keyboard that you buy from Burma Bazaar might just be a refurbished one. I was too reluctant to buy a keyboard worth INR 22K from the Burma Bazaar as the guy selling it might turn out to be a fly by night operator. Why don’t the likes of Yamaha / Casio / Korg and Triton realize that there is a huge domestic demand for musical instruments in India. The consumers won’t mind paying a slight premium to get genuine products from the manufacturer / distributor. This logic can be extended to other products / brands as well. With increasing incomes and affluent lifestyles Indian consumers should be the darling of all the marketers. When I did a comparison of prices of Microwave Ovens I realized that the price in India was often 2 or 3 times than that of the price in S’pore. A 10 – 20% price difference is still digestible, but anything more than that is atrocious.

I was just reading an article in BusinessWorld that said that US brands are taking innocent Chinese customers by overpricing their products. Closeout brands in the US are commanding a premium in the US as the consumers are not aware that the brands might be past their prime. One argument in support for the price differential could be that the products might sell in large volumes in the developed countries and hence the need to price them lower, whereas the same product in India might sell in lesser quantity. I seriously urge them to do a survey of Yamaha keyboard users in India and they will realize more than 95% of them have bought from the Burma Bazaars and the hand-carriers.

Since I started with Apple let me share this news article with you.

Love-cum-Arranged Marriage = Assisted Marriage

The international media’s soft corner for India continues as NYT reports on the new breed of “Assisted Marriages” in the US. I also tried my hand at naming Love Marriages and Arranged Marriages.

Arranged Marriage – Match fixing

Love Marriage – Resisted marriage / Registered Marriage

Less than a decade ago, the decision about whom a South Asian woman here might marry was often left to her parents, the prospective bride's preference for dentists or contemplative artists notwithstanding.

But purely arranged marriage has morphed into a new culture of what might be called "assisted" marriage.

Parents are now free to arrange all they like - allowing their sons and daughters choice among a roster of nominees screened for caste, lineage and geography, among other measures - and their children are free to veto those choices.

The purpose of assisted marriage here is not simply to preserve Indian cultural identity, but more pointedly to maintain class, religious and regional identities in a place where they might easily be diffused. When Mona Mahajan, a recent graduate of Harvard Business School from New Jersey, married an Indian she met on her own, she was the first in five generations of her family not to have married a Punjabi.

The embrace of more traditional habits is apparent in other ways. Many couples still consult a Hindu astrologer who schedules wedding ceremonies according to the stars. This autumn is expected to be an unusually busy wedding season in Indian communities because many couples postponed weddings last year when many days were deemed inauspicious.

Don’t bank on foreign banks

It is time the government reviewed its policy towards foreign banks. They have been bringing some best practices (?) to India. First it was the Marathon Bank and now it is the Night Watchman Bank.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bangalore’s Changing Landscape

These buildings have names from the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, while the rooms within are named after the ancient books of learning, the Vedas. Every morning the Indian flag is ceremonially hoisted on a central flagpole, an unusual practice for businesses here. At lunchtime, the chirping of birds mixes with the chatter of workers in the open spaces. Young men in jeans and polo shirts and women in colorful salwar kameez (an Indian tunic and trouser suit) linger along the stone-paved avenues.

When ITC Infotech set out three years ago to plan its campus, it bucked such trends. Its parent, ITC, a 100-year-old cigarette maker with interests in hotels, apparel and food products, offered its defunct tobacco manufacturing complex in central Bangalore. But one architect after another suggested the same plan: bulldoze the 36 tobacco warehouses and replace them with glass-and-steel high-rises.

One jarring note is the unusual number of smokers on the campus. Unlike other outsourcing firms, where smoking is frowned upon, at this subsidiary of India's biggest cigarette maker the practice is not discouraged. The distinctive marks of the company's ideas have paid off for ITC Infotech in unexpected ways.

I guess all IT firms have earmarked areas for smoking. I don’t quite get the point about IT companies discouraging smoking. If I were the copywriter for the ITC Infotech Recruitment Ad, my caption would be something like this - “Smoking Software Engineers – Please Join us to live life King/Queen Size”.

Chennai Airport goes Wi-Fi

Wonder whether Dayanidhi Maran has his office in Chennai or Delhi. Every other day I see him doing something or the other in Chennai. The Hindu covers the launch of Wi-Fi at Chennai airport:-

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will soon provide high-speed Wireless Fidelity (Wi-FI) broadband services at Coimbatore, Madurai, and Tiruchi, besides setting up Internet browsing centres at railway stations and bus terminus.

Stating this, after formally launching the Wi-Fi services at the Chennai Kamaraj Domestic Terminal (KDT) on Sunday, Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran explained that the services would be ideal at important airports as it served the "business class laptop carrying corporate clientele."

Attack of the spam brigade

Blogger users who are using the default comment option would have seen the spam brigade marching past our blogs in full form. Not sure whether Haloscan users also had to go through this pain. Most of these are from Splogs (Splog = SPam + bLOG). Some of the fellow bloggers turned off anonymous comment so as to ward of these spam comments. I discovered that Blogger users can go to the Comment settings and add a word verification option so that the commenters enter a randomly generated word everytime they post a comment. I have been using this for the past 3 days and the spam comments have stopped.

Mark Cuban of Blog Maverick has even hinted that if Blogger.com continues to have so many splogs, blog search engines might not throw up Blogger based blogs in the searches. Help fight splogs. If you come across a Splog, report here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mustafa - Shopping Can, Night Time Oso Have

That was my lame attempt at Singlish. Sunanda K Datta-Ray talks about the Indian craze for shopping:-

Our parliamentarians and officials are no better. I have met them shopping in Singapore on their way back to Delhi from Durban, and buying up London when ostensibly travelling from Delhi to Tokyo.

It is mainly for them that Mohammed Mustafa and Shamsuddin's emporium built a glittering new annexe, and keeps open round the clock.

Singapore's Little India, the seemingly rundown surrounding district dominated by the colourful gopurams of Hindu temples, thrives on Indian visitors. Hotels, travel agencies and currency dealers cater to their needs.

Add to that the fact that it's often cheaper to fly to Bangkok from Calcutta or Singapore from Madras than from Delhi to Bangalore, and you know why foreign shopping sprees are all the rage.

Greed provides the momentum for growth. But the fear ought to be banished. Mustafa's is Singapore's most steadily profitable emporium. Small Indian-run corner shops do brisk business, selling stationery, grocery, cosmetics and odds and ends.

Thoughts on a Monday Morning

R Ramaraj, CEO of Sify has written an excellent article in today’s Financial Express. It couldn’t have been more apt as an article talking about Monday Morning Blues has been published in the Monday newspaper. Have a nice week ahead!

Do you jump out of bed with great enthusiasm on a Monday morning? Monday morning! Must be kidding, right? Why is it almost a given thing that work is the last thing someone wants to do? We hear words like repetition, boredom and stress as an inherent part of working, instead of challenged, invigorated and productive.

In the past, people took up a profession according to their aptitudes. One became a baker, carpenter, trader or ironsmith, based on aptitude, training and skill. Today, we tend to ignore our aptitudes and, instead, focus on academic qualifications. I believe that this has led to stress, unhappiness and the ‘Thank God it’s Friday!’ syndrome.

But the truth is, you must enjoy what you do to look forward to going to work. For that to happen, choose something that enables you to use your natural talents and aptitudes, in addition to academic qualifications. Only then will there be a passion in you for what you do.

I realized that Sify doesn’t provide RSS feeds for any of its sites. It’s high time they looked at it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The New Indian Express Goof Up

(Click on the above image for a larger picture)

The title says Suhasini to play Bhagyaraj’s mom in a forthcoming movie. The article says Suhasini will act as Bhagyaraj’s wife in the movie. You can read the article here.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Filter Coffee and Cappuccino under one roof

Supermarket chain Nilgiris intends to start a range of Coffee Shops that will sell Filter Coffee, Cappuccino and some fast foods. It remains to be seen whether Filter Coffee served under a different ambience will fetch a premium.

Pic Courtesy: Cheeni

The Business Line reports on the same :-

NILGIRIS, the Super Market chain, is launching a chain of coffee shops cum snack bars, `Kapi Kadai' - literally meaning coffee shops - through franchisees.

According to Mr C. Gopalakrishnan, Managing Director, Nilgiris Franchise Pvt Ltd, it has set up three such `Kapi Kadais' in Kochi, Visakhapatnam and Chennai. The name was selected for its local flavour and content.

Nilgiris is testing the waters with these shops and soon hopes to expand their numbers across as many States as possible. The chain will also enter into Malaysia and Singapore.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rajini and Meena adorn Indian snack product in Japan

It is public knowledge that Rajini’s Muthu was released as Dancing Maharaja in Japan and the movie was a runaway success. Marketers have tried to cash in on the Rajini craze and have introduced an Indian namkeen (snack) product, which has Rajini and Meena on the cover. The product is called Garam Masala. (via)

This is what a Japanese Blogger had to say about Rajini and this snack item:-

Speaking of Indian movies, "Muthu" is the most popular for Japanese people. It was made in 1995 in India. Have you seen it? This is a story about a servant named Muthu. Maharaja who is Muthu's boss falls for a girl Langa* who is an actress of a road company, but she falls for Muthu.It's a love story, but it's not only that. Highlights are scenes of dancing, singing and fighting. They sing songs and dance, when they are happy.They sing songs and dance, when they are sad.And they sing songs and dance, even if they have no reasons.In fact, they are singing and dancing in the better part of the movie. Also,you mustn't miss the scene of chasing by the horse and cart. This movie was a big hit in India,and also in Japan. Actually I love it.

Recently I found a Muthu's photo at a convenience store. It was on a package of snacks. This is a snack named "Garam masala" that is on the confectionery maker Tohato.Usually, I don't really eat snacks,but I found myself buying it. 42 kinds of spices are used to make it,so taste is really spicy.After I ate it, I unconsciously felt like seeing the "Muthu" again. If you have a chance, I recommend to see the "Muthu" and eat it.

Tour operators in Japan organize Dancing Maharaja tours wherein the tourists are brought to Chennai and they are taken to a movie hall, which shows a Rajini movie. After this they meet up with Rajini / Latha Rajinikanth. The tour package also includes a Tamilnadu / South India tour. The Osaka fan club of Rajini even has its own website, the only problem being that everything is written in Japanese :-)

*I think Meena's character was called Ganga.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jikku clock stops ticking

Quick tales too many
None as good as Ammani

Her URL was jikku
Often gave us a kicku

Now that she has left*
Her void will be felt

Filthy, funny, flawed or gorgeous
The impact she made was way too obvious

Will she ever come back?
After looking at our trackback(s)

* - I mean the blog

Hard measures to curb the soft drink menace

The NYT reports that soft drink majors have agreed to refrain from selling carbonated drinks to school kids.

The Coca Cola Company, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes will extend their ban on soft drink sales to include United States middle schools, ceding to pressure from health advocates and parents to reduce obesity in children.

Beverage companies will halt sales of full-calorie carbonated drinks during the school day under voluntary guidelines announced yesterday by the American Beverage Association, a trade group. The new policy will permit the sale of no-calorie drinks and all sodas after school hours.

The US is able to take hard measures against the ‘erring’ soft drink majors. However, in India, they seem to be invincible. Not much action was taken during the pesticide problem and nothing much is being done with the ground water problem in Kerala.

A similar thing is happening with McDonalds. The ‘Supersize Me’ problem has made McDonalds move to healthier diet in the Western World. In the Asian markets, large fries and double cheeseburgers rule supreme.

Incredible India? Enchanting Tamilnadu?

The Central government has been spending a lot on print and TV campaigns to promote Indian tourism. Some of the states have also decided to market themselves to the international tourists. Tamilnadu, Pondicherry, Kerala and Goa are some of the states / UT’s which have done so. I guess having one unified campaign for the whole country might make more sense than the destinations advertising for themselves.

If the destinations are quite popular and well established (Australia’s destinations promote themselves on an individual basis) then it might make sense to go for such a promotion. I came across the following ad in Time Magazine and wasn’t quite impressed with the way Tamilnadu was promoting itself –

Pic Courtesy: Agencyfaqs.com

Enchanting Tamilnadu – Experience Yourself

Today an astonishing number of Westerner’s practice yoga.
Guess where their teachers come to learn?
Yes, you guessed it right
Some of the finest purest yoga schools are in Tamilnadu
None of them advertise!
So visit Tamilnadu for a truly enchanting experience

Would somebody travel all the way to Tamilnadu to know about yoga? This kind of campaign might work for Kerala as they have created an image around Ayurvedas and Spa treatments. The ad has been done by DIPR (Department of Information and Public Relations, Govt. of Tamilnadu). When they are spending big money advertising in the best of magazines, can’t they spend a little bit more to hire a good ad agency to come up with a better concept? The word India has not been mentioned anywhere in the ad. Do they assume that all the people reading the ad would know where Tamilnadu is? (they would probably know if they have watched the news channels during the Tsunami)

Bibs had also made a post on tourism and I leave you with some of his thoughts:

A long 10 hr wait in Mumbai with the rain gods not in the best of moods. While Mother Nature has her own ways of getting attention, Air India really came up short on making life easier for the passengers. We had no clue as to when the next flight out was. They said 1 am and finally we took off at 4 am the next morning.

There was this French couple along with me. I could actually sense the frustration that was building up in them. They werent sure if they will get their baggage and also as to what the gate was and at what time etc. The whole thing seemed a bit amateurish to me, the way, Air India handles this whole thing. I think we have a long way to go before we can be a good tourist location. I am just suprised that so many tourists are still coming to India even with the amount of complications that they have to go through. There are so many basic things that can be done right without even making major investments for example by just putting enough people to help out the foreign tourists and provide them with information (after all, people are not a scarce commodity here). We can do all the marketing but if we cant follow up this with the basics back here, we can never be a serious contender for the 'share of wallet' in the tourism industry.

The Most Hated Subject

No prizes for guessing the answer. It is none other than Maths.

In an AP-AOL News poll as students head back to school, almost four in 10 adults surveyed said they hated math in school, a widespread disdain that complicates efforts today to catch up with Asian and European students. Twice as many people said they hated math as said that about any other subject.

Recent studies have suggested 15-year-olds in the United States lag behind those of the same age in Europe and Asia in math. Young people in many countries are stronger in the important subject of science, as well. Both subjects are critical in research, innovation and economic competitiveness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ghajini Music Review / Observations

Surya badly needs a break (Perazhagan and Mayavi didn't strike a chord with the audience) and is pinning his hopes on Ghajini, which is slated to be released later this month. Surya hasn't worked on double heroine subjects recently. In this movie he is going to share the screen with Nayanthara and Asin. Harris Jeyaraj has had reasonable success with the music of Anniyan and Thotti Jaya.

Classical singer Bombay Jayashree has had major hits with HJ (Vaseegara from Minnale, Mudher Kanave from Majnu, Ondra Iranda from Kaakha Kaakha) and she has now become a mainstay in HJ albums. Her recent song in Thotti Jaya is already receiving rave reviews.

Oru Maalai by Karthik: This is definitely the pick of the album. Karthik’s voice modulations are quite impressive. The singing style would have been better a choice for a song with lot of English / Tanglish words, but it has been put to the best use in this pure Tamil song. It’s a peppy number right from the word go. Was stunned when they used the words Thuridha Unavu (to mean fast food). Looks like Ramadoss gimmicks are working (Even Ah Aah had some good Tamil lyrics). The perennial guitar rhythms in the background go well with the mood of the song.

X Machi by Mathangi and Naahul: This song resembles some previous compositions by HJ (12B and Arasaktchi). The charanam reminds me of Osthava song from E20 U18. Just listen to these lyrics (Kurukezhuthu Pudhir Naane Maelirundhu Keezh Nirappu and compare it with Panam Vaendam Nagai Vaendam from Osthaavaa song) and you can find the connection. Mathangi’s husky voice suits the song. Look’s like an item number. This is a track worth ignoring. Unlikely to make an impact after the movie runs out of the theatres.

Suttum Vizhi Sudare by Sriram Parthasarathy and Bombay Jayashree: The sober voice of Sriram Parthasarathy (remember the song Elangaathu Veesuthey from Pithamagan?) doesn’t have the initial impact. IMO Unnikrishnan or Kay Kay would have been a better choice. Sriram makes up for it in the charanams. The beats remind me of Marghazi Poove from May Madham. The first BGM is quite similar to some pieces of Oru Dheivam Thandha Poove from Kannathil Muthamittal. With repeated listening, this song is bound to catch on. Minimal background score and some catchy lyrics are the selling points of this song. I read somewhere that two of the songs have been picturized in Switzerland. This could be one of them.

Rahatulla by Anupama: A high decibel song, which could have been composed during the time of Anniyan. Can be easily mistaken for Remo Remo or some such song. The audience will get tired if HJ tries more of such songs. Why do all new songs need to have an Arabic influence? It happened in Arinthum Ariyamalum and it is happening in this song. This might do some rounds in the party circuits.

Rangola Hola Hola by Shankar Mahadevan and Sujatha: A folk type number backed with rythm pad beats. This song has some traces of Randakka Randakka (Anniyan) and Kokku Meenai Thinguma (Kovil). By HJ standards this should go down as an average song.

Peppy songs are HJ’s forte and he has done what is expected of him. Ghajini is good in parts but is not likely to enter the same league as Kaakha Kaakha and Minnale. Hoping that HJ will dish out better fare in Vettaiyadu Vilayadu.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Goldukku Hallmark, Wineukku TASMAC, Quizukku Landmark"

Kolkata might be the quizzing capital of India, but Chennai does have an active quizzing circuit which could one day stake a strong claim to be the new quizzing capital. The Landmark quiz has grown in strength and it is a common sight to see participants waiting outside the venue (Music Academy) to take the quiz. I have been to few of these quizzes (as an audience and also as a participant). During one such quiz I was surprised to see actress Kasthuri (she has acted in Aathma, Chinnavar and Enga Mudhalali) as a finalist. Later on I came to know that she is a regular in the Chennai quizzing circuit. Ace quizzer Ramanan seems to have had a field day. Rajiv Rai (one of the members of the winning team) is also a seasoned quizzer. He was a Chennai regional winner and a national finalist in the Brand Equity Quiz few years ago.

Getting to know the names of the various teams in itself is a very enjoyable thing. There is a prize for the most creative team name as well. Some of the names, which teams came up with this year, are Nawabs of Mahabs & Intel Inside Mental Outside.

I also attended a Business Line Ad Club Business Quiz and ThayirSaadham was my partner in crime. The fact that the participants got a complimentary breakfast at Taj Connemara was one of the attractions of the Ad Club Quiz. My only claim to fame in the Brand Equity Quiz was when I got a Levi’s T-shirt as an audience prize.

It was surprising to note that Dr. Navin Jayakumar (of Sankara Nethralaya) was not the quizmaster this time. Derek O’Brien donned the role of the quizmaster. With more corporate sponsors, the quizzing scene is definitely looking up. This year saw the introduction of the Tata Crucible Quiz. The Brand Equity Quiz is also getting bigger and better every year. KBC 2 also seems to be wooing the TV audience. Lot of quizzers seem to have a presence in the Blog world as well.

The Making of Modern Asia

After BusinessWeek, it’s Time’s turn to write something about the rising power of Asia. Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy starts off with an excellent note on the dominance of Asia.

As a child of a poor Indian immigrant family growing up in the 1950s in the British colony of Singapore, neither I nor my classmates could have even conceived the notion that an Asian century would begin in our lifetimes. We believed that London was the center of the universe; one friend used to tell me that the streets there were paved with gold. Both India and China seemed doomed to eternal poverty. Today, it is clear that the Asian century has begun.

Future generations of Indian citizens will be wondering how 300 million Indians—including my own ancestors—allowed themselves to be passively ruled by fewer than 100,000 Britons.

Asians cannot be free riders forever. Yet few Asians have given thought to how they will reshape the world order. The world is keen to learn what new responsibilities Asia will take on. So far, the region has remained silent. On the cultural front, too, Asian passivity is surprising. Bollywood, the sole major exception, is growing in strength. But in virtually every other field, Asians have been consumers of Western cultural products, especially American ones. The Asian economies now produce almost 40% of global GDP, but they have only a minority stake in the world's cultural industries, from film to TV, from books to print media. No Asian TV channel currently can match cnn or the BBC. This distorts global perspectives. The world sees Asia through Western eyes. Asians have yet to explain themselves in their own terms to the rest of the world.

Time also has a write-up on R K Narayan

In 1935, a slim manuscript by a 28-year-old Indian writer with a very long name—Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami—landed on the desk of the novelist Graham Greene in England. The manuscript, a novel, told of the adventures of a schoolboy named Swaminathan in a make-believe South Indian town called Malgudi—modeled largely on the author's life at ELM Fabricius, where he had studied for nine years. Swaminathan makes friends, plays cricket, fights with his headmaster, quits his school, joins another, fights with this headmaster too, runs away from home, comes back, plays more cricket. Although the young writer's prose featured a classical polish and correctness, a uniquely national sensibility shone through it. In one scene, Swaminathan is watching an ant go down a gutter on a leaf, the leaf overturns and the ant drowns. Instinctively moved by an ancient Indian empathy with all the living world, Swaminathan performs an impromptu ritual: "He took a pinch of earth, uttered a prayer for the soul of the ant, and dropped it into the gutter."

Monday, August 15, 2005

A R Rahman Concert in Singapore

Cogito of Cerebral Shangrila mentioned about the forthcoming Indian musical events in Singapore and A R Rahman’s concert was one among them. When I came to know about ARR’s 3D world tour I noticed that South East Asia didn’t figure in the tour. Looks like Singapore has been added in the last minute. I checked the website of ARR 3D World tour and the S’pore concert doesn’t figure in the locations mentioned there.

Straits Times had this to say about the forthcoming ARR concert:-

A R Rahman will perform at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sep 24th at 8pm. Tickets @ $50, $100, $150, $250, $350 and $500 will go on sale from Aug 12. All tickets available from SISTIC (Tel: 6348 5555).

The ticket prices (especially the premium ones) are virtually unheard of in the local arts scene. Even big name Western artistes don’t charge so much. I have attended concerts by Bharadwaj, Vidyasagar, SPB & Sonu Nigam before. Although these concerts might not have been of the scale of ARR, the premium for the ARR show is too high. Bharadwaj concert happened in Feb this year and the highest tickets were priced @ $50. The show had singers like SPB, Chitra, Srinivas, Tippu, Karthik and Anuradha Sriram. The ARR concert is going to happen at the same venue and the premium tickets costs 10 times that of the Bharadwaj concert. I did a quick search of the ticket prices of the ARR concert in Birmingham, Wembley (London) and Sydney.

Wembley: £15 - £80

Birmingham: £15.00 - £75.00


VIP - A$178.40
Platinum - A$128.40
Gold - A$88.40
Silver - A$68.40
Bronze - A$43.40

Based on prevailing exchange rates, you can do a back of the envelope calculation and decided for yourself about the disparity in ticket rates.

Music transcends language barriers, but having a multilingual / bilingual (Hindi & Tamil) concert might not be the best thing to do. These kind of concerts will work if the audience is indifferent between Hindi and Tamil songs. However if one segment is looking for Tamil songs and the other segment is looking for Hindi songs, packing all this into a 3 / 4 hour concert will not yield the desired results. Having separate concerts (for the different languages) will help the artist to command a premium over the multilingual concert.

In case you are not able to attend any of these concerts you can catch some glimpses of the ARR concert in London. (via TJS Nathan)

I intend to catch it when my ITMM (Indhiya Tholaikaatchigalil Mudhal Muraiyaaga) Tamil Channel telecasts it. Otherwise I can wait till the VCD / DVD is out.

Indian BPO’s at the receiving end yet again

This time the accusations have come from an Australian website which has warned Australians that their valuable personal information is at risk. It is still not clear as to which BPO was involved in this expose. According to ABC News:

Tens of thousands of Australians are at risk of computer fraud because their personal information is being made available illegally by workers inside call centres based in India. Tonight's Four Corners program reveals a black market in information held by Indian call centres. The program was offered ATM numbers, passport numbers and credit card details on thousands of Australians.

Happy Independence Day and Best of Luck to all the participants of the Landmark Quiz

Saturday, August 13, 2005

International Media’s fascination for India and China continues

If the international media doesn’t have anything to talk about, they decide to write something about India and China (some prefer to call this as CHINDIA). The latest issue of BusinessWeek has extensive coverage of the global dominance of India and China. There are exclusive interviews with Nandan Nilekani (Infosys), Scott Bayman (GE). The other articles talk about innovation by Indian companies, Indian engineering colleges. (via Zoo Station)

Nandan Nilekani was posed a question about the Infy’s plans for the Indian market:

Q: You said India is becoming a big market, yet Infosys itself doesn't do much business in India. Is that going to change?

A: We're the dominant player in the banking industry. We're looking at other sectors. Right now, the big markets in India will be driven by consumption stuff -- cell phones and planes. We don't really have [a] play in that. Indian companies have a lot of employees, so eventually we'll have a role in making them more efficient. The same stuff and know-how that's allowing Indian firms to make the rest of the world become more competitive is going to start playing out in India. It's happening.

Today we have an airline called Jet Airways. I've met some executives from the Western airlines who say Jet Airways has the best customer services of anybody. I was pleasantly shocked to hear that. We're going to see more and more of that. Telecom is the big success story. We have tremendous growth and the lowest prices in the world. There's a delay between technology and social adaption. We're seeing that lag period. But in the next 10 to 20 years, technology will play as important a role in domestic productivity growth and social change as it has played in the West.

PS: BusinessWeek still prefers to call the Indian cities by their old names (Bombay and Madras).

Mallika Chopra on Intent Blog

I had made a remark that there is a likelihood the Celebrity Blogs might very well be maintained by Marketing / PR folks. This was in reference to Donald Trump’s Blog. Mallika Chopra left a comment related to my post on Intent Blog:

Kaps and Sambhar Mafia folks,

This is Mallika Chopra who started Intentblog with my father, Deepak Chopra. I stumbled upon your site, very interesting, inspiring, and thank you for mentioning us. Just wanted to assure all of you our true intention is just to present a platform for South Asian voices. We really believe that South Asia is going to create the culture for the next century. Dont worry, guys, there is no PR firm involved here. The voices are pure, and the intention is to grow organically. No other agenda.

Mallika Chopra

TiS Clarification

Bala left a comment regarding the non-availability of TiS Cassettes. I thought of presenting his comments so that it gets highlighted.

The reason for the delay is technical, and nothing else. Welgate audios goofed up big time. With all the big guys Sony, HMV et all quoting very high margins, the audio rights were awarded to Welgate rather late. Hence the delay in the release of the cassettes and Special Edition DVDs. This is first hand info, BTW. If I'm not wrong, the CD runs for a little over 60 minutes and Welgate had to get imported casettes (because of the 60+ min duration of the album). Similarly, the making of the Special edition DVD also had a technical problem and should be out too. I heard both these pieces of information from Father Jegath himself.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Middle Class Billionaire?

The term Middle Class Billionaire sounds like an oxymoron. Rediff says that Adi Godrej is one such person who leads a simple lifestyle. His middle class nature is more than compensated by the highflying lifestyle of his wife. It is common knowledge that Adi Godrej’s wife Parmeshwar Godrej is a permanent fixture in the Page 3 circuit in Mumbai.

This is Parmeshwar Godrej, the undisputed queen of the city’s society circuit. Just having access to the numbers on her mobile phone would ensure a certain level of power. It is not just about having friends in high places or having a wardrobe that probably costs more to put together than the average Indian’s life savings.

If Parmeshwar Godrej continues to splurge a lot, Adi Godrej may no longer be a billionaire:-)

Related reading: Wetware points to a factual inaccuracy in the same Rediff article.

Of Blogging Celebrities and Celebrity Bloggers

Celebrity blogs seem to be the flavour of the season. At a time when bloggers are turning celebrities, the celebrities want to claim their share of the Blogosphere. The latest to join the bandwagon is property tycoon and billionaire Donald Trump. I want to ask him about how his perfume is faring and would also like to know whether he is recruiting any apprentices for the Trump Blog.

Is there a way to detect whether these celebrity blogs are genuine? I hope they are not making a fool of us by asking their PR folks to manage these blogs.

A-List Blogs overshadow MSM

Technorati’s latest study shows that the readership of top blogs (A-list) is neck-to-neck with some of the top sites that belong to the Main Stream Media. I guess this phenomemon is still restricted to the Western world. It might take a while before we can achieve this in India. Any idea, which is the most read site in India? Could it be Rediff? (via BusinessWeek)

Time to grow up

Try opening Asian Age webpage in Firefox browser and you will get the error message featured on the screenshot alongside. This is the first time I’m coming across a site that says that it can be viewed only in IE. Does Bill Gates have a stake in Asian Age?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Think IT, Think Chennai

Rediff captures the current developments in the IT sector in Chennai:

MNCs such as Verizon, EDS, IBM, 24/7 and Philips have leased space in the city. Singapore-based Ascendas, a business space solutions provider, expects to inaugurate the first phase of its International Tech Park in Chennai, occupying 525,000 sq ft, to be inaugurated in two months. Almost 80 per cent of the space has been booked by IT companies.

Cognizant Technology Solutions India, which has a campus of its own spread over 400,000 sq ft in the IT corridor in Chennai, has drawn up plans to take 150,000 sq ft of leased space in a private IT Park located on the Preungudi bypass road and expects to accommodate about 1,500 professionals.

Puddlefrog has put up some vintage pictures of Chennai

Spotted new in the Blogosphere

I stumbled upon a new Asia / India themed blog called IntentBlog. It has got a very impressive line-up of contributors.

The goal of IntentBlog is to present original voices on and from Asia and India to inspire, stimulate and engage a dialogue about new paradigms of creativity, communication, and fulfillment. World renowned author, Deepak Chopra MD, and internationally acclaimed film maker, Shekhar Kapur, are the founders of INTENT.

Apart from Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur, the blog also has high profile authors like Anil Dash, politician Milind Deora, actress Nandita Das, model Rahul Bose and singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

Sambhar Mafia wishes them the very best.

Yet Another Survey

The MIT Blogging Survey just got over and there are some interesting observations from the survey results. Blogger is also conducting an user survey. I read about it in Google Blog and took the survey yesterday. Chugs of Simplicity has taken the survey and he has published a list of the improvements that he has suggested to Blogger.

Chugs publishes a post called the “Links for a Sunday Morning” promptly on each Sunday. His post was in a way responsible for my Linkin Parks.

Oxford Hinglish Dictionary

Among the various forms of English, Indian English is probably is most widely spoken form. Indian words like Guru, Mantra, Nirvana, Yoga, Pundit and Curry are being used quite commonly in day-to-day English. Of late I see that the word Dowry is also being used regularly by the international media. The latest additions to this list are Bindaas, Lehnga and Masala. With the increasing reach of Bollywood, more such Indian words are bound to enter the Oxford English Dictionary. If Hinglish gains more prominence Dominos Pizza can start using the Hungry Kya? campaign all over the world. The words Podcast and phishing have also found an entry into the dictionary.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

All eyes on Mangal Pandey

As the hype builds, The Hindu has come out with an article on Aamir Khan and Mangal Pandey:

Aamir Khan and Chennai have a special bond. The re-recording for "Lagaan" was done at A. R. Rahman's studio and during that time, Aamir stayed at a hotel in Vadapalani for almost a month. It was then that he took a fascination for Ponnusamy's and Saravana Bhavan.

Recently, he stayed at the newly opened Traders Hotel when he was in the city for dubbing work at Priyadarsan's studio. Says Kalyanam, manager, Four Frames studio: "Aamir knows everything about Chennai. In fact, for lunch, he ordered specific dishes and even told us where to get them." Aamir says: "I like the work culture in Chennai. It has a friendly neighbourhood feel about it and people are warm. I love South Indian food."

And the Mangal Pandey blog is also getting its fair share of attention (?!)

With two days to go for the mega release of Ketan Mehta’s Mangal Pandey — The Rising, the man of the moment known as an introvert sits in front of his laptop to write to his fans on his personal blog.

“We were approached by the producers of Mangal Pandey to promote the film as MSN accounts for 12.5 million users every month. As part of the promotions, we have created a blog for Aamir Khan where he is writing in his experiences during the making of the film. He is responding to around 10 mails a week,” said Krishna Prasad, head, programming, MSN. The portal has earlier promoted films like Parineeta and Kisna.

US MBA students take up internships in India

I thought these kind of news are more suited for ET and Rediff. But NYT is talking about it.

Four students from Fuqua School of Business at Duke University are interning in India, compared with only one last year and none in 2003. Of this year's interns, three are at Infosys Technologies, an outsourcing company in Bangalore, and the fourth is in Chennai at GlobalGiving, an organization based in Bethesda, Md., that helps support social, economic and environmental projects around the world.

At Georgetown University, Stanley D. Nollen, a professor of international business at the Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business, said India was of growing interest to students. "No longer is India thought of as a land of snake charmers and bride burnings," he said. "Now India means the world's best software services, and increasingly, pharmaceuticals and auto parts." India can be a jolt to a first-time American visitor.

In Gurgaon, a small town despite its tall office complexes and shiny new malls, Mr. Maldonado and Mr. Simonsen share an apartment where the power fails several times a day. Temperatures are regularly above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

The two men said they came prepared to find inadequate infrastructure, but were not prepared for the daily frustrations of Gurgaon. There is no mass transportation system, and shopping, even for something as basic as an umbrella, can take hours. They rumble to work in an auto rickshaw - a motorized three-wheeler that seats two and is a ubiquitous form of transport in Indian cities.

The New Singapore

Singapore celebrated its 40th birthday yesterday and the grand gala event culminated with a colourful fireworks display. IHT sums up the changes that have been taking place in this island nation in the last few years:-

Reverse Bungee Jumping
Bar Top dancing
Sale of chewing gums
Proposed Integrated Resorts (casinos)

In case you wish to catch the pictures of the fireworks, you can view them here. (via: Tomorrow.SG)

A not-so-best practice

There was a time when IT professionals were viewed as bonded labour as there were some industry practices which were quite prominent during the 90’s. TCS had this concept of bonds for employees who quit within a certain period. Although it was a hotly debated topic in the 90’s, it lost steam as people realized that TCS can’t really enforce the bond. I’m not sure whether TCS has done away with this bond concept. With the entry of lot of MNC’s, attrition levels seem to be quite high in the Indian IT companies. The homegrown IT companies seem to be imparting few months classroom training for fresh engineering grads and hence they might want to ensure that the money spent on training a new hire should be recovered within a certain period. With this in mind, IT Major Wipro has come out with a deposit criterion for new hires.

One of the leading IT companies, Wipro, has evolved the process of conducting campus recruits for a conditional pay of Rs 75,000 as deposit before joining the firm as project engineers. The deposit, which will be repaid with four percent interest at the end of 15 months, should be paid by the selected candidates through a demand draft. Those, who shift jobs prior the stipulated period, would forfeit the amount.

These kind of practices are unlikely to help in building goodwill among the prospective employees. If an employee is determind to quit, he will find a new employer who is ready to foot the bill of this deposit amount. These kind of practices might put off the prospective employees. I already hear that engineering grads are shunning some of the IT majors because of the low entry-level salaries at these places. I’m sure the popularity levels of these IT firms will take a further dip after these developments.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blogs as marketing tools for dummies

Although I’m not very sure whether a blog can help build hype around an Indian movie, I thought of sharing an article that I read recently. Deepti Khanna Bose writes about Blogging in The Marketing, Advertising and Media Weekly:

Take, for example, the blogging success of 'Mangal Pandey — The Rising'. Apart from the online contests, the producers hosted a blog, which fans could go onto and actually post their comments and views about the up-coming film. The star of the film, Aamir Khan, also made an appearance on the blog every so often, and aired out his views on what the fans said, as well an answered a few questions. As a result of this, 'Mangal Pandey' gives you nearly a hundred thousand hits on Google; more than seventy per cent of which take you to something related to the film. And the film hasn't even released yet.

Sanjoy Narayan, Editor of Business Today spoke at the recently concluded Indian Magazine Summit 2005:

"The challenge today is the paucity of time; it is imperative to give relevant information but the time spent by readers is immensely low,” Narayan of Business Today said, "Today, blogging makes reporters out of everyone. News and analyses is disseminated among networks, which are ever growing. The reading habits of youngsters are not encouraging." Narayan proposed the use of the Internet in a more far-reaching manner and opined, "Most publishers haven't embraced the Internet the way it needs to be done. There should be a seamless integration of print and the Internet," he felt.

Indian team does a Salman

Glitterati Page of Outlook can be dubbed the Page 3 from the Back Side. Be it Negar Khan or King Khan they cover it all. This week's edition has a picture of Dada's men.

This is what Outlook had to say:-
A decade and a half ago, a shot like this one from the Caribbean beaches caused much grief to the Indian cricket team. Now, frolicking in the pool is legit, they call it relaxation exercise. So here’s Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan and Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina and Venugopal Rao up close and personal. We’ll talk about hitting the ball, line on length, fielding and taking on Sri Lanka at the Indian Oil Triangular Tournament later. For now, just ogle and hey, don’t miss the dogtags.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Beamer to roll out from Chennai

Chennai’s status as an automobile hub received another boost as BMW decided to set up a plant near Chennai. The presence of automobile majors such as Ford, GM and Hyundai has made Chennai the defacto location of choice for new automobile ventures. It remains to be seen whether BMW can achieve critical mass in India. IMO the targeted volume for BMW could be in the range of 200 – 300 cars per annum. Booking of an ultra-premium car (like Mercedes / BMW) is often followed by an Income Tax raid and this very fact will put off the well heeled. When the political mudslinging begins, DMK and ADMK will start claiming credit for this venture.

Southern Skies Update

BusinessWorld reports that Air Sahara’s plans to set up a Southern Hub in Hyderabad has received a big jolt because of the shortage of pilots in sectors like Hyd – Chennai and Hyd – B’lore.

The Telegraph sums up the latest development in the Indian skies

There’s a spate of activity over Indian skies — particularly over South India. In November, Northwest will start flying daily Bangalore-Seattle via Amsterdam. And KLM, the Dutch airline, will be connecting both Bangalore and Amsterdam (daily) and Hyderabad and Amsterdam (three times weekly) from October 31. And Air France is about to start flights from Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Meanwhile, moving north, Continental is flying from Newark to Delhi and American Airlines is doing a code-sharing flight with Sahara to Delhi. Going one better than all these, is British Airways which is about to launch two flights daily to Mumbai — of course, when the rains stop in the city.

Tamil Kavidhai (Poetry) Competition and related accusations

Sunday morning couldn’t have begun on a better note. Few comments on my blog made me realize that I had won the third prize in the Kavidhai Poatti (poetry competition) organized by Narayanan. Kudos to Narayanan Sir for organizing such an event. The participants showed loads of enthusiasm and lot of the kavidhais were of very high standard. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support. Congrats to Suresh and Rajkumar for bagging the first and second prizes respectively.

One of the anonymous comments that I received for my Tamil post had this to say: - “Aren’t u ashamed of being a Tam as this is the only post you have made in Tamil?”

Time is finite and I don’t have the luxury of maintaining two blogs (one each in English and Tamil). Although I intend to start a separate blog in Tamil, I don’t know the timeframe by which I can venture into it. I don’t need to prove my affinity for Tamil to people like you. People who know me offline know about my affinity for the language. Just because somebody blogs in English, he/she can’t be termed as a traitor of his/her mother tongue. Although there are many good tools available, I’m still not comfortable with the user interface and hence I’m reluctant to start a Tamil blog. Are you a blogger masquerading under an anonymous name? Didn't you know that many of the bloggers who participated in this competition were blogging in Tamil for the first time?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Singapore – A Food Paradise

The Hindu presents a good picture of the food scene in Singapore.

Indian food is to be had all over Little India — idli, thosai, roti prata and murtabak. "Woodlands", "Komala Vilas", "Ananda Bhavan", "Annapoorna" — vegetarian food is really no problem here. "Muthu's Fish Head Curry" has become a legend unique to the island, drawing diners like a giant magnet. Ordinary restaurants have led to fine-dining establishments like "Ganga", "Delhi", etc., attracting constant tour groups from all over the world. Fruit and fresh vegetables fresh in from India, China and the West fill the wet market, with even rare fresh greens available. "Tekka" is hiving with early morning shoppers on Sunday, out to get the freshest produce tender okra, beans, Indian onions etc., to freshly butchered meat, and tender plump fish.

Best Business Ideas in the World

Business 2.0 magazine talks about the 29 Best Business Ideas in the World (Subscription required). One of the columns by Om Malik is about the new face of the PC revolution.

The next PC revolution will be televised. It uses less power than a night-light and plugs into a TV. Best of all, as the first $100 computer, it's affordable enough to propel the rest of the world into the digital age. About two miles inland from Chennai's long white-sand beaches -- part of a stretch of Indian coastline hammered by last year's tsunami -- the downtown sidewalks buzz with life during the morning rush. Vendors flog coconut water and newspapers while rope-thin men in ankle-length lungis jostle for space with office workers in polo shirts and slacks. Three floors up in one of the city's numerous office towers, past a row of cubicles and half a dozen programmers, 38-year-old Rajesh Jain points to a table that holds, he'll tell you repeatedly, personal computing's next big thing.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Chennai – a HOT destination for IT

Kiran Karnik, NASSCOM’s President was in Chennai recently and he spoke to The Hindu on Chennai’s quest for becoming the IT destination of choice. He says that Indian cities should benchmark with global destinations so that they can compete globally.

With IT firms (like CTS) spreading their base to second rung cities like Coimbatore, the strain on metros should ease a bit.

Related reading: Taking stock of Chennai’s problems

Friday, August 05, 2005

What a crowd?

(via Nok Nok)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

TiS – a well devised Commercial Venture

Kenni tried to grab a copy of the Thiruvasagam cassette in Chennai and he came to know that the producers of the album have not come out with a cassette version. I can understand this if a western country decides not to release the tapes, but for the same thing to happen in India is slightly strange. If they really want the music to reach all sections of the society, they should have come up with tapes, Audio CD’s and DVD’s. It goes to prove that they want to milk the highest paying segment first before going down the ladder. Why should they be doing this even after achieving the break even? Although there was lot of hype before the launch of the album, I hardly see any statement from their side thanking the public for the overwhelming success of this venture.

Book publishers are known to bring out hard copy editions first and paper back editions later. But in the case of audio, it is common to release tapes and CD’s simultaneously as it caters to two different customer segments. For all you know, Outlook's S Anand might be right. Pannaipurathu Raja, please speak up!

Is I-flex India’s biggest software company?

The Indian business press has extensive coverage of Oracle’s acquisition of a majority stake in I-flex Solutions. Most of you might be knowing that I-flex used to be called as CITIL (when Citigroup had a majority stake in the firm) and then they changed the name to I-flex to enable them to tap the stock market (when Citi divested its stake).

NYT has an article covering this acquisition and they say that I-flex is India’s biggest software company. Haven’t they heard of a company called TCS? Did they mean that I-flex is India’s largest software company in the BFSI domain? Coming from an Indian journalist covering an Indian company, this is simply unacceptable.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bata gives the boot to its famed pricing policy

During your next visit to the BATA showroom, don’t be surprised after seeing the price of the product. As we all know the prices of many Bata products end with the amount 9.95. Lot of brands tried to emulate the Bata pricing policy. From now on the pricing will not have any paise element attached to it. A product that was priced at Rs. 599.95 earlier will now be sold at Rs. 599.

Bata’s brand ambassador also seems to be in the news.

ET’s Non-stop Bakwaas

The screenshot says it all. Should I say more?

Luckily, the real article had a different headline. Why can’t they put the same headline in the main page also? I don’t think we need to bear with ET forever. Hindustan Times has announced its plans to start a financial daily in the year 2007. I’m sure this will cause jitters in the ET camp. (via Content Sutra)

Harish suggests a new name for ToI…..it’s called ToILET. The name makes lot of sense after what ToI reported about the Air France mishap in Toronto airport (via DesiPundit).

(Pic Courtesy: Vishnu )

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Linkin Park – 2nd August

The Linkin Park is back after a week's break.

Michael Higgins has an interesting post on the popular blogger(s) in the Indian Blogosphere. Vikram goes one step further and lists down the page ranks of all the popular bloggers. Based on page ranks, Sepia Mutiny and Rajesh Jain come out on top. The number of Bloglines / Feedburner subscribers might also be another way to find out the popularity of the blogs. Anand talks about his favourite desi bloggers and tries to start the next round of memes.

Few more bloggers posted on the language debate that I talked about earlier. Charu’s post generated some nice comments, especially the ones by Badri and Partisan. Ramnath talks about the tabloid style headlines of Tamil magazines. Visithra feels that two of my wishes are achievable.

Language seems to be the topic of discussion in other blogs as well. Gowri requests Bangalore residents to start learning Kannada. During my 2 ½ years in Bangalore, I never made an attempt to pick up the language. The friendy autowallahs start speaking to you in Tamil as soon as you get out of the train. (This happens when u arrive early in the morning, when most Chennai trains arrive)

In response to my post on Banking Pins, Chanakya of Seshmics says that customers end up paying for the banks inefficiencies and technology investments.

Patiala Pataka points us to Mangal Pandey blog by Aamir Khan

Using some consulting logic, Jayesh of Booletpoint comes up with a 2 x 2 matrix with frequency of posts on one end and the length of posts / analysis on the other end. Which quadrant does your blog belong to?

Prince Roy travels to Tirupathi and gets his head tonsured. The travelogue has interesting pictures including the one in which Prince Roy is clad in a traditional dhoti.

Telegraph newspaper is giving lot of coverage to blogging and this one is on blogs by women. (via Mangs)

CNET feels that Bangalore techies are too stressed out

A Rising Asia – Lee Kuan Yew in Forbes

Rasheeda Bhagat profiles a lady who has stormed the male bastion of stock broking

In his column titled E&OE, D Murali says that banning mobile phones in schools is not the right thing to do.

Here’s an extract from the new book Mediocre But Arrogant. The author was kind enough to reply to one of my emails. BTW the book launch is happening tomorrow (3rd Aug).

Things I’ve learned from Blogging (via Chugs)

Chennai Craigslist takes shape….I don’t see too many entries though! IT professionals could form a large chunk of the potential user base of Craigslist in IT hubs like Chennai and Bangalore. The IT firms use resources like Bulletin Boards extensively and hence it might take a while before Craigslist can make an impact.

News Today hints that MK might be arrested. I'm sure SUN TV would have put 2 cameras outside MK's house to catch every bit of the action and present their side of the story. This video can probably fit into their "Indhiya Tholaikaatchigalil Mudhal Muraiyaaga" (ITMM) theme and can be aired repeatedly before the next State elections.

A freewheelin chat with Vivek Paul

After reading this interview you get a feeling that Vivek Paul is a relieved man. Vivek Paul and his sister Vibha Paul-Rishi (PepsiCo) together make a very dominant bro-sis combo in the global corporate world. Vivek Paul was in Chennai to deliver a speech to the students of GLIM. Controversial questions like differences with Premji and succession issues at Wipro have been carefully avoided.

Ramnath had been to this event and he mentions the take aways from Vivek Paul’s speech.

Excerpts from the Business Line interview

Stick to a path or shift industries for growth?

It's a bit like driving in Chennai. You can weave in and out of lanes or you stick to one. There's no one right way. Because you weave in and out, you might reach faster. But if you stick to one lane, there are others weaving out, giving you a clear road ahead and you might get on.

His thought for the day

People plan for failure much more than they plan for success. Life is a bit of being in luck and being ready. Either one is not enough. If you are not prepared, even if luck knocks on your door, you will not make it. But if you are ready, you can grab opportunities when they come to you.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Forbes – Most Powerful Women

Forbes magazine has come out with its list of the Most Powerful Women and the usual suspects (Prime Ministers, Presidents, CEOs) make it to the list. Technically speaking, there is no Indian woman in the list. But, Indira Nooyi is featured as #28 in the list (she is a US citizen). Forbes has not mentioned anything about the Middle Finger controversy that Nooyi was involved in.

The Hindu ad gets noticed

The above ad was released by Kerala tourism to commemorate the 125th anniversary of The Hindu. Stark Communications has done the creative work.

PS: I didn’t intend to put 2 consecutive posts on media…but it turned out that way.

The Intolerable Economic Times

The newspaper that opened my eyes to the world of Indian business, finance and economics has started dishing out utter crap. The Blogosphere has its fair share of ToI bashers and I feel that we need some of them to bash the ET as well.

Here is a sample of two of the headlines that I read in the Sunday online edition of Economic Times

Is India the new sexy chic; or it's just all silicon?

Call girl’s ok, but what’s call money?

My observation is that the online edition is the one which comes up with such irrelevant / unrelated / sensational headlines. I still feel that the print edition would be a toned down version of the online edition. Since I don’t have access to the print edition, readers in India can clarify whether the print edition is equally bad. My logic is that ET is read by lot of CEO’s, decision makers, politicians and hence ET might apply more sense in the presentation / reporting of news. Does ET believe that majority of the online readers are youngsters and hence these gimmicks can result in a higher click thru ratio? Ramz might have an answer for this.

Related reading: The Bakwaas Times