Monday, October 31, 2005
Business Line article on blogging
Anurag Jain, a management student from Bangalore and avid blogger, says, "I blog on events and activities taking place in the city."
People from all walks of life have taken to blogging. With the increasing penetration of broadband globally, more people have access to and can create such logs on the Web.
Bloggers form groups based on location and interests. One such group is `BlogBang', headed by Arka Mukhopadhyay, a freelance theatre artist. He says, "The group was created as an attempt to bring city bloggers together. It is one of the few comprehensive groups of bloggers in our country." Out of the 115 people in the group, more than 50 belong to the IT industry. Some organisations such as Sun Microsystems and Yahoo! encourage their employees to blog.
The recent case of a B-school, the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, wanting to take action against the blogging community had it coming out in support of Rashmi Bansal, editor and publisher of youth magazine JAM, and Gaurav Sabnis, an ex-IBM employee. JAM published recently an article in which it claimed that the institute was advertising wrong facts. Sabnis provided a link to the article in his blog, http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.com. The IIPM reacted by sending an e-mail notice against the bloggers.
ToI set to launch neighbourhood newspaper in Chennai
ToI is expected to launch its Chennai edition next year and it is now testing the waters with the launch of a ‘free’ neighbourhood newspaper in Anna Nagar in Chennai. Neighbourhood ‘free’ newspapers like Anna Nagar Times, Mylapore Times, Adyar Times & Mambalam Times have been able to make a mark because of the localized content (coverage of local events) and the neighbourhood classifieds. I’m not sure whether The Hindu will also eye for a share in this pie.
The Times of India Group is venturing into the free neighborhood newspaper segment with ‘Times Neighborhood’, a weekly to be launched in Anna Nagar, Chennai. The stand-alone publication will spread to other areas in Chennai soon, after gauging the response to its Anna Nagar offering. The 12-page gloss-covered ‘local’ will hit 40,000 residents of Anna Nagar on Saturday.
The Economic Times has a supplement called ‘Madras Plus’, which is also a focused retail vehicle for Chennai. ‘Times Neighborhood’ will be different in that it will be ‘hyper-localized’ in its content, and would attempt to stand out in the clutter of the many existing neighborhood newspapers, added Thariyan.
According to sources, though the advertising revenue from Chennai’s retail segment in print is at around Rs. 100 crore per year, this is for the mainlines alone. There exist several other neighborhood publications, some of which are beginning to figure increasingly on retail advertisers’ media plans. Some planners peg the revenues of this genre at Rs. 10 crore, and others at Rs. 8-16 crore. Most industry observers agree that this is increasing by the day. An established neighborhood newspaper in Anna Nagar, ‘Anna Nagar Times’, is estimated to have a circulation of over 50,000 copies.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Two seconds of fame
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Vodafone to buy 10% stake in Bharti
Q: Have you been approached by Vodafone?
A: Nobody at all. I think we would be approached if we were available. We have always made it very clear that we were not.
Mittal: Laughing his way to the bank
No CEO will reveal the name of a potential acquirer with whom they are in touch with, but Mittal could have atleast said that they were willing to divest stake provided the price, time and strategic fit were right.
SingTel already holds a 30% stake in BTVL and Bharti Enterprises (the promoting entity) holds a controlling stake of 45.9% in BTVL. The FDI cap in the telecom sector has been raised to 74% recently and it looks like we can expect more action in this sector.
Friday, October 28, 2005
The World’s Oldest Profession Inc.
There are various industries, which take the IPO route to raise funds. I never imagined that the world’s oldest profession would also use the IPO route for their capital requirements. This has come as a surprise to me. Melbourne based Daily Planet has been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange for the last 2 years. After all, it may not be such a bad investment as the business operates on a cash basis (which eliminates bad debts) and they normally don’t suffer (during recession) when the rest of the economy is in a downturn. So the stock could actually outperform the market.
But where do you slot the whole business? Along with property or real estate bunch? How about in the tourism and hot spots industry? For that matter, why not in health and personal care group? Or in sports and leisure section? Out of politeness, I am not getting into computer applications. As you see, the possibilities are really endless.
It is also easy for ad gurus to lick their lips in anticipation? For what? To show what they are creatively capable of. But there are some off-the-shelf ad lines that can straight away go with Daily Planet though that Polo line may be too tacky and obvious for such a sensitive product. How about the Nokia one? Connecting people? But that also looks like basement bargain stuff. Raymond's For the Complete Man or Old Spice's Mark of a Man are good enough, but somehow don't make the grade. Come to think of it, Nike's Just Do It may just do.
Those behind the Daily Planet are now said to be in a quandary though. They say they want to take the business to other parts too and make the operations (of the company) more formal. What could be that? Perhaps bringing back the work culture in week-ends? Flexible business hours? No working lunch (is it possible for them to do work and have lunch too)? Or have the COO just do that?
Some questions that come to my mind :-
How will the Independent Directors be selected? (Independent Directors normally bring in some industry related expertise)
How will the annual report look like?
What will the management say about the risk factors and the external environment?
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Heavy rains wreak havoc in Chennai
(Photo Courtesy: The Hindu)
Online Journalism Review covers IIPM fracas
(Crossposted on DesiPundit)
Did you miss BBC’s Hard Talk show last week?
I just finished watching the Hard Talk show that featured P Chidambaram. Our FM was almost cornered when the topic of ‘Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme’ came up. It’s always a pleasure listening to PC and I eagerly look forward to his Thirukural references in his budget speeches.
At a time when most of the news channels are looking at online revenue models, it is good to know that BBC is providing free access to these interviews. I googled to check whether Karan Thapar’s heated Hard Talk India show was available online and I managed to catch the ‘It was not a pleasure to meet you’ interview once again.
STF Brutalities in post-Veerappan era
The STF, it is believed, tortured a number of Tamils like Ellamma and Mathaiyan. The Tamil Nadu government rewarded it for shooting the bandit on October 18 last year, but the victims of its atrocities are yet to be compensated. "The government is silent about their plight. The villagers still live in fear since the STF is yet to leave the area," said Murugesh, a volunteer of the NGO People's Watch, which works with the victims.
Murugesh, who is from Gopina-tham, Veerappan's birthplace, has seen it all. "My entire family was taken to what was called torture cells. Current was passed through our bodies till we agreed to accept crimes we never committed," he said. "My grandfather and father were beaten up with lathis. Current was passed through my sister's ears and the police kept asking her what should be done with my dad. When she finally screamed that he be shot dead, the police stopped torturing her. They said they would not kill my dad but that was the last I saw him."
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Kollywood stormed by Income Tax sleuths
Apart from the residences of music composers Rehman and Yuvan Shankar Raja, the houses of artistes Trisha, Sneha, Vikram and Vijay and film producer Oscar Ravichandran were raided by Income Tax officials.
Update: Chennai Eveningers report the news
Tamil Murasu (Part 1 & Part 2)
Chennai infrastructure to get a facelift
Yet another statement to prove that politicians get active before the elections:-
In a bid to decongest traffic and prevent the metropolis, which is attracting lot of it majors, going the 'Bangalore way', Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today ordered construction of four river bridges, six flyovers and widening of several roads in the city at a cost of Rs 525 crore.
The proposed river bridges were: a new bridge across Adyar river in Adyar, a bridge at Ennore, a bridge across the Buckingham canal at the Sardar Patel road in Adyar, from where the new it highway is coming up and a bridge across Cooum river near Mogappair.
The proposed flyovers were Vyasarpadi in GNT road, Thirumangalam-Mogappair junction, Moolakadi in GNT road, Porur, Halda junction at Guindy and at inner ring road at Vadapalani.
Recently, Union IT Minister Dayananidhi Maran had cautioned the state government that IT industry in the city might shift from Chennai, if the problem of traffic congestion was not tackled.
Happy Birthday Malabar
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Dada Hate Site
BTW, does Tata Indicom still use Saurav Ganguly in its ads?
A day in the life of an Air Deccan airhostess
Bloggers Park: IIM-I Blogging Contest
Bloggers are expected to write posts on the following topics –
1) Are blogs an alternative for conventional media?
2) Blogging and viral marketing
The contest is open to all bloggers (not just restricted to students or Indian residents).
Govar has more info on the ‘Open to all’ Blogging Contest
Register for the Bloggers Park in IRIS 2005
Details of Bloggers Park in IRIS 2005
South Asian Quake Relief – DesiPundit observes Blog Quake Day
DesiPundit has taken an initiative to harness the collective power of the ‘Brown Blogosphere’ to raise funds for the South Asian Quake Relief effort. I’m sure each one of us can extend support in some way or the other. DesiPundit also has a listing of charities that are involved in the relief efforts. Please spread the word around.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Up up and away
Outlook has an article on the property boom in Indian metros. This is primarily fuelled by IT/ITES/BPO boom in NCR and some of the southern metros. I didn’t know Sahara group had set foot in the Chennai property market as well.
Velachery has emerged as Chennai's booming neighbourhood and prices have zoomed from Rs 1,000-1,500 per sq ft in April 2004 to around Rs 2,000 today.
"If you are looking at real estate as an investor in Chennai, you shouldn't invest in known areas like T. Nagar. You should look at the IT corridor along the Old Mahabalipuram Road, where a six-lane expressway is coming up," says Sridhar Varadaraj of the California-registered Hanu Reddy Realty. Since October 2004, prices in Ranga Reddy Gardens, Neelangarai, about 20 km from Chennai, have doubled. The upcoming Sahara City project near Chennai's Avadi-Poonamallee bypass that leads to Bangalore has also resulted in skyrocketing prices. A piece of land measuring 2,400 sq ft that could have been purchased for Rs 2-3 lakh last year costs Rs 20-25 lakh today.
People familiar with Chennai would have definitely heard of a property developer called Alacrity Foundations / Alacrity Housing. They were a publicly listed entity and their stock was quite a talking point during their hey days. Most of their projects were located in upmarket areas and they distinguished themselves by setting very high professional standards in an industry, which was plagued by red tapism, black money and murky deals. Alacrity set very high ethical standards by refusing to bribe the government authorities for getting various clearances and approvals.
While searching for Alacrity, I landed on the QFI egroup, which had a question on Alacrity in one of their quizes :-
This Chennai based company was incorporated in 1979. Its corporate mission reads - To try and prove that organized business when deeply committed to human values is the best equipped to lead society to a better quality of life. Their initial foray was into management consultancy, in which they were influenced by the views of Ayn Rand on the dignity and glory of the human being and bythe views of Peter Drucker on organisation and management. To cut the long story short, this venture wasn't too successful and they turned into the operations for which they are very well know today.
The very same Alacrity is now going through a very bad phase. They are virtually non-existent in the Chennai property market and their story is now being used as a case study in ISB (Who said Indian B-schools don’t have cases about Indian companies?). Here is what an ISB student wrote about the Alacrity case study :-
To give you some context, Alacrity prides itself on being ethical in all its dealings in the real estate space in Chennai. They were a renowned name around the 1990’s. We stayed in one of their apartment when I lived in chennai. They (Amol Karnad) initiated some out of the norm, moves like “home schooling, paying working women to take care of families instead of working, counselling its construction workers against use of alcohol).
Circa 2005, they hadn’t paid wages for 15 months, they are in the rut with SBI recently giving it an extended credit line, they seem to have lost a lot of their credibility (though in the 1990’s and late 90’s they had an impeccable name for construction quality).
Is honesty really rewarding?
Soaring property prices
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Hrithik’s Krissh turns out to be Hrithik’s Crash
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Shekhar Gupta on the BIAL controversy
I cannot conclude this without sharing a story from the brief period of Gowda’s prime ministership. Pravin Jain, the Indian Express picture editor in Delhi and his team had figured early on that the greatest photo-op in that period was the prime minister found asleep in his public appearances. They would catch him sleeping at functions, felicitations, in cabinet meetings, even while meeting foreign dignitaries and, sure enough, the front page was theirs for the asking. So one day, inevitably, I got invited for tea by C.M. Ibrahim, then information and broadcasting minister, and Gowda’s closest confidant and hatchet-man (though now they are estranged).‘‘Arrey bhai, Shekharji,’’ he said, ‘‘aap apne photographer ko bolo na kyon us bechare ke peechey pade hain (why won’t you ask your photographers why they are stalking that poor fellow)?’’ What can I do, I asked. If the prime minister is found sleeping in his public appearances, it is front page news. Why don’t you reason with the prime minster instead to be more alert, I added. Ibrahim’s answer was as hapless as it was – it now turns out – prescient. ‘‘Arrey bhai, yeh aadmi saara din prime minister nahin hai (this man is not a full-time prime minister),’’ he said. ‘‘From nine am to seven pm, he is prime minister of India, from seven pm to midnight he is chief minister of Karnataka, from midnight to two am, he is district magistrate of Hasan, then at 4.30 am he has to get up for puja, then breakfast, and then back to being prime minister of India. So when can he sleep?’’
PodCast for South Asian Audience
(Cross-posted on DesiPundit)
Crib time: I can put up with Tamil podcasts as long as they don’t have more than 50% English content (that too with a American accent).
Friday, October 21, 2005
Making Sense of Magazine Subscription Economics
When Outlook was launched in 1995, I took up a subscription for 5 years. The cover price was Rs. 10/- and the 5 years subscription was priced at Rs. 1600/- (you can usually find the words “Best Offer” and Discount % written next to longest tenure of the subscription). This advertising pattern is fairly standard across all Indian and International magazines.
The free gift I got was a Kodak no-frills camera (worth about Rs. 800?). The camera was suitably nicknamed ‘soap-box’ camera by my sis. The fact that the magazine negotiates bulk discounts with companies like Kodak enables the magazine to procure such gifts at a throwaway price. Even assuming that the camera is worth Rs. 500, it makes lot of sense to subscribe using these offers. The magazines are home delivered using a low cost courier, which might cost them atleast Re. 1 per issue. I always keep wondering how the magazine ends up making money on this sort of a pricing plan.
The magazine locks in the subscriber by collecting the money upfront and hence they save on the commissions / margins which they need to pay to the vendors and the newsstands (There is only one ‘cost of sale’). The magazine can use the subscription money (virtually interest free loan) to fund investment plans as well. If more and more people take up subscriptions, the magazine gets a clear idea of the weekly demand.
The gifts offered by most of the current affairs magazines are mostly targetted at the male population. Popular gifts include pen sets, wallets, digital diary (few years ago), torchlight, radio cum alarm clock. I noticed that this trend has changed little bit. The current subscription promotion of Outlook offers some books as subscription gifts.
The subscribers will normally fall under one of the following categories :-
1. The first set consists of the ones who are genuinely interested in the magazine and want to subscribe (the free gift might be an additional reason but not the primary reason for subscription).
2. The second set consists of people who don’t like the gift, but would still like to subscribe to the magazine because of the content. This group would actually prefer a monetary discount rather than a gift.
3. The third set consists of people who subscribe primarily for the free gift.
Which set do you belong to?
Thursday, October 20, 2005
News Today covers IIPM Blog Wars
For long it has been presumed that blogs are mere personal diaries of those with spare time, a PC and an incurable urge to air their views. But India is now slowly waking up to the fact that blogs are the new form of 'citizen journalism' and indeed can do investigative stories that can rival anything that mainstream media (MSM) is capable of offering.
Several bloggers independently started digging into the claims of IIPM and Arindam and his father Malay Chaudhuri, who started IIPM. Blogs like thalassamikra.blogspot.com, which have been able to cross check what Arindam and Malay had claimed, have come up with some startling revelations (that are verifiable by anyone).
IIPM's European connections also emerge as highly bogus. IIPM is said to have links with institutes like IMI, BBS, EBMS, and GCME. But as thalassamikra.blogspot.com points out the websites of the International Management Institute, the Barcelona Business School, and the European Business Management School look suspiciously similar and have been designed by the same man Thierry Kirschstein. The suggestion here is that all of them look like a cooked up link.
This blog has also sought out NARIC-Vlaanderen, a Belgian government organisation that determines the validity of degrees offered both within and outside Belgium for use within Belgium and received this as a reply: 'The International Management Institute in Antwerp and Brussels is a very very very very very very private institution... was a diploma mill. The qualifications awarded by this kind of institution are NOT at all recognised by any Flemish or Belgian education authority. Holders of such qualifications may NOT claim any academic (further studies) or civil right (access to regulated professions)'.IIPM, which is one of the costliest management institutions in India, now has a lot to explain while blogs can start to enjoy their moment under the sun.
Govinda's next movie - Bhai No. 1
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
TIME Magazine - 100 Best Novels
A Passage to India
The Lord of the Rings
The Catcher in the Rye
To Kill a Mocking Bird
Chennai wears a new look
Aggressive growth plans of Chennai movie halls & multiplexes
Sathyam Cinemas & Abhirami Mega Mall have ambitious plans to meet the growing demand. In addition to this, PVR is also opening its multiplex in the AMPA Shopping Mall that is coming up in Nelson Manickam Road.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Hong Kong Disneyland targets Indian tourists
Ethics and disclosure norms in covering such events
Although I have nothing against the two journalists who have reviewed the tourist attraction, I somehow feel that the readers of Rediff and The Hindu should be informed if the Disneyland management footed the bill (airfare, travel, stay etc) of the journalists. If it is an all-expenses paid trip there is a possibility that the reviewer(s) might not write very critical reviews about the attraction. By giving such disclosures, the media house might actually stand to gain as the public read the review after knowing that the reviewer’s expenses were taken care by the Disneyland management.
I have seen some reviews when Jet / Sahara launched flights from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur. I understand that it is customary for the airlines to take the scribes in the inaugural flight. My general observation is that journos go little bit soft on these reviews. As a consumer, I ought to know whether any particular event/incident could have influenced the objectivity of the reviewer.
DNA covers IIPM Blog wars
Monday, October 17, 2005
Commies might exempt IT sector from strikes
Innovative way to take the day off
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The future of print media
Sanjay Pinto, senior special correspondent, NDTV, said the issue of ethics in the use of hidden cameras in sting journalism had to be seen in the light of whether the exercise was for the public good.
Blog journalism was emerging as an alternative to the editorial content of newspapers, Ashok Malik, Senior Editor, The Indian Express, said. However, the issue of broad regulations and censorship/monitoring needed to be examined.
Earlier, N. Murali, Joint Managing Director, The Hindu, said though India had emerged as one of the fastest growing media markets, the growth pattern was ``on the back of flimsy economics.'' Predatory price wars and excessive dependence on advertising revenue had disturbed the economic stability (of newspapers) and journalistic independence. ``What is happening in the market place defies all logic and [we need to return to] sound business principles. Unless newspapers are priced right, the frenetic growth may not be sustainable,'' he added. The Indian media was headed the American way, with news being increasingly doctored to suit advertisers, Kamlendra Kanwar, Resident Editor, The New Indian Express, said. There was a steady erosion of journalistic freedom and trivialisation of content, necessitating safeguards.
The Internet had emerged as the medium of the future and though it needed enormous technological investment, it later bought in incremental revenue, George Zacharias, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sify, said. Though the web had emerged as everybody's medium, the challenge was in leveraging it to give real benefits to real people.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Mumbai Mirror article on IIPM vanishes into thin air
Friday, October 14, 2005
IIPM Online Petition
Kiruba designs some "Support Buttons" for us to show our support for Gaurav and Rashmi.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Big Fight - NDTV to cover IIPM fracas tonight
Full-page advertisements by the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) in all national dailies asked students to "dare to dream beyond the IIMs". If one went by the ads, one could be forgiven for thinking that IIPM is the institute with the best possible infrastructure, faculty, and placements in the country.Comments against the Delhi - based high profile institute by Gaurav Sabnis cost him his job at IBM. Gaurav, who was a sales executive at IBM, was airing what he says are his personal opinion on his own diary on the Internet, also called a blog.At any rate much of what he said drew from an article that appeared in a youth magazine called JAM, which had investigated what it says were false claims made by IIPM in its ads.IIPM, which is headed by management consultant Arindam Choudhry, acted against both the magazine and Sabnis, sending both legal notices.But when that did not work they put pressure on Gaurav's employers IBM - saying they would burn the IBM laptops they use on their campus. IBM last year sold 1,500 laptops to IIPM . That pressure, Gaurav says, led him to quit. "I quit because it was putting unnecessary pressure on IBM," he adds.But Gaurav' resignation and IIPM's threat of legal action has sparked off a cyber war. The otherwise unseen world of bloggers in India and across the world began posting their support for Gaurav, arguing that a blog is someone's personal view and suing them makes no sense. In response, blogs also suddenly appeared in defense of IIPM.This is a fascinating story, which has not just raised questions about claims made by private educational institutions but also about laws governing internet privacy.
Update 1: NDTV carried the report only today (Oct 14). Amit Varma sums up what was mentioned in the NDTV report.
Update 2: My cousin SMSed me from Chennai to say that my blog was also shown in the NDTV report.
Crossposted on DesiPundit
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
A case of missing yet reachable
* - Indhiya Thol(l)aikaatchigalil Mudhal Muraiyaaga
Join the fight against IIPM and the string of fake blogs
The fake blogs, which have started talking ill about Gaurav and Rashmi, have just sprung up in the last few days and don’t have more than a single post in their blog. It is almost certain that these fake blogs have been started by the same person(s) (using different user names). What Gaurav and Rashmi have attempted to do is to examine whether the tall claims (about placements, faculty and infrastructure) made by IIPM are really true or not. If IIPM really believes that they have the best-in-class facilities it is better that the placements and infrastructure do the talking. Such direct brutal attacks on established bloggers will do more harm than good. Any blog bashing exercise by IIPM will definitely backfire at them as more people will realize the true nature of IIPM. Such offensive comments are only going to increase the hatred among the public in general and the student community in particular. The actions by IIPM and the baseless comments/accusations by the IIPM students definitely show that they have never come across terms like discipline and ethics during the course of their MBA.
The MSM in India is unlikely to take up such issues as they are dependent on advertising revenue from these institutes. If you feel strongly about this issue, I urge you to take this up and post it in some form or ther other so that such fake blogs and the institutes are nailed down. Let’s join hands to fight against this menace. Let them not underestimate the power of the Blogosphere. The Blog readers are a well-informed lot and they are in the best position to decide which side is right. They have been following Gaurav’s blog and Rashmi’s blog for sometime and they will definitely vouch for the credibility of these two bloggers.
Update 2: Patrix of Nerve Endings Firing Away wants to absolve the ‘real’ students from the IIPM controversy (those behind the fake blogs will not be spared)
Update 3: Gaurav Sabnis explains his stand. Hats off to Gaurav for his determination and resolve to stand up for the truth.
Update 4: Global Voices Online makes a call for Freedom of Speech
Update 5: Amit Varma of India Uncut sums up the developments
Update 6: Michael Higgins has an insightful post on the importance of Reputation as a Business Asset (especially in the field of education)
Update 7: Leading international blog Instapundit picks up the story (InstaPundit follow-up article Part 2). Some more reactions from Jeff Ooi of Malaysia and Think Jose.
Update 8: Anna of Sepia Mutiny hits out at IIPM. Sepia Mutiny also has a follow-up article titled "Boycotts and IIPM".
Update 9: IIPM is the now the most searched term on Technorati (Global Blog Search). Varun has a snapshot here.
Update 10: This issue is now being discussed actively in all forms of online media (email forwards, egroups, discussion boards, mailing lists etc). Abhishek Thakore explains how the democratic people-owned media (Blogosphere) and its web of networks can influence more people than traditional print (ToI) ads
Update 11: DesiPundit has comprehensive coverage
Update 12: To track the developments through various Blog Search engines visit Technorati, Google Blog Search and Ice Rocket
Update 13: Abi of Nanopolitan wants employers (corporates) to verify some of the information mentioned in the IIPM Placement Statistics.
Update 14: Techmag throws some light on the legal validity of the notice that Gaurav Sabnis received. Sudhish informs us that the so called legal notices may just be threats.
Update 15: “IIPM doesn’t just owe Gaurav an apology; it owes him his life back”, says Nilanjana (Part 1 and Part 2)
Update 16: Patrix explains the intentions of the Blogosphere in an Open Letter to IIPM
Update 17: Dhaaba discusses the IIPM issue over a glass of lassi (A laugh riot). Great Bong plans to start Indian Institute of International Dreamers (I3D). His post indicates that he has grandiose plans.
Update 20: Kiruba designs some "Support Buttons" for us to show our support for Gaurav and Rashmi.
Update 21: Puneet accuses IIPM of spamming Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines. He also has screenshots to prove his claim
Update 22: Arzan probes about IIPM's Toronto connection and Belgian alliance. Curious Gawker also manages to throw some light on the web of alliances surrounding IMI.
Update 23: The Committee to Protect Bloggers pledges support.
Update 24: An Online Petition has been created to protest against IIPM. Please sign the petition. Pls help in spreading the word about this petition.
Yahoo to include Blogs in News Search
Bloggers are gaining a higher profile alongside traditional news sources with Yahoo including blogs in its expanding news search system. The decision could reignite the debate over what constitutes news reporting and whether blogs are as valuable a source of news as that from professional journalists. So-called citizen journalists are increasingly dominating the headlines. User-generated content has proved invaluable in breaking news stories. Yahoo sees its plans, which will include photos from users, as enriching the news for everyone.
"Traditional media doesn't have the time and resources to cover all the stories," said Jeff Redfern, product director for Yahoo Search.
Weblogs are a community of self-published sites which cover a range of topics from the personal to the political. They have proved their worth as news sources in recent times, perhaps most notably following Hurricane Katrina.
Leading web firms are beginning to sit up and take notice of blogs. In September search engine Google unveiled its own blog search engine. At the beginning of October, AOL agreed to buy leading web journal firm Weblogs Inc. According to blog search and indexing site Technorati, there are more than 17 million weblogs currently available online.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
DNA on Indian authors who have embraced blogging
Over the last 12-18 months, several published authors have taken to blogging. For several reasons, ranging from publicity for their book to airing their views on general issues for a public debate. Ashok Banker, author of Byculla Boy, and the recent Ramayana series, has a blog on Indian English. Samit Basu, author of India's first science fiction novel in English, The Simoqin Prophecies, uses his blog Duck of Destiny to promote other Indian writers.
"Blogs help you express yourself without the fear of scrutiny of editors, critics and journalists," says Chetan Bhagat, whose recent work Five Point Someone, has been steadily climbing the bestseller charts in Indian bookstores, and runs an eponymous website. "Before my twin sons were born, I was nervous and neglected at the same time. It was then that I started blogging. My blog is on fatherhood as well as my fiction. Sometimes there are ideas that do not require the space of a whole book. That's where a blog comes in handy."
Basu feels every blogger (there are more than 8.5 million active blogs) is an author. "The author creates a highly individual work, gets feedback, and can even get to turn a blog into a book. A blog is the last frontier for publishing."
Friday, October 07, 2005
How many Indian blogs out there?
As far as I know, we don’t have any official estimate of the number of Indian blogs or India focussed blogs. We have close to 2000 Indian blogs registered with Blogstreet India and Indibloggers has about 1200 Blogs.
This BusinessWeek report put the number of Chineses blogs at 3 Million. If you take blogs as a % of the internet user base, then China stands at 3%. There are about 25 Million Internet users in India and if we use similar estimates we should have about 750,000 Indian Blogs.
With no clear-cut ways to determine the number of Indian blogs, any exercise to find out the number of blogs is quite disputable. Anshul had mentioned earlier that there are about 100,000 Indian blogs.
This latest post by Letters from China (via Global Voice Online) says that there might be about 800,000 Indian Blogs. They have used Google Blog Search to arrive at this number. Although it is an astonishing number, questions to be raised are the validity of Google Blog search in determining this figure and the number of stale blogs (those that are not frequently updated) that are included in this number. Any thoughts about the number of Indian blogs?
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Colour swapping in song costumes
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Creative Corporate Designations
Managing Worker – Is he a Manager or a worker?
Chief Software Architect
Allergy Time - Kokkarakko Kumango
BTW, if SUN TV had an ISP license in Chennai, they might even try to block my blog. I have been getting some strange hits and distasteful comments from SUN TV IP addresses in the past few days. So if this blog vanishes one fine day, just take it for granted that those in power have blocked this under POTA. Let the force be with me.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Sivakaasi Audio – A frontbencher’s delight
Although the album boasts of an impressive line-up of singers, the album is a big let down. Udit Narayanan’s pronounciation is one of the lowlights of this album. The more we hear such voices the other homegrown singers will start imitating Udit. If the same singers sing for a top-notch composer (ARR) / lyricist (Vairamuthu) the MD / lyricist take extra pains to ensure that the pronounciation is in order. I find this dedication lacking among the second rung music directors.
Deva has already built up an impressive(?) line-up of gaana and dappankuthu songs and all Srikanth Deva needs to do is to wipe the dust off the old records and recycle them. IMHO somebody like Vidyasagar would have done a much better job.
My pick of the album is Idhu Enna Idhu Enna by two of my favourite singers (Harish Raghavendra and Uma Ramanan). I’m sure they would be picturizing this song in Switzerland / New Zealand and hence the song is bound to catch on. The rest of the songs are avoidable.
Following the established tradition, the punch song (Vaada Vaada) has been sung by Shankar Mahadevan. Ada Ennaththa (Udit Narayan and Anuradha Sriram) song resembles All thotta Boopathi (Youth).
Deepavali Deepavali (Kay Kay & Vasundhara Das) starts off with a direct lift from the Kamal song Vanithamani Vanithamani Vandhaadu from the movie Vikram. The loop music reminds me of Umbarey Umbarey humming from Adi Anarkali song in Ullathai Alli Tha. The Veenai piece is inspired by Seena Thaana song in Vasoolraja MBBS.
Go ahead and listen to Sivakaasi if you have lotsa time and a high tolerance level for such high decibel music. Sivakaasi is a blast, which fails to explode.
Corporate brands join hands with Kollywood
Tata Indicom (Chandramukhi), Reliance Infocom (Sachien), Fairever fairness cream (Ghajini) and Sunfeast biscuits (Thirupachi) were some of the recent tie-ups in Kollywood. Sivakasi based Standard Fireworks has tied up with the producers for joint promotion of this movie.
Linkin Park - 4th October
Those of you who wish to catch the much talked about SRK Lux ad can catch it here
Kaun Banega Comedian? (via News Today)
I stumbled upon this tribute to late composer Mahesh Mahadevan (he composed music for the Kamal starrer Nammavar). The comment on this post led to the discovery of a blog by TV, film and ad personality Mohan Ram.
Maalan speaks out on Moral Policing (via New Indian Express)
Sushila Ravindranath also hits out at the so-called protectors of Tamil culture
Goodbye to Chennai’s conservatism? (via News Today)
Whose morals are these anyway? (via News Today)
Bishwanath Ghosh requests us to take the India Today and Outlook surveys with a sackful of salt.
Findings from a survey on online spending habits of Indians
How to prevent a hangover? (via Business Standard)
Chennai HC allows Park Hotel to admit guests
Does it really matter whether your hair-cutting saloon has a ISO 9001 certification? This ‘hair stylist’ in Chennai thinks that it can make a difference.
Ghajini reviews in the Blogosphere – Suresh, Ram and Balaji
As expected the Blog reviews have hit us before the MSM reviews are out.
Tamil publishing house Vikatan group launches a personal finance magazine (Naanayam Vikatan) in Tamil. The educated folks would be better off sticking on to magazines like Outlook Money (formerly Intelligent Investor).
Monday, October 03, 2005
TIME on Big B’s comeback
Only five years ago, it looked like it was all over for the King of Bollywood. After ruling Indian cinema as its undisputed superstar for a quarter century, Amitabh Bachchan began to bomb. A succession of films bled money. Endorsements dried up. Even his company's 1996 production of the Miss World beauty pageant was plagued by protests from both Indian conservatives and feminists. By the turn of the millennium, Bachchan found himself $20 million in debt and staring obscurity in the face. "The industry thought he was finished," says Ram Gopal Varma, director of Bachchan's latest hit, Sarkar. So did Bachchan. "Every actor has to reconcile himself to the day when he is ignored," he tells TIME. "And that's what I began to do."Today the man known as the Big B is bigger than ever. The last two years have seen a string of box-office successes and a level of critical acclaim unprecedented in his 35-year career. Bachchan shot 11 films last year and has signed up for nine more this year, up from only four in 2002. He has endorsement contracts with a total of 17 brands, from Parker Pens to Pepsi, making his white goatee and neat brown hair common on billboards and TV screens from Jakarta to Johannesburg. And in August, he returned to host a second series of the blockbuster television game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? "He's a mythic figure," says Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. Bachchan's friend, Reliance billionaire Anil Ambani, calls him "the biggest star India has ever known."
At 62, Bachchan is delighted to find himself at a whole new peak in his career. The opportunities are quite remarkable," he says. "The chance to play different characters, read different scripts, work with different directors. I look forward to every morning. What else can I do?" As Bachchan and India are discovering, more than either once thought.
Other India related topics published in the International Media this week:
Sania makes it to the cover of TIME and is featured in the list of Asian Heroes for the year 2005
Newsweek on whether the Left parties can spoil the Capitalist future.
After ARR, it’s Ilayaraja’s turn to perform live
What could be a greater joy than enjoying the festival with a music provided by none other than the maestro himself. Maestro Ilayaraja will render a live concert at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai on 16th October for Jaya TV.
Dubbed as 'Maestro-Live In Concert', the musical show will showcase the coming together of seasoned playback singers singing the tunes of Ilayaraja.
'With I taking a plunge into spiritualism, my interests towards performing live-in-concerts have decreased considerably. When my Symphony on Thiruvasakam was released recently, music-lovers gathered in large numbers and there was a huge queue waiting outside the venue to have a glimpse of the event. This prompted me to hold a concert for my ardent fans. This has resulted in me joining hands with Jaya TV for this musical show'.
Who's who of Kollywood would gather on the occasion to shower their appreciation on the music composer, he added.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Outlook on Moral Policing
If the self-appointed guardians of 'Tamil culture' had their way, they would have the rest of the world believe that women should not wear jeans and T-shirts, they should not sing and dance in discos, should not have sex before marriage, should not drink, should not choose alternative sexual identities and they should only be bearers of what certain Tamil men define as 'honour'.
The past few months have seen an unprecedented mobilisation of public opinion against women by sections of the Tamil media and polity. Last week, a leading Tamil daily, Dinamalar, splashed pictures of women drinking, dancing and kissing in The Park, a star hotel, with a poser for the Chennai police commissioner. Captioned 'Is this what equality means?' the story asked: "In a society where married couples are reluctant to hold hands in public, how can women be allowed to sing and dance with men?"
Tamizh Murasu also dragged actress Khushboo into a controversy. In an interview to a newsweekly, Khushboo, deified as a heroine in the 1990s, had said "no educated man would expect his wife to be a virgin". Tamizh Murasu, an eveninger relaunched by the Kalanidhi Maran-led Sun TV group known for its pro-DMK views, cashed in on this statement and ran a lead on how Khushboo was implying that Tamil women had no chastity. It solicited the views of the film fraternity and politicians and derided the actress who happens to be the star anchor of a game show on rival Jaya TV. Soon, leaders of the BJP, Paattali Makkal Katchi, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dalit Panthers of India aired their views about how Khushboo was "denigrating" Tamil women and "encouraging women to be immoral." The DPI and PMK were especially shrill since they had joined hands to launch the Tamil Protection Movement earlier this year. The DPI led the street protests with slippers and brooms, demanding that Khushboo apologise or leave Tamil Nadu and "return to her Bombay".
Although S Anand does a good analysis of the recent developments, his interview with Kanimozhi (Karunanidhi’s daughter) leaves much to be desired. Kanimozhi vents out her feelings against the Tamil media and tries to speak for women. It’s difficult to digest her speech because her family controls most of the Tamil print and TV media (atleast the dominant ones). It would have been good if S Anand had grilled her on those lines. Excerpts from the Kanimozhi interview:
The media-triggered public debate on women and Tamil culture is depressing and distressing. From clothes to sexuality to social norms, why is it that only women are made to bear the burden of morality and what gets defined as 'Tamil culture'? The media abets the process by using women's 'honour' to sell newspapers and magazines. The same Tamil press thrives on splashing pictures of semi-nude women from all parts of the world to boost sales. They sensationalise any reportage concerning women. All this will only lead to increased violence against women. If tomorrow a woman walks out of a star hotel or a cinema, we should not be surprised if she is attacked for being 'amoral'. A jean-clad woman standing at a bus-stop is liable to be sexually assaulted, and such an attack would even be justified given that public opinion is being mobilised against women. Recipients of such violence would be seen as `deserving'.
There are major issues that concern women in Tamil Nadu—in Salem and Dharmapuri districts female infanticide is still high, there's a spurt in HIV positive cases and TN leads the country in AIDS, dowry deaths continue unabated, there's everyday violence against women. Of late, several incidents of child sexual abuse are being reported. Men are at the forefront of all these forms of violence. Somehow, these are not of concern to the media or the political class that claims to uphold 'Tamil culture'. Anyway, what is Tamil culture? In the classical Sangam poetry in Agananooru, every second poem discusses female sexuality. In Kuruntogai, scores of poems discuss pre-marital sex. What should we do with these canons? Should we brand them as alien to Tamil culture?
The withdrawal of Park Hotel’s license is likely to send wrong signals to the business community and to the IT and ITES companies which are making a beeline to the city. Expats Seth and Hanna had to move out of the Park Hotel in the light of these developments. A friend also told me that many more expats live in Park Hotel on a medium to long-term basis and even they might have been affected because of this.