DNA on Participatory Journalism
Jai Arjun Singh discusses the various collaborative cricket blogs that dot the Indian Blogosphere.
It’s official. Chennai leads the list of metros in blogging.Blogs, one of the most easily-maintainable forms of personal websites, is fast emerging as an alternative media.Angry youngsters, who don’t get a chance to air their views in public forums, litterateurs, who lack media space, and political activists, who seek open-minded discussions – all find blogs as an alternative medium to put their views across.And Chennai, which is all set to become the number one city in the Indian IT sector, tops the chart with 293 blogs, according to statistics posted in india.blogstreet.com.It was not long ago when the sizzling star of Kollywood, Trisha, got into the eye of a storm when an anonymous visitor posted an obscene video of her’s in one of the blogs.Kiruba Shankar, a leading blogger from the Chennai who works as associate director with Sulekha, said, ‘‘The last three jobs I got were because of my blog. The employers called me for a meeting after they came to know me through it”.
Since Kanimozhi has stayed away from her father’s political persona, she and Roy had to acquire long archival footage, which may not make it to the final version of the film—‘‘We intend to preserve these clips in a library because they are rich in history.’’ Besides interviews with well-known Tamil journalists like Chinna Kuthoosi, who also doubled as a chronicler and interpreter of Tamil Nadu’s political history, the duo also threw in views of Tuglak editor Cho Ramasamy, who has been a bitter critic of Karunanidhi. ‘‘I spoke to people who had observed him closely, and it has been quite an experience learning about the ways people look at him,’’ says Kanimozhi. But the interview that she cherishes the most is with VP Singh—‘‘It was a warm and emotional interview because his association with my dad goes back a long way.’’
Karunanidhi also spoke to his daughter at length about the most crucial phases of his political career, especially the unsuccessful attempt by former Orissa chief minister Biju Patnaik at a patch-up between him and MGR, his friend-turned-rival, in the early ’80s. ‘‘My father’s mind is still sharp and clear,’’ says Kanimozhi, her tone betraying her admiration. ‘‘We spoke to a lot of people connected to my father, capturing not just their memories, but interpretations of him.’’Kanimozhi’s take on her father’s life is focused on what pushes her father at this age—politics, people and literature. She hopes to have the film ready by early next year—a gift, which both the father and daughter would treasure.
In India, this trend is yet to arrive in the huge way it has abroad. This is all the more surprising since blogs seem a perfect companion for a society that is both argumentative and politically alive. Though there are a few good blogs doing the round, like The Acorn, Sepia Mutiny and GreatBong, most active ones are run by computer or management graduates for discussing job opportunities. But things are changing, and recently a self-acclaimed professor of management was unmasked as a fraud, thanks to incessant blog inputs by his students.
What lies in the future, and how does it impact us here? First, blogs will eventually force mainstream media, even in India, to pay attention if not homage. Neither will replace the other, but big media will have to relearn a few essentials, especially about honesty. Steve Outing, from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, commented in a recent article, “one significant difference between mainstream journalism and blogging is the way each handles its mistakes.. (bloggers) prominently post corrections to errors, publishing them quickly.” In comparison, mainstream media seldom, if ever, acknowledges its faults.Second, the world of political and social blogs, at least in the US or in major Asian and European countries, is already very professional, and this presents Indian thinkers and policymakers an alternate entry point for studying local trends in various parts of the world, perhaps even another way to actively garner intellectual support for Indian positions on diplomatic issues.Overall, blogs are an exciting new genre, best described as ‘citizen journalism’, that can enlarge public debates beyond the elite, act as a media watchdog and generally create a culture of critical thought. Maybe not the best thing since sliced bread, but a pretty nifty invention nevertheless. And we can all own a piece of it.
Indian Kitchen seems to be the answer. Indian Kitchen is a chain of desi restaurants located all across China. Financial Express has a story on Indian Kitchen’s strategy of targeting local Chinese instead of the usual strategy, which targets desis and expats.
When 25-year-old Munuswamy Gnanavelu landed on the shores of the Portuguese colony of Macao in 1978, he had little save HK$50 in his pocket, a yen for Bruce Lee movies and a hearty appetite for adventure. In the years that followed, his multiple avatars included being an English teacher, sweater knitter and manual labourer.
Today, twenty-seven years after he first left the aromatic environs of his parents’ wholesale spice shop in Chennai, Antony Munuswamy (as he is now known), rules over a sprawling empire of 22 Indian restaurants in 10 different Chinese provinces. Indian Kitchen, as the restaurant chain is called, is possibly the most recognisable Indian brand in China. Munuswamy started the first Indian Kitchen in 1990, in Macao.
This is noteworthy because although in India, Chinese food has long been a favourite, available even at roadside dhabas, Chinese have been more cautious in embracing Indian cuisine.
State Bank of India (SBI), often described as a banking behemoth or the Big Daddy of Indian banking or banker to the government is clearly feeling very insecure. Its ‘‘Surprisingly SBI’’ campaign is itself evoking surprise and anger at the suggestion that people are unaware of its size and reach. We learn that the campaign is based on a survey conducted over FM radio and is targeted at yuppies in the 20 to 35 age bracket. But few are willing to buy its findings. It is difficult to believe that India’s educated, upwardly-mobile youth is so ignorant. It is however possible that this target group cares less about numerical supremacy than quality of service. And there, SBI indeed has a long way to go before catching up with its private sector rivals. But SBI investors are not amused at the public admission of ‘‘inferiority and diffidence’’ coming through in its advertisements.
If you've done it right, Google's search engines will identify your blog as a prime place for a high-value ad. Then, as Sifry says, "you can pay housewives in India to sit there and click on the ads." Because programs like Google's AdSense pay out each time someone responds to the ad, it's possible to make a bundle from this.
Have you heard of words like “Thought Shower”, “Deferred Success” and “Misguided Criminals?” These words seem to be part of the politically correct lingo.
S Anand of Outlook talks abouts the new Tamil culture of burning effigies and display of chappals and brooms
It is not that I switched over to small screen because I did not have enough films. Did Amitabh Bachchan come to television because he does not have enough films? Not that I am comparing myself with Amitabh Bachchan. but one must be aware that a heroine's tenure is very short in the film industry.
It may well turn Bleak House into BleakHse - but will it make Shakespeare turn in his grave?
A mobile phone service plans to lure students to its tariffs by translating the plots and quotations of the classics into simple text messages.
'To Be Or Not To Be' from Shakespeare's Hamlet becomes: 2b? Nt2b? = ??? while 'A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse' from Richard III translates as Ahors,",m'kngdom 4''.
IHT talks about the new breed of Hinglish movies, which deal with offbeat themes. The article goes on to say that the growth of this segment has been fuelled by the Multiplex boom.
Traditionally, there were two schools of Hindi cinema. The center stage was occupied by Bollywood, which enthralled Indians globally with song-and-dance extravaganzas and melodramatic stories big on family values. The other was the Satyajit Ray- inspired realistic art-house films, which flowered in the 1970s and '80s. Like the auteurs of the French New Wave, these art filmmakers tried to create a distinct language of film, but their work was relegated to festivals and television, where it wilted in the wings.
Lately, a third type of Hindi cinema has emerged. It is composed of smaller, offbeat films that are more realistic than Bollywood tales and more cutting edge than art-house ones. The films have an urbane, uniquely Indian sensibility. Many, though not all, are in Hinglish, the hybrid of Hindi and English that is spoken in metropolitan India.
Grimness is no longer box office poison, however. The first hit of 2005 was "Page 3," the director Madhur Bhandarkar's scathing look at high society in Mumbai. It featured pedophilia, drug-fueled rave parties and unabashed nastiness. The film, made for $575,000, grossed $2.3 million in India - a stellar performance, even though it didn't have what Bollywood insiders call "face value" (like stars or hit songs). "Iqbal," another low-budget film, also emerged a winner. The story of a deaf-mute village boy who yearns to be an international cricket player, it opened to euphoric reviews and recouped its $685,000 budget in five weeks.
Significantly, multiplex viewers are more upscale than the general audience: multiplex ticket prices average $2.25, compared with $1.15 for the single-screen theaters, and the most expensive seats at multiplexes can cost as much as $4. According to a May 2005 report by YES Bank and the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, multiplexes constitute only 0.6 percent of about 12,000 cinema halls in India, but they account for 28 percent to 34 percent of the box office take for the Top 50 films in 2004.
This man insists he isn’t going to budge until he becomes superstar Rajinikant, super-producer AM Ratnam, and super-director Mani Ratnam all rolled into one. And if you don’t like it, lump it.Now all he needed was AR Rahman, the best music director in the country. Suryah met the composer on a return flight from Mumbai. Plonking himself into the seat vacant next to Rahman, Suryah told the composer he wanted to make a movie and wanted him to do the music. Rahman told him to come back with a screenplay and he would decide. Suryah said okay and, 15 seconds later, started narrating the screenplay of New. The flight landed after ninety minutes, and Suryah had Rahman. “Always aim for the stars,” says Suryah.
New was the first movie Suryah was going to star in. Everyone wondered (and still wonder) why he just didn’t get a top hero. “Why should I get someone else? I came to Kollywood to be an actor. Tell me one person who can direct, act, dance, write dialogues and fight as well as me. I challenge you.”
Suryah’s next starring movie A Aah (or Anbe Aaruyirae or Best Friend), which in all honesty is a good movie, about two people in love who break up and are brought together by their memories (a Suryah and actress Nila in a very unflattering electric blue), bombed at the box-office.
“Flop. Hit. All humbug,” says Suryah. "Hundred days, 175 days, 200 days, all lies. What a movie collects in the first four weeks after it is released is 90 percent of its collection. The rest is just enough for office expenditure, to send your clerk for coffee.
In a remarkable reversal of the outsourcing that has seen thousands of jobs lost in the UK, telesales operations are looking to fill a skills gap in the east with young Britons willing to work on Indian wages.
And they are eagerly taking up the challenge. Both recent graduates and those with experience of working in British call centres are flocking to sign up for jobs in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore that pay just £350 a month.
It might not sound like much, but many are finding that they can earn enough to live on for six months or a year before heading off travelling. Indeed, a stint in the call centres followed by a period mellowing out on Goa's beaches or touring the palaces of Rajasthan is becoming the fashionable way for single young Britons to spend a gap year.
However, with surveys suggesting that India's telesales industry will be short of more than 120,000 employees over the next two years, many of the newcomers are expected to stay on.
I have tried to recreate one of the BGM’s. This one is a sad version of the Mayilaraghey song. It is available for download from my Odeo Channel. Your feedback is most welcome.
Request you to bear with the poor audio quality.
Business Standard has an interview with T Venkattram Reddy of Deccan Chronicle. Deccan Chronicle now claims a circulation of 3 lakh copies (not yet certified by ABC) in Chennai alone. If this report is to be believed, Deccan Chronicle’s circulation is higher than that of The Hindu in the Chennai market. Although DC has been growing fast it doesn’t have any USP to dethrone Hindu from the top slot. The Hindu claims that hawkers are buying DC and disposing them as waste paper as it is a lucrative business (Wonder how DC advertisers would react to this?). New Indian Express is claiming that its circulation went up after the entry of DC. There are too many contradictions. Let’s hope we hear the truth soon.
Everyone thought it would be The Times of India that would take on The Hindu in Chennai, but Reddy jumped the starter gun while The Times of India was still in the paddock.
The result has been a welter of claims, accusations and counter-accusations. The 125-year-old Hindu sells 10.47 lakh (1.05 million) copies across the country, of which 264,000 are in its Chennai fortress. Astonishingly enough, Reddy says he already sells 3 lakh copies from Chennai, less than six months after launch.
N Murali, joint managing director of The Hindu, says that the Deccan Chronicle's claims about a ramped up circulation are no more than clever artifice, that the Re 1 paper (in comparison with Rs 3.25 charged by The Hindu) doesn't reach readers at all, because it's more profitable for hawkers to sell it as waste paper.
Old style readers may continue to prefer The Hindu's sedate approach to news, its excellent production qualities and its high-brow opinion pieces (Karunanidhi once referred to the paper as the "Mahavishnu of Mount Road"), to the Deccan Chronicle's loud headlines and earthy content, but there is little doubt that the battle has been joined - and only partly because of the pricing games that Reddy has played (ICICI card-holders, for instance, can buy a whole year's copies of the Deccan Chronicle for just Rs 99).
My earlier posts on this subject:
Deccan Chronicle conquers Chennai, heads for Trichy and B’lore
Deccan Chronicle claims print run of 2 lakhs (July 2005)
Deccan Chronicle notches up a circulation of 1.50 lakhs (May 2005)
Dinamalar starts offering e-paper
Tamil newspaper Dinamalar has started offering an e-version of their newspaper (similar to e-paper of ToI). This is supposed to be a first for Tamil newspapers. Tamil Murasu already offers the same in a PDF format.
Well-known economist Bibek Debroy has conducted a study and according to the findings, Tamilnadu has been ranked as the best place to do business. Business Today does publish reports about the the Best States / Cities to Invest / do business and TN, Maharashtra and Gujarat are usually among the top ranking states.
The ideal family in advertising lore for the last four decades is also a simple one. One husband. One wife. Two kids. The first kid is a boy. The second one is a girl. The ideal age gap: three years.
Want to show an even better-adjusted family? Brand executives have the answer here. Show this ideal family of four with a senior citizen as well...swinging happily on a jhoola! This is a senior citizen-friendly family. A family that in true tradition of Indian culture and living respects the elderly in the house and makes their life comfortable in the evening of their lives. How unlike what we see in the US!
The family is getting smaller and smaller. The husband-wife and one kid scenario is well nigh a reality. Bring in this aspirational set for sure. And how about that one kid that is a girl child?
Indian advertising will soon start showing the different kinds of families. It will start with the one-child family. And then the no-child family. And then just a nuclear family. Just a couple, no kids. And then probably same-sex couples.And then will come the protest from the Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai!
ToI reporter poses as wannabe blogger and attends the Delhi Bloggers Meet. He then comes up with a report in Delhi Times trashing the Blogosphere.
TTG, the organizer of the meet explains it here. Did the ToI scribe think that Bloggers are like terrorists and hence he needs to hide his identity so as to get maximum mileage out of the event?
Looks like we need to have high entry barriers to these blog meets. Otherwise there will be more undercover journalists than bloggers and it will end up as a Journalist meet with bloggers doing the reporting.
DMK Supremo MK announced yesterday that his wife has sold her 20% share in Kalanidhi Maran’s Sun Network. Industry estimates put the worth of Sun Network at about Rs. 1000 Crores. If one goes by this estimate, the stake sale could be worth Rs. 200 Crores. SUN Network has a presence spanning all forms of media (Cable TV, Cable TV distribution, Print & FM Radio).
Out of the proceeds from the stake sale, MK’s wife seems to have passed on a portion to MK. The DMK chief has used this money to create a charitable trust with a corpus of Rs. 5 Crores.
There is lot of speculation about the reason behind the stake sale. With TN elections round the corner, this announcement should be a cause for cheer for the ruling camp. The Tamil Cable TV channels wield enormous influence over the TN electorate. Sun TV is leagues ahead of other channels in terms of TRP ratings and hence DMK can’t ignore Sun TV’s role in its earlier victories (Central and State elections).
MK is projecting Stalin as his successor and this might have not gone down well with some of the partymen / family members (??). Sun TV is known to black out a few people (MDMK’s Vaiko is one person whom I can recount) and they seem to have extended the blackout to MK Stalin as well. They have been using this time slot to promote the Union IT and Telecom Minister.
DMK does need a powerful media vehicle to face the TN electorate next year. In all likelihood, Sun TV will continue to promote DMK and its allies, but one is not sure whether DMK leadership can twist Sun TV’s arms to promote individual personalities. Sun TV also needs political backing as they need some amount of lobbying to conduct their activities. Although the relationship is strained, Sun TV will prefer to rally behind DMK as it has lots to gain if DMK wins the next elections. MK has stressed the word ‘amicable settlement’ in his press release so that it gives an indication to the public that all is well within the family.
Some media reactions
Karunanidhi did not reveal the total amount Ammal received for her 20% shares.The development also comes amidst speculation over the company going in for an IPO. A member of the Maran family said this ``arrangement’’ was on the cards for many months but refused to elaborate.
While sources in the family tell DNA that Karunanidhi has served an ultimatum on Sun Network MD and grand nephew Kalanidhi Maran to vacate the DMK headquarters premises (from where the channel is uplinking) within six months, there was at least one such innuendo in Karunanidhi’s two-page press release. “… (buildings at) 367-369 Anna Salai (which is also the address of the Sun TV office) have been under the management of the DMK Trust. I, M Karunanidhi am the founder of the Trust and have been functioning as the chairman of the Trust.”
But Maran family sources said Sun is unlikely to move out of its current office. Karunanidhi, who shared an emotional bonding with his nephew and former Union minister Murasoli Maran, is understandably not happy withMaran’s son Kalanidhi. Even as the 40-year-old US-educated Kalanidhi tried to expand his 13-channel media empire in a professional manner, Sun often had to dance to the DMK’s political tunes, risking its credibility and long-term gains.
“Both Karunanidhi and Kalanidhi have realised politics and media business cannot co-exist beyond a point,” says an insider. Once the division is complete, all eyes will be on Kalanidhi’s younger brother and Union IT minister Dayanidhi Maran, who was brought into politics and propelled to the cabinet berth by Karunanidhi.
New Indian Express
The move by Karunanidhi's family to divest from the Rs 600-crore Sun TV Group comes in the wake of speculation that the 82-year-old DMK patriarch is quite piqued with the channel's managers for virtually blacking out his son, MK Stalin, the DMK's deputy general secretary, who is being groomed to take over the DMK reins.While partymen hailed Kalaignar, as Karunanidhi is referred to in political circles, for his "extraordinary gesture'' in donating his money for a public cause, the move brought into open his displeasure with the Sun TV proprietor.In fact, Karunanidhi has made no secret about his differences with the channel's news coverage. There has been much heartburn within the party that the Sun TV Group headed by Kalanidhi Maran, brother of Dayandhi Maran, and son of Karunanidhi's favourite nephew, the late Murasoli Maran, was giving "poor coverage'' to the party and its heir apparent, Stalin.Recently the group bought over Tamil daily Dinakaran and even launched an eveninger Tamil Murasu. DMK followers have been complaining that Dinakaran, which in the past devoted much space for the party's views and ideologies, hardly gave space for it now.
A few years ago, Sun Network had planned to come out with an IPO (to raise about Rs 1,200 crore, it was said at that time), but the company's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Kalanithi Maran told Business Line in May that he had given up the idea. "Our internal reserves are good enough to take care of our future plans," he had said.
According to party sources, M Karunanidhi has decided to distance himself from the channel as he is unhappy with the channel turning cold towards his son M.K. Stalin, his heir-apparent. The DMK chief had openly expressed his displeasure at the channel's coverage of party affairs and once even asked a Sun cameraman to leave his press conference. Some DMK men said M Karunanidhi was also unhappy over the Sun group buying the Tamil daily Dinakaran. They complained that the good rapport they had enjoyed with the pro-DMK paper had vanished after the Marans took charge of it. Party sources also said that M Karunanidhi did not quite relish Sun TV telecasting one serial after another promoting superstition and "negating the rationalist ideals of the Dravidian movement." When someone questioned how the DMK could accommodate Sun TV in the same premises as the party headquarters even though the channel was propagating superstition, M Karunanidhi went on the defensive, saying that Sun TV was a mere tenant at Anna Arivalayam, party headquarters.
I didn't move to Bangalore because someone made me. I dropped out of business school and moved to Bangalore with my wife and two kids because I had the opportunity to come and help build a team here and because it was something I wanted to do.
The biggest myth is that India is chock full of highly trained and unemployed engineers that are practically begging to do your work.
The practical reality is that anyone in India who can spell Java already has a job. When we were first doing interviews I remember one particular period of time when there were two of us doing interviews continuously for two weeks straight without finding a single candidate worth bringing back for a second round. Admittedly I can be a tough (and technical) interviewer, but I've literally interviewed thousands of people over my 18 years in the industry and I've never had a tougher stretch. It reminded me of the internet boom years when everyone who had ever been a system administrator was suddenly a programmer and when you did find someone really good they wanted 3% of the company and a signing bonus. The only difference is that the current Indian market is ten times more difficult.
Ultimately we were forced only to interview people from the elite schools of India (IITs and the former RECs) in order to find a sufficiently high percentage of reasonably solid candidates to be able to wade our way out of the sea of me-too “engineers.” Even with this approach our hit rate for finding good engineers was much lower than I would have expected. It's not that good candidates don't exist from other schools it's just that you have to interview too many bad candidates to find the really good ones.
The problem is most emphatically NOT that Indians are bad engineers. I have hired some truly great (world class) engineers here, but they are very hard to pick out from the sea of less than stellar candidates.
The problem is purely economic. The demand has outstripped the supply for good engineers and as a result people who have no love for code (or even any like for it) have rushed in to fill the gap.
But veteran bloggers will warn you about these celebrity blogs. Journalist and host of one of the most popular Indian blogs (indiauncut) Amit Varma says, “These blogs would draw an initial response from the fans, but once they realise there is no value to be derived, they’ll stop visiting them.”
Author of Simoquin Prophecies and a blogger, Samit Basu is in no mood to come to the rescue of these star blogs. “They are fake and mostly ghost written,” he says. “Besides most stars use this space for publicity.” But what’s wrong with that, one may ask. It is a free space after all. Varma argues, “Blogging is as wide a term as writing. And just as you have all kinds of writers, you have all kinds of bloggers too.” Each celebrity blogger thus brings in his/her own touch to the blogs. Take Rahul Khanna’s posts for example (on intentblog). At times tongue-in-cheek, witty and at times heart-rendingly boyish in his sentiments, we came across one of his posts on intentblog.“Blogstipationn. Inability to post regularly.”And then a post that begins thus,“A Love Lost, I lost someone very dear to me last week.My hard drive.She took her own life.”We’d like to believe these ramblings are your very own Mr
Khanna. Cannot imagine otherwise.
On a more serious vein, Nandita Das, straddles the many worlds of activism, cinema and introspection with ease. Whether it is defending the case for regional cinema or simply recounting the dilemmas of a friend about to take on American citizenship, her blogs read much like her films, provocative, contentious, at times edgy and at others unabashedly simple. Adept at story-telling, Shekhar Kapur’s blog posts read like pithy short-stories. His ‘inability’ to grasp Delhi’s reaction to the bomb blasts (even as a part of the city mourned the loss of lives, another kept its date with a Chanel fashion show), his encounter with a certain Patel running a motel in the US, all find a voice in his blog.
Varma and Co would like to argue that there is nothing esoteric about blogging (“there is no community as such”) and it is genuinely a free-for-all, the power and reach of which is just about registering. So while you have a Gaurav Sabnis, fighting for his right to blog against a powerful but controversy-ridden institution, you also have a Bipasha Basu surrounded by men anxious to pamper her, so that she can post a blog about her ‘serious’ turn. Unconstrained by word limits (you have can write anything from a single word to a 1000-word or more piece), unfettered by editorial guidelines (a reason why journos particularly love this space), unhinged by deadlines (that’s particularly appealing to media persons), blogs ensure a dedicated and active readership. “It is a very honest space,” adds Varma. “One that involves both the writer and the reader in a journey.” So let the sublime and the ridiculous co-exist in harmony in blogosphere, even as they battle it out in real life. Amen.
Much has been made about us Indians becoming forces to reckon with globally. Aur jee hanh zaroor, we’re surely represented by rabbit-like-multiplying numbers. There was a honeymooning couple speaking Mani Ratnamish Tamil in the golden walled elevator of the uppercrust Plaza hotel (I was just riding up and down to get the swank feel). A pebbles’s throw away, the mega-fun shop Toys ‘R’ Us is sprinkled with inter-racial couples snapping up Spielbergian rubber dinosaurs, Disney’s Mickey Mice and big grinning panda bears which will have to suffer the ignominy of being scanned for suspected detonating devices by the X-ray machines at the JFK, Newark or Le Guardia airport terminals. Whatever man, whatever. And Asha Bhosle is with me in the yellow-‘n’-black taxi rattled by a Bangladeshi, drowning the police car’s hoots with a tape of the Umrao Jaan classic, “Yeh kya jageh hai doston.” Apt, very apt.
American pals promise to treat me to a sit-down dinner, I want Greek or Vietnamese. They suggest that Indian cuisine is the thing to do, so we do. They’re picking up the tab, after all., The vibrant New York magazine informs that Saravanaas is the table to be at, serving “thalis, round metal trays ringed by small metal bowls are the ultimate combination plate and a great way to experience this spartan southern Indian restaurant’s satisfying vegetarian fare. Dosas are a delight: seasoned crépes made from fermented rice and lentil flours, filled with mashed spiced potatoes, onions, raisins and nuts.” Deliciousam.
Aiyyo, but when we get there, the eatery is more stuffed than the highlighted dosas. No entry. We do Greek then. And next morning it’s back to the run, amigo, run sprint in Manhattan. Incorrigibly, as I ask for directions again, the blonde in a business suit smiles radiantly, “You Indian?”
The numbers should tell you all you need to know: There are an estimated 20 million bloggers out there. Now, we can assume that 90 percent, even 99 percent, are largely novelties put up by folks who stick their Web journals up for a few weeks then move on to something else, perhaps adding a new entry every month or two.
But even in the most pessimistic scenario, that still leaves 200,000 serious bloggers out there, scattered throughout the world, talking about everything under the sun, from politics to pet care, shoes to spelunking. That's 200,000 entrepreneurial startups, 50 times that of the number of new dot-coms a decade ago. That's more than enough critical mass to kick off a boom.
Popular bloggers tend to have dedicated bands of readers, most of whom have similar interests as well as faith in the blogger’s judgement and integrity. And if a blogger genuinely wants to write about something, he will go ahead and do it — there are none of the complications (editorial policies, space constraints) inherent in getting a write-up in a mainstream newspaper or magazine. This makes the medium very attractive to those who are willing to explore alternate channels. One industry that has been blog-savvy for some time is publishing, partly because some of the most intense specialised blogging is of the literary variety. A couple of months ago, Simon & Schuster got in touch with a few bloggers offering to send them books and asking if they would be willing to write about them. Among those who responded was Patrix, a US-based Indian blogger.
One stumbling block is that it’s difficult to collect tangible data about the extent to which bloggers affect offline developments. It’s true that there are reliable site counters to track the number of unique hits each blog gets.
It’s also true that the blogging community can be very effective when the stakes are high — many of the leading Indian bloggers (especially journalist-bloggers, an ever-increasing tribe) are well-connected enough in the offline world to make a big noise, and even a difference, when the cause is one they feel strongly about. But determining the precise effect of a blogger’s post is another matter.
In India, it’s no secret (at least not in the literary community) that publishers blog-trawl in search of promising new talent, and even send out feelers to bloggers asking if they have ideas for short fiction or a novel.
The MSM has the money and the infrastructure. Over the centuries, it has perfected the art of converting print into dollars. But the MSM is also in trouble, losing both customers and legitimacy at a shocking rate. The recent circulation scandals among the nation's leading newspapers, the Dan Rather/"60 Minutes" fiasco, and now the astonishing self-destruction of The New York Times, show just how desperate and troubled the MSM has become.What the MSM lacks, the blogosphere has in spades: energy, momentum, and a growing audience. But what bloggers lack is money — bloggers have yet to find an efficient way to turn their hard work into revenue … and until they do, blogging will always be a lonely sidelight, vulnerable to dying with the next missed mortgage check.Natural antagonists, the mainstream media and the blogosphere now need to find a way to work together — or both the news and publishing professions will find themselves in an even worse crisis than they are in now, and all of us will be the worse for it. That's why this summit is over-subscribed, and last minute sign-ups were still taking place even as I got on the plane yesterday.
Affordable, docile, easy to have around the house. Child workers have become a popular solution for India's new yuppies, as working parents search for cheap staff to help them juggle their professional and domestic responsibilities.
Traffickers have established a lucrative network of employment agencies, recruiting large numbers of children from impoverished rural villages to work as cleaners, maids and nannies for a flourishing generation of newly rich city professionals.
When asked, most employers say that they are rescuing young rural girls from desperate poverty, providing them with a better lifestyle, treating them like daughters and generally performing a commendable act of charity.
And in case I may be mistaken for the chaprasi of my institution, I better make sure that not only my title and designation are present, but also my degrees... not just the recent one, but those for which I spent ages warming the backbenches of the class-room.While I am at it, why not put the name of the institution also in parenthesis, especially when I know how difficult it was to gain admission to it.
Most Indian publishers would've balked at the advance Penguin India paid for Vikram Seth's Two Lives: Rs 1 million. But with his band-baaja five-metro tour barely concluding, it is Penguin who is doing the smirking: the first print run of 25,000 copies is already sold out. There goes yet another publishing wisdom: there are no takers—or not enough—for pricey, literary hardbacks.