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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Friday, June 30, 2006

More Public Aggregators from India

The launch of MyToday has created increased activity in the public aggregator space. Bharat1 and eNewss are the ones that have caught my eye recently. These sites are very much identical in content (as they syndicate most of the popular Indian MSM sites), but try to differentiate themselves through the layout / presentation. One wonders whether the space is so big for so many public aggregators to bloom. The MyToday team has put together an extensive reading list comprising some of the best MSM resources from India and elsewhere. In that sense MyToday is comprehensive and also has an early mover advantage. Bharat1's layout is quite cool as it allows you to drag and drop the various boxes based on your preference. Among these three, eNewss is the only one which has turned to Google Adsense to generate money. eNewss offers all its content under its main page and has categorized blogs according various broad topics so that readers can use that as a guidance when they look for specific content. Another public aggregator which is still in its infancy stage is India47. I'm sure all these sites are going to spruce up their content and layout based on constructive feedback from the readers.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Himesh Reshammiya in Tamil

Bollywood music directors haven't had much success in Tamil music industry. You hardly see any of them signing up for Tamil films. I was surprised to read that Himesh Reshammiya has been signed up to do the music for Kamal's Dasavatharam. ARR was supposed to do this movie and he backed out subsequently. I'm not too sure whether Himesh can make an impact in Kollywood. I think K S Ravikumar and Kamal are making a big gamble for this big budget movie.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Singapore needs.....

It's Derek from Delhi

Graeme Philpson of The Sydney Morning Herald spends some time in a Delhi call centre and gives us a snapshot what happens inside the call centre. The tone indicates that Australia and the rest of the world are more to such Indian call centres than ever before.

A new worker in a call centre, armed with a university degree, earns about $300 a month. A programmer will earn about $500. That may not sound like a lot but it goes much further in a country where a good haircut costs a dollar and a new car less than $10,000.

You and I might regard unsolicited telephone calls from India or elsewhere as a bit of pain. It's certainly an irritation but it's also a massive business employing hundreds of thousands of people.

There is much more to it than out-bound telemarketing. These call centres also handle airline reservations, insurance claims, help desks, political campaigning - you name it. And they are getting better at it.

The bottom line remains someone trying to sell you something but they are getting cleverer at doing it.

And they are not about to disappear from our lives any time soon.

Corporate Blogging in Indian MSM

When we think about corporate blogs in the Indian media, the first example, which comes to our mind, is the Blogs section of IBN Live. Other sites are slowly realizing that they can also create an identity by taking this path. Business Standard is considered a laggard when it comes to tech savviness. Most of the Indian MSM sites offer RSS feeds and some of them even offer their paper in the e-paper format. Indian Express and Financial Express offer their content using RSS feeds and also the e-paper format. Business Standard has been slow to react to its competition and has not offered any of these options through its site. Surprisingly, they have put together a separate blogs section where some of it’s own journalists will be penning their thoughts on various topics. Although the blogs page of Business Standard has a link called RSS / ATOM feed, the feeds don’t seem to be working :-(

Mumbai based DNA has three blogs Life, Technology and Politics. Since some of these are not frequently updated, they have failed to get noticed. Moneycontrol.com has a frequently updated Tech Blog, which tries to promote the tech shows on its group channels (CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN). I doubt whether people will turn to Moneycontrol for a tech blog. Moneycontrol and CNBC India are strong brands in the business and finance space and they would be better off creating a finance related blog. D Murali, Deputy Editor of The Hindu Business Line has been putting up some of his MSM articles in various thematic blogs created for this purpose. Since these blogs just link / reproduce the original article, they might not find favour with the audience. Eventhough the Indian media houses have their own domain, some of them have chosen to take the Blogspot route to host their blogs.

Are you aware of any another popular blog in the Indian MSM?

Update: Business Standard feeds are up and running.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Dress Code For Shattered Accountants

The obsession with Dress Code continues:

For chartered accountants, jeans and tees may no longer be in. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) plans to specify a ‘dress code’ that would discourage casual dressing manners of CAs.

Broadly, what ICAI president TN Manoharan has in mind is full sleeve shirts, ties and shoes. The institute, which is also the regulator for the profession, would not, however, mind members in pajama kurta or dhoti kurta, since these are nationally-recognised.

The effort, it seems, is to jazz up the image of CAs and lend them a corporate look. The dress code, to be formally announced soon, will be optional initially.

Luckily, the institute has clarified that this rule will apply only to business meetings. If the ICAI wants to do micro-policing, they could even go ahead and suggest a uniform for the members.

It is better that the ICAI lets the members decide on their own attire as the professional would be the right person to decide on the right attire for a particular business event.

Sivaji - The Leaks Continue

(via) If you look at the entire photo set carefully, they don't look like latest snaps. They seem to be the ones which were shot during the launch of the movie.

Top Billing For Superstar

It is a well known fact that Superstar is among the highest paid film stars in India. About six months ago, there was a report on remuneration of various film stars and it was mentioned that Rajini was the highest paid Indian film star and he ranked second in the whole of Asia (behind Jackie Chan). CNN-IBN has dug up the same article and presented it with some disputable facts.

Rajnikanth's last release Chandramukhi reportedly grossed over Rs 70 crore in 2006 - this with a mere regional audience and without an NRI following like Bollywood movies have.

Rajnikaanth is the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan. While Chan might earn 68-70 Crores (in rupees), Rajni officiaally (sic) earned 14 crores for Chandramuki officially. He also gets a percentage of collection.

Hindi movies do enjoy a good following globally, but Tamil movies also have a reasonably large global viewerbase. You can easily come up with a list of atleast 10 countries (small and big) where Rajini movies get released. Unconfirmed reports put Rajini’s share of the Chandramukhi collection at 50%. He could have earned about Rs. 25 – 30 crores as his share from the distributor profits. This is in addition to his pay of Rs. 15 Crores. So, Rajini could have made about Rs. 40 crores from Chandramukhi.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Krrish Gets Boinged......

......and we finally get to see some pics of the Singapore shooting like this one from Robinson Road (Raffles Place). Since Papa Roshan & Co. tried to prevent people from taking snaps during the shooting, there was some amount of anxiety about the pics (especially Hrithik's role). Now that the movie is slated for release this weekend, they can't keep the pics under wraps any more. I think the STB really needs to think about the kind of projects they want to associate themselves with. Viewers of Sun TV would have noticed that the recent episodes of the mega-serial Selvi was filmed in S'pore. I don't think the Tourism Board would have got enough mileage by using a mega-serial like Selvi. Selvi also contained major flaws that the STB could have tried to avoid if they had vetted the entire filming and given inputs to Radhika & Co.

The Key To Upward Mobility

Ask anyone who has changed mobile handsets (from one brand to another) recently and he/she will tell you that the transition has been less than smooth. One of the problems is the functionality of the various keys. Unlike a (QWERTY) computer keyboard, where most of the keys (especially the space bars, alphabets and the numbers) are standardized, handset manufacturers have not done much to arrive at some sort of common denominator for the keypad. The first issue people notice is the placement of the space bars, special character keys. People who are adept at messaging at razor speed would find their speed considerably reduced as they try to get acclimatized to the new handset. Even basic functions like screen lock / keypad lock seems to be differ from handset to handset. A standardized keypad should be a big boon to consumers migrating from one handset to the other. Are the handset manufacturers listening?

Mix and Match

Reliance Industries is now under the Mukesh Ambani fold, but this Channel News Asia report wrongly shows the new corporate logo of Reliance-ADAG group alongside the news report pertaining to RIL. While you are at it, do notice the similarity in the CNA logo and the red portion of the Reliance – ADAG logo.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Evolution of Tamil Film Music

As part of the Outlook special issue on Hindi Film Music, Theodore Baskaran has a piece on the evolution of Tamil Film Music.

Today, film music is all-pervasive in Tamil Nadu. It enjoys a popularity that has few parallels in history. It has transcended categorisations-an important development in a non-egalitarian society.

(1976)-Today, no other artiste personifies the popularity of film music as does Ilayaraja. He entered Tamil films in the mid-1970s, when there was stagnation in film music. Ilayaraja's creations came as a whiff of fresh air. The song that made him famous in his debut film Annakili Annakili unnai theduthu (Annam is looking for you)-was authentic folk. In his 30 years in cinema, he has composed music for more than 1,000 films in Tamil and four other languages.

Even as Ilayaraja was dominating the scene, A.R. Rahman made his debut with the film Roja (1993) and went on to introduce world sounds and New Age music to our film score. Rahman's stress has been more on songs than on background score. Unlike Ilayaraja, he accentuates the independent aural character of film songs; they aren't necessarily linked to the onscreen images or the characters singing them.

Don't you think the TFM Industry is more fragmented than ever before?

Friends Again

During the recent TN elections, there was a remark that Amma was not keen on sharing the dias with her coalition partners and that indicated that there was some friction between the alliance partners. Amma has realized this a bit too late and made up for it last week when she 'joined hands' with Vaiko and Thiruma during the agitation for the fuel price hike:

"I want to hold your hands" is Jayalalitha's post-election credo. The AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha has been literally trying to hold on to her allies after she lost the assembly polls. But this new bonhomie took MDMK leader Vaiko and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Thirumavalavan by surprise at an anti-fuel price hike demonstration. They were not sure of what was happening as Amma indicated that they stand close to her for what seemed like a photo-op. But Jayalalitha then grabbed their hands and held them aloft even as Vaiko and Thirumavalavan felt a little shy. Usually, no one is allowed to even be in physical proximity to Amma. At best, for the photographers' benefit, only bouquets and smiles are offered. Being in 'touch' with the AIADMK leader is out of the question. Amma seems to have slowly learned to value her allies.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mika Singh With An Extre 'E'

A Blooper from Chennai Online:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Trade Unions Teach You To Fall Sick

The term Trade Union reminds you of an old institution often indulging in protests to show their dissent about the privatization of PSUs and demanding pay hikes for their employees. Trade Unions in UK have gone one step ahead and have offered tips on how to take sick leave during the Football World Cup. This has sparked off a big debate and has obviously not gone down well with the employers.

Just take a ‘sickie’?

It is quite difficult to prove that someone is not really sick if they have one day off; and most sick policies provide for the employee to self certificate for the first day off. But if you have a few days off which happen to be match days your employer may will notice a pattern to your sickness which might be used as evidence that sickness is not really the issue.

Hyderabad Cops....

....need to do some home work. What better training ground than robbing from the house of a policeman?

Kannagi from the eyes of an outsider

Eric Miller tries to answer lot of questions surrounding Kannagi in this opinion piece in The Hindu.

Kannagi proved that even a non-native with no money and no family in sight can fight City Hall and win her case — that is inspiring.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Exits....

....in the call center space. Don't be surprised if the Western media plays it up.

Indian Music Sites Wake Up To Reality

We are living in an age where a new site offering download of Indian film songs crops almost up everyday. The temptation is so huge that most of us succumb to it. The music industry has been on a consistent decline because of the growth of piracy. Piracy existed even when cassettes were popular, but the rapid changes in technology have led to rampant piracy. Back in the 90s, lot of producers used to recover their entire movie costs through the sale of audio rights. Most of the early ARR movies fetched audio revenue in excess of the movie’s budget. Those were the days when (Tamil) audio CDs were priced between Rs. 350 & 400. Most of the Tamil audio CDs are now available under Rs. 100. My understanding is that the audio sales (in value terms) have reached an all time low as a result of lesser retail sales volume, fall in the retail price of CDs / cassettes and the widespread piracy. 24 hour FM channels and music channels (on TV) have resulted in the fall in demand for music albums.

Galatta.com and Raaga.com, two leading film-related sites have started offering legal download of Tamil film songs. Galatta.com plans to offer legal downloads in other South Indian languages as well.

According to Mr. Ramdas, music from Galatta.com is placed between the record labels and free downloads. Albums are priced between Rs.35 and Rs.100 an album, but the advantage of downloading instead of buying the CD "is that you can buy a single song to download, priced between Rs.12 and Rs.15 a song. The songs are available in MP3 and Real Player format."

The sites need some finetuning to do. Raaga has differential pricing for downloads from India and the rest of the world. Indian customers pay Rs. 12 per song whereas the rest will pay $0.99 per song. It is better if they fix a uniform global price as the entire web operates on such a phenomenon. This is how other music download sites and VoIP services operate. They don’t differentiate between people living in different countries. Further Raaga’s FAQ says that the songs can’t be transferred to popular personal music devices like iPODs. Raaga’s downloads can only be transferred to other players like Creative. One of the main reasons why people download music is to transfer it to their personal music device (mobile phone / MP3 player). If Raaga is going to promote only download to desktops, listeners would be better off streaming from Raaga's site rather than paying for a file which is going to lie in the desktop.

If these sites fine tune their strategy and offer superior quality audio, they might find favour with the audience. Till then, the Lankasris and Mohankumars of the world will continue to remain in the limelight.

Filbert has a related post here.

Shortage of Names Hits Kollywood

We just saw Thiruttu Payale. Now we have Kedi, Poriki, Pokiri, Thirudi & Thimir. God knows what’s going to be next.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Dearth Of India Stories

TIME Asia has a special feature on India. The issue has a special photo series on Mumbai and Mangalore. Like other recent features, there is a separate piece on the growing divide between the rich and the poor.

On the brighter side, Mumbai is painted as the “City of Dreams” as it continues to be home for people aspiring to make it big in business and Bollywood. Mayank points out that the article on Mumbai contains some inaccuracies relating to Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. The story on outsourcing warns that global majors might be forced to think of other destinations due the steep rise in Indian salaries. On the business front, there is a piece on the transformation of the Tata group and their ambitious international foray. The more interesting articles are the ones about the manufacturing boom and the India – China comparison.

K-Series Talk Shows

Just like Ekta Kapoor’s K series serials, we have another parallel K series going on. I’m referring to the K series talk shows by the likes of Karan Johar and Karan Thapar. Both of them come across as artificial. Karan Thapar also believes that putting on an arrogant tone might be an easy way to win over the audience. It doesn’t work everytime. If you get time, do watch Karan Thapar’s 25-minute interview with FM P Chidambaram on the reservation debate. During the interview, PC repeatedly pointed out that Karan Thapar was quibbling. Here’s a funny bit from the interview:

Karan Thapar: This is not a tax matter. This is an issue that affects the future of people in India.
P Chidambaram: Everything affects the people of India.

Karan Thapar: Its an issue that has been challenged. When the government is asked what’s the basis on which you have announced 27 per cent reservation in higher education for the OBCs. It’s an amazing thing to say the government will answer in due course. The government needs to give an answer today.
P Chidambaram: I am sorry the government does not have to answer you in an interview.

Karan Thapar: Its not me its the people of India.
P Chidambaram: Government will answer in the proper forum in Parliament in the Supreme Court not in an interview conducted by you.

Karan Thapar: But you can’t tell the people of India today.
P Chidambaram: I have told you about the material. Shall I say it in Tamil for a change?

Karan Thapar: No don’t say it in Tamil.

Update: Those interested in viewing the earlier BBC Hard Talk interview with Jayalalitha can access the BBC Archive here.

Have (Strong) Hands, Will Carry (More)

Carry as much as weight as you can in a standard size bag as cabin baggage but with a condition that you will have to lift it unaided.

This is the good news from the British Airways to its customers as the airlines announced that from early July passengers travelling on its flight across the globe can carry one standard-size bag and one briefcase as hand baggage on all flights without any weight restrictions.

This rule change by British Airways could work to the benefit of young travellers. BA should probably clarify whether senior citizens can take help from other passengers, as some of them might not be strong enough to lift overweight luggage. Knowing the general Indian tendency to carry more, it would be interesting to see how BA applies this rule to the India sector.

The Bangalore Boom And The Detroit Doom

Shikha Dalmia writes about the rise and fall of Detroit and indicates some areas where Detroit can learn a thing or two from Bangalore. It is a lengthy article, but definitely worth a read:

Giant multinationals such as Microsoft, Intel, and Dell are cramming the city with glittering new glass-and-steel buildings. Every inch of real estate in the city proper has been spoken for, pushing Indian computer behemoths such as Infosys and Wipro to erect their sprawling, lush, and unabashedly opulent campuses on the outskirts. Hotels ranging from the sumptuously luxurious five-star Leela Palace to the low-budget Woodlands run at full capacity. Trendy little boutiques and high-rise malls selling everything from ethnic wares to Western goods are everywhere. New restaurants featuring Italian and Thai food are challenging the culinary domination of traditional Indian restaurants.

Bangalore has also made an important mistake. By favoring the I.T. industry with measures that range from preferential tax treatment to outright land grabs it has created a town too dependent on a single industry. In that respect, it could learn a sobering lesson from Detroit’s sad decline.

Although the over dependence on a particular sector can amount to trouble during a recession, the cluster phenomenon is still popular as it has its own benefits. How else can we explain the creation of sectoral hubs in various parts of the country?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NDTV's Southern Focus

Close of the heals of CNN-IBN’s Simply South, NDTV comes up with an initiative which enables viewers in some of the Southern states to get region specific programming. The common complaint was that the news channels were heavily focused on Mumbai and New Delhi as most of them have big establishments (HQ) there. Rajdeep Sardesai even acknowledged this in an earlier blog post. CNN-IBN made a conscious attempt to woo viewers from the South by having special series like “Eye on Bangalore” and “Tamil Blockbuster”.

The Prannoy Roy-promoted NDTV Ltd can now offer region specific programming with the introduction of opt-out telecast technology.

NDTV 24X7 today announced the launch of Southern Edition, a daily news programme for its viewers in Southern India. Starting 12 June, the viewers in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala will be able to watch region specific news and programmes. The southern specific telecast will be extended to Andhra Pradesh soon.

Opt-out telecast allows NDTV 24X7 to air Southern Edition while the rest of the country continues to watch the national telecast.

Southern Edition will air every weekday on NDTV 24x7 at 7:30 pm. On weekends, the channel will bring a bouquet of special programs for the viewers of these states, the statement says.

NDTV has lot of other issues to attend to. It’s website looks more like a public sector website. NDTV site comes across as a poor cousin to the CNN-IBN site.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Outsourcing the CEO

NYT makes a case for the CEO of US Corporations to be outsourced to Bangalore / Beijing. CEO compensation has been a issue of intense debate in the US and that is one of the key reasons cited by Lawrence Orlowski and Florian Lengyel in this NYT piece.

China, India and other emerging markets offer shareholders a virtually unlimited talent pool from which to draw chief executives. With an increased supply of candidates, a truly independent corporate compensation committee would be easily able to hire superior leaders at salaries and benefits that are a small fraction of what their American counterparts in those fancy corner offices demand.

Also, given the importance placed on performing well in science and math in countries like China and India, it would be more likely that an offshored chief executive would have had a rigorous technical education instead of degrees in the "softer" management disciplines that are common at American business schools. Critics may question whether it is wise for an American company to have its chief executive in Bangalore or Beijing. But this is the thinking of a bygone era. More and more corporate chiefs say that they do not want their companies to be seen as American anymore. Cisco's chief executive, John Chambers, has declared, "What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company."

MK’s Weakness For Kannagi

Outlook spices up the news surrounding the re-installation of Kannagi State in Chennai:

On his 83rd birthday, Tamil Nadu CM M. Karunanidhi ensured that Kannagi's statue was back at the Marina Beach. In December 2001, then CM J. Jayalalitha cited bad vaastu and got it removed. Karunanidhi was heart-broken. In Tamil literature, Kannagi, the heroine of the Sangam-era epic Silappadikaram, is known as the icon of chastity. While Karunanidhi would have us believe that with the statue, Tamil self-respect has been restored, he's got another quite romantic reason. The model for the statue was Kalpana, a 1960s actress-socialite, whom Karunanidhi fancied. In 1968, the C.N. Annadurai government installed 40 statues, of which Karunanidhi inaugurated only Kannagi's. But it is more the model (Kalpana) than the symbol (Kannagi) that gave Karunanidhi solace.

Friday, June 09, 2006

IBNLive.com Goes The IndiaTimes Way

IBNLive.com was one of the better MSM sites, but it is showing signs of emulating Indiatimes.

A New Addition To The Vegetarian Family

If the Madhya Pradesh Fisheries Minister has his way, vegetarians worldwide would have a new eating option. The Minister has said that prawns are very similar in nature to eggs and since eggs have been considered as vegetarian (??), prawns should also be given the same vegetarian status. (Hat-Tip: Eshwar)

Madhya Pradesh Fisheries Minister Moti Kashyap is facing an angry backlash from the state's Jain community for having claimed that prawns are vegetarian food.

In his eagerness to promote prawn culture in Madhya Pradesh, Kashyap has put forth arguments that haven't gone down too well with some.

"Like eggs, the protein content in prawns is very high. Both are covered in shells. Scientists consider eggs vegetarian. Therefore, I have labelled prawns as vegetarian too," he said.

Other similarities suggested by Kashyap are that eggs and prawns both solidify after being boiled, and like poultry eggs do not hatch, prawns too do not reproduce in fresh water.

Since the Minister’s convincing skills are pretty good, I strongly recommend that the Union Petroleum Ministry use his skills to justify the petro price hike.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Chennai Says, ‘Hello, Moto’

Teacher Manmohan Singh’s most trusted (?) and brightest student Dayanidhi Maran gets another A+ as Motorola unveils its plans to start a manufacturing facility at Sriperumbudur near Chennai. Motorola has committed an initial investment of US$ 30 Million and this could potentially go upto US$ 100 Million. This is smaller when compared to the US$ 150 Million investment made by Nokia in its handset plant near Chennai.

More than 40 percent of the software that goes into Motorola Inc.'s (MOT.N) iconic and ultra-thin RAZR handset is developed in its Indian R&D facility.

Nokia (NOK1V.HE) controls nearly half the $2.5 billion Indian handset market and its suppliers are investing about $150 million in its Chennai unit, which makes a few million handsets a month.

Following Nokia’s footsteps, its vendors also set up shop near the Nokia plant. One can expect a similar move from Motorola’s vendors as well.

This is probably the first major investment that has been announced after the DMK government took charge in the state. It is still not clear whether the state government has given some special concessions like subsidized land / tax subsidies to attract Motorola to TN.

Bachchan Jr. strikes a chord with TN based firms

Abhishek Bachchan seems to be preferred choice for brand ambassador for some of the companies having big operations in TN. He already appears in Ford campaigns and Motorola also signed him as the brand ambassador recently. The other major company is TVS, but they have already roped in Surya.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

‘Jithan’ Ramesh speaks in Englipis


Thanks to Silverscreen for bringing this to our attention.

Car Pooling Is Here

The fuel price hike is the talk of the town, and what better time to announce the launch of an Indian Car Pooling Website?

On website commuters are able to post their own carpool ads in the carpool section or search for ads according to city, area and pin code thereby getting sharp and accurate results, all for free.

There is also a privacy option where users can hide personal information and manage responses to their carpool ads via the online mailbox itself, this is a useful feature for women who want a carpool but are hesitant of putting their contact information online.

Indimoto.com is offering free listing of car pool ads and might plan to charge for the ads at a later date. I guess Indimoto will try to build a community and then start charging for the ads. One of the main problems with car-pooling is the co-ordination element. It is generally easy in the mornings as the people who are part of a car pool might leave for work around the same time. However, each of the car pool members might wind up their work at different times and hence people end up using their own mode of transport in the evening.

BTW, the guys at Indimoto also have a not-so-publicized blog.

Update: Rajan informs me about the Mumbai Carpool Project, which has been in existence for some time.

Raja Teams Up With RGV

Sounds interesting now, but we need to wait and see whether IR can recreate some of his old magic:

After seventeen long years, Ram Gopal Varma and music composer Ilaiyaraaja will be coming together for the director's forthcoming Shiva. Incidentally, the two had worked together on RGV's first film, also titled Shiva. The filmmaker is known to not pay any heed to market trends. So despite Ilaiyaraaja's last Hindi film Mumbai Xpress not being a big musical hit, RGV has still signed him on.

The Quest For The Ideal Indiblog Directory

Getting listed in a blog directory is one of the time-tested ways of attracting traffic. The Indian Blogosphere already boasts of more than 5 blog directories. Each of them is different in a particular way. Indian Bloggers, BlogDesam and Blogstreet India seem to have the most number of listings. Indian Bloggers has built up a list of about 1700 Indian blogs. They classify the blogs into various categories and also rank the blogs based on the number of hits received on a weekly basis. BlogDesam has an aggregation service in which their home page features the latest posts written by bloggers who have registered with their directory. Blogstreet India is a static directory, which goes by the number of incoming links (measured by Blogrolling.com) to rank the various blogs. Blogstreet India model has some serious flaws and I had tried to touch upon those in an earliest post.

Indian Bloggers seems to have caught the fancy of the Indian blogosphere as lots of bloggers have registered with it. The category wise listing also helps as some people might be looking for specific blogs on food, stocks etc. Inspite of sending multiple emails and feedback to Indian Bloggers, their team is not keen on cleaning up their site. Week after week, you see a music download site (IndiaFMS.com) being listed as the number 1 blog. I fail to understand how a music download site can be classified as a blog. Apart from this, you have some blogs, which reproduce videos and photos from other sites and post them on their blog. Lot of this is adult content. Blogs like Time Pass Videos, Must See Videos and Negar Khan Photos seem to be the most prominent ones. How can genuine blogs be featured alongside such blogs, which don’t carry any original content? These tasteless blogs have been started with the primary motive of earning Adsense revenue. If this trend continues, the blogs featuring pictures of Mallika Sherawat, Namitha and Negar Khan will rule supreme in Indian Bloggers directory. Genuine bloggers might even prefer to delist from these directories as none of us can stand up to the challenge of the filmi celebrity sites and MP3 download sites.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

NRN on Infy’s Past and Future

Yale Global’s Nayan Chanda interviews N R Narayanamurthy for the Online edition of Yale Global. NRN talks about some of the initial roadblocks during the license raj. He also explains some of the current issues like the challenges in managing a massive global workforce and in managing diversity.

Chanda: The rapid growth of outsourcing is very good news for a country like India or China. But one sees an increasing concern in Europe and the US about white-collar jobs leaving the country and going outside. Do you see that this could be a drag on your business?

Murthy: You know my view is that people in glass houses should not throw stones at others. After all, what we are doing is what we were preached to do by the rest of the nations. My European friends, my American friends, told me umpteen times in the 1980s how India should become more and more open, how India should open up its borders, how India should reduce its tariffs, how India should allow competition from multinationals, etc. I agreed with all of them. All we’ve been doing is implementing the ideas that they have been propounding. So, at this point in time, just because the shoe pinches a little bit, I don’t think we should go back on those principles.

So my view is, at the end of that day is that we’re making corporations in the US, in Europe, in Japan, in other countries, more competitive, not just for selling in their own countries, but in other countries. So just as we accepted liberalization, just as we opened up our borders, I believe that western nations, too, would gain from such open access.

The above reply by NRN is very much similar to Tom Friedman's response to the anti-outsourcing lobby in The World is Flat.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Hindu responds to a blog allegation

Few days I had linked to this post by Churumuri on DesiPundit. The piece talked about an apology issued by The Hindu with regard to an Open Page article about the Indian participation in an auto show in Germany. The blog post had questioned the motive behind The Hindu’s apology. The Readers’ Editor make a reference to this blog post in his weekly column and gives a detailed response.

The reader's query was a legitimate one and called for an answer. On a different plane were the insinuations and assumptions in a commentary by Arvind Swaminathan on churumuri.wordpress.com, the website run out of Mysore "by a bunch of talented, if somewhat obsessed Mysoreans," as Ramachandra Guha put it. For this was another opportunity to decry N. Ram, The Hindu's Editor-in-Chief. "Staffers in The Hindu," according to this commentary, were aghast at this surrender to corporate forces, represented by an automotive firm (factually inaccurate), with advertising clout. With glee, it pointed out that the Editor had not included any reference to the date of publication of the article in question, missing the fact that the date was in the preceding item to which the apology was tagged.

Even more amusing was the query whether before publishing the apology, Mr. Ram had consulted K. Narayanan, the Readers' Editor, "whom he touts as the panacea of [sic] all journalistic ills in the country." Why his "sources" in The Hindu, whom he cites again and again, did not give this information to him is a matter for conjecture. The barb aimed at me shows lack of understanding.

I don’t know how Churumuri is going to react to the above response. This elaborate response shows that The Hindu is interested in responding to some of the criticisms made by the blogosphere. This kind of response will probably prompt more people to come out in the open. Will The Hindu also care to explain why they refused to carry Sevanti Ninan’s column on Sun TV?

Update: Churumuri has a ten point response. It would be interesting to see whether The Hindu takes this debate further and responds to some of the questions posed by Arvind Swaminathan of Churumuri.

A Fine Blog

When it comes to writing articles about blog libel, ToI and ET lead the pack.

Irate college kids are blissfully venting their frustration against professors, toppers and even celebrities in a language mothers would not approve of. Corporates are hiring bloggers to abuse their rivals, in a professional fashion. They name people and indulge in online character assassination. One such paid blogger hurled a series of unmentionables in Hindi against a rival.

The option to remain anonymous only helps their cause. Recently, a man who had just started blogging found that someone else had been making unparliamentary comments on him on the blog and, strangely, in his name.

If the blogger makes a defamatory statement, both the website hosting the blog and the blogger can be held responsible. In case of obscene language or images, the blogger can be imprisoned for five years and fined Rs 1 lakh. Second conviction would double the penalty.

Also, if the blog is hosted by a server outside the country like blog.com, blogspot.com and blogger.com, there is a clause in the IT Act. It states that if any person committing an offence is stationed outside India, but the effects are felt in the country, he can be held. But implementation, say experts, becomes difficult due to geographical reasons.

The article doesn’t give any reference to the defamation and slander charges and hence we are not in a position to decide whether they are real or cooked up. This is very much consistent with past ToI & ET articles on blogging.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Apple Calls Off Indian Call Centre Operation

Apple tech support is closing down its Indian operations, which had barely begun to be stablished after its announcement of the new facility two months ago in April.

This is a premature death of Apple's embryonic plans of offering its own tech support in India. The centre had not gone live, not a single phone call was made, just about 30 support staff had been hired out of a planned 600-plus headcount for the whole year.

Apple had been offering and still continues to offer tech support from another third party BPO provider, TransWorks based here in Bangalore.

An ITWire article goes on to say that Apple customers expected that service levels would drop as a result of this move to India. Although people had started voicing concerns, none of them had experienced the new service levels, as the new set-up had not gone live. If Apple had expected such a reaction, they should have not gone ahead with the setting up of this operation.

Apple's Mac and iPod users envisioned poor experiences as a result of the outsourcing of its support centre. They had taken to expressing through blogs, their strong disapproval and disillusionment with the company they felt they all owned because Mac and iPod users constitute a world of their own with a deeply embedded streak of loyalty.

Given the Western media’s penchant for such headlines, one can expect this piece of news to be splashed across all the western media.

Cute Boys & NUS Business School

Inspite of knowing few alumni from the NUS Business School, I can’t stay away from writing about the much talked about NUS Business School ad. A page 3 article in The Sunday Times drew my attention to this ad which has been growing in popularity on YouTube.

The ad depicts an American girl who ditches admits from Ivy League schools like Wharton, Chicago and Sloan in favour of NUS Business School (currently ranked #92 in the world). The girl’s mom goes on to remark that “the boys are way too cute”. The general reaction to this ad is that it exaggerates quite a bit. Couldn’t they have used a different plank to drive home the message?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Can India Fly?

The above caption sounds very much like a campaign by somebody who doesn’t like Air Deccan, but it happens to be the theme of a special survey published in the latest issue of The Economist. Since The Economist is a paid site, you either need to get hold of the print edition or have a valid login to access most of the articles.

All the same, signs of a boom are everywhere. Some 5m new mobile-phone connections are added each month. To meet the soaring demand, Nokia, the Finnish handset giant, last year built a huge factory near Chennai in just five months. Almost every city is seeing frenetic construction. Some 450 shopping malls are being built.

Flights are full, and prices of hotel rooms ruinous. Judging by the lodging allowances set by America's State Department, a room in India's information-technology capital Bangalore now costs $299 a night, as much as anywhere in the world. Industry's costs, too, are soaring: Lakshmi Narayanan, boss of Cognizant, an IT-services firm, says the price of land next to one of his facilities in Chennai, needed for expansion, has risen by 180% in 12 months.

Simon Long, South Asia Bureau Chief of The Economist outlines some of the challenges in this article and the related audio interview.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Blog Search Goes Local

Australia takes the lead in launching it’s own country specific blog search engine.

No global blog search tools are yet able to distinguish between blogs from different regions, a situation that is exacerbated by the growing assortment of blog hosts and the fact that many Australian bloggers use .com addresses for their blogs.

The search engine also has the facility to search for blogs globally, as well as scanning local news sources. Results are based on how recently a blog was posted along with a popularity measure examining the traffic and number of links to a blog.

The success of such efforts could very well create buzz in this space. We already have more than five Indian blog directories with some of them syndicating the content and others providing ranking based on number of hits / links. One of these directories would be well placed to expand into the local blog search space, as they would have already built a database of active Indian blogs.

Update: Amit Agarwal suggests that we can use Technorati as a tool for Indian blog search provided each of us claim our blog on Technorati and also add the relevant tag so that Technorati can classify our blog under that particular category.

States Act Stupid

Following the footsteps of Nagaland and Punjab, Tamilnadu has decided to ban the screening of Da Vinci Code. Unlike most other parts of the country, The Da Vinci Code was supposed to be released in TN on 2nd June. When the Central government itself has decided against imposing a ban on the movie, why are the state governments trying to prove that they also have some decision-making power?

TN and Punjab are ruled by DMK and Congress respectively. These two parties are part of the UPA government, which is in power at the Centre. If these parties really want to support the cause of the minorities, what have these state units done when the I&B Ministry came out with a decision? These bans hardly work as people can anyway go to the neighbouring state to watch the movie or wait till they get hold of a pirated copy. Ultimately, theatre owners and distributors could be on the losing side.

"The Government has taken cognizance of the various reports and complaints received from the minority communities, particularly Christian community regarding the proposed screening of the movie," the Principal Secretary, Home, said in a press release.

The screening of the movie might hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of the Christian community and lead to demonstrations and disturb peace and tranquillity within the State, the release added.

The movie has been running in several other states for the last 5 days and no major concerns have been raised. Even if the minorities are offended, why can’t the state authorities make an attempt to hear their views and release the movie after making cuts or disclaimers suggested by the minorities?