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Archive for November, 2009

An idea whose time has gone

November 23, 2009 2 comments

Manish Sharma

India has changed a lot in recent times, much faster than we could have imagined. Things that were a part of our daily lives till a decade back have become obsolete today. Not only that, even their memories too have faded away. TV antennas adoring roof-tops, an office typewriter, the big bulky MTNL phone, or a Murphy transistor glued to every year during a cricket match; I bet the population that frequently uses the Net these days and form the majority at social networking sites would not even relate to what I am writing. But that’s understandable; those things were meant to become redundant with the advent of technology. 

However, when it comes to government the same swiftness is missing in its approach. It seems that those palatial-bhavans (buildings) that housed our esteemed legislatures prevent any fresh thought or idea to sneak in. I don’t know why age-old conventions that made sense in a different era are still being pursued with a missionary zeal. Here is a list of three things that could easily be done away with for the convenience of not only the common man but also for the government.

India International Trade Fair: Yeah IITF or just plain ‘Trade Fair’, as it is referred by the masses, tops the list. Now, when India was a closed economy, it made a sense to organize an event that brought international-level business person to deliberate business prospects with Indian counterparts. However, today when the charm of imported/smuggled goods from Dubai/America has become nostalgia and the internet has revolutionized the trade world; it is only fair to expect the government should stops such ‘Fairs’.

Rail Budget: This is another bogey of the British Raj that is being carried on despite losing its track. Now what is the need to provide an hour of fame to the Rail Minister to indulge in nothing but political grandstanding? If it is for the government officials, then they are supposed to do their duty with or without the minister’s speech. If it is for the common man, then in today’s age of satellite TV a simple press conference would do the needful. The lives of people are not hanging on fare revisions, and the new train services that are usually announced take years to get functional. However, considering the fact that it takes the government more than 50 years to change the timing of the Budget presentation from 5’o’clock in the evening to 11’o’clock in the morning, the yawning Rail Budget speeches will be a part of the Parliament for the next 50 years at least.

*Pic Source: Tribune India

Beating Retreat:

This is the annual colorful military musical extravaganza that happens two days after the Republic Day parade. The event that symbolizes the returning of troops to their barracks is again the legacy of British rule. With due respect to our military forces, the ceremony should be held without a doubt. However, with rapid urbanization it causes a lot of inconvenience for three full working days, almost always to the citizens. May be, it could have been accommodated during the same evening. I hope it is not cast  in stone that the event should be held exactly three days after the event.

Obama: India-US why try when India-Chini is not bhai bhai!

November 19, 2009 3 comments

Sharif D Rangnekar

When it comes to communications and PR, President Obama knows it all and does it all. There are oh so many case studies related to his campaign that a book can be made on it. During his visit to China earlier this week, he cleverly used words on how China would ‘encourage’ better ties between India and Pakistan. While he did not specifically say that China would ‘negotiate’ or ‘involve’ itself in this direction, he virtually gave this large nation a role to play in South Asian politics.

Obama in Japan. *Pic source: The Associated Press

What he also did is ignore China’s investments in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). What a sentence or two can do is amazing and disturbing given the role a US President plays in global politics. So far the Indian government has close to ignored the statements and is fortunate that the media has not chased it down. A continued engagement with the media would mean keeping the story alive and further embarrassment for the Indian government and nation. According to sources, the PMO intends to maintain one line – a holding statement of sorts – the Indian PM will take the issue up when he visits President Obama a few days from now!

No Ball(s)

November 18, 2009 2 comments

Rohit Sharma

Outlookindia.com

It is surprising and actually disappointing to see an aged and respected (at least by his cronies) Bal Thackeray’s jabberwocky, that supposedly “warns” one of our nation’s beloved personality. It’s disappointing because at an age when colleagues like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Abdul Kalam gracefully take a backseat, Thackeray has been wasting the little time left for him in dividing Maharashtra from India.  Taking a snap at Sachin Tendulkar for saying Mumbai is a part of India; Sena scion might regret the mistake for the rest of his life.

Shiv Sena has usually gotten away with its ‘A-Marathi-first’ agenda. Whether it’s beating up immigrants, rampaging media offices that dare to speak against Sena’s autocracy or threatening celebrities, each time Thackeray has outrightly challenged Indian democracy and constitution. For decades, we have seen a bunch of gutless goons creating a terror of sorts in Maharashtra, without anyone even trying to stop them. UPA or NDA- all governments in power have neither raised a voice nor taken a concrete action against vandalism in the name of Marathi chauvinism. Sena is now working to hold on its core constituency ground as the monster it created, called the MNS, seems to be championing the Marathi-manoos ideology (that slaps a Member of Parliament who represents thousands of people and dares to speak in Hindi). The rivalry between two idiosyncratic groups continues with innocents getting harassed – those who pay the price of not being Marathi.

Sachin stated a fact when he said that he is an Indian first then a Maharashtrian. Both Balasaheb and Raj Thackeray are blithely unaware of the fact that today people with Marathi as their mother tongue make only a small proportion of Maharashtra’s population than they did three decades ago. From 76.5% of the population in 1971, Marathi speakers gradually decreased to 68.8% in 2001, while Hindi speakers rose from 5 to 11%, according to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in the state Planning Department.

Our government need to gear up against raging violence and casteism bubbling in the state before those who are suffering take the matters in their own hands and consider the good ol’ tit-for-tat.   

Social media survey

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

Found this interesting survey that is trying to determine just how India is responding and using social media. ‘How would you like companies to communicate with you on networking sites and are advertisements a nuisance on social networks?’ I am looking forward to the findings.

Take this survey here.

And they’re not even on Parole!

November 12, 2009 2 comments

Rohit Sharma

india1

Dont miss Praveen Kumar (left) going at it! Pic courtesy: NewsX channel

Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Photographs from a Hyderabad hotel aired by NewsX, has shown Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and few of his teammates enjoying the company of  female “admirers” at a party which the channel claimed was held after India lost to Australia by three runs in Hyderabad on Thursday. Manu Sharma and Rahul Mahajan need to be RSVPd on such events people !

 

The Grapes Are Sour?

November 11, 2009 4 comments

Emanuel Joute

News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch is talking about stopping Google from indexing his newspapers. He wants his content to command a premium online, and not give search engines a free ride. So what gives? Leaving aside the financial risks, the immediate fallout would be a steep fall in traffic. According to Web tracking site Experian Hitwise, News Corp.’s flagship publication The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) could lose up to 25 per cent of its traffic. Hitwise said that on a weekly basis, Google and Google news are the top traffic providers for WSJ.com, accounting for over 25 per cent of its traffic. Also, over 44 per cent of WSJ.com visitors directed from Google are “new” users who haven’t visited the domain in the past 30 days.

Does Murdoch have a new gameplan and willing to accept this fall in online traffic? Or is this just a ploy to get Google into talking money? Google, on its part, has no plans to bite the bait as yet. It issued a statement saying how easy it would be for News Corp. to remove itself from the Google News tool and the search engine itself. This episode raises other issues such as the future of online content distribution, plagiarism and revenue models. According to Hitwise, links from social networks such as Twitter and Facebook account for 4 per cent of  visits to news and media sites in the US – a percentage that is up 490 per cent year-over-year.

So, can Google live without Murdoch? Or can he live without Google? Pick your choice.

Goons on the loose

November 10, 2009 4 comments

Rohit Sharma

MNS activists rake up another national shame

Meanwhile, Jessica Lall murder accused parties on parole and Sheila Dixit defends it…

Sympathy for the devil

November 6, 2009 3 comments

Amit Gupta

sachinAnother blow for the Indian cricket team at the hands of once mighty Australians, which has lost much of its invincible tag over the last few months! It’s interesting to see how both the Indian media and masses commiserate with the Indian team (and Sachin Tendulkar in particular) for their ‘narrow loss’. And it’s equally fascinating to see a severely depleted Australian side to fire up at this occasion and take lead in the 7 match series when odds were clearly loaded against them. With their frontline bowlers injured, the Aussies are struggling to put on field an eleven member squad and add to that the inexperience of playing on the sub-continent pitches for the bench which has to fill-in for the injured players.

Coming back to the issue of both media and masses sympathizing with the Indian team for their supposedly ‘valiant efforts’ – should the Indian cricketers not be scorned at for their feeble bowling and fielding? As many as seven Indian batsman scored runs in single digit in response to a mammoth Australian score of 350. The team deserves nothing but criticism and hostility. Our cricket board which runs like a private corporation (and makes heavy profits) pays handsomely to its first-rate employees (read cricketers)! It is time that the board gives a boot to some of its redundant employees.

And our much befuddled media should do a double think before sympathizing with a team that does little on the turf!

Namaste Twitter

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma

We’re moving beyond Facebook and Orkut. Twitter is rampantly creating a fanbase in India and has established 1.4 million user base here- the third largest after Germany and the US. The microblogging website has 16 per cent of Indian users regularly ‘tweeting’ to get news updates, says a survey by technology site www.pluGGd.in. While 11 per cent use it to stay in touch with their friends, 10 per cent use the website for research purpose, according to the survey. In India, the site came into prominence in the country during 26/11 attacks when eyewitnesses sent an estimated 80 ‘tweets’ every five seconds, helping in compiling a list of the dead and injured.

The popularity of Twitter can be credited to Bollywood where popular stars and production houses are connecting with fans. Also, personalities from politics are also helping reaching out to public in an attempt to change the public image of a politician or merely to garner a vote bank.

At the moment, Orkut stays as the leader amongst social net working sites in India with 16 million users followed by Facebook with 8 million users. Twitter has settled in but with its limited functions, will it be able to reach an audience that prefer online chatting, crazy applications, games and pictures to look at?

Money makes world go around

November 5, 2009 4 comments

Rohit Sharma

cnbc18This one might lead to an online renaissance. Money Control takes the crown for being the second largest financial website of the world. Get these astounding facts- The website has 15 million users visiting per day, spending an average time of 25-30 minutes per day along with 1 million unique users. Money Control follows Wall Street Journal which is the highest visited financial website of the world.

The trend setter in financial information, research and analysis, and the official website of CNBC TV18, moneycontrol.com completes 10 years today.

In a country that has 7% of internet penetration with 81 million internet users (China leads Asia’s online market with 338 million users) – Money Control figures paint a very different picture for the future. Do we see an online revolution ahead or is it just a flash in the pan?