Aug 30, 2008

Me - Hi


352 posts this week.The time has come to head home & enjoy the weekend.Possibly watch a couple of movies,spend some time with mom,dad & friends.

So till monday,do enjoy your weekend & do enjoy ur readin


Business-India;Lower the growth,then reduce it again

During the first five months of 2008, air traffic grew by just 10 per cent. In June this year, fewer passenger flew than in June last year. And that may well be the trend for the rest of the year. Till the start of 2008-09, India Inc was probably getting ready to live with slower growth. The June quarter numbers showed there was still momentum in the topline and it was high input costs that were hurting. There were certainly enough takers whether for consumer or industrial products, even at higher prices. What was hurting was expensive raw materials and higher wages. That hasn’t changed, though prices of some commodities such as steel have eased. But over the last couple of months, suddenly there aren’t too many buyers for cars or airline tickets. We’ll know for sure only in October. But, anecdotal evidence — lower auto volumes, lower occupancies in hotels, less crowded airports and roads, slower growth in advertising revenues — suggests that bigger EMIs are beginning to pinch. Clearly, in a trend that was not anticipated six months back, sections of India Inc may have to learn to live with not just slower growth, but even negative growth — that is, a fall in either sales or profits, even both.
Take the case of the Rs 7,729 crore Chennai-based truck and bus maker, Ashok Leyland. Citigroup fears the company may sell lower volumes, possibly down 13-20 per cent in the next couple of years, dragging down profits to about Rs 400 crore in the current year from Rs 479 crore in 2007-08. And keep in mind that Leyland’s 16 per cent revenue growth in the June 2008 quarter came more from sales of engines, spares and defence equipment, and less from the sale of trucks. And now, with both interest rates and diesel prices up, the economics and hence purchase decisions of truck operators have clearly been thrown out of gear.
The road appears less bumpy for cars but then their sales haven’t gone anywhere in July either. CLSA forecasts that market leader Maruti Suzuki’s profits for the current year could skid to Rs 1,755 crore from Rs 1,774 crore last year. How quickly the tide has turned can be seen from the fact that just about seven months back, analysts were pencilling in a14 per cent growth in profits for India’s biggest car maker.
The problem doesn’t stop with the auto industry and on December 31, 2007, Citigroup, for instance, had forecast a 19.1 per cent growth in earnings for Sensex firms for 2008-09. After revising that figure twice in between, on August 18, Citigroup forecast a much lower 16.9 per cent earnings growth. So far this year, in fact, Citigroup has downgraded the earnings forecasts for more firms than it has upgraded.
What car companies and others need is some spending by techies and other big spenders, but that’s been missing for a while now. With everyone forking out more for home loans, the sad truth is that there just isn’t that much left to pay for extras. Which is why it’s not surprising that 12 out of 17 textile/apparel and retail firms, including Raymond Ltd and Arvind Ltd, reported a drop in operating profits in the June 2008 quarter. The pressure on margins indicates there is little pricing power even as retailers struggle to push volumes. Obviously costs are still an issue, whether for textiles or FMCG firms, and margins continue to be under pressure — nine of ten FMCG firms, including ITC, saw a fall in net profits in the June quarter.
In even the luxury segment, usually the last to be hit by a slowdown, the impact can be seen. Fewer people are staying in hotels, and topline growth for both Indian Hotels and East India Hotels went up just 9 per cent in the June quarter. Titan actually sold less grammage of gold in the June 2008 quarter as soaring gold prices made jewellery unaffordable — the 30 per cent-plus growth of the last couple of years looks like it may be a thing of the past.
Customers appear to be thinking twice before they buy even small ticket items. Shoppers Stop, for instance, posted a loss of Rs 15. 3 crore in the June 2008 quarter, with same-store sales growing at 7 per cent, the lowest in five years. Fewer people watched movies at PVR’s theatres in the June quarter — the drop in occupancies was over 11 per cent, leaving net profits stranded 35 per cent lower than they were in the June 2007 quarter. The management at Sun TV believes the slowdown could impact advertising revenues for its channels — these grew at 24 per cent last year but could taper off to a far more muted 17-18 per cent in the next couple of years. Sun’s management says it has written off Rs 33 crore in the quarter on account of cable subscriptions. Dish TV is struggling to keep going; the DTH operator continues subsidise set-top boxes despite having piled up losses of Rs 400 crore on revenues of Rs 400 core last year.
Consumers are so reluctant to spend that Merrill Lynch believes earnings for India’s biggest organised retailer may rise by just 3 per cent in year ending June 2009. Apart from a slowing topline, earnings for Pantaloon could be badly hit by rising interest rates, which could stretch an already stretched balance sheet. That could hold for others too; while it was mainly higher expenses on labour that resulted in Nagarjuna Construction’s net profit coming down in the June quarter, it also paid out much more by way of interest. Industry watchers feel that even if banks start to cut interest rates over the next six months, borrowing costs could remain high until the end of 2009.
The other problem is what this will do to investment projects. According to one report, a 6 million tonne steel plant in West Bengal is not making the kind of progress one would have expected. While Kotak Securities economist Mridul Saggar feels the fears of investment stalling in 2008-09 are overblown, Saggar adds the impact could be felt in 2009-10 on the back of high interest rates. Morgan Stanley, however, points to the slowing output of capital goods (from a peak growth of 24.2 per cent in the three months to October 2007, these fell to 6.8 per cent in the three months to June 2008) as evidence of a slowing of fresh investment. ABB’s net sales for instance slowed to just 15 per cent in the June quarter way below the 35 per cent that it posted in calendar 2007.
Corporate fund raising, Morgan Stanley points out, has also suffered and, as a result, it concludes, private corporate sector investments, which had moved up sharply to 16.1 per cent of GDP in 2007-2008 from the lows of 5.2 per cent in 2000-01, could slow to 12.2 per cent in 2009-10. In overall terms, Morgan Stanley expects the aggregate investment- to- GDP ratio to come down to 32 per cent in 2009-10 from 37 per cent in 2007-08.
Naturally, the impact of this slowdown won’t be even, and some will do better than others. Citigroup, for instance, forecasts that oil/gas/chemicals, engineering/power/construction, metals/mining, building materials and IT services will do better (these groups, for instance, have seen their earnings estimates rise). But at times like these, no one is really better off for too long.

World - Olympics ;Britain & China

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, was only partly right in saying that the stunning Beijing Olympics would lead to further evolution and improvement. Of course, every event must be a step forward if it is not a step backward. But let us also acknowledge that in staging the 2012 games, Britain may not need to drive itself as relentlessly as China did.
The difference is between an established and an aspiring power. As Chinese athletes recreated the gold standard, one almost heard them murmuring: We are the greatest. Not only are we Asia’s Number One, we are Number One in the world! That conclusion is understandable. What I found less explicable was the suggestion by Indian television commentators that the British would develop an inferiority complex because they cannot match the panorama of history depicted in the grand opening.
With Mayor Boris Johnson claiming that far from being Chinese, ping-pong was played on 19th century British dining tables and called whiff-whaff, London has enough history, culture, imagination and talent to put up a comparable show. But major corporate backers are tightening their purse strings, and Britain may have problems matching China’s multi-billion dollar budget. Something else that Indians and Chinese might find difficult to accept is that though the countdown to 2012 has begun and the Olympic flag flies above London’s City Hall, many ordinary London householders view the coming extravaganza with distaste. They fear the prospect of property prices soaring, of being flooded with even more visitors, of chaos, confusion and traffic jams with familiar streets suddenly becoming one-way drives, parking problems, and pressure on all services.
It’s different from 1948 when London hosted the first post-Second World War games. That was independent India’s debut and we heard in school that in passing the royal box where sat King George VI, lately shorn of his Ind Imp title, the leader of the Indian contingent did not dip the standard in customary salute. Some thought it was first-time gaucherie; others accused India of flexing newly independent muscles. But that ripple in a teacup was quickly forgotten. Though 1948 was a time of lingering wartime austerity with food and clothes still rationed, there was exhilaration and a feeling of release as the victory celebrations peaked in the Wembley Stadium games.
Commercialisation alone doesn’t explain the change. Nor politics which go back to 1936 Berlin. It was regarded as politically significant in 2000 when North and South Korean athletes marched under one flag in Sydney. Alas, reunification hopes came crashing down when they participated as two separate teams. Timor Leste was not independent, but its token presence, albeit under the Olympic flag, marked another political milestone.
What is new is the steely sense of national purpose to win instead of the fun of playing the game. China resented it as a slight when Beijing didn’t get the 2000 games. Winning the 2008 bid was “an example of the international recognition of China’s social stability, economic progress and the healthy life of the Chinese people” Vice-President Li Lanqing crowed. It was another Long March, not of idealistic national saviours but of the biggest, most carefully vetted army in the history of organised sport, each sportsman-soldier as sternly programmed as Mao’s Red Guards. No one knows how much pressure was applied to them. Or how many cracked under the strain.
China’s Golden Leap Forward began in Atlanta in 1996 when it won 16 gold medals against America’s 44. In Sydney, China landed 28 and America 37. In Athens, in 2004 it was China 32, America 36. The Chinese feel they started another Long March into history in Beijing last week. An America that cannot match its gold standard (never mind the overall tally), dare not be obstructive over Taiwan or the Dalai Lama.
Britain might worry that so many of its medallists are from the 7 per cent who go to public school which counter the robust populist image conveyed by a London doubledecker, David Beckham and 10-year-old Tayyiba Dudhwala. But Human Rights Watch’s complaint of “massive forced evictions, a surge in the arrest, detention and harassment of critics, repeated violations of media freedom, and increased political repression” will not be heard as ping-pong goes home to London. As for feeling upstaged, I recall reading about a banquet where Queen Elizabeth and another grand woman arrived wearing identical dresses. Questioned about Her Majesty’s thoughts on the subject, a Buckingham Palace spokesman replied, “The Queen does not notice what other people are wearing.”

India - Buddhadeb has got it wrong

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has got it wrong, though he is right to protest against the “gherao” and the “hartal”. The first keeps a manager captive, without means of sustenance or access to a toilet —which must be illegal as it is involuntary confinement, usually accompanied by intimidation if not personal violence. Managers subjected to this inhuman treatment have been known to die of heart attacks. The second, also a coercive method, disrupts normal life in a city or state and has been declared illegal by the court; so the Marxists find new words with which to do the same thing. Both deserve condemnation, and the West Bengal chief minister would be right to uphold the law. However, that is not what he has promised to do; he has merely expressed what he calls his personal view, which is a private matter. What is relevant to the rest of us is that it is his duty to prevent these two coercive practices. Will he do that?
On the third issue, of industrial strikes, the chief minister is comprehensively wrong because you should not take away a trade union’s right to strike, as a tool in collective bargaining. This was a right first won by the working class in Britain 102 years ago, when a new law on trade unions protected them from being sued for the losses incurred by a company because of a strike. India recognised the right to strike in its Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, but this law is confined to “industries”. There was a time when the term was extended by the courts to mean even universities and hospitals, but more recently the Supreme Court held that government employees could not go on strike. The International Labour Organisation has some conventions on the subject, but many countries have started constraining industrial action by asking for complicated procedures, and excluding essential services.
The problem in India is that strikes over pay and working conditions are rare; the maximum number of mandays are lost in industrial action protesting against government policy, like listing the shares of a state-owned undertaking (which, rightly speaking, is for an owner to decide), or more general opposition to the thrust of economic policy — and therefore occur most commonly in the public sector. It is arguable that these are not matters on which strikes should be called; in any case, no strike ballot is taken. Perhaps the last major, specific, industrial strike was in the Bombay textile mills, in 1982. Datta Samant organised a long closure that killed the mills, most of which never re-opened. The workers lost their jobs, and the mills in central Mumbai are now turning over their land to real estate development.
Workers have learnt from this that their interest may be aligned with their employers’, more than with professional trade union leaders. In increasingly competitive markets, companies are usually fighting to keep costs low. In any case, the organised sector (which is relatively small) is relatively well-paid. So it looks slightly absurd when Maruti or Tata Motors employees go on strike over pay. There is hardly any trade union presence in the unorganised sector, and they provide little protection in the small enterprises that are nominally a part of the organised sector. The big, national unions have therefore become tools in the hands of political parties when they want to bring normal life to a halt and make a political point. None of this helps the worker improve his economic prospects. In practice, the right to strike has become less of a collective bargaining weapon and more a political gambit (used mostly by the Marxists). And as we’re beginning to see, the courts don’t approve.

Lifestyle - Kids in Leh

During the week that I spent in Leh, every time I’d look out from my balcony, I’d see three teenagers hanging around the hotel lobby. They’d sit aimlessly, waiting for that elusive odd job to come their way. Odd jobs, not oddly so, didn’t seem to come their way often. I’d see them in the morning when I was on my way out, and then I’d see them again when I came back for lunch. When I stepped out again in the evening, they’d still be hanging around. “Do you all go to school?” I asked when I saw them on the third consecutive morning. “Yes,” they chorused. Why were they sitting around in the hotel lobby then, I wondered aloud. “Summer jobs,” they chorused again. At that moment those fresh-cheeked boys who always spoke in unison, became The Three Musketeers to me.
There were lots of schools in Leh, the musketeers said, none very good though. They were in Class X and pessimistic about their academic future: “like most of our older friends and siblings, we’ll also probably drop out — few students pass the board exams you see!” I’d read a newspaper report that the pass percentage in many government schools in Leh was quite abysmal — last year, only three students passed the Class X board exam in one of Leh’s bigger state-run schools. “Why,” I asked them, “do so few pass the board exam?”
All three shuffled their feet as only bashful teens can. “Teachers are bad,” said one in a rare solo performance. The other two said, “students are bad too!” It was like a dam had opened. The three stumbled over each other to tell me how often their teachers were absent, how bad the textbooks were, how little their unlettered parents could help. “My English textbook has stories which are so difficult for me to understand, not because I don’t understand the language — but because I don’t understand the culture they depict…” said one.
His younger sister, said the other, was struggling in Class I. “Yesterday, she had to memorise the names of five animals, five foodgrains, five sports and five freedom fighters,” said he, “when I left home, I saw her also trying to slink off to escape studies!” All three felt that she’d been sensible to run off: “What good will it do for her to memorise those spellings anyway?” they pointed out.
I reflected sadly that they’d be amazed if I said that young adults all over the country, had the same sorts of issues with state-run schools. At least, I said trying to sound positive, Ladakh has so many schools. In parts of UP, children have to travel so many miles to reach their school that many were forced to drop out. The three musketeers chorused, “how lucky!!”
The boys in their own laid-back way, were exploring other avenues while still in school. They all wanted to be part of Ladakh’s tourism sector. “What we want is to somehow form relationships with hotels, travel operators and tourists. Then, when we finally fail in the tenth-class exams, we’ll have a career waiting for us!” said one. That is why, the three said together, this summer job was so important…
Images of the last three days flashed in my head — the three musketeers lolling on the sofa; lazily watching tourists go by; sleeping under trees in the somnolent afternoons… “Do you think you’ll achieve what you want lolling on this sofa?” I asked bluntly. They replied, “maybe… but first let us flunk the exam!”

Lifestyle - Yoga for kids

Sarika Bansal has her fingers crossed. Her son, Ronak, attended his first yoga session at Mini Thapar Shastri’s Om Yoga Studio in New Delhi on a recent Saturday morning and she hopes he will go back. The 11-year-old, who is in his school’s soccer team and even plays golf, agreed to yoga lessons only because they will help him become a better sportsman. “Soccer has not made Ronak’s body flexible and agile, or given him more stamina and a better sense of focus — all of which I think yoga can,” says Bansal, who practises yoga

At the recently opened Yoga Sutra in Mumbai, instructor Shradha Sitalvad combines Hindi and English limericks, basic poses and creative storytelling to get children to twist, turn and arch in her class called Yoga Bunnies. “Although children’s bodies are not completely developed to do complicated poses, the basic asanas make them flexible and if done regularly, can help them concentrate,” says Sitalvad.
Yoga classes for children are growing in number in most cities with parents realizing that yoga can equip children with lasting tools for personal well-being. Yoga institutes, in turn, are getting creative and having fun with children. Prana Yoga, a new yoga studio in Mumbai, has started year-round classes for children. Bijal Joshi, who used to teach yoga at three fitness venues in the city before opening this, found that many parents wanted to enrol their children for yoga sessions just before exams to deal with stress.
Watching little ones at Om Yoga Studio twist, groan and grimace helps one understand why children initially resist yoga classes. “Unlike dance or sports, which are ‘fun’ activities, children view yoga with trepidation until they try it out,” says Shastri, who has been conducting classes for children for almost five years in Delhi

According to her, it takes at least four or five sessions before children begin to enjoy yoga. “At the start, if too much emphasis is laid on the correctness of postures and breathing techniques , children lose interest.” So, Shastri, trained in the Ashtanga school, worked around rigid techniques to make them friendly for the 8-14 age group. “Children can’t appreciate that yoga is not just a physical exercise, but a way of life,” she says. That’s why she tells her students what each asana can do, fuses stories with asanas and pranayam, and also makes sure that the sequence of the asanas is fluid. “There are no abrupt changes in postures and stances. And everytime something new is thrown in to keep them interested

Shastri’s book, Yoga for Children, (co-authored by Neesha Singh), is used as the primer for a 10-day yoga workshop conducted at the Mindbody Zone in Bangalore during the school holiday seasons to introduce kids to yoga.
In the last few years, many schools in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities have made yoga a part of the curriculum. But Shaleen Parekh, owner of Yoga Sutra, believes that schools, to some extent, are responsible for turning children off yoga. “Most school instructors teach yoga in unimaginative ways. Children are made to do the same postures over and over again in a rigid, textbook-like format,” she says.
Older, established institutes that teach one particular form of yoga (such as the Iyengar Yogashraya in Mumbai that teaches only the asanas formulated by B.K.S. Iyengar) are yet to incorporate children as regular members in their institutes unless they require therapy for physical ailments. But that hasn’t stopped newer, more experimental teachers from tapping into the possibility that yoga can be fun, and to ensure that children get a taste of this age-old Indian discipline early on, to embrace it fully when they grow up.

Lifestyle - Virtual Gurukulam ( V.G.Read)

It is a little after 9pm in Austin, Texas, and Somas Thyagaraja, a 25-year-old program manager with Microsoft, has just finished his dinner. He walks briskly towards his bedroom, removes his shoes, pushes the chair in front of his computer to one side and logs on to the Internet. While the computer connects, he adjusts his webcam and then sits down cross-legged on the floor. A few moments later, the image of Neyveli Santhanagopalan appears on the screen. Thyagaraja folds his hands in pranam. Back in Chennai, India, Santhanagopalan begins his weekly class of Carnatic music.

For dozens of students of Indian classical music around the world, lessons with gurus are no longer the intimate, face-to-face sessions they used to be. With a paucity of experienced teachers abroad, an online class like Santhanagopalan’s is the only way to get “proper and authentic” lessons from Indian gurus.
“I chose to learn from gurus in India because the training there is much more advanced, and I am very serious about my music,” says Aditya Prakash, 20, a student of ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prakash started attending virtual classes nine years ago — initially, over phone calls to his teacher, Chennai-based guru and vocalist Sugandha Kalamegham.

Today, long distance music lessons have evolved from rudimentary methods such as phone calls and audio files sent over email. Teachers and students now use applications such as Skype, Vonage, Magic Chart and IBM’s Citrix to connect with each other in real time through audio and video. One of the pioneers of this teaching method is renowned Carnatic singer K.N. Shashikiran.
“Not only has there been a tremendous response from students in the US, UK, and wherever I perform and teach,” says Shashikiran, “but there are people in India, even here in Chennai, who are learning through this medium.” Shashikiran’s website started a “cyber vidyalaya” (school) in 2000. He claims it was the first in India. Today, has more than 500 students from all over the world on its rolls — some as young as 3, while the oldest is 78.
According to Kalamegham, the average online student is a software professional living abroad who is trying to “mitigate his homesickness by getting in touch with his roots”. And maintaining a strict regimen of regular music classes is one way of keeping those roots alive.
Ironically, most of the teachers who offer online classes learnt their art sans any technological assistance — they were not even allowed to record the lessons with their teachers for reference during practice.

Santhanagopalan is one such modern-day teacher who trained at his guru’s feet. But Santhagopalan believes that the online method can be almost as successful as the traditional. According to him, a guru can transfer “90% of the teachings” online, “provided the student has the gift of music in him or her”. Santhanagopalan has more than 50 students across the world who learn from him and his senior disciples over the Internet.
The majority of online classical classes focus on Carnatic music — Shashikiran attributes this to the fact that “Carnatic music is more structured and there is more focus on composition, while the Hindustani form is more relaxed, raga-based and arbitrary”. There are, however, a plethora of new resources coming up for Hindustani, instruments and dance classes as well.
Kathak dancer Vaswati Mishra has set up a Rs4.5 lakh studio in New Delhi to offer lessons — via a state-of-the-art videoconference facility — in Kathak, Chhau, folk and contemporary dances along with Hindustani vocal, tabla and other instruments. Mishra is in talks with institutions in Taiwan and Bangalore to establish learning centres that will receive feeds from her studio. “Such classes are not different from face-to-face interactions at all. I believe distance is just in the mind,” says Mishra.

But training as a classical musician online requires more than just free time, an Internet connection and a generous data package. For all its liberating benefits, many, including some online teachers, believe distance training can only work if the student already has had some traditional learning experience.
For instance, K.K. Subramaniam, founder of the non-profit music institute Brhaddhvani that also offers online classes, believes that such classes are best suited for those who have undergone basic training in music, “and want to learn the finer things”. Kalamegham limits online sessions to students who have already learnt the basics from her and want to continue with their training.
Institutions such as Carnatica and Brhaddhvani, offer several courses of varying duration — from six months to five years — depending on the proficiency level desired by the student. The exams, both theory and practicals, are taken online. “There hasn’t been a difference in the level of proficiency between students who are learning online and those who come for the classes. The exams are, after all, the same for everyone,” says Shashikiran.
For 24-year-old Snigdha Venkataraman, “online classes are the best way to learn in today’s age when everyone has 10 different things on their plate”. Venkataraman released an album, Samarpanam, under the Carnatica banner and continues to take online classes from Shashikiran. Venkataraman is serious about her regular classes and is happy that she can “catch Shashikiran sir anywhere across the world, so my classes don’t get affected because he can log on to the Net from wherever he is”.
The growing online teaching market is also helping teachers tap into a new source of income. Hourly classes start from $20 (around Rs800) to $65, depending on how renowned the guru is. The same class, if conducted face to face, would cost just one-fourth as much.

Shashikiran says his organization’s main income comes from these online classes and packages, and there’s a stark difference of Rs35-50 lakh a year between the revenue earned from online classes and old fashioned classes. In fact, he is taking the idea forward and working on a business model for a cultural tech park and a cultural call centre. “It will be like a front-end 24-hour call centre, with 20-25 faculty members regularly answering queries on ragas, bhajans, songs, or anything related to music,” he says.
So, the next time you feel like taking a tutorial on Raga Darbari, you may have the option of simply logging on to the Internet and connecting with an expert teacher right away. Did someone say traditional music was old fashioned?

Lifestyle - New Facebook ;Clean,Sharply Defined,Dull

Are you suffering from Facebook fatigue? I am, after a year of being a hyperactive Facebooker (I would pass on Mortimer, the travelling bear to, or “bite chomps” off the person I got introduced to last week). It’s no longer a daily ritual, except the endless games of Scrabulous played with my spouse and a few friends. Friend requests are piling up and notifications ignored.

Just as I was getting back to a Facebook-free life, the site’s new interface was introduced — a cleaner one that simplifies the user experience, as opposed to the buzzy and cramped old one.
Mark Zuckerberg, the site’s founder, said in an interview to The New York Times soon after the revamped site was launched, that Facebook had “grown up”. The site, launched in February 2004, began as a social networking tool for college students and its closed nature was one of its biggest selling points. But most of those students have graduated, grown up and moved on to the office space. So, the new interface is meant to appeal to a more mature user who doesn’t want to waste time on personality tests and mindless applications.
In the bargain, Facebook, having moved on from the dorm to a one-room studio, has become boring.
First the aesthetics: The home page now looks like that of a news feed site with a steady outpouring of well-defined news items. The left side of the page is blank and the right has a biggish box that contains the applications, the friend finder and the status update space on top — certainly clutter-free, but is it more dynamic? No. Can the new Facebook reflect needs of its changing user profile and yet hook new surfers already spoilt for choice with Twitter, MySpace and other sites? Perhaps not.
The updated news feed and mini-feed features that appear on the home page create a different kind of clutter. Your home page now is a roster of continuous update messages: X became a fan of MooQuest; Y commented on Z’s photo; Z commented back. The previous home page was a combination of photographs, videos, the super-wall and many more elements that made surfing much more unpredictable and fun.
The good part, though, is that you can try out new applications before adding them to your profile. So, there’s no compulsion to add silly tags such as the “What type of dance are you” application and inviting 10 friends to it before you can try it out.
Plus, look out for small, quirky elements that sure make up for the overall dull interface: you have the choice to “throw Justin Timberlake” at your homophobic guy friend. Or “throw an octopuss” at that school bully who you added long ago but have been waiting for her to write on your wall first.

India - New media tries to capture news/reality?;J&K

Srinagar / Jammu: As the crisis over the Amarnath shrine pilgrimage snowballed in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) over the last few weeks, thousands of young men in both parts of the state, armed with little more than a mobile phone with a camera, have shot pictures and videos of both demonstrations and curfew and uploaded them on the Internet.
J&K has always been a reporter’s paradise, but the use of new media such as the Internet, blogs and SMS (short messaging system), besides news broadcasts on local cable networks, have been imaginatively used by people on both sides of the communal divide to get their message on the recent crisis out to the rest of the world.

YouTube and Google videos have become a favourite space for hundreds of videos, whether it is about the 11 August march across the Line of Control to Muzaffarabad, large gatherings such as the one at the Idgah grounds in Srinagar on 22 August, or people defying security forces across the valley during curfew.
Meanwhile, local cable networks, both in Jammu and in the Kashmir valley, have been broadcasting “inflammatory” news, provoking the government to take action against some of them.
Site Entertainment Network (SEN), a cable operator in the Kashmir valley, was taken off the air on 24 August, ostensibly because it ran an hour-long interview with militant Kashmiri leader Syed Salahuddin, who lives in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
According to Srinagar district magistrate Asfandyar Khan, SEN was taken off the air because it violated the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, which prohibits any transmission of news, or advertisements against the Constitution of India and “tends to incite people to crime, cause disorder, or violence, or breach of law”. The Salahuddin interview on SEN apparently contained an exhortation to Kashmiris to hold district-by-district discussions in the valley and stage a referendum that would declare independence from India.
SEN retaliated by taking all national and international news channels, including BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN, which go through its cable network, off the air. SEN executive director Mir Amjad said his channel was being discriminated against by the state authorities, which had not acted similarly against networks in Jammu. “Jammu cable networks like JK were taken off only for 8 hours, while we have already been banned for six days. They are still showing news bulletins and inflaming protests, why should they be allowed to do that? If the situation is bad in Kashmir, it is also bad in Jammu.”
JK, owned by land dealer Subhash Chowdhury, has been instrumental in pushing the cause of Leela Karan Sharma and his Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti, which is demanding control over the use of land for Hindu pilgrims to the Shaivite Amarnath shrine in the Kashmir mountains.
Chowdhury denied his channel broadcasts news, although this reporter watched several bulletins in Jammu, including an interview with Sharma, who admitted to an old association with JK.
Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Jammu-based Kashmir Times, said the saturation coverage given by JK to the Amarnath agitation was “so venomous that it had a huge impact on the religious-minded population, especially in the rural areas, which had not even protested over issues related to the international border nearby... The subtle message repeatedly broadcast was that the Muslims have taken away the land belonging to the Hindus.”
Vicious SMSs did the rounds in Jammu, especially in the early part of the agitation in June. State Congress president Mangat Ram Sharma was called “Mullah Mangat Ram” when he sought to balance the Jammu versus Srinagar divide, while divisional commissioner Sudhanshu Pandey was accused of “swimming in the club while the city burnt”.
The state authorities quickly banned SMSes within the state. The ban was extended by the Supreme Court last week.
By now, in the Kashmir Valley, as protests and demonstrations were infused by a sense of separation anxiety caused by Jammu’s economic blockade, thousands of young men came out in the streets, holding mobile phones with cameras in their hands.
“It is so easy to post on YouTube these days,” said Aijaz, shooting a moving video of the Idgah rally. “This is a part of our history and nobody else seems to be interested.” It is common to hear Kashmiris say mainstream journalists no longer report Kashmir with the passion and commitment it deserves.
“Although there is a lot of coverage about Kashmir in the mainstream media, the voices of the people are not coming through. So you have to go to the blogs, or the videos,” says media analyst Sevanti Ninan. “Perhaps Kashmiris feel their voices are not being heard.”

Business - The French Connection;HIDESIGN

What did luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton (LV) see in a (relatively) small Indian leather goods manufacturer? How did the French brand even think of setting up a factory—its first in Asia and one that will likely end up being its largest in the world—in Puducherry of all places? Why did the intensely private company buy a stake in Hidesign, an Indian company that began as a hobby in 1970s Auroville, India’s French hub?
Dilip Kapur, 60, president of Hidesign, the free spirit who began his life as an entrepreneur with Rs25,000 (for a sewing machine, some leather and a worker, all accommodated on a thatched shed on his roof) and who now has a Rs100 crore turnover, can’t answer these questions.

Most reports say LV has picked up 20% of Hidesign, but Kapur won’t confirm the percentage. LV’s Indian partner recently signed a confidentiality document.
Let’s make some educated guesses anyway.
If you were Louis Vuitton, looking to settle down in India after decades of flirting with the country’s affluent set, and you needed someone you could trust, someone in your area of business, a guaranteed good investment, someone with whom you could converse fluently in your language, Kapur’s would be a name that came to mind.
For one, Kapur is quality conscious. His Hidesign outlets sell nicely crafted, natural leather goods; I know because I’ve been buying their bags since the company opened its first Indian store in 2000 (before that, Kapur was mostly an exporter). Trendier consumers would say the designs are boring/predictable; I think it’s refreshing that a local brand focuses on quality and detailing rather than on imitating the latest global designs.
“You’re a typical customer,” Kapur says, over Sauvignon Blanc at Trident’s Tiffin in Mumbai (his knowledge of good wine has grown exponentially, thanks to his connoisseur French partners). “She studies a lot, reads a lot, travels a lot; like you, she’s very natural,” he says, pointing to my slightly crumpled cotton shirt and messy hair. I tell him I’ll wear a business suit to our next lunch appointment, and he informs me that he changed quickly from a T-shirt to a Just Cavalli navy shirt—purchased by his German wife Jacqueline—for our meeting.
Incidentally, Kapur swore off suits after he graduated from Phillips Academy, a private school in the US, but recently Jacqueline bought him one from Gianfranco Ferre for all those meetings he now has to attend.

But then, Kapur has always been open to reinvention. In 2000, just as he was beginning to get bored of his rollicking export business, India saved him. “It was one of the best things that happened to me. I think I would have sold the company but then I rediscovered myself and my Indianness.” If you had lived abroad for more than a decade, been married to an American and then a German woman, and grown up at the Auroville ashram, where each of your notebooks came inscribed with the maxim “There’s a great beauty in simplicity”, you would talk this way too.
At that point, Kapur decided it was time to retail in India and diversify into the hotel business. Eight years later, he has 45 stores in the country (18 more are scheduled to open in the coming year) and two boutique hotels, both in Puducherry.
Kapur and Puducherry have a history. He was born in New Delhi and moved to Auroville when he was nearly six years old after his father sold his shoe business, donated the money to the ashram and “happily became a modern sadhu”.
Then there’s the comfort factor. Kapur is someone you can relate to. He teaches current affairs to 14-year-olds at the ashram (all of Kapur’s four children have done stints at this school) and worries about the fact that they don’t care for much beyond sports and music. He has just come from a meeting with his store managers where he spent some time explaining that Hidesign did indeed have an exchange policy and that the customer was not their adversary.
Unlike most Indian leather sweatshops, Hidesign’s 7.5 acre factory in Puducherry could actually make it to the pages of a magazine. Of course, as Kapur points out, an average Hidesign worker still has only 4 sq. m of space against his European counterpart’s 11 sq. m.
Recently, he found himself competing against another international brand, Coach (which also has plans to produce its bags in India), for a job applicant—and winning. “He’s going to be the structural engineer of my bags. He joined us because he would be involved in building an authentic brand rather than just implementing international specifications,” Kapur says.
Which brings us to what Kapur gets out of LV’s investment (besides the money to implement his dreams, of course). After all, he already does business in more than 20 countries. For a guy who has always maintained that he was not terribly interested in running a company, he hasn’t done too badly. “When I began, one of my biggest weaknesses and strengths was the fact that I really didn’t care. I didn’t care if the company flopped or if it survived because that was not what was driving me,” he says.
It was exactly this attitude, he believes, that allowed him to take risks and do things that he wanted to do rather than things that he thought would work. “It took me many years to realize that doing your own thing is making your own brand.”
Now, LV will help him do just that.
For one, he’s already learnt the French phrase de rigueur.“In terms of quality, we are only 30-40% of where we want to be,” says Kapur, who will spend the next two years getting the back-end of the business right. In between building two factories and boosting his HR department, he has to figure out a way to improve productivity (a Hidesign bag takes 11 hours to make against a European bag that takes just 3 hours) without compromising on detailing.

His two older sons will do their bit. Vikas, a 29-year-old Stanford graduate and lawyer-who-would-rather-not-be-a-lawyer, will spend six months training at Louis Vuitton in Paris before returning to India and working on the development of Hidesign. Akash, 31, a Rhodes scholar, Harvard graduate and soon-to-be published author, is helping his father build a third hotel, a beach resort, in (where else?) Puducherry. Indian Hotels Co., which runs the Taj group of hotels, will manage this property. Kapur’s younger son Milan now studies at the Kodaikanal International School, and Ayesha, his precocious, talented teenage daughter, (you saw her in the 2005 film Black) still studies at the ashram.
Jacqueline has her own 12,000 sq.ft lifestyle store in Puducherry and is passionate about the horse-riding school she runs. “She keeps the standards of our hotels from becoming pedestrian and helps me with leather garments but the minute she gets involved in the core, we totally disagree,” Kapur says. “We have lots of fights when we work together.” Sounds like the perfect partnership.
Born: 20 April 1948
Education: Schooled at Auroville and Phillips Academy, Massachusetts, US. Graduated in international affairs from Princeton University and earned a PhD from University of Denver
Current designation: President, Hidesign
Work profile: While doing his PhD, he worked at a leather company. He returned to India in 1977 to live in Auroville and started Hidesign a year later
What’s on his iPod: Pink Martini, Cesare Amora and lots of hip-hop, courtesy his son, Milan. “I used to be crazy about the Grateful Dead but now find them boring.”
Food fetish: “I find it really hard to eat a piece of meat, I don’t like the idea of it, the physical chewing, and you know I’m a leather guy.” Enjoys seafood. “I also love my mother’s old Punjabi hick desserts — ‘gajar ka halwa’, ‘gud ki sewiyan’, kulfi.”

Lifestyle - Celebrate your employee's Ideas

A wise friend of mine believes that the hardest part of marriage isn’t learning how to get along with your spouse but rather, coming to grips with what you learn about yourself as you relate to your wife or your husband. I think managers face the same challenge.

During my first week as the Journal’s bureau chief in Pittsburgh, in what was my first management job, a young reporter sought my feedback about a feature story she had written. I quickly ticked off all the things she needed to do to improve the story — in the same sharply critical way I often reviewed my own work.
Then I glanced up and saw the crestfallen, anxious expression on her face. I realized that if I wanted creative and hard-working employees, I needed to keep my style in check and make sure that I applauded my staff’s strengths as much as I targeted their weaknesses.
My experiences as a manager prompted me to launch this column almost a decade ago. I wanted to learn more about how leaders inspire those who follow them to take risks and to do more than they ever thought possible, and about how they convince employees that while failure is permissible, success is expected.
The more executives I interviewed and wrote about, the more I realized that the most effective ones review their own performance at least as frequently and as thoroughly as they review the work of their employees. They also constantly adapt their management styles to meet different challenges and to motivate different employees.
In a column published in November 2005, I wrote about how Selena Lo, CEO of Ruckus Wireless in Sunnyvale, California, changed from being a brusque, temper-tantrum-prone manager. Early in her career, she often banged her fist on conference tables to press her point of view, she said. Then she became CEO of Ruckus. There was no boss who “cleaned up after me and soothed people who felt I was steamrolling them”, she said. She realized that as the top boss, she needed to delegate a lot of work but to “stop scaring people and give them room to make their own decisions”.
When several new hires told her they didn’t like her name for the company, Video54, she told them to come up with a new one — and agreed Ruckus was better.
In a June 2004 column, Novartis chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella disclosed that before he became an executive, he had been a physician and psychoanalyst. In business, he didn’t want to be his employees’ therapist, he said, but he used his analytical listening skills when conferring with managers or interviewing prospective hires. “I ask myself, ‘am I interested, relaxed, tense or bored — and what is this person doing to make me feel one way or the other?’”
Some of the best leadership models are from outside business. In a January 2007 column, I wrote about how Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts who led his team to victory in the Super Bowl last year, pushes his players hard but doesn’t curse at them, chew them out, or speak to them sarcastically — unusual behaviour in the National Football League’s scream-and-holler culture.
There is widespread cynicism in the ranks of many companies. At a time when no job is secure, many top executives still get steep salaries regardless of performance and golden parachutes after they’re dismissed.
The best leaders recognize this attitude and studiously avoid being self-absorbed. They celebrate their employees’ ideas, knowledge and commitment, and they understand they must be both bold and kind to attract talent.
Among leaders such as these are Procter and Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley, who assembles diverse teams of employees around the world and tells them to worry about pleasing consumers, not him; Rite Aid CEO Mary Sammons, who acknowledges to employees that she has made mistakes — and learnt from them — during her career; and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who doesn’t hesitate to show weak-performing executives the door, but often gives them time to find a new job elsewhere to avoid any humiliating public firings.
So much has changed in business since In the Lead launched, from the growth of the Internet to the new emphasis on corporate governance. But my original premise — that management is more an art than a science, highly dependent on relationships — has not, even as this column comes to a close. For me, exploring the art of management has been an extraordinary privilege and incredible fun.

Lifestyle - Save Indian Clothing,Wear a Kurta

Last month, I went to Delhi to give a presentation to some hotshot marketing types. It was the first PowerPoint presentation I have ever done and I was terrified. But this piece is not about the sorry ass I made of myself. This piece is about clothes and the pleasurable dilemma that we women face every time we open our closets: what to wear?

The simplest thing would have been to wear a black business suit and for weeks, that was my plan. Then I got to thinking: What is the point of espousing and celebrating personal style if you end up wearing what are essentially cop-out clothes?
Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Indian clothes are on the verge of dying out of corporate India. Sure, there are women executives who wear saris: ICICI’s Renuka Ramnath, Britannia’s Vinita Bali and HSBC’s Naina Lal Kidwai come to mind. In Bangalore, I am proud to say that prominent women such as Sudha Murthy and Rohini Nilekani don’t just wear Indian clothes, but bindis as well.
I have conflicting feelings about bindis. I appreciate their cultural uniqueness but question their religious connotation. As a proudly secular Indian, I wonder how wearing a bindi can be different from wearing a hijab since both are religious identifiers and therefore dividers. That said, I wear bindis mostly because I feel they are a lost cause and I must add my weight to their survival. It is like signing a petition: Save the humpback whale; wear a bindi.
Indian clothes are another matter. There is nothing religious about a salwar-kameez or a sari. I am no fan of netas but I appreciate that our politicians still wear Indian clothes (at least in India; Davos is another matter), ranging from P. Chidambaram’s pristine white dhoti to Atal Behari Vajpayee’s north Indian version of it.
In corporate India, however, few wear Indian clothes. Just as English has become the lingua franca of global business, I think Western attire will soon be its sartorial equivalent. Most of the young executives I meet, both men and women, wear a shirt and pants. This is sad, for many reasons. Homogeneity in clothing is not just boring but also doesn’t reflect our rich culture and textile traditions. If we Indians start wearing Western clothes all the time, how are we different from the faceless Chinese businesswoman who wears dark suits and changes her name from Su-yan to Susan?
Clothing choices are easier for women. We can wear saris and salwar-suits and still appear professional. Few young women do, however. Perhaps they feel that they appear older in saris or salwar-suits; perhaps they feel that Western clothes make them appear more professional. Perhaps they think it is not “cool” to show up in a salwar-suit. It is harder for men. It would take a very brave man to show up at work in a kurta-pyjama, however understated it is. Maybe the thing to do is to get the male CEOs to start wearing Indian clothes so as to encourage others. Then of course, the question becomes, why should you? My reasons would be to “save” Indian clothes; to encourage others to wear them; and to facilitate cultural diversity in the workplace. I honestly feel that our clothes are colourful, crisp and elegant. They suit our body types and having them around will encourage creativity. Mostly, my reason is a paraphrase of Edmund Hillary’s reason for climbing Everest. Why wear Indian clothes to work? Because we can.
Unlike traditional Japanese attire such as the kimono, Indian clothes are wonderfully adaptable and comfortable. Nobody even knows what traditional Chinese clothing is. You have to go to Lijiang and Dali and observe pretty maidens from the Yi tribe in colourful red clothes to realize what China has lost in its race for economic prosperity at all costs (I can see the capitalist hackles rise right here). But this is not about whether 10% GDP growth is worth losing precious irreplaceable cultural touchstones; this piece is simply about what to wear to work.
Part of me questions why I am obsessed with dying traditions. Countless other traditions have died; and some, I would argue, should die. But as lost causes go, Indian clothes are an easy fix. There are very few downsides to wearing Indian clothes; you aren’t hurting anyone and best of all, it is easy. Unlike reviving, say, Sanskrit or Farsi, you don’t have to learn a new language or plant trees or pick up litter from the streets. Reviving the salwar-suit or sari is easy: You wear one and get others to wear one.
For my Delhi gig, I took the middle path, which I guess is the same as copping out. I wore Western clothes for one session and Indian clothes for another. I am not proud of my choice. I feel that I should have worn Indian clothes throughout, particularly in light of what I’ve just said. But cut me some slack, okay? It was my first presentation and I wanted to blend in.

India - The Chandigarh Dream (G.Read)

“[Chandigarh] hits you on the head and makes you think. You may squirm at the impact but it has made you think and imbibe new ideas, and the one thing which India requires in many fields is being hit on the head so that it may think.”
Jawaharlal Nehru, at an architecture seminar in New Delhi, 1959
Almost 50 years ago, Nehru saw Chandigarh as a symbol of the new India, a city that would prove the country’s ability to unite the social classes, embrace modernity and inspire generations of thinkers and inventors. Constructed as the new capital of the sorely divided Punjab, Chandigarh gave architect Le Corbusier his only opportunity to implement his modernist ideals about shaping cities around the new mode of transportation—cars; self-sufficient sectors dividing a city into small parts; and the nobility of cement as a building material.
In reality, after its much-crowed-about beginnings, Chandigarh, with its quirky architecture, settled for the status of a second-tier city, meant for bureaucrats and middle managers. Long-time residents called it the best place to live in India; others called it a city for the “dead and the dying”; and the rest of the country barely cast a second glance at it

Outside India, though, the city has been a source of fascination for the international architecture community that has both vilified and adored Le Corbusier, “the father of modern architecture”. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) approached the city in 2001, with a plan to nominate the city as a possible modern World Heritage site. Design students constantly make pilgrimages to the city. And, last year, foreign furniture dealers auctioned off original Le Corbusier items from Chandigarh. A typical piece, such as a wooden coffee table, which fetched around Rs100 at a government auction, went for over Rs67.7 lakh at Christie’s in New York.
After years of dragging their feet, the city’s authorities have finally gone into an overdrive to protect their heritage, spurred on by a group of architects and design lovers in the city, and by the embarrassment of the Christie’s sale. Not only have they created committees to oversee the preservation of its historical core and organized community outreach programmes to educate citizens, but, in a major coup, the three governing bodies in Chandigarh—the Punjab, the Haryana, and the Union government—have finally agreed to submit the Unesco nomination. The preservation, maintenance and repair work done at a Unesco Heritage Site can only be carried out under the UN body’s supervision. According to Vivek Atray, secretary, Chandigarh department of tourism, Unesco will likely add the city to its heritage list as early as January, and Chandigarh, long overlooked by its own people, may finally get the recognition it deserves.

One of the main reasons people tend to overlook Chandigarh’s significance can be attributed directly to Le Corbusier. Before he was roped in by Nehru, Le Corbusier had tried, and failed, for years to convince European governments to implement his ideas on city planning. He believed a modern city needed to be shaped around cars, the new mode of transport. That meant wide roads, traffic circles and all walking paths and storefronts set off from the main roads. He also believed in dividing the city into sectors—small, self-sufficient blocks that would each include areas for schools, shops and parks. And finally, he believed in buildings that served the people, rather than imposing ornamentation and form on them.
He famously wrote in his book Toward an Architecture: “The house is a machine for living in.” It was this philosophy that contributed to an utterly unassuming town structure, though the buildings look different from those in any other city. The cleanliness, functionality and peacefulness of the city can also be largely attributed to the architectural plan. In Chandigarh, Le Corbusier finally had the opportunity to put his theories to work, but to the untrained eye, it isn’t always obvious why the city works so well.

Kapil Dev, a former captain of the Indian cricket team who grew up in Chandigarh, recalls that he naturally assumed every city ran in the same orderly fashion, that every road had its own function, that parks were plentiful and that sectors divided cities evenly. Once he started travelling to play cricket, he realized how wrong he had been.
“I thought the entire world was like that,” he says, “but it is the only planned city.” His work keeps him away from his childhood home, but “if I didn’t have a business… I wouldn’t think twice about” returning to the city to live there, he says.
Dev isn’t alone in boasting about his home city—visit any part of the city and people will readily talk about the virtues of the place: “It’s the only place our children can grow up with safe areas to play in… Our police force is second only to Mumbai in the country… Soon, we’ll even surpass Bangalore in attracting IT companies… A recent smoking ban keeps the public spaces and the air clean… Everyone wants to live here now, just look at how much our population has gone up.”
While the city was under construction in the 1950s, Y.P. Vohra, now 80, says most public servants were horrified at the government’s decision to shift from Shimla to Chandigarh. “Nobody wanted to go,” he chuckles. But 49 years later, he “wouldn’t live anywhere else”.
For visitors from Delhi—with its traffic, its pollution and the brutal sun beating down with little respite—it’s easy to fall in love with Chandigarh. The streets offer long, unbroken sidewalks to stroll on in the shade of leafy trees. In the evening, as the sun sets in hues of purple and pink, people sit out on their stoops and balconies, greeting friends and strangers.
Le Corbusier insisted that every building maintain greenery in the front, the back, and, occasionally, on the roof, so the whole town seems like one large garden party. It is peaceful, easy living, far removed from the chaos and dirt of the usual big-city life.

Even the buildings—the functional, concrete, angular buildings that many people harp on about due to their lack of ornamentation—are aesthetically appealing as a whole. The definitive stamp of one style on the whole city makes it visually stimulating, even if you’re not an architecture enthusiast.
This seems to be the year for Le Corbusier. Chandigarh, as his major work, is being revisited by design students and architects as an example of urban planning that has withstood 50 years of active use. A discussion organized in Mumbai last month by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai examined Chandigarh for lessons on how a city and its society interact with and shape each other over a period of time. A new exhibition sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) opens in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in England on 2 October (and will run till 18 October) as part of Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture programme, and will examine both Le Corbusier’s great ideas (plans for the Capitol Complex at Chandigarh) and his terrible ones (he wished to tear down the historic centre of Paris, particularly the second, third, ninth and tenth arrondissements, and rebuild it with concrete skyscrapers). A new translation of Toward an Architecture was published last year and chosen as a Favorite Book of 2007 by the Art and Architecture Critics of The New York Times. And many urban planners, such as the US Department of housing and urban development (HUD), have adopted “New Urbanism”, a style based on many of Le Corbusier’s precepts, which espouses the creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use cities.
Riba president Sunand Prasad curated an earlier exhibition on Le Corbusier and is thrilled to be sponsoring the forthcoming exhibition in Liverpool. “His best buildings are really, in the view of many of us, some of the best works of architecture, indeed of art, that we have anywhere in the world,” says Prasad. “Architecture has to be useful, it has to work for people, but at its best, architecture gives pleasure and uplifts one’s spirit. Le Corbusier’s best works do just that.”

Despite all the international attention and the citizens’ avowals of love for the city, little has been done to protect the design elements that have made Chandigarh so distinct, other than obeying the building authority edicts that Le Corbusier set in place in 1961.
Architect Kiran Joshi, a professor at Chandigarh School of Architecture, began researching Le Corbusier in 1988 with the help of her students. The Chandigarh administration had asked her to compile a study on the works of Le Corbusier for reference. She expected it to take her around four months. It took her 10 years, and she continues to update it to this day. The study became “a voyage of discovery” for her and she says that everyone who worked on it with her became fascinated by Le Corbusier’s work.

Unfortunately, few people in the city paid her study much attention. She recently tore out a full-page advertisement in the local paper requesting a painter to create a mural depicting “the bounty of Haryana” for a judge’s quarters in the high court. The high court was designed by Le Corbusier down to the last detail—the murals in offices, the desks for judges and the lamp posts outside. But the people working at the high court didn’t realize the value of the art they had in their own offices and preferred newer furniture, shiny desks and cheap paintings. “The judges are supposed to protect the heritage of the country, but in Chandigarh, they are the ones actively destroying it,” Joshi says.
It came as little surprise to her when the city’s furniture, sold for mere rupees in government auctions, went on sale in 2007 for thousands of dollars at Christie’s in New York. Chairs that can still be found, damaged and discarded, on the balconies in government offices in Chandigarh sold for as high as Rs20 lakh. That incident shamed the administration, with The New York Times crowing: “The city that sat on its treasures, but never saw them”.
But the director of the Museum of Architecture, Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, who is also the inspector general of the Chandigarh jail, says that the sale actually benefited the town.
“We would have destroyed what’s left,” he explains, sitting in his office at the museum. The furniture was specifically made for offices and the very simplicity of design that makes it worth so much today is exactly what turned off people in Chandigarh. “If people had liked it in their house, they wouldn’t have thrown it out,” Randhawa explains. Thankfully, the auction made people realize what they had, and now more people are trying to preserve the furniture.
The changes in architecture occurred most often in personal homes. One grand mansion at No. 33, Sector 1, was divided up to create a guest house for visitors of the Haryana government. The wide-open veranda had a ceiling built over it; the genteel, curved driveway was split to make way for a reception area. And that’s one of the lucky ones that hasn’t been torn down by new owners to design homes in styles that are completely incongruous with the rest of the town.
Joshi’s husband, I.J.S. Bakshi, also an architect, laments the loose regulations for building new homes: “There’s no control over what people might be doing,” he says. “They put up anything they want rather than being loyal to the city’s aesthetic. So you get strange things that don’t belong here.”
It is jarring to see the mishmash of a new home built in a strange colonial-gothic mix in a city known for its bare-bones ornamentation. For example, the peaceful Sukhna lake was built with no buildings obscuring the view to the foothills of the Himalayas. All the structures were low-slung and devoid of flourishes. But, these days, across the street from the main entrance, a grandiose mansion with Corinthian pillars dominates the view. It appears as a gaudily overdressed guest at an otherwise sober party.
Aditya Prakash saw all these changes as the natural ageing of a city—and he liked it that way. He worked under Le Corbusier as part of the original 50-person architectural team in Chandigarh and took over as chief architect of Chandigarh from Le Corbusier’s partner and cousin Pierre Jeanneret. He passed away on 12 August and spent his last weeks in the home he designed, obviously derived from the teaching of Le Corbusier, from its angular lines and sparse furnishings to the main material, cement.

A month before he passed, Prakash complained that the Unesco designation will be akin to “pickling the city”. He said that like a human body, cities grow, age and die, “We should not kill it, but it should be able to die”. He worried that the preservation will fortress the city, keeping residents from actively living in it.
Prasad has similar concerns. He says that World Heritage status protects buildings, but it also freezes them in time since no more building or changes will be allowed after the designation. “(The Capitol Complex) is an extraordinary piece of theatre, but it is not very functional. It should be altered through intelligent modification,” he says.
Joshi and other architects, such as the chief architect of Punjab, B. Saini, disagree. Joshi firmly believes the Unesco heritage tag is necessary to make people in Chandigarh value what they have and that they need the backing of the designation to preserve the historical core. Vivek Atray agrees with Joshi. “Over the years, awareness about heritage has gone down” especially with buildings that are functional and lived in, he says. “Highlighting the heritage status will make the people more conscious.”
The process for a World Heritage designation was initiated in part by Unesco and a consortium of other countries, including France and Japan, with other Le Corbusier-designed buildings. In December 2007, a panel of Unesco experts visited the city for a Le Corbusier convention. Atray says the designation will not only give the city prestige, and a huge boost to its tourism, but Unesco will also provide expertise on preserving and modernizing the city.
The city administration also hopes the designation will raise community awareness about its historical treasures. The Museum of Architecture, under the guidance of Randhawa, has begun to compile a catalogue of Le Corbusier and Jeanneret’s furniture designs. Randhawa says that despite the bad press about the auctions abroad, people still don’t know what pieces deserve to be kept. The museum and government are marking each piece of furniture with a serial number and creating a board to oversee all future government auctions, in order to preserve what they have now.
Randhawa, in his role as inspector general of the jail, also decided to turn the inmates into protectors of the Le Corbusier legacy. “I had a potential labour force that could be utilized in any direction that I gave,” he says. So he trained the inmates in furniture restoration. Now, when pieces of furniture at government offices break or are damaged, they aren’t thrown away—they are sent to the jail to be fixed. “They think I’ve gone mad,” Randhawa laughs.
Some private building owners, too, have taken it upon themselves to restore their homes to the original designs. The family behind the Delhi-based Imperial Hotel plans to restore the house at No. 33, Sector 1, to its original floor plan and furnish it with time-appropriate pieces. It should open as a boutique bed-and-breakfast some time next year.

For now, though, the city still needs to wake up to its own value. On a rainy afternoon at the city’s “head”, at its capital park, the great works of Le Corbusier—his massive, ship-like secretariat, the playful assembly, with its gravity-defying concrete curve roof, and the colourful high court—preside over only a few people. Ensconced in tight security, ever since a car bomb exploded outside the park in 1995, the place Le Corbusier saw as a modern-day Greek forum now stands eerily empty, with grass growing through cracks in the park’s cement pathways and the artificial lake a mire of moss and mosquitoes. The only people enjoying Le Corbusier’s masterwork are a group of sanitation department workers, clearing wastepaper through the grand ceremonial door to the assembly. A trash collector, Amarjeet Singh, pauses in his work to point to the bright, large mural Le Corbusier painted: “A French architect gave us that!”

Columnists - Vir Sanghvi;Why we will always love the Rolling Stones

There was a time, way back in the 1970s, when every time the Rolling Stones were introduced as “the greatest rock and roll band in the world,” there were howls of protest. The Beatles had never claimed to be just another rock and roll band so that was okay. But what about another great British band of the same vintage, The Who? What about Led Zeppelin whose records outsold the Stones everywhere in the world?

These days, nobody quibbles too much when the Stones are described as “the greatest”. Zeppelin never made it past the 1970s. The Who lost their edge. And the other pretenders came and went. Only the Stones, reunited after a bitter battle between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, are still rocking in the 21st century.
And yet, who knows exactly why they are the greatest rock and roll band in the world? Of course they have a certain historical importance. And they’ve written some great songs. But it’s been a while since the Stones have recorded anything memorable. Their albums don’t really sell that well. I’d be very surprised if more than a handful of Lounge readers could name a single Stones track released in the last 10 years.
I pondered the immortality of the Stones while watching Shine a Light, a new concert movie made by Martin Scorsese.
There are nearly as many Stones movies as there are Stones live albums but in many ways, Shine a Light is the best. Not only is Scorsese a brilliant director but the film takes the bold decision to strip the Stones of the stadium glitz and pyrotechnics that have marred so many of the other concert movies. As he did with the Band in his seminal 1970s movie The Last Waltz, Scorsese gives us the Stones without any frills. He chooses a show at a relatively intimate venue (New York’s Beacon theatre), uses a simple set and shoots the band from so close that you can almost run a motorcycle through the giant grooves on Mick Jagger’s face. Does Shine a Light answer the question of why the Stones are the greatest rock band of all time? Not really. It’s a great show but the Stones are not significantly better than say, The Who, when that band is in form. The music is okay but there are no displays of virtuosity and no great insights into the songs.
What Scorsese does answer, however, is the question of why the Stones remain such icons. The show is a benefit for the Clinton foundation and when the Great Philanderer strides on to the screen to shake hands with the band, you can’t help thinking: “not only is this man much taller than Mick Jagger, he is also younger!”

Scorsese suggests, through subtle use of archival footage and the odd remark captured on film, (Clinton tells the Stones, “lots of sixty year olds have been calling me for tickets”) that we venerate the Stones because they take us back to our formative years; they remind us of the times we had the most fun; their songs are the ones we broke up with our girlfriends to (I think Wild Horses pretty much said it all for me); and they root us to a past that has effortlessly extended into the present.
We don’t really care what the Stones are writing these days. We don’t buy their records unless they are greatest hits compilations or live albums. We love them for what they represent in our lives.
Does that make the Stones an oldies act? A travelling jukebox? It should. I love the music of the Beatles dearly and am often moved to tears by some of the old songs that Paul McCartney sings in concert these days. But McCartney, sadly enough, is an oldies act. The Stones on the other hand, don’t make us feel sad or merely nostalgic. They make us feel alive.
The real difference between the way McCartney has handled the Beatles legacy and the manner in which the Stones have remained relevant is the live concert. You go to a Stones show to see a performance. Of course the songs are a part of it. But mainly, it is the pure theatre and the incredible showmanship of the band on stage. If you can go to a Stones concert and never once want to get up and dance then you are either tone-deaf or too old.
As Shine a Light shows us, almost all of this is due to Mick Jagger. I know it is fashionable to refer to Keith Richards as the musical heart of the Stones. But if he is such a genius, how come he hasn’t written a good song in 20 years or more? Richards’ greatest achievement is that he is still alive. He was never a great guitarist and his two-song bit at Stones concerts is always the point in the show when everyone heads for the loo. But because he represents some triumph of survival, is proof that you can still live the rock and roll lifestyle and come out on top, his very endurance makes him an icon.
On stage though, Richard looks like an elderly ragman who has dressed up as Alice Cooper. The shows are powered along solely by Jagger’s energy. Jagger may have the face of a man of 60 but he has the body of a teenager. Such is his onstage charisma that you never once feel that you are watching a bunch of old farts out to squeeze every last penny from their back catalogue (though this may well be true...).
In 1972, John Lennon sneered “I think Mick is a joke with all that fag dancing.” And perhaps he is. Taken out of context, all that high camp pouting and ass-jiggling can seem ridiculous. But, within the context of the shows, it makes perfect sense.
Some years ago, when the Stones came to India, I saw both their shows, in Bangalore and Mumbai. It struck me then that the reason we still take the old material so seriously is because Jagger takes it seriously himself. He sings each song like he’s just released the record last week and puts so much effort into each performance that you can’t help being seduced by his charisma.
Each time we see him snarl “Please allow me to introduce myself”, we are reminded of when we first heard Sympathy For the Devil and are grateful that, after all these years, it still sounds as fresh and energized.

We may have all come a long way since that first hearing but seeing Jagger sing it, we know our youth is not over, that our memories have not stagnated and that for that one evening at least, we are as fresh, and as energized as we were in our prime.
So, they may not be the greatest rock band in the world. But the Stones are time travellers. And when he tells us that yesterday does matter, even if it’s gone, Jagger makes time stand still.
Shine a Light is scheduled to release in Mumbai and New Delhi in September.

Lifestyle -India;Chilli in my Plate

It might be just an ingredient in recipe books or lost amongst the bigger fry on a plate, but don’t underestimates the thrill of the chilli.
Despite its seemingly American origins, India’s spicy palate has been quite the nesting place for it, and we find the spice route takes us farther than the kitchen. Bring the chilli out to the bar, we say, and to the bakery, if you will and oh, if it gets too hot to handle, take it to the icecream counter as well.
When it comes to the chilli, one can’t ignore the Mexican side of the affair. Arguably one of the most superior cuisines when it comes to sampling the widest variety of chillies ever cultivated, you have a choice from freshly-picked jalapeno to its dry form, chiptle.
Then, there’s the poblano and another dry form, ancho, and so on. You will find all these and more at Tex-Mex resto-bar Sancho’s at South Extension in Delhi. It’s spicy, yes, but the Mexican way, not “Indianised”, reaffirms Mexican chef at work at Sancho’s, Jorge Romero.
“I have not “adjusted” the food to suit the Indian palate. It’s how it is in Mexico. We use 13 types of chillies here, all imported from Mexico and, I think, in a country like India where spice is popular, this should work,” he says.
Sample the Jalapeno mushroom pimento salsa (Rs 245) and you’ll know what he means. The subtle flavour of chillies is definitely not too hot for the palate though it will be a tad bit stronger in the chilli sizzling fajitas — king prawns (Rs 325) or Mexican chicken (Rs 295).
What you can also try is the tortilla buffet at Sancho’s (Rs 99), where you’ll find seven varieties of delightful salsas, from mango flavour to the corn variety to the delicate avocado salsa to roasted tomato.
At the ongoing Mexican food promotion at Pickwicks, the all-day dining restaurant at Claridges in the capital, try the jalapeno wonder Chimichanga, stuffed grilled tortilla bread served with jalapeno coleslaw, with a choice of chunky tuna or corn fed chicken, priced at Rs 850/750.
If a drink is what you need, chilli won’t disappoint you there either. At F-Bar and Lounge, The Ashok, New Delhi, captain of the bar Balwant Chauhan’s spiced up mocktails take centrestage.
For a red chilli mix, try Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Rs 300), prepared with lime juice, ginger ale syrup, chopped chilly, topped with lemonade and garnished with red chilli. The green chilli composition (also Rs 300), meanwhile, comes muddled and shaken.
Guava juice with a pinch of black salt, Tabasco, fresh lime, Worcestershire sauce, chopped green chilli and a bit of coriander, and you’ve got yourself a clean mean mocktail, garnished with green chilli and a ginger slice.
At Aura — The Vodka Bar at Claridges, chilli meets vodka in the Red Devil cocktail (Rs 500). Made with chilli infused vodka, fresh watermelon chunks and sugar syrup, this promises to be refreshingly spicy.
At Sancho’s, a special tequila shot mixed with salsa does a fantastic job of balancing the pungent taste of both the chilli and tequila. You won’t need lime or salt. The salsa shot is priced at Rs 199-400, depending on your choice of tequila; you can take your pick from brands like Corralejo to silver/gold Souza.
Also on the menu is Al Rayo, a tequila-based cocktail tipped with salsa, pomegranate juice and grenadine, priced at Rs 350 a drink. If you’re looking to buy a whole bottle of chilli vodka, try Kalanov Vodka, in black pepper chilli flavour, available at the Eshik Impex in Mumbai (price on request).
As an aside, it’s always a boost to know that what’s hot is also healthy! Chillies are very high in Vitamin A and C and consumed in small amounts, aid digestion. Especially, they say, in the digestion of chocolate. No wonder chilli chocolates are quite the thing these days.
From Australia to South America, small-town chilli growing communities are known to have ventured into the chilli chocolate making business, and online orders are very popular.
Closer home in the capital, the first to fuse the unlikely pair into a premium chocolate was Chocolatiers’ owner Sanjiv Obhrai a while ago.
“I get my chillies from Andhra Pradesh, surprisingly called Kashmiri chilli. We wash them with vodka to retain its red colour and to make the taste less pungent,” he explains.
At his chocolate boutique in CR Park, you will find that the red chilli is stuffed delicately with chocolate, albeit the tip will be more pungent than the rest for the lack of chocolate there. A kilogram of this delicate chocolate will cost you Rs 750.
And not just in chocolates, The Taj Mahal pastry chef Kim Caula recommends blending chilli in cake, a chocolate drink, anything that one would like, he gushes.
“You can cook it with dark chocolate, or use it for a chocolate base for chicken. But the use of chilli in this way is limited in India at the moment. People here have not yet understood it well. But this style of cooking is very popular in the US, Chile, Argentina and Mexico,” he says.
As for the cherry on the cake, chilli icecream is quite the thing to try. The spicy cold flavour comes for just Rs 30 for a cup of 100 grams at Apsara icecream outlets, Mumbai.

Lifestyle - Eat Right

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With those three simple sentences, Michael Pollan ushered in a revolution in the way Americans thought about food. His book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, offers an elegantly simple thesis.
The American diet includes too many “edible foodlike substances” that aren’t real food. The more you process food, the longer it stays on the shelves, the worse it is for you. So, he advises, eat fresh; don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognise; and pay attention to your plate.
“But India’s different,” a foodie friend said. “We eat mostly fresh foods and we don’t have to worry about the whole organic debate.” I wasn’t so sure. So I spent some time in Delhi’s markets, watching people’s shopping habits.
More Indians eat out than ever before, and what we eat is often junk food — burgers, artery-busters like choley-bhature and butter chicken, two-minute noodles.
In INA Market, Defence Colony Market and Khan Market, many shopkeepers confirmed that the Indian household’s dependence on packaged foods was going up. If you speak to school teachers and the parents of young children, they’ll confirm that this is the chips-over-fruit generation.
Even when we’re buying “healthy”, the local vegetable markets have changed. Yes, you can find button mushrooms, broccoli and cherry tomatoes and other such exotica in the markets.
But with cold storage catching on, you lose your sense of what is and isn’t seasonal. I noticed small absences: the varieties of spinach seemed to have shrunk from 14-21 kinds to just two or three, mulberries and phalsa and other local fruit were disappearing off the shelves even as California grapes and prunes became readily available.
Two months after reading Pollan’s book, I came across Barbara Kingsolver’s account of how she and her family spent a year eating mostly what they had grown and farmed themselves. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle demonstrated an increasingly fashionable trend — the idea that eating local is better for you and better for the environment.
Inspiring as Kingsolver’s book is, I didn’t see my husband and me moving down to the farm. Instead, I set out to shop and eat slightly differently over a two-month period, just to see how easy or difficult it might be to eat healthier. This is what worked and what didn’t:
1) Shopping for vegetables every day — desirable, but impractical for many Indian households, especially if the family members keep office hours. Shopping twice a week, however, is easy for even the busiest of us. With veggies in the fridge, the need to order out dropped sharply.
2) Killing your own food: Bill Buford did it in Heat, Pollan did it, Kingsolver did it. I wimped out, given that cutting up a fish makes me nauseous. And besides, the friendly neighbourhood butcher does a better job than I could. I agree that killing your own chickens and goats is a way to remind yourself of the “cost” of meat, that you’re taking a life, but I’m, well, too chicken to do it.
3) The no-deprivation rule: Don’t go completely off chocolate; just save up your “chocolate points” for really excellent chocolate once in a while instead of eating KitKats every day. Don’t swear completely off meat; instead, pass on burgers, cheap sausages, badly made kababs and treat yourself once in a while to really excellent pork chops or spectacular raan. Chuck out the junk food — chips, biscuits, dalmoth — and buy nuts and raisins instead.
4) The do-it-yourself rule: Juicing fresh fruit rather than buying tetrapaks worked surprisingly well; spending Sunday in the kitchen cooking soups and stocks to use during the rest of the week became something of a chore. I did manage to cut down on the processed foods considerably, but it’ll be a while before I make stocks from scratch again. Sometimes, a good bouillon cube is the best way to go.

Entertainment - BadSHAH of Bollywood

It is 3:00 pm in London, the aroma of jerk chicken, Jamaican patties and fried fish waft in the air surrounding the 600,000 people who have congregated to celebrate the Notting Hill Carnival. Amidst the colourful crowds and beating drums, a 43-year-old Indian film director and producer smiles indulgently.
Along with his wife, who flew in from Mumbai to join him at short notice, he has joined in the revelries, clicked photographs, and made videos of Europe’s biggest street party with a security spend of £6 million according to the city’s Metropolitan Police.
For Vipul Amrutlal Shah, producer of 2008’s biggest Bollywood blockbuster Singh is Kinng, the Rs 48 crore spent on the Notting Hill Carnival security is like loose change, considering his current profits could burst a couple of bank lockers. “So far,” he grins, “the film has grossed Rs 126 crore worldwide.” For a film made on a budget of Rs 55 crore (it was produced by Shah and directed by Aneez Bazmee), that’s a lot of money.
So what if its storyline, at least on paper, looked like a dud: A young Sikh goes to Australia to bring back a bunch of goons, his village mates, whose wayward ways are giving his humble Punjab village a bad name. During the course of events he raises their conscience, lectures them on the virtues of being a good Sikh, and brings them back home. End . Oh, the hero makes a mistake, flying out to Egypt instead of Australia, where he sings a couple of songs with the love of his life.
“The first time I heard the story of Singh is Kinng, I had a good laugh about it with Vipul,” says J D Mathijia of Hats Off, a well-known Indian television production company. Shah and Mathijia (whose families have been friends) were together in the Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics, which Shah joined “because the dramatics society there was very strong”.
Mathijia remembers Shah as a risk-taker: “A major difference between him and me: I think and move, he moves and then thinks.” A case in point is Singh is Kinng which he couldn’t relate to but on which Shah had cast his bet. “It’s certainly not a superlative film, it’s no piece of art, but Vipul knew what he was doing. The fact that audiences have lapped it obviously means that he has succeeded beyond all expectations,” says Mathijia.
He’s right, Singh is Kinng is an out-and-out commercial success. “Its first weekend collection was Rs 25 crore and its all-India opening stood at a bumper 95 per cent,” says film trade analyst Komal Nahta. The film’s second week domestic net collection alone stood at Rs 64 crore. What’s more, even before the film’s release, the music rights were sold to Junglee Music, an arm of Times Music, for Rs 13.5 crore, the highest-ever in the Indian film industry.
But Nahta makes a point: “Some distributors who bought the film from Indian Films, to whom Vipul Shah had sold it, have posted losses. However, that’s nothing compared to the success that Singh is Kinng has seen.” Sources say that Ramesh Sippy Productions, which acquired the film’s distribution rights for the Mumbai territory for Rs 9.5 crore, has lost Rs 1.5 crore. “But Singh is Kinng,” adds Nahta, “is a clear winner.”
Years ago, Shah couldn’t have even dreamed of such numbers in his kitty. “But then, I don’t dream, I’ve never done that. I’ve just kept doing my work — happily and passionately,” he says, busy scouting for locations for his forthcoming London Dreams. Interestingly, like his Singh is Kinng and Namastey London, the new film too will be distributed by Indian Films. Reportedly, at over Rs 100 crore, London Dreams has commanded the highest sale figure for any Indian film though, as film trade analyst Taran Adarsh points out, the deal is yet to be signed on paper.
For someone whose father forced him to take charge of the family business 20 years ago — he ran Parle Book Depot, one of the oldest bookshops in Mumbai — Shah has come a long, long way. With no one from his family in films (his brother publishes educational books and his sister is married and settled), Shah likes to think that his creative genes came from his mother, who is a terrific singer. His entire training ground was Gujarati theatre, where he acted, produced and even directed plays (he was 19 when he started acting and 21 when he directed his first play) before he moved on to making Gujarati TV programmes.
His biggest hit was Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka (inspired by one of his own Gujarati plays) on Sony TV which completed 1,000 episodes before he switched to films. His first film Aankhen (“I hate the second half of that film,” confesses Shah), produced by Gaurang Doshi, had a budget of Rs 18 crore and collected Rs 23 crore at the box office. His second, Waqt, produced by Adlabs, garnered Rs 4 crore in the overseas territories alone and Rs 7.5 crore from Mumbai territory. His third, Namastey London, made for Rs 25 crore, has collected Rs 110 crore so far.
It was through college theatre that he met his group of friends who would later become successful TV producers (Mathijia), writers (Aatish Kapadia) and actors (Deven Bhojani and Paresh Ganatra). “I remember sitting at my father’s bookshop, waiting for him to take phone calls or attend to clients so I could slip away,” says Shah. “I would gallivant,” he shrugs, “turn up home at 3:00-4:00 am to find my father sometimes glaring from the balcony.”
Akshay Kumar, who has worked in four films with Shah, says, “While doing Namastey London with him, I saw how intelligent he was not just as a director but also as a producer. I actually suggested to him then that he should make a film where he would have a role only as producer, and I’m glad Singh is Kinng became that example.” But another friend, not wishing to be named, fears that Shah might be beginning to drift away into the world of out-and-out commercial films.
Adarsh interjects, “Vipul’s films are contemporary but still very desi at heart, and that’s why he’s in the big league.” In his view, Shah’s films are a perfect marriage of form and technique, vital ingredients for any film to succeed. “His goodwill and success are reasons why his forthcoming films, before they’ve even begun, are already in the news,” he adds.
In what will be a big challenge to prove himself, Shah will start shooting for London Dreams next month with Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan and south Indian actress Asin. No Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif? “I need to be flexible, I have to work with other actors,” says Shah, agreeing that with his success graph expectations from London Dreams are huge. When he had decided to cast Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar in Namastey London, friends had warned him of potential disaster. “I had immense faith in my actors, and it proved a success,” says Shah.
Already, his production team in Mumbai is working on shot sequences, drawing up lists of locations, jotting minute details of costumes and songs, even the number of extra crew that would be needed from London. “We work very systematically, but unlike many directors I never use a storyboard. I like working shots on the sets, that’s the only thing I don’t plan,” says Shah.
The Gujarati lad, born and bred in Mumbai, whose father worried about his son’s future, is ironically booked for the next two years with projects that include London Dreams and an as-yet untitled film, work on which will begin by February 2009, with — who else? — Akshay Kumar. “Vipul sat me down and had a long chat with me some days ago and said, ‘You have to support me, I’m going to be busy for the next two years’,” says Shefali, his wife, who worked with him in Waqt, that starred Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar.
Their first meeting was for a Gujarati film, one in which Shah wanted Shefali to act, and which she wanted to refuse. “He has tremendous power to convince, he could sell ice to an Eskimo,” laughs Shefali, who is readying to move with her husband and two children (boys, aged six and five) to their newly-purchased home in Andheri.
Kapadia, who wrote plays with Shah in college and translated two of them for celluloid (Aankhen and Waqt), says, “Vipul’s very motivating as a friend. Professionally, he is a fantastic blend of a producer and director.” Mathijia agrees, “He’s always been an entrepreneur. Even in college, he was always a couple of steps ahead of us.” Shah, on his part, feels he tasted failure early in life, which is why he continues to remain grounded.
“My first Gujarati play as a producer, for which I raised Rs 3 lakh after selling my father’s bike and taking a loan at 4 per cent per month, flopped miserably. I remember the agitated crowds screaming, demanding their money back. It was terrible,” he rues. Shefali adds, “Yes, but despite setbacks, I’ve never seen him flustered.” Actor Neha Dhupia, who worked in Singh is Kinng, says, “He’s not a stingy producer, always looking after us and our minutest needs.”
For Shah, the goodwill he’s earned is a humbling experience. “I haven’t done anything extraordinary with Singh is Kinng,” he says, setting out for Oxford Street to shop for a new pair of shoes. “It’s because my films have continued to succeed that I’m getting noticed.” That’s why he needs those shoes — after all, he’s still sprinting towards success.

Lifestyle - Kitchen Kills

You may be using your kitchen sponge and the dishrag for the maximum cleaning work. However, these two are also in fact the hub for majority of germs and hence, it's even more important to disinfect them. If not paid adequate attention , you may only end up transferring germs from one part of the kitchen to another. Cleaning the sponge or the cloth solely with water is not enough. Make sure you also throw the same into the microwave for a couple of minutes. It helps kill germs in the crevices that are often left untouched. Consciously try and replace the rag every week. Keep it dry when it's not in use.

The tap faucet and the handles of the refrigerator doors are also high on the germ count. Use a disinfectant regularly to wipe these areas. In fact, do it several times a day. The cutting board Since your cutting board comes in frequent contact with raw vegetables and meat, it is extremely susceptible to germs and other bacteria. What makes it worse is that most people don't even consider it necessary to disinfect the cutting board. As a rule of thumb, never use the same cutting board for vegetables and meat without disinfecting it. Even better; use separate boards. Key areas such as the refrigerator and the microwave that frequently come in contact with food must be kept clean.

Take an old toothbrush, put baking soda on it and clean the drain of your kitchen sink thoroughly. There's a high risk of germs from this area being passed on to other parts of the house as well. Don’t mix glasses At home, it can get extremely difficult to keep track of who drinks from which glass. When taking precautions becomes all the more important (for example during monsoon and flu season), opt for paper cups. To make sure that the cups don't get mixed, you can go for a colour code method and assign a specific colour to each family member.

India - Every second indian to be mobile by 2012

NEW DELHI: With India now adding 8 to 10 million mobile subscribers every month, as much as half the nation's population or one in every two citizens will own a mobile phone in India by the middle of 2012. According to Business Monitor International, a renowned London-based research firm, 612 million mobile subscribers by 2012 will help India clock a mobile teledensity of roughly 51% by 2012. This scorching pace of growth is unlikely to falter unless the sector faces unforeseen policy disasters or if India's operators fail to roll out their networks. International Telecom Union's (ITU) projections are in the same range. India is already the world's second largest mobile market, behind China's 500 plus million mobile subscriber base. Increasing incomes, changing lifestyles and lower cost of technology are allowing more and more Indians to ride the telecom wave. The new numbers overtake earlier estimates, including from UBS, Citigroup and Credit Suisse predicting a mobile population of between 400 to 450 million by March 2010. Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers have been more even conservative, betting on a base of just 400 million by 2010. However, India will reach this milestone in 2009 itself. India's mobile revolution has been a huge social leveler, with the growing number of users tying a diverse nation in a manner rarely seen before. Its youth are expected to contribute significantly to these surging numbers. Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group, which tied up with Tata Teleservices to launch branded services in India recently said, "An exciting market, with more than 215 million Indians aged between 14 and 25 years. Over the next three years we expect to be adding 50 million new youth subscribers". While companies like Virgin are focused on urban market, it is clear that next set of growth will come from B and C category cities and rural India. Mobile penetration of this magnitude has the ability to revolutionalize long distance learning and health care reaching some of the most far flung terrains. Where content is concerned most analysts agree that, largely on the back of India's film industry, music services will grow fast, even if other content related revenue lags behind. Given that a reasonable part of the population by 2010 will be children below 14 and senior citizens, it seems mobile access amongst the youth and working classes will be more in the range of 70% - 80%.