Nov 8, 2008

Business - Hot Wheels;How a tiny toy makes Big Bucks (G.ReaD)

Keith Naughton

Hot Wheels are hot again. Parent company Mattel is now worth more than GM. Got an old Beach Bomb VW model in the attic? You're rich!

On weekends, Edwin Norman likes to hit the Richwood Flea Market in northern Kentucky with his sons, Ja'Mon, 5, and Julian, 6. But they don't come to pick up a set of hunting knives. The Cincinnati-area father and his sons are shopping for wheels. The kind that come in a plastic package and cost a buck. Today, the young boys see plenty they like as they rush the table at the Mo Collectibles booth, squealing and squirming over rows of shiny, tiny hot rods. Ja'Mon suddenly spots the car he likes—a metallic midnight-blue Suzuki—snatches it up and waves it in his brother's face. "I want to drive this car when I'm big," he says. Their father looks on wistfully. "This brings me back," says Norman, 50. "I played with Hot Wheels when I was a kid, and they look forward to getting new ones just like I did."
In the fad-driven fantasyland of toys, Hot Wheels has had an incredible ride. Those pocket rockets have been racing down their familiar orange tracks for four decades now and, unlike the real car market, show no signs of slowing down. Last year Hot Wheels set a record, as sales surged by 16 percent, and they continue to accelerate in 2008 even as the economy tanks. In fact, as Motown melts down, Hot Wheels is heating up. The tiny toy cars' parent company, Mattel, now has a market capitalization that surpasses General Motors. That's right—Wall Street thinks the maker of toy cars is worth more than the largest real carmaker in America.
And why not? Hot Wheels is still a growth engine that analysts say does $1 billion a year in global sales. In the $2.3 billion U.S. market for toy vehicles, Hot Wheels has been a leader for years, according to retail researcher NPD Group. Mattel says it has produced 4 billion Hot Wheels since 1968. And Hot Wheels suffers none of the age angst afflicting Mattel's other icon, Barbie, the Norma Desmond of dolls. Now Hot Wheels is getting the star treatment. There's a Saturday-morning cartoon, "Battle Force 5," debuting on Cartoon Network next fall. A Hot Wheels movie from "Matrix" producer Joel Silver and Warner Brothers is in the works. And Wal-Mart, America's No. 1 toy seller, is featuring two Hot Wheels sets, Trick Track and Beast Bash, in its big "Ten Under $10" holiday promotion. "Hot Wheels' basic fantasy is something that is timeless—it's cool, fast and powerful," says toy analyst Chris Byrne.
The brand is riding a hot streak because it reconnected with little boys and their fathers. "Dads would see the old blue box and say, 'I remember those'," says Larry Wood, a former Ford designer who started penning Hot Wheels in 1969 and constituted the entire design staff for much of 1970s. "Our sales took off." Earlier this decade, Hot Wheels took a wrong turn by going after older boys who were getting their car play from videogames like Grand Theft Auto. To try to get those big boys to put down their game controllers, Hot Wheels came up with ever more elaborate—and complicated—play sets. One, the Slimecano, featured a slime-spewing volcano that cars had to navigate—and parents had to try to assemble. But no matter how fancy Hot Wheels became, the vid kids weren't interested. Then about three years ago, Hot Wheels returned to its roots—simple tracks that snap together quickly and fast cars that excite 5-to 8-year-old boys just coming out of their Thomas the Tank Engine years. "We were trying too hard to push the brand older," says Tim Kilpin, the Mattel senior VP who steered Hot Wheels back to basics. "We had to make it cool for the right-age boys."
And that age turns out to be under 10 and over 40. The rust-colored roadways and loop-the-loops of Hot Wheels' latest offerings are descendants of the original tracks that first put the toy in motion. "It's the circle of life," says Hot Wheels marketing executive Geoff Walker. These days, adult collectors make up a quarter of the Hot Wheels basic car business. At a Hot Wheels convention in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, a collector paid $70,000 for a rare pink Beach Bomb model, a 1969 VW bus with a surfboard sticking out the back, which never went into production because it was too small for the track. (The pink color was an attempt to attract girls, which didn't take. Hot Wheels have always been to boys what Barbie is to girls.) A new price threshold might be jumped when collectors bid on a diamond-encrusted Hot Wheels racer, valued at $140,000, being auctioned this month to mark the car line's 40th anniversary.
Among the bidders will be Bruce Pascal, 47, a Washington, D.C., real-estate agent who has a Hot Wheels collection valued at $400,000. As the stock market melted down, he still paid $13,000 for a rare "overchromed" Ford T-bird from the original Hot Wheels catalog. "I've looked over my portfolio and I'm down in everything except Hot Wheels," he says.
Analysts see investor exuberance for two-inch toy cars as adult rationalization for engaging in child's play. "They might think of it as a poor man's commodity exchange," says modern-history professor Gary Cross of Penn State. "But what they're really doing is collecting their youth." And that drives up revenue, though Mattel didn't realize it at first. When adults first started gathering to swap cars 21 years ago, "Mattel didn't want anything to do with us," says Mike Strauss, who has organized the swap meets since the beginning. At his convention at the Hilton LAX this month, $2 million worth of toy cars changed hands, including one $168,000 collection unloaded by a man to help pay for his divorce.
With that kind of money on the table, Mattel now rolls up big, providing product and, most important, its stable of Hot Wheels designers to autograph their creations, which typically don't leave the packages (the better to hold their value). More than 100 grown men lined up in a courtyard at the Hilton to meet the designers they idolize. "A part of me feels like a geek telling people I'm going to a Hot Wheels convention," says Carlyle McCullough, 43, communications director for a Texas church. "But it's not like we're going behind a closed door and going 'vroom, vroom.' Well, not very often anyway."
It hasn't always been a smooth ride. The Hot Wheels story has many twists. It began in 1967, when custom hot rods ruled the road in Mattel's southern California neighborhood. Mattel cofounder Elliot Handler wanted to capitalize on the craze and give boys a toy on par with Barbie. Back then, boys played with toy train sets. Toy cars were crude contraptions, with wheels fused to their die-cast bodies. Handler asked a designer to rig a car from British competitor Matchbox (now owned by Mattel) with wheels that actually spun. An hour later, the designer had a prototype. The boss gave it a flick and it zipped across his desk. "Now those are some hot wheels," Handler reportedly said. And a franchise was born.
When the first flamed-out, chromed-up cars appeared in 1968, with names like Hot Heap and Heavy Chevy, they took off like dragsters. Mattel figured it had a hot product it could ride for a year or two. But the toymaker discovered that as long as it rolled out new models—revved-up reproductions of Detroit muscle along with flights of fancy like the skull-faced Bone Shaker—boys kept coming back for more. "The cars change every year, so you have perpetual contemporaneity," Cross says. "That's what makes Hot Wheels go."
What made them stall was any design change that slowed the cars down. In 1973, to cut costs, Hot Wheels cheapened the cars' piano-wire suspension, which made sales go cold. Designers fixed that and Hot Wheels took off again. In 1977, to save a penny per car, Mattel stopped painting a thin red line around the tire sidewalls. (Keeping the price under a buck a car has always been critical.) Today, collectors pay hundreds for those original "Red Line" Hot Wheels.
These days, Hot Wheels does as much business for Mattel as Barbie, toy analysts say. And there are now 35 designers, kicking out 300 new models a year. Lately, they've been toiling in a "treehouse" on the company's backlot in El Segundo, Calif., while Mattel builds them a new hangar-size studio nearby. You can climb to the second-floor studio on a rope ladder hanging from a faux tree, or you can simply take the stairs. Once aloft, you find a tree fort outfitted like a gearhead's garage, with a gleaming chrome toolbox, a checkerboard-flag floor and corrugated metal bulletin boards where designers hang their latest works with magnetic lug nuts. "This is our brainstorm area," Wood says. Detroit's real-car designers are trying to escape to this toy land. "I got a call today from guy in Detroit asking if we had any positions open," says designer Alec Tam, 37, a second-generation Hot Wheels designer whose father penned the original Beach Bomb. "The little cars are very similar to the real-car business from a design standpoint."
Just like their big-car cousins in Detroit, Hot Wheels designers went to art school and now create cars on computer. They zap their digitized designs to virtual model makers in Asia, who send back encoded files that are then used to produce 3-D renderings. The entire process takes just days, and a car created in January can be hanging on a peg at the toy store by summer. The process in Detroit can take four years. Another contrast: since you don't need a car loan for a 99-cent car, sales for an individual model can top one million units. "I've designed the bestselling production car in GM history; it's crazy," says GM designer Amaury Diaz-Serrano, referring to his Chevroletor retro racer, which became a Hot Wheels model last year in a design contest Mattel conducted with real-world carmakers.
Hot Wheels takes no pleasure in Detroit's pain. "We need Detroit to exist for us to be successful," says Walker. After all, Hot Wheels bestsellers remain replicas of classic Detroit iron. For decades, Motown has shared its top-secret blueprints of upcoming models with Mattel so that the Hot Wheels and real-wheels versions could debut simultaneously. That's happening again in November at the L.A. Auto Show, when Ford unveils a new design for its Mustang. As soon as the wraps come off the candy-red pony car, the journalists covering the introduction will be handed the 1/64th-scale Hot Wheels replica with a matching paint job. "It helps sell the real thing," explains Ford licensing executive John Nens. Barbie might get old. But boys and their toys never grow up.
With Patrick Crowley

Lifestyle - Q&A Michelle Obama

Richard Wolffe | NEWSWEEK
NEWSWEEK: Settling in with the family in Washington … do you have any idea of how you ' ll do that?
Michelle Obama: We'll be using every second of the transition time to work out timetables and timelines and all that good stuff. But the hope is that everybody settles in at the same time. So that we won't be transitioning portions of the family at different periods of time. But how, when and where—we don't know enough. At this stage, it's difficult to really have good conversations about schools and all that stuff because you don't want to measure the drapes.
This is the first transition for the family — the first move to a different place.
So is that daunting?
It's just unknown. And like any new thing, it feels a bit daunting until you have your plan. What I do know is that once the pieces start coming together, I think that's when the excitement can begin. When the girls know what school they're going to be in, they'll have a sense of how that's going to feel, and they'll know what their rooms look like. All my anticipation is really around the girls, making sure that they're OK. Barack and I … it's going to be a hard job. He likes hard jobs [laughs]. We know we have a lot of work to do. That's just a natural part of it. But as soon as I know that the kids are where they need to be, the other stuff is just hard work, which we are used to.
You want to continue what you did with Public Allies [ which trains young people to become leaders of community groups and nonprofits] as First Lady. What ' s your thinking on how to go about that?
Barack is talking about a deeper investment in national service; that's been part of his platform. He's been meeting with some of the leadership of the AmeriCorps national-service movements—the Public Allies, the Teach for Americas, the City Years of the World—and figuring out how do we use that model, expand upon it, and help use that as a more creative way to defray the costs of college for young people and get all Americans really engaged. What AmeriCorps showed me, during the time that I worked on it, is that all these resources of young people, and not-so-young people, as I call them—because AmeriCorps is not just for young adults but people of all ages—you can fill a lot of gaps with the help of community-service hours. The young people in my program worked as program directors. They worked with kids and they worked in parks and they worked with nonprofit organizations that didn't have the resources to bring people in full time. So this is one of those clear win-wins. You can help kids pay for school, you can get needed man-hours into really critical things like the environment, senior care, Head Start—a whole range of things. And you get the country more focused on giving back.
There are elements of this already in place at the national level. Is it just a lack of resources, or insufficient focus and organization?
Fortunately, [President] Bush kept AmeriCorps, but it was significantly defunded. I haven't worked on AmeriCorps in a while, so I don't know how the funding cuts have really affected them ... When I was with Public Allies, and AmeriCorps was at its height, there were resources for expansion. So you had the new program in Chicago that I started. Then there was something going on in Milwaukee, and they were looking at West Coast offices. But I think with those funds reduced, people had to stop that kind of growth. So you're just limited in the number of slots that you can have for young people or seniors or what-have-you.
Public Allies is a diverse organization and you ' ve talked before about your desire to give back to your community. How much is it geared toward people like yourself, who have maybe come out of the inner city and are giving back?
We tried to maintain a balance across the board on not just race but socioeconomic and educational backgrounds ... The notion of AmeriCorps is that service doesn't have a degree or race or an age on it. With training and opportunity, everyone is a potential community leader. The program that I ran, we tried very deliberately to make sure that the class reflected that kind of diversity. Also, there's the notion that there's learning and growth from everyone ... You're constantly pulling these people together for reflection and additional training, and sort of revisiting the notion that the Harvard Law student is going to learn from the 18-year-old with the GED. And if you're on a team together and you have to sit together and work on a project, then that's going to hammer that home.
People expect this to be a pretty tough economic situation. Do you have to scale back the ambition for this kind of public service?
That fortunately isn't my job [laughs]. Those are going to be some of the first major decisions that Barack will have to make in terms of laying out his platform. How much do you invest in what? What do you scale back on and how? We'll have to look to the president for those answers.
You ' ve obviously become engaged with military families and their plight during this campaign. How would you continue with that?
I don't know yet, but when I was having these conversations, I would always have military officials along with me. I know a lot about the issues that families face, but I didn't know as much about the military structure. One former senior official there talked about the past and how the military, because of its flexibility, was often the place that provided the platform for trying new things with regard to family life and family leave. That's not the case any more ... I want to figure out how we explore ways to be creative in terms of support and then use some of those models in the broader society. These conversations with military families—they were an outgrowth of the conversations we were having with women in working families. I periodically would come across the spouse who was living alone out there, the wife or the husband of a reservist living in the regular community, struggling with the same economic, childcare, education issues that everybody else was. But on top of that, they were living alone with a loved one that was shipped away for years on end, with no one around to really support them. Their bosses didn't understand, so they didn't get any extra support time when their loved one was being deployed. There were no support systems. The first thing I'd like to do is to continue those conversations, because it was a shock to me, just as a civilian, to know that these support systems weren't there … I think there are many other families out there who would be shocked and outraged to know that our troops' families are not being taken care of while they are fighting and dying for us … How you take these conversations and come up with real, concrete recommendations that can be turned into change?
They say you ' re the one who keeps it real. So how do you keep it real in the White House? Have you talked to other people about the experience yet?
Not yet. I've talked to Hillary Clinton, who has been a wonderful resource. But again, I've tried not to even come close to being presumptuous. It just seems rude to even begin to have those conversations in the midst of a campaign. Some of the work that I have to do during this transition period is really sit down with people who have been through it and get an understanding of what happens in this bubble. How does it work? And what are the parameters that I have to work in. Our hope is that we do some of what we've been doing for the last year and a half. That we really treat our family life as separate as you can, that we keep the girls' lives very set apart from this whole experience. Which means we have to just pretend like this isn't happening [laughs]. And we've gotten sort of good at it. It'll be a little bit more challenging, but I think that staying connected to friends and family who know you … I'm hoping that my mother will come with me. I'm begging her.
She said there wasn ' t enough space or didn ' t want to intrude.
Yeah, whatever [laughs]. But just continuing to make sure that our first priority is getting them into schools that make sense for them, making sure that they have activities that they care about, that we're there for them to help them with their homework, that we go to their parent-teacher conferences, that we go to all their events. It's important to continue to do that, no matter what their father's job is. And he has to continue to make them a priority even as he's the leader of the free world. I think that's an important thing for him to model for others. It's this notion that if he can do it, then we all have to really fight for it. Because what we're going to be fighting for, for our kids, is what we have to fight for, for all of our kids. They have to be center in this society and this nation. We have to put their education, their needs, their well-being first and foremost. As adults, we can balance the other stuff. We're the grown-ups [laughs].
Looking back, you ' ve been a lightning rod at times. Has the bad stuff, the personal stuff, been worth it?
It's all been worth it, because the truth is that 99 percent of my experience is what you're seeing today. Regardless of how they feel about Barack or the candidates, people are decent and they're kind. They are willing to give you a chance to prove yourself to them. There is nothing but personal gain on that note, and the sidebar stuff is like noise. It just really isn't a reflection of how the country thinks or feels all the time. And it's been fortunate that I have been on the road so much because this has been the primary stimulus, the feedback that I get, and it's been a complete joy.
So you think you can get your mother out?
Yeah. She can live wherever she wants to live. I think she might have felt like she didn't have as many options. But the girls are going to need her, as part of their sense of stability. And what is true for my mom is that she does anything for us and her grandkids. All they have to do is look at her with sad eyes and she's done for [laughs]. It's like, "You're going to say no? You're going to tell your grandkids, 'No, I'm going to stay in Chicago where there are no grandchildren and I'm not going to come and help you get adjusted'.'' No, I think she's going to come [laughs].
The conversations with Hillary Clinton: didn ' t they also involve the subject of raising kids in the White House?
Oh, absolutely. I've always admired what she has been able to do with Chelsea. You can tell from one conversation with Chelsea that she's a mature, decent, well-balanced young lady. And they [the parents] did something right. [Hillary] talked about how they were very protective of her personal space, and how they created some real clear hard boundaries that were never crossed. That went a long way to retaining some normalcy for her. But I also hope to talk to Laura Bush and Tipper Gore and Rosalynn Carter. I'm going to be reaching out to everyone who has ever had any experience who is willing to talk to me. Caroline Kennedy, who probably doesn't remember a lot … but she has also been someone who has been forthcoming. Maria Shriver—even First Ladies of our states have a perspective. I'm an information gatherer. I want to talk to, and get as many perspectives from people, Republicans and Democrats alike, because there are just so few families who have experienced this. If I can talk to all of them, I will.
Where did you have the conversations with Hillary?
We've have had most of our conversations by phone, because she's been campaigning, I've been campaigning. So periodically I try to check in with her. She has been completely forthcoming. She will spend as much time as I need on the phone. She's been completely gracious with her time and her advice, and I am grateful to her for that.

India - The news get worse


Forecasting is a hazardous business, doubly so when there is turbulence all around. Still, it is worth noting that when most Indian forecasters (in the government and outside) were still talking of 8-plus per cent growth this financial year, many international forecasters had started talking of 7-plus per cent. The Prime Minister, whose comments on the economic situation in recent weeks have been the most realistic, has lowered his expectation for the current year to 7-7.5 per cent, which is the lowest Indian forecast so far. As for next year, the International Monetary Fund has in the space of a month lowered its forecast from 6.9 per cent to 6.3 per cent—a range where perhaps only one Indian forecaster has dared to tread so far. As the forecasts drop steadily lower, it is clear that Indian observers are still mixing a liberal dose of hope with their knowledge of reality. Perhaps the time has come to become more clear-eyed about the extent of the bad news.

While the financial crisis first hit US charts in the summer of 2007, the watershed was September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers went under. In India, the first four quarters of the crisis (July 2007-June 2008) created only mild flutters, and the news was still pretty upbeat (growth in the April-June quarter was a healthy 7.9 per cent), with the main worry being inflation. Then the tide turned: the industrial production index tanked in August, corporate profits for the July-September period fell by a staggering 35 per cent, and business confidence dropped off the cliff. Oil prices peaked in July, then fell by an astonishing 60 per cent in just three months. It is amazing to recall that in the July monetary policy announcement, Reserve Bank of India actually jacked up interest rates!

But even the July-August-September phase now looks like a cakewalk, compared to what October has been. Sales figures have caved in for most automobile companies, Reliance is going easy on the commissioning of its new refinery, and lay-offs are taking place in sectors ranging from textiles to diamond cutting, from truck companies to airlines, and from investment banks to real estate firms. Mutual funds have seen a near-20 per cent drop in the money they manage, hotels admit a similar 20 per cent drop in occupancy though the reality could be worse, the index of shipping freight rates has dropped 90 per cent, and real estate transactions have dropped by a half. What began as a warning breeze spreading some chill in financial circles is now a full-fledged storm battering the real economy.

If you look at the broad numbers, industrial growth in the first five months of this year was 5 per cent, compared to 10 per cent a year earlier. If the remaining seven months get worse, not better, then industrial growth will drop further. Agricultural growth is unlikely to be more than 3 per cent. Between them, these two sectors account for nearly 45 per cent of the economy, and their combined contribution to GDP growth this year will be under 2 per cent. If overall growth is to be 7 per cent, services have to grow by 9 per cent. But there is a slowdown in all the important services sub-sectors (hotels, trade & transport, communications & information technology, insurance & financial services, construction). Only government services will grow, because of the Pay Commission hand-out. Over-all growth in such a scenario could struggle to reach even the lower end of the Prime Minister’s range of 7-7.5 per cent. However much we may hope against it, don’t rule out the possibility that the IMF’s forecast for next year comes true this year itself.

Fun - Why blame just Mamata ?

Keya Sarkar

When you stay in Santiniketan you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that entertainment opportunities are severely constrained. There is one movie hall which residents of Santiniketan are really proud of (ACs but no rats) but the problem is that it runs on a staple of Bengali Mithun starrers! There are a few restaurants which can fall into the category of offering a dining out experience. But even in these a waiter walking through the restaurant in a gamcha can mar the feel-good of an evening out.

So one learns to make the most of what is available. The whole Singur drama was the daily soap on TV which offered relief through the dreary monsoon days. The multi-star cast of Ratan Tata, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Gopal K Gandhi and of course the one and only female lead had us glued to our TV sets whenever the state electricity board so ordained.

While all other protagonists added their bit to the execution of the drama there was no denying that Mamata would win any nomination to the Oscars. Her speeches, her TV interviews, her singing, her painting, her Muslim-style covering of the head for added drama, all carried out with the dais in front of the factory as the only prop, had us always asking for more. At least in our household, Travel and Living, Zoom, HBO, all took a back seat as we flipped between Bengali news channels for our daily fix of the Mamata histrionics.

When Mamata started her protests I admired her for being able to bring to the political centrestage the issue of injustice to farmers. But of course as the days progressed, I realised how she was completely incapable of exploiting her support base to make any constructive contribution. But while most of my urban middle class friends and family felt that Mamata had ushered in decades of gloom by her single Singur Act, I disagreed.

For me there was gloom all around already. Every time I travel to Kolkata and have to take a taxi from the station, I am amazed at how the system works. You stand in queue and when you come to the head of it, the policeman in charge asks you where you wish to go. What what he would do with the knowledge? One taxi driver pointed out how there were two taxi lines which formed; one line was of those cabbies that were willing to pay a bribe and the other queue of those who did not. Depending on what the passenger says, the policeman allots a taxi. If the passenger has to go a long distance he allots it to a cab which has paid the bribe of Rs 10. Knowing the number of trains which come into Howrah station, the number of passengers who then hail a taxi, one can make some calculations on what the policemen takes home every day.

At the airport too there is enough provision for spoils. Unlike other metro airports where passenger pays for a prepaid coupon and waits in the taxi queue, in Kolkata the system has been put on its head. The passenger buys a prepaid taxi coupon which has a specific taxi number on it. The passenger then has to walk, family, trolley in toe, looking for that particular taxi. Doesn’t take much intelligence to figure how this system can match cabbies that pay bribes to the clerks who man the prepaid taxi counter to passengers who wish to travel long distance. In a state where basic administration and infrastructure is so appalling, is Mamata’s Singur Act really a catastrophe? Having lived outside of West Bengal for so many years has unfortunately made me aware of how it could have been. But staying in Santiniketan insulates you from much of the chaos that is West Bengal. How can I explain all this to friends who fail to appreciate why I seek my pleasures in Santiniketan and refuse to travel unless I absolutely have to.

World - Obama's acceptance speech partly written in London

Barack Obama's electrifying presidential acceptance speech in Chicago in the US, widely lauded all over the globe, was partly written by a Liberal Democrat tax lobbyist in a London flat in Notting Hill.

Obama's speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Chicago on Tuesday night was one of the most widely-watched and repeated political addresses in recent history.

According to 'The Daily Telegraph', parts of the speech were crafted by Jacob Rigg, 27, a volunteer adviser to the Obama campaign, in his flat in Notting Hill, west London.

Rigg works for 'The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners', which lobbies and advises on tax issues.

Rigg said the inspiration for the Chicago speech was the most celebrated piece of oratory in American history, Abraham Lincoln's 1863 address at Gettysburg.

Lincoln's speech, made two years before the end of the American Civil War, spoke of the "unfinished work" and the "great task remaining" of building a democratic republic.

In his speech, Obama had said: "The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there.”

Having worked in Washington as a lobbyist, Rigg has links with some of Obama's Senate staff, the report said.

Working from home in his own time, Rigg was involved in writing the President-elect's speech, contributing via phone, e-mail and video conferences.

Rigg said he had also drafted a significant speech the world will never hear, the one that Obama would have given if he had lost the election, according to the daily.

Meanwhile, copies of major American newspapers announcing the historic victory of Barack Obama are now being auctioned on e-Bay for a price ranging between a few dollars to more than a hundred, as they could become a collectors’ item.

The papers containing the results were snapped up fast on November 5 and it was perhaps a rare occasion that by mid-morning, most of the papers had been sold out.

Among the papers, 20 copies of the New York Times are being offered for more than $255 and a single copy up to $75.

Those seeking to bid are being assured that they are first hand copies with some warning them to beware of fakes.

The Washington Post has got bids up to $50 for one copy. A bundle of 50 Los Angeles Times victory edition are being offered for $1,800 one copy for up to $25.

Other papers too were being auctioned and bringing bids several times the cover price.

Business - India;Raja favours lock-in for new telecom promoters

Stung by growing accusations, especially from the Left, that the government sold spectrum for second-generation (2G) licences cheaply, Union Minister for Communications and IT A Raja has directed the Telecom Commission to revise licence terms for new telecom operators.

The Commission, which will hold a meeting on Tuesday, is looking at imposing a promoter lock-in of three to five years for the eight new licence-holders. The moratorium will be imposed on promoters who have more than 10 per cent equity in the telecom company and whose net worth has been considered by the government when it issued the licences. Promoters, however, will be allowed to bring in a new partner by expanding the company’s equity.

New operators said they would be forced to seek court intervention since a lock-in would violate the licence agreement signed with the government. The agreement does not have a clause prohibiting a promoter from selling equity.

“You can’t just change the licence conditions whenever you feel like. We will surely challenge any decision by the government to prohibit the sale of promoter equity,” said the director of a leading new all-India licence holder.

Raja has come under fierce attack for selling scarce 2G spectrum for a song and allowing companies like Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom to make a windfall by selling equity in their companies at huge valuations. A statement from the Left yesterday said the manner in which 2G spectrum was allocated is a big financial scam because the government has lost over Rs 60,000 crore in revenues.

Realtor Unitech paid around Rs 1,650 crore for an all-India licence in 22 circles and sold 60 per cent in the telecom venture to Norway-based Telenor for an enterprise value of Rs 11,620 crore, nearly six times the value paid for the spectrum.

Food - Sushi Bullies (V.G.Read)

Caty McLaughlin / WSJ

If you’re seated at the sushi bar at Sasabune in New York, Sushi Nozawa in Los Angeles, or Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale, California, a few words of advice: Don’t try to order—the chef will decide what you eat. Use extra soy sauce at your own risk. And don’t ask for a California roll. You might get kicked out.
You have entered the domain of the sushi bullies—top sushi chefs who serve only what they want, how they want it and to whom they want. Their rules are often posted on signs throughout their restaurants. Some chefs are notorious for ejecting patrons who annoy them.
Geri-Ayn Gaul had her first encounter with a raw-fish autocrat in August at Ino, in San Francisco. First, she tried to add some soy sauce to her seaweed salad. Big mistake. Chef Noboru Inoue scolded her, she says, telling her: “No, no, no. No soy sauce!” Then, she had the temerity to scrape some wasabi off a piece of sushi, because she doesn’t like spicy food. The chef’s response, she says: “No. It needs the wasabi.” She obeyed, and choked down the fish.
“I was so nervous, I spilled my miso soup,” says Gaul, whose meal for two, with no alcohol, cost $75 (around Rs3,700)—before tip.
While unaccommodating service may sound like a recipe for a failing restaurant, these domineering sushi chefs can have lines of supplicants outside the door. Some are expanding their reach with new restaurants, and their protégés are opening places of their own, bringing with them some of the attitude they learnt from their former bosses.
Each sushi dictator has his own pet peeves, but there is common ground. Most do not allow sushi bar patrons to order off the menu. Instead, diners must accept whatever the chef gives them, a tradition known as omakase—a Japanese expression that can be loosely translated as “trust the chef”. They reserve special enmity for spicy tuna rolls—typically made with scraps of raw tuna, mayonnaise and chilli powder—which they say were only invented so that restaurants could mask the taste of substandard fish. And they generally loathe the ubiquitous California roll. Not only is it a newfangled American invention that combines avocado and cucumber, but it usually contains imitation crab—anathema to chefs who have spent so much of their energy and money securing pristine seafood.

In Los Angeles, a veritable breeding ground for despotic sushi masters, Sushi Nozawa is one of the highest-rated restaurants in the local Zagat guide; the description says Kazunori Nozawa “makes the Soup Nazi look polite”.
In August, Nozawa opened a second Los Angeles restaurant, SugarFish. About half as expensive as his flagship, the restaurant also offers takeout that comes with an instruction card on exactly how the sushi should be consumed once it gets home. Nozawa and his associates hope to expand SugarFish into a chain around Los Angeles and other cities.

During a visit there in August, 19-year-old student Jillian Kasimow thought she might get away with a request she knows Nozawa would never allow at his flagship restaurant: She asked for more “delicious ponzu sauce”. The waiter’s response was swift and unyielding. “Nozawa never gives extra ponzu sauce,” Kasimow says she was told.
Higher gas prices may be partly to blame for the sushi dictators’ increasingly inflexible ways. Chefs say they are paying 30-50% more for staples such as tuna and yellowtail, compared to two years ago, because the spike in fuel costs makes both deep-sea fishing and transporting the catch more expensive. At the same time, disappearing fish populations around the world have made some chefs particularly passionate about serving sushi in its purest and simplest form.
“You’re not going to be able to taste this fish forever,” says Nobi Kusuhara, chef and owner of Sushi Sasabune in Los Angeles, referring to dwindling varieties such as bluefin tuna and abalone. He says that’s why he won’t use mayonnaise and other non-traditional ingredients that mask the flavours of the fish—even if customers beg for such things. Two of Kusuhara’s former employees have opened Sasabune restaurants in New York and Honolulu, respectively, complete with signs reading “Today’s Special: Trust Me”.
Dealing with American diners who are unfamiliar with centuries-old Japanese culinary traditions can be agonizing for some chefs, says Andy Matsuda, head of Sushi Chef Institute, a Los Angeles cooking school. Requesting fried soft shell crab rolls at a traditional sushi bar is akin to “going to your grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner and someone brings a pizza,” Matsuda says. Dousing sushi in soy sauce is like pouring ketchup over the entrée at a three-star French restaurant. Other offences, such as ordering miso soup at the beginning of the meal, only add to chefs’ frustration.
But some chefs say that strict adherence to tradition is also a way to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. There are about 9,700 full-service Japanese restaurants in the US, up from 7,800 a decade ago, according to Technomic, a Chicago-based restaurant consulting firm. Many of them, along with many Chinese restaurants, takeout places and even supermarket refrigerator sections, offer sushi. There is one sushi restaurant for every quarter mile in Beverly Hills, according to the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau.
Steve Sawa of Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale, California, decides what his customers eat, doles out soy sauce by the droplet and has a ban on California rolls. Patrons who rudely demand miso soup and extra rice are often shown the door.
Ousting annoying diners makes the ones who get to stay feel like they are part of a special club—a fringe benefit, Sawa says. “Some people love it when I kick people out,” he adds.
Some chefs inspire a sort of love-hate relationship with their patrons. Atlanta lost its feared (but beloved) sushi despot when Sotohiro Kosugi closed his restaurant, called Soto, in 2006. Kosugi, who reopened in New York last year, would occasionally berate staff in front of diners, and scowl so darkly that the entire restaurant ambience would sour, says John Kessler; the former restaurant critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says he ate at Soto about 30 times

Ted Golden, a 29-year-old technology entrepreneur, says he would sometimes try to converse with Kosugi, whom he knew well—he estimates that he ate at Soto roughly 100 times—but the chef would be so focused on his work that he would refuse to answer.
For his part, Kosugi says he is deeply disturbed by characterizations of him as a tyrant, and that many stories about him are untrue. He admits, though, that the pressure can make him moody and that he is “very ashamed and cannot sleep at night” after behaving badly. He moved to New York, he says, because he felt the market there was more conducive to serving only traditional, high-end food. Targeting a narrower audience, he says, helps avoid the problem of unmanageable customer expectations—and his resulting bad humour.
Sushi dictators, like the American sushi restaurant trend itself, first surfaced in Los Angeles, according to Sasha Issenberg, author of the Sushi Economy, which examines the cuisine’s prevalence around the world. The California roll was invented in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s for diners who wanted to try sushi but were squeamish about eating raw fish, Issenberg says. Throughout the 1980s, creative takes on sushi proliferated, giving rise to everything from Philadelphia rolls, which contain cream cheese and salmon, to sushi made with brown rice.
Then, in 1987, Kazunori Nozawa opened Sushi Nozawa in a strip mall in Studio City, California. The little restaurant soon became as famous for its authentic, fresh sushi as for Nozawa’s notorious strictures, including his habit of throwing out customers, including Hollywood bigwigs, who displeased him.
Nozawa says he ejects about one customer per month. Actionable offences include taking too long to eat—the restaurant only has 21 seats and it’s not fair to people who are waiting, Nozawa says—and pestering him with requests to use a cellphone. Some patrons are so chagrined over being banned that they try to come back disguised in baseball caps, sunglasses and, in one case, a wig, says restaurant manager Yumiko Nozawa. As his reputation as a sushi despot has grown, Nozawa says more people have attempted to goad him into kicking them out by deliberately breaking the rules.
“It’s for people who don’t have proper sushi-eating etiquette. Those are the people I’m hard on,” Nozawa says, adding that his 45 years of experience, including a 10-year apprenticeship in Japan, and a rigorous work schedule (he shops for fish at 5am daily) give him the right to do things his way.
Some of the behaviour that scandalizes American diners is the norm in Japan. To be sure, traditional training in Japan encourages a polite and friendly approach, much like the demeanour of American bartenders, says Frank Toshi Sugiyura, owner of California Sushi Academy in Los Angeles. But in Japan, customers understand that they should never offend the chef by dismantling a piece of sushi or using too much sauce.

Fans of the despots say they put up with the chefs’ behaviour because the food is so good and they feel they are getting an authentic meal. Gaul, a 27-year-old pharmaceutical saleswoman, says she loved the monkfish liver and fresh sea urchin at Ino so much that she plans to go back, even though she is “afraid” to go without a Japanese-speaking companion.
“I will take his somewhat abrasive advice because he’s teaching me about Japanese culture,” Gaul says of Chef Inoue. Inoue says he realizes that he scares some patrons, but that he is merely trying to explain proper sushi etiquette with limited English and very little time—he is the only chef in the restaurant. In 30 years, he says, he has never kicked anyone out of the restaurant.
Deeper forces may also explain why customers put up with being put down. Part of it is the “scarcity principal”, says David Stewart, a psychologist who teaches courses in consumer behaviour at the University of California at Riverside’s business school. People value praise more when it comes from people who don’t give it out easily, Stewart says. People go to these restaurants in search of both “modest risk” and “approbation”, Stewart says, perhaps in the form of a uni handroll.
It’s a point of pride for Teddy Zee, a movie producer in Los Angeles, that Kazunori Nozawa will make him sushi with slightly less rice than usual. Zee says he “had the chutzpah” to make the request after going golfing with the chef. “In a stupid way, it makes you feel a bit special,” Zee says.
Yukari Iwatani Kane and Phred Dvorak contributed to this story

Steve Sawa’s special sauce
How best it can be used for salmon and cod

At his Sunnyvale, California, restaurant Sawa Sushi, chef Sawa uses this miso sauce on marinated salmon and ocean trout sashimi, and a variation of it on sake-steamed Alaskan king crab.
We developed a method for applying this sauce, using his recipe, to roasted salmon and cod.
Miso Sauce
Yield: about 1 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes
N cup sake
V to N tsp S&B hot-mustard powder or other mustard powder
1 cup fine white miso paste, also known as shiro miso
N cup sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar (not seasoned)
A drop of yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) or lemon juice
A drop of toasted sesame oil
• Bring the sake to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 20 seconds to let the alcohol evaporate. Set aside to cool.
• Transfer about a tablespoon of the sake into a small bowl and mix in the mustard powder until dissolved; return to the pot. Add the miso, sugar, vinegar, yuzu or lemon juice, and sesame oil and whisk until smooth and well-combined.
Oven-Roasted Salmon or Cod With Miso Sauce
Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes
4 (6 ounce, 1-inch thick) skinless, boneless salmon or cod (or other thick white fish such as halibut) fillets
6-8 tbsp miso sauce
• Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit (204.4 degree Celsius). Line a sheet pan with aluminium foil.
• Pat fish dry. Generously slather fish all over with miso sauce. Arrange fish in a single layer, skin side down, on the prepared sheet pan. Roast until fish is just slightly undercooked in the centre, 6-7 minutes.

• Preheat broiler and broil fish 4 inches from the heating source, until the sauce on the fish is lightly golden and the fish is just opaque in the centre, about another 2 minutes. Transfer fish to 4 plates and serve immediately.

Personality - Uday Shankar;STAR India CEO

Neelam Verjee

It almost sounds too good to be true—a job that involves watching copious amounts of television, while helping to shape the face of public debate in the world’s most populous democracy.
But this is indeed the remit of the man I am meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai, one-time journalist and self-confessed television addict Uday Shankar, who now heads Star TV’s Indian operations.
Dressed semi-formally in a blue shirt and trousers, Shankar is bang on time and greets me with a warm smile and handshake. He is experimenting with a new detox diet. “We abuse our bodies so much,” he explains when I inquire into his austere choice of cut fruit and Darjeeling tea. “I also like to try out new things. I love to eat fruit…but I am not a health nut,” he laughs. “I like my single malt too.”
We take a seat in the lobby lounge, The Bar and Verandah, where the whirring of a blender behind the bar competes with piped music and conversations among other patrons to drown out his voice on my tape recorder. A diminutive man with an acute intellect and keen appreciation of the absurd, Shankar, 47, explains that his “love affair” with television started in the early 1990s, following the liberalization of the medium in India.
“I love television,” he says. “I love anything on television. I can watch television for 24, 48, 72 name it. Without a break.”

Shankar, who was promoted last year to take over at News Corp.-owned Star India in the wake of a management exodus, trained as a journalist at The Times of India media school where, by his own admission, he was “a good student, but not particularly studious or disciplined”.
He went on to cover politics for the daily newspaper before starting the environment-focused publication Down to Earth. But for all his “love for television” it had never occurred to Shankar to switch careers till his wife suggested it.
Although Shankar claims his migration from journalism to management happened “inadvertently”, he concedes that his journalism background proved to be the ideal preparation for a role in management.
“As a journalist, every day you walk into a new situation, hear a new story, look at a new set of facts, try to make sense out of them and see where the obvious logical holes exist,” says Shankar, who chooses each word with care. “And once you have done that for several years, frankly, I didn’t find it very difficult to manage the business. I think being a journalist is actually a very good training ground for training to be a chief executive.”

He gained his reputation as an astute television head with the launch of Aaj Tak seven years ago, as he steered the Hindi news channel to the top spot in the ratings charts. His success there took him to Star News in 2004, and the simultaneous departures of Peter Mukerjea and Sameer Nair as the respective heads of Star Group and Star Entertainment in early 2007 cleared the way for his ascent to the top job at Star India.
Shankar, however, remains close to his origins as a journalist—and an inquiry into his thoughts on the role of the media and standards of journalism across the country today triggers a weighted response.
“There are two things you need to distinguish,” he declares, of some decisions taken by the fourth estate. “One is a conscious choice to do certain (dubious) things, and the other one is a lack of competence, or ignorance. I think both those challenges exist in the Indian news media. Not just in television, but in print as much.”
Yet, Shankar was head of the newly-launched Aaj Tak at a time when rumours about a “monkey man”, or human predator on the loose, were stoking hysteria in Delhi. The channel’s coverage of the incident included a graphic, depicting the creature as a monster with lights for eyes, which reportedly contributed to the panic.
“You have to understand,” says Shankar, leaning forward for emphasis when I ask him how that style of coverage ties in with his thoughts on responsible journalism. “That story happened in the infancy of live television in this country and the tradition of television was very recent. So everyone was groping to come to terms with how to handle the medium and sometimes you went overboard. Our pitch was that people were making mischief. I don’t think these things are particularly dangerous.”
Demonstrating faultless courtesy, Shankar pauses to inquire whether my budget might extend to a second pot of tea, joking that if he had known Lounge always insists on footing the bill, he would have picked a day when he wasn’t experimenting with detox diets. We order more tea, and I ask him what he would do if he was granted total power for a day.
“I would call every media house and tell them to create a very transparent code of self-governance and tell them to keep it ready,” he says after a moment’s pause for thought. “I would also withdraw all regulation that artificially seeks to restrict media content. All regulation (governing the media) is regressive and is basically to protect people in power.”
While Shankar conveys a sense of immense satisfaction with his career, there is one issue that irks him. His appointment to the top job at Star India meant relocating to Mumbai from Delhi and leaving behind his wife and 15-year old daughter—who is studying for board exams. He refers to their absence as “the only disappointment currently in my life”.
However, the move enabled Shankar to work in close proximity to the media mogul behind News Corp., Rupert Murdoch—an experience that he describes as “fabulous”—as well as Murdoch’s son and heir apparent, James.
“I think he has an amazing mind,” he says of Murdoch senior. “Every meeting with him leaves you recharged and his grasp over fundamentals is outstanding.”

In practical terms, Shankar’s tenure at Star India has seen him maintain the group’s lead in television ratings—with Star Plus holding an 8.35% share of eyeballs, against the 7.17% claimed by Colors and Zee’s 5.97% —despite setbacks, including the failure of game show Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain?, starring actor Shah Rukh Khan. Shankar’s Star Plus channel also recently pulled the plug on super-soap Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi after an eight-year run that topped national ratings and firmly placed Star Plus on the top.
“There were questions that were being asked about the leadership and direction of Star in this country. I think we have answered a lot of those questions,” says Shankar, who entirely unselfconsciously describes himself as “very clever”, as well as “a sharp observer and a very quick learner” with the ability to “quietly pick up things that I think are useful in other people”.
However, observers have picked up on the irony of his decision to air Paanchvi Paas, an imitation of US-based Fox television network’s Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, given Shankar’s vocal criticism of the copycat culture across Indian television.
“By copycat I mean copying the same kind of programming that others are doing,” rebuts Shankar, who relishes the opportunity to air his point of view. “It does not mean that we do not tap into the best in global programming.”
“We are not going to be swadeshi or patriotic in a stupid manner,” he asserts, presaging perhaps the future of his brand of television.
Curriculum Vitae
Uday Shankar
Born: 16 September 1962
Education: MPhil in economic history from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; postgraduate diploma in journalism from Times School of Journalism
Current Designation: Chief executive officer, Star India
Work Profile: Shankar began his career with ‘The Times of India’ and then helped to start ‘Down to Earth’ magazine. He joined Star News in 2004 after stints with TV Today and Sahara TV. Shankar was promoted as CEO of Star India in October 2007
Reading: Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe’ by Bill Bryson
Favourite TV Programme: All the Star shows
Favourite Holiday Destination: The Himalayas

Business - Mahindra Renault Pvt Ltd cuts Logan Production by half

Sudha Menon

Pune: Auto maker Mahindra Renault Pvt. Ltd has scaled back production of Logan sedan by at least half, after sales sharply fell in the past months. The car maker will produce about 1,000 Logans at its Nashik plant in November, compared with the average 2,500 units a month it had been rolling out hitherto, suppliers familiar with the development said.

A company spokesperson said chief executive Nalin Mehta was in France and could not be contacted for comment.
Mahindra Renault, a venture of India’s biggest tractor maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and French auto company Renault SA, had invested Rs700 crore in the Nashik facility and had initially aimed producing 50,000 cars a year.
The sedan’s sales have been steadily declining this year as an economic slowdown and high interest rates kept customers away.Vendors say the car maker is offering to sell the sedan to its suppliers and associates at a 10% discount
After reaching a peak of 3,068 units in March, sales dropped to 1,531 cars in May, 1,464 in August, and 1,067 in October, a festive month that typically sees more car purchases, according to monthly sales data put out by the company.
Indian auto sales typically slow after the festival season in October because cars bought in November or December get tagged with the vintage of that year and could see a dip in resale value in future. Sales pick up in January as consumers wait to buy that year’s model.
Some car makers also shut production for a week in December for scheduled maintenance, but a scaling back by as much as 50% is rare.
Some of India’s top auto manufacturers saw their October sales drop this year and are also likely to slow production.
“(Logan) sales have been sliding continuously and, while other manufacturers are also witnessing a slowdown, the performance of the Logan in the marketplace is worrying, since a lot of time and effort has been put in by us for this project,” said one vendor. “It is a cause for concern when the vendor is asked to plan for 3,000 units per month and suddenly we are asked to scale this down so much.”
Mahindra Renault, looking at ways to drive sales, is offering to sell the Logan to its suppliers and business associates in 35 cities at a 10% discount, two vendors said. The offer is open for its 1.4 GLE, 1.6 GLX and 1.6 GLS models in the entry- and mid-segment range.
Mahindra Renault is not the first car maker to turn to its vendors and business associates with special schemes when the going gets tough. Last year, the country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, sought to fuel demand in the face of rising interest rates by offering lower rates to auto parts makers and their employees. Then managing director Jagdish Khattar promoted the project, travelling to Mumbai and other cities to meet at least 200 vendors.
Maruti did not comment on the response to the scheme when contacted by Mint.
Mahindra Renault recently launched a new line of Logan cars with additional safety and convenience features, and had manufactured 3,000 units in October in anticipation of increased sales during the festive season.
Car sales in India fell for the first time in 2.5 years in July-August as the economy slowed significantly and interest rates climbed. Sales for Maruti Suzuki dropped 7% year-on-year in October, while that of Tata Motors Ltd dropped 6%, according to monthly sales data from the companies.
Two months ago, trade body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers lowered its sales growth outlook for the industry in 2008-09 to 8-10% from 12-15%.

Sport - Cricket;ICC to push for common visa during 2011 World Cup

Karachi (PTI): In a bid to make the 2011 World Cup a hit with the spectators, the International Cricket Council will soon write to the governments of hosts India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to allow a common visa for the fans.

This was one of the decisions taken at the two-day meeting of the World Cup organising committee held in India this week which was chaired by the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

"There is unanimity that there should be one visa for the four South Asian countries for the World Cup and the ICC will be approaching the governments to facilitate them in this," Pakistan Cricket Board Director General Saleem Altaf said.

The ICC and the West Indies also had a common visa (Caricom) for the last World Cup held in the islands in 2007.

"Having a common visa will help attract more visitors and tourists and increase revenues," Altaf said.

He said the ICC also made it clear to all four host countries that they were at least 10 months behind schedule in their preparations for the mega event.

The joint World Cup committee was formed in June 2007 in Bhurban, Pakistan but has not met regularly since then. The meeting in New Delhi was its first formal one in a year.

World - Girl Child & US Elections

Lalith Mohna

The victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential race suggests that daughters are lucky for people seeking election to the highest office in the
US. In the last half century, girls outnumber boys 2:1 among the winners’ progeny. In 1960, when John F Kennedy won, he had only one daughter, Caroline. His son John was born later.

The next president, Lyndon Johnson, had two daughters. Richard Nixon, again, had two girls. Gerald Ford, who followed him, was not elected to the national office and doesn’t count. After him came Jimmy Carter who had three sons and one daughter, though only the latter lived with him in the White House. His successor Ronald Reagan sired three daughters and one son.

George Bush Sr had two girls and four boys, including one who, most people believe, would have been better not born! Bill Clinton, who defeated him in the next election, had only one female child. His successor, George Bush Jr, the current president, has two daughters.

And now Obama will move into the White House with two girls, Malia and Sasha. If he completes his full term and decides not to have another go at parenthood, then for 20 years no male children will have taken residence in the White House with their parents. The score since 1960 is 16-8 in favour of girls.

However, what does not augur well for presidential hopefuls is a ‘heroic’ war record. John McCain was a war hero. Another winner of several medals for bravery, John Kerry, lost in 2004 and the loser before him, Al Gore, was a Vietnam war veteran. Both lost to George Bush Jr, who dodged army service and never did anything worthwhile in his life.

Bill Clinton, who came before him, was an anti-war protester. He won against ‘heroes’ Bush Sr and Bob Dole in 1992 and 1996, though the former did get elected in 1988 against another navy veteran, Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan won two terms, but he never saw overseas service in the military on account of his nearsightedness.

In fact, the last authentic war hero in the US never to have lost a presidential election was John Kennedy back in 1960. Americans, it seems, don’t believe any longer that governance is a game of cowboys and Indians.

World - Internet revolution that elected Obama could save Earth;Gore

SAN FRANCISCO: Former US vice president Al Gore said an Internet revolution carrying Barack Obama to the White House should now focus its power on
stopping Earth's climate crisis.

The one-time presidential contender turned environmental champion told Web 2.0 Summit goers in San Francisco on Friday that technology has provided tools to save the planet while creating jobs and stimulating the crippled economy.

"The young people who have been inspired by Barack Obama's campaign and the movement that powered Barack Obama's campaign want a purpose," Gore said.

"One of the reasons we were all thrilled Tuesday night is it was pretty obvious this was a collectively intelligent decision."

The Internet's critical role in Democrat Obama's victory in the presidential race against Republican John McCain was a "great blow for victory" in addressing a "democracy crisis" stifling action against climate change, Gore said.

The Web has "revolutionized" nearly every aspect of running for US president and delivered an "electrifying redemption" of the founding national principle that all people are created equal, according to Gore.

"Some week," Gore said in greeting to an audience that leapt to its feet cheering. "It really was overwhelming. It couldn't have happened without the Internet."

Obama's victory, seen by many as a repudiation of policies of president George W. Bush, was validation of sorts for Gore, who lost to Bush in a controversial election outcome in 2000.

"Belated redemption is part of what we are celebrating this week," Gore said.

Since leaving politics Gore has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless efforts to combat climate change and starred in an Academy Award-winning global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

He also founded Current TV, a cable television operation that taps into user-generated videos and news coverage fed to its website.

The one-time newspaper reporter said his reasons for creating Current included a belief in the need to "democratize television media."

"One of the main reasons why our political system has not been operating well until this election is the unhealthy influence of the television medium as it has operated," Gore said.

"The Internet comes in and democratizes information again and it is so exciting. All the vibrant forms of information are living on the Internet but TVs are still dampening it."

Current TV teamed with Twitter and Digg on election night to weave feeds from the popular Internet websites into its coverage of the vote.

The Web has the potential to "revolutionize almost every aspect" of running for US president, according to Gore. He believes that social activism made possible by people connecting and sharing information online is in its infancy.

"What happened in the election opens a full new range of possibilities and now is the time to really move swiftly to exploit these new possibilities," Gore said of turning the power of the Internet to cooling global warming.

Gore said Obama should announce a national goal of getting all US electric power from renewable and non-carbon energy within the next decade and spend the billions necessary to build an "electrinet" smart power grid.

"Web 2.0 has to have a purpose" Gore said.

"The purpose I would urge is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our relationship to this planet and the imminent danger we face. We have everything we need to save it."

Entertainment - Deepa Mehta to make film on Midnight's Children

MUMBAI: Salman Rushdie's acclaimed novel Midnight's Children is set to hit the silver screen, with Deepa Mehta coming forward to produce and direct a film based on the Bookers prize novel.
The film is expected to be completed by 2010. Rushdie and Mehta said they will be co-writing the screenplay on the novel, which is spread over 600 pages.

Shabana Azmi and Seema Biswas will be acting in the proposed film.

Published in 1981, Midnight’s Children is the fictional story of Saleem Sinai, who was born at the stroke of midnight on 15 August, 1947, the moment of India's independence.

Mehta is known for issue-based movies Earth (1996), Fire (1998) and the Oscar-nominated Water (2005).

India - Indian companies climb on B-schools wishlist

Sujata Dutta Sachdeva

NEW DELHI: There may be a silver lining to the dark clouds of the meltdown for Indian corporates — top-notch talent is available, and willing to
settle for reasonable packages.

A survey conducted among final year students of India's best MBA schools — including the IIMs, XLRI Jamshedpur and Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management — shows that 71% would rather work in India than abroad, and don't expect a rise in average compensation packages from last year.

Besides, leading Indian groups like the Tatas and Reliance are among their most preferred employers, following the fall of top investment banks like Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan.

The study, ‘B-school Pulse' done by leading staffing company TeamLease, global research company Synovate and management portal MBA Universe throws up some interesting results. Traditional favourites like McKinsey, Hindustan Unilever, Boston Consulting Group and Proctor & Gamble make up the top four, while the MBA students shrugged off recent rumours about ICICI Bank to make it their fifth most preferred employer.

Tata Group moved up four places in the list of ‘Top 25 Most Coveted MBA Recruiters of 2008' to the sixth most coveted company to work for. A similar survey done in 25 B-schools last year ranked Tata Group at number 10.

The rise of Reliance Group is even more remarkable. It moved up a whopping 10 places and has become the seventh most attractive place to work for. Last year, the Reliance Group was ranked number 17. The Aditya Birla Group moved up two notches to No. 19 while Mahindra and Mahindra debuted on the list at No. 20.

"The recent meltdown of the financial markets has made a significant impact on majority of the B-school graduates. They prefer to tread cautiously in making career choices,'' says Sampath Shetty, VP, Permanent Staffing, TeamLease Services.

The fall of big investment bank like nine pins has meant they have lost their sheen among MBAs. Lehman Brothers, ranked number four last year and JP Morgan ranked number 11 last year have fallen off the list. Other foreign banks like Deutsche Bank and Barclay's Bank, too are no longer part of this coveted list. The void created by them is being filled by strong Indian brands like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC and others.

In fact, MBA graduates feel that the sectors most likely to benefit and pull more quality talent due to the meltdown is: Management Consulting, FMCG, Telecom and Retailing. Diversified and Manufacturing is also likely to benefit. Interestingly, the meltdown has also meant compensation package which hovered between Rs 6 to Rs 15 lakh last year has not really changed. Their expectations have not risen at all this year.

Business - Google CEO says no to tech czar job in Obama's adminstration

SAN FRANCISCO: Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said Friday he would not serve as technology czar in Barack Obama's administration if he was

"I love working at Google and I'm very happy to stay at Google, so the answer is no," Schmidt said in response to a question from CNBC host Jim Cramer in an appearance on his television show. Schmidt, who was one of the president-elect's most high-profile supporters, was in Chicago Friday as part of Obama's 17-person economic transition economic advisory board. The group met to discuss how to deal with the ongoing financial crisis. Schmidt said he detected a sense of urgency in Obama, who he expects to "listen carefully" and act.

The meeting was one of "great seriousness," he said. Schmidt favors a new stimulus package that is more carefully focused than the previous effort. He said the first stimulus plan was "a bad decision on their part. A much better decision is to give out money that solves some other problem, like infrastructure."

He also said Obama shares his belief that green technology can help to revitalize the economy. Laid-off autoworkers in Michigan could be put back to work building batteries for use in hybrid vehicles, Schmidt offered. Google has been active in investing in green technology companies, and Schmidt has expressed a deep personal interest in the area. When asked about the current state of advertising, Schmidt acknowledged that times were tough.

Google is the dominant player in Internet search advertising. "Advertising is one of the first things that get cut, and its almost always a mistake, because you advertise to get revenue." However, Schmidt said he expects advertising to bounce back quickly. Shares of Google closed the regular session down 8 cents at $331.14.

India - I&B ministry bats for political ads on radio

NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has recommended that radio should be permitted to carry political advertisements on the same lines as television channels, giving a revenue boost to the sector.

The recommendation has been made to the Election Commission on the eve of formal notification of elections to four states including the National Capital Territory of Delhi and a few months ahead of the next general elections.

Confirming the move, ministry joint secretary (broadcasting) Zohra Chatterjee said the recommendation had been made as TV had been carrying such advertising following a Supreme Court order. She said private FM broadcasters had for some time been urging the Government to permit them to carry the ads since TV had been permitted.

Another senior ministry source said "the ball is now in the court of the Commission" but expected the latter to agree on grounds of equity.

Hailing the decision, Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) general secretary Uday Chawla said the step was long overdue. Allowing political advertisements on radio would enhance the sector's revenue which is also shared with the government.

It is expected that if the recommendation is accepted, the radio and particularly the FM radio industry may rake in revenue to the extent of Rs 1.2 billion between now and the general elections, expected in May next year, sources said.

Advertisements on radio had been banned on the commission through a letter sent to chief electoral officers on 8 November on the ground that "the Code for Commercial Advertising on the All India Radio prohibits advertisement of political nature."

The I&B ministry confirmed that the Code for Advertising on the AIR is also applicable for advertisements on FM Channels. Therefore, it may be seen that advertisements of political nature are prohibited on all Radio Channels.

The clarification was issued following some queries by broadcasters subsequent to a Supreme Court judgment of 13 April 2004.

Earlier in February 2004, the Commission had banned election-related and political advertisements on both radio and television. Both the Ministry and the Commission had also said that television channels would not be allowed to carry political ads as the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 prohibited them from doing so.

According to the provisions in the Advertisement Code, "No advertisement shall be permitted, the objects whereof, are wholly or mainly of a religious or political nature; advertisements must not be directed towards any religious or political end."

However, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) had protested, saying broadcasters should be treated at par with the print media and should not be deprived of this advertising opportunity. It had, therefore, said television channels must also not be barred from carrying political ads, estimating revenues worth about Rs 600 million at that time.

Broadcasters had also decided to go ahead and carry political ads based on letters issued by the Election Commission in 2002 and 2003 when it permitted them to carry such ads after the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgment in 1999. Sun Group had also filed a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court on this issue around that time.

India - Chandrayaan to enter lunar orbit on Saturday evening

Srinivas Laxman

MUMBAI: Saturday evening would mark the D-day for India’s prestigious Rs 386-crore moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 , when the tricky lunar orbit
insertion (LOI) takes place – expectedly between 5 pm and 6 pm. The success of the moon mission, which lifted off on October 22, depends on this.

According to space experts, LOI is not without danger because it means traversing through an area in which the gravitational forces of the earth and moon nearly cancel each other out. Consequently, even a small deviation could send the spacecraft into a crash course towards the moon or earth – or on a path leading into deep space. Experts recall that about 30% of unmanned moon missions of the US and the former Soviet Union failed during an LOI.

On the eve of Chandrayaan’s LOI, an Isro official said: “Despite the challenging manouevre on Saturday, the professionalism of scientists and engineers makes us approach the task with optimism , although I admit to a feeling of nervous apprehension . It will be a test for everyone , including the deep space network at Byalalu and the electronic brain of the Chandrayaan spacecraft,’’ he said.

He said the main challenge before LOI was targetting the spacecraft accurately to pass near the moon on Saturday at a “safe’ ’ distance of a few hundred kilometres. The distance between the earth and the moon is 3,86,000 km. “At that distance, it will be a big challenge for us to track the spacecraft, because the moon itself will be moving around the earth at the speed of 3,600 km per hour,’’ he said. It will take about 1.3 seconds for a signal to travel from Isro’s command network at Bangalore to Chandrayaan.

Other Isro officials said that during an LOI, the orientation of the spacecraft, while firing its liquid apogee motor for about 800 seconds, will be very important.

Business - iPhone make headway in corporate market

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple Inc's new iPhone, already racking up blockbuster sales with consumers, appears to be making small but steady inroads into the
coveted US corporate market dominated by Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry.

While most companies are unwilling to abandon their trusted BlackBerries, analysts say a grassroots movement may be taking place among employees, particularly at small and mid-size companies, who have bought their own iPhone and are convincing their employers to support it.

"I see very few companies turning off BlackBerries," said Jack Gold, founder of research firm J Gold Associates. "I see more companies turning on support for the iPhone."

Gold estimates at least 15 to 20 percent of people who buy the iPhone are going to use it for business reasons. "Those are people who have gone out and bought these things and have taken it to a company and said 'make it work,' or have made it work somehow," he said.

Apple sold 6.9 million units of its new 3G iPhone in the September quarter, versus 6.1 million BlackBerries. Although iPhone sales are widely expected to be hurt by the economic downturn, the gadget's fast start had the industry buzzing.

Apple fired its opening salvo in the battle for the enterprise market last March, when it announced that the 3G iPhone would feature Microsoft Corp's Exchange for corporate e-mail and other new security standards.

At the time, big names like Genentech Inc, Nike Inc and Walt Disney Co announced they would support the iPhone. Genentech said it would deploy 3,000 to employees.

Still, no one doubts that the BlackBerry continues to own the enterprise space. Apple will have a tough time cracking industries such as finance and government, which have higher email security requirements, analysts say.

And Apple may view the enterprise market as simply icing on the cake of its consumer success. The time, effort and money required to satisfy corporate customers may not be something Apple is interested in.

Of course, RIM is making its own push in the opposite direction. Its as-yet-unreleased touch-screen Storm smartphone is a play for the consumer market.

iPhone targets BlackBerry's turf

Surveys of IT managers typically give RIM 70 to 80 percent of the enterprise market, and Apple 10 to 15 percent. But some analysts say this just measures corporate smartphone purchases. When measured by enterprise "email seats," or accounts, the iPhone is showing some traction.

"IT managers rarely make top-down decisions on new technologies, which often enter from the side or the bottom, and the iPhone will probably come along those same routes," said Cowen & Co analyst Matthew Hoffman, adding that Apple's progress is happening somewhat below the radar. He said the iPhone's powerful Web browser shouldn't be overlooked for its appeal to business people on the road.

Michelle Wilcove, who works in sales for Bluewolf Inc, a "cloud" computing consulting firm, bought her own iPhone because she prefers its user interface. She estimates around 25 percent of her company's 200 employees are using iPhones, saying, "it's growing fast."

Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing at research group Gartner Inc, expects the iPhone to double its share of the enterprise wireless email market in a year. "I think they're having a lot of luck getting into the enterprise, although still to a limited extent," he said.

IDC senior analyst Ryan Reith sees a "slow-moving" trend toward the iPhone with small and medium-sized companies. But he notes that large companies will buy few, if any, iPhones for employees as they are unlikely to scrap long-standing security standards and purchasing networks any time soon.

Nonetheless, Reith said, "It's inevitable that Apple will move into the enterprise space."

World - Carbon Dioxide levels in Danger Zone

WASHINGTON: Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have entered the danger zone and must be reduced if climate disasters are to be averted,
according to researchers.

US, British and French scientists, including two from Yale, said in a study that optimum CO2 level should be less than 350 parts per million (ppm) - a dramatic change from most studies that have pegged the danger level for CO2 at 450 ppm or higher.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently 385 ppm and is increasing by about two ppm every year from the burning of coal, oil, gas and forests.

"This work and other recent publications suggest that we have reached CO2 levels that compromise the stability of the polar ice sheets," said author Mark Pagani, Yale professor of geology and geophysics.

"How fast ice sheets and sea level will respond are still poorly understood, but given the potential size of the disaster, I think it's best not to learn this lesson firsthand," he said.

The statement is based on improved data on the earth's climate history and ongoing observations of change, especially in the polar regions, said an Yale University release.

The authors use evidence of how the earth responded to past changes of CO2 along with more recent patterns of climate changes to show that atmospheric CO2 has already entered a danger zone.

Coal is the largest source of atmospheric CO2 and the one that would be most practical to eliminate. Oil resources already may be about half depleted, depending upon the magnitude of undiscovered reserves, and it is still not practicable to capture CO2 emerging from vehicle tailpipes, the way it can be with coal-burning facilities, note the scientists, the study said.

These findings have ben published in Open Atmospheric Science Journal.

India - Advani tries an Obama;To launch website

Mohua Chatterjee

NEW DELHI: For voters with questions or issues to take up with L K Advani in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP's prime ministerial
candidate is ready for a direct interaction with them from Saturday.

Advani will communicate with his voters, specially the young and tech-savvy, through an interactive website in both Hindi and English being launched by the BJP to coincide with his 81st birthday on Saturday. This would be the first Hindi political website in the country, pointed out the man behind the idea, Sudheendra Kulkarni.

In a first of its kind, where a prime ministerial candidate will be open to questions and online discussions, Advani plans to devote enough attention to it throughout his campaign period leading to Lok Sabha polls.

The website will be launched by former J&K governor Gen S K Sinha at the party headquarters here in the presence of top party leaders including Advani. In the interactive section, anybody can post their views or questions, which will also be a feedback for Advani, his office said. The website has been designed keeping in mind that India is progressing rapidly in technology, a lot of young people are tech-savvy and young voters are important for the party.

"The idea is to project Advani as a PM candidate in the most innovative and creative manner for the voters. Also, we want to create a platform for media, to access all information about his campaign," explained Kulkarni. "We will also collate the ideas and views that come in from young people as feedback for Advani," he added. The opening page of the website shows Advani pitching for a "strong, self-confident and prosperous India".

Entertainment - India;Hindi TV Producers cease production

MUMBAI: 7 November will go down in history as the night when India's television industry began the process of shutting down production.

Following a meeting of the core committee of producers under the Association of Motion Pictures and Television Programme Producers of India (AMPTPP), it was decided that weekday general entertainment TV show producers would cease production or set construction from midnight.

Producers of Hindi general entertainment shows which were to be shown over this weekend could, however, continue to film until Sunday midnight, was the message sent out to the community.

"From Monday onwards, TV viewers will have to make do with a slate consisting of programming re-runs," says an industry observer. The only exception to this stand from the industry is Big Boss on Colors, in which participants have been holed up in a house, which will continue filming till the show ends on 22 November.

"We have informed our producers to stop filming from tonight," said the business head of a leading general entertainment channel.

A cross section of producers correspondents spoke to agreed that they would follow the industry in the shutdown plan.

According to sources close to the situation, the producers had given the workers' federation till 3.30 pm this evening to revert. But that did not happen. And hence broadcasters and producers took the hard stance, following a long meeting in the evening.

Clearly, it will be interesting to see how this soap opera unravels.

Business - India;Audi lines up new launches

Chanchal Pal Chauhan

DELHI: German luxury car maker Audi will launch an array of new products to triple its annual sales to 3,000 units by 2010. The company has already launched five models in the last 22 months of its operations in India.

It had achieved sales growth of 312% to 884 units in the January-October period against 292 units in the corresponding period last year. Audi plans to launch a series of coupes, convertibles, and the small sedan A1 in India in near future to sustain its current top gear growth.

The company launched its award-winning super sports car R8 at a price of Rs 1.17 crore (excluding local taxes and transportation cost) in Delhi on Friday.

Audi India managing director Benoit Tiers told ET, “India is the fastest growing market in the world for Audi, even faster than China, where we sell a lakh units every year.

It makes sense to bring our new cars here to tap the potential by extending our portfolio which will be done in a phased manner. We are looking at building volumes to gradually emerge one of the top three luxury car companies in India.”

Audi has invested 30 million euros at its Aurangabad facility in Maharashtra which has a capacity of 1,500 units per annum and currently produces 1,000 units annually. It will be putting in more money into the Indian operations to raise capacity.

Lifestyle - 10 things irresistible in men

Monika Rawal

Sense of humour
This one undeniably tops the list as most women find it irresistible when men are at their wittiest best. One of the biggest turn-ons, it also helps scoring over many arguments and thus is the top secret for a blissful conjugal life.

"Wit is a rare commodity, which reflects intellect and presence of mind. A good sense of humour also helps you and your partner avoid fights, as most of the issues are treated in a lighter way. Physical beauty may fade away, but a man must know how to keep his girl smiling forever," shares 26-year-old Kanishka Datta.

Hidden benefit : In case of an argument, women love being sardonic to their partners. If you learn to laugh that sarcasm away and do not react harshly, more than half of the spat moments can be avoided. And, may be, sooner or later, she will realise that she was just overreacting and will be thankful for your patience and love.

Clean shaven chest
Here comes an element of sex appeal that women find hard to resist. While waxing body parts used to be a female prerogative earlier, it has now become an accepted norm in men. Flaunting a clean shaven look and a dare to bare attitude is a sure bet to turn heads. After all, which woman will like to miss that peek-a-boo masculinity quotient that comes from unbuttoning the top three buttons of a man's shirt? Twenty nine year-old Garima Khurana, a Delhi based boutique owner states, "I find men with a clean shaven look super cool, sexy and more attractive to make love to. During those passionate moments also, you can enjoy his body's warmth with more pleasure."

Hidden benefit : In moments of passion, while kissing a man all over, women wish for a cleaner body that brings a smooth feel to the whole act.

Body art
Metro sexual males have changed the gender notions, as piercing is no longer associated with women alone. Women are equally turned on by guys who carry funky body art. Ankita Basu, (33) a Bangalore-based advertising professional recalls, "I thought men look horrible with piercing on any body part, but when my boyfriend got his upper lip pierced, it looked really cool. Not only did it enhance his personality, but even provoked me to get going for a tender lip kiss every time I saw him."

Expressing her obsession for tattooed men, Shipra Arora, a college student says, "A completely tattooed body might not be a fad, but I find men with a huge tattoo on either side of their neck or just near the abdomen, really hot. Moreover, the fact that men flaunt it overtly without any fears of skin show, wearing low-waist jeans and deep neck tees makes it all the more appealing."

Hidden benefit : Piercing done on moan zones such as the tongue, ears and belly button spices up the lovemaking act.

Toned body and six pack wonder
With the Bollywood brigade going gaga over six packs abs, women are drooling over the muscular look. Women confess that a flat chest or a flabby tummy is no more a turn on. Shaped thighs, well toned hips and a lean waistline complemented with visible six pack abs make up for a perfect package. Parul Sood, (39), a house-maker feels, "I find men with a well toned physique and in shape body an ultimate symbol of seduction. They score highly on sex appeal, personality and attraction quotient. Being in bed with someone with a ten-on-ten body makes all your sexual fantasies come alive."

Hidden benefit : A toned body is great to make love to and can give you an idea about the energy level of your man.

Hygiene lover
If you find impeccable cleanliness to be extremely feminine, think again! The fact that females are very particular about personal hygiene makes them seek men with similar attributes. Dr. Keerti Mehra, (43) says, "Men who are extra cautious about personal and surrounding hygiene appeal to me the most. Their desire to smell and look fresh all day creates a broader comfort zone."

Hidden benefit : Women love the feel good factor that comes from being hygienically safe. So a man taking showers, brushing teeth at least twice a day, wearing clean clothes and good shoes, besides smelling good are considered as the right pick.

Sweaty dampness
The wet and moist skin, be it after a warm shower or a shave, acts like an aphrodisiac for women, as it spreads a lasting aura. Rashmi Sinha, (30), a software engineer says, "It's a pleasant feeling when I kiss my husband after he's through over with his shave. I also enjoy giving him a hug right after a shower when his body is a little soggy, it simply adds on to the mood. Most of the times, it's during the wee hours that his sweaty body sensation tempts me and I just can't resist falling for him."

Hidden benefit : The get-wet sweaty sensation brings a similar feel that a couple enjoys during and after a sex session; where the body reduces heat due to ignited love hormones.

Flirtatious attitude
Stop suspecting your man all the time! Let him enjoy, flirt and hang out with other girls as most women feel that flirtatious behaviour in men is an enticing feature. Not only does it hint at a man's comfort level with women, but also injects a feeling of security because flirtatious men turn out to be more loyal to their partners. "Of course my man is not a commodity, but I love having someone who is open minded and liberal. So, I find it great when my fiancé flirts with my female friends. I do not see any harm being done to our relationship, rather it lets him come out of the closet and that's how I want my man to be."

Hidden benefit : Women know how to act smart! Allowing your man to be flirtatious is a clear indication for him that the same rule applies to his female counterpart.

Gelled hair
Many men think that the gelled hair look with long, untrimmed spikes is a turn on, but what women are looking for is neat hair. Furthermore, women find hair gel a complete add-on to get that cool dude look right in place. "I love the way some men sweep off their hair in a backwards direction with their fingers. The identical gap formed between the layers looks quite attractive and can easily woo a woman," says Amrita Bhanot, an MBA student.

Hidden benefit : While hugging or kissing, women love moving their fingers through a man's hair and the hair gel softens their hair further, making the act more passionate.

Tempting fragrance
Be it a nice perfume, a hair gel or an after-shave lotion, the way a man smells is the ultimate gratification. It immediately draws a woman's attention and is one of the few things that attract a woman in their first meeting. "I love to smell good, so I want men around me to smell good too. But more importantly, a good smell evokes my senses and I feel more attracted towards such a man. Such fragrances through perfumes or shaving lotions, add more flavour to romance as it kind of pushes you towards your man," feels Sarika Majumdar, (27), a PR professional.

Hidden benefit : Fragrances act as mood lifters and women are in love with certain smells, so men need not put in an extra effort; so the right choice of a scent can help.

Macho man
A man with extended sideburns, trimmed moustaches (optional) and a beard (goatee, French or just regular) is certainly the forever look a woman longs for. Though Gen X males are opting for an uber cool look, but there are still women, who find macho men charming. "I feel a well kept moustache is synonymous with 'a real man'. Even when men with moustaches start ageing, you won't notice any major changes in their personality and that's what I adore about them," says 43-year-old Sushma, married for 17 years.

Hidden benefit : It's 'a matter of pride' for women to be the arm-candy to a man who portrays a typical macho personality and has a distinct image from that of a metro sexual male.

Lifestyle - Sexercise for a slim figure

Forget treadmills, long walks and Atkins diet, an expert has come up with a new way of staying in shape-and it has nothing to do with cutting out on carbs - it's indulging in plenty of sex.

Yes, you heard it right, "sexercise" makes a person slimmer - if you do enough of it. Combining sex and fitness is like killing two birds with one stone. Sex gets you fit. And being fit makes you want to have more sex. This is, in large part, because of all of the benefits a good sexercise routine offers, like: improved blood flow in strengthening your heart, better cholesterol, changing more of your bad cholesterol (LDL) to good cholesterol (HDL), weight control, better sleep and greater energy, including longer life and a better quality of life.

According to Fox News, women, in particular, feel more attractive with sexual fitness, since they produce more estrogen. This makes for shinier, smoother hair. Both sexes glow as their skin pores become cleansed, thanks to sweating. They feel sexier than ever. But how do you start this sexercise routine? Well, sex educator Dr.Yvonne Kristín Fulbright has come to your rescue.

Get a physical if you haven't in a while . While it may be laughable to do this, you're going to be physically active, accelerating your heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure. You're also going to be testing and developing your strength, stamina, and flexibility. As with any form of exercise, you need to make sure that you're good to go. Aim for half-hour romps 3-5 times a week. This may seem like a lot, but this is actually not very time-consuming. Consider the amount of time you put into your favorite TV show.

Remind yourself of the rewards. Sex for 30 minutes burns anywhere from 15-350 calories, depending on how physically active you are. This is the equivalent of calories burned during a half an hour of brisk walking,
running, or lifting weights. Vigorous or longer sex sessions five times per week can burn up to 1,650
calories! The active partner - typically the one on top - tends to burn more.

Don't lose focus. You can easily get distracted with all of sex's delights. But your goal is to make it burn. In a matter of weeks, you can notice improvements in the tone and strength of your stomach, back, buttocks, legs and arms.

Aim for variety. Your sexercise routine doesn't have to be routine. You can't take it for granted that sexercising won't be boring, at least not in the same way as your treadmill. So get creative.

Watch what you eat . Also maintain moderate exercise out of the bedroom. Take care of each other post-workout. After working up a good sweat, you'll have to hit the shower.

Sports - Cricket;Sourav,a man of second chances

Bobilli Vijay Kumar

NAGPUR: A dream debut. A fairytale ending. Sadly, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Sourav Ganguly was just 15 runs away from a perfect ending to
his gripping but tumultuous career when a thin edge came along and stole his thunder.

But then isn't that how the Sourav story has unfolded over the last 17 years? How could it end without a touch of bitter-sweet irony? The irony, like it has always been in his case, doesn't end here though; in fact, it might not really be all over yet.

Yes, the virgin track here at the new VCA stadium, true to form, has already swayed from one extreme mood to the other: after being all lovey-dovey towards batsmen on the first day, she showered her affection on spinners just after lunch.

By the evening, though, she went back to her first love; so now you can't be sure who she will eventually grant her favours too. It is, therefore, quite possible that Ganguly would get another shot at completing his fairytale. After all, isn't he the original destiny's child?

Indeed, right from the beginning, Ganguly has been a man of second chances. He made his international debut in 1992 but was immediately sent back to his palace: there was no place for the Maharaja among the commoners.

Four years later, though, he came back and made his dream debut in Tests; his magical timing and divine drives catapulted him into the elite class straightaway. But then, equally quickly, bowlers noted his hate-hate relationship with bouncers.

Even as vicious rumours were spreading, Ganguly was carving a place for himself elsewhere: in One-dayers. With severe restrictions on the use of short-pitched deliveries here, he used his hand-eye superiority to reinvent himself. Soon, he became the other part of a formidable opening pair with Tendulkar.

By 2000, Indian cricket had been through a catharsis. Shortly after Tendulkar's misadventure with captaincy, Azharuddin came back to the helm; but then, the match-fixing scourge emerged from its dark alleys.

Tendulkar, then, had another torrid affair with the crown before he gave it away. Dravid was in the race too but then Ganguly, really, is the man with all the chances. He took over and breathed a new life, and a new fighting spirit, into the team. Steadily, he created a mean machine and India were winning matches abroad too; almost inevitably, he became the country's most successful captain.

The black clouds were, however, gathering again. Entrapped in a destructive cocoon created by himself, he was soon scampering for runs, form and friends. As irony would have it, the one man who he thought would help him, turned against him.

As the fight with Greg Chappell spilled over, Ganguly found himself in the black corner: alone, bitter and exposed. Eventually, he was haunted out of the team, and seemingly, there was no way back. Only that nobody realized the power of his second chance.

As the Indian run-machine sputtered in South Africa, the selectors turned to him again. After a dramatic, and not so welcome return, he rediscovered his form, friends and appetite for short-pitched bowling.

It wasn't easy but he braved through this tough phase with grit and steadfastness. On Friday, as he battled for his fairytale finish, he displayed the same grit and determination all over again. He took his time to re-gauge the pitch and recover the middle of his bat; once that was achieved he went about looking for his elegance and beautiful shots.

As the day progressed, he found most of them: a delicate breeze through the covers, a soaring six over long on, delicate flicks, glances and a couple of late cuts too. In the end it was a virtuoso display, nearly reminiscent of the old Ganguly.

It's just so ironic that the fairytale ending eluded him; maybe, it is just the beginning of something equally beautiful.