Monday, October 31, 2005

A city for the ages.

Despite coming from a household where one parent has a Doctorate in History and the second holds two Masters degrees (one in History), I'm not that smart, and my appreciation of History is rather limited. And while I might have studied English Literature, I don't quite get poetry - other than Latin American poetry. Always been more of a prose person. However, none of these flaws in me has ever stopped me from appreciating the beauty of Delhi.
Unlike any other major urban centre in India, Delhi has a history that rivals only Athens and Rome. Indraprastha dates back to the time of the Mahabharat, and yes if that lunatic Sahib Singh Verma (one of the BJP's follies when they ran the NCR of Delhi) had his way, he would have reverted the cities name back six millenia. I might have been born in Calcutta, but I have spent the greater part of my life in Delhi. I have studied here, grown up here as well as found (and lost) love over here. I am a Delhi-ite.
Some people are not very happy being from this city. They bitch and moan about its heartlessness. Yes, maybe the city is heartless. Maybe you do leave accident victims on the roads, waiting for the police. Maybe the shock of a second-rung politician cooking his wife in a tandoor doesn't shock us. Nor do the stories of rocket-scientists with a fetish for young boys.
I remember when we moved back to Delhi after my father joined the Times of India, I was nine years old. Right behind our house in Panchsheel Enclave was the wide open expanse of Siri Fort. I used to take my cycle there with some school friends, but always got back before six. As we grew older we heard stories of.. well, you know what people do in big parks. Yet it was weird, because here we were living in a city just surrounded by history and not realising it.
Anyway, after we grew a bit older there were the evenings spent watching the Sunset from the ramparts of the Old Fort, even going to Humayun's Tomb (and climbing those two-feet high stairs) and Red Fort or to Karim's at Jama Masjid. The idea of history in most other cities is just not there. For gods sake, the school picnics - like those we took with Mrs Venkatraman or Mr Alphonso (yes, that was his name) from St Columba's were to decrepit tombs around the Qutub Area. One of those tombs in a Western City - say in Europe and they would be charging ten Euro entry or something. Here we just walked in.
Sometimes, when I got a car, I used to take a girl out to some of these places for a romantic getaway in the middle of the day. Once I remember, we went to Tughlakabad Fort, another huge fort, thats just there because we had nothing else to do. Just went and spent one whole day inside the ramparts of a fort, three people, thats it. A huge empty fort inside a city. Only in Delhi.
I don't know why my last few posts have carried on about this city. Maybe because I'm angry that people spread baseless lies about a city or maybe that my anger is directed towards those who attack my city. Normal programming will resume from my next post. I have to write about ToI's front page edit today (written I assume by 'Big' brother himself).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dilli Haat

I wanted to buy something for Friendgirl and Mom, so I decided to go to Dilli Haat for a small shopping adventure. After yesterday, my mother asked me if I was crazy (forgetting the fact that she had spent half the morning at Malviya Nagar market) going shopping after yesterday's attacks.
I mumbled something about not letting 'them' impact my Diwali. So, determined to screw Mr Jihadi by showing that he couldn't hurt the citizenry of Delhi (of which I am a temporary member again) I dragged Friendgirl and Double-T (much to Friendgirl's chargin) along and went to Dilli Haat. The place was rather empty. Why? Because I got parking within two minutes. Getting parking (if any of you have been to Dilli Haat, you'll know what I'm getting at) at that complex is pretty difficult and on a Sunday evening it should be impossible. That said, there were quite a few people at Dilli Haat. What surprised me most were the large number of firangs who were there. However, everybody from the traders to the restuarant waiters (I had a BijoliGrill Fish Orly) said that the crowds were lower.
But, I had come on a mission. And an special exhibition called 'India Weaves' made it easier to find things for the ladies. I bought two Kashmiri Pashmina shawls, and while buying the shawls I had a long chat with the shopkeeper, who obviously was Kashmiri. He just said this much, "They should give up now, by doing this they achieve nothing."
After that I managed to weave my way to Lodhi Colony market because Friendgirl wanted to buy some lights to put on her balcony. I went t6here because itr was on our way, and it is a lot cheaper than buying lights at a major South Delhi market. A nice long string of lights for Rs 25 is a steal I'ld say.
Now, I'll try and figure out the cards scene, but I have to first work out if there is a siungle HDFC Bank ATM with cash left this side of town.

Why I love Delhi

There is a blogger in the blogosphere who am I now convinced is not telling the truth. A recent post by this person went out and savaged the reputation of Delhi - calling it heartless - narrating the tale of an accident victim outside AIIMS. Well girl, damn you! If you don't like the city go to the West, because we can do without people like you. And this story has also made me extremely suspicious of another claim this blogger has made before - about an unrecognised management school targeting her. There are extreme discrepencies in the story - the Delhi police for good or for bad is an extremely fast police force - any accident victim becomes a medico-legal case - you say hit and run and go to hospital in this city and there will be cops swarming all over you.
Anyway, yesterday shows why this is a great city. It did not degenrate into riots - even though the attacks were clearly by a bunch of Islamic militants. Within minutes of the blasts the police and the fire brigade were all over the place. Yes, the Congress government at the Centre in its inimicable style was slow to react, but Shiela Dixit, as usual, proved why she is a great CM, appearing on the major channels telling people to calm down. Private citizens were rushing people to hospital within seconds of the blast because they knew they had to.
I will go shopping today, I want to go shopping today and I want to spend money today and I know many others who will take the same decision.
By the way, what is Lashkar and Jaish doing for the 'liberated' people of Kashmir? On the other hand the brilliant work of the Indian armed forces after the earthquake on this side of the border shows why we are are the more effective and better state. We don't give a rat's ass about 30 F-16's. Nope, they want to gain the spotlight by bombing the people of Delhi. India should rescind its offer of help to Pakistan. They never wanted it in the first place, and if all that country is interested in doing is attacking the civilians - mothers, children - of their neighboutring (albeit through proxy groups) why should we care about their citizens.
Quid Pro Quo.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


I'm switching between NDTV 24x7, Star News and Aaj Tak right now trying to find out a bit more about the serial blasts that have happened in the city today. So far there are no concrete numbers for how many people have died - the number might be as big as 50. I have seen quite a few dead (and charred) bodies on a couple of the channels from the Sarojini Nagar blast. The scene is bad, the city will probably go into lock-down, there will be hundreds of cops swarming the streets. Everything is chaotic, mobile networks are down, of course, the media is totally chaotic, everone is falling over each other to be more gory than the other, that said Sidharth is doing a great job on ND. I've gotten calls from friends in Bombay - asking me if I'm fine. Which I am, I'm sitting in GK and don't plan to move for a bit.
At times like this, I hate Pakistan and I think that all terrorists should be hanged till they die. I support the death penalty at times like this. I really do.
2100IST UPDATE : According to NDTV there have been 37 bodies recovered already at Safdarjung. The Sarojini blast was quite obviously the worst - it seems to have been planted at a chaat shop, next to a milling crowd in one of the most crowded markets in the capital. The narrow lanes and loads of nylon clothing must have made it an inferno. And then there is that very Indian habit of crowding around an accident scene, making the job of the police a lot worse. The government has declared an 'Emergency' in Delhi and many of the streets have cleared out. The PM is rushing back to Delhi to assess the impact of the blasts.
All on a day that India was trying to offer help to Pakistan. Ungrateful buggers.
Late night UPDATE : I spoke to Sidharth of NDTV who is stuck at SN Market an he says that the scene is rather gruesome. Another friend Vikram who shoots for the Express sai that Safdarjung is full of dead bodies, the sight is rather depressing. The collective psyche of this city is down, three days before Diwali, there are almost no crackers being burst today. The lights outside peoples homes are out. Card parties (an event raised over and over and rather unnessescarily by Barkha Dutt) are being cancelled. But this city is resilient and it will survive. Say whatever you want to about Delhi, this is my city and I love this city and no fucking piece of terrorist scum is going to get away with this.

White lies, black lies, grey lies.

'Sach bolte hain hum'
Yaar, but everybody lies - the media, the sources in the media, advertisers - just about everybody. Some people and organisations lie less, some like a particular unrecognised Business School lie a lot. I mean I lie all the time - here are typical examples
Friendgirl : "Where are you?"
Moi : "Just five minutes away" (When I haven't left office)
However the above example is a typical 'man' lie. A typical 'woman' lie is the often heard term, "Almost ready".
But both the above examples are situations forced upon us. Now if I was to tell my partner/spouse/friendgirl that I was actually at GK-1 when I am supposed to be on my way to Defence Colony to pick her up, all hell would break loose. You always have that secret hope that she might find a Cosmopolitan or something at the magazine stand and get engrossed in that while you try to break every single traffic law to try and get to Def Col Market is triple-quick time. But if you were honest, she would threaten to leave you for a better looking man (or something like that) and you would end up spending quite a lot of money wooing her back.
Ditto for when women say, 'almost ready'.
But when is a lie, a damaging one - a harmful lie - a 'black' lie? When it impacts the careers and lives of people. Say, I claim to be educated or have worked or taught somewhere, you know I can. I can claim to to be an Oxbridge graduate, no-one will check for some time right. Or pretend to be a Doctor. Or even a Lawyer. Who checks degrees nowadays.
These lies can damage lives, but because we treat lies so lightly, its no big deal, is iot. Whats the difference between a white lie and a black one. Little, if anything. A white lie for someone is someone else's black lie.
There are people who impart news nowadays who claim to have graduated from certain colleges when you know they haven't - or in certain cases you know that they are lying about their marks or degrees. But it is a white lie people will say, because it doesn't impact people's lives does it? True. I mean, what are my qualifications to write news, nothing in particular. Maybe the ability to store a huge amount of trivia and being a glib talker. God knows.
Now what about people who lie/make up stories on their blogs? Hey, it is not as bad as say the Times of India making up stories, or the pinkest paper lifting stories (or certain magazines run by people who work for a certain unrecognised business school which lift entire stories and data). They're white lies people will say. So bloggers often make up these fanciful stories of drama, trauma, sex and tragedy. Some of these stories we can see through (I'm a better liar than most, I can usually pick up bullshit faster) some we can't.
But I disagree. There is no white lie, or no black lie. Every lie is a grey lie. Some lies are greyer than others, but every lie is a shade of grey, because just like Black&White TV was always grey, life is the same. A multitude of greys. Lies are the same.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Breaking News

Rajdeep's channel is going to be called CNN-IBN. They will be the face of CNN in India. Make of that what you will.
PS : Maxim magazine (India edition) launches in January.


I had barely been back in the capital for 24 hours when Rodu suggested the following - lets go to TeeCee. My impassioned screams of "Nahin!" were ignored by the group of three, despite the fact that I was doing the driving (Note to self: Must never crib about Delhi roads/Drivers again). So we went to TeeCee - and because it was 'Media Night' the place was jam-packed. It seems Gaurav Sorel has been an expected benificiary of the media boom. I met him downstairs as he was trying to run back home (there was a distinct lack of oxygen in the place) and he was just smiling away about the business boost that media night had provided him. However, there weren't too many media sods around (unless you count adsales and PR guys as media) - even though I did end up meeting at least 15 people I hadn't met in a year, and many others I didn't want to meet.
Now despite what some people think of TeeCee (the only place that plays rock music in Delhi - now that The Mezz has finally sold out - damn the fact that the guy plays the same music day in and day out - the last new music I heard there was two years ago), and I must admit I also like the place - yesterday was a very bad idea. One beer in, I managed to persuade Rodu to leave, the other two didn't need much convincing. So went to this new joint at Saket called Bennigans - its a multinational chain a la TGIF or Ruby Tuesday, but the decor reminded me of a cheap lodge in Manali, too woody and it felt too old. But they did have good draught beer and the food - other than the glorified bread pakora that Rodu had wasn't terribly bad. In fact it was rather good. If only the place was a tad brighter.
Later Bobs joined us and after going through a round about conversation about the differences between Hentai, Anime, Manga et al (we still don't know the differences) and coming to the conclusion that the Japaanese have to be the single weirdest culture on the face of this planet (even though sometimes I think that us Indians - if we can be classified as a single culture that is - give them a run for their Yen).
Anyweay, I've done my TeeCee darshan, now to have some more fun. Bobs is jamming tonight, so I guess I'm headed back to Saket.
Now back to everyones fave topic - IIPM. Vivek Law on CNBC TV18/Awaaz is slowly 'uncovering' IIPM's worst kept secrets, and thanks to the work done by the army of bloggers, some of the better kept secrets are also coming out of the closet. I wonder if people at IIPM have begun to lose their jobs for pathetic fire-fighting abilities. I mean, these guys make the Bush administration's fire-fighting and PR abilities look good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ford or Honda!

My posts take off so often on comments.... This time on cars.
Now that I'm back in Delhi, I am going to persuade DD to get a new car since the Accent we have is getting very worse for the wear after 85000 k's and six years on the road. And since it is all about upgrading, the choice is rather clear - either the new Honda Civic which will be launched in January or February 2006 in India or the Ford Fiesta which was launched today and should hit the roads by early November.
We don't need a car right now and while Diesel is still the cheaper fuel, just look at the two cars - the Fiesta on top and the Civic below. The Civic looks like something out of Star Trek, it will have an extremely frugal engine (the new Honda City my mom drives gives ridiculously high milage) and it will be brilliantly engineered. That said, I'm sure the Ford will be an amazing car to drive - the 1.6 Ikon, Fusion and Mondeo are really good drivers cars - let me clarify that these are great cars by Indian standards - the only bum cars by Ford was the early Escort, the old 1.3 Ikon (the new 1.3 Ikon is a good car, not fun) and the Endeavour is slower than an elephant at full speed, though it is as cavernous as an elephant.
That said, the old Honda City was a ants-in-your-pants kind of car. It was the first production car that gave 100hp in India, and while it did not handle as well as its direct competition the Mitsubishhi Lancer - SD had an SFXi which was amazing around corners - it went like a freaking rocket. Even though one should not show off about law-breakingly stupid antics - it was in a City VTEC that I had for a test-drive that I once did Uni to Saket in just over 15 minutes.
The new City lost that driving exhilaration element - but with the excitement also went the old City's tendency to scuttle about losing its tail, because the new car didn't have the power. Until now. The City ZX I hear is a killer car, I'll get my hands on one next week, and being in the capital with oodles of road to play with, it'll be fun.
But, I'm supposed to be writing about the Civic. I know that Honda will put a derated engine in the car to deqal with the adultrated fuel that we get, but I'm sure that the engine will still have 120-130 horses, sufficient power and will be frugal to a fault. And heck, the car looks - well - looks amazing. I mean people who said that the new City looked too radical and won't sell in India - all of them being Auto magazine editors in India - well, the City is the highest selling car in its class - while not being the cheapest (Messrs. Ikon, Esteem and Indica) or the most fun (maybe the Fusion, and well, by SIAM classifications also the Optra 1.8 also falls in that segment). But I think the Civic will take the rug from under the Corrolla and kill the Octavia -0 of course thats because I feel that the General (despite flying magazine editors all over the world) has screwed up royally in India - but that is typical for General management.
The Ford Fiesta I guess will do damn well - particularly the Diesel version. But, if I had to buy a Diesel in that class I would rather buy an Octavia, and if I wanted a slightly smaller diesel - I'ld either wait till Maruti builds its new Diesel plant (and Hyundai plans to build one too by 2007) or Skoda launches the Fabia in mid to late 2006.
I don't know why, but I would never buy an American car - even though it might be just wearing an American brand (The Optra is Korean, the Fiesta was designed in Europe) - I don't know why, but somehow, naah. Stick to the Japanese brands out here - Maruti-Suzuki, Toyota and Honda (and while I won't buy a Hyundai - they do make decent cars).
OK, lets see the two cars - the Fiesta on top and the new Civic is below. Draw your own conclusions.

Achha, I see IIPM have been issuing the adverts all over the place for themselves, any response from the companies that they have mentioned?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A last post from the Big Guava/Mango/Banana etc...

I bid adieu to this city for a couple of weeks, and I will not rant about the fact that not only are the stations and most of the rakes used by the suburban train system three decades old, the rails seem to have been made when India was still under the Imperial yoke. Please notice if you happen to be at Lower Parel/Mahalaxmi stations that the rails are marked 'British Steel'. To the best of my (albeit rather limited) knowledge SAIL has been making rail tracks for over four decades. Sigh! And all the Delhi papers/magazines talk about how much profit the railways will make this year thanks to Laloo's excellent stewardship (or lack of thereof). Sigh!
Why do I always end up ranting on the dilapidated state of the Mumbai suburban rail network. It is worse than the IIPM deal.
Someone asked me why I disabled anonymous comments on my blog since I am 'anonymous' myself. Well, my anonymity is just naam ke vaste, most people who read this blog know who I am. So lets keep it at this vague non-committal level. No, the reason I disabled anon comments is because certain people leave rather bitchy comments all over the blogosphere - the latest ones I'm getting are from our friendly neighbourhood unrecognised management institute at other people's blogs. Sigh! And they even claim to love me.
The obvious question here is 'Why me?', and I think I even know the answer to this question. I wonder if friendly neighbourhood unrecognised management institute that is soon to be in UGC soup will go crying to my father - 'Dakho tomar chele ki lekhe?'
I will soon shift this blog onto Wordpress, change its look and feel while on vacation, but of course tell myself that my life isn't all about this blog. But also boost the level of IP searchability of my visitors. Heck, I don't know why I started blogging, maybe because I like hearing the noise that the keyboard makes (and I am a loud typist) as I move my fingers over it. Maybe, I thought having a blog (back in September 2004) was 'cool'. Maybe, it gave me a kick to gossip online and remain 'anonymous'.
Or maybe, I could even change my life, become something I am not. Instead of being the overweight, clumsy guy that I am, I could become this smart, suave lady-killer, bedding a different PYT every night. Some bloggers have more convincing online personas than their boring offline selves, so why not me? And I could make it sound convincing as well. I'm a rather good liar when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, even though I have been caught up in my stories once in a while - I don't need to be though because I really do have enough wild-escapades to write about.
Anyway, before I forget - I was taken to this rather intriguing place in Khar 'Sheetal' I believe its called and its just off SV Road, late last night by MS and SV and their pal - they served us something called 'Chicken in Crab Sauce'. Sounds awfully bastardised, but it tasted damn bloody good. Or maybe it was the five beers inside me controlling my taste buds.
Never thought I say this, but I'll miss Bombay!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Another week, another life....

I watched The Motorcycle Diaries last night. There wasn't too much motorcycling in the movie as the Noton 500 goes kaput about a fourth of the way in. While the conematography is brilliant, the story feels rather 'curt' at times - subjecting any piece of literature to Hollywood's 100-minute movie ideal does make things rather difficult for the ditor, but I have always felt that DVD's could at least have the 'Longer Version' as an option and not the cursory 'Deleted Scenes' special feature. Even though, that said, there is this huge rumour that my arty-farty dostlog keep telling me about how Coppola will one day bring out a six-hour uncut version of Apocalypse Now because even Redux couldn't fit everything in. And I'm still trying to understand the entire French colony thing.
The second movie I watched last night was Pedro Almadovar's 'What have I done to deserve this'. This is one of the Spanish filmakers earlier films and it did seem a little half-baked. But it have the typical Almadovar criss-crossing of everything with everything. But unlike Live Flesh, you didn't get completely mind-fucked at the end and then had to spend two hours deconstructing the entire movie just to understand what happened. Hollywood makes it slightly easy for you - Kaiser Soze in the Usual Suspects y'know. Not as easy as Bollywood though.
Anyway, I head back to Delhi, which now in my opinion is the only city in India worthy of the title of 'Metropolis' because Bombay is increasingly seeming like one big slum.
I am still amazed at the contrast between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' in Bombay, because there is shitloads of money in the city, but it seems rather strange that the city itself barely manages to limp along. There is no doubt that the suburban train system in Mumbai is possibly one of the world's greatest, but it would help if it didn't look like the world's shabbiest. You might think that I'm just a spoiled Delhi boy bitching because I miss the big roads and open areas, and talk to a Mumbai-kar about Delhi and they'll say Hamara Paisa se bana hai Dilli. While I don't exactly agree or disagree with that argument, the ignorance of the government (both local and national) towards this city is mind-boggling.
Anyway, Jeh Wadia's little pink airline starts flying on the 30th. If you're lucky you can catch a free ticket - they plan to give away 10,000 a month - if they colour them pink (did Preity have anything to do with the colour?). But, as I have asked before, how on earth do these guys make moolah? And with fares going to be 'cheaper' than Air Deccan, how on earth do the Wadia's plan to make money off this venture?
Please to note IIPM and Planman issues an ad to itself about the statements in a particular magazine.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Education in India.

Let me take a dig at the 'desi blogging' community. ' We' (I don't wish to categorise all Indian bloggers together - but there is a reason behind this generalisation) are all rather well-educated (on the whole) and relatively well-off (either ourselves or our families). Look at the bulk of the people who blog today, almost everyone could qualify as urbane and suave. many Indian bloggers are University students (here or elsewhere) with very a socialist and libral POV. I don't think there has been an ethography survey of Indian bloggers as yet - but (I'm sorry if this sounds rude) a few communities would be seen in numbers far exceeding their proportion in the census (Bongs, TamBrams and Mallus). Now before this tangential line of thought goes too far, the point here is that most bloggers have gone to the better schools and colleges, and we easily forget that for many Indian education is still a challenge.
For example, today the government goes around claiming that illiteracy has reduced from 45% twenty years ago to under 30% today. Thirty percent of Indian's adult population (16-plus) is still over 200 million people, which is more than the population of 95% of the world's nations. Anyway, what is the definition of a 'literate' person - over here every state uses a different milestone. The ability to read a letter or newpaper or even to understand the TV news in my opinion would make a person fairly literate. But what about the ability to form opinions about the things that might matter? Opinions about things such as educational institutes for example? By that yardstick, I would reckon only five percent of India is actually literate.
Schools like IIPM are the tip of the ideberg. 'We' all went after this particular school because its founder and owner claimed to be tens of things that he was not - like being a 'Noted Economist' - I know people who hold Doctoral degrees in the subject from Oxbridge who'll have heart attacks if you call them 'noted economists'. Of course, our friend the ponytail never bothered with the doctoral degree, but like his father he could always claim he acquired one from a non-existent place.
Yet, keep in mind that people always want their children to have a better future, so places like IIPM will find their own future assured.
But are other educational degree-shop owners any different? They all claim that they are degree holders from all sorts of places, but no-one cares to double check. Shivam was telling me a story about how a prominent north Indian daily (which recently launched here too) in their 'educational supplement' did a huge article about a University that is actually blacklisted by the UGC and unrecognised by AICTE. People in upcountry cities and villages, or even for that matter in major urban centres who have never heard about Google. This recent example of the withdrawl of AICTE recognition for the Amity Business School in Noida went almost uncovered by the media. Not highly surprising. For example, there are a lot of 'study centres' claiming to be affiliated with various Universities - something that is not recognised by the UGC.
The sad fact of the matter is that suuplements and magazines will continue to do stories on some of these Universities and students from families who are not so well off will continue to get ripped off. Yet, because all these Universities (and Schools for that matter) enjoy some political patronage (because education is a good way to make a very fast buck and that too tax-free - just ask so many bit politicians in UP) no-body will ever be able to shut them down. And with the government more interested in providing new avenues to corruption to bureaucrats (the National Employment Guarantee Programme) rather than building up its educational infrastructure, nothing will change in the near future.
Just to take an example, look at Delhi University. Every year the University's 70-plus colleges admit close to one lakh students - but over three and half times that number graduate from schools inside the state borders of Delhi every year. Because the government hasn't allowed vocational training courses to flourish (ITI's and the like) the only option for someone finishing school is either to barge their way into DU (where he must compete for the seats with several lakh more out-of-city school leavers) by hook or crook or if he or she doesn't manage to get into a top-rung professional course (Engineering or Medical) to go to a degree-shop like IIPM, which flourishes unrecognised. No minimum requirements and naam ke vaste you get a degree, so what if it is not recognised by anybody, including the Belgian Government.
So what do we do about this? You can't just tell people to stop educating their kids. I was lucky enough to have done well enough in my 12th to manage to make the cut-off for St. Stephen's (my marks today won't get me into Deshbandhu), but if I hadn't made it there or anywhere decent in DU (Debating/Quizzing quota?) I would have gone to one of these degree shops. OK, so I might have also headed off for the US (to some redneck country college) or like some others gone to Australia, but not everybody can afford that either. So those Universities (again, some really shady colleges that hardly ellicit a response in their own countries) come here (to rake in the bucks) and set up shop for a lot cheaper than it is going there. But not everybody can afford that either. So end of the day until somebody in the government does something, people will continue to get ripped off.
But the problem with HRD Ministers is that all they care about is either the 'saffronisation' or 'de-saffronisation' of history textbooks and not issues which can really impact the future of this country. Which is why the President of Microsoft India, Ravi Venkatesan once to told me, "We might have so many thousands of engineering and management graduates and quote that number liberally all over the world. But the fact of the matter is that the education system is so creaky and inadequate that only a few thousand engineers and a few hundred managers that come out of these colleges are really good." So when Infosys, TCS and Wipro talk about a lack of good talent you know what they mean.
And by the way, to Bangaloreans, instead of protesting against IIPM, will you please protest against our former (sleepy) PM. It took ten years to make Bangalore what it is today, Deve Gowda wants to ruin that in a few months.
EDIT : NYT's online edition has picked up on the IIPM fracas. I mean, the ponytail 'owns' a PR firm - ICPAR - but he actually allowed this incident to spin so badly out of control. I guess all that this does mean is that no-one should ever hire his PR firm.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fortune covers India

First, Fortune Magazine has done a great piece on Indian business and businessmen, which even includes a full page pic of Vijay M and son. "One big blowjob for these businesses" a colleague pointed out, particularly noting that Kumar Birla had agreed to a photo-shoot (note: The young Birla is a particularly reticent person when it comes to photography). Yet, while some of the articles might seem a bit out of place, the issue is a must-read and a must-buy. And the photography is really amazing, I particularly like the long-exposure shot of Mumbai's CST.
And no they haven't covered the entire IIPM vs. Bloggers thing (though I was surprised to get a couple of mails from non-blogging friends in the US asking me about this). Yet, two large circulation business magazines, one general magazine and one sensationalist magazine are carrying the story, (hopefully for the latter two) in their next issues. Even though, Rashmi says that hopefully a major news agency might also pick up the story soon.
In this crazy hype about a B-School I made several mistakes. Firstly, I should have remembered that blogging doesn't pay my salary and while I should persue a cause I believe in, my first and primary responsibility is towards the organisation I work for. Which means I will blog slightly less (but because I'm going on vacation soon - to Delhi of all places - the post count might head up again). The Second mistake I made is to remember that my online and offline personas are different and that I should keep a well distinguished line between them. I am somebody in the physical world who has not just sedantary responsibilities (like producing the occasional story) but also also someone who happens to not live in isolation to oneself, by which I mean that my family is not inconsequential to the whole shabang. So I've just had this huge dose of responsibility drilled back into me, and I remember that I shouldn't act like a 18-year old anymore.
This means that I won't blog about 'inside information' that much, though I will talk about shady educational institutions with equally shady connections going forward. For example, during this whole thingjammy involving the Ponytail, while everybody carried on about what a 'fraud' man-star and man-star's daddy was, no-one quite explained the sources of funds for these guys, and those strange anonymous comments claiming to be the 'Middle Eastern patrons' of man-star. My assumption of an institute which moves from a dilapidated building in Delhi to seven new spanking new 'Towers' in seven cities in the space of five years is that it has to have some sugar-daddy or the other. However, while Thallasa Mikra's research has pointed out that man-star's daddy is not that rich (only worth Rs 22 lakh, or so he told the ECI) where on earth did the money come from. I once recall that a minister in the former government told me that a lot of NGO's in India were being used to funnel 'dubious funds' from the Middle-east into India. While not painting all NGO's with the same brush, he said that there are several NGO's, even educational societies with 'dubious' funding sources. So the Department of Income Tax, instead of taking out advertisements which loudly proclaim, "We know who you are" (ie: You have no rights to any privacy) they should go after all such educational institutions.
I attended a talk by Sir Howard Stringer, the Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation. He is quite a guy, talking about the convergence between software (content) and hardware (electronics). Mentioned stuff about the importance of entertainment in people's lives, how Sony Pictures will enter Bollywood/Indian cinema - they have already signed one deal for distribution and marketing of a film. Not much talk about their hardware though. He is down in India for the tenth anniversary of Sony Entertainment TV, who are having a big birthday bash tomorrow at the Grand Hyatt. Seems like a good way to spend a Satruday evening!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Govinda *heart* Dawood

It is bad enough half his constituents hate him for doing nothing, even worse he just went through personal tragedy when his family got into an accident. But nothing hurts more than when the past comes back to bite you in the ass. Even worse, this happens when the country's second-most populous and most dysfunctional state is in the throes of election fever. Worse still, our man was from that state once upon a time - even though sharing a laugh with 'D' doesn't make half as bad as that Pappu Yadav guy!
Anyway, in other news, it seems that it isn't just Mumbai cops and tinted window owning Delhi goons, even hyper-paid soccer stars can be rapists. However to clarify, this is only an enquiry and you shouldn't damn a person until he is proven guilty - but I was really surprised to hear that it was Christiano Ronaldo. However, I will not use this fact to taunt misguided Man U fans.
I wonder how ToI and its guest-editor (of indeterminate sexuality - is he bi or gay? The debate continues, but as Codey pointed out, the women on the third floor had no chance if the fourth floor got involved) will react to this. Poor Double-T woke up at obscenely early hour and yet was unable to speak to the man. Sleep is a dangerous thing.
In more IIPM related news. There are even more fake blogs coming up with only one distinguishing factor - it has the term IIPM thirty or seventy times in its name or among the keywords. Someone should tell IIPM's IT department headed by our dear friend Andy (the erstwhile IIPM student) that 'keyword' based search engines are out, they use something called 'PageRank' now - to know your website/blogs pagerank - click here. This blog has an unbelievably high PR of 5. That is because I kick ass!
(By the way how many times did I mention IIPM there?)
This is Venkat's post on IIPM's (IMI) 'Faboulous' Brussels Campus - which has a lake or something. He has pictures.
General photochopping of IIPM adverts.
And of course, there is the Blogosphere's very own super-duper investigative journalist, who hides under the guise of being a grad student (a real grad school in California, not one invented in the mind of an IIPM acolyte!). Even more dirt dug up by Swati, I mean this is shitloads of dirt. Its scary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Guest editoring at its finest.

Since, at the heart of things, this is a media blog, I just thought I'ld let the world know that Vikram Seth (him of the eleventeen thousand page novel) is guest editor at the Times of India (Dilli) tomorrow. Now, because the Times is rather caught up with Bihar and the author caught up with book readings, he will only be at the Times from 8-10. In the morning.
Mental picture forming of many aggreived journalists walking into Times House tomorrow morning. Also mental picture forming of several women at the times eating every word Seth says (according to some women I know Seth rates very high on the Blowjob index - the ironies of life sometimes).
That is all in this post. Oh, and I hear that this venerable newspaper has also commissioned a story on the oily ponytail's institute!


One of my everlasting memories of the US is the remarkable ability of that country to dole out loose change. I had gone for my 24-day sojourn to Atlanta, NYC and Boston last summer with six Benjamins (and an empty credit card which was subsequently maxxed out) and returned to India (via Paris, Rome and the Amalfi Coast) with a few kilograms in loose change. The inside seam on my jeans pocket was coming off under the strain of the additional weight and when I opened my suitcase I discovered that I had stuffed some of the compartments (I just love suitcases with tens of compartments) full of coins as well. I tried to get the guy at Delhi's Duty-Free store (it is the cheapest Duty-Free store that I know of, despite the almost total lack of choice) to accept $20 in coins (which must have weighed a fair bit) but he said nothing doing, so I had pay with the final green notes I had in my wallet (for some strange reason the guy refused to take Euros). When I got home I estimated that I had close to $40 in change - from pennies, dimes, quarters and the occasional half-dollar and dollar coins.
So, why do I bring up something that happened 15 months ago, because Mumbai happens to have the same bad habit. Everyday from the Auto's at Bandra to the taxi's in town and the newspaper guy at the station and countless others (like the guy who brings in tea and biscuits to office) I end up with painful amounts of change. Painful? Have any of you ever tried sitting on a wallet full of change? It is painful. But one day while scanning the coins (I was really bored) I discovered that every once in a while, there is a special coin. You know the commemorative coins that the Indian mint brings out, and I started collecting them.
In the past three weeks, I have managed to find some rather interesting coins that the mints produced. For example, a 50p coin from 1997 which marks the 50th anniversary of independence with a representation of the Dandi March. Another Rs 5 coin from 1995 with a 50th anniversary of the UN engraving. Nowadays, it seems that the Rs 2 coin is the one marked out for special purposes, I have a coins with marking/celebrating Chattrapati Shivaji, Appu the Railway Mascot, Motherhood and god knows what else. I also managed to acquire a crisp Rs 2 note somehow. It is very old - because it was signed by Monmohan Singh when he was Governor of the RBI - making it almost two decades old. This is something that I really would want my kids to see.
My mother has some old 1p, 2p, 3p, 5p, 10p and 20p coins - the joys of Kolkata trams where the fares were weird amounts like 17p or 23p in her young days. I even remember a time when 5p coins were openly accepted when I was a kid. Heck, one of those Kwality ice-lollies cost only Rs 1.50 when I was eight years old and really in the scheme of things that wasn't very long ago.
Nowadays, you can't even buy a decent cigarette for two bucks, let alone ice-cream. Yesterday, a hawker outside Bandra station told me that a bhutta would cost Rs 10 (though it was decidedly good bhutta).
Anyway, I'm going to continue collecting coins, if for nothing else as a means of maintaining my sanity in this city. But there might be fiscal considerations as well. If I recall correctly, my mother also has a 1917 silver Ruppe coin, which is worth some astronomical amount now (the silver in it must be worth some Rs 250 or something). I wonder if my coins will be worth anything in twenty years time, or will the Rs 2 coin be as antiquated then as the 10p and 25p coins are today?
Hey, PageRank really works, Rashmi's website is #4 and Gaurav's blog #6 in this search.
And this search which two weeks ago might have only revealed thirty or forty results now reveals 1000 plus! The IIPM saga continues.
And then there is this story in the Express (carried in Delhi Newsline) about how AICTE will curb 'Private Institutes', and if IIPM really has to change its name what will it become - the International Institute of Ponytail Management?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Main Stream coverage!

DNA's Sruthijit KK carries the first rather comprehensive article on the IIPM vs Bloggers controversy in a mainline daily. This is the web-link, but for the record the story appeared on page 14 of the daily - their daily science and technology page - 'Evolutions'. Instead of exploring the legalities of the issue - which are contradictory because lawyers have no legal precedent to play with - the story explores the sequence of events - also mentioning the rather dubious antecedents of the father - the Berlin School of Economics fraud is now well known - it seems that the man has made even more dubious claims.
Now there are full-fledged blogs on this side of the blog divide which are downright aggressive- we can be nasty too - sort of blogs. Not that that will stop me from linking to them.
My last check on Technorati revealed 861 posts about the issue (and that won't include this one) - even if you believe that only three-quarters of the posts were made in the last ten days - that means that since the eighth when Desipundit first highlighted the issue - one heck of a lot of server space has been dedicated to IIPM. Yes, the matter has lost the head of steam that it built up last week, but now with more tradional media picking it up, things won't die down just yet.
Where is the full-page advert from IIPM by the way?
And on another note, why was I subjected to news about Bonkur and Koko in Mid-Day today? Mid-Day's standards have declined considerably in the past few months (they hired Bogsian after all!) but with this, it has really taken a tumble. I wonder if Bogsian was Mid-Day's un-named source. Its bad enough that the media has made Koko into a sultry siren (At which I snap back to the reality of St Stephens College 1998 - where Koko was well, Koko and Bonkur was, and still is, an emaciated soul), but for gods sake I don't want to read about their love lives. Why? Can't Mid-day write about some other item number girl who has to sell herself to raise money to pay music video directors so that she can make it big in Bollywood, and then suddenly gets caught in a sting operation by a News channel claiming to be #1 in some adverts. But she continues to sell herself. Life, I tell you!
EDIT : Plaintain Management!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Diasaster Fatigue

In the past one year, this part of the planet has had its fair share of disasters - from the Tsunami to the recent Earthquake. The world too, has seen lots of disasters through the year from Hurricane Katrina to the ongoing mess in Iraq. But with the gradual slowdown of coverage since the Tsunami - everywhere - TV, Print and Online (including Blogs) made me wonder if the malaise in the general public, which one agency reported was suffering from 'charity fatigue' has spread into the media. After all, how many disasters can a media outlet cover. The December 26 Tsunami was rather unique in the sense that it ithousands of people across tens of countries, the floods in Mumbai on July 26 brought a major city to its knees, New Orleans was wiped off the map and then (to borrow Jon Stewart's phrase) there is Mess'O Potamia.
The rather patchy coverage of the Kashmir earthquake has me a bit puzzled. I don't know what News Editors thought when told there was another quake last Saturday, some at least those in Delhi would have been rattled out of bed and wondered 'Not Again'. How much can you report? After all, with Lalu's shennanigans in full flow in Bihar, an earthquake was the last thing most editors needed. And just the day before, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on Buta Singh. Divided between Bihar and Kashmir what would you do? But surprisingly, the near lack of action by Indian bloggers has me a bit surprised as well. Are we all too caught up in an argument about a small-time B-School or do we also suffer from 'Disaster Fatigue'?
After the brilliant work done by the Indian media, especially print media during the Tsunami and the Mumbai floods, the incident in Kashmir seems to have passed under our radar. Everybody's radar. Even though it seems that the two national magazines are trying to save the face of the media on the whole.
On other notes, I removed the statement on the request of the person who originally recieved the statement because they didn't want to get into any trouble. I have also disabled anonymous comments because of some rather inane and frankly stupid comments by idiots which I am supposed to be scared of. Even though the national media is picking up the IIPM vs Bloggers story, I would suggest that we put the matter on the backburner (but not off the flame, mind you!).
Some links for you people who made it all the way here.
The latest UNDP Human Development Report.
Disturbing doodles? I don't know - but they ain't safe at work!
The stuff they edit out of Wikipedia! Phunnie!

- classic -

In its natural state, Coca-Cola is docile until attacked, when it will spray sweet liquid on the predator. It has many foes, such as:

  • Teens
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Movie-goers

Yet it is often found and eaten. It does many things to protect itself. It may 'accidentally' tip over when frightened, or disguise itself as the less popular Pepsi or Dr. Pepper. Still, even with its most creative attempts, its foes still find it.

In the wild, it stays in packs of 5-23 other cans. Sadly, many packs have been taken into captivity, where rings are put tightly around their middles and the cans are put into boxes. They are then sold to people who take them to houses, where they will not be fed or allowed to roam around.

See Also:

Plus, I have a cold and could do with a cup of nice, hot tea. I mean a nice, hot cup of non-Nestle-fied tea.

Great article in Esquire!

Taking a break from the Ponytail vs Indian blogosphere battle yet again, I came across a link on Papamali's blog. This article appeared in Esquire and it is an absolutely riproaring article.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The official statement

The person who initially recieved the statement asked for it to be removed so that (he/she/they) don't get into a fracas later, so anyone who comes here through a link, I'm sorry.

I don't need to say much.

Sometimes, there are advantages to being an underemployed graduate student. Other than staying in babe central (like that does the person I'm talking about a lot of good).
Anyway, this is the post that Swati made, which has one hell of a lot of rather deadly information blowing apart not PTM but the man because of whom we have to suffer him. Hey, like father like son it seems.
All I can say is that this is the best post I have read in a long, long time!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Beyond the Ponytail to Bond!

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you came here to read the next installment in the "Ponytail and I" series, I'm sorry that the blonde guy on top has stolen the show. His name is Craig, Daniel Craig and he is the reason that Pierce Brosnan doesn't play Bond for the fourth time. We have a new Bond - and he is an Englishman and the first blonde haired person to act in the role. I don't know what to make of him, but he definately looks the part - and is a better pick than Orlando Bloom or Colin Farrell.
While we are on a Bond-theme, I will divert my attention from the Blogosphere fracas, which has been driving immense amounts of traffic to this site, I will take a post to divert away from the matter, because I love watching 007 movies. So I will discuss my favourite Bond movies.
For Sean Connery, my favourite movie was Goldfinger (1964)
Classy women, a maniacal villian with a amd lust for the yellow stuff, a even more maniacal side-kick (Odd-Job), the best name for a female character in 007 - Pussy Galore (hey, can I help it if I'm a MCP at heart). And of course the Aston Martin DB5, one of the best cars ever built!
Then there was Thunderball (1965) and its rip-off Never say Never Again (1983) which was an 'unofficial' Bond flick. Both dealt with stolen Nuclear warheads - nukes got lost with an alarming frequency in Bond movies. In fact, it was positively scary. The later movie was very corny, but somehow Connery pulled it off. Connery, after all, was 'the man'. The first movie, however had the classier women.
I hated Geaorge Lazenby's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. You can't get Bond married off, and the jokes were all bad. I mean really bad. Better best avoided unless you really have to finish them all. I know the first review at IMDb calls it wonderful, but take my word for it, it sucks.
Then came the Roger Moore movies - where I loved two in particular - 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me and 1983's Octopussy. The first one I loved because of the Lotus Esprit that converts into a Submarine, this was a particularly wet movie - water, water, everywhere. And even the body disposal wasn't exactly original, copying Thunderball's Shark method (I loved the Pig disposal system in Snatch a lot better). Octopussy I love for the simple reason that they shot parts of it in Udaipur and Vijay Amritraj plays a great role. I really loved 'VeeJay' in that movie. Again, it dealt with a lost warhead. Man you wonder how the world didn't explode with 007 around!
My favourite Bond was Timothy Dalton. His movies were dark and somehow extremely good fun to watch. The Living Daylights (1987) despite having Art Malik playing the role of an Afghan Warlord is a great film, down to the storyline. And Licence to Kill (1989) is by far and Away the darkest Bond film ever made. But what a waste of good cocaine at the end!
Then we come to the Irishman. I watched Pierce Brosnan for the first time in Remington Steele on the old Star Plus when I was a kid and somehow knew that this man should be a 007 someday. He was so suave, so cool, so Bond. He made three movies, but I only really liked the first, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) which might have starred the BMW z8 instead of the DB9, but man, plots of media moguls taking over the world sounded rather believable.
Many people believe that Brosnan should have carried on, but I think at 50, he is getting a bit old, and a blonde Bond is a great idea. Now, as long as they can beef up the scripts a bit and get the sharks and SCEPTRE back, we might even have a good plot.
Anyway, I have carried on about 007 for a long time. Here is to Daniel Craig and his Bond career.
PS : Along with Pierce Brosnan, the BCCI also fired the Bengali. Thank god! It seems Greg Chappell won after all.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I would easily lose interest in something that has been going on for over five-six days. After all, I work in an industry where the average life-span for news is a day or two - which a giveaway that I work in Print, because in TV the average lifespan of a story is a few hours at best - unless of course you happen to be a Hurricane called Katrina. But, I haven't for a couple of reasons - while many across the blogosphere might think that the first few articles that have been appearing on the matter are inept and reek of stupidity, at least they are a start. With most stories, the amount of knowledge increases as a story progresses - and not a single story so far, has questioned the authenticity of the bloggers facts. In fact the silence from IIPM has been fairly telling. Some people have also written that one reason many in the larger media haven't picked the story up is because people in the larger media think that bloggers are a bunch of slagging, foul-mouthed bastards. Heck, I'm proud of that, and because I work in the industry, I think I have a right to point out the ineptitude and hipocrisy in some of the stories that I see.
Do I think that most Indian technology writers know jackshit? Sure, I do. Do I think that Sports Writers all have political agendas and that some of them were actually involved in the match fixing scandal? Yes. And don't get me started on Political writers and commentators. All that they want is a Rajya Sabha seat. Why should we continue to write on things like this, because there are some people who look at the net for information and well, while blogs may never be the best source for accurate information - they can help someone make up his mind. Say you see an advertisement or a story with dubious credentials - or one making very tall claims - you would want to check them out online. And that is where this story began, didn't it?
And the other puzzling thing has been the amount of muck that this story has raked up. Following the not-so-veiled threats by the institute to IBM, Gaurav quit, and while many people support his decision to move on, I still think that they should have burned the laptops - maybe they could have been arrested for environmental pollution. And anyway, they're the ones who would have ended up looking stupid. If IIPM threatens my publication to fire me, otherwise they would burn 10,000 copies - my circulation department would probably run off the additional copies and send them the bill - and dutifully ensure that their ABC Audit happens during that exact period - all Circulation departments are the same. Mind you, on IIPM's homepage now, they have linked to stories about free laptops - all PR plants - on their home page. Anyway, the dirt has ranged from the following - Does the Berlin School of Economics actually award a DSc? Did a certain person claiming to be a IIM-B professor ever teach there? What about a person claiming to have graduated from IIM-C (and who has a habit of catching people across IIM's with their pants down) Did he really graduate? The name of a news-channel being dragged into the story, whose MD had the following words to say when asked on the supposed JAM 'sting' - "Huh?" - Why were they dragged in - Did they really think that people who read comments on the internet are as stupid as people who read their adverts? What about the fact that the person behind the institute won the 'Gold Medal' from the same institute? What about the fact that they actually went and threatened physical harm on Rashmi? Or claim Outlook is corrupt after they withdrew the rankings given to IIPM? What about the fact that The International Management Institute in Blegium is not affiliated to any University and that on their Research and Publications Page all you see are - guess what?
All these nuggets were culled from posts I have read across the blogosphere over the last few days. Across tens of blogs - little nuggets of muck. Which are written by "real" people - not ones who claim to study in non-existent schools or can't decide between UCLA and UC Berkeley. Or even claim to have been hired by Deloitte. And please someone explain to me, why a consulting firm would hire another consulting firm?
Anyway, its getting late now (I have promised my boss not to blog during the day after I messed up the last story I was supposed to give in), and I should go home and crash.
And then again - there is a some humour in it all...
More Legal Email notices

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What the hell....

First, to all Bongs out there - Shubho Bijoya!
Again, I am amazed at a couple of things - one going through Desipundit's sticky on the IIPM versus everybody and their uncle has now written about this plus the issue of 'legal notarised emails' - which one very prominent lawyer is trying to decipher for me - the size of the battle between Ponytail and the blogs has gone way beyond a small thing - IIPM is the top search on Technorati. I mean almost everyone I know who has a blog has written about it - but really other than an online article in HT (carried HT Bombay Page 3) and a mention in the Mumbai Mirror, no-one has actually commented on this issue in the media. And then, I suddenly realised that 'Damn! I work for the mainstream media' - so I've decided to write an actual story on the matter. No, it will not be a Ponytail is bad story, in fact after going through what happened across the blogosphere over the last few days - I don't think that the man with the 1000-watt smile really did anything wrong himself - of course, you never know if 'Andy' was Ponytail, maybe even the "Real' Gaurav Sabnis was Ponytail - because Ponytail has pretended to be people before - like Deepak Parekh for example, so I can't put anything beyond him. Plus, Ponytail doesn't like bad publicity - in fact, I'm surprised ICPAR (Ponytail's in-house PR agency) hasn't issued releases on how bad Blogs are - because I'm damn well certain that the magazine that claims a print run (unverifiable - like almost everything Ponytail claims) of 57,000 copies will do a piece condemning blogs. And they will get stalwarts like hmmm, maybe Ponytail to chime in. Shit, this is bad, I should not let my personal opinion of Ponytail colour my copy. Must not, must not...
Keep checking out the Desipundit sticky - for more updates on the matter.
EDIT : I think there is too much talk of ponytails and 1000-watt smiles, so we should move on. Now moving on to the great Indian retail hungama - because that is the story that the Pinkest Paper carried as its flyer today. But in true Indiatimes style the story isn't linked from the ET website. And frankly, I don't have the patience to even bother searching Indiatimes, which is possibly the worst designed large Indian portal - and I'm not saying this because I once worked there. But what we do see on ET's website is a rather strange article on how the world's best steel raider parties when he is the capital.
Anyway, back to the point - Indian retail is going to be the next big thing if you are to believe the Pink papers and Business magazines - Rs 30,000 crore market annually. From a nation of kirana shops we are going to become a nation of hypermarts - Mukeshbhai, Kishore Biyani and Noel Tata are going to become India's WalMart and Tesco's. Guess who are ensuring that WalMart can't enter India (Left Parties, my right tatta!). Now, my experience of a hypermarket was quire surreal - I went to a local WalMart in the Atlanta suburbs last summer - and while I still use the rucksack which I picked up for $22 over there (a similar bag would have cost me Rs 4000 back home) it wasn't so much the price but the size of the place that freaked me out over 100,000 square feet of 'cents-off' products. Plus, also the size of everything (unlike the micro-sized satchet market that is India) - I couldn't find a small bottle of shampoo for example (even though the H&S I bought lasted eight months). And there was the bit about the guns being right next to the fishing rods - real shotguns with real bullets. But then again, I was in bloody Georgia, USA!
And now Reliance, Tata Trent and Pantaloon are going around buying acres of land across rural and semi-urban India. The methods their realtors are using, can be described politely as 'arm twisting' (Even though, from hearsay, I believe that they are paying 30-40 per cent over market values for the land). Each store while not WalMart hypermarket - these will be 30,000 to 40,000 square feet of small size goodness. From what I've heard these guys will set up almost 20-30 stores within the next five years.
So, my querstion to Mr Karat (again) is, "Sir, what happens to your good ol' small trader then?" Because, these stores will definately screw small traders - and I'm surprised that the BJP - the trading community's favourite party has maintained a muted silence on the issue. Maybe the fact Mukeshbhai is behind one of the ventures is a reason for their silence, but then again, the BJP is hardly coherent enough to talk nowadays.
I have no concrete opinion on mega-marts. In a way, I think they will be a boon to the consumer, but they will drive many small businesses to the ground. However they will also provide employment to thousands of people - directly and indirectly. But is having 50 megamarts by 2010-2012 going to be a sign of progess. I really don't know.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A kwik post..

I think Gaurav's resignation from Lenovo/IBM which has already been discussed to death on the blogosphere was a very brave thing to do. Would I have taken the same step - nope - I would have made our boys and girls burn their laptops. Maybe their desperate cry for attention towards a mainstream media non-issue might have brought them some publicity. However, as Codey pointed out, unless the lazy IIM boys (OK, one lazy one) at the Times Insight Group got hold of this (and then persuaded their bosses to write against a Rs 30 crore a year advertiser and space buyer), a tech illiterate writer would have bought the Eye Eye Pee Yem bullcrap and served up some delightfully unaware article - which would have made desi bloggers look like a bunch of idiots. However, in retrospect I think this entire mob mentality business that overcame Indian bloggers was a bit silly. When I wrote my first post on the whole Eye Eye Pee Yem versus Gaurav and Rashmi business back on Saturday evening, I was led to first post by Desipundit. The entire matter was funny, and we all had a good laugh about it. I just pointed out that, hey most B-School surveys are rather dubious or have dubious antecedents (not the survey that my publication does - whose only flaw is that the sample size could be bigger - however even a ten percent increase in sample size adds a huge amount of complexity - so actually right now, our survey is about the right size, the methodology is rather foolproof - heck, I spent two hours on a flight reading it once). When I returned to work on Monday (being new to Bombay, I don't have a computer as yet) the entire thing had snowballed into something unimaginable and by virtue of being one the first to write on the issue - traffic stats were going through the roof. In fact, I even got calls from people to see what was going on.
But first back to surveys.
Almost every survey of anything, particularly in India is suspect. I'll give you an example, while I was in my previous job I was sent a survey of telecom users which made some rather wild claims - a colleague who had a propensity to the definate article 'the' (a typical line of his would read - the Anil Ambani met the Prime Minister, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee etc...) got damn excited by some of the claims, went to the News Editor with the survey and said 'Boss, this is the survey.' Then, a stupid Editorial Trainee, (me) saw this survey had been done with 50 respondents. Now, while I do not want to say that the work done by agencies such as IMRB and TNS-Mode is flawed, but 50 respondents is too small a sample size. As is a survey done even on 500 people for that matter - and we know how dishonest respondents are - because the India Today survey on Women's sexuality threw up this statistical impossibility - wherein only 69% of all adult single men in India mastrubate - I don't know even one single male friend of mine who doesn't make love to his right/left hand at least once a week since the age of 15 - and this survey expects me to believe that 3 in every 10 Indian men don't jerk off? Get my point?
Anyway, I doubt the last word has been said on the Eye Eye Pee Yem versus Indian Blogdom matter. If you are a regular visitor here - I would suggest you keep checking Desipundit for the updates. I will continue to post the occasional post on the matter, but there are hundreds of disparate threads out there. What I will do is urge anybody important who reads this blog (and according to some people there are some rather high-powered individuals who do read this blog) to help support a free-speaking man and a magazine run by a great person.
On another note, back to what this blog is all about actually - the recent flood of people away from the 'Pinkest Paper' towards Fidelity Financial Services is a bit puzzling. I'm still wondering why Mumbai's most experienced real-estate reporter (who not only lives on Marine Drive but also once waged a mssive war with Jain&Jain management to keep his job and won) who had a job with one of the country's leading channels chucked it in the air and went instead to this firm which is on a media hiring spree - they have picked up the person that the Birla paper thought would take over their corporate section - leaving that section still rudderless. Much to the amusement of the Birla papers' Delhi business head. I believe that HT is by far and away the best looking paper in India - but my god its content is pitiful. ToI would be well advised however to clean up its layout and design which look like a throwback to the 70's (only in full colour). Anyway, I am in the midst of an interesting story and have a telephonic scheduled at 5.30, which is the time right now, so see ya' later.

Pony tale

Once upon a time, the magnificient ponytail descended upon the Pink City to talk leadership. It was an event sponsored by the Birla Paper's Marketing Arm that Targets Only Schools and naturally a reporter had to be sent out to cover the event.

I was sent (I wish I could say veni, vidi, vici)

What me, and other citizens of the Pink City, were treated to was new age rehashed Gita meets the Bible in Central Park, New York/New Delhi.

Thankfully, memory doesn't serve me too well. The events of that day are a little hazy ... which is how it should be.

And, my article the next day didn't destroy him completely. What can I say, I was young, inexperienced, naive ... I still thought people were nice.

The Ponytail is not an intellectual powerhouse. All his energy is used up in the 1000 watt smile he flashes from time to time ... and in combing his hair. I wonder why a toothpaste company hasn't asked him to endorse their product yet.

Let me get a little serious ...

It's time to thank the magnificient Ponytail.

He's showing us the future ... a future where control over information is increasingly taken away from the information elite - the political-media complex that controls what goes out, and in what form.

The blog -- and variations of it in the form of both the pod and the vlog -- give people a voice that can be heard. All arguments about who's hearing are valid, but there is no denying the shift in power (Hey Alvin T. Respect!) ... What this also means is that traditional means of controlling image - the advertisement, the paid article, the junket will have to increasingly share power with the blogger: with you and me. More power to us! Do I state the obvious ... quite probably. But there is some good in that.

At some point, the eep,me!(s) of this world will have to come to terms with this shift. Does anybody remember the story of mediaah? What a blog it was ... and continues to be with the odd post. It was shut down by legal notices from the Indian Toy. Is eep,me trying something similar? Well, their effort resembles the legal notices sent out by collection agents posing as lawyers. A notice sent by a lawyer is a piece of paper that can be thrown away. Unlike a notice sent from a court (which comes via registered post or is hand delivered).

I may be rambling out here, but it seems to me that the first reaction to any kind of threat seems to be to become a bully. Is The Holy Ponytail the only person to react like this. Have we not, at some time or the other, become miniature bullies ourselves. Is this a very Indian reaction? Could it even be that Indians as a race/society are far less tolerant of criticism ... of any sort. Do we encourage the asking of questions -- like a certain nobel prize winner suggests -- or do we actually stamp out dissent by encouraging questions from the textbook.

I don't have the answers.

But I do have opinions. And technology is empowering my opinions. It is allowing me to be heard. More importantly, it is also allowing feedback. Your comments which take an argument forward ... or rip it apart. The comments that make me want to write more ... or not at all.

In fact, it is the stuff that advertisers dreams are made of. The instant reaction to an ad. The instant feedback. The instant sale.

The Ponytail might have his own theories about blogs - which we should get to read about soon enough in the M&B of Business Journalism, B&E - but what he does not have is a blog. And without one, he is as ineffectual as Iraq's vaunted nuclear programme, or North Korea's food programme, or America.

He, and others like, him will learn the hard way what it is to be left behind. Every word we write, every shred of evidence we present against him, every opinion left behind for posterity (barring legal notices that translate into changes of address :) does what no ad campaign can ever do -- reveal a truth .. not the truth, certainly not his truth, but a truth. And every truth is only as powerful as the number of people who believe in it - the more the people, the closer a truth gets to becoming the truth. Hello Goebbels. He had this down pat. Murdoch in his hey day wasn't too bad either ... Fox is kinda losing the script nowadays.

So we've got it right when we say the only way to take on legal notices from The Shiny Ponytail is to blog blog blog.

Tomorrow: Ipod Nano review, I get my hands on one tonight at 11pm India time.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blogs, traffic and the rest.

You know whats funny - this search on Technorati which kinda surprised me with a rather low number and then I remembered that Technorati is taking way too long to update records nowadays - so I used Google Blog Search to find out what the others are saying about the institute that shall not be named (not for any legal reasons but because I don't want to add to their repute - so instead of Eye Eye Pee Yem lets call TITSNBN cutting out NBN we get TITS - so from now on we'll call 'em TITS - no then again that will be doing disservice to that part of the anatomy, so lets see EEPY for Eye Eye Pee Yem - see its sounds a lot more palatable already). Of course, certain search words lead us to very interesting results - This Google search when you add 'fraud' to their name. Because a search for just their name will not lead us to the more investigative sites until the second page, but page 3 has the nicer ones (cross-linking between your sites to go Google Page-rank, anyone know someone at Google)
Anyway - the Google Blog search thread was actually the most interesting - I know the guiys at DesiPundit have updated their records on the matter to the best of their ability, but by god the number of people getting involved must be making this into a PR disaster for the Ponytail, because little dark secrets of his institute are all now coming out slowly, and like it or not there are enough journalists who are Bloggers, so I hope one of them has the guts to pick this thread up and expose the Ponytail, because knowing the Ponytail he might start spreading little stories of how bloggers are big idiots and know nothing.
So far, none of the blogs have said anything particularly defamatory - unlike some of the comments left by the Ponytial's acolytes. But if this matter keeps spinning the way it has I will be surprised if nothing does get said, because some people are getting rather edgy. Guys if you read this, keep your cool (I am the worse person to dispense this advice given that I have written some rather ugly emails to former girlfriends and all, but it would be well heeded).
However, I must admit that this is by far and away the biggest thing to happen to the Indian blogosphere ever - and I have been amazed at the number of Indian bloggers around. I know that Blogging in India is still a rather upper-middle class thing, persued by what - around 2500-3000 people on a fairly regular basis - of which around 1500 or so are listed on Indibloggers. And most Indian bloggers are rather well-educated left-of-centre 20-30 year olds (A small request to Vulturo, why don't you guys conduct some sort of survey on Desi Bloggers, so I can stop making such generalisations? And I will change the look and feel over the next weekend - any tips on where to get a nice, clean non-blogger template). Anyway, that hardly fits into my capitalist economics and right-of-centre political views, but I guess I have my readers - who put with the 1000-odd words that I (and sometimes the Snake) churn out every week. But somehow, I end up agreeing with Vijay Krishna when he says that the Ponytail has done Indian Blogdom a huge service. Ironic, ain't it!
Hey, Snake, why don't you chip in on this, you can get some killer dirt on the ponytail knowing your connections, and methinks that the mainstream media will have to write about this. Some phone calls have to be made, but we can forget the Times writing about this - because the last time they took a stand they lost a Rs 60-70 crore account (the Tata's), I don't think they want to lose this Rs 30 crore one as well. But, I do know for better or for worse, ToI (maybe HT) should write about this.
Anyway, I should be getting home now. I guess the trains should be empty.

Blogs got balls, maan!

When the Jain&Jain versus Mediaah fiasco happened earlier this year, some Indian bloggers, including myself made a little noise about how big, bad Jain&Jain had bullied poor PM into shutting down his blog. And then when we discovered that we bloggers amounted to nothing much, we just carried on narrating tales of our rather insiginificant lives. Insignificant, because that was the term used in the first threat I got in a comment for this post. Well, not exactly the first threat, but because the other ones were made by Friendgirl in various states of rage, they can be ignored. Sure, I totally admit my insignificance in the grander scheme of things, heck I'm just a worker ant (who has a shitload of work to finish mind you). But, I do happen to have spawned from some rather significant blood.
I find the way IIPM's management (they're all rather petty guru's it seems) have taken on the Indian blogosphere very disgusting - some of the comments they have left on some posts are in extremely bad taste to say the least. However, this time round, the Indian blogosphere seems to have gotten some collective balls - thanks mainly to the fact that we do seem to have a rudder thanks to Desipundit. You will find a host of blogs which destroy piece by piece IIPM's tall claims to fame linked through this site - A would like to holler a big 'Thank You' to all the folks over at Desipundit, because I know many of you have regular jobs to do, and I'm not saying this because I want more traffic over here, but because I genuinely think you guys are doing a great job (funny threats to shut down blog would be welcome though!). Again if you notice the comments in my last post - Swati (this is a great post on her blog, by the way) has even questioned the credibility of some the claims made by AC's dad! Now, this has gone beyond the 'any publicity is good publicity' phase for IIPM. You know, if they had just kept quiet this matter would have passed right by, and tall claims would never have been questioned. I wonder if HT deleted that story (HT had a bad habit of deleting their web storage every two years) they had once printed in their Nation page questioning IIPM's placement record (Hey, how tough is a 100 percent placement record if you hire 50 percent of your grads yourself).
Some quick clarifications - Mr Management 'Guru' is one of the biggest buyers of ad-space in the mainstream media - he also is one of the biggest buyers of 'MediaNet' at Jain&Jain and paid features elsewhere - he however has nothing to do with the ToI Group or any media group for that matter, and he pays Sachin Tendulkar shitloads of money to endorse him and we know that Sachin has endorsed dubious brands (Hometrade) before (A cricketer endorse something out of the goodness of his heart?). The less said about his magazine the better - but in a recent advert they claimed circulation of 57,000 copies! I asked around at the Wheeler stores in Bombay train stations and they said that it hardly moves - and with some of the analytical gems they throw up, I really begin to wonder why, but 57,000 copies is serious circulation (Heck it would come close to out-circulating Business India) - I wonder what the multiplier here is (or is it like the 'Free Laptops') and I have never seen a single B&E correspondent at any presser till now. I should ask the PR trade how seriously they take it (Phone Call made, the person laughed at me, I think he is still laughing).
As I said I have a shit load of work to finish, so I'll take your leave. But I don't think this matter is going to sleep anytime soon. Keep up the threats and feel free to speak to my editor, if you know who he is.
EDIT : This blog might be a good read - the Times bit is false but the rest is pretty much readable. And so are the second and third parts of JAM's story.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The ponytail and the legal notice!

I really like Desipundit, not only because they have brought a whole lot of new readers to this site - even though few of those new readers leave comments - but also because these guys can sometimes uncover some gems of hilarity from the Indian blogosphere. Blogger Gaurav Sabnis has been served a legal notice by the ponytailed management (maybe) guru (joke) Arindam Chaudhari. Now, I know giving space to this persdon is a waste of very valuable (albeit cheap) server space. But this letter is too hilarious. I am still laughing!
Just read this paragraph -
This notice is with respect to your releasing totally false articles about IIPM on the website (reference that has your clear reference and that has been released by you with proven deliberate and fraudulent intentions to harm the image of IIPM and related businesses. The articles have caused unfathomable damage to the reputation of IIPM and to its various operational areas. The articles further have affected innumerable future operations of IIPM. We have legally notarized and logged all the releases and are sending you this email to you as the first notice of proposed legal, judicial and criminal action against you that has already been approved & cleared by the Post Graduate Fellow Programme committee at IIPM. Even though the damage caused by your deliberate and fraudulent intentions cannot be calculated, the proposed filing would involve an immediate damage claim from you of Rs.125 Crores; apart from other various losses (including, but not restricted to opportunity losses, sales losses, legal costs and associated expenses). Corollary claims and subsequent parallel criminal and civil actions are being notified further on.
I really don't know whether to laugh or cry! Now all this is because Gaurav linked to an article carried by Rashmi Bansal's magazine JAM - which explored the tall claims made by IIPM. Now, I believe of all Indian bloggers should link to this article and someone should make a mirror of this site as well. Now, something about B-School surveys quickly, because the publication I work for does one - firstly with regard to IIPM - different IIPM's are rated differently - so claiming that IIPM as an institution is #8 or #9 is incorrect maybe IIPM Mumbai or IIPM Delhi got the rank - never IIPM. Two, as JAM says all B-School surveys are dynamic and rankings change every year - #1 in 2003 could become #16 in 2004 - sometimes because schools drop in and drop out of surveys. Plus - always look at how a survey is conducted - some surveys have very dubious antecedents where the person conducting the survey could be tied to a particular B-School themselves (as happens in the ratings of one Business magazine). Two, ratings are always perception based - students, ex-students and recruiters - any survey which looks at data supplied by the school will be incorrect - Infrastructure and papers written by teachers can easily be falsified.All I do know is that IIPM is not recognised by AICTE and that (while not a sin) is never highlighted - so if you want admission abroad it could be a problem. Anyway, blogs aren't safe from legal action - but I think that Gaurav has little to worry about! WWe can all show our support can't we.
PS : If you are a blogger in Delhi - Shivam of Mall Road is hosting the Delhi bloggers meet on Sunday. I would be there but instead I'm sweating in the Big Guava (I was told Big Mango is Bangkok - Damn!).
PPS : I'll just post one last thing before I wind up for the weekend. This was a post about the way the local media reported the Google-Sun Micro alliance. It is quite classic - guess why I don't rely on any of the Indian papers for news, especially tech news. Check these gems out!
The more that is written about the alliance between Sun and Google announced on Tuesday, the less it appears to resemble anything even close to the truth. But the Times of India really takes the biscuit - sorry guys, but how could anyone who listened to the announcement come to the conclusion that Sun and Google have merged?
According to the Times of India, "Google has announced a strategic merger with giant Sun Microsystems, in a deal that is expected to create another dent in arch-competitor Microsoft's monopoly over the Internet."
Many of you will have spotted two pretty significant problems with this sentence. Firstly, Sun and Google announced an alliance, not a merger. Second, Microsoft does not have a "monopoly over the Internet". No-one does. Microsoft may have the lion's share of the browser market, but that's not the same as having a monopoly over the Internet. Besides, the Sun-Google collaboration is not so much about changing the dynamics of the browser market as it is about changing the dynamics of the desktop applications market.
The Indian Express fared slightly better, but they too seem to have witnessed a completely different press conference to the rest of the world. According to the paper, "Google Inc took a big step toward challenging Microsoft Corp's dominance in computer word-processing and spreadsheets with the announcement today that it would distribute Java technology from Sun Microsystems Inc." Wrong again - Sun will distribute the Google Toolbar when people download Java from Sun. So far, Google has not said it will be distributing Java. They are exploring other ways to collaborate, they say, but there is no firm news yet.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Media Wars

A very good looking birdie has been telling me horror tales from Bridal Asia and other fashion events. Stories about reporters from across the media divide fighting over who goes first. Stories about reporters almost clawing each others eyes out. About shouting matches where everybody from parents to organisation owners have been roundly abused. Bruised and battered, most of these reporters also manage to put stories out ... not bad eh?

The best one has to be between a reporter from the Birla paper and reporter from the fastest Hindi channel around during a movie thingy on Friday - the two went at each other, each other's owners and everyone within a ten feet radius hammer and tongs. Their bone of contention, who got to shoot a couple of starlets first .. everybody was screaming me first .. nobody said me last .. or even me second ...

Oh, and it's not only women fighting ...

You gotta just lurve the Times, Ganguly and of course Lalu!

What a headline!
A friend of mine sent me this story link over email. At first sight I thought the story was about Tom 'Psycho' Cruise and Katie Holmes, but no. This delightfully titled story is on a rape victim. Of course, I will crucify the Times alone in the dastardly headline scam. Nope, almost all major dailies are responsible, but few are as tasteless.
On other Gangulian notes - how many of you really think it is terrbly surprising that 'Dada' (who cribbed and cried about being left out from the World XI) has managed to 'hurt' his elbow before the start of the Challenger series. I was speaking to an ardent Ganguly defender last night (surprise, surprise all three of us share the same ethnicity) and he told that Ganguly is a captain with atitude and atitude is so important. Um, yeah. I don't think atitude is going to help India win the World Cup in 2007. And if want atitude we should make Viru Sehwag captain. And if you think Ganguly is the most 'atitudinal' (I know, wrong usage, who cares) captain out there - I have two words for you - Roy Keane. I again argue for Ganguly's dismissal as Captain of India. And this has to be done before England come here this winter, because if we don't perk up soon (or make dustbowls like we did at Wankhede last year against the Aussies) we are gonna get slughtered in the tests. As it is our ICC Test and One-day rankings put us just above the West Indies, which is nothing much to be proud of. Of course, I do have a funny feeling that Gurudas Dasgupta and Nilotpal Basu will threaten to bring down the government if Ganguly is fired, feelings over Ganguly in Bengal run stronger than feelings over airport privatisation.
Now, to the other topid of the day. The SC has ruled that what Buta Singh did by dissolving the Bihar Assembly. I appauld the SC on their decision, because what happened in Bihar on that day was a murder of democracy. The problem with bloggers in India is that so many of them so are decidedly left-wing they will see this decision along with many others where the courts have tried to impose a certain level of secularism in education as the decision of a right-wing bench of bigots. Wrong! Bihar is a basket-case of a state, which is quite sad, because Bihari's (if there is such a thing as a Bihari - all these people would identify themselves by their caste first) are are an extremely hard-working and resourceful community. Unfortunately, it has been ruled by a despotic madman who would do anything to stay onto power - the only way he can stay onto power is to keep Bihar poor. While the NDA combine may not be palatable to many people in the blogosphere - maybe it is what Bihar needs - that state (like Bengal next door) needs a change.
By the way, don't you find it awfully ironic that possibly one of most religious people in the world - Bongs - are ruled by a bunch of not-so-evil Communists. They even call themselves Marxists. wasn't he the guy who said religion was the opium of the masses? Some things continue to befuddle me even as I storm towards middle-age.