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Showing posts from May, 2007

Sydney-based Indian to make movie on witch hunt

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Witch hunt, the dark underside of India’s development thesis, will be captured on celluloid by Sydney-based director-cinematographer Simon Kurian.
(In the photo: Ismail Merchant ( standing), Simon Kurian (sitting), Madhur Jaffery (sitting) and in the background (standing) looking on is the Producer Richard Hawley.)Set in contemporary India, the movie examines the widespread practice wherein women are abused, persecuted, exiled or killed. In mainly superstitious tribal societies of north India, witches are blamed for drought, floods, a stroke of bad luck, or ill-health. But some sociologists say the superstition is only a convenient excuse to harass women.

“The Witch Hunt is a dark and dramatic tale, of the unequal battles that are often fought in the Indian landscape unnoticed by most and ignored by many,” says Simon Kurian who has co-written the script with his wife Geethanjali.

“The story is based on true events, which Simon researched and developed over 10 years, after travelling to …

Are expletives okay?

Apparently British TV shows are so full of them that David Munk, deputy foreign editor of Guardian, wonders whether we are overdosing on expletives.

"In context it sounds natural - almost needed," he says. "But the way it seems to be thrown into casual conversations about anything from courgettes to croquet seems to me a bit odd. But then again maybe I'm getting old; or maybe our TV shows have been too old for too long. Maybe it's just television catching up with the society it is supposed to reflect..."

"... Our language has moved on. Words that once shocked and surprised have become standard expressions.... Try expressing your surprise/joy/anger using other imaginative descriptions.
There could then come a time when the word will once again regain its power to shock," he suggests.

The other day, I heard a 8-year old boy in my apartment complex say, "I don't like Shakira's a**." I was initially startled, but then I wondered: Why be …

Manmohan springs a surprise

Don't pay huge salaries to CEOs, that was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice to corporates at a meeting of CII in New Delhi yesterday. (See below link to the full text of the PM's speech.) This was the fourth point in the 10-point social charter that he suggested to the Indian corporates which are riding the crest of an economic boom.
This seemingly Leftist turn by the architect of India's capitalist revolution is a surprise, and what led him to formulate this charter will be a topic of specution for long. Was it politics, social concern or worries about a malfunctioning economy?

Let us go to the speech where he spoke of the fat salaries that corporates pay:
"Four, resist excessive remuneration to promoters and senior executives and discourage conspicuous consumption. In a country with extreme poverty, industry needs to be moderate in the emoluments levels it adopts. Rising income and wealth inequalities, if not matched by a corresponding rise of incomes across t…

Helvetica is 50 years old

Who is that? In pre-computer era, only people associated with printing or publishing knew Helvetica. Today, anyone who has been using Word Document will know this character whose 50th birth anniversary is being celebrated in many ways across the world.

Much ado about nothing? Not really. In the world of communication, the way words are written or printed conveys as much if not more than the meaning of the word itself. Especially in advertising the fonts are very carefully chosen to subliminally reinforce the message.

Helvetica typeface was initially released as Neue Haas Grotesk and was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger for the Haas Type Foundry in Switzerland. Its name was changed to Helvetica (an adaptation of Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland) by Walter Cunz around 1960. It soon became popular mainly found in subways of New York and in logos of BMW and American Airlines.

While Apple introduced Helvetica on its computers in 1984, it was soon rivalled by the font Arial which was…

21st Sainik School

India's 21st Sainik School is in Punglwa in Nagaland. It was inaugurated by defence minister A K Antony on May 12.

The school is the third in the North East, other two being at Goalpara (Assam) and Imphal (Manipur) established in 1964 and 1971 respectively. Spread over an area of 300 acres, the school is located in the scenic foothills of Pauna Range Peren district of Nagaland, about 47 km from Dimapur.

Links:
-- Report in Assam Tribune
-- List of Sainik Schools

Gujarat and Indian democracy

Gujarat has been at the centre of Indian politics right from the time of Mahatma Gandhi. It's a beautiful state with a rich historical legacy, populated by extraordinarily affable people. The six years I was there, from 1990 to 96, are most memorable: the goodness of people outweighing the troubles of post-Babri Masjid demolition.

I always wonder how can such a state be so caught up in violence and radical ideology. Violence there is an inexplicable abberation for me. I haven't understood how such a state where people of all relgions, especially Hindus and Muslims, are so dependent on each other, mainly for business, could nurture within itself violently divisive tendencies. Inspite of all this, interestingly, people, especially women, feel much safe at night, crime rate is low!

The latest issue of The Chronicle Review carries an article Fears for Democracy in India by Martha C Nussbaum. She is a professor in philosophy at the University of Chicago and has authored The Clash Wit…

Anyways, it's best avoided

"I am going out with a friend at 5 pm and should be back in 30 minutes. Anyways, I will call you." - A typical sentence spoken or written today.

I knew of only anyway, until recently I began to hear sentences similar to the one above. Now I get to hear and read more and more of anyways, prompting me to find out the legitimacy of its usage anyway.

Merriam-Webster dictionary tells me that anyways is a colloquial expression to mean anyhow or anyway or anywise; or in other words in any manner whatever. I am told it is found in some dialects in the United States.

Paul Brians of the Department of English, Washington State University, says: ... anyways is best avoided in formal written English: an advice today's college students would do well to heed. He says, "The two-word phrase any way has many legitimate uses, however: Is there any way to prevent the impending disaster?"

Kevin Drum wrote in Washington Monthly says: "... there is no such word as anyways. It's…

Mayawati has a chance to clean UP politics

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Mayawati's victory yesterday must rank as one of the most emphatic ones in India. But more than that what struck me most was how socio-political equations change.

Pundits are attributing the victory largely to the way Mayawati, who till now despised upper castes, courted them. The old slogan of her party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party, was "tilak, taraju aur talwar, maro unko jhoote char" (Beat up Brahmins, Vaishyas and Kshatriyas). This time round it was "Haati nahin Ganesh hai... Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh hai" (It is not the elephant but Lord Ganesh, symbolising all gods and communities).

We only know the number of people who voted for Mayawati. We will never why they voted. That's always a matter of debate. Pity if a lot of upper caste people voted for Mayawati because she gave tickets to workers belonging to their caste.

Caste rather than development parameters, decide winners in India. We have perpetuated an illusion that a segmented growth pattern on caste line…

DMK at crossroads in a charred Madurai

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Madurai has always had a spiritual ring about it. Not without reason: it's the Meenakshi temple that comes to our mind first. A visit to that majestic structure has incredibly soothening influences on not merely the religious among us. Unfortunately, the city on the banks of Vaigai river was burning yesterday.

(Photo credit: Yahoo News photo. Fire and smoke are seen after a petrol bomb was thrown into the offices of the Dinakaran newspaper office in Madurai on Wednesday.)

A newspaper, Dinakaran, publishes the findings of a survey which says that of the two sons of M Karunanidhi, Stalin, and not Azhagiri, is the most preferred heir. The latter and his supports are enraged. Madurai is his stronghold and if conjectures are given any credence, with his tacit compliance, the hoodlums let loose a reign of terror. That three people died and property worth crores was destroyed is bad; but worse is the knock that Dravidian politics and social tolerance have taken.

This is not the first time M…

Marketing executives

What would happen to the marketing industry if most people were like me? It could probably collapse.

Why? Because I get very sceptical when marketing executives appoach me and try to sell their product or service. The more they push their product, the more will be my reluctance to give in.

It's not so bad for me with advertisements, because they don't force you -- with a gun on your throat as it were -- to buy the product. Ads that combine information that I can cross check impress me a lot.

Some marketing executives can be too pushy. I won't blame them, because that is their way of perseverance. And, a lot of people give in when pushed. I feel harassed mainly because the product that is being sold to me is not what I am thinking of buying.

I often ask the executives, "Do you have a info booklet? Why don't give me some time to think it over? Shall call you back when I have taken a decision." This approach, all marketing executives know very well, doesn't wor…