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Monday, March 22, 2010

Bangalore Twestival 2010 on March 25 at Opus

Twitter was conceptualised as the web equivalent of SMS. But in its four years of existence, the microblog has grown way beyond even what its founders imagined. Millions of people use it in some way: to follow breaking news, to keep in touch with friends or to give expression to their emotions and opinions.

When a few Londoners in 2008 decided to leverage the power of online networking to steer social projects, they were breaking new ground. The thought was elementary: if a million people could network online, why can’t a few of them get together offline? And, thus w as born the idea of Twestival or twitter festival.

Twestival Global 2010 will be held in 175 cities around the world — including Bangalore — on March 25 in aid of international charity, Concern Worldwide. The proceeds will go to its worldwide education projects. Besides Bangalore, six cities — Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Kochi — will host Twestival this year. Each city will have its own fund-raising programme, conceptualized and organized by volunteers,
 on that day.

BANGALORE TWESTIVAL AT OPUS

The Bangalore festival will include a rock show by Galeej Gurus, Repsychled, and Nakul Shenoy’s Beyond Magic, at Opus, Palace Road, from 7 pm onwards. “If you are on twitter and in Bangalore, this is a must-attend to meet your twitter friends as well as to contribute to a social cause,” said Vaijayanthi K M, regional coordinator for India. There are plans for a secondary fund-raising inter-corporate cricket match on March 27.

Jason Alexander, who manages Galeej Gurus, said: “We strongly believe in the cause of education that Twestival is supporting this year. We would like to do our part in giving back to the society & community, through what we do best…making & performing music.” Shalini Mohan, a bassist for Repsychled, is excited. “It’s a festival that’s happening all over the world on the same day. Nothing like joining hands for supporting a cause.”

Vaijayanthi says people are now more aware about Twestival. “We do not have to explain the entire premise, the motive and our intention. Companies/sponsors are also more forthcoming and willing to support us because they have seen the impact.”

Founder of Twestival Amanda Rose feels there is no shortage of people who are passionate and want to help. The challenge is coordination, not participation. “Organizing online and gathering offline allows Twestival to harness the incredible communication power of twitter to propel participation in real events. By using social media platforms such as twitter, Twestival is able to connect hundreds of independent local events into a powerful global initiative.”

SOCIAL CAUSE

Concern Worldwide, in aid of which Twestival 2010 is being held, is a 40-year-old Ireland-based international humanitarian organization working among the deprived to improve their standard of living. With a staff of about 3,200 people of 50 nationalities, it operates in 28 countries. In September last year, Concern celebrated 10 years of its work in India.

An estimated 72 million children worldwide are not enrolled in school, says Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide. “Concern is committed to reaching those left behind, giving them access to learning and the chance to break out of the cycle of poverty. Twestival Global is revolutionizing the way concerned citizens all over the world connect to benefit the poorest among us. We are thrilled to have been chosen, and we’re rolling up our sleeves to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity,” says Arnold.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

A group of London tweeple (people who use twitter) hosted an event called Harvest Twestival in September 2008. The objective was to meet up, have some fun and in the process help a local charity organization. They held a raffle, pooled in donations and canned food for a non-profit called The Connections in Traffalgar Square which supports the homeless.

The messages went out on twitter, the event was planned in two weeks, and sponsorships were pooled in from twitter users. The organizers expected not more than 40 to attend, but people had networked online and around 250 showed up at the venue! The Harvest Twestival was a thumping success. While on one side The Connections got the support it was looking for, the event demonstrated the power of twitter as a platform to network and rally for a social cause. The enthusiasm led the way for holding the first Twestival Global, preparations for which began with the first tweet on January 8, 2009.

A month later, on February 12, over 1,000 volunteers got together in 202 cities, including Bangalore, to organize events to raise funds for water projects around the world. Over $250 was raised in one day through events and online donations; resulting in 55 wells benefiting more than 17,000 people in Uganda, Ethiopia and India.

Says Vaijayanthi, “In 2009, Twestival India was able to raise over Rs 90,000 for the non-profits. Considering the ever-increasing number of Indians taking to twitter, we expect to more than double this amount in 2010.”

TWITTER TURNS FOUR

It was on March 21, 2006, at 9.50 pm PST, that Jack Dorsey, founder of twitter, sent out the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr”.

(This article appeared in The Times of India, Bangalore, on March 22, 2010)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Should there be more IPLs?

A proposal is doing the rounds among the cricket bigwigs on holding more than one IPL in a year. The idea is to take it abroad to places like the US and the Gulf, where there is a huge concentration of Indians.

There is no doubt IPL -- the 20 over-a-side, eight-team Indian Premier League Championship -- is a roaring success. It has now come to symbolise cricket, eclipsing not just the sedate 5-day Test version but even the shorter 50-over-a-side One-Day Internationals or the ODIs.

Success begets success. It's also said we shouldn't sleep over success, but look far ahead to reap more out of success. It all sounds good, ambitious, enterprising and what not!

But the plan overlooks an aspect of IPL that's so crucial -- the players. Did anyone consult them, before publicing the 'more of IPL' plan?

It's players, coaches, managers, umpires and a whole lot of support staff who have made what cricket, or rather IPL, what it's today. They are all under tremendous pressure to perform round the year. Their body and mind are stretched to the maximum. They have little time for relaxation or for their personal and family lives.

What about all of us who watch cricket and enjoy it. Already I have heard of many people who are sick and tired of their favourite sport and pastime. Strange, is it not, if one has to be fed up of something that he or she likes!

Well, there's definitely an overkill of cricket. How many matches will one see? Cricket may actually be under threat of losing its entertainment value. Even now, even during a T20 match many people, come to see the match only during the last 3 or five overs of each innings.

Cricket is much more than winning. It's about style as much as strategy. Great innings. Great bowling spells. Great catches. Great stops. Great field placements. We have all enjoyed that as much as the winning shot of our favourite teams.

Let's not dilute the significance of these fascinating facets of this great game.

IPL once year is more than enough. We would like to look forward to it once every year. Because what happens after a longer wait gives us unrivalled pleasure.

Let us not kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

'Time and Tide' is back on Ugadi

To everyone, who has been reading Time and Tide, my apologies for the hiatus -- 20 months and 4 days -- it has been a long time. I wasn't able to post anything here, and I owe a Big Thank You to those who helped me resume my blogging here.

What a day to be back. Today is Ugadi -- the New Year Day festival in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The day is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. It's a festive occasion for Sindhis around the country, who celebrate the day as Chetti Chand or the Sindhi New Year. The Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali equivalents of this day come next month. India is such a complicated nation when it comes to religious festivals!

It's indeed an auspicious day to re-enter the blogospere. Please do check back. Thanks a lot, for staying on with Time and Tide patiently.