I will be travelling for the next few days and will not be able to update this site.
The site will be back to its regular schedule in July.
The Belgian transport company STIB/MVIB is using Shiva's Nataraj image as a way to to persuade Belgians to use the front doors of the buses. These buses are called 'Shiva Buses' .
The translated version of the Dutch page outlines the benefits of using the front door of the bus.
Apparently this image has been in use since mid-2003 and the concept has received some criticism as can be seen on this message board (translated version).
IMG to Open Sports School in India (New York Times)
IMG is licensing its name and providing expertise, coaching and staff members for 10 years to IMG Academies Bharata, a sports instruction and resort complex in Hyderabad. IMG Academies includes the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
The chairman of IMG Academies Bharata is Andrew Krieger a hedge fund manager who is an Indophile.
Without a fundamental change in the mindset towards professional sports, such academies won't be of much use.
India is really looking towards the East now (The Straits Times, Singapore)
India seems to be focussing more on the East now - from ensuring that the seven northeastern states are part of the mainstream (PM Singh represents Assam) to forging stronger ties with South East Asian countries.
Increased trade and communication with these countries - Singapore, Korea, Malayasia - will considerably increases India's influence in the region.
Monsoon fever leaves India steaming (Asia Times Online)
A very colorful description of the wait for the start of the monsoon and the excitement that follows its onset.
I remember the 'MRF Rain Day Contest' where people guessed when the monsoon would begin in Mumbai.
An average of 10 people a day are killed on Bombay's suburban train network. Most are killed while crossing the tracks but some die because of faulty design of the platforms and utility poles next to the tracks.
Manavta, an NGO working to reduce these deaths, has been working the authorities to identify and fix the hazards. However, reducing apathy towards accident victims remains there toughest challenge.
Short on Priests, U.S. Catholics Outsource Prayers to Indian Clergy (New York Times)
Catholic churches in America as well as Canada and Europe are sending Mass intentions, or requests for services like those to remember deceased relatives and thanksgiving prayers, to clergy in India.
Apparently, this is not a recent phenomenon but has been going on for several decades. It has received more attention due to the recent focus on offshoring and outsourcing.
(see earlier entry on the same topic).
India in the Olympic games (Press Information Bureau, Govt of India)
An official press release from the Govt of India about India's history in the Olympics. It has a section called 'Valiant Triers' that lists all the near-misses that Indian atheletes have had in the Olympics. The section says
Some Indian athletes and a few wrestlers were distinctly unlucky to narrowly miss a medal despite their gutsy show. However, even in failure they made a name for themselves in the annals of Indian sports for their valiant efforts.
With the Olympics nearly two months away, I can't understand the thinking behind this press release.
Protests dog Bollywood sapphic film (Guardian Unlimited)
Girlfriend, a new movie that depicts lesbianism has generated protests across India. Given the widespread protests and property damage that followed 'Fire', this was expected. Plus it seems like the people behind 'Girlfriend' are actively courting controversy. Check out the poster on the official website to see what I mean.
Call Centers Fuel Social Change in Traditional India (Reuters.com)
The odd-hours and the high salaries have made a noticeable difference in the lifestyles of the people who work in call-centers. The 'want to live separately from parents' and 'want to spend on stuff I like' I can understand but apparently kids are dropping out of colleges to take up these jobs. This is clearly idiotic.
India's Tourism Industry Booms (VOANews.com)
Nearly three million foreign tourists visited India in 2003, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. Interestingly, the boom has come even as global tourism has dropped.
The article also mentions that a lot of Middle Eastern tourists come to experience the monsoon (previously covered here).
NPR : Reporter's Notebook : Journeying to the Source of Ganga (National Public Radio, USA)
NPR's Vice President for Legal Affairs, Neal Jackson, recently traveled to India with a group of producers gathering material for a radio series on the river Ganges. In this essay, he describes the journey to the sacred river's source.
The radio report based on the trip will be aired in a few months after editing the raw audio.
The article also includes a photo gallery with scenes from a trek to Gangotri.
Indians ready for US adventure (BBC Sports) [Thanks to Sanjeev for the link]
Many former Indian cricketers are planning to participate in the new Pro-Cricket leage being set up in the US. Each team is allowed to have four overseas players on their roster, with all games played between Friday and Sunday. The matches will follow the same format as the hugely popular Twenty20 Cup in England last summer.
There may not be much money involved but the cricketers seem excited about the idea. Vinod Kambli and Ajay Jadeja, among others, have agreed to participate in the league.
Here is the league's official website
Industrial production expands in India (Bloomberg News via IHT)
India's industrial production grew at its fastest pace in four years in April as rising rural incomes and the cheapest borrowing costs in three decades spurred demand for manufactured goods.
In other business news, TCS is planning an IPO that may fetch as much as 50 billion rupees ($1.1 billion).
Pakistan to back India’s bid for 2014 Asian Games (Daily Times, Pakistan)
According to Latif Butt, secretary general of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), Pakistan will back India’s bid to bring the 2014 Asian Games. Pakistan would also lend support to India’s campaign to become the fourth Asian country to host the summer Olympics. India has expressed its intention to forward New Delhi as a candidate for the 2016 Olympics.
India may send army doctors to Iraq, no troops: paper (Khaleej Times Online)
According to the Indian Express, India may send army doctors and nurses to Iraq but not troops.
This Washington Times article adds that some troops will accompany the medical personnel but they will be there to only protect the medical team.
Killer elephant saved from death (iafrica.com)
Wildlife officials in Jamshedpur refused to put an elephant to death because they were not convinced that the villagers had the right animal. The villagers claimed that the elephant had trampled at least 2 people in the area but the officials said that there were at least 18 other similar elephants in the area.
Officials say the elephants are drawn to villages by the smell of a local brew made from wild fruit.
They say the elephants attack the liquor stalls, get drunk and trample anyone who gets in their way.
Instead of trying to control the movements of the elephants, the viallgers should add protection around these breweries so that they are not easily accessible by elephants.
Foreign newspapers eager to set up shop in India (Daily Times, Pakistan)
International newspapers like the International Herald Tribune and the Wall Street Journal are eager to have Indian editions but the government is cautious. The government has taken the publishers of the IHT to court for printing the Indian edition without permission. The publishers counter that they do not need permission because a 2002 law allows 26% FDI in the newspaper business.
An earlier entry, Media giants love the new FDI rules, covered this topic.
However, that was before the elections and the news government may not be keen to honour the relaxed rules of the previous government.
China and India groomed for membership (Guardian Unlimited)
Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said the leaders were considering inviting China and India into the G8 fold.
BBC's report on the 'encounter specialists' in the Bombay police force. Daya Nayak, the most visible member of the team (who has been the subject of a Bollywood movie) has an interesting response to critics who say that some of his killings are fake encounters. He says "I am a Brahmin (a high caste Hindu), a teetotaller and a vegetarian. I have no social evil, why should I kill people without a reason?"
Indian Everest climber with Olympic flame (ekathimerini.com, Greece's English language newspaper).
A blurb on the journey of the Olympic flame through India.
Tata Daewoo Begins Sales (KoreaTimes)
Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle (TDCV), formerly Daewoo Commercial Vehicle, has started sales of its heavy-duty truck model NOVUS in Korea.
Previous entry: Tata buy Daewoo unit (Mar 29 2004)
India's asthma cure -- swallowing a live, stuffed fish (Yahoo! News)
The 159-year-old asthma remedy - a live fish stuffed with a herbal formula - will be tested by drug inspectors to determine the ingredients.
The remedy has been administered by the Bathini Goud family of Hyderabad who have resisted attempts to analyse the formula. The drug inspectors were able to collect the medicine after a five-year court battle.
As with all faith-based healing, patients and advocates of the remedy said the laboratory results would not affect their faith in it.
Indian Outsourcers Push to Boost Data Security (Boston.com)
Officials of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) told a news conference they will work with customers, regulators and law enforcers to bolster "trustworthy outsourcing" in India.
Data security has been a thorny issue in the outsourcing boom and is often cited as a reason to oppose offshoring. It is also considered a challenge to the continued growth of the sector. (Straits Times, Singapore)
NASSCOM is trying to be proactive and is going to hold a couple of cybersecurity summits to highlight the fact that no Indian company has faced a major security issue and that despite so many engineers, no major computer viruses have been traced back to India.
Earlier entries on this topic:
India's Outsourcers Turn West (BusinessWeek)
In the past two years, Indian businesses have snapped up a dozen U.S. call centers and business-processing companies in order to expand their customer base and their global reach. They have also bought Canadian and European companies.
Interestingly these companies were cheaper to buy because their business was affected by the Indian companies.
In any case, these acquisitions will keep these Western companies afloat and may help with some of the negative impressions about Indian companies in Western countries.
Yeh Hai Chakkad Bakkad Bumbe Bo, a 90 min. film produced by the Children Film Society of India was awarded the Bronze Remi Award at the 37th WorldFest — Houston Film Festival, Houston, USA.
The list of winners is on the festival's web site
The inspiration from Maldives' draw wasn't enough.
(see earlier story)
Turban turnabout heads off TA flap (NY Daily News)
Kevin Harrington, a veteran Sikh subway motorman who was yanked out of the driver's seat last week has his regular job back. He had he refused to wear a Transit Authority (TA) cap over his turban.
Earlier story: Sikh stopped from driving train (MSN India)
unds bet on China, India (The Globe and Mail)
Morningstar, an investment research firm, surveyed 24 fund companies, on trends they expect to see over the next five years.
According to the findings, portfolio managers of Canadian mutual funds expect Asian and emerging market funds to outperform the broader market over the next five years.
Are the designers so bereft of ideas that they are now using religious symbols on swimwear? And I find it difficult to believe that they were not aware of the symbolism of the images.
This could be a ploy to rake up controversy about the designer and get free publicity.
The campaign against the swimwear line was organized by Hindu Human Rights, US-based group.
Low-cost flights take to Indian skies [June 09, 2004] (The Australian)
Air-India, announced last month it will start a low-cost airline next April flying to the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries. At least three other airlines including Air Arabia have applied for permission to fly domestic routes.
Indian railways bans plastic, gives new hope to threatened potters' trade (Channelnewsasia.com)
Laloo Prasad Yadav, the new railways minister, has banned plastic cups on Indian railways. The canteen in the parliament has already removed plastic cups.
The earthenware cups, called "kulhars", are bio-degradable and are cheaper than the plastic cups.
What if a big coporation steps in this business and makes the cups even cheaper? The trickle-down benefit of this move will be lost even if the environmental benefits remain.
Scientists at the NBPGR (National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources) have developed transgenic rice with higher level of protein than regular rice. They are also working to increase the protein content of sweet potato, a staple food of many poor around the world. This will help fight malnutrition across the world.
It will take a year or more before these crops are available since they need to be cleard by the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee).
The Farmer's India: Is It Shining? (Protest.Net)
A presentation/speech/panel discussion with P. Chenniah, the founder of Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Viritidarulu Union (APVVU). APVVU is a a federation of agricultural labourers unions in Andra Pradesh.
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Tuesday June 8, 2004
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD
India coach: The Maldives did it, we can too (Haveeru Daily Online, Maldives)
Maldives' scoreless draw against the strong South Korean team is being used as an example of an underdog's surprise success. India's football coach is certainly hoping that India can perform similarly against Japan.
South African Patrick Ngcobo can perform Carnatic music (south Indian classical music) in seven languages, including Zulu. He studied under Yesudas and is now back in South Africa. Sadly he doesn't find much demand for his talents there. Hopefully this BBC article will give more more exposure.
Taking stock of India's new foreign policy (International Herald Tribune)
The writer analyses the new govt's foreign policy manifesto and feels that even though US-India relations will be different under the Congress-led govt, they will not be as contrarian as with previous Congress governments.
He feels that it is important to analyse a new govt's manifesto because it has clear indications on what the govt will do. He finds that the previous government's manifesto clearly mentioned nuclear weapons but the US govt will still caught by surprise when the weapons were tested in May 1998.
The author was an assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 1997 to 2001.
India Prepares to View Transit of Venus (AP article via baltimoresun.com)
Planetarium officials in India are expecting thousands of visitors Tuesday to watch the Venus cross in front of the sun for the first time in 122 years.
The Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai is also organising a Venus Transit Observation Program.
Background Note: India (link via a Sify.com article)
The 'Bureau of South Asian Affairs' section of the US State Dept website was last updated in Jan 2004 and still has Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the PM.
I. Why doesn't India shine at Olympics? (BBC)
Every four years we Indians have a bout of reflection and grapple with our painful lack of gold medals in international athletics. Leading sports writer Rohit Brijnath tries to answer this question in this article.
On a more nostalgic note, this article remembers the Olympic flame's first journey through India in 1964. Back then, only Olympic enthusiasts were involved. Compare it with this year's relay where the torch will be carried by Bollywood stars and sports stars.
More than 100 farmers have taken their lives in the drought-ridden state of Andhra Pradesh over the last fortnight.
The new Congress government has announced free electricity and compensation of 150,000 rupees ($3500) to the relative of every farmer who had committed suicide or who was being harassed to repay loans. It is possible that some of the suicides may be a desperate way to get the government aid.
Tender: Department for International Development needs PCs for India (PublicTechnology.net)
Tender issued by the British government inviting bids for supplying computer equipment to the Government of Orissa.
Hopefully, the equipment will be used for some grass-roots project like Project Bhoomi (archive link)
Ranjani Shettar: The Indian Spring - Talwar Gallery (Absolutearts.com)
The Talwar Gallery in New York will exhibit two new installations by Ranjani Shettar, a Bangalore-based artist. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, June 5, and will be on view through July 17.
India's monsoon travelers (CNN) [Thanks to Sanjeev for the link]
The monsoon is now a tourist attraction! Tourists from the Middle East flock to Bombay, Goa and Kerala to experience the Indian monsoon.
Update: Exotic India is a big draw for Arabs (Khaleej Times, UAE).
From Ayurveda resorts offering rejuvenating remedies in Kerala to the sun kissed sea-beaches of Goa, the scenic beauty of the snow-capped Himalayas, India's lush beauty and exotic architecture blended with multi-cultural appeal is pulling in holiday-makers from different parts of the world.
It is high time that we capitalised on all the attractions in India and captured a share of the international tourism market.
The reporter talks to various royalty about their past and their current status but the focus is two royal siblings who are living a decidedly un-royal life. They derisively refer to Indians as "subcontinent persons" (huh?) and say things like "We dislike even to mingle with commoners".
I don't understand their sense of entitlement when they hold such views. Their expectation that the govt should help them is laughable and sad.
This will certainly improve India's standing in the sat launch market.
Yahoo!'s new promotion about its email services features Pallavi whose job is 'outsmarting viruses'.
Wired magazine has been creating a list of 40 companies that have demonstrated an uncommon mastery of skills essential to thriving in the information age - technology, innovation, globalism, networked communication, and strategic vision. The list was first created in 1998 and has been updated every year.
This year's list features Infosys at number 11 (it was at 34 last year).
India seen ideal as BPO, design outsourcing center (The China Post, Taiwan)
Gopal Srinivasan, director of TVS Electronics Limited, was in Taiwan this week to promote India's BPO prowess to Taiwanese companies.
This is interesting because many Taiwanese companies handle outsourced production for US firms.
A Giant So Big It's a Proxy for India's Economy (The New York Times)
The NYT looks at the Reliance megacorp.
Some interesting facts:
[Reliance group's] sales equal 3.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, more than the combined global sales of all of India's outsourcing companies. Its $3.6 billion worth of exports are 6.1 percent of India's total. It helps fill government coffers, contributing 9.4 percent of India's so-called indirect tax revenues, from things like sales taxes, customs and duties.
The article is somewhat one-sided since Reliance's competitors declined to comment.
The article quotes Arun Shourie on how he did a "180 degree turn" on his views on the conglomerate. He opposed it in the 80s but is now a staunch supporter.
It has routinely surprised me how the Indian govt encourages monopolies. It allowed, even encouraged, Reliance to buy IPCL (a profit-making PSU) which made Reliance the only player in that market. Such policies have no doubt played an important role in Reliance's ascent.
Jewish labour camp...Mumbai shop, a daughter connects the dots (Indian Express)
A very interesting story about a Hungarian reporter's search for her grandfather who went missing during WWII. A visitor to their family shop in Budapest mentioned a store in Bombay with the same name - Csango - her family name. The Mumbai Csango had changed owners over the decades but she and her father managed to find out the name of the founder - the same name as her grandfather's grandfather.
They are currently trying to find out more details about the shop's founder by talking to old Jewish people in the city.
What is driving Dutch IT work increasingly offshore to India? (Digital Media Europe).
Apparently, professionalism is higher among Indian IT workers than their Dutch counterparts, and Indians are cheaper and better motivated.
On TV: June 3rd at 10 pm ET/PT.
This is related to Thomas Friedman's op-ed series on outsourcing in the New York Times.
UPDATE: Thomas Friedman discussed this documentary and his experiences in India on the NPR radio program 'Fresh Air' .
Bollywood ordered to write reconciliation into the script (South China Morning Post, via AsiaMedia).
'Ordered' is a strong word since the film industries in India and Pakistan have voluntarily agreed not to promote movies "which promote hatred".
A previous entry covered this topic too.
The article has a interesting point in that the hits of the 70s and 80s rarely mentioned Pakistan. The first movie to use the 'foreign terrorists' theme was 'Karma'.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the villain in the new Shah Rukh Khan movie 'Main Hoon Na' is a guy who wants to stop the India-Pakistan friendship from going ahead. This is certainly a big change from the days of Dr. Dang (Karma).
The defence in the Air India bombing trial (going on in Canada) fell into disarray on Wednesday, when its first major witness was forced to admit he is a criminal (New Zealand News).
Raminder "Mindy" Bhandher testified that his marriage was part of a scam in which he was to be paid by the bride's family so she could immigrate to Canada.
The defence had called Bhandher as a witness to rebut a prosecution claim that he talked to Malik in Vancouver in April 1997 about the midair bombing of Air India Flight 182, which killed 329 people in June 1985.
Microsoft is increasing the staff at its 2 Hyderabad offices and has also started work on a new facility on 42.5 acres of land (Infoworld).
This has sparked a protest from the Seattle-based Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech).
Profile of Ludkan Baba who rolls to find moksha and peace.
His current yatra is toward the Pakistani city of Lahore, where he hopes to meet President Pervez Musharraf and urge him to reach a lasting peace with India.
The writer translates 'ludkan' to rolling though stumbling is probably more accurate. But rolling does describe the ascetic's mode of transport.
The writer is very matter-of-fact about the baba and his lifestyle. He writes:
The Rolling Baba clocked his pace at about 6 mph in this farm town, where traffic and well-wishers slowed him down. But when he hits open highway, or the down slope of a good hill, his speed reaches about 15 mph, he said.
[This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times which is a subscription-only site.
Yahoo! News has agreements with many newspapers which allows them to carry these stories for a few days. The Yahoo! News URL linked above will become inactive in a few days.]
Kaizad Gustad (of 'Boom' fame) is in a lot of trouble. His assistant director on his latest film was killed in a train accident and he wasn't very forthcoming with the details. Plus it seems that he did not take basic precautions when filming the scene when the accident occured.
The assistan director, Nadia Khan, was British and this incident has received considerable media attention in the UK. A sampling:
Bollywood director's death investigated (The Herald, UK)
Bollywood Director Arrested over Briton's Train Death (The Scotsman)
Bombay police arrest Bollywood director in connection with death of British assistant (AP via Khaleej Times)
Bollywood director charged with killing assistant (Irish Examiner)
Despite the BJP's efforts to project a secular image, many people, both outside and inside India, viewed them as communal.
Their defeat has improved the future of religious freedom, many experts say. (The Baptist Standard, the Newsmagazine of Texas Baptists).
It may be too early to celebrate since no government - BJP or Congress or anyone else - has been able to quell religious riots.
In caste-ridden India, the `untouchables' vote touches everything except their own plight (AP article via San Francisco Gate).
The Dalits hope that the new goverment with its wide base will make a difference in their lives.
The article points out that the Dalits that convert to Islam or Christianity to escape prejudice find that it exists everywhere. Higher caste Christians belittle new Dalit converts and so on.
The write found that in some parts of Uttar Pradesh some Dalits have effected a social revolution of sorts. Instead of being led in Hinduism by a Brahman, they have devised their own religious text, or "Patra," to be read at religious ceremonies. This could be a the start of a movement that eliminates the relgious discrimination against Dalits.
I thought the question of 'brain drain' was settled in the 90s when it was clear that Indian expats in the US and elsewhere were benefitting India in various ways.
However, the recent boom in the IT industry requires more people than available. The National Association of Software and Service Companies says that each year India needs 140,000 expert workers in technology, but only 100,000 are available because 45,000 go abroad (The Straits Times, Singapore).
The article also talks about the focus on higher education at a cost to basic education.
A couple of interesting quotes from the article:
In May 1950, the first in the series was established in Kharagpur at the site of the Hijli Detention Camp, where the British had incarcerated political prisoners, and named the 'Indian Institute of Technology'.
Each Indian Five-Year Plan has typically allocated more money to higher technical education than to primary or secondary education, which may explain why the country's literacy rate is still below 50 per cent.
The US government released a list of top 10 drig kingpins that includes Iqbal Mirchi of India.
The move initiates a process aimed at barring Mirchi, his businesses and associates from the US economy, according to a White House press statement.
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore created the 'Asian airplane' metaphor a couple of years ago. East Asia's 12 or so biggest economies are the airplane's fuselage, while India forms one wing and China forms the other.
This commentary assures the investors that the wings are more stable than they appear (Bloomberg News via IHT). The current uncertainty is only temporary and the fundamentals in both countries are strong.
Rina Dhaka, an Indian designer won the Designer's Choice award at the Miami Fashion Week of the Americas (FWA) (Khaleej Times Online).
An essay couched as a book review examines the close link between reducing poverty and increased growth (via San Francisco Chronicle, originally in the Washington Post).
The writer has been reading Jagdish Bhagwati's new book "In Defense of Globalization" and he examines at how India tackled the problem of poverty in the '60s and how overall growth (rather than income redistribution) is the silver bullet. Bhagwati was a member of the Planning Commission and is currently an eminent professor at Columbia University and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The reviewer/essayist finds a curious inversion: India used to understand growth's importance (Nehru was a champion) but didn't know how to achieve it. Now with the reforms in place for over a decade, India knows how to achieve growth but the election results mean that the people may have lost sight of growth's importance.
India's energy demand is rising at 6-8 % per year and the lack of a coherent energy policy is worrying some analysts (Financial Times, UK).
Various issues - clogged roads, higher demand for cars, rising crude imports, electricity losses due to theft - make this a difficult problem to solve.
Conservation of Bahadur Shah Zafar's tomb in Yangon (Rangoon) is being supported by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and also by tourists.
He was exiled to Myanmar (Burma) by the British after the failed mutiny of 1857. His unmarked grave was discovered in 1991 during a construction project.
Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, the organisation representing the largest number of Hindus in Trinidad, is using the media and the courts to ensure that the Indian community is treated fairly (Trinidad Express).
The South African cricket board wants assurances that the Indian police will not take any action against Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje who will likely tour India later this year (Pretoria News, South Africa).
Opening batsman Gibbs and spinner Boje were implicated in the match-fixing charges that brought down late South African captain Hansie Cronje on the country's last tour to India, in 2000.
But the Indian cops and BCCI haven't guranteed anything.
UPDATE: This Reuters' report quotes the BCCI president as saying that he can't provide any assurance on a police case and the police commissioner of New Delhi as saying that the case is still open.