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Newspaper Watch for the month of October 2007.  For latest newspaper watch (India), view the homepage

31 October 2007

Advertisement Watch

The results of Indian companies for the Quarter ended 30 September 2007 are appearing in financial newspapers as advertisements. Most of these ads are rather dry with simple numbers (though encouraging ones !) but some of them have accompanying ‘Growth’ punch- line that says it all:

“ Surging ahead on Solid Growth”- Pioneer Distilleries Ltd

“ Continuous growth quarter after quarter”- Net 4 India Ltd

“ Our commitment to Grow continues”- Indian Overseas Bank

“ BHEL on High Growth path…” Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd

The advertisement of the day is a Punjab National Bank (PNB) ad which has appeared in Economic Times. Like others, it also displays financial results but with a heading -‘Inclusive Growth’. Very trendy indeed as ‘Inclusive growth’ has been in the limelight recently. Does it mean that PNB is focusing more on rural areas as the accompanying photo of a farmer on tractor suggest? Hang on, just below the ‘Inclusive Growth‘ -the advertisement explains-‘Driven by technology. Propelled by customer delight’! An innovative definition of inclusive growth, right?

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30 October 2007

Defending Icon

Two legal case have been registered against Bollywood Star - Shah Rukh Khan. Why? He smoked during a cricket match- and yes, millions of television viewers saw the smoking star. And another one for his appearance in hoarding publicising event sponsored by a liquor manufacturer- publicising liquor? The editor of Pioneer seems to be a die hard fan of the superstar and has given his verdict:

“Smoking is a matter of personal choice and an individual’s right to freedom in this regard must be respected. Almost all smokers are fully aware of the health hazards posed by the habit and an icon like Shah Rukh Khan is surely conscious of its image implications….”

“ ….In all probability the actor was quite unaware of the apparent breach of state laws. Thus the magistrate should have been circumspect before admitting the plea to summon him to court…At any rate he cannot be held personally for the apparent breach of State Laws....”

Seems media trial is on ! But calling (over a billion people) - “ Indians are Schizophrenic about celebrities” (Editorial. Pioneer) is going a bit too far. Concrete proof please!

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29 October 2007

New Edition

The Bathinda (Punjab) edition of Tribune is the new kid on the block. This edition was launched by the Chief Minister of Punjab who remarked that because of the high standards maintained by the Trustees and editor, it enjoyed the credibility and goodwill of people and also hailed its founder as visionary (Tribune). Remember the founder of Tribune, Sardar Dyal Singh constituted a public trust for running of the paper and explicitly laid down aim of the paper:

“…Our appearance in the field of journalism is to meet a crying want of this part of India, namely an English journal for the representative of ‘native’ opinion…The aim of Tribune will be, as its name imports, fairly and temperately to advocate the cause of the masses. In its columns we shall seek to represent the public opinion of India, specially the upper India…” (editorial. First issue of Tribune)

Point to Ponder: Away from the pressures of the profit bound corporate sector, is Tribune more independent and critical from the rest?

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28 October 2007

The other side- India in foreign eyes

Hindustan Times has tracked down a few foreigners who moved to India & their views on the trillion dollar economy are certainly not ‘shining‘ ! A wake up call? ‘The Big story: The way we are’- a must to read:

“..people have developed bad manners. They stopped smiling, If you said something to people on the streets they didn’t like, they would be ready to have a fight with you…Market place has opened up & middle class had starting a earn lot of money…but they have gradually lost their Indianness..” Giovanni Federico, Italian restaurateur.

“…India has lost its innocence and there is no help for the poor…”: Janet Fine, American writer.

“…Its burgeoning 250 million middle class is not doing enough for the 750 million who haven’t got anything, It makes me nervous. There must be a better way for a society to develop..” : Mike Knowles, British Furniture Designer.

“..There is growing nationalism in headlines about millionaires, which Indian has reached the top 5 richest or powerful club…” on other hand: a growing distance & indifference to those who are left out, without money or land…: Joel Palambo, American Director

“.. In 1981 the Indians had an income and were satisfied with their lot: but by 1996 they had TVs and cars & were focussed on copying the West…”: Hellmuth Conz, German Professor.

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27 October 2007

Advertisement Watch

With ongoing festivities across the country, most advertisements have cashed on this occasion. Any eye-catching?

“Philips Rocket Jalao Gadi Chalao” (Times of India)

“Dulhan wahi jo piya man bhaye, Piya wahi jo is karva chauth pe patni ke liye,Punjab State Maa Lakshmi Diwali Pooja Bumber -2007 ka ticket laye” (Tribune).

A full page coloured advertisement by Motorola has appeared in Amar Ujala & MetroNow that features ten headed demon king modern Ravana “Lucky locket -scratch locket and get assured prize”. Ist prize- Audi car A6 & second prize- 12 Honda City cars EZI…But for strange reason, there is no reference to Ravana in the ad! Wonder why he appeared here at all?

However a full page coloured advertisement by a TV channel in a paper publicising a TV programme is not very common. Such an ad by Sahara One has made an appearance in Dainik Bhaskar & Dainik Jagran on their last page with a striking punch line- “Pakistan was requested that please make less noise”. Now why Pakistan is featured here & not other neighbouring countries? Grow up man!
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26 October 2007

Journalistic values

Nirmal Lakshman, joint editor of Hindu has recently penned a book on Anthology of Indian Journalism. What is her take on present journalism, in brief? “ There is a definite decline in the journalist values that our predecessors started with and market driven forces have become far more dominant. However, I still think that whenever there is a crisis situation, the press does rise to the occasion. The press, though, has to retain news value and its ethical base and watch out against market pressures..” (Indian Express). Is Nirmal echoing something new? Nope, take a look what a veteran journalist had said much before her:

“Starting newspapers and successfully running them will be possible only for big-big rich men or well-organised companies. The layout, décor of the paper will be beautiful. Large size, good printing, carrying entertaining & educative pictures, variety of articles, imagination, some reflection of depth, and number of its subscribers will be in lakhs. All this would be present in papers but they will still be lifeless…..” (V. Pararkar. 1920s)

Strong words! But how can papers so attractively packed with all glittering glamour be called ‘lifeless’?

“The press has not played the expected role in the building of a new India. During the struggle for freedom, the pen of journalist, particularly of politician-journalist, played a mighty part, Journalism was a mission in which one felt more than rewarded with the services one was able to render to the motherland. Today the missionary spirit has gone and journalism has become a mere vocation. The greatest role of press is to report on social forces and analyse events in depth…We have at present compliant Press. What is needed is a barrage of fire based on facts and analysis…” (Durga Das. 1969)

“Farm suicides in Vidharbha crossed 400 this week. The Sensex crossed the 11,000 mark. And Lakme Fashion Week issued over 500 media passes to journalists... All happened the same week Of the three events, the suicide toll in Vidharbha found no mention in many newspapers and television channels…. Even though the most conservative figure (of Sakaal newspaper) places the deaths at above 372. (The count since 2000-01 would run to thousands.) Sure, there were rare exceptions in the media. But they were just that — rare….” (P.Sainath. Hindu. 1/04/2006)

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25 October 2007

‘Speed’ Advertisements

Believe it not but astrology is there to stay in the trillion dollar economy. Every day television channels and F.M radio channels broadcast programmes that claim to solve your problems and predict your future too, courtesy religious & modern astrologers! So can the print media be far behind? Apart from astrological columns, here the most common mode is Ads. Most astrology ads appear as classified advertisements in Hindi newspapers under section: Astrology.

Take a look at some of the Astrology ads where the thrust is on speed! Hey, but what about accuracy? No comments!

“ While sitting at home get your work done in 21 hours…….” (Amar Ujala)

“ (Free service) open challenge benefit in 11 hours, domestic problems..” (Punjab Kesari)

“ In 10 hours, 100% guaranteed solution don’t worry meet once business, domestic problems..betrayal in love, get rid of enemy co-wife..” (Punjab Kesari)

“ By…astrologer get benefit in 2 hours by sitting at home.” (Punjab Kesari)

“…get your problems resolved in only 15 minutes…” (Amar Ujala)

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24 October 2007

Forgotten Emperor

'Na Iran ne kiya, na Shah Russe ne, Angrez ko Tabah kiya Kartoos ne'.(English have been not been destroyed by Iran nor by the Czar of Russia but they have been destroyed by cartridge).

The above couplet on the revolt of 1857 was composed by the last Emperor of Delhi- Bahadur Shah Zafar. As the events unfolded, the Emperor was taken as a prisoner to be tried for treason against the British government which once had claimed that it derived powers from his forefathers. His two sons and one grandson were shot dead without any trial. On 27th January 1858, he was found guilty and was sentenced to be transported for life.

Today is his 232nd birth anniversary. How many newspapers remembered this date, especially when the subcontinent is celebrating 150th year of the revolt of 1857. It is surprising that majority of the leading newspapers (both Hindi & English) have forgotten this occasion. Only four out of total 14 leading newspapers from Delhi remembered:

Shah Times (editorial page)
Virat Vaibav (page 7)
Punjab Kesai (editorial page)
Hindustan Times (full pg. Pg 6)

Point to ponder: Are page three events so engrossing that historical dates/figures have no 'space value' in Independent India ?

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23 October 2007

Sporty encouragement

Sports competition are being organised in Riwari in the State of Haryana. Good ! What about the prize for the winner? The winner gets mere Rs. 7. And if you become the champion, then the prize money goes up to only Rs. 20. But why so less, it would hardly encourage! And all this is happening since last ten years. Not surprising, most of allocated money goes in for organising these competition that includes conveyance & honorarium to officials, etc. (Dainik Bhaskar. Front page). And remember the country is gearing up Commonwealth Games and will also be contributing to the training expenditure of players of the participating Commonwealth countries in the Games to be held in Delhi 2010. But what about Indian players? Be a sport, Forget it!

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22 October 2007

Religious lot

For last one hundred & fifty years, Indians have been worshipping statue of a British officer along with other Hindu deities in a temple that was built in 1857 in Kanpur. Yes, it's the the same city which has been notorious for the ‘massacre’ in 1857.

“Hundreds of devotees who routinely go around the temple for a ‘parikrama’ while offering prayers to the deities also do the same for the British officer” - temple priest. Who was this British officer anyway? To know more read a PTI report in -"British officer worshipped at Shiv temple in Kanpur" (Asian Age, Navbharat Times)

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21 October 2007

150 years hence

On March 29, 1857 Mangal Pande shot a British officer at Barrackpore and soon the month of May and thereafter witnessed Great Uprising against the Company Raj in India. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review in 1858 indicated the magnitude of Indian Revolt of 1857: “.. In India we have, by the blessing of God, have been able to crush one of the greatest rebellion that history can relate..”.

After record 150 years, now a question has been raised by Akhilesh Mittal whether Mungal Pandy was alive when he was hanged in April 1857 or General Hearsey hanged an already dead sepoy?”. Mittal is extremely critical of the British attitude towards India and believes that it has remained unaltered.“..In 2007- the 150th anniversary of 1857 and the 60th of Independence there is no apology or move to make amends for one of the bloodiest chapters of the dark ages which was the British rule in India. The British Council is on its own nostalgic trip of talks and exhibitions to extol the splendour and beauty of New ‘Dell high’….”. A must to read- “Was Mungul dead or alive”? (Asian Age).

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20 October 2007

Sunday Extra: Tale of two

Daman is an Union Territory with a population of only 100 thousand people with ten distilleries. “What strikes the visitor on entering Daman is the array of liquor shops and restaurants on both sides of the road. It is doubtful whether there is any other place in India which has as many liquor shops in Daman”. Not surprisingly, liquor is smuggled to other towns like Vapi ( among the 10 most polluted cities of the world) in Gujarat where it fetches double the price (Daman is 6 kms from Vapi). Remember Gujarat is a dry State but it seems that inhabitants are not dry! But what how do Vapi residents manage polluted water which contains mercury 96 times higher than WHO standards? “ Everyone in Vapi wants to leave the town..”. Join A.P Phillp in journey to the Boozer’s paradise (Pioneer). Wonder what would be Mahatma Gandhi’s take on this?

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19 October 2007

‘Good Newspaper’

While addressing the delegates of the Imperial Press Conference in 1909, Lord Rosebery said -“..good newspapers are or should be eternal; and power of great newspaper, with the double function of guiding and embodying the public opinion of the province over which it exerts an influence, is immeasurably greater than that of any statesman can be”. Now how to define a ‘good newspaper’? May be a newspaper with maximum readership?

If so, Hindi and regional language newspapers are more popular (more ‘good‘!) than the top selling English newspapers in India. Dainik Jagran (Hindi) is the most popular newspaper (most ’good’!) in India with 53.6 million readers. Infact the readership of Jagran (15 editions across the country) is more than entire readership of all the English newspapers put together (Dainik Jagran. 17/10/2007). The paper also publicized its number one rank through a self-advertisement in one full page (appearing on pg 13. 17/10/2007) in black & white. However, two lines of good quality prose in this ad are lost amidst the black clouds & are not easily readable! Hopefully the newspaper will pay attention to printing along with design setting too! According to Hindu, Times of India leads among English newspapers and has occupied fifth rank with 13.5 million readers. However according to Amar Ujala (which has the third rank), among top ten there is only one newspaper in English that too at 10th place .(Amar Ujala. 17/10/2007). While Times of India has not revealed its overall ranking & is pre-occupied in publicising that its readership is more than the combined readership of other English papers in different Indian cities. Look up man!

Further, there is not a word about the methodology of this survey. So how to judge its accuracy anyway!

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18 October 2007

Cartoon Watch

After a focused attention on nuclear deal for a while, today is a mixed bag. Some newspapers still continue to share the same cartoon: DNA & Dainik Bhaskar- reason for CM‘s trip to Delhi, Times of India & Mumbai Mirror - Status of Indian CEO, Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle - new constitution of India.

While others have focused on a variety- Rahul Gandhi, strike & inflation (Times of India), connaught place (Indian express), weakest PM (Pioneer), Mayawati (Punjab Kesari, DNA), picture post card (Economic Times), cashing on anti-retail protest (Financial Express), shopping mall, bird hit sensex, charity seekers (Rajasthan Patrika), Nuclear deal (Deccan Herald, Virat Vaibhav), Marxist & cricket (Statesman), phone & money return (Telegraph), dignity (Veer Arjun), cheaper hotel (DNA), Nobel for Gore (Hindu). The cartoon of the day has been carried by National Herald on bribery.

However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Business Standard, Rashtriya Sahara, Navbharat Times, Mint, Hindustan Times, Hindustan, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran, MetroNow and Tribune.


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17 October 2007

De-notify Sanctuaries

Two wildlife sanctuaries stretching around 12,000 acres of forest land have been de-notified in Haryana to make way for exploitation of conservation reserve for the contractors , including felling of trees. Why? According to official sources, both forests were partly manmade and except of hog deer, not many species of animals were found in these forests. Moreover, in exchange of these forests, two other forests have been notified as wildlife sanctuaries covering around 2800 hectares. Does it not imply that partly manmade forests are not wildlife sanctuaries? Hang on, come to the catch - it is mandatory for the contractors engaged in exploitation of de-notified sanctuaries to contribute 10 per cent of value of the forest resources obtained by them towards the development of these wildlife sanctuaries (Tribune). Implying that this mandatory provision will also make these ‘new’ wildlife sanctuaries - partly manmade!! Ready for the next de-notification?

Point to ponder- What is the net worth of de-notified partly manmade wildlife sanctuaries? Why efforts are not made to notify rather than de-notify wildlife sanctuaries?

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16 October 2007

Right to Information

The Right to Information Act (2005) was introduced in India with a lot of fanfare, however a lot of fine tuning is desired. The first annual report of Central information Commission (CIC) has called for an attitudinal change of government servants who think they have a monopoly over records and resent the public demand for ‘too much’ information for ‘too less fee’. The report also points out that several departments and ministries have sought exemptions from the Act (Pioneer).

But how to change such an ‘attitude’? Punitive action? Nope, won’t have a long lasting effect on attitudes and instead would harden them. Remember, strong attitudes tend to resist change because they might create cognitive disharmony or threaten the self. And people are quite capable of warding off attacks in their attitudes! But how about targeting behaviour in the short run?

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15th October 2007

Ad of the Day

“Don’t just stand up. Stand up with the world to speak against poverty”-- reminds of the Millennium Development Goals that should be achieved by 2015. The ad goes on- “ last year 23.5 million people created a new Guinness World Record by taking a global stand against poverty, This year with your support we hope to make a bigger impact. Register your event before 17th October 2007 on www…” (Mint). But why should the campaign against poverty be only a one day affair? The stress here is on making a bigger world record rather than taking concrete steps for poverty eradication. Remember, maximum number of poor people live in India so why not focus on the local grassroot level?

Point to ponder - How many middle class Indians pay minimum wages to their servants? How much space is devoted in newspapers to these developmental issues vis-à-vis page three events?

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14 October 2007

Hosting costs

The Indian Railways Minister narrated the so called ‘turn around’ story of the Indian railways to the visiting students from Harvard Business School, Wharton, MIT and Industrial College of Armed Forces in Delhi which cost the exchequer astonishing Rs. 2 million! How come so much? Take a sample- programmes were held in the National Rail Museum in New Delhi, but expenditure shows the item of tentage! This was revealed by an application filed under Right to Information (Indian Express).

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13 October 2007

Hunger

Despite averaging over 8.5% growth since 2000, India has achieved less than half of the United Nation Millennium Development goal target in hunger and is 94th on the Global Hunger Index of 118 countries. This survey was conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute & was based on proportion of people who are calorie deficient, child malnutrition and child mortality (Mint). Hang on, what about China, a comparison often heard from the policy makers? China is far better off and is ranked 47th on the list.

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12 October 2007

Rehabilitation & Resettlement

The long awaited National Policy on Rehabilitation & Resettlement, 2007 has been announced. The Policy provides for land acquisition up to 30 per cent by State Government to give a crucial contiguity to the developers, be those of Special Economic Zones or Industrial projects (Indian Express). But in the era of privatisation, why should the Government be undertaking land acquisition for private developers? Why interfere with the market forces anyway?

Talking of rehabilitation & Resettlement - can all acquired fertile farmlands be substituted by other fertile farm lands in the resettlement areas? Nope! If monetary compensation will be paid for land acquisition to the farmer, how far will it last? Why bother- many would argue. But remember these farmers are not financially-savvy, so sustainability of monetary compensation is crucial for their family's future. It is said that employment will be given to at least one member of the nuclear family. But remember in rural areas, there are no nuclear families but huge joint families who jointly own the farmland. So, does it mean that joint families should first break to avail a job? It’s not so simple -- as this would involve disintegration of the social fabric of rural life. And what kind of job will a rural illiterate farmer get anyway? Without land, he is fit to be a rural labourer or a raw security guard. What skill development are we taking about?

There is another twist to this - all provisions are subject to conditions. For instance, land for land is subject to the extent of availability of land in resettlement areas and employment opportunities are subject to vacancies (Mint). Remember the famous Bollywood movie- “ Do Bigha Zamine” which depicted the plight of a farmer & his family who comes to the city in the hope to earn money to get back his land in the village. Hang on, the policy is totally silent on agricultural labourers (landless) who work on farms on daily wages. Some would argue why worry about them as they will work as labourer in SEZs too! Once a labourer, always a labourer?

Point to Ponder- Why should farm land be acquired for setting up of SEZs anyway? Why not utilise Non-forest degraded land that amounts to 93.7 million hectares. What is the logic behind setting up number of small SEZs that cannot utilise economies of scale. And most important, this National Policy on Rehabilitation and Settlement & Resettlement, 2007 will not be not be applicable on farmland acquired by the private developer. Won’t this create avoidable unrest among farmers? And last but not the least, it will not be implemented with retrospective effect! So many questions! Take a break and watch another Bollywood Movie- Shikar- starring Ajay Devgan & the rest.

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11 October 2007

Grow up Oldie!

Is Higher Education in India a sick child? Yes, according to the Minister of Human Resource Development. While addressing the vice chancellors of Central, State and Deemed Universities, he said-“Higher education has become a sick child of education, either by design or by default. I am not blaming anyone, but we have to get out of the situation”. (Indian Express). But without investigation, how would the doctor treat the sick child anyway? Or the child doesn’t want to get out of the cradle, even after 60 years! Hey, why 60, should be 150 years (three prestigious presidency Universities were established in India during 1857). Even now they are a sick child!!

Hang on, majority of Indian Universities and college (56% of Universities & 75 % of the colleges) have not got themselves assessed for quality standards, so how can one pass a flat judgment about 'poor' quality of higher education in India? The Minister went on to say that India is not knocking the doors of the world, but it is the world that is knocking at the door of India. Who is knocking whose door is irrelevant; first get your house in order! The Indian higher education has remained a holy cow, untouched by reforms and is not in favour of competition from foreign Universities on Indian shores.Wonder why?

Last but not the least; Indian Higher Education is better than world famous University of Cambridge as there is no need for students in India to sell themselves to pay the fees! (More on plight of Cambridge students in Asian Age. Front page). But what about the overseas students in British Universities who are asked to pay three times the fees compared to home students ? Have seen no newspaper report on them lately.

Point to ponder- Who is really SICK Doc?

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10 October 2007

Who cares?

Last week, plagued with crop failure, debt, insufficient price for their produce- raw cotton, 150 farmers from Amravati District faxed a letter to the President of India (who also belongs to the same district) pleading for permission to end their lives. But thirty five year old, Charandas Haridas Kitukle could not bear it anymore and he killed himself by drinking pesticide. He had borrowed Rs. 62,500 from two banks but was unable to repay it. In last two days, eight farmers are said to have committed suicide (Hindustan Times). Yet another inquiry whether their suicide was agrarian or not?

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9 October 2007

Working Ads?

Who says stock markets are risky? Take a look at these classified ads that have appeared in Hindi newspapers today!

"Get attached to NGO and earn as much you want no selling no buying do give us one chance to serve.." (Amar Ujala)

"Earn 6000 to 30,000 per month!!! sitting at home!!! work for reputed company!!! for information write address with pin code!!! And get attrative gift worth 1000!!!.." (Amar Ujala)

" ...Private Ltd requires unemployed, housewives, students for posting letter while sitting at home, earn 30,000 per month! Ask for free information...." (Dainik Jagran)

"Just pay Rs. 1999/- only and earn 7000/- to 200000/- per month at home no MLM no risk..." (Punjab Kesari)

" Surprising yet true! Invest Rs 9998/- one time success completes 2 years trust of over 5100 people (no work, no going anywhere received cheque while sitting at home)..."(Punjab Kesai)

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8 October 2007

Normal?

The Prime Ministers Office has confirmed the fraud in money collected by Coal India Ltd ( a public sector company) meant for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. While on the other hand, a food Ministry panel has found that around 36 % of wheat meant for the poor is diverted to the open market. Wheat diversions in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana (better off compared to other Indian states) amounts to 53% while rice diverted to open market in Bihar is whopping 64%. Moreover there are reports of sub-standard wheat from the State of Madhya Pradesh, where people have fallen sick after its consumption. What is the reaction of the common man? Political leaders, ration dealers have been attacked by residents in the Indian State of West Bengal for not providing them rations. This is not the first incident of its kind, hundreds of ration dealers have gone into hiding (Hindustan Times).

But is this the solution? Definitely not. Why has governance gone into hiding and is not visible to the common man? The PDS expenditure costs the exchequer over Rs. 100 billion and asking for its effective utilisation is not too much?

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7 October 2007

Generalisation?

How good is higher education in India? Can’t really tell as nearly 75 % of the colleges and 56% of Universities have never been assessed for quality standards (Times of India). However, take a clue from the lead story carried by Amar Ujala about a World Bank Report, according to which 75-90% of Indian graduates (every year around 11 million students graduate) are not fit to be employed (Amar Ujala. 5/10/2007). Any systematic survey conducted by WB to reach this conclusion? Nope! It is based on a 2005, McKinsey study which focused on Indian Offshore Industry. The authors interviewed 83 human resources managers at multinationals-- “…Why is the average level of suitability so low? One problem is poor English. Graduates from certain regions appear to be handicapped by strong accents that don’t lend themselves to jobs in call centres and other workplaces requiring interaction with foreigners…”.(“Ensuing India’s Offshoring Future”. McKinsey Quarterly. 2005. But hang on, can one generalise McKinsey’s findings and take a dig at the quality of education in Indian Universities?

And talking of BPO employment, at present there are around 400,000 people (median age-25) employed by Indian BPOs but alarming number of these people are sinking into the world of crime, drugs and promiscuity. “ It is shocking to see 22-year olds dropping out dead on their desks, suffering heart attacks. IT is India’s flagship sector and it is the government’s duty to protect its image and its employees” - Union Health Minister of India had recently expressed concern which was not welcomed by many. One could argue that such workplace problems are not new. True, but unique aspects of BPOs - long hours that cater to time zones, limited career progression, monotony of jobs- all have a bearing on them. To know more, must read-“BPO’s Young & Troubles” (Business Today.15/7/2007).

So, the big question is how far this offshore employment will be sustainable in the long run. Any guesses?

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6 October 2007

Money

The Indian Rupee might be gaining new heights against the dollar but a lot of work need to be done to tackle the flood of fake currency. Now the Indian States have been requested to hand over the investigation of circulation of fake currency to the central information bureau. According to one official estimate in 2000, fake currency worth Rs, 16,900 billion was in circulation. But the actual seizures of fake notes have not been significant (Times of India).

If one can’t catch huge amount of fake currency directly, how about catching people who use them and become sinking rich-overnight? How? By involving the common man as nothing escapes his eye. And the reward? A truck load of onions and other essential grocery items! Given the high prices of grocery, it could be popular! Take a look at lead story of Hindustan Times-“ Grocery bill up 25% in just one year”.

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5 October 2007

Business Leader

Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2006-07 is a big event, considering the coverage given in the paper. There are various categories like- Emerging Company, Business Reformer, Entrepreneur, Business women of the year etc. No surprises.

But who has been awarded the business leader award? Remember this awards “seeks to honour a leader who has clearly demonstrated a strategic direction for success, and perused a vision”. It’s the Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Bank- Mr. Kamath! “Three factors helped him to capture investor’s imagination”- his ability to identify changing trend before others, moving to new business line in 90 days and ability as a dream merchant to sell ICICI & India story and raise capital(Economic Times).

He heads the same bank which has been in the firing line due to suicides by its customers due to continuous harassment by ICICI Bank’s loan recovery agents.

Points to ponder- Is Kamath displaying transactional or transformational leadership? Most important - how his leadership is perceived by his base-customers at the ICICI Bank? Take a look at past newspaper reports!

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4 October 2007

Outstanding?

A trendy haircut and shiny shoes will help you make big in the corporate sector. Mind you not your performance/merit! Yes, this is the crux of the latest research from the United States (Mint, Economic Times).

A bad news for those who fly the flag of strategic human resource management! Earlier research suggests that interviewers (HRM big-guns) are systematically prone to adopting certain stereotypes: they deem people from a particular background to be of a certain type, they emphasize similarity with themselves, and they give undue importance to first impressions……Is it because these HR people are not properly trained to handle their job? Have a look at the advts for HR Executives and you’ll get the answer!

Point to ponder-1(a)– what’s the leading stereotype for promotion & recruitment now?

Point to ponder-1(a.1)- what’s the point of studying HRM in Business Schools anyway?

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3 October 2007

Gandhigiri

Gandhi’s way of protest? Thousands of Gujjars courted arrest across the Indian State of Rajasthan to pressurise the State Government to accord their community status of Schedule Tribe. Remember, the Gujjars have already stopped supplying milk across the State. “we have achieved our target of 4 to 5 lakh people going to jail”- Gujjar leader. While according to the State home minister-“ we had expected around 1.5 lakh people, but the number of those coming forward is very small at present” (Hindustan Times).

But why do they want Schedule Tribe Status anyway- reservation of jobs, education – all in the name of caste. Point to ponder – Is reservation based on caste regardless of economic status justified even after 60 years of independence?

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2 October 2007

Birthday Ad

Today, like every year – is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi but with a difference- yes, the United Nation has declared it as International Day of Non-Violence. The Indian government whole heartedly remembered ‘Bapu’ through advertisements in newspapers, the list seems endless, to name a few- Ministry of Culture, Information & Public Relations Department, Ministry of New & Renewal Energy, Delhi government, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Central Social Welfare Board, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Power, National Mineral Development Corporation, Indian National Congress, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Chattisgarh government, Khadi & Village Industries, National Rural Health Mission. What about the private sector ads on Bapu?- very few.

Sure, Advertisement is a good medium to remember ‘Bapu’, but how far are his principles followed is a totally different story.

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1 October 2007

Memory

On the occasion of 150th anniversary of revolt of 1857, the direct descendents to the last Mughul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, who have been long bitter with the Indian government for not giving them their due, will legally claim for the Red Fort in Delhi, which was the emperor’s last main resident before he was exiled to Burma. They are identifying a lawyer to fight the case for the Red Fort which will be filed this year. “My mother Sultana Begum only gets a pension of Rs. 400 a month from the Indian government for being associated with the Mughal dynasty. We surely deserve better”-said the great grand daughter of Bahadur Shah Zafar (Times of India).

A Recap: The Emperor- Bahadur Shah Zafar was indeed the symbol of the leadership of the revolt of 1857. When the Emperor was banished to Rangoon, he was asked to plea for mercy from the British, which he bluntly refused –“The power of the Hindustan will one day shake London if the glory of self-respect remain undimmed in the hearts of the rebels”. How can the nation forget his vital contribution to freedom?

It’s true that the direct descendents of the ‘rebels’/leaders of 1857 have not been ‘honoured’ for the role of their ancestors compared to the direct descendents of the ‘national leaders’ of 1900s. Many direct descendents of then top national leaders of 1900s are on a high position but what about the descendents of rest of the people who took part in the freedom struggle? Was their contribution any less?

Mahatma Gandhi-least we forget

"You do not know our condition at the time of 1857 revolt. The persecution of the people at that time has no parallel. You cannot imagine how happy the country was before the days of modern innovations- the railways, post and telegraph etc…After 1857 there has never been such a frightful massacre. I cannot recall any horror of that magnitude since then, but this thing – to frighten, to terrorise the subject races and rule over them- is the last backbone of their (British) policy" (Mahatma Gandhi. December 1924)

October 2007-Newspaper Watch