National Award Winning Animator: A Victim of Drunk Driving

In a horrific incident that took place last weekend, national award winning animator for the movie RaOne, Charu Khandal was critically injured when a speeding Honda City car rammed into the auto rickshaw in which Charu was commuting.

Eye witnesses said that the driver of the Honda City car, Manoj Kumar Gautam (39), was driving rash and was under the influence of alcohol. To add insult to injury, the driver was let off by the police on mere Rs. 5000 bail. The police argue that as there was no casualty in the accident, it cannot apply any non-bail able sections against the driver.

But doesn’t this incident raise some important questions that need to be answered. Most importantly, should there not be stricter laws enforced for rash driving? The culprit for making a person bed ridden for life can enjoy his normal life the very next day after the incident only by paying a few thousands. What kind of justice is this to the sufferer and the family of the sufferer?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the major menaces that cosmopolitan cities face. Should there not be more awareness programs to educate the common masses about the consequences of drunk driving? Furthermore, should there not be random checks organized by the traffic police, at least during weekends to curb the nuisance of drunk driving?

Is there not a need for immediate introspection within us? How often have we got out of a party and have hit the road neglecting the fact that we are under the influence of alcohol. Excuses that we give to ourselves- It’s only a few kilometers. I can easily manage driving safely till there. Besides, I am not too drunk. What follows are incidents like these, in which innocent people lose their lives or suffer for a lifetime for no fault of theirs.

(courtesy: Nishith Sinha  & Youth Ki Awaaz, Nishith, a first year engineering student has great passion for writing. He has written for various
national level newspapers such as Hindustan Times and Dainik Jagran

Kingfisher Airlines Crashed !!!

Suspends operations from Kolkata, HYD, Patna, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneshwar and other cities

Kingfisher asked 5000 employees to stay at home

Ailing Kingfisher Airlines on Tuesday said it has temporarily suspended operations from several major cities, including Kolkata and Hyderabad, and has asked nearly half of its 7,000-odd employees to stay at home till it managed to infuse fresh funds.

The airline, burdened by a debt of over Rs 7,000 crore, also did not rule out laying off some staff saying a decision on the issue would depend on various decisions to be taken by the government and its bankers about funding and related issues.

With a major cash-crunch leading to delayed payments of salaries and other dues for over three months, a spokesperson said the airline was putting in place a ‘holding plan’ pending re-capitalisation and “there are several stations to which operations have been temporarily suspended”.

“Since we could resume operations after getting re- capitalised, most staff at these stations have been asked to stay at home whilst remaining on the Company’s rolls,” an airline spokesperson said.

Airline sources said the cash-strapped carrier, which used to fly to about 60 destinations, would now fly to less than 30 cities. Among the destinations from where operations were being temporarily suspended were Kolkata, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Bhubaneshwar.

They said that between 40-50 per cent of about 7,000 staff have been asked to stay at home, but they would remain on the Kingfisher rolls.

Regarding speculation about the airline’s plans to retrench some staff, the spokesperson said “we are in a ‘holding’ pattern right now and are waiting for various decisions from the Government and our consortium of bankers on FDI policy, working capital funding, etc.

All of these will have a major impact on the staffing decisions we will have to make.”

The Kingfisher spokesperson said the airline has begun this year’s summer schedule by operating approximately 120 daily flights with 20 dedicated aircraft.

For the past two months, it was flying 28 planes and 140 flights as part of a curtailed winter schedule as against 400 daily flights with 64 aircraft it had proposed earlier.

Kingfisher has also paid Rs 44 crore towards TDS arrears, which was due on or before March 27, as directed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal in Bangaluru, the spokesperson said.

“Our keen intent is to get re-capitalised and to bounce back as a major player in civil aviation …. We will also protect the interests of all stakeholders, suppliers and service providers as an integral part of our recapitalization plans,” he said.

A consortium of 13 PSU banks, including State Bank of India, have an exposure of Rs 5,608.07 crore to Kingfisher as on February this year, including Rs 1,408.45 crore for SBI alone. The airline has an accumulated loss of over Rs 6,000 crore.

Kashmir’s print media marches on!

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Talking Point: Dr Javid Iqbal

Shujaat Bukhari in his article ‘A successes story amid all odds’ while relating the ‘Rising Kashmir’ tale lays down a matter of fact…starting a newspaper in Kashmir is not an easy job.  Multiple publications in the print media belie his claim. However an assessment of how many sustained to stay afloat indicates what he is trying to make out.  The pulls, the pressures of any conflict zone could be forbidding. Kashmir is no exception.

The journalists could get into the crossfire…literally, proverbially too! It has never been easy in Kashmir, even before militancy. Militancy made it tougher. Added to over-ground contenders were the underground militants engaging security forces. Post 1989 scenario stands painted by Shujaat Bukhari with the desired shades; a time phase in which he was one of the media actors. We may assess the growth of media in Indian subcontinent, and thence J&K State, so that a holistic picture emerges.
British Raj in India allowed a measure of press freedom, as ‘Times of India’ of ‘Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd’ came-up in 1838 AD in Bombay, and ‘Statesman’ in Calcutta. These English language newspapers reflected the day to day life of Britishers in India, and later on Congress party initiated by British liberals like Lord Hume and Annie Beasent. Those were the days when Congress was asking for favours, rather than rights. And favours only for people of British Indian territory, Indian States were a category apart with despotic autocratic rule.
Jammu and Kashmir State like other Indian States had not even the small measure of freedom which British India enjoyed. In late 20’s of 20th century ‘Ranbir’ was published in Jammu. Kashmir valley didn’t have media publication worth the name even though the movement for political rights was on from 1931. In late 30’s and early 40’s that papers like ‘Hamdard’ and Khidmat’ came-up, with phases of intense censorship varying with relative freedom, which however had a limited extent. Moreover there was bitter rivalry between the publishers.
Khidmat-Hamdard rivalry had a political rather than a journalistic basis. Khidmat was National Conference’s media face, whileas Hamdard edited by Prem Nath Bazaz was NC contender. Bazaz initially Sheikh Abdullah supporter turned into a bitter rival espousing any anti-Abdullah voice, be it the one of Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah or Ram Chand Kak—JK Premier 1946/47. Bazaz had a political party of sorts representing the peasant [Kisan] and labour [Mazdoor] though it didn’t make much headway, as Abdullah dominated the scene. With Kak, he also had a hand in organising ‘State Peoples Conference’ an anti-Abdullah front. For any student of growth of Kashmir journalism, any research scholar, this could form a part of study. ‘Khidmat’ archives are a good source, where I got a chance to study the events and happenings of those early days of Kashmir journalism.
Whileas in the wider avenues of subcontinent, English press made an early appearance, there were some Hindi publications too in the later half of 19th century. ‘Kavi Vachan Sudha’ of Harish Chandar and ‘Brahmin’ of Narain Mishra were publication meant to undercut the Persian influence of Mughal era, and its offshoot ‘Urdu’. Though Gandhi propagated Hindustani as an assimilative linguistic process, Hindi media was vociferously propagating Hindi. ‘Al-Balag’ and ‘Al-Hilal’ of Maulana Azad made a huge impact on survival and growth of Urdu journalism in the subcontinent. Urdu was the predominant linguistic form of Kashmir journalism, until as Shujaat Bukhari makes out the spreading literacy with English as the predominant medium, being the international link language necessitated initiation of English press. Of that later, first the post-1947 scenario in Kashmir, an assessment of how it affected the media in Kashmir, which could be a prelude to post-1989 scenario painted by Shujaat Bukhari.
1947! Kashmir became bone of contention between two of South Asia’s most powerful states-India and Pakistan. The political dispensing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, two-third of which became the ‘Indian Administered Kashmir’ had soon contenders of various hues, and of varying intensity. The print media felt the pressure and hardly anything that the ruling regime of the day would not relish got printed. The print media insignificant though in those days, mostly vernacular felt the pressure and self-censorship became the rule before the state would get into the act. Khidmat continued to project NC viewpoint, Hamdard continued though under differing ownership and editorship. A welcome addition was ‘Aftab’ Urdu daily edited by Kh. Sonaullah Aftab—an old hand in journalism, who had tried his hand across the line in ‘Pakistan Administered Kashmir’ only to face challenges. Switching back to vale, the challenges did not cease. His satire ‘Khazar Suchta Hai Wular Kay Kinaray’ conveyed what he could not say directly, given the constraints that press was experiencing.
As 50’s turned to 60’s ‘Srinagar Times’ came-up with its trademark cartoon—Bashir Ahmad Bashir [BAB] made many a morning. His cartoons were as telling as Kh. Sonaullah’s ‘Khazar Suchta Hai Wular Kay Kinaray’. A serious attempt to convey the views behind news was initiated by Shamim Ahmad Shamim’s [SAS]’s ‘Aina’ a landmark in Kashmir journalism. SAS had linguistic as well as oratorical fluidity in Urdu and he used it with telling effect. However he too had to take a measure of political cover, before he could say what he wanted to. The political cover was provided by the political skills that he acquired by his acumen. SAS combined journalistic and political roles, changing garbs with effortless ease. He departed as quickly as he came within approximately a decade and a half, succumbing to dreadful cancer in 1980 AD, aged just 43 years. It was a tragic loss.
Post 1989! There is hardly any aspect of post-1989 which Shujaat Bukhari has left unexplored right from the days when Al-Safa made a mark. The tale and trail continued in vernacular press, though the role of English medium ‘Kashmir Times’ cannot be ignored. Jammu based initially, with a fair readership in the valley, for the bi-lingual lot, it remained an evening read after a morning look at the vernacular. In nineties with ‘Greater Kashmir’ taking on the daily garb from a weekly one, valley had a Standard English daily every morning. With the advent of 21st century and a continuing militancy confronting the state, media was working under all the strains imaginable in conflict zone. State, as Shujaat Bukhari makes out has enough in hand to squeeze the media, though censorship is unacceptable, understandably useless with ever widening panorama of information technology. The state squeeze is visible for conscious and knowledgeable readership. Hence the ones who desire to stay afloat with a readership to boost of need to remain vigilant not to succumb to squeeze. With ‘RK’ coming to fore in 2008, ‘KT’ hitting stands early morning in the valley for the last few years and ‘GK’ looming large, increasing and avid readers have a variety to pick from. There is a healthy competition, no acrimony. I could vouch for it, being privileged to work with all. Never ever have I heard a bitter word or seen an undesirable gesture against each other by the main players in Kashmir media. Instead there is realisation that they need to take care of each other, stand by and for each other!
When the going gets tough, the tough get going…heavier the odds stronger the march!
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] Feedback on: iqbal.javid46@gmail.com  

(courtesy: Rising Kashmir & Dr Javid Iqbal)

A semi-satire on ‘How to publish your first book’

It’s every writers dream. It’s the only reason why writers survive in today’s times. It may be a cheap low price cost-effective book, worth less than Rs. 200/-. But when you actually hold the first copy of your first book, all the efforts, all the sacrifices seems to be worth it. In more than 99% of the cases, first book is always the stepping stone to – well –  the second book. And research proves that the authors who have published the first book invariably are one step closer to publish another one! Strange, but true!
Here, in this post, I will tell you how to publish your first book and take that first step to success. Now, I haven’t written a book till date (if you ignore the Engineering and MBA exam papers). You can follow two different ways – traditional and modern. Here’s the traditional way -
  • Content: Only 3 things are needed to write. Content, Content & Content! Nothing sells like genuine content. You have a story that’s different – pursue and publish it. You have a mystery, a poem,  – go for it.
  • Proof reading: No mistakes, please. It will hamper your writing career.
  • Acclaimed publishers: Better publishers, more is the reach, more sales, more publicity and hence, success. You know the cycle, don’t you?
And we have a winner here: It’s the latest technique. It’s 100% fool-proof. People claim, ‘nothing succeeds like success‘, I say this one surely does! It’s a long term process though, but the results are worth it. The pre-requisite is that you have to be an Australian, but even a non-Australian can follow this:
  • If you are a non-Australian, apply for their citizenship
  • After successful application, you become a Australian citizen. Now try to learn Cricket
  • Australian Cricket academy is very professional and strict. You might struggle for 5-8 years before finally claiming the baggy green
  • Play for the Australian team for few years. Ensure you also play the IPL for international fame. Plan your injuries accordingly
  • Retire from international cricket once you think you have achieved enough fame. But don’t leave cricket altogether. Continue playing in IPL matches
  • Once you realize your career in the IPL is over, retire gracefully with lots and lots of money. Go back to Australia
  • Think of one of the many controversies you think will affect the Indians. Try cricket as it is your ‘core competence’
  • Write about Indian cricketers, their likes and dislikes (in the dressing room), who lied to whom, who changed the decision after winning the toss, who had political backing in the team, how one player was preferred as the captain over others. Anything. The rest of the book can contain crap about your life. No one will read it anyways.
  • Before releasing the book, release a preview – especially to Indian media. You don’t need to pay the marketing costs, they will take care of publicity themselves.
  • You might have to go through many hate mails, but give them an incorrect e-mail id and an incorrect twitter handle.
  • Once the hatred towards you dies down, publish the book. To the same audience. You see, we Indians don’t believe in anything till we read it. The book will sell like anything in India. The hatred will continue for some more time. Since the contact details are incorrect, you will not come to know.
  • You should be concerned only with profits and the tag of a ‘best seller’. It’s yours! Congratulations!
If you don’t trust me, ask Greg Chappell. On second  thoughts, you need not be an Australian to succeed. If you are controversial, anything you write will sell. Ask Shoaib Akhtar.
(courtesy:  & Bloggers Park)

outcast by the west, Colas exploit Indians through aamir & sachin !

Veeresh Malik

Like cigarettes, the West increasingly sees colas as terribly bad for health and shielding their children from it because obesity, diabetes and now cancer are directly linked to these sweet, coloured liquids. For Coke and Pepsi, India, a large market with low awareness, is ripe for exploitation—aided by Bollywood and cricket superstars

There is a term used in racing at sea—sail close to the wind—which implies doing something which is dangerous, just about legal, or acceptable. It comes from real life out there on the waters, when you try to move forward almost right into the direction the wind is coming from, using all your skills to not only stay upright, but also to make some headway while others have given up. It also implies using illegal methods, when nobody is watching, to reach your destination.

Of late, that’s what seems to be happening in the world of soft drinks and those who would use every method possible to try and make us drink more and more of the sweetened, coloured, carbonated water—never mind the larger impact on health, society and now in the latest revelations, causing cancer. The two largest players in this, PepsiCo and Coca Cola, are globally in a race to try and tackle dropping sales of “soda pop” in developed countries and take a lead in what they would like to call nutritive health drinks and foods as well as water, but here in India, it appears to be more and more pressure on making these same “soft drinks” some sort of aspirational destination, if one may use that turn of phrase.

Here is a small fact, as per the latest Economist: “The consumption of carbonated soft drinks in America fell to a 16-year low in 2011, according to Beverage Digest. The average American drank 714 eight-ounce servings of fizzy drinks over the year, with the three most popular being Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi-Cola. Since 2005 health conscious Americans have been slurping fewer high-calorie drinks and more bottled water.”

The reason for this is not difficult to discern—increasingly, it is politically incorrect, like smoking, to guzzle “soda pop” in front of impressionable youngsters. In addition, role models in American society will think more than twice now, before they even dream of endorsing all sorts of junk food, cancer colas and other packaged or processed edibles of any sort. Obesity, diabetes and now cancer are directly linked to these sweet coloured sugary liquids.

In addition, actual sale of soft drinks is frowned upon in and around schools, either by way of legislation or by way of local social pressure. Michelle Obama, wife of the American president, leads a nationwide programme called “Let’s Move” (http://www.letsmove.gov/) with complete government support and participation, tag-lined “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids”, which has in it’s second year already made it clear what is good food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy, mainly) and what is not.

On the other hand, here in India, the authorities appear to be going out of their way to help the same processed food industry, especially the soft drink industry, with all sorts of help to take sales further. One not so subtle step is the way in which role models in India are actively encouraged to endorse soft drinks—whether by way of providing tax exemptions (example: Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari, which was sought to be brought in duty-free, was supposed to be a ‘gift’ from Michael Schumacher) or providing them with honorary ranks in India’s Armed Forces (MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar again) or by not levying taxes pertaining to advertising on blatant product placements for branded soft drinks in Indian movies (almost by every movie star).

Put it this way, when you see Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan’s fancy new cars and homes in Bandra, Mumbai, what do you see? I don’t know about you, but many of us who have friends and relatives undergoing treatment for cancer at the nearby Leelavati Hospital, also in Bandra, Mumbai, see bottles and bottles of the cancer-causing Coke and Pepsi. Endorsed by these worthies and their friends in the cricket and film industry, these cancer colas and their champions, need to be removed from our advertising horizon, and soon. Or, like tobacco products, they need to carry health and safety warnings. Not endorsements by our stars and heroes.

So the question that comes up next, automatically, is this—what is the liability that those who endorse these soft drinks have? Should the people who reaped huge personal benefits by advertising, inducing, tempting and otherwise persuaded millions of others to buy and consume something that they knew was dangerous as well as unhealthy, be held financially responsible for this?

The answer is there, to be seen in the Companies Act, in the Food Safety & Standards Act and from there onwards in the Indian Penal Code. And the answer is also there as an extension of the question—did the people who were part of the larger structures which produced these endorsements not know that the ingredients in their products, as well as the products itself, caused cancer? Or were simply bad for a nation’s future generations?

The problem is with the laws in India and the way global MNCs as well as now even Indian MNCs keep to the right of it or on the border, in a manner which would never be permitted or acceptable in developed countries. There is, however, hope.

Government policy of retrospective liability under laws brought out subsequently, as with the Finance Bill this year for Income Tax issues, brings some hope. “I didn’t know” is not going to be an admissible defence. Because, fact remains, high sugar content sweet coloured carbonated waters are not good for us, or our children.

(Courtesy: MoneyLife & Veeresh Malik. Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)

Sleep with your wife, Same day

Sleep with your wife,Same day !!!
No graphic, no design and not even a tint, but never-the-less, extremely catchy and I can also bet, one of the most effective billboards ever. I can’t but applaud the genius who created this hoarding, which conveys the key message so ingeniously. With a headline which grabs attention at once, and gels well with the key message or the sub-head, the communication is most catchy, clear and crisp. A ‘no-graphic’ approach draws attention to the brand logo, which further reinforces the brand recall. Kudos guys for the play of words!

Palangtod Dhulai: ‘(media) arrogance is all very well, but stupidity is just that’!

Palangtod Dhulai <> Ranjona Banerji

Justice Katju tells it like it is. Again

Press Council of Indian chairman Markandey Katju has been one of the most vocal holders of this post, losing no opportunity to stand up for the media when required and to castigate it at other times. The trivialization of news remains a key issue with him and he has questioned once again whether our obsession with Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century was justified. Interestingly, Tendulkar himself questioned it, pointing out that in the four matches when he got his 99th 100, no one mentioned it at all!

Katju, speaking at the convocation ceremony of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in New Delhi (“over the weekend” says The Hindu in Monday’s paper) however saved his best for last, taking on Anna Hazare and his methods. While making it clear that corruption is a mega issue and that is why Hazare’s movement gained so much support, he questioned Hazare’s methods. “What is the rationale of the thinking of Anna Hazare? With due respect, I could not find any scientific ideas. These shoutings will not do anything.”

Katju is a man who calls a spade a spade. Much as he rubbed most of the media the wrong way, there is perhaps some merit in taking some of his criticisms seriously. Is Aishwarya Rai’s pregnancy really front page news? Did the world end with Rahul Dravid’s retirement from cricket? There’s no point getting defensive here and saying, “The media has every right to choose its own stories”. Quite right it does. But does that mean that the media never makes mistakes? Or indeed, can one deny the dumbing down of the media in terms of choice of stories and understanding of news?

**

Talking about getting defensive, the editor in chief of MXM India. Com Pradyuman Maheshwari faced some defensive posturing on the media’s role in the Norway-Bhattacharya child custody case on NDTV “over the weekend”. The anchor Sunetra Chaudhury, journalist Rashmi Saxena and former diplomat MK Bhadhrakumar staunchly held that the media had done no wrong. It was only when Maheshwari pointed out that no fact-checking had been done by the media and that the other side of the story was not presented – “a basic trait in journalism” – that the bluster of the others died down a bit and it was accepted that the media could have done more.

Arrogance is all very well, but stupidity is just that.

**

This lack of perspective in the television media, especially when it comes to the armed forces, is equally appalling. It has the narrow-focused ability to only see every problem from the side of the armed forces. Yet surely we have seen, more so in recent times, highly ranked officers involved in the most reprehensible acts of corruption. In the current allegations made by chief of army staff VK Singh that he was offered a bribe by a former Lt-general, surely it would be better to get a few more facts on the case before having hissy fits in favour of every soldier ever accused of anything at prime time? At the very least it would be interesting to see if TV can seriously question what seems to be an obsession with attention as far as VK Singh is concerned. Also, at the risk of facing a firing squad at dawn, I would suggest that the media would be better served if it stopped treating the armed forces like a collection of overly-principled martyrs eschewing payment for their cause and just treat them with customary scepticism.

**

In an aside, how about TV channels hire some people with better spelling skills for their written portions? All morning on Monday I read about a “defemation vase” filed by Arun Jaitley against somebody. Of course, there are no bigger teasers than those little ticker tape thingies that run across the screen which promise so much and deliver so little.

Twitter: @ranjona

(courtesy: ranjona banerji & mxmindia.com)