Fountain Ink: Giving journalism a fresh perspective and journalists their much loved space

Shradha Narayanan writes in her article titled “Writing long with a different ink” in The Hindu about Fountain Ink, a Chennai based short magazine of long form journalism, which had a humble start and comes wrapped in a minimalist cover:

Fountain Ink a Chennai-based magazine, has gone big with essays and photo stories instead of fiction and poetry. When the team behind Fountain Ink, was faced with the choice of either going all out or staying low key, budget constraints made them choose the latter. The team behind this magazine, only eight issues old, has no complaints. Fountain Ink was founded to favour long-form writing with detailed reportage, essays and photo stories, giving journalism a fresh perspective and journalists their much loved space. All this content is wrapped in a minimalist cover and the magazine itself comes at a low price of Rs. 20. During the first three months of publication, the magazine was sold at just Rs. 5 in Chennai.

Fountain Ink refrains from being a literary magazine and has gone big with essays and photo stories instead of fiction and poetry. “Fountain Ink is a short magazine and so they can choose to concentrate on a few long pieces,” says Sreekumar Menon who teaches at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

“The thought is to revive the culture of writing essays,” says Saurav Kumar, the magazine’s editor. The essays section, unlike reportage, carries contributions from non-journalists too. Topics are diverse and the expertise of the writer in the subject area shines through his/her writing, spruced up by illustrations. Issues that the Indian is familiar with are discussed here and leave the reader with narratives that increase his/her understanding of issues one may not otherwise feel connected to.

A Writer’s Road, an article on hardships faced by the regional language author in the magazine’s January issue is so absorbing that it gets the reader racking his/her brains for strategies to help promote the regional language author.

The ‘photo story’ section is also one to look out for. Whether it is a collection of Mario Miranda’s work or a glimpse into the unreleased work of Sudharak Olwe, the photos are introduced artfully.

‘Q and A’, the interview section, lets us have long conversations on subjects with the people concerned, which is a welcome change in the world of two-line commentary.

Read the full article in The Hindu: “Writing long with a different ink”

Teachers & Scholars, not sportsmen should be in RS: Mini Krishnan

“..today’s media have become urban centric and dalits, minorities and women are given least priority.  The stories which are covered in media are decided by the those who sit in newsrooms. The news that are covered in media are strongly coloured by these newsroom people.”

said, Mini Krishnan, Editor, literary translations, Oxford University Press, Chennai.

Mini Krishnan was also critical of the penchant of political parties to nominate sports persons and film stars to the upper house and said instead teachers, scholars and those in the academic field should be nominated.

Ailing practices like untouchability, superstitions that exist in our society should not be carried to next generation in this regard media should play a bigger role,

urged  Mini Krishnan.

She was addressing students on ‘pivotal role of translation in Indian media,’ a special lecture which was organised by centre for proficiency development and placement service (cpdps) in Manasagangothri campus here on Monday.

Translation has a power to interpret and convey things in proper manner. In Indian scenario most of the mediapersons gather information in local languages and whatever chosen by him will come to light through translation, she said.

RTI Anonymous: “One Stop Solution” to Fight Corruption in India !!!

RTI Anonymous is an online service, through which, any Indian citizen can File Right to Information (RTI) Applications Anonymously. They DO NOT HAVE TO REVEAL THEIR IDENTITY. The RTI Anonymous Community will file those RTI Applications in their name and upload the documents obtained as a reply on this website. The original requester will get an email when this happens. The original requester just has to draft the RTI Application as much as he/she can and the RTI Anonymous community will take care of the rest.

A lot of people, wonder — How does RTI Anonymous really work ? How can an Anonymous RTI work?  Is it even legal ?
So this page explains in detail, on how it really works ..

RTI Anonymous in its true sense, is NOT Anonymous  !!! Its real people filing real RTI.
RTI Anonymous is not based anywhere, but based everywhere, there is a wi-fi/internet connection.

See below – How RTI Anonymous Works:

How Does RTI Anonymous Work

STEP 1: So person A, who is based in say, Kanpur has a problem with a particular road in his locality and needs to file an RTI Request. He submits a request to RTI Anonymous, with details ofthe Public Information officer and his set of questions.

STEP 2: An expert in drafting RTI (in our case, for example, an Ex PIO and retired Registrar from Bangalore or a RTI Activist in Pune ) will draft the RTI. Few other experts in drafting  RTI’s, based either in different parts of India or Concerned NRI’s from different parts of the world, review and draft the RTI.The RTI Request is now moved to the Drafted RTI Request Category. If the Experts decide that the request is frivolous or does not need anonymity or just to vague and needs more information, then its moved  to its appropriate category (Non RTINon-Anonymous RTI orUnclear RTI Category).

Step 3:  Once drafted, a concerned citizen from say, Chennai takes printout of this drafted RTI and puts in the IPO for the required amount and speed posts it.He then updates the website with the speed post number.

The RTI Request is now moved to the Filed RTI’s Category.

STEP 4: Once the Chennai guy receives the reply, he just takes a picture of the documents received with his cell phone or digital camera. Uploads it to his computer and then uploads it to the website. At times, he just does a normal post to one of the RTI Anonymous’s Core Team Member and they would then upload these documents to the website.

STEP 5:  Once uploaded, the original requestor (from Kanpur or wherever) gets an automated email and he can then download the documents that he had recieved.

Also any Public Interest Litigation (PIL) lawyers or Journalist/Reporters can also download these documents from this website.

Remember —

  • The RTI is filed by a guy from say, Chennai.
  • Drafted in say,  Pune  or London
  • Reviewed in USA/Sweden/Hisar-Haryana  etc. 
  • And the original request is to some govt. office in say Kanpur 
  • And the govt. documents are uploaded to a website by either the guy who filed or RTI-A  team member

– All done by REAL PEOPLE with REAL ADDRESSES

Infact, even the founders  of RTI Anonymous, have not met each other personally, yet !! 

There is no head-office of RTI Anonymous !!

RTI-Anonymous does not depend on the government controlled traditional newspapers or news channels.

In this age of Facebook/Twitter, we do our own publicity !!

Every scanned RTI documents are eventually uploaded to Facebook/Twitter/Google+ and shared extensively: FACEBOOK ALBUM

We do not depend on donations. RTI Anonymous was originally conceptualised as a self funding initiative.

Any Donations are accepted with gratitude and as a mark of appreciation, for our effort. Every single paisa goes to the filing of the RTI’s.

Our entire accounts are completely transparent at RTI-Anonymous Accounts

UNTOUCHABLES: Three pillars of RTI Anonymous, Anand Sharma, Avnish Singh & Ritesh Singh !!!

UNTOUCHABLES: Three pillars of RTI Anonymous, Anand Sharma, Avnish Singh & Ritesh Singh !!!

RTI Anonymous success stories into 3 categories

Public Interest RTI A Success Stories

1)  Construction of Kharagpur Bridge  
Here is the details of the RTI applied — http://getup4change.org/rti/76/delay-in-construction-of-kharagpur-bridge/
To See the photoes of the Construction of Kharagpur Bridge after the RTI was applied
2) Fake Degrees provided by Janardan Rai Universtiy – Rajasthan 
The Entire details of the RTI and the reply from IGNOU, stating that the university is not eligible to issue those degrees…
The sad thing is the univeristy is still issuing these degrees and if you read thru the entire post — you would see how many students & people have been cheated here .
The photo-es can also be found at –
3) Corruption at Road Construction of Ghorakpur – Gopalgunj Section, LMNHP -9.

The documents .. that clearly shows major corruption at NH 28 
4) PWD Authorities admit the bad Road Conditions in Sagar MadhyaPradesh 
5) WiFi Scam in IIT Roorkee (This information has helped many students in all IIT’s ) 
The photoes are at –
6) Scholarship Scam in Chandrapur College 
Complete details can be found at -
Article written by Mrs Vinita Deshmukh about this issue in Money Life
7) RTO Offices all over Uttar Pradesh is coruption Free. 
Details can be found at –
A Lot of detailscan be found here https://sites.google.com/site/justice4sprahul/
8) Inspire  Scholarship Scam in IIT’s 
RTI A Success Story of Exposing Scams/Corruption 
1) 

 Irregularities in Expenditure of Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha
The Original RTI with all the details are at — http://getup4change.org/rti/737/money-spent-by-mps-lok-sabha/
2) Madhya Pradesh High Court Judges given undue favours by Chief Minister’s Office

This was the original RTI applied by late Ms Shehla Masood. The entire documents obtained, with brief explanation of the scam can be found at – 
You can also find the same here (a bit better organized) –
3) Total Amount Spent By Dr. Manmohan Signh Government for Publishing Ads on Rajiv Gandhi’s Birthday, Death Anniversary since 2004 till 2010
A More organized and summarized  info with photoes at –
4) Robert Vadra exempted from Security Checks at Airports
5) Irregularities in the promotions in railways
RTI A Success Story for Individuals 

1) Provident Fund for a Senior Citizen 
The details with the letter claiming that PF has been released is at — http://getup4change.org/rti/847/not-getting-my-pf-settlement-amount/

2) Official Documents that will help employees of Engineers India Ltd. to claim their mobile bills 
3) Misuse of a Garden Plot ,  being used as godown and industrial/commercial Use
4) Unauthorized Construction in Chennai , with reply confirming that no such permission has been given for the construction
5) Passport for a citizen thru RTI Anonymous 
These are the useless/nonsense replies that we have received from the Government Officials. A lot of these haven’t been closely reviewed yet and we are slowly working towards it .. and see which of them is a success story …

For discussing how you or your organization can help or collaborate, please contact:

For Other General Queries, please contact:

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IPL 5: “The gentleman’s game of cricket got murdered “

COMMENTARY: Kalyan Kar, Editor-in-Chief, Best Media Info

Minus Lalti Modi, IPL 5 gala opening was a contrived effort 

This is not to hold a brief for the much discredited Lalit Modi. But the truth is that the Gala Opening of IPL 5 was a big letdown. A sporting spectacle is not the same as a wedding ceremony or a TV channel ‘parivaar’ award show

Can’t believe Rajeev Shukla said “If the beginning is like this you can understand how the tournament will go”. God, I hope he’s wrong – Omar Abdullah, CM, Jammu & Kashmir

If the opening ceremony is any indication IPL5 is going to be disappointing – Marketing honcho Lloyd Mathias

Must say, I am enjoying the tweets on the IPL 5 opening ceremony more than the event. – Dhunji Wadia, CEO, Everest Brand Solutions

The gentleman’s game of cricket just got murdered tonight. I sleep with teary eyes and a heavy heart as I look at my old college flannels – Pratap Bose, COO, DDB Mudra

Watching the IPL opening ceremony, I know what my old man would have said. Can we please start the cricket now?! – Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN

If the quality of cricket on #IPL5 is anything like the opening ceremony, then god save the sponsors – Naresh Gupta, Chief Strategy Officer, iYogi

Amitabh Bachchan reciting a poem on cricket written by Prasoon Joshi during the opening ceremony.

Amitabh Bachchan reciting a poem on cricket written by Prasoon Joshi during the opening ceremony.

After weeks of sustained marketing build-up for the tournament of tournaments, it was all over in two hours on a balmy evening in Chennai, with egg on everybody’s face – everybody as in those involved in conceptualising and executing the Gala Opening for IPL Season 5. The storm on Twitter – by fans and, more importantly, those who matter in the communication space in forming opinions – says it all. It was a lame duck affair, crassly put up, lacking in finesse. Above all, unlike in previous seasons, it was held on the YMCA College of Physical Education Ground, in Nandanam, Chennai. It seems the idea of using a stadium eluded the otherwise fertile minds of the power-packed BCCI management. Somebody missed the point that this is the opening ceremony of a global level cricket competition, not a Bollywood event per se. Imagine holding an Olympic opening ceremony or an ICC Cricket World Cup or FIFA World Cup open ceremony on a college ground!

Not that I am holding a candle for the discredited former Czar of IPL Lalit Modi (I have a pathological dislike for those given to dishonesty, impropriety and self-aggrandisement, such as Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Modi), but the choice of venue was rightly criticised by Modi on Twitter.

Coming to the show itself, viewers have witnessed much better gala events done by the likes of Star Plus and Colors with their endless list of “parivar” awards. Filmfare has invariably and successfully mounted awards nights with much greater finesse and style, with vastly more sophisticated stages and laser and psychedelic lighting. Or did BCCI plan this as a shaadi ka baraat in the first place? May be that was keeping in style with the new IPL Commissioner! And oh, he did admit that he is a politician! Was that to ensure failures and criticisms don’t matter?

The show kicked off with the best-known Indian walking. Amitabh Bachchan recited a poem written by Prasoon Joshi in very shudh Hindi. The baritone voice was very much audible, but often one struggled to figure out the last part of a sentence in a long poem. Wonder how Prasoon felt! Again, the BCCI brass missed the point: Big B is any day the best choice for a Gujarat Tourism TVC or a grand-uncle advising youngsters on the benefits of Chyavanprash. T20 is wham-bam stuff, it is all about a new genre of cricket which is raging like a storm. Let’s look at it like this: Cliff Richards is still alive, spending his late years somewhere in England. Would he be the right choice to sing at the opening of the London Olympics later this year? It is like asking Elton John, who sang the beautiful ‘Candle in the Wind’ on BBC after Princess Di met a horrific end in a Paris tunnel, to sing the opening notes at the next FIFA World Cup!

Prabhdeva. I am given to understand that he enjoys the reputation of being able to dance as though he has no bones in his plastic/elastic body, and more smoothly than the late Michael Jackson! Wow. But then, after a Google search, I discovered that he is almost 40. Little wonder then that viewers were treated to a lame, stiff, meaningless dance number. So, was he brought in to please the few thousand Chennai fans sitting at the YMCA ground and not for the millions of foolish TV viewers across this geographically huge, cricket-crazy country? Somebody got it wrong again. May be Chris Gayle would have been a better choice with a Calypso number!

Then there was the parade of the nine brilliant Captains of the IPL teams. Why were they looking so uncomfortable? Did somebody tell them to show their mettle in ramp walking? Were the two girls accompanying each of them meant to add glamour? If so, didn’t viewers deserve a better deal to indulge is some voyeurism, say, with the sexy cheerleaders that IPL is synonymous with, accompanying the Captains?

Coming to Bollywood’s stud, Salman Khan, where was the much expected ‘dabaangg’? His pink-orange trouser reminded one of a bygone era when Rajesh Khanna and, somewhat later on, Rishi Kapoor, who strutted around in colourful trousers, something that most fans would dread to wear out on the street! As for his dance gig, give us a break, haven’t we seen Salman perform much, much better at other events?

At the end, it was left to Priyanka Chopra and Katy Perry to lift the evening. Priyanka tried hard, and successfully. But then, she had a fixed time on the stage. So did singer Katy, who was brought all the way from California. She sang reasonably well, but it is her outfit that caught more eyeballs. But then, she was nowhere near the flame-haired Shakira, whose dance number ‘Waka waka’ had the world dancing after her FIFA World Cup performance.

I agree with Pratap Bose. The gentleman’s game of cricket just got murdered last night.

Kalyan.Kar@BestMediaInfo.com

Musalman: @75p, the last “handwritten” newspaper in world !!!

The earliest forms of newspaper were handwritten and now ‘The Musalman‘ probably is the last handwritten newspaper in the world. This Urdu language newspaper was established in 1927 by Chenab Syed Asmadullah Sahi and has been published daily in the Chennai city of India ever since.

With the recent technological advances, where paper newspapers are going extinct because people read them online, this personable touch is rare to find. The price of this paper is 75 Paise

It is presently run by Syed Asmadullah’s grand son Syed Arifullah and six skilled calligraphers work on this four pages newspaper everyday. With a circulation of approximately 23,000 the paper covers news in Urdu language across a wide spectrum including politics, culture and sports.

The ‘Musalman‘ is probably the last handwritten newspaper in the world. It has been published and read every day in South India’s Chennai since 1927 in almost the same form. In the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque in Chennai, a team of six die hard workers still put out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. It’s tough for the die-hard artists of Urdu calligraphy. But the story we tell here is not just of their desperation and despair. The fact is, at the office of ‘The Musalman’, the oldest Urdu daily in India, no one has ever quit. They work till they pass on.

Check out this video directed by Ishani K. Dutta and produced and uploaded to YouTube by the Public Diplomacy Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs: http://youtu.be/LUmdx2YHGcA

Preparation of its every page takes about three hours. After the news is received in English from its part time reporters, it is translated into Urdu and Katibs – writers, dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy, pen – down the whole story on paper. After that negative copy of the entire hand –written paper is prepared and pressed on printing plates.

Presently it is edited by Mr. Syed Arifullah. He took over the charge after his father died. His father ran this paper for 40 years. It was founded by his grandfather in 1927. This paper has maintained its original look and had not compromised with the Urdu computer font.

Urdu type setting was very difficult; also, typeset work looked ugly in comparison to handwritten work. Therefore, Urdu resorted to lithography while other languages adopted typeset.

With the advent of computer, Urdu writing got great boost. It allowed calligraphic writing without the problems of lithography. Yet, a book or newspaper written by a good katib and properly lithographed is very pleasing and beautiful; computer written Urdu is no match.

A Golden year for Tamil Femina

The 1st anniversary special issue of Femina Tamil was unveiled by actress Amy Jackson, cover girl for the issue, and Tarun Rai, CEO, WWM, at a party held at Taj Coromandel, Chennai. Leading city jeweller GRT Jewellers partnered with Femina Tamil for this event, providing select pieces of jewellery from their newest collection for the anniversary issue.

Femina Tamil was launched in April 2011, taking off from the parent brand with content customised to suit the modern, progressive Tamil reader.

The anniversary issue is a special 200-page issue with the focus on Tamil Nadu. It includes a tete-a-tete with 10 most gorgeous women of South India, the fun side of Chennai explored in 24 hours, and scoops on the biggest scandals to hit Tamil Nadu in recent years.

Additionally, there is a gold pendant that is the special cover mount for the issue. There is also a contest where readers can win jewellery vouchers, sarees, holidays and other gifts.

The marketing campaign for the anniversary issue spans radio, print, Facebook and on-ground visibility through display, POS and inserts.

Tarun Rai, CEO, Worldwide Media said, “We are very happy at the response that Femina Tamil has got, both from readers as well as advertisers. It has only been twelve months and Femina Tamil has already established itself as the magazine-of-choice of the discerning and progressive Tamil woman.”

Commenting on the 1st Anniversary Issue, Tanya Chaitanya, Editor of Femina & Femina Tamil said, “It has been a year of remarkable grit, inspiring stories and women power. It has been a year of Femina Tamil. A huge thank-you to all our readers who have helped us gain an insight into their lives and who have given us a thumbs up. Here’s to a great first anniversary and many more to come.”

(courtesy: Archita Wagle & mxmindia.com)