ArcelorMittal’s Eye-ful Tower-a landmark to rival Eiffel Tower

The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture, left, before its official unveiling at the Olympic Park, London, Friday May 11, 2012. The steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond stands 114.5 meters (376ft) high, 63% of of the sculpture is recycled steel and incorporates the five Olympic rings. AP Photo/Tim Hales.

Critics say it looks like a roller coaster gone badly awry. Fans say it’s a landmark to rival the Eiffel Tower. London got a towering new venue Friday, as authorities announced completion of the Orbit, a 115-meter (377- foot) looped and twisting steel tower beside London’s new Olympic Stadium that will give visitors panoramic views over the city.

Some critics have called the ruby-red lattice of tubular steel an eyesore. British tabloids have labeled it “the Eye-ful Tower,” ”the Godzilla of public art” and worse. But artist Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, who designed the tower, find it beautiful. Belmond, who described the looping structure as “a curve in space,” said he thought people would be won over by it.

“St. Paul’s (Cathedral) was hated when it was begun,” he said. “Everyone wanted a spire” — but now the great church’s dome is universally loved. He said if a groundbreaking structure works “it starts to do something to you and your concept of beauty changes.” Kapoor noted that Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower was considered “the most tremendously ugly object” by many when it was first built. “There will be those who love it and those who hate it, and that’s OK,” Kapoor said of the tower, whose full name is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, after the steel company that stumped up most of the 22.7 million pound ($36.5 million) cost.

“I think it’s awkward,” Kapoor said — considering that a compliment. “It has its elbows sticking out in a way. … It refuses to be an emblem.” A little awkwardness is to be expected when you ask an artist to design a building. Kapoor, a past winner of art’s prestigious Turner Prize, is known for large-scale installations like “Marsyas” — a giant blood-red PVC membrane that was displayed at London’s Tate Modern in 2002 — and “The Bean,” a 110-ton (100-metric ton) stainless steel sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Even for him, though, the scale of the Orbit is monumental. He says the structure can only truly be appreciated from inside — something most of the public will not have the chance to do until 2014, when it reopens as the centerpiece of a brand-new park on the site of the 2012 London Olympic Park. Before that, it will be open to ticketholders for this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, whop can ride the elevator to the top at a cost of 15 pounds ($22).

Kapoor said visitors would enter a “dark and heavy” steel canopy at base before emerging into the light high above ground, where a wraparound viewing deck and a pair of huge concave mirrors create “a kind of observatory, looking out at London.” “It’s as if one is in an instrument for looking,” Kapoor said. London Olympic organizers hope the Orbit, which can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors a day, will become a major tourist attraction. It is, they note proudly, the tallest sculpture in Europe — and 22 meters (72 feet) higher than the Statue of Liberty. On a clear day, views from its observation deck extend for 32 kilometers (20 miles) across London and the green hills beyond. The tower will be at the heart of a new 227-hectare (560-acre) park, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, that will include a lush river valley, biking trails and a tree-lined promenade. It is due to open in stages starting in July 2013 and finishing in early 2014. London Mayor Boris Johnson takes credit for pitching the idea of a tower to steel baron Lakshmi Mittal at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in 2009. He is a huge fan of the finished product. “It is a genuine Kapoor,” Johnson said. “It has all the enigmatic qualities of some of his great pieces.” And he believes other Londoners will come to love it, too. “I think so,” he said, then paused. “In the end.” Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Peepli live reporter left scooped out by wily editors?

NDTV‘s anchor and one of the outspoken &  dare devil journalists Sunetra Choudhary had been chasing a UPA minister for some time. He’s never been part of a TV discussion, he rarely gives interviews and yet, he’s often the newsmaker himself. His lack of media savvy perhaps worked in Sunetra’s favour as after the millionth call to his people and haranguing them with her questionnaires, she  finally got them to convey her message. When they called her to confirm a half-hour interview slot, Sunetra couldn’t believe her luck.

At the appointed hour, she arrived with her tiny battalion of producer, camera people and assistants to claim her date with breaking news. The Minister had just arrived, and they were setting up, when she was called in for ‘a word.’

“Let me give you the interview like this only, why the camera?” said the minister.

Surprised Sunetra told him, “Excuse me, sir, you know I’m from a TV channel?”
Finally, the minister decided to level with her. “Actually some other journalists got to know about this and they cornered me in the Central Hall,” he said, referring to the area in Parliament where senior journalists can mingle with MPs and ministers over tea. “They said you can’t talk to her. They made me promise that I won’t be seen talking to you on TV or I would have to speak to everyone which I don’t want to do.”

Astonished Sunetra again pleaded, “But, Sir, you promised me?”

“I know but what can I do? They weren’t just any old reporters, they are well-known editors,” he said apologetically, naming the heads of two other channels. He looked helpless, and the NDTV anchor heartbroken.

Now with her headline-hunting dream shattered,  She returned to office telling her colleagues this unbelievable tale of

“how big-time editors were going around ruining opportunities for small fry like me.”

“But why are you surprised?” they said. Apparently, this happens every day in pursuit of the ‘exclusive story.’

Read her full column in DNA: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column_sunetra-choudhury-scribe-vs-scribe_1681672

Madam, grotesquely disastrous chief minister Banerjee !!!

Madam, in only eleven months you have proved yourself to be a grotesquely disastrous chief minister.

You and your administration have achieved what we thought was impossible in such a short time: you have actually increased misery and sadness inside the state, even as you’ve turned Bengal into the laughing stock of the rest of India. If, under the Left Front, the rest of India used to pity us and snigger at us, now the country is just laughing at us, belly-laughter mixed with open contempt.

What we did not foresee, what is truly terrifying, is that you seem to have scrunched that trajectory of thirty-four years into thirty-four weeks.

let me tell you how the last four British prime ministers have been portrayed in cartoons in London newspapers: John Major, always wearing his underpants outside his trousers; Tony Blair, as a one-eyed monster, sometimes as a one-eyed poodle trotting after George W. Bush; Gordon Brown, as a square, financial thug and bouncer; David Cameron, repeatedly, as an empty, blown-up condom. Along with these, they have also repeatedly had George Bush as a rampant, psychopathic chimpanzee, (once actually wiping his bottom with the UN logo), they’ve had Nicolas Sarkozy as all sorts of ferret-like animals, Berlusconi as a lecherous octopus and, recently, Angela Merkel as a dominatrix in skimpy black leather costume and fishnet stockings, wielding a financial whip over the exposed backsides of other European leaders. Besides this, one of the most widely read British satirical magazines, Private Eye, almost always has actual photographs of leaders and royalty with fictional speech bubbles coming out of their mouths, saying the most outrageous things.

THE MORAL MINEFIELD

– Thirty-four years in thirty-four weeks

The Thin Edge: Ruchir Joshi

Madam Chief Minister Banerjee,

I am writing this letter to you on my own computer and sending it out for publication via my own email. I am not, and have never been, a member of any political party, of any communist party anywhere including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M).

I am a citizen of India, of West Bengal, of Calcutta, and I live in the constituency you formerly represented as an MP — South Calcutta.

I have also never been a supporter of yours or of your party, though I was certainly among the millions who celebrated after the election results last year. All of us were celebrating the end of the long, incompetent, corrupt, oppressive rule by the Left Front, even though I’m certain some millions of us were anxious as to what your tenure in power would bring.

But we had believed in the hope of paribartan. I think we, the sceptical West Bengali millions, were hoping that you would lead a better, cleaner, fairer government than the disgraced, departing Left Front. In the euphoria of the election results it was impossible to imagine that you could do worse than Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government.

I myself made a resolution that I would not write anything critical of you or your administration for at least one year. It was only fair, given the huge mess you were inheriting, a mess that was not only administrative and financial but also, centrally,moral. The Left had so completely dismantled and thrown away all decency and humanity in matters of State that you could trace the roots of all their other failures to this institutionalized immorality; surely you had to be given a fair chance to begin to clean up this overflowing sewer?

Sadly, despite my best efforts, I’m going to fall short of my promise by exactly one month. I am now forced to write to you openly in this column. Madam, in only eleven months you have proved yourself to be a grotesquely disastrous chief minister.

Before taking on any of the other challenges, your primary challenge was the moral one: to stem the corrosion of morality and honesty in public service. The Left had subverted the state police into becoming their armed peons, you were supposed to counter that by bringing back genuine independence of the police and security forces. The Left had overseen the gang-rape and assaults on women from Bantola and Birati to Nandigram, you were supposed to do the opposite, especially as you yourself were one of the women their goondas had grievously assaulted. The Left had ruthlessly attacked anyone who criticized them, using State machinery to silence and sideline dissent, you were supposed to ensure that democracy and freedom of speech were once again protected, and yes, precisely, even at a cost to yourself and your party.

Instead, we can now see that you yourself were already deeply corroded by those years of Left rule. Instead of being the chief surgeon who could excise and help cure the corruptions of absolute power, you yourself were terminally infected by the Baam Front rot, by their poisonous paranoia, by their vengeful megalomania.

You and your administration have achieved what we thought was impossible in such a short time: you have actually increased misery and sadness inside the state, even as you’ve turned Bengal into the laughing stock of the rest of India. If, under the Left Front, the rest of India used to pity us and snigger at us, now the country is just laughing at us, belly-laughter mixed with open contempt.

If the communists spent the last fourteen years of their rule doing nothing other than clinging on to power by whatever means, fair or foul, it was after they had tried to actually do something for the people for the first twenty years, even if they were wrong-headed, even if they were incompetent and without any genuine vision, even as their too-long reign began to inject acid into their souls and spines. What we did not foresee, what is truly terrifying, is that you seem to have scrunched that trajectory of thirty-four years into thirty-four weeks.

Madam, perhaps it might be time for

you to resign and go.

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Had someone in your administration, whoever was in charge of fire safety, taken responsibility and resigned after the AMRI fire, it may not have come to this. Had you fought your own rising paranoia and kept from commenting after the Park Street rape, it may not have come to this. Had you realized that you had not only offended the modesty of a rape victim but the collective conscience of Bengal and unreservedly apologized to the woman, it may not have come to this. Had you not transferred the police officer who proved that rape, you could have perhaps escaped this situation. Had you kept from compounding your mistake by similar irresponsible and callous comments about other assaults on women, or on the murders in Burdwan, it may have been different now. Had you not treated every bit of tragic news as only a lens through which to gaze lovingly and protectively at yourself, you may still have kept some credibility. Had you avoided attacking newspapers and TV channels that were critical of you, you would have been left with some democratic honour. Had you not pushed out your own minister from the door of the runaway train of your rule, there would have been no mild photo-cartoon sent to 25 of the 90 million people you rule and no criminal over-reaction from your partygoondas and your paaltu police. As it is, you now oblige us to remember that adage about history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as a farce: if the Left Front was the tragedy, you — and since there is no one but you in your Trinamul, you, solely — are the macabre farce.

Madam, one of the most bizarrely funny things you’ve kept repeating during your election campaign and afterwards is how you want to turn Calcutta into London. Well, perhaps it’s high time we imported some aspects of London culture. For instance, let me tell you how the last four British prime ministers have been portrayed in cartoons in London newspapers: John Major, always wearing his underpants outside his trousers; Tony Blair, as a one-eyed monster, sometimes as a one-eyed poodle trotting after George W. Bush; Gordon Brown, as a square, financial thug and bouncer; David Cameron, repeatedly, as an empty, blown-up condom. Along with these, they have also repeatedly had George Bush as a rampant, psychopathic chimpanzee, (once actually wiping his bottom with the UN logo), they’ve had Nicolas Sarkozy as all sorts of ferret-like animals, Berlusconi as a lecherous octopus and, recently, Angela Merkel as a dominatrix in skimpy black leather costume and fishnet stockings, wielding a financial whip over the exposed backsides of other European leaders. Besides this, one of the most widely read British satirical magazines, Private Eye, almost always has actual photographs of leaders and royalty with fictional speech bubbles coming out of their mouths, saying the most outrageous things. Let me tell you, no one has ever sued about these portrayals, no one is beaten up, no one is arrested, no one even lodges a written protest.

Madam, as one who had set such high hopes in you, I might be speaking for millions like myself: you need to resign and go, leaving us at the beginning of this Bangla new year to recover the best we can. May I suggest that after you resign, you plan a short or long visit to London? You will find they actually do dynamic new things to the city, like the huge Crossrail construction that’s now in progress, but that no one, neither premier nor mayor, can unilaterally decide to paint the city a bilious blue. You will also find they take rape and assault very seriously over there, and cartoons very lightly indeed. As you take in the reality of this culture and the courage of this freedom of speech, may I hope that you will begin to realize why you never deserved — forget being a world or national leader — but why you never actually deserved to be in charge of a state such as Bengal for even thirty-four days.

(courtesy: The Telegraph & Ruchir Joshi)

Publishers to debate Indian book printing at London Book Fair

A panel of leading international publishers will discuss the changing face of the Indian book printing industry at the “Indian Noon” conference at next week’s London Book Fair.The panel, which will be moderated by Redwood Publishing group editor Dominic Mills, will discuss the benefits to publishers of offshore book printing as well as looking at printing and publishing trends on the sub-continent.

Random House divisional production director Neil Bradford, HarperCollins operations director David Murray and Baker & Taylor vice president for academic/educational merchandising and digital printing David Hetherington will form the panel.

Pramod Khera, executive director of Repro India, who will kick-start the event with an overview of the Indian book print industry, said it was important to the sector for Indian book printers to focus on boosting their export sales.

“The Indian book print exports are negligible, even to the English speaking countries. This needs to change and the only way of doing this is through increasing interactions between the stake holders”, he added.

The theme for the conference, which will be held in the Old Press Centre at Earls Court from 4-6pm on 16 April, is: Discover Indian Bookonomics – Ability, Affordability, Adaptability.

A selection of leading Indian book printers, including Gopsons Papers, International Print–o–Pac, Jayant Printery, Kalajyothi Process, Lovely Offset, Manipal Technologies, MultiVista Global, Nutech Print Services, Replika Press, Repro India and Thomson Press, will also participate in the event.

The objectives for the conference are: to present the strengths of India to publishers; to reveal the changing face of the Indian book printer; to discuss the fast growing Indian book market; to examine the challenges faced by the publishers in distributing content through various media; and to enable networking between buyers and media partners.

The idea for the “Indian Noon” conference was proposed during the inaugural National Book Printer’s Conference (NBPC), which was held at Thiruvanthapuram, India in November 2011.

The London Book Fair 2012 will be held between 16-18 April at Earls Court, London.