March 31, 2012

NGOs and TRPs

I suddenly had this terrible thought of the possibility of activist NGOs being measured by an equivalent of TRPs that are currently being used for TV channels and programmes. This thought was triggered by the headline hogging news from the Delhi based NGO about the harm caused by fast foods and other brands, today.

If we are discussing paid news and biased media houses today, imagine how the scenario will be like with NGOs joining in too?? Being 1/04/12 tomorrow, lets consider a few likely scenarios to start with! 

These are some of the headlines at this hour / today, says Arnab Goswami with utmost seriousness and outrage, all at the same time!!

CSE and ABC, two environment based NGOs have come out with startling findings of the commonly consumed  milk, from state run dairies. Findings from CSE mention alarming levels of fertilizer derived nitrates, phosphates in milk. Staff at ABC also confirm similar findings but the levels of these salts vary between them. The spokespersons from both these NGOs claimed that they used very exacting standards and followed standard and established protocols. The biggest violators were Mother Dairy, New Delhi, Nandhinee, Bangalore, Aavin, Chennai. Consumers are confused and are left wondering if they must remove dairy products from their menu. NGOs that root for organic farming are seen preening themselves on TV, till Arnab dada dropped his bomb. The maximum levels of these pollutants are from buffaloes that grazed on organic farms, said he with a straight face!! This stumped every guest on his show - from the consumer to the different NGOs and certain omnipresent experts on his show like Suhel Seth, Lord Meghnad Desai, Vinod Mehta, etc., except of course, himself!

Another day....
Team India has offlate, decided to target proponents of organic farming. Arvind K has videos of Ms. Vandana Shiva shopping in Wal-Mart for apples from USA and grapes from Australia. Vandana Shiva, on her part, vehemently denies consuming these tasty fruits but bought them to entertain her guests at her home! Her foes were quick to point out her double standards. Realizing that attack is the best form of defense, Vandana Shiva launched a tirade against Team Anna and Arving K, in particular. She said that Arvind K was a plant set up by Monsanto to malign her and her movement and further blasted him for getting funded by them for his anti-corruption movement!

March 19, 2012

The joy and adventures in NH 4

Many many years ago, way back 1983, 29 years ago, our family undertook our first long distance drive, Bombay to Madras. At that time, it was unheard of, to do road journeys across states. One of the reasons was the quite sorry state of roads (only the heavy duty vehicles needed them was the justification:-)), another was also the lack of options in cars - there was the Ambassador or a Fiat Padmini, the only two cars people owned and drove around. But my dad was always ahead of the times, in every aspect. He very ambitiously chalked out the route we would take and decided the stopover places along the way. Mom was apprehensive, at first and then kind of reconciled when she learnt that the cost would be the same if we took the train:-)

And so we set off, my parents and we 3 siblings, armed with a road map and loads of food in an Ambassador. In those days, mineral water was unheard of and we carried water in a Surai:-). Our route was to be National Highway 4, NH4. We also carried a number of audio cassettes, sounds like a dream now:-)

We criss-crossed the countryside and took bypass roads of major towns en route. I learnt a lot about traffic symbols, icons for Ghat section, dangerous curves, river bridge, rumblers, petrol bunks etc., as these were non existent within city limits and I was only in class 9. It was a lot of fun, we would stop anytime, just to enjoy a scene at the Ghats or by a river,  or for nature's call:-). And we would stop just to catch up with some short eats... Often, we would buy the local, seasonal fruits as pass the town, like jackfruit, and gorge on them:-). We stopped at Poona, Kolhapur and halted at Belgaum for the night. All I remember is we had dinner and slept like a log.

As with large families, there are always family functions every summer, either a wedding or 60th /80th birthday, or a thread ceremony! And 1983 was no exception, a cousin had her son's thread ceremony in Sringeri. It meant a detour but we were all game... it was fun, I still remember the awesome coffee we had in a small town called Harihar. We took the State highway and I noticed that the roads in Karnataka were slightly better than Maharashtra. Also, I found all the trees marked around their barks, neatly painted with white and red stripes, maybe aided visibility.

We reached Sringeri and spent 3 days there. Its a beautiful little temple town that is the Seat of the Southern Pontiff of the Shakaracharya lineage. Its such a calm and quiet place, with the clearest river (the Tungabhadra) that the bed  was so clear and visible.

And soon, we set off from Sringeri and reached Bangalore and stayed with a family friend of ours in Ulsoor Road. And the next day, we set off for Madras and reached the city by evening! It was my first road trip and the memories are so clear like it happened a year back!

We then learnt the joy of such road trips and we did 3 Bombay - Madras - Bombay trips and innumerable trips within Maharashtra. We explored the state in our car and also did a fair bit of travel in Karnataka. Having moved to Chennai now, I now do a lot of travel by road within the state and also to Bangalore. Its a completely different experience today, with many conveniences but my first road trip is simply the most memorable!

March 12, 2012

Kahaani, an outstanding film

Doing a movie review after a real long time. Saw the movie, Kahaani, 12 hours ago and I am still mulling over it and piecing some of the scenes together! A real thriller of a movie. I never thought Indian cinema was interested in any other genre other than the tried and tested commerical formula of action, romance and usual masala (read it as 'crap')

Kahaani is simply amazing in that it manages to keep the movie gripping, all of the 2 hours. And Vidya Balan has come up with a fantastic performance and kudos to her, for she has carried the entire film on her shoulders. Can't think of any of the current actresses who could have done this role. Speaking of the rest of heroines of today, I realised that they are all very similar in the way they dress, look, talk and act and very little differentiators between them. However, Vidya Balan is different in the way she looks, dresses and the roles she chooses to play in her films. Also, I like the way, she carries herself with a certain dignity, in her interviews and promo events. The same can't be said of the rest, the Kareenas, Kaifs, Kapoors, Padukones of the world!

There is a certain depth in Vidya Balan which sets her apart. The only other heroine who has this is Kajol. And Aamir Khan is the only other actor who protrays depth in his roles.

Infact, there was very little pre movie publicity for Kahaani, unlike there is for Agent Vinod, Ek tha Tiger or Dabbang 2! And these movies are still getting ready for release or have just started shooting!!

Nett nett, this is one movie that every cinema buff will enjoy and ask for more!

March 11, 2012

Reforms in BCCI, atlast

Well, there has been a lot of brainstorming among officials in the cricketing fraternity and there is now a white paper that appears to be leaked which has some amazing changes to the way the game and statistics would be recorded, henceforth. Very surprisingly, Arnab and his team seem quite stumped and do not seem to have access to this paper, judging by the Newshour programme this week. Election results and nation's politics seem top on the agenda on all news/entertainment channels!

According to reliable sources, this white paper is likely to be taken seriously and many of the recommendations are likely to get approved which maybe bad news for many of the present and past cricketers, says an insider on condition of anonymity!!

Rotation policy at all levels, players, selectors, tour schedules, & BCCI spokespersons! 
Apparently, the who's who in BCCI and players approve this policy. It is felt that selectors can also be 'rested' to infuse new thinking and ideas into the team composition (what it actually aims at, is to remove individual and personal bias of selectors). All stakeholders, players, BCCI officials, advertisers, sponsors, commentators, audience representatives feel that schedules must be such that India gets to alternate between 'strong and weak' teams (this is to boost morale and statistics, obviously). The official explanation given is that such schedules are in the larger interest of the game, to get more non cricketing countries to join the game and make cricket the world sport and displace Soccer's supremacy:-)

GenX reforms are to include how statistics are to be recorded. If a player is near a milestone, plus or minus 10, he would be given a super over, much like the penalty shot in Soccer:-). This will allow players to reach their milestone and also save the game from players who are overstaying their presence in the team.

Official sponsors and sponsors of events and companies that own telecast rights are also to be rotated. This is to ensure nobody takes the game for a ride (insiders know the real reason - more money can be made via rotation)

BCCI has requested the Home Ministry to allow citizenship of foreign players on an annual basis to India. This will keep the Indian team on the toes and infuse fresh blood, yet the annual citizenship is to ensure that complacency, the hallmark of every player of Team India, does not creep into foreign origin Indian players (if we can have politicians of foreign origin, why not in cricket is the argument:-))

Lastly but not the least, players will be given a retainership fee to the extent of 50% and the remaining 50% will be variable pay, linked to performance, much like it is in the corporate world. Performance includes team building efforts, off and on the field, leadership qualities and attendance at training camps, apart from match winning performances:-)