Archive for December, 2011

From all of us to all of you: HAPPY NEW YEAR

31 December 2011

From all of us at churumuri to all of you in every part of the globe, here’s wishing you a very happy new year, full of the very best life has to offer: peace, health, happiness and laughter.

May all your hopes, dreams, prayers and fantasies come good in the year ahead. And may each day turn out just the way you want it to.

Why nimma Ajji is OK with world ending in 2012

31 December 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was doing pooje at the Tulasi katte on the last Saturday of the year.

I was sitting nearby, what with a double attack of seasonsal chill and the Thane cyclone taking Mysore’s temperature down like the famed Indian batting against Aussie pace attack.

Ramoo, ee varsha mugeetha banthallo. Wonder what is in store for us next year.”

Ajji, it will be just like every year. Nothing will change. Each new year only makes us all older by a year.”

Alvo! Namma Software Savithramma was telling me that the world will end  on 21 December 2012. She is planning to see all her relatives before that. She is also planning to visit Benares. I am sure she will sell all her shares before embarking on her trip.”

Ajji! Some 5,000 years ago, the Mayan civilization had predicted that the world would end on 21 December 2012. Nobody knows how far it is true.”

“Well, 50 years ago our astrologers had predicted that the world would end in 1961 because eight major planets were all aligned in one line. They called it Ashta Graha Koota. Also, the year read the same even when it was read upside down.”

“What happened then?”

“Nothing much. It was busines as usual. We had some Chinese kaata after signing the Friendship Treaty which our prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru called ‘Hindi- Cheeni Bhai Bhai’. Cheeeni means sugar but it was a bitter experience like bevu. When they attacked us, our soldiers came running back. It seems they didn’t have proper bullets to shoot with. The defence ministry was apparently making lipsticks instead of bullets in its ordnance factories! I don’t know how far it was true but our soldiers did not have shoes to fight a war in ice and snow. But nothing seems to have changed 50 years later. I understand even now our policemen have bulletproof jackets as thick as happala.”

“That’s very true Ajji. By the way, how did it start Ajji, the Chinese war?”

“I don’t exactly remember. Their goats came to eat grass on our side. When our soldiers objected the Chinese shot some of our soldiers. When there was a furore in Parliament, Nehru told members that Akshay Chin was a useless piece of land as not even a blade of grass grows there. It seems Acharya Kripalani asked the PM whether he should cut his head as he had become bald.”

Ha ha ha. Olle saraku ittddiya neenu. Paravagilla!”

“But what is it that I see in Lok Sabha now? In the name of Lokpal Bill, they are conducting a shouting match every day and night. Some MP came and tore a copy of the bill.”

“That was very shameful.”

“I thought he was going to eat the papers. There was one fellow who was shouting at the top of his voice.  First I thought half a dozen members were speaking simultaneously. Then I realized it belonged to the minister, Narayanaswamy! A.R. Rahman can use him for chorus songs in Tamil films and save money.”

Ajji, what do you think will happen in Karnataka?”

“I think they have started Yadavi kalaha. They will all kill each other. Everybody is stabbing one another in the back.”

“What will happen at the Centre, Ajji?”

Saaku nilliso Ramoo, I am not Kodi matada swami to make predictions! Our politics will hit new low. But it does not matter at all.”

“Does not matter? Why Ajji?”

“It is far better if the world ends in December 2012.  We don’t have to read about daily processions of our ministers to Parappana Agrahara jail; dynasty politics in the name of democracy; clerks and officials who become crooks to loot crores of illegal money; illegal money converted into diamond kirita for Tirupati Thimmappa. Isn’t it better the whole thing ends just like that?”

Nija, Ajji. Noorakke nooru nija,” I agreed.

Doctor’s prescription for a Happy New Year: Free

30 December 2011

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: A brand new year is standing at our threshold, all set to enter our lives. Or, maybe I should say that we are standing at its threshold, a little eagerly if not impatiently to see what it holds for us.

Although a year seems like a very long time, the years nevertheless march quietly but quite fast and before we realise it, a full year is gone in what seems like no time at all. Suddenly, we find that we have all grown a year older.

It is rightly said that ‘Time, like a fistful of sand, slips through our fingers while we stand and wonder what to do with it.’

Tomorrow evening or the evening the day after, depending on which side of the globe they live in, most people will be spending much time and money and sacrificing much sleep too, in the process of welcoming the new year.

This tradition of ushering in a new calendar year is often just an excuse to indulge in a little late-night partying which actually needs no excuse at all if we have the time and money for it along with a handful of willing friends.

To tell you the truth, I have never ever celebrated the arrival of any New Year in my life although I have seen a good many new years now. I don’t think any of my friends, either tipsy or sober, can recall seeing me at any New Year celebration simply because I refuse to be drawn into the celebration of an event which I do not consider eventful.

To me, a New Year is simply the time when I have to be a little extra careful in making sure that I write the correct year while writing the date after every prescription which fetches my bread and butter!

***

New Year is the time when most of us make new resolutions about how we should put our lives in order and live in a more organised manner.

Again, living in a very organised manner is something I can never do. This is a resolution I make every day and break it the very next, simply because I see so much convenience in the chaos that others see around me either in my work place or in what I call my study at home.

This love for having everything that I may need or not need around me at an arm’s length, at all times would have left my home a complete shambles were it not for the constant efforts of my wife who has stood all these years like a steadfast dike between the surging sea of my disorderliness and her unyielding intolerance for it.

Now, coming back to the topic of ushering in the New Year, although we all know that we invariably end up breaking them much sooner than later we nevertheless continue to make New Year resolutions year after year.

Thankfully, I am proud and happy to say that I have never ever broken a single New Year resolution in all my life. This is not because I happen to have an unusually resolute will power but simply because I have never ever made any New Year resolutions in my life!

But since I know that most people would be making their New Year resolutions I would like to tell them that they would do well to do it a little differently this year.

***

Since I happen to be a practicing doctor you may even consider this advice as a prescription of sorts that comes free as a New Year gift. And, I would like you all to try very hard and see that you do not break this one resolution even if you end up breaking many others.

These days I find that most people are earning more than what many of us used to earn in the past. Although most people somehow invariably imagine the possession of ‘easy money’ to be the good fortune only of software engineers, I would like to point out that people of many other professions too are earning very well these days.

And surprisingly, quite a few of them happen to be devoid of any formal education let alone the professional qualifications that we think are most essential for a good income.

For all those for whom the going is good, money is aplenty today. Thanks to good incomes and easy availability of bank loans most people who could in the past never even dream of owning them have now started acquiring all the luxuries of life like well-equipped homes and slick cars quite early in life.

But I find that while most people manage to have everything that should make life easy and convenient they somehow never have the inclination or time to enjoy life in a way that makes their families happy.

These days, as a doctor, I find so many affluent people coming to me with symptoms that are just signs of stress arising out of a lack of time to be happy and relaxed.

They have the money and even eagerness to get the most expensive tests done that invariably turn out negative results for all the ailments they imagine, thanks to the generous, albeit often incorrect advice from the internet but they fail to understand what their bodies and minds are trying to tell them in words loud and clear.

I find much marital discord among very young couples who tend to flare up at the slightest provocation.

While lack of sleep and sexual disorders are what most young males complain of, intractable chest pain, giddiness and unexplained weakness is what bothers their spouses. Hyperacidity, which is a completely preventable problem, stalks both.

These days, like my other professional colleagues I have been seeing a sharp upsurge in the number of young diabetics and hyper-tensives among urban patients.

I find unusually bright and otherwise cheerful children presenting with symptoms like recurring abdominal pain, headache, lack of concentration and increased frequency of urination which are symptoms that simply do not belong to their ages.

With joint families fast becoming extinct and both parents often tied up in demanding jobs most children these days find no one to turn to for their emotional needs. The result is that stress invariably steps in unnoticed, leading to behavioural problems that need prolonged counselling.

Children are no longer able to return from school and hop into the laps of indulgent grandparents to listen to their favourite stories. The television and the computer have now become grandpa and grandma for our children, making dazed zombies out of even the liveliest kids.

If we can all resolve this New Year, to take time off from our busy lives and change this rather sad picture for good, I think we would have made the best New Year resolution for all time to come.

Have a great New Year.

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Illustration: courtesy Nasir Khan

CHURUMURI POLL: The A-hole of the year is…?

30 December 2011

As the year draws close, newspapers, magazines and TV stations unfailingly announce their man of the year, woman of the year, Indian of the year, product of the year, etc. So for Time magazine, 2011 was the year of the protester. For India Today, its newsmaker was Anna Hazare, as he was for NDTV 24×7. For The Week, it will be some unsung hero. Etcetera.

There is no reason to doubt these fine editorial choices, duly audited by Ernst & Young, PricewaterHouse Coopers and other fine accounting firms. But the world is not all full of heroes. The reason we have a man of the year, woman of the year, etc, is because several worthies paved the way for these worthy souls by gladly voting themselves out.

Call them the villains of the year. Or A-holes Of The Year*. Or whatever. It is they who enable our world to get its rightful share of heroes each year by their execrable behaviour, by their obnoxious conduct, by being what they are: A-holes. And you find them everywhere: in politics, business, sport, cinema, media, everywhere.

So, tongue firmly in churumuri-lined cheek, let us give them their due. Let them know we care. Let them know that their efforts do not go unremembered, unrecognised or unrewarded. Let them know we would be a poorer world without them. Let them know who they are.

Who, therefore, is your A-hole Of The Year*?

***

* churumuri.com cannot guarantee that the phraseology of this poll will meet the approval of everybody.

And the most popular song of the year is…?

30 December 2011

A bunch of Punjabis sing the catchiest version of the song that will be played a million times on Friday night as the “murderous rage” of 2011 slips over into 2012.

Below, CNN reports that the first entry that pops up when you type “Why” into the search window is you know what.

Also read: When Kolaveri Di meet Sharad Pawar ji

A real viral is when Hitler and Mr Bean sneeze

They gave us Veena Malik, we give them Dhanush

Dear God: Save us from Sunny, Dada, Shaz, Waz

28 December 2011

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: Many years ago, before we began adorning papad-thin plasma screens on our walls, India’s finest cricket writer (no, not that one) described one of life’s small but great pleasures.

It was the time of Dyanora and Solidaire and EC. The cabinets were wooden or plywood. The TV sets came with rolling shutters that moved sidewards and protected the screens from dust and neighbourly envy.

And the remote control was thoughtfully screwed into the machine so that no one would misplace it.

“Parting the shutters from the middle, switching on the power and seeing the first images of a Test match in Australia flicker on—the green on the ground, the blue in the sky, the white on the clothes, the words on Channel Nine lips—it was like opening a small window into paradise,” said M.K..

Yes, paradise.

Three days into the 2011 series, waking up at 5.30 in the morning, pressing a button which looks something like this ‘Ô’ on my remote and firing up my Tata Sky and turning to channel 413, is like opening a small window into hell.

Yes, hell of the cricket watching kind.

The green is still green, the blue is still blue, and the white is still white. The images are even better with hawk-eye and this and that. But it is the words of the Star Cricket commentary team—ranging all the way from bland to banal, from boring to boilerplate bullshit that gets me popping my Tazloc-H™ with my first cup of filter coffee.

Between them, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri, Sourav Ganguly and Wasim Akram, ably aided by Tom Moody and some new kid in the studio, pile on more crap than AnyTownIndia at that vital hour of the morning.

Alternately cliched, egotistic, and ultra-nationalistic, and coated with khunnus, the commentary rarely rises above the ordinary and mundane. There is not one smart new or wild line or observation, and no turn of phrase whatsoever, except sometimes from Ian Chappell.

A lovely game (and a superb series) with infinite possibilities is being strangled by the finiteness of their collective vocabulary.

The monotone motormouths don’t know when to stop talking and let us savour the scenery. They blindly read everything a viewer can see on the screen, and I sometimes fear they might end up reading the “Vodafone Power to You” advertising signs at the bowler’s ends.

All this passes in the name of providing viewers with voices they can relate with, and there’s no denying the Australian accent is alien to many. But listening to the very ordinary Star Cricket bores and wondering what pearls the sparkling Channel Nine set must be dropping at that very moment, fills me with anger each morning.

This morning, when Wasim Akram said something in Punjabi to the effect of “different cattle of fish” I was convinced that if there was a New Year wish I could make four days in advance, it was that Sunny and Dada, Shaz and Waz would be deported from Down Under on grounds of syntax.

Photograph: The Channel Nine commentary team via Yahoo

Also read: Feng shui and the art of cricket commentary

‘The genial halwai serving sweets with a wink’

Who killed (good) cricket writing?

Corrupt, communal, cynical and also casteist?

27 December 2011

Caste is back—and in your face. To pave the way for fixers seeking to stymie the Lokpal match, the Congress-led UPA has envisaged reserving half the nine-member institution on the basis of caste. And, a day before the Election Commission could notify the elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other States, the Centre created a 4.5% subquota within the 27% OBC quota for minorities.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes in the Indian Express:

“The Anna Hazare movement has rightly been castigated for the morally obscene use of the caste of children. Recently, it was reported that Rahul Gandhi referred to Sam Pitroda’s caste in an election rally. Is this really the party of Jawaharlal Nehru or even Rajiv Gandhi?

“We ought not to disguise the appalling realities of caste, where appropriate. But using them in this way? Someone remarked on reading this story, “Rahul ne to Sam Pitroda ki bhi jaat dikha di.” Even if the intention was benign there is a truth in this.

“Is it not appallingly diminishing when we create an institutional culture where the first thing we want to point to is someone’s caste? I thought the idea of India was to escape precisely this original sin. And now Lokpals, tomorrow judges, all will be identified through caste.

“Perhaps the Congress is in love with the “C” in its name. Corruption was not enough. It had to become corrupt, casteist, communal and cynical. India’s tragedy is that there is no national level challenger to this party that is diminishing us all.”

Read the full article: The C in Congress

‘Appe Midi’, Julia Roberts and S. Bangarappa

26 December 2011

D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: Even though Sarekoppa Bangarappa spent almost 15 years in the national capital New Delhi as a four-time MP—he entered the Lok Sabha on a different symbol each time—he actually did not like the capital and its politics.

Bangarappa lived at a sprawling British built bungalow behind the Prime Minister’s official residence for 10 years. This leafy bungalow, enveloped by rare and old trees and full of greenery, was a magnet for peacocks in the area, searching for food or water, and relaxing or dancing in the well protected, manicured lawns of the stately bungalows.

Bangarappa liked these peacocks and had built a pond for them in his lawn. He had instructed his long time secretary Chandrashekhar to arrange grain for the peacocks all through the year. He had also built a 5 foot high water fall built near the pond to enable peacocks to enjoy a shower.

He ordered his secretary to construct a night shelter to protect peacocks from New Delhi’s bitter cold. To his dismay, peacocks ignored his magnanimity and preferred to stay on branches of the tree during night.

Bangarappa used to sit in his lawn watching the peacocks for hours. Sometimes, he used to sing old classics and folk songs in his booming voice. I had the rare privilege of giving him company on many an occasion.

The former President of India Shankar Dayal Sharma had stayed in the same bungalow for over 20 years before Bangarappa. BJP president Nitin Gadkari now boasts the address 13, Teen Murti Lane.

***

Bangarappa missed playing badminton in New Delhi. He hated the extreme weather of north India. He often used to complain that Delhi was not fit for human habitation, and would rarely step out of his bungalow, if he had no work at the Parliament.

Some of his old friends in Delhi like Ghulam Nabi Azad, V.C. Shukla, Kapil Sibal, H.R. Bhardwaj, R K Dhawan, Farooq Abdullah et al used to visit him at his house for filter coffee and idli or dosa.

He would regale them with all kinds of stories, especialy about the man he hated the most, P.V. Narasimha Rao. Sometimes, referring to PVN, he would mutter ‘that bloody bugger is still alive’.

Unlike most Congress leaders, Bangarappa hated sycophancy. He was ready to go only to Sonia Gandhi‘s house. He always expected other leaders to come to his house.

Dr Farooq Abdullah was Bangarappa’s neighbour for many years. They had a very good relationship dating back to their days as fellow chief ministers in the 1990s. Sometimes, they used to return home from the Parliament for lunch in the same car.

Bangarappa had no security and Dr. Abdullah had Z plus security. Sometimes Bangarappa used to joke that it was dangerous for him to travel with Farooq Abdullah as he was facing a threat to his life from Kashmiri militants and it was like inviting a maari home!!

***

When Bangarappa quit BJP to join Samajwadi Party in 2005, I was with him at the SP office on Copernicus Lane near Mandi House. After his induction, we drove to his Teen Murti lane house in his car.

SP chief and the then UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav was also with him in the same car. Bangarappa did not a know a word of Hindi and Mulayam did not know a word of English. The job of acting as their interpreter fell on me. They discussed their initial days in the socialist movement in the 1960s during that 15-minute drive.

Bangarappa was not impressed by Mulayam’s intellect. Later, he told me in Kannada: ‘Ivanige thaleeli yenoo illa. Ivananthavarigoo UP jana vote haaktharalla (He is a dull head. Even a man like him get elected in UP).”

***

Bangarappa had a fairly big collection of books at his house. He had a wide range of interests. He was fond of books related to science and nature. Of late he had developed a great interest in nuclear science, as a member of parliamentary standing committee on defence.

He even wanted to address international media on India’s need for nuclear bombs and had asked me to introduce him to foreign journalists in New Delhi.

His other habit was studying trees and plants in his compound. He would spend hours talking about them. He even wanted to plant a sapling of the famous Anantha Bhattana Appe midi (a rare variety of tender mango from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district) in his compound.

Bangarappa was very proud of his knowledge of different types of maavina midi and their taste.

***

He was fond of home cooked food. He liked idli, vada, dosa and pongal for breakfast. He preferred anna, saaru, sambar and curd for lunch and dinner. I was his regular guest whenever he was in New Delhi for the Parliament session or for some meeting. He had a special liking for the people from his place Shimoga.

He was also a huge fan of Hollywood movies. We used to watch movies of James Bond, Clint Eastwood, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts and others at his house.

Once, a senior Congress minister from Karnataka also joined us. He was commenting non-stop on Julia Robert’s role in Pretty Woman. Bangarappa, who was totally engrossed in that classic, lost his cool and asked him either to shut up or leave.

He angrily told him that he was unfit to watch an English movie and he should restrict himself to the movies shown on Udaya TV. That minister later became a Karnataka chief minister!

***

Bangarappa had held all prime positions in the state politics. He was a senior minister holding major portfolios like home, revenue and agriculture. He was KPCC president and leader of the opposition. Later the chief minister of state. 7 time  MLA and a 4 time MP.

But, he was sad that he did not become a Cabinet minister at the Centre. He had joined the BJP with the sole intention of becoming a Union minister in 2004. But, fate had decided otherwise. BJP lost and Congress came to power. Bangarappa missed his chance.

I suspect he died with that regret.

During 2004-2009, Bangarappa rarely visited New Delhi. He was looking dull and unenthusiastic. His ego and self esteem never allowed him to admit that he was disillusioned. After he lost 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Shimoga, he visited New Delhi just 3-4 times.

During one of his meetings, he rued that dirty politics of Delhi was not for straight forward people like him and he had no hope left in his political career. He truly admired only two leaders Indira Gandhi, who made him KPCC president, and her son Rajiv Gandhi, who made him the Chief Minister. He had contempt for the rest.

He always maintained that he was not corrupt and used to hold his rivals in the party and state politics responsible for the charges against him.

May his soul rest in peace.

File photograph: Former chief minister of Karnataka, S. Bangarappa, who passed away in Bangalore on Monday, clambers on to a bicycle after joining the Samajwadi Party in 2005 (Karnataka Photo News)

Nine reasons why we should support Aadhaar

26 December 2011

BHAMY V. SHENOY writes from Houston, Texas: Hundreds of crores of rupees have been spent on it. Millions of Indians have stood in queues and registered themselves for it. One of India’s biggest corporate heads has staked his all for it. Now, the parliamentary standing committee on finance (SCF) has found problems, big problems, with Nandan Nilekani‘s unique identity project, Aadhaar.

To be sure, even before the publication of the parliamentary panel’s report, there was plenty of opposition to Aadhaar. Civil liberites activists asked searching questions on its constitutional status, its core objectives, its intrusion of privacy, and its benefits. Sections of the media were not far behind. Now that trickle of criticism has become a torrent.

It is understandable why the political class would oppose Aadhaar; they stand to lose the most. But one expected the NGO movement, especially the consumer protection and rural/slum development oriented NGOs, to show more support to Aadhaar.  These NGOs are familiar with the rampant corruption in the implementation of various government welfare measures and Aadhaar was conceived to help solve the problem.

The parliamentary standing committee report on finance has not advanced any new arguments or rationale to support the opponents of Aadhaar in opposing the conceptualisation and execution of the project. However critics have used the opportunity to put some old poison into a new bottle to kill Aadhaar by selectively quoting from the SCF report.

Not much has been discussed about the fact that there were three MPs who dissented with the majority opinion. While it is good news that there was no political infighting in drawing up the SCF report, the bad news is that the very political class that is showing extraordinary interest in fighting corruption has thrown away a foolproof weapon provided by Aadhaar to reduce graft.

Only the self-interest of politicians can be driving force behind such rare political unanimity! But Aadhar needs to be supported.

Here are my nine reasons for supporting Aadhaar.

1. Aadhar can plug massive misuse of subsidy: There is not one kind or encouraging word mentioned in the SCF report on how Indian society can use Aadhaar to deliver several welfare measures approved by the parliament to the poor of India.

This is because it is the political class which is the biggest beneficiary of black money generated by diverting PDS kerosene and residential LPG as well as from the misuse of several welfare measures like the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGA), etc.

I had predicted that politicians would try to kill Aadhaar  in a research report, Lessons learned from Attempts to Reform India’s PDS Kerosene Subsidy which I had for Global Subsidy Initiative.

It is a well known fact that there is a large amount of diversion of PDS kerosene to the black market and also to blend with petrol and diesel. The same is true in the case of highly subsidized residential LPG (which is a welfare measure of sorts for the rich and the middle class).

What is not often discussed or highlighted is the amount of black money generated by these illegal activities. Actually this is the mother of all corruption, generating more than Rs 45,000 crore per year. This scam is  shockingly far larger than 2-G scam.

Since the amount is shared from top to bottom, the wily political class is not interested in supporting a project which will result in killing the golden goose. Only recently the research on the misuse of subsidy is bringing such facts to public attention.

2. Aadhaar does not need Parliament’s approval: Aadhaar is a tool to deliver welfare measures: Therefore it does not require approval from the parliament.

Once a welfare programme like PDS kerosene, subsidized food, NREGA, access to high-tech facilities are approved by the government, is there a need for the executive branch to get approval as to how best to deliver such programs with minimum leakage?

Let me give an example of how the political class killed an efficient system of delivering PDS kerosene in Karnataka. In the mid 1990s, at the suggestion of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), the Karnataka government had implemented a “coupon” system to ensure minimum diversion of PDS kerosene in Mysore.

It was so successful (dealers used to wait for consumers to come and buy their quota which was unheard of), that the government wanted to expand it to the whole state. However the dealers and all the political parties managed to kill the project, not just in the State but outside too.

At the suggestion of the Planning Commission, a few states introduced a smart card system to streamline PDS kerosene. Did any one raise an objection claiming it is unethical for the government to adapt it without getting the approval of the legislature?

Looks like history seems to be repeating itself the case of Aadhaar at the national level.

3. Aadhaar does not compromise privacy: Critics of Aadhar have raised the bogey of privacy. This is totally irrelevant as an issue.

An application for a driver’s license demands a lot more information than Aadhaar. Voters’ lists, provided to any one who asks for it, also have a lot more information on citizens than Aadhar. Private agencies which help Indian embassies to process passports handle a lot more information.

Has any one raised privacy questions? So why the hue and cry over Aadhar?

Many US Supreme Court findings (eg Schmerber v CA,384 US 757, 1966; US v Dionisio, 410 US 1, 1973) imply that the use of biometrics does not invade an individual’s civil liberties or privacy.

The Supreme Court of India has instituted a committee under the chairmanship of a former judge  to look at PDS. The Justice Wadhwa report has suggested a computer-based information system as well as the use of biometric smart cards to reduce leakages. The committee was, in fact, recommending an Aadhaar type programme even before Nilekani was entrusted with that task.

Why did the SCF fail to take into consideration the critical recommendations of a Supreme Court instituted committee which is also as mindful of privacy as any expert or activist?

4.Biometric technology is OK: Many including the SCF have pointed out the inherent problems of the biometric technology in accurately identifying individuals. But the truth is that the young technology, provides adequate accuracy and is in fact advancing rapidly.

While the government has admitted that accuracy may be no more than 1%, it has also suggested that there are in-built safety mechanisms not to deny any legitimate person the assistance approved by the government.

According to UK’s National Physical Laboratory, the probability of a false negative ( person not being recognized) using biometric is 1 out of 10,000. The probability of false positive is even order of magnitude less (1 out of 1,000,000).  As far back as 2003, NPL had accepted the feasibility of using biometrics (finger prints or iris) for identification of all UK individuals.

A report published by International Telecommunication Union in 2009should remove any doubt people may have about the use of biometric tool for individual identification.

That report has the following conclusions:

“Within a fairly short period of time, biometric recognition technology has found its way into many areas of everyday life. Citizens of more than 50 countries hold machine-readable passports that store biometric data–a facial image and in most cases a digital representation of fingerprints–on a tiny RFID chip, to verify identity at the border. Law enforcement agencies have assembled biometric databases with fingerprints, voice and DNA samples, which make their work more efficient and manageable. Commercial applications use biometrics in local access control scenarios, but also increasingly in remote telebiometric deployments, such as e-commerce and online banking, and complement or replace traditional authentication schemes like PIN and passwords.”

5. Aadhaar is ahead of its time: SCF has cherrypicked the UK example to argue that Aadhaar may not work because the UK decided to drop their national ID card. Why didn’t SCF discuss examples of several countries like Brazil, Australia, US and others  where biometric based cards/documents are in use?

There are many similarities between the social security number system in the United States and Aadhaar in India. A country like the US where privacy issues, human rights, etc are high on the agendas has not found any problem. Aadhaar is really a more sophisticated concept of SSN of the US.

If the US were to implement SSN now, more than likely they would have also developed a scheme like India’s Aadhaar. SSN is given to any legal resident of the US and so also Aadhaar. SSN has not created any security issue. The same will be the case with Aadhaar. It can be argued that India has leapfrogged the USA by implementing Aadhaar.

6. Aadhaar has no security issues: Some critics have tried to create a scare by suggesting that Aadhaar should be treated as a national security issue though the parliamentary standing committee did not discuss Aadhaar directly from that point of view.

In today’s networked society, there are so many data bases which should be of much higher priority in terms of national security than a data base containing biometric information on residents of India. On the other hand it can be argued that Aadhaar data base may serve the purpose in getting information on terrorists.

In some countries there are proposals to use biometric data bases to monitor the movement of terrorists. By being creative and through building enough safety features Aadhaar could make it very difficult for anyone to access Aadhaar data while it can serve the national security purpose by identifying terrorists.

7. Aadhar’s benefits outweigh its costs: It was shocking to find SCF referring to some newspaper article quoting a high cost figure of Rs. 1,50,000 crore while the total budget request of UIDAI is for about Rs. 12,000 crores for three phases.

The savings generated by using Aadhaar to better distribute welfare measures can more than compensate its cost. Even assuming that the actual cost may be more than what is budgeted, the avoidance of black money generation from the diversion of PDS kerosene and residential LPG alone of Rs 45,000 crore per year can easily pay for Aadhaar project.

In addition there is the additional money savings from improved welfare delivery systems like food, fertilizer, MNREGA etc for which Aadhaar can be used.

When SCF took the opportunity to scare the readers by quoting an unsubstantiated cost figure of 1,50,000 crores, it did not take any effort to find out the potential savings from the use of Aadhaar.  A recent Karnataka’s Lokayukta report estimated that the misuse of food subsidy alone costs more than Rs 1,740 crore per year for Karnataka.

8. Failure of bureaucracy cannot be held against Aadhaar: It is true that coordination between different departments of the government who are the stakeholders (Planning Commission, Registrar General Of India, Election Commission, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Urban Development, State Governments) has not been satisfactory.

It is also true that there has not been proper planning or coordination between different users of Aadhaar or agreement on using it for deriving maximum benefits out of it (NPR, MGNREGS, BPL,census, UIDAI, RSBY, and bank smart card).

The fact that the bureaucracy has failed or the government machinery has not done its job in coming with an efficient ways of making use of a new technology like Aadhaar should not reduce its usefulness. It is also true that prior to taking up a major project like Aadhaar, UIDAI should have conducted a cost benefit analysis and looked at all different alternatives. Unfortunately it failed.

Instead of taking a positive view of the study done by Ernst & Young, SCF was critical of it to send back the bill. The study did show that among all different alternatives Aadhaar is the best. Instead of making positive recommendations to improve the inner workings of the government department in exploiting a tool like Aadhaar , to throw doubts on the efficacy of Aadhaar is doing a disservice to the country.

A high level committee consisting of elected representatives can be expected to take an unbiased view of a new initiative like Aadhaar. SCF report unfortunately is biased. The committee report quotes opinions of only the experts who are critical of the project. Did they try to find at least one expert who is in favour of the project?

9. Parliamentary committee raises irrelevant or inconsequential issues: There are several nit picking issues raised against Aadhaar in SCF to question its usefulness. For example is Aadhaar mandatory or not? For those who do not want to avail themselves of welfare assistance it is not mandatory. Human rights  and privacy activists should appreciate such a position.

Is ration card mandatory today? It is not. However for those who want subsidized food items or PDS kerosene it is mandatory. Is there any thing wrong in imposing Aadhaar on the beneficiaries to ensure there is no leakage? Aadhaar can definitely serve to identify but not as a proof of address. Is there any thing wrong with that.

Can driver’s license issued many years back or old water/telephone/electricity bills serve as address proof? The same is true with Aadhaar. Aadhaar is only to serve as identify from the beginning and not serve any other purpose. Only with the purpose of throwing aspersions of Aadhaar these nit picking issues are raised.

It is very unfortunate that the staff of SCF has not done a creditable job in advising its members of the real issues. There is nothing wrong in sending back the bill if only they had done an unbiased review and ended with some specific recommendations to make better use of Aadhaar.

Let us not throw baby with the bath water.

The parliamentary committee argued convincingly that UIDAI has failed to do a better job of coordinating with different departments, failed to carry out proper cost benefit analysis prior to starting of the project and failed to have a well laid out plan to exploit the application of Aadhaar for different uses.

But none of this can lead to dropping or even worse killing Aadhaar as many have assumed. If the committee had taken an unbiased view its conclusion would have been far more positive putting India on a different trajectory to fight corruption in a big way.

Just like the Lokpal can help reduce corruption, proper and well planned use of Aadhaar can reduce corruption and have transformational impact. Arvind Kejriwal who has fought against corruption in PDS should convince Anna Hazare to support the government in moving ahead with Aadhaar.

Just like Lokpal, Aadhaar has all the potential to be a game changer.

Also read: Nandan Nilekani: 6 things that changed India

CHURUMURI POLL: Has Nandan trounced NRN?

Dear Nandan Nilekani: Quit Infosys, start a party

Nandan Nilekani: The five steps for success

They gave us Veena Malik, we give them Dhanush

21 December 2011

Who would have thought that an “actress” whose clothes gladly yield to gravity and a silly song with kindergarten lyrics would do more for “people to people” contact between India and Pakistan than the combined efforts of the external affairs ministries of the two countries put together and the heavy marketing of its two biggest media houses put together?

Link via Arun Simha, Charu Soni

Also read: When Kolaveri Di meet Sharad Pawar ji

A real viral is when Hitler and Mr Bean sneeze

It’s an ad, ad, ad world and it’s even official

20 December 2011

Rajiv Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 108 ads across 48 pages in 12 newspapers surveyed by churumuri.

Indira Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 64 ads across 32 pages in the same 12 newspapers.

Now, the Union information and broadcasting ministry has put a figure to the advertising blitz: Rs 7 crore in all; Rs 4.79 crore on Rajiv’s and Rs 2.46 crore on Indira’s ads.

The I&B ministry’s computation, which obviously includes other non-Delhi and non-English papers, does not take into account the death anniversaries of the two, or the birth and death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru. In all, 393 pages of advertising were published on the six anniversaries, on the pages of 12 newspapers this year.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for The Family

CHURUMURI POLL: Yediyurappa as CM again?

20 December 2011

There is nothing like the aphrodisiac called power; it corrects all electile dysfunctions in a democracy. Barely five months ago, B.S. Yediyurappa was the black sheep of the BJP, kicking and screaming as he was led away to slaughter in full public view by his party which wanted to appear to the world that it was doing the right and correct thing in removing him from office following his indictment by the Lok Ayukta in the illegal mining scam.

“I will be back in six months,” were Yediyurappa’s ominous last words even as his protege D.V. Sadananada Gowda was taking charge as his successor. A stint in the central jail in Bangalore, after being named in a denotification scam, would have chastened normal human beings, but his “triumphant release” and the stinging defeat of the BJP in the Bellary by-elections have only embolded supporters to think that the ‘Return of the Yedi’ is round the corner.

First, all but three BJP members of Parliament reportedly told the party high command last week that they wanted him back as CM. And now, Yediyurappa himself has been quoted as saying “there is a feeling” in the BJP that he should occupy the hot seat again. He is even conducting special yagnas for his return, with Shobha Karandlaje in tow. With Gowda facing a crucial election saying that he will vacate if asked to, the scene is set, especially with rumours that Yediyurappa might split the party and hitch forces with Sharad Pawar‘s NCP if denied the chair.

Should Yediyurappa return? Will he? Has he paid for his transgressions with a mere jail stint? Will allowing him to return help or the harm the BJP’s image? And what happens to Sadananda Gowda?

T.S. Satyan: The man, the memories, the awards

19 December 2011

The governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bhardwaj, with Mrs T.S. Satyan at the T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards for Photojournalism, instituted by Karnataka Photo News and churumuri.com, at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Sunday

From left, veteran journalist T.J.S. George, governor Bharadwaj, Praja Vani editor K.N. Shanth Kumar, and KPN editor Saggere Ramaswamy go through a special booklet produced for the occasion

And the winners. From left, Nethra Raju, T.J.S. George, governor Bhardwaj, Yagna, 'Regret' Iyer, Bhanu Prakash Chandra, M.S. Gopal, K.N. Shanth Kumar, Saggere Ramaswamy

Images from the T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards for Photojournalism, instituted by Karnataka Photo News in association with churumuri.com, which were given away at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Sunday, 18 December, the birthday of the legendary photojournalist.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards for Photojournalism

And the winners of the T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards are…

Why Sachin should not get Bharat Ratna now

17 December 2011

The modification of the rules of eligibility for the nation’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna—expanding the field of possibilities from art, literature, science and public service to “performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour”—has led to a veritable stampede of potential winners.

The hocky hockey legend Dhyan Chand is the politically correct top contendor contender, but quite clearly the hot money is on Sachin Tendulkar, who is widely believed to have lost the race last year because of the constricting criteria. There are others who feel world chess champ Vishwanathan Anand or shooter Abhinav Bindra should get it first.

Not just sportsmen, there are other worthies on the horizon too: the press council chief Justice Markandey Katju was pushing the candidature of Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra a few days ago; today he seems to have zeroed in on the 19th century poet Mirza Ghalib, whose quotes adorn half of Justice Katju’s judgements.

If Ghalib qualifies, who net next? Tantiya Tope?

Or emperor Ashoka or Akbar?

And why not Kalidasa?

Obviously, the government has put its hand in a beehive by expanding the scope of the Bharat Ratna for populist reasons. Inasmuch as giving the award to a Tendulkar, Anand or Bindra would please the masses, the question really is should one so young be decorated with such an onerous honour?

Is the Bharat Ratna for career acccomplishments or a lifetime of achievements? What if Sachin & Co, fine role models as they are today, become the exact opposite in the rest of their lives? Has the UPA increased the scope for lobbying and politicking by expanding the range?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Anybody for the Bharat Ratna?

Sachin: A true great, but a Mysore University doctorate?

CHURUMURI POLL: Bharat Ratna for Anna Hazare?

A free picture for your New Year greeting card

16 December 2011

“A free photograph for your New Year greeting card” is, of course, just a cheap search engine optimisation (SEO) technique to draw attention to a lovely view of the big ball of fire about to dip below the line of vision at the Kukkarahalli lake, in Mysore, 15 days before the end of the current year. –

All very appropriate, you might say, on just another usual news day, when nothing much is happening except that 17 BJP members of Parliament have sent a greeting card to their party bosses saying that the sangh parivar’s Santa Claus should shower B.S. Yediyurappa a really nice gift before Christmas, or else.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read an inhouse joke: God promise, the last silhouette of 2007

Ask not what your leaders have done for you…

15 December 2011

With the year drawing to a close and Christmas close at hand, E.R. RAMACHANDRAN is in an expansive mood, compiling a list of gifts that he would like to give out to our various performing and non-performing assets.

1. Asif Zardari: A permanent hospital room in Dubai

2. Imran Khan: A Pakistani political pitch to bowl on

3. BJP leaders in Karnataka: Sites in Bangalore + a room in Parappana Agrahara

4. Jayalalitha: A set of 10,000 sample questions for practice

5. Rahul Gandhi:  ‘India is UP, UP is India’ T-shirt

6. Sharad Pawar: Protective cover for the other cheek

7. Team Anna: ‘Scams within’ report

8. Virender Sehwag: Indore pitch

9. Mamata Banerjee: Fireproof hospital (scale model)

10. Anna Hazare: Jantar Mantar for fasting

11. P. Chidambaram: A pocket map of Tihar

12. Manmohan Singh: A mike

13. Sonia Gandhi: Calendar with a red marker

14. Subramanian Swamy: Permanent room in  Supreme Court

15. Kapil Sibal: Facebook without faces

16. Sachin Tendulkar: 100 centuries of 90s

17. L.K. Advani: Hidden agenda

What gifts would you like to give your favourite performing and non-performing assets, for services rendered or denied in the year gone by?

Check out what ERR gave in 2008: Gifts for some one you love and don’t

T.S. SATYAN Memorial Awards: the winners are…

14 December 2011

The winners of the T.S. SATYAN Memorial Awards for Photojournalism 2011: (Left to right) Yagna, K. Gopinathan, Netra Raju, Bhanu Prakash Chandra, Regret Iyer, M.S. Gopal

Karnataka Photo News and churumuri.com are pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards for Photojournalism. The awards will be presented by the governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bhardwaj, in Bangalore on Sunday.

Lifetime achievement award: Yagna, Mangalore

Best newspaper photojournalist: K. Gopinathan, The Hindu, Bangalore

Best professional photojournalist: Netra Raju, The Times of India, Mysore

Best magazine photojournalist: Bhanu Prakash Chandra, The Week, Bangalore

Best freelance photographer: ‘Regret Iyer, Bangalore

Best online photojournalist: M.S. Gopal, eyeforindia.blogspot.com

Nominations for the awards came from the Karnataka media academy, press club of Bangalore, Karnataka union for working journalists and the photojournalists association of Bangalore. The lifetime achievement award carries a cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a citation; all other prizes carry a cash prize of Rs 5,000 each and a citation.

***

Read more about/by the winners

K. GOPINATHAN: Why namma Gopi (almost) cried in January 2008

REGRET IYER: Success is standing up one more time than you fall

M.S. GOPAL: Every pictures tells a story. Babu‘s can fill a tome

M.S. GOPAL: When Chamundi betta relocates to amchi Mumbai

T.S. Satyan memorial awards for photojournalism

14 December 2011

churumuri.com is pleased to associate with India’s first web-based photo syndication agency, Karnataka Photo News (KPN), for the inaugural T.S. Satyan Memorial Awards in Photojournalism, in honour of the legendary photojournalist—a well-wisher of both churumuri and KPN—who passed away two Decembers ago.

The awards in six categories (lifetime achievement, and best newspaper, magazine, online, freelance  and young photojournalist) will be given away by the governor of Karnataka, H.R. Bharadwaj, on 18 December, Mr Satyan’s birthday, at the banquet hall in Raj Bhavan.

The veteran editor, author and columnist T.J.S. George, and K.N. Shanth Kumar, the editor of Praja Vani, will be the guests of honour. Shanth Kumar, who holds the unique distinction of having covered six Olympic Games as a photographer, will deliver the keynote address.

Nominations for the awards came from the Karnataka media academy, press club of Bangalore, Karnataka union for working journalists and the photojournalists association of Bangalore.

* Entry for the function is by invitation only. A few invitation cards are available on a first-come-first-served basis from the offices of KPN on Infantry Road in Bangalore. Contact Saggere Radhakrishna on 98450-16693 and 98452-47286.

Church, temple, mosque, gurudwara & hunger

13 December 2011

The food security bill, masterminded by the Sonia Gandhi-headed national advisory council (NAC), that seeks to guarantee that 63.5% of India’s population don’t go hungry and translate the Congress party’s 2009 election manifesto promise, has drawn plenty of criticism on either side of the political divide.

From Narendra Modi to Shiela Dixit, chief ministers have opposed key clauses of the bill.

In other words, the bill is unlikely to face fair weather in Parliament, which means the onus of feeding India’s poor, destitute, disabled, elderly and homeless will continue to be on religious charities, which are sporadic, not very hygienic or wholesome, and often test the dignity of the receiver.

NAC member Harsh Mander, who chaperoned the food security bill, says only 4% of homeless persons depend completely on these religious charities for food.

He writes in today’s Hindustan Times:

# Feeding the hungry is deeply valued in all Indian religious traditions. But we found these traditions eroded, mutated or abandoned in shining 21st century Delhi. We were surprised to find no destitute feeding centres run by churches in Delhi….

# Many Hindu temples serve food, but this is usually oily, sweet and served only on fixed days. (There are fine exceptions, like the Hare Krishna temples.) The ‘giver’ seeks divine merit, but is not interested in serving the receiver’s needs….

# We found dignified forms of charity in the Nizamuddin Dargah and the Sai Baba Temple. Here food tokens are purchased by donors from hotels, with a validity of a month, and distributed to the destitute. A person can later exchange these coupons when hungry and in need at the eatery, and is served food worth the cost of the coupon. Less dignified, in Jama Masjid, we found many people seeking food charity patiently seated on their haunches outside dhabas which line the mosque, waiting for persons who pay the dhaba owner for the number of people they want to feed….

# Traditionally, the most wholesome food served with greatest dignity has been in the langars in Sikh gurudwaras. People are seated together on mats laid out on the floor in single lines, and food is served in this dining space in unlimited quantities.

However, we found that these egalitarian traditions abandoned in the capital’s main gurudwaras. Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, at the centre of the largest concentration of homeless people, actively bars the ‘dirty poor’ from entering the langar.

Bangla Saheb, near Connaught Place, also blocks them from entering the temple and eating at the main langar, but it has a separate langar for them at the rear, outside the temple precincts, serving the same food but without the same respect. We enquired from the managers about this departure from the core of Sikh teachings, and they justified it by claiming that the homeless defile the temple, because they smoke and drink.”

Read the full article: Unpalatable truths

Infographic: courtesy Hindustan Times

Also read: Soul kitches of soul as soup kitchens of stomach

Everybody loves a good number: 93, 77, 54, 33…

P. SAINATH: India is a nation of two planets: rich and poor

U.R. RAO: Rising India’s share of poorest is growing

Everybody loves a cheap, vegetarian thali

As if we didn’t have enough traffic ‘diversions’

12 December 2011

churumuri‘s relentless coverage against the commodification of women continues. This time, we swing the spotlight on the actress Tejaswini Prakash (left) and model Supriya Roy, at an exhibition organised by Karnataka state handicrafts development corporation, at Safina Plaza in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

***

The commodification of women portfolio

RamyaOne more example of commodification of women

RamyaAnother example of commodification of women

Anu Prabhakar: Another example of commodification of examinations

RamyaLike, bombers get scared looking at bombshells?

RamyaNow, what will those fools do with these kids?

Aindrita RaySurely all that glitters is more than just gold

Jennifer KotwalThe best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy

RamyaWhat it takes to smoothen some rough blades of grass

Nicole FariaDenims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma

Priyanka Trivedi: See, a brand ambassador always gets good press

RoopashreeObjects in the mirror are closer than they appear

Gul PanagYou are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’

RamyaDon’t ask us what it is, but it sure costs a bomb

Mandira BediIt ain’t so easy to woo an iPhone4 user, sister

‘Linguistic states doing more harm than good’

12 December 2011

The Marathi-speaking councillors of Belgaum City corporation recently conspired to pass a resolution not to honour the Jnanpith Award winning Kannada author, Chandrasekhar Kambar. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have gone to virtual war over the Mulla(i)periyar dam.

The veteran editor, author and columnist T.J.S. George writes:

“It is becoming clearer by the day that the linguistic reorganisation of states has done more harm than good to our country. Instead of welding the nation into a functioning federalism like Canada or Switzerland, it is reminding us of the Austrian and Ottoman empires that came to grief because they could not turn their multicultural diversity into a viable unity….

Ambedkar was among those who warned of the dangers ahead. Nehru had his reservations too. Distinguished foreign pundits cautioned that linguistic division could encourage secessionist forces (See Selig Harrison, India, The Most Dangerous Decades, 1960). The chief argument was that India was different, from Canada and the Ottomans and every other case in history because in India “linguism was only another name for (caste) communalism,” as Ambedkar put it.

“Proving his point, new States became battlegrounds for Marathi Brahmins and Maratha peasant-proprietors, for Kammas and Reddis, for Lingayats and Vokkaligas. D.R. Mankekar, a prominent editor of the 1950s, said: “We find once again, on lifting the linguistic cloak, casteism and love of office grinning at us”.

Read the full column: Choices for linguistically warring India

Also read: Does Kambar deserve Jnanpith ahead of Bhyrappa?

Kambar and Karnad, Bhyrappa and Puttappa & Co

Everybody loves his own Jnanpith winner

A picture that’s not suitable for non-Kannadigas

11 December 2011

To paraphrase two-trick pony Rahul Gandhi, there are two Karnatakas. One eats avocados; the other eats avare kayi. For parochial connoisseurs of flat beans, the doors of paradise are beginning to slowly open in Basavanagudi in the city of baked beans aka Bangalore. For geographically less fortunate folk, there are always online huli recipessaaru recipes or kurma recipes to gawk at. Or hurugaalu.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

‘Deccan Herald’ tests the forces of media gravity

11 December 2011

Karnataka’s oldest English newspaper, Deccan Herald, has made a brave northwards foray with the launch of its New Delhi edition on 11 December 2011, 100 years after political power moved to the national capital from the east.

Vol 1, No 1 of the 63-year-old Bangalore daily arrived this morning in the usual quiet, understated manner in which The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd conducts things: no carpet bombing of copies, no “roadblock” of hoardings, no massive pre-subscription drives.

“We are happy to start the Delhi edition of Deccan Herald today. It’s the seventh edition since we launched the newspaper in Bangalore in June, 1948. Our strength is the trust we have won from our readers—a trust built on credibility and our commitment to objectivity. We offer you comprehensive coverage of news without bias,” said a front-page note from the paper’s editor, K.N. Tilak Kumar.

The launch issue with a cover price of Rs 5 has a 20-page main edition and this being a Sunday, an 8-page weekend culture section titled Sunday Herald. During the week, DH will serve Delhi versions of its usual fare:  a four-days-a-week city supplement titled Metrolife and a lifestyle supplement on Saturday titled Living.

Printed at the Indian Express press in Noida, DH‘s Delhi edition with four local pages gives the regional daily a more national profile, useful for reporters and newsmakers; and an additional publication centre that can be used to good effect on the advertisement tariff card.

But it also comes with massive challenges. The “Deccan” in the paper’s title has a distinctly south Indian feel; will it find resonance among readers in the North? Second, the New Delhi morning market is crowded with over a dozen newspapers and with at least two more coming; can DH aspire for anything more than “organic growth”?

However, for sheer chutzpah, the timing of the Delhi launch takes some doing. Newspapers like The Telegraph have  pondered coming to Delhi for at least 15 years but have not found the strength to do so. Also, DH comes at a time when the Indian newspaper industry is facing several existential issues.

But DH has established itself as a horse for the long race over six decades. The arrival, therefore, of a serious newspaper from a group which has no interests other than journalism, when the Indian media is being asked probing questions on its methods, motives and motivations, can only be good augury.

Also readComing soon, Deccan Herald from New Delhi

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia!

How Deccan Herald welcomed the Republic of India

We stopped counting at around 43, give or take 2

10 December 2011

Women draw rangoli on the street as part of Kartika Deepam, at Shivana Chetty Garden, in Bangalore on Saturday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

POLL: Has UPA ‘fooled’ the people on Lok Pal?

10 December 2011

The four-decade-old quest for an independent and effective Lok Pal has entered a crucial phase once again with the tabling of the parliamentary standing committee’s report and its immediate rejection of it by the Anna Hazare-led section of civil society as a “dupe” played on the nation by the Congress-led UPA government.

17 of the 30 members of the parliament panel have reportedly given dissent notes to the version presented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, whose late jurist-father L.M. Singhvi is believed to have coined the word “Lokpal”. And of the 24 issues concerning the bill, the members agreed on just 13 of them.

Barring the creation of a Lok Pal, a cursory glance at the table above shows how little ground the standing committee  found with the demands of Anna Hazare, who has twice sat on a fast-unto-death. Little wonder, the man from Ralegan Siddhi says the government has “fooled the people of India” even as he prepares to sit on a fresh fast.

Questions: has the government fooled the people? Or is “Team Anna” stretching itself? Will a fresh agitation catch the people’s fancy again, or has the government discredited Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan enough to take the wind out of their sails?

Will the parliament panel’s recommendations find favour with parliamentarians? Or is the Lok Pal bill likely to run into serious trouble with the Opposition?

Infograph: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Citizens above Parliament?

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

UPA’s Hazare cock-up in 179 simple words

CHURUMURI POLL: Should PM be under Lok Pal?

Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

Let a thousand Anna Hazares bloom across India


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