Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

POLLCAST: Is S.M. Krishna already chief minister?

8 May 2008


S.M. Krishna may himself be very unsure of his position in the event of a Congress victory in the elections.

But the English news channels all seem to have unanimously crowned him the next chief minister of Karnataka. And they are acting as if it’s just a small matter of formality for the people to go and cast their vote as per their indication.

When CNN-IBN unveiled its pre-poll survey predicting a Congress win, Rajdeep Sardesai had S.M. Krishna interpreting the good news for the party.

When NDTV 24 x 7 did a special program on Bangalore last night, Sreenivasan Jain had S.M. Krishna as the link between the city’s past and future.

When Sagarika Ghose decided to look at Bangalore versus Karnataka last week, again S.M. Krishna offered his calm and considered views on the subject.

In NDTV’s promos for Saturday’s first phase of polling, Prannoy Roy pronounces that it’s a battle between S.M. Krishna and H.D. Deve Gowda.

And all the opinion polls have S.M. Krishna’s name up front in the list of aspirants.

So, it is S.M. Krishna, S.M. Krishna, S.M. Krishna.

Hand it to him, the Man from Maddur is nothing if not media savvy and he knows how to plonk himself in the media limelight.

When the Hogenakal row was blazing, he rushed to Delhi to meet the prime minister and was giving the first interviews as if he was already chief minister.

When Ramakrishna Hedge‘s daughter went to file her nomination papers, he was helpfully in the camera frame.

Krishna sends bouquets to editors on their birthdays, he is always on call for interviews and quotes.

Why, he even earned the undying gratitude of scores of journalists when he gifted them expensive house sites under the “G” category.

So all that image-building and public relations is coming of use to him in this hour of need.

And to his good luck, none of his other senior colleagues Dharam Singh or Mallikarjuna Kharge or Siddaramaiah are endowed with such public relations skills.

Nor do they have the draw.

And truth to tell, of all the Congress characters on display, S.M. Krishna, where you like it or not, is probably the most telegenic of them all.

At least he can speak slow halting English, which is a prerequirement on our news channels.

And for another, he wears nice FabIndia™ kurtas which look better than the crumpled khadi jubbas and polyester shirts the rest of his tribe.

And, he has his hair in place, with a nice IT halo around it, all the time.

Above all, given the tragicomedy that Karnataka politics has been in recent years, at least the man represents something, even if some bits of it are massively tainted with corruption, nepotism and plain goondagiri.

S.M. Krishna probably will not grudge the media attention, probably he craves to be promoted as the face of the future although he is a full 76 years of age.

But if it is all so clear to the media that Krishna is the next CM, why isn’t it so clear to the Congress?

After he quit as Maharashtra’s governor and returned, the Congress kept him on the tenterhooks and didn’t give him a ticket.

And one well placed Congress source says the party has decided at the “highest level” that he will not get a chance to sit in the Vidhana Soudha again.

So what is the key takeaway from the media’s S.M. Krishna overkill?

That the Congress wants to use his suave, urbane, “image” and he is happy to allow them do so?

That there are two elections taking place, one for Bangalore and one for the rest of the state?

That one election is taking place in English, and the other in Kannada?

Be that as it may, can S.M. Krishna, after the 2004 verdict, still afford to be looked at as a chief minister of Bangalore if not the chief minister of electronic city?

Can he afford to be looked at as the media darling who fights from the cool comfort of air-conditioned studios, while his colleagues slug it out in the heat and dust?

Can he afford, really, to just woo the English masses, the so-called IT crowd?

And can the Congress afford to put all its urban eggs in one basket?

Also read: Can S.M. Krishna swing it for Congress?

Watch the video: S.M. Krishna on the release of Dr Raj Kumar

POLLCAST: Who are the IT guys backing in poll?

7 May 2008


“Who are the IT guys backing?”

That is the kind of question anybody who equates Bangalore with IT and IT alone asks.

Nobody asks who the garment guys are backing although they are far more in number than the IT guys.

On one level, the question “Who are the IT guys are backing?” is based on a presupposition. And a vague assumption that the more literate IT guy is somehow more politically aware and therefore more demanding of his politics than the guy who works in, say, BEL or BEML.

Is there any evidence of that?

On another level, it is revealing of the exaggerated role IT has come to occupy in our public discourse. America is going to the polls in six months, but has anybody seen a story on whether Microsoft is backing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

Tapping into the IT consciousness of Bangalore has, in other words, become a lazy media’s first response of sneaking their preferred names and brands into the copy under the mistaken assumption that what is good for IT is good for the city.

And by extension for the state.

That can’t be completely true, can it?

Therefore the answer to the question “Who are the IT guys backing?” is not simple.

The IT community is obviously not a homogeneous whole. It is not as if all the companies and all their personnel, Indian or foreign, big or small, all have the same thoughts, same wants, and the same political leanings.

IT in Bangalore is not just Infosys and Wipro, IBM and Intel. There are at least other 2,000 other IT companies besides them.

The other reason why an answer is difficult is that many of those who work in the IT industry, in fact most of those who work in the ITES and BPO sector, are not all registered voters in Karnataka, having come from various states.

So when somebody asks you who the IT guys are backing, you wonder if the IT set like Lingayats and Vokkaligas and Kurubas is now being seen by the outside world like another caste, with its own demands, with its own leaders, with its own preferred party.

Imagine, an IT mutt somewhere in Electronic City, and a bearded IT swamiji with bluetooth and BlackBerry instructing his devotees with a raised eyebrow or a wink to vote for this or that party or politician.

But these facts do not stop the media from trying to feel the pulse of the IT industry.

All through this election campaign, there have been odd newspaper reports of how the RSS has opened its own IT shakha and so on. But this is more propaganda than reality.

What is the likelihood, for example, that some team leader would be going around instructing his team to vote for a certain party?

Is this kind of activity allowed after the hoo-ha that broke out after the Sasken guy wrote that allegedly offensive poem on Kannada? And if the IT guys are really smart, would they be listening to some pumped-up bozo telling them which button to click on the electronic voting machine.

In asking who the IT guys are back, we make the fundamental mistake of thinking that IT workers are professionals first before they are citizens.

The truth though is that despite their fat paycheques, they have pretty similar needs as most of the rest of us. Wider roads, greener parks, easy to walk footpaths etc.

Maybe some of them would throw in wi-fi, hassle-free airports, and gated communities.

Still, they use the same water supply, drainage facilities, and garbage removal as normal human beings. So IT guys who are eligible to vote will therefore make his or her choice the same old-fashioned way.

Maybe he will just send an extra email or type Google in his browser before he does so because he has the bandwidth.

Somehow though one suspects that when people ask who the IT guys are backing, they are really asking not about the thousands of foot soldiers but of their generals, the IT chiefs.

What they are really asking is, “Who are the IT companies giving money to?”

On the face of it, though, the squeaky-clean IT chiefs say they do not pay and will never pay. Since most of the big ones are listed companies, an expense of this nature even if it is listed under “education” as Enron did, will get reflected in the annual results.

But you would be really naive to believe that, wouldn’t you.

Despite all the liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, and the single windows and udyog mitras and all that claptrap, the government still plays the critical role of provider.

Smart IT chiefs recognise that there is valuable land to be gobbled up, STPI licenses to be renewed, tax concessions to be got, etc. So they use their smarts to stay on the right side of the right politicians and massage their egos.

A key indicator of who the IT guys are backing is to be seen in the pages of your newspaper.
Quite clearly it is not JDS and Deve Gowda, especially not after the humble farmer outlined in his manifesto a promise to reserve jobs in IT companies for Kannadigas.

So, of the main parties, it is a toss-up between the Congress and the BJP, with the former having a distinct edge in this area because of the S.M. Krishna experience or at least the perception of the S.M. Krishna experience.

But with no guarantee that Krishna will become CM again, even if the Congrss wins, will the IT guys back the Congress?

On the other hand, the BJP likes to paint itself as the laissez-faire party that wants fewer controls, lower taxes, etc. So, will the IT chiefs plump for BJP after the Atal Behari Vajpayee experience? But what is the guarantee that the BJP will come to power at the Centre?

All very confusing, you see.

The buzz in Bangalore is that a former IT guy is collecting dough for the BSP.

But if the IT companies are so smart, if their CEOs and CFOs and chiefs are so smart, why would they wait all this while to cosy up to their politician or party of choice?

And then again, if they are so smart, they would just spread their favour like the Khodays apparently did a long time ago, and keep everybody happy. So regardless of who wins, it is a win-win for all.

POLLCAST: Why is everybody talking Bangalore?

6 May 2008


Elevated roads for Bangalore. Directly elected mayor for Bangalore. Malls and multiplexes for Bangalore. Why are the three main parties talking Bangalore, Bangalore, Bangalore?

In 21st century India, are we going back to the era of the “city-State” of ancient Greece?

POLLCAST: Where have all the KKK issues gone?

5 May 2008


Kannada, Kannadigas, Karnataka.

Land, language, water, resources, jobs.

Those were the buzzwords on the street before the election process began. How come all those issues disappeared along with those who raised them?

Podcast: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address

4 July 2007


For more than two centuries, 7 score and four years, 143 years and seven months, Abraham Lincoln‘s Gettysburg address has been considered a classic as much for its substance as its brevity.

M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?

18 June 2007

India’s best known painter Maqbool Fida Husain, under attack (and almost in hiding) for portraying Hindu dieties such as Durga and Saraswati in an “uncharitable light”, has spoken out in an interview to CNN-IBN’s Akanksha Banerjee in London.

Cryptically, the 91-year-old, described as the “Picasso of India” by Forbes magazine, draws an analogy with children in his defence.

“If children in the house break things, you don’t throw them out. If you hold on to petty things, you won’t grow,” reads the translation of his Hindi quote.

If you listen to the audio carefully, though, you will hear words like “chote cheez” and “normal” in the same sentence. Is Husain saying that he may have made a “small” mistake, and that it is time to forgive and forget, and allow him to get on with his life after his apology?

Husain, who has had to virtually flee the country and live in London and Dubai, to escape goons threatening his life and limb, also perplexingly claims the controversy has not “affected at all”: “I am working like I normally do.”

And, in the 60th year of independence, he doffs his hat to the nation from afar.

“We’ve built a culture which is called composite culture. This is unique, which you don’t find anywhere in the world. That’s what we are proud of. In the West, they are only now recognising this. Their eyes are open now.”



A fortnight ago, on America’s National Public Radio, Husain said that art is always ahead of its time. Remember, the horrified reaction to the Impressionists when their works first appeared. And, he adds:

“Mostly people are ignorant. What is the language of painting? They’re ignorant. It’s so difficult to make them aware but time will teach them.”

Husain says his intention was never to offend, but he stands firm on his right to paint what he wants.

“I don’t use the word regret. There is no such thing. When you love somebody, you never say sorry. It’s with love which predominates.

There’s not a single line, or even a dot, which is done with hatred. There is no hatred. It is pure love.

Sir Salman Rushdie: the Kashmir we have lost

17 June 2007


“We, who live in these luxury limbos, the privileged purgatories of the earth, have set aside thoughts of paradise. Yet, I tell you, I have seen it and walked by its fish-rich lakes. In Kashmir, it is paradise itself that is falling. Heaven on earth is being transformed into a living hell…”

Bombay-born Salman Rushdie in Shalimar the Crown.

In this podcast, Rushdie, who was knighted yesterday, explains what has happened.

“The kind of Islam that existed in Kashmir was… of my grandfather’s kind. It was devout, yes, but it was also very lightly worn. It wasn’t something beat their fists on tables about. It was not menacing or threatening. It was mild, mystical and lived in harmony with people of other religions. It was that Islam that was attacked from across the Pakistan border by radical jehadist groups with a quite different view of Islam.”

Sir Salman Rushdie in conversation with Steve Paulson

When the Mysore-Bombay train fare was Rs 12

24 April 2007

K. SATYANARAYAN forwards us a link to a podcast interview with V.K. Murthy, the legendary cinematographer of the legendary Guru Dutt, who was behind the camera for Kagaz ke phool, Pyaasa, Pakeezah, and Sahib, bibi aur ghulam.

In the first part of his conversation with Kamla Bhatt, 84-year-old Murthy talks about his childhood in Mysore and his passion for films and how he made it to Bombay. In Part II, he talks about his Bombay days and Guru Dutt.

Click for the podcast here: Cinematographer V.K. Murthy

‘Kannadigas are the root of Kannada’s problem’

19 April 2007


Soft. Mild. Docile. Laidback. ‘Hogili bidi‘. Not aggressive. Not ambitious. ‘Swalpa adjust maadi‘. Lacking in drive. ‘Naanu aaythu, nannadu aayuthu?’

Is Karnataka’s moderate weather the prime reason why Kannadigas are like this only? Are we a people which has perfected the art of ooo-ma-he? Or have we developed a stupendous inferiority complex by always looking over our shoulder at our Telugu and Tamil brethren and ‘cistern’?

Podcast courtesy: zenveda

‘All companies must have the right to retrench’

10 April 2007


Earlier this year, Karan Thapar, one of India’s more acerbic interviewers, interviewed N. R. Narayana Murthy on a range of big issues for CNN-IBN. Please click on the link above to hear the first portion of that interview.

These are the salient points Murthy makes.

# The responsibility of government is to ensure people are happy and prosperous. To make them prosperous, you need economic growth. To achieve economic growth, you need to encourage entrepreneurship. That means creation of more and more jobs.

It’s not the responsibility of government to create jobs. Its responsibility is to create and environment where there are greater and greater incentives for more and more entrepreneurship to create a larger and larger number of jobs.

# Capitalism is about providing equal opportunities for people, giving them the incentive to perform and creating the competitive conditions.

All countries which embraced communism have failed. Even Cuba. When Fidel Castro fell ill, the only person he could trust was his brother!

I believe in compassionate capitalism where there is capitalism in the mind, socialism in the heart, and corporations which make profits will have to live in harmony with the society around them.

# True socialism is what previls in Sweden and Norway. We followed pseudo-socialism in the 1950s and 60s.

# We have the largest mass of unemployed people. We have the largest mass of illiterates and semi-literates. Agriculture isn’t growing fast enough. We have to shift them from agriculture to low-tech like China has done (140 million jobs in 11 years).

We can’t have a situation where 65 per cent of the people account for only 26 per cent of the GDP.

# All over the word, it has been demonstrated that only when you have the right to retrench will you become bold enough to create more and more jobs.

We must be bold enough to bring labour reforms and at the same time have a good safety net so that even if people are retrenched they don’t have to worry for 3-4 months.

# We must privatise public sector units. Government should not be in business. The navaratnas should perform even better as if they are private sector units.

Infrastructure—airports, roads, ports, power—should be built by private sector. Government should create the policies that encourage the private sector and if necessary act as the regulator.

Even in education and health care, I do believe in urban areas the government should leave it to the private sector. Government should provide subsidies by way of vouchers as Milton Friedman suggested.

# The retail sector should be opened up. If the existing mom-and-pop shops are suffering due to the entry of large Indian groups, then we can go the whole hog and allow large MNCs. They will bring in the best technology, the practices. The consumer benefits in the end.

# There are sections of our society which need subsidies. But we do not have the accountability. We need to work on a model which enhances accountability so that the government brings its good intentions, and the private sector brings its efficiency and technology.

Podcast: The greatest prank ever played

1 April 2007


Today is April 1, and media organisations here, there, everywhere are trying to pull off their annual prank on readers, listeners and viewers. But nothing will probably ever come close to what is considered the greatest radio broadcast of all time, The War of the Worlds, by Orson Welles. The broadcast was made on November 30, 1938.

“Produced by John Houseman, it caused a near-panic, and lots and lots of press coverage. It also spurred legislation banning the “news” format from radio drama for years following. And although Welles himself said they had no idea they were causing such an uproar, he actually knew it was happening and was thrilled with all the attention. The script, by the late Howard Koch (who also won an Academy Award for the screenplay of Casablanca), was actually titled The Invasion From Mars, but was based on H.G. Wells’ novella”