Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Straight from the heart

It was a sight any author could be awed by. Inside PageTurners on MG Road, a young, interested audience attended an interactive session with an author whose age qualifies for senior citizenship. This is a testimony to the fact that Sudha Murty’s writing has indeed struck a chord with the young minds. Murty writes for children as well as for a general audience.

While she sipped on her welcome coffee, a surprising guest caught her unaware. Famous actor, playwright and director Girish Karnad joined the audience as he presented himself as an ardent fan of Sudha Murthy’s writing. Published by Penguin Books India, some of her cherished works are Wise And Otherwise, Dollar Bahu, Mahashweta, Gently Falls The Bakula and others.

A prolific writer that she is, Sudha Murty began writing at a very young age. “I started writing when I was seven years old. I used to write essays and short stories. I was 12 when I had my first published story. I grew up reading Chandamama. It was my bible,” she smiles.

Sudha Murty, who was influenced by Shivram Karanth and SL Bhyrappa, said:  “My writing, however, is simple. I write because I enjoy it. I don’t believe in delivering sermons, for I feel I am not significant enough to do so.”

Full report here New Indian Express

Nallapillai's version of Mahabharata

Yet another instance of silent service to the Tamil language comes from Srinivasan, who has bravely undertaken the task of bringing out a standard edition of the Mahabharata (Tamil) written by Nallapillai in the 19th century. This proves once again that Indian culture is one and indivisible and any talk of an Aryan-Dravidian divide is disruptive. The second part of the work — the first appeared three years ago — covers Santhi, Anusasana, Asramavasa, Mausala, Mahaprasthanika and Swargarohana Parvas. Excellently produced, the book is a joy to handle for the lover of Tamil literature.

The detailed introduction gives us an idea of how Srinivasan has mastered the available Mahabharata literature in Tamil and his discovery of a Tamil version of Jaimini Bharatha by Muhammad Annavi, who is also the author of Bharata Ammanai. What is passed off briefly as the guardianship by Krishna, who came in his “subtle form as Dharma” to robe Draupadi, is embellished by Tamil writers like Villipputturar and Nallapillai to project the incarnational aspect of the Prince of Dwaraka. He has also made a reference to the work of Manalur Ramanujachariar, who spent his life and assets for bringing out the Tamil version of the Mahabharata.

Full report here Hindu

Internet wipes out printed Oxford Dictionary

Who can forget flipping through pages of the Oxford English Dictionary looking for that one elusive word. Looks like the venerable dictionary itself become elusive. Reason? The next edition of the vast tome will never be printed again due to dwindling book sales.

According to the publishers, the sales of the third edition of the dictionary have fallen due to increasing popularity of online alternatives.

"I don't think the third edition would be printed. The print dictionary market is just disappearing," Nigel Portwood, the chief executive of Oxford University Press told telegraph.co.uk. The dictionary will only appear online, the website reported.

The online version of the dictionary has existed for more than a decade and recieves more than two billion hits a month from subscribers.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Getting up close and financially personal

Money may not be romantic, and 'when it comes to passion killers it is probably on a par with big pants,' write Karen Pine and Simonne Gnessen in 'Sheconomics' (www.landmarkonthenet.com). However, if your relationship has reached a point where your toothbrushes are cohabiting and your plans extend beyond next weekend, you just can't ignore finance, they urge.

Sharing intimacies
So many of us are scared to bare all when it comes to money, but financial intimacy does not mean exposing all your money secrets to another person, the authors explain. To those who think that it is better to turn the light off and not mention it, to be secretive about you earn and what you owe, and to remain cagey about what you can and cannot afford, the book has guidance on how to get up close and financially personal with yourself and your loved ones.

What are the advantages of sharing financial intimacies? Many, as the authors list: One, you can be comfortable talking to others about money; two, you will be able to plan towards future goals with a partner; three, you can be confident enough to raise any money issues with your friends or partner without getting emotionally charged; four, you will be respectful of your own needs and financial limitations and not led by others?

Full review here Hindu

For a rich, ethnically diverse media landscape

Demographic indicators all point to ethnic media remaining important and viable in the future, as declining birth rates in Western countries continue to encourage immigration to satisfy demand for workers, postulates ‘Understanding Ethnic Media’ by Matthew D. Matsaganis, Vikki S. Katz, and Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach (www.sagepublications.com). Ethnic media provide new immigrants with content that connects them to their country of origin, and also with content that orients them to their new communities in ways that can encourage settlement, the authors aver.

They define ethnic media as media that are produced by and for (a) immigrants, (b) racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities, as well as (c) indigenous populations living across different countries. Examples cited in the opening chapter include ‘The Haitian Times,’ a newspaper published in New York, for the 2 lakh Haitians there; ‘Korea Times,’ reaching many places in the US; ‘Antenna Satellite’ targeting Greeks in the US and Canada; ‘SAT-7’ with Arab audience across the Middle East and North Africa; and ‘TVBS-Europe,’ a Chinese satellite network that covers many European countries.

Full report here Hindu

Chetan Bhagat more careful with films now

With his third book ready to be adapted into film, author Chetan Bhagat says he has become more careful after the 3 Idiots films controversy.

“I am more careful and clear now. I want and make sure that there is no confusion regarding anything,” says Bhagat, whose book Five Point Someone formed the basis for the blockbuster film 3 Idiots starring Aamir Khan went on to become the highest grosser in Indian film history.

Bhagat and the producers and directors of the film had gone public with their fight over credits. The matter was later resolved.

Another of Bhagat’s books 3 Mistakes of my life released in 2008 is being made into a film directed by Rock On fame Abhishek Kapoor and reportedly starring Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan.

Bollywood directors have always been fascinated by best-selling books and Chetan Bhagat’s novels seems to be a favourite when it comes to making films.

Full report here Hindu

India exporting English to China

Beijing's publishers are lining up to check if books by Indian authors could teach Chinese students and call-centre employees better English than American textbooks. At a time when bilateral ties are strained, the neighbours are finding common ground over a foreign language. India is the country of honour at the 58-nation Beijing International Book Fair that opened on Monday with 27 Indian publishers showcasing 3,500 titles.

“The Chinese are greatly interested in copyright and translation rights for books to learn call-centre English," Sanjiv Chawla, manager of exports at the Delhi-based Orient BlackSwan told HT at the fair. “The Chinese have a fixed idea that English is best taught by the Americans and British, so we have to explain that English is like a second-language for Indians.’’

Books on Buddhism, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru are the centrepiece of India’s pavilion so that past cultural linkages strike a bond with China. But the Chinese publishers are mainly interested in India’s legacy of English education, to see if the books could be adapted to modernise Chinese teaching.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Water reforms and India's experiences

This volume, based on select papers presented at two workshops — one held in Delhi in 2006 and the other in Geneva in 2007 — covers the process of reform in two water-related areas in India, namely the legal and institutional frameworks. It also brings in the international dimensions of water law reforms and relates India's experiences with those of countries such as Argentina, South Africa, and Australia.

Organised in five parts, the book has 18 papers — the introduction apart — from 21 well-known scholars in their respective areas. The key point to be noted here is that most of the legal changes India has witnessed over the past few decades are in specific areas such as user organisation, groundwater, water pollution, water harvesting, and forest conservation. But, there is hardly any movement towards a comprehensive reform of water laws as such.

Full report here Hindu

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writing is about experiments in truth: Sudha Murty

Author Sudha Murty, interacting with an audience of book lovers at PageTurners, the recently-opened bookstore on MG Road, Bangalore said that she could swear by the truth. “I write truth and only truth,” said Murty.

Adding to her writing ‘rules for writing’, the author advised aspiring authors, and many of those gathered in the bookstore were young people, that a writer had to be honest and true to the subject at hand.

“Be honest, original and tell the truth. Real-life experience, true to the core, makes interesting reading, be it non-fiction or even while writing a novel,” smiled. She answered a series of queries during
the hour-long interactive session.

Full report here DNA

As Sharmila nears the decade old fast mark...

Booker prize winner and fiery activist, who has taken on the establishments questioning their dogmatic approach to issues and one of the few Indians to publicly condemn Pokhran II and III in 1998, Arundhati Roy among other eminent social and human rights activists of the Nation are set to join a five-day long observation beginning November 2 to mark ten years of Irom Chanu Sharmila's lone struggle against the controversial AFSPA.

Main highlights of the observation will include an all community prayer, seminar on peace and social issues and an art exhibition, said Sharmila's elder brother Irom Singhajit who is the managing trustee of the Just Peace Foundation (JPF), the organizer of the event.

Full report here E-pao

No time-frame for inclusion of Bhojpuri in 8th Schedule: Govt

Government today said it was considering inclusion of Bhojpuri and Rajasthani languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution thereby granting it the status as the official language but could not give any time-frame to do so.

A Calling Attention motion on inclusion of Bhojpuri and Rajasthani in the Eighth Schedule of Constitution, moved by Sanjay Nirupam (Cong), saw uproarious scenes in the Lok Sabha as more members wanted to participate in the debate and SP and RJD members even trooped to the Well of the House.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee intervened at this stage and suggested that since the scope of the Calling Attention Motion was limited members can have a Short Duration Discussion in the next session.
In a statement in the House, Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken said that government could not give a time-frame for for consideration of the demands for inclusion of more languages in Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Full report here MSN

Indian focus at Beijing book fair

India, the country of honor at the Beijing International Book Fair 2010 (BIBF), which kicks off Monday, August 30, is focusing on publications on Buddha and Buddhism, works by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and those on and by the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru to mark 60 years of Sino-Indian diplomatic ties.

India's 27 major English language publishers also have a special exhibition of recent books centering on areas such as science and technology, children's literature, medical and social sciences and English language learning books and aids. In total, nearly 3,500 titles are on display at the India pavilion named A Courtyard of Possibilities.

The organizer said that they hope to deepen ties between Indian and Chinese publishers and intellectuals.

"The slogan of the presentation is Exploring the Middle Path, which not only connects it with the Buddhist tradition shared by India and China but also finds a connect with and echoes India's contemporary endeavors to find a common platform of social, economic, cultural and political dialogue with China," said Satish Kumar, director of India's National Book Trust (NBT), organizer of BIBF's Indian programs.

Full report here Global Times

Tibetan blogosphere is vibrant and empowering

As a place to meet, share and exchange, the Tibetan blogosphere has created opportunities for Tibetan netizens that would be unimaginable in the offline world. Keeping in mind the state of internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China today, these new spaces can be seen as new outlets but also as new areas involving personal risk. Tibetan cyberspace has opened up a new opportunity for expression, which has also brought new risks to this community.

There are several blog-hosting sites, both Tibetan and Chinese, that are favoured by Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) today. One of the of the most popular Chinese language sites is called Tibetan Culture Net or simply TibetCul. TibetCul was started by two brothers, Wangchuk Tseten and Tsewang Norbu, and their head office is in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province. According to Alexa, the web Information Company, TibetCul receives over 400,000 hits every month. TibetCul is primarily a news and blog-hosting site but there are many different sections on the site related to Tibetan music, literature, films and travel. There is a BBS forum (bulletin board) and there is even a section dedicated to “overseas Tibetans”.

For all Tibet related news, blogs and cultural activities, TibetCul is an invaluable resource and source of information. Many posts translated into English by High Peaks Pure Earth come from TibetCul, such as the translation of the popular Tibetan hip-hop song “New Generation” by Green Dragon that was first featured on the group’s TibetCul blog in February 2010 in which a gang of Amdo rappers boldly proclaimed:

“The new generation has a resource called youth
The new generation has a pride called confidence
The new generation has an appearance called playfulness
The new generation has a temptation called freedom”

Full report here thecommentfactory

Indian paperback king slams Delhi Games 'bribery'

THE Delhi Commonwealth Games have been branded the biggest and most blatant exercise in corruption since the country won independence six decades ago by best-selling Indian author and youth icon Chetan Bhagat.

The writer and commentator, who has sold more than 4 million books, called on Indians to boycott the event as a protest against bribery and sleaze.

Mr Bhagat's stinging attack came soon after Delhi's Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, revealed it would take until the middle of September to finish off Commonwealth Games-related work - by when athletes will start arriving for the event.

She blamed incessant monsoon rains for the latest delay, joking that the rain god must be ''unhappy'' with Delhi. ''If the rain stops and the sun comes out, we should be able to complete the work by September 10-15,'' she was quoted as saying.

Similar deadlines set for March 31, June 30 and July 31 have been missed.

Full report here The Age

Indian author blasts 'corrupt' Games

A bestselling Indian author has branded the Delhi Commonwealth Games the biggest and most blatant exercise in corruption since the country won independence six decades ago.

Chetan Bhagat, who has sold more than 4 million books and has a substantial youth following, called for the public to boycott the event as a protest against bribery and sleaze.

His stinging attack came soon after Delhi's Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, revealed it would take until the middle of next month to complete Games-related work - which is when athletes will start arriving.

She blamed incessant monsoon rains for the latest delay, joking that the rain god must be unhappy with Delhi.

''I will appeal to him to bring some sunshine,'' she was quoted as saying. ''If the rain stops and the sun comes out we should be able to complete the work by September 10-15.''

Full report here Sydney Morning Herald

Build a great wall of books

Calcutta will get its own great wall on Teachers Day — a wall for a cause made not of bricks and mortar but of books and compassion.

The Aviva Great Wall of Education, presented by The Telegraph, will be built at City Centre (Salt Lake) from September 1 to 5.

Schools and citizens can donate books at the site to be built into a wall and then distributed among children who can’t afford to buy them.

The first time Calcutta got to hear about the event was at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence on Saturday, a fitting platform for the announcement of an initiative to support the pursuit of education against all odds.

Barry O’Brien, the convener of the awards, announced the Aviva Great Wall of Education and appealed to schools to donate books for the cause. “The Telegraph Education Foundation supports the endeavour,” said O’ Brien.

The book donation drive for underprivileged children was launched by Aviva India in Delhi on November 11, 2009, national education day, and a wall with over 1,23,000 books was built.

Full report here Telegraph

India showcases literary works at China book fair

India, which participated as the ''Country of Honour'' at the Beijing International Book Fair, today showcased its literary works with focus on the great Indian philosophers like Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru.

India has been accorded the ''Country of Honour'' status by China to commemorate the establishment of 60th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Twenty seven noted Indian publishing houses displayed a variety of books in areas such as science and technology, information technology, children''s literature, social sciences, education, books for general reader, English language learning books and aids.

In total, nearly 3500 Indian books are on display at the special pavilion built at the fair to house the Indian books.

The focus of India at the week long book fair is Lord Buddha''s "middle path", Rabindranath Tagore''s travels to China making a lasting impression on a generation of Chinese, Jawaharlal Nehru''s endeavours to promote Sino-Indian ties and India''s growing influence in English publishing.

Full report here MSN

Donate your books

he Hindu and Aviva invite you to help build the world's biggest wall of books – ‘Aviva Great Wall of Education'

Education is one of the most important factors that will determine the growth of India, and its transition from a developing to a developed county. However, looking at the current statistics on education in India, one can say that the task is enormous. There are 200 million children in the age group of six to14 years in India, of whom 59 million children are not attending school.

Aviva launched a mega initiative called ‘The Aviva Great Wall of Education' in 2009 in order to generate awareness about the cause of education. The Hindu is wholly committed to education for all and would like to do its bit towards this cause. The Hindu's Newspaper in Education (NIE) programme stands testimony to this.

This year, The Hindu presents the ‘Aviva Great Wall of Education' in Chennai with Aviva Life Insurance. Come to the Express Avenue mall in Royapettah from September 5 to 9 to donate books to the Aviva Great Wall of Education. In addition to this, dropboxes are being placed in 300 NIE schools across Chennai.

Full report here Hindu

Revolution from within

Meera Vijayann meets Anindita Sengupta, an enthusiastic blogger who attempts to redefine the title ‘feminist’ through the online medium

Female foeticide. Dishonour. Dowry deaths. Sexual harassment. Eve-teasing. Sixty three years after independence, these words continue to appear often in everyday conversation in India. Young women respond to these issues in different ways. Many have taken to voicing their opinion  and creating awareness online. The growing popularity of  blogs by women who write about their lives and their thoughts on social change is an example of this trend.

Bangalore-based writer and poet Anindita Sengupta’s blog provides her the forum to discuss issues which mean a lot o her. What started off as an idea is today one of India’s well-known feminist blogs — www.ultraviolet.in.

“Three years ago, I quit my corporate job after fighting a case of sexual harassment in the workplace. I realised that there weren’t enough resources for women to share their experiences of unfair treatment. I began blogging about my experiences and found that it generated substantial discussion,” she says.

Full report here Deccan Herald

Sunday, August 29, 2010

''Telugu Bhasha Dinotsavam'' observed

'Telugu Bhasha Dinotsavam', a day to celebrate Telugu as the mother tongue, was observed across Andhra Pradesh on August 29.

Cultural organisations organised a 'walk' on the Tank Bund Road at the picturesque Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city to raise awareness on the need to promote the language. Meetings were organised at several places in the state to discuss the status of the language and ways to promote it. "Telugu is among the languages which are facing threat of extinction as per UN reports. It is the responsibility of Telugu people to protect and safeguard the language," R Kavita Prasad, a famous Telugu writer said.

"Loss of culture is loss of identity. Telugu was hailed as a beautiful and sweet language even by non-Telugu personalities like Tamil poet Subramania Bharati and also C P Brown, a renowned British official during the British rule in the country. So, we should do our best to promote the use of our mother tongue," he said. The day is observed on the birth anniversary of Gidugu Ramamurthy Pantulu, a great Telugu writer, who organised a spirited campaign in early 20th century for popularising functional Telugu used by common people instead of the language spoken in those by the pundits and purists.

Full report here IBNLive

Lamichhane, Neupane bag Padmashree award

The Khemlal Harikala Lamichhane Samaj Kalyan Pratishtan on Sunday announced to give away this year’s Padmashree Sahitya Samman jointly to Dhruva Sapkota for his novel Akalpaneeya and Amar Neupane for his work Paani ko Gham.

In his novel, Sapkota has portrayed the problems of refugees in Sikkim, Tibet and Nepal, while Neupane carried out the study of literature in Nepalgunj region.

The award carries a purse of Rs.1,50,000.

Earlier, litterateurs Ganesh Rasik, Bhanubhakta Pokharel and Krishna Baral were honoured with the award.

Full report here Himalayan Times

China donates 53.6 lakh to Tagore Museum

China has decided to donate 53.6 lakh for the establishment of a gallery on Rabindranath and China' at the Tagore Museum in Rabindra Bharati University (RBU). A formal agreement on this was signed on Friday at Tagore House by Chinese consul general in Kolkata Mao Siwei and RBU vice-chancellor Karuna Sindhu Das.

According to the agreement, the China gallery will cover 180 sqm and display motifs, including that of Chinese civilization, Lord Buddha, the great liaison between India and China, Tagore's inquisitiveness and respect for China from his boyhood days, Visva Bharati and studies in Chinese literature and culture and Tagore's visit to China in 1924.

Mao said the gallery would be inaugurated in May 2011 during Tagore's 150th birth anniversary celebrations. "Tagore was still popular in China. Ten years ago, The Complete Works of Tagore' was published in 24 volumes in China. As far as I know, Chinese is the language which has done the most for Tagore's publications, second only to Indian languages and English", he added.

Full report here Times of India 

Sheena Iyengar talks about Art of Choosing

Sheena Iyengar, author of the bestseller, Art of Choosing talks to John Cheeran about her life’s journey, dealing with blindness and making all the right choices.

No one asks better questions, or comes up with more intriguing answers, that’s how Malcolm Gladwell describes Sheena Iyengar, 40, a professor at the Columbia Business School, who has written the highly acclaimed book The Art of Choosing.As a daughter of Indian immigrants, Iyengar had to make tough choices while growing up in United States.When Iyengar was three years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentos, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By 6th grade, Iyengar had lost the ability to read, and by 11th grade, she had lost her sight entirely and could only perceive light. When she was 13, her father died of a heart attack. Despite such trying circumstances, Iyengar says she has chosen most of the big things in her life. During a visit to Bangalore, she spoke to DNA about the emotional tax that each one of us has to pay for the freedom of choice. Excerpts from an interview:

Has this book far exceeded your expectations?
I didn’t really know what expectations to have. Yes, exceeded. It changed my life, actually. It really depends on your definition of exceed and expectations. Everything that has happened since the book has come out is positive. I’m generally a positive person.

Full interview here DNA

Khushwant Singh on Mending Souls and more

Khushwant Singh has been dealing with everyone taking a dig at his name and accusing him of being an impostor and riding on the fame of his namesake. But the young writer is taking it all in his stride. He humbly says, "I am honoured to be named after him (Khushwant Singh). When my first book came out, there was a lot of shor-sharaba in the media about my name, but it's just a name, India will never get another Khushwant Singh."

He clarifies that he has no intention of riding on the fame of the great author, "I respect him and my books have my picture and age clearly written to avoid and confusion. I don't know why he is miffed at me!"

His latest book, Mending Souls is an enlightening biography of Ratanjit Singh Sondhe, an entrepreneur, speaker, and eminent radio and television personality, internationally popular as Mr. Stress free.

Talking about the book Singh says, "Ratanjit has converted Gurunanak's Ek Onkara - the philosophy of oneness into a business model, similar to MBA, and implemented it at various stages of his life and created a huge business empire. Ratanjit elucidates the philosophy of oneness - the 25 habits through which one can achieve self-integration and social integration."

Full report here Hindustan Times

Spiritual portraits, colliding worlds define India

Years ago, Goldman Sachs predicted that India's gross national output would quadruple in 10 years and, by 2050, overtake that of the United States. Today, India is on the verge of besting Japan to become the world's third-largest economic power. Which is why, despite staggering poverty, its consumption of cars and crude oil promises to soar to unimaginable magnitudes.

But what is India, exactly? Who are its people? As William Dalrymple shows in his strikingly colorful new book, to be Indian is to inhabit strangely colliding worlds, a profusion of identities with sharply defined regional variants. Nowhere is this more evident than in the country's spiritual life.

``While the West often likes to imagine the religions of the East as deep wells of ancient, unchanging wisdom,'' Dalrymple writes, ``much of India's religious identity is closely tied to specific social groups, caste practices and father-to-son lineages, all of which are changing very rapidly.'' Bollywood may try to persuade us that the Hindu epics are neatly homogenous -- that there is one `` `national' Ramayana myth'' -- but, in reality, Indian legends are interpreted in radically different ways depending on where you look in the country. Indeed, the historian Romila Thapar has argued that it is precisely Bollywood's (or colonialism's) model of ``syndicated Hinduism'' that threatens to drive India's self-contained cults to extinction.

Full review here Miami Herald

Smallest to heaviest Bibles to be on display

The heaviest and smallest Bibles,besides a 'slide' Bible will be among 800 varieties of the holy book on display at the five-day Cochin International Christian Book Fair, which will get underway in Kochi from September 2.

Around 15,000 books, novels, theological resources, Christian music products, gifts and accessories would be on display and sale, Shaji T Daniel, Kerala Regional Manager of OM Books, which is organising the book fair, said.

The Heaviest Bible weighs seven kilos, the smallest just 10 grams. There is also a waterproof Bible and a steel grip Bible.

"One might come across bibles of different sizes, but the miniature bibles to be exhibited at the fair are certain to draw stares from visitors, he said.

Full report here DNA

Unmatched innings

With his fourth biography to be published soon, actor Dilip Kumar looks back at his seven decades in Bollywood.

Uttam Kumar was watching a trial show of Sagina Mahato in 16mm print at NT1 Studio, Kolkata in July, 1972.  Later he told director Tapan Sinha, “Tapan da, thank God you did not cast me as Sagina. It would have been a blunder as I could not have matched Yusufda who has brought Sagina alive on screen.”

This is one of the stories in thespian Dilip Kumar's fourth biography, written by his wife Saira Banu.  This comprehensive biography of one of India's greatest actors has initiated a lot of curiosity since it was announced five years ago.

Films like Andaz, Jogan, Daag, Foot Path, Devdas  and Ganga Jumna stand testimony to his versatility.  Even today viewers remember his ro Nina ro in Andaz, as he shows Nargis the photo of her late father and helps her get over the shock of his death.

Ravindra Kelekar passes away

Konkani litterateur and Jnanpith Award winner Ravindra R. Kelekar, 85, died at a hospital at Margao on Friday,  August 28, after a brief illness. He is survived by son Girish and his family.

The mortal remains will be consigned to the flames with full State honours at his native village of Priol in south Goa, around 18 km from Panaji, on Saturday, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said.

As a mark of respect, the State government announced a public holiday for half a day on Friday and for the whole day of Saturday.

Ravindra Kelekar was born on March 25, 1925 at Cuncolim in south Goa. Influenced by the Gandhian thoughts, he was actively involved in the freedom struggle and the Goa liberation movement. Though he also wrote in Marathi and Hindi, his contributions to the growth of Konkani were immense. He was always at the forefront of the Konkani movement. He fought several battles to seek recognition of the Konkani language.

Full report here Hindu

Fake IPL Player finally uncovered!

Delhi boy Anupam Mukherjee is behind cricket’s biggest hoax. The best-kept secret in cricketing history is finally out. The anonymous blogger Fake IPL Player (FIP), who made life difficult for cricketers and Bollywood stars of the Indian Premier League in 2009, has come out of hiding. Contrary to
speculation, he is neither a cricketer nor a sports journalist - Delhi boy Anupam Mukherjee is a freelance advertiser based in Bangalore. In his first interview to a TV channel, Mukherjee said, “I only pulled off the hoax because I played with believable stereotypes.”

“He kept his ears on the ground. He watched all the news, has some journalist friends and a very clever understanding of what was going on,” explains VK Karthika, publisher, HarperCollins India, which published his book, The Gamechangers, earlier this year.

She explains that his decision to reveal his identity is because he was tired of living a double life. FIP wrote about locker-room fights in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ camp, actor Preity Zinta’s break up with co-team owner Ness Wadia and also took pot shots at players. Is he worried about a backlash? “No, everyone who knows takes it with a sense of ‘wow’ that he pulled it off,” says Karthika.

Full report here Hindustan Times

One for the caregiver’s bookshelf

Andrea Gillies’s memoir, Keeper, trails awards and awed reviews, and I can see why. Though I wasn’t looking forward to still another account of life with deepening dementia, I read this one in a day. Gillies’s saga, subtitled One House, Three Generations and a Journey into Alzheimer’s, unfolds on a blustery peninsula in northern Scotland, where she and her husband, their three children and his ailing parents have all moved into a drafty Victorian house miles from anywhere.

Gillies’s father-in-law can barely walk; her mother-in-law, Nancy, is already paranoid and obstreperous. As the author, a journalist, lays out her plan to restore the overgrown garden and take lovely walks by the sea while working at home, caring for old and young and running a bed and breakfast, I could feel my anxiety rising.

How, exactly, was one mortal supposed to manage all that?
As readers here have reason to suspect, unhappy surprises lie ahead. But I kept reading because Gillies is such a gorgeous writer, because Nancy is so compelling in her ferocity, and because their relationship — part dance, part duel — is hard to look away from.

Bangalore's favourite libraries!

With change in lifestyle and less and less time to spend, people no longer prefer the older reading places. Here are some of the most visited private and public libraries in Bangalore that are a hub for reading and recreational activities.

State Central Library houses more than 2 lakh books
Remember the neighbourhood library from a couple of decades back, which stocked a standard set of bestsellers, magazines and comics from India and abroad. And how these libraries always smelled of old books; such places are now fast disappearing. But however there are still some libraries which are frequented by people. Here are some of the most visited private and public libraries in Bangalore that are a hub for reading and recreational activities. 
Central Library
The library was taken over by the government as State Central Library under the provision of the Karnataka Public library Act in 1966. The library, strategically located in the middle of the greenery at Cubbon Park, is any book lover's delight. It has more than 2.4 lakh precious and rare books.

The wide-ranging collection at the library includes books on any given topic under the sun. The library has got a rich collection of reference books. In 1986 the library was designated as State Central Reference Library and it is open to public only for consultation of documents with in its premises. It is open on all the days except on Mondays.

Full report here My Bangalore

Rawness of love’s pain

When your favourite poet’s large part of work is in her mother tongue which you do not read, you naturally gravitate towards the translated short stories compiled in a lovely book where the slightly soiled garland of mogra flowers grabs your attention.

Kamala Das broke many, many traditions in her time. Not just with her poetry, but also with the fearlessness with which she lived her life. Her stories give us a glimpse into her heart and we begin to savour the language, and when we turn each page, we feel the anguish and the pain of betrayal. And when the rain begins its incessant lament against your windows, you sink deeper into the pillows and begin to realise how marvelously Shakespearean it is to read about little Appu’s loss of innocence when he looks at his mother’s trusting face (the vermillion powder that is liberally applied on the parting of her hair, with a little bit fallen on her nose) and his father who pretends that Stella who sat on his lap when mother was away; or about the sculptor who knows that her husband who is paralysed now and appreciates her beauty would have left her had she been the one paralysed and unable to earn a living.

Full report here Deccan Chronicle 

Really cold cases

When we read a contemporary thriller, we make sure the back door is bolted and the balcony grill is locked. We jump at shadows. We leave the bathroom light on. But reading about a murder that took place in another century is less scary. When the character walking down a dark alley wears buttoned-up boots and swings her full skirts out of the path of a passing carriage, we are more detached. To truly chill our blood, she would have to be shadowed by Bill Sykes.

About a month ago I was in a mood for a retro thrill, something other than my well-thumbed Complete Sherlock Holmes. From the lending library I pulled out Edgar Wallace’s Four Just Men, which was basically the conundrum of a murder inside a locked room. Then a Perry Mason from Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote a string of them, with alliterative characters from Anxious Aunts to Terrified Typists. It was full of old-fashioned foot chases, week-long stake-outs, sniping dialogue, and the beginnings of technology. Della Street’s “trained fingers whirled the dial with swift precision”. On a rotary telephone. Isn’t that sweet?

Then I went way back, before the trench coats and fedoras. The Mammoth Book of Vintage Whodunnits, which I happened on last month, has some big names and some modest writers who have much to be modest about.

Full report here Business Standard

A lot of little

Another entertaining short history of other things.

A colleague and I came to blows over this book. It happened like this: I said “Bill Bryson doesn’t know how to write,” and she hit me with her copy of At Home. It isn’t a slim paperback.

As it turns out, we were both right. Bryson writes astonishingly third-rate prose, but he tells terrific stories. It’s a rare sentence that is well composed as well as informative, thus inviting both an “Ah!” of illumination and a chuckle of appreciation. Instead the lines are cluttered with cliches and phrases that no serious writer should use without embarrassment or at least two coats of irony, such as “We know remarkably little”, “the invaders didn’t necessarily swarm”, “comprehensively vague”, “means or spirit”, “deep mystery”, “resist more effectively” and “enjoy benefits” — all from pages 48 and 49, chosen at random.

Any page is a good starting point, because on every page the mad vine of Bryson’s writing unfurls a bud or bloom or breaks into some kind of fruit. Nowhere else are you likely to be told what sperm whales had to do with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Nor how a young engineer named Canvass White invented a hydraulic cement that helped to make America (he did it after walking 2,000 miles along England’s old canals). Or how a provincial gardener named Joseph Paxton came to build the Crystal Palace in London, one of its century’s most amazing buildings.

Full review here Business Standard

Why I still love the kindle

Electronic notepads and tablet PCs have been here for ages now. But then Kindle came along and changed everything. It let you carry your books wherever you went, without adding to your luggage. It also let you order new books online, without having to go to a store. But then Kindle was not perfect. Many people hated its black and white screen though it was the gadget's best feature, making it easy on the eyes and using up very little of the battery.

Then came the Apple iPad which has a colour screen and lets you do a lot more with the books, especially with those for kids. But, in India, you still have to depend on a friend abroad to get you one, and then the battery does not go on and on like the Kindle.

The market became interesting when Kindle took the fight to Apple by releasing an app for the iPad, which meant you could buy books from the Kindle store and read them on the iPad. And the books were trademark Kindle, all in black and white. There are other apps that let you read magazines and books in colour.

Full report here Indian Express

Public service delivery in Indian cities

This is not something that our local government bodies would like to read: that they have been capitalising on increases in public land values and natural economic growth through leasing and sales to finance their infrastructure needs, whereas they have been spending less than the nationally-accepted norms for provision of various local public services.

“On average, taking all cities into account, revenue from land lease and/or sales by UDAs (urban development authorities) accounts for nearly 90 per cent of existing own-source revenues of municipal corporations, 33 per cent of their total revenues, but more than 900 per cent of property tax revenues,” write Kala Seetharam Sridhar and A. Venugopala Reddy in State of Urban Services in India’s Cities: Spending and financing (www.oup.com).

Looking at the relationship between finances and public service delivery, the authors rue that none of the cities selected in their study spends adequately on local public services in relation to the widely recommended norms for such spending. In the case of labour-intensive services such as sanitation and solid waste management, they observe a direct relationship between finances and service delivery, because services are dependent on wages to personnel to get the work done. “So with respect to these services, if cities are unable to spend, then the quality of services also stands to suffer.”

Full report here Hindu

Man Booker Prize launches first-time app

The Man Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious prizes for a work of fiction, has created an application in anticipation of its September 7 shortlist announcement. Launched on August 26, the app includes prize archives, audio and video content, and a GPS service, and will update users on the status of the 2010 award.

The Booker Prize app, which seems to be the first of its kind for a literary award, is free of charge and offers access to a full chronological history of the prize, including information about judges, longlists, shortlists, and winning authors and books. Also included are exclusive author interviews, video content, and audio and text extracts from selected titles.

A GPS service allows users to search for a local bookshop or to buy titles directly from online retailers' websites, while updates will keep users informed of the current year's shortlist and winner announcements.

The Man Booker Prize also works with digital book retailer GoSpoken to provide audio and text extracts of the longlisted books direct to T-Mobile phones via internet connection.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Right pricing of water

With the growing scarcity of water, we need to invest in institutions for water allocation rather then work at interventions for augmenting its supplies, says M. Dinesh Kumar in Managing Water in River Basins: Hydrology, economics, and institutions (www.oup.com). Citing studies, he adds that in situations such as what India faces, the opportunity cost of not investing in institutional reforms would be much higher than the transaction cost involved.

A section on ‘pricing of water’ opens by stating the general principle that the price of water for competitive use sectors such as irrigation and water-intensive industries means that pricing of water should be fixed in such a way as to discourage economically inefficient uses.

Wasteful practices
The author traces how, after Independence, the Indian governments saw irrigation as welfare means and therefore were reluctant to raise irrigation fee charged to poor farmers. “Also, the charges are paid on acreage basis and are not reflective of the volume of water used. It is believed that the lack of linkages between volumetric water use and water charges, and lack of agency capability to recover water charges and penalise free riders create incentive for overuse or wasteful practices.”

Full report here Hindu

‘It’s a last minute patch up job to get the event going’

As Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta set out to unravel the layers of the Commonwealth Games 2010, they zeroed down on the title ‘Sellotape Legacy’ with “some degree of disappointment.” They were “absolutely convinced that from here on what India can best achieve at the Games will be a Sellotape Legacy— it’s a last minute patch up job to get the event going.” They reveal how “there should have been one person with the sole authority of taking decisions, as was in the 1982 Asiad. Rajiv Gandhi, for good or bad, could take calls as multiple decision makers are catastrophic for the Games.” Majumdar and Mehta get candid with Sukalp Sharma on their research, experience, revelations, and all that has gone into their latest offering—Sellotape Legacy: Delhi and the Commonwealth Games.

You mentioned how sporting events “are about cities and nations and their places in the world.” So, how would you rate the Commonwealth Games and Delhi?
As we have argued in the book the Games could surely have played a part in securing for India a place in the list of nations, which have played host to mega events. It is a well established strategy—use sport to position a nation in the world parliament of nations. China used Beijing to establish itself as the world’s premier sporting power, beating the US was, for example, the real aim and the real intent was world supremacy. Given the state of affairs prevalent in Delhi, India will need a miracle to achieve this goal.

Full interview here Financial Express

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Adeus Ravindrabab

Literary giant and Goa's only Jnanpith award winner Ravindra Kelekar passed away on Friday. 

The end for the Konkani stalwart came at 11.30am and his mortal remains will be consigned to the flames at noon on Saturday. The police will reverse their arms and bugles will be sounded to the last post as the pyre is lit at his village of Priol in Ponda taluka.

A Gandhian activist and freedom fighter who participated in the Indian freedom movement and Goa's struggle for liberation, Kelekar also led from the front in the anti-merger campaign of the newly-formed Union territory with Maharashtra and in the battle for recognition of the official language.

Paying rich tributes to Kelekar's immense contribution to Konkani literature and Goan culture in general, chief minister Digambar Kamat declared a public holiday on Saturday and all government offices closed after lunch on Friday as a mark of respect to mourn Kelekar's death. Sources said the holiday is applicable only to government offices and educational institutions like schools and colleges.

Full report here Times of India 

Khushwant Singh among new Sahitya Akademi fellows

Veteran journalist Khushwant Singh and eminent Hindi writer Kedarnath Singh are among the three new fellows who have been elected to the Sahitya Akademi.

Besides Singh and Kedarnath, eminent Maithili writer Chandra Nath Mishra 'Amar' has also been selected as fellow of the prestigious cultural institution.

In a release here on Friday, the Akademi said the highest honour conferred by it on a writer is electing him or her as its fellow.

"This honour is reserved for the 'immortals of literature' and limited to 21 only at any given time," the release said, adding that they were selected by the Akademi's General Council.

Full report here Sify

Living in linguistic entropy

The building guard rings my doorbell, armed with dire news: “Aapka cable cut karne ko ayaa hai.” Cable? But I have Tata Sky. I run down to investigate only to be confronted by an irate young man in khaki. “No cable! Electric, electric,” he growls, impatient at our misapprehension. We begin to argue, I in Tamil, he in Kannada, our voices rising in frustration, as the guard tries to make peace in Hindi. What I remember most clearly is the BESCOM fellow’s contempt for my inability to speak his language – a deficiency that damns me as an outsider.

Language is a marker of identity, but also difference, a truism that is easy to forget in the cosmopolitan confines of Bangalore. This is a multi-ethnic, multilingual city, more so over the past twenty years thanks to the IT boom. In ‘new’ Bangalore, Manipuri beauticians, Malayali nurses, Punjabi housewives, Tamil maids, and Andhra businessmen live cheek by jowl, expanding each other’s linguistic horizons. The Gujarati businessman at the vet’s clinic chats in Kannada with the assistant, drumming up some broken Tamil as he makes small talk with me. My maid, who arrived in the city as a young illiterate woman from Dharmapuri, has since added three languages – Kannada, Hindi, and English – to her skill set. “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse,” averred the Spanish Emperor Charles V. The youngest generation of Bangaloreans are no less talented. “My child already speaks four languages,” is the boast I hear most often from other parents. Too bad I can’t say the same about mine.

Full report here Bangalore Mirror

'Peepli Live is my tribute to Premchand: Rizvi

When director Anusha Rizvi started developing the characters in her debut film 'Peepli Live', her thoughts kept going back to Premchand and the hero of his 1936 novel Godaan.

Rizvi says she could not resist the temptation of using the novel as a metaphor in her film and decided to include Hori Mehto's character to convey the helplessness of a farmer.

"Hori kept coming to my mind when I was developing this character, so I decided to keep the character. Also, I wanted to show the sense of continuity from the time of Godaan to the present day. We used Hori Mehto's name as a symbol to convey that there has been no change in farmers' situation in all these years," Rizvi said.

Considered one of the greatest novel of modern Indian literature, Premchand's last novel depicts the socio- economic deprivation as well as the exploitation of the village poor through Hori.

'Godaan' was also made into a Hindi film in 1963, starring Rajkumar, Mehmood and Shashikala.

Full report here Economic Times

Silver jubilee of Poetry Society of India concludes

It was all poetry, not only at NAB-PNM, Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind, Mount Abu, but also at St John's Senior Secondary School, Abu Road, where senior students waited with abated breath for the conclusion of silver jubilee year of Poetry Society of India.

It was a year ago when the silver jubilee kicked off at St Joseph School with visually challenged Manzar Khan reciting a 40 minutes long Hindi poem 'Dhukkhi'. Soon after that, not only in Rajasthan, but throughout the country the jubilee was celebrated with poetic passion.

Convenor for Rajasthan, Arun Sharma, said across Rajasthan number of schools, colleges, organisations and even individuals and ordinary families did much to glorify poetry, including Shiv Bari at Bikaner, the abbey of the abbot Swami Som Giriji, who held a three-day poetry meet there, where inmates of the Blind Centre Mount Abu participated.

Full report here Times of India 

A banquet for the mind

In the interests of transparency, I should declare that when it comes to David Mitchell, I am less of a critic than a fan. Okay, devotee. Having been blown away by Ghostwritten — a book that is practically the definition of the phrase “masterful debut” — spellbound by the Murukami-like trippyness of number9dream, still reeling from his breathtaking Cloud Atlas, and tickled to death by bizarre suburban Englishness of Black Swan Green, I approached The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet with trepidation. Pedestals are designed for people to fall off, and I feared that Mitchell would go the way of Don DeLillo (Cosmopolis) and Rushdie (Ground Beneath her Feet — a book that truly deserved to be).

Within the first few pages, it is clear that the blurb-writers on the back are not exaggerating: here is yet another book by a “storyteller of genius”, possibly “the greatest British writer of his age” who is “dizzyingly, dazzlingly good”.

 (For those who have not yet encountered this extraordinary writer, a note on what wikipedia calls “disambiguation”: there are two David Mitchells, both British, more or less the same age, one brought up in Wiltshire, the other in Worcestershire. One is primarily an actor and comedian, the other primarily a novelist who is, frequently, very funny. The latter — let’s call him, for simplicity’s sake, “our David” — is a rather handsome chap; the other looks like a haddock.)

Full review here Business Standard

Fostering social capital in knowledge economy

Established in 1976 with $25,000 in capital and 11 employees, Acer now ‘ranks No. 2 for total PC shipments and No. 2 for notebooks, and has a global workforce of 7,000 employees. 2009 revenues reached $17.9 billion,’ as www.acer-group.com informs. An interesting case study about the company’s China experience is available in The Global Environment of Business: New paradigms for international management by David W. Conklin (www.sagepublications.com).

SOE system
The company’s ‘production facilities had been concentrated in Taiwan, but it now faced the question whether it should build new facilities in mainland China,’ begins the narrative, sourced from Tsai, Everatt, and Cheng (1999). “The key to Acer’s success had been the ability to continually innovate, and Acer management saw this ability as dependent on its organisational structure, with delegated responsibility and employee initiative. However, potential employees in mainland China had developed a very different set of attitudes toward their work as a result of employment in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) where their pay was guaranteed regardless of performance.”

Full report here Hindu

African safari

The variegated canvas of modern South Africa in a political novel

Modern South Africa, with its entrenched population of people of Indian origin, is probably not as easily understood here as it was during its apartheid days. Back then, black was black and white was white, quite literally—and there were none of the shades of grey contributed by the easy migration of Ethiopians, Pakistanis, Senegalese…and of Chinese commodities. The rainbow nation that the founding fathers of post-apartheid South Africa had wanted has indeed materialized. So have displacement, doubt and despair.

Not surprisingly, the resultant social churning that has disturbed, even destroyed, the status quo for the privileged classes is ripe for the picking in contemporary fiction from South Africa. So it is with Imraan Coovadia’s third novel, High Low In-between. Set in KwaZulu-Natal, it has already won TheSunday Times (South Africa) fiction award and is in the running for several more prizes.

Full report here Mint

To choose or not

Did you know that your decision to choose a particular brand of product says a lot about you? Nor did I until I spoke to Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art Of Choosing. A professor in Columbia University, Sheena, an expert on choice has put her thoughts and findings in her book to help us master the art of choice.

Sheena conducted her first experiment way back when she was in grad school and what began as curiosity about religion later expanded her research to include the concept of choice and why people make the choices they do. “I found that people who belonged to orthodox faiths were generally much happier than atheists.”

When Sheena chanced upon a study that argued that people's identity was a function of their cultural background she was intrigued, especially since she was Indian-American.

“I was interested in human motivation and culture and somehow it seemed that everything had to do with choice.”

Full report here Hindu

The hare-tortoise myth

The twin stories of India and China are the most dramatic in the world economy. In 1820, the two countries contributed to nearly half of the world’s income. In 1950, their share was less than a tenth; and currently the two contribute a fifth. By 2025, their share of world income will be a third, according to projections. Both remain the world’s fastest growing big economies.

China, of course, hogs most of the glory. India was ahead of China in 1870, as well as in the 1970s, in terms of per capita income levels at international prices. But since 1990, China has surged ahead of India—China’s per capita income growth in the past two decades has been at least double India’s rate. It has invested nearly half its GDP, a scale of capital investment—mostly in building world-class infrastructure—that is unprecedented in the world’s economic history.

So the title of Raghav Bahl’s book Super Power? The Amazing Race between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise, is a bit fey. Is there really a race? Is India even interested in playing catch up? Does China even need to look over its shoulder for a bounding India? Or is this phantasmagorical race purely the spin of feel-good entrepreneurs, phoney management gurus and an uncritical, gung-ho media?

Full report here Mint

May I help you?

They have been there since long and their future seem secure. Yes, one is talking about self-help books, also called how-to books. Visit any bookstore, swanky or by the sidewalk, across Delhi, you will find such books always aplenty, simply because their takers have never been on the wane.

Declares Shiv Khera, a big name in the genre of self-help books, “There has always been a huge demand for good self-help books worldwide and there will always be.” Author of “You Can Win”, one of the most sold books in the genre, he says, “I write such books from my practical knowledge unlike some people who are writing these days just to earn a few bucks.” He warns readers against falling for “books written by many self-proclaimed management gurus these days.” “I don't consider myself as one of them as I am still a student of learning,” he adds.

To gain interpersonal skills and lead a happy personal life, and also to find quick tips for success at workplace, many people take succour in self-help books. Besides books by new-age writers, stories from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagvad Gita also do the rounds.

Full report here Hindu

Shamsur Rahman and his effortless eloquence

Bangladesh paid tribute to poet Shamsur Rahman on his fourth death anniversary on August 17. Among his famed works are “Roudro Korotite”, “Biddhasta Nilima”, “Niraloke Dibyaroth” and “Adiganta Nagna Padaddhani”. Besides poetry, he also contributed to the realms of essays, stories, novels, translation and columns.

Rabindra Bharati University and Jadavpur University of India conferred honorary D.Lit. degrees on him. His poems have been translated in many languages. Rahman was a recipient of Swadhinata Padak, Ekushey Padak, Adamjee Puroshkar, Bangla Academy Puroshkar and Jibanananda Puroshkar.

Veteran poet Mahadev Saha recalled: “Rahman was undoubtedly one of the foremost Bengali poets. I met him in the late '60s in Dhaka. I had spent a fair share of time with him at seminars, recitations, tours overseas and cultural programmes.

“Rahman, the greatest poet of his generation, was a man of paradoxes. As a poet, he expressed an infinite range of moods. He believed in secularism. His writings are powerful and eloquent, and often address the common's man's life.

Full report here Daily Star

Musings of a libertine monk

The charming, bite-sized opinions of one of Indian journalism’s legendary provocateurs have sting, but no surprise

Absolute Khushwant
 The Low-Down on Life,
Death and Most Things
Khushwant Singh with
Humra Quraishi
Rs 250; Pp 200

In a novel, the writer sells the reader a story; in reportage, his or her powers of perception and analysis. In the realm of autobiography and memoir, it might be said, one sells oneself. The more dramatic one’s life experiences and the more divergent one’s beliefs from the mainstream of the culture, the more readers one wins. The writer Khushwant Singh, now 95, has always enjoyed the persona of a professional provocateur, as suggested by the very title of his widely syndicated column With Malice Towards One and All. The purpose behind his writing, he tells us in Absolute Khushwant, has always been “to inform, amuse, provoke”.

He certainly does so in his new book, an engaging, if somewhat uneven, collection of opinions and reminiscences on various subjects, transcribed by journalist Humra Quraishi. Long-time readers of Singh are unlikely to be surprised by any of his stances. He continues successfully to cast himself as part-monk and part-libertine, rising at 4am, working through the day, always keeping himself gainfully occupied, speaking truth to power and avoiding idle pursuits, while simultaneously enjoying his drink and his gossip sessions, keeping his sexual life alive in mind if not in the flesh, recalling his many affairs and vigorously contesting (while also clearly enjoying) his public image as a dirty old man, accepting it finally as the price to be paid for his candour. “Usually, writers are an interesting and colourful bunch,” he writes—and clearly, he has set out his stall to be the most interesting and colourful of them all.

Full report here Mint

Nazrul's death anniversary being marked

The death anniversary of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam is being observed throughout the country, in line with the Bengali calendar.

The revolutionary poet and renowned Bengali lyricist died on Vadra 12, 1383 (August 29, 1976) at the age of 77.

Various socio-cultural and political organisations have undertaken day-long programmes to mark the occasion on Friday.

Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy and Nazrul Institute have chalked out separate programmes. Bangladesh Television and Radio and private TV channels will broadcast programmes portraying the rebel poet's life and works.

The day started off with Nazrul's family paying floral tribute at his grave around 5am.

Full report here BDNews24

Friday, August 27, 2010

NZ author switches to Indian storylines

New Zealand author David Hair says he will launch his latest book in Bangalore, India early next week.

His book, Pyre of Queens, published by Penguin Books India, tells an Indian story about Ravindra-Raj, an evil sorcerer-king, vanquished by one of his queens, the spirited Darya.

Hair's first book, The Bone Tiki, won the best first novel award in young adult fiction at the 2010 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, and he has written a sequel to that fantasy, The Taniwha's Tear.

He moved to New Delhi several years ago when his wife was posted to the New Zealand High Commission there. She had previously lived in Bangalore while learning yoga.

Full report here Voxy

Apple iPhone, Android smartphones driving e-reading

Smartphones, not Kindles, are the most popular devices for e-reading in the United States, according to a study from Wattpad—which has found big readers in Apple iPhone and Android owners.

The increasing adoption of smartphones, particularly of the Apple iPhones and Android-running handsets, is helping to drive e-book consumption, according to an Aug. 26 report from e-book service Wattpad.

Analyzing a snapshot of user habits from 600 mobile operators across 160 countries, the e-book application company, which facilitates 1 million downloads per month, found that it is hardly just dedicated e-readers enabling the e-book trend. During the second quarter, e-book downloads by the Apple family of products—that would be iPhones, iPads and iPods—grew by 23 percent, compared to 9 percent during the first quarter.

A closer look at this group found that the iPad, since its April launch in the United States, has grown to account for 5 percent of Apple usage, while various iPhone models account for 46 percent and iPods for 49 percent. Taking a world view, Americans are by far Wattpad’s biggest user group, accounting for 54 percent of those using their iPhone for e-reading, followed by readers in Spain—who during the second quarter accounted for 10 percent of the pie, passing iPhone e-readers in the United Kingdom, who accounted for 8 percent.

Full report here e-week

The secrets of a boys’ hostel

Author, academic R Raj Rao needs no introduction. He was associated with India’s first gay film (Riyad Vinci Wadia’s BomGay in 1996) and published the country’s first gay novel (The Boyfriend, 2003). He is also a poet and was part of India’s gay rights movement much before the country was comfortable discussing alternative sexual identities.

As his new novel Hostel Room 131 (published by Penguin) hits bookstores across the country, the author talks about gay writing in India.

Hostel Room 131 is being marketed as a gay novel. This is the politics of minority writing, where the issue is foregrounded. How do you negotiate the issue, and more importantly, what’s the novel is about?

I guess what you mean is that the ‘issue’ is foregrounded, as opposed to the art. This is a view that I have been resisting for years. My training is in literature. Form is much more important to me than content. Anyone who has taken the trouble to go through my entire body of work, will see for himself how much experimentation there is. That my book is a gay love story is only incidental.

Full report here New Indian Express

Is India ready for e-readers?

While a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts study reported that Americans were spending less time reading books, a Maryland-based market research firm recently found out that e-reader owners read more than they earlier did.

The Wink is expected to give owners
access to more than 500,000 books,
journals, newspapers and magazines
With last week’s release of “Wink,” Bangalore’s EC Media claims to have launched India’s first e-reader tailored to serve the local population. One can’t help but wonder, are e-books worth the money and will Indians take to them as eagerly as many have in the U.S.?

While techno geeks may like this new device, only 42% of the people that buy books in India are habitual readers, according to a survey in Tehelka Magazine early this year.

The survey, which asked 1,152 people across the country about their reading habits, found that while 20% of the respondents said they had read e-books, 92% of them were using PCs, not reading devices like Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s Daily Reader.

Full report here WSJ blogs

The man about history

Professor Mushirul Hasan appears not to be in a hurry. Sitting inside his large office chamber, with beautiful colonial-era furniture, Prof. Hasan, the new director general of the National Archives of India (NAI), looks as carefree as a retired man.

The 61-year-old academic, author of several books on Indian history, talks in a singsong voice; he laughs easily and peppers his conversation with amusing Urdu couplets. Soon, however, he comes to the point. “I want the Archives to be like London’s British Library, which is wonderful in terms of collection, conservation, preservation and, most importantly, accessibility.”

As the storehouse of the non-current records of the Indian government, the NAI, situated on Janpath close to India Gate, has thousands of rare old books, documents and lithographs piled up on various floors. While researching here for his book The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty (Delhi 1857), author William Dalrymple discovered previously unexamined manuscripts that present the Indian perspective on the 1857 mutiny. “All the Urdu research for the book was done there,” says Dalrymple. “The archive contains the biggest and fullest colonial archive in India.”

Full report here Mint

NID pitches for picture, visual books in schools

With an eye on possible school curriculum reforms and also on the market, the National Institute of Design (NID) recently organised a workshop on illustrations for students that take on educational hues.

Illustrators from France, Switzerland and Germany taught NID students how to draw illustration stories for children in different age group.

NID professors said the institute is taking interest in this genre of illustration as very few Indians have contributed in the field as well these picturebooks are viewed as supplementary educational tools for young students. But most books available in India are by foreign authors and publishers.

“Visual communication is playing a more dominant role, and even the HRD Ministry has started talking about curriculum changes with more visual books,” said Sekhar Mukherjee, co-ordinator of NID's animation design course.

Full report here Indian Express

Memories of Dahanu Road

For the last seven years, a boy of Indian origin and Iranian blood, Anosh Irani, had been the centre of Canadian readers' interest. With his first novel The Cripple and His Talismans (Raincoast Books, U.K.) in 2006, followed by The Song of Kahunsa (publisher Anchor Canada), Anosh grabbed Canadian eyeballs. The latter got published in 13 countries and was a bestseller in Canada and Italy.

This August has proved a harbinger of good news for Anosh. The reason being that for the first time his novel is being published in India. by This third novel, Dahanu Road, a Harper Collins release, was launched this week by dancer-choreographer Shiamak Davar at DLF Promenade Mall, Vasant Kunj. Anosh, the playwright of Matka King, Bombay Black and the My Granny the Goldfish, feels happier to be printed in India for a simple reason. “In Canada, when people would ask me how many of my writings have been printed in India, I used to feel embarrassed,” he says.

Anosh's Indian connection is the essence of Dahanu Road too. The novel is the tale of a landowning Iranian clan and the Warlis, a local tribe. Zairos, a young landowner, gets the shock of his life when he sees Ganpat, a Warli tribal, committing suicide in his grandfather Shapur's farm. As Zairos gets into the matter, he finds himself falling in love with Ganpat's daughter Kusum, as also he hears some shocking revelations from Shapur about his family.

Full report here Hindu

When fantasy takes wing, cultures don’t matter!

Explore cultures other than your own, says David Hair, New Zealander and author of The Bone Tiki, to young writers who prefer to work within their own comfort zone.

Hair is coming to Bangalore to launch his book Pyre of Queens, published by Penguin Books India. The story is about Ravindra-Raj, the evil sorcerer-king, who devises a deadly secret ritual where he and his seven queens will burn on his pyre, and he will rise again with the powers of Ravana, demon-king of the epic Ramayana. But things go wrong when one queen, the beautiful, spirited Darya, escapes with the help of Aram Dhoop, the court poet

Hair’s first book, The Bone Tiki, won the Best First Novel award (in the Young Adult Fiction genre of books at the 2010 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards). The Bone Tiki and its sequel The Taniwha’s Tear are fantasy novels set in New Zealand.

Before moving to India, Hair worked primarily in financial services and has a degree in history and classical studies. Though he has always been interested in folklore, history, and has a passion for football, writing had always been a life long ambition.”

Full report here DNA

Punjabi scholar, Telugu researcher chosen for Bhasha Samman

A noted Punjabi scholar and a Telugu veteran have been chosen for the 'Bhasha Samman' by the Sahitya Akademi for their contribution to the field of classical and medieval literature.

Gurudev Singh, a Punjabi scholar, was chosen for the honour from the Northern region, while Telugu researcher and critic Korlapati Sriramamurthy from the Southern region, the Akademi said in a statement.

Singh has compiled the Encyclopedia of Sufi Poetry and Thoughts and also the History of Sufi Punjabi Poetry and has also written books in Gurumukhi script and translated texts from Persian and Arabic.

The Bhasha Samman carries a cash prize of Rs 1,00,000 besides an inscribed copy plaque and citation.

Full report here DNA

Bid to popularise Assamese

To make Assamese language and literature more popular, a group of Assamese professionals based in various parts of the world is working on methods that can make content written in Assamese easily searchable for the Internet users.

The group of professionals is also in touch with the Google authority to facilitate translation of the language over the Internet for those not acquainted with it.

Informing this at a press conference on Thursday, Amitabh Chakrabarty, an America-based Assamese software professional , said: “ Today, the problem with searching Assamese content on the Internet including newspaper or magazine reports remain its inaccessibility and we are trying to help the authority concerned to get over it by suggesting a few steps.”

He urged individuals and firms not to load the content as images and insisted on using the Unicode, which is the open standard of text writing on the Internet.

Full report here Assam Tribune

Silver jubilee of Poetry Society of India concludes

It was all poetry, not only at NAB-PNM, Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind, Mount Abu, but also at St John's Senior Secondary School, Abu Road, where senior students waited with abated breath for the conclusion of silver jubilee year of Poetry Society of India.

It was a year ago when the silver jubilee kicked off at St Joseph School with visually challenged Manzar Khan reciting a 40 minutes long Hindi poem 'Dhukkhi'. Soon after that, not only in Rajasthan, but throughout the country the jubilee was celebrated with poetic passion.

Convenor for Rajasthan, Arun Sharma, said across Rajasthan number of schools, colleges, organisations and even individuals and ordinary families did much to glorify poetry, including Shiv Bari at Bikaner, the abbey of the abbot Swami Som Giriji, who held a three-day poetry meet there, where inmates of the Blind Centre Mount Abu participated.

Full report here Times of India 

New book on Mother Teresa's life

On the occasion of Mother Teresa’s birth centenary, comic book label Amar Chitra Katha has launched a special title, tracking the life and times of the nun of Albanian descent who later became an Indian citizen. This is the first title by the comic book label in four years.

Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) has come up with a special comic book on the life and works of the Mother titled 'Little Acts of Love'. The publishers believe that the best way to communicate with children is through the language of pictures. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, it’s the best way to convey Mother Teresa’s message to the youngsters. “We have come up with 25000 prints… that's the most for one book that we have come up with”, Sameer Patil, CEO, ACK.

This 32-page-book tells the story of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from her birth in Macedonia to her early years as a teacher and then moving on to her working career. Mother, from a very young age, was inclined towards helping people in distress. She volunteered to join the missionary in India and eventually landed in Calcutta, teaching at Loreto Convent. But what she wanted was to work for the people who needed God's help the most - the destitute and the helpless. It was a call from God, which she heard and answered.

Full report here IBN Live