Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mukesh Ambani turns author

A book on Reliance, its founder (Dhirubhai Ambani) and the Ambani brothers (Mukesh and Anil) have always created tremendous interest. It happened with Hamish McDonald’s The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani published in 1998. The same buzz was seen recently when McDonald’s Ambani & Sons, an updated version of the The Polyester Prince, was published in India by Roli Books.

The above books were neither authorised by the Ambani family nor by the company and therefore have rubbed the Ambanis the wrong way.

Now, Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries (RIL) has decided to write a book on the company and how it has come to become India’s largest private sector company. “The book is being written by Mukesh Ambani with the support of a team of 5-6 people within RIL,” a person familiar with the development told Financial Chronicle.

The book being published by Penguin is scheduled to be released in April 2011. A formal announcement of the book deal with the publisher is likely to be held in December.

Full report here Mydigitalfc

For common knowledge

Writer and filmmaker Sunil Yash Kalra on his book on the Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Games is more than just hopping around in the playground, says writer and filmmaker Sunil Yash Kalra. “It is an indicator of the nation’s dedication and integrity towards events of global concern. It’s a chance to prove oneself and be taken seriously, and India, unfortunately, blew it,” says Kalra, who owns a sporting venture called Indian Sports Knowledge Centre in Delhi and is also into research and product development related to sports. For the last ten years, he has been engaged in chasing and researching the Commonwealth Games. The result is the book: Road to Commonwealth Games 2010, a storehouse of information, documentaries and features on sports. 

Kalra’s book has interesting bits of information: that Delhi’s bid report for the CWG did not mention the need for any overarching governing body to look into doping issues. Hamilton, Canada, on the other hand, had mooted the idea of setting up the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports. Also, while the CWG Organising Committee claims that Delhi Games would be Green Games, there is no such mention in the bid report. Interestingly, the handicrafts industry is expected to procure orders worth Rs 10 million during the Games. 

Full report here Indian Express

A sneak peek into Ghalib's letters

Come Sunday and Delhiites will have a rare insight into the personal letters that legendary poet Mirza Ghalib wrote to his friends, disciples, relatives and even government authorities.

‘Ghalib Ke Khat’ by Delhi-based Pierrot`s Troupe is unique in the sense that it does not feature the Urdu poet reading or writing his letters.

"Instead the people those received Ghalib`s letters will read them out. His much-celebrated letters are read and reviewed by his wife, Umrao Begum, his maid, Wafadar, and his disciples and friends, including the legendary Har Gopal Taftah," says writer-director of Pierrot`s Troupe, M Sayeed Alam.

"This is also for the first time that Tom Alter is not playing the role of Ghalib in our production. Tom portrays the role of Har Gopal Taftah in this play," Alam told reporters.

Full report here Spicezee

NBT publishes book on sports

National Book Trust, India is publishing a book titled Quest for Olympic Gold: Strategies for Excellence under its General series. The book, which was commissioned on the occasion of the Commonwealth Games at Delhi starting on 3rd October 2010, will be available to the buyers at the NBT Book Shop at its Vasant Kunj headquarters and the Asaf Ali Road during the Commonwealth Games at Delhi.

Considering the fact that India has one of the largest human resources in the world, our rather dismal status among the sports playing nations has understandably remained one of our biggest national disappointments. After all, what ails Indian sports and what can be the way ahead to stake a respectable claim in the international sports arena? The book seeks to discuss this all in a frank manner while delineating the roles of various stakeholders like the state and central governments including the Sports Authority of India, Indian Olympic Association, National Sports Federations, Media etc. In the backdrop of the concrete achievements of placing adequate world class sports infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and the euphoria, both good and bad, associated with the event, the present book takes stock of the required groundwork that have been done and further needs to be done in the country’s quest to earn a rich haul of gold medals at the Mecca of all sporting events—the Olympics.

Arun Kumar Pandya, (IAS, batch 1957, Madhya Pradesh cadre), has held various responsible posts in the state government as well as at the centre retiring as Secretary to the Govt. of India, Department of Youth Affairs & Sports and Director-General, Sports Authority of India (SAI) in 1992.

Cutting near the aching nerve

GA Kulkarni (1923 - 1987) is one of the great Marathi short story writers.

He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973. Film buffs, too, might know of him as one of his stories, Kairee — meaning raw mango — was made into a movie by Amol Palekar. In the introduction of one of his short story collections, Kulkarni quoted August Strindberg: “Shallow people demand variety—but I have been writing the same story throughout my life, every time trying to cut nearer the aching nerve!” The line sums up Kulkarni’s approach to writing perfectly, for one way or the other, all of his stories revolve around the theme of immutable fate and man’s struggle to make a mark against it.

Through his career, the settings and style of the stories evolved — ranging from rural Maharashtra, to ancient Greek myth, to imaginary fantasy lands. The same over-riding theme, however, comes through in various guises: When characters are confronted by an odd situation, we find them stopping to think over their lives, trying to understand how they got here, whether any of their efforts made any difference in the larger scheme of things.

Full review here Deccan Herald

Cut and paste bequest

It is common to have books coming out on an event just after it has taken place. Authors have fallen over one another to have theirs out on the global financial crisis, the Ambani brothers’ feud, the Indian Premier League, the Satyam financial scandal, and so on.

Rare is the book that comes out before an event. And rarer is the one that comes out at a time when fresh news — a beehive of controversy at that — is tumbling out every day about the subject of the book. That is why we have sensational portions of a book selectively leaked around its launch. The idea is to keep it in currency. In that sense, the authors of this book have been singularly lucky. Or maybe not.

There is much that is good in this book, in addition to the timing. It is full of research. It has several useful tables flaunting interesting numbers. The opening sections can stagger you with their account of the costs, which have ballooned from the original estimate of about $1.3 billion to $15 billion — a 10-fold jump. That will make this Commonwealth Games seven times more expensive than Melbourne in 2006 and clearly the most expensive Games in history. The authors have kept the scale of the book wide. And, of course, it is as topical as can be. That last bit is also a problem.

Full report here Business Standard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

JK Rowling on Harry Potter's future

Best-selling author JK Rowling will appear in a rare interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about her life and career and the possibility of another Harry Potter book.

The 45-year-old British writer, who was rated by Forbes magazine earlier this year with an estimated wealth of $1 billion, talked to Winfrey for the first time from Edinburgh, Scotland in an interview to be broadcast on Friday, her US publisher Scholastic Inc. said.

Rowling spoke about coping with fame, pressure and she "shares her thoughts on the possibility of ever writing another Harry Potter book in the future," Scholastic said in a statement.

She told Winfrey she realised her books about the boy wizard were popular and her life had changed forever when she saw an enormous line of fans outside a large store during her second US book tour. She said the moment "felt Beatle-esque.

Full report here Hindustan Times

The picture is complete

Meet Hamish McDonald, the man behind Ambani & Sons

When it comes to understanding the lives of big people, we approve or disapprove of, between covers we generally get sensitised hagiographies. So when Hamish McDonald, a seasoned journalist with a reputation of rubbing the big and mighty the wrong way came up with Polyester Prince, an unauthorised biography of Dhirubhai Ambani, we were surprised. But the reaction of the powers that decide what we should read was on predictable lines. The book was banned in India. Now many summers later, when the scenario is a bit different, Hamish has put together another book that tries to uncover the inside story of Reliance. Called Ambani & Sons, the Roli publication goes on to dissect the fracas that followed in the family two years after Dhirubhai's demise.

“The general pattern here is such that business biographers generally go the hagiographic or friendly way at best. It happened with J.R.D. Tata,” says Hamish who has served in Jakarta, Hong Kong, Beijing and New Delhi. He says when the subject requires a hard study, the author comes up with an affectionate work. “There is a question of access as well,” says Hamish whose book on Suharto was banned in Indonesia.

Full report here Hindu

Fractures in world economy

After the global financial calamity struck in 2008, many analysts put the blame on the uncontrolled credit expansion in the United States that preceded it. But E.H. Carr reminds us that complex historical phenomena are rather like an accident that takes place during a misty night when a driver speeds along a slippery road, a pedestrian crosses it, and the brakes of the motor vehicle fail. What exactly caused the accident?

Fault Lines: How Hidden
Fractures Still Threaten
The World Economy
Raghuram Rajan
Harper Collins
Rs 499; Pp 288

Land of inequalities
The merit of Raghuram Rajan's work is that he traces the many fault lines that lay beneath the surface not only in the American economy, polity, and governance, but also in the increasingly distorted economic and financial relationships between nations. Rajan begins with the American scene. America is a land of opportunities, but they can be taken advantage of only by those who have the resources, physical as well as human. Because these resources are unequally distributed, it is becoming a land of growing inequalities. In 1976, the top one per cent of households accounted for 8.6 per cent of income, but by 2007 this had shot up to 23.5 per cent. And in 2008, seven out of 10 Americans had stagnating incomes. Because of the strong commitment to the free enterprise system, the country is also rather backward in the safety net it provides for workers. But a democratic polity cannot completely ignore them, and there is something of a moral commitment to help the needy.

Full report here Hindu

Hope floats

A. Revathi's book is not just a vivid account of a hijra's life, it sends out a strong message to the society at large

Encapsulating the life of a hijra, the pain and anguish which is an integral part of the everyday experience of the fraternity's members, is A. Revathi's autobiographical book The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story (Penguin India/Rs.299) Originally written in Tamil, it has been translated into English by V. Geetha, a writer and social activist. Being a hijra herself, Revathi knows this life inside out.

Confessing to having been marginalised Revathi, who was born as Doraiswamy, a male, says “This book is about my everyday experience of discrimination, ridicule, and pain, it is also about my endurance and my joys and moreover it intends to introduce to the readers the lives of hijras, their distinct culture, and their dreams and desires”. Prior to this, two hijras have written books about their life in Tamil, Priya Babu's “Naan Saravanan Alla” (2007) and Vidya's “I am Vidya” 2008.

The versatile Revathi has been working with Bengaluru-based sexuality rights organisation, Sangama, for over nine years and has also acted in a Tamil movie “Thenavattu”.

Full report here Hindu

Get the geography right

Global Risk/Global

Ten Essential Tools for
Tracking Minds, Markets
and Money
Shlomo Maital, DVR Seshadri
Rs 595; Pp 320
Due diligence is not new to today’s managers who regularly witness, during acquisitions, the investigatory process which can be both exhaustive and exhausting. “In part it exists to avoid legal liability, lest the takeover fails, and leads to shareholder litigation. But mostly due diligence seeks to ensure that management knows precisely what it is acquiring, and avoid unpleasant surprises.” Explaining thus, Shlomo Maital and D. V. R. Seshadri take the concept of due diligence to a higher plane in Global Risk/ Global Opportunity: Ten essential tools for tracking minds, markets & money (

Country due diligence
Urging managers who seek to do business in new geographies to follow a similar, thorough investigatory process, the authors discuss ‘country due diligence’ as an integrating tool, bringing together the other nine tools, which include risk management, tracking booms and busts, analysing engines of growth, and tracking trade and forex.

Full review here Hindu

Between tigers and monsters

Writing children's books is an unpretentious act for Anushka Ravishankar

Anushka Ravishankar's craft is defined by a lucid philosophy. The well-known children's author and playwright, when writing for her young readers, cordons off her mind to narrow down only “on the characters and how they will behave.” There is no ache to preach, serve out a moral or the dreaded flaw — sounding false. “With children when the tone is false, it really sounds false and they see through. What they want to know, you have to write without making it too simplified. One can challenge them by leaving gaps,” says the author.

The Capital got a whiff of Anushka's works over the past couple of weeks. The play “Coat Tales” authored by her was staged a few times and her latest book, “At least a Fish” from Scholastic was launched.

At the Imperial Hotel, Anushka settles for lunch at the aesthetic restaurant The Spice Route where a Sri Lankan food fest is on.

Full report here Hindu

Creating brand presence in the books and stationery market

As part of promoter family running the business, Shailendra Gala, VP - stationery division, Navneet Publications has been involved in the business for nearly 15 years now. Even as the brand enjoys equity in the market and has a legacy spanning five decades, it’s the future course of the business that has Gala excited. Ditto for Dilip Dandekar, MD, Camlin, who’s has been involved with stationery for the past forty years but is now betting big on the next decade.

The books and stationery market is largely fragmented with myriad of small, regional players dominating the market. But there are players like Navneet, Sundaram, Staples Camlin and even ITC who are now looking to grab a larger share from the unorganised segment and create a brand name for themselves. Thus ITC’s education and stationery products business may be just six years old, but it has a turnover of Rs 400 crore and is clocking a growth of 20%, according to CEO, Chand Das.

Full report here Economic Times

Bangalore: the success story of ICT industry

A lot has been said and written about Bangalore, and its iconic status as the “IT capital of India.” With its clear and chronological account — on both the ICT revolution and why it converged upon Bangalore — India's Silicon Plateau gives a fresh ‘byte' of perspective. Throughout his narrative, Mascarenhas maintains that Bangalore's reputation of being a technopolis preceded the “IT outsourcing boom”, which, he says, rode on the back of a “scientific base” established by public sector research and educational institutes in the city.

Mascarenhas does not limit his study to Bangalore, or even the ICT industry success story. He attempts to chart its growth at the national level, offering a historical and political perspective to what triggered the upswing. Apart from marking the milestones in the ICT road map, he seeks to analyse and contextualise the various policy statements on the subject. He goes on to explain why and how India in general, and Bangalore in particular, was able to acquire a competitive edge in an industry, which, he says, is at the core of the technology-led “new economy.”

Full report here Hindu

Strategic issues for South Asia

This book is an outcome of a conference held in October 2007 jointly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the German Federal College for Security Studies, and the Institute of Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. The event brought together technical and non-technical policy analysts, academics, diplomats, and former and current government officials from India and Pakistan, among others.

A compilation of over two dozen papers, the volume provides perspectives from various vantage points on a number of strategic issues relevant to South Asia, from nuclear stability and missile defence to the energy security and the U.S.-India nuclear deal. These are issues of continuing importance to this part of the world, especially given the prickly and often hostile relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, India and Pakistan.

What, for instance, would happen if a nuclear warhead, in either of the countries, got detonated by accident? Would the country concerned believe it had been attacked by the other and retaliate with a nuclear strike?

full review here Hindu

All things bright and beautiful

I follow Darwin's evolution theory up the stairs, and turn beside the bust of an Egyptian goddess (arguing with myself that it resembles Nefertiti) and psychedelic graffiti befitting a mafia catcall to reach illustrator Gaman Palem's cubicle in Loyola College, hidden among a crowd of painted canvasses and clustered comics.

A comic artist for the last eight years, Gaman has illustrated more than 100 Indian children's comics, working mainly on mythological subjects. “All of us grow up with mythology, and there's no pulling you away from it,” he says, adding, “And, I've always worked with children's books, and I enjoy it. The comics are always colourful and bright.”

Gaman's first series of eight picture books, The Golden Mythology Series, won the National Award for Excellence in Printing Children's Books, and the illustrator is now busy with his designs for the Government's Samacheer Kalvi English textbooks for Classes I to IX.

Full report here Hindu

Ethics in corporate governance

Business houses are the basic cells of modern economic life. Their outstanding success in converting the resources of the earth into wealth has shaped the physical and social world. The downside of the story is that, in popular perception, business houses have no use for ethics and values in life. In fact, till the middle of the 20th century, the phrase “business ethics” was considered an oxymoron!

However, in recent times, there has been a lot of discussion on how Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] may be redefined — its legal obligations, its social commitments, and its duty vis-à-vis ecological and environmental protection.

The question is whether the role of the business organisations is confined to creating wealth for their owners, or is it more inclusive, embracing the well-being of a wider spectrum of stakeholders. Doubtless, the 21st century demands a new business economics, which warrants CSR, both inside and outside the organisation. In other words, business corporations are obliged to subscribe in thought, word, and deed to the long-term sustainability of this planet.

Full review here Hindu

Dissection of decision process

Strolling down a supermarket aisle, you see a display of French and German wines, roughly matched for price and quality. After some quick comparisons, you place a German wine in your cart, and continue shopping. Michael J. Mauboussin paints this scenario in ‘Think Twice: Harnessing the power of counterintuition’ (Harvard), and continues the story after you check out…

“A researcher approaches and asks you why you bought the German wine. You mention the price, the wine’s dryness, and how you anticipate it will go nicely with a meal you are planning.”

That’s fine, but the researcher wants to know if you noticed the German music playing and whether it had any bearing on your decision. Like most, you would acknowledge hearing the music and avow that it had nothing to do with your selection, writes Mauboussin.

Full report here Hindu

Take a pledge to save Urdu, Governor exhorts delegates

Governor Surjit Singh Barnala on Monday, Sep 27 asked delegates to take a pledge to save the Urdu language that was facing difficult times.

Delivering the presidential address at the Tamil Nadu State Urdu Conference 2010, he said “Only with public support, I believe, Urdu will have a rebirth.”

Mr. Barnala recalled his association with the Urdu language and said that whenever he wrote a book, he made it a point to publish an Urdu translation.

He used to think in Urdu and then write it in English.

He released the Urdu translation of Chinna Kuthoosi's Tamil Book ‘Dr. Kalaignar,' comprising articles published in ‘Nakkeeran' and ‘Murasoli', and presented trophies to outstanding Urdu writers, professors and headmasters.

Full report here Hindu

Rare manuscripts of Ramanujan to be digitised

One of the most prized possessions of the old Madras University library — a set of three handwritten notebooks of mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan — will be digitised and given to a few other libraries to preserve them for posterity and make them accessible to more researchers.

Mathematicians from around the world have, till date, been visiting the Chepauk campus library to go through the treasure trove of formulae and equations written down by Ramanujan, who was a research scholar, sponsored by the Board of Studies in Mathematics, at the university.

Mathematicians believe that the three manuscripts and a fourth one acquired by Prof G A Andrews from a library in England make a full compilation of Ramanujan’s contribution to the field of mathematics.
Scholars of advanced mathematics rate the work, titled Manuscript Book of Srinivasa Ramanujan, as “contemporary mathematics”. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research created a facsimile edition of the book in 1957 and made two volumes of Ramanujan’s writings. The original manuscripts have also been laminated, though the writing has faded in some places.

Full report here Indian Express

Ramayana literature is the key

All India Konkani Parishad  and the Konkani Language & Cultural Foundation, Mangalore  are jointly organizing a two day National Seminar on the Ramayanas in Konkani, at the World Konkani Centre, Mangalore on 2nd and 3rd October, 2010.

The Seminar, which  will have Sessions on Literary, Linguistic and Folklore aspects of  the Ramayana literature and oral traditions in Konkani will be inaugurated by  Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Union Minister for  Law and Justice, and  the author of Ramayana Mahaanveshanam in Kannada. Dr. H. Shantaram, President of the Konkani Parishad will preside over the function and Mr. Uday Bhembre, eminent writer will deliver the keynote address.

The session on literary aspect will be chaired by Dr. Harischandra Nagvekar. While Dr. Sunita Bai (Kochi). Mrs. Priyadarshni Tadkodkar (Goa) Dr. Sonia Sirsat (Goa) will  present papers.

Dr. William  D’Silva will  preside over the Second Session on Linguistics Aspects of  various Ramayana  versions in Konkani, in which  papers will be presented by Dr. Rocky V. Miranda (Mysore), Dr. Madhavi Sardesai (Goa) and Mr. Gokuldas Prabhu.

Full report here Mangalorean

A musical rap for CWG

Journo's song about Games' ills a big hit online

As if the media was not making enough noise about the inefficiencies of the Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games, a journalist has come up with a peppy rap number detailing the ills marring the mega sporting event.

'Dhikkar Hai' is composed and co-written by Adarsh Rathor who works with a news channel. This is Rathor's first experiment with a Hindi song, as he has been writing poetry in local Himachali dialect.

His friend helped him to write the song for Commonwealth Games, eliciting the corruption around the sporting event as well as the shame it has brought to India. The song also mentions Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

The song has been uploaded on file sharing website and so far close to 1,000 people has downloaded it. The song is getting very popular on Facebook and Aadarsh is getting appreciative remarks and kudos for his work.

Full report here Mid-day

80 years later, Russia recalls tryst with Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore visited Russia in 1930 and recorded his impressions in Letters. A Russian Bengali scholar recalls what the many-sided poet means to Russians Rabindranath Tagore visited Russia in 1930.

A Russian scholar, who teaches Bengali, recalls her love affair with iconic Indian poet and what he means to Russians India will be formally marking the 150th birthday anniversary of iconic poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore next May.

The celebrations have already begun in Shantiniketan, the university founded by the sage poet in West Bengal, with spirited renditions of songs, dances and plays composed by the bard. Russia, however, is celebrating its tryst with the Nobel laureate in September this year. It’s exactly eighty years since Tagore visited the Soviet Union in 1930, an appropriate time to look back at the man, his legacy, his connection with Russia and how Russians see this many-sided polymath.

For many Indians, Tagore is more than just a writer and poet: he is a symbol of its cultural glory and renaissance, the first Indian to win international literary acclaim. He penned India’s national anthem, and, has the unique distinction of having authored national anthems of two sovereign countries. Tagore’s song (‘Aamaar sonar Baanglaa’: My Golden Bengal) first became the anthem of liberation for the people of Eastern Pakistan, and then became the national anthem of a free Bangladesh.

Full report here Oye! Times

Tenure over, envoy continues Tagore tryst

Twenty-four thick and short volumes squat on the racks of the Chinese consulate in Salt Lake. Pick any one and leaf through the pages. To the average Calcuttan, the Chinese letters will be all Greek. Till one looks at the cover where in golden letters is inscribed in Bengali the name of our greatest philosopher-poet.

Mao Siwei smiles fondly at the books. “Yes, these are the complete works of Tagore. A Chinese publisher brought this out on his 140th birth anniversary. It costs 890 Yuan, which is equivalent to Rs 6,000-plus.”

The first Chinese consul-general in Calcutta since 1962, who ends his tenure in the city this month, claims that among all languages outside India his mother-tongue has done the most for popularising Tagore.

“Every educated Chinese knows of Tagore. Last May, the Indian President unveiled his bust in Shanghai.”

Siwei himself has done his bit too. His brainchild is a China gallery in Rabindra Bharati University. “Three years ago, when the foreign minister of China was due here to open the consulate, he wanted to see Tagore House. When I went there to make the arrangements, I saw the Japan gallery and suggested to the vice-chancellor that there be one on Tagore’s link with China too. His visit in 1924 is important in our cultural history.”

Full report here Telegraph 

Namdeo Dhasal introspects pain, nirvana

At a poetry reading evening, the Dalit poet well-known for bringing out the voice of the 'scum of the Earth' will take the audience through his journey of poetry from over three decades

I’ve made myself tired and unhappy here on this seashore of pain;
Sculpting with a chisel an image of many-faceted wounds.

Indeed, with an uncensored vocabulary which imparts a beautiful stain in his notebook, Namdeo Dhasal has shaken society's conventional notion of poetry. Like in these lines from his poem titled 'Autobiography' which appeared in his 1995 book Ya Sattet Jeev Ramat Nahi (The Soul Doesn't Find Peace In This Regime), Dhasal has prodded the classes and castes persistently to acknowledge the oppression against Dalits and the underdog. Common sense conveys that such evocative words cannot flow from the pen of one who has not been a witness and, often, victim, to the caste-based politics and ostracism himself.

Dhasal will himself let audiences travel with him into a time and space of his work, at a poetry reading session to be held on September 29, at Jnanapravaha, where he will read poetry from his earliest collection Golpitha of 1972, to Nirvana-agodarachi Pida (The Pain Before Nirvana) of 2010. English translations of his poetry would be done by Shanta Gokhale.

Full report here Mumbai Mirror 

Pitching for queer lit

Shobna Kumar, the brains behind India’s first queer literature portal Queer Ink, encourages the possibility of more literature being available for the community

When she landed in India — after having lived in the queer capitals of the world such as Sydney and San Francisco — Shobna Kumar felt that access to literature on and by the gay community was limited. She felt that her community was grossly under-represented in mainstream literature. And that is how India’s first queer book portal came to be. Here she talks about the 15 months of Queer Ink, the desire for the gay community to be acknowledged for their literary work and more.

How did Queer Ink come about?
When I first came to India eight years ago to be with my partner, I found that there were hardly any books that related to the gay community. What was available online would invariably be unavailable as Indian shipping laws don’t really make provision for such books. Alternatively some sites that do source books from abroad have a really long delivery period. My interactions with members of the community also brought out that gay literature was largely unavailable and what is found cannot be had on a single platform. Also there is an embarrassment of sorts to purchase such books in mainstream bookstores. And so a year of research later, Queer Ink was born.

You also provide a platform for queer publication — do you think Queer Ink has helped more gay people express themselves?  
We have a segment on the site titled Writers Corner. This is an open invitation to people to pen their thoughts on a singular platform. What surprisingly happened is that many people began to send their work to me privately with expressions of interest in getting them published. This has led us to consider taking up publication of queer literature in the future.

Full report here Bangalore Mirror

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tilak as seen by his fervent admirer VOC

That time belonged to sea-green, incorruptible supermen like V.V.S. Aiyar, Sri Aurobindo, Mohandas Kharamchand Gandhi, and Subramania Bharati. No wonder we hail them as Maharishi Aiyar, Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi and Mahakavi Bharati. For them patriotism was religion and the phrase ‘Vande Mataram' was mantra. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai (1872-1936), the intrepid nationalist from south India, was a disciple of Tilak and there existed a warm relationship between the two. Pillai referred to Tilak aptly as Maharishi.

Venkatachalapati, to whom we owe many important retrievals from the past, has brought back to print the life of Tilak written by Pillai for Veerakesari of Ceylon. Tilaka Maharishi carries a critical introduction as also five appendices of vital interest to assess the flow of historical events. A fervent admirer of Tilak, Pillai had also suffered in prison willingly and had trod with a bleeding brow the patriot's way. He was an excellent speaker and writer in English and Tamil. The preface to the biography is actually a Tamil translation of Pillai's article published in the third volume of Reminiscences of Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1927). The words come out clear and ring true: “Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak is my political guru. From my 21st year … I was closely following his writings and speeches on politics. They made me feel that India was my country, that the British were wrongfully retaining it and that it must be got back from them.” How to do it?

Full report here Hindu

'Split between Ambani bros was good as it unlocked value'

Journalist Hamish McDonald, author of the recently-released book 'Ambani & Sons', today said that the split in the Reliance empire has been good for India as it unlocked a lot of value.

"Overall, its been better for India. The split has been good for the share market, it has unlocked a lot of value and helped entrepreunership," McDonald said at an event for the book's promotion here.

After the split in 2005, younger brother Anil went to the backward areas and Hindi belt, while elder sibling Mukesh went out and bought assests abroad, McDonald said.

"It was good for Reliance as could focus on its key businesses and the split also took it back to its strengths," McDonald said.

In a lighter vein, McDonald added, "It's better for two brothers to watch the outside world rather than watching each other."

Full report here Economic Times 

CWG topical subject for books

Commonwealth Games in Delhi have inspired not just reams of reportage but also a bevy of books that detail everything from the history of the Games to how they are turning out to be a disaster. The latest among the growing corpus of books on the Games is Sellotape Legacy, Delhi & Commonwealth Games, a book that raises several disturbing questions about the Games. The main point of the book: The Delhi Games are basically about the politics of development, and the pretensions of a rising India that wants to use sports to show off its economic power at a cost of about Rs 66,000 crore.

Ask Nalin Mehta, the co-author, and he tells you, “Sometime around the Beijing Olympics, I was in an auto one day and talking about the Games when the auto driver got angry, shouting how it was a sham and how the money was being spent for just 12 days. His passion jolted us into thinking about the real meaning of these Games,” says Mehta, an honorary fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.

The book’s title, Sellotape Legacy, is prophetic in that it captures the mess the Delhi Games are in. Mehta foresaw it. “It was on the cards, based on what we saw. Part of the problem was the lack of expertise within the OC for organising such an event.”

Full report here Hindustan Times

MB to publish book by Indian

Mills and Boons (M and B), leading global publishing brand in romance and women's fiction, today said it had doubled its sales here in the last two years and proposed to publish a book penned by an Indian writer.

M and B, an over 100-year old brand, which was imported into India for the last 60 years, commenced its India operations in 2008 by printing and marketing books locally."We have doubled our sales in the last two years. Our sales are as expected", Manish Singh, Country Mangager Harlequin Mills and Boons India, publishers of M and B, said.

"India is one of our biggest potential overseas market", he said while launching an initiative aimed at connecting readers of the M and B brand called `Friends for Life' M and B was also planning to launch a book in next four to six months, penned by an Indian author, Milan Vohra. Vohra would be the first Indian author to write for M and B. She was selected from the 550 entries received for a story writing contest. The plot of the book titled `The Love Asana' was based in Delhi and had Indian characters, he said.

The firm has a multiple-product format offering, including digitial, hand held mobiles, PC, he said. Currently the brand was available in the book format in India, but it was keen in rolling out the other formats once the market was ready and big enough for these roll outs. Going by the popularity of the brand, the publishers launched two titles with setting in India last year. M and B globally released 60 titles in 10 categories every month. In India the group releases 14 titles in four categories every month. The categories were Modern, Romance, Desire and Special Moments.

Full report here IBN Live

‘Won’t arm Pak against India’

If the Pakistanis have any hope of getting arms against India, President Barack Obama squashed it very early in his presidency telling his Pakistani counterpart Asif Zardari not to expect it. “We do not begrudge you being concerned about India,” he told Zardari in May 2009, “…we don’t want to be part of arming you against India, so let me very clear about that.”

Details of the meeting, which took place in the Oval office within a few months of Obama taking office, were among the many revelations in a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward out on Monday.

Titled Obama’s Wars it has been one of the most widely awaited books after Washington Post ran extracts from it showing the Obama administration was bitterly divided over the Afghanistan war.

The book is mostly about the war in Afghanistan, and predictably lands up talking a lot about Pakistan and India and the US’s efforts to deal with the nuclear-powered neighbours.

Full report here Hindustan Times 

Romantic novels move into new era

They stroll beaches in Saint Tropez, take a gondola ride in Venice in the moonlight, and sip champagne under the stars in Nice. The hero is always tall, dark and brooding, the heroine, smart, sexy and sweet. They may have their ups and downs, face seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but there’s no doubt that in the end… they will live together and happily ever after.

This has perhaps been the formula of the Mills and Boon for years and women have devoured them with relish. For those few exquisite hours, lost in the romance of the story, many women are swept into another world, an exotic locale a dreamy partner, a roller coaster relationship and finally, a perfect marriage.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at romance writing and to launch a new initiative among readers, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd held a panel discussion in the city recently. Over the afternoon, women professionals who’ve loved Mills and Boon books all their lives, spoke about the genre at length. A nationwide initiative was also launched called ‘Friends for Life’, which invites readers to share their experiences and thoughts on how and why Mills and Boon has been their friend through the journey of life.

Full report here DNA

Mills & Boon publisher sees India as ‘largest potential overseas market'

Indian readers seem to be on a romance over-run. Harlequin Enterprises, the publishers of the Mills & Boon brand of romance fiction, which claim its sales volume in India has been rising 10 per cent every quarter over the last couple of years, views the country as its “largest potential overseas market”.

India sales
“India sales has more than doubled in the last two years and the country has the potential to get into our top five markets in five years,” says Mr Manish Singh, Country Manager, Harlequin Mills & Boon, pointing out favourable factors such as economic prosperity, increasing urbanisation and growth in modern retail.

Today, North America, the UK, and even Japan (thanks to the digital edition in Japanese) figure in the top five markets for Harlequin. India currently features in the top 10 markets for the publisher.

After the company started its Indian operations in 2008, with its own printing and marketing, the Indian reader no longer needed to wait for six months (sometimes even longer) for the imported edition. Currently, 14 titles are released every month in the country, simultaneously with their global launch. Local printing has also allowed prices to come down by 50-60 per cent, making Mills & Boon an “affordable” “recession-proof” product, says Mr Singh. “At price points of Rs 99 and Rs 125, these novels have become an impulse buy today,” he says.

Full report here Newsy Stocks

Rupa - the Paper Tiger

Reading books is good. Making people read books is better, says Rupa’s Kapish Mehra

Kishore Biyani was in unfamiliar territory in 2006-2007. He had written a book, It Happened in India, and was evaluating publishers. He was in talks with a couple of publishing houses who wanted to work with him. But they told him that they would do a print run of 10,000 copies and price the book at Rs. 199. Biyani balked at the suggestion. Now, Biyani is not a man who thinks small. His Big Bazaar chain caters to lakhs of Indians who love a good bargain. Biyani wanted all these consumers to read his book. He knew that there was no way these people would pay Rs. 199 for a book. And 10,000 copies? Were they joking? He wanted a publisher who thought as big as him. Enter Rupa Publications’ Managing Director Kapish Mehra.

Rupa and Biyani reached an agreement. The first print run was two lakh copies. The book was priced at Rs. 99.

It Happened in India sold over three lakh copies. “Typically we look at books that can sell us a lakh of copies,” says the unassuming Mehra sitting in his office in Delhi’s Daryaganj area, “when we see that the content is right and the target audience is clear.”

Mehra knows his market: The growing number of people who want to read English books. English has always been a language for business communication in India. Now it is also gaining popularity as a general purpose language. Everyone from drivers, watchmen and house maids want to speak the language. “Everybody wants to speak in English as it adds to their skill set. Over the years we feel that the need to speak in English is only going to grow and this can be seen from the growth of our students,” says Aslam Moosa, CEO, Speakwell Academy. Speakwell has experienced a 100 percent growth in the number of students over the last five years.

Full report here Forbes

An odyssey revisited

Hamish McDonald launches his second take on India’s most talked about business family in the presence of Sucheta Dalal, managing editor, Moneylife

"I don't see any men in black suits waiting for me outside," quipped Hamish McDonald, tongue firmly in cheek, playing down the fears of a backlash surrounding the India launch of his highly anticipated work on the life and times of Dhirubhai Ambani, the highly successful but controversial business tycoon. Mr McDonald, Asia-Pacific editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, was speaking on the occasion of the launch of his book Ambani and Sons at a Crossword bookstore in south Mumbai. Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife, was in conversation with the author at the launch.

The launch of this book in India has been a patient struggle for Mr McDonald, who has had to deal with many vested interests in his quest to bring out the undistorted truth about the man who built a colossal empire from scratch, but not without the use of some questionable tactics. His first book, The Polyester Prince, was blocked before its release in India by the simple trick of filing a case and obtaining a stay order from a small court. Years later, at the height of the war between the Ambani siblings, the book found its way into the hands of Indian book readers in the form of pirated editions or through other surreptitious means. Mr McDonald reminisced the journey which finally led to the launch in India, as Ms Dalal engaged the author in an interesting discussion on the events surrounding the eagerly anticipated book.

Full report here Moneylife

Share your Mills & Boon experience

Those stories of timeless romance that you would have once read and enjoyed are coming closer. Mills & Boon, in order to strengthen its relationship with Indian readers, is inviting women in Bangalore to join their circle of true `Friends for Life'.

`Friends for Life' is a new nation-wide initiative which invites readers to share their experiences and thoughts on how or why Mills & Boon has been their friend through the journey of life.

Any woman staying in India can log onto before October 25 and share how Mills & Boon has been her friend for life. A panel will identify 10 best `Friends for Life' and invite them for a discussion to select a `Ms Mills & Boon, India - Friend for Life 2011.'

Full report here Times of India 

America Days in Madurai

The U.S.Consulate General, Chennai, is organising a four-day programme "America Days", showcasing its cultural and educational resources, at the American College (AC) and the Gandhi Museum in Madurai from Sep 28. 

The event, being organised for the first time out side the state capital, will given an insight into the U.S Consulate's cultural and educational resources, including those of the American Library and the US-India Education foundation (USIEF). 

The AC will host the majority of the events on its campus including:creative teaching / learning workshops for teachers and teacher educators; English Language teaching workshops; Higher education in the United States and student visas, and daily screening of Oscar award-winning American films. The programme will also feature photo exhibitions, quiz contests, poetry and speech competitions for school and university students, US Consul General Andrew T.Simkin told newsmen here today.

Full report here  IBNLive

Manmohan Singh releases Monuments of Delhi

The Prime Minister (who is also the Culture Minister) Dr. Manmohan Singh here today released a special volume titled ‘Monuments of Delhi’ published by the Archaeological Survey of India. Speaking on the occasion the Prime Minister said that the ‘city of Delhi is a living museum. We have the obligation to preserve, protect, study and document the rich legacy of one of the great cities of the world. This book will be of use not only to the many visitors who we will welcome shortly to Delhi but to its residents as well.’

Here is the full text of Prime Minister’s speech:

“I would like to compliment the Ministry of Culture, the Archaeological Survey of India and the producers of the book ‘Monuments of Delhi’ for putting together this excellent publication. Delhi is rapidly transforming into a modern metropolis and the skyline is constantly undergoing change. But we should not forget that Delhi is among the most historic cities in the world.

The city’s history spans many millennia from early historic times up to the present day. Delhi is better known for its adventures in later periods in Indian history, particularly during the Mughal period. But a Minor Rock Edict of the Ashokan period shows that Delhi was located on the trunk route connecting the main cities of Ancient India in the 3rd century BC.

This well illustrated work has been aesthetically designed and produced to provide some interesting glimpses of some of the lesser known, as well as the better known edifices, of Delhi. They include the World Heritage sites, as declared by the UNESCO. Many of these remains are often spoken of as collectively constituting the ‘Seven Cities’. The book also contains a wealth of information on historical relics, dating back to the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Rajputs, the Sultanate, the Mughal and the Colonial periods.

Full report here PIB

Documenting the life of estate workers in literature

In 1934 CEJ Ramcharitar Lalla published a poem called The Weeding Gang which remained for a long time the definitive poem about East Indian workers and indentured labourers in Guyanese literature.  It was the most progressive poem at that time about those estate workers in spite of its own limitations, because for a long time poems either avoided the subject or were written in imitative English styles and language.  Even Ramcharitar-Lalla himself was not entirely free of those influences at a time when most Caribbean poets were. The Weeding Gang describes in very musical terms that group of women employed on the sugar plantations whose occupation was weeding and stands out because it attempted to engage not India or Europe, but Guyana’s working people at the grassroots.

The next major work of that era was a novel by Edgar Mittelholzer, completed some time around 1938 but not published until 1941 because that is when it was accepted by a publisher whose editorial terms Mittelholzer was willing to accept. (Mittelholzer is fabled for the large number of rejection slips he received in trying to get his work published.)  That novel is Corentyne Thunder about the family of a miserly cow-minder on the Upper Corentyne with all the details of rural Indian village life in British Guiana.

Full report here Stabroek News

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Life in Cinema

Adoor Gopalakrishnan is not the easiest of subjects for any biographer. He is an intensely private man whose outstanding work over three decades does not always reveal its secrets easily. Gautaman Bhaskaran's A Life in Cinema delves into the man and the films with an enthusiasm and respect. We learn more about the work, generally from the director's mouth itself, and about the struggles Gopalakrishnan had to transfer his vision onto celluloid.

Though now regarded as India's best film-maker outside the commercial field, it was not always easy to gain a reputation outside Kerala, where he always had a faithful audience.Even now, the fact that Gopalakrishnan's films are seldom given a commercial life abroad shows how difficult it is. True, they are shown as tributes to  and retrospectives of a remarkable artist in Britain, America and at festivals all over the world. But one constantly feels that ordinary non-specialist audiences would appreciate films like The Walls and Rat-Trap too.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Many Indians still find sex to be dirty: Author

A considerable section in urban India may be enjoying sexual freedom but for majority of Indians, sex is still a dirty word, says writer Richard Crasta, author of the novel Revised Kama Sutra."One of the curious things I have noticed is that for lot of Indians, sex is still a dirty word. So it will take time for them to remain relaxed and enjoy the experience," says Crasta, who has come out with a republished version of his raunchy comic novel The Revised Kama Sutra, published 20 years ago.

"There is considerable sexual freedom seen among the urban Indian crowd, they are more liberal in talking about sex. But 95 per cent of the lower middle class still has reservations," he told PTI.According to Crasta, who divides his time between US and India, virginity is very important for Indians but the biggest problem is hypocrisy."A major section of the society is still repressed," he says. On the recent trend among young couples to remain childless and instead concentrate on careers and property, he says, "Money has become a displacement for repressed sex."

One of the funniest and most talked-about novels, The Revised Kama Sutra, with its distinctive voice and its hilarious story of an Indian boy growing into manhood, has garnered rave reviews from readers and critics alike and has been translated into languages as diverse and exotic as Latvian and Hebrew.It has been published in 11 countries and in eight languages. It tells the story of Vijay Prabhu, a small-town, middle-class Indian boy, a survivor of assorted Jesuit boarding schools and the 'five pillars of oppression' - bells, canes, penis shame, girl shame, and sports.

Full report here IBNLive

24 hours with Rama

xThe other day, Pushpa Singh’s living room in Vasundhara Valley Apartment Society, near east Delhi’s Anand Vihar, was turned into a makeshift temple. She and her husband, Kshetra Pal, were hosting Ramayan Paath, a continuous reading session of Ramcharitmanas, a Hindu epic on Lord Rama.

Written in Avdhi, a Hindi-language dialect, it was composed by the 16th century saint-poet, Tulsi Das.

Living in a gated residential complex, the 63-year-old bridge champion sent telephone invites to friends, neighbours and also to the security guards of her ‘apartment society’. A priest was hired for a new pair of dhoti, kurta and Rs.101.

The Ramayan Paath is an important event in the Singh’s social calendar. Her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter had come the day before. Her niece arrived from Aligarh. The reading lasts for 24 hours.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Rushdie: UK royalty is ‘archaic, stupid’

Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, who is due to release a new book Luka and the Fire of Life, has courted controversy yet again by describing the British monarchy and its traditions as “archaic ... stupid ... a British oddity.”

Explaining his reason for accepting the knighthood, Sir Salman told the Sunday Times that he had received an honour from the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. “It would be extraordinary to accept something from the French state and then refuse something from my own country,” said the writer, who is a British citizen.

The kinghood ceremony, according to the Booker Prize winner, was a bit ridiculous, “all structured around this furious archaic thing of queens and knights, all a bit stupid, but it’s what we do. You take it for the spirit of it, which is to be complimentary about your work. And I think, thanks. Ian McKellen got something, I got something, who cares? We got our medals and left.”

Sir Salman was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2007, and at the time had said that he was “thrilled and humbled” by the knighthood.

Rushdie, who spent many years in hiding after his novel The Satanic Verses, published in 1989, provoked violent reactions and an Iranian fatwa calling for his death, said he has observed an intolerance where “to disagree with someone is to offend them.”

Full report here Asian Age

I know what you read this summer

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan: the names trip easily off their tongues. But ask them about Young Adult (YA) books written by Indian authors that rolled off the presses this past summer and you hear a studied silence.

“I generally don’t read books by Indian authors,” says Kinnisha Michellin Andrew, a third-year student of Mount Carmel college.

Andrew, a voracious reader, gets most of her recommendations for books from her college peer group or from social networks for bookworms (Shelfari, Goodreads). She is currently reading the latest in the Hunger Games series (Mockingjay) and Name of the Wind, the first book in yet another fantasy series The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.

The hyper-success of Twilight was supposed to draw all these young readers into bookstores and into exploring the burgeoning YA literature from India. This past summer, a large number of young Indian writers have published their books; among them are Samit Basu with his Terror on the Titanic: A Morningstar Agency Adventure, star blogger Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan with The Confessions of a Listmaniac, Vodafone-Crossword book award winner Siddhartha Sarma with The Grasshopper’s Run (all three published by Scholastic India), Giti Chandra with The Fang of Summoning (Hachette India) and Tushar Raheja with Run Romi Run (Roli).

Full report here DNA

Armchair travelers will relish 'India'

The 13 stories in India: A Traveler's Literary Companion attempt the impossible: to capture the essence of a subcontinent that feels like 20 countries teeming within the borders of one.

Readers will see familiar names with contributions from Salman Rushdie ("The Prophet's Hair") and Vikram Chandra (an excerpt from "Sacred Games"), but the collection's value lies in the stories from writers unknown in the United States.

Phanishwarnath Renu's humorous "Panchlight" follows a group of Bihari villagers who have purchased a lantern but don't know how to light it. A story by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, whose novels form the basis of Satyajit Ray's "Apu" film trilogy, showcases the ingenuity of a Calcutta man trying to win back a lost job.

Full report here

Digital future lies beyond e-books

Google took search to new heights on the Internet, but the Web is still chaotic. In this chaos, there is another angle — what happens to publishers who invest resources to build content and what happens to people who want quality content served in a helpful way? Above all, how does the Internet take our quest for meaningful knowledge to the next level in surfing the chaos?

I found some answers to these questions a few days ago, when I met Jeff Patterson, CEO of Safari Books Online (, a US-based firm created through a partnership between technology publisher O’Reilly Media and UK-based education and technology services company Pearson Group.

Safari Books, recently launched in India, aggregates books with permission from publishers, and is now largely focused on technology and business books aimed at IT industry professionals and managers. It organises the books, indexes the content and pages with sophisticated software and charges a subscription rate from users, who can be libraries, researchers, techies or managers looking for quality content.

Full report here Hindustan Times

Penguin India presents a collection of 21 books on Delhi

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Penguin India has put together a collection of 'must-read books'on Delhi.

The list of authors includes famous names like Khushwant Singh, William Darlymple and Nayantara Sehgal among others.

The anthologies, City Improbable, Celebrating Delhi, Finding Delhi and Trickster City, have writers portraying the city's different localities and people, the famous and the obscure alike.

The biographies, Sam Miller's Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity, William Dalrymple's City of Djinns and Ranjana Sengupta's Delhi Metropolitan map the newer Delhis, attempting to bring its many chameleon faces to life.

The Mughal past is celebrated in Mahmood Farooqui's Beseiged: Voices from Delhi 1857, William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 and Pavan Varma's Ghalib, The Man, The Times.

Full report here Sify

Two worlds collide in Tania James's fiction

When Tania James writes she travels, navigating between her parents' birthplace in India and the United States where the young author has spent most of her life, she told AFP.

Atlas of Unknowns, her first novel, shuttles constantly between India and New York, as she explained in an interview at the Fiction America literary festival at Vincennes, just outside Paris.

Does she think of herself as Indian or American? Born in the 1970s in Chicago, James grew up in Louisville in Kentucky and a few months ago moved to Washington with her husband.

"India is always there, with me", she said, likely with Kerala in mind. But on the American side, "It's more a regional identity, rather than a national one. Kentucky, this is my home."

When the Harvard university graduate lived in New York, she always asked herself whether she felt like a New Yorker, but decided "definitely not".

"I'm not an American in a patriotic way. My parents are much more patriotic." Her father, the eldest in a family of seven children, is a doctor and nearly all her family has joined her in the United States.

Full report here AFP

'China thinks India is a democratic mess'

China thinks India is democratic mess, without seeking to understand why it is a democracy in the first place. The view has been changing in recent years, according to Richard McGregor, the author of The Party: The Secret6 World of China's Communist Rules.

In an interview with R Rajesh Kumar, Sify News, the author said that relations between India and China are always difficult. The two countries' political systems are starkly different.

India's nuclear bomb gained New Delhi respect in Beijing. Chinese strategists complained that Beijing did not respect New Delhi until India had the bomb. They believed that China should have tried to engage India much earlier than that. India's technological advances and companies have helped change the country's image in China.

Full report here Silicon India

India repackaged

A self-proclaimed writer of Bollywood in a Book, Shobhan Bantwal has just released her fourth novel, titled The Unexpected Son.  Her writing contains such delightful elements as romance, colorfully, action-packed tales, which are rich with hints of Indian culture.  Born and raised in India, Ms. Bantwal has since become an American citizen.  Shobhan Bantwal has endured much in her life, including an arranged marriage which she uses as experience in her writing, as well as other controversial social topics unique to India.

In addition to novel writing, Ms. Bantwal has also penned many short stories and articles, which have appeared in such influential periodicals as The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, India Currents, and New Woman.  Several of her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines.

Full report here

Esther David, Ahmedabad in US calendar on Jewish women writers

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) has chosen to feature Shalom India Housing Society a novel by Esther David published by Women Unlimited, New Delhi and Feminist Press, USA, in the Hasassah-Brandeis 2010-2011 calendar, which highlights 12 eminent Jewish women authors of across the world whose 'writing illuminates a particular city'. The title of the calendar is 'Jewish Women Writers and the Cities that Influence Them'.

The calendar highlights authors whose writing illuminates life in urban settings all across the globe. Featured authors share experiences that span multiple generations, 12 cities and eight countries. Each writer's Jewishness comes out through her work in unique ways and the calendar highlights themes of immigration, identity, family, gender and religion.

Shulamit Reinharz, founding director of HBI says, "You will discover how writing these books challenged stereotypes, recognizes the power of books to transform and enlighten." In the past, HBI calendars featured the achievements and contributions of Jewish women scientists, writers, athletes, women rabbis, and activist artists.

Full report here Times of India 

‘My poetry is my response to life’

Malayalam poet and lyricist Prof Ottaplakkal Neelakandan Velu Kurup, 79, popularly known as ONV, was in Dubai on Friday, Sep 24 when he received news that he has been awarded the Jnanpith, India’s highest award for literature. In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, he spoke to Sajila Saseendran before he flew back to India.

There is a general opinion in the Malayalam literary circle that the award has been long-overdue.
I cannot claim an award and I don’t have the right to say it is long overdue. We shouldn’t aspire for awards when we write or create something. If you write something, that piece of work is like an award because of the satisfaction it gives you. However, in this long journey of 65 years of publishing my works, several awards have come to me and they are like a shadow or paadheyam (a parceled meal offered to a traveller). When I was a young writer, it was an inspiration, an impetus. Now, I consider it as a recognition to Malayalam poetry. What is more important is that we are getting a Jnanpith award for Malayalam poetry after a long time, after G Sankara Kurup.

You have been a very popular lyricist, as well. What gives you more self-satisfaction — poems or songs?
Poetry is poetry, while film songs are poetry applied to film. The architect of the film is its director. Here, I’m the architect and I have supreme powers. In poetry, I can change words as I like. But, in films, I write for another person. Whether it is a poem or a song, when it serves its purpose, you get satisfaction. However, I get more satisfaction in writing poems since poetry is much deeper and is a response to life.

Do you think poetry is dying in this age of commercialisation?
To a certain extent, yes. It is true that the visual media or the spoken word in it is now dominating and poetry, or the written word, is losing its readers gradually. However, poetry always has a fixed audience. Nothing can replace the aesthetic aspect of the written poetic word. But, there are people who want to develop this notion that poetry is dying down. Languages are nowadays shrinking. Ruining our language for the sake of computer usage is not right.

Full interview here Khaleej Times

ATC publishes pope’s book for anniversary

India’s most known lay-owned theology-publishing firm has marked 65 years of its existence by releasing three books including one of Pope Benedict XVI.

Some 20 archbishops, two cardinals and a large number of Religious priests and sisters attended the 65th anniversary function of Asian Trading Corporation (ATC) in Bangalore on Sept. 24.

The Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible in India and Pope Benedict XVI’s book, ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ were released at the function.

It also re-launched the revised version of the book “Shining Faith in Kandhamal,” by journalist Anto Akkara. The book details stories of Christians who withstood violence to protect their faith.

Full report here Cathnews

Delhi’s disaster indicts the Indian state

Spectacle counts in the emerging East. China confirmed its coming dominance with the spectacular Beijing Olympics. On the evidence of the Commonwealth Games village, India has the squalid air of an impoverished country ineptly governed. William Dalrymple, author on all things Indian, wrote a measured commentary for the Times (£) yesterday:

"The Commonwealth Games was meant to be India’s coming-out party, a demonstration to the world that the old days of colonial domination and subsequent relegation to Third World status were finally over. Sadly, the Games have shown that the Old India is very much with us. This is a country, after all, where — alongside all the triumphs of technology and 8.5 per cent growth — eight Indian states still account for more poor people than the twenty-six poorest African countries combined.

The triumphs of the Indian economic miracle have been private sector successes, usually in the service sector. For this reason, for example, government-owned hotels are still spectacularly grotty; but the privately run Taj and Oberoi groups, in contrast, run some of the world’s most sleekly wonderful hotels, successes that have been achieved despite rather than because of the State."

Full report here Spectator

Warm welcome for Jnanpith award winner

Malayalam poet and film lyricist ONV Kurup, who won India's prestigious literary prize Jnanpith, was given a rousing reception.

Malayalam poet and film lyricist ONV Kurup, who won India's prestigious literary prize Jnanpith, was given a rousing reception in Thiruvananthapuram, on Saturday, Sep 25 when he flew down to Thiruvananthapuram after a visit abroad. He was in the Gulf when the award was announced on Friday.

ONV Kurup was awarded the 43rd Jnanpith award. ONV, as he is better known in literary and social circles, is the fifth writer from Kerala to win the award.

A large crowd including political leaders and well-wishers from social and literary circles gathered at the airport  when ONV arrived.

Kerala Minister for Culture M.A. Baby was also at hand to congratulate the poet. Baby said the government would seek to have the award bestowed in Kerala, instead of in Delhi as usual.

Full report here Gulfnews

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Urdu poet Shaharyar to receive Jnanpith Award-2008

Noted Urdu poet Akhlaq Mohammed Khan, generally known,' Shahryar' has been selected for Jnanpith Award-2008 which is the highest literary award in India. This prestigious award will be given to him in the recognition of his contribution for Urdu language.

The Award was instituted in 1961 and is presented by Bharatiya Jnanpith, every year to different personalities for their outstanding literary works in different languages. The award carries Rs. 700,000, cash a citation plaque and a trophy.

His name was approved by selection committee comprising Professor Gopi Chand Narang, former president of Sahitya Akademy, Gurdiyal Singh, Keshu Bhai Desai, Dinesh Mishra and others.

Mr. Shahryar is also famous as a lyricist in Hindi films and has written lyrics in several famous films including Gaman (1978), Umrao Jaan (1981) and Anjuman (1986),

In 1987 he was awarded with Sahitya Akademy Award in Urdu for his poetry collection, Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai. Besides, he wrote a number of poetry collections which brought glory to him in literary world.

Full report here TwoCircles

Hindi Day celebrated in Russia

Teachers and students of Hindi, both Indians and Russians celebrated the day of India''s national language by reciting poems of contemporary and classical poets at a function here.

Several young Russian students recited their own poems written in Hindi by them at the Hindi Day celebrations in the D P Dhar Hall of the Indian embassy graced by Ambassador Prabhat Prakash Shukla was organised by the Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre (JNCC).

Prof Shishir Pandey, Hindi professor at JNCC expressed admiration at the enthusiasm with which young generation of Russians is studying Hindi.

He noted that there were thousands of common or similar words with common meanings in Hindi and Russian and the Russian grammar is similar to the Sanskrit grammar.

Prof Svetlana Mikoyan, a Hindi teacher gave examples of common and similar words in both languages like Hindi word ''Sona'' (to sleep) and Russian word ''Son'' (dream), ''Prasar'' (expanse) and Russian ''Prostor'' with similar meanings.

Full report here MSN

Psychology lessons for market traders

Over 90 per cent of all traders lose, declares Brent Penfold in ‘The Universal Principles of Successful Trading: Essential knowledge for all traders in all markets’ ( He says that the reason why the traders lose is ignorance, arising from gullibility and laziness.

“It’s human laziness that causes traders to look for the line of least resistance. Why work harder when you can work smarter, right? Unfortunately, this can make traders gullible, and they start to believe what they read, what they hear, and what they install on their computers. This is because traders desperately want to believe there is a simple path to trading riches.”

Three pillars
To succeed in trading, you need to cover three important areas, viz. methodology, money management, and psychology, advises Penfold. The first is the analysis and trading plan behind why you buy and sell; the second, the amount of money you commit to trades; and the third is about having the discipline to follow your trading plan.

Full review here Hindu

Games they wrote

A deluge of books has hit the stands in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. V. Kumara Swamy leafs through them

Given the shambolic state of preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2010, and the tales of corruption that have been cropping up every day, this particular edition of the Games will probably be the most written about ever. But there’s a raft of books out already in anticipation of the Games. And despite the negative news flow, or perhaps because of it, they look likely to generate a lot of reader interest.

“When I began writing the book it was all about the history, preparation, legacy of the Games and such things. But as things started unfolding I had to touch upon topics that I had not planned to include,” says Sunil Yash Kalra, the author of Road to Commonwealth Games 2010 (Penguin) which was released early this week.

The cover typeface of Sellotape Legacy: Delhi & the Commonwealth Games (HarperCollins India) gives the impression that it’s a newsy book about the secrets behind all that has gone wrong with the Games so far. But, for its authors Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta, it’s a bit of that and more.

Full report here Telegraph

For the love of a book

Having authored The Groaning Shelf, a little book about books, Pradeep Sebastian wonders if readers are as interested in a book’s physical presence as they are in the literary text between the covers.

After I finished the final draft of The Groaning Shelf, my little book about books, I wondered if the way I had described bibliophiles and their relationships to books came off sounding a little sentimental and nostalgic. Was I displaying too much book-lust, obsessing about dust jackets, first editions, bookshelves, book thieves and agonising about bookstores shutting down, the e-book takeover and the death of the book? I wanted my book to be a tough-minded exploration of the presence of the book in my life, and in the lives of other bibliophiles. The book as physical, material object and caring for it in that way (as much as for the text-the words- inside it). A keen awareness of the book in this sense as something to delight in seemed to be missing from many book lovers in India. Even our authors and literary critics didn't seem to be interested in the book as presence; what absorbed them, what they engaged with was the literary text between the covers.

A book’s bibliographical aspects - edition, typography, design - went mostly ignored. Only a small and scattered band of book historians, publishers, printers, designers and bibliophiles seemed to care about how a book looked and felt.

Full report here Deccan Herald

The Cobra goes to Greece

It takes either extreme cockiness or unsnubbable ambition to attempt a magnum opus on ancient Greece when all you know to begin with is the smattering of lore and legend that you picked up as a schoolkid from comic books. But Aniruddha Bahal has plenty of both. In fact, you could say Bahal’s new novel, The Emissary: A Tale of Love, Vendetta and War, set in Greece during Alexander’s reign, is the result of a snub that misfired. This was in 2002, when Bahal met the grandmaster of put-downs, Sir Vidia Naipaul. Discovering that Bahal had read no history so far, Naipaul ticked off the young writer, suggesting that writers of fiction had to make history compulsory reading. Bahal returned home to do just that: attracted vaguely to the heroes of ancient Greece, Bahal picked up a bunch of books on ancient Greek history. And being a man who revels in taking risks, he instantly decided to write a historical fiction of that time. Eight years later, Bahal is not only out with a breathless, 456-page saga of match-fixings in chariot races, battles and gory deaths told in the voice of Alexander’s emissary, Seleucus, but is also planning a 500-page sequel—as soon as he finishes the novel he’s writing in between—about Iraq!

It’s this trademark combination of cheekiness and a hide so thick that he’s impervious to any humiliation that has made Bahal what he is today—a former salesman of automated office equipment who broke into journalism to become the King of Sting, famously exposing among other things, match-fixing in cricket and corruption in defence deals, Operation West End that brought a government to its knees, no less, toppling a defence minister and several high-placed army officials.

Full report here Outlook