India Bulids Towards Reforms

first_imgWhen Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a simple majority in the recent general elections, India’s business community was sure that a new reform era was about to begin. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index (Sensex) rose 1,745 points (7.81%) in three sessions on the strength of opinion polls predicting a BJP victory even before the results were announced. It surged nearly 1,500 points on the day of the results.The first statement of the government’s intent was the Union Budget. But finance minister Arun Jaitley rolled out what was widely considered to be a very pedestrian effort. On July 11, a day after the Budget was made public, the Sensex stood at 25,024 following a single-day drop of 348 points. The peak of 26,100, recorded on July 7, now seems like another mountain to climb.What went wrong? The Budget was expected to mark a new direction for India and its economy — but it did nothing of the sort. “It’s not a radical Modi budget but a [former Congress finance minister P.] Chidambaram budget with saffron lipstick added [saffron is the house color of the BJP],” wrote economist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar in The Times of India. “Many thought Jaitley’s maiden budget would produce a vision for five years, major reforms and some bitter medicine. Sorry, there was no great fiscal vision, only minor reform, and sugar-coated pills rather than bitter ones.”Commented Business Standard: “This was a Budget prepared by incumbent bureaucrats, not incoming politicians. This was a Budget that represented stale continuity when the need of the hour was demonstrable change.” Chidambaram himself took a shot at Jaitley, noting that the BJP had campaigned for an India free of the Congress Party, but proved that it couldn’t even produce a Budget free of the Congress Party.But Wharton management professor Jitendra Singh says the budget has done “a reasonable job” and provided “a good starting point for bolder steps” that may follow. “Critics, some of whom are quite vocal, need to take a step back and view matters with the appropriate perspective,” he notes.Saikat Chaudhuri, executive director of Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management, adds: “Like most people, I was a bit underwhelmed, as I did not see a marked shift or new impetus.” But he notes that critics should “give some benefit of doubt and grant more time, until the next budget, to see the contours of the Modi government’s new thrust. There simply wasn’t sufficient time to understand, analyze and plan for a new direction a month into assuming office.”The expectations placed on the new government’s budget “would be high to begin with,” says Wharton professor of finance Krishna Ramaswamy. “Their eye on a weak monsoon and unresolved global economic recovery uncertainties might have tempered their desire to make aggressive changes that might affect the deficit.” In particular, he adds he would have looked for “more positive measures” in the tax initiatives.Fiscal DeficitThe key elements of continuity from Chidambaram’s interim Budget are the fiscal deficit numbers. The February 2014 Budget had set the target for 2014-2015 at 4.1% of GDP. “The target of 4.1% fiscal deficit is indeed daunting,” said Jaitley in his Budget speech. “Difficult as it may appear, I have decided to accept this target as a challenge. One fails only when one stops trying. My roadmap for fiscal consolidation is a fiscal deficit of 3.6% for 2015-2016 and 3% for 2016-2017.”Not everybody thinks he can do it. “The Budget announcement lacks details on revenue and expenditure measures to lower the deficit, making it difficult to assess the likelihood that future deficit targets will be met,” according to a report by Moody’s Investor Service. Adds an analysis by India Ratings: “The Budget arithmetic is slightly optimistic.”The economy appears to be swinging into a growth phase, so Jaitley’s numbers may yet have a chance. On the other hand, the Iraq conflict, which has resulted in higher prices for oil (India’s main imports), and a very poor monsoon to date may send the calculations awry.With so many imponderables, there is some praise for Jaitley’s efforts. “I believe this is a prudent, courageous budget,” says Wharton professor of marketing Jagmohan S. Raju. “The Budget provides incentives in important sectors such as infrastructure and manufacturing, with plans to keep deficits under control.”Wharton professor of operations and information management Kartik Hosanagar praises the budget for providing a boost to manufacturing, saying that such a measure “is exactly what India needs right now.” He adds that more progress is needed on this front. “For example, the import tax on finished products was lower than that on parts, which hurt Indian manufacturers. They fixed that,” Hosanagar says. “They will need to do more, but it’s a good start.” He lists other priorities the Modi government must respond to: “India needs to address its deficit and reduce some of the mass subsidies, and offer subsidies in a more targeted fashion.”At the same time, it is important to note that Modi’s approach to developing Gujarat, the state where he served as chief minister from 2001-2014, “was not a flashy one,” notes Chaudhuri. “[Modi] spent years developing infrastructure and accumulating land, as well as streamlining policy and administrative processes, before being recognized for attracting industry and economic growth. So he may not be one to offer ‘quick fix’ type approaches, but will emphasize building fundamentals.”The Union Budget demonstrates a similar focus, adds Chaudhuri, pointing to moves including the formal sanction of the dedicated Eastern freight corridor with industrial parks around it, development of the Ganga waterway for transport, various cluster initiations in biotech and the completion of a number of ongoing, but slow-moving, infrastructure projects. He expects “a clearer vision” of the Modi government’s agenda to emerge over the coming months through policy modifications, culminating in the next budget.“Given the limited time since being elected and the current state of the economy, I don’t think big-bang reforms were quite possible yet,” says Pankaj Dinodia, CEO of the Delhi-based Dinodia Capital Advisors. “But the Budget has set the tone right and has all the ingredients to put India back on growth track.”Creating a CatalystManish Sabharwal, co-founder and chairman of staffing services firm TeamLease, notes that the role of the Union Budget is “not to set things on fire but to create the conditions for spontaneous combustion,” namely “a number of genetically diverse and statistically independent tries by all kinds of entrepreneurs — small, big, local, foreign.“In 1991, we wrongly defined reforms as purely fixing the sins of commission — what the state was doing wrong — but our big problems are the sins of omission — what the state is not doing,” Sabharwal notes. “The four big themes of this Budget — urbanization, infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship — are about the sins of omission. India should have become a very attractive destination [during] the global financial crisis, but we got a heavy dose of friendly fire. Of course, the finance minister could have done more and I am confident he will. But there is a difference between the list of ingredients and the recipe. This government understands that prioritization, sequencing and tradeoffs are the key to execution because they have a decisive mandate for five years.”But the problems many critics have with the Budget is not the recipe, but some specific ingredients. Take, for instance, retrospective taxation, which was used in the 2011-2012 Budget to impose a $2.2 billion liability on Vodafone after the company had won its case in the Supreme Court. The case has now gone for arbitration.It was expected that Jaitley’s budget would address the Vodafone issue, which has been a deterrent to foreign investment. Instead, the Budget states that “the sovereign right of the government to undertake retrospective legislation is unquestionable.” Thus, the Vodafone case is expected to drag on. Jaitley did, however, throw a bone to investors, noting that “this government will not ordinarily bring about any change retrospectively which creates a fresh liability.” Curiously, however, the Budget elsewhere introduced some minor taxation changes with retrospective effect.“It is not as if the current government has created all the vexing issues India finds itself beset with,” says Wharton’s Singh. “The rather pointless tamasha [Hindi for “theatrics”] with Vodafone, which has done grave damage to India’s image in the global business community, was not authored by the Modi government. Neither was the grim situation with the fiscal deficit.” Singh agrees the government could have done more with the budget, but he wants to give it more time to set a longer-term agenda for reforms.On the subject of retrospective taxation, Singh notes that he can understand why no government would want to tie its hands and rule out the possibility of changing the tax laws with retrospective effect. Even so, a better option for the Jaitley budget would have been to focus on how the Modi government does not intend to move toward retrospective changes in tax laws, he adds.As for the Vodafone matter, Singh says it would be best if the Modi government settles the issue quickly, as much damage has already been done as a result of what Singh calls an “embarrassing mistake.” He notes that “ignoring the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in favor of Vodafone, the incumbent government went after the company, with quite negative results overall. Settling the Vodafone matter would be a positive symbol of the direction the Modi government is moving in.”Clearly, the Vodafone controversy is a test case for foreign investors. “There has been no other single largest deterrent to foreign investment in India than the Vodafone case,” says Dinodia. “Every single company that has looked to set up operations in India has hired an advisory firm to do a deep dive into the Vodafone case and see the probability of them [ending up in a similar situation.] I think the expectations were high that the government would give a clear and direct answer with regard to retrospective amendments. While I don’t think they have sidestepped the issue, it will need to be addressed with further clarity in the next few months in order to bolster investor confidence. Just saying that it won’t happen in the future is sometimes not enough.”Higher FDI LimitsForeign investors are also being wooed by a move to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defense and insurance from 26% to 49%. Observers say it’s a good beginning, and potential Indian joint venture partners are keen to pursue projects. But the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) points out that U.S. companies may not be queuing up at India’s doors. This is only an incremental step, according to the group, and U.S. defense firms would not be enthusiastic about transferring sensitive technology or conducting innovative research unless they have ownership of the joint venture — i.e. a minimum 51% ownership.The USIBC has welcomed the increase in the insurance cap as a sea change. But the “full Indian management and control” stipulation in the Budget may not sit well with some foreign firms. At the same time, India is one of the most underinsured markets in the world — less than 5% of its population has life insurance coverage. While foreign insurance companies could be looking at further relaxations in the future, not all Indian firms are happy with the change. Insurance is a capital-intensive business; not all of them have the deep pockets to match foreign funding. They could be reduced to minority partners when the laws so permit.One other provision of the Budget could cheer foreign investors. “Foreign portfolio investors have invested more than $130 billion in India,” Jaitley said in his speech. “One of their concerns is uncertainty in taxation on account of characterization of their income. Moreover, the fund managers of these foreign investors remain outside India under the apprehension that their presence in India may have adverse tax consequences. With a view to put an end to this uncertainty and to encourage these fund managers to shift to India, I propose to provide that income arising to foreign portfolio investors from transaction in securities will be treated as capital gains.”Jaitley’s two-hour plus oration was the longest Budget speech on record. Among other notable provisions: The public sector banks will recapitalize, but the government will maintain 51% control. There is $33 million for a statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel — the country’s first home minister and deputy prime minister, known as the “Iron Man of India” — being built in Gujarat. On the revenue-garnering side, there have been steep increases in imposts on cigarettes and tobacco products and aerated waters. “These are healthy measures,” said Jaitley. India may be the first country to put carbonated drinks on the same platform as cigarettes.Waiting for the Fine PrintThe Budget also sets aside $1.66 billion for a fund to finance start-up ventures, but the details are unclear.Bharati Jacob, managing partner at VC firm Seedfund says: “It is very refreshing to hear words like entrepreneur, start-up, incubator and accelerator in a budget speech — outside of the word entrepreneur, all others were used for the first time. It is also great that the government has recognized entrepreneurs as a distinct class and also recognized the role they play in job creation, since jobs are the need of the hour for India. [But] I would like to see finer details [of the $1.66 billion] before getting excited about it. What is it meant for? How will it be deployed? If the government uses the money to become a venture investor, it will be disastrous. That job should be left to professional investors. On the other hand, if the government were to use this to create physical incubators — such as the Startup Village in Kochi — managed by professionals, we might see greater impact. So I would wait to see the fine print before getting excited.”E-commerce companies, too, are waiting for the fine print. Jaitley has allowed manufacturing companies to sell their products on e-commerce platforms without any additional approvals. But the issue of FDI in e-commerce remains in limbo.“The Finance Minister’s statement of allowing manufacturing units to sell their products through e-commerce platforms without any additional approvals is a positive statement of intent for the e-commerce industry,” says a spokesperson for Amazon India. “It recognizes the role of e-commerce companies in the growth of the manufacturing sector. Following this statement, we are hopeful of a more positive and liberalized policy on e-commerce in the near future aimed to help grow the manufacturing industry.”Jaitley’s initiative is not so much about e-commerce as manufacturing. “The manufacturing sector is of paramount importance for the growth of our economy. This sector has a multiplier effect on creation of jobs.” said Jaitley in his speech. According to a report by Barclay’s Capital: “The Budget appears to reflect the strong intent of the government to boost the manufacturing sector…. We expect specific action plans to follow in the next few months. The National Manufacturing Policy proposed by the previous government — but yet to be implemented — intended to boost manufacturing to 25% of GDP (from 15% currently) and create employment for 100 million workers in the next 10 years. If the current government sticks to similar targets, it could be a complete game-changer.”Laurent Demortier, CEO and managing director of Avantha Group company Crompton Greaves, says that the government should have done more. “If India needs to be a world-class manufacturing hub, the ecosystem has to facilitate that and incentives for innovation have a big role to play in actualizing this ambition,” he notes. “The big disappointment is the lack of incentives for R&D and innovation.”Job CreationThe manufacturing focus, as Jaitley points out, is necessary for job creation. The Budget also proposes a national program called Skill India, intended to provide training for younger workers, with a focus on employability and entrepreneurship. The proposal gets right to the heart of India’s greatest challenge and opportunity: While the world is aging, India is adding to its numbers in the working age group. The problem, however, is that workers’ skills don’t match the requirements of jobs that employers are seeking to fill.“Job creation is about fixing India’s five geographies of work — physical, sectoral, enterprise, education and legislative,” says Sabharwal. “Fixing the physical geography of work is about urbanization and infrastructure; there was a lot in the Budget about that. The sectoral geography of work is about increasing manufacturing employment … and reducing low productivity agricultural employment …, and there was a lot in the Budget about that.”According to Sabharwal, the enterprise geography of work is about more productive companies. “Today, our 62 million enterprises only translate into 900,000 companies. Of these, only 7,500 have a paid-up capital of more than $2 million,” he notes. “There was a lot about improving the ease of doing business and giving access to credit to entrepreneurs via small banks and the start-up fund.” He adds that the education area also had significant representation.The missing piece, he says, “was probably action around the legislative geography of work. But action on labor law reform began many days ago on the website of the central ministry of labor and in states like Rajasthan. So, overall, I think the Budget was consistent with their election manifesto and what most people believe is needed. Obviously the magic lies in execution. But, as Victor Hugo said, there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. Skilling and employment at the heart of the policy are ideas whose time has come.”Wharton’s Hosanagar notes that the government has demonstrated its willingness to take bold and decisive steps, some of which will be symbolic of the measure of its commitment. He points out the fare increase in the railway budget that preceded the Union Budget as one among “several unpopular measures.” A $340 million allocation to clean up the Ganges River is consistent with the priorities Modi outlined in his election campaign, he adds, although he describes the allocation for a Vallabh Bhai Patel statue as “populist.”Cleaning up the Ganges might be a more welcome action and offer a sensible long-run benefit to all, according to Ramaswamy. “It would have been best to show the right way by leaving the statue-raising to privately-funded groups,” he says.Singh believes that the Ganges cleanup plan is symbolic in many ways. “Indeed, the Ganges can best be viewed as a symbol of much that has gone wrong in India in recent decades, with words sometimes becoming substitutes for decisive action, while serious problems linger beneath the surface,” he says. “We need to see a cleaned-up Ganges, and that will have a salutary effect. This is worth repeating: The importance of symbols in any change program cannot be overstated. This could well prove to be a visionary example of change leadership, though only if the desired results are achieved.”While there is no dearth of critics, Sabharwal and many others are willing to give Jaitley another shot. “We believe a single Budget or one year’s efforts cannot bring the economy out of the low-growth phase; a concentrated effort will be required,” says India Ratings chief economist Devendra Pant. Adds Dinodia: “Hopefully this was a good trailer to a great movie that will be shown in the next full Budget to be presented in February 2015.”As Jaitley himself told the media in Delhi: “This is the beginning of our journey, not the end.” Related Itemslast_img read more

India to Discontinue Haj Subsidy

first_imgThe Government of India will be discontinuing the Haj pilgrimage subsidy from 2018, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed on Jan. 16.“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi was quoted as saying by the Times of India.The funds that were used for the Haj subsidy will now be used for educational empowerment and welfare of girls from minority communities. The government is also going to offer two transport options now — air and waterways.The new policy seeks to rationalize distribution of the quota between Haj Committee of India and private tour operators in 70:30 ratio in the next five years. It also seeks to get rid of the cartel of contractors by inviting other contractors through a transparent bidding process.With the subsidy, thousands of Muslims from India were able to get cheaper air tickets to Saudi Arabia to go to Mecca. However, Saudi Arabia has now allowed waterways travel for Indians.“We believe in empowerment without appeasement,” Naqvi said, adding that 1.75 lakh Muslims would be going for the pilgrimage in 2018 since Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.“Muslims didn’t benefit from it. Development with dignity is what we believe in. The subsidy will be used for educating girls,” Naqvi said.The subsidy is being scrapped as per a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Center to abolish it gradually by 2022.“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with (till 2022). Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” Naqvi had said earlier.In an effort to ease travel for Muslim women, the government had earlier said that women aged above 45 years can go on Haj in a group of four without any mehram — male relatives they cannot marry. Related ItemsIslamMeccaSaudi Arabialast_img read more

That’s A Lot Of Pink Paint

first_imgThis gives a new meaning to painting the town pink. Jaipur recently had its month long 278th foundation day celebrations and the day began with prayers at the Ganesh temple at the Moti Doongri Palace. The city, which was founded in 1727, is supposed to be India’s first planned city and is still going strong. A birthday present to the pink city was a fresh coat of pink paint for the entire walled city. Now that must have been some paint job, but the city is blushing like a new bride! In Jaipur, the philosophy seems to be think pink and get green – tourists’ dollars, that is! Related Itemslast_img

Bells On Their Feet

first_imgIt was something Sheena and Kristen Dauro started when they were just six and seven. Now nine years later, they were ready for their arangetram, literally “ascending the stage” – their first public performance of Bharat Natyam. Bedecked in fine silks and jewels, their eyes rimmed with kohl and with ghungroos tied around their ankles, they were all set to give the performance of a lifetime.Indeed, it’s that time of the year when the glossy invitation cards start arriving in the mail and a whole celebratory dance season begins for Indian immigrants, as young Bharat Natyam dancers get ready for the Arangetram, a major event in a young dancer’s life.Bharat Natyam is 3,500 to 5,000 years old, a classical dance form from South India that originated as religious dance. Here, continents away, it is being embraced by young Indian Americans and dance schools have proliferated across the United States as immigrant parents try to pass on the cultural traditions of their homeland.Bicultural couples are also embracing classical dance. “Since we are from two different faiths,” says Sunita Makhijani-Dauro, mother of Kristen and Sheena Dauro, “We thought if we immerse our children in something that speaks with a strong degree of heritage, it would really bring them to that feeling of discipline and commitment.” They had their arangetram this summer, a culmination of a dance journey that started when they were six and seven with their dance guru Satya Pradeep. Their arangetram involved a live orchestra from Bangalore, beautiful cards and special outfits for the dance performance at the Jeanne Rimsky Theater.Indeed, the hoopla around the arangetram has made it almost as ostentatious an event as a wedding! Relatives and friends travel from all over, even from as far as India, to witness the big event. For the dancer’s family it’s a major event with ornate invitation cards, rich costumes and jewelry and the hiring of musicians, photographers and videographers, besides renting a large hall and organizing dinner celebrations for the guests.Some families get custom-tailored costumes from India, others take a drive to Little Indias, while still others, like Makhijani-Dauro, visit Cyberspace. She was amazed to find that made-to-measure costumes as well as beautiful cards and brochures for the ceremony could all be ordered over the Internet.Says Satya Pradeep, who has done scores of arangetrams over the years, “Nowdays arangetrams have become more of a social gathering. We tend to focus more on the costumes and elaborate settings. But really it is a time to showcase the dancer’s hard work and years of training and talent to family and friends. Related Itemslast_img read more

Are Stage Actors Really Superior to Screen Actors

first_imgThe gifted and iconoclastic star of Ray’s classic Ghare Baire and David Lean’s unforgettable Passage to India, Victor Banerjee, once acerbically commented: “Theater is a sacred communion with the muse, while cinema is, at best, a fantastic one-night stand!”Another veteran actor asserted: “Most Bollywood stars are reaping the fruits of good fortune — kismet, naseeb — right time, right place, right connections with an audience-base, bred and buttered on low-browed, mindless hamming that goes for great acting! No wonder, neither our stars nor cinema feature anywhere in world cinema.”Victor Banerjee as Khwaja Saheb in Meherjaan: “Theater is a sacred communion with the muse, while cinema is, at best, a fantastic one-night stand!”Bombastic and dismissive as these barbs may be, how come stage actors, for all their training and brilliance, never make it, either in Bollywood or Hollywood? Acknowledged greats of the British theater — Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Paul Scofield, Alec Guinness, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud—all made the trek to Tinsel Town, inviting appropriate awe. But on screen, they rarely matched the star-power or popularity of Rock Hudson, William Holden, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas or Gregory Peck, right? Similarly, for all their acting talents, the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri or Pankaj Kapoor have never really lit up the screen or connected with mass audiences on the same scale as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Dharamendra, Hrithik Roshan or Akshay Kumar.So why this inverted snobbery, superiority complex and condescension toward movie-acting?Brilliant teacher-turned screen actor and alum of the National School of Drama Adil Hussain — Life of Pi, English Vinglish, Lootera — argues that “Bollywood is more about waiting than acting. You wait for your shot for five hours and then if you are lucky, you get maybe five minutes of acting!”He also has coined a unique name for Bollywood acting — Fedex! — “Once Action is yelled, you need to instantly perform and move on ….”Pankaj Kapur in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.He believes that despite some brilliant screen actors — Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar — Bollywood is not conducive to good acting, and mediocrity is just fine to garner one fame and riches. “Posturing is the name of the game and mass audiences conditioned to this nautanki lap it up. Theater is more real and pure, but since our audiences have been corrupted beyond measure, theater actors find limited acceptance in this space,” he says.Renowned Kolkata-based theater director Sohag Sen says: “I believe, involvement and internalization of your role and presentation in a focused and compelling manner is the same in both platforms. The challenge is, since they are separate platforms — one is raw and basic, the other technology-driven — to intelligently understand and adapt one’s skills to suit the respective mediums.”Shyam Benegal: “It’s not about superior or inferior, but about who is in control. In the theater, the actor is the king, storm-center and focal point.”Mumbai-based theater actor and director Bharat Dabolkar is partial toward theater: “You see theater is the real thing. To remain in character for two hours, with no luxury of re-takes or technological advantages and facing a live audience, day in and day out, separates the boys from the men … and the bouquets and brickbats that arrive instantly is a different feeling altogether.”Dabolkar concedes, however, that film acting too has its challenges, where an actor can well begin with Scene 36 and a week or month later do Scene 18. It is the actor’s responsibility to stay in continuity and character. Not an easy task. However, support systems and technology are always there to help — something that is totally missing in theater.Ranjon Ghoshal portraying Rabindranath Tagore in 2011.“It’s like after all the coaching and discussions with your team experts, you go out to the middle to bat. You are all alone and it’s you against the bowler. You sink or swim,” he says.Renowned film critic Saibal Chatterjee offers a different spin: “The reason why brilliant theater personalities like Naseer, Om, Pankaj and gang have not been able to make the cut in mainstream Bollywood is because it’s a different template. They find it very difficult to indulge in the mandatory over-the-top, jatra kind of histrionics, trained as they are to underplay and be realistic. Naseer has admitted time and again that he found it both awkward and embarrassing and just couldn’t manage to square off with that brand of performance … and didn’t really feel like conforming to win mass acceptance.“The result is that he continues to be an icon for the evolved and discriminating. His latest film Waiting once again re-enforces his stunning gifts as an actor par excellence, but ignored by the devotees of the mega-stars.”Chatterjee however admits that it’s silly to summarily dismiss screen actors because a Govinda or SRK bring a unbelievable believability, excitement and energy to make the craziest scenes, audience-friendly, something theater actors would find difficult.Eminent Bangalore-based theater director Ranjon Ghoshal takes a more nuanced view: “It’s true about the inverted snobbery that many theater actors feel about cinema and that’s largely because they are on the side of acting defining linear truths and realism, divorced from the large doses of glamor, star-power and other distractions that kill the essence of a great performance. Bollywood screen stars, mostly, represent the sizzle not the steak!”Ghoshal says it would be meaningful for actors to move to movies for money, build brand equity in name and fame and return to the stage with a pre-sold audience-base, balancing between art and commerce.What better way to wrap up the debate than tune-in with two illustrious icons of Indian cinema, veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal and Om Puri, poster boys of parallel cinema that swept India in the 1970s.The father of the New Cinema that charmed the audiences of the 1970s, Benegal is clarity personified: “It’s not about superior or inferior, but about who is in control. In the theater, the actor is the king, storm-center and focal point. It is he who rules and he alone who shapes and forms the performance by intelligently pitching it to a level that connects convincingly with the live audience. Sure the director and writer play a part, but ultimately it is the actor who makes it happen. The theater, hence, is totally the actor’s medium. In cinema, it is totally the director’s medium. It is his vision and every move is directed and choreographed under his supervision. Great screen actors interpret his vision, but even by mimicking the director’s direction, a fair level of competence can be achieved.”Benegal is however quick to concede that gifted actors quickly accept and learn to adapt and realize that “the camera is their audience and the pitching style is totally different with the dynamics of screen acting offering its own unique compulsions and demands.”An actor of great power and intensity whose performances scorched the scene every time he appeared, Om Puri says: “For me, cinema is the child of the theater. All other aspects were borrowed from the theater because that was the only reference point. With time, it developed its own road map and with technology stepping in, it really took off.”Regarding which is superior, Puri demurs, arguing that both have their own challenges:“In theater, it’s you and the audiences — no retakes or technology backup. In cinema, you have to evoke and build-up believable intensity amidst tons of distracting props — lights, people, wires — in a manner that is convincing. You have to concentrate and focus hard on the lines and mood of the scene, blocking off everything else, unlike theater, where there are no such distractions. Of course, you have the luxury of retakes, but that challenge remains.”Regarding Bollywood’s corrupting influence, the star of Akrosh and East is East, believes it’s up to the makers “whether you want Bhimsen Joshi or Daler Mehendi!”At a personal level, Puri prefers cinema, simply because “I can reach out to many more people across the globe than theater. However, theater does provide a deeper connect and that definitive moment of truth that cinema can seldom match, because people mostly associate movies with entertainment, glamor and technology.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

Mind Your English

first_imgLast year, when Bollywood’s biggest export to Hollywood thus far, actor Priyanka Chopra, was asked on the Chelsea Handler show if she knew English when she came to the United States as a 12-year-old, Chopra responded that 10 percent of Indians, nearly 1.3 million people, spoke English, which was greater than the population of many nations.While Chopra may have got her statistics mixed up — 10 percent of the Indian population constitutes nearly 130 million people — her response, nonetheless, captured the scale of the popularity of the language in the country, and the widespread misconception that persists about the English language skills of Indians. For a growing population of high-heeled, well-educated Indians, living in metros, attending elite schools and colleges, English has de-facto become a language of choice, not just for work and study, but also for most social interactions.Priyanka ChopraIndeed, as English becomes increasingly pervasive in cosmopolitan circles, regional languages and Hindi are taking a beating.India is the second largest English-speaking country after the United States with nearly 125 million English speakers. This is particularly astonishing considering that the country has 22 official languages. Hindi is the country’s principal language, but English is recognized as the language for official communications.Globalization and a colonial hangover have contributed to the growing importance of the language. English language skills are prized in white-collar jobs and are de-riguer to establish one’s place in the nuanced social circle of educated Indians.Middle and upper class Indians consider it essential to send their kids to English medium schools. Even politicians who rail against the colonial influence of English, often pack their children to elite English boarding schools in Dehradun and Darjeeling. In the crème circles of society, kids are growing up largely monolingual. In urban cities, it’s not uncommon in affluent and educated households for parents to speak to their kids only in English. The elitist school protocol considers it no less than sacrilege to converse with students in any language other than English and increasingly because of peer pressure, kids interact amongst each other only in English. There is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that children are losing touch with their native language or mother tongue.Indian Hindi news channels often throw English words in between, many Bollywood songs have a few English lines and colloquial language in big to small cities is often interspersed with a generous sprinkling of English.Avantika Kukreti, content head at, a popular parenting website in India, says: “Amongst the recurring queries we get from parents in India remains that how do they ensure their children are fluent in English from a young age. We always advise them to take the process organically, not aggressively. While it is important for kids to know and speak English, what is also equally important is that they do not let go of inherent strengths they are born with — that of growing up in multilingual households.”While Kukreti takes pride in encouraging native languages in the younger generation, she runs into practical challenges. The expectation to be adept in English comes early. Most private schools in Delhi admitting three to four years old in elementary classes pay special emphasis on their understanding and ability to speak in English. Also, in reputed private schools in India it’s not uncommon for parents to be advised to converse with kids only in English at home.Prerna Pandey, a Mumbai based science researcher, who has two daughters aged 14 and 4, says: “While I did not consciously send my kids to elite schools as I wanted to give them a more grounded upbringing, but there have been times that I have been advised by my 4-year-old’s teachers to speak with her in English at home.”She adds: “In our family we give equal emphasis to all the languages and my father-in-law, a Hindi scholar, makes it a point to talk to my daughters in real Hindi,but I do not pressure my kids to pick up anything. They are free to make their choices.” Native languages are increasingly taking a back seat. Pandey says: “My brother-in-law, a Bengali, speaks to his kids in Bengali and we all encourage it, but while kids knowing how to read or write the language will be a topping on the cake, in reality it gets difficult given their already packed school schedules.”The absence of practical usage of a language also works as a deterrent. Kukrety, who lives in the state of Maharasthra, says: “While Marathi is added as an essential subject in many schools, often students just treat it as a subject to secure passing marks only. The need is to develop that passion.”A 2013, survey by the Bhasha Research and Publication Center in India revealed that 220 Indian languages disappeared during the past 50 years and another 150 are in danger of fading as their speakers dwindle.In elite neighborhoods of big Indian cities, children are often left to pick up Hindi through conversations with the household help. Parents often scramble to develop native language skills in their children. Kukrety, who has a five-year-old daughter, says: “We have a rule in the house that one of the parent talks to our daughter in Hindi only. But it’s not about the language alone, I also read her Amar Chitra Katha, the Indian mythologies, and point out the Indian leaders on the chart. It’s about learning the world order while not letting go of what we already have.”Outside elitist circles in India though, Hindi and regional languages continue to dominate. Bollywood and South India film industry are breaking new box office records. Hindi newspaper subscriptions continue to trump English ones. The top three Indian publications in the 2013 Indian Readership Survey are published in Hindi. Only one English publication made the top 10 list.Nevertheless, parents recognize that English is the language of commerce and professional success. Academic instructor Shalini Singh says:“Most of our official documentation and practices are in English, so it is only obvious that the younger lot will get more inclined towards languages more avidly used.”Pandey concurs: “My 14-year-old finds Sanskrit fascinating and much as I am overwhelmed by her interest, but I know it’s not a language used widely, nonetheless we are doing everything to encourage her interest.”Correction: The spelling of Avantika Kukreti has been corrected. Related Itemslast_img read more

Chai Biscuits, Chapped Lips And Saudade

first_imgIt was a painfully cold evening when I decided that a trip to one of the biggest Indian departmental stores in the United States was long overdue. It had been four months and I had finally given up. My whole life I had believed when in Rome act like a Roman. But here we were in Boston for four months and still struggling figure out what to eat. It was as simple as that.Sure we ate, but nothing seemed filling. Food is tangible and it no doubt filled our stomachs. But food is also ethereal, an impalpable connection in ether linking us to each other, to places, to feelings. In my 30 years on this planet, I haven’t faced much difficulty finding this link. I am easy to please and I often find myself pulled to new food experiences.A new city. First stroll in the neighborhood. There is something about that little food joint in a street corner where a middle-aged couple (or young, or single) are cooking some love. These little restaurants are the best places to eat your meals three times a day, seven days a week. They are deep at heart and light on the pocket. For four months we had been searching for such a place.So on a damp snowy evening we left for Patel Brothers, two bus rides and 15 minutes on foot away.As I stepped into the store, that Indian feeling didn’t strike me from the front or above. It came from below my feet. I was standing on a flattened-out brown cardboard carton, which, with others, stretched from half a foot outside the door to five feet inside. The firm cushioning under my feet was reminiscent of shopping in the monsoons in my Indian town, where broken-down cartons were laid out at the entrance of the store as a jugaad (makeshift arrangement) to catch water and mud from dirty and wet footwear.The vegetables were straight ahead. However, we chose to begin in the “cosmetics” section. Cosmetics is a popular Indian term for not just beauty aids, but anything and everything applied to the body. Everything from Pond’s Talcum Powder, Parachute Hair Oil, Zhandu Balm to Kayam Churna, Vasmol Kesh Kala,Godrej Nupur Mehendi, Iodex and Btex, lined the shelves. I didn’t use any of these products back in India, but they brought back nostalgic memories.The names, the shape, the color of these bottles, the logos and branding, didn’t just take me to the India from four months ago, but to my childhood in Shahjahanpur. To the narrow lanes lined by sari stores, occasional beauty parlors and tiny cosmetics shops, which also sell blouse pieces. Here a middle-aged man runs a folded sari over stacks of bundled clothes, like running one’s finger on books neatly lined in a library shelf, hoping to find the exact match for the patient woman customer, who is very particular about the green to match her sari, bottle gourd green or algae green. These alleys are always in shade. They are cold and damp. Such a relief in the summers.We were excited by each item, choodi, bindi, kumkum, kajal, the traditional adornments of a Hindu wife, and another section for prayer utilities, including idols of gods and goddesses and their clothing. We picked out a green aluminium tube of Boroline. Our chapped lips and cracked heels were in for a treat! The antiseptic ayurvedic Boroline cream reminds me of my grandmother whose monthly ration used to include five tubes of this magical ointment, a panacea for the Indian middle class. Grandfather sportingly exaggerated it to 10. When she passed away, I couldn’t reach home in time for her cremation. After she was gone, it was the overwhelming smell of Boroline in her room that shook me to tears. These days in India, Boroline has been revamped into chic white plastic tubs for an urbane demographic.Along with the Boroline, we picked out every damn thing that we steer away from in India. We began searching for the one of the oldest, cheapest, most popular brands of biscuits in India, Parle G. Dunk it in hot chai for Chai-Biscuit. In the biscuit section we found many other brands, but not Parle. We picked up a substitute.In the frozen food section, we grabbed every Indian entrée possible, Palak Paneer, Chhole, Bhindi Masala, Baingan Bharta, and several Indian breads, roti, paratha, plain, stuffed. They looked far more appetizing and were substantially cheaper than anything we had eaten so far.Even though we steer away from desserts to avoid getting addicted to them, we couldn’t help but pick out the ultimate winter delicacy, Gajar Ka Halwa, to welcome the new year. The warm cardomomy carrot pudding is one of the most sought-after winter desserts in India. There is no right time or right place or right way to eat it. Out in the sun on the streets in the morning, or in bed in the cold night. Bought at mishthan bhandars, the Indian sweet shops, by the plate, or made at home by the kilo. In dona, the Indian disposable bowl made out of dried banyan leaves, for street food, or in fancy chinaware. After a luxurious lunch, or by itself with milk for breakfast. A prasad offered to the gods, or a post-party indulgence.By this time, we had convinced each other that it was okay to spend the extra money to Uber our way back home so that we could grab everything we wanted. As we prepared to head to the register, an item came to my mind and I scurried to grab it. Apologetically, I said to my husband, “just one more thing.”He is not the sort of man who finds the joy I do in things that come in packets. He enters a store with a list, not necessarily on paper, and is ready to leave once everything is checked off. He had been quite enthusiastic thus far, but I knew I was treading the line. On returning, I couldn’t locate him. He is usually found where I leave him. Peeking through the aisles, I found him in the snack section struggling to choose between bhujia, a spicy fried chickpea snack, and moong dal. The dal won out.After paying the $84 to Mr Patel and his Brothers, on our way out, something yellow and red with a baby face on it caught my eye. Parle G. Because its price keeps lowering, there is a meme in India about a day in the future when Parle G will be sold at a negative digit price. Here it was casually thrown in a big basket in the vegetable section, next to a basket of potatoes, labelled 6 for $1.What were we thinking looking for it in the biscuits section?We grabbed a few and stood in line once again. Related Itemslast_img read more

An Alternative to Bollywood Style

first_imgOff a smoggy, six lane highway in India’s capital, past a Catholic church and an elegant mosque painted white and green, is a low-slung, 1950s-style bungalow on a pink bougainvillea-lined lane where wild peacocks roam. This is the studio of Ruchika Sachdeva, the womenswear designer British Vogue called “a bellwether for a new kind of generational change.”“I don’t want to make more things,” Sachdeva said, as she sorted through swatches of fine Indian hand-loomed textiles. “I want to make clothes that are meaningful for both the wearer and the world around them.”Sachdeva, 31, moved one large step closer to her goal earlier this year when she won the International Woolmark Prize for womenswear (the same prize that Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent won years ago, and which was reintroduced in 2012 as a consciously inclusive and wide-ranging hallmark of new talent) with her label, Bodice Studio.Now, with release of the Woolmark collection at retailers including Mytheresa and Farfetch this summer, her approach is about to go global.In an undated handout photo, a bomber jacket in light wool from Bodice Studio. Handout via The New York Times“I feel when you are from India, people only focus on tradition, but when I use traditional craft, my idea is to ensure that it’s not limited to the place it comes from,” Sachdeva said. “Growing up in West Delhi, I often felt restricted. There was just too much bling and an excess of embroidery on everything. My mother always taught me the values of Sanskar balance, of being secure in yourself, and I feel that has had a big influence on me and the clothes I create.”Fine-gauge merino wool, some of it hand-woven in the Himalayas, is used to create pieces that are structured and fluid. An innovative binding technique results in knife-sharp, color-contrast pleats.The fall collection, which ranges from $400 to $1,900, includes midi-length skirts, prim but sporty dresses and a standout powder pink wool suit dyed with madder (a flowering plant with roots containing a compound that produces a nontoxic dye) by artisans in central India.A twist on the traditional tailored suit, it has graphic lines that make references to classic sportswear, but its graceful flared cut evokes 18th-century Indian dancers of the Mughal Empire, a constant inspiration in Sachdeva’s work.Indeed, Bodice Studio shatters many stereotypes of Indian design as shaped by its Bollywood-influenced bridal market or the rapturous kitsch excesses of diaspora designers like Manish Arora and Ashish. Perhaps that is why, since its introduction in 2011, it has become a go-to label for Indian women across the creative industries.In an undated handout photo, Ruchika Sachdeva, the designer of Bodice Studio. Bodice, the winner of the Woolmark prize, wants to change how the world sees Indian fashion. (Handout via The New York Times)Sachdeva has a presence that exudes quiet authority, gleaned in part from becoming the first woman in her family to study abroad. She left Delhi in 2007 to attend the London College of Fashion.“My mother got calls from extended family, saying, ‘Ruchika’s going to come back with so many Westernized ideas,’” she said. “They were focused on the idea of me being a good, dutiful daughter who shouldn’t be allowed to go off and study by herself. You can send your son but not your daughter. There’s that kind of double standard.”Her mother resisted the family pressure and, Sachdeva said, “always told my sister and I that we should become women of our own means, not be dependent, work hard and run our own lives. She was the feminist in our house.”The London College of Fashion led to an internship with Vivienne Westwood. That, led to the decision to return to India to create clothing that gives expression to the wealth of craft and hand-woven textiles that often languish undervalued in the place of their birth.“London with its subcultures, history of punk and galleries of contemporary art has a huge culture of questioning aesthetics,” Sachdeva said. “It was very formative for me to be challenged about my own preconceived notions of beauty.”Such challenges came into play with the Woolmark Prize collection. “There were so many things I wanted to do that often get pushed to the side in the process of running a fashion business,” Sachdeva said. “The Woolmark process gave me a full year to focus on textiles, to experiment with craft and also with cutting-edge technology, and to push the boundaries with color.”In an undated handout photo, a look from Bodice Studio. Bodice, the winner of the Woolmark prize, wants to change how the world sees Indian fashion. Handout via The New York Times.A pleated shirt and pants, for example, is tinted an earthy pink made from madder. A bottle-green bomber in light wool with navy ribbed cuffs and pocket flaps is both sporty and elegant, the sleeves and front breast panels lent abstract surface texture with a traditional kantha (running) stitch inspired by an old family tradition and lore.“In Bengal women use kantha to recycle old, worn-out saris into quilts,” Sachdeva said. “Traditionally, it’s believed that the bonds of love between the women who wore the saris, and the care with which they stitch layers of them into quilts, makes them auspicious, protecting newborns who are wrapped in them.”An original way of thinking about recycling, and perhaps, new Indian aesthetics, too.© New York Times 2018 Related ItemsFashionlast_img read more

NRI Denied Bail for Murder That Took Place 20 Years Ago in Gujarat

first_imgA Non-Resident Indian nabbed 20 years after allegedly committing a murder in India was denied bail by the Gujarat High Court recently. He was caught at the Mumbai airport in January 2018 for a murder that took place in his village in Kheda in 1998.Ashwin Patel was caught for allegedly murdering Girish Patel by poisoning him in April 1998, the Times of India reported. Ashwin and Girish, who were business partners in New Jersey, had returned to their native village, Surasamal, near Nadiad. Girish had migrated to America in 1988 and settled there. He married a U.S. citizen and the couple had two kids.Ashwin, Girish’s cousin, joined him in the United States a few years later, and initially, lived with him. According to the statement given by Girish’s brother to the police, Ashwin and Girish’s wife started having an affair. Girish later divorced his wife due to the reason and sent his children to India.In April 1998, Girish was in India and Ashwin had also returned to meet him. Ashwin and two others allegedly hatched a plan to abduct Girish and murder him. Girish was found dead, lying in the Narmada canal near Jol village.One of the conspirators in the murder committed suicide in April 1998 after Girish’s death.“Mayank committed suicide on railway tracks near Vasad in April that year, leaving behind a note that he cannot run away from truth. Investigations revealed Mayank had gone to Mumbai to drop Ashwin from where he left for the United States. It was matter of time when we put pieces of jigsaw together through technical intelligence and arrested the accused Ashok and Jashbhai,” VR Toliya, the then inspector of LCB Kheda, told the publication.Two other people were arrested and put on trial but were acquitted later. However, the police were able to arrest Ashwin, who had changed his surname to Pathak, through a Lookout Notice.This is the second time his bail was rejected. A chargesheet was filed against him and he applied to the high court with contention that two persons have been acquitted in this case and there was no evidence against him. However, Justice JB Pardiwala denied bail and ordered the trial court to complete the trial against him within three months, according to another TOI report.The HC also said, “The directions issued by this Court with regard to conduct the trial on day-to-day basis shall be strictly complied with, failing which appropriate action shall be taken on the administrative side.” Related ItemsGujaratlast_img read more

India to take on Australia in World Cup warm-up match

first_imgWith eyes firmly set on the silverware, India will look to gain momentum and start their World Cup campaign on a positive note when they take on Australia in their first warm-up match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday.With memories of 2007 Caribbean World Cup disaster – where they crashed out in the opening round after losing to Bangladesh in the first match – still fresh in their minds, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side will be extra careful against the title-holders Australia, who are coming into the tournament high on confidence after the 6-1 thrashing of England.The day-night affair against Australia on Sunday will also be of high significance for India in the context of fitness of a few players, including the batting trio of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar, who are returning to the side after a short injury lay-off.Sehwag, personally, would be looking to get back amongst runs, which eluded him in the Test series in South Africa that was followed by him missing the ODI series due to a shoulder injury, while Tendulkar, who also returned midway from the African nation because of a hamstring problem, will be eager to leave an impression in what probably is his last World Cup.The match against Australia will also give an opportunity to middle-order batsmen Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to return to form.The trio of Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina all got starts in South Africa but failed to capitalise on them and would be desperate to return to form.The match is of special importance for Raina, who faces a tough competition from Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan, to retain his place in the playing eleven.From the point of view of bowlers, Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan would be looking forward to carry on their good work, while taking wickets is the only thing that will be on left-arm pacer Ashish Nehra’s mind going into the game.For right-arm fast bowler S Sreesanth, who replaced injured Praveen Kumar in the last minute, it is an opportunity to impress upon the team management for the third seamer’s spot in the playing eleven.The spin department, meanwhile, is in the safe hands of experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. But the thing to watch out for is the healthy competition between proven customer R Ashwin and surprise inclusion Piyush Chawla.Australia, on other hand, is high on confidence after avenging their Ashes series loss in the seven-match ODI series against England.It is for the first time the Aussies have approached the World Cup on such a low-profile note despite being the champions in the last three editions of the mega-event, courtesy their humiliating Ashes defeat on the home turf.But the Indians, considered as one of the favourites in the tournament, cannot afford to take Australia lightly in Sunday’s practice match as skipper Ricky Ponting has already warned the opponents not to underestimate Aussies’ abilities, especially in the World Cup, where they have an impeccable past record.”I don’t really care where we start the tournament. It is irrelevant. I think going into the last World Cup, there was negativity around us. We lost the Commonwealth Bank series in home and also lost to New Zealand before the last World Cup.So there were a few doubts around our team but we went there and won the World Cup. I don’t think it really matters too much what’s happening in the lead-up,” Ponting had said.Australian team has considerable amount of experience of playing in subcontinent conditions and also boasts a very good record here.”We are pretty confident coming into the World Cup just beating a pretty good English side 6-1. We are in really good shape and confident. We have the momentum going around.”There is no doubt that Australian cricket team has pretty good record in World Cup and bigger events but as I said, we are not thinking about it right now. We have a really good squad and we will be doing everything to the best of our ability,” Ponting said.The Aussie skipper, who is returning after an injury lay-off that saw him miss the last Ashes Test and the entire ODI series against England due to broken finger, will be looking to get back into rhythm in the two practice games against India on Sunday and South Africa on February 15.”My finger is doing pretty well. I am looking forward to play in the two practice games against India and South Africa,” he said.Both India and Australia are expected to test their 15 players in two practice games in the run-up to the World Cup.Apart from a strong batting department which features the likes of Ponting, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, in-form David Hussey, Cameron White and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, Australian team also has a formidable pace battery which will be spearheaded by rejuvenated and experienced Brett Lee.However, the only worrying factor for Australia lies in its slow bowling department which does not have quality spinners.Jason Krejza and all-rounder Steve Smith are expected to take up the responsibility of the spin department and the duo will be ably supported by part-time spinners Clarke and Hussey.advertisementadvertisement- With PTI inputslast_img read more


first_imgFifth Race: The Panchshil Million 1400 MetresFifth Race: The Panchshil Million 1400 Metres Magnificence (M/s Madhav G. Patankar & Rajesh Monga)60 Neeraj Rawal first Exodus 53 Santosh G second Pink Panther 53 Suraj Narredu third Magical Memory 51 Yash Narredu fourth Not Run: Nil Favourites: Queen Credible Won By: 1 1/4 L, Shd, 2 L Time: 1 minute 26.57 seconds Tote: Rs 64 for win, Rs 20 Rs 21 and Rs 13 for places Forecast: Rs 452 Shp: Rs 61 Quinella: Rs 281 Tanala: 70 per cent: Rs 2018 on 10 tickets. 30 per cent: Rs 961 on 9 tickets (More) PTI COR RDS NRB SSClast_img

Mike Gundy on locker room dancing: ‘I’m the best at it’

first_imgMike Gundy talked to Doug Gottlieb about dancing in the locker room and how coach is doing it now.“They’re not as good, though, when you watch them. I said ‘listen, I’m the best at it and I’m the guy who started it. Some of these other guys who do it they’re just not as good as I am at it, they really struggle with it.”Doug asked him if he’s showing his stuff off at the Tumbleweed.“I served so much time at the Tumbleweed that I haven’t had the guts to go back out there.”I don’t even know what to say about any of this. When he said “I’m the best at it” I lost it. I spewed tea onto my desk.Also he talks math and science in the same answer about why his starters don’t play on special teams…which is always scary. Even though it’s well-documented that I love what Gundy is doing.“The math of it, Doug….we’re real into the science part of saving our players’ legs and trying to keep them fresh.”Basketball references, Tumbleweed thoughts, being jealous of Kingbury, “ack-your-it” talk, referencing his school in the third person, this interview really had it all. Two of my favorite talkers, too.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!last_img read more

The magic two words that will get people to retweet you

first_imgDan Zarrella is one of my favorite thinkers on social media, because he mines massive amounts of data and bases his recommendations on hard science. This is relatively rare yet needed in the field of social media marketing, and so he’s well worth following.He recently analyzed 2.7 million tweets and concluded the following that people retweet when they are asked nicely as part of the original tweet. Conclusion? If you have something you want people to spread, ask them – with a pretty please.last_img

5 Ways to Use Stories to Increase Donations

first_imgThere are infinite ways to tell your nonprofit stories, but do you know which ones will lead to more donations? Check out these great tips shared in our free webinar, How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations. 2. Share stories on your blog.Blogging is a great way to grow your online presence, establish credibility, and increase your reach. You can highlight specific constituents, volunteers, staff, and board members—you can even let them write their own stories. Tying your blog to your website makes these testimonials, updates on upcoming events, and ongoing campaigns easy for visitors to access without receiving direct communication from you. 4. Turn donors into advocates with nurturing emails.Nurturing emails are a great way to consistently share your stories. Send welcome emails after a friend signs up for your blog, or deliver a series of emails to build anticipation once a guest signs up for an event. The goal is to familiarize people with your organization, explain how you’re being successful, describe what you want to accomplish, and share stories of successful fundraisers. Make what you’re doing human and relatable to inspire people to fundraise and advocate for your cause. 5. Revamp your annual report.After your annual report is published, do you know how many people are actually reading it? Chances are it’s not many! Because your annual report contains the proof, data, and impact of your mission, you should do everything possible to make people want to read it. Make it beautiful (forget endless columns of small black text), shareable (does it include great pictures and Twitter icons?), visual (do you have infographics and appealing charts to make your content easy to digest?), and accessible (is it easy to understand, and does it fit on your website?). Making your annual report more creative will encourage people to read it, share it, and donate in support of it!Want to learn more about how telling your stories can lead to better donor involvement and more money? Download the on-demand webinar presentation, How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations. 3. Tie donor actions to numbers.This might not sound like a story, but trust us, it is! Close the loop for your supporters by letting them know exactly what their donation will give someone else. Will it mean two pairs of shoes, a warm meal, an immunization? Donors love to know where their money is going and what impact they’re making on someone’s life. Including a visual makes the story of a donation more compelling to a potential donor. Many organizations are hesitant to make a video; it can be expensive, time consuming, and technical. But it can also be easy and inspiring. Connect with your viewers by telling them an easy-to-follow short story that centers on just one or two people. Focus on the quality of the story and engaging your viewer, not on making a super-high-quality video. Your supporters know you’re not Hollywood, so your video doesn’t need to be as technically savvy. 1. Tell personal stories through video. last_img read more

Former Oklahoma Star Running Back Reportedly Getting Released

first_img “Bengals are releasing RB Samaje Perine per source,” he reports.Bengals are releasing RB Samaje Perine per source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 17, 2019Perine had yet to record any carries for Cincinnati this season.The former Oklahoma running back totaled 635 yards on 183 carries with one touchdown during his two seasons in Washington. General view of the Bengals stadium.CINCINNATI, OH – OCTOBER 07: A general view of Paul Brown Stadium during the game between the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals on October 7, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)The Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly parting ways with a former standout Oklahoma running back, according to ProFootballTalk.Samaje Perine, a star tailback with the Sooners, is reportedly getting released by the Bengals, according to PFT.The 24-year-old running back was a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma in the 2017 NFL Draft. Perine played for the Redskins from 2017-18.Perine was claimed off of waivers by Cincinnati in September.last_img read more

Holloway hopes Brexit will see new handball rules scrapped

first_imgIan Holloway claims that the European Union is to blame for the controversial new handball rule in the Premier League.The former Crystal Palace and Blackpool manager made the bizarre claim following Gabriel Jesus’ last-minute goal in the 2-2 draw with Spurs last weekend.The Brazilian striker thought he had scored the winner in the dying minutes of Saturday’s match at the Etihad, only for VAR to rule out the goal after team-mate Aymeric Laporte was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream And Holloway believes that Britain must leave the EU as soon as possible to avoid further similar decisions.“For me it doesn’t make sense, the handball rule,’ Holloway said on Sky Sports’ The Debate. “If it’s not handball for both, how can you assess that?”And to be fair, is that clear and obvious? They forgot the most important thing of all.”Their job is to not re-referee the game but to be clear and obvious, so I don’t think that’s our boys making up that new change of law.”I think that’s people telling us what we need to do with our game, now they should stop doing that.”With Britain set to leave the European Union in late October, the former QPR manager believes the decision will have a positive impact on the English Premier League.”I hope we get out, Brexit, because that’s what people are voting for and sort that out because you cannot have someone telling us how to do our own game.”The controversial International FA Board rules now mean that a goal can be disallowed if a player handles the ball resulting in an assist, regardless of whether or not there was any intention to do so.The rules have been met by huge criticism from fans throughout the league, with VAR also under heavy scrutiny.City had taken the lead after just 20 minutes through Raheem Sterling’s opener, only for Erik Lamela to equalise three minutes later. Sergio Aguero made it 2-1 to the home side soon after, with Lucas Moura levelling the scores early in the second half.And it was his fellow Brazilian Jesus who found the net in added time, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR.The situation brought back bad memories for Man City, who were on the wrong end of a VAR decision earlier this year in their Champions League quarter-final meeting with Spurs, where Sterling’s injury-time winner was correctly cancelled out due to an Aguero offside. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

Man Utd target Maddison could be sold – Rodgers

first_imgLeicester City could sell midfielder James Maddison, concedes Brendan Rodgers, though he has promised the club will not be made to part with their star player easily.Maddison enjoyed a strong debut campaign in the Premier League last season and has shown no signs of slowing down in his second.His performances have reportedly drawn the interest of clubs such as Manchester United, and Rodgers has previously admitted he understands the draw of those big sides for those players. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career And while the Foxes don’t want to sell, as with former Leicester defender Harry Maguire, who made a record-breaking move to United this summer, Rodgers says every player has their price.“In a player’s career there will always be that temptation, but this is a club that doesn’t want to sell its best players,” Rodgers said ahead of Leicester’s weekend clash with Tottenham.“Of course, if there is a valuation met, which meets what the club perceive it to be worth, there will be a discussion. But it is not something we want to invite.“James is a very talented player for us. He has lots of improvements to make as a young player. He, along with a lot of young players here, we want to keep.“But of course, I am a realist as well and I understand how the market works. But it is not something we would be looking to entertain.”Leicester face a Spurs side that despite making the Champions League finals last season, have struggled to reach similar heights this season.Spurs have won just two of their first five Premier League matches, and drew Olympiakos in their Champions League opener midweek.But Rodgers believes his counterpart Maruicio Pochettino deserves credit for how he has taken Spurs up from where they were the last time the Foxes boss encountered them in the Premier League.“I would rather talk about the great job Mauricio Pochettino has done,” Rodgers added.“It’s the first time I have come across him for a number of years, since I was at Liverpool, when he was in the early stage of his career there and look where he is now and what he has achieved.“He’s a very talented coach. He has done a great job. It is a wonderful thing he has created. Look at how he has improved the players and the status he has given the club.”last_img read more

Nautica Brings on Lil Yachty as a Creative Designer for 2017

first_img A Peek Inside the Joseph Abboud Factory: Italian Fabric, Made in America Editors’ Recommendations Raleigh Denim Workshop Makes Jeans with Artistry and Ingenuity in the U.S.A. What Wrangler Is Doing to Make Denim More Sustainable Lil Yachty, aka Miles Parks McCollum, has joined the Nautica creative team to design new fashion collections, as well as feature in brand campaigns.The 19-year old hip-hop artist from Atlanta, Georgia, has already collaborated with Urban Outfitters, Sprite, and Target, as he leads the growing millennial population with positivity and style. A loud and unique fashion-sense has made Lil Yachty a perfect sell for many companies that are looking for a face that will reach a wider audience.“We are excited to be collaborating with Lil Yachty this year. He is much more than just a music artist. He is a creative soul. His innate passion and affinity for the brand, fabulous taste level, and the way he looks in our clothes, make him the perfect partner for the Nautica brand,” said Karen Murray, President of Nautica, via press release.As a matter of fact, Lil Yachty (who also goes by Lil Boat) is equally as excited to be working with Nautica. He expressed interest in working with them since his rise to fame in 2016, and considering that wherever he goes he is drenched head to toe in nautical swag, the feelings in this relationship seem as reciprocal as they come.The two teamed up with Urban Outfitter’s late last year for a capsule collection, but with their first collaboration in 2017, the young rapper plans to pair some of Nautica’s heritage pieces with fashion must-haves in contemporary style — bright, bold and detailed. Some pieces to be on the lookout for are windbreakers, bomber jackets, polo shirts, and much more. Why Your Desk Chair Matters and the 9 Best Ones to Boost Your Productivity 14 Scandinavian Clothing Brands You Need to Know last_img read more

ARC President and CEO Mike Premo to Discuss Travel in the Trump Age

first_imgPremo to Join Industry Executives for a Roundtable at the Phocuswright ConferenceARLINGTON, Va. – November 8, 2017 – Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) President and CEO Mike Premo will join industry leaders tomorrow as they discuss the Trump administration’s policies and their effect on the future of travel and tourism. The executive roundtable, titled “Travel in the Age of Trump,” will take place at the Phocuswright Conference November 9 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from 9:55-10:25 a.m. ET. Premo will join Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association; Gloria Guevara Manzo, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council; and Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA for the roundtable. The executives will examine the travel industry’s interaction with government and public policy to help conference attendees understand the developments and prepare strategically for the years ahead. The Phocuswright Conference is in its 25th year and features innovative demonstrations, expert workshops, industry influencer panels and exclusive keynotes. The conference will conclude with an interview of Expedia’s newly named CEO, Mark Okerstrom.  About ARCThe Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) is the premier driver of air travel intelligence and commerce in the travel industry with leading business solutions, travel agency accreditation services, process and financial management tools and high-quality data. In 2016, ARC settled $86 billion worth of carrier ticket transactions for nearly 7,000 travel agencies with more than 12,000 points of sale. Established in 1984, ARC is an ISO 27001 certified company headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, with offices in Louisville, Kentucky, Tampa, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit and read more