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TMC Or BJP: What’s Kolkata’s Betting Market Prediction?

Gambling syndicates in Kolkata are offering bets on the results of 2021 West Bengal Legislative Assembly elections, including picking the winners of 294 seats.  The official results will be out on May 2. So, who will form the next government? How many seats will the TMC win? Will the BJP improve its tally? You get some answers from the bookies, based on their projections, as on April 12: BJP may win 154-156 seats, while TMC may bag 116-118 seats and the balance by other political parties. The going rate is even money, that is, 1:1, for both TMC and BJP. BJP is clearly the favourite as of now. Bookies are paying Rs 1.20 for WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is contesting from Nandigram and Rs 0.40 (40 paise) for BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari, Didi’s confidante-turned-adversary.  Higher rate indicates lower winning probability while lower rate indicates higher winning probability. A month ago, before elections began, the bookies were paying Rs 0.40 for Didi and  Adhikari. After the first phase, the rates for both Mamata Banerjee and BJP were Rs 0.90 each. The bookies were quoting a price of Rs 1.20 for TMC and Rs 0.40 for BJP after the second phase. High rate indicates lower winning probability, while lower rate indicates higher winning probability. The high-voltage poll rallies have kept the bookies on their toes as they are frantically exchanging notes almost every minute, and fixing rates for each party and candidate. Following the completion of the fourth phase of polling, Kolkata bookies claim BJP is clearly ahead of TMC. The fifth phase of the poll scheduled for April 17, may go in favour of TMC and Left Front, they speculate. As for the veteran political pundits, the fierce tussle seems to be leading towards a hung assembly! !

Investment Hesitancy Restricts India’s Vaccination March

The new political brawl is not about vaccine-hesitancy or vaccine-denial but about the vaccine-scarcity, as the nation is hit hard by the second wave of pandemic. Mumbai, which is staring at a re-lockdown, saw supplies go down by half to about 22K jabs on April 10. Average jabs per day have touched 3.5 million a day versus the combined capacity of 2.4 million a day between Covaxin and Covishield. And there is no immediate capacity expansion in sight as Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawala has written to the Government for Rs 3,000 crore to scale up operations – failing which it will approach banks for loans. Clearly, an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve has been frittered away. Meanwhile, other five vaccines, including J&J via Bio E, will be made available not before October! Suddenly, this realization hits you: Has India failed to reap the dividends of its global vaccine-science leadership due to investment hesitancy? Our failure to comprehend that in a pandemic-like extraordinary conditions, the free-market as well as the atmnirbhar economy operates not only on the principles of demand and competition, but also legitimate corporate profits – and the combo of incentives (guaranteed purchase agreements) and risk capital (for research and capex) extended by the State. This is evident in America’s successful vaccine roll with the state funding private pharma majors. Hopefully, there will be some aatm-manthan when Prime Minister holds the next Covid-19 review meeting with Chief Ministers.

Cutting Wastage, Sputnik V Launch Critical In Mission Vaccination

India has leaped dramatically from Covid-19 vaccine-reluctance to celebrate the Tika Utsav since the first Covid-19 jab received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 1 and the second one on April 9. From less than 1% of population receiving at least one dose of vaccine on March 1 (1.2 crore), the coverage jumped to 6.3% (8.57 crore) by April 9. Modi taking Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin dispelled all fear and doubts. “The Covaxin has not yet had Phase 3 trials. Approval was premature and could be dangerous,” Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had tweeted earlier. Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav announced he would not take the “BJP Vaccine”. On April 12 – the second day of Tika Utsav, and the 87th vaccination day – more than 37.63 lakh citizens (over 45 years) received jabs, making India the fastest nation to administer vaccine doses to 10.8 crore. With the states running mass campaigns – from high-frequency TV ads of Delhi Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal to Sonu Sood being appointed as brand ambassador by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh – the focus has now shifted to preventing vaccine wastage (6.5% nationwide) amid the second wave of pandemic. States like Telangana with wastage of 17.6%, Andhra Pradesh 11.6% and Uttar Pradesh 9.4%, will have to reorganise their efforts to meet the goal of keeping it below 1%. The task is critical as capacities are ramped up with new vaccines like Sputnik V getting regulatory approvals.

Insider, Talent Or Luck: What Works In Bollywood?

The untimely death of Sushant Singh Rajput last June kicked off a national debate about nepotism and outsider vs insider in Bollywood. The uncharitable lines one heard was: “Oh! Karan Johar is the son of a successful producer Yash Johar; Aditya Chopra is the son of an eminent director Yash Chopra; Sonakshi is daughter of a super star Shatrugan Sinha; Ranbir comes from the most celebrated Kapoor family so on and so forth. And this is why they made it big!  Actually, all these so-called “insiders” had skills, which was a cut above the rest and proved their mettle to emerge successful in their own rights. Pedigree gave them entry, but it does not guarantee success. Or else how do you explain sons and daughters of successful stars not being able to make a mark. What about Feroz Khan’s son Fardeen; what about Abhishek Bachchan? What about BR Chopra’s son Ravi Chopra? What about the sons of Guru Dutt? What about the sons of Chetan Anand and Dev Anand? In the cricket world one can think of Sunil Gavaskar’s son Rohan and Kumar Mangalam Birla’s son Aryaman.  The list is endless. People forget that in any creative field or even in sports it is the performance that finally speaks. Of course, luck too plays a major role. Rajendra Kumar may not have been considered a great actor but he was popularly known as Jubilee Kumar as all his movies ran for 25 weeks in theatres.

Prithvi Shaw's Super Run Rate Of 11.37 Sinks Dhoni's Kings

Prithvi Shaw went after the bowlers to notch a super strike rate of 11.37 runs an over in the IPL-14 rough night skirmish against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on April 10. Not long ago, the poster boy of Mumbai schools’ cricket, Shaw was used to scattering the ball at Mumbai’s Azad and Cross maidans. Nothing in attitude though has changed, even when turning out for Mumbai or in the IPL. His go-for-broke knock of a 38-ball 72 gave a rousing start to Parth Jindal’s baby in the league, which is the Delhi Capitals. Shaw’s international career, which got a roaring start against the West Indies in Rajkot in October 2018 (he smashed a 154-ball 134) has hit the wall a few times. The news on the grapevine is that his technique is inadequate to deal with top pacemen, and that’s why he was exposed in the Adelaide horror Test in which India was shot out for 36. Prithvi made 0 and 4 and was dropped like a hot potato a week before Christmas. His Test average with one century in Rajkot and scores of 70 and 54 is still good at 42.37, but Shaw will have to go through the real hard yards to win the national selectors’ nod again.
anil kapoor ulka

Veteran Adman Anil Kapoor Who Re-Built Ulka Passes Away

Anil (Billy) Kapoor the legendary advertising man and former chairman of FCB Ulka passed away on April 12 at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. He had successfully battled pancreatic cancer almost a decade ago but it recurred aggressively a couple of months ago. He had been living in Singapore for the last several years and was flown back on Saturday. Unlike the fanfare behind the big brands he promoted, his funeral was a private affair. He along with Ranjan Kapur of O&M, Mike Khanna of HTA were referred to as the ‘Punjabi Club’. The trio controlled the era of big brand advertising. Billy was the last to go. One may recall what Ambi Parameswaran wrote when Ulka turned 60 in his column: “It was Bal’s (founder Bal Mundkur) bold move in 1988 that saved the agency. Or it was Anil Kapoor’s courage of conviction that he could rebuild Ulka in a new image. Anil joined as MD in 1988, identified some key managers to re-motivate and retain (Shashi Sinha and Niteen Bhagwat are still in FCBUlka/IPG Group); Anil also managed to rope in a few more – Arvind Wable, Nagesh Alai and yours truly.”  Kapoor is survived by his wife, Rita, daughter Aruna and son Ram Kapoor who is a well-known TV star.


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.