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rohit sharma_001

Rohit Sharma Second Only To The Great `Don’!

Rohit Sharma holds a unique record in Test match cricket. He is the nearest to Sir Don Bradman, regarded as the greatest batsman of all time. The Australian run-machine who wielded his bat with gay abandon for two decades from 1928 to 1948 scored 6996 runs in 52 Test matches for a phenomenal average of 99.94. The great `Don’ played 37 Test matches against England, and five each against India, West Indies and South Africa. He played 33 Test matches at home, amassed 4322 runs for an average of 98.23, which is fractionally lower than his career average.  It is here that India’s Rohit Sharma comes second best for those who have played 10 Tests and more. The stylish Mumbai right hander is elegance personified when he gets going; he had an aggregate of 1343 runs at 79 and innings for home Test matches before his sneak attack against the England seamers and spinners alike in the second Test at Chepauk, Chennai. The first Test failure at the same venue hurt him; he hit back with a vengeance in the first innings of the second Test with a splendid 161; he scattered 18 hits to the fence and clobbered two over the line. This stroke filled knock took his home average to over 80. Remarkable indeed!
kapil sibal

What Happened To Akash2 Tablet?

It may be recalled that during the UPA regime the Union Minister for Science & Technology Kapil Sibal had flaunted a $32 tablet which would provide Internet access to the less fortunate students. Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed a large section of students towards online schooling, it’s time to ask Sibal what happened to his pet project? Had it translated to a tablet in each student’s hand, there wouldn’t have been such a digital divide today. Then Sibal had announced the tablet as a cheap, simple computer. First as ‘Shaksat’, then renamed as ‘Akash’, and upgraded to ‘Akash2’.  But despite the abracadabra moment, the project failed to deliver. Today, probably an IIT student could develop easily a low-cost tablet. But at that time, it appeared to be a magical moment: parts to be sourced from China or Taiwan via a Canadian company and then assembled in India. It is surprising the vocal politician hasn’t whispered a word about it. Has the project been given a silent burial? Is this the reason why he is not expressing any views on digital divide as he fears it would bring to public glare the failure of Akash tablet in an era of whataboutery!  

Allow Corporate Houses To Enter Banking

An RBI working group has proposed allowing corporate houses to set up banks in India. Suddenly, former RBI governors and deputy governors want to protect the country from business houses entering the banking arena. Over the last two years, IL&FS, DHFL, Yes Bank and PMC Bank have collapsed due to their weak financial position. The latest to the list of bank failures is Lakshmi Vilas Bank, which was merged with DBS Bank. What we need to do is to have a strong deterrence so that we don’t see a repeat of YES Bank. According to KV Kamath, former MD & CEO of ICICI Bank, in his interview to CNBC TV18, the way forward is heavy investment in technology by the regulator so that on a real-time basis the creditworthiness of individuals or companies is made available. Seems a doable idea.

Atul Kulkarni: Jumping The Curve, After Happy Journey

Atul Kulkarni, 56, a top Marathi actor, a national award recipient (Chandani Bar) says one should jump off a curve’s peak to restart life from the beginning of another. That’s why he has quit a Trust engaged in promoting quality education, specifically among tribal children. Announcing this on FB, he said he had headed the NGO, Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST) for 14 years since its inception and it was time to jump off. With its action and research oriented pedagogy and training,  QUEST has reached 2.6 lakh students, 9,000 teachers, 5,600 schools and anganwadis  across Maharashtra. After these long years, the moment coincided with his peak in the Trust. It also coincides with the concept of vanaprasta and semi-retirement which meant ceasing to be in a position of authority, especially in public life but implies he wasn’t abandoning being active in life. He would be its “list of friends”.  No word about his acting career, though.

Budget Text, Pretext, Context And Subtext

The ‘Subtext’ hangs in the air long after former Finance Minister P Chidambaram decoded the Text, Pretext, Context & Subtext of the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget speech 2021-22 at the Rajya Sabha. What’s the text of the speech? He explained: “The text is prosaic, bureaucratic.” What’s the pretext? “The pretext is: we have a pandemic. (Yet) we have supply side measures!” And the context? “The context is a slowing down economy, pushed into a deep recession, minus 10%, thanks to the pandemic — and thanks to incompetent economic management.” He continued: “But, more than the text, more than the pretext, more than the context, what is important is the subtext. The subtext is: this is a Budget prepared for the rich, of the rich and by the rich.” He said the Budget has nothing for: 120 mn people losing jobs; 64 mn dropping out of the labour force, including 22% women; and 35% of MSMEs shut down. Replying to the Budget discussion in Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman put the things in context: “Speaker sir, the former FM is trying to imitate you but he has been a miserable failure in the impact he created unlike you who has created good impact.” Speaker M Venkaiah Naidu is known for his quick one-liners that fill the House Of Elders with laughter.
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Who’s The Woman Behind BR Chopra Banner?

It may sound clichéd but behind every successful man there is a woman. Baldev Raj Chopra after doing MA in Literature from the University of the Punjab, Lahore joined as a journalist with film magazine Cine Herald and eventually acquired it in 1947. With right contacts, he launched a movie the same year in Lahore but the Partition genocide saw him fleeing to India. Eventually, he moved to Mumbai and made a movie Karwat in 1948. It flopped. In 1951, he directed a movie starring Ashok Kumar and it was a hit. More hits followed. Soon he was flooded with offer by producers to direct their films. A well-known producer gave him Rs 5,000 (a big sum those days) to direct his movie. Chopra was elated and happily broke the news to his wife. But his wife’s response surprised him. She told him: “You should not direct for others, you should become your own producer and director.” Heeding his wife’s advice, Chopra returned the money and floated BR Films in 1955. His first movie Ek Hi Raasta was a runaway hit. After that there was no looking behind.
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Pandemic Aftermath: Informal Cartelization Among Trade

Cartelisation among manufacturers is a known fact. OPEC is the biggest global example. Close to home the Competition Commission Of India, which came down heavily on cement companies sometimes back, has now set its sights on the domestic steel companies. It is believed that the steel companies have increased their prices in unison in the last few months. But, recent developments in the distribution trade in Mumbai – liquor and paper – are quite an eye-opener. With businesses shuttered for nearly a year, those running hotels & restaurants, printing presses, and paper distribution have been hit by severe liquidity crunch. Most of them have not been able to pay their vendors, suppliers, or staff. After the Lockdown was lifted, the restaurant owners, printers and media houses placed fresh orders with their respective distributors. But they were told to clear some of the backlog. Irked, some of these businessmen tried tapping new distributors but they were surprised to learn that the liquor and paper trade had a list of outstanding of different businesses or credit information of bad borrowers. The distributors felt if they supply today their fellow traders would lose. So they decided to unite. It is proving to be a win-win for all.

Joe Root's tryst with GOAT rankings!

England captain Joe Root, tops the GOAT (Greatest player of all time against spin) rankings in the annals of cricket at the Old Blighty. Decorated with the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2020, Root’s scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka at Galle came against the spinners on a dry and breaking pitch. England hopped into Chennai for two Test matches that were supposed to be a  litmus test against the Indian tweakers. As it transpired in the first Test, Root (218 and 40) ruled the roost on a feathered of a pitch on which the home team deployed a seasoned campaigner Ravichandran Ashwin, and two tyros Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar. Demonstrating his consummate skill, powers of concentration and nimble footwork, Root has amassed 784 runs in his last six innings. He has turned out to be the master of all he purveyed, tallying as much as 842 runs in 14 Test innings on Indian soil at a remarkable average of 64.77. In other Asian countries Root has amassed 655 runs in 10 Test innings at 65.50 in Sri Lanka, 287 in five Test innings against Pakistan in the UAE. No wonder then that Root heads the GOAT index in English cricket!

Regulating OTT: Is The Govt Planning A JPC

After the Tandav controversy, the Indian government is seriously looking at tightening the noose around the OTT channels. The plan is to form a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to bring in a regulation to control the content that is streamed on the OTT channels. Feelers are being sent to various film personalities to become a part of the JPC and create some kind of guidelines based on the lines of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) for feature films. Those close to the film industry have hinted that the Standing Committee on the Information & Technology Ministry are examining the functioning of the CBFC. In order to have a holistic examination of the subject, the committee has decided to seek views of individuals associated with the media and entertainment industry. While their plan is being worked out, the makers of edgy content have begun self-regulation to avoid any kind of issues with the government. Most industry people said there has to be censorship, but there are quite a few who feel that self-regulation is the best option. The government, it seems, is keen to avoid another Tandav kind of situation. So, for now it is wait-and-watch game.

Of Andolan-Jeevi, Par-Jeevi & New Age FDI

Arguably, nobody conjures up national slogans as profoundly – or coins acronyms as tellingly — as PM Narendra Modi. The Government’s pantheon of programmes – from Swachh Bharat to Make in India to Startup India and Stand Up India – all bear the signature of the master wordsmith. Many of the acronyms – from SCAM to JAM he popularised continue to endure. Some acronyms are being masterly resurrected – FDI is now ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology.’ And the patriots must now stay away from this FDI, the PM informed while replying to the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha. In 2015, the FDI meant ‘First Develop India’, a mission to support the Make in India programme. 2021 onwards, this will mean Transnational or foreign ‘tukde-tukde gang’ that promotes Rihanna tweet-busters, Meena Harris ‘book of Intimidation Monsters, or Greta Thunberg’s Tool-Kit for Dummies that transforms tractor rallies into raging rampage. Another breed of creatures that patriots must guard against are: Andolan-Jeevi (one who feasts on protests), who is actually a par-jeevi, (a parasite) for the nation. His creative masterstroke was in full, sublime display at a time the Opposition sensed they had Modi on the mat over the farmers’ agitation.

Are Biz Tycoons Jumping Covid Vaccine Queues?

The hottest topic being discussed by business tycoons these days is not the Union Budget but the Which, When, Where (and maybe even, if) and How to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Before India rolled out its own versions, some wealthy individuals were rumoured to have rushed overseas (read: Dubai) to get their shot. Now there are whispers about certain famous people making private arrangements to get the vaccine out of turn. Because, as per the Government diktat, in the current phase, the vaccine is being made available only to the frontline healthcare workers. Such clandestine shots may give them immunity but without the all-important vaccine certificate. They are confident, however, of procuring one with some jugaad in due course. One person who won’t have to resort to any such subterfuge is Dr Swati Piramal, vice chairperson, Piramal Enterprises. The wife of billionaire Ajay Piramal, who is a qualified doctor, recently got her Covid-19 shot at the BKC jumbo vaccination center in Mumbai, along with staff of the Gopikrishna Memorial Hospital. Piramal took the Covishield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and promptly posted photos of the said deed on Facebook.

Narayan Rane Finds A New Mentor In Amit Shah

Everything is fair in love and law — and loyalty is not static but flexible. None other than Narayan Rane epitomizes this saying. Thanks to the blessings of Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray – Rane grew from strength to strength. From a corporator to legislator to Chief Minister, his rise was meteoric. However, Thackeray’s decision to appoint his son Uddhav as Executive President of the Sena changed the equation, forcing Rane to quit the saffron party and join the Congress. Here, he was made a minister – but not the CM as promised. Irked by the deceit and denial, Rane floated his Swabhimani Party. The new party didn’t do too well – and he subsequently joined the BJP that has placed him in the Rajya Sabha. His new mentor is Home Minister Amit Shah, who visited the state to inaugurate the SSPM Medical College at Kudal in Sindhudurg. Shah’s visit has created ripples – with Rane predicting that the Maha Vikas Agadhi government’s days are numbered now. Interesting times for a party, which despite winning 105 seats is sitting in the Opposition bench.

Why Jadeja Was Missed In The Chennai Test

India is in a plight in the first Test in Chennai owing to the absence of slow left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in its ranks. Jadeja is still recuperating from a dislocated left thumb after he took a nasty blow there in the third Test against Australia in Sydney. Jadeja in combination with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin are the second most successful spin pair for India taking 166 wickets in 73 innings at an average of 24.41. They have taken 28 wickets in four innings at the Chepauk at 25.07.  Further more Jadeja had dismissed England captain Joe Root five times; he had outwitted Root in both innings of the 2016 Chennai Test for 88 and 6. India suffered in Jadeja’s absence and Root exhibited a masterclass innings of 218 before falling to left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.  Ashwin has dismissed Root three times. In all 13 Indian bowlers have dismissed Root, but clearly Jadeja was missed by Ashwin and India. They complement each other so well. In Jadeja’s absence Root had the last laugh taking heavy toll of the Indians. The England captain, playing his 100th Test, is one of the best players of spin in the world today.

Mazi Mumbai Vs Mumbai Nammde

The timing behind the ongoing war of words between Maharashtra and Karnataka leaders on the long-pending border dispute is politically as significant for the Shiv Sena as it is for its former partner Bharatiya Janata Party in the run up to the 2022 elections for the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — India’s richest civic body. With its renewed demand to incorporate Karnataka’s Marathi-speaking areas into Maharashtra, the Sena has unleashed a frontal assault to retain its supremacy in the BMC, which the party has been ruling for over 28 years. Joining forces with the saffron party are the Congress and the NCP, its partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state. The Sena is hoping to stand tall with its espousal of the Marathi Manoos plank – even as it embraces the ‘Secular’ programmes of its partners, and reaches out to the Gujaratis. This leaves the BJP treading on a tricky tightrope: the BJP-ruled Karnataka’s loud opposition to the demand will only provide political ammunition to the Sena-led alliance. The BJP’s Mission Mumbai 2022, which seeks to end Sena rule and elect its own mayor, must now make sense of the new duel “Mazi Mumbai vs Mumbai Nammde’’.


Can NCP Wrest Speaker’s Seat In Maharashtra?

Sharad Pawar is a good negotiator. Despite some NCP leaders prematurely seeking that Congress “do something soon” to prevent Sena-BJP resuming charge of the Maharashtra government in 1999, he kept Congress on tenterhooks till it accepted a power-sharing formula. He had told confidants then that had it been left to him from the start, the NCP would have got the CM’s post and the Speaker’s too, leaving some crumbs for the other. It is likely that hard bargaining for the Assembly’s Speaker’s post is in the offing. With Nana Patole quitting speakership on being appointed Maharashtra Congress President, the Speaker’s post has once again become a coveted target for all three parties constituting the government. The Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress are not going to let go of an opportunity to grab it. Would the consummate Pawar, hailed as the architect of the coalition MVA, ensure his party gets the Speakership?  Despite being partners with some give and take between them, except for the Congress making some noises against the Sena, the government has been functioning fairly in the Covid19 environment. Patole’s exit has clearly unsettled the equations. Now the fun begins.

$2.5 Mn: Why Aren’t We Talking About This, Ms Rihanna

Well, that’s the amount for the Tweet that launched a thousand ships against India. For the Delhi cops, this is all a part of the very original Greta Thunberg ‘Tool-Kit’ that earlier sent thousands of tractors rampaging through the Capital on the Republic Day, delivering India its Capitol Hill moment. According to investigative website The Print, international pop star Rihanna was allegedly paid $2.5 million (Rs 18 crore) by a Canada-based Public Relations firm to tweet in support of farm protest. The PR firm’s Tool-Kit for Dummies (leaked by ‘Child’ Greta by mistake) instructs the protestors on a range of goals: how to Disrupt ‘Yoga and Chai’ image of India; Watch out for Physical Actions during the first-of-its-kind Farmer’s March/Parade into Delhi on Jan 26th; and how to create a Twitter Storm. The PR project clearly has all the hallmarks of a well-funded conspiracy – and it’s designed not to stop at the repeal of farm laws. Now after disclosures on Rihanna, Twitter is afire with guesses on what inspires former porn star Mia Khalifa to support farmers. And we are asking: Why the paid tweet didn’t carry the tag of the sponsored or commissioned content?
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Insider Trading: Beware Of Rules

Legendary investor Warren Buffett said: “Unless you can watch your stock holding decline by 50% without becoming panic-stricken, you should not be in the stock market.” The stock market is not for the weak-hearted – nor for Inside Trading. An NSDL campaign is creating awareness among the retail investors not to fall prey to the Insider Trading. If you are an equity investor, chances are that at some point in time you would have been offered an ‘insider tip’ to conduct a trade in a particular stock to make quick money. If the tip turns out to be false, you could end up losing money. If the Tip turns out to be true, although you might make quick money, it could land you in legal trouble. Insider trading is a punishable offence, as per the SEBI. The BSE, the NSE, and the SEBI keep routinely tom-tomming about such instructions – and yet the greedy investors keep falling prey to such Tip messages.  Looks like investors seem to blindly follow the investment philosophy of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, “Greed, for lack of a better word is good.” And we know where insider trading and greed got Gekko and his ilk.
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Kartik Aaryan: The Next-Gen Bankable Star

With four films in his kitty, Kartik Aaryan is one of the busiest stars from the younger generation of Bollywood actors. The actor has finished shooting for Ronnie Screwala’s film in record time and, believe it or not, has received a fee of about Rs 20 crore. The film was first slated to have a theatrical release, but the makers decided to go for a digital release with the actor being paid a premium price for it. Kartik is one of the most sought-after stars and those in the film trade feel that the actor is justified in being paid that amount. They believe that he is going the Akshay Kumar way by slowly becoming the Gen-Next bankable star.  He is also following Akshay Kumar’s footsteps and becoming a socially responsible star. The actor’s monologue ‘Corona Stop Karo Naa’ became a huge hit. He is also one of the few to donate about Rs 1 crore for the welfare of Covid Warriors followed by an awareness chat show on Covid-19 titled ‘Kookie Poochega’.  Kartik who started his journey in Bollywood with multi-starrers is now shouldering a film as a solo hero. It is his track record with Lukka Chhupi and Pati Patni Aur Woh that probably got producer Karan Johar to sign him for Dostana sequel. Kartik’s other films in the pipeline are Anees Bazmee’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Rohit Dhawan’s next film, which is a remake of a South film.
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Dr Swamy’s Legal Juggernaut Rolls On

BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy holds many incredible records. One important one: he has not lost a single defamation case. So much so that even international bodies like the United Nations are wary of taking him on. In fact, the services of Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng were terminated for misattributing quotes to Dr Swamy. An elated Dr Swamy tweeted: “UN Under-Secretary General Mr Adaams Dieng, who defamed me in a media release by recycling my cut and spliced statement on CAA put out by Pakistani owned TV stn VICE, was terminated from UN post by “Good bye Sweetheart” letter from UNSG. I thank FS Shringla and UN Rep Trimurti.” Now, he has sent a defamation notice to Indian Express newspaper for publishing a column by Pakistani journalist Khaled Ahmed. Dr Swamy said that the Pakistani journalist wrote a lie that he said that Muslims are not equal citizens of India. This fake news was first published in a Canadian based TV known as Vice News owned by a Pakistani –  and the United Nation’s Dieng issued a Press Release based on this fake news. Incidentally, even BBC carried the same news and reportedly a legal notice has been sent to them too.

Govinda On The Comeback Trail

There is one thing that the remake of Coolie No 1 managed to achieve in December 2020 – it made the film industry miss the original bearer of that title, Govinda. Film buffs felt that Govinda’s Coolie No 1 was like Mughal-e-Azam in front of the new-age version starring Varun Dhawan. The senior actor, however, does not have anything to say on the remake as he is getting ready to make his debut on the OTT platform. He wants to explore the medium as he has been getting offers for it. He feels that  the pandemic has exposed people to the world of cinema and content that has universal appeal. The actor, who has often mentioned a conspiracy against him and his films, feels that the OTT is a boon for somebody like him who has been struggling to find a platform. Much before Govinda became largely synonymous with breezy entertainers and musicals, he had showcased his versatility in intense films like Hatya, Swarg, Awaargi and Marte Dum Tak among other films. The actor is now hoping to make 2021 his year and is seriously working towards making a comeback in a big way. The actor has been listening to scripts and will soon be making an announcement. He also has plans to give opportunities to those looking for a break in the film industry.

Done Over 40 PCR Covid-19 Tests: Agarkar

It’s been one hell of a run of routine COVID 19 tests international cricket teams have had to take and enter bio-secure bubble life in order to play a Test, ODI or Twenty20 match. All this began from the England-West Indies series in the 2020 English summer. Not only the players, but people involved in the conduct of an international match, or even for that matter the IPL in UAE and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 held by the BCCI recently, have had to go through this short procedure called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.  Ajit Agarkar, the former India seamer, revealed that he has gone through close to 40 PCR tests starting from the pre-boarding flight to Abu Dhabi for the 13th IPL in the United Arab Emirates last year. Agarkar was part of the Star TV Network commentary team in the Emirates.  Agarkar, like all others who were part of the IPL, took regular PCR tests in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, was also part of the Sony Pictures Network for the India- Australia series.  And now he is holed up in his hotel room in Chennai for five days, all part of the bio secure bubble requirement, before the start of the first Test against England set to start on Friday, February 5. “I can leave my room only on Friday,” he said.

Big Tech & The Globalization of Protest

“I’m just a phone call away,” said PM Narendra Modi to the agitating farmers, while expressing pain over the vandalisation of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the U.S.; and assuring the law will take its own course in the Republic Day Tractor Rally violence that injured about 400 cops in New Delhi. What the government received was a Tweet from Hollywood pop star Rihanna on #farmerprotest: “Why aren’t we talking about this?” Soon, this became a synchronised tweet assault from other international influencers – with Indian celebrities and politicians joining in, taking their own ideological positions. Shouldn’t the government dismiss this tweet-burst as an innocuous thing? They didn’t. Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s office issued a statement: “Temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.” Let’s accept that the Globalization of Protest is on the ascendency – while the other real trade Globalization is weakening. With the Big Tech providing megaphones to new Transnational entities and Influencers, the George Floyd protest riots in the U.S. became a massive global BLM campaign. And Turkey President RT Erdogan’s call for a boycott of French goods triggered massive anti-French rallies.

LIC: The Much Awaited IPO

With the stock market booming and indices touching lifetime highs, the investor’s appetite seem to be growing even bigger. Many are keenly awaiting the IPO of the state-run Life Insurance Corporation Of India. Set up in 1956, the LIC is the jewel in the government’s crown. The state insurer has smartly competed with 23-odd private sector players to command a market share of 70.21%.  With assets over Rs 31.96 lakh crore, the LIC manages 28.92 million customers through a network of 12,08,826 agents and 144,498 employees. Such impressive numbers have made the government plan a mega IPO in 2021. The government hopes to raise around Rs 70,000-100,000 crore by diluting a 10% stake. Based on this figure, the valuation of the LIC works out to around Rs 13-15 lakh crore. Experts say that the IPO could attract a large number of retail and institutional investors. The IPO dates are not finalized neither has the Red Herring prospectus been filed with the SEBI. Reportedly, Edelweiss Financial Services and Deloitte have been appointed as pre-IPO advisors. Now, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget Speech has indicated that LIC IPO could hit the market in FY21-22. The good news for LIC policyholders is that up to 10 per cent of IPO may be offered to them.

BCCI To Rake Rs 900 Cr From Ind-Eng Series

The full tour of England — starting with the first Test at the Chepauk in Chennai on February 5 — is expected to augment the BCCI’s revenue for 2020-21 fiscal by around Rs. 900 crore. The BCCI’s broadcaster, Star TV Network would pay around Rs. 60 crore for each of the 12 matches (Four Test matches, five Twenty20 matches and three ODIs). That’s a whopping Rs. 720 crore.  The BCCI will also receive money for the title and team sponsorship from Paytm and BYJU’s and also from others sponsors like Dream11, Ambuja Cement and Hyundai. The BCCI thus will a make neat package around Rs. 900 crore. The first two Tests will be played in Chennai, and the next two in Ahmedabad which will also play host to five Twenty20 matches. From Ahmedabad, the teams will travel to Pune for three one-day internationals.  Though the COVID 19 pandemic forced the BCCI to relocate the 13th IPL to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it earned over Rs 4000 crore, a big part of it coming from Star TV network.  The happiest in the BCCI are its members who are likely to get a big share of the revenue generated in 2020-21.

Anderson & Broad: Cricket’s Greatest Hunters With The New Ball

The fast bowlers hunt in pairs. And nobody does it better than the English new ball pair – James Anderson and Stuart Broad – who have taken 746 wickets in 96 Tests. Though they made their England debut at different times, it was against India at the Mohali (Punjab) Test of December 2008 that they became the new ball pair for the first time under Captain Kevin Pietersen. Individually, Anderson has taken 600 wickets and Broad 517. Anderson and Broad have not been successful on the benign Indian pitches. Anderson has toured India for four Test series since 2005-06 and has taken 26 wickets at 33.46 in 10 Tests while Broad, who has toured India from the 2008-09 series, has a paltry collection of 10 wickets from six Tests at an expensive 53.90. England which will play 17 Tests in 2021 has decided to rotate its players in order to preserve them. Anderson did not play the first Test of the recent series against Sri Lanka at Galle and Broad did not play the second Test at Galle. Will the Joe Root led team play this super pair in the first Test at Chepauk, Chennai from February 5?

Yediyuruppa: Is The TINA Factor Fading?

Buzz in the Karnataka BJP is that search is on to find a successor to replace the current Chief Minister BS Yediyuruppa who despite crossing the 75-years-age cut-off limit has continued to hold the CM’s post. The party insiders claim he has lost the TINA (There Is No Alternative) Factor as discontent brews among the ministers, the party men, and the RSS parivar. The rift between Yediyuruppa and BL Santhosh, BJP national general secretary (organisation) has been widening. After the recent cabinet reshuffle, Yediyuruppa was forced to change the portfolios in Day Two as Santosh raised hue and cry over portfolio distribution. Even though the Karnataka assembly elections are still two and half years away, a section of party has put up a strong argument for a new face to be the leader. Yediyuruppa’s clout, according to the insiders, is eroding and the leadership is not ready to sacrifice the BJP government because of him.

COVID-19: What About The South African Variant?

It’s been a year since the coronavirus touched India. It is now rapidly declining, seemingly escaping a second wave unlike the developed world where vaccine rollout has been botched and the healthcare system overwhelmed. India in comparison has done much better for reasons we don’t know. We may even be into herd immunity. There are conjectures but no peer-reviewed scientific papers have emerged yet.  That said, the Indian public does not have the full picture about the status of the UK variant of the virus. By mid-January, 150 persons tested positive for the new strain of the virus that the UK prime minister Boris Johnson had described as “more lethal”. Nor do we know much about the South African virus – an altogether different mutant said to be less amenable to the new vaccines developed so far. Have they too stealthily entered India?  After the initial announcement of the UK variant spotted in travellers from the UK, nothing is known about the SA variant. All this is discomfiting after the struggle with Covid19 since March last year. — Mahesh Vijapurkar  
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Halwa Rituals For The Paperless Budget

The sweet scent of the ‘halwa ceremony’ at the Finance Ministry still lingers. N Sitaraman, the Finance Minister, ladled out the halwa to the face-masked officials and employees involved in the Budget preparation. This ritual marks the moment when the documents are green-flagged for printing. The final and irrevocable “go”. Not a line is added, not a line can be removed thereafter. Employees – each one involved, lock themselves in after the halwa is served till the printing is completed and sealed bundles are sent off to the Parliament House to avoid any leak of the Budget details till it’s read out in the Parliament. This time it could be “printed” in the pdf format. Yet, the media wouldn’t let go of its tradition of speculating on what the Budget may contain even after this. And lobbies often talk to the media to hopefully steer policies. The FinMin, however, has abandoned the practice of printing it on paper as in the past. The Budget, as the media have reported, has opted for a paperless Budget. But the futile speculation in the media continues. After all, who knows, at least one stone may hit the mango to boast about later!
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Max To Vi: Names Changes For The Sixth Time

The country’s telecom sector has gone through cataclysmic change. From about two dozen players, it is now reduced to three telecom service providers. Falling average revenues per user or ARPUs — and now the payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to the government — has broken the back of the debt-laden service providers. Vodaphone, which is facing a bigger impact, has been looking for strategic alliance and name of Verizon International has cropped up. Meanwhile,  Vodaphone-Idea has gone for another name change — sixth time in the last 25 years, in line with change in ownership pattern. It started with Max (promoted by Analjit Singh) then became Orange, and then followed by Hutch, Vodaphone and finally, after merger with Idea –Vodaphone-Idea. Now, this consolidated name has a new, abbreviated identity – Vi.  People are reading between the lines about the new abbreviated name. Watch this space for more development.

For The Faithful The Brisbane Tied Test Is Still The Best

When one reminisces about Test matches played at the ‘Gabba’ in Brisbane, the good old faithful always picks the first ever Tied Test between the redoubtable Australians led by the brilliant Richie Benaud and the great super star of the yesteryear in Frank Worrell in the 1960-61 series. The followers of the noble game still remember the smart seventh ball run out fashioned by square leg fielder Joe Solomon of Ian Meckiff that gave a remarkable finish to the thrilling match and a spectacular start to the five-Test rubber. Australia won the series 2-1, but Worrell’s team won the hearts of the Australian fans who gave them a ticker tape send off. That was sixty years ago. In all, 63 Test matches have been played at the Gabba; Australia has won 40, lost 9, drawn 13 and Tied one. The home team had won 24 in a row and drew seven from December 1989, having lost to the West Indies in November 1988. India dented Australia’s unconquered, 32-year record at the Gabba and much of the credit goes to the young guns of the Indian cricket very well marshalled by the calm and unruffled Ajinkya Rahane. But for those Australians who loved watching cricket, the 1960 Tied Test remains a memorable one. Interestingly, Bobby Simpson featured in the 1960 Test as a player and in the 1986 Tied Test against India in Chennai as a coach.

Jai Bangla, Jai Maharashtra

Bonhomie between Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banejree and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray was on full display at the recent meeting of opposition chief ministers when Mamta praised Uddhav for doing a great job despite the BJP’s repeated predictions that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will not last. Mamata also responded to Uddhav’s call for whether Humein darna hai ya ladna hai?” (Do we have to fear or fight)? She thundered: “Ladna hai (we must fight). Shiv Sena’s announcement to contest West Bengal assembly elections also comes with a tacit understanding. Sena proposes to contest polls on the Hindutva plank, working as the Team B of Mamata just as Asaduddin Owaisi’s All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen alleged to be the BJP’s Team B. Sena is insignificant in West Bengal but the Trinamool Congress insiders and the Shiv Sena think tank believe that it may split the BJP votes and thereby help Mamata in a small way. Although there will not be any formal alliance but voters may shout Jai Maharashtra and Jai Bangla together for the first time.

Arun Shourie: Preparing For Death

His family has been a great votary for euthanasia and both his parents walked the talk. So it is hardly surprising to see the 79-year old Arun Shourie writing his 20th book aptly titled “Preparing For Death”. For many the title of the book may seem morbid and negative. Not so for Arun Shourie who is known to take the bull by the horns. Shourie has shifted his base from the power centre of Delhi to the quiet, idyllic Lavasa near Pune. He has played an interesting innings, donning the hat of the economist, journalist, author and politician. But, over the last three-four years, this Ramon Magsaysay Award winner has become bitter with NDA’s dispensation. He is particularly peeved with the Prime Minister Modi for not giving him a cabinet berth. Post-NDA’s first win in 2014, there were strong rumours that Shourie would become the Finance Minister but that did not happen. Disappointed, he along with other disgruntled party colleagues like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrugan Sinha, went all out against Modi during 2019 elections. But of no avail. The man who once praised Modi sky high reportedly told his media friends that his eternal regret in life is that he supported Modi.

Bouncers Bowled At BCCI’s Jay Shah

The news that BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, is likely to become India’s representative on the ICC Board was met with lots of cynicism. The Modi-Amit hate brigade trolled on social media. Author and columnist Saba Naqvi tweeted: “His qualification is that he’s a terrific cricketer known for papa smashing ball into boundary.” Print & Broadcast journalist Swati Chaturvedi’s tweet was even more charitable: “So deserving. So proud of Jay Shah & such an honour that he will represent India at the ICC Board. No dynasty exists in BJP at all.” These tongue-in-cheek tweets met with almost proportionate reactions. Said one Twitterati: “How about Sharad Pawar, Jagmohan Dalmia, N Srinivasan etc and worst of all Mr Manohar (Shashank)? Never saw her question when Kalmadi (Suresh) was of head of the IOC for time unlimited.” There is never a dull moment on social media.
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Seema Pahwa Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai

Seema Pahwa of the Humlog fame is breathing fire at Bollywood’s trade magazines which dubbed her maiden directorial venture Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi as a commercial disaster. Digital entertainment portal said: “Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi was an ensemble affair that hit the screens on 1st January and the numbers are practically nothing to talk about. The collections were never meant to be encouraging and this is what actually transpired too with just about 20 lakhs coming in.” According to Seema Pahwa’s interview in Mid-Day: “For a film to release in current times and survive is challenge in itself. How can box-office be the yardstick of a film’s success when the theatres are functioning at half the capacity?” Many are questioning the current yardstick of measuring the success or failure of a movie based on footfalls during Covid times. Interestingly, the Twitteratis were all praise for the director and producer. But, it is about time trade magazines revisited their traditional approach – and usual parameters — to gauge the popularity of a movie.

BJP Trying To Break The Two-Party Hold In TN

Since 2014 the BJP has been trying very hard to make inroads into Tamil Nadu but found no takers – perhaps because its rivals have so far been successful at associating it with the Hindi chauvinism. This state, which rotates power between two parties AIADMK and DMK, has had three legendary leaders – M Karunanidhi, MGR and J Jayalalitha – running the State for almost 50 years. Now with no charismatic Dravidian leaders to turn to, the field seems to be open to a leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is widely accepted in TN owing to his credentials as a crusader against corruption. Some impact is also being created by the ever-resourceful RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, who is helping the BJP press the right button in TN. His research came in handy when the Modi government went in for demonetisation. Guru managed to convince the legendary star Rajnikant to enter politics. Thailava as he is popularly known said yes – and was all set to kick off his spiritual-political odyssey but for an unfortunate hospitalization and a health condition that stopped him in his tracks. Thailava has decided not to launch his own party or contest 2021 elections. In a new development, with Sasikala Natrajan, (confidante of the late J Jayalalithaa former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) completing her jail term, the state’s political landscape once again changes.
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Bollywood Biggies Invest Big In Real Estate

From pauper to prince everybody was badly impacted by the Lockdown. But, not a section of Bollywood; they were flush with funds and therefore they lost no opportunity to invest in real estate as prices were attractive. Nine top Bollywood producers, directors and actors forked out around Rs 400 cr to buy luxurious apartments, penthouses in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Goa in 2020. Of this, nearly Rs 387 cr was spent on buying apartments between Bandra and Juhu by paying anywhere between Rs 50,000  and 150,000 per sq ft.  Leading the pack was Bhushan Kumar of T Series fame. He paid a whopping Rs 167.5 cr for 6,700 sq ft villa in Vasanta Theosophical CHS in Juhu. Following him was Hrithik Roshan. He bought three floors —14th, 15th & 16th — admeasuring 38,000 sq ft for Rs 97.50 cr on Juhu-Versova link road. New comer Janhvi Kapoor paid Rs 39 cr for a flat in Juhu, Alia Bhatt Rs 32 cr for a flat in Bandra’s Pali Hill while R Balki, bought two flats worth Rs 24 cr in Bandra. Of course, some made killing too. Parineeti Chopra sold her two flats in Quantum Building in Bandra reportedly for Rs 13.50 cr. So did Karisma Kapoor by selling her Khar flat for Rs 10.11 cr. While Ranbir Kapoor rented his 6th floor flat in Bandra apartment for Rs 7.94 lakh per month.
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Bishen Singh Bedi Bowls A Straight Ball

Bishen Singh Bedi, India’s former cricket captain, seems to have set cat among the pigeons, by asking the Delhi & District Cricket Association to remove his name from the spectator’s stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium and cancel his membership. This move follows the decision of DDCA to erect statue of the late Arun Jaitely, the former president of DDCA. In a scathing letter to Jaitley’s son Rohan, who is currently the president of DDCA, Bedi said: “The late Arun Jaitley, I’m told, was an able politician. So it’s the Parliament & not a cricket stadium which needs to remember him for posterity… I can’t be part of a stadium which has got its priorities so grossly wrong & where administrators get precedence over the cricketers. Please bring down my name from the stand with immediate effect.” Bedi seems to have got support from unknown quarters. All Modi-baiters have endorsed Bedi’s decision on social media. Now, some folks are also asking why Bedi did not raise a similar concern when Hyderabad stadium was named after Rajiv Gandhi.
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Sonu Sood: Real Life Hero Dubbed Villain?

Reel life villain but real life hero Sonu Sood is widely hailed for helping thousands of migrants stranded at different parts of the country to reach their home safely during Corona lockdown. Now, his new image as the migrants’ messiah seems to have unnerved some politicians in Maharashtra, and set tongues wagging. “He is just the face, the producer-director is BJP,” suspects a section of non-believers. Mahatma Sood is what Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut called him. Be that as it may be but this can’t be denied that thousands of migrant labourers have benefited from his social mobilization and community initiatives. Now, he is embroiled in a court battle with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for allegedly converting a residential building in Juhu into a hotel. Both the civil court and High Court has not given him any relief and Sood has moved the Supreme Court for a relief. But, the moot point is why is BMC trying to make an example of a good Samaritan like him when there are thousands of illegal structures in the Maximum City.
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Come Back Rahul Ji Chorus Grows Louder

Despite veteran leader and former minister Kapil Sibal’s repeated criticism of the Congress party’s present state of affairs, chorus is growing louder for Rahul Gandhi to take over as the party president. The party veterans have taunted – without directly naming Rahul – that this move may not necessarily help revive the party or regain the past glory. But that has not stopped the party’s state leaders from kicking off the Come Back Rahul Ji campaign. Rahul had a major say in the recent appointments of the state-level or city-unit chiefs in various states, including Maharashtra. Senior party leaders may continue questioning the election process for the new president, but the local state leaders are unanimous that time is opportune for Rahul to take over as he is the sole leader who is fearlessly taking on the troika of PM Modi, the BJP and the RSS. So the scene shifts to the states for a moment.

The Shy Skipper Who Lets His Performance Speak

Ajinkya Rahane is synonymous with a simple and humble personality. Sports scribes tracking Rahane for years know how he must be feeling after an incredible 2-1 series win in Australia. Rahane became the stand-in captain for the Test series after Virat Kohli returned to India to be with his wife, Anushka Sharma, for the birth of their first child. The shy skipper led from the front, marshalling young debutants who joined as replacement for injury-hit star players. Their fearless cricket gave India a stunning series win – after a humiliating 36-all-out debacle in the first test in Adelaide. The red-carpet reception at his Matunga, Mumbai home – with crowds cheering ‘Aala re aala, Ajinkya aala’ – may have only made Rahane uncomfortable. But the grace he showed once again like he does on field. He did not let it out in open and was seen enjoying with his daughter in tow and wife by his side as he soaked up warmth. The interesting part of the reception was the banner marked with W54 3210. W-World class captain, 5-Matches as captain, 4-Matches won as captain. 3-Tests won against Australia, 2-Test wins in the series (Melbourne & Brisbane), 1-Match drawn (Sydney), 0-Test lost.

Mr Unpredictable

Eyebrows were raised when NCP MP Supriya Sule said her father and the party chief Sharad Pawar is most unpredictable. Well this view is widely shared not just by the NCP leaders but also by Pawar’s friends across parties. Be it his unilateral announcement to support the BJP to avoid fresh elections (even before the assembly poll results were announced in October 2019) or his support to the Modi government on the issue of conflict with China – the unpredictable Pawar was evident to all. Pawar also said one must not politicise matters related to national security, which irked the Congress and other opposition parties. Despite all this, Pawar is widely seen as the leader who can bring together the opposition and the like-minded parties to take on Modi led BJP in the next general elections. Though he has denied the speculation that he was eying the post of the UPA chairperson. Pawar stood out again when he welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling to stay three farm laws and appoint a four-member committee to talk to the agitating farmers. The BJP’s estranged ally Akali Dal claimed the new move as an ‘’unacceptable joke’’ while the Congress alleged that it was a partisan panel which could not be expected to be a “neutral arbiter.” Pawar’s close confidante in private admits that he would have held the PM’s post long back had he not been unpredictable! Yes, the breaking away from the Congress two decades ago was unpredictable too.

Why PMC Bank Not Being Bailed Out?

The speed and alacrity with which Satyam Computer, the brainchild of Ramalinga Raju; YES Bank, promoted by Rana Kapoor; and Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) were bailed out by the Union government seems to have surprised everyone. No government since Independence has moved at this sort of lightning speed to resolve such tricky, tortuous issues. Seeing the government’s bailout overdrive, especially in relation to YES Bank and LVB, some of the Opposition parties attributed motives, saying it was shielding people aligned to the government. Be that as it may, the government’s move has certainly given succour to the aggrieved depositors of both the banks.  And it is this kind of relief that the shattered depositors of PMC Bank have been clamouring for since the news of the Rs 4,300-crore money laundering scam hit the bank. The angry depositors of PMC Bank staged dharna in front of the RBI, dashed off letter to the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. But of no avail.  Seeing depositor’s hapless state, Republic TV ran a high decibel campaign. Republic TV revealed that a letter was written on January 28, 2011 by Manpreet Kaur to the then Chief General Manager in-charge, Urban Banks Department, RBI about bank’s misdoings way back in 2011.  There is hope for depositors as there are many suitors eager to take over this bank.

From Lords 1932 to Gabba 2021, India Has Come A Long Way!

Time was when India’s cricketers in flannels did not make the big splash overseas, especially in England, Australia and the West Indies. They were far from crowd pullers, they just filled in the domestic home international season’s calendar. India has been playing Test cricket since the inaugural one at London’s Lord Cricket Ground in 1932. India led by Col. CK Nayudu lost the one-off Test to the Douglas Jardine led England side by 158 runs. Fast bowlers Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh made a terrific impression bagging wickets and Captain Nayudu also, scoring 40 in the first innings. But it was not until 1971 that the great cricketing nation with a legion of followers created history by winning Test series for the first time in the West Indies and England. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar who was part of the Indian team led by Ajit Wadekar in 1971 said that India’s 2-1 triumph against Australia January 2021 would match the 1971 feat and even surpass it because of the circumstances — pandemic caused quarantine, team depleted by absence of Virat Kohli and injury to many players. The important aspect of this 4-test Border-Gavaskar series was that the Cricket Australia (CA) converted the tour involving Twenty20, ODI and Test series into the $300 million event, earning revenues from its broadcasters Foxtel and Channel 7. The CA has sent a thank you note to the BCCI.

Harshad Mehta: Short-Lived Bull Run

The late Big Bull Harshad Mehta was in the news. This time for reel life – a movie The Big Bull starring Abhishek Bachchan and The Scam 1992 : The Harshad Mehta Story and  A 10-episode series, based on a book, sketches his dramatic rise and tragic fall. The brain behind the 1992 Securities Scam, Mehta never displayed emotions openly. He was always smiling and had a swagger. He greeted people with Jai Shri Krishna, an usual greeting among the Gujaratis.  Like the movie Sholay a lot of his one liners have become immortal.  He once told a few journalists after being caught: “Badnam hua tho kya hua, naam tho howa! His another famous line was: “India is a turnaround scrip.” True to his words, the Sensex in 1992 zoomed from 1,000 points to 4,546. The Big Bull was yoked and jailed in 1992. But after his release from the jail, his fan following did not dwindle; in fact it increased. A huge crowd was seen waiting for him at a book launch at a Crossword book store in south Mumbai that he attended. Many took his autographs. Out of jail he was back punting on scrips like BPL, Videocon and Sterlite. Interestingly, he wrote Guest Column for The Financial Express and had plans to launch a TV channel called Money Television. But a story in Business Standard in 1996 scuttled his IPO plans for the proposed TV channel.  In the end, despite amassing huge wealth, he died in a Thane jail. He got a massive heart attack. It was a short lived bull-run. ends

Swara Bhasker: Actor-Activist

If you ever wonder what made a talented actor like Swara Bhasker an activist that may see her lose a promising career in Bollywood then you should read her foreword in the book Inquilab: A Decade Of Protest. This is a collection of articles penned by various activists like Anna Hazare, Kavita Krishnan, Rana Ayub, Nayantara Sehgal, Ramachandra Guha etc. Swara writes that she grew up in defence services gated colony as her father is Commodore C Uday Bhasker, now retired. The colony consisted of three multi-storeyed buildings occupied by the families of officers serving the defence forces. The separate lift and staircase for officers and servants intrigued the 10-year old Swara. Now, segregation based on hierarchy in the armed forces isn’t a new thing. But this discrimination disturbed her? So she asked her father: “Is it not like our own kind of apartheid?” Her father smiled and told her: “Well, if you think it’s wrong you should do something about it.” Encouraged by her father, she did protest and took a signature campaign but of no avail. Like charity begins at home, so too for her, the crusading started at home.

Sports Astrologer Predicts Future Of Virat, Rohit

This Mumbai-based astrologer is different. He specializes in sports astrology. Author-columnist Greenstone Lobo, a Christian by birth, raised eyebrows within his community when he started charting and reading horoscopes the Hindu way. Interestingly, Lobo who has been in the business for the last 30 years has delivered a good strike rate. For instance, he rightly predicted that Sri Lanka led by Arunja Ranatunga would win the 1996 World Cup. Likewise his astrological research revealed that a 1981-born captain would win the 2011 World Cup. More research on all captains revealed that the planetary positions favoured MS Dhoni. Incidentally, Dhoni not only lifted the 2011 World Cup but rewrote India’s cricket history as predicted by Lobo. Other surprising thing his study threw up was that all captains — Brian Lara, Wasim Akram, Mohammad Azharuddin — playing for the 1991 World Cup were born on Full Moon Day. Now, he sticks his neck out, making a couple of bold predictions. First: Kohli will never beat Dhoni’s captaincy record. Second: Rohit Sharma is the best Indian captain ‘never had’. Well, his predictions don’t come in enigmatic puzzles. Now, only time will tell.

What’s A Smart Phone To A Superman: Big B & Aditya Puri

In today’s tech-driven world life evolves, revolves and devolves around a smart phone. But, this news may come as a shock and surprise to many that this just retired super banker never carried one. Aditya Puri, to whom all the credit goes for building the country’s most valuable bank, seem to be uncomfortable with the electronic leash, as many see it. But, that has not stopped Puri from ensuring that HDFC Bank adopts cutting-edge technology to keep its stakeholders enthralled. Then we have one more superman – a superstar actually – who carries the latest smart phone but never answers it because it is always on the silent mode. This revelation came from Big B’s son Abhishek at The Kapil Sharma Show. He said, “Since dad gets too many calls, he never answers the phone. He asks people to send him an SMS or a WhatsApp text and then he will answer the phone.” Abhishek then laughingly added, “But dad never reads SMS or WhatsApp on time.” He then went on to narrate an incident where his mother after boarding the flight from Kolkata to Mumbai messaged to the family group “Boarded”. On landing she said “Landed”. “Dad saw the message a good 7-8 hours later and messaged mom ‘Have a safe flight’. But she was already home, had her dinner and had gone to sleep,” said Abhishek.

FASTag: Plugging Rs 9000-Cr Leakage?

Why are some people up in arms against Modi government over the implementation of FASTag?   According to the reports, the daily toll plaza collection via FASTag — 615 plazas of NHAI and 100 toll plazas of State highways – is nearly Rs 93-100 crore per day in January 2021 compared to around Rs 65-68 crore a year ago. Roughly this works out to Rs 25 crore leakage every day or Rs 750 crore per month or nearly Rs 9,000 crore per year. That’s big money which is being siphoned off the system and ending in the pockets of the corrupt officials and politicians.  Effectively FASTag has blocked one more avenue to make black money. In the other move, the Modi government’s implementation of faceless tax scrutiny would leave some of the corrupted tax officials high and dry. This ill-gotten wealth is what pushes the real estate prices up in the metros. Earlier, the Direct Benefit Transfer for 450 government schemes saw the government plugging leakage to the tune of Rs 153,000 crore. Net, net more money in the government coffers. Clearly it is the Government At Work.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.