Entries Tagged as 'India Observer'

Two new papers launched in Delhi

In these hard times, whoever heard of two new newspapers launched within days of each other? But that’s exactly what happened in Delhi, India, just this past week.

First off the block was Mail Today, a joint venture between India Today group and Associated Newspapers of UK. The tabloid hit the streets on Nov 16.

Mail Today (www.mailtoday.in) looks and reads just like its big sister, and is aimed at women.

Then on Nov 21, Aaj Samaaj (Hindi for Society Today) appeared in the streets of Delhi. The 20-page full-color broadsheet is owned by Good Morning India Media, owned by Kartik Sarma, son of a Congress Party MP and former Cabinet Minister.

Aaj Samaaj is competing with Hindustan, the Hindi paper owned by the Hindustan Times (now undergoing some tweaking by SND regional director Gabi Schmidt), Dainik Jagran (India’s biggest Hindi paper), Dainik Bhaskar, Navbharat Times (owned by the Times of India) and several smaller ones.

The Sarma family has been receiving bad press in the last couple of years. One of the sons, Manu, was involved in the shooting murder of a waitress-model in Delhi.

Aroon Purie, chairman and editor-in-chief of India Today Group said Mail Today will follow the Daily Mail pattern of reaching out to women, who have been largely ignored by the mainstream press.

Delhi (population about 14 million) is a crowded newspaper market like many of the big cities in India. There are no fewer than 15 dailies to choose from.

Hot type!

Remember the old hot metal days? The smell of lead fumes, the black ink on your hands, the chinagraph pencil with which you make corrections on slightly wet page proofs?

In India, hot metal is still very much alive!

I stumbled upon a row of printers using hot metal type for wedding card invitations, name cards, and other stationery in Jalandhar in Punjab.

They directed me to Jain Type Foundry in a dusty, run-down part of the city. The foundry has been in the same premises since 1949, according to its owner.

Mr Jain sits behind a desk with a glass top. Behind him is a wall of invitation cards, business cards and all sorts of stationery styles. He does not move from his seat. If someone wants to buy some type, he merely takes the order and directs his assistant to the back room.

Mr Jain knows exactly where the typefaces are in one of his hundreds of drawers.

I found a set of Univers Bold Condensed in 36 pt for 1100 rupees (about US$27). But they weigh 7.5kg.

And believe it or not, they still stocked some wooden typefaces. I grabbed a set of italic type also in 36pt.

Jain Type Foundry is a step back in time! You can see more pictures on my Facebook account.

Look out, Chiro’s coming!

This is an early heads-up for all photography fans.

Chirodeeph Chaudhuri, a photographer friend in India, is finalising his book that takes him back to his village of Amadpur in Bengal, India.

Chiro has a great eye for photos, seeing things one normally misses. And that’s the mark of a great photographer!

The book is in black and white, with many stunning pictures like the cover below.

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Why doesn’t Indian Immigration get it?

It’s frustrating getting out of India, even in the big airports like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

Last Friday, I nearly missed my flight to Singapore and Sydney, no thanks to the idiotic Immigration Department at Chennai airport.

I waited in line for a little more than an hour to get through Immigration.

There were hundreds of people in two queues but the immigration counters were manned by four in one queue and six in another. And they were so painfully slow, taking more than a minute per passenger.

Worse of all, there were several senior officers standing nearby and talking among themselves, as if nothing was happening. It was clear they knew that the process was taking a long time, and there was the possibility that some people might miss their flights if they didn’t speed things up.

But they blithely carried on talking, causing lots of aggro and frustration all round.

It is all the more amazing considering that this could have been so easily solved, with technology being so readily available to speed the process of checking passports and other things.

Getting to the check-in counters is another story altogether!

Most airports are too small to handle the large crowds, so only travellers are allowed into the terminal. But first you have to bulldoze your way through the normally dense crowds, show your passport and ticket to some cops (which is fair enough).

Once you’re through immigration, there are more checks, but the irritating thing is that once is NEVER enough at Indian airports. You’d have to show your passport and boarding pass at least three times!

Not only that, you got to have a baggage tag with each hand-carry luggage. And each of them has to be scanned at least twice and then rubber-stamped by an officer.  If the tag is not stamped somehow, it’s too bad for you because you’d have to go through the process all over again, no questions asked.

Indian airport authorities obviously don’t trust their scanners because at some airports, they do physical checks of your luggage just before you board the bus to the aircraft!

What a hassle this is!

But what’s even more amazing is that this has been going on for years, and the airport authorities and government obviously do not care about efficiency.

They probably consider it a privilege for you to be in India rather than the other way around.

I love India, but this airport madness drives me insane!

Ahhhh… rain!

It’s my third day in Chennai, and it’s pouring down in sheets. I have not experienced such a torrential downpour for years, Australia being in a state of drought.

So it was such a delight to be caught in the thick of it during a huge dinner party for delegates attending the Ifra India gala dinner at the beach resort of Taj Coromandel.

How I wish the rain were in the outbacks of Australia where there are many kids who have grown up without having ever seen rain in their lives!

Condomotel! Or bed, breakfast and a bonk!

How many hotels do you know provide condoms at the most strategic spot – the beside table?

I can tell you Marriott Hotel at Juhu Beach in Mumbai does!

This afternoon, readying to check out, I opened the drawer to find four unused condoms. How thoughtful!

Let me know if you come across other hotels that think the 3B’s – bed, breakfast and a bonk!

First night in Mumbai

What a refreshing change the rains bring to any city.

It had been hot and humid in Jalandhar in the Punjab, so it was a welcoming to see the rain lashing against the hotel window this morning.

I’m staying at the Juhu Beach Marriott Hotel which is one of the more spectacular Marriott properties I’ve stayed in. It’s five-star plus. Pure luxury…. and one I could get used to! I’m a sucker for nice things, I’m afraid. And yea, that includes fonts!

Because I’m a Gold member with Marriott Rewards, I got upgraded to a deluxe room (US$495 and more) with a spectacular view of the ocean and the swimming pool. The pool itself is something to behold.

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Am meeting up with friends again this afternoon.

This is my umpteenth time to Mumbai, but I never tire of the city. There is so much to discover on every trip. But my favourite has been and always will be Choor Bazaar, a kind of flea market where you can find anything and everything!

And I mean anything – from old watches (my favourite) to furniture. I’m heading there today or tomorrow for sure!

You know you’re in India when…

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  • Beautifully decorated signs on the back of every truck urge you to “Please Horn” or “Blow Horn Please”
  • You walk into the restroom of a New York-style pub only to be greeted by a whiff of ammonia!
  • You see men piddling by the roadside
  • You see bare-chested and filthy looking kids knocking at your car window and signalling that he/she needs money to eat
  • You see people in bright colours — men in magenta turbans, women in cyan saris (contributed by Adonis Adurado, Dubai)

I want to build this list so please contribute….

Rakhi brothers!

I love India today!

Today is what Indians call Rakhi, or Raksha Bandhan, an auspicious day when sisters tie a sacred string around the right wrists of their brothers. Young or old, this is done throughout the subcontinent first thing in the morning. And then they exchange gifts from their hearts.

I love it because this is such an age-old tradition to remind siblings of the ties that bind. In the western world, the relationship between siblings is not as strong as in conservative cultures such as India and China.

Although it is a Hindu ritual, it is something else the world can learn from India.

Check out

http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa080800a.htm

for more about the festival and

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gargi/36825664/

for photos.

Brutal treatment of a thief

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Things seem to happen at breakfast in India!

This morning, I was aghast at a “Live India” TV clip showing a group of men brutally beating up a thief in the state of Bihar. But I nearly puked while having breakfast when he was dragged through the street tied to the back of a motorcycle ridden by a policeman!

The crowd of about 50 or so did absolutely nothing to prevent the young man from such brutal treatment. Several were seen punching and kicking him in the head, chest and back. Another used what looked like a belt to whack him across the face and his back.

Then a man tied up the young man’s hands behind his back with what appeared to be wire. He was dragged by a policeman in a safari suit. The young man fell, and the next scene was him being dragged behind a motorcycle for several metres.

All this while, that young man looked utterly helpless. He was shown saying something in Hindi which I do not understand, but presumably pleading for his life.

The man, who looked like a teenager, had apparently snatched a chain from a woman in Bhagalpur district in Bihar. The chain was recovered.

Shocked at this treatment, I rushed to my room knowing that this would be shown on TV over and over again. And true enough it was. Unfortunately, I couldn’t upload this to YouTube, but if you go to the Sydney Morning Herald’s website (www.smh.com.au) today, Aug 29, you will be able to view it although I think the paper has removed the clip about him being dragged behind a motorbike.

You can read the story at www.ndtv.com/.

I do not know the plight of the man or the fate of those who watched, and especially those two cops. But I hope they get the most severe punishment for condoning such brutal treatment, and worse still, taking part in it.

What about the crowd? Why did they do nothing? Or were they enjoying the spectacle?

What about the TV station which showed the footage over and over again? Who shot this video? Was it the TV cameraman, or someone with a mobile phone?

If it’s the former, then there is the serious question of journalistic ethics. Should a TV cameraman continue to film this brutality without calling for help? Or was it a case of shoot-first-talk-later?

From the wider perspective, should journalists stand by and watch while an offence is being committed, for surely this is taking the law into one’s own hands? Or does the news come first?