Siliconeer: September 2000

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SEPTEMBER 2000
Volume I •
Issue 8

Publisher's Note:

In today’s technology-intensive world, the road to success for developing nations depends on the broad-based assimilation of science, technology and education in society.

Take Japan. From a producer of shoddy goods a few decades ago, this island state’s progress in the post-World War II era has startled the world. Japan’s brilliant public policy wizards at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry played a key role.

The lesson from this is clear. A nation’s economic and social progress is vitally dependent on a government with a coherent, visionary public policy goal that it is will pursue aggressively.

India’s wondrous success in information technology owes a tremendous debt to the far-sighted commitment of yesteryear’s planners, but that success is largely eclipsed by massive poverty and endemic corruption.

Surely one reason most politicians at the helm fail to grasp the implications of science and technology is the fact that the average politician’s career path leaves him or her ill prepared.

Recently deceased Power Minister P.R. Kumaramangalam was a wondrous exception. Suave, articulate and bright, he brought a sophisticated understanding and passion to his work. His political somersaults have drawn barbs for critics, and they were not all undeserved, but he was that rare person at the top echelon of Indian politics who had the scientific understanding as well as the political savvy to integrate the vision of science with the art of governance.

We pay tribute to Kumaramangalam in this issue.

In this issue we are delighted to welcome on board our partner Chennai Online. As the world gets smaller, we are confident that our partnership will enhance the experience for readers of both our publications.

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Main Feature

Death of a Friend of Science:
P.R. Kumaramangalam
- By Deepak Goyal

He was smart suave and articulate. But what is far, far rarer, he was a person with a sophisticated understanding of the role of science and technology for India to break out of its crippling cage of poverty – and he functioned in the rarefied heights of political power where it counted. Fate struck Power Minister P.R. Kumaramangalam – and India – a cruel blow when it snatched him away when he was 48. Deepak Goyal writes an affectionate profile.

It was during the era of P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was much enamored of the notion of fashioning his prime ministership along the lines of philosopher king. The Soviet Union was in a shambles, the once-powerful nation was imploding.

P.R. Kumaramangalam was a minister in the cabinet, and he was struck by the fact that Russia was fast becoming a Third World country that did not know what to do with its First World scientists. He had a bright idea: Why not hire some of these scientists, some of the world’s best, bring them to India to boost India’s scientific know how?

The scientists would be relieved of the unconscionable plight that they faced in a nation that was in ruins, India would benefit immensely, and it was, to borrow a cliché from PR flacks, a win-win situation.

History is witness that nobody actually ended up winning. Oh, Kumaramangalam pursued the idea with his customary verve all right, but the problem lay elsewhere. Narasimha Rao, the philosopher king, alas was all philosopher and no king. He did what he was good at doing from years of practice. He sat on the idea with a sphinx-like detachment, the Americans and the Chinese picked up the crème of the scientists, and when the wheels of India’s government finally rumbled, the issue had become moot.

Theoretical physicist Ashok Das, a professor at the University of Rochester, remembers with affection how helpful Kumaramangalam had been when a U.S.-based fellow physicist wanted to meet Kumaramangalam to pitch his idea of setting up a world class university in India.

Swadesh Mahajan is a nuclear physicist at the University of Texas at Austin, and his passion is to build a world-class university in the basic sciences in India. When he met Das in Trieste, Das told him that Kumaramangalam was a friend from his college days in Delhi, and he could check with Kumaramangalam if he would give Mahajan a hearing.

Kumaramangalam faxed back the next day, saying of course he would be happy to listen to Mahajan’s proposal. This was at a time when he was parliamentary affairs minister, and science was not exactly his brief.

Kumaramangalam brought a rare combination in Indian politics. He had a passion for science and technology, and he had the political weight to make it count. This is in marked contrast with the general political ambiance in India. Today’s top political honchos cut their teeth in politics in student days often, it is sad to say, rabble rousing instead of getting an education, and India’s lack of a coherent public policy focus is in substantial measure due to the fact that the top guys who land ministerial portfolios have little understanding of how pivotal science and technology is in lifting a nation out of Third World penury. This is what makes the loss of an articulate advocate like Kumaramangalam such a big loss for India.

PHANINDRANATH RANGARAJAN KUMARAMANGALAM was born May 12, 1952 in a distinguished political family. He was a third-generation minister. His grandfather P. Subbarayon served in the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru, his father Mohan Kumaramangalam was a minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet. Ranga, as Kumaramangalam was known, grew up with an abiding commitment to the cause of labor, and swept through a dizzyingly diverse political trajectory. In his earlier years – he first was elected to the Lok Sabha when he was 32 – he was labor lawyer and a passionate advocate of workers’ rights. At least some of that commitment may have been inherited, his father was at one point of his life a key theorist of the Communist Party. Later he abandoned the party and joined the Congress, becoming a key confidant of Indira Gandhi.

Kumaramangalam’s political somersault was even more spectacular – after a long lifetime with the Congress Party, where he was a noted champion of trade union rights, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1998 and got the party’s Lok Sabha nomination – and won – twice from Tirichirapalli. It must be noted, however, that he joined the BJP after years of isolation in the Congress following a series of dissenting moves that misfired badly.

He became power minister – and cracked down ruthlessly on industrial agitation in the power sector. He became an ardent advocate of privatization. Many political observers found it striking to see someone come down so strongly on workers who had not so long ago been unhappy about erstwhile Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s economic reforms which he thought gave a raw deal to working people.

He was often publicly harangued on this political volte-face, and as was his wont, he always responded with good humor and gentle harmony.

No matter what critics say about his political somersaults, he brought a welcome air of candor in his brief but eventful tenure as power minister.

“As power minister he was bold enough to tell the MPs that the days of free lunches was over and those who used power would have to pay for it,” the Calcutta Statesman wrote after his death. “And Kumaramangalam did not hesitate in declaring that what had been recorded as transmission and distribution losses were, in fact, theft. Few other ministers have been so successful in dealing with the subsidy lobby and dispelling the theory that ‘privatization’ was a dirty word.”

While critics will sneer that his change in political hues reeks of opportunism, the Hindu presented his friends’ take on Ranga.

“In a context where principles were being eroded and pragmatism was the governing virtue, he was entitled (his friends say) to take any decision that would restore his relevance,” said the Hindu. “They regret, though, that after his reinvention, Ranga proved to have altogether too brief a lease on life.”

– Deepak Goyal is a freelance writer.
He lives in Calcutta.

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Infotech India



Arrival of the Golden Mouse... Uninterrupted Power... E-Commerce Society... India Infoline Goes WAP... Infosys Mulls Sharjah... BBC to Beam... Orissa Goes Online... Calcutta Plan Flops Here is the latest on information technology from India

Arrival of the Golden Mouse

Media2india.net, an integrated Internet marketing entity, has announced the installation of the Golden Mouse awards for net excellence. The awards propose to honor the people who have made a significant contribution to the Internet medium.

Hollywood films may have the Oscars and their Indian counterparts a host of wannabes. But the Indian Info-tech world has had no serious award or mascot, until now that is.

The awards aspire to be the prized possession of the deserving few and an inspiration to potential winners of the future.

Media2india.net, a new generation media company, is in the business of providing integrated Internet marketing and media solutions and essential information for the entire internet spectrum.

Speaking on the occasion, Panky Seth, chief executive officer, Media2india.net, said: “The Golden Mouse awards are a part of an integrated effort. They aim at sustaining and appreciating the talent that has contributed to its reach and usage.”

The awards will generate excellence in the Indian net space and foster greater heights for creative innovation. They will recognize the vibrant diversity of the Indian web space. The nominations for the awards are invited through a print and online campaign. Judging will be a two-stage evaluation process. A category of ‘Popular Neturen Award’, based on viewer polls are separately awarded.

The judges would comprise an eminent panel of Indian and international jurors. like John Scaly, Alex Lighten, Dr. Mohanbir Sawhney, Adam Boettiger, Dr George A Gellert as well as leaders of the Indian advertising and Internet sectors. The entire awards process will be independently audited by Ernst and Young.
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Uninterrupted Power

American Power Conversion India has launched the hi-tech Symmetra, one of the first remote controlled Uninterrupted Power Supply systems here.

APC country general manager Anand Iyer told reporters that the three-phase double-conversion online UPS system could activate and disconnect a remote-linked equipment as far as New York city.

He said the key features of the Internet economy could be exploited with its redundancy, hot swapability, manageability and scalability capabilities.

The new Symmetra 3 phase was the ideal solution for situations where the electric load bearing capacity of the building wiring could not handle high load current on a single phase.

The UPS came in array, and the modular architecture provided for continuous availability of power as one array took over the supply of power in the event of failure of another array.

The UPS systems have been built with intelligence and will automatically switch off (with work safe) the connected equipment, like a series of computers, in the event of long power cuts, and reboot once power is restored in any remote area or in an Intranet network in a campus, APC claims.

The system also provides replacement of batteries and power array without discontinuing the power supply as it had been designed in compartments interlinked into a single system.
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E-Commerce Society

An association has opened to familiarize the masses and small scale-industry with e-commerce and IT management.

The Electronic Commerce Network of India — EcomnetIndia – will act as a catalyst for net community and IT organizations to grow business through e-commerce from the current $17 billion to several trillion dollars by 2005, its president Rajeev Karwal told reporters here.

Karwal, who is also a senior Philips India executive, said that the association planned to have two million members by 2002.

EcomnetIndia vice president S.N. Shukla added that the association was different from existing bodies like NASSCOM, MAIT and ESC as it does not charge any fee from its members and caters mainly to small-scale enterprises and individuals.

The association will also start professional courses in eight months and would offer them without any fee. The association’s revenue will come from charges for seminars, conferences and corporate sponsors.

EcomnetIndia is planning to set up offices in the United States and Germany in two years for the use of small enterprises which find it difficult to have their own establishments abroad.

The association is planning to tie up with similar organizations and universities in India and abroad to popularize e-commerce.
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India Infoline Goes WAP

Leading finance portal IndiaInfoline.com has announced the launch of WAP – Wireless Application Protocol – enabled services with technological support from Bangalore-based Silicon Automation Systems.

The WAP gateway will act as an intermediate between the web server and the WAP device and help users use their mobile phone to access the email account on the Internet.

With WAP enabled service, Indiainfoline will be able to offer live data and analysis to its users.

WAP will allow complete customization of portfolio tracking, giving its users flexibility and helping them maintain multiple portfolios on their phone.

Talking to reporters here, top Indiainfoline executive Nirmal Jain said that WAP-enabled Indiainfoline will have live BSE and NSE prices updated at one-minute intervals.

The users can also ask for alerts on the user’s mobile phone as soon as a particular scrip touches a specified price.

The news section on this service is divided into breaking news, market news and quarterly news, and the user will be able to choose scrips for which he would like news alerts without having to login to see the news.

The system converts the WAP request sent by a WAP device into an HTTP request and sends it to the Web server and also reconverts the HTTP reply from the web server into WAP before sending it back to the mobile device.

Indiainfoline.com also offers financial transaction services including sale of financial products through both its website and its distribution network spread across the country. The website attracts over ten million page views per month.

SAS is a leading provider of telecommunications software services and solutions to network equipment manufacturers, mobile terminal vendors and semiconductor companies.
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Infosys Mulls Sharjah

Info-tech leader Infosys has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone Authority to have a base in that area.

SAIF director general Taryam Mattar Mohd Taryam revealed this deal at an interactive session organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry but however declined to give details.

SAIF has also signed an agreement with Kerala for a holding company for promotion of tourism, industry and information technology services.

Kerala is to have a five percent share in the company while SAIF will hold another five percent. The rest will be split between shareholders.

Maintaining that his organization was looking for joint ventures and exploring the possibilities, Taryam said that he would visit Hyderabad and Delhi before leaving.

SAIF was grown by 30 percent and the number of companies operating from the zone had crossed 460, he added, pointing out that almost 10 companies were added every month.
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BBC to Beam

Worldspace and BBC have signed an agreement that would open the door for all BBC broadcast units to air their programming over the Worldspace Digital Audio and Multimedia Broadcasting System.

Briefing reporters in Chennai, M. Sebastian said the agreement followed a six-month on-air test of BBC broadcasts over the Worldspace Africa satellite that provided service to Africa and the Middle East.

Worldspace will launch its services at Bangalore on Sept. 15, he said, adding that the company already provided direct satellite delivery of digital audio and multimedia services to markets in Africa, the Middle East, Asia,

Latin America and the Caribbean.

While the first two satellites have become operational, the third satellite, Ameristar, will be installed next year, he said.

Each satellite has three beams with each beam capable of delivering more than 40 channels of clear audio and multimedia programming directly to portable receivers, he said.
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Orissa Goes Online

The northern states of India are slowly realizing that there is no need to let their southern counterparts like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Karnataka hog the major chunk of overseas IT-oriented funds.

And so states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and now Orissa have made serious bids to place their wares and themselves on the cyber map.

In line with this Orissa has launched its official website with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik hoping to provide a cost-effective, fast and reliable medium of information to the people.

The website, which can be accessed at Orissagovt.com, plans to disseminate information, attract investment and bring transparency in various activities of the government and transact routine government functions for the benefit of the people of the state, official sources said.

Information about every government department, public sector undertakings, statutory bodies, addresses of all important functionaries of the state including the chief minister and secretaries of various departments would be made available in the website.

Attempts would be made to project the major tourist spots to promote cultural, archaeological, religious, ethnic, wild life adventure and vacation tourism in the state in a big way, sources said.

An innovative feature of the website is a mailbox to receive complaints from citizens through e-mail. Complaints received by any department are planned to be disposed of quickly and complainants informed about decisions.

The website can also be used as a forum for solving various problems through discussion. People can interact with the chief minister or other important functionaries of the state for solving their problems.

The rich cultural heritage, history of Orissa, tradition of martial art and maritime customs, festivals, dance forms like Odissi, Chhau, Paika, tribal and folk dances, handicrafts and works of art like stone carvings, applique work, silver filigree and Patta Chitra will be displayed on the website.

Hand woven fabrics, rich bio-diversity and information about the mineral potential of the state would also be shown.

Arrangements had been made to display revenue collection, tender notices, important policy decisions and news events of the state to maintain transparency.

In future innovative features could be included in the website to help people pay their dues, taxes and utility bills, get their driving licenses, birth, death and caste certificates, sources said.

The government intends the site to be a major tool for e-governance and hoped that the site would scale up fast and deliver the goods.
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Calcutta Plan Flops

An ambitious project by MMTC to develop a software park at Salt Lake in Calcutta remains a non-starter as the trading conglomerate has been unable to find a joint venture partner even after seven months of invitation bids.

However officials insist that the $1 billion company intends to continue the search and position itself as the leading resource company in the Indian subcontinent. “We will go ahead with the plan as soon as we find a Partner,” an MMTC representative said.

MMTC had invited bids for the Salt Lake City project, which was to come up in a 190,000 square feet area. The company had offered to provide state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities.

Officials admit that one of the reasons for the lack of response to the bids is that information technology has not been MMTC’s mainline business. Its core competence areas are minerals, metals, fertilizers, agro products, gems, jewelry and precious metals besides general trading.

Another reason for the poor response for the joint venture proposal, according to industry sources, could be location. While the West Bengal government is trying to promote Salt Lake and other areas in the state for IT, Calcutta is not considered as the “happening place” for the new economy. The response would have been different had MMTC opted for Hyderabad, Bangalore or even Delhi, the sources said.
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eRESOURCE

RedCipher:
Solutions for a Webbed World By Sonali Merchant

As business explodes on the Internet competition gets even more intense. Developing a web presence that is attractive, easy to use, yet is fully integrated to a company’s database is vital. RedCipher pools the skills of its hi-tech professionals for companies, reports Sonali Merchant.

Introduction

Presenting a strong website presence may be the single most critical factor to a company’s e-business success. Additionally, a successful website includes proper planning of the company’s e-business strategy, designing a site that presents a look and feel for its target audience and integrating software tools that allow information to be transmitted seamlessly over the web. “At RedCipher we understand the importance of your web presence and strive to provide the mission critical tools and solutions to make your web site dominant in today’s e-commerce business,” says company CEO Rajesh Shah. “The Internet is no longer an emerging technology – the Internet is here today. The world’s socio-economic balance and expectations for the availability of information have changed. It is no longer a question of whether or not a corporate presence exists until it doesn’t.”

RedCipher was founded in 1995 to provide new and existing e-commerce companies with a source for back-end web development integration dedicated to providing detailed project analysis, strategic planning and cutting edge development and integration while maintaining timely delivery to market. RedCipher’s team of engineers have developed their skills as consultants and developers while working for companies such as Intel, Oracle, 3COM and Sun Microsystems. Its engineers have developed sites such as eCoupons.com, eRebates.com, Learning.com, uSubscribe.com, PowerPurchasing.com and 3Com’s North American Sales Intranet site. According to RedCipher’s director of client services: “RedCipher stands out in a crowded market by combining proven business knowledge with quality web development.”

The company’s executive staff has been involved with many of the major players in the Internet arena providing RedCipher with a strong vision, and drive to become a cutting- edge development company of the World Wide Web. The principal partners in RedCipher are Rajesh Shah, Nelson Poon, Michael Fielden, Mike Hoyman and Dan Rutan.

Rajesh Shah has been involved in managing large-scale Information Technology projects such as Enterprises Resource Planning implementations using SAP. With over 20 years of operational and business experience working in hi-tech companies like Applied Materials, Siemens, Fujitsu and Adaptec. RedCipher CEO and president Shah is a visionary and a strategist. He has extensive experience in building up organizations and operationally managing them, and brings in over six years of hands-on and project management experience with SAP R/3 logistics functions. Having worked as functional consultant and project manager, he brings vast knowledge of business processes, enterprise-wide applications deployment using large ERP applications. Shah has a B.S. in industrial engineering and an MBA in corporate finance.

Nelson Poon has also been involved in implementing similar application as a developer and manager.

With a foundation and expertise in Information Systems Management, Michael Fielden brings 10 years of knowledge in the art of project management, analysis, design, development, quality assurance, testing and implementation of large-scale information systems with an emphasis on Internet and web technologies.

With a foundation in business development, Dan Rutan bring over three years of experience in developing key alliances to broaden the core client base and generating business through direct marketing programs.

RedCipher’s development presence focuses on back-end development and software integration. Its engineers are well versed utilizing HTML, DHTML, XML, VB Script, PERL, Java Script, and Java. RedCipher has implemented projects on all platforms including Unix and Windows NT. Additionally the company’s engineers are specialists in integrating software tools such as Vignette’s StoryServer, Open Market, MacroMedia’s NetPerceptions and LikeMinds, Cybersource and Cybercash. RedCipher specializes in Web Server applications such as BEA’s WebLogic, Netscape’s Enterprise Server and Microsoft’s IIS.

RedCipher also recognizes changes in the trends associated with the web development industry. This month RedCipher has formed a strategic alliance with an industry leading wireless product company to support all their development and implementation requirements. Tresidder Networks has produced four cutting-edge wireless products that will influence the future of the wireless industry. Tresidder is excited about its positioning in the industry and their relationship with RedCipher. “RedCipher’s mission to help companies realize the tangible benefits of e-commerce by providing complete, quality-oriented services and solution to customers is in accord with our business philosophy,” said Eric Ly, president and CEO, Tresidder Networks. “We look forward to working with RedCipher to enhance the value provided to our customers by delivering powerful mobile e-marketing and commerce solutions that provide tangible business benefits.”

Services

  • Web site development
  • Customized solutions/ database integration
  • Outsourcing
  • Offshore development

Web Site Development

Web development is the core of the core business at RedCipher. Its experience in back-end development and site integration is new and innovative. Just slapping information onto a page without proper presentation reduces the value of that information. RedCipher’s internal design group understands this, and their expertise in Internet design is here to help make sure that its client’s products meets expectations in both functionality and appearance and usability. The company is also willing to work with its client’s team of professionals to modify existing materials for web presentation.

Customized solutions/database integration

Personalization is the future of web technologies – personalizing products and services to a specific user and/ or audience. RedCipher is skiled at designing, developing and integrating customized and personalized products for clients.

An example of this, ecoupons.com, uses a custom geocode solution, developed by RedCipher, to pull data from an Oracle database to present personalized coupons based on interests and zip code. Solutions like this define customization and is one of the strongest points in favor of choosing RedCipher, its owners say.

Database Integration, more commonly known as, back-end development, means integrating databases with the web, and at RedCipher says it is one of its specialties. The company’s team includes Oracle and Microsoft SQL certified specialists; people that have worked at companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others. “Add to this experience, hands on practical knowledge of many other mainstream databases and you will find a leader in the development industry,” Shah says.

Outsourcing

Even the best internal development shops lack the resources to stay on top of new technologies, adapt to the changing corporate need, and complete all projects in a timely basis. Temporary contract professionals can be a solution in the battle to compete with upcoming new technologies, fill gaps in an organization, and expand without adding permanent resources – and RedCipher’s team of contract professionals is available to do just that.

Offshore Development

With costs for technical labor rising and resources becoming more constrained, the foreign labor pool is increasingly attractive. With lower cost of living in countries like India, China, Singapore and Russia, highly skilled technical labor can be contracted for a fraction of their United States equivalent. RedCipher says it has integrated offshore resources with a project management system designed to facilitate rapid development without reducing quality or control.

RedCipher is currently seeking to focus on developing the core business around web development. It are trying to do about 75 percent of its business in development activities and 25 percent of the revenue coming from its outsourcing efforts. RedCipher currently supports a staff of 25, with a goal of 35-40 people in the next six months. This growth will drive business from $2 million for 00’ to $5 – 7 million in ’01, company officials say.

RedCipher is working with its sister company in India, Web Traverse India, to provide RedCipher with consultants that are the best of breed quality. With the shortage of software developers in the states, RedCipher will utilize WTI to provide the highest quality engineering staff to its clients at a very competitive rate, says Shah, adding that . “we pride ourselves in our ability to mobilize a development team in a timely manner to produce enterprise class web sites with a short development schedule.”

The core management team feels confident that RedCipher will be one of the top development companies in the Internet industry. One of the partners, Michael Hoyman voices the company’s vision when he states “At Redcipher we are a technology company, not a web development company. Our focus two years ago was a database-driven dynamic website, now the market has changed. Redcipher moves with the technology so now our focus is WAP technologies, fixing the problem of two tier architectures with three tier or n-tier architectures and Java/Component Based Development.” The emerging markets also demand dynamic flexibility in business operations,” says Rajesh Shah. “RedCipher studies the past to help define the future. Yesterday we did in Java what we’re now doing in WAP for use on cell phones.”

- Sonali Merchant is a freelance writer
based in Dublin, Calif.

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FINANCE:

Sending a Kid to College:
QSTP - A Vital Tool
- By Ashok Gupta

College is one of the surest ways of achieving the American dream. But it doesn’t come cheap. So what is a parent to do? Start saving now, counsels Ashok Gupta, and the financial burden will be much easier to bear, especially with a state program called QSTP.

The prospect of paying for a college education is daunting enough; learning about the various savings options and picking the right one adds yet another degree of difficulty to the challenge. Yet going to college has become the surest way of achieving the American dream.

Recently, many parents and grandparents have put qualified state tuition programs – QSTPs – near the head of the class. Called “529 Plans” because they receive special tax status under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, QSTPs offer income tax-deferred earnings that are ultimately taxed at the student’s rate, usually 15 percent, so long as they are used for “qualified higher education expenses,” which includes the cost of tuition, room, board, books and certain other expenses at most accredited two- or four-year colleges.

There are two versions of QSTPs:

  • A prepaid tuition plan that effectively allows savers to lock in future tuition of selected state colleges at today’s rates through the purchase of “tuition credits” or “tuition certificates.”

  • A college savings plan that is not pegged to future tuition costs, but rather invested according to asset allocation strategies determined by the individual states. This newer type of plan is likely to produce a better return for the long-term investor than prepaid tuition plans, because college costs have only been rising at about 4 percent annually in recent years.

About half of the more than 40 states that offer QSTPs have no residency requirements for contributors or beneficiaries. Some states even offer their residents some state tax advantages.

Both types of 529 plans have no income limits for participation, unlike IRAs, and certain states allow contributions of up to $100,000 or more per child either in a lump sum or periodic deductions. Moreover, QSTPs have an advantage over custodial accounts set up under the Uniform Gifts to Minors (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors (UTMA) Acts, because they are not considered the child’s assets. Most colleges weight the child’s assets more heavily in determining financial aid.

Anyone can set up a QSTP for a prospective student. That can be especially useful for grandparents looking to trim the size of their estate. A contribution is a completed gift for federal gift tax purposes, but a contribution of between $10,000 and $50,000 can be treated as having been made over a five-year period. That means a grandparent can utilize as much as $50,000 in gift tax exclusions to shelter a single larger contribution while giving the account the opportunity to grow more quickly than if contributions of $10,000 were made for each of the five years. If so utilized, the grandparent’s annual gift tax exclusion would be exhausted for the current year and the next four years.

Moreover, unlike the case of a gift to a UTMA account, grandparents (or any other account owner) could reclaim control of the money by way of a refund, although penalties would generally apply.

Naturally, QSTPs come with restrictions, perhaps the biggest of which is that all the money in the account must be applied toward college in order to receive favorable tax treatment. Thus, taxes on earnings can’t be paid from the account without incurring penalties and additional taxes. Also, no contributions can be made to an education IRA on behalf of a child in the same tax year any amount is contributed to a QSTP on behalf of the same child.

Section 529 college savings plans may not be for you if you’re accustomed to managing your own portfolio. If you choose a savings plan, make sure that you are comfortable with its investment philosophy, because current laws make it extremely difficult to switch from one state to another.

It also might be wise to keep an eye on Congress. Laws may be significantly different by the time your student is ready to enroll. For example, a proposal is afoot that may exempt state plan funds from all taxes. Another reform may be aimed at making it easier for individuals to shift their accounts from one state plan to another.

(This article contains tax and tax-related concepts for the discussion of the subject matter. They are not meant to be tax advice. Neither Prudential nor its financial professionals render tax advice. A tax advisor should be consulted for specific information.)

- Ashok Gupta is a financial planner
based in San Jose, Calif.

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LEGAL ISSUES:

A Golden Key?
L1 Visa
– By Gopalan Nair

With H-1B visa quotas being filled so fast, many non-citizens seeking employment in the U.S. are wondering what can be done. There are alternative employment visas which are available in abundance, says attorney Gopalan Nair.


The L1 visa is available for overseas companies who do business in the United States. It enables them to move managers and skilled workers to their U.S.-associated operation. Quota is not a problem as in H1 visa because it is hardly filled. As you may have guessed by now, L1 is of two kinds, L1A for the top-flight multi-national manager and L1B for the skilled accompanying workers.

For the L1A visa, the maximum duration of stay is seven years and for L1B skilled workers is five years. After that to remain in status L1 visa holders will have to reside outside the U.S. for 1 year for a further duration, as in the case of H1B holders.

Requirements for an L1 Visa:

  • The overseas company must be doing business with more than one more country other than the U.S.

  • The U.S. company must own more than 50 percent of the foreign company and must fully control the other or vice versa, or a third controlling company should controls both companies fully, or U.S. company controls less than 50 percent but wholly controls the other, or vice versa.

  • The L1 worker must have been employed by the overseas company for at least one year during the preceding three years. (It does not matter if the U.S. company is recently formed or whether the overseas company was recently formed but came into existence by the acquisition of another company, or whether the foreign worker had in fact worked for the predecessor of the overseas company who recently acquired it for the counting of the one year work requirement).

  • The L1A applicant has to be a manager. We all know what a manager is, so that requirement is self explanatory.

  • The skilled worker who is applying for the L1B visa has to be in fact skilled and assisting and necessary for the operations in the U.S. The good news is that L1A is pre-certified as a priority worker. There is no need to carry out the Labor Certification exercise for him to apply for permanent residence in US. Unfortunately this is not so for the L1B man. He has to go through Labor Certification. In his case, it is not much different from the H1B situation. One advantage of the L1B situation over the H1B case, is the absence of the problem of quotas, as there are plenty of visas.

One point of importance. If the U.S. company has been recently set up, L1 will only be issued for one year initially with extensions to be applied for. On the whole, a pretty valuable visa, I should say.

On a lighter note, here is a funny anecdote from Singapore about the pitfalls of literal translation. I was trained as a lawyer in England but practiced for some time in Singapore, where I was born, before I came here. When Singapore was a British Colony, it had English judges. The people, however, were mostly Chinese.

Under Singapore law, if one is bankrupt, he or she has to be brought before a judge in chambers to explain why the debtor is not paying his debt.

A Chinese bankrupt debtor was brought before an English judge in his chambers with his interpreter. The judge took one look at the bankrupt debtor and asked the interpreter to tell him how old the debtor was. After consultation with the debtor, the interpreter replied that he was 35.. The judge then told the interpreter to tell the debtor that “he is a young man. He should be able to row his own boat.”

The interpreter told the creditor this, who was visibly upset. The judge asked the interpreter what was the matter with the bankrupt. The interpreter replied that the creditor said that he has always been a businessman and absolutely refuses to work as a boatman in the Singapore river even if the judge ordered him to do so.

Of course, the judge was speaking figuratively, but his point is valid.

You should be able to row your own boat Good luck.

Gopalan Nair is an immigration attorney
based in Fremont, Calif.

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary:
A Photographer's Travelogue - By Arun Chauhan

It’s 1 a.m., and instead of being tucked in bed, amateur photographer Arun Chauhan, is out in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur bird sanctuary. In this emotional piece, Chauhan gives both a verbal as well as a visual account of his visit to the park.





(Top) Grey spotted owlet. (Bottom) Siberian cranes in Bharatpur

It is almost 1 a.m. and we are freezing inside the bus heading to Bharatpur bird sanctuary. Our day at the beautiful desert city Jaipur was tremendous. Today the word “tired” has been given a new meaning.

The Bharatpur bus stop is a lonely place at this time in the morning . We found an Indian youngster willing to carry our bags for us. We were directed to a motel, which we were told, is a clean place and still has rooms available.

Soon we check in to the motel owned by an ex-serviceman. We were advised to sleep early since the best time to visit the sanctuary was 4 to 8 a.m. Our host packed some sweets, sandwiches and some hot chai and got us a rickshaw since no motorized vehicles were allowed in the park. As we entered the park the tranquillity of the park overwhelmed us. It was very hard to believe we were in the ‘90s. We felt as if time had gone backwards and this is the age and time of the Ramayana.

We were dropped off on the other border of the park, and while on the way we were able to spot a beautiful but shy nilgai. Having not slept for so long we bid our rickshaw farewell and decided to take a walk.

As we watched the sun rise while we sat and finished our sandwiches we realized that Indians, who lived in harmony with nature for so many centuries, have now drifted away from nature.

We decided to take a short nap very close to nature, lying down on bare grass. We got up with the sounds of hundreds of birds that flew over a few feet away from us. We got up and while walking away we witnessed a beautiful majestic wild boar cross our path.

All of a sudden we hear a deer. I look up and here is this fully-grown male who looks like a herd leader crossing the unpaved street. As I froze, he froze and our eyes met then I gradually tried to reach for my camera but the bear got scared and ran away and the whole herd followed him. There goes another chance of taking a picture and that is our only reason for coming to this park, I reflect ruefully.

The Bharatpur bird sanctuary, like many other wildlife preserves of India, was a Shikar ground for the rulers of Bharatpur. Being in northern India it attracts a large bird population from Europe and Russia. We visited the python holes and we were told if you keep quiet you could see a python trying to get the winter. We did not see any pythons, but later we discovered that we were following an Indian group, who although not allowed, were trying to dig the pythons by poking the hole with a stick.

During our walk we met a scientist from Bombay Museum of Natural History who has done marvelous work about birds of India. He took a walk with us, softly telling us about the cattle population inside the park and how it helps the salinity of water and actually helps birds. For the first time we were told how lucky we were since the Siberian cranes have just arrived two days ago. It was a beautiful sight taking pictures of Siberian cranes but they keep a long distance from humans, thus making picture taking rather difficult.

As we bid farewell to our scientist friend after exchanging addresses and promising him that we would definitely send him pictures of Siberian cranes. We discovered, however, that we had no more exposures left in the big format camera. However the 35mm had plenty of exposures. While we are walking back ,all of a sudden a bird flew away .At the time it seemed she came out of nowhere.

We stopped and wait a distance away. The gray spotted owlet, our scientist friend walks back to tell us. While we were waiting we see the bird coming back it apparently nested in the hole of the babul and was dozing in a picture perfect pose. While the owlet came back, we had to stay away from the tree. After the wait is over I walked to the tree on my knees very gradually, very quietly out of her sight. It was a 10-minute wait, which took almost forever since I did not want to miss this picture. Finally I was in front of her about 20 feet away and before the owlet opened its eyes I got the three shots, all look like masterpieces now.

Camera used was a Nikon F3 and this picture was shot on an Ektachrome film ISO 65 Lens was a Nikkor 300 mm fixed focus telephoto lens .This picture and also a picture of Kanha National Park was accepted for a India Circuit exhibition.

- Arun Chauhan is an amateur photographer.
He presents “Saaz Aur Awaaz,”
a popular Bay Area Indian radio show
.

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FESTIVAL:

Diwali in the Park:
Great America Goes Desi


Most Indian cultural activities take place within an insular ethnic cocoon. In a dramatic departure, Diwali will be celebrated in a major amusement park.


This year the San Francisco Bay Area will celebrate Diwali in one of the most popular amusement parks in the area – Paramount’s Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.

Yes, you heard that right.

Come Oct. 14, when one of the most popular amusement parks of the Bay area opens its doors for the last weekend in this year, an estimated 25,000 mainstream Americans will have a unique opportunity to experience Indian culture, including a slew of classical and folk dances, Indian cuisine and merchandise and a fireworks display to Indian music.

The event will happen thanks to an agreement between India Festival 2000 and Paramount’s Great America. The amusement park has slashed its ticket price from $39.99 to $29.99 to mark the occasion. The discount is available only to those who buy tickets in advance.

India Festival 2000 has just hosted an India Day parade to mark India’s Independence Day with Miss Universe Lara Dutta as chief guest.

The amusement park will create an Indian ambiance with special decoration and background music. The reflection pond in front of the merry-go-round near the entrance of the park will be lined with Indian flags.

Indian music will be played throughout the park, all day long. The entire theme area in the park will be ornately decorated with Indian fabrics and other traditional decoration pieces.

Shortly after sunset, just before the park closes at 8 p.m., there will be a gala fireworks display for 12 minutes choreographed to Indian music composed by Habib Khan.

Local Bay Area artists including Habib Khan & his troupe, Kaka & Rani of Ghunghroo Group, Lal Singh Bhatti of Bhangra Group, Vinita Kumar, Jyothi Rao et al, will present a slew of diverse performances including classical, light classical, thumri, dadra, odissi, bharatanatyam, kathak, film dances and folk dances from different states of India, garba and dandia raas, and above all giddha and bhangra. There will be continuous open-air live performances on an open-air stage all day as well as at the 1,200 capacity indoor auditorium.

The open-air fair in the theme area will feature several food booths serving freshly cooked Indian cuisine. Booths will also be set up by other Indian merchants offering a variety of Indian merchandise for sale.

India Festival 2000 organizers say this is an unprecedented opportunity to introduce mainstream Americans to the many facets of the rich, diverse cultural heritage of India. While the Bay Area presents superb Indian cultural events, attendance is largely limited to Indian Americans. This event will give tens of thousands of mainstream Americans to experience the richness and diversity of Indian culture, say organizers, adding that they are confident that many Americans will be pleasantly surprised and impressed with the presentation.

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CONCERT:
A.R. Rahman: Live

He is talented and he has shaken up Indian popular music. Now composer A.R. Rahman is coming to the U.S. for the first time. With fourteen top singers and over seventy musicians, his concerts are going to sizzle.


One of India’s most illustrious and talented composers is coming with a troupe to perform whose members read like a who’s who of contemporary Indian popular music.

With a team that includes Udit Narayan, Shankar Mahadevan, B.P. Balasubramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurthy, composer whiz kid A.R. Rahman will tour the U.S. for the first time.

To date, only two concerts have been held with Rahman. Over 40,000 people came to each of those shows in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which were sold out.

The tour will include 14 vocalists and over 70 back up musicians and dancers from India and the U.S. The troupe will perform in Los Angeles Oct. 6 and San Francisco Oct. 8.

In addition the event will later be watched by millions of viewers on television, video and DVD. Over 600 million people will eventually watch the show, organizers at Variety Entertainment say.

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AUTO REVIEW:



Exquisite, Feline Grace
2000 Jaguar Vanden Plas
By Al Auger

The Jaguar has been the epitome of luxury British motoring. So not a few eyebrows were raised when it was taken over by Ford, the successors to the down-to-earth curmudgeon Henry Ford, manufacturer of the everyman’s Tin Lizzie Model T. All doubters have been silenced, says delighted auto critic Al Auger after a thorough test drive.





Thank you, Ford, thank you, Ford. Jaguar is alive and thriving, thanks, in many respects, to Ford. In the short five or so years since Ford Motor Company bought the legendary leaping cat machines, it has been revitalized, reborn, if you will.

In the past couple of years the marque has taken on the fingerprints and signature of Ford while remaining veddy, veddy British. We’ve since checked out the new series of long-wheelbase salons, the Jaguar S-Type and now the Vanden Plas. Little has been done to change the long, low silhouette of a prowling jungle cat. The Jaguar is still the essence of subjective analysis.

For some, maybe a bit too much chrome trim around the windows, the scallop trim of the signature grill and rear plate box overdone or a touch of self-indulgence in the use of wood trim of the cabin. Personally, it all fits, even in its excesses. But as important as the visuals are to any motorcar of this class, the Jaguar is a kinetic masterpiece of luxury, perfection and performance.

Removed from the environment of Bavarian bombast and synergy, the Jaguar Vanden Plas is sensual and sybaritic. It pleasures the senses by just sitting in the deep, plush Connolly leather seats, letting the stress and troubles of the mundane world slip away. Run your fingers along the smooth hand-inlaid burl walnut wood finish of the inserts and the steering wheel, kick in a soft Debussy CD and wait a few minutes before you bring the 4.0-liter, 32-valve, DOHC, 290 horsepower AJ-V8 engine to life. It’s a Zen experience – trust me. Ford, in its wisdom, has kept the Jaguar English bloodlines flowing freely.

The more expensive the car, the more it’s the “little things” that make the difference. Jaguar is a Santa’s sled of personal and comfort goodies, such as rain /speed sensitive automatic wiper control, automatic on/off headlamps, memory seats and Homelink /entry system. The new Jaguar Vanden Plas is truly a lovely piece of transportation.

A tiny caveat: This is a general gripe about cupholders. Only a handful of cars today are equipped with receptacles that are more than merely cupholders. The large personal coffee cup and /or a bottle of water have almost become appendages of the human anatomy. Expandable holders that take many sizes of containers are marvelous; Jaguar’s archaic tiny repositories are serviceable, but not expandable.

And the potent V8 is no spendthrift on the highway. We set the cruise control at 70 MPH up I-5 and averaged 22 MPG all the way. The sound system is extraordinary and filling the cavernous interior with Debussy, Diana Krall or Count Basie is a joy as the quiet of this motorcar is most palpable. After the usual three-hour trip to Redding, we arrived as fresh as we began. As gratifying an experience as driving the Vanden Plas is, it was difficult to contain my envy as the passengers, both front and back, wallowed in the plushness and comfort of the Jaguar’s interior appointments and seating delectation.

The Jaguar is a wonderful example of the visual tricks the magic of computer-aided design performs. The exterior profile gives no clue to the cavernous interior. Rear passengers are afforded long legroom, hip width and the plushest of supple leather. The trunk is extensive with deep cargo space for anything from golf clubs to cases of the best of Northern California wines.

Under the long, sloping hood is the sinuous cat power of the variable cam phasing V8. Like a feline, the power flows more than attacks; this is the heritage of the English motoring experience: subtle, slinky and sleek.

The suspension is both firm for a taut ride and road messages to the hands on the handsome wood steering wheel plus a balanced and compliant side for comfort and subdued road noise. For those who have experienced I-5 from Redding to Mt. Shasta, they would truly enjoy the Vanden Plas on the sinuous contours and steady climb. Set the cruise at seventy MPH and sit back and relax. With the usual light spring traffic, you may never come off it as the lithe machine, helped immeasurably by rear-wheel drive, takes all the curves and bends with subtle aplomb.

Many questions were answered about the breadth and scope of the Jaguar handling as the rain continued for days, giving the Vanden Plas a rigorous outing. Suffice it to say the cat machine did a yeoman job of containing our verve on slick roads and stops with its nicely balanced suspension, Traction/Stability Control, speed sensitive steering and 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock system.

There were a lot of squinting eyes and faint sneers when it was announced Ford had taken over Jaguar, befitting its other U.K. holdings, Aston-Martin. Now that the product is totally a Ford thing, the squinty eyes are now wide with admiration and the faint sneers turned to smiles of appreciation. Ford’s long years in global automobile manufacturing means you’re going to see a lot of this traditional British sophistication and Euro-centric motorcar syndrome being imbued in domestic products. Take a close look at Lincoln’s highly respected LS – and there’s more to come.

If you lean a little more to Armani suits at work, Death before Dishonor tattoos where they can’t be seen in the daylight hours and spandex and Pearl Jam on Friday night, opt for the Vanden Plas Supercharged version, powered by a 370 horsepower AJ-V8 that boasts 0-60 in 5.5 seconds.

Today's Test Drive:


Al Auger, our automotive editor has been writing about cars for over 30 years.
He has spent 20 years as a race driver and public relations specialist.

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Bollywood: | Guftugu | Hindi Film Review |

Guftugu

Dreamz Hits TV

When movies don’t work, take to serials. But that can not be the case with this company. Dreamz Unlimited has supposedly tied up with B4U channel (which is clamoring to carve out a niche in the music channel boom). Now, this company, to refresh your memory, is the one floated jointly by Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Aziz Mirza and didn’t quite make much of a profit with its first production Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

Apparently they are supposed to produce two exclusive entertainment shows for the network. For all you know, we might have Shah Rukh doing a comeback on the small screen with Juhi in tow, and Aziz directing the show.

Now, that won’t be such a bad idea, considering the popularity Shah Rukh got in the serial Fauji.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Sholay Bash

August 15 saw the 25th anniversary of one of the most successful and popular Hindi films to ever hit the silver screen – Sholay. Released Aug. 15, 1975, this was one movie that was a blockbuster in the true sense of the word. And even today, the film runs to full theaters. From Gabbar, Veeru and Jai to Basanti, every character got much more than its due in the movie.

Of course the occasion was celebrated in Mumbai, but it turned out to be quite a lackluster night, what with the main people missing out. Done up in style, what with the waiters all dressed up in Gabbar outfits, veteran film producer G.P. Sippy apparently invited the entire who’s who of Mumbai. But conspicuous by their absence was the great director himself, Ramesh Sippy, as also the stars Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan and Hema Malini. Which was as good as saying that the Sholay bash was without any shola.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Another Film City

After Hyderabad, it seems to be the turn of Rajasthan to hold its sway over the Hindi film industry. After the underworld stint of extortion, any time now if you try to contact a star, they have all gone abroad or are busy shooting in Hyderabad. And soon, if the Rajasthan government were to have its way, most others would shift their base to Jamdoli, near Jaipur.

Recently a high-level Rajasthan team came down to meet industry bigwigs like J.P. Dutta, Rajkumar Barjatya and Rakesh Roshan. And a new film city project is on its way.

In a choice of three sites – Achrol, Sitapura and Jamdoli – Jamdoli won over due to its picture perfect natural greenery, hillocks and waterfalls. The first of its kind to come up in Rajasthan, this film city might prove a welcome break from the innumerable Switzerland shots that we had to witness in the last two years.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Esha Finds Hero

After kicking up quite a lot of speculation and rumors, ultimately Dream Girl Hema Malini’s daughter Esha Deol seems to have launched her career. A few issues earlier even we had been left wondering who will star opposite this teen prodigy, and thanks to Dream mama’s intervention whether she would star in Boney Kapoor’s film at all.

But all seems to have turned out well for Esha for she has supposedly started her shoot for Boney Kapoor’s Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe. And Aftab Shivdasani is the hero. Now, from what we heard earlier, one cannot help but wonder how the guy managed to pull off this one.

To be directed by Vinay Shukla, the rest of the cast includes Jaya Bachchan, Sanjay Kapoor and Om Puri.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Winning Team

The other reunion, and a winner here, is one between director Dharmesh Darshan and his brother Suneil Darshan. A talented director, Dharmesh’s recent film Dhadkan was a welcome change from the recent films, giving the film the right amount of authenticity required. After giving a hit like Lootere, producer Suneil and Dharmesh had a fallout, so much so that they were not even speaking to each other. But now they seem to have buried all their differences and are planning on working together again. Now we might look forward to another well-made movie.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Shilpa Acts

While on Dhadkan, we must mention Shilpa Shetty. If the name brings to your mind Baazigar, then it’s time for you to watch Dhadkan. For there is a vast difference between the Shilpa then and the Shilpa now. For one, she has left her kaajal (kohl) box behind. Thanks to Manish Malhotra what you get here is a soft-hued, lightly made up Shilpa (don’t ask us about the nose job though, we think it’s the sixth, but one never knows for sure) dressed up in pastel Manish Malhotra outfits. And yes, she has really taken to the lightest of eyeliners (we can hug the person who introduced her to the concept) deciding that there is more to makeup than Kathakali eyes.

Well, the surprise doesn’t end there, for director Dharmesh Darshan has actually extracted a performance out of her. Shilpa has, in fact, done justice to her role and played the character to perfection. Now, we don’t know whether the credit goes just to the director or to a hero called Akshay Kumar who played her husband there. Irrespective of the reason, we hope she just keeps at it.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Aby Baby

And before we sign off, here’s the latest scoop. Amitabh Bachchan, who has dazzled the entire nation as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati is now all set to play the bad guy. The Big B has apparently signed on the dotted line for Vipul Shah’s Ankhmicholi. He had earlier played a negative role in Parwana almost three decades ago.

Co-written by Vipul Shah and Aatish Kapadia, who is writing Yaadein for Subhash Ghai, Ankhmicholi is supposed to be a fantasy-thriller. Amitabh is to play an intelligent antagonist, who unlike the usual Bollywood fare is not a victim nor has a justification for his crime. He plays a bank officer who is sacked for misappropriation. Now, this is something we would like to wait for. If the script is plausible Amitabh can lend credibility to it. We hope for our sake more than him, that this is a script that’s right for his age and matches upto his caliber.
|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Hindi Film Review
Less Than Picture Perfect

TERA JADOO CHAL GAYA

Director: A. Muthu
Music: Ismail Darbar
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Kirti Reddy, Kader Khan, Farida Jalal, Johny Lever and Paresh Rawal.

If one expects Keerthi Reddy to reflect the fervor and passion with which Jennifer Aniston plans on her promotion and hitching on to the office guy in Picture Perfect, we are aiming for the moon. While there’s a lot to be desired when it comes to her acting, but one cannot really blame it all on Keerthi, for A. Muthu seems to have been confused over the storyline.

The focus here obviously is Abhishek Bachchan but the story unfortunately is woman-oriented. So where the focus should be on Keerthi, the limelight is given to Abhishek, which leads to a Bollywood cocktail – strong base of a foreign tale with a dash of desi this and a twist of desi that.

The ensuing confusion leaves nothing for anyone, including Abhishek, for whom this was planned as a debut but thanks to an intelligent father, was held back till Refugee released. For A. Muthu seems to have taken on Bachchan Junior in lieu of the Big B, thus forgetting that he had on hand an intelligent actor with a lot of potential and an individuality of his own.

After what we saw in Refugee, there is no doubt that Abhishek can fulfill a gamut of emotions. But sadly, in Tera Jadoo, he’s been reduced to aping everything that his celebrated father did – from his dance steps to his reactions – which is sad.

The story is about a creative Pooja (Keerthi Reddy) who dreams of making it big in the ad world but is always sidelined. Pooja also dreams of marrying a rich Armani clad, Mercedes-driving guy. So when attending her friend’s wedding in Agra, she never pays attention to a desi who falls for her the minute he sees her.

Kabeer Srivastava (Abhishek Bachchan), an uneducated orphan who makes his living by shooting videos of marriage events, does not fit Pooja’s idea of a suitor, hence she doesn’t spare him a thought. While she befriends him, the only time he crosses her mind is when she comes back to town and finds herself almost sacked by her ponytailed boss (Kader Khan).

Predictably, she saves the day by giving the excuse of her sudden engagement to Kabeer. Which works fine till the day Mr. Right Raj Oberoi (Sanjay Suri) steps into the office, and now she cannot have him for she is supposedly engaged.

Further complications arise with a lovelorn Kabeer coming in search of her to Mumbai. Eventually she enlists his help to hitch Raj Oberoi, which the broken-hearted Kabeer provides without ever complaining. Now the question is whom does she eventually choose or rather who gets the girl?

Abhishek is better at comedy than emotional sequences, but nothing on the lines of Refugee. And Sanjay Suri (Bugs of Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi) hardly gets two minutes to show his acting talents. The music is good, but the story needed a better hand.

This picture, alas, is less than perfect.

Rating: ** (Mediocre)

|Return to Bollywood Index| |TOP|

Telugu Film Review:
Clean Family Entertainer

Ramya Films
SARDUKUPODAM RANDI

Director: S.V. Krishna Reddy
Starring: Jagapathi Babu and Soundarya
Producer: Burugupalli Sivaramakrishna

S.V. Krishna Reddy is at it again in. He has come up with another film that trumpets his pet moralistic family theme. The film is strongly reminiscent of the director’s earlier hit films like Shubhalagnam and Mavichiguru notwithstanding slight differences in the storyline. This time around he has made the film on one of the most widely believed hurdles in a marriage i.e. the seven-year itch.

Radha (Soundarya) and Krishna (Jagapathi Babu) have been happily married for seven years. The trouble starts the when husband looks around for an extra-marital relationship. The director tries to convince the audience that this sort of thing happens because wives start neglecting their husbands after a few years of marriage as they are burdened with the responsibility of taking care of the home and children. When Radha notices her husband’s flirting, she takes up the mission of saving her marriage. Asha Shaini plays the villainous other woman in the husband’s life. In a series of melodramatic scenes – both logical and illogical – the wife tries to push out the second woman her from husband’ life and tries to win him back.

This is a kind of theme Krishna Reddy handles with ease and he does it effortlessly. The lead couple, Jagapathi Babu and Soundarya, also act their roles with ease. For Jagapathi Babu this is a repeat performance of his previous roles in Shubhalagnam and Mavichiguru and this well-played subdued husband’s role takes the informed movie-goer five years back. Soundarya has out and out imitated Aamani’s performance in earlier hits.

The comedy track, rather two different comedy tracks, with Brahmanandam and L.B. Sriram succeed in drawing laughter, though some of the humor is occasionally in bad taste. On the whole, though, it’s a clean family entertainer of the SVK brand.

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RECIPE:
Vermicilli Hot Pot
- By Seema Gupta

There is more to vermicilli than the traditional sweet confection so popular with Muslims during the Eid festival. You can make delicious savory dishes as well, says Seema Gupta.

Ingredients

  • One packet vermicilli
  • 6 table spoon oil
  • 1.5 cup chopped vegetables (boiled)
    (carrots, green peas, french beans, onions and bell pepper)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Tomato ketchup

Method

Shallow fry the vermicilli till light brown. Add one cup of boiled water gradually, stirring constantly. Add boiled vegetables, salt, white pepper powder and stir.

Serve with vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce and tomato ketchup. This works particularly well as snack or as a light lunch.

- Seema Gupta is a homemaker
based in Fremont, Calif.

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September-October Horoscope

ARIES (March 21 to April 20): You will be relaxed and do well financially. Speculation can be profitable. Spouse may plan a pleasure trip. You will miss people with whom you had good times in the past. Compromise rather than getting into legal battle.

TAURUS (April 21 to May 20): You will pay more attention to your health and will successfully lose a few pounds. People who try to irritate you will fail. You will be making a large long term investment. Money will come and disappear faster than you can think.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): There will be major changes in personality. You will become strong and focus will be on finances. Do not make any rash decisions on finance. You will meet some old friends. Your luck is changing.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22): You will receive a big favor from the government. Money will come through speculation or lottery. You will make some big purchases this month. Try not to disclose your strategy and do not commit big. Focus will stay on health. You will definitely loose some pounds.

LEO (July 23 to August 22): You will get unexpected wealth this month. Financial gamble will pay off. You will be moving to another location. You will need to deal with the government or will be mailing a hefty tax check to the government.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): Business will improve and you will be able to finish a big project well before deadline. Watch out a person who will try to use you. Few big checks are in the mail. Some of you will be working on a change in career. You will meet an old friend.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22): Life will be very busy. You will enjoy the company of new friends. Do not make any quick decisions about career, wait for right opportunity. Property related matters will be settled. Financially you will keep doing better everyday.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22): You may turn down a good offer. You will miss a religious event due to lack of time. Expect some good changes in job as boss will be happy and will reward you in big way. Some who deserted in the past will visit you soon.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): You will be separated from a family member temporarily. Avoid any conflict with spouse or business partner. Expect positive developments in career. Do not underestimate your opponents. Seek advice from a learned person.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19): You will have some extra cash. Spouse will be worried about career. A trip will be very fruitful in the long term. Bank balance will grow but you will have many to pay all of a sudden.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): Spouse will be demanding. You may also take active part in politics. There will be some changes in residence soon. A big deal you have been working on will close. A child will get ready to move away for college. Someone could create hurdles in career.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20): You will be successful in getting all the important work done. Move to a better location will be finalized. You will change your earlier strategy. You will be lucky in all money matters and speculation will be profitable.

Bay Area-based astrologer Pandit Parashar can
be reached by email at: parashar@ix.netcom.com.

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© Copyright 2000-2007 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com
| Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Locations | Contact | NEW! Readership Survey |
| Current Advertisers | Site Map | Employee Login |
NEW! Current Issue in PDF Format (As it appears in print) |

© Copyright 2000-2007 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com
| Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Locations | Contact | NEW! Readership Survey |
| Current Advertisers | Site Map | Employee Login |
NEW! Current Issue in PDF Format (As it appears in print) |

© Copyright 2006 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com
| Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Locations | Contact | NEW! Readership Survey |
| Current Advertisers | Site Map | Employee Login |
NEW! Current Issue in PDF Format (As it appears in print) |

© Copyright 2006 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com
| Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Locations | Contact | NEW! Readership Survey |
| Current Advertisers | Site Map | Employee Login |
NEW! Current Issue in PDF Format (As it appears in print) |

© Copyright 2006 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com
| Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Locations | Contact | NEW! Readership Survey |
| Current Advertisers | Site Map | Employee Login |
NEW! Current Issue in PDF Format (As it appears in print) |

© Copyright 2006 U&I Marketing, Inc. • Siliconeer • All Rights Reserved • For Comments and Questions: info@siliconeer.com