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Volume II • Issue 12


Technology that Fits: Affordable Telephones

Integrating eBusiness: Introduction to .Net Platform

Goodbye, Dadamoni: A Fond Tribute to Ashok Kumar

Publisher’s NoteInfotech India
Legal Issues: A Draconian ActFinance: Prudential IPO
Craft: Thewa JewelryArchitecture: Dasaprakash

Community NewsAuto Review: 2002 Lexus ES 300 Sedan
BollywoodTamil CinemaRecipeHoroscope

Publisher's Note:

India is a study in wild contrasts. It is the land of the bullock cart and space satellites, of mass illiteracy and formidable intellectual power that draws respect in the best universities of the world. In a society as severely stratified socially and economically as India, it should come as no surprise that the digital divide is particularly stark.

Give credit to a bunch of savvy IIT Madras scientists led by Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala who have eschewed the usual ivory tower squeamishness to actually address a thorny socio-economic issue like this and go ahead and actually do something about the digital divide — and after overcoming daunting challenges come up with spectacular results.

Jhunjhunwala and his associates looked at India’s telephone industry and found that the Western model it followed made overhead costs too high to make phones affordable to the rural masses. The cable TV model, on the other hand, presented a novel and interesting model where low overheads and massive grassroots entrepreneurship had made the service eminently affordable.

They have come up with a cheap and robust wireless technology that is in the process of bringing the information revolution to rural areas. They have developed Internet kiosks using a wireless local loop technology called corDECT. The system is cheap, as it replaces expensive cabling with wireless base stations. A kiosk costs around 40,000 rupees, compared with 30,000 rupees for installing a single telephone line. Within a 25-kilometre radius, the promoters of one kiosk expect to find buyers for 500-700 connections. These could be individuals, government offices or schools.

Together with some of his former students, Professor Jhunjhunwala has set up a company called n-Logue aimed at providing internet and telephone services in villages and small towns.
Using wireless-in-loop technology to provide low-cost telecommunications, the company offers the rural entrepreneur wireless equipment with antennae, cables and mast, the telephone set and a meter for subscriber calls.

Jhunjhunwala and his group of scientists have orders of about 100,000 phone lines today and should be able to deploy close to half a million lines this year. BSNL, MTNL and several private operators are today using the technology and they have some major potential orders and tie-ups outside India.

He writes about it in greater detail in our cover story. His work is a lofty, wondrous blend of social commitment and scientific innovation.


Main Feature

Technology that Fits
Affordable Telephones –
By Ashok Jhunjhunwala

IIT Madras Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala writes how he and his associates are on the verge of shaking up rural India with their revolutionary Wireless in Local Loop technology that could make telephones and the Internet truly accessible to the masses.

In 1991 both India and China had about 5.5 million telephones. Today, India has about 35 million telephones — a six-fold increase in a decade is no mean achievement. But in the same period the number of telephone lines in China has grown to about 200 million; and it is adding about 30 million lines every year. India, too needs 200 million phone connections.

The Internet has emerged in the last few years, not just as another communication means, but as sheer power. Access to Internet provides access to information, it enables one to quickly reach out to a variety of training and education. It helps one close deals and carry out transactions and it enables one to perform tasks which otherwise required a lot of travel. India has less than three million Internet connections today. Lack of access to the Internet is going to create strong divide within India.

Cable TV provides a useful model for developing affordable telephone and Internet for the masses. From zero in 1992, the number of cable TV connections today is believed to have grown to over 50 million. The reason: affordability and the nature of the organization that delivers this service. Cable TV operators are small entrepreneurs (at least when they start providing service). A level of accountability has resulted in less-trained people providing better service using a far more complex technology, than that used by better-trained technicians handling relatively simple telephone wiring. Such a small-scale entrepreneur incurs a manpower cost several times lower than that in the organized sector. Such lower costs have been passed on to subscribers.

In contrast, the telecom industry belongs to the organized sector with much higher costs. A telephone operator today spends around Rs.30,000 per line to provide telecom services to a subscriber. Taking into account finance charges, depreciation, operation and maintenance cost, an operator needs at least 35 percent annual revenue of the initial investment to break even. This comes to at least Rs. 1,000 per month per subscriber. Barely 1 to 3 percent of Indians can afford this. How does one then dream of 200 million connections? However, if one could reduce this cost to about Rs.10,000 per line, affordability goes up to almost 50 percent of homes. The 200 million connections then look definitely achievable. The key is whether one can reduce the cost per line to Rs. 10,000.

A look at costs of telecom and Internet networks around the world reveals that in the West, with homes fully wired up quite some time back, reducing the cost no longer expands the market. Their R&D focus has shifted to providing more features and services rather than lower cost products.

Yet technology costs need to be reduced by a factor of three or more for telecom (and Internet) to be widely affordable in India.

Who will do this? Not the R&D efforts in the West. Naturally, this becomes the task of Indian R&D.

The important thing is that if one achieves this, one would also become a technology leader in this area. And if it results in a production of 150 million telephone lines in India (and may be 500 million lines taking into account similar requirements of other developing countries), one would rank among the world's best product designers and largest manufacturers (150 million lines even at Rs. 10,000 per line implies production of Rs.150,000 crores). A service industry that would operate and maintain 200 million connections would employ a large number of people.

But above all, such telephone and Internet connectivity can start changing the lives of people. Using Internet, resources can be deployed more efficiently. With telecom and Internet connectivity, Indian villages would have the necessary infrastructure to stand up in the world. It could make our agriculture more remunerative and give our home-based industries a potential market for their wares at fair prices.

Besides reduction of equipment cost, which reduces the investment required to provide telecom and Internet connectivity, one has to develop technologies that lead to reduction of the operation cost.

Conventionally, a large initial investment (of the order of several tens of millions of rupees) is required to start providing connections. It is possible today to come up with small access systems, which could be connected to a backbone telecom network. Such access systems would require low initial investment and could be operated very much like cable head-ends. A small entrepreneur could then serve a neighborhood (either a few streets in an urban area or a few blocks in a rural area) and provide low-cost service in an accountable manner.

Of course, for this to take place, one would require not only technology, but appropriate policies which would enable such decentralized operation.
TeNeT — A group of faculty members at IIT Madras belonging to the Telecommunication and Computer Networking group — took upon itself to pursue such R&D. The goals were clear

  • To develop telecom and Internet systems which would cost about Rs.10,000 per line

  • To develop decentralized access infrastructure technologies which would not only function in a harsh environment (high temperature and power fluctuation), but would also have low initial investment requirement.

It was obvious that such tasks cannot be successfully undertaken without totally mastering the technologies, turning them upside down and innovating upon them. The first task was therefore not only mastering the existing technologies, but also acquire an understanding of the directions in technology development and the costs associated with each element. While IIT faculty understood the concepts and theory and had some idea about implementation, the task at hand required significant industrial expertise. After toying with several ideas, the group decided to give a call to their alumni working in industry around the country. These alumni would come together and form companies that would work jointly with IIT to take up such R&D tasks.

This was however only the first step. One would require manufacturing tie-ups, funding and tie-ups to make world-class components. The group sold its vision to several Indian industries, carried out advance licensing of its technology, and raised the funds (government funding was eschewed — the vision was large and since industry would benefit from it, the belief was that industry should fund it). Similarly, tie-ups with international component industries were established (such industries did not exist in India) based on an understanding that the products could have a large market in developing countries. In other words, the principle was that the large potential Indian market can and must be used by us to get done what we want.

The process resulted in the setting up of several companies including Midas Communications, Banyan Networks, Nilgiri Networks, AdventNet Inc., and the task for developing world-class technology and products aimed towards the market of the developing countries began.


The first product developed by the group is corDECT Wireless in Local Loop. This gives to a subscriber a fixed wireless connection (not mobile) at home or office, providing both a telephone as well as a 35/70 kbps Internet connection at the same time. The equipment can be installed at a low initial investment (about Rs.2 million) and provide service to about 1,000 subscribers in a neighborhood (about a km or so in urban areas and 10-25 kms in rural areas). The per line cost amounts to about Rs.13,000 per line (including about 30 percent taxes). One key feature of this Multi-Carrier Time Division Multiple Access (MC-TDMA) system is that while it provides simultaneous telephone and Internet connection to subscribers, the Internet traffic is separated at the exchange from voice traffic and carried separately so that telephone network does not get congested.

It is worth noting that such a service cannot be provided by any other product in the world today at even double the cost.

The complete hardware and software for the products have been developed by the TeNeT group and its associates and the product designs are fully owned by these groups. The products are being manufactured by several companies in India today and a few companies outside India. The deployment of corDECT WLL has taken place in more than 10 countries today and the product has been validated by the telecom departments of eight countries. Using these access products and standard backbone network products and switches, it is possible today to build a state-wide telephone and Internet network at a per-line investment of around Rs.18,000. This is still far from the target cost of Rs.10,000 per line but the target looks much more achievable today than it did five years back.

It is possible to provide telephones as well as medium rate Internet connections in all villages of India in about two years time with modest investment. The TeNeT group has gone ahead and incubated a company which would operate telephone and Internet service in small towns and rural areas. It is in the process of installing connections in every village of Cuddalore, Madurai, Dhar, and Sikar districts in Tamil Nadu.

We have orders of about 100,000 lines today and should be able to deploy close to half a million lines this year. BSNL, MTNL and several private operators are today using our technology and we have some major potential orders and tie-ups outside India.


Infotech India


The Karnataka government said Dec. 10 it had no information as yet regarding a leading Chinese company, based here, reportedly developing telecom surveillance equipment for the Taliban.

"We don't have any information on that," Karnataka IT Minister B.K. Chandrashekar said.

The minister was asked about reports that Chinese company Huawei Technologies might have helped Pakistan and the Taliban regime in 2000 and 2001 to upgrade their telecommunication network, and is suspected of developing telecom surveillance equipment for the Taliban at its Bangalore R&D Center.

The company, however, has denied it had helped the Taliban, saying: "It's unthinkable for the company to get involved with an unlawful regime" but said Pakistan was part of the marketing network of their parent company, based in China.


India’s first multilingual online quiz competition hosted by Derek O'Brien was launched Dec. 4 by www.webdunia.com.

The webdunia.com Multilingual Online Quiz will enable users from different parts of the country to participate in a quiz in their own mother tongue, Web site CEO Vinay Chhajlani told reporters.

Initially, the competition would be in six languages — Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam and English. Within three months, five other languages — Bengali, Telugu, Assamese, Punjab and Oriya — would be added.

The quiz sites are www.webdunia.com (Hindi), www.webulagam.com (Tamil), www.weblokam.com (Malayalam) and www.webprapancham.com (Telugu).

The daily one-minute quiz and the weekly and special half-hour quizzes will allow users to earn points for participating and winning, which can be redeemed for attractive prizes. The online initiative will announce a national winner daily and over 20 winners weekly.


Indian software giant Infosys Technologies has acquired a new financial services client — SunAmerica, a specialist in retirement savings.

According to an Infosys release, it would transform SunAmerica’s legacy policy administration system into a Web-based thin client compliant architecture.

This would improve policy administration processes for SunAmerica. The contract was awarded to Infosys after reviewing its technical capabilities amongst several other strong competitive vendors.

Infosys would help SunAmerica in redesigning the output management systems and provide a state of the art MQ services and JMS-based Enterprise Application Integration solution. These systems use advanced printing tools and an exemplary hub-and-spokes messaging architecture.


India has become eligible to send a team of four students annually to the International Olympiad in Informatics, an event in which it had not taken part all these years despite being a major IT power.

The country was invited to send an observer to IOI 2001 held in Tampere, Finland, during July, and Prof. Madhavan Mukund was sent as the official observer.

Briefing reporters, U.R. Rao, chairman, Prasar Bharati Board, who is associated with the Bangalore Association for Science Education, whose initiative led to India being invited, said the next IOI would be held in Korea in August in which India would participate.

He said a four-member team to represent India would be chosen after an elaborate three-tier selection process. India will be the 73rd country to take part in the IOI.

In association with Chennai Online


Integrating eBusiness
Introduction to .Net Platform By Kamal Arora

The Internet maybe ubiquitous, but e-business is no child’s play. As clients begin to use more different tools like cellular phones and palm PCs, the job of buying, selling and exchanging information over different media becomes more challenging. This is where Microsoft’s .Net platform comes in, writes Kamal Arora, in this introductory article. He will be writing more in subsequent issues.

What is .Net?

Everyone knows how technology has improved in the last few years and how businesses have moved to the Internet. It has become necessary to use Internet to get in touch with customers, buy, sell, and exchange information between customers and companies. It is no longer a luxury to be in touch with friends, family and customers even when you are traveling.

Microsoft .Net is a platform that provides the tools and technologies needed to build applications using standard Web protocols that will facilitate all the above actions. The applications built using .Net will be able to communicate with sophisticated clients, such as cellular phones and palm PCs. The challenge today is that all these devices and the applications that talk to them are independent and there is no common standard that can allow integration of these devices. .Net platform not only allows the applications to communicate to these devices but also allows unprecedented integration between the languages. One of the most important features of .Net is the capability of supporting multiple languages e.g. VB, C++, COBOL, Perl, Pascal, C, SmallTalk etc.

The .Net Platform

The .Net platform consists of the following:

  • The .Net Framework that consists of ASP .Net, .Net framework class library, ADO .Net (XML), Common Language Runtime (CLR).
  • The .Net Enterprise Servers e.g. Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, Exchange Server, Commerce Server, etc.
  • Building Block Services e.g. Microsoft Passport.

The .Net Framework

The .Net Framework is based on Web standards and practices and is easy for developers to use. It is also easier to deploy, run and maintain applications that makes it affordable and lowers the cost of owning and maintenance. It consists of the following components:

  • ASP .Net (Used to build web applications using CLR)
  • .Net Framework class Library (collection of classes that integrate with CLR e.g. System.IO, System.Net
  • ADO .Net (provides rich XML support and classes to handle data)
  • Common Language Runtime (CLR is a runtime like in any other language. The important thing is that it provides a unified environment for all .Net programming languages)

Visual Studio .Net is the development environment for .Net Framework. Users can build Web applications and XML Web services to be deployed on .Net Enterprise Servers and may use available .Net building block services. Microsoft® Passport is one such example. The passport single sign-in service can give access to various participating web sites.

Coding differences in VB .Net and VB6.

Lets look at some of the differences:

Defining and initializing Variables:

  • In VB6:

    Dim varString As String
    varString = "Hello Siliconeer "
    varString = varString & "Readers"

  • In VB .Net:

    Dim varString As String = "Hello Siliconeer "
    VarString &= "Readers"

Error Handling:

  • In VB6 (Using On Error Go To):

    On Error Goto MyErrorCode

    MsgBox Err.Description

  • In VB .Net (Notice New commands Catch…. Try)


    Catch myErrors as Exception
    MsgBox myErrors.Message

    End Try


In this article I have explained the .Net Platform that consists .Net Framework, the .Net Enterprise Servers and Building Block Services. Then I explained the .Net framework and introduced Visual Studio .Net. We also saw some coding differences in Visual Basic 6 and Visual Basic .Net. In the coming articles I will be focusing on .Net languages, building .Net applications using ASP, XML and security in .Net. Till then I am signing off.

Kamal Arora is a software engineer based in San Jose, Calif.


Goodbye, Dadamoni
A Fond Tribute to Ashok Kumar – By Urvashi Majmundar

Ashok Kumar, the grand old man of Bollywood, died after prolonged illness. Urvashi Majmundar writes an eulogy.

His filmi name was Ashok Kumar, but this grand old man of Hindi cinema was everybody’s beloved Dadamoni. After a protracted and losing battle with asthma, Dadamoni died at the age of 90 in Mumbai.

Bollywood was stunned. From Dilip Kumar to film makers Mahesh Bhatt and B.R. Chopra, everybody grieved the loss of one of the most talented entertainers in the Hindi film industry, but the pain was perhaps that much greater because this avuncular polymath artist wore all the admiration and acclaim with such charm and grace.

"When a legend like him passes by, it leaves behind a big vacuum," said composer Gulzar.

If you think he was just an actor think again. He was a homeopath of considerable distinction, a great amateur painter. He spoke impeccable Urdu and Hindi and knew German and French.

But at the end of the day, it was not just his talent but his gentle smile that generated a font of goodwill that remained unsullied — surely a unique distinction in a film industry notorious for petty bickering and unseemly ego clashes and long-nursed grudges.

Kumudlal Kanjilal Ganguly — few know it, but that was his real name — was born and raised in the Bihar town of Bhagalpur. He was born in an educated Bengali family who had moved from Bengal 100 years ago.
He joined Bombay Talkies in the early 1930s as a laboratory assistant and would have perhaps retired as one if he was not noticed by a leading actress of the time, Devika Rani. Her husband was noted film maker Himanshu Rai, who insisted and virtually dragged a reticent Ashok Kumar into films. His first film — Jeevan Naiya — was released in 1936 where he was paired against Devika Rani. With his second film, Acchut Kanya, a socially provocative, progressive film where a Brahmin man falls in love with a dalit, Kumar became a well known face.

This was still the era of silent films and Ashok Kumar acted with Devika Rani in a number of other films as well in the late 1930s. His star status was further strengthened in his pairing with Leela Chitnis in films like Kangan (1939), Bandhan (1940) and Jhoola (1941). Some of his most memorable lead performances in the lead role came in Mahal, Bandini, Aarti, Gumrah, Kanoon and Mamta.

In the 1960s, Kumar settled down to play character roles and gave memorable performances in films like Jewel Thief, Aashirwad, Victoria No 203 and Khoobsurat.

He made his debut in television in the 1980s when he began anchoring the hugely popular family soap, Hum Log.

He won two Filmfare Best Actor awards for the films Rakhi (1962) and Aashirwad (1969). He also won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for Afsana (1966) and a Filmfare Life Time Achievement award in 1995. The Indian government gave him its highest award in films, the Dadasaheb Phalke award, in 1988. His track record is mammoth — 250 films in over 60 years.

Dadamoni was gentleness personified, but that didn’t mean he ever lacked the guts to follow his instinct and ignore warnings.

Years before megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan rose to stardom by portraying anti-heroes, Ashok Kumar set the trend of heroes playing characters with negative shades.

Kismet, in which Ashok Kumar played an anti-hero, was the earliest Hindi film to have run continuously for more than a year. Prior to that he had done roles with negative shades in Aarti and Ustadon Ke Ustad.

Industry sources said he was warned against playing negatives roles which could mar his image, developed through performances in films with social messages like Acchut Kanya and Bandini.

However, the legendary actor went on breaking convention and even played a villain to perfection in Jewel Thief, a blockbuster of the late '60s.
One of his best remembered films is Kishore Kumar’s Chalti Ka Naam Gadi a rollicking gem of a comedy in which all three brothers, Ashok Kumar, Anup Kumar and Kishore Kumar worked together.

Talent aside, he was at heart a man of great warmth and a mischievous sense of humor. Veteran Bollywood publicist Bunny Reuben, who had known Dadamoni for over 50 years, didn’t know Bengali very well, so he asked him why people called him "Dada Muni." (sic)

With a twinkle in his eyes, Dadamoni had replied: ‘‘Don’t you know? I am called Dada Muni because I am the younger brother of Paul Muni.’’

During a recent visit, Ashok Kumar had asked Reuben: ‘‘Have you got a one-rupee coin?’’ He had a mischievous smile on his face.

Before he could ask him ‘‘why?’’ Dadamoni lifted his hand and commanded: ‘‘Don’t ask why! First give me the coin!’’

After Reuben fished out a one-rupee coin and gave it to him, Dadamoni clenched it in his right hand, and smilingly said: ‘‘There is a well-known saying that ‘we come empty-handed in the world and we go empty-handed from the world.’ But I’m going to disprove this old saying. When I go I shall have a one-rupee coin clenched in my fist, and I’ll tell my Maker: ‘See? I disproved that ancient saying! I never came back to you empty-handed.’’’

That’s Dadamoni for you. And we have to disagree with you, Dadamoni. You never really needed a rupee coin. With all the love and respect that was so rightfully yours, nobody left the world richer than you.

Urvashi Majmundar is a free-lance writing based in Tracy, Calif.


Legal Issues:
A Draconian Act By Raja Ahluwalia

Immigration attorney Raja Ahluwalia reflects on some developments of significance for immigrants in this country, and expresses misgivings about the wide latitude given to the attorney general in the new Patriot Act.

Patriot Act

Under the new legislation, The USA Patriot Act, the attorney general has unprecedented new powers to detain any non-citizen whom he certifies to be engaging in terrorist activity or is a threat to national security. The original bill would have given the attorney general unrestrictive authority to detain indefinitely any non-citizen he certified as a threat to national security. There would have been no time limit on such detention, and no court could review the basis of certification. However, the bill which became legislation, the USA Patriot Act, contains a safeguard: a seven-day limit on detention without charge. The non-citizen is provided with no right to review the evidence or allowed to rebut it. The only challenge is therefore a habeas corpus petition in a federal court. The new law does not provide guidelines the attorney general has to follow in making and reviewing the decision to reach the conclusion that an individual is a suspected terrorist. The federal courts, therefore, will have an important role in reviewing and setting standards for the certification process, as well as the extent of evidence the courts will be allowed to review or whether the detainees or their lawyers will have full access to this evidence.

I, as an immigration lawyer, feel that even though the current political climate requires America to take whatever means to protect its freedom, but it should not be done at the expense of the basic principles on which America is founded.

Web-based Labor Filing

Meanwhile, here is some good news. The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing a new system to allow web-based filing of Labor Condition Applications. Approval of Labor Condition Application by Department of Labor is legally required before petition filed by employers seeking to hire foreign worker under H-1B category can be approved. An LCA provides certain information to the Labor Department regarding wages, working conditions, and benefits available to the foreign workers. This new rule goes into effect January 14, 2002. This rule will make the process of applying for and receiving an approved LCA significantly faster. Currently, LCAs are filed by facsimile transmission or by mail. Now attorneys and employers will have the option of using an electronic filing system. This new rule will be published in the Dec. 5 Federal Register and take effect Jan. 14, 2002.

Bravo! Department of Labor. This option will definitely help speed things up. We appreciate DOL's use of latest technology to make the life easier for its ultimate consumers.

Eased INS Rule

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has issued a memorandum to provide field offices with guidance on the adjudication of H-1B petitions where the beneficiary is unable to obtain a state professional license because he or she is not in possession of a social security card. According to the social security regulations, an H-1B alien is not able to obtain a social security card unless they are physically present in the United States. There are cases where some H-1B petitions in these cases have been denied because the alien beneficiary has not received his or her state license. Under the Immigration laws, H-1B petition can not be approved unless the beneficiary has met the necessary requirements of being able to practice the profession including possessing the necessary state license. However, a professional can be unable to obtain licensure solely because they cannot obtain a social security card because they are not physically present in the U.S.

To accommodate these kind of petitions, an H-1B petition filed on behalf of an alien beneficiary who does not have a valid state (professional) license shall be approved for a period of 1 year provided that the only obstacle to obtaining state licensure is the fact that the alien cannot obtain a social security card from the SSA. Petitions filed must clearly state that the only obstacle to the issuance of state licensure is the lack of a social security card. The petitioner must establish that all the other regulatory and statutory requirements for the occupation have been met.
This praiseworthy INS move goes on to prove that the law can not exist in a vacuum and sometimes there are real-life problems involved. INS's realization of these problems will help both the U.S. economy and needy petitioners.

Raja Ahluwalia is an immigration attorney
based in San Francisco, Calif.


Finance: Insurance Firm Goes Public
The Prudential IPO
Lokesh Varshney

Insurance giant Prudential is going public. Lokesh Varshney assesses the impact on policy holders.

Following approval by the New Jersey Commissioner of Banking and Insurance in Oct. 15 , insurance giant Prudential will become a stock company on the closing of the Initial Public Offering, expected to be completed by December depending on market conditions.

If the IPO takes place as anticipated, Prudential will provide policy holders with information about their stock or policy credits, or will send a check. Eligible policyholders and contract holders will receive demutualization compensation after the Effective Date, which is the date that the Initial Public Offering closes.

Qualified policy holder voters overwhelmingly approved the company's demutualization plan. Prudential received over 4 million votes, four times the amount required by the NJ Demutualization Statute, making this the largest demutualization vote on record.

Prudential is planning to convert to a stock life insurance company for several reasons. Prudential believes that converting will make the company more competitive and allow the company to distribute the total value of the company to eligible policyholders in the form of stock, cash or policy credits. In addition, it will allow Prudential to use stock-based compensation programs to recruit and retain talented employees.

There will be no negative change to premiums or benefits, cash values, eligibility for policy dividends or any of Prudential's other guarantees or obligations under the policy. As always, dividends may vary from year to year and could increase or decrease.

Policies currently entitled to receive policy dividends will continue to be entitled to receive to do so. As always, dividends may vary from year to year and could increase or decrease. Prudential will establish a special arrangement known as a Closed Block, to provide for the reasonable policy dividend expectations of holders of individual participating life insurance policies and annuity contracts included within the Closed Block.

Eligible policyholders are owners of Prudential. However, because of Prudential's status as a mutual company, those ownership interests are illiquid, and can't be sold separately from the underlying policy or contract. Also, those ownership interests end when the policy is no longer in force or when the contract ends. If Prudential becomes a stock company, those ownership interests will be exchanged for stock, cash or policy credits. Eligible policyholders receiving stock can continue to hold it even if the policy is no longer in force or the contract has ended.
Prudential, with a history of 125 years in financial services, is one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. and one of the largest financial institutions in the world. It serves millions of individual and institutional customers worldwide and offers a variety of products and services, including life insurance, property and casualty insurance, mutual funds, annuities, pension and retirement related services and administration, asset management, securities brokerage, real estate brokerage franchising

Prudential has set up a special Demutualization Information Center to answer policyholder questions, which can be reached at 1-800-243-1701 (in Canada, 1-800-519-1339)

Lokesh Varshney is a freelance writer
who lives in Cupertino, Calif.


Craft: The Thewa in Rajasthan
Poetry in Gold and Glass
Chittabrata Roy

The Thewa tribe in Rajasthan have been making exquisite jewelry combining molten glass and gold for centuries, but that art was on the verge of extinction till a recent revival effort, says Chittabrata Roy.

The Thewa artisan craft of jewelry would have been a dead art had a young Indian woman not set about to restore it. Mumbai-based Roopa Vohra has set in motion the revival of exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewelry which is the result of a tradition of craftsmanship 400 years old. The jewelry has a strong Mughal influence. It is an elegant blend of Mughal art and Rajasthani craftsmanship, using semi-precious stones such as jade, onyx, lapis, ruby citrine and pearls. This exquisite art form fuses an intricately worked-out sheet of 23k gold onto molten glass to produce exotic designs in jewelry and artefacts. The revival of the art has more than esthetic significance — it offers a better livelihood and a better life for a whole village and its artisans.

The art form has been lifted out of oblivion, and the Rajasthan-based Thewa community has made Vohra an honorary member of Thewa. Working with the skilled artisans, she has created new motifs beyond the traditional floral patterns and introduced new colors such as blue. The Thewa craftsmanship has a distinguished heritage — the ten avatars of Vishnu is now a prized possession of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

What sets Thewa jewelry apart is the delicacy of working with glass, and its work done in 22 and 23 carat gold. Each piece of jewelry is hand crafted and is one of a kind.

Vohra personally sees to all aspects of design and marketing for the Thewa and the rewards go back to the artisans and their families. Under her supervision, Thewa craftspeople produce jewelry items like sets, pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings and brooches, boxes for paan jewelry, pill, sindoor and cigarettes as well as a host of other artefacts like mirrors, wall plate frames.

In the United States Neelam Bhalla, who lives in the Bay Area, is the sole distributor of this art. Bhalla became involved as soon as she saw the beauty of the jewelry and realized that it also benefited the small tribe.

Interested readers can visit the Thewa jewelry Web site at www.thewa.com

Chittabrata Roy is a freelance writer
based in San Francisco Bay Area


Designing Dasaprakash
By Satyakam Garg

AkarStudios, recently designed the new 3,000-sq ft South Indian restaurant Dasaprakash for restaurant owners Madhu and Geetha Das, that opened in May 2001 in Santa Clara, Calif. In its design it tried to present an integrated colorful identity to the restaurant that was true to the restaurant’s South Indian ethos, according to AkarStudios design principal Satyakam Garg.

Located in a generic, early 1970’s style neighborhood shopping center, the restaurant’s façade breaks form from the neighboring storefronts, creating a unique identity which intrigues new customers to try the vegetarian cuisine of Southern India. The entire interior of the restaurant can be viewed through the series of tall rectangular windows that are divided by a composition of ribbed glass and copper panels, framed by dark bronze mullions.

Guests enter the restaurant through a foyer in which the major design elements of natural colors, rustic texture and modern form are blended to instantly create both a unique and inviting atmosphere. The atrium features a rectangular, copper clad water element, home to a variety of floating flowers and candles. Above the water trough is a sculptural metal partition that abstractly depicts the design theme of handmade artisan craft seen throughout the restaurant. This visual divider is defined by multi-sized, rough surfaced metal squares mounted on steel tubes, arranged horizontally and varying in hue from copper to vert-de-gris.

While waiting to be seated, guests relax on large mustard-colored leather couches with bolstered backs that are placed in contrast against a fucia painted wall. This contrast between muted, earthy yellows, subtle greens, and bright reds are reflected throughout the interior of Dasaprakash and are evocative of both the colorful melange of spices used in Southern Indian cuisine as well as the bright, festive fabrics of traditional dress from this region. These embroidered Indian silk saris are used as design accents, casually draped over wall-mounted hooks.

Maple wood floors distinguish the main dining area from the mottled tile of the foyer. The seating area consists of booths on one wall, recessed rectangular mirrors on the opposite wall, and simple, square, mahogany-surfaced tables scattered throughout the main room. Soft, unobtrusive downlighting brightens the tabletops, highlights the artisan craft elements, and draws out the warm, sunset colors of this design. A particularly eye-catching accent is a window recess of four boldly lit masks traditionally used in Southern Indian folk dances.

As part of the design work, AkarStudios also created colorful menus and business stationary insuring a unified vision behind all of the restaurant’s design elements.

AkarStudios is a Santa Monica, Calif.-based architecture, interior and graphic design firm specializing in restaurant and retail design. Some of their recent projects include Kenneth Cole flagship store on Grant Avenue, San Francisco, Vidal Sassoon salon in Beverly Hills, Riki Tiki Tavi restaurant in Manchester, England, Sorriso restaurant in Pasadena, California and Dai Bai Dang Chinese casual dining restaurant in Fresno, California.

Satyakam Garg is design principal for AkarStudios,
a Santa Monica, Calif.-based architecture, interior and graphic design
firm specializing in restaurant and retail design.

Community News:
Navy Seaman at Seafair

Navy seaman Angelina Anand was recently honored as a guest at the 52nd Annual Seafair in Seattle, according to a press release from the Navy Public Affairs Center in San Diego. "Hundreds of military personnel stationed on Anand’s ship, the USS Coronado, along with six other U.S. Navy ships, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and two Canadian mine sweepers were welcomed.

The San Diego-based Coronado, which has a crew of 350 sailors and naval officers, was built in Seattle and serves as the command ship of U.S. 3rd Fleet, whose area of training responsibility includes approximately 50 million square miles of eastern and northern Pacific Ocean areas including the Bering Sea, Alaska and a sector of the Arctic Ocean.

Navy Seaman Anand, the 19-year-old daughter of Ram and Sani Anand of Fremont, Calif., joined Coronado crew members who sailed the 569-foot-long ship into Seattle’s Elliott Bay during the conclusion of the four-week festival. For five days the crew divided their time between enjoying the activities of the city and hosting the approximately 50,000 people who toured the visiting ships.

Anand, a signalman, feels it is important to allow citizens the opportunity to visit Navy ships. "I think that U.S. citizens have every right to know their country is being protected.," said Anand.

She said the trip benefited her as well. "Visiting other parts of the country gives you a sense of pride and dignity, especially when you pull in and you see a crowd of people standing there with amazement in their eyes," said the one-year Navy veteran. "I felt very appreciated.


Auto Review: 2002 Lexus ES 300 Sedan
Package of Desire
By Al Auger

The latest Lexus has our automotive editor Al Auger as ecstatic as a love-struck teenager. Which is only natural, he explains, arguing that when design reaches an exquisite excellence, the emotions it evokes are not unlike awe at seeing a beautiful woman.

In a business where selling cars is a rock’em-sock’em, no-holds-barred war, the advertising gurus always carry a carrot to back up its stick. When it comes to selling lust and desire, innuendo is the operating word. But, once in a while, the boys at the drafting tables and computers will send to the streets a veritable package of desire where words are not needed — and we’re not taking the stratospheric world of Ferrari, etc.

Such was the original Thunderbird, and the epitome of automotive sexuality, the Jaguar E-Type. The Italians had a word for it: Alfa Romeo Veloce Spider and who can forget the current heart-throb, Audi’s TT Roadster. The 2002 Lexus ES 300 is one of those rare machines that looks better in real life than its photographs.

So, where are we headed here? Personally, I’m headed for all the people-cluttered places I can find to show off the all-new Lexus ES 300 Sedan. Watching the ES 300 cruise down the main drag of town is almost as good as watching J-Lo walking down a staircase. Every inch of the ES 300 exudes a sense of self not easily found in today’s cookie cutter world.

The almost oriental elongation of the headlamps as they curve up the rounded flanks of the fender lead the eye along the sensuous profile. Every line seems stretched it its maximum to give the impression of low and long. Nailing all this beauty to the road are alloy wheels with snake-curvy spokes. All this, and more, has given the ES 300 a tangible 0.28 coefficient of drag.

I must digress and take back comparing the kinetic allure of the ES 300 to Jennifer Lopez at stroll. Watching the ES 300 rolling down the main is almost as good as driving it. Especially if you had the intuitive sense to install the optional Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) at $620. Never mind you must buy a load of cosmetics to get it — more on that Rubic’s cube later. And you can’t dismiss the ES 300 being one of the very few sedans from across the Pacific pond with good ol’ rear-wheel-drive. That alone tells you specifically what kind of buyer, and what competition, the Lexus people have targeted.

Wheelbase has been increased, as has the headroom of the interior. And this is one of the quietest vehicles on the road. So quiet, you can hardly hear the engine turn over when you crank it up — which can be disconcerting. Nothing has been left to chance in powering up the ES 300. Under the hood is a 4-cam, 24-valve, 3.0-liter V6 that literally whispers its way down the road. But there’s power with 210 horses and 220 ft.-lbs. of torque and it’s rated an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle. Naturally the engine depends on Toyota’s exclusive Continuous Variable Valve Timing with intelligence to do all this good stuff. The ES 300 is a heavyweight at 3,429 pounds and with the 5-speed automatic transmission, a few more ponies would have been well received.

One thing you’re not going to get that the competition has is a five or six-speed manual shifter. This is Lexus, you know. But a manual override on the automatic seems pre-ordained, but not granted. I did grouse a little to the poohbahs about the necessity of buying an optional package of cosmetics to get such performance and handling goodies as skid control and the aforementioned sport-tuned suspension system. But, according the Lexus spokeswoman, this mix has all been master planned by computer as to the way the majority of Lexus owners buy their options. Couldn’t hurt, of course, to ask if you couldn’t customize your own package of options. Would only take a little longer on delivery, I suppose.
Lexus has hit the mark with a real winner, in both the visual sense and performance level. The 2002 Lexus ES 30 is one of the most seductive motorcars on the road today and a seamless driver on any highway or byway. You wouldn’t believe some of the price range guesses I had hurled at me by curious onlookers. The look of disbelief on their faces when I told them it began — almost fully loaded, at under $32,000, was delightful. Just about every option offered is cosmetic, all the real stuff being standard. Now, if only J-Lo would saunter by, bet even she would be impressed.

Today's Test Drive

2002 Lexus ES 300 Sedan

  • Base price: $31,505
  • Price as tested*: $36,800 (est.)
  • Engine: 4-cam, 24-valve, aluminum V6
  • Displacement: 3.0-liter (2995cc)
  • Horsepower: 210 @ 5,800 rpm
  • Torque: 220 ft.-lb. @ 4,400 rpm
  • Transmission: 5-sp. Automatic
  • Drive system: Front engine; rear-wheel
  • EPA Class: Full-sized sedan
  • Wheelbase/length: 107.1/191.1 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,349 lbs.
  • EPA fuel economy (est.): 21 city; 29 highway
  • E-mail: www.lexus.com
  • Extras: 24-hour Roadside Assistance Program
    *Includes destination charge

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.





The usual trajectory is from the silver screen to politics; but for Congress politician and former minister Salman Khurshid, it’s the other way round. The suave, articulate politician plays the role of a chief guest at an awards function in Sushen Bhatnagar’s Soch, a psychological thriller. He gives an inspiring speech in the film, and encourages a film star and director played by Sanjay Kapoor and Raveena Tandon.

Given the state of politics, the transition may not be all that difficult, when you consider that political rhetoric often resides in the same realm of fantasy and mythology as does Bollywood. Besides, pretension, some cynical political observers would say, is a basic survival skill for politicians. So acting should be a cakewalk for Salman Khurshid.


Film maker Jagmohan Mundhra’s Bawandar has created a different kind of storm, which he is less happy about. His film about a dalit woman in Rajasthan, played memorably by Nandita Das, has won a flurry of praise in overseas festival circuits.

Things have been less pleasant in India, where the woman whose real-life story is the basis of the film has protested, alleging the film was made without her consent or approval. Mundhra denies that. Now the new tiff is with the film’s financier who says Mundhra owes him money, and has sidelined him during travels with the film at various festivals. Producer Ashok Thakeria has managed to craft a truce, but not before the screening of the film had to be postponed for a week. Let’s hope this storm, at least, is gone for good.


Aamir Khan’s production Lagaan continues to create a buzz after being chosen to be India’s official entry for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Mira Nair, whose Monsoon Wedding lost to Lagaan, has said she doesn’t think Lagaan will make it, but some observers are calling it sour grapes.

Now the Brits are up in arms. British historian Andrew Roberts has condemned the film as "inaccurate." But guess who has come to its defense. Two other Brits who starred in the film. Paul Blackthorne says the "British at the time were not far short of Mafiosi," and Rachel Shelley has chimed in with: "I don’t think anyone would disagree that we (British) were quite awful. The colonialists who were out there were quite terrible and they thought of themselves as superior."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph says Lagaan is a strong contender along the French film Amelie. Indian films haven’t exactly been hot Oscar favorites, and Lagaan has its work cut out. It has to be one of the five nominees before it can compete for the final prize. No Indian film has ever won an Oscar, and only two have been nominees for Oscar for Best Foreign Film before: Salaam Bombay in 1988 and Mother India in 1957.


The Nepali princess is in hot water again. Raghuvanshi producer Shyam Chandok is asking the Association of Motion Pictures and Television Program Producers to slap a ban on Manisha Koirala. His gripe is pretty serious. He says that Manisha is turning him down after giving him dates for shooting, and his film is stuck.

Nonsense, scoffs Manisha. Chandok owes her money, she says. She participated in shoots, and now Chandok wants to dump all that and start all over again. Well, that’s okay with her, but he has to clear his dues, says Manisha. No money, no dates. If Chandok thinks he can create a stink in the media and twist her pretty arm, Koirala says, he has another think coming, Manisha adds.


Many things are going to change in Afghanistan with the exit of the killjoy Taliban, and at least in one aspect, the good cheer is spreading to Bollywood. The fact is, before the mullahs clamped down on virtually anything fun, Afghanistan used to be the third largest overseas market for Bollywood after the U.S. and Britain.

It remains to be seen how soon Bollywood can regain its heyday, but the omens are good. No sooner had the Taliban run away than Bollywood videos and posters appeared. Now it appears that Aruna Irani’s Yeh Dil Aashiqana will be the first film to be released in Afghanistan after a six-year ban.


Political veterans like Uma Bharti and Ram Vilas Paswan are not the kind of folks you would expect to be moved easily. Yet they were like putty in the hands of swashbuckling hunk Sunil Shetty, believe it or not. The macho Bollywood star may be better known as beating screen films to pulp, but apparently he has a sensitive side.

Under the baton of Mahesh Manjrekar, Shetty is all set to have the hankerchiefs and tissues pop out in cinemas in Ehsaas, a moving story of a father and son, if the reaction of a recent screening for ministers is any guide.

Sports Minister Uma Bharati was all praise: "The film displays the critical emotional bond within the family, and the determination of children to face challenges." Coal Minister Ram Vilas Paswan enthused: "For the first time in my life, I’ve seen a good film that is as per our Indian culture." Of course, mean folks are saying that says more about Paswan’s film viewing proclivities than anything else, but hey, we prefer to look at the bright side, which is this: If the ministers are bowled over, can the janta be far behind?


Bollywood folks and yuppies love this watch from Swiss watchmakers Rado. If you’ve got juice, you sport a Rado eSenza, so what if relieves you of at least Rs. 34,000 per watch? The range comes in three versions with diamonds and sapphires sitting on titanium, and the yuppie set is in love with the watch.

So what does it say when the watchmakers choose a Bollywood newcomer to be its ambassador? At a recent launch at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, it was Lisa Ray that Rado chose. It appears to be as much a coup for Rado as it is for Lisa. During her sizzling presence in Kasoor, Lisa simply oozed class, and Rado’s choice confirms that.


Poor Rekha. The ageless, sultry Southern siren has been dogged by the Income Tax Department in a case that goes way beck to 1982 when tax sleuths raided her bungalow. Apparently they found all kinds of goodies which were not accounted for in her tax reports.

Her heavyweight lawyers have managed to get the court to agree to her abstention in court, but she can’t hop on a plane and go out of the country whenever she wants to. Well she went to court to ask for permission to travel because NRI sis in California is celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary and she is keen to join the festivities. Additional Chief Magistrate C.L. Thool is probably a closet Bollywood fan, or he may be just plain kind-hearted. He gave permission for Rekha to fly, but she has to be back in the country before the next hearing in January.


The king of tapori madcap antics is going angrezi, baba! Imagine down-to-earth comic hero Govinda belting out an English song. The idea alone is comic enough to draw in the crowds.

It also happens to be true. Govinda’s clone of Jim Carrey of Liar Liar in Kyon Ki Mein Jhooth Nahin Bolta failed to excited the audience, so the gutsy hero has decided to go whole hog. Director Manoj Aggarwal is nothing if not a blind Govinda fan, so he has happily acquiesced to Chi Chi’s wish. In true Govinda fashion, the idea came up on the sets of Aggarwal’s Wah Tere Kya Kehna, and the son was recorded the very next day. Now whether the song has the remotest relation to the film itself is a question nobody is willing answer. We wonder why.


Ah the cultural police! It has cast its beady eye on film festivals now, so next time Indians plan to go see a phoren film at a fest, their interest better be purely esthetic.

Indian censor chief Vijay Anand has appointed himself the Mullah of Virtue, and his argument is that over 400 films being screened at film festivals in the four metropolitan cities each year, someone has to protect the public from the prurient stuff that could taint innocent souls.
Which begs the question: What about the lurid sexual innuendoes of rain-drenched heroines and "rape" scenes which have been staples of Bollywood? With raunchy music videos oozing sensuality, satellite television all over the place, Anand’s ire is directed at the wrong direction.

The only hope is that Anand has said he will talk to film industry veterans and nine regional boards before taking action. One hopes some of these people talk some sense into this guy. Many overseas producers would simply refuse to send their films to be butchered by puritan censors, and festival films, which are never screened to make a fast buck anyway, have always been free of the censor’s intrusion in India — that’s a tradition worth keeping.


Hindi Film Review:
Exercise in Sheer Madness


Directed by: Ashu Trikha
Music by: Aadesh Shrivastav
Starring: Arjun Rampal, Diya Mirza, Vinod Khanna, Om Puri and Smita Jaykar

In one respect, the film makers deserve very special credit. With an honesty unusual in the fevered, hype-driven world of Bollywood, Deewanapan succinctly describes perfectly this wholly pointless exercise, both from the point of view of the film makers as well as the audience.

Indeed, deewanapan (madness) it is. With a storyline thinner than muslin, irrelevant songs dumped unceremoniously at infrequent intervals, a plot that moves inexplicably from romance to mindless action, what else can one call such a venture? The producers may have thought that all they had to do was to bring together a hunk (Arjun Rampal) and a beauty queen (Diya Mirza) and the audience will be too busy to ogle to notice any lack of logical coherence. What deewanapan!

If you think I am being unduly cranky and harsh, here’s the storyline, and you be the judge. Suraj (Arjun Rampal) is a small town hunk in the hill station Dalhousie, and city gal Kiran (Diya Mirza) is on a trip there. They meet at a picnic and guess what, surprise surprise! They fall in love. The boy is not rich, but the girl’s family is. You will find that a novel idea only if you have always lived in Mars.

Now that the two love birds have met, they part without as much as exchanging phone numbers, but when has a trifle like come in the way of true love in Bollywood? The benevolent gods of fate have always intervened in Bollywood scripts, and they do so here by way of transferring Suraj’s father to the same town as Kiran’s — and guess what? They run into each other at a restaurant.

Now we can’t have things going so smoothly, can we? Somebody has to throw a spanner in the works to create conflict and challenge, and who better than the imperious, class-conscious Ranvir Singh, a.k.a. Vinod Khanna, who stomps about in the film mouthing the standard platitudes about how he cannot have his izzat trampled by the likes of an ordinary guy like Suraj who has the gall to fancy his precious Kiran.

The message to Suraj is clear: Okay, sonny, beat it. Singh makes it quite clear that he wants Suraj skip town, and he gives him 30 days to do it. Or else. And soon we get a glimpse of "or else." Suraj’s dad is thrown into jail, thanks to some machinations of Singh, and beefcake hero Suraj gets to show his stuff — literally — as he bares his body beautiful and beats up Singh’s goons at regular intervals.

The film ultimately does come to a climax, complete with a gunfight between Singh and Suraj, and ends in a sea of implausible melodrama and maudlin sentiment. This is heavy stuff, not recommended for the novice — only the most seasoned Bollywood buffs will be able to stomach this.

So that’s the story. With a story like that, even the best acting in the world cannot salvage anything worth watching. But credit can be given for effort.

Diya Mirza may be a beauty queen — she was made Miss Asia Pacific — but she still has some ways go before she can hope to attain stardom. Having said that, it must be conceded that her performance was much better than her debut disaster Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein. She acts with competence even if she doesn’t sizzle. Why Vinod Khanna and Om Puri choose to play such stereotypical, shallow characters is a mystery and a tragedy. As for beefcake stud Arjun Rampal, he has improved over past performance appreciably, and is virtually alone in giving the film whatever little credibility it has in a few patches. The man, let it be said, is not all muscles and no brain. His broad shoulders try to carry the film as he brings all the effort he can muster — he fights well in action scenes and tries to deliver the inane dialogues with the conviction they scarcely deserve.

Take this dialogue: Sooraj se Kiran ko koi door nahi rakh sakta. (A cliched double entendre: Nobody can keep the sunrays away from the sun/ Nobody can keep Kiran away from Suraj).

There’s only one word to describe dialogues like this: Cheesy.

But then, that applies to this film as well. And we are happy to note that the deewaanapan of the film makers has not afflicted film buffs, who have been wisely avoiding the film.

Rating: **


Tamil Film Review:
Poorly Crafted Thriller

Ponnana Neram

Director: Raviraja
Cast: Ramarajan, Pratyusha, Alex, Mansur Alikhan, Shanmugha Sundaram, Pahalwan Ranganathan, Joker Tulasi

Almost all of Ramarajan's roles have been that of a rustic hick. Many of his fans have surely felt that this matinee idol should try to vary his roles to prove the breadth of his skills. After watching him in action as a super cop here, however, most will hastily change their minds and come to the sober conclusion that this hero is better off playing the rustic simpleton.

The story, even by the loose standards of desi commercial cinema, defies logic and common sense.

A group of Pakistani terrorists for some unexplained reason target Tamil Nadu for their nefarious activities. "You can't cause havoc here, like you blasted the Pentagon," says a spirited cop who corners them. But before you know it, they shoot him dead, the terrorist leader remarking admiringly if somewhat oddly, "The Tamil Nadu police are second only to Scotland Yard, and we've to be careful!" Then the terrorists go into hiding for the entire duration of the film until the very end.

Supercop Manivel, played by Ramarajan, introduces himself to the audience in a scene where he is running after a thief and retrieving a purse snatched from a woman, not realizing that his own wallet had been picked in the bargain. Manivel enters a hotel, and as is often the case of a man-without-a-wallet in Tamil films, eats plate-loads of food, realizes he cannot pay, and is packed off to the kitchen to do grinding work. So much for the second-only-to-Scotland Yard cop.

In the next few scenes, Manivel flits in and out of frames, leaving the scene to heroine Pooja. Pooja taunts and teases the college guys, is brazen with a visiting minister, shop-lifts jewelry, and makes her disdain for the cop clear. This may be the director's concept of a bubbly, spirited girl, but to us the woman is simply obnoxious.

Finally there's Pugazhendi, the much respected, aging freedom fighter, most of the time hovering around a statue of Gandhiji — while his little son looks distracted and bored into the camera.

Pooja catches Pugazhendi in a plot with the terrorists to assassinate a minister. But Manivel doesn't take her seriously, for she's cried "wolf" a bit too often. The minister is killed, the terrorists caught, and Pugazhendi hauled to court. However, he's set free due to lack of evidence. But nemesis is in store, when he comes out of the court triumphantly. His little son grabs a gun and shoots him down, with the same distracted bored look on his face. In a story that makes little sense, where the director fails in every department, one wishes he could at least have guided the child artist better.

— By Malini Mannath • In association with Chennai Online


Recipe: Tomato Soup with Cream
Hearty Food for Winter
By Seema Gupta

On a windy, rainy evening or day, a warm cup of freshly prepared soup is one of the simple delights of life, says Seema Gupta.


  • 1 lb Tomatoes
  • 3 oz Carrots
  • 2 Large-sized Onions
  • 6-8 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Amul butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 2 big cardamom
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bread croutons and cream to serve


Chop tomatoes, carrots, garlic onions into small pieces.

Heat one tsp of butter in a pan and fry onions, garlic and ginger till slightly brown.

Add tomatoes and carrots and cook till the vegetables are fully cooked. Wait till cool. Blend in a blender and strain the liquid.

On a low flame, cook one tsp of butter and corn flour in a pan for a minute, stirring all the time.

Remove from heat, add strained soup, while stirring all the time.

Add salt, sugar, pepper, cardamom and cook for 10-20 minute on low flame.

Serve with croutons and cream.

(Croutons are available at grocery stores. You can also make your own by cutting bread slices into small cubes and deep-frying it in oil.)


Dec. 2001 - Jan 2002 Horoscope – By Pandit Parashar

ARIES (March 21 to April 20): Strong Saturn in second can cause losses if you take any kind of financial risk and keep you involved in legal matters. You may dispose off some assets but after suffering loss only. A child will do very well and will be cause of joy. Gifts coming from in-laws.

TAURUS (April 21 to May 20):
Favorable planets boost your energy and remove all obstacles and uncertainty in career. You will be going on a short pleasure trip. There will be some delay in issues involving a property. Money will just keep slipping out of your hands. You will be working extra hard this month.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20):
Strong Jupiter will increase concerns about health and will make you change food habits. You will attend an important social event and make friends with people with political background. Some one mature will help you see things more clearly and take an important decision.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22):
Weak Mars will cause anxious moments in career. Some of you may start to look for another job also. Medical bills will be high this month. Money expected will get delayed. Some of you will be traveling to distant places. In laws will cause some disturbance in life.

LEO (July 23 to August 22):
You will take intelligent decisions on career. You will buy luxury goods or renovate your home. Money will pour. Good month for brokers and self employed.

VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): You will start a new job. You will be on the move this whole month. You will do charity work. Uncertainty about your future will disturb you. You will try to negotiate new contracts.

LIBRA (September 23 to October 22):
You will spend money on buying valuable gifts for others. You should receive a long overdue payment this month. You may get a positive reply from government. You will sign a big deal in business. You will spend quality time with family and take a short vacation.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22):
Watch out for jealousy within the family. You will need to get some repairs done at home. Do not take any chance with the law, drive carefully. You may need to get your eyes checked. Severe differences will develop in a relationship.

SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): There will be positive changes in career. Concentration of Sun and Mercury will improve your value in the professional circle. You will launch a major project. Opponents will not succeed. It will be an expensive month.

CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19):
Your eyes may need glasses. Concern about a child will end. You have some easy money coming. An old friend will return, following an apology.

AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): Blood pressure patients should be careful for next few weeks. A business trip will be fruitful and you will gain friendship of an influential person. You will party with colleagues. Bank balance will improve.

PISCES (February 19 to March 20):
You will be going on a trip. Strong Saturn can help win legal battles. Competition will grow and a colleague will turn against. Money won’t stay in your hands. You may also finalize your plans to move. Watch your expenses.


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