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Volume III • Issue 1


From Jaipur to Kabul: A Godsend for Amputees

The Future is Here: Apple's Amazing New iMac

Pristine Magic of Dhrupad: Gundecha Brothers in Concert

Publisher’s NoteInfotech IndiaIntegrating eBusiness
Community NewsEvent: Asian Advertising Meet
Social Security: Retirement Savings
Auto Review: 2002 Mitsubishi EclipseBollywood
Tamil CinemaRecipe: Baked Gobhi2002 Yearly Horoscope

Publisher's Note:

As Afghanistan reels from the wrath of the mightiest military in the world, the hunt for the terrorist al-Qaeda thugs can obscure the fact that the hapless nation has been suffering for decades, and one of the worst legacy of strife has been the extensive landmines and its literally crippling toll.

As the military exercise has abated there with the unlamented Taliban being routed, India has stepped in with a laudable program. It has sent a 20-member team with instructions to provide artificial legs to 1,000 amputees.

The technology is India’s very own. In the 1970s Jaipur-based orthopedic surgeon Pramod Karan Sethi and artisan Ram Chandra produced an artificial limb that has now become world famous. Not only is it much more flexible than the Western model, allowing users to squat and even climb trees, it is also wondrously affordable. Where a Western prosthesis can cost several thousand dollars, the Jaipur foot costs less than $30. Sethi and Chandra could have minted money with this device, but their humanitarian impulse triumphed.

In a world where patent rights rule supreme and intellectual property rights can be cause for war, it’s particularly striking that an innovation that has changed the lives of millions of amputees was never patented.

That is their nobler lesson, but their remarkable success also offers another salutary example on the need for a heightened sensitivity to how technology interfaces with culture and society.

Which is not to say that patent rights and entrepreneurial competition should be discarded. The point is more nuanced, and it is this: In the mad feverish obsession with markets, it is easy to ignore the cracks of a fallible system. For any nation or society the market will do many things well, but it won’t do all things, and that is a distinction that we ignore at our peril.


Main Feature

From Jaipur to Kabul
A Godsend for Amputees –
By Deepak Goyal

From Jaipur comes the heartwarming story of an artisan and an orthopedic surgeon’s combined effort that is changing the lives of Afghan amputees, writes Deepak Goyal.

On the edge of Baimaru Hill near the battered Afghan capital Kabul, Col. Mohavir Singh is busy at work. No, the Indian officer is not chasing the Taliban. His team of 20 has been sent by the Indian government on a month-long mission to fit 1,000 artificial limbs donated by the Jaipur-based Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti, which provides free artificial legs for the poor not only in India but in other countries too. It will take his team about a month to finish the job.

Each limb is fitted with the now world-famous Jaipur foot, a contraption developed in the Rajasthan capital with rubber, wood and aluminum that is not only flexible and more appropriate for the Asian and Third World lifestyle, but more importantly for an impoverished country like Afghanistan, it’s also unbelievably cheap: Where Western prosthetic limbs cost several thousand dollars, this one costs less than $30.

In the recent frenzy of carpet-bombing and cluster bombing, this is a real bit of good news for the Afghans, because the 1,000 limbs that are being fit won’t cost them a cent. It’s a gift from the Indian government.

If you take a walk around Kabul’s main army hospital, you will find a steady flow of patients at a disused building where Col. Singh and his associates have set up shop. Any doubts about whether such a sophisticated exercise as devising an artificial limb can be done well so cheaply will disappear when you take a closer look: Many of the team members are themselves amputees who work easily and nimbly using the Jaipur foot themselves.

Col. Singh’s team takes measurements of each patient, then the upper part of the limb is made and shaped to fit those measurements. Within two days, the patient can try out the finished artificial limb or prosthesis. Made of flexible rubber, it is suited to rough or hilly ground and allows the user to squat or to sit cross-legged.

Amputees today are plentiful, thanks to the gruesome wars that continue all over the world, and in particular deadly landmines continue to maim in Afghanistan as well as elsewhere. The Jaipur feet have rehabilitated many of them. Over 100,000 Jaipur feet walk in India, Indonesia and Thailand alone, and in war zones from Congo to Cambodia, people may not have heard of New York or Paris, but they have heard of Jaipur.

And just because it’s cheap, don’t think it’s shoddy. When it was tested in London’s Strathclyde University the amputee who tested it refused to return it: It was much better than what he had for climbing Scottish mountains.

This superb low-tech lifesaver is the brainchild of two people who couldn’t be more different. One is Dr. Pramod Karan Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon who is a fellow of England’s Royal College of Surgeons, and the other is Ram Chandra, an artisan who has barely studied till the fourth grade. Over 30 years ago, their paths crossed in Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh Hospital. At that time the hospital, where Sethi worked, was itself turning out five to six artificial limbs every year, and richer patients were getting U.S. made contraptions. But amputees often went back to crutches, because none of the devices worked very well for them.

Ram Chandra may not have been educated beyond the fourth grade, but he was a master artisan who had inherited the skills of four generations of artists. He was one of Jaipur’s finest sculptors, sought after by temple priests and princes.

He believed he could make a better artificial foot, and he went and told Sethi this. After two years of tinkering, the two devised an artificial limb which was in many ways better than its Western counterpart. They constructed a rubber foot around a hinged wooden ankle, wrapping it in a lighter rubber and then vulcanizing the composite. The end result was different from the Western model in several respects: It had a foot which looked like a foot instead of a piece of machinery to be concealed by a shoe. Its rubber encasing made it waterproof. The single wooden heel of the Western foot was replaced by two wooden blocks linked by a large rubber block, making the foot flexible enough for squatting. Later the front block was switched from wood to hard rubber, giving the foot more mobility so that users can actually climb hills.

By 1971 Sethi felt confident enough to present the invention to British orthopedic surgeons at Oxford—and they were impressed. Till 1975 its spread was limited, but the Afghan war led to its wider usage after the Red Cross found that the Jaipur foot was the most durable in the mountainous Afghan terrain. The technology was never patented, because both Sethi and Chandra felt its humanitarian potential was too great to be subordinate to commercial interests. Since then countless land mine victims all over the world who have benefited from the Jaipur foot continue to provide living testimony to their conviction.

Sethi has retired now and Chandra still works with the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti. It’s noteworthy that all the accolades have come Sethi’s way—a Magsaysay, a Padmashree and a Rotary award.

Chandra is not bitter at all. He, too, is semi-retired. "I only need money for the barber and occasionally the tailor," he laughingly told Time magazine. He stll rises at 4:30 a.m., milks his cow and prays until breakfast. Then he continues his work in his Delhi workshop to improve the Jaipur foot.

Deepak Goyal is a freelance writer based in Kolkata.


Infotech India

U.S. Supercomputer Curbs Eased

U.S. President George W. Bush has eased curbs on supercomputer exports to a number of countries including India, Pakistan, Russia and China, raising the current maximum of 85,000 million theoretical operations per second — mtops — to 190,000 mtops without requiring prior notification to the federal government.

"The president's decision will promote national security, enhance the effectiveness of our export-control system and ease unnecessary regulatory burdens on both government and industry," the White House said in a fact sheet released Jan. 3.

The easing of the restrictions on exports of supercomputers applies to what are called "Tier Three" countries.

In addition to India, Pakistan and China, they include all of the Middle East, countries of the former Soviet Union, Vietnam and parts of southeastern Europe. In Tier One are allies. In Tier II are old friends. The rest are in Tier Three — new friends, neutrals and some potential antagonists.

"These reforms are needed due to the rapid rate of technological change in the computer industry. Single microprocessors available today — by mail order and the Internet — perform at more than 25 times the speed of supercomputers built in the early 1990s," White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan said.

The first country to show that the U.S. cannot control the technological progress of all developing countries was India, which built its own supercomputers and even exported them.

For all countries, says a White House release, U.S. re-export and retransfer requirements, and provisions of the Enhanced Proliferation Control Initiative will continue to apply.

EPCI provides authority for the U.S. government to block exports of computers or any other item in cases where there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to proliferation activities. Criminal and civil penalties apply to EPCI violators.

Wipro GE Exports

Wipro GE Medical Systems in India has exported critical care medical products worth Rs. 1 billion during the first year of operation of its manufacturing facility at Bangalore.

The products included non-invasive cardiology, fetal monitoring equipment and ECG systems.

The ECG and the fetal monitoring systems have the capacity of transmitting the critical ECG data to a doctor anywhere, according to a Wipro spokesperson.

High-speed Scanner

DRS PS880 PhotoScribe Imaging Mark Reader, the new generation high-speed scanner from the UK-based DRS, global leaders in the field, has been launched in India.

The Rs. 2.2 million scanner can scan up to 7,500 double sided A4 forms per hour while reading OMR (optical mark reading) data and collecting image clips. The product is targeted at universities, public service commissions, educational boards and schools for processing applications and answer sheets of entrance examinations and academic tests.

Unveiling the product here today, DRS regional manager Smike Smethurst told reporters that the company hoped to sell at least 20 machines in the first year.

In India, the product is being marketed by the Chennai-based TRS Forms and Services, the DRS's marketing representatives in the country.

Blair Bullish on India

British Prime Minister Tony Blair Jan. 5 said India would be one of the top 10 world economies in the early part of this century.

"I am confident that India will, in the early part of this century, join the world's top 10 economies," Blair said, inaugurating the CII-organized "Partnership Summit 2002" at Infosys City, near Bangalore.

Noting that the U.K. and India were already strong partners for trade and investment, he said Britain was India's second largest trading partner. "Already there is 5 billion pounds worth of trade between us," he said.

Call Center

Amrutanjan, a household name with Indian consumers for its herbal products, has come out with some major initiatives, diversifying into areas like IT and biotechnology, in a bid to emerge as a global giant.

One of these major initiatives is a 30-seater state-of-the-art call center near Chennai in collaboration with California-based Nhancement Technologies.

"The call center, being set up at a cost of Rs. 25 million, is undergoing trials and is expected to become commercially operational later this month," said S. Radhakrishna, chairman and managing director of the company.

The international call center is the first major venture of Amrutanjan Infotech, a division of Amrutanjan Finance. The division was created after in-house efforts in developing software for its own use proved a tremendous success, he said.

The infotech division, backed by an expert team of software professionals, concentrates on developing customized software, applications and process specializing in web-centric and IT-related services.

As part of the international call center project, the division also plans to set up a call center training institute also in collaboration with Nhancement Technologies.

"Negotiations for recognition and certification of this course by a leading university are at an advanced stage," Radhakrishna said.

Speednet Launched

The Postal Department Jan. 3 launched a new software, Speednet, which will enable speed post service customers to trace and ensure delivery of sensitive and valuable documents or articles posted, from home or offices, through Internet facilities.

The Speed Post Service, introduced 15 years ago and extended to 120 centers at the national and 97 centers at the international level, will be brought under the Speednet system.

The new software was formally launched at the GPO here by Indian Telephone Industries chairman and managing director Lakshmi G. Menon.

Talking to reporters, chief postmaster general (Karnataka), Dr. K.B.H. Nayar, said the department had introduced two Web sites, www.speedpost.org and www.indiapost.org. Any customer using them could enter the number of the article and access the status of the article and delivery information.

Nayar said under the system, each speed post article is affixed with pre-printed barcode stickers and at the time of booking of the article, these will be scanned and the data evaluated thereafter during transit and delivery.

Even those who do not have access to Internet could approach Speed Post centers to track and intimate the status of their article, he added.

Tamil Nadu Eyes Bio-tech

The Tamil Nadu government is currently making all out efforts to create a critical mass of industrial activity in bio-technology, Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam said Jan. 3.

"A two pronged strategy would be adopted to encourage modern processes in the areas of agriculture, industry, medical and veterinary sciences while at the same time focussing on traditional bio-technology products especially industrial and food enzymes," he said while inaugurating a symposium on bio-technology initiative here.

Claiming that the state was making significant progress in building a sound infrastructure base in bio-technology for commercial applications, the chief minister said the state accounted for 11 percent of the medical bio-technology market in the country.

He said the focus was mainly on areas like diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics and veterinary drugs. In the field of agriculture, the state government would work with the germ plasm data available with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and the M.S. Swaminathan Research foundation to develop bio pesticides and bio fertilizers, natural health care products, animal feed transgenics and diagnostics.

Paneerselvam said the government would also facilitate the creation of quarantine facilities and sanitary/phyto- sanitary measures in accordance with the WTO agreements for biological items.

Creation of bio-tech parks and Bio-valleys by the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation was one of the major initiatives identified by the state government to promote growth of bio-tech industries in the state, he said.

The state's bio-technology promotion strategy envisaged setting up of a bio-technology incubator park near Chennai, establishment of a medicinal park near Madurai, starting of a marine park at Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district and opening of a bio-informatics and genomics center at the TIDEL park in Chennai, he added.

Panneerselvam said the Rs. 620 million bio-technology park being set up by TIDCO in collaboration with the Cornell University was expected to become operational by next year.

In association with Chennai Online


Integrating eBusiness
2. .Net Platform Speaks All Languages By Kamal Arora

In this second installment of his continuing series on .Net platform, Kamal Arora talks about the advantages of the language-neutrality of .Net platform, noting the advantages it presents to software developers.

.Net Languages

.Net platform is language independent and it supports various languages and you can select the most suitable language for yourself. It supports Visual Basic, C, C++, C# (C-Sharp), Cobol, Pascal, SmallTalk, Perl, Python, Ada, APL and many more. Each language compiler produces Microsoft intermediate (MSIL) code that runs against the CLR (Common Language Runtime). Because of this, programs in supported languages appear similar. There are several benefits to developers like sharing of code and reusability. For example, in the past if someone has written a code in C++ it may or may not be accessible from Visual Basic. So if there are some programmers of C++ and some of Visual Basic, it was difficult to manage the code because of different languages. It probably meant rewriting a lot of code to be reused in other language. With .Net now any compatible language can call any .net class so if you have a class in c#, one can reuse in VB and not only that, programmers can even extend that class for there own purpose. Let’s see how this is done with an example:

  • Creating VB Class:

    Namespace ABCcompany.Manager.Employee

    Public class VBClassforCsharp

    End Class

    End Namespace

    Save this file as Vbclasscontainer.vb and compile with VB .Net command line compiler:

    vbc Vbclasscontainer.vb /t:library

    The output should be Vbclasscontainer.dll that contains the class called VBClassforCsharp. The /t:library tells the compiler to create a DLL.

    Now lets review what we have done above before jumping to reuse this class in C#. The Namespace is just a declaration that we use, you can think of Namespace as a directory that holds files, in this case it is holding classes instead. Than we define a VB class, compile it thru VB .Net command line compiler to get an output in form of DLL. Any programmer in his/her preferred supported programming language can now use this generated DLL. Lets see how to reuse it in C-Sharp (C#).

  • Creating C# Class that derives from VB Class:

    using ABCcompany.Manager.Employee;
    public class ClassinCsharp : VBClassforCsharp


    Save the above code in csharpclass.cs and compile it with C# command line compiler:

    csc /t:library /r:Vbclasscontainer.dll csharpclass.cs

    csc is the command line compiler executable. The /t:library tells the compiler to create a DLL. /r:Vbclasscontainer.dll tells the compiler that the DLL being created csharpclass.dll references types in the DLL Vbclasscontainer.dll.

  • What C# Code is doing

    The following VB code

    Namespace ABCcompany.Manager.Employee

    is used to declare the Namespace that tells the compiler that all types defined are part of ABCcompany.Manager.Employee namespace. Now in C# the following code

    using ABCcompany.Manager.Employee;

    imports the namespace with "using" keyword. This import declaration makes the types available defined in ABCcompany.Manager.Employee to the code in C#, in this case it is to csharpclass.cs. After that we define a class called ClassinCsharp that is derived from VBClassforCsharp VB class. We have shown here how the inheritance work and in this case the C# class inherits all the behavior of the class defined in VB.

.Net platform benefits the programmers in various ways like Code reusability and sharing, same API access for all languages, inheritance between languages and exception handling across languages. CLR (Common Language Runtime) provides a platform for uniform Exception handling that means it doesn’t matter which language was used to generate or handle the exception as CLR handles exceptions of all .Net compatible languages.

Language that is suitable for you

It purely depends on your comfort level as all languages that are supported by .Net platform provide similar functionality, compile to the same Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) and provide almost the same performance level. In general if you are A Visual Basic programmer you can consider Visual Basic .Net as it will be easier for you to convert the code, similarly if you are C++ or Java developer, C# is most suitable. The choice is yours and depends on your command over a language and your preference.


In this article I have explained that .Net Platform is language neutral and we saw various advantages to developers because of this language neutrality. I also explained how you could reuse code developed in C# that was written in Visual Basic. The basic concept remains same for other languages too, so we saw how easy it is to reuse and inherit the code from one language to another. In the coming articles I will be focusing more on specifics of languages, building .Net applications using ASP, XML and security in .Net. Till then I am signing off.

Kamal Arora is a software professional based in Milpitas, Calif.


    The Future is Here
    Apple’s Amazing New iMac
    – By Sonali Merchant

    Apple CEO Steve Jobs is ecstatic about the new iMac. No surprise there. But what is interesting is that there maybe a whole lot of people who may share Jobs feelings, writes a frankly impressed Sonali Merchant.
    Forget lugging unwieldy CPUs and trying to figure out how to link components. Forget bulbous CRT monitors which are about as easy to put your arms around as 1,000-year-old redwood trees.

    The last time around Apple had packed it all into cuddly iMacs in jelly bean colors, and people fell in love with them. But that was in 1998, an eon in the vertiginously fast-paced world of computers, where love is a highly perishable commodity. After selling a whopping 6 million of the cute candy-colored computers, iMac sales were tapering off, so iMac had to come up with another tour de force.
    Which it did in San Francisco with this ghostly white beauty which could well become another landmark for Apple.

    Imagine a sleek flat screen tethered to a ten-inch diameter half dome at its base, not unlike a cantaloupe cut in half, and you get the idea. Gone are the days when the thought of moving a monitor would make you worry about risking a hernia. This 15-inch LCD flat screen monitor is attached to the base with a slim, flexible stem that allows you to move it 180 degrees.

    And that half-cantaloupe base packs a wallop that will make your eyes pop out: a 700 or 800MHz G4 processor with 40GB or 60GB hard drive and the option of a DVD writer which will let you save your family videos on a DVD for posterity. At $1,800, the high end version outclasses anything PC makers can offer: its Superdrive burns DVDs which no PCs offer at this price. For multimedia and graphic work and user-friendliness, this machine is simply amazing.

    The new iMac’s flat screen has a resolution of 1024 by 768 and offers approximately the same viewing area as a 17-inch CRT display. It’s twice as bright and three times as sharp as old-fashioned CRT displays, and has zero flicker.
    User-friendly technology married to state-of-the-art design—that’s always been Apple’s strongest suit, and the goodies that it offers for mass consumers has user-friendly multimedia features no PC can touch.

    All new iMac models include iMovie2, the world’s easiest to use video editing software; and iTunes 2, the digital music software that lets users put an entire music collection on their Mac, burn custom CDs and seamlessly sync to Apple’s new iPod portable digital music player. Every new iMac is also designed to run Apple’s new iPhoto software where users can easily import images directly from digital cameras; organize and manage a photo collection containing thousands of photos; view cross-dissolved slide shows of their photos on the LCD screen; automatically create a professional-looking Web page of their photos; order professional-quality Kodak prints and enlargements, and for less than $30 create and order a custom-printed, linen-bound book of their photos.

    Expandability of the new iMac is a cinch for even the novice computer user who doesn’t know where the "any" key is. Beneath the base is an access cover held in place by four screws. Under the cover are slots for additional memory (up to 1GB) and an AirPort Card.

    Images printed under each of these slots show how memory and the AirPort card fit in the base when properly installed, so nobody will need a manual for simple memory upgrades. Every new iMac has two 400-Mbps FireWire ports built-in, as well as five 12-Mbps USB ports that allow the machine to be very expandable.

    The real question now is: Will the new iMac make Apple a heavyweight again? After Steve Jobs brought back Apple from the dead, the earlier iMac sensation brought in millions of consumers, but Apple’s share of the consumer computer market has not grown. It’s still 5 percent versus PC’s 95 percent in the U.S., and the numbers are worse worldwide.

    Some analysts are wondering if Apple has shot itself in the foot by offering too good a product. Apple’s bread-and-butter customers are its high-end professionals who buy its more expensive products. Why would a graphic designer buy a top of the line G4 computer when he can get pretty much what he needs in an iMac?

    Naysayers are also saying that the present economic mood isn’t the best time to lure new customers. And design and functionality doesn’t always spell success, remember the cube?

    Well, to be fair, the iMac is a lot more competitively priced, and Steve Jobs has a number of statistics to silence skeptics. In his keynote speech at the unveiling of the iMac, he pointed out that Apple sold 125,000 iPod MP3 players in 60 days although critics were leery of its $399 price. Over 800,000 people visited Apple’s 27 stores in the U.S. and 40 percent of computer customers were non Mac owners.

    With style, functionality and marketing smarts, Apple may yet prove the skeptics wrong. I am rooting for Apple, because the world of computers would be a poorer place without it. Only Bill Gates would be richer.

    • Pricing & Availability

      The new iMacs will be available starting with the release of the 800 MHz iMac with SuperDrive in late January. The 700 MHz iMac with the Combo drive will be available in February, and the 700 MHz iMac with the CD-RW drive will be available in March. All new iMacs will be available through the online Apple Store (www.apple.com), at Apple’s retail stores and Apple authorized resellers. Pricing and further details for each of the three standard configurations are listed below.

      • The 800 MHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,799, includes:
        • DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive optical drive;
        • 256MB SDRAM;
        • 60GB Ultra ATA hard drive; and
        • Apple Pro Speakers.

      • The 700 MHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,499, includes:
        • DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo optical drive;
        • 256MB SDRAM;
        • 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive; and
        • Apple Pro Speakers.

      • The 700 MHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,299, includes:
        • CD-RW optical drive;
        • 128MB SDRAM; and
        • 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive.

      • Build-to-order options for the new iMac include additional memory, Apple Pro Speakers, AirPort Base Station and AirPort Card and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

        Interested readers can visit Apple Computer's Web site for more information.

    Sonali Merchant is a freelance writing based in Dublin, Calif.
    iMac photo: courtesy of Apple


    Pristine Magic of Dhrupad
    Gundecha Brothers in Concert
    – By Rucha Chitnis

    India’s foremost Dhrupad exponents Gundecha brothers will present concerts in San Francisco and Houston organized by the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values to benefit the 5H Program. Rucha Chitnis writes about the celebrated musicians and their music.

    Dhrupad, considered the most ancient and the purest form of North Indian classical music, has held its own for over ten centuries now.

    The word Dhrupad derives its name from dhruva, a steadfast evening star, and pada, which means poetry. True to its name, Dhrupad has been an unwavering star of Indian classical music, tenaciously retaining its original form, while other styles have adjusted over time. Dhrupad music has resonated in royal courts and temples during the medieval period and the themes explored in Dhrupad can be traced back to the ancient texts of the Sam Veda. Dhrupad does more than entertain — it enraptures them and stirs them to inner reflection.

    Many of the foremost Indian classical musicians in the world today advocate training in Dhrupad as an essential step for aspiring students. " My request to the coming generation of musicians is that if they are interested in learning true and pure Indian classical music, they must start with Dhrupad," says Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.

    The sibling trio of the Gundecha brothers — Umakant, Ramakant and Akhilesh — are the leading exponents today of Dhrupad. Their musical renditions of the mystic poetry of Kabir and Tulsidas, as well as performances of their own compositions, have captivated audiences worldwide.

    Born in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, the Gundecha brothers were introduced to music by their parents at a young age. They were attracted to the highly complex and sophisticated ragas of Dhrupad rather than the lighter melodies of popular music. "We could have sung bhajans or ghazals but we wanted to study a serious kind of music," say Ramakant. "In Dhrupad, first and foremost, the purity of the notes is very important, and that is what attracted us."

    After their university education, the brothers learned Dhrupad under the instruction of legendary and celebrated Dhrupad artists Dagar brothers in Bhopal. "They taught us the deep roots of our music with an open mind and generosity," says Ramakant. "They treated us like their sons and it is mainly due to their efforts that Dhrupad has been preserved and brought back in the mainstream."

    The renowned Dagar brothers — Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, a vocalist, and Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, player of the rudra veena (a traditional string instrument) — come from an illustrious family of Dhrupad musicians whose history in the art spans unbroken over the last 20 generations. The Gundecha brothers were taught the art of Dhrupad music through the tradition of the guru-shishya parampara, where knowledge is transferred orally by the teacher to his disciple from generation to generation.

    Studying under the Dagar brothers training meant long practice sessions, starting before sunrise. After four years of training, their gurus gave their nod of approval and the first formal concert was arranged in Bhopal. Since then, their art has taken them to concert halls across the United States, Australia and several European countries, where they have received accolades and awards. Ramakant and Umakant are both vocalists, while Akhilesh plays the pakhawaj, a percussion instrument.

    Is Dhrupad a dying tradition, struggling to stay afloat amidst Western influence? Ramakant Gundecha thinks not. "The future is very bright indeed. We are performing in every nook and corner in India and have released several audio recordings to reach out to the people." To encourage young talent in the country, the brothers are building a Dhrupad Gurukul (school) in Bhopal where ten students will each receive a four-year scholarship and "will be nurtured and groomed to become accomplished Dhrupad performers through the guru-shishya parampara." The Gundecha Brothers’ gurukul will also research, document and archive information on the Dhrupad tradition and its illustrious history.

    The Gundecha Brothers will present a concert series organized by the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values to benefit the 5H Program, a social upliftment project that is sweeping across India. The unique program focuses on both material needs — health, hygiene, homes — as well as social needs — human values, and harmony in diversity, and education.

    The concert series, Ancient Music of Peace, will be presented Feb. 23 in San Francisco, and March 3 near Houston. All proceeds from the concert will go towards literacy programs in Northeast India, including the building of 30 schools in the region. The brothers strongly believe that they have a responsibility to the community to support social movements like 5H. They are also thrilled to perform again in the United States, where their music has long been appreciated.

    For more information about the concert, call (888) 9090- 7359 or visit online at www.5h.org.

    Rucha Chitnis is a free-lance writer based in Mumbai. She has written on the entertainment industry, social issues, health and the environment. Her articles have appeared in The Sunday Observer and The Times of India.


    Brainstorming Strategies
    Ethnic Advertising
    Lisa Skirloff

    The Asian American Advertising Federation recently brought together Asian American advertising agencies, premier ethnic media and corporations already involved in multicultural advertising to explore ways of expanding business. Siliconeer was a sponsor of the event. Lisa Skriloff presents a summary.

    The Asian American Advertising Federation — 3AF — held their 2nd Annual New York City Conference Nov. 29, announcing new initiatives at it assessed the outlook for marketing to Asian Americans. The day-long conference, "Asian American Market Outlook 2002," featured speakers from leading Asian American advertising agencies, premier ethnic media, and top corporations already involved in multicultural marketing.

    Conference chairs Bill Georges, VP of advertising sales at International Channel, and Eliot Kang, president of Kang & Lee Advertising and president of 3AF, presented a comprehensive program filled with relevant information relevant for those working in the industry and prospective multicultural marketers.

    Event sponsors included Sears, Roebuck and Co., Allstate Corporation, India Abroad, B4U USA, KTSF-TV, and Siliconeer magazine.

    A panel of executives from top Asian American advertising agencies discussed the state of the industry and market outlook for the year ahead.

    The panel was moderated by Eliot Kang and included Zan Ng, president of Admerasia and 3AF Board Member; Andy Lun, president of Toto Group and 3AF treasurer; and Greg Macabenta, president of Minority Media Services and 3AF Board Member.

    During the discussion, 3AF board member Macabenta challenged his colleagues to develop better ways to promote the "brand" of the Asian American market. Later, the panel announced an initiative to publicly rate the commitment of various companies to the Asian American market. This "report card," which will be disseminated as widely as possible, will acknowledge those companies who have shown understanding and appreciation towards the Asian American community and those which have not.

    Bill Georges then moderated a similar panel discussion among top executives in Asian American media. Panelists included Neeta Bhasin, president of ASB Communications; Hari Srinivas, VP of operations and marketing for B4U; Ron Mann, director of sales and marketing for India Abroad; Young-Sook Lee, regional sales manager from KSCI-TV; and Tony Wong, general manager of Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, Inc. All of the panelists expressed optimism about business in the coming year. Georges shared his sense of urgency for marketing to Asian Americans, saying that every day a company puts off marketing to Asian Americans is costing them revenue.

    Peter Roslow, president of Roslow Research Group, was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Hispanic population to the forefront of multicultural marketing. Through his research, his company and their partners were able to present themselves to advertisers as a highly responsive and marketable consumer group. In his presentation, Roslow cited from his experiences, highlighting four keys to promoting the market: 1) use of credible sales-oriented research on the effectiveness of culturally specific marketing; 2) aggressive selling of the industry; 3) growth of numbers; 4) and simplifying the information for potential clients. Roslow's research found that in-language commercials proved more effective than mainstream-targeted English ads. He predicted that similar research conducted for the Asian American market would be both compelling and is imperative.

    Lisa Skriloff is a public relations executive with
    Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.


    Trends in Retirement Savings
    Social Security Study
    Cal Gee

    As concern grows about the solvency of Social Security benefits, what kind of alternative tax-deferred savings plans are people looking at? Cal Gee presents the findings of a Social Security study.

    Concerns about Social Security’s long-term solvency have generated a wide range of proposals that would introduce individual savings accounts as part of, or in addition to, Social Security. For a number of these proposals, workers would make voluntary contributions to their accounts.

    How many workers are likely to participate in these accounts if they are voluntary? Are some workers more likely to participate compared to others? A paper published in year 2000 by Social Security looked at participation rates in three existing voluntary accounts — individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k) plans, and the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) — to come up with possible answers. (The study was published in the Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63 No.1, and is available at www.ssa.gov/policy/pubs/.)

    The three plans allow tax-deferred savings. The traditional IRA is available to all workers — but not all workers are eligible to make tax-deductible contributions. In 1993, a 401(k) plan was available to 31 million workers. Other salary reduction plans are 403(b) plans for the nonprofit sector and 457 plans for State and local governments. The TSP is a voluntary contribution plan for federal employees.

    The study found that the TSP has the highest overall participation rate, 79 percent followed by 401(k)s with 67 percent of eligible workers participating. Participation in IRAs was much lower—8 percent. Employees may be more willing to participate in the TSP and 401(k)s because the plans are run by the employer, may have matching funds and permit payroll deduction.

    Participation consistently increases as earnings rise, since higher paid workers have more discretionary income and are more likely to seek the tax advantages offered by these plans. Full time workers are almost twice as likely to participate as part-timers. Overall, men are more likely to participate than women; however, this gender difference almost disappears when men and women have comparable earnings.

    Generally, participation increases as the worker ages. The participation rates in the TSP, 401(k)s and IRAs for various age groups were respectively: for workers ages 21-30, 57 percent, 52 percent, and 3 percent; ages 31-40, 78 percent, 67 percent, and 7 percent; ages 51-60, 89 percent, 71 percent, and 10 percent; and for ages 60-69, 90 percent, 68 percent and 16 percent.

    The study concludes that several factors influence participation in voluntary plans — but significantly, even workers with lower earnings do participate when the plan is employer-sponsored.

    Regardless of how the Social Security program may evolve over the next decades, it will continue to be an important part of a worker’s retirement income. But proper planning is needed to insure that it is well supplemented by pension income, savings and investments.

    Cal Gee works in public relations in the
    Social Security Administration


    Community News:

    Bay Area-based Indian American organization FIA of Northern California recently handed a check of $9,500 to India’s San Francisco Consul General H.H.S. Vishwanathan.

    The funds, which will go to the Indian Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, was raised by FIA from its members and the Bay Area Indian American community.


    Auto Review: 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT Convertible
    Slick Ragtop
    By Al Auger

    The new convertible from Mitsubishi is the slickest looking ragtop on the road, says our admiring automotive editor Al Auger.

    It’s not often this corner praises or recommends the positive aspects of option packages as adding anything to the value or performance of a particular automobile. In the case of this week’s featured marque, the seductive Mitsubishi Eclipse GT Convertible, the seemingly pricey GT Premium Package ($2,370) not only fulfills some upgrade holes but also highlights the long list of standard equipment that leave nearly nothing else to buy.

    The option packages adds and/or upgrades with anti-lock brakes to the 4-wheel disk setup, premium 210-watt, 7-speaker sound system with 4-CD-in-dash changer, leather front seats, power drivers’ seat and front side airbags. And yet, you still drive off with the slickest looking ragtop GT on the road for $28,522.

    The Eclipse is also loaded with a host of off-the-wall and unexpected driving pleasures. The serious driver is going to really enjoy the simple function of manipulating the stubby, leather-wrapped shifter atop the honey-smooth 5-speed transmission. The throw is short and snappy, the gears meshing with a seamless and noiseless interaction. All that is needed for the most intimidating corner is a 2-finger flick down a gear, stab the brakes and stand on the accelerator. Home free.

    The transaxle is a smooth translator of power from the 200 horsepower, 24-valve, SOHC, 3.0-liter V6. The powerplant adds its own sense of joy with its soft, primal growl, increasing its intimidation as the revs climb. The Eclipse GT not only looks dramatic, but acts it with authority.

    On the road the GT leaves a large footprint with four 17-inch V-rated tires on handsome alloy wheels. Tied to the wheels is a sport-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension with gas-filled shocks and over-sized stabilizer bars. Unfortunately — and for unknown reasons to me, the optional ABS-assisted traction control is only available with the Sportronic automatic/manual transmission. The Eclipse GT tracks with unerring accuracy and agility. I can only imagine how this road machine would react with rear-wheel-drive.

    Naturally, the Eclipse is just another step in building an automobile that is smarter and more efficient than its driver. The Sportronic transmission has a few cute tricks up its sleeve (as it were) to keep the mere mortal at the wheel from imploding the entire mechanical makeup. The Sportronic will remain in the manually selected gear all the way to the redline without allowing the transmission to upshift. If not upshifted by the driver, the fuel cutoff intervenes but does not move out of the selected gear.

    To keep the driver from embarrassing himself, the Sportronic does override the selected gear if the driver hasn’t downshifted to first gear at a stop. The transmission will automatically select first gear for a smooth acceleration.

    Even the most perfect of man’s creations will have a blemish or shortcoming. Fortunately the Eclipse GT’s is a short list. The rear corners of the soft-top are scary blind spots. Backing out of a parking slot is a bit nerve wracking if your neighbors are the usual truck or SUV. There are a couple of broad, flat spaces in the rear that are mysteriously called seats. Users should be age-tested before allowed to enter.

    I’ve never completely forgiven Mitsubishi for dropping the 3000 GT sports car. It was one of the most accomplished road warriors produced at an affordable price. The newest issue of the Eclipse GT Coupe and Convertible are filling the void with elan.

    Today's Test Drive

    2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT Convertible

    • Base price: $25, 597
    • Price as tested*: $28,522
    • Engine: SOHC, 24-valve, MPI fuel injected V6
    • Displacement: 3.0-liter (2972cc)
    • Horsepower: 200 @ 5500 rpm
    • Torque: 205 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
    • Transmission: 5-speed manual
    • Drive system: Front engine/front-wheel
    • EPA Class: Sub-compact
    • Wheelbase/length: 100.8/175.4 inches
    • Curb weight: 3,120 lbs.
    • EPA fuel economy (est.): 20 city; 29 highway
    • E-mail: www.mitsubishicars.com
      *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.





    Yeah, we did a double take when we heard this, too. I mean, it was younger sis Kareena he had acted with, wasn’t it? Well, Bollywood is afire with rumors that Abhishek and Karisma are in a serious relationship. Yes, you heard us right. Serious as in matrimony. Some insiders are saying that come Valentine’s Day, the two are going to get married, no less.

    Both Abhishek and Karisma have said that’s not true, their career is important than marriage. Well that should be that, shouldn’t it?

    It would, except for the fact that this is Bollywood we are talking about, where what people say and what they actually do sometimes have no relationship at all. So I suppose we will all have to wait till Valentine’s Day and see.

    Not So Fast

    Rumors about Esha and Aftab’s love are greatly exaggerated, if you believe Esha. The two are working in Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, and tongues are wagging that all those romantic scenes that the two are acting in look awfully real because it’s, well, real.

    Not so, says this feisty little daughter of Hema Malini.

    "The person who has written it should start writing film scripts. It is all rubbish. These rumors are not going to stop me from talking to Aftab," fumes Esha while talking to Afternoon. She says she doesn’t give a toss what folks write about her, she will continue going on with her friendship with Aftab, which is just like her friendship with Tusshar and Hrithik.

    And what about rumors that mom Hema drops by often on the sets to keep an eye on the two? Baloney, says Esha.

    "It is very natural for a girl of my age to have a crush on my co-stars but I have never felt like that ever with Aftab," she says. "I am not attracted to him. He is not my taste, to put it in a very girly-girly way."

    Right now the only thing she is in love with is her work, Esha says. "I have gone against my parents to work in films and I cannot let them down," she adds.

    Well it won’t be long before she knows how her real love is going to turn out, because Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche is set to release any day now. And for her sake, we hope things turns out well.

    Chi Chi, Chhi Chhi!

    Dear old Govinda’s charm lies not only in his zany antics but also in his down-to-earth demeanor, which makes his tapori hijinks so endearing and hilarious. While other Bollywood stars like do wallow in hip, faux Western mannerisms, Govinda has always been the wonderfully approachable boy-next-door, whose friends still call him Chi Chi.

    Well, not anymore. With film after film turning out to be duds, Govinda apparently is losing his good humor. So if you run into him don’t expect him to crack a joke or laugh if you call him Chi Chi. Someone who called him Chi Chi recently was treated with a curt response: "My name is Govinda."

    If you are wondering what on earth has come over the Govinda we all loved, so are we. The answers in the grapevine are manifold. Govinda thinks "Chi Chi" is too declasse, and is trying to attain some class, according to one rumor. Another rumor says his astrologer has put him up to this. The use of Chi Chi instead of the more auspicious Govinda has rubbed the stars the wrong way, the astrologer has apparently told him.

    Well we are not astrologers, so we wouldn’t know which way to rub the stars. What we do know is that Govinda’s recent choice of films have been awful, and it’s the audience that has been rubbed the wrong way. Unless that changes, all the class in the world won’t bail the troubled Govinda out, even if everybody on earth calls him Tutenkhamen.

    Raveena’s Romance?

    Poor Raveena has been through it all. There was her traumatic affair with Akshay Kumar who wasn’t exactly a one-woman man, then she saw her career going down the tubes.

    However, the gutsy woman has made a great comeback in her career, and has been telling anybody who would listen that she simply doesn’t have the time to develop a relationship while rebuilding her career.

    Well, if the prize is sweet enough, that can clearly change, say some overcurious insiders. And guess who has been bowled over by the charms of the Bollywood beauty? It’s India’s beloved knight in white, the redoubtable Rahul Dravid. Test pacemen may huff and puff to get him out, but our Raveena has him clean bowled.

    The two met in a charity match, and now even have been dating discreetly. Apparently the overly smitten Dravid wants to marry her. What is Raveena saying? Nothing yet, but that might change too.

    Not A Pyar Ka Naghma

    Talking of cricketers brings us to the Bengali babu. You know, the captain of the Indian cricket team who broke up his extramarital love affair just before his disastrous trip to South Africa.

    It’s not been exactly a bed of roses for his lover, either.

    Ah, the woes of being a woh! Woh as in the triangle of pati, patni aur woh. Ask poor Naghma. During the passionate affair with Sourav, she simply got tired of dealing with being the other woman. Although the affair made sparks fly, the arrival of a baby has had the Bengali babu move back into the arms of his Bengali bahu Dona whom he had married defying a long-standing feud between his parents and Dona’s.
    Meanwhile Naghma has become a tutor with the Art or Living Foundation and looking at promising roles to move on with her career.

    Then what’s with the recent clandestine meeting the two had in Mumbai? Well, according to Sourav, it was just to let her know that he still cared a lot for her. He had to break up the relationship in a hurry due to pressures from home, and wanted to make amends for that. However, he wasn’t going to allow any outside involvement interfere with his married life.

    Which is just fine with Naghma, says the grapevine, because as far as she was concerned, sharing the person she loved with another woman was simply not cricket.

    Two Sanjays

    Sanjay Dutt and Sanjay Gupta have a plan. Well, actually it’s Plan, their forthcoming film. The two have just finished Kaante, and are raring to go as far as their new film is concerned. In fact, they say it’s going to be an even bigger project than Kaante, which was shot with great fanfare in Los Angeles.

    There is even a surprise twist. Only one of the Sanjays will be in the film, the on-screen one, that is. Sanjay Gupta will not direct the film. They are going to get a new director. The condition will be the same for the director, the cast and the crew: All will have to give the film their undivided attention until it is completed.

    Small is Beautiful

    For Nepali princess Manisha Koirala, small is beautiful. Her Bollywood stint hasn’t been so hot lately, so she has decided to make forays into the small screen. But not in front of the camera, though.

    Manisha has decided to produce television serials for a satellite channel. Her reluctance to go in front of the camera shouldn’t be a huge surprise, because her recent experience with television has been quite dreadful. She tried to shake the world with Anupam Kher in a game show Sawal Dus Crore Ka. Shake the world she did. The show was such a terrible debacle that the producers pulled the plug out of it almost immediately.

    But Manisha is determined to move on. The production for television is just the start. Film production is not too far away and someday she would like to direct a film, she says. Hey, you can’t keep this spunky Manisha down.

    It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

    After Devdas, is it bye, bye, Bollywood? That’s what some filmi folk are saying about Madhuri Dixit, and don’t you believe it, says her close aide Rikku Rakeshnath. She is simply cutting down on projects because she wants to concentrate on high quality projects, Rikku adds, and says she is open to good film offers.

    Why, then, are rumors making the rounds that Madhuri is all set to leave films after Devdas and Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam are finished? Put it down to the silly sexist bias so prevalent in the industry. If a female star gets married, all some people can talk about seems to be when she will quit films (when she will get pregnant is a close second favorite speculation.) On the other hand you have Amitabh Bachchan romancing Nandita Das in Aks and nobody bats an eyelid.

    Madhuri, happily, is determined to prove them all wrong. She certainly has the talent to do it.

    Painter’s Favorite

    For painter M.F. Husain, Madhuri Dixit was the dream woman. Happily for him, Madhuri was obliging and the result was Gajagamini, giving Husain the chance to fulfill a long cherished dream of making a film.

    The problem is, it failed to make the audience happy. And Madhuri wasn’t all that thrilled about the box office disaster either.

    Husain might have been once bitten, but the feisty old painter is anything but shy. He is now planning his next film, and A.R. Rahman has been commissioned to compose the music. Tabu will be his new dream woman, and the film will be shot in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Prayag and Jaisalmer. Let’s hope this time around Husain’s dream doesn’t turn into another nightmare in the box office.

    Karan’s Gham

    His Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham has box office registers ringing in India and abroad, but for director Karan Johar it’s sirf gham. After all, says the whiz kid director, it’s not all about money.

    Karan’s logic is simple: Here you have a film which has hit the top three hits in the U.K., top 10 in the U.S., and has women reaching for their hankerchiefs all over the world, and yet when the Screen film awards nominations are announced, what does he see? Aamir Khan’s Ashutosh Gowariker directed-Lagaan sweeps the awards nominations in various categories including Best Film, Best Director, Best Story, Best Actor, Best Composer and Best Male and Female Singer. Yet K3G won nominations in less than half the number of categories. What miffed him most was that Johar failed to win a nomination for best director.

    Here he directs a blockbuster film that brings smiles back in an film industry badly mauled by a terrible year of business, and this is the thanks he gets? Well, Karan, the harsh fact is, old boy, people may have flocked to see your film, but no one is mentioning it in the same breath as Lagaan or Gadar. Nobody said life is fair.


    Hindi Film Review:
    Violence Buries Values


    Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
    Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Om Puri, Shivaji Satam, Smita Jayakar and Nandita Das, Anjan Shrivastava, Siddharth, Sachin Suvarna, Vineet Srinet, Shivaji Satam, Anupama Verma, Salil Ankola, Mink and Kalpana Pandit.
    Music: Anand Raaj Anand & Rahul Ranade

    Mahesh Manjrekar has a track record of sorts, so a viewer’s expectation of him is rather more. That is, unless you belong to the cinema-is-strictly-entertainment crowd, whose overwhelming majority among Bollywood buffs has straitjacketed film making into mindless cavorting around breathtaking if utterly implausible locales, leavened generously with dollops of melodrama, and spiced up with a fair amount of mayhem and gore.

    Nobody expects mainstream cinema to be sensitive, brooding inquiries into the human condition, but Manjrekar’s Astitva and Vaastav suggested that here was a film maker who had an ace up his sleeve and he wasn’t in the business just to make a quick buck by shooting a few more gyrating pelves and rain soaked bosoms.

    Pitaah’s story line also suggests the same thing: Not art cinema by any long shot, but at the same time a film that tries to tell a gripping story and also takes an incisive look at the violent, ugly social divide that forms the underpinning of rural society.

    But Manjrekar falters, and falters badly. Before I return to this point, let’s take a look at the story line, which had considerable promise. Okay, it’s not original and borrowed from A Time to Kill made from John Grisham’s eponymous novel, but hey, this kind of borrowing is as common as breathing in Bollywood, so this is one of Manjrekar’s lesser sins.

    The film is set in a rural Uttar Pradesh village, and the social milieu is lamentably realistic.

    Avadh Narayan Singh (Om Puri) rules the village of Shikarpur with an iron fist and a ruthless heart, and Rudra (Sanjay Dutt) lives in a village basti with wife Paro (Nandita Das), sons Luv and Kush and nine-year-old daughter Durga. Life is harsh under the brutal thakur Avadh Narayan, but at home Rudra is a loving pitaah.

    As the thakur makes life miserable for his villagers, his sons Bachchu and Bhola grow up with the same feudal values, and strongly suggest that as far as the oppressed villagers are concerned, the sons will be just as tyrannical as the father. The thakur’s wife is more humane, but nobody in the family really pays any attention to her.

    One night, the thakur’s sons go to see a mujra perform and on their way back they run into Durga and rape the pre-teen girl.

    Here is a story, then, with great potential to fulfill both the mainstream audience’s need for an absorbing tale and yet make a probing inquiry of how such a dastardly crime is handled in a society riven by a caste divide so unjust that the whole concept of justice is turned on its head.

    It is not as if tales of village tyranny haven’t told before in Hindi cinema, but there is always room for a story told with sincerity, competence and skill.

    But it is precisely these qualities that the film lacks in large measure. Rudra’s anger following the brutal rape of his child is understandable, but his transition from meek villager to an angry Hercules strains credulity. What is more, Manjrekar completely ruins a marvelous opportunity to tell a socially perceptive, thrilling yet poignant tale by giving in completely to masala elements.

    After discovering the rape of his daughter, Rudra unleashes a bloody killing spree which leaves a mountain of corpses in its wake, and the sickening mayhem and gore desensitizes the viewer to any other message of social inequity or injustice.

    Production values also hurt the film’s credibility. Cops in prison are in starched uniforms as if they are in a "dress as you like" fashion show. Somebody should tell Manjrekar that real cops who actually work sweat, their uniforms look worked in. The rural hospital’s spotless interior is laughable.

    But even more importantly, the crucial point that the film misses is that in film making as in storytelling, less is more. To make Rudra’s righteous rage compelling, what was needed is a nuanced, sensitive portrayal of the challenge that an unjust society posits him. Throwing around corpses does the exact opposite. Jackie Shroff, who plays a corrupt cop who turns around, is undone by the inconsistencies of his character.

    So at the end of the film, after a toxic dose of murder and corpses what can be said is this: Manjrekar fell into a trap that has afflicted several films since Satya. Too many Bollywood film makers have confused a portrayal of violence with gutsy cinema. It is actually a cop out. What this film needed was fewer corpses and more intelligent and sensitive direction, and that takes a degree of skill and competence that Manjrekar either lacks or refuses to marshal.

    The result is a film which had a promising social message that is buried under excessive violence, and mark my words, the corpses are not the only casualty. Bollywood’s dismal showing last year is a warning: Audiences are not so easily bamboozled into watching sub-standard fare anymore, and they are far more likely to balk at sloppy film making. Pitaah’s biggest casualty could be Mahesh Manjrekar himself. If that happens, Manjrekar has only himself to blame.

    Rating: **


    Tamil Film Review:
    Predictable Devotional Fare

    Koattai Maariamman

    Director: Rama Narayanan
    Cast: Karan, Roja, Devayani, Yuvarani, Rami Reddy, Murthy, Senthil, Vivek.

    Director Rama Narayanan is a veteran of films based on middle class life, but now he appears to be shifting to devotional themes.

    This film is an example of that shift. So here again we have conflict between good and evil, represented by the goddess’s devotees and her tormentors respectively. This time the tussle is over the goddess’s eyeballs, which have magical powers. Tormentors try to pluck out to control the power, and devotees are determined to save the eyeballs.

    Roja plays a devotee and if anyone has any doubts about why the devotee and the goddess look alike, the answer is given in a remark by the devotee to the goddess: "It is probably because you nurtured me after my parents' death and because of our close bonding." Anyway, the devotee makes lunch and various delicious dishes, the goddess manifests herself, and the duo feed each other. There is an easy camaraderie and teasing between the two, with the goddess always present around the place, like a neighbor from next door.

    Yet another devotee is Devayani, and her antics irritate her family. Her family comprises her husband Karan, who taunts and teases her, his sister ("Chithi" Yuvarani fitting in well), and his mother. Their ill treatment of her is a familiar scenario for regular viewers of devotional films..

    In addition, there is Devayani’s little daughter Akshaya, a precocious girl who is mature beyond her years. At times it seems as if she is possessed by the goddess, at times it seems she is the goddess herself. The director seems to be unclear about what he is trying to do here. Rami Reddy is an evil sorcerer in a black and red silk outfit, with a dragon and skull painted on it. He wants the goddess’s eyeball so that he can be the most powerful force around.

    With these characters, all fairly familiar if not stereotypical to devotional film buffs, a story is told with the usual battle between good and evil and the result is also unsurprising: the goddess wins, the wicked are vanquished and Karan, the taunting husband, is saved by his virtuous wife.

    There is enough melodrama and sentimental moments to shed buckets of tears for those so inclined, but this stuff is only for devotional movie buffs. Cinema fans with more mainstream tastes will find little here to please them and plenty to complain about, so they would be better off not seeing this film at all.

    — In association with Chennai Online


    Recipe: Baked Gobhi
    Healthy Yet Delicious
    By Seema Gupta

    Whether as a snack or an entrée, baked cauliflower is delicious as well as good for your health, says Seema Gupta.


    • 1 Cauliflower
    • 2 Onions
    • 3 Tomatoes
    • 1 tsp Coriander powder
    • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
    • 1 tbsp Amchur
    • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
    • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
    • Ghee
    • Salt to taste

      For Garnish
    • 2 cups French fries
    • 2 tsp Coriander leaves


    Cut off the stems of the cauliflower and cut into florets. Dust with turmeric and salt. Steam the cauliflower florets so it softens. Steaming can be done by putting the florets in a perforated container and putting the container over a pan full of water. Keep it on a stove for 10 minutes in high temperature and for 15 minutes for low temperature.

    Chop the onions into small pieces and fry. Dice tomatoes and add. Add coriander powder. Put in rest of the ingredients.

    Stuff cauliflower florets with this sauce.

    Preheat oven to 300 for one minute. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

    You can garnish this with french fries and coriander leaves.


    2002 Yearly Horoscope By Pandit Parashar

    ARIES (March 21 to April 20): Jupiter in third will keep things under control as worries from last year will resolve favorably in 2002. Financially you will do a lot better this year. Income will grow but it looks like an uphill task to hold it. Rahu in second after February will lead to huge expense. Legal issues could create problems till July, try to extend dates till after July for favorable chances. Exalted Jupiter in 4th will enhance your fortunes and make you feel lucky in almost everything. You will make easy money during the first six months. Bachelors will succeed in locating a match. Saturn in third after July will cause a possible career switch to a bigger and better location. Lucky stone: Topaz • Lucky days: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday • Lucky numbers: 10, 14, 26, 32, 37 and 45.

    TAURUS (April 21 to May 20):
    Jupiter and Rahu in second will keep your finances on the edge. Any gamble will misfire. Rahu changing to your sign will bring a major personality change. You will make wise decisions and understand that there is no quick way to make money. There will be slow and gradual financial growth after March. Professionally you will do better. An excellent opportunity will come just after July when Saturn moves into second and Jupiter moves into third house. Past experiences will make you a very tough person. You may have minor health troubles in April and May this year. You will be involved in some research and development work. It is a good year for people in sales and retail business. A major problem involving a government agency will resolve. Lucky stone: Blue Sapphire • Lucky days: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday • Lucky numbers: 12, 17, 22, 35, 42 and 44.

    GEMINI (May 21 to June 20):
    Jupiter will keep things under controls. Progress will be slow but constant. Your health needs a lot of attention in first half year, so you will change food habits and start doing physical exercises. The moment Jupiter moves into second, career will take off with a blast and some of you will launch a major project, which could last forever. Saturn in first after July will improve your chances of success. Rahu in twelfth will lead you towards more material aspects. Beware of a person with a shady past. Moving to a big and better house is a strong possibility towards the end of 2002. You will be doing many good deeds and serve your parents. You will be making several long-term investments. Lucky stone: Blue sapphire • Lucky days: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday • Lucky numbers: 11, 17, 19, 29, 36 and 41.

    CANCER (June 21 to July 22):
    The year will start with some uncertainty and confusions in career, but with the good aspect of Jupiter on weak Mars, you will survive all obstacles and once Mars moves into your house of luck, expect some fortunate changes. This favorable transit will continue for many months and once Jupiter moves into first house on July 5th, life will stabilize completely. You will need to deal with some legal headache if in business but only after September this year. Jupiter will enhance your fate and fortunes if you play your cards sensibly and show patience in gradual prosperity. Health will improve using orthodox methods. You will also receive blessings of a holy person. Rahu can bless with sudden wealth during its transit in eleventh house. There will be many celebrations in the family and few additions will take place. Lucky stone: Topaz or yellow sapphire • Lucky days: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday • Lucky numbers: 09, 15, 23, 35, 40 and 48.

    LEO (July 23 to August 22):
    The year starts with a few concerns about health. Favorable time begins Feb 21. There will be major improvements in career once Mars is positioned in the house of luck. Final changes will occur after July when Jupiter moves into the house of gains. People in jobs will finally get a long due promotion. Some of you may start a new business. You will gain a lot from a dark complexioned tall person after July. Financially you will do a lot better; though expenses will be high. You will successfully clear pending legal issues between April and July this year. A new member will be added in the family towards the end of 2002. You may have to reappear for a competitive exam in first half but will finally qualify in second half. You will go on several trips. Lucky stone: Orange Coral • Lucky days: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday • Lucky numbers: 13, 27, 30, 42, 43 and 49.

    VIRGO (August 23 to September 22): There will be big changes in career. Tough working conditions will force you to look for a new job. Financially you will stay comfortable, thanks you favorable transits of Venus. Avoid unnecessary spending. Jupiter in eleventh will bring peace of mind. You will purchase a large property and benefit from new partners. Presence of Saturn in ninth will make you more spiritual. Opponents will try to raise obstacles in career around July but they will not succeed. Marriage is in the air for bachelors. You will simplify your life and make great changes in food habits. People with political ambitions will make fruitful contacts. Value of your assets will skyrocket around September, take advantage of the opportunity. Lucky stone: Diamond • Lucky days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday • Lucky numbers: 03, 12, 23, 35, 42 and 44.

    LIBRA (September 23 to October 22):
    It will be a great year. There will be major changes in career around June or July when Jupiter moves in the house of career. Expect a positive reply from the government. Saturn in eighth till July will keep you tense and worried. You will keep facing obstacles off and on but once Saturn moves into your house of luck, things will change rapidly in your favor. Many dreams will become reality. Some of you will move to your own house for the first time. Tension about children will come to an end. Financially you will be more comfortable after May 19th. Movement of Jupiter in tenth from July 5th will cause major changes in career. You will be forced to change career, which will prove to a blessing in disguise. Watch your health around October and November. There will be considerable increase in assets and value of your holdings. Hang on to your stocks and dispose them after May 19th. Lucky stone: Blue sapphire along with Diamonds • Lucky days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday • Lucky numbers: 08, 17, 27, 36, 44 and 45.

    SCORPIO (October 23 to November 22):
    You may get out of a partnership in early 2002. Emotionally it will be a difficult year in the beginning but once Jupiter moves in house of luck after July, you will have better control over life. There will be prosperity on financial front and all the good deeds you performed last year will come to your rescue. You will get some job-related training. There will be celebrations in the family and a marriage will be settled. There will be some changes in religious pattern and you may start following a group or teacher. Earlier investments will start to yield profits and there is a big chance of making money through stocks too. You will overcome all hurdles. Strong Mars will keep confidence going as you achieve your financial targets and start to feel comfortable after July. Lucky stone: Pearl set in silver • Lucky days: Monday, Thursday and Sunday • Lucky numbers2, 10, 13, 31, 41 and 46.

    SAGITTARIUS (November 23 to December 22): Jupiter will come out of affliction on February 28 when Rahu move to Taurus. Wishes during the past months will materialize. Mind will be peaceful as tensions from last 1 year will come to an end. Saturn will help you in legal matters before it leaves Taurus on July 23 to move to the next house. You could move to a new house between March and July. Professionally you will do better and may switch to a better paying job after August. Travel will increase and you may get some money through a lawsuit. Second half of the year is very promising as far as finances are concerned. You will be able to save money before 2002 ends. You will be traveling overseas for a family reunion. Assets will grow and value of stocks will appreciate considerably. Lucky stone: Ruby • Lucky days: Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday • Lucky numbers: 1, 10, 32, 34, 40 and 46.

    CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19):
    It will be a tough year. Professional anxiety and tension should settle down once Venus is well placed. Expect some positive development in career. Financially you will do well till end of July. Be extra careful. Once Saturn moves into sixth on July 23, watch out for litigations. Chances are, you could be dragged into one, causing heavy financial losses. Presence of Jupiter in seventh after July 5 will cause serious concerns about a business or life partner. Spouse may not keep well as modern medicine may not help. Try to get her spiritual help. A child may move out for higher studies or issues related to a child may cause problems due to presence of Rahu in the fifth house after February 28. Watch your diet. Lucky stone: Diamond • Lucky days: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday • Lucky numbers: 5, 14, 26, 44 and 49.

    AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18): Career will start picking up after February 7 when Venus moves into the first house. You could move to a better location in March. Financial commitments and liabilities will bring you under pressure in the second half of 2002. There will be changes in partnership after Saturn moves into Gemini towards end of July. Troubles will ease and health will improve. Money will come but will be spent for a good cause and children. Married women will experience delay in conceiving and should be extra careful during pregnancy. Delays in obtaining finance for a new venture is foreseen. Do not expect much from spouse who will oppose your decisions. You will gain from stocks after August but the money will be reinvested. Watch your health during March and April. o Lucky stone: Diamond • Lucky days: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday • Lucky numbers: 5, 14, 22, 36 and 42.

    PISCES (February 19 to March 20):
    This year will make you professionally confident. Year will start with financial pressures. You will win a big legal battle before July. You will be working on ways to improve life at home. Life will be more relaxed after July 5, when Jupiter becomes exalted and moves into an auspicious house. Career will be stable and you will get involved into something big. Focus stays on long term gains. You will suffer losses in a property or automobile deal in July. You will earn fame in the social circles. People looking for an addition in the family can overcome hurdles with the blessings of a holy person. You will perform religious and good deeds and feel protected from all negatives. Lucky stone: Red Coral in Gold • Lucky days: Tuesday, Thursday • Lucky numbers: 09, 23, 27, 36 and 44.


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