When the state transport secretary GS Gill was taken for a ride by a cabbie in Mumbai, all hell broke loose. But the result is that rides in Mumbai cabs are going to be easier on the pocket as electronic meters will be installed. Electronic meters are not only difficult to tamper with, they will come with a printed handout which will make it easier for customers to prove that he/she has been cheated. In fact a cabbie taking an unusually long route from point to point will also be caught. This itself should act as a deterrent.

Fines for rigged meters will also rise. We hope. Because cabbies are not too happy with the move as they feel that not only are electronic meters expensive, they will cost more to repair. In any case taxi unions are already very unhappy… taxi fares have been reduced by 50 paise per km, because cabs have switched to CNG. And fines for faulty meters now stand at anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 1500/-

Unfortunately the reduction in fares as well as the increase in fines is going to be challenged in court by the taxi union. Reduced fares or not, the union hasn’t accepted it, and consumers have to pay the original fare.

We have to admit that though Mumbai cabs are said to be the safest in the world – when it comes meter tampering, they don’t score very well.

Actually, the move to improve the cabbie system in Mumbai is not a new one. Upgradation of the rickety black and yellow cabs is very much in keeping with the state government’s policy for improving the city of Mumbai. In fact recently the chief minister inaugurated a modern fleet of GPS-based technology taxi services, with the flag off fare of Rs 15. Six months ago, a similar service was introduced.

One can only hope that the taxi union’s plans to scuttle the government’s move to reduce fares does not succeed. Well, at least the union has not opposed electronic meters, and once they are installed, Mumbai will be safer from cheating cabbies. If there are complaints one can complain online at

Finally, it took the state transport secretary to suffer at the hands of a cheating cabbie for all this to happen. While electronic meters were to be installed on all new cabs anyway, now they will have to be installed on all cabs. 🙂


Vote BJP 

The BJP seems to be stuck. Atleast ideologically it seems so. Who are they for? Hindus? All Indians? Upper castes? OBC? SC? What are their objectives? What are their aims? Why should I vote for them?

Will the real BJP please stand up?

Lalji Tandon, a senior BJP leader, thought he had an answer to help his party out of its misery. He decided to make a video CD about his party intended to do in Uttar Pradesh. A CD, which can even put Modi studios of Gujarat to shame.

CNN-IBN which got hold of the CD has decided not to broadcast its contents because it could lead to communal violence.

More here on (make sure you read the comments there, plenty on fireworks!).

In India’s poorest state, there’s been a new development. Workers from the Vaishali district in Bihar who earn minimal wages can now collect their money from state of the art ATMs. The workers have “debit” cards, and use them to obtain their wages from the ATM. Since most of these workers are illiterate, the new machines offer interactive touch screens with pictures and symbols to make the money withdrawal process simpler. This is a really great way to cut through the bureaucracy involved in obtaining these workers’ hard earned money. Usually they need to wait in line for hours just to withdraw the cash that they toiled to earn. However, I wonder if this will cause an increase in theft in these areas, because these machines are in a very poor part of the country. Hopefully, there are adequate safety measures in place to ensure that the ATM system is properly monitored and that it only benefits the workers instead of giving them the convenience of an ATM along the lingering possibility of theft.

Image from

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Its been some time since ‘Sivaji – The Boss’ the next film of the southern superstar Rajni has been announced and everyday the hoopla around it seems to increase exponentially. Here are some mindboggling information surrounding this movie:

1. Out of all director Shankar’s movies this is being touted as the most expensive one. And here is the breakup – 68% was spent in location, not surprisingly 12% in graphics, 8% as salaries (no doubt excluding dat of Rajni’s) 8% for costumes, 2% for music maestro A.R.Rahman and other techincians, and the remaining 2% on miscellaneous.

2. Amitabh Big B Bachchan is supposedly making his first guest appearance with Rajni in a Tamil movie. And dat is something to watch out for. Rumours say the Big B shot for the movie in 2 days at Pune.

3. Not to stop at Big B..Shankar has allegedly also roped in Malayam Superstar Mamooty for a special scene n the movie. 4. Here are some numbers for you to digest – The distribution rights for Sivaji has been sold to kerala for 6 crores,(an alltime high)- and actor Vineet seems to have bagged the exclusive rights. The movie has found a distrubutor for Karnataka in Ravichandran who sources claim paid a whopping 9 crores and not to be outdone Andhra Pradesh bagged the movie rights for – hold your breath! – 17 crores!5. Here are some more titbits for the expectant: Sun TV and Reliance are fighting tooth & nail for satelite, dvd, and audio rights. 80 crores seem to be the stake amount for the same with additional 100 mil USD for International rights.

6. International DVD release rights for 9 countries worldwide is being competed by
‘Ayngaran International’ of Canada and ‘Pyramid’ of india. Wikipedia has listed Ayngaran as the distributors worldwide, so now we know who bagged the deal.

7. AVM Productions has magnanimously announced that they will give 25% profit to the charity (Sivaji Foundation) if the movie hits silver jubliee, which I am sure his fans will ensure.

8. And as per the cover story of the No:1 Japanese magazine called “Tosho” this movie has crossed the expectation of even hollywood Bond flick “Casino Royale” and this also supposedly makes Rajinkanth the highest paid actor in the world.

9. Tosho magazine also reveals that the total revenue for AVM Productions (if the movie successfully runs for 50 days only in southern India)will be around 430 crores

10. And last but not the least in a series of firsts: This movie is going to be the first to be dubbed in the local languages of Turkey, Hausa, Gonga(South Africa) and kshinola (Argentina).

Scandals not to be withstood Sivaji faced the music when its soundtrack was allegedly leaked in the internet 2 weeks before its actual launch. And a miffed Shankar who swears by the secrecy of his films has decided to re-shoot the songs.

I just hope albeit all the hype the movie manages to entertain the audience like Rajni’s past movies did.

Tailender: Much has also been said and written about Rajnikant’s popularity in Japan. Here are two pictures of Rajni’s popular film Arunachalam hoarding in Japan which should silence the skeptics –

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

[Image source: Mid-day Bangalore & Rajninews]

Cross posted here

Laurie Baker
Lawrence W. Baker (Laurie Baker), the legendary architect and a great humanitarian passed away today in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The Baker method of building low-cost houses that co-exists well with nature and environment has made an architectural revolution in Kerala.

Low cost is only one of the many aspects of his buildings that set them apart from the monsters other architects impose on us. His buildings merge with nature and do not stand apart like a sore thumb, are environmentally inexpensive, make best use of the space available, are designed with the needs of the client, and not just the external appearance or some design trend, in mind, makes best use of available sunlight and winds, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting and fans, just to mention a few. This in a society which discusses environmental issues in large rooms with tall windows, all of them shut tight with thick curtains, artificial lighting and air conditioning, with tea and snacks served in disposable plastic cups and plates. Come to think of it, it is no wonder that we don’t take Bakerji seriously! [Via Random Thoughts]

From the Blogosphere:
Lest we Forget
Laurie Baker – Living for a cause
More o Laurie Baker – Prabhu Karthik

From the media:
Laurie Baker’s creative journey – The Hindu
Of architectural truth and lies – The Hindu

Recently there was a discussion in Varnachitram about Malayalam actor Mohan Lal appearing in the advertisement of a liquor company with that famous selling line, “what’s up this evening?“. The article argued that Mohan Lal should not be blamed for selling liquor. The opposition is against Mohan Lal, an actor who has high influence on Keralites particularly on youngsters, promoting liquor.

Now what made Mohan Lal do the advertisement?

As an Economic Times news article says it’s purely business.

Southern matinee idol Mohanlal is forging a strategic pact with Paul John Enterprises to jointly develop a category of ‘evening snack foods’. Under the agreement, Mohanlal Taste Buds, which is already into the packaged food and restaurant business, will produce and distribute a product-line which could go well with beverages.

The argument of Mohan Lal and his supporters in this case is that it wouldn’t make any change in the liquor conception rate of Kerala just because Lal appeared in the ad. I do not buy this argument. Mohan Lal has high influence on youngsters in Kerala. His promotion of alcoholism can impact these youngsters (school and college students) and make them think drinking is a ‘cool’ thing and thus give it a start, which might lead to addiction for some.

I am not saying that a youngster who see this ad in the TV or movie hall would go straight to the bar and order for liquor and be an alcoholic. Its got something to do with the sub-cautious mind which will come into the action when the situation comes.

Now, let us look into some of the comments that appeared in the VC article that made sense to me (I put some words in bold to highlight).

Sree Says:

I believe it will have an impact, Mohanlal is a role model for lot of people, as VC had mentioned in the beginning of this article, they “love him sometimes more than their parents” (interesting!).

In my view messages have a great social impact, eventhough sceptic in us would say “what the heck”, remember people like Gandhiji, Sri Narayana Guru and V.S. Bhattathiripad reformed our society through simple messages.

Sandeep Says:

With concentrated effort celebrities can change the perception of the society, particularly the youth. Today movies promote alcoholism as a stylish recreation and is associated with power and might.

Mohanlal is the most saleable Brand in Kerala and its better used not promoting alcoholism. The brand value of Malabar Jewellery has definitely improved by its association with many celebrities.

And most importantly the following comment made me respect actor Suresh Gopi as a person and a social, celebrity figure. I think Malayalam cinema has never seen such a socially committed actor. Correct me if I am wrong. I hope you all remember him taking two HIV infected kids to their school to show the local people that the other kids won’t be affected with AIDS just because these kids study with them.

ANIL Says:

In an interview given by Suresh Gopi I read the actor refused to become the brand ambassador of a chewing gum since it proved it would create addiction on kids after he send the particular product to a lab test. That time he had no films at all and was going through a rough stage. The company offered him 15 lakhs to do it. Still he refused to play brand ambassador. That was really nice of him. It underlines the fact that a celebrity has got some obligations towards the society as a whole. Kudos to him.

Mohanlal is absolutely a millionaire. He could had skipped that booze ad. Well if it is for money you are making a lot of it. Then for what? As an actor you spend millions on a film like “Vaanaprastham” which did not collect. But film lovers applauds on your effort to enrich films. It proved you had some commitments and obligations towards the society as an actor. But before acting in a booze ad you had to think twice about your social commitments. Yes you definitely have some commitments towards the society as a whole. The matter is serious. It cannot be shoved aside with a grin.

On another note, a friend who tasted Original Choice after seeing the ads said he would never taste it again because it has a bad taste compared to the other popular brands. He even mentioned that Mohan Lal should have tasted it before being the brand ambassador of it. 🙂

To act in a liquor advt is Mohan Lal’s original and personal choice. But to justify it by saying it doesn’t make any social issue is not fair. Instead just say, “I don’t care about the social effects of this advt, I just want to make more money“. People would easily understand this because we know antics cost you a fortune to collect.

The recent events in Nandigram makes me hang my head in shame. I had seen scenes like this only in the freedom struggle movies but what I saw on TV was shocking to say the least. There was an open war between the farmers at Nandigram and the police. The police and the farmers were pelting stones at each other and when two women came to carry the dead body of a farmer, they were brutally assaulted and they couldn’t carry the dead body.

This comes closely on the heels of the Singur controversy.

What is going on in Bengal? The govt. that harps on being the govt for the poor is hell bent upon destroying those very poor farmers.

The decision to setup a SEZ in Nandigram became a thorny issue for the govt when the farmers refused to give their lands away. The govt then send 3000 troops to “restore the rule of law in Nandipur”

West Bengal DGP A B Vohra said they were told to ‘‘restore the rule of law’’ in Nandigram and had mobilised as many 3,000 policemen early this morning. But the policemen, he said, faced stiff resistance from a 5,000-strong mob — members of the Save Land Committee who were armed with guns, bombs and other weapons.

Vohra said six bodies had been recovered and the death toll could rise as reports were awaited from other areas. A late night PTI report put the toll at 11 killed while partners of the ruling Left Front said it could be between 10 and 13 while the Opposition Trinamool claimed 20 people had been killed.

Are we living in a free country? Is this what happens in a free country? The govt can decide to take anybody’s land and then of course as usual fail to pay the proper compensation. When the land owner’s protest then bring in 3000 troops to control them and to remind them of the rule of law.

Sounds like a plot from the pre-independence era. Shameful!!!

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